Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Thanks, Past Emma





dress: c/o eShakti
belt: came with a skirt from JCPenney
flats: Target

Friends and Twitter followers may be familiar with my phrase, "That's a problem for Future Emma." As in, "I really want to watch this movie, but I have so much work to do. Oh well, guess that's a problem for Future Emma."

Needless to say, I am rarely a fan of Past Emma.

So imagine my surprise when I went to edit some photos for today's post and realized that Past Emma had already edited four outfits' worth of photos! Proof that Past Emma is not always a jerk to Future Emma. Now I can go back to editing the last of the Marley photos.

Speaking of, can I ask you guys a huge favor? Kellen entered my favorite shot of Marley in a Parents magazine contest. If she wins, the photo I took of her will be on the cover of the magazine! This is obviously pretty exciting for both of us, so if you have a moment, could you please vote for her here? And if you feel so inclined, you can vote from multiple computers, your smartphone, your tablet and using your Twitter and Facebook account. I think you can also vote once per day via each of these methods. She is/we are currently #28, which is amazing and definitely within the "we could win it" range. Thanks so much if you vote!!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Grumpy cat day

That would be me, all day today. It's just been one of those days that started off on the wrong foot, and then a boatload of frustrations got piled on top, and now I just can't get out of it. I won't bore you with the details (and I'm trying this new thing where I don't spread negativity by complaining), but I'm trying my damnedest to stop being so sulky. I've eaten a bar of dark chocolate (courtesy of a friend), listened to this song a billion times (courtesy of another friend) and thought a lot about wedding dresses. Helpful, yes, lasting, not so much. Try as I might, I keep reverting to mayor of Grumpcity.

I know Ally likes to dress up when she's feeling down; Sydney likes making a creative cocktail; other friends like to dance or listen to music or do yoga. I like to do those things, or climb. But I am at work, and then I have a dentist appointment, and then I have to go to the store, and then I have to edit photos. Though I suppose photo-editing is kind of like meditation to me, or at least it gives me something neutral and constructive to focus on so I stop thinking about how frustrated I am.

What do you do when you're in a funk you can't shake off?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Photog: Miss Marley's photoshoot

A year ago, our friends Tim and Kellen had a beautiful baby girl, Marley. A few weeks ago, Kellen flattered the heck out of me when she asked me to do Marley's first-birthday photoshoot. We did the shoot this past weekend, and despite a few tears from Marley, we got some excellent shots.

Editing them has been a huge learning process for me, but a fun one. I edit all my blog photos, certainly, but the process is fairly simple: correct exposure/white balance/noise/etc in Photoshop RAW, then switch to Photoshop and crop, sharpen eyes and hide undereye circles, remove any blemishes or what have you on my face/clothes, and finally run a few sharpening actions I made. The whole process takes about two to five minutes per photo.

Portraits, and especially baby portraits, present different problems. Babies often have red and/or splotchy patches of skin, and they also can have cooler skin tones than adults. And because they often have such striking eyes, they demand a little extra work to bring out the best of that feature.

I've learned a lot about editing with layer masks in the past few days, and have streamlined my process quite a bit, but it still takes me 10-15 minutes per photo to make it look just right. (If you're wondering, that process involves the same edits in Photoshop RAW, a crop if needed, same eye sharpening/shadow correcting, then a Vibrance mask on the eyes, a Hue/Saturation mask to reduce any redness in the skin, another Hue/Saturation mask at a reduced opacity to lighten the skin a bit, Pioneer Woman's Warming action at a reduced opacity to warm up the skin, and then any fancy edits like black and white, select color, sepia, etc. Let me know if you'd be interested in a tutorial on this process!)

Kellen has been kind enough to let me share a few photos of her sweet baby here on the blog. I'm totally open to critiques to improve my process/technique. Let me know what you think!





(I know, I know...select color is a little dated/cheesy, but people still like it and frankly, it's fun to do. Sue me :P haha)

I think this is my favorite shot of the whole day, maybe because it kind of happened on accident. Marley had been crying, but saw the mirror in my lens flash when I snapped a shot. It intrigued her, so she started laughing and crawling toward it, getting her face right in the lens. I was scuttling backwards, one-handed, on my butt and snapping furiously the whole time. As it was happening, all I could think was, "These are either going to be awful or freaking amazing." I loved this shot so much, I gave it a few other special treatments:


I like desaturated shots in general, but this one doesn't do it for me. As Matt said, "It's a shame to remove any color at all from those bright, gorgeous eyes!" And he's right.

What about you? Have you ever shot portraits or baby photos? Do you have any tips or tricks?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Rainy, tornado-y, frumpy and butts.

Disclaimer: I totally meant to get this post up after work yesterday, but first I had to take Perdita out for a test ride with her new battery, and then there was thunder, and as soon as I got home the tornado sirens went off. I'm absolutely petrified of tornadoes, so I kind of went into crisis-mode and started moving all our valuables and Spazzy (in her carrier) down to the basement. It turned out to be nothing, but by the time it was over all I could think about was unwinding with a giant glass of wine and a Game of Thrones mini-marathon. So, without further ado, here's the post I had started:

Random title, I know. But this rain, amiright? Sorry. I hate relying on weather for post fodder, but it's such a convenient thing to write about. Weather is literally ALWAYS happening. And lately it's been pretty intense around these parts. Columbus hasn't seen quite as much action as northern Ohio, which got some major flooding. I even saw a friend's Facebook post showing the interior of a Macy's that was six inches deep in flood water! It just so happens that one of my bridesmaids and most of my immediate family live up there, but everyone's doing okay so far, thank goodness.



blouse: The Limited via Discount Fashion Warehouse
blazer: Express via DFWh
skirt: Forever 21
flats: Target

I have to admit, I think I felt better about this outfit while I was wearing it than now that I'm seeing it in photos. I felt very polished and trendy -- mint, stripes, animal print -- but it kind of looks frumpy to me. Except for my butt. Case in point:

BAM! Seriously. Dat ass doe.

Okay but for real. Does that ever happen to you guys? An outfit seems great all day, then you see it in pictures and just kind of think ehhh....notsomuch. Please say I'm not alone!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

ConGRADulations are in order!

Forgive the pun, but I wanted to give a little shoutout to my sister, Ellen, who graduated from Bowling Green State University yesterday! I'm crazyproud of her; she busted her butt for four years to graduate summa cum laude, working the entire time she wasn't student teaching to pay her own way as much as possible. Whatever elementary school that manages to snag her will be a lucky school indeed. I went up to BG with my parents and (most of) my siblings to watch her get her diploma and enjoy a celebratory dinner. (I didn't think to bring my nice camera, so forgive the iPhone snaps.)

The gang, minus Abby (who was home in South Carolina) and David (who was at prom with his girlfriend).


I also managed to snag a quick outfit shot with my sister, who was dressed to kill on a budget that wouldn't. Seriously, her entire outfit was from H&M, with the exception of her Target shoes. Girl knows how to dress on a dime.

on me:
shirt: The Limited
sleeveless button-up: New York & Company
skinnies: Forever 21
flats: Target
necklace: giveaway win (Nordstrom)

Our youngest sister, Audrey, didn't want to miss out on the photoshoot...though I have no idea where her outfit is from. Probably Target/Old Navy?


As for today, I was a total mixture of lazy and productive. I cleaned the bathroom and did a load of laundry, went on a mini Hulu spree, switched out my winter/summer clothes (finally!), then jumped on the scooter to donate the too-small stuff from last year and do a little closet-gap-filling shopping. Did pretty dang well on that part :)

Now Matt and I are off to swing by his parents' house to wish his mom a happy Mother's Day, then it's back home for some much-needed relaxation for both of us :)

What about you guys? Anything exciting to report this weekend? Graduations, siblings' proms, Mother's Day escapades?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Back to the alley

Yes, warm weather is finally making a comeback here in Ohio, after what felt like the most brutal winter in my personal memory and what started out as the dreariest spring. Don't get me wrong, we're still getting plenty of those spring showers, but at least the temps are helping facilitate outdoor shoots again. Actually, I have three outfits hanging in my closet to re-shoot on days that don't involve copious amounts of rain, but I'm hoping to tackle those this weekend.



shirt: The Limited via Discount Fashion Warehouse
cardigan: thrifted
skinnies, flats: Target

So anyway, here I am back in the good ol' alley behind my house. Recycling bins and weird looks from neighbors included. I DGAF, I'm just happy for sunshine and days that are conducive to being outside, regardless of whether I'm shooting for the blog, riding Perdita, or just sitting on the porch eating dinner.

Are you experiencing similar joy at the better-late-than-never arrival of spring this year? How are you celebrating its return?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Budgeting Bloggers: April

So I think I mentioned previously that some overspending on various things in March led me to put myself on a shopping hiatus for April. I actually did pretty well, though I did snag this skirt from Forever 21 using a store credit I had from a return. Total cost out of pocket? A whopping 80 cents. (The skirt itself is $10.80 full-price, so you can and should totally snag one yourself!)


I suppose technically I did also buy some items from Whitney's closet cleaning-out sale, but I bought them yesterday and haven't received them yet, so I'm just gonna count them as part of my May budget ;)

Once again, I'm joinig Franziska's Budgeting Bloggers link-up. Head over there and check out all the other bloggers' sweet scores!