slide show

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Cherry love

Canon 5D Mark II, 24-70mm 2.8
ISO 640, 70mm, f/2.8, 1/320
post processed in Lightroom 4.0

Ni Hao Yall

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These are the first cherries that she's ever eaten.
I think she likes 'em!

Mrs Stephanie T

I was a yeller and a screamer

So we {had} to drive down the mountain to the stinkin' hot desert for a couple days.  It couldn't be avoided.
Did I mention that we're knee deep in the "driver's permit" season with Livy?  Oh yes we are.  Knee deep into wearing a hole in the place where the brake should be on passenger's floor board.  Knee deep into pretending that gasp was really a yawn.
Knee deep into an average 3-4 tries to park the the car in a public parking lot while simultaneously holding my breath through each attempt.
Knee deep into re-accessing our life insurance policies.
Second time around the parental obligation of walking my child through this right of passage, and I will say that I think... I think... just maybe... I'm better at it this time around.
Hands firmly in control at 2 and 10 o'clock!
I will sadly admit, that when Sunny was learning to drive, I was a yeller.  And a screamer.  Really loud too!  In my own defense, I was really flippin' scared for my life when we were teaching her how to drive!   I had every intention of being the calm and cool parent, sitting in the passenger seat and encouragingly saying things like, Don't forget, left right left, dear.  And Don't get in the blind spot of that semi truck.  Instead I was white-knuckled, shielded-my-eyes-from-the-inevitable-collision terrified!  Yes, I will admit now that at some point while teaching Sunny to drive, I actually discovered it somewhat quelled my fear to occasionally cover my eyes while she was driving!  Great teaching technique, hu?  So proud of that one!  I found myself screaming things like, Oh dear Lord, let us all be wearing underwear!  And Please little girl, jump back farther from the side of the street!  And I found myself considering the feasibility of jumping over the center console, sitting in her lap, and taking control of the car.
Seat belt secure!
This time around, it's most likely Livy's natural good driving skills.  She's one that inherently prone to err on the side of caution... God love her!  But I can't help but dream that maybe, just perhaps, not only am I a better driver's ed teacher, but more also better able to remain calm during life-threatening stressful situations?  
An iced latte?  No hands on the wheel?
'Cause remaining calm sends a better message, right?  
And allows her to hear her own thoughts?  
And allows me to tell her what to do in a manner where she can actually understand what I'm saying?
Perhaps my experiences teaching Sunny to drive, has given me wisdom?
Text messaging while driving?  Oh no!
Ya, it's likely just because Livy's just a naturally good driver.  
And in my advanced maternal age I don't want to spike my blood pressure.
OK, truth be told, she wasn't driving in any of those photos.
We had to stop for construction for about 30 min.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

High-apple-pie-in-the-sky hopes

{Disclaimer-us country folk think this kinda stuff is cool...  or at least I do.  City folk and/or those prone to a squeamish disposition, may not have the same reaction.}

Remember the song about that little ol' ant that thought he could move that rubber tree plant?  Even though it was way too big for him?

In our little excursion to Paradise, right next to here actually...
...we ran across this little guy.  
He was little, only a little bigger than a pencil, but he had high hopes.

We first saw this little guy in the water fishing for... fish.
Honestly, I've never seen a snake go fishing.
And if that's not enough, he caught one!  A trout!  And he slithered to shore hauling it up the bank.  Little trout didn't stand a chance on shore and was flipping around as little garter snake attempted to eat something 4x his girth.  
Ooops there goes another rubber tree plant.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Photography 101 {selecting ISO}

So why get off the green auto setting at all, you ask?  Ok, I know you didn't ask, but humor me!  The best reason is because manual settings, and even partial manual settings like Av and Tv, will produce better photographs in the long run and allow you to capture the image you envision.  And because you (or someone you love) paid a small chunk of change for that DSLR, and it would be a shame not to use to it's fullest (or fuller?) extent.  

ISO is a good place to start, mostly because it's kinda quick and easy.  And lazy me is likely to do things that are quick and easy.  ISO basically, is how sensitive your film is to light.  Lower ISOs, like 100 and 200 aren't as sensitive and thus are used in bright light situations.   The higher the ISO, the more sensitive to light and thus a camera can "take in" and record more light in darker situations.  So a higher ISO is one thing that will allow you to take photos in lower light situations. 
A really high of ISO 6400 - Tess sleeping
The room was pitch black with the exception of the light from the screen on my cell phone that I used to light up Tess's face.  Still with a high ISO, the meter was sensitive enough to take in enough light to record a good image.  
Personally, ISO is the first thing I set on my camera.  On both my Canon Rebel and my new 5D, there is a separate "ISO" button making it easy to set the ISO.  Depending on your camera, you'll have more or fewer possibilities for choosing an ISO.  But generally speaking on most cameras the lowest ISO is 100 and goes  up from there.    

So let's get specific.
#1 - a beginner's guide with some general guidelines to setting your ISO 
ISO of 100   outside/bright direct sunlight
           200    outside/bright indirect light
           400    outside/overcast or inside/bright light
           800+  inside/poorly lit or dark situations
ISO 200 -  Silly girls! 
We were outside in good  indirect light.  But no direct sunshine as we were in the shade.  
So why not just set your ISO high all the time?  So glad you asked!  There's a cost for increasing your ISO.  The higher your ISO the more "digital noise" or "grain" you'll get in your photos, and poorer quality of image you'll end up with.  How much noise/grain you'll see depends on your camera.  You probably won't see this grain on the LCD screen when you're taking the photos, but you will likely notice it later on your computer screen when editing or when the images are printed.  So the second guideline when selecting your ISO is

#2 You should always select the lowest ISO possible given your lighting situation.
ISO 100 - Liv at the Great Wall of China
It was overcast, but there was some sunlight coming through the clouds and snow is very reflective, so light was abundant.   Thus I was able to  get away with an ISO of 100 and have better quality image.  
So it's a balancing act when choosing your ISO.  You'll want to select one high enough for your lighting conditions, but low enough to get the best quality photo.   In short, set your ISO as low as you can, given the lighting conditions.  

There will be a new poll in the next couple days.  If you have any suggestions for future topics of Photography 101 posts, please comment.  I'll see if y'all have any suggestions before I post the next one.

Monday, June 25, 2012

100 days

As of this very day, today, Mimi has been home exactly 100 days.
At this point I think I'm suppose to talk about how it feels like she has always been ours and a part of our family.
And it does feel like that.
And sometimes at the very same time, it doesn't.
At this point I think I'm suppose to talk about how these 100 days have zoomed by so quickly and how it couldn't possibly be that long?
And it feels like that.
And sometimes it doesn't.

In these 100 days, we've gotten to know so much about her.   Like how she bounces in a room.  How one eye opens a tiny bit less than the other.  How she wakes at night still so scared.  How she doesn't shy away from spicy foods.  She and Jude have the same gorgeous almond eyes.  She is so very tenacious just like Livy was as a toddler.
But sometimes I look at the broadness of Mimi's shoulders and her teeny tiny waist and hips, and it doesn't look similar to anyone else in our family.
Or they way she adores eating salad.  None of my other kids did that.  

And I wonder, where did that come from?  Did her first mom have broad shoulders?  Did her first dad like salad?
She has this little absolutely adorable birthmark on her thigh.  And I can't help but wonder, is that genetic?
In the world of international adoption, some questions, a lot of questions, can never be answered.

But sometimes I still wonder.

{ps--if you prefer to follow via Facebook, it's finally up and running here}

Sunday, June 24, 2012


It's appropriately named Paradise Creek.
We come here every summer.
First we have to hike in a bit...
go over some barbed wire...

But once we're there, there's a lot of nothing that goes on,
like playing with sticks 
walking in the creek
tossing rocks in the water
Seriously this little one thought throwing rocks in the creek was the best thing in the whole wide world!  She could have done it all day long.
At one point it started to rain, so we went under the cover of some spruce trees for about 5 minutes.
The wild flowers aren't in full bloom yet.  They're patiently waiting for the monsoons to come so they can explode
Back when cropping was an afterthought, when I thought the more contrast the better, and when we only had 6 children, 3 years ago, I took a pic of my kiddos on this very same log.  
I think it's pretty ironic that back then it was our first summer with Tess and Jude, and they didn't have shirts on then. 
Now it's Mimi's first summer with us, and compliments of a very juicy cherry incident, she doesn't have a shirt this time. 
Even my teen girls (plus one extra that actually is like family and is such a joy to have with us) seem to have a good time.
Really, it was paradise.

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