Mother’s Little Helpers

Mother's Little Helpers

This doesn’t happen every day, so I thought it was worth documenting. Because it is such a novel activity these two were willing, actually enthusiastic, about dusting and vacuuming.

One friend asked if this was a polaroid, but then realized who the kids were.  That was the idea: the shot reminded me of pictures from the 60s which were saved, apparently, simply because they were all there was to remember a person or occasion.  Now there is pressure to save and share only the pictures we deem worthy, because the alternative is suffocation by photos and because there is no excuse for a bad shot.  Why should this be any less worthy?  It’s documenting a rare event, and one that inspires hope…that it can happen again.

I applied a “Slide” filter from the Filtermania app to give this the right look. If you’re wondering what that means; I opened the Filtermania app on my phone, selected this picture from my phone’s photo album, scrolled through a selection of filter options, and selected this one called “Slide”.  Hard work!

Objects in Mirror

Objects in Mirror

Mackenzie took this picture as we were driving back to the hotel after a little hike between swim meet sessions. I love the blues, the layout, and the fact she took it. I was only vaguely aware of it at the time, but recall her saying, “Hey Delaney, put your head out the window again.” As the mirror states, despite their differences in age, ability, interests and stage of life, these sisters are closer than they appear too.

I brightened the shot a little with Photoshop Express, fiddling with the exposure and saturation settings. Just a little. I don’t look at these pics on the computer before I send them. Sometimes on the computer I see things I don’t like that I didn’t notice on the phone’s small screen. Like the dirt on the mirror here. So I returned to the phone to play with it. Using Touch Retouch, I cleaned it up. First I “lassoed” the messiest part,

then I pressed the “start” (triangle) button and cleaned it up some:

I then used the paintbrush button to clean it up a little more, and this is how it ended up:

Definitely some digital smudginess, but not as dirty. With kids, you have to expect some smudges. And rest assured, I took the car through the car wash yesterday.

The Worm is Mine

The worm is mine

Although it didn’t make it any easier to get up at o-dark thirty for a run, springing ahead an hour did make it easier to catch the sunrise.  The final day of a child’s swim meet in western Virginia was also my last opportunity this spring to see the sun come up over mountains.  Or hills.  People say Blacksburg is in the mountains, but when you’re accustomed to the Pacific Northwest and White Mountains of New Hampshire, it’s hard to call these rollers mountainous.  The sun and sky don’t discriminate though.

It may have it’s limitations, but the iPhone does a nice job of picking up color in scenes like this.  The only adjustment I made was to sharpen the branches of the foreground tree, with the Photoshop Express App.

I used this with “Palmolive Pink”, as you may recall, and since I love trees, I’ll probably turn to that quick adjustment button frequently.  It’s like the early morning run, providing clarity to bleary eyed vision and putting one in a format appropriate for sharing with others. And hopefully, for the 5 hour drive home at the end of a four day swim meet.

Country Girl

Country Girl

Photographers will sometimes go to great lengths to get a shot. Yesterday I went 9 miles. Every time we travel here for a kid’s swim meet I look forward to running on the Huckleberry Trail.  It’s a paved multi-use path through woods and farmland, stretching about 10 miles from a mall in Christiansburg to Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. I’d escaped from the confines of the aquatics center on a beautiful day and knew I’d finally get the amazing landscape shot I was hoping for.

From our hotel, I ran 4 1/2 miles to where the path breaks out of the woods and crests a hill to reveal farmland stretching toward mountains. Of course, at this point I was sweaty, winded and blinded by sunlight.  I was also thirsty, starving and anxious to turn around and finish the course, whose hills I had completely forgotten about. I took a couple pics, but none seemed as interesting as the reality.

I decided to try a different tack and try some micro shots; close ups of purple clover. I then noticed more vivid color amid the weeds, and there she was lying at the base of the fence. I thought this little messy-haired country girl was the perfect hostess to welcome you to the landscape of rural Virginia. I left her posed on the post for passersby to peruse and possibly post…about in their own blog.

I did not edit this photo in any way.

The Land of the Freestyle

Ok, I said (to myself) that I wasn’t going to get into filters, but they’re kind of fun. Especially when punchiness from day 2 or 3 of a long swim meet is setting in…you’ll do anything for diversion. And really, how many pictures of the American flag do you want to see?  Although this one is pretty impressive.  This aquatics center has several therapeutic, recreation and competition pools.  The one shown here is just a warm-up pool in between the two main competition pools. I guess with pools all over the place, they don’t want the swimmers and audience to be confused about which way to face when the National Anthem is sung.

I broke down and started playing with Filtermania.  It’s a free app, but for a mere $.99 you can unlock all kinds of fun.  In the water category alone, there are a variety to choose from.  So here was the original picture.  Not too shabby:

But of course it asked to be manipulated.  Is that illegal?  I’m never clear about what is appropriate to do with the American Flag.  I don’t mean to be unpatriotic.  I selected the Bubbles filter – who can complain about bubbles?

As with most apps, you have the option to share via Facebook, email, Twitter, etc., but with this one you can also share through Instagram, where you can first add one of their filters on top of what you already have.  I know, it’s kooky, but I did it.  So if you do Instagram, check it out there…I’m SVHC.  I’ve decided it’s good to have at least some filters in your life.

Winter Color

Winter Color

We are in the Western part of the state for a big swim meet.  The whole drive up I’d been thinking, “Great, we’re away from the beach!  Some new landscape! Mountains!”  So while the swimmer was warming up in the pool, the rest of us found a trail in a municipal park and took a hike.  By that point, blue sky and interesting cumulus clouds had given way to overcast blah.  On top of that, there are apparently NO evergreens in this region, making for a dreary landscape.  If it hadn’t been for the kids, I would have thought I’d gone color blind right there in the woods.  Can that happen?

I didn’t capture any shots I liked of the trail ahead of us, but I got this one from the direction we had come. But gag, it was so brown! I chose to add the kids in for color.

I used an app called Juxtaposer.  First you select the background photo – you take the picture right then or select a photo you already have.


Then you select or take a photo that you want to superimpose on top, so I chose one I had. Now that I see it on the computer, I actually like the composition better than the one I made.  Holy dead vines!

It lays it on top, but smaller so you can still see the background shot.

You toggle between the four options at the bottom of the screen to erase what you don’t want of the top picture.  You can zoom into the whole picture and shrink, enlarge or move the top picture.  Most importantly, you erase by swiping your finger what you want from the top pic, in this case, everything around the kids.  You can really zoom in for erasing to get up close to what you want to keep.

If you make a mistake and erase too much, you select unerase mode to unerase by swiping again.  When you’re done you can select to save and/or share in a variety of ways. You can save the top image as a stamp to reuse again in other venues. For example:

It’s a tough call as to which environment can lead you to craziness faster – indoor aquatics center during a 4 day meet or the drab environs of a winter deciduous forest.  But add a little Spongebob, and you’re back to sanity in no time!  Or at least reality.



Small Talk

Small Talk

I took this a few days ago.  Daffodils are already on the downswing here, all talked out. Andrea said it looked more like gossiping than small talk, and I agree.

I didn’t edit this picture before I sent it, but I did play with it.  An app worth discussing is Touch Retouch, which allows you to erase unwanted elements from a picture.  I didn’t find the house and porch in the background distracting, but if I had I could have just removed them.  After selecting the paintbrush from the menu, you use your finger to color away the part you don’t want,

and when you select the “play” button at the bottom, the app removes and replaces with what it deems appropriate, in this case, more tree.

Now those flowers are saying, “Did you see the size of her trunk?!”

iPhone snapshots of the day

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