Sunday, January 30, 2011

Theme for Week 5

This week's theme for Project 52 is Muse.  I've got a few ideas in mind that I'm playing with.  What suggestions do you have?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Project 52 - Week 4

This week's theme with the MCP Actions Project 52 was Soothing Repetition.  I wasn't sure if I'd participate with that theme this week but after some thought I decided to try and shoot for the theme.  I spent some time looking through some of the pictures which were already uploaded b/c I didn't want to do something that someone had already done.  There were a number of pictures around food - ice cream, soda, coffee - and there were things like brushing your hair.

I spent some time thinking about what would be repetitious and soothing.  This brought me to running.  I hadn't seen a picture for running uploaded yet and I know quite a few people that would call running soothing (certainly not me!). 

I recruited HA (again!) to be the model.  It was a beautiful day in Canberra again and HA and I went out to the lake to try and get a shot.  I played with a few different perspectives.  As it turns out, the one I liked the best was the very first shot I took.  It's in black and white but I think that it works for the evening sun that's coming in from the side.

4/52 - Soothing Repetition

Next week's theme hasn't been posted yet!  Stay tuned!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Project 52 - Week 3

The theme for this weeks Project 52 was "Shades of Grey".  I had this vision of finding someone with beautiful thick grey hair and getting an amazing picture.  Unfortunately, I don't know anyone with grey hair.  Or, at least, I don't know them well enough to be like "hey, can I take pictures of your grey hair?"

So I thought all week about what I wanted to do.  I wanted to take a picture that would highlight the many shades of grey but also be something that wouldn't require traveling somewhere or alot of setup time.

On top of that, I didn't have much time this week.  I had things scheduled for every night after work so it also needed to be a picture I could take at home and wouldn't need alot of natural sunlight.

So, Thursday night I took the easy way out and bought some beautiful gerber daisies from the supermarket and headed home to try and do something creative with them.  Unfortunately, the boys called and I ended up getting drinks until late in the evening Thursday.  I had plans to go watch the Australian Open that weekend so Friday rolled around and I was frantically packing so we could catch our plane.  I took a few pics of the flowers, converted them to black and white and uploaded to Flickr so that I could have an entry.  It didn't turn out too badly for a quick 10 minutes of work.  What do you think?

3/52 - Shades of Grey

This week's theme is "Soothing Repetition".  I'm not sure how I like this theme. I may go my own way this week.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, January 16, 2011


HA had a very cute idea for the "Illustrate a Song" theme this week and that was the song "Gravity" (you choose - either John Mayer's song or Sara Bareilles song - both are great).  We recruited our friend MayDay to help with the project and set out on Saturday to shoot it.

Saturday ended up being a gorgeous day though hot by recent Canberra standards.  HA was so keen on this particular photo shoot that I let him be the director.  We weren't able to get all the shots we wanted as my shutter speed just wasn't fast enough but I don't think it turned out too badly.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to submit the picture b/c the deadline was midnight Friday US east coast time.  I thought I would share it anyway.

Thank you to MayDay for being such a good sport about the photo shoot - I wouldn't be surprised if he has a few bruises.

This week's Project 52 theme is "Shades of Grey".  I'll post once I have a picture to share.

Friday, January 14, 2011

My Favorite Shoes

I'm part of the MCP Actions Project 52 and this week's theme was "Illustrate a Song".  I've had a few ideas and have been taking lots of pictures so I can pick the one I like the best.  One of the songs that I'm thinking of is Ruby Red Shoes by Sawyer Brown.  I thought of this song because I have some really great red shoes that I like to show off (even though they kill my feet!).

I took some pictures last night and here is one of them. 

Another song I was thinking of doing is Tall, Tall Trees by Alan Jackson.  Thankfully, it's stopped raining enough to go outside after work and take some pictures (keep your fingers crossed that it stays that way).

It obviously wasn't that sunny outside when I took the picture.  I've applied Pioneer Woman's Sunlight action to the picture and then a vignette.

Can you tell I've become a bit addicted to Photoshop?  :)  I'm trying not to use it too much though b/c I don't want to become dependent on it to make good pictures.

I've also made a new little logo for myself.  I'm not sure which one I like better.  Comments would be appreciated.

So which picture should I submit?  Does anyone have any ideas for other songs I could illustrate?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Rain, Rain Go Away

For those of you that don't pay attention to Australian news, you might be surprised to find out that Australia is currently experiencing some of the worst floods in the last century.  Portions of Queensland have been experiencing flooding since late December but these floods were expected and, while damaging, were manageable.  Early this weekend, the capital of Queensland, Brisbane, realized that they too would soon be flooded if the rain continued to fall.  The peak of the flooding is expected tomorrow (Thursday) so what you're reading about now is not the worst that is expected (see article below).

HA's family lives in Brisbane and I have quite a few friends and co-workers who live in Brisbane.  I spent my Christmas holiday there and joked that the city would flood if the rain kept at that pace.

Thankfully, everyone I know is safe and accounted for.  HA's sister's property has flooded and they are cutoff from town but they are safe and have an evacuation plan if necessary.

Please keep Queensland in your thoughts and if you'd like to and are able to, donate to the relief effort:
Queensland Flood Relief Appeal

For more information and a picture into what's being experienced, here is a good article from The Australian:
Australian Flood Article

Monday, January 10, 2011

Project 52 - Week 2

This weekend, I got to babysit for my friend Leah.  Her son Silas is one of the cutest and most chilled out kids I know.  He's 13 months old, but while I was babysitting, all I had to do was make sure he didn't put his finger in a socket.  Otherwise, he entertained himself.

While I was babysitting, I thought I might practice taking some pictures.  Photographing HA is easy cause he poses however I tell him to but children are a completely different story.  They move around alot more and they decide when they want to smile.

I had hoped the weather would be nice, but, in true Aussie fashion, it was raining.  I took some pictures of him in the apartment but alot of them had very messy backgrounds so they weren't great.  However, I did get a few cute ones.

The one below is my favorite from the session.  I think he was looking at HA at the time trying to decide if he was ok with him being there or not.  Silas has very expressive eyes.  In nearly all the pictures I got, you can look at it and make up what he's thinking based on his expression.

Focal Length: 165mm
Add Color Pop 2 action by and an additional vignette

I'm also participating in a group Project 52 with MCP Actions.  They'll provide a theme every week and you provide the picture.  This week's theme is "Illustrate a Song". I'm still working out what I can do for this theme.  If I come up with a picture, I'll post it later this week.

Christmas in Australia

Because HA went home with me last year for Christmas, there was an agreement that I would stay in Australia with him this year. I made this agreement over a year ago not having any idea where I’d be living or where I’d be working. So as Christmas got closer and closer and I continued to live in Australia, I realized that I really was going to have to spend Christmas in Australia.

I began to worry about gifts for HA’s family. My personal motto on gifts are that they should be items that someone wants but would probably never buy themselves. I don’t like to buy the “easy” gift – perfume, dvd’s..they make great gifts, but where I can, I like to make them a bit more personalized. So, I asked HA for the rules around gift giving. His response – “We buys each person a gift". There were going to be 11 people at Christmas – not including Adam and I. That's alot of gifts to buy! So I set out buying gifts. I picked up a few in the US when I was home for Thanksgiving but the majority of my shopping had to happen in Australia. Unfortunately the shopping in Australia sucks….especially in Canberra. So given this, I ended up have a number of gifts shipped from the US. Even without much help from HA for ideas, I ended up with gifts that I felt good about.

Before I go much further here, I think it’s very important to explain that Christmas in Oz is NOTHING like Christmas in the US. In the US, there are constant holiday songs, all of the malls are decked out, there’s a Santa at every mall, and…there’s a spirit to Christmas. It’s not like that here. I didn’t hear one Christmas song on the radio, the only Santa I saw at the mall was skinny and sitting in front of a green screen so you could be photoshopped onto a beach, and the decorations in the stores were depressing. To help with trying to get into the Christmas mood, I purchased a little tree and hung some lights in the apartment which helped a bit.
So Christmas Eve rolls around and HA and I walk into work (we got to wear jeans!). We work for a half day, then go home to finish wrapping presents before we have to catch our flight. We end up having to take three decent size suitcases b/c of all our presents. We finally get to Brisbane after our flight had to circle for 45 minutes in the air. Unfortunately, we were so late that his brother and nephews had to go home to sleep so we couldn’t all have Xmas Eve dinner together. In my house, we have a very quiet dinner of chili and cornbread and then stay up playing board games. In HA’s family, they have turkey for Xmas Eve dinner – poached turkey. I didn’t even realize it was turkey until after dinner – I had thought it was pork. It wasn’t quite the traditional turkey dinner I’m used to but it was nice to have a bit of familiarity.

We got to stay in the "adult house" while we were there.  Meaning we stayed with HA's sister at her house on the river.  It was actually really nice to have a bit of quiet time.  The three nephews were alot of work.  I grew up with girls - I'm not used to having so many boys around.  The picture below is of his sister's house on the one sunny day we got.  I'd like to note that they live right on the Brisbane river which is now flooding.  I've included a picture of the river as well.  Since we were there, the water has risen 4 to 5 meters.  Their house isn't on the flood plane and expect to be ok though.

Looking down to the river. Most of the land you see by the river has flooded.
On Christmas day, we get to his parents house mid-morning and very quickly get to opening presents. The three boys hand out the presents – at least that’s the same – the youngest handing out the presents. I quickly realize, though, that HA may not have given me the correct rules for gifts. I’m starting to notice that there are a lot of gifts being given by multiple people – primarily by the couples. Example: HA Sister and Bro-in-law gives me a gift. My suspicions are quickly confirmed when both his sisters say “why didn’t you go in on gifts together?? You didn’t need to buy each individual person a gift”. least I know if I do Christmas with them again.
After presents, dinner starts to be set up. As we had turkey for Xmas eve dinner, can you guess what we’re having for Christmas dinner? That’s right – SEAFOOD. Well, seafood and a lot of pork & ham. This is a tradition in the HA family – one that I think I struggled with the most. The seafood dinners weren’t new to me – we have one every time we go to visit HA’s family. But they were different. So we sat outside under the covered patio while it rained and had seafood.

Christmas dinner - notice on the top picture that the skin is pulled back from the pig leg.
Much of the rest of the time we spent in Brisbane was spent at his parents house playing the Kinect that I got HA. The boys really enjoyed it and it kept everyone entertained. I did get a break on Monday when HA’s mom scheduled a spa day for all the girls. That was really nice to get a massage and then relax with champagne in the spa.
This is HA and his nephew playing boxing on the Kinect.  His nephew has a broken arm so everyone had to play with one had behind their back.  His nephew beat everyone in the family.
HA also took me for a drive to the Gold Coast to have a nice lunch on the water and then a bit of shopping (thankfully it didn’t rain that day!). On the drive to the coast, we stopped at Yatala Pies which apparently are some of the best pies in the country (think savory pies – not sweet). The pie was pretty good. I had a steak pie with mashed potatoes and peas. It sounds gross but it’s pretty yummy.
Yatala Pie - Steak pie with mashed potatoes and peas
On Thursday, we said good-bye to HA’s family and headed on to Sydney for New Year’s Eve! But I’ll leave that for another post.

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Years Resolution

For 2011, I have two resolutions.  I don't generally do resolutions because no one ever sticks to them.  But I thought I would give it a go.

Resolution 1 - Exercise more so I can feel better about myself
Of course I would love to lose some of the weight I've put on but more importantly, I want to feel better about myself.  Whenever I exercise regularly, I always feel more energetic and confident.  I do better at work and at my relationships.  I think this is important.  I don't want to focus on a number of pounds or inches to lose.  I think that's just a losing battle.  Instead I want to focus on setting a goal for the number of times I should exercise each week.  Prior to the holidays, I was doing pretty well at getting some form of exercise around 3 times a week.  I think that's fairly reasonable.  To help me stick to my resolution, I've come up with a list of actions to take.

How to get there:
1.  Hire a personal trainer.  I had a personal trainer for awhile when I was in AZ.  I found it very motivational to have someone to answer to each week.  Trainers are cheaper here for some reason so that makes this action alot easier to act on.  I've already got a list of three trainers to contact for quotes.
2.  Go to bed earlier.  Right now, I'm in bed anywhere between 11pm and 1am.  This isn't good.  This means that I can't wake up in the morning to exercise and I'm too tired after work.  I'm going to try and be in bed by 11pm at the latest.
3.  Log eating habits and exercise schedule.  Whether or not I blog this info - I haven't decided yet.  In the meantime, I have an app for the phone which will allow me to track all my food, exercise and weight.  I'll start using it more regularly.

I'm hoping that by putting these online, I'll feel more obligation to actually do them since people I know read this and will probably ask on my progress.

Resolution 2 - Practice my photography
I've seen online that alot of photographers do a 365 project - meaning that they take or edit a picture everyday and post it somewhere online.  I'll be honest - I'm not going to do a picture a day.  So knowing that, I'm going to do a 52 project - one picture per week.  I will take or edit at least one picture per week and post it to the blog.  I'll include all the details on it and any actions/edits I might have done. 

Mom - do you want to join me with this project??

So, here is Week 1 Photograph

Christmas Dinner Table
 I thought HA's mom did a fabulous job of decorating the dinner table for christmas and felt it needed to be captured.  My only regret with the picture is the background.  I didn't think through the composition of the picture and captured the TV on the patio - not the best background possible.  Here's the information on the picture:
ISO:  400
1/80 Shutter
f5.6 Aperature
I've applied two actions in PhotoShop Elements - Pioneer Woman Colorized and Pioneer Woman Fresh Color

Thanks Mom for turning me on to Pioneer Woman.  She has a great blog for photography.

What's everyone else's New Year's Resolutions?