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Day #68 – A Photo A Day 2013

Since I posted a rather serious picture yesterday it seemed fitting that I post Day #2 of Sumsion’s #7faceless challenge – it’s a much more light hearted post!

Yesterday’s photo was all about a time in my life when things seemed dark and un-fixable, a very sad time for me. Today’s picture is all about where I am today – joyful and content, rejoicing in my life and in the wonderful blessings that I enjoy every day:

Dancing With Joy = #7faceless Challenge

Dancing With Joy = #7faceless Challenge

I really didn’t do much editing to this one – just added a vignette and toned down the colors a teeny bit.
It took SO MANY TAKES to actually capture my dancing without having my face in focus! I finally just twirled several times to get the effect I wanted and even then I took a lot of photos before I finally found one that seemed suitable within the confines of this challenge.

Life is good!

Day #67 – A Photo A Day 2013

Instagram has been one way that I have been sharing my photography for two years now and in those two years I have found quite a few amazing artists that have greatly encouraged me to continue pushing the envelope of my creativity.

One of people who has influenced me the most is Sumsion – I was going to link to his Statigram page, but he’s turned off public viewing, which is disappointing to me because I would love to share his work here as well. (he is simply amazing!)

Sumsion’s latest challenge is a self-portrait challenge but the trick is to not have your face in focus. So far, this has been a very difficult challenge for me!

This is my first submission:

Blown Away - for the #7faceless Challenge on Instagram

Blown Away – for the #7faceless Challenge on Instagram

When I uploaded this to Instagram, some people that know me in “real life” were concerned because it seemed a bit dark. I explained that this is not representative of me now, but rather that it was how I felt at a certain point in time in my past – I felt like who I was had been completely blown away, destroyed and empty. I was having difficulty deciding just how to begin this challenge until a conversation I had earlier that day reminded me of that dark time and inspiration hit me.

I knew immediately what I wanted to do with my self-portrait, and after a couple of hours of experimentation, I found the right combination of app layering to actually achieve what you see here. This was a difficult one to actually upload for public consumption on Instagram – I felt like I was revealing quite a bit of myself without telling all of the personal details and I felt a bit of trepidation as I hit that upload button.

Immediately after, I felt almost a feeling of relief akin to happiness in that moment.

These challenges that Sumsion has presented to his followers have not only been pivotal points that have pushed me creatively but have also been instrumental in self-exploration and have taught me quite a bit about myself, even as far as really revealing to me how I view myself both externally and as a person.

Day #66 – A Photo A Day 2013

On my walk on Mount Sutro two days ago there may not have been a view of the ocean, but there were quite a few eucalyptus trees and many wild flowers. The smell in the forest was so invigorating and it was so quiet and peaceful – it didn’t even feel like I was in the middle of San Francisco.

Along the trail in many places there were Forget-me-nots, which are one of my favorite old-fashioned flowers. I tried out the macro lens that I won from Photojojo and was very pleased to find that I could get less than an inch from the flower for a nice bokeh effect.

Forget-Me-Nots on Mt. Sutro

Forget-Me-Nots on Mt. Sutro

Again, I’ve run it through Tangled FX using two effects and blending the two pictures. I was lucky to have the sunlight actually show up for the few seconds that I was on my knees taking this photo.

I was disappointed that I didn’t have an ocean view for the sunset, but what a beautiful oasis this hill provides in the middle of the city! I think this may end up being a new favorite place to ofrequent.

Day #65 – A Photo A Day 2013

Learning to be a little less obvious when I am snapping a photo is proving to be a more difficult thing than I originally thought that it would be and is definitely a big challenge.

I am always trying to get a photo of Chris when he’s not really paying attention – he will be looking at me with the sweetest smile but the moment I bring my camera or iPhone up to capture that sweetness, the genuine smile is replaced with the “camera smile”.

“Camera Smile” more often than not looks forced rather than natural and is definitely not what I’m wanting to capture in a photo.

Lately I have been practicing stealth photography with my iPhone as I’ve been walking out in public. Sometimes I am literally shooting from the hip and trying my best to not look as if that’s what I’m doing. It’s hard to focus on walking, looking casual and cleverly tilting my phone lens toward my subject without actually looking at the screen to see what it is that’s being captured by the camera.

I think that I managed pretty well to capture this adorable dog in motion while Chris and I were out walking this past weekend:

Miniature Husky?

Miniature Husky?

He was SO FLUFFY and he looked like a tiny Husky (is there such a thing as a miniature Husky?) so the moment he and his person were in the right light, I started snapping away. This was the second picture of 5 that I snapped in a row, and the only one that I thought was fit for editing.

Day #64 – A Photo A Day 2013

More fun with Tangled FX!

This is the “mountains” of the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride at Disneyland as seen from the queue during the nightly fireworks show.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Edit

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Edit

This pic obviously doesn’t have any fireworks, but the sky was filled with all sorts of smoke from them and it made for a strange hue when I took the picture.

I ran it through three different effects in Tangled FX and also let it color boost and WOW the effect was crazy! It almost looks like lava or something! I’m so in love with Tangled FX!

Day #63 – A Photo A Day 2013

At the risk of redundancy I am posting yet another pic edited in Tangled FX because I simply cannot get enough of that app!

I layered two different Tangled FX effects for this picture of one of the Chinese Dancing Lions at the San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade.

Dancing Lion at the Chinese New Year Parade 2013

Dancing Lion at the Chinese New Year Parade 2013

I really wish that I knew exactly how this app works – it’s so fascinating! This picture was already a little blurry because of the motion of the lion so I felt that it would be perfect to use the “blurred” effect to make it a little less noticeable. That didn’t quite give me the results that I wanted so I layered the “smooth fibers” effect over it as well to sharpen it up a little and to give the picture a bit more depth and detail.

Day #62 – A Photo A Day 2013

Tangled FX is fast becoming my new favorite photo editing app – it’s so versatile and I love how other-worldly it makes my outdoor pics look!

Here is a photo that I shot in Muir Woods on Friday before any editing of any kind:

Redwood Trees - Before Editing

Redwood Trees – Before Editing

Same photo – after editing in Tangled FX:

Sunlight in Muir Woods

Sunlight in Muir Woods

Watching the photo transform in that app is like magic – it just morphs in front of your eyes! I didn’t layer two effects in this pic like I did in the last one since I felt that altering in any further would have not been as effective. Sometimes less is more.

Day #61 – A Photo A Day 2013

There are SO MANY photo editing apps that I have been wanting to download lately but I have been limiting myself to one or two at a time so I can fully explore them before moving on and adding another to my library of well-used apps.

I just purchased Tangled FX, and app that I’ve had my eye on for a few weeks now and let me say that this app has blown me a away for a few reasons.

1. It’s easy to use. Effect options are clearly marked and it’s not hard to figure out what process you want by looking at the toolbar.

2. Processing time is minimal. It’s only taking a few seconds for the chosen effect to alter the photo.

3. Customization. You can adjust the effect scale factor, color boost, contrast or gamma.

4. There is a wide selection of effect choices – 16 in all.

Today’s picture was modified in Tangled FX, and I layered two effects in Blender to get the look that I wanted:

Piggy Art In The Window of Gallery 16 - Edited

Piggy Art In The Window of Gallery 16 – Edited

I pass by Gallery 16 a few times a week, and FINALLY the shadows were just right so I seized the moment and got my shot! Immediately I knew that I wanted to use Tangled FX to modify the photo. The shadows already had rather soft edges but I very much wanted to highlight and exaggerate that.

Day #60 – A Photo A Day 2013

Surprises are one of the most enjoyable things in life to me, and they don’t have to be a major surprise to be spectacular.

To clarify, I do not mean a bad surprise… like falling and twisting your ankle or waking up with a cold. What I am referring to are those un-expected moments where something good happens that you are totally not expecting and it totally makes your day.

My husband knows that I love surprises – he also knows that I am notoriously difficult to surprise, not because I get suspicious and nosy, but I’m generally a very observant person and I can tell when behavior is just a little bit off and then it isn’t long before my brain does the arithmetic and I figure out what has been planned behind my back.

I don’t know if I have been off my game lately or if I’m just not paying attention because he really surprised me today.

Two weeks ago Chris told me that his team at work was going to have an afternoon get together for lunch and that spouses were invited. The lunch was to be at one of his co-worker’s house, which is near the Muir Woods preserve. My eyes lit up at this, despite the fact that we would be going to the house and not to the woods – maybe I could get a glimpse! It’s been a desire of mine to visit Muir Woods for several years and I just KNEW that being so close and not being able to actually go on a hike was going to drive me nuts.

Today was the day – I laced up my boots and walked to Chris’ office where I met him and two of his co-workers and we started the drive, others on his team following. Our drive was taking us over the Golden Gate Bridge, which I had not done before and once we started across I realized just how awesome those beautiful red towers are! It’s such a different experience being on the bridge itself rather than under one end of it… impressive for different reasons, but what a magnificent sight it was to have the golden sun illuminating that fire-y red against a deep blue sky!

Across the bridge and into the hills we went… there was the entrance to Muir Woods! WAIT! We’re turning INTO THE PARKING LOT! SURPRIIIIISE! The team was gathering here to go on a short hike!!! Elation! Chris did a great job keeping this a secret, no small feat let me assure you! The rest of the team arrived and away we went!

We took the Ocean View Trail which was a challenging one – lots of un-even ground with roots and rocks and many many hills. We were completely surrounded by towering Redwood trees and the fresh smell of the woods was so incredible! I only had my iPhone with me, and I had to catch up to the group many times because I kept pausing to snap pictures. 🙂

At the top of this trail was a hill covered in grasses, and you indeed could see the ocean. I was surprised that we were not closer to the ocean itself as I was under the impression that we would be on an ocean side cliff view, but it was still spectacular nonetheless. At this point, we hiked back the way we came, hopped into our cars and went to Chris’ co-worker Jason’s house, where we had a barbecue and we all talked and played with Jason’s lovely two girls. 🙂

The team ended up talking about ideas for a project they were working on so while they were talking shop I played a bit with a photo that I took while we were on the hike:

Iris In Muir Woods

Iris In Muir Woods

It’s an iris that I found growing along the trail in the woods. I shot the picture with my fisheye lens from Photojojo – I haven’t been very impressed with this lens but I’ve been trying it out in a variety of lighting situations to give it a fair shake. It just seems like the pictures are not turning out as sharp as they should be, like the lens glass just isn’t very nice, and after looking at the original of this flower I think that’s what the problem is.

I took a picture with just the native lens (un-fortunately I ended up deleting it from my phone to make more room for other photos before I backed up my photos, so I can’t put the comparison of the originals here) and it looked much more clear than the original of this photo.

I was determined to make this photo look a bit more interesting with a bit of app layering – I do love a challenge! All in all, I think this edit looks better than the original but I am a little disappointed still with my edit. I think what is bothering me the most is that one petal that is much longer than the rest of the petals – normally I like asymmetry but this just seems out of place to me. I’m posting it here anyway as it was a part of the memories that I will take with me from this awesome day!

Day #59 – A Photo A Day 2013

App Layering. It’s addictive. It’s highly rewarding and creatively stimulating, not expensive and most apps are really easy to understand and apply practically.

I’m doing another Before and After post today because the edit I did this morning is so drastically different from the original photo that I wanted to show the difference.

The Hawaiian Chieftain is again the subject photo of the day. This photo here was taken on my iPhone 4s, native camera app at approx. 4:45 in the afternoon.

Here you see it un-touched – no edits nor touchups of any sort, just the raw photo:

Hawaiian Chieftian Un-Edited Photo

Hawaiian Chieftian Un-Edited Photo

I went to bed last night thinking of this pic and how I’d like to edit it. As I found myself immersed in the process, the picture ended up becoming something much more different than I envisioned it to be in the first place and I built layer upon layer of editing and overall I am much more pleased with the finished result than what I had originally planned to do.

Hawaiian Chieftian Heavily Edited Photo

Hawaiian Chieftian Heavily Edited Photo

I started out in Photo FX where I added a bit of haze to darken things up a little. I then moved on to Iris where I added a bit of dirt, back to Photo FX to darken it a bit more. On to Filtermania 2, then Wow FX, back to Filtermania 2, again to Wow FX again, on to ScratchCam and that’s where I forget just how many more times I ended up going back into Photo FX and Filtermania 2. This edit has taken the longest of any iPhone editing I have done – there were just a lot of layers to play with and tweak until I got just the look that I was going for.

I really don’t know what I would do without Photo FX and ScratchCam – they are my staples, and the Dropico apps are quickly becoming favorites as well!