Catting About

Well here it is the middle of the month, and already I am overloaded with photos. I’ve been shooting, if not every day, at least every other day, and the backlog is insane. But I may only have a few weeks off this summer, so I might as well shoot and edit and blog while I can. So let’s get to it.

While jumping about in new clothes Saturday, Simon eventually decided to try and get into the act. Well, he wasn’t trying to get into the pictures so much as he was trying to: a) crawl behind the backdrop and create a big visible lump in it, b) steal the remote after I pressed it and tossed it on the floor (mission accomplished on that one – one of my two remotes is now MIA), and c) attack my skirt and/or feet while I jumped about. I figured if he was doing to get into so much mischief while I tried to shoot, he could at least do me the courtesy of a little modeling.

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He somewhat complied

And yes, I know those little white specks (which are mostly glitter from a previous shoot and Simon’s cat hair) are on the floor again in these photos; I noticed it after I re-sized these and saved them to the blog, so although I went back and edited the originals, I didn’t bother to edit them in the re-sized versions. Sorry. And, lesson learned about the need to seriously clean the black backdrop before shooting. Moving on.

As far as the photo goes, I’ve been learning a little about the burn tool in Photoshop, and how I can use it to enhance shadows; I think it made the movement in the skirt more pronounced here. Those little half-sock thingys are from, of course, Free People, and they are great for photos. I think they are considered some sort of yoga sock, but I wouldn’t really use them for that – I got them because I really don’t think my bare feet look good in my jumping photos (I am not a dancer, so really it’s that I don’t know how to point my toes very well while trying to leap about and I they often come out looking sloppy) so I thought this little half-sock might help distract from my less-than-perfect toes. I think they worked out great for this purpose. Damn that Free People, they really do have absolutely everything I want right now (I also bought some yoga socks with little cut-out toes in them [!], they look great in photos also. I’ll show some pics I took wearing them later).

Let’s talk about this next shot a little. I actually got two shots of me leaping while holding Simon; in the one below, I managed to get some nice height while carrying him, so it was definitely the better shot:

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He looks thrilled, doesn’t he?

But as you can see, my hair was all in my face and the expression I was making wasn’t that great either. I much preferred my head in the other shot I took while holding the cat…

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…but the leap was unimpressive. So, I pulled both shots into Paint Shop Pro and layered one over the other to combine my top half with my bottom half into one perfect jump.

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I know this is the sort of thing a lot of people can do easily, but for me it’s still a chore to pull off, which is why I don’t do it more often. If it didn’t take me so long I’d have more perfect jumps out there, for sure. But I really have to care enough to take the time involved to do this. In this case, it was worth it, even though Simon looks like he’s about to bail on me (he was perfectly fine after the leaping, I promise).

This skirt, by the way, is NOT from Free People; it was purchased at this cheesy boutique called “Everything Bling,” or something like that – a store that is always blaring country music and has loads of rhinestones and lace. Yet every time I go in there I find something cool, so perhaps I shouldn’t be so harsh on the cheesiness of it. Clearly it caters to me on some level. I bought this one in both black and beige and I do wear them everywhere because they are tiered and twirly and fabulous. I always wanted to get photos of it and hadn’t had the time until last weekend.I took a bunch of photos in this skirt, but the focus was off in most of the shots and I felt like they came out soft, so I didn’t process many of them.  I did edit this next one, but I don’t really like how it came out; still not sure if I like it at all. What I do like is how it shows the great movement of the skirt.

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I added blur since I felt it was a little soft and figured I’d make it look intentional. I even tried pulling this into Pixlr to see if I liked it better, but I’m not sure I do.

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I dunno – I’m still meh about it. I did like this next one, though, if for no other reason than because it’s a particular leap I’m always trying to pull off and not accomplishing, and I managed to kind of do it here – kind of a little ankle-kick while leaning slightly forward (my technical dance terms, don’t you know). It would have been better if I’d been in profile, but when you’re as uncoordinated as I am you take what you get.

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I hope you all noticed, also, that I took all these jump shots in  my natural hair. We’ll talk about the four months’ worth of regrowth at the roots later, mmm’kay? Anyway, more yoga toes tomorrow!

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Getting Catty

Inspired by one of Leanne Cole’s recent posts, I decided this afternoon to pull out my macro lens and give that thing another go. This time, I rolled out my black backdrop, set up a TV tray covered with a black blanket, and aimed two umbrella stands with gold reflectors at it so I could control the environment and lighting better than last time when I just walked around with a ring light shooting objects at random (and yes – it was definitely easier to get things set up and work in my de-cluttered office space).

I took some fairly cool pics of this wooden Buddha I found underneath our bed while cleaning one day this week – we bought it in San Francisco while on our honeymoon, so who knows how or why it ended up there. Most things in our house end up under the bed at some point or another, so that’s probably explanation enough. Anyway, the macro caught a lot of dust in the cracks and crevices of the figurine that I’ll attempt to edit out – I haven’t actually processed those shots yet. Then I took some pretty cool pics of some perfume bottles that I also want to edit and share, but the first ones I processed are actually the last ones I took. I decided right before I packed up to put some cat treats on the TV tray and see if I could get Simon up there for some macro shots, and it turned out better than I expected.

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Did someone say treeeeeaaaaats?

Lemme tell ya, that macro lens is hard to work with. I think I’ve mentioned that before, but this time the problem was its weight, and that my cheap tripod had problems holding it steady. I’d focus on something, adjust the tripod to hold that focus, and when I let go of it the lens would immediately drop down below my focal point due to its weight. I ended up having to set the tripod above where I wanted to focus and hope that when it dropped, it would be where I wanted it. Not a very precise method. I also decided to set the shutter to remote triggering so I wouldn’t wobble the lens any when I took a shot. But with Simon I didn’t want to have a 2-second delay, so I just snapped away while he ate (in the shot above my husband had actually whistled, which cause the cat to look up) and hoped some of them would be in focus.

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I didn’t plan the Simon session out very well – I’d been changing the ISO settings and lighting for each object up to this point, but putting Simon up there was a spontaneous thing, so I think the color is off (as I mentioned already, I was using gold reflectors so the light was very warm, which is nice for objects but not for animals or people) and the light was too bright,. But overall I’m pleased with how these turned out.  And I love the cat against that black background – pretty slick looking.

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Is this cute or irritating? I’m not sure.

Another discovery tonight – setting up a TV tray to place objects on for macro shots meant I was on my knees for the entire shoot, which, with my middle-aged knees, got old real quick. Next time, self, find a way to shoot objects at eye-level so I can stand, thanks. And in spite of the tripod, all the adjusting and re-adjusting of the camera meant my arm still got tired. So (and I know I’ve said this already too) it may be time to invest in a better tripod at last.

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I think the first one and the one directly above are the best of the bunch, but I liked so many of them I had to edit them all. I’ll share the Buddhas and perfume bottles later when I’ve had time to edit them. My friend and I are hitting the Galleria tomorrow for a little start-of-summer shopping, so I’ll be indisposed most of the day, but I may sneak my little SL1 into my bag and see how many pics I can sneak while I’m there. Here’s one more of Simon to finish this post off:

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Simon about to attack a treat

Oh and I also discovered tonight that I am NOT a good nighttime videographer. Like, at all. The International Space Station has been flying over our city all week, and Doug and I have gone outside a few times to watch it pass over – the mosquitoes are hell right now, so we try to make it a quick trip. Tonight I decided to try and film it with my camera, and what I got was six minutes of blurry sky because I completely aimed the lens in the wrong place (my 7D will only film in Live View mode, which I do not know how to use at all, and I just could not see what to aim at without being able to use the viewfinder), Anyway, out of six minutes of film I managed to get five seconds of Space Station in the very bottom of the frame, so being me, I uploaded it anyway. And here it is – five wobbly seconds of the ISS floating over my driveway!

Ugg Shots

You’re welcome for that title. Moving on.

I’ve had this silly idea for awhile to make a pyramid out of all my Uggs and take a photo of it for posterity, and tonight I got in the pair I bought last week when I was home sick – banana yellow, thank you very much – and decided it was time to do it.

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Would you believe I left a pair out by mistake? Damn.

I was actually a bit disappointed in my Ugg pyramid – I envisioned it being taller. But while it was up there, I decided to take more photos of them. I think this proves that I will, in fact, take pictures of anything. I will also share those pictures on my blog, no matter how trivial and stupid they are.

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The bows are cute, but they don’t really tighten even if you re-tie them, so these boots end up being really loose, which I don’t like.

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I like the texture of the suede in this shot. Interestingly, this blue is my absolute favorite color, but I don’t like it as a boot. They’re too bright and cute and no matter what I wear with them (with the exception of one long blue hippie-looking sweater), all attention is drawn to my feet.

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I just liked the composition of this. That’s my one leather pair of Uggs with the rhinestone bows; they’re unusual and quite luxurious. And there’s my new yellow pair at the top.

I’ve noticed several really cute photos on Pinterest of cats sitting inside Ugg boots, so while I still had the shoe pyramid going I tried to incorporate Simon into some of the shots. He would NOT settle into a boot, but he did like the empty boxes.

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My Ugg-foot is a respectable size 8. Yep.

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Simon about to scale Ugg mountain. OK, so he didn’t even try.

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As far as photos of cats posed in front of shoes go, this one is pretty sweet.

I used my new ExpoDisc with these shots, and I continue to be pleased with the results of that thing. Now if I can just get my hands on a decently-priced 70-200mm f/4L, I’ll be happy – at least until the next must-have purchase comes along (I think I can eventually get that lens for between $400-$500, I just can’t do it this month as I’ve got my play money allotted to some other things. But I can save up about half of that and try to score one next month).

And just because I have nowhere else to put this – a new grocery store shot!

Photo Mar 09, 4 08 16 PM
It’s a chicken selling…chicken. Wait, is that weird?