Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Cats Who Copy

Below we see the artiste (prounounced R-teest) hard at work.  He has been working on this piece so long that he grew a full beard since the time he started...

Actually, it only took him one night.  The beard took a little longer.  Grant was going for a more natural look while I tend towards the more whimsical.  

Mine was a copy of a copy of a Van Gogh.  Virtuostic, right?  The original looks like this:

But this is the copy I was copying:

The Dallas Museum of Art was so impressed with us that they have scheduled an entire exhibit to showcase our work.  It will be entitled, "Fans of the Tans: Where Will the Talent End?"

Oh, and they'll be paying us 3 bajillion dollars... 

 With which I will buy a real Van Gogh...

And then copy it...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Our very own Friday Night Lights

Can you believe we have lived in Texas for almost a year and a half?  Actually, more appropriately: Can you believe we have lived in Texas for almost a year and a half and just barely went to our first football game?!

In fact, Grant had to work that night so it was just me and a few friends.  The two rival high schools nearby played each other.  It was a painfully one-sided game.  The Panthers (below) wiped out the Mustangs.  

I don't have anything against football, but in general, it doesn't get my blood flowing. (Unless it's BSU, BYU, or my beloved Centennial Patriots).  Half time shows are more of my cup of tea.  I was fascinated to see the mass spectacles that only Texas could produce.  For example: Drill Teams

These girls (a handful of whom I teach at the studio) are decked out in cowboy hats, boots, and lovely tassle covered dresses.  I heard you say it: What?!  

It is a strange Southern phenomenon that I have yet to understand.  In comparison to the kind of dance I was doing on my high school drill team (see here), well, in all honesty... there is no comparison to be made.

To top it off, they had a combined band performance made up not only of the two high schools, but the middle schools that feed into those high schools as well.  Phew!  

Really... only in Texas.  

Oh, and as a side note, the Texas State Fair has begun.  We didn't go last year, but I hear they have some seriously fattifying foods: fried snickers, fried frito pie, fried butter...  Don't worry, I will try one of each and let you know ;)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sizeable Differences

While in Oklahoma we visited Little Niagra.  

I've never been to the actual Niagra Falls, but I'm just guessing that Little Niagra is in fact, a lot littler...

Maybe more like Tiny Niagra?

Mini Niagra?

Micro Niagra?

How about MiNi (pronounced My- Nye)?

But in any case, it still made a splash!

Man, that was cheesy...

Friday, September 24, 2010

A Quick Getaway

Over Labor Day weekend, we headed to Oklahoma with some of our good friends.  We headed back to Turner Falls, the same place we camped last Thanksgiving.  

The men chopped up some wood for the fire, including this piece, Swigglestick.

Nobody was injured in the making of this fire.

It was nice to get away from the city and relax a bit.  It doesn't get much better than great conversation with great company in the great outdoors.  It is also nice to build teepees out of wood and then lighting them on fire.  Yes it is.

We also practiced our sharp shooting skills with marshmallow guns and a cardboard box.  In case you weren't aware, ants love marshmallows. 

And we made foil dinners.  For some reason, food always tastes better when you've made it over a fire.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Picasa Me Good

Since I got a new DSLR camera a few months ago (see here), I have slowly been teaching myself the ropes of photography.  I get a lot of help through various websites and blogs but most of what I learn is through trial and error.  I'm hoping to put up some posts about the basic things I have learned, hoping that it might help someone else.  But first I wanted to share one of my best friends with you.

Picasa is Google's free photo editing software.  It rocks.  In comparison to the power of Photoshop, it does very little.  However, for beginners and those in a time crunch, Picasa works wonders and is super easy to use.  Oh, and did I mention it's free?  You can download it here.

To demonstrate the awesomeness, I'm going to walk through a basic edit that I did today.  When I open up Picasa, it automatically sorts my pictures and shows them to me like this.  I choose the picture I want and double click on it.  

Up pops an editing window!  On the left side, I am shown a list of options that fall under 3 folders, Basic Fixes, Tuning and Effects.

Basic Fixes is super quick, but also pretty limited.  You can tell the program to automatically correct the contrast or the color in your picture.  Or, if you're "Feeling Lucky," it will correct both in one click.  I'm going to skip this tab because:
#1. I like the crop already
#2. I want to do all the fine tuning on my own

So I click on the Tuning tab and see a window like this:

The Tuning tab allows me to play with individual aspects of my contrast and color.  First, I start with fill light.  Increasing this brings more light to the entire picture.  

Next is highlights.  Normally, I like to play with highlights a lot.  I like to create contrast and make things pop.  However, in this picture, increasing the highlights creates hot spots that I don't want both in Grant's hair and in the bushes behind him.  So I leave it untouched. 

Next, I bump up the shadows.  Mixing shadows with either highlights, fill light, or a combination of both creates contrast.  Me likey.  

The last thing under tuning that I like to mess with is the Color Temperature.  Basically, moving the tab left makes your picture more blue, and moving it right makes your picture more red.  Unless the picture is already too red, I like to move the tab a little right.  It adds a little color to everyone's faces.  

Be careful though.  Too far=Oompa Loompa.

For this picture I had one last thing in mind.  I moved over to the effects tab, which looks like this:  Some of my favorite effects here include saturation (when editing pictures without people in them), warmify (when creating a more vintage look), and sharpen (which, sharpens your pictures... imagine that).

For this picture, I click on sharpen and move the bar over as far as it will go.  In cases where your picture is just a little too blurry, this will take some of the fuzziness away.  It also creates a nice contrast between foreground and background, although it is quite subtle.

It is not a huge difference, but I think the bottom image is just a little crisper.

Whabam!  Done!  Now I have to export the picture.  Picasa doesn't change the original file so you have to create another file to use the edited picture outside Picasa.

I click the Export folder at the bottom of the screen, choose the folder I want, and press Export!

Different?  Better? What do you think?

Picasa is a keeper.  A free keeper.  

As a side note, Picasa just bought another editing website called Piknik.  Piknik is a great little site and their free version is even a bit more advanced than Picasa.  However, I prefer Picasa because it is a separate program that I download to my computer and don't need internet access to use.  Amen. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Spring, Summer, Summer, Summer....

Someone forgot to inform Mother Nature that it is almost Fall...  It still feels like summer and right now I wish I could drench my head in a bucket of ice water.  Well, maybe not ice water.  But water that hasn't been sitting out in the Texas sun for three months (like our apartment complex pool).

I'm ready for a change and I'll think I'll be giving Mama Nature a call soon to inform her.  Anyone have her number?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Mother, Father, Brother, Sister

While in Boise a few weeks ago, I was able to attend my old roommate's wedding. (It's been that long and I'm still posting about it.... a little behind? Whoops.)

Even though Grant wasn't able to be there I was lucky enough to have three lovely companions.  We were all best friends our freshman year of college (along with about 10 other crazy kids).  We were also all part of the same Family Home Evening group which means we had assigned roles in the family.  

Austen, or Dad, as we used to call him.  He acts nothing like our father.  Well, maybe if your father is the sarcastic instigating type...

Matty was the mischievous little brother.  I think?  

Marge was Mom.  How appropriate.  She did a great job dealing with me, the attention starved middle child.  Thanks Mom :)

We spent a lot of time that day laughing:

and telling stories:

And listening to Matt ask me when I was going to stop taking pictures... 

Um... never?

Last time I was at the temple with some of these kids was back in the day... We've changed a bit since then...

But anyways... It was a beautiful day at the temple.  A little hot for pictures and all, but luckily FHE families that have been expired for 3 years running don't have to be in the wedding pictures.  So we ditched.  

But not before catching Matty with his purple socks...

Winner.  Well, besides Lorren, of course.