16 August 2013

Month 18

Dear Big Boy J,

Let me start off by apologizing to you. Mom is so so sorry that you are spending your 18 month mark strapped into a car seat and stuck in the car for 8+ hours. It really isn't fair to take such a wild and free-roaming boy and make him sit still, but we have to get to Vegas somehow. I promise when we get there we will let you run around and...oh wait! It will be hot hot hot outside. Will you settle for an indoor, air-conditioned wiggle session?

This month you have become a little imitator, copying everything we do. You love trying out new words that you hear and it is fun for us to communicate with you on a new level. During our daily routine of watching cars on the corner, you wave goodbye to the trucks as they pass and then turn and say, "More Trucks Please!?!"

It is also quite adorable when we ask you if you want to go outside and you begin looking for your shoes. I'm never quick enough with the camera, but you always put your hands up in the air and say, "where'd go? shoes?" with a very concerned look on your face.

 This month you learned that you can get just about anything you want when you tell mommy "please" with a cute little grin.
You've also discovered that you LOVE strawberries and raspberries (like, you cannot survive without them!), and Grandpas know where the juiciest ones hide.

Your art easel is your new favorite place to express yourself. And you learned that mom can draw trucks and so you demand them daily.

This month I accidentally created a bug killing machine. After seeing mommy SPLAT a fly you now hunt down all the bugs, and get there just a few seconds too late. But being your thorough self, you still swat the vacant spot and say, "where'd go? bug?"
We are so very happy that you joined our family a year and a half ago! You have brought us so many laughs and we can't wait to see what you come up with next. 

Love, Mom

14 August 2013

Bard Yard Fun: Senior Session

This handsome fellow is J's only and most favorite uncle! (You might remember him from my Lightroom presets post last week.)  While in Idaho two weekends ago, I had the chance to do a very relaxed senior session for this great guy. Relaxed meaning we were driving to dinner with the whole family when we jumped out of the car at the barn, shot some images, and then continued on our way.
And of course J needed to photo bomb 
and show his uncle some (strawberry-faced) love!
 After dinner we headed to a nearby wheat field right after sunset for some images with his cello. Me bounding through the tall, scratchy wheat was surely a funny site for the cars driving by, but I absolutely love the images we were able to get.

09 August 2013

Favorite (free!) Presets

I've mentioned this before, but I am all about things that are free. (But really who isn't? No way, I have values and insist on paying full price for everything! Said no one ever.) And in the world of photography where camera equipment and other toys can become a very expensive passion, I am all about the free stuff. 

I edit all of my photographs with Lightroom 4 (someday 5...), and I love the impact and beauty it helps bring out of my photographs. When I started out learning Lightroom, I thought that using presets was like cheating off of someone's homework. Luckily, I got over this snobbery and went on the search for presets that would help me edit quicker and with more variety.

Over the last year, I have downloaded ten bundles with various presets included. As a thank you for offering these excellent presets, I thought I would share the love and introduce you to a few of my favorites.

MCP Actions offers a lot of great products to buy while also offering free presets to convince you of their excellent quality. They have a page dedicated to free Lightroom presets and I have downloaded and LOVE all of them.

Mini Quick Clicks includes 17 presets, my favorite being True Colors.
Straight Out Of Camera (SOOC)
True Color- MCP
Mini Enlighten includes 15 presets, my favorites being Grunge B&W and Overlay: Urban Bliss. If some of my pictures seem tinted a blue/purple color, that would be my addiction to Urban Bliss.
Grunge B&W- MCP
And finally, my favorite (and most recent) download from Photography Concentrate. To be able to download their free presets and much more you first need to join the Explorer's Club. I've been a member for a while and I've never received anything besides awesomeness from them!

The new Nautical Preset Pack has become my absolute favorite for both black and white and color images. These presets create beautiful soft and dramatic tones. If you've been wondering how to give your images a matte finish, this will do it.
Anchor- Photography Concentrate
A big and enthusiastic thanks to MCP Actions and Photography Concentrate for helping me fall in love with presets (and save hours of editing time)! If you use Lightroom I hope you download and try some of these out. 

And if you have questions or want to share your images enhanced by these presets, send me an email, thepieperlife [at] gmail [dot] com.

PS: If you think the above fellow is handsome, come back next week for his senior session!

07 August 2013

365: July Favorites

Seven months of my 365 project are complete and it feels amazing! These are just a few of my favorite images from the month that weren't able to sneak into a blog post somewhere. 

The first image, is J's favorite pair of shoes. This boy (thanks to his Grandmas) has so many shoes, but he will only wear this pair. I wanted to get a close up of these shoes (that will soon wear out) because they go through so much abuse and so many adventures on J's feet. They are also accomplices to his many mischievous acts.

The second image is a group of daisies in my mom's front yard. I was out in her yard, talking on the phone with Joseph, when my little sister came home and asked why I was taking pictures of the weeds. Oh sister! I know what I am doing.

The third image took place when we were at a park enjoying an ice cream cone when a lady bug decided to pay a visit. (TWO shoe pictures in one month, seems a little strange doesn't it?)

The fourth image was taken with my arm extended using our point and shoot camera. This was right before we ran our first 5K together as a family! It was early and semi-cold but we were so excited to get moving. 

We are now training for a 10K, but don't tell the little guy. Being strapped into the stroller for 30 minutes is enough torture, he might not survive 60 minutes.

05 August 2013

Tractors and Sunsets

Last summer I had the chance to do my first ever session when my little sister asked me to take her senior pictures. I was SO nervous but I was also so excited to have a model that I could give direction to and pose. This was also going to be my first real chance to work with natural light during the "golden hour".

When I saw this old lonely tractor by our community garden plot, I knew it would be the perfect place to take my cowgirl-at-heart sister. I didn't (and still don't) have a lot of experience with posing, but luckily for me my sister was a natural. She knew where to look and how to move. This modeling skill shouldn't have come as a surprise to me, this girl has always loved the camera and always known how to strike a pose!
From this session I learned small but important tips like, always check wrists for hairbands, and wear comfy clothes that are okay to get dirty (because somehow I always end up laying on my stomach). I also learned that although "golden hour" has beautiful light, the light is also changing very quickly as the sun sets. I was constantly adjusting my settings to achieve the correct exposure.

Fast forward a year and I had another chance just this week to photograph my little sis before she leaves for college. I LOVE looking at the most recent images and seeing my progression as a photographer and also as a photo editor. I am able to create beautiful images that express my personal style without taking HOURS in Lightroom correcting every tiny thing.

Stay tuned for my latest sessions!

PS: I'm pretty sure my Mr. J would go crazy over these images because he really loves tractors right now. Like really loves them. I can hear him right now, "TRACTOR!" I apologize for raising my online voice, but it needs to be authentic.


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