Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Preschool Graduation

My son graduated from preschool today.  All the 'big' kids came marching out of the preschool at the end of class with their cute graduation caps on.  Mrs. Rosemary made them.  I feel like I was just registering him for preschool.  Now we've registered him for Kindergarten.  And I can't believe this was the last day of preschool for us - ever.  I'm kinda happy to give up a little taxi-ing for a bit.

So now I would like to share a few tips on how to take these sweet little portraits that will make their grand appearance at his mission farewell and on his wedding day.  What we did was once we got home after a good celebration lunch and gift giving (I gave him one Cars 2 squinkie and ramp) and he was in a great mood we headed out to the north side of our house.  It was about 1pm here.  

Then I had him stand in the garden where the garage and office meet in a corner.  I set my camera at f2.8, and because he was about 10 feet away from the rock wall, it was nice and blurry, making him the focus.  Yep, aperture priority all the way! I had his back facing that corner and so the light fell across his face at a 45 degree angle.  Of course he is in the shade but just barely. If I stepped to the left a foot I would have been in the sun. This gave us some good bounce light and a little shade. 

Since you are in control of the camera you can do this quickly and take a few different angles and turn the camera which ever way your heart desires.  It's nice to be in charge of the portraits but make it quick. Happy kid, happy mom!

Again, these are straight out of the camera - no retouching.  Click on the images above to see them larger.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Carpet Phlox

All of these images are straight out of the camera - no retouching or manipulation of any kind.
I'll let you pick which images you like the best and I am just going to put the time.  Will you tell me which photos you like best - and why?

#1 - 7:02 p.m.

#2 - 7:10 p.m. (yes, these are the same purple flowers)

#3 - 7:03 p.m. 

#4 - 7:10 p.m.

As you can see on this last photo I added an element in the foreground.  Although it's out of focus having it there and something for the flowers to rest on gives the photo more dimension.  Oh and this is all carpet phlox.  It blooms only in the spring here.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The ultimate greenhouse...

Now if I could just talk this couple into building something like this for me... he he he.
Check out The Meadow Brook Blog for more details or some of these photos below.  She has an amazing eye for photography and light.  So refreshing. I saw a link to this today and just had to share. I looked at every single post.  I can't believe what they've done to the Junk House too.  It's simply too sensational to describe.  What are you waiting for? Go check out her blog. 

I think my heart is about to leap out of my chest. Want to see another blog that I love with similar ideas? Go check out Sherelle's Blog too.  

Norway Maple - photograph

This is a Crimson King Norway Maple I purchased at Anderson Seed and Garden.  It has dark purple leaves all summer.  I love it and need to buy 3 more for the front yard.  It's doing much better than my fruit trees and doesn't drop all those blossoms and pollen like other maples around here do.  
 Have you ever photographed through leaves? You could probably do this any time of day as long as there is sun.  This was taken at 6:59 p.m. the same evening as the photos I've shown you the past few days. I love how seeing the veins adds interest and texture to the photo. And notice the composition.  The 'focal' leaf in this second photo is in the left third, not the center of the photo.

Gotta get a little lens flair.  I remember when this was taboo. Now it's trendy.  7:00 p.m. photo.  You can see how close the sun is to disappearing in the background.

And here it is at 7:15.  I love silhouettes. But as you can see the brilliant color is gone and that color is why I love this maple.  This time the leaves are in the upper third and the mountains in the lower third.

Every photo is straight out of the camera.  No photoshopping done at all. If I did anything at all I would have changed the intensity of the blue in the sky but that's about all. What is your favorite tree and have you taken any photos of it lately? 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

May 30th Giveaway Preview!

Want to end your Memorial Weekend with a little more fun?

Monday May 30th I am having another live chat to talk with you about my upcoming class, Photo First Aid.  I am so excited to announce that I will be giving away the following cool stuff.  Digital downloads are available world wide.  Anything that requires shipping, well, you need to live in the USA.  And of course, for Valhalla Salon and Spa you need to live in Cache Valley Utah.  
Creating Keepsakes Magazine - The Best of Digital Scrapbooking  
Cathy Zielske - 5 templates to 1 winner 
CottageArts.net –$10 gift certificate 
E-scapeAndScrap.net - $20 coupon  
The Ettes - The Photo Clusters Set 1 and discount
Valhalla Salon and Spa – Pedicure - you must be living in Cache Valley
 Jeanine DeOre –  5x7 Poppies Brag Book for everyone attending!
One Happy Momma - PreDesigned Blog - Blogger platform only

Expercom  - Coupon Code $20 discount and $20 Rebate on PS Elements 9.0 

Heritage Makers  - 12x12 post bound album

You must attend the chat to be eligible to win.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Tulips - yep, more tulips

But aren't these gorgeous?  I love the variety of colors.  That's what you get when you buy the bulk bag of red tulips from Lowes. There are even yellow tulips in the bunch.  And very few red actually.  But I love how it turned out.  And I love this photo.  The color and the texture of the flower.  Click on them to see them larger. 

Oh and remember yesterday's post? Those tulips looked better in the brighter side light.  These look better in the sweet light or the light left over after the sun went behind the mountain. These were taken at 7:12 p.m.  f2.8, 1/160, ISO 200 with my Nikon D7000- oh and I used aperture priority. Can I tell you how much I love this camera? It's seriously my favorite so far and I've owned $5,000 cameras. 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Photographing Tulips - Light Matters

Light matters when photographing tulips.  These are my tulips.  And I always get asked what they are because they have several layers.  They are a type of parrot tulip.  I wish I could remember exactly but that'll give you a head start when you hit the garden center this fall. I started with 6.  Most other tulips get smaller with age but not these. Oh and Tulips need a lot of water in the fall or you'll get smaller blooms or just leaves.

My camera is a D7000 and I used my 50mm f1.8 lens.  My settings remained the same except that a few times I tried 1.8 but went back to 2.8.  These first few were taken at f 2.8, 1/200 second, ISO 200 in Fine Jpeg mode. In the photo above I darkened the blue saturation using the jpeg raw slider and that's it.  The rest I did nothing to.  Straight out of the camera.

These first few photos were taken at 6:55 p.m.  so the direction of light was from the side.  The mountains blocked the sun soon after this.  I thought I'd let you compare the photos. 

You can click on the photos to see them larger, just remember to come back and finish reading this quick lesson. As you can see the light shining through the petals and leaves is gorgeous. 

Now this photo was take at 7:11pm.  Can you see the difference? The sun just barely went behind the mountain. Still some direction of light.  Not the same contrast.  It's still pretty but it's lacking something.  Never assume that the sweet light that is great for some portraits is great for all types of photography.  Enjoy experimenting with light.  You'll be surprised what you find. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Square Foot Garden - and other news

My dad came up with this concept and so I can't take credit for that.  He found this galvanized steel at Smith & Edwards in Ogden, Utah.  I hear they have other size panels too.  This is 6 inches deep and the box measures 10 feet by 3 feet.  The panels have been laying on the ground in his side yard for 4 years. As you can see, they don't rust. 

My Dad also recommended using clothes line cord to make the squares with.  So today I drilled 2 holes on this end that you can see here.  They are 1 foot apart.  On the far end I drilled 1.75 holes.  I would have finished but the fully charged battery gave its all.  So tomorrow if it's not raining I will drill a few more.  I have to drill 9 on each of the long panels too.

And as much as I love galvanized steel, I don't like the color.  So I got out the spray paint.  Let me just say right now that I WILL NEVER BUY SPRAY PAINT AGAIN THAT DOESN'T HAVE A TRIGGER. Trigger sprayers are the ONLY WAY TO GO.  Ouch! I sprayed the water buckets for grandma's train with a trigger sprayer I purchased at Lowes - much better!

For prep I got out my Black and Decker mouse sander and put the scrub pad on it.  Then I quickly buzzed all the way around the outside.  It cleaned it off wonderfully. Then I just sprayed the outside  of the box.  It looks 1000x's better and since my Dad gave me the supplies and I had the spray paint in the closet my bill is a whopping $1.50 for the bolts. 

You can see the weed mat in the bottom here.  I spent the better part of an afternoon digging the grass out of this flower bed.  I have so much more to dig out. Yes, it goes up that hill side.  you can see some of the daisies starting to grow for the season.  But instead of digging I decided to let every thing dry.  

I'll be filling it with the ready made Square Foot Garden mix from Millers.  

#1 reason- I don't want to try and mix it myself.  I have enough to do (like digging).
#2 they have tested everything from the pH to the nutrients to make sure it's complete.  
#3 they are located a few miles from here and a trailer full is less expensive than bags. 

Other news:
I thinned the Spinach today.  Why? Because I used more seeds than normal because they were a few years old and because my 5 year old helped me plant them. And because I hear that spinach needs to be 6" apart.  That means I'll be thinning more when it gets older.  You don't want to thin your vegetables too much the first go round because you don't want to end up losing some and not having enough plants.  

Digital Scrapbooking News: 
I've just started working on a new class for ReneePearson.com  It's going to be available in July hopefully.  I'm learning a new software to put this all together. But it's going to make it look better than ever.

Also, I have another giveaway on Monday MAY 30TH!!!  Oh yeah! And I will post everything in a day or two.  I know you can't wait to see all the prizes we'll be giving away. Can I just say Cathy Zielske is participating this time!

Monday, May 23, 2011


Here is one of the benefits of taking Laura Coyle's Illustrator class at ReneePearson.com - you can find a dragon online as inspiration and then draw it to look just the way you want it.  Of course I had guidance from my son on this one - it needed a pointy tongue and the soccer ball needed to be on fire, plus a horn on his nose, and a longer tail.  What can I say? It was fun to create something with him. I placed his name under his photo.  And of course the city name goes next to Dragons. And my husband was coach so I added his name and kept his photo visible too for you to see.  It was kinda bright for photos but you don't get a choice sometimes. Fill flash courtesy SB800 - camera Nikonn D7000 - lens 70-200 F2.8

He saw that ball and went after it.  Luckily he got away from the kid on the left from the opposing team who kept kicking the kids on our team whether they had the ball or not.  You learn little how to avoid such people - you either out run them or keep yourself on the other side of the field.  We luckily had a good ref this time and he called the kid on it.
 And here he goes, running like lightning.  It was a fun game to watch but Silent Saturday is hard.  We all clapped when the kids scored regardless of this silly rule.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

How does your Garlic grow?

Garlic - it's super easy to grow and if you haven't tried it and want to, you should. And deer hate it.  They stay out of my garden they hate it so much.

This year (or rather last fall when I planted it) my garlic is in a row.  I planted all of these from the garlic I grew last year.  You really only have to buy garlic once if you plant enough to collect a few large pieces off of them for the next planting. I have a row garden when square foot gardens are all the rage.  But guess what? My dad brought me all the stuff to make a 3x10 foot square foot garden this year.  I'll tell you about it later. Anyway, back to the GARLIC ... it's awesome.  Just stick a clove in the ground.  Make sure it gets watered well in the fall.  And then here you go.  It sprouts in the spring and then when it starts turning brown in August, pull it up. You can braid it together or cut off the tops and let it dry. The hard neck kind stores really well, almost a year.  And even though powdered dried garlic upsets my tummy, fresh minced garlic does not. 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

You know, sometimes it's good to give things a trial run.  When I tilled this originally with my mini honda tiller I followed the slope and walked up and down this plot.  Then when I made my rows for corn I went east and west.  So the other day I decided to try and till between the rows just to see.  OY! Side hill tilling is no fun and kinda painful. So last night I decided to change my rows and moved them north and south.  Eventually there will be bushes and trees, a flat rock spot with a garden bench here but until I can afford all that greenery I am making this my corn patch.  

And because my Honda mini tiller is so incredible we have gotten more done this year than all of last summer and it's only May. Can you see that curvy line dug out of the grass?  Yes, everything to the left is supposed to be flower bed.  I found some disappointing news - the voles used my Rose of Sharon bush for a nest.  I think it will survive as long as they didn't eat all the roots but I will never let the grass grow up around it again.  And I might have to get a couple cats.  outside cats. 
 Here is a photo of the grass greening up in the back and filling in the vole runs.  I love it!

And I tilled the small area on the east side of the garage.  What to plant? I have no  idea.  I just don't want to look at the weeds. So I'll be tilling a lot this year I guess but at least I CAN. Oh and those ugly things are green bunching onions.  I tried to plant them about 4 years ago.  Nothing grew that year but every year new seeds sprout. I didn't know you needed to start them inside in like January. I collect the heads for new seeds and save about $1.50 on green bunching onions that way.

And if you want your garden photos to look better just take my Photo First Aid class.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Photographing your Spring Flower Garden

Can you see the slight vignette I added to this photo?  No? Take a look at the photo below - it's the 'before' photo.  Increasing the highlight, vibrance, and adding a vignette was all that this photo needed to truly reflect the light and color I saw with my own eyes just before dusk Saturday night.  The gorgeous flowers really stand out against the rocks.  I like to call this practical application. It's not always about creating a work of art.  The flowers already are the work of art. This is the first year that they have bloomed like this and they've been here 4 years. I had to record it for my scrapbook. Learn how to enhance your photos in my Photo First Aid class.  

It's the middle of May and my tulips are just starting to bloom on the warmer side of the house.  Craziness. And this little plant that I've seen at the greenhouse but it's a start that my mother in law pulled out and gave me shall go unnamed because I didn't pay attention.  I have learned more plant names since graduating from college than I did in two plant ID classes that I took while in college.  It's different when you want to know what you are planting so that you can get more or make suggestions. So I better get to the greenhouse and figure out the name this year because I'd actually like to know.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


He is no longer afraid of the ball.  Or getting hit by it.  Daddy has been working hard with his little boy. He is much more aggressive and we found out that he loves playing defender.  And can you see that little girl's cute pink soccer cleats?  So cute! And she is one tough cookie.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Spring and getting outside

Can you see the difference in these two photos? I added more punch to the color and increased the contrast. That's something you'll learn in week 1 of my Photo First Aid class. Then I added a photo of clouds to the top so you could actually see them. Yep, that's something you'll learn in my Photo First Aid class in week 4.  

It was a gorgeous Saturday morning and my children were excited to get outside and enjoy the sunshine while Daddy mowed the lawn. The flox is just starting to bloom and I love the colors.  The medium pink starts first.  Then the purple goes next.  After that the brightest pink shows its colors. I've been transplanting some of the sedum around, especially the one with pink blooms.  It's great between the rocks and grows like crazy this time of the year.  Can you see the bottom step? That means that the grass has finally grown to its mature height. It's as tall as the step.  Of course, ignore the big patches the voles took out this year.  I think when it gets hot that they should fill right in again.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Transplanting Tomatoes and those blue green garden ghosts

I hate filling Walls of Water.  I do.  They work so well that I have to.  This year has been so wet and cold that I was nervous about trying to get my tomato plants used to the outside weather.  The nice thing about these is that they prevent sunburn, they warm the plants and the ground around them, prevent hail damage, and they let you plant your tomatoes earlier than normal giving their roots a chance to really grow.  I plant them sideways in a trench filled with a hand full of egg shells.  I had an entire gallon bag saved and it was nearly gone in two days. The egg shells prevent blossom end rot (the black rotten bottom on the bottom of the tomato that forms when there is a lack of calcium).  I planted 12 early girl tomatoes - great for canning.  And then 7 roma tomatoes.  And lastly 1 dill.  Romas don't need cages but the early girl tomatoes do. I started them inside.  My supplies cost me about $7 to grow 30 tomato plants from seed.  You can buy 1 tomato plant from the green house for a minimum of $2 on a good sale. That's $60 for 30 tomatoes.  That means I save $53 starting them on  my own. 

The trellis on the end is for peas.  They are just starting to sprout. 

You can see the pipe for the drip line I made here.  I plugged two spots this year to make a wider row for my tomatoes.

And the thing about digital is you can take more photos.  So walk around your garden/plants/etc and take photos from many angles.  You'll be surprised what you thought you'd like and what you actually see.

And here is a great view of the rows.  I can't wait to plant my green beans and lemon cucumbers.

I love this view of the mountains behind the garden.

And my pea trellis is just a cattle panel that I cut the bottom horizontal row off of and stuck it in the ground.

For more photography tips and also great ideas on enhancing your digital or scanned photos check out my Photo First Aid class at ReneePearson.com

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Local Happenings

We drove up the Canyon with my in-laws and my husband jumped out and took a photo of this.  They haven't seen the spillway like this since 1983 when all of the floods happened. I was either in Panama (the country) or Alabama at the time but I am too lazy to try and figure it out right now. It's been much warmer since this photo and I'd like to see it again.  
At least one this is for sure, they have learned from 1983 and they built up the sides of the river banks in town. And they sand bagged.  It's seeping out into the fields now and they are having to sand bag homes farther away from the river now but at least its happening slowly.  It's amazing to watch and I am grateful we live up on the hill and that the snow near us melted slowly so that we didn't get mudslides. It's been a crazy spring.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Guess who is giving away a seat in my class today?

Y'all remember that I'm giving away this Bundle of Basics tonight during my Photo First Aid class 
LIVE CHAT? Well, it gets even better.  Want to know how?
Becky Higgins is also giving away a seat in my class today on HER BLOG! So head on over there and leave a comment about how much you want that seat in my class along with your name and location.

Oh and sorry, I start talkin' southern when I'm super excited about sumthin'. It's a mixture of the Texas and Alabama in me.

You're today's To-Do list additions:
#1 Leave a comment on Becky's Blog
#2 Add me as a Friend on Facebook
#3 Watch the video to learn how to enter tonight's live chat
#4 Have a wonderful day
#5 Join me at 10pm Eastern on ReneeTV - everyone will win something.

And I promise to share a few garden photos again soon!