The Frugal Grandma

I have a weakness for Christmas items on clearance, so the adrenaline rush hit when I discovered a mid-January 90% price reduction sale recently.  Whoa… a gingerbread tree kit for less than $2.  This would be fun to do with my two-year old granddaughter! Oh, no…Christmas is 11 months away.
So what.  She is two and we can call it a winter tree. 

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Rachel2-8865plCurious fingers open the box and pull out the contents.

Rachel2-8887hfm20plHmmm…pretty, but what do I do with them?

Rachel2-8903It wasn’t too hard to stack the cookies, but the kit frosting wasn’t quite as plentiful as the box portrayed.  Cream cheese frosting would have been easier.

Rachel2-8900dmvOops!  Someone took a bite…

Rachel2-8914Add the pretty candy balls.

Rachel2-8923hfm20dmvEven winter trees need a (broken) star.

Rachel2-8925Tah-dahhhh!!
Considering that a two-year old tends to have the attention span of a gnat, I’d say lasting one full hour on a project is impressive. On top of that, it held MY full attention for an hour. I did rush the decorative frosting part and pretty much globbed it on. Martha Stewart would have rolled her eyes and tisked

Rachel2-8944Even though the results weren’t as perfect as pictured on the box, it looked just fine to me.  In this case, I declared the process  more important than the results.  I doubt that I will be asked to be a contestant on any of the cake decorating reality shows, anyway.  That’s O.K., I have enough to do already!

“Create with the heart; build with the mind.”

~Criss Jami

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Picture Perfect? Nope.

Traditional, eye pleasing, balanced family portraits with each individual  arranged perfectly have always been a challenge for me. I would not last long as a church directory photographer. While it is good to document a period in time for a family unit, we adults don’t seem to like how we look in portraits.  (Oh, I look so old, fat, my ankles appear too thick, can you give my husband 6-pack abs and a smile?  While you are at it, thin my thighs and waist…)   Then to find a background in the midst of Christmas chaos.  Oh, my.

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So, for the annual holiday card, rather than striving for the “perfect” portrait I decided to celebrate our imperfect, unique, quirky lives with a photo that embraces reality.  We are all leading lives that cover quite a wide spectrum of vocations, educations, interests and then you add a two-year-old.  It is what it is.

Thank you to my mother-in-law for crawling up onto a step ladder to capture this chaos.

Canon 5D Mark 2, Canon 24-70 L lens, ISO 3000, Gary Fong flash diffuser on a Canon 580 speedlight

I leave you with a toast for 2014:  Here’s to another year of experience.

CHEERS!

Light is my inspiration, my paint and brush…

~ Ruth Bernhart

Below we see the final results of off camera flash edited with Kubota Actions in Photoshop CS5.  I like how the lighting from behind accents the “guns” which are the result of many hours in the weight room. The rusty stairway frame on the side of the old Legion hall adds to the texture and character of this shot.

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How is this done?  Below we see the original, straight out of the camera shot…

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Utilizing a pose that used this muscle set, I had the subject flex his muscles to accentuate the hard tone.  Dad is holding an off camera Canon 580 EX2 off camera flash set at ETTL, triggered with Pocket Wizards.  F2.8, 1/250, ISO 200. Front was lit by available light only.

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In Photoshop CS5 I added the Bleach Mike Kubota action.

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Removed Dad but left the flash. I think it adds a special “spark” to the image.  Another option is to remove the flash of light, as well, to not compete with the subject.  Cropped a little, as well.

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Hmmm… maybe black and white would look good.  Bronze God Kubota action.  This is my favorite black and white action.  I have found it best to desaturate the image first before applying the action.

Considering  light, whether it be available or flash, as a paint and brush on canvas is where you begin to think like an artist.  Experiment and learn through trial and error.  You may be surprised to find an artist inside of you, too!