Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Amber and Chris - a tiny piece of their story

If you only ever read one post on my photography blog, make it this one.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Stuff I love a/k/a My decor is full of randomness

"Fill your home only with things you love." - Tip for decluttering.

Problem: I love everything!!!
No. Really. So many things I see just make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. In turn, I want to drag it home so I feel warm and fuzzy all the time.

Did I mention that my taste is all over the board? LOL. I realized this today while shooting these photos. I wanted to share 12 of my favorite recent acquisitions.

1. little blue deer planter. It's turquoise blue (my new fav color). It's antique and it's a DEER. I mean, come on.. how could I go wrong?
2. Mean owl face pillow. srsly. He's pissed about something. Probably people keep sitting on his face.Link3. Deer pillow. It has a deer. three. of. them. It technically has a price tag on the back. No one loved it in my booth as much as me, so I brought it home. poor deer.
4. Orange duck. It does nothing. it sits there on my desk. It stares at me. but.... buttt... he's cute.

5. My peanut trinket box. It's a big silver peanut.... to hider smaller peanuts in? I dunno, it spoke to me.
6-7. Watercolors. Bought at separate times, from the same booth. I've always had a soft spot for watercolors.
8. LOVE this huge terrarium. This was probably a bad idea, but it was such a good deal, and sooo pretty. I see lots of succulents in it. I also see it taking up a huge chunk of my counter space so it might find a new home when I grow tired of it.

9. A statue. Gene is into art (paintings and sculptures). He fell in love with this piece. It was sold as alabaster, but I think it's actually a composite alabaster material. No, it's not gay ... I think it's either Cain and Abel, or it's a roman god wrestling thing. I'm leaning towards wrestling as it's Italian.

10. Gene brought home this plate to add to my western kitchenware "collection" that I didn't realize I had until I hung the plate.

11 and 12. I bought the painting at the top first. It's so sweet, I have a soft spot for cows. (if you haven't noticed). #12 was a happy accidental find. It seemed so perfect with the first one, that I had to get it too. I decided to hang them with no frames, raw edged canvases between the bathroom and the guest room. They fit right in with the cowboy stuff next door.

So now I think that maybe I need to determine what "our style" is, so that I don't drag home so much stuff that I love. (I make it sound like I'm sitting under heaps.. I am not). If I go in with a style in mind, that might keep me from buying something I really don't "need" only because I Loooove it.

I love mid-century modern, quirky bordering on cartoonish. Gene loves renaissance style art. Surely there's a compromise somewhere in between or am I delusional?

Don't answer that.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

If you hate spiders, you will not enjoy this post... you are warned!

So apparently after the storm, this place was the coolest thing since sliced bread. Our theory is, that all the flowers are wiped out from the storm, and everyone is hungry. They had a truce for once, so everyone could get a drink before starting back in to air combat.

Sunday morning, we woke up to this:


She'd built her web right across our window, which is right next to the humming birds. Yep, she's pretty large, at least 3"-4" across with her legs. Big enough to eat a hummingbird.

Apparently hummingbirds are a curious creature.

They would fly up to check out the spider. I'm sure that was the STRANGEST looking hummingbird they'd ever seen!


And when they would, she'd reach out to "touch" them. Personally, I think she wanted to give them an extra special face kiss.

Gene BADLY wanted to get these shots, (most of these photos are by him) so he went outside so I could check my aperture (depth of field). In the process, this happened:


The verdict is in, THIS is the strangest hummingbird they've ever seen!!

FYI: spider got moved to the garden so we didn't have to see Wild Kingdom at work in our front window.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Go to hail!! (Maryville Mo Storms)

"Soon, it'll be just a memory. In fact, someone, some foolish person, will probably think it's a tribute to this city, the way it keeps changing on you, the way you can never count on it, or something. I know because that's the sort of thing I'm always saying. But the truth is... I'm heartbroken."

~ Kathleen Kelley (Meg Ryan) in "You've Got Mail"

The landscape of where I've lived for 25 years, seems to be changing almost minute by minute. As a person that desperately hates change, and wants to live in 1954, most of it is disheartening to me.

We have long standing buildings burning, then being torn down:

And long standing buildings being turned into parking lots and drive through banks - next to the main bank, right down from their other drive thru bank:

This dirt lot used to be a movie theater, it was the first I ever went to that had more than one show at a time. Last time I went, it froze me out, so I think it had good AC too. It didn't make it once the 5-plex came to town:

Then there's the "sculptures". We have 2 new ones of the the left photo. "Welcome to Maryville" - I'm pretty sure it'll say something like that. Waving at people as they fly by on the bypass. Then, the downtown revitalization brought some modern art sculptures around the square. They aren't bad. They are just.....

I wonder if people 150 years ago when they were building some of those buildings, or streets, or the college, or other things that I seem to be pining over, thought the same things. "I hate change, what's wrong with dirt streets. Dirt streets are fine!"


But sometimes it's not man-made. It's nature made, and we all just have to sit back and "enjoy" the ride. That's what happened last Thursday night. Gene fortunately got home from work a couple hours early. We'd just finished dinner and was watching a bit of TV when I finally decided to pay attention to the weather bulletin at the bottom of the screen.

There were heavy storms northwest of here, and they were traveling southeast at 40 miles per hour. "Hey, that's us!"

Gene: "What?"
Me: "The weather, baseball sized hail coming.... that's us"
Gene: "That says Shenandoah"
Me: "It says it's traveling southeast of Shenandoah. You know what's southeast of Shenandoah? US!"
Gene: "oh"

Within minutes the sky went from cloudy to "nighttime". Tanner (fortunately) ran out and put the chickens in the coop, before he could even get back inside, it was pouring down rain. Then the wind.... then the hail!

But that wasn't all, once we made it through wave #1, a second wave came a couple hours later, and it was worse than the first! Reports are, that they reached 100mph winds (which is a level 2 hurricane). We should have left. We should have gone to the neighbors, but instead we sat on our couch waiting for our demise.

My house has never shook so hard. The interior walls were moving and you could hear the wind trying to pull the roof off of the house. In my fear, I started to text my friend Dan from Council Bluffs "how long will this last" as he'd just gone through it. "About a half hour" he returns.


Did I mention I was doing this in the dark, as we'd lost power?

Then, I couldn't even use my cell phone, and my connection to the outside world was pretty much lost. I could feel my blood pressure rising out of nervous fear, I had to get some advil even to relieve my impending headache.

Soon, it dwindled to nothing more than a heavy thunderstorm. With nothing else to do, and the worst of it being over, we went to bed around 10:30. Sometime in the night, the power came back on, and in the morning, our town looked like this:

The north side of most buildings had the crap beat out of them. Trees gone left and right, not to mention 100 year old barns and camper trailers here and there. Insurance companies had to call in disaster teams if that gives you an idea of the damage. We had quarter sized hail, some people north of us had baseball sized hail.

We were not unscathed. Like I said before, there's some upsides to living in the country in a bean field (the view is awesome, the quiet is deafening), but the down side is huge. We have almost no protection, so whatever we're given, we're required to just take it like a man.

  • Part of our brand new roof is ripped up. I have a feeling the whole thing will need to be replaced.
  • My windows are beat up, and my screens are gone.
  • The chicken coop fence is blown half down, and the coop siding took a beating - my house siding took a bit of a beating, but it's not horrible.
  • My AC unit looks like someone kicked it.
  • My lawn furniture is bent to hell.
  • Water came through 2 rooms in my house.
  • My brand new gutters are all beat up! (extra grrr)
  • My shutters are broken.
  • And the pole my street light was on blew over.... which was a telephone pole, so that's SCARY! We didn't even hear it go down it was so loud!
But you know what? We're ok. And so were the chickens. Wet, but ok.

The next day, even the clouds looked strange.

It's pretty safe to say, that every single plant took a beating. Most of the crops around us are gone. GONE. The beans next to us look like a min tornado cut a path (about 50 feet from my house). Someone reported a tornado right were I live. No confirmations of that, but I wouldn't have been surprised.

Even the grass was flat as a pancake!

The smell the next day, it was horrible! Cut grass is supposed to smell good, but beat up soybeans smells like cut grass times 1000.... too much!

Ours wasn't the only house affected:

I think it's safe to say I NEVER want to do that again. As well as our house held up, I hope that pressure isn't put on it again for as long as I live here!

Maryville, Missouri is safe. We're safe.

Go to hell hail.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The 'S' Family Portraits


It started out as a maternity session, morphed into a family/kid session, and by the end, Charlotte and I were besties.

See the rest here.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hummingbird Haiku

We have several fat and sassy hummingbirds at our feeder by the window again this year. They don't like to share much.

To celebrate the angry fatties, I give you....

Hummingbird Haiku

Little hummingbirds
Staking claim to the feeder
Not so little now!

Little peewee birds
Full of fight and attitude
Someone needs xanax

Birdy seems so tense
Angry birds got nil on you
But this isn't a game!





Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Why custom white balance is so important!

White balance is the process of removing unrealistic color casts in your photos, so that something that is truly white in person will appear white in your photo also.

Our very sophisticated eyes are great at judging what is white under different light sources, but cameras often have difficulty with this process creating blue, orange, or even green color casts. This is difficult to correct AFTER the fact (trust me), so lets try to fix it ahead of time by setting a custom white balance. It's easy!

Gene and I went to a nice restaurant at the plaza in KC over the weekend. I usually take my camera as I like to grab a pic of the fancy foods. It was 8 p.m. and the light was almost gone for the evening so I shot under their incandescent lights. Incandescents have a tendency to make digital images very yellow/orange if you don't set your custom white balance.

This is the first image I got by using AWB (auto white balance):

I have the sudden urge to sing the oompa loompa song.

This is a straight out of the camera shot. It's horrible and should be tossed in the trash. I have "rescued" photos like this before when desperate, but they never really look just right.

There are settings on your camera that will do this automatically by just selecting cloudy day, tungsten lights, flash, etc. Incandescent light function, however, never seems to be "just right". This is when I will use a custom white balance.

I realize that I have a big white tablecloth in front of me, so I can use it to set my white balance easily. Using AWB, I take a photo of the tablecloth to use when I set my custom white balance.

I then use my menu on my camera to to go the white balance settings. It asks me to choose a photo for white balance and I pick the one of the table cloth. I'm telling my camera "this is white". The camera will do the rest to adjust the colors in camera.

The after photo:


Except for it being a little out of focus (I was shooting at 1/13 of a second), it's a million times better. This is also a straight out of the camera shot.

If you pay close attention in the before and after, look at the windows behind Gene. There is natural light coming in the windows behind him. In the top photo it looks very natural, and in the bottom photo the windows are very blue. That's because the camera is pumping a LOT of blue into the photo to make up for the yellow lights.

In a mixed lighting situation, you either have to live with this, or fix it in post processing. Because this is just a personal photo of us, I probably wouldn't bother to fix it. If it was someone's wedding photo, I might mask out that area in photoshop and put a little bit of yellow back over it.

You can buy cards that you can carry in your purse, pocket or on a lanyard around your neck to help set your white balance (they'll be white and 18% gray), but I usually end up finding something white on my own and setting my white balance with that as it gets me pretty darn close to where I need to be.

Think that you don't have a DSLR so you're fine? The truth is, that even cheap point and shoot cameras have a white balance setting on their menu. Yes, you will probably need to look at your manual. Lost your manual (like I always do)?? Google the name of your camera, model number, and "manual" and you'll probably be able to find that information as a pdf file online!

If you'd like to learn more about white balance, you can get much more technical information and explanation here.
More technical info on white balance.


All the voodoo - that yudu.

I've been eyeballing a Yudu machine for about 2 years now. What's a Yudu? Well, it's a home version of a screen printing machine. About the size of a really large printer or scanner, it can sit on a table and do pretty much everything you need to screen print pretty much anything in one small space.

As awesome as it sounds, why did I wait so long?

Because it's retail of $300 and I just didn't know if I'd get THAT much use out of it. However, Gene keeps watching the Yudu infomercials (yes really) and kept talking about the silly thing. On top of that, my sister lost her t-shirt supplier, so she was looking for one too.

A couple weeks ago, while Gene and his son Michael went into the largest computer parts store I've ever seen in my whole life, I decided to duck into Michaels craft store next door. I looped the entire store before I noticed a pile of Yudus at the front for $99!!

I quickly called Amber, and she wanted one, then I got ahold of Gene and we bought one too.

It was a treat seeing Gene, Michael, me, a large suitcase and 2 yudus in a jeep wrangler. *WE DID IT*

It seems kind of scary, there's a lot of steps so we put it off a while. Sunday, we had nothing we had to get done, so we dragged out the machine. The process takes a while (there's a lot of drying) but it was worth the wait because it's AWESOME.



The shirts look like we bought them from a screen printing shop. So very excited about this. Gene has already decided he's going to try to sell a few to some friends. Really, the possibilities are pretty endless of what you can screen print.

Very worth $99. Very worth $300 (if you use it a lot).

-Doesn't include EVERYTHING that makes it easier.
-There's a lot of extra buying required for down the road.
-The supplies are kind of expensive
-Only comes with one color of ink - black
-Kind of slow to get set up. (goes quickly once you get your emulsions burned)

-It's fun!
-You can actually buy aftermarket stuff from silk screening sites much cheaper.
-Saving $$ in the long run by printing my own shirts, bags, boxes, etc etc.
-It's full of awesome!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Rock Chalk TIGERS.


I've been to Lawrence Kansas (home of KU Jayhawks) two times in my entire life.
I've gotten 2 parking tickets in my entire life.

Do the math.

I'm starting to think that Jayhawks don't want ANYONE visiting from Missouri. Hmmfpt.
Missouri Tigers ROCK!!!!

(truth is I could give a crap either way).
Spent Saturday visiting with Gene's youngest granddaughter Bailey in Kansas. Had lunch with her and her mamma and bought some school clothes for her. Then, hit a pile of new antique stores (my debit cart is melted) and then Plaza III Steakhouse down at the plaza for dinner.

Despite 3 officers on every single corner of the plaza, the *Mayor* still got a gun pulled on him an hour after we left - across the street.

Once again, wondering if I should tag this post with "the good life". Maybe I should start a section called "the suck life" lol.

PS. KU sucks.

PPS. My ticket was only $3.00. Gene was way more pissed than me.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Instant Ancestors


I'm sure it will come to no great shock to you, that I'm fascinated with photos. No, not (just) my photos, but photos from long ago. Long, LONG before I got serious about photography, I was collecting antique baby photos of other peoples children - probably long since grown old and gone.

Mostly, I was attracted to unusual kids, or kids with toys, photos that told a lot about the person in the picture etc. Eventually, I stopped. I had a good sized collection, and was not displaying it. It was getting out of hand. (btw, where did I put those photos??)

However, every once in a while a photo will catch my eye and I can't stop myself from taking home someone else's ancestors. The photo above really caught my attention. Normally you don't see a situation like this in an older photo. Normally a photo is a fairly serious event, but they were friends, all together, laughing and having fun.

I paid a grand total of $1.00 and brought the photo home. To be honest, it got stuck in with some things for resale and I kind of forgot about it until I opened a box recently and found it again.

I've been wanting to change my tags over to something different, and decided I'd scan some of my antique photos as tent signs and hang tags for my items. Plus it would be cheaper than buying tags! I pulled out some of my favorites - including this one - to put on the scanner.

As it sat on my desk the back finally struck my curiosity. Normally the handwriting is really hard to read from back then. Why did they write so small, and so scripty?
Tangent: Did you know that some schools are no longer teach cursive? No. Really. OK, so kids don't learn to write it.... don't you think they should be able to read it?

I felt a little like one of those kids. Slowly making out what was on the back of the photo, which was actually a postcard. 2 cents to mail it on February 6, of 1919.


"Dear Fern:
I trust you recall the day this was taken. - Was pleased to note by Hamburg paper your school and pupils had won such a generous number of prizes. - After five weeks back in civil life I am gradually becoming accustomed to the change and sort of getting back to earth, although it was rather irksome for a time. - Lots of the boys are coming back now and a goodly number from here were wounded in action. - Would be glad to hear from you.
Elmer A. Webb"

In Fern's handwriting you see the names of the other people in the photo:
Mrytle Larson
Phoebe Mitchell
George Dean
Lettie Brown
Girl from Thurman
Fern Wagner

If you hold the photo, just right to the light, you can see that Fern's photo has been circled. (far right). I suspect that Elmer, fresh home from WWI, had a bit of a crush on Fern. He circled her photo. He complimented her. He tugged on her heartstrings over the war. He asked to hear from her again.

And just like I sometimes do with people now... when I see some girl who's obviously got a crush on some boy - sometimes I wait until she leaves and I tell the guy. "you know, she's got a huge crush on you. You should ask her to dance."

Sometimes it works.

So I say, Dear Fern, please write Elmer back. He kind of put feelers out putting his heart on his sleeve. (he's a boy, they don't do it very well).

PS. Fern is a lovely name. If I were of baby making age, and had this insane desire to create (demon spawn) with the lovely hubs, I'd consider Fern for a girly name. Sadly, it will probably only be a cat's name.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

My house needs more walls.


Except for the cat. The cat is still there.

Yep, I decided that these 3 pictures had hung there long enough over my (former) couch. They are 3 years old, and my photography has greatly improved since then. Plus, Gene bought me 2 pieces of artwork for my birthday/anniversary so I had to find a home for them.

But something unexpected happened....


My living room seemed to brighten up greatly! I wasn't really planning on that part, but it makes me wonder if my obsession with black, is also driving my obsession to have every window shade open too. Hmm.

Yep, I have a cover on my nearly *brand new* couch. After I got it, I realized that a light cream color was probably a bad choice for those of us that still eat spaghetti on the couch.

Crazy no?

I'm looking for more permanent alternatives.


Anyway, Gene has really gotten into art also, which is kind of strange that my husband wants to go to art galleries and museums now. You'd never be able to tell to look at him he's just so damn metrosexual now.

It only took 8 weeks, a mat cut wrong (despite the instructions) and a lot of cussing, but the art is up.. and staying for a while. Well, except for the art lights I have to add. Other than that.

Oh... and the hole repairs in the wall, that too.

And the paint touch up.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Keysa and Andy get married

It's official. Well, it's been official for a while now, but I'm officially sharing their wedding photos.


Monday, August 8, 2011

I didn't die after all!


I did it.

I made it through the gauntlet of weddings for the summer. I thought for sure for about 10 minutes on Saturday, I was going to die in the heat, but I didn't. I do think I made a deal with the devil to lose some weight though.

It'd be worth it.

I'm not out of the woods, there is plenty of editing to be done, but I do get some of my life back. yay!

I can actually POST again.
(Sorry about that part).
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