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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Pets Are Family Too

Pictured above you see the loving and sweet Bruno (aka Meathead, B, Little Brother). This shot was taken just this past Sunday on an outing to the lake. He thouroughly enjoyed himself as did we all. I apologize for the slight blurriness of the image, but trying to get this dog to hold still for a picture is like trying to get a shot of Loch Ness or Big Foot!

If you've been reading my blog for a while, then you already know that B was a rescue from a local shelter and was adopted as a Christmas gift for my love, Kevin. Kevin made a trip to the shelter in November to pick out a dog, fully intending upon heading that way to get the German Shepard that he read about on the shelter's website. He has a fondness for that breed and was looking forward to having another one. Upon arriving (with my daughter Amy in tow) he looked at numerous dogs, including the German Shepard and Bruno. The shepard was a good bit younger and would be in need of all the training that is required of a new puppy. When they were shown Bruno, the shelter worker pointed out that Bruno was already housebroken. That sealed the deal, my past expieriences with dogs in the house was unpleasant (to say the least) and I am grateful to my daughter and to Kevin for keeping that in mind while he was picking out his dog.

The shelter is a great one, to tell the truth, they updated all the dog's shots, did heartworm tests, and even microchipped him. Since November, Bruno has been a loving part of our family that we have all enjoyed and cherished. The Monday after our trip to the Lake, Kevin took Bruno to the vet for a checkup. Since we've had him, he has had some days (frequently, like once a week) where he will not eat anything but grass. We assumed that it was his diet, or that he was still anxious from the adoption. We purchased high quality sensitive stomach dog food for him and it still did not get better. We had been wanting to take him to the vet for a while, but funds were always low and we put it off. Monday, Bruno was diagnosed with heartworms.

I can only assume that he is not horribly infested since he tested negative right before we adopted him. However, the treatment is harsh, no matter the level of infestation. The newest treatment available is much less dangerous than the previous option, but there is still the chance of death. In a nutshell, the dog recieves 2 shots spaced out in 24 hours and must remain calm and quiet for the next 3-6 weeks. This means no playing, running, barking, nothing. The best chance of survival is to make sure the dog rests as much as is possible.

Now Kevin loves his dog as he would a little brother and is very attached to him. The dog in turn is very attached to Kevin. The make a great pair and are very good for each other. Kevin is beside himself with worry for Bruno. To see him today, he looks thin and tired compared to the photo above and that is just in 4 days time. I have faith that Bruno will pull through this treatment as he is young and strong and his love for Kevin is great. I think I am actually more concerned for Kevin's wellbeing during this time, as he is prone to worry and doubt. It has been proven (by someone or many someones whose names I cannot recall) that pets are good for the soul. Please, say a quick prayer for both Kevin and Bruno that they will both make it through this difficult time will little to no ill effects.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Shutter Love Tuesday - Water

As I'm browsing through my list of blogs that I follow I came across a post from The Photographed Past with an entry to Shutter Love Tuesday hosted by The Trendy Treehouse. Being the aspiring photographer that I am, I had to join up and enter a photo.

The theme for this week is "Water". Apparently, so long as there is water involved in the image, there are no other requirements. I absolutely love this concept! So here is my entry for this week's theme.

I apologize if the image is large, but Blogger is not wanting to let me upload my images tonight. Instead, I went to my Photobucket account and linked to the image there.

Please be sure to stop by The Trendy Treehouse to see more "Water" images and vote for your favorite. (Which, of course, would be mine...right?) Click the logo below to get to this week's entries.

I ♥ Faces - Smiles

This week at I ♥ Faces the theme is smiles. I happened to caputure a sweet image of my friend's daughter at the shoot I did last month. I think this smile is perfect.

Now...if I can only get my entry in!!! To see more Smiles click the I ♥ Faces logo below!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

This Week's Featured Image Week 12

I used an older image for last week's Featured Image, from the Farm Life Series. I really enjoyed taking those shots and I'm rather impressed with how well they turned out (if I do say so myself) considering they were taken on my cell phone.
The original image was a little less colorful, I had to 'green up' the grass and boost the saturation some. Then I added the Lighting to darken the outer part of the image. I would show you the original image, but unfortunately it is saved on my laptop, which is not being cooperative at this time.

Hope you enjoyed this image, and that you like the one for this week as well. That one I took just today during a walk around the lake. I took many more and will be working on those to add some new images to my Tree Series, my Flower Series, and my ABC Photography Series. As usual, all the images you see on the Featured Image are available to purchase as prints if you visit my Shop. Some of the newer images (like the ones taken today) have not been added to the gallery just yet, but keep checking back.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

I ♥ Faces - Collage

If I hadn't been feeling like hammered dog doodoo earlier this week, here is what I would have entered for this week's I ♥ Faces challenge. This week the challenge was to do a collage, and I had this GREAT idea, or at least I thought it was great, to do an 'old style' collage. As in, I didn't use a collage template, there are no borders and I even cut out some of the images. It reminds me of the collage pages from my High School yearbook. I also cut up my own pictures when I was younger and made personal collages for my notebooks and walls. While there is nothing wrong with using the templates, I have used some myself, I just wanted to go with something different. Enjoy my collage, and be sure to click the links below it to see other entries as well as the winners!

And for the winners of the challenge, click below:

Friday, April 23, 2010

Vitamin D

Vitamin D stands for "DUH, that's what's wrong with me!"

I went to the Dr Tuesday after leaving work early because I felt horrible. I didn't feel sick exactly, no sneezing, couching, congestion sort of thing. I can't be that simple. Anyone who knows me well knows that I don't leave work if I am not in major pain or super sick. They also would know that I don't visit the Dr unless I feel I can't get better on my own. I don't go to the doctor when I get a cold, or anything like that, I just buy cough medicine. Anyway, I was at work feeling....ok (I have been feeling a little 'off' for a while now) then all of the sudden I get hit with nausea, mild pain in my neck and shoulder, exhaustion, and dizziness. I tried to bear through it, but as the time passed, I felt worse. My neck, while it didn't hurt exactly, felt like it was about to buck under the strain of holding my head up. The tension from my neck and shoulders was working it's way up and causing me one heck of a headache, and I felt like just collapsing! I knew this was bad, my head is not so large that my neck should have difficulty holding it up. So I called my employees to find someone to come work my shift. When I got someone who was able to come it, I called a made an appointment for that afternoon. After waiting for a VERY long time, and dozing off in the exam room, I finally was seen. I explained what was going on and she asked if I had been coughing or been sick, to which I replied "no". She briefly mentioned meningitis and said it was unlikely since I could actually move my neck without extreme pain. When she mentioned the test for meningitis was a spinal tap, I was quick to confirm that yes I could move my neck ok, it was more uncomfortable than painful.

After a short discussion, she decided to send me for some labwork, just to cover all the bases. I was to have a few broad tests, then she added a Vitamin B, and Vitamin D test to check my levels on those. Today, I finally got a call from her nurse and was told that all my labwork was normal except for my Vitamin D levels. They were rather low, so I would need to take a supplement once a week that I could pick up at the pharmacy.

When I got home, I did some research on Vitamin D deficiency and found some rather interesting information. Low levels of Vitamin D can cause all sorts of problems such as, weak bones or soft bones, weak muscles, fatigue and lack of energy, depression symptoms, and mood swings, to name a few. This makes sense to me, I have had no energy for a while now. I am always tired, even after a full night of sleep. I have had a couple doctors prescribe me depression meds which did not help me at all! (one of them actually just made me feel worse) I can be in a perfectly fine mood, then be grouchy or weepy all of a sudden. I don't know if my bones are weak or soft though...not sure how to find that out without breaking something and I'd rather not test that.

One of the sites I found information on stated that Vitamin D deficiency is more common than people think. A doctor decided to test his patients and found about 85% of them to have low levels of Vitamin D. If you have any (or all) of the symptoms I mentioned above, you might ask your doctor to test your Vitamin D levels. And here's the real kicker, while there's no real definitive evidence, there is a correlation to low Vitamin D levels and weight gain (or inability to lose or keep weight off). I cringed at the weight I was shown when I stepped on the scale at the doctor's office. I am the heaviest I have ever been and I do not like it one bit. I am hoping that what I read is true and that by reintroducing the needed Vitamin D into my system I will be able to start losing some weight again. I will be sure to keep everyone up to date.

Hope everyone has a great weekend, and remember to ask for that test! It's a simple blood test that can be done with very little pain or time!

I ♥ Faces - Fix It Friday #51

It's that time again! I haven't been posting this week due to feeling rather poorly, but I'm feeling better and I'll have a post up tomorrow about my down and out week. I was going to post it today, but I can't give up the chance to do a Fix-It-Friday from I ♥ Faces! So here we are...the original image:
The request for this image was to bring out the eyes and brighten the colors. Here is my fix:

Now for what I did...keep in mind, I do not use Photoshop, I use a program called PhotoImpact X3. I will give directions for what I did based on what the actions are called in my program, I am sure there are similar actions in every editing program.
First, I used Smart Curves, I am not sure what type of camera was used to take the picture so I ran through all the options available and ended up using the settings for Sony.
Next, I used the clone airbrush at 50% transparency to clone out some of the blurred falling snow that showed up on her right cheek, inbetween her eyes and just a tiny bit of her hat. I also used it to darken her left cheek as it seemed overexposed a bit.
I entered Mask Mode and masked off her entire face, then went into Hue & Saturation and increased the Saturation to +40. That brought out the colors of the scarf and hat nicely without making it look overprocesses in my opionion.
I entered Mask Mode again and blocked everything but her eyes and once again bumped the Saturation to +40. This brightened up her eyes just enough.
Finally, I cropped the image.

That's it! Not too difficult and now there is a brighter photo of a beautiful little girl. To see more fixes, be sure to visit I ♥ Faces and see what others have done, to get there, click the image below.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

This Week's Featured Image Week 11

Well, I have gone back to posting just one photo since I will hopefully stay on top of the weekly images now. Since Spring is here at last I have taken quite a few new images for my Flower series, a lot of roses since my bushes are blooming. I am hoping to get out to the lake and get some bluebonnet pictures soon, as well as any others I can get my camera focused on. I had intended to make a trip to the Botanical Gardens this weekend, but plumbing problems took that idea right out. Maybe next weekend or the one after. So without further ado, last week's featured image(s):
Last week I posted two images, one from my Tree Series and one from my Flower series. The tree was taken at the lake on a hiking path. I loved the shape of the tree at the lake and the sepia tone really added to the feel in my opinion. The flower was a bloom from the pear tree in my back yard. I increased the contrast and made the image black and white.

Hope you enjoyed the images from last week and that you like the one for this week as well. All of my featured images are offered as prints for sale at my Shop.

Friday, April 16, 2010

I ♥ Faces - Fix It Friday #50

It's friday again (thank GOD!) I am so ready for the weekend, here's to hoping I can sleep in late and have a restful weekend. Maybe I'll get motivated to go take some pictures since the kids are both gone for the weekend. Anyway, it is Fix-It-Friday at I ♥ Faces and I've been slacking off lately. I decided I'd have a go at fixing the image for this week. The original image is a great shot, positioning is wonderful, the only problem is that it turned out a bit dark. Here is the original:

I love her eyes, they are gorgeous and the distressed building behind her is a great background. Here is my 'fix':

And now for what I did.... (Disclaimer- as usual I would like to point out that I do NOT use Photoshop, I have a different program called PhotoImpact. I am certain that there are the same or at least similar features and actions to what I used in most photoediting programs, but I will list them as I see them in my program.)

First, I started off using Smart Curves to brighten and lighten the image. Since I wasn't sure what type of camera was used I ran through the list in my program and ended up using the one for Nikon. It produced a nicely brightened image without the graying that will sometimes occur with changing the brightness.

Next, I used an action called Beautify Skin. The posting on I ♥ Faces commented that the taker of the image wanted to learn about smoothing out the skin. The action I used smoothed out her skin just a bit, enough to make a difference, but not so much as to make her look like plastic.

After I smoothed the skin, I used a Clone Airbrush to diminish some of the blemishes that were prominent. I would have liked to have had a larger image to do this with, as it is easier to touch up when the image is larger. My idea was not to make her look fake, so I didn't do a whole lot of touch up here.

Lastly, I used the Enhance Lighting feature to brighten the entire image up just a little bit more. In my program this feature allows adjustment of a Fill Flash and Enhance Shadow. I moved the Enhance Shadow to -40 to make the bright red of the background pop a little more.

Well, there you have it. There are many more fixes to look at on the I ♥ Faces site. Be sure to click the link below to check them out.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Ink Blot Testing - Without the Ink

I began working on some new pictures for a new series being inspired by an article I read. Smoke photography is very popular right now, and I personally love it. I haven't been able to produce any really great images with it, mainly due to my lack of equiptment at present, but I have come up with a couple that I like.

What I found interesting with the smoke was that it reminded me of the Ink Blot Tests or Rorschach Test.

Per Wikipedia:
     "The Rorschach test (German pronunciation: [ˈʁoɐʃax]; also known as the Rorschach inkblot test or simply the Inkblot test) is a psychological test in which subjects' perceptions of inkblots are recorded and then analyzed using psychological interpretation, complex scientifically derived algorithms, or both."

I don't intend to psycoanalyze anyone, but I am curious what other people see. I have seen shapes in the smoke images I have created thus far so here it is...what do you see?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Interesting Trivia

I've always been a fan of trivia. I downloaded an application on my phone a while back that was nothing but trivia. As I was reading through it again one day, because I was bored. I realized that some of the things were kind of funny, and worth sharing.

     *One quarter of the bones in your body are in your feet.
     *More people are killed each year from bees than from snakes.
     *The average lead pencil will draw a line 35 miles long or write approximately 50,000 English words.
     *It's against the law to burp or sneeze in a church in Nebraska, USA.
     *You are born with 300 bones, but by the time you become an adult, you only have 206.
     *The longest recorded flight of a chicken is 13 seconds.

And my favorite:

     *Beetles taste like apples, wasps like pine nuts, and worms like fried bacon.

Looks like I need to invest in some worms considering my love of bacon!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

This Week's Featured Image Week 9 & 10

I have been pretty busy lately and have missed changing the featured image quite a few times. This is why I have been putting more than one image on when I do get a chance to change them. I had to recreate the title image base, because the computer I was using to do them has been giving me a lot of problems of late. I can rarely get it to turn on, much less keep it running long enough to do anything.

This was Week 9, which actually lasted about a month and a half before I had the time to change it. This image was taken with my new Canon Rebel EOS XS. I did very little to the original image, just a little bit of additional blacking of the background. Gotta love those digital SLRs.

These two images were for Week 10, (if I recall correctly it lasted for 2 weeks). The image of the tree to the left was taken for a weekend assignment challenge from Digital Photography School on silhouettes. I took this picture at the local park. The adjustments I made to it were to remove the lens flare, brighten and contrast, and I believe I used Diffuse Glow as well.
The leaf was taken while hiking at the lake not too far from my home. I used B&C (or possibly Smart Curves I can't remember) to enhance the leaf. Then I extracted the leaf as an object and created a new background for it using a picture of a fossil I took in my home and some gradient fills. I think I also used some motion blur on the background for interest. Added a shadow to the leaf and there you have it.

Hopefully I will start doing better about adding the new Featured Images each week, now that I've recreated the title file on this computer where I can access it regularly. I hope you enjoyed these previous featured images as well as the new one. Don't forget, you can purchase prints of any of these images on my Order Page. I am also working on a new series that has caught my attention and seems to be a popular one with photographers. Keep an eye out for these new images to start showing up on my Photography Blog.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Frozen Mice & my Twisted Child

I had to work late today because of meetings, they were long and pretty boring, but required occasionally so no help for it. My daughter called me when she got home from school and I asked her to please get out some mice to feed the snakes tonight. The snakes get fed once a week on Thursday, and for those of you who do not like snakes there are NO snake pictures in this post. At 7:00 pm roughly I finally make it home and what do I hear from my daughter but "You want to know what I named the mice?"

Keep in mind that the mice are dead, frozen and kept in the freezer until feeding night. It's healther and safer for the snakes to feed on non-live mice, less chance of infection or injury. Back to the mice though...I'm not sure if they're put in the bag alive then flash frozen or what, but sometimes they are in some very odd positions. Therefore, they inspired my daughter (my somewhat twisted and demented daughter) to name them.

The Karate Kid

Cute huh? That's not even the best one!! She named one the Michael Jackson Zombie...didn't impress me much so I didn't take a picture. The other one though, wow...too funny. Keep in mind that the names came from my 12 year old daughter, no addional input from anyone. Here's my favorite:

Chubby Uncle Sam
"I want YOU!"
Yup...can you see it...it's too awesome! Makes an equally twisted and demented mother like me proud! Have a great day!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Aces High - Review & Giveaway

So here we go, my first review and giveaway. I was sent this book, Aces High by Bill Yenne to read and review. I was so thrilled for many reasons, it was my first chance to do a reveiw, it was on a good subject, and I have a sorta military background which I had hoped meant I wouldn't have too many confusing parts to read.

Aces High is is the story of the two top aces of World War II, Richard Bong and Thomas McGuire. It starts with an introduction to what an ace is and how as the times changed, so did the role of our heroes. From midevil knights to fighter pilots. I enjoyed the opening quite a bit, the comparison of the old versus the new. It was a great start. Then it begins the story of the two men, again, I was enjoying the book. As the book progressed, however, it seemed to jump all over the timeline as well as jump from the two main characters to technical info about the planes that were being built at the time. I had a very hard time keeping up with 'when' it was in the story and I felt the details of the planes was a little much. I have yet to finish the book as I have a hard time getting through one chapter with the way it is written. I think the idea for this book is excellent, I just don't personally care for the presentation. I would love to get to the end to find out which of the two men was actually the top ace and find out what all happened to them. Perhaps I will in time.

I'm not trying to say that the book is bad, it's just not written for someone like me. I hope that whoever wins the copy of this book can read it and enjoy it.

This review was sponsored by The Penguin Group. All opinions are 100% mine and no compensation was given for the review of this item.

Now for the giveaway part!! I'm going to make this simple. To win, you must leave a comment telling me what you want to be when you grow up. (OK...so most of you are grown, it can be what you wanted to be when you were a kid.) That's it. I will run the contest for 2 weeks. On the 21st of April I will use a random number generator to determine the winner.

In case you're wondering why I'm not offering additional entries, here's why:
     1)I would love for you to follow my blog, facebook, twitter etc, but not just to gain an entry. I would like the people following me to actually be interested in my blog and not just the giveaway.
     2)If you're a busy person, sometimes it's just too much to ask to create a post or tweet about the giveaway every day and I find that gives some people an unfair advantage in winning.

I'm looking forward to reading your comments!!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Writer's Workshop

Sometimes when it’s hard to see with the eyes I’ve been given, I strap on my camera and pray for new ones... I strapped on my camera yesterday and took some new pics of my kids.

Inspired by Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop, to see others click the image below.