Archive for April, 2011

April 30, 2011

Saturday Smiling + First start on HDR

The past week I learned how to perform the HDR effect.  It’s one of the first effects I’ve ever learned how to do, for a number of reasons.  One I’m not a fan of effects.  Two, it takes too much away from the photograph.  And three I like to have my images as close the real thing as possible…  And it takes a lot of work to make a picture look as if it wasn’t edited at all.  So I didn’t look into the whole HDR effect either for that matter.  High Dynamic Range is a set of techniques that allow a greater dynamic range of luminance between the lightest and darkest areas of an image than current standard digital imaging techniques or photographic methods.  This wide dynamic range allows HDR images to more accurately represent the range of intensity levels found in real scenes, ranging from direct sunlight to faint starlight.  Basically it gives a picture somewhat of the same exposure toning all around.  You usually don’t have harsh shadows in the HDR effect and it looks somewhat drawn and cartoonish…  Don’t ask why, I just found out myself.  And yes, I copied the definition from Wikipedia ;)

So here’s a few examples from today…  We decided to take another day off and enjoy the wonderful weather that God has blessed us once again!  These were taken at a local park.  This does not mean I like HDR effect!  Absolutely not always!  But I do enjoy performing it on a few landscape images…  And it is quite easy to do! ;)

We gave Subie a haircut but I was a little embarrassed to show you guys right away because it was extremely choppy… So we waited a few weeks for it to even out and here she is…

And us…  We made a family tradition to always take a self portrait of us together whenever we have our cameras with us.  ;)

Happy Saturday Smiling! ;)

April 29, 2011

Instagram iPhone ::

Another Instagram post.  A few images from the past few weeks that I’ve kept in my phone. I finally got around to cleaning my phone gallery and decided to post them up on the blog, before they’re deleted.  You know for memories ;)  Enjoy!  It’s a short post today because I’m extremely busy!

Happy Friday!  And have a great weekend!

April 28, 2011

Thursday Thinking + C.H. Spurgeon

I was given a very interesting book the past week.  It’s a Spurgeon book.  And the more I read it, the more I find myself thinking how deeply corrupt a human being is.  Without God, our bodies cannot produce even the smallest amount of good…  And only by the Grace of God are we saved.

So reading yesterday’s passage I was over-whelmed by the amount of spiritual food I got from a small paragraph…  And I simply can’t hold it back from you guys, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

“The Lord will Perfect that which concerneth me”   PSALM 138:8

“He (The Lord) who has begun will carry on the work which is being wrought within my soul.  The Lord is concerned about everything that concerns me.  All that is now good, but not perfect, the Lord will watch over, and preserve, and carry out to completion.  This is great comfort.  I could not perfect the work of grace myself.  Of that I am quite sure, for I fail every day, and have only held on so long as I have because the Lord has helped me.  If the Lord were to leave me, all my past experience would go for nothing, and I should perish from the way.  But the Lord will continue to bless me.  He will perfect my faith, my love, my character, my life-work in me.  He gave the concern  I feel, and, in a measure, he has fulfilled my gracious aspirations.  He never leaves a work unfinished; this would not be for his glory, nor would it be like him.  He knows how to accomplish his gracious design, and though my own evil nature, and the world, and the devil, all conspire to hinder him, I DO NOT doubt his promise.  He will perfect that which concerneth me, and I will praise him for ever.

Lord, let thy gracious work make some advance this day!”     ⎯ C.H. Spurgeon

This got me thinking.

-Yes I understand this would be a better post of Wednesday Wise Words, but I didn’t read this until last night…  So I just a second ago made up Thursday Thinking ;)  Hope you still enjoyed it!

Happy Thursday!

April 26, 2011

Leather Bound Album Books + They’re custom!

The long-awaited package came last Wednesday!  Seems like everything happened on Wednesday ;)  The package wasn’t a big one, but it sure was a very exciting one!  Our very first Album Book order came, and boy was I in awe.  The quality, the brand new smell, the leather, the prints, and the imprinting was just incredible.  I’m telling you this definitely won’t be the last time I order with them!  It’s one thing to see it in pictures, it’s a completely different experience when it’s right in front of you and you’re holding it and smelling it.  It’s.  Simply.  Amazing!  But don’t take my word for it…

The box that every album is hugged in and snuggled safely with life-time guarantee…

The inside of the box cover is soft and very gentle on the book.  With a silky ribbon for easy grabbing…

This album that they ordered was a 6″x9″, sounds small right?  Well I was surprised how big it appeared.  The leather was Top Grain Khaki.

The imprinting…

And my logo imprinting…

They lay flat…  Completely flat!

The gutter is barely even there…  So amazing!

You see?  I don’t!

With very thick strong pages…

Happy Tuesday!

April 25, 2011

Black and White : Mr. Dan + The death cycle

I took these pictures last week of Mr. Dandelion, hoping to post them right away, but not having the chance to, I decided to do it now since I’m able to get on my computer again.  On Tuesday Subie and I went out for our usual backyard stroll, you know to spy on the bees and glaze at the beautiful dandelions.  This time I grabbed my camera and macro lens and thought I’d practice to steady my hands.  It’s HARD, but I think I managed to get five good shots. ;)

I decided to turn most of these black and white for multiple reasons.  I thought the black and white would help to focus on the main details and clarity of the dandelion, as oppose to leaving them colored the green background took away a lot of the attention.  Then this stage of the dandelion is the death cycle.  The weed dies and the seeds are being swept away by wind to plant more.  So the colorful colors of the surrounding background wouldn’t set the mood as well as a black and white did.  And the last reason is I began to really like black and white so this post seemed just right. ;) Let me know what you guys think!  I love to hear your critics!

And one in color.  All happy and joyful!

Have a great Monday night!

April 20, 2011

Unexpected Wednesday : Meet Roman

The day went as usual… Except for the dentist’s visit, again.  We ate breakfast, then got to the cleaning, and that lead to rearranging the office and bedroom, as well as the living room.  In the midst of all that was going on, I let Subie out for a little stroll along our property.  Like always that ends up with her running after the neighbors dog.  This time it was someone I’ve never seen before.  He was curly, white, and had the biggest brown eyes that were covered with his whiteness.  His name was Roman.  I looked around only to find that he was all alone and appeared to be lost.  He was somewhat frightened, although my heart went out to him and his cuteness, I knew I had to leave him there in case someone returns for him.  I picked up my Subie and walked over to our house.  The next thing I know Roman is right behind me.  This time I was pretty convinced he was far away from home and completely lost.   Now since Roman was on our land I had to take him in and call his owners.  They didn’t answer the phone.  I called again and left them a message, explaining their cute white Maltese ended up on our land.  While waiting for them to call back we went on with our cleaning.

Four hours later no phone call.  So we decided it’s best that little Roman got a bath.  He was dirty and stinky.  We fed him and after all of that he looked cuter than ever.  Although I’d love to keep him, I know someone out there is going to miss him soon!

Don’t judge on what I look like…  I was cleaning… ;)

Happy Wednesday!

April 19, 2011

Travel : The hands that tell a million stories…

God willing my grandmother is going to be 95 this October.  The things that she has gone through and the things that she has done in her life were hard and painful.  She had nine kids all of whom she raised on her own, while her alcoholic husband drank their money away in the times of war.  She did everything herself with no one helping her, and having only God to believe in that someday all of this will all be done and she will finally rest.  Her kids called her an angel because she didn’t complain when life gave her thorns, instead she thanked God for that as well.

Her stories were long and filled with so much sadness that tears were streaming down our faces while Grandma Polly told us of her past.  She didn’t exaggerate.  I felt so ashamed of my lack of patience, listening to her stories. She had so much patience with the people who acted with evil towards her, and she showed them love.  She didn’t hesitate to do good to her enemies and didn’t wait for good in return.  No one knows why God chose this difficult path for her, but she really is blessed and loved with all her kids, grandkids, great grandkids, and great great grandkids around today.

She was so happy that we came to visit and decided to take a few pictures not knowing when the next time could be.

Happy Tuesday!

April 18, 2011

Travel : Asheville NC : S&V + Botanical Gardens

Oh Asheville, you have stolen my heart!  I’m absolutely in awe of your beauty!  The way you love to care for the Earth.  And how absolutely kind you have been to us every visit!  Of course I love being there because of more important reasons such as visiting my family, but I really do adore the city itself!  They have outdoor festivals for being GREEN, now that’s my kind of city!  It is the number one city in the US that placed in being the most GREEN!  The recycling and caring for the Earth type of GREEN!  Just so we’re on the same page here.

On our second day there we woke up early and started the day off by visiting my 94-year-old Granny.  She was such a trooper.  We took a few pictures with her (for much-needed memory), looked through a ton of albums with her, and listened to her childhood, youth, and young marriage memories.  She remembers everything so well!  Every face in the album she named by name and last name.  Her stories made us laugh, think, and cry!  But that’s for another blog post. ;)

So after spending half the day with Granny and wearing her out, we left as and let her rest.  The next stop on our to-do list for the day was going to a local park.  I remembered about Botanical Gardens, a park that we visited a few years ago with my sisters.  Vitaliy has never been there so the experience was much more enjoyable.  We walked around the beautiful park for around two hours not being able to resist taking a few pictures of each other!  That’s what happens when we both take a day off with our cameras.  We definitely needed a day off just to ourselves, and we had a great time.  We hope you enjoy the pictures as much as we enjoyed taking them for you! ;)

The gift shop in the park had this amazing texture that I fell head over heals in love with!

How could I resist?

The trees have began to bloom.


Friends are like flowers…  Not sure how.

Remember those days when carving your names in a tree was cool?

Tiny flowers are the best ;)

My overly-handsom hubby! :)

Can’t you feel the love?

Liked the color combination…

Found this to be the funniest name…  The Virginia Creeper in North Carolina… How ironic.

Subie would not have liked that!

The tree that Jesus’s thorn crown was made of…  The picture shows only the freshly sprouted thorns, but as they grow they harden and become as sharp as needles.

I absolutely LOVE this next one!

I forget what was so funny but I’m sure it was hysterical by the way I was laughing.

Blue and brown go extremely well together don’t you think?

Happy Monday Everyone!

April 15, 2011

Travel : A six hour road trip to the beloved Asheville

I always enjoy going over to our neighboring state NC to visit the family!  But on weekends such as this one I wished the trip could wait due to so much going on here.  But once planned, you should carry it out!

I meant to blog these cell phone pictures yesterday after we arrived, but we only had time left to converse with the cousins.  And I wouldn’t trade that for anything!  Family is always first!   Then today I realized since I do iPhone Friday, and these pictures are off of the iPhone, and today is Friday, it’ll fit the blog post better if I post them today! ;) So enjoy the road trip snapshots and have an amazing weekend!

Subie did NOT want us to go.  She was whining and crying her little eyes out.  Oh by the way, have I mentioned she got her fur chopped off?

The Sun that afternoon when we left. ;)

I started out the road trip by driving…  Vitaliy kept on tuning =/

Our first rest area ;)

The strange statue at the rest area…


Yep!  It’s nice that VA finally changed their speed limit from 65 to 70!

My iPhone GPS showing the trip we need to make…  The green symbolizing our starting point and the red the finishing point.  The blue is our WRX. ;)

The rest area that we stopped by to switch places one last time had this cute sitting picnic area ;)

Yes!  We still love to hold hands!

A book that should have been finished a long time ago was finally finished on this road trip!  Amazing book, if you ever get the chance find it and read it!

As you can tell I’m absolutely obsessed with the Sun!

One of the chapters! So informational!

And that’s how our road trip went!

Have a great weekend guys!

April 13, 2011

Wednesday I want__________ : What the future camera bag will hold!

So here’s my I want list…  The question never really made me think because I knew -from the moment I figured out what lens does what- what I wanted in my gear bag in the future.  I knew I didn’t want any zoom lenses unless it’s a telephoto.  I knew that I wanted most of my pictures to look the way I see them in real life, so the more they appear to be fake/fantasy/unreal the more I disliked it.  I’ve used the all of these lenses except the tilt-shift and the 180mm macro, and those I know enough about to want them.  Of course those two are at the very end of the list because they are not mandatory, simply for pleasure use.  The ones I’ve used already are simply incredible!  They get the job done just the way I would picture each and every one of the images.  The telephoto zoom 70-200mm is perfect!  It’s great for ceremony, not to be in anyone’s way and still get great close ups of the couple.

“The 85mm has an impressive optical performance and a very large aperture of  f/1.2.  This new medium telephoto lens uses a Ring-type USM, high-speed CPU and optimized algorithms to achieve an autofocus speed approximately 1.8x faster than the original. The high-speed AF and circular aperture create a shallow depth-of-field that brings attention to the subject and blurs the background, which is ideal for portraits and weddings. The floating optical system, which includes an aspherical lens element, suppresses aberrations and ensures excellent imaging performance.”



“The 50mm f/1.2L USM is a peerless new standard lens featuring an ultra-large aperture for a narrow depth of field and soft background blur so loved by photographers everywhere. The EF 50mm f/1.2L USM is suitable for any shooting situation; its lens coating and construction are optimized to minimize the ghosting and flare that frequently occurs when lenses are used with digital cameras. This high-performance, weather-resistant lens delivers all the superb image resolution and contrast you expect in a Canon L Series Lens.”  What you see with your eyes is what you’ll get from the picture!

“The 35mm L-series professional f/1.4 wide-angle lens with an Aspherical lens element to correct aberrations. The floating system enables high picture quality to be obtained over the entire focusing range. Autofocusing is quick and quiet with rear focusing and ring USM. Full-time manual focusing is also possible.”  This incredible wide-angle lens barely distorts faces.

“Improving upon one of the most celebrated lenses in the Canon EF line is no easy feat, but Canon has done just that. The all-new EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM increases the speed, performance and optical quality of the EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS USM while maintaining all of the characteristics that have made it a legend for professionals and advanced amateurs alike. The EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM features one fluorite and five UD elements for increased optical quality and reduced chromatic aberration. It has a minimum focusing distance of 1.2m/3.9 ft. at all zoom settings, which is useful for photographers in smaller spaces trying to get closer to a subject. It features a next-generation Optical Image Stabilizer, providing up to 4 stops of correction at all focal lengths. And as with all L-series lenses, the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM is dust- and moisture-resistant and designed for use in the challenging environments typical of rigorous professional use.”

Although I have an incredible macro lens at the moment, I can’t help but wish for this little fella.  This telephoto macro lens with a maximum magnification of 1x. Life-size close-ups can be taken from a farther distance without disturbing the subject (insects, etc.).  The internal floating system minimizes fluctuations in aberrations caused by changes in the focusing distance. Optical performance is outstanding from 1x to infinity!



And now to the tilt-shift lens.  No photographer really needs this lens unless of course their doing professional architecture or landscape photography, but every photographer really wants one.  It is the most difficult lens to master.  If one doesn’t know how to use it, it might take hours to set it right the way you want it to look.  This little guy is the widest tilt-shift lens in Canon’s lineup, the new TS-E 17mm f/4L lens expands shooting possibilities exponentially on EOS Digital cameras. Designed with UD glass to minimize and compensate for chromatic aberrations, with a specially coated aspherical element for the highest possible glare-free image quality, this tilt-shift lens offers a diagonal angle of view of 104° on a full-frame SLR camera!  Incredible!

To get a better feel of what this lens is capable of check out the video: