Photography

[Random photo to make this post slightly more interesting.]

In February, I’ll be leading a small photography workshop at a women’s conference for the second year in a row. I’m excited about this and want to fine tune and freshen up last year’s presentation.

Something that would help me a lot is if I got some feedback about what people want to know. The workshop will cover basics and is meant for the average person who wants to improve their everyday photos. It’s not heavy on the technical aspects of photography, though I am thinking of adding more to that side of things this year. What do you think? I only have an hour, so I have to choose my topics wisely.

If you can think of any questions you’ve had about photography, please comment (or email) and let me know. Just toss out some ideas of topics that you think people would be curious about, please!

I may discuss some tips here one day, but I don’t actually know how many of my millions of readers are interested in that sort of topic, and I don’t necessarily feel all that qualified anyway. I just know how much I have learned from other blogs, so I’d be honored to be helpful to someone in this area. If you ever wonder about the settings or even the editing on a photo I post here, please feel free to ask.

Fall + Games

Happy equinox to you and you and you! To me, it’s now fall. To poemy people, it’s now autumn. To people in the southern hemisphere, it’s been spring for awhile now. They don’t start their seasons on equinoxes and solstices, I don’t think. That’s a fun fact for you (plus free alliteration!).

I know I just posted today, but I had written that post a couple of days ago, so it feels like I haven’t posted in awhile. Not that I’ve had anything important to say, but since when does that stop me?

First, here’s a photo I took today:

Not very fally, huh? It does actually feel kind of spring-like around here, lately. Okay, the photography portion of my entry is now complete.

Here are the games I’ve been playing lately. No, not Bubble Spinner (spin spin spin). By the way, I stole these little images from places on the web. It was just easier.


Vector TD
Why do I like this game? It’s ridiculous. I’m ridiculous. There’s actually a newer version out, but I prefer this first one.


Cribbage
For some reason I’ve been in love with this card game since shortly after I learned how to play. I didn’t pick it up right away, but then it suddenly clicked and now it’s one of my favorite card games. I’m a total Cribbage Patch Kid. I like it in real life, too, but it’s handy to have the computer tally my score for me. 🙂


Cassino
Another great card game, but you can’t exactly play it online anywhere (that I know of). This is a game you can purchase and then connect to others who have the same game installed, or just play the computer. I hate the name, because it makes it impossible to look it up online (it’s often spelled with just one s) and it sounds like I’m playing slots.

Have you played any of these games? Do you have any game recommendations? I apparently need to waste more time.

Photo Contest

Happy Friday!

I’m entering the state fair photo contest again, and my prints just arrived in the mail. If they get chosen to be displayed (I think at least 30% do), I’ll show you which ones they are (though you have already seen them here). (Could I use more parentheses?) I’m too unsure of myself to show you now and then find out they were rejected. Although, last year I discovered that I don’t necessarily agree with the judges, as many of the winning photos seemed just okay to me. Mine was chosen to display, which was thrilling since it was my first entry into that contest. Then I saw the others that were chosen and the compliment didn’t feel quite as complimentary anymore. Especially since I had received the minimum score to make it to the show.

But I’m entering again, just for the fun of it. It’s nice, because they send you the scores you received from the judges. This time I chose two photos. I wanted to have larger prints made (last year mine looked so tiny compared to the others!), but it gets expensive, and I wasn’t in the mood to spend so much. Especially since the ones I am submitting aren’t necessarily the kind I’ll hang on my wall later.


Now, for funzies (as my sister and brother-in-law would say), this is the one I submitted last year. It’s kind of a cliche subject, but I liked how it turned out.


Here it is hanging up at the fair. It’s hard to tell that it looked small, but it really did. Yeah, I see the sign. I obviously took this on the sly with my cell phone, and maybe I should be locked up in jail, but I think it should be allowed for the actual photographer to take a quick photo of their own picture! I wanted a record of it hanging up.

Portfolio

No news on the butterflies. The chrysalises look the same as they did last time I posted about them! I am actually a tiny bit worried that they are just dead now, but I tend to translate no change to mean bad, when often everything is fine. There’s no reason they should be unhealthy–I have left them alone and the temps have been fine.

So that isn’t why I’m posting. I’m really just here to say that I finally put my photo portfolio up. The web design is nothing to be proud of, but I don’t have the right software to do everything I’d like (and I’m definitely not the world’s best at html, etc.). I used Simple Viewer, and got some help from a computery friend to customize it a bit. Mostly, I just wanted to get something up there to point people to if they are interested in having some portraits done. That came up last week, which is what prompted me to just get it done today (that and the fact that it’s all hot outside). So there you go, peruse if you wish.

I’m still deciding on a new name, and once I do (when I’m old and gray) I’ll switch out of the Hello Butterfly theme. It’s too easy to find reasons to put things off, so I decided not to let the old name get in the way.

Aren’t you glad to know all of that info?

I wanted to post a photo, since entries are funner with photos (don’t you think?), but I haven’t taken any lately, besides a couple for work. So then I thought I’d find a photo from one year ago today, and the funny thing is that I took pictures on July 23 and July 25, but not the 24th! So…nevermind. I’m going shopping.

Blogs

I thought I’d share some blogs that I follow, because I’m sure you are very curious. Although, I also know that you’re not.

I actually have 122 blog subscriptions, according to Google Reader, but that’s very misleading. A handful are blogs that are password protected, and though Google is supposed to at least notify me that they’ve been updated, it doesn’t. Then there is an even bigger handful (probably of someone with larger hands than mine) of blogs I have subscribed to and later learned that the person never updates, but I just haven’t cleared them off. And then there are those who update, but only very rarely.

So once you remove all of those, I probably only see 20 or 30 blogs on a regular basis, and many of those are skimmed. That’s me–I’m a skimmer!

Now that we’ve established that important information, here are just a few selections, by category:

Funny
Cake Wrecks – People submit photos of professionally-done cakes that are poorly done and the blogger says funny things about them.

Awkward Family Photos – Same idea, but photos.

Big Mama –  Just a funny writer talking about her day-to-day life as a mom in the south.

Photography
Michelle Moore – A senior portrait and fashion photographer in Seattle that I get a lot of good ideas/inspiration from. And humility, of course.

Whitebox – A photographer (different types of portraits from children to weddings) that I like and who updates pretty frequently.

This category can go on and on, so I’ll probably link you to more another time.

Cooking

Mennonite Girls Can Cook – Daily recipes, all including photos.

Simply Recipes – A very popular recipe blog that I just learned more background on from a post she did yesterday. Also, she’s from Carmichael, CA, which I thought was cool.. I didn’t realize she was so local (to where I grew up, I mean).

Friends
More of my friends are starting blogs, but not a lot of them are actually keeping up with them. Still, I’ll start you off with a couple. I will share more as they become more active. Yes, I’m talking about you, Jennifer!

Unhistoric Acts – Brenda is one of my closest friends and she has a very easy-to-read style of writing. She also has the ability to restate rambly, complicated ideas in a concise manner, which always impresses me.

Pearls & Picket Fences – Laura is a new mom and relatively new wife. I have appreciated her realness and encouragement over the years. She’s not afraid to be honest about her struggles and yet she’s also a very cheerful, godly woman.

Feel free to share some links with me!

Purchases

It feels like forev since I posted last, but it was just Wednesday. Things have been hectic in the life of Jessica, but tonight I’m free as a bird. Well, as a bird that lives in a large cage–like the ones at zoos. I’m a Lorikeet. I have some stuff to accomplish, but nothing too time-consuming.

At this time yesterday I was wearing shorts and had all my windows open. Now I’m in fleece polar bear* pants and am contemplating turning on the heater. Oh Oregon…just decide! (And it better be the right decision.)

I have a yummy lasagna recipe to post about, but instead of two recipe posts in a row (boring!) I’ll hold off and show you some of the stuff I’ve bought recently. Get very excited!!!!


Awhile back I got a free sample of the SJP Lovely Collection. Normally I avoid celebrity perfumes (it’s too hard to explain why, but maybe I can sum it up with two words: Electric Youth), but many of my standards change when the word “free” is involved. Anyway, I wasn’t impressed with Endless and Twilight, but I loved Dawn. It has a clean, tea-ish scent. I decided it was going to be my reward for accomplishing a personal goal. It’s just too bad the bottle isn’t more interesting.


More extravagance. I had company this weekend and wanted some nice flowers on the table. After mulling over various more temporary options, I decided to go for the orchids. They last so much longer** than cut flowers and they are a great photo subject, so I think I will consider them an educational investment and mark my tax forms accordingly.


This is thrilling, I’m sure. 🙂 It really is, though. At 5’1, I have a hard time reaching most standard chains on ceiling lights/fans, plus my ceilings are taller than average. Now that it’s becoming ceiling fan season, I need to not have to get my stepstool every time the temps change (see paragraph two).


These last three are seedlings I purchased for my new planter that a friend sent. You’ll definitely be seeing these again as I track the growth. I chose these petunias because the hummingbird at the plant store seemed excited about them.


And I chose these because I have a thing for yellow flowers.


And I chose these because I didn’t really know what else to get. 😐

Here is my May wish: that someone would take my laptop and fill it with RAM. Work in Photoshop (or any Adobe program) is becoming a major test of my patience, and I am failing.

*They aren’t made of polar bear fur nor did they used to belong to a polar bear (I don’t think), they just have pictures of polar bears on them.
**Though with me as their owner, their life might be cut short.

Topic Medley

I haven’t blogged for a couple of days because all of my topic ideas are boring. (And I’ve been slightly busy.) Well, maybe they aren’t boring to begin with, but I have a certain effect on them. I call it Jessica’s Special Treatment, available at a retailer near you.

But why fight the boredom? Instead, I will embrace it by telling you that today I got a new mouse pad at work. Who knew you could wear out a mouse pad? Not I, but after my mouse kept having issues with, well, pointing at things, I realized–through extremely scientific experimentation–that the worn areas of the pad were throwing it off. It has been 4.5 years, so I suppose it’s reasonable that it would be time for it to retire and enjoy a life of leisure.

Instead of a monotopical entry, I will instead give you a little of everything by touching (ever so lightly, much like the feather of a chickadee) on several topics I had in mind.

BLOGS: I follow many blogs, but one recent add to my Google Reader that I have enjoyed is Broken Secrets. It contains helpful facts and tricks that apply to everyday life.

GAMES: In case you have a need for (more) addictive computer games in your daily routine, I thought I’d start introducing you to some that I have enjoyed. Start with Bubble Spinner. I haven’t actually played it in months, because I burned myself out, but lately I’ve been kind of tempted to go back and spin it up real nice.

BEVERAGES: I think I’ve been totally converted to Coke Zero products as opposed to Diet. When they first came out, I really didn’t understand the difference and just ignored them, but now I find I’m disappointed when no Zero is available. Vanilla Zero is my favorite, but I like cherry and regular too. I drink too much soda.

HONESTY: My friend Laura “tagged” me to be all honest and stuff (as opposed to most of my entries, which are pure lies). I started compiling a list, but for now I’ll just give you one confession: Most of the books I read are very light. I want reading to be fun and relaxing, not a constant mental challenge. I once started Wuthering Heights and was lost within the first 20 minutes, so I never finished it. The combination of my poor reading comprehension and extreme procrastination issues might cause one to wonder how I ever graduated college. (No confessions on my final GPA, though I’m sure you’ve guessed there was no laude involved.)

YAY: Today I got off work an hour early! They were painting the floor down the hall, and the smell was very strong. We had been warned, but I didn’t actually think it would be a problem with our door closed. It was! I’m glad I escaped before a headache came on.

COOKING: I’ve been wanting to post more recipes here but there are two reasons why I haven’t: 1) The last few recipes I’ve made were either not that great or not very photogenic; 2) I’m not satisfied with my old photos of previous meals, so I’d rather make them again before I post about them.

Now I have other work to do, so bye.

Current Interests (continued)

This is continued from my first “current interests” post located here.


ANGEL

(Confession: I did not take that photo.)

So, my friend lent me his Angel DVDs, and up until a couple of years ago, I didn’t even know the show existed. Is it the best thing I could watch? Nope–it has scenes and qualities that I’m not thrilled about, for sure. But I got hooked and have enjoyed watching it during meals (not always a smart idea with some of those monsters) and laundry. I thought I was almost finished with the series, but I just learned there’s another season!


AVOCADOS

Awhile back I decided to buy an avocado (I tend not to buy them because they can be pricey and I didn’t trust my ability to choose the right ripeness) because they are delicious and nutritious. Oh and they were on sale. 😀 It must’ve hit the spot, because I couldn’t get it out of my mind and began buying them regularly and eating them with everything–sandwiches, salmon, chicken, scrambled eggs, etc. I was daydreaming about moving back to California and having an avocado tree in my back yard. They are the perfect addition to any meal–I even ate one on pizza the other day!


HERONS

(You can click on that small photo for a larger version if you want.)

My current nature photo goal is to take a decent (key word) photo of a heron. I see one every couple of days, but of course it always lands on a far off tree (that I can’t get to without a boat). Today I saw this one and waited until it flew so I could get some photos, but of course it’s hard to get anything decent at such a distance. One day.

Okay, this post is a little boring, but that’s life.

Current Interests

Like most people, I go through phases with what I prefer to eat, listen to, play, watch, etc. Here are some of the things I’m into right now. I’m not necessarily proud of this list, just so you know.


SCRABBLE

I recently re-found an old Scrabble computer game that I got years ago. I think the person who gave it to me got it free from their cereal box, which is pretty awesome. I’ve always loved Scrabble, but the problem with playing it with humans is that it can take such a long time for each turn. Playing at the computer means it’s always my turn (except the 2 seconds while “Maven” is taking his/her turn), so I can finish a game quickly (and start a new one…27 times per night). I get a lot of practice and can exchange my tiles without waiting an hour before I can play another word. It’s great–who needs people?

Since it’s an old program, it kind of jumps out of Windows (that sounds weird) so that my task bar isn’t showing, and I don’t know what time it is or if I have new email. It’s pretty dangerous, actually, because I tend to sink into a timeless, introspective bubble of smooth jazz (that’s what the game has playing), where words like QAT, XI and OE are the norm.

The above photo was taken last night so I could show my friend how much the game celebrates me. That brought some human interaction into the game, so now you know I’m not a complete robot-snowman-loner.


STARBUCKS ICED TEA AND SAFEWAY SANDWICHES

The Starbucks iced tea (with Splenda, no “classic”) is not so much a current interest as a lifelong pursuit of happiness, but I have definitely had my fair share lately. I can’t seem to not crave one, no matter the day or the weather. LOVE. Send me gift cards so I can buy more overpriced goodness.

As for the Safeway sandwich, well I can’t really explain this particular phase because it’s not like Safeway has the world’s best sandwiches. There are plenty of other great sandwich places, but I guess I got stuck on this one particular type that Safeway makes for me, and now I have been craving them very often (and giving in to said cravings more than I should). I think it started because I had one after a hike one day and it was so satisfying that I have had a nice association with it ever since. Ingredients: original split-crust roll, turkey, provolone, lettuce, and light on the mustard/mayo. It’s really nothing special. Okay, yes it is.

I have more, but this post is getting pretty long, so it’ll be continued later.