Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Digital Camera 1: Assignment 7

In our second to last lecture, we learned about a tid bit about enhancing our photos with programs such as Lightroom and Photoshop.

For our last assignment, we we asked to take everything we had learned and put it together. In other words, take a photo that is well composed and has good exposure. Sounds easy right? But remember, we have multiple knobs to play with such as ISO, aperture, shutter speed, exposure compensation, and white balance.

I wasn't able to find the time, so I pulled a photo from my archives. I took this one not too long after I started the class. Some friends and I decided to troll through Photographica (it's a flea market for photographers). I thought this photo was pretty fitting and a great way to end the course.

Originl photo straight out of camera.
Post Photoshop touch up.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Dressing the Men Folk: Groomsmen

Oh my god, it is beyond ridiculous how excited I am about giving you the low down on what the men are wearing!!!

First, let me back up and start from the beginning...the very, very beginning. I hate rented tuxedos. They just scream "Hi! I was rented!" It's not so bad if you are going for the super formal tux look with the bow tie. But tuxes with the vests? During this process I have learned that I hate the vest options. YUCK! If they had vests plain black vests made from the same fabric as the pants and coat, this would probably be a non-issue. 

I have wanted the guys in black suits since we have been engaged. Little did I know that renting a suit is nearly impossible. After an exhaustive search and stress from another corner of the wedding planning world, Jake and I threw our hands up and called uncle. We will just keep it easy and rent tuxes from the big tux renting company.

We went to said place. I made Jake give me a fashion show and took crappy photos with my phone. We were in complete agreement on what the gents would wear. But something gnawed at me internally...for days...weeks actually. I tried to ignore it. I wanted to be a good bride and just go with the flow. I wanted it to be one last thing we had to deal with. I nagged Jake all last week to make a final decision so that we could let the guys know and thus be fitted. Jake went back and even had the sales rep help him take more photos in hopes to appease me.

Jake modeling the ensemble we had picked out for rental: 2-button tux, black satin vest, black diagonal striped tie.
The pants would be flat font (pleated is pictured). By the way, I also hate pleated pants and shiny, plastic rental shoes. 

Unfortunately for him, the stress mounted and the camel's back finally broke. I put my foot down. I wanted the men in suits. Simple black suits. And off we went to the department store in search of something that would make me happy.

We thought we struck it rich on the first try with Tommy Hilfiger's Slim Fit suits. The jacket fit Jake really well and would need minimal tailoring at the waist. On to the pants we went. Let's just say slim fit pants were too slim. And if they are too slim for Jake, they definitely are NOT going to work for the rest of the dudes. We moved our focus from Jake to the guys. Success! We found simple, 2-button, 2-piece, black suits (on SALE, too). Jake modeling the suit was one thing, we needed at least one of the guys to try it on. Somehow, we managed to get two of boys in the dressing room the next day. Perhaps it was the promise of food that helped? Either way, I'll take it.  

 Calvin Klein (Image via Macy's)

Pretty much looks just like the tux minus the satin lapel, right? Winning! Once we have everyone's sizes. I will do the dirty work of tracking then down and hopefully scoring them not only on sale but also with the additional discount by opening the charge card. I love me a good deal. Now onto ties, pocket squares, and socks. Oh and Jake's suit, too.

Friday, May 20, 2011

3 months

91 days until W-Day today (if the world does not end tomorrow)!

Let's see what we have been up to for the last month shall we?
  • Jake peeled and grated his first carrot ever!
  • The big white gown, you know THE wedding gown, is no longer resides under our bed. It now is in the hands of a seamstress for alterations. I'll see her next month for fitting #2.
  • My Chinese dress is almost ready for fitting #1. There has been so much drama surrounding the materials for this dress that it deserves its own post.
  • Jake tried on tuxes. He went back today to finalize the picks after hemming and hawing over the choices we had entertained.
  • Invitations are ALMOST, almost completed!! They will be finished tonight! I've been busy printing, cutting, gluing, stamping, and embossing. All that is left is the finishing touch.
  • RSVP cards has been re-designed! I had originally designed it way back when. But things change and I don't like it anymore. Instead of sleeping last Saturday night, I got a second wind and proceeded to design them. Done and done.
  • The information card were also designed originally with when I designed the invites. Thank God! Now we just need the welcome dinner and brunch information and they are ready to rock their way through the printer and paper cutter. Along with the RSVP cards, I am hoping to have them done at the end of the month.
  • Guestbook - Half way done, but I kept it easy ;)
  • Flower girls dress - O.M.G. I will have to do a separate post on this. Can you tell I an excited? We ordered it from Etsy. A friend of mine asked me if there was anything I was purchasing for this wedding. Yup, the flower girl's outfit. Haha. I will confess that I considered making it for a split second.
  • And lastly, I joined the 30's club.
    Age 1: First birthday.
    Age (a few weeks before) 30: Being goofy at a friend's wedding. I blame the champange.
Now onto the to-do list:
  • We need to find a tent company - Paula and Caitlyn have this under control. Unfortunately, we will no longer be sharing our tent as the other couple decided to go a different route. Shucks!
  • Welcome dinner venue and caterer - I was emailing places this week. Hopefully, we'll have something soon.
  • Morning after brunch venue and menu - Going to call this easy and just do it at the hotel. Done and Done.
  • Finalize the centerpieces - I think I need to stop giving our florist our opposing opinions and just let her creativity fly. I love everything she's done for other couples.
  • Finalize the dinner menu - In the works...but for some reason we still have not signed a contract.
  • The maid of honor still needs a dress - I am going to play dumb and pretend she has one.
  • The mother of the bride still needs a dress - Whooo! My mother ordered cheongsam dresses (yes, that's right, plural) from China and they finally came in. Now she just needs to find someone to help her with alterations. The crazy woman thinks that she can do it herself. Somehow I do not think that is going to work with her rheumatoid.
  • Menus need to be designed, printed, and assembled - I think I'm going to keep these simple. Not like anyone really cares about them, right?
  • Cardbox - Plan on tackling it as soon as I finish with the invitations. Goal is to have it done by the end of the month. I. Can. Do. This.
  • Chair signage - do we even need signage? seriously?
  • Transportation - We have transportation for us and the wedding party covered, just need to figure out something for our guests so that everyone can take advantage of the open bar. Dang, think I just gave away too much info ;)
  • Welcome packages for out of town guests -I mean what welcome packages? No one is getting anything. - Plan is to attack it next month after I get back from VEGAS.
4 months

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Digital Camera 1: Assignment 6

Lenses and white balance. Both topics are pretty self explanatory. OK maybe lenses are not really self explanatory. There are different types. Some work with most camera bodies, some will only partially work, and some not at all. Lens focal distances work differently depending if you have a pro or an entry level camera body. Lenses are for the most part interchangeable between bodies (research will tell you that it is not the camera body that is important, but rather one should sink money into the lenses). One difference when using a pro lens on an entry consumer body, is that there is a crop factor to contend with (in addition to potentially not being able to auto focus). I'm not going to go into the nitty-gritty. But the photo below gives you a general idea of what I am trying to convey. The red box shows what a full frame lens/body would see. The blue box shows what happens when you take a pro lens and put it on a camera that does not have a full sensor frame (full being the equivalent of a 35mm camera).

via Wikipedia.

For white balance, we went over the different settings that are available in addition to AUTO. Just a handful of choices include: cloudy, shade, tungsten, and fluorescent compensation. Auto does a fantastic job with natural light (in and outdoors in my experience). However, mixed lighting conditions are tricky. In each case, your camera will add the complementary color in order to achieve true white.

For this assignment we were to do our best to shoot on manual mode and to also play with the white balance options. I didn't have a chance to get out and shoot. I don't think we've had an uneventful weekend to ourselves in a long while. Anyways, instead, I picked through my old photos since I used to shoot on manual mode. Ha, yeah, I didn't really know what I was doing back then. I would do a test shot and then change my ISO, aperature, and/or shutter speed to get the photo I wanted. I would also say to myself, "that's close enough, I can Photoshop it later." Unfortunately, when I shot in manual mode, I left the white balance option on auto.

You may recognize these photos from our February 2011 trip to Oregon.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Digital Camera 1: Assignment 5

Exposure compensation. Most camera's have an option that allows you to either over expose or under expose a photo. In other words, it will automatically adjust either your aperature or your shutter speed to control the amount of light.

I had figured this option out just before shooting the rehearsal dinner, well kinda. I knew that I would have to use a flash, but I didn't want people's faces to be all blown out (super bright) and have the background super dark. At the time, I thought I was fiddling with the strength of the flash (that's another button), but in actuality, I was playing with the exposure. It might have been a fluke, but it worked.

I didn't execute the assignment properly. We were supposed to play with the exposure compensation to get a good photo. I took these during the day with natural light and my camera is pretty solid in determining what it needs, so I didn't have to play with the exposure.

Cherry blossoms! I could have played with the expposure here...but I like
the way the sun highlights the flowers, almost blowing out the details.

I shouldn't have blurred out the background so much.
My instructor asked me what the white stuff was...
it's a bowl of creamer.

Both taken with my "new" used lens Nikkor 24-85mm f/2.8-4.0. It's currently being repaired, hopefully I get it back soon.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Digital Camera 1: Assignment 4

Week #4's lecture focused on shutter speed. Your camera has a shutter that opens and closes. Think of shutter speed as the ability to control motion. The faster the shutter speed, the better you can freeze motion. Slower shutter speeds (assuming that the camera is stationary), will capture motion.

Here are two classic examples. The first, a bird in flight/motion (I'm not really sure if it is landing or getting ready to scoop up prey). In this photo, the bird is "frozen" by capturing it at a super fast shutter speed. In the second photo, the blur of traffic lights is achieved with a slow shutter speed.



For my homework, I tried to stay with the food/baking theme and played with my mixer. I was not focused on getting an artsy photo, but rather just stopping motion. I was able to do it, but it was not easy. What I did not mention above is that with quicker shutter speeds, it allows less light into the camera. In low light conditions (my kitchen afer sun down), you may not get the photo you want. In these cases, you can a) bring in light sources or use a flash or b) come back another time to take the photo.

In case you are wondering, that is swiss buttercream in the bowl.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Rest in peace, Grandpa. We love you. We miss you. And I will always remember your penchant for noticing my shoes.

via family archives.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Jill and her hats

I have worn many different hats as an engaged woman these past 20-ish months. I have been a webmaster. A baker. A florist. A bridesmaid. A craft guru. A graphic designer. A publisher. And most recently, I have been a photographer. Man, with a resume like this, I could be a one-woman-wedding show. *disclaimer, the rest of this post may sound a little narcissistic.*

Val asked if I would take photos at their wedding rehearsal. She was looking for someone to take photos from say a groomsman's girlfriend's point-of-view. I was completely caught off guard, but completely humbled by the request. Seriously, what an honor! I still cannot believe they entrusted such an important event in their lives into my hands. Yes, I know a rehearsal is not as big of a show as THE wedding, but come on, how many rehearsals do you have?

Me being me, took this "job" with utmost seriousness and professionalism. So much so that I borrowed some kick ass lenses from my boss. Let me tell you, I was so nervous that I was shaking when I got started. Not to mention, I misjudged traffic on a Friday and arrived just in the nick of time. It took me some time to get used to the new lens, to figure out lighting, and what angles to get. Just to make sure that I had at least one good photo, I shot on continuous mode. I think I was able to manage to snap a few good ones.

One funny thing, I think a few folks might have been surprised by the big lens I was toting. There are a couple of funny looks the wedding party shot me...on camera ;) I just told them to roll with it and that they were practicing for the real deal when there would be at least 2 cameras. By the end of the night, all of us were pros around the camera.

I would never consider myself proficient in portrait photography, but I think the stars were aligned just right and were rooting for me that night. It also helped that I had ridiculously good looking subjects surrounding me. Here are what I think are the best of the bunch:

Bride and her mom. I LOVE their facial expressions.

The ridiculously gorgeous bride and groom.

Bridesmaid and her fiance. They are getting married the day before us!
I cannot begin to tell you how shocked I am at this photo.
It doesn't hurt that they are a gorgeous couple, too.

Come know I am going to shoot food when there is food.

Cake made by the groom's cousin. Chocolate cake covered with Ring Dings (Ding Dongs)
and Yodels (Ho Hos); favorites of the Groom. Wait, maybe those are Hostess Cupcakes...
Bestman and girlfriend. See that shadow on the lower edge (center)?
Yea, stupid me, I had the flash on AND the hood on the lens.
I think Photoshop can fix it though ;)

Groom's parents. See her glasses, no glare! And I had the flash on!
I am beyond amazed that there is no glare. I also love how the wall sconce lights up her hair.  

Maid of Honor and Bridesmaid. They had me cracking up all night. 

And my favorite photo of all (I took 933 photos). LOVE. THIS.

Wedding photography is hard people. There is a reason why they charge lots of dinero. You get one shot and only one shot. You have to capture it all and capture it it well. I still have a lot to learn, but I have a new found respect for the wedding industry.

P.S. Val and Matt - if you haven't looked at the photos on the DVDs yet, don't bother ;)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tasty inspiration

via Martha Stewart Weddings

Give bubbly a boost with jewel-like cranberry-, pomegranate-, and apricot-infused sugar cubes. Working in batches, soak cubes in a bowl of fruit concentrate or puree until completely saturated. Remove with a fork, and place on a wire rack (don't let them touch); let dry overnight. Present cubes at a champagne bar, or serve them in passed drinks. The sweet, tangy taste will keep guests sipping long after the toasts.
                                                                                   - Martha Stewart Weddings, Fall 2007

Mmmm, how yummy does that sound? I would probably ditch the sugar cube step and just freeze juice or fruit puree into cubes. I think I might just have to do this for Jake's birthday this year....

Monday, May 9, 2011

May Day

Sorry, this is not a post about May 1. I just thought I would tell you all about one fine day in May that proved to be a very productive day; weekend actually.

- Picked up supplies for our table numbers.
- Printed our engagement photos. Take note - if you print pro photos yourself, make sure to ask for color correction to be turned off. Thank goodness Costco took pity on me and was willing to reprint at no extra charge.
- This is totally not wedding related, but I purchased a new lens for my camera. I scored a used Nikkor 24-85 mm f/2.8-4.8 used from a photographer in Plymouth. It was a bit of a hike to get the lens, but for $350, it was worth it. The lens currently retails for $700+ brand new. It was not in pristine condition, as there were a few cosmetic defects (I'm pretty sure there is nothing wrong internally). But $50 and a couple of fixes later, it'll be good as new.
- Re-layed out the invitations for print. I like to be efficient with my layouts to waste as little paper as possible.

- Finished a small project that will remain secret, sorry!
- Color matched the red cardstock I purchased to the corresponding color code in Adobe Illustrator.
- Printed 86 invitations.
- Cut out all 86 invitations.
- Started rounding out the corners on the invitations. I (we) made it through 25% of them before it was way past my bedtime.

- I took the day off from work to focus on wedding crafts. It was so nice to wake up late after 9 hours of sleep!
- Finished rounding the corners on the invites. I'll let you do the math on how many corners that is in total.
- Stamped all 86 invites.
- Embossed all 86 invites. Am I giving away too many hints?
- Caught up with our wedding planners. We are now starting to have phone conferences once every 2 weeks for updates.
- Printed, cut, and glued the "inner envelopes".
- Started gluing the invites onto a backing layer. I got about half way through before calling it quits.

And now it is time for bed. No more crafting until at least Wednesday night...then again, that might not happen as I still need to do the homework for the class I am taking at work for personal enrichment.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Bless his heart

Sorry for the gap in posts as of lately. I was on a roll too! Things may start to get more sporadic as we close in on 100 days before W-day. Just warning ya.

Moving onto todays post. I do a lot of things myself instead of relying on others, this includes Jake. Its just that things aren't really done the way you like them done unless you do them yourself.

I am a bit stressed out if you cannot tell. I have bitten off more than I can chew (but wait and see, I will get it all done, I always do). I have one last baking gig before my focus can be directed at wedding and wedding only. Jake is always asking me to give him a grocery list, but I never do, you will see why in a minute. Given the circumstances, I decided to come up with a detailed list of things I need for this last gig.

via Simply Shredded

The list was handwritten and included quantity, brand, and some idea of where to look for said item. The list consisted of cupcake lines, cream cheese (regular), mascarpone cheese, heavy cream, carrots (small bag of medium sized), buttermilk, liquid red food coloring, bread, eggs, and maybe a few other things that I cannot seem to remember off the top of my head.

Last night, right before my photography workshop started, I received a couple of text messages:

Q.They are out of cheap pastel liners, do you want expensive ones or cheap white ones?
A. Neither, just as long as you got the aluminum ones.
Is 2lbs of carrots enough?
A. Yea, that should be enough

I respond back, assuming that he is still in the store...DO NOT MAKE ASSUMPTIONS. As it turns out, he texted me as he left the store. WHAT? Yea, it is best not to ask and just go with it.

I get home to find:
1 - 16oz of cream cheese spread (is this regular cream cheese? I think not.)
1 - 2 lb bag of baby carrots (1-we barely eat 4oz bags of baby carrots, 2 - I cannot grate baby carrots for carrot cake, maybe if I had a baby sized shredder and still that would be a NO) Jake's reponse is that there were large carrots and baby carrots, it was safer to go with baby carrots. Maybe I should have clarified that I would be GRATING them.
2 - things of expensive white cupcake liners ($1.99 for 50 liners is not cheap)


I have to give him credit, he got everything else. I won't tell you how long it took him and how many rounds around the store it took (let's just say a long time, many rounds, some help from a clerk, and help from his phone). Bless his heart. He tried.