Thursday, March 28, 2013

Oliver's Visitors

I've often awoken to the sound of Oliver pushing himself behind the wood blinds in our bedroom, speeding to the kitchen which leaves the wood blinds clanging against the window, and then speeding back to repeat the process.  We wondered what his little cat eyes were spying out there and we've since been introduced to a host of visiting friends.

If he is focused like a laser, you can usually count on a visitor right outside the window.

In this case, my mother-in-law's dog ran up the back porch and Ollie does his best Honey Badger impersonation.  He don't care.  He don't give a $#*+.  But that's the dog.

Feline playmates?  Oh hello gorgeous!

How you doin'?

I particularly love the sulking teenager look he's flashing me here: "Mom, Mooooom, I've got a honey here and can't have you cramping my style. Oh crap, not the camera.  Please Mom."

I haven't seen this beauty come back, but I have seen a huge raccoon and two other kitties!  Do your pets have regular friends that drop by for visits?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Bernal Heights Neighborhood Walk

I finally edited photographs I took on an urban hike in our neighborhood last month.  Enjoy this little photo essay - more trips and house updates are forthcoming!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Friday Finds - 80s Ski Fun

There's probably at least two more weekends before the slopes close out here.  Even the traffic over the pass to get to South Lake Tahoe doesn't seem so bad a memory after an awesome weekend shredding the pow pow as our friend took to calling it.  If you're eeking out the last bit of ski fun or if you're already dreaming about next season, here's a little collection of retro neon inspiration!


Clockwise from Top L:
A Colorful Life - Sugarloaf Ski Resort Wedding Seating Chart
Madame Glam - 80s Vintage Ski Suit
Ocean Swept - Vintage Ski Tote
Awake 87 - Vintage Sunglasses

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Flashback to Being Mistaken for a Boy

My usual hair trimming routine prioritizes philanthropy, convenience, value and quality.  Pretty much in that order.  In what may be considered a colossally risky venture, I have walked into random salons, taken free student cuts and had a friend's mom trim split ends.  I pushed my luck one too many times it seems. 

For the first time since 1996, when I insisted I wanted an Olympic gymnast inspired cut, I cried over a haircut.  I melted into a hypocrite refusing any comfort of cuteness or promises of it growing out.  I hung my hands around the back of naked neck and tried to process the emotional scalping I had just endured.  

Even as it was happening, there seemed to be too much hair on the floor. But I lose hope at every haircut when my wet limp hair clings to my face, the salon mirrors reflecting every imperfection I perceive in my profile and complexion.  I hoped against hope this would end the same way with a round brush and hairdryer breathing life into the cut.  

I'm still replaying the next sequence of events in my mind where the stylist used a regular flat brush to slick my hair back insisting I was going to love it. Then I heard the clippers buzzing and felt the tiny teeth eating away the baby curlicue hairs on my neck. The finishing touches of leave-in spray conditioner greased me like a suckling pig ready for Sunday Roast.  I forced a smile, paid, and then fled to the nearest bathroom I could find. Brisk rubbing with several paper towels took the greasy edge off but couldn't save the windblown pathetic bangs he had completely ignored. I salvaged what I could with a pair of bobby pins and hoped to lay low during my bus ride home.

The memories of the hyperbolic trauma of being mistaken for a boy left me self conscious and embarrassed. My 12-year-old self, trying to cover a short haircut and pre-pubescent figure with makeup and skirts, resurfaced with all her insecurities about her place in the world. I immediately started the shower when I got home, anxious to see the grease and memories wash down the drain. KOIT 99.5 played Journey, filling the steamy stall and reminding me of the paths that brought me to 29-years-old. My skin is eerily the same, an acne prone T zone that I still massage with apricot scrub.  My figure is fuller though, my hips worthy of child bearing now.  I hear the trickle down the drain, the hair catch basket swirling with brunette strays.

My pink hairdryer and my round brush know what to do. I let my hair sweep to the side it naturally falls.  12-year-old me fades away and the me of today stares back. I see my hips aren't the only thing that changed. The journey has gifted me confidence. No one will mistake me for a boy now.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Digital Photography Shop

Mr. P gave me a digital photography class for Christmas and I cashed it in last week.  The class was run by Future Light Digital Workshops and served as my first introduction to digital photography.  I was in good company as at least a few others in the class had only film training as well. Since it was a beginner's class, I wasn't sure if it was going to be too basic for me since I already understood aperture and shutter speed. Though the workshop did cover the basics, I also learned a few really valuable tips.

The first lesson that has made a night and day difference in my photo taking skills is the white balance.  I pretty much always used auto and it pretty much always did just on OK job. I learned how to set custom white balances for indoor spaces using a grey card and I'll definitely be buying one to tuck into my camera case from now on.  Take a look at the automatic indoor white balance setting:

 And now, after the custom white balance has been set:

There were a few props in the workshop room which also nearly convinced me to buy a small studio white box. I struggle a lot to find uncluttered backgrounds in good light.  Here the focus is all on the glasses:

Then we took to the streets to practice in natural light. I remembered that I need time to observe and create. Setting aside even 20 minutes to walk around with my camera was the difference between me taking pictures of things and me seeing pieces of life to document.  

(Funny aside - can you tell which people in the photo below are students and which are waiting for the MUNI bus?)

Finally, we took it back inside for a crash course in Light Room. I never thought it was truly worth it to shoot in RAW until I saw the benefits of editing in Light Room.  I had been shooting in Ultra Fine JPEG then editing in Picasa because it was free and worked for my purposes of online publishing.  However, more recently I've wanted to print pictures and order gallery canvases.  The quality and control using RAW and Light Room that I witnessed made me a convert.  The workshop was a really useful way to play around with the tools in real life whereas before I just sortof heard other blog friends talking about it.  I've been shooting in RAW since the workshop and ordered a copy of Light Room for editing (though I'll still use Picasa/G+ to save and post).

What are the most valuable digital photography tips you've learned?  Have you been self taught or taken classroom training?