Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Art of Editing (Which I'm Only Learning)

  I've always been that girl that loved to take pictures, but I certainly have not been a "photographer" very long. My first attempts at photography was with disposable cameras at summer Bible camp in elementary school. They were... well... let's just say that they will not likely ever be recognized as works of art. Not with my forgetfulness to use the flash at least. =)

 About a year ago I got my own digital camera from birthday and babysitting money and that was basically used for events like camp, retreats, conferences, etc. Sometime last year I discovered an online editing service and used it the way most teen girls use it... to make silly pictures to share on facebook.

 Last spring I lost my semi cheap digital camera, but I was never too disappointed because it was already starting to break. I started to use my dad's digital camera, which is much better quality, to take pictures of my adorable little brothers, my big brother's grad party, and things like that. I discovered that I really liked photography and eventually, in about July, I discovered that I could do a lot more then just silly pictures with my online editor and my hobby of photography and photo editing developed.

 Now the majority of my "photography education" has come through trial and error. The benefit with learning by trial and error is that you are always learning something new. Some of the things that I've learned lately about editing photos is that, 1) Edited pictures don't always need to look edited. 2) Simplicity is key in most cases. 3) Don't use anything goofy unless just doing a silly picture that you know is silly and such. 4) There are so many ways to edit a single picture so don't just stop at one if it's a good picture.

 Now that brings you to the pictures below... I took this picture in August and just today I decided to take a look at it again and try several different ways to edit them. Now it's your turn to tell me what photos are your favorite or tips for more ways to edit the picture. (I know, I didn't do a black and white picture... shame on me...)

(Oh, and don't ask me what I did to them exactly... I use different ways to curve the lighting and such so I rarely can remember what I did afterwards.)
(And, I realize this isn't the best photo ever. It was one that looked awesome on the camera but on the computer the way it is focused is sort of blah. But it was just the picture that I chose to edit at the time.)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Mountains, Valleys, and Plateaus

Last summer we visited my cousins in Western Montana for my oldest cousin's graduation and while we were there, we decided to hike up a (somewhat) small mountain. When we were over half way up the mountain, my brother and dad decided to go on "just a little farther" and I was tired so I sat and looked out at the beautiful Montana mountains... it was stunning and there was a certain "high" from feeling on top of the world.

It was even more stunning when I ended up going farther up the trail (in search of my brother and dad who went farther then anticipated) and ended up at the top of the mountain. It truly was a "mountain top experience" and awe inspiring to look out from almost a mile above the city and see the mountains around me, which were even higher. It was humbling, yet almost empowering.

Our view from only a little ways up the mountain.
Going up the mountain was hard, especially as it got farther up and the air got thinner, but it was so worth it... the end result was amazing. Going down on the other hand was easy, very easy, but not as rewarding. I think it's the same way in our walk with Christ.

We can have these times where our relationship with God is just thriving. It's amazing and everything seems so awesome and inspiring. Our prayers and times in God's word seem so alive and fruitful. We are passionate and feel so alive with the reality of God's presence.

And then there are the times in the Valley. Things are hard, really hard, but that can make us to cry out to God even more. Our trials are often used to strengthen us, even when we look to questioning God, He often brings us to a point of being assured of His mercy and faithfulness.

In the book of Puritan prayers, The Valley of Vision the first prayer talks beautifully of this:
LORD, High and Holy, Meek and Lowly
Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision,
Where I live in the depths but see in the heights;
Hemmed in by the mountains of sin I behold Thy glory.

And I can't leave out one more place, the plateau. For this tends to be the most common place and that's where I seem to be finding myself currently. Nothing is bad, but nothing seems so "good" either. It's a battle to just spend time in God's word and apathy is plentiful. The desire to just coast on by and be complacent is everywhere. This is the easiest place to be... yet very dangerous.

For the average person, the so-so, normal, apathetic times are plentiful and the mountain peak and valley times come along every once in awhile. Yet, we need to fight complacency and apathy... even though we don't always feel like it. We need to learn to keep on running the race when we really just want to walk casually along.

But we can't do it on our own strength. We need to rely on the work of Christ and what's He's done through the cross and His resurrection. In addition to relying on God's mercies, which the Bible tells us are new every morning.

And above all, no matter if you are on top of the mountain, in the valley, or on the plateau, we need to rely on Christ for our strength to go on. For the way up the mountain is hard, the valley dwelling is hard, and the plateau is hard... but we have a powerful God!
My brother Sam on top on the mountain.

Monday, October 19, 2009

I Moved! (And Mrs. Kraft's Blog Party)

Well, back in about May I really, really wanted to get a better theme but I never was able to find anything I liked on Wordpress so I started talking to my amazing (and artistic) friend Abigail Kraft about designing a blog for me and then I ended up winning a blog design giveaway from her (and isn't it lovely?!). We just ran into a snag about converting HTML to CSS and all that complicated stuff so after quite a few months of not being sure if I should switch to blogger or not, here I am, switching to blogger.

I must say, it feels sort of nice. It has all the excitement of starting a blog all over again! Of course it was a little nerve wracking switching and making the plunge, and not knowing if I would keep my subscribers... but I like adventure!

Speaking of my lovely friend Abigail... her mom is having a fun little blog party this week and we both thought this would be a great way for me to start out my time at Blogger. So welcome to all of you who are visiting from Lynnette Kraft's blog for the blog party, isn't Mrs. Kraft just wonderful?! (The entire Kraft family just plain rocks in my opinion.)

So onto the wonderful world of random questions...

1. What is your favorite thing to snack on while blogging?
Hands down tea and popcorn... while reading, writing, blogging, photo editing, movie watching... anything really, it's just my favorite snack.
2. What is one thing you wouldn't want to live without?
My dad's awesome cannon... though I could live without it if I had a better one.
3. Beach, mountains, or farm? Where would you live if you had the choice?
It's simple really... I'd have a farmhouse overlooking the beach with mountains in the background.
4. What is your least favorite household chore/duty?
Wiping my 1 1/2 year old brother's hands and face after he gets done eating... that boy SWIMS in his food!!
5. Who do people say you remind them of?
My mom says I remind her of Kiera Knightly (her Pride and Prejudice look), my uncles and my mom's family members say I look JUST like her, I've been told I look like Arwen (from Lord of the Rings), and a few other people... what do you think?
6. Prefer parties and socializing or staying at home with the fam?
Because I spend a lot of time with my family, when I have the chance for parties and socializing I pick that, but I really love both.
7. What's your all time favorite movie?
Princess Bride!!! Oh, that movie is one of the most brilliant ever to be made. I also love Pride and Prejudice, Amazing Grace, and Slumdog Millionaire (the rating of this movie is deceiving).
8. Do you sleep in your makeup or do you remove it like a good girl every night?
Ummm.... no comment.... I try to at least use a toner/makeup remover if I don't wash it but sometimes that doesn't happen...
9. Do you have a hidden talent or a deep desire to learn something that you've never had the chance to learn? What is it?
No hidden talent, but I have some random things that I would like to learn like calligraphy, design (interior, web design, etc), drums, how to make amazing sugar free brownies, and how to use Photoshop.
10. What's one strange thing that you're really good at?
Being a dork. =P Oh, and entertaining little kids by putting on a full singing and dancing show... they get a kick out of it, or tell me to stop.
11. What first attracted you to your spouse?
I'll get back to you on that one... give me... say about 5 to 10 years or more.
12. What is something you love to smell?
Brownies and chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven... *happy sigh*
13. Tell something about you that you know irritates people.
Sometimes people get irritated with me because I'm too goofy or outgoing... and sometimes they get irritated with me because I am too serious and quiet. I have a talent for irritating people though, just ask my family and friends. ;)
14. When you have extra money (HA!) what is the first thing you think to do with it?
Goodwill, consignment stores, the book(s) I've had my eye for forever...
15. Are you a silent laugher of a loud laugher? What makes you laugh the hardest?
I'm in between... I laugh out loud but I really don't have a loud laugh (at least compared to some people I know... *laughs at the thoughts of other's laughs*). My baby brothers, witty humor, my friends, and others laughing makes me laugh the hardest.
16. Where is your favorite place to shop?
Thrift stores!!!! And Barnes and Nobel... ahh... I love that place!
17. What's one thing you'd do more often if you had more time?
Design my own clothes and bags... I would love to learn how to sew my own clothing, but I simply don't have the time.
18. Are you a big spender or frugal?
Frugal, all the way. You should see me when I find good deals... I get a total high and am buzzing for hours. :)
19. Who's your favorite character of all time (from a movie or book)? (Can't be real.)
I can't pick only one... so I'll list some of my favorites... Anne Shirley, Jo March (Little Women), Elizabeth Bennett (Pride & Prejudice), Aslan (Narnia), Jamal (Slumdog Millionaire), Jane Eyre, Mr. Darcy (Pride & Prejudice) and Frodo (Lord of the Rings).
20. Would you want to be famous?
Kind of... yet not really... I would like to have a large realm of influence though and be well known.

So that's some random pieces of me. I hope you enjoyed a glimpse inside of me. Now head over to Mrs. Kraft's blog and link up yourself (if you've not done so already)!