Saturday, May 28, 2011

Beantown And Lima, Ohio

Don't you just love what I did with the title?  Well, I leave tomorrow for a five night trip to Boston to check out Northeastern and look for places to live.  I'm sure I will come home with a ton of great pictures and stories, but until then here is a little look at my trip to Glee Live 2011 last week.  It was freaking amazing.  I didn't know what to expect from the tour and was not disappointed in the least.  The photos aren't great because I wasn't allowed to bring my DSLR camera in (thanks to a bitchy security guard who thought she was Secret Service), so I used my iPhone.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Just A Few Reasons Why I Am So Happy When Farmers' Market Returns

Monday, May 23, 2011

Pretty Boy

I recently learned how to make curled ribbon by wrapping ribbon around a barbeque skewer, clipping it at both ends, and baking it at 200 degrees for 20 minutes.  The result is fun curly ribbon that looks great in hair accessories.  And, of course, this was bound to happen ~

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Photography Lesson VI - Using Reflections

Reflective surfaces can be a great photography tool. They come in both natural (water) and manmade (mirror) forms. Not only can they add an interesting element to your photos, but they also boost the amount of light in your picture. These surfaces can be used as a basic aspect of your photo, or alone as an artistic shot. Here are a few examples ~

I took this photo during a walk through my neighborhood (yes, I sometimes bring my D5000 on exercise walks with me). The road wasn't particularly visually interesting, though it's pretty curvy, so when I saw the mirror attached to a telephone pole I knew it would make a great, artsy shot. Because I couldn't move the mirror, I had to angle myself and my camera so the road lined up in the mirror. The result is a fun shot using an unusual method.

Here's another example of using a manmade reflective surface. I took this photo during a snowmobiling outing in Lake Tahoe. I had gotten a bunch of great shots of the scenery and noticed how the gorgeous blue sky was reflected in Gilda's helmet. I thought it would be fun to get a picture of it and I also knew that my reflection would be captured too. Since a photographer isn't often the subject of many photos, this was a nice bonus. I guess that's how many people see me anyway, with a camera pressed to my face. I love that I captured me, Richard, the sky and landscape all in one shot. I also like that I used the helmet to achieve this because it gives a real feeling for what we were doing.

This is a picture from my cousin's wedding in Texas of the river that ran beside the resort. I liked that both the trees and sky were reflected in the river. It really gives a feeling for how calm the water was and how relaxing the experience was.

This was another shot that was purely for artistic expression. The clouds that day were almost cartoon-like in their fluffiness against the clear blue sky. I saw the puddle on the ground and thought it would be fun to picture the sky reflected in it. The result is what looks like a puddle full of sky and clouds.

This shot of the Golden Gate Bridge, taken from the Marin Headlands, is another example of using water to reflect light. As you can see, it was a cloudy day, so the light was diffuse and was reflecting nicely on the water of the Bay. It also meant that the shadow of the bridge span was cast on the water very distinctly. I made sure to adjust my settings in this shot so that the dark and light areas of the clouds were defined and the same was reflected in the water.

This photo of the Washington Monument and Capitol Building was taken from the Lincoln Memorial and I felt that it was important for me to capture the reflecting pool as well. See, even the architects of D.C. knew the importance of reflective surfaces. In this instance (a dark night shot) the reflection was also important because it nearly doubled the amount of light in the shot.

So, now you know how to use reflective surfaces to make your photos more interesting. When dealing with these surfaces and how they interact with your light source, you may have to adjust the settings on your camera to maximize the effect. Just mess around with it!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Public Service Announcement

You guys know that I'm always looking out for your best interest, right? Recently I was talking to someone about online coupon codes, and realized that I have useful information that you may not have. I thought I would share! If you do a lot of online shopping you will find this particularly useful. Here's what you do-
If you see a box asking for a coupon code or promotional code like this on the checkout page, you can count on there being coupon codes out there. For example, here is the checkout page on

The next step is to Google "Sephora coupon codes".

And finally, take a look at the results, pick a coupon code you like, and plug it into the box on the checkout page.

Coupons range from some percentage off, to free shipping, bonus samples, and more depending on the site. I hope this helps. I never buy online anymore without checking for coupon codes. I recently saved 10% on a $250 purchase, all I had to do was search for less than 5 minutes. Sweet!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Notorious D.O.G.

Yep, that's Arrow's other nickname. And I think he wears it quite well, don't you? 
(He asks that you please disregard the hot pink toenails)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Serious Cuteness

I hung out with Hayden for a few hours this weekend and, of course, brought my camera.  Could this kid be any cuter?  (And the green stuff on his face is avocado.)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I Had To Share These

Friday, May 6, 2011

He Shot The Sheriff

Arrow's nickname is Deputy.  It used to be Deputy Dog, but somewhere along the way it got shortened. He actually responds to it too.  Couldn't you just eat him up?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Sometimes I watch this video when I need a pick me up.  Sometimes I just want to hear "Alan!"

Monday, May 2, 2011

Photography Lesson V - Taking Advantage Of Every Moment

When setting out to take a picture, I usually try to visualize what I would like to capture. This is especially true when I am planning a professional shoot. However, plans change quickly, so it is important to not get too attached to what you had planned and instead look for moments to take take advantage of. A good way to accomplish this is to always have your camera ready. After you set up a shot and take a few photos, don't sit back and congratulate yourself. Keep your camera ready for a happy accident, should one occur. Here are a few examples...

This photo is part of Hayden's newborn shoot. I knew I wanted to get some naked photos of him, so I laid his little sleeping self out on a dark blanket on the couch. (The dark blanket was to create a uniform background, as well as to show off his pale newborn skin.) I had gotten a few shots, then he whimpered a little. His Daddy was sitting next to him and sort of absentmindedly reach down to soothe Hayden. At the same moment, Hayden reached his little hand up towards his Dad's. Since I had my camera ready I didn't have to say anything to his Dad about keeping still, or really even mention that I was taking a few shots. The result is that his hand looks relaxed and natural on Hayden and his parents know the photo wasn't staged. This is a true father-son moment caught on film. Having his father's hand in the photo also helped give a little perspective on Hayden's size. Perfection!

Here's another example of a happy accident. This photo of Javan and Karen in an open top bus in Washington, D.C. was only partially staged. I asked them to turn around to get a photo, which they did. However, between the time I asked them to turn around and the time I got my settings right (about 30 seconds), my cousin became too exhausted to hold his head up, poor baby. He said I was taking too long. the result is actually better than the shot I had planned. It captures Karen's sunny personality and easy smile as well as Javan's, well, Javan-ness. It also captures how tired we all were after getting up very early to go to the Rally to Restore Sanity, then standing for many hours at the rally.

Finally, here's the ultimate example of a happy accident. When I took this photo I had only owned my D5000 for about a week and was just photographing Arrow to see the quality of the photos it could take. Arrow was lying on the deck in the bright summer sun, just enjoying himself. It was warm so he was panting when he looked up at me. It just so happened that when I snapped the photo he closed his eyes against the sun and "smiled" a bit wider. Luck is what this shot is all about. Without good luck, my photography company wouldn't be called Smiling Dog Photography and Arrow wouldn't have a signature picture.

There's not much I can say that will help you improve your luck (but maybe go outside, turn around three times, and spit just to be sure). All I can do is help you recognize opportunities for great photos and not see them as getting in the way of your plans. I can also tell you not to over-plan and to have your camera ready to take advantage of every situation.

Here are a few more examples of a captured moment rather than a planned photo. There's not really anything to explain, they are just here to give you a few more ideas.