Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Ten Truths


Ten Truths about Me
  1. I have this belief  that everything evens out . . . it is something like Karma, but not quite. I believe if things are easy now, they will be hard later and if things are hard now, they will be easy later. I believe there is always pay back. I don't know why I believe this because all observed evidence should make me feel otherwise.  It seems to me that people are dealt uneven hands from the beginning and, in truth, those hands never even out. I suppose my belief stems from my desire to see in the world what should be only fair.
  2. People, who meet me and get to know me a little bit, often think that I am laid back, easy going and as fluid as running water, but the truth is I am wound as tight as they come. Relaxation is nearly impossible for me. I don't know why people don't see that in me. I suppose it is because I am quiet.
  3. I am a love child--of two of the most unlikely people to make that type of mistake--a quiet, nerdy salutatorian of her high school class, and then college English major attending an elite private school in Vermont and the conservative, but fun loving, working-class college boy heading to Vietnam as an Army soldier after being in ROTC. I was probably nine or ten when I figured out this fact. We were all eating dinner, on a Saturday night. My parents wedding date (December 20, 1969) came up. I'm not sure why. My birth date (May 5, 1970) came up.  I'm not sure why. I realized what that meant and I got a sinking feeling. I tried to change the subject just as I could see that my brother (five years my junior, but always a math whiz) was putting two and two together. I was upset about this for a long while, but now, of course, it does not matter.  Perhaps my parents 'had' to get married, but they have stayed together through thick and thin. They are still together. They have been married over 40 years and that is more than I can say for many couples.
  4. I have an irrational fear of flying. I know it is irrational, so my fear does not keep me from doing it. I know the statistics. I know it is more dangerous to drive to the airport than to fly across the country. I know. I know. This is what I do: when I get on the plane, I must peer into the cockpit and see the pilots; 'business as usual; they look competent and confident. Good.' I take my seat, buckle in, buckle my daughter in; 'no really, Margot, that is not too tight; it is just right.' I count the seat rows to the nearest exit to the back of me and to the front of me. I count again. I read the safety information card. I study how to open the window exits; then the door exits. When the flight attendants start the safety demonstration, I give my undivided attention. Yes, I know I've seen the same demonstration again and again, but I think,  if I do not watch, I am being much too casual about the whole thing. Okay, take off, white knuckles, eyes closed. Breathe, breathe. 'Please be quiet until we are leveling off.' Those are my thoughts.  I wait, wait for the two beeps indicating that we've reached 10,000 feet. 'At this time, portable electronic devices are allowed to be used.' Okay. Okay . . .
  5. I do not like surprises of any kind; not even happy surprises. I always like to know what to expect. I don't behave well at all when the unexpected happens. 
  6. I often feel that I am on the edge of things; the edge of something. I feel ambivalent, though. If I take the plunge, the outcome could be good; it could be great; it could be profound. But, also, it could be really, really bad. It could be worse than bad. I never take the plunge. I have lived my life very safely, and I don't know if that is good or bad.
  7. I have gotten less competitive as I have grown up. I think of this as a good thing. As a younger person, I was highly competitive. I always wanted to win . . . at everything. I did not always win. of course, but, though I did not show it much outright, I was somewhat of a sore loser. My extended family still makes fun of one of my most infamous quotes that I said while playing (and winning) a board game with them : "it's always more fun when you win."
  8. I do not believe in ghosts; no-one can ever convince me that ghosts exist. 'Wait? What was that sound?' But there is a rational explanation, always. I know this to be true. I do not believe in ghosts.
  9. I do believe that there is extraterrestrial life somewhere in the universe. There has to be. How could there not? I doubt, though, that the creatures of Earth will encounter this extraterrestrial life for many generations to come, if ever. And I don't believe that anyone on Earth has ever encountered or observed any type of extraterrestrial life in the past.
  10. My favorite TV show is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I am nearly 42 years old, but, still, I sometimes daydream of being Buffy. I would love to have her wit, her poise, her strength, her abilities, her mission. And I would love to kick some vampire ass.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Custom Brushes

For Kim Klassen's Beyond Layers class, day 12, she gave us some custom brushes to try out. I have never done this before. In fact, I had no clue what this was. I have seen people refer to 'brushes' for Photoshop before but I guess I thought it had something to do with airbrushing.

Her brushes are of inspirational quotes, beautifully designed, and can be saved as  Photoshop 'brush' files. These operate just like a rubber stamp and are very cool. I will have to learn how to make my own someday because they are awfully fun, but for now, I am quite content to use the ones she provided (or purchase more from her). This is a similar attitude I have with the textures. I am a little interested in creating my own, but I have so many right now to choose from that came from others and probably need to continue to focus on getting better at the actual photography in addition to post processing in Photoshop and understand all the ins and outs, rather than take on something new.

Here are a couple of my photos using Kim's custom brushes:

Eyes Wide Open

For Beyond Layers, Day 12, Kim recounted a story that I can relate to well. Her story was about opening her eyes and looking beyond herself after an evening of feeling grumpy about having to do something she did not want to do and because of that attitude, getting that feeling like the whole world is against you . . . lights always turning red upon approach, waiting too long on your son, who should not be late, he knows you have to be somewhere, being unable to locate your keys just at that last minute . . . you know the days . . . they are days we all have. Now, I think it is in our rights to be grumpy and  have bad days and even do the occasional whining, woe-is-me thing; we are only human, but still attitude really is everything. And sometimes all you need is a little shift in attitude or a wake up call to snap out of it.

In Kim's story, she told us that she encountered a man in the grocery store who, it was easy to see, was down on his luck; even having trouble paying a little over twenty dollars for groceries and not wanting to break another twenty. Kim ended up paying for his groceries so he could keep his forty dollars. She asked him if she could and I can only imagine is such a way that it was as if he would be doing her a favor. And that is how she told it. He helped her; not the other way around. Her mood changed in an instant to one of gratitude.

I agree that acts of kindness and generosity are a great ways to pull yourself out of a bad mood. In addition, when you have a realization or experience that allows you to gain some perspective, that is a powerful moment.

Kim challenged us to turn toward gratitude and do something kind this week. I may be grumpy occasionally, but I am fully aware of how fortunate I am and I do try to do good through regular charitable contributions . . . but because these are automatic charges to my credit card each month that have been going on for years, sometimes it does not feel like enough. This week when I was trying to think of something I could do in addition, the perfect opportunity presented itself. My brother is committing to complete 13 (point 1) half marathons in 2012 to raise money to fight cancer. Here is the link to my brother's page: 


My dad (who is 63) has cancer. He should be okay, but it has been a tough road for him so far--many surgeries, radiation therapies, debilitating chemo and the overall uncertainty and worry . . . it takes its toll . . . but he is determined to fight and, so far, despite setbacks, he is winning.

I have known many others who have had cancer and are either survivors or have succumbed to the disease. In honor of my father and all others who have ever dealt with this terrible disease, I have contributed some money to support my brother in his commitment. In addition, I have committed to myself that I will complete one half marathon this year. I have been a runner for a long time, but it is has been five years since I've done a half marathon, so this is my year to do it again . . . to stand by my brother; to stand by my dad.  

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Painterly Effect

On Thursday, Kim Klassen's Beyond Layers prompt and instructions were about creating a painterly effect with a heavily textured photograph which was altered in Photoshop to make it sharper and give it a vintage look. She included a video with many instructions for different techniques in Photoshop, including using the lasso tool and content-aware fill to remove unwanted objects from a photograph without having to crop it out (which is what I tended to do), turning the photograph into a smart object and using a high pass filter to sharpen the image, using a black and white adjustment, but with a soft light blend mode to add contrast, using hue/saturation adjustments to reduce blues in the sky, and using a solid color (blue) adjustment with a difference or exclusion blend mode (to give a yellowish cast to the photograph, which gives it a vintage look). Many of the these techniques I knew knew about before--just enough to be dangerous--but many I did not even know (such as the lasso tool, which I am thinking will come in very handy). I still know only just enough to be dangerous but if I play around, I should get the hang of it. 

I am missing the technical 'whys' behind some of these concepts and for me that is always helpful. If I understand why something works the way it does I can take it beyond simply a memorization of the methods, to being able to make the same adjustments over and over again and then to getting closer to knowing what to do on my own to achieve some look that I am going for. This reminds me of something my son, Ian's karate Sensei explained about learning karate: the student start out learning by rote memorization--kicks, punches, blocks, over and over again; kata memorized and practiced--but eventually they have to combine the memorized content with knowledge of the reason why it works as and put into to practical use during sparring. Otherwise the students can just get 'stuck'; they won't really know what to do in a given scenario. The memorization makes it natural, the whys behind it bring the understanding and then the application to 'real life' situations brings it all together to the point where the students have true expertise. 

The day before Kim prompted us with the challenge to process a picture and add heavy textures to give an image a painterly effect, I had posted the image below on Flickr. I took it on our one day this winter that we had enough snow to cover the ground (still only about 2 inches)  . . . even that did not last more than half the day, though, because as is the pattern this winter, the temperatures warmed up well above freezing and it started to rain so I was glad I got a chance to sneak out for a few minute to get a couple of shots in the snow. And when I saw this shot, I did want to go heavy on the texture even before Kim's prompt, but I converted the image to black and white (it looked pretty much black and white anyway with the lack of color in the sky, the snow and the bare trees; I also made most of my adjustments in Rad Lab, which is an awesome plug-in to Photoshop, before applying the textures. I liked the way it turned out, for the most part.

But in the interest of practicing and because I liked the idea of using a barn and snow like Kim's example image and this was the only one I was going to have because of the lack of snow here in Indiana, I went ahead and reprocessed the photo by following Kim's steps. I stayed mostly true to the recipe. I think the textures were desaturated a bit more and also the opacity was lower. I do like how this has a more vintage feel to it, but because of the black and white and the contrasts in the above image, I think I like it a bit better.

I am not quite understanding how the solid color, with the 'hex #' that brought us to a blue color, worked. All I do understand is that it helped to produce the vintage feel and I can only surmise that it was because it was providing a yellow-ish tint--opposite of blue on the color wheel. Well I am not quite sure, but I will figure that out. Learning about the lasso tool and how to clip layers together so that they only affect the one was worth it in and of itself (though, I could not figure out how to 'unclip' them.)


Then I moved on to this image and tried the exclusion blend mode when I did the solid color adjustment and I did a few other steps but mostly was going for the vintage look. It came out okay.

Then there was this one. I intended to try to go heavy and 'painterly' on this one. I ended up backing off and I am okay with the final results even though the reason I backed off was because Photoshop got all in a funk. This happens to me sometimes . . . it seems like I do some combination of steps and then I end up with these texture layers becoming  transparent and they won't work properly . . . they won't really show up in the photo when I layer them over. Other unexpected things happen as well. When things seem to be just getting too out of control (and I'm sure it is something that I did inadvertently that caused this, but I just don't know what or how to get out of it), I just close everything out and start all over again. I came back to this image and ended up just running a few items in Rad Lab and applying one layer of the Sienna texture . . . the blend mode was multiply still but with a bit of a reduced opacity and then I just left it at that.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine's Day Party in Kindergarten

I left work a little early on Valentine's Day so that I could go to my daughter's kindergarten class and help with her class party. My task was to provide a snack for the kids, so I decided to make heart shape cookies, icing and sprinkles, candy hearts and M&Ms so the kids could decorate their own cookies.

I love going into my kids' classrooms and wish I could do it more, but since I work full time outside the home, I can only go a few times a year in the middle of the day. I do run a science club which meets once a month after school and I am grateful that I am able to do that with my early work schedule (6 am to 3 pm . . . perfect!).

As much as I love going into the classroom, every time I do, I am once again reminded of what great souls teachers are . . . to effectively deal with 20+ individual personalities (and not all easy ones) takes a special human being and all of teachers should be commended for what they do on a daily basis. And to think that teachers (along with other public sector employees) seemed to have become public enemy number one in this country in recent years . . . but I digress.

Margot was so proud and happy that I came to her party to provide the cookies and when the party was getting started by her teacher, Mrs. Spencer, she blurted out, "my mom MADE the cookies!" Her teacher let her table go to the cookie station first (there were also book, craft and game stations).

The other parent volunteers at the party seemed very impressed that I made the frosting from scratch . . . well, to me store bought frosting is practically inedible, but in case anyone does not realize this . . . making frosting is delightfully easy and quick . . . butter, powered sugar and milk . . . plus cocoa powder for chocolate frosting (a must) . . . it's a 10 minute operation. After I admitted to making the icing myself, one mother said, "but please tell me those are Pillsbury sugar cookies!"

"No," I said, "but I like making them." (And I do).

The kids seemed to enjoy them as well . . . but when you load a big heart cookie up with heaps of frosting, M&Ms and candy hearts, what's not to love?

The craft, game and book were also loads of fun for the kids and everyone had a great time . . .most of all, me.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Start to Finish

Well, this is my image for Kim Klassen's Beyond Layers "Start to Finish" assignment. We were supposed to finish with a vintage-looking still life by setting up a 'studio' to get a plain background and then process the image using a texture and a custom gradient that Kim provided.

I did learn a lot by doing this exercise, especially some processing techniques that I did not know about before in Photoshop.

I did everything I was 'supposed' to do: set the shot up with foam core boards and window light and all that, processed it with the custom gradient and the revolution texture and even the technique of inverting the layer mask and brushing the desired effect onto just the flower. But where I fell down is in the setting up of a still life that I thought looked okay. I did set up a few and snapped some shots, but I ended up thinking they all looked stupid. Then I went back to my usual simple, singled-out subject  . . . and a typical subject for me as well . . . a dried hydrangea flower . . . man, I need to break out a bit, huh?

I need to work on the still life set up thing. Some people just seem to have knack for that, but I don't . . . mine are either too busy or they look strange with stuff all out of proportion and scattered in weird ways, with weird angles and perhaps just not 'matching' enough and my fall back is always something like the photo in this post . . . I guess that is my comfort zone and I need to move out of it . . .

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Margot's 6th Birthday

My daughter celebrated her 6th birthday yesterday. We had a birthday party for her at Recreations, Unlimited. They allow people to rent the facility and a party room for a couple hours so the kids can play on all the play sets and trampolines set up in the large showroom. It is a fun place to be and the kids had a great time, I think, despite the fact that only about 7 girls showed up. I don't think Margot minded that the size and splendor of her  party was much less than the other party going on at the same time in the facility. They had many kids, a huge professionally-made dinosaur cake, perfectly matching dinosaur decorations, 3 large bunches of foil balloons.

We had a tray of homemade cupcakes, decorated with sprinkles and party picks, no balloons (that was the one thing Margot did notice at the end of her party when the other group was carrying out all the balloons) and a little paper banner that we couldn't even get to stay up. So if this was a parent competition, which I sometimes fear that these types of kid-experience events have become, I would lose hands down. Although I notice the effort that the other parents went into making their son's party, I do not dwell on that; I don't actually think it is a good idea to go too far overboard with a kids' birthday party anyway.When I think about the birthday parties I had as a child, it never involved more than sitting around the picnic table outside with cake, ice cream, presents and pin the tail on the donkey. Actually, my birthday party was often combined with the neighbor girl's because she had a birthday three days after mine.

It is the friendship and giving and giggling and smiles that the children are really enjoying. The cake matters least. What strikes me about these parties is how much fun the children have when the gift opening is initiated and it is those who are doing the giving  are having just as much fun and the birthday child . . . so much joy when a gift given is loved. That is what counts.

Shifting gears:

I put together the mosaic above using one of Kim Klassen's storyboard templates. I posted it on Facebook, but then later came back to it and decided it was too light. The one in this post is darkened up a bit, but I am finding that I am having more and more trouble making processing decisions. I have Rad Lab as a plug-in to Photoshop. I really love the program but I often fear I over-process and do not have my eye quite tuned yet to what a photo should look like or how to make the best choices. Yes, I know a lot of that is a matter of taste, but I also think perhaps not all of it is. What is the best way to learn and see and make the best choices? Is there a book on processing (not the technicalities of a program but the best way to get a look and feel just right)? I do believe that Kim Klassen's beyond layers class is going to help with this and I just need to move through that and perhaps try to focus more on developing a certain style or a few. I know in the past my photos were very lightly processed. That was largely due to not knowing how to use the programs and not knowing a thing about Lightroom presets, Photoshop Actions, Rad Lab, textures, layers, etc. Now have I gone too far? Hard to say, but I would like to try to focus on that a bit.

Also with the above mosaic, perhaps I should have applied exactly the same processing steps to each so the would be consistent. Any suggestions on that? Better to have them all look about the same or okay to be a little different? Also, are some of the skin tones too warm and 'orange-y'? I struggle with that as well. Most people seem to say warmer skin tones are better, but sometimes I think it does not look quite as natural as it it should. Anyway, if anyone does have any suggestions for processing, I'd love to hear them.

Anyway, below are some other photos (some of the same ones from the mosaic) from Margot's birthday party:

Waiting for the festivities to begin:
The fun begins:

Three best friends forever:

Time for pizza:

"Raise your hand if you love pizza"

Time for singing happy birthday, cupcakes and ice cream. Margot's big brother delivered her cupcake with the candle on it!

Yay, presents!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Choosing Happiness

Okay, here I am again with another assignment from Kim Klassen for her Beyond Layers class: “Choosing Happiness.” The central idea is to focus on the positive and consciously choose happiness. I get it; it makes sense, but I have to be honest, this is another difficult one for  me. It does not feel that simple.

Also, I was reminded, just a bit, of the time the company I work for, which was dealing with bad news, major set backs, pending patent losses and beginning the process of layoffs of many employees, started passing around a mantra--“Be Optimistic". My boss, who has a sunny personality to start with and does not get why anyone else might not quite think like her was loving this new corporate mantra. She posted optimism posters in our work area, chartered an optimism initiative for our department (no joke), and constantly told us, her subordinates, to 'be optimistic', even in random hallway conversations. I was wondering when she was going to print up smiley face buttons to pass out and have us wear on our shirts to work everyday.

One time in a meeting, I, along with some of my more cynical colleagues (we are a little club of our own) were pointing out what in our opinion were some obvious flaws in some of her suggestions for how proceed on a certain project (granted some of it may very well have come off as belly-aching, but I still think we had a point) and instead of even trying to address our concerns, she said, “come on, guys, be optimistic,” with a big smile on her face. Okay, I get it, just give me my button now; I'll wear it and shut up!

The problem was neither the corporation nor my boss was giving us any reason for this optimism . . . we were just supposed to be it. My reaction was this: "I am not going to be optimistic and you can't make me!" Yes, not very mature of me, but, you know, I was mostly right.

As I wrote in one of my six-word stories: "I'm not optimistic, but that's okay." I consider myself a realist, most of the time. I'm not necessarily always a pessimist; sometimes I am, but usually it is not that extreme. I just don’t see the world in black and white. For me, almost everything is gray and nuanced. I think most things and most situations are simultaneously good and bad. Life is just that way. Sure there is a matter of perspective and attitude. I suppose I could force myself to see only the good and ignore the bad or the potential for bad. I could find a way to really buy into all those ‘positive-thinking' and 'self-validating' placards and posters and photos with happy messages that many of my Facebook friends have taken to putting up daily on their walls, but in the back I my mind, it is always there: 'exactly who are you trying to convince?'

I am not trying to be a pain or a wet blanket here. The thing is even though optimism and happiness do have some correlation, I don't think it is a given that a person who is not optimistic is unhappy. Am I happy? Yes, in general, I am. Sometimes, I am very happy; sometimes everything is fine, but I'm just okay and sometimes I'm unhappy. It all feels like it evens out and leads to a certain contentedness and satisfaction overall. I have come to the conclusion that overall happiness, for me, comes with accepting that all of this is okay. Things are not going to be perfect; things are not always going to be exciting; things are not always going to be easy and there will be tons of things that make me unhappy and sometimes I am going to be bored out of my skull--not for a lack of work that I could do but because it is just not happening. But, then, there are tons of things that make me happy (yes, I will get to my list; it is very long) and many times things are going to be absolutely great. And sometimes things will be happening.

Also, before anyone reading this from Kim's class thinks that I am totally missing the point, well, maybe, but I do understand what she was saying and I do understand about choosing to be happy . . . about it being largely about attitude. I know I can adjust my attitude and sometimes, I should, but I can also say that some of my realism has served me well. When I do not expect too much and do not think  it is just a given that things will go well, I am often either pleasantly surprised or (more often) am my determined and work harder to make it be what I want. Now, this is not always the case. I do sometimes fail outright. That is okay, too. As my son's teacher tells to her class, 'failure leads to success' and sometimes the blow is not as hard to take when it was expected. Sometimes it is easier to get up and laugh it off . . . after all, I knew this would happen, right?

What strikes me most about Kim's words, though, is the notion of owning the situation; the notion of taking charge, the notion of deciding to be happy in the moment, so here's the thing, even if you aren't happy (I don't know how many people are happy doing dishes, for example, but also, it is not that bad and it has to be done so it is all just a wash . . . so to speak . . .right (get it?) ). Anyway, it is the action of taking charge and owning it--no matter what it is--that really matters--you may not want to do that, but hey, you have to, so, do it right.  I think that can lead to happiness; it can for me.

I heard an interview Michelle Martin did with RuPaul on her NPR radio show Tell Me More. I know nearly nothing about this man (though I understand he is a drag queen. I just don't know specifically what he does. I am one of those people who could be rightly accused of living in a hole due to my lack of knowledge about certain current pop culture trends and icons), but some of the things he said in this interview really resonated with me. At the end of the interview, Michelle asked him what words of advice he had for people. He said something along the lines of (not an exact quote) 'live in the now because it is now when you have the power. The second you slip into thinking about the past or the future, you lose that power.' To me, that is something. I'm not sure I am there yet, but, yes, that is where I want to be.

I do not know why I wrote all this. I don't even know if it all makes any sense. What am I trying to say? I think maybe that happiness is not just a given. It does not just happen to the lucky people. You can choose happiness, yes, but you also have to work  for it; you have to take charge. So all of that and I get to my happiness list. I can be totally on board because that, to me, is taking charge and the action of making that list solidifies for me, that no matter what, it is all worth while. (And I won't bother with an unhappiness list . . . maybe I'll save that for another day . . . or, maybe, for never!)

These are the things that make me happy:
  • Music from my favorite artists, especially if I can see the musician live.
  • Pandora radio.
  • Running outside with music blasting in my ears on my ipod.
  • Measuring cups and spoons.
  • The giggles of my son and daughter.
  • My son's pride in himself after getting a gold medal in Kata at his first karate tournament.
  • Printing out and framing a photo that I, myself, took and thinking it looks pretty good.
  • Collaborating on a project at work and having an outcome that matters to people, small or big.
  • My son's joy at getting a new football in the mail and inviting his sister out to play with him.
  • My son's objective view of the world, which, to him, is black and white and that is okay.
  • The smell of garlic and onions cooking.
  • Bowls of soup.
  • Snow.
  • Frost.
  • Dew.
  • Flowers.
  • Butterflies.
  • Dragonflies.
  • Frogs.
  • Chocolate.
  • Coffee.
  • Red wine.
  • Herbal tea.
  • Open windows in the spring and summer.
  • My kitty cats.
  • Vacations at Raquette Lake, New York.
  • Spring breaks at Grayton Beach, Florida.
  • Vacations at Lake Pend O'Reille, Idaho where we all together are still finishing building the new cabin and fixing up the old ones.
  • Get togethers of any kind with extended family.
  • The videos that my husband makes of our family events.
  • The winter holiday season (all of the holidays during that time and the way that everyone comes together in joy for the season).
  • Giving to charity.
  • Watching my kids sled down a hill.
  • Watching my kids wade into an Indiana creek fully dressed because it is so hot.
  • Watching my daughter jump into every mud puddle she can find on a hike through the woods.
  • Spontaneous kisses from my daughter.
  • Having a beer in a local brew pub.
  • Sitting under a blanket with the whole family, watching a movie.
  • Making someone laugh.
  • Someone making me laugh.
  • A job well done (or sometimes just  . . . done).
  • Taking and editing photographs.
  • Heartfelt messages from contacts on Flickr, Facebook or blogs.
  • Connecting with complete strangers on Flickr, but feeling like we can be friends.
  • My health.
  • My real life friends.
  • My husband.
  • My life. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Time Capsule

This is a 'time capsule' of Superbowl Sunday. This was done for Kim Klassen's Beyond Layers class (guest prompt by Xanthe Berkeley). The Superbowl was in Indianapolis this year (I live just outside in a town called Zionsville). I am not really a sports fan . . . especially not football, but even so, it was exciting. I was proud of the city of Indianapolis to have been able to host this event and proud that Indy has gotten  rave reviews for the setup and the hosting. The weather was quite remarkable for the whole week leading up to the Superbowl . . . 50 to 60s everyday; unusual for February in Indiana.  The only day of rain was on the Saturday before the Superbowl, but I don't think that stopped anyone from having a good time.

Of course, we did not go to the game. In fact, we did not do much in downtown Indy. We went to the little celebration our town of Zionsville hosted in Lion's park, which included a strange synthetic 'ice' rink (honestly, it did not look fun, so we skipped that), a pretty cool blow up 'toboggan run' that the kids enjoyed and a video game trailer (that my son especially liked because we let him play Halo).

We watched the game on TV (actually on the computer hooked up to the TV since we do not have cable and for some reason the one network channel we do not get via our rabbit ear antenna (yes, hooked to our 42 inch plasma TV) is NBC--go figure. I am not sure why, but with the internet feed, they did not show the half time show. I missed Madonna. Well, I know I can just 'youtube' the halftime show now at anytime. I have yet to do that, but I will . . .and I'm looking forward to seeing it . . .  hey, I grew up with Madonna. I used to record myself singing 'Material Girl' into my cassette player/recorder to play back to myself (no-one else around of course!) so I could fantasize about being a famous pop singer.


Friday, February 3, 2012

Kim Klassen gave us some story board templates to work with in Photoshop. I have not done this before but I think I could put these together forever and not ever get bored. The challenge for me is to pick just the right pictures (even going back a long time, if I can sort through them and figure out what old photos would look nice grouped together). That will continue to be a challenge.

I am not completely happy with this result, but I think it is an okay start and I can live with it. I could not figure out how to change the color of the bottom bar and I sort of wanted to stick with the 'theme' of just detached petals or flowers, but for now I did not have enough of them that I had taken and processed recently. I used this exercise for the purpose of working with the template and figuring out how to put these together. That part is fairly easy because of Kim's video tutorial.

I have yet to put together my time capsule storyboard, but I am looking forward to that . . . that is more of a challenge for me. I do tend to like these simple macros and I still have not grown as much as I want in photographing people or everyday moments that I might otherwise overlook. I am looking forward to giving that a go . . . even though I am playing a bit of catch up at this time with the course (already).