Sunday, January 23, 2011

Gwendolyn Turns 10 (months)

Hello all!

Today marks 10 months since Gwendolyn first came to us. In that ten months we've had a lot of opportunities to learn a lot of things! Gwen has come a long way herself, as you can see....

Since church was cancelled today due to weather, we took the opportunity to get some pictures of Gwendolyn. After some editing, here they are. WARNING: this post may digress into a discussion of photo editing techniques!
We happen to think that she's not only pretty nice, and pretty smart, but also pretty cute. Of course we do realize that we are biased...and it doesn't change our minds in the least!

Okay, here's where we will digress. And while I'm sure that most of you will have little interest and get just as much good out of the following discourse, I think that my two eldest (though not elder) brothers in law will at least read this with interest.

As you've noticed if you looked at the picture above and below this point, you can tell that they are indeed the same picture. If you (as I do) tend to critique pictures as you look at them, you probably have already thought, "That top picture is cropped to show too much background at her feet and not enough at her head." You'd be right. But unfortunately, the top photo is the original file that came from the camera.

I was laying on the floor taking the picture up at her as she walked past, and didn't get the shot framed as well as I'd like, since I was zoomed clear out and too close to her. Well, you all know that you can crop a picture down that isn't framed correctly, but what about re-framing to show more background? Obviously, the only way to do that would be to add information to the picture that isn't there in the original.

There are at least two solutions to this problem, and neither are for folks who don't like to edit pictures in advanced editing programs (in other words, not Picasa). The first solution I can think of would be to take another picture after the original, to capture more background. Then you would "add" that onto your original shot in some photo editing software such as Photoshop or Gimp. That would be hard, since you'd have to take the second picture from the exact same angle as the first (or nearly), in order for your photos to merge evenly and look correct. I didn't do that.

Since the background above Gwens head is pretty simple I took an easier route; the clone tool in Gimp Shop. In other words, I simply added more to the top, from what I already had. The wall got copied up higher, and the books on the shelf simply got "stretched" up by cloning them up. I added another layer (I'm not going to tell you exactly how to do all this, that would simply take way too long and I probably couldn't do it well anyway) after I had added onto the top side of the photo, and masked it so that it showed only the background. Then I blurred that layer (Gaussian Blur 25) and painted the mask so that Gwen showed through from the original layer without the blur, but everything else retained the blur. This was necessary to eliminate some subtle color and line variations in the top of the photo which would be a dead giveaway that it was edited (as though I'm not telling you anyway). It also made Gwen stand out more by eliminating background distractions, at least to a point. (like the doll for instance, and yes I could have removed it, but didn't take the time) All in all, The picture now looks as I would have wanted it to look right out of the camera.

Sometimes you can take a picture and help it out like this, and sometimes it just isn't worth trying. After all, you can't make a Nikon out of a Canon. (Sorry Dru, I just couldn't resist) The point is, if you think a picture is worth editing, fine, have fun doing it. Just don't assume as so many folks do, that "photoshopping" a picture will take a poor picture and make it a good one. If you start out with a bad shot and build on it, it probably will become a slightly better bad shot. The best picture is the one that needs the least amount of editing to look pleasing and convey the message the photographer was trying to say. It'd be nice if there was just a button you could click that would say "Make This A Good Shot", but unfortunately there just aren't enough editing tools in any program for that!
The final edited version of this shot is not necessarily a great picture. But it does convey what I meant to capture. That our ten month old daughter is beyond the crawling phase of her life. She looks at crawling in the same way that a 9 year old looks at training wheels. It's far beneath her now. She's a little overconfident sometimes, and definitely tries to go faster than she can, but she's not looking back! She's generally got a goal in mind and is going to get there (on her feet, mind you!) in as little time as possible.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Deer hunting story

As some of you know, I've been trying to shoot a few does in the late rifle season here in Nebraska.... I succeeded in getting one about a week ago, but have had no success since. So this evening I went out to try it again.

I suppose I should preface this by saying that last evening I was out, and sat for several hours without seeing anything remotely connected to deer (except a few tracks). After trudging wearily back to my truck, I headed home. About a mile and a half from home I looked out into a field and what did my wondering eyes behold but about a dozen deer! Since it was too dark by then to hunt, and since I had no permission to hunt there I continued home.

This afternoon, having secured the prerequisite consent of the appropriate person, I embarked again upon my mission. Having determined from Google Earth the exact lay of the land the evening before (they have a distance tool that will give you yardages between any two points you choose, talk about handy), and determining my strategy beforehand, I proceeded. As I walked into where I was headed (that sounds enlightening, doesn't it?) I noticed a dark something against the snowy cornstalks. Thinking it was a coon or something, I put my binocs on it, and there stood a little bambi deer. It was feeding, and there was another next to it. They were about 200 yards out, give or take. Google Earth hadn't been consulted on that one, and my range finder couldn't seem to hit them due to the fact that I was crouching down in the cornstalks and there was too much interference.

Since they were just little guys, I hated to try shooting them, when I was sure that there would be bigger deer lurking nearby. So I waited. After a little bit, the one wandered off toward the trees and disappeared. Soon the other one was looking off to where the first had gone with a puzzled if not worried expression on its head (they don't really have faces). As I contemplated attempting to change the puzzled/worried look for one of mortal shock, the deer began wandering towards the trees as well. I chose to wait it out, since there was about two hours of hunting time left. The deer disappeared into the trees....

The End.

What, you thought this was going to be a success story, that I'd actually get something? Actually, I did. I got cold feet, wet, snowy coveralls, a runny nose, and a two day extension of my cough. And frankly, I'm not sure it was worth it.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

New Blog Post

I thought I should blog. As you all know, I never blog, so I'm not sure why I thought I should. I think it it mostly because I should be working, but I don't feel like it. If I blog, I will feel so good about myself that the work won't matter any more. Right?
I think this blog needs some help. Maybe I should do what some people do, and pledge to blog once a day for the next year. That would be rather silly though, because I know it will never happen. I would be better off pledging to fix my bed every morning for the next year.
The most exciting thing that has happened around here lately, is that we got some snow. For those of you who don't know what that is, I'm sure you could google "snow" and find out. So it is cold and snowy, and wintery, for the first time this winter. I am sorry to say that Nebraska has very little to offer in the line of romantic, snowy winters.
Another item of interest, for us anyway, is that Gwen is now walking. She thinks it is below her dignity to crawl about on her hands and feet anymore. She will do it only if in a great hurry for some reason. We kinda miss our little baby sometimes. Speaking of little babies, it is getting rather hard to miss this this other little baby that is making it's mother so uncomfortable.
For those of you who haven't had the privilege of being 30 weeks pregnant, imagine beached whales, ducks on roller blades, and other such awkward and clumsy creatures.
Well, I hope you all have a lovely weekend. If you should happen to see this post before I come to my senses and delete it, don't blame me. I didn't make you waste the last few minutes reading it. JB