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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Pass It On - Photography Lesson One

A little over ten years ago, I belonged to an online photography group.  I was just starting out and desperately wanted to get better.  You know sometimes when you really want something and work very hard at it, the fates give you a break.  That break came in the form of a professional photographer from California, who took me under his cyber wing and taught me almost everything I know today.  I quickly nicknamed him "The Rat," because he wasn't easy on me.  He held up a very high bar but I learned to clear it.  Not every time, but over time I got better, a lot better.

I once asked him why he bothered and he told me that someone had taught him, he was now teaching me and he expected me to pass it on.   So Ratty, that's what I'm doing here, passing it on.

Your first lesson is going to be about image size, file saving, and getting it web ready. Every camera has a setting for image size.  You must always choose the largest one your camera offers. If you camera only offers JPEG, choose the 3:2 setting and it goes without saying you are always and I mean always going to use the fine image quality setting.  I can hear some of you now saying to yourself.  Why should I bother to do that if I'm taking pictures for my blog and my camera offers a PC setting, isn't that what I should use?  Beside when I use that setting, I can get so many more pictures on my card. No, it isn't. You need to start with most densely packed picture you can, always, the end, period.  This way you do not lose any details.  And having twenty good pictures you can work with is such better than two hundred lousy ones.

Now because digital photography, unlike film photography, has two pieces to it and both pieces are equally important, we have to talk about photoediting.  For the sake of argument, I am going to use Photoshop Elements. I have both Elements and Photoshop CS4, but we're going to use Elements here.  If you don't have Elements, I'll talk later about Picnik and Picassa. 

Upload your photo into elements and immediately save it as a TIFF.  Why should you do that?  Because every time you make any changes and save a JPEG, you lose detail and you don't want to do that.  You want to keep all the detail you can.  Then because this is lesson one and not lesson twenty one, I want you to resize it to 1300 pixels on the long side.  Then save it for the web.  Use the JPEG setting and image quality maximum in web dialogue box, and you're done.

I took these pictures with my Nikon Coolpix P80 instead of my Canon 50D and pro lens, because not everyone has a DSLR, but everyone can take a great digital picture.

PC setting, resizing and saving it as is.                 
2:3 setting, saved as a TIFF, resized and saved for web

Monday, March 22, 2010

Nothing Gold Can Stay

"Nature's first green is gold.
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower,
but only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf,
So Eden sank to grief.
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay."

Robert Frost

Enjoy early spring.  It really is a magical and wonderful time.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Early Spring and Late Summer

In case anyone's slightly confused, I'm the redhead wearing the shirt and Kitt's the readhead wearing the halter.  We both generally look better than this, but oh well...)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I Cut My Hair, Hot Flashes and Other Atrocities

As a newly minted semicenturian, I decided to cut my hair.  Having hot flashes has awakened me to reality. Yes, I look ten years younger than I really am; but as my grandmom used to say, ten years younger is getting so much older. I used to have red hair down to the middle of my back, but I looked at myself last week and thought, "girlfriend, this is not doing anything for you." So I hightailed it off to one of the chichi salons and had it whacked off, and I love it.  Well I love it today, we'll see how I feel tomorrow.

On Sunday I watched a wonderful Katherine Hepburn movie called, Summertime. It was shot in the fifties and her clothes were gorgeous in the extreme. My husband I were watching it together and he said, "I'd love to buy you clothes like that." And I had to tell him, lovebug they don't design clothes like that anymore.  All they design are clothes for a twelve year old with breast implants who's currently working as a pole dancer. So here I am a 50 year old curmudgeon.  How on earth did this happen? Oh well, what can you do?

Oh yes, as we get into spring there will be more about my BFF, a lovely little quarter horse mare who is the most forgiving, loving animal on the planet.

Big Sigh.  Have a lovely week and I'll be back to my snarky self in a bit. 

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Ooh La La My Day at the Spa and I Will Not Feel Guilty

Yesterday, my friend Donna and I had a wonderful day at the spa.  Facials, organza draped, heated massage tables.  Rose scented sprays, manis, pedis and the wonderful heated waterfall pool.  Oh yes and cucumber scented iced towels for when you were too warm.  It was delicious and I loved every blissy minute of it. Sometimes a girl has just got to indulge.

And now for the guilty bit.  I'm sitting upstairs in my office looking out and what do I see, the mama deer with the fawns looking right up at me.   It's 12:42 and I don't feed them until late afternoon.  So why are they looking up at me with doe eyes?  Why am I feeling like the guilty rat of life, because I'm not racing down to feed them.  I'm not because I'm not. Well maybe I'm feeling a tinge of guilt.  Well maybe I'll just sort of mosey on down and set a few little things. Oh what the hell, I feel guilty and so down I'll go.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Dweezil's Bad Hair Day or the Cat in the Leather Mask

Dweezil is 1/2 Maine Coon Cat and he sheds enough hair to make two or three cats.  So last year I decided to have him shaved. I thought the whole thing through and decided the vet's office would be just the perfect place.  So off the Dweeze and I went. He was weighed, given a tranquilizing shot and we waited for the groomer.

We sat in the work room of the office for about 20 minutes or so, when in walked Marge Simpson's sister.  I kid you not.

"So where's da cat," she croaked in a voice that had seen one too many cigarettes.

"He's right here," I answered getting more nervous by the minute.

"Great, bring him in the grooming room and put him on the table."

I did and she slapped on a pair of rubber gloves and fishing around in the drawer, brought out a pair of serious looking clippers.

"Actually, I stammered,"he's an outside cat and he needs his ...."

"Nonsense," she muttered and began cutting off his claws.

Now the tranquilizer shot must not have been very strong, because Dweezil immediately woke up and started fighting.

"Oh a biter," she commented, "hold down his head."

Well what could I do.  She finished up the clipping and brought out the shaver and attached what I assumed was the correct head.  Disregarding me and Mr. Dweeze, she immediately started shaving.  In response, Dweeze Intensified his fighting and trying to bite.  There was a pause in the action.

"OK, Mr Biter, I have just the thing for you.  He won't behave, well now he's wearing the mask. " She reaches into the drawer and pulls out a cat sized leather mask with two small breathing holes and straps it on him.

Dweezil is now hysterical. He's panting and sweating while she's shaving away. In the middle of shaving his stomach, she looks up and says and I quote, "How about his privates? Do you want me to shave his privates?  His privates really aught to be shaved."

She's rolling the word, privates in her mouth, like it's her word for the day and she just loves it.

"No," I squeak. "Let's just leave that area alone, shall we."

"But privates is part of package."

All I want to do is grab my cat and run for it.  But somehow we get through the rest of it and the Dweeze looks wonderful.

For two days after this, Dweeze followed me around and I could almost hear him saying, "I'll be good.  I won't kill birds and leave half eaten mice on the deck.  Just don't make me do that again.

Well, unfortunately we are doing it again.  I'll keep you all updated.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Every Time I Shoot Off My Mouth

Well, there I was, pity poor me. Winter was getting me down.  The ever growing number of deer eating at the buffet was driving me nuts.  Well all I had to do was put that in writing and don't you know spring arrived, big time.

It's been in the sixties.  I went out into the watershed and the grass and small plants are starting.  The snow is evaporating and melting and is almost gone as is the mud.  Orion is high in the sky and the world looks wonderful.

I put out my usual deer dinner and added a few treats, some apples and grapes. Pammy and Pixie came first and then the new group. I had to leave to meet my neice and her fiance for dinner, but I suspect the Charlotti Mafia came as well.

Oh yes, I went out and spent a wonderful afternoon with my horse.  There will be a whole lot about her this spring into summer.

I'm going to leave you with something that I think is pretty.

Have a wonderful week.


Friday, March 5, 2010

There Are Way Too Many Guests At My Table

I used to say I can't feed them all, but now it seems that I am. They come in waves.  First up is the new doe and her twin fawns and yearling.  These girls tear at my heart.  When they first arrived on Monday, they were starving, and I mean that literally.  They were so dazed from hunger they could hardly function. You could count every rib and all the joints on their spines.  They were so out of it from starvation, at first they didn't know what to do with the food.   The looks on their faces when they saw it and  knew that they were going to live was amazing.  They come up first because they don't want to get in the way of Charlotte and her band.

Yes, bossy boots Charlotte is alive and well and still in charge.  She drives her group up and decides who is going to eat what, when.  You best believe that Charlotte and the big buck eat first and everyone else can sort it out.  They really don't care.  They look great.  They're thinner than they were last year, but their coats are shining and they look fine.

Last up are Pammie and Pixie. Pammie is the subordinate doe and she waits until everyone else has eaten before she arrives.  They are my favorites and I can't stand it when they come and there's nothing for them to eat.

So, what do I do.  I go out and put out food for the new ones.  Once they have eaten, I go down to the basement and put my muck boots back on and put out more food. Once Charlotte and her band has hoovered up everything in sight.  I put on my muck boots for the third time and put out food for Pammie and Pixie.

This is getting old and expensive, but I don't know what else I can do.  I can't let any of them starve; and I'm longing for spring when nature will help me out somewhat.

Oh yes, I haven't mention the squirrels, birds, raccoons and Roxie.  This winter is wearing me down.

Monday, March 1, 2010

It Still Looks Like Winter, But It Feels Like Spring

It sure does look like winter.  There's snow on the ground and where there isn't snow, there's mud.  But look at that golden light. And the songbirds are back. Don't you know they took one look at what they came home to and shrieked.  However, the sun is stronger and it stays light longer and its warmer.  Today the high was 45 degrees.  Now that might not seem too warm to those of you in Florida or southern California; but when you 've had 18 degrees, with 40 mile per hour wind gusts, this feels like heaven.

Pamela is definitely pregnant and it looks like she's having twins.  More wonderfulness to look forward to.  I can hardly wait to go out to the barn and see my favorite girl, Miss Kitt. Winter can toss at us what it will, but spring is on the way.

PS: Today was the first day I didn't have to wear boots to work.  The snow on the sidewalks is gone and so are my long johns and snow boots. YEAHHH.

Something springy to looks at: