Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Someone should buy this

If you are in the Minneapolis metro area, you might want to take a look at this. Someone on craiglist is telling a 6x9' jute rug for only $40. From the pics, it looks quite nice. And it's from Pier One. They make quality rugs, believe me. Also jute rugs are extremely popular right now, and some might say they are also timeless. Similar rugs of this style and size easily sell for $500+. I would buy it myself, but I already have 2 jute rugs that I purchased from craigslist (see pictures of them here). I love them, but I don't think Rob can tolerate any more jute-ness on our home. He craves flooring variety. Ah well.

View the full listing here

Disclaimer: I am not selling this rug, nor do I know the people selling it. But it's a great deal that someone should take advantage of. If it's not going to be me, then why not you?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Rolling with the punches

If you're wondering why I haven't been writing on the blog as much as usual, check out my Facebook status from last week:

"In one week's time, my website got hacked, my office flooded, my d-slr camera broke, and my external hard drive fried. Who needs technology anyway?"

Yeah... last week wasn't the best week. But in all honesty, things aren't so bad. I try to make smart decisions about technology in order to prevent stress in situations like these. Therefore I was able to keep smiling and roll with these punches.

For example, the website that I'm referring to (the one that got hacked) was part of my grad school thesis. In my thesis, I propose a theory and I use a website as a model of this theory. I built the website a few months ago, and my coworker was kind enough to share some of his personal hosting space. Unfortunately, the day before I was scheduled to present my thesis to the program board, I noticed that the page was down. I tracked down my coworker to ask him about it, and all of his sites were down as well. He called the hosting company (Blue Host, in case you were wondering). Blue Host told us that someone had apparently hacked into the account around 6 months ago, but had just recently decided to intercept some php code and start spewing spam from our account. So Blue Host shut us down. Luckily I had backed up my entire site and had all the files stored locally. Since we weren't sure if we would get our account back in time for my presentation, I made screenshots and inserted them into a Powerpoint presentation so that I could display each screen and then explain it. It worked out just fine, and I was laughing rather than stressing. It pays to back up your data.

In fact, that leads me into the next incident - the office flooding. My office at work is in the basement. Last week Minneapolis had an extremely rainy night, and I guess the water outside in the courtyard had nowhere to go. So into the window wells it went. When I came into work the next morning, the entire office was flooded. There was so much water in the basement that it ran down the hall and into the elevator shaft. They measured the standing water in the elevator shaft, and it was more than 40 inches! So I was temporarily relocated to an office upstairs while they dried out my room. Miraculously my computer (which was on the floor) was fine, despite being pretty wet. Even if the computer had been damaged, I store all of my work on shared network drives.

Unfortunately I did have an external hard drive and dock (my own, not belonging to my work) on the floor as well. It no longer works. I use an external hard drive to store all of my photos, website and graphic files, and homework. Normally this would be cause for panic, but I didn't care too much considering I have a second drive with the same data at home. I purposely keep two back-up drives in different locations. It may seem like overkill, but I'm glad I didn't lose anything. And luckily, my hard drive is still in tact and only the dock was damaged. I can easily purchase a new, inexpensive case for the hard drive and be golden.

External hard drive - my friend and hero.

My camera broke, which I already mentioned. Since I'm preaching the benefits of backing up technology, I might as well say it: A back-up camera is a vital necessity for anyone working as a photographer (even part time). So while my beloved first d-slr is off getting fixed (which can take 2 months or longer), I decided to bite the bullet and buy my next camera. I'd been planning an upgrade around Christmas time, so I hadn't had as much time to save as I would have liked. But sometimes things just don't work out as planned. Regardless, I'm enjoying the new camera and eager for some upcoming photo shoots.

Here's what else I'm up to this week:
  • My thesis is at the campus bindery being printed as we speak. Yay!
  • I set up my annual Yahoo football picks league. I'm so excited for football season! You can make your own free league here.
  • Earlier this week, Rob and I went jet-skiing for the first time. These are the smaller jet skis that you have to stand up on, and I was surprised at how hard it is to keep your balance. It was also very windy that day, which made it extra challenging. We were both super sore the next day, but we still can't wait to do it again.
  • I did my first engagement photo shoot last weekend. It was also my first time shooting with the new camera. It's way easier to photograph adults, and I had so much fun. Overall the shoot was a success, and I'm happy with the pics. I'm sure I will be sharing them soon. I still need to do some processing.
  • This weekend, Rob and I are going on a dinner cruise on the St. Croix River to celebrate my graduation from grad school. I beyond excited.
  • Last night, I scheduled my first high school senior portrait session. I also have an upcoming family session.
Whew. Things still aren't back to normal, but I can feel it's getting closer.

What's on your agenda for the weekend?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


These are the last photos I took with my Sony a500 before it bit the bullet. It's off at the magical Sony repair shop (wherever that is) getting fixed right now (hopefully). But before I sadly handed it over to the employee at National Camera, I pulled these photos off the card.

This is my cat Clyde:

"Oh, hi!"

After a seemingly endless stretch of rainy days (this has been an unseasonably wet summer in Minnesota), I found Clyde sleeping in our dark spare bedroom, amidst some random things that I haven't had time to put away.

He looked angelic.

He was enjoying a slice of afternoon sunlight.

I woke him up, so he lazily turned to face the sunlight for a moment. Pure joy.

There's probably something deeply philosophical that can be said about cats. By that, I mean... maybe we can learn something from Clyde's enjoyment of simple things, like open blinds.

When's the last time you laid in the sun and felt at peace?

I, for one, am guilty of forgetting to slow down.

I often stumble over my words when I try to articulate why it is I love photography so much. I think, a big part of it, is that I often look at the world and see such exquisite refinement. Sometime I don't really trust my eyes. It becomes a challenge to capture these details.

Details like these whiskers:

These paws:

The furriest little paws in Anoka County:

And I want to preserve peaceful moments like this.

In a nutshell, that's why I love photography. And Clyde.

Get well soon, a500.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Bringing you up to speed

I'm behind on house projects and blogging. So let me attempt to bring you up to speed.

Last Thursday, I presented my completed thesis. It was an anxiety-inducing event, but I think it went alright. I'm so close to being finished with grad school. I only need to do some last-minute formatting and then have the thesis bound and signed. When that happens, I will breathe a huge sigh of relief, and I promise to write that blog post about my studies.

Holy moly, this has been a busy summer at my workplace! I don't have much more to say other than I'm often mentally exhausted by the time I get home. Now that I'm done with class, it will be so nice to go home and relax after work. No more night class! I also am working on a freelance website, which I hook to finish this week or next. We'll see.

House projects
Rob started researching the electrical/wiring components for the basement renovation. We keep changing our minds about what kind of lighting to use. Lately we've been discussing paint color choices for the living room (again). No other progress to report.

I've been picking up more and more mini-portrait jobs here and there, but something tragic happened last weekend. My beloved camera died. I'm not exactly sure what the issue is, but it appears to be something with the shutter and possibly the auto-focus as well. I'll be sending it back to Sony for repair (and crossing my fingers that the repair is covered by the limited manufacturer's warranty). The repair cycle can take up to two months. So in the meantime, Rob and I decided that now is the right time to upgrade. It's something I've been planning to do, and everyone in photography stresses that you have to have a back-up camera body if you're going to accept paying jobs. So I put in an order for a new camera body (bye bye, fun money ... for the next year, probably), and I'm hoping it comes fast. Not having a camera is driving me crazy!

You may have noticed that I have been updating my photography blog (Life With a Camera). But I can't decide if I want to keep two separate blogs. A few readers commented that they liked the photography parts on this blog. So I don't know. Feel free to weigh in below if you have any strong opinions.

Health and fitness
Rob is training (and I use that word loosely) for a 25k in September. It's ridiculous how little he exercises and yet how healthy and in shape he naturally is. I'm not joking. Recently we attended a wedding and were up fairly late, dancing and partaking in merry festivities. The next day, Rob got up around 8 a.m. and decided to go for his first run in years. He went out and did 8 miles. What?? I've never ran that far in my life, even when I was working out 5 times a week. He wasn't even all that sore afterward. At any rate, he's inspired me to get back into the running game too. I haven't been feeling very well lately, which I attribute mostly to allergies and stress. But that's also a motivating factor for my decision to start eating better and getting back into a more intense exercise routine. So wish us both luck in our goals!

Ok I think that should bring everyone up to speed. I have photos to share later.

Friday, August 6, 2010

My photo was featured

The very kind and helpful Elizabeth Halford posted a Photoshop before-and-after today using one of my outtake photos from a recent section. The original was very underexposed, but Elizabeth used MCP Actions (the Quickie Collection, which I also wrote about here), to fix the image. So check it out!

Elizabeth Halford's before and after

And then using her technique and Photoshop recipe, I tried to duplicate the results. I strayed a little off course at the end, going with a square crop and using some other actions to sharpen. But I still like how it turned out and would like to thank Elizabeth for the guidance. If there's one thing I love, it's bloggers who help others. :)

And here's one with slightly different editing on the skintones. Which do you think looks better?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Living room got a makeover

I previously mentioned that I conducted a dining and living room rug switcheroo after we bought a new couch. But then I didn't have the time or motivation to clean up the room and take pics. Plus I felt the room was still lacking in something.

However a weekend or two ago, Rob and I were out running errands and decided to pick up some new accessories for this room. It turns out that's exactly what this space needed. Since we have a neutral rug and a dark brown couch, Rob asked me to pick something more colorful for the accessories. I really like the combination of light blue with dark brown. So we picked up a blue cable knit throw ($29) and a blue faux suede toss pillow ($9.99) at Target. We also bought some light tan Felicia covers at Ikea for our existing pillows ($8 each).

Look at the glorious texture:

To refresh your memory, here's a "before" pic of this room with the old couch (now moved downstairs) and old rug (now in the dining room):

And "after"

I gotta say - this is way more my style. Plus I'm excited to have some blue in our house. Everyone knows I love neutral tones, but these blue accessories make me happy every time I look at them. Who knew?

I admit I'm missing our old ottoman a bit. A new one isn't in the budget right now, but we do have a small black leather storage ottoman from Target that we've had for years. For now, we put it in the corner to stow some random things and serve as a small end table for our laptops.

Of course this mini makeover opens up the whole paint discussion again. Rob says we definitely need to paint, and I have to agree. But I'm not prying open a paint can until summer's over and we can close up some of the many other open projects. And I guess I have to graduate. You know, details details!

someone else's words

"Happiness comes when your work and words are of benefit to yourself and others." - Buddha

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