~ goodbye ~

goodbye…

hiding in the hollow tree that somehow still lives on, half-destroyed;

green truck rides through buzzing goldenrod and tangled berry brambles;

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skipping up to Gram’s to get flour because we ran out… again;

sunsets leaking burning lava over the mountain ridges;

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creaming corn days, warm cardboard boxes dripping with the smell of pizza for lunch;

treasure hunts for crystals by the side of the thorn-ringed pond;

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building forts and holes and towers in a barn full of fuzzy cotton seeds;

climbing the hill to get fresh eggs, crossing the road to get fresh milk;

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family gathered around a crackling bonfire by the creek overhung with mint;

the farm rolling out from under you at the top of the tallest hill;

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art parties, tables laden with shared supplies and traded ideas;

walking under the majestic, white-boned sycamores under a clear blue sky;

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church potlucks that are feasts, where we know each face at the tables;

the succulent sound of cows tearing off mouthfuls of grass in the pasture;

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selling rusty metal parts and cow bones and broken bottles for pinecones at the island;

playing with friends in the grain bins, jumping off the ladder into the yellow corn;

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capture-the-flag games and ATC trades after church;

finding litters of soft, tumbling barn kittens and watching them grow;

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sledding down Gram’s hill with cousins and sipping hot chocolate afterward;

firefly-catching contests; flashing bits of flying gold captured in hands and jars;

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club meetings: crooked stairs, dusty seats, shouts and laughter pounding the low rafters;

rambling nature walks all over the farm with friends;

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eating picnic suppers on the flat roof outside our bedroom on a calm summer evening;

everyone gathered at the last chicken house, talking and laughing, relieved to be done…

goodbye.

_

new is a crackly word, an uncomfortable word –

 

 

it takes breaking in, like a fresh pair of shoes.

the old is familiar. it may be torn and falling to pieces, but it is love that made it so.

you know, don’t you?

when what we’re used to becomes what used to be,

the touch of change is sharp, its hold is slippery,

but oh, how can I bear to let go?

I know.

so,

goodbye, old farm, goodbye, old friends. goodbye, old life.

I’ll miss you.

I already do.

***Allison***

Dog + Cats

Get ready for some furry cuteness, my friends! Today I have some pictures of our yellow Lab, Maggie, along with a Caption It, and lots of pictures of KITTENS! 🙂

Ready?

Set?

Go.

Let’s start with Maggie. She looks so sweet and calm in this picture! Do you see the heart she makes with her paws? ♥ SO CUTE.

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I was taking pictures for my sister Megan‘s photo contest, BIBPC, and got one with Maggie in the background. 🙂

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HA HA! Maggie makes odd faces sometimes. XD I think she was licking her lips or something, but she looks like she’s in mid-snarl.

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I love all the beautiful bokeh in these next pictures. ♥

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And we shall end Maggie’s pictures with my favorite – probably my favorite I’ve ever taken of her. IS THIS NOT HILARIOUS?! AND ADORABLE?! Tell me what you think I should caption it in the comments, and I’ll announce the winner in another post. 😀

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Now for the cats. (Just so you know, I did edit many of these a bit.) This is Whopper. 😛

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I love cats’ eyes! They’re so pretty and round.

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Speaking of pretty eyes, take a look at Violet’s eyes! ♥

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Okay, now for the wittle kittens. 😀 I believe this is Bubbles (my little sister named him XD), but I’m not certain.

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We named this little guy Fuzzer Jr., after a cat that looked just like him that my grandmother used to have.

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AWW! I love this picture!

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IS THIS NOT THE CUTEST?!

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DSC_1102 (1280x853)And then we have Tiny Tina…

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And here’s one of little Louis. I think there’s another one or two kittens, but apparently I didn’t get very good pictures of them. :/

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And last but not least, a couple of pictures of this sweet but startled-looking kitty that showed up at our house. I’m not sure where he’s from. Oh, and Carmen named him Thomas, Tom for short. 😉

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Such stunning eyes! Rather shocked-looking, but pretty. 😛

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And there’s your dose of cuteness for the day! Which picture was your favorite? Do you like cats or dogs better, and why? I like cats better because they’re more soft and clean and you can hold them, but I like the pictures of Maggie better in this post.

***Allison***

P. S. Are you guys ready for another art post, or should I do the second vacation post first?

Books, Blooms, and Bales {Portrait Photography}

Megan and I did a super fun photoshoot of each other yesterday and got tons of great pictures! We had way too much fun figuring out creative ways to pose for each other. I’ve tried (and mostly failed) to narrow them down for you guys. Whoops.

Photo credits to my sister Megan. (And assistance credits to me. Heh heh.)

Okay, buckle up, ’cause this is going to be a loooong post.

We started in the barn, since haybales make awfully good props.

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AHHH I love this picture! I think I might use it for my “About” page.

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XD I am pondering life’s mysteries…
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AHHH THIS IS SO CREEPY. It looks like someone else’s arm is poking out of the straw and grabbing on to me. O.o
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Awkwaaaard. (Don’t worry, it was on purpose.)

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Heh heh.
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BWAHAHAHA. Megan wanted to take a picture of me with a piece of straw (or hay) in my mouth, so I obliged.

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I love this one too! Do you think this one or the first one is better?

Next we went to the cotton seed barn… with a tiny spiderwebby window. O.o

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This looks like a writing prompt or something. XD

 

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CREEPY, ALLISON.
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I ALSO like this one. XD
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Megan says my hands look old here. They kind of do, I guess. XD

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This is one of my favorites because I love eyes. ♥ Also wow, I didn’t know I had so many freckles. XD But I don’t mind them.
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For some reason I look a lot younger here…

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HA HA.
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I love this one too! My mom says I look like Dad in this picture, and I can see what she means.

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Heh heh, Megan’s aim was a bit off here, but we decided to keep it as a “behind the scenes” photo. Featuring Megan’s dusty feet and Washngton Nationals cap, and The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict.

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Hee hee, I like this one.

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I’m eating a marigold. O.o

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Our neighbor’s kitten wandered up. Isn’t she adorable?
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I love this one!

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Hello up there.

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Zinnias are such pretty props.

 

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These pictures are kind of dark but CUTE because, hey, it’s a bunny! 😀

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Basil is whispering comfortingly in my ear.

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I REALLY like this picture. I’m trying to decide whether to use it for a profile picture or not.
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“Th-this barn is kinda creepy.”
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“What if there are bats… or spiders… or…”
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“AHH!”
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I kind of like the lighting, kind of don’t.
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Heeeeeello.

Ooh, I love these pictures! We had a lot of fun with hair flips. 😛

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THIS. IS. HILARIOUS.
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I look like I’m trying to be noble but then someone turned a fan on behind me.
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Oops.
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One of my favorites! XD

Okay, if you actually looked at all those pictures… WOW. Congratulations, I give you the Most Patient Reader award.

I hope you enjoyed this post! Which pictures did you like best? Which one or two do you think I should use for my new profile picture?

Also, click here to see some of the pictures I took of Megan.

Thanks for reading!

***Allison***

Return of the Random Photos

My extra photos are piling up again, so I guess that means it’s time for another random photography post! 🙂 YAY! I hope you enjoy!

Aren’t these clouds lovely? ♥

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We found this rather odd-looking bird and figured out it was a chimney swift. I think he’s quite weird. XD

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I got these next few photos when we all went for a ride in Dad’s pickup to go check some fields and see how the soybeans were growing. (Sadly, they weren’t coming along very well, but Dad replanted them – twice – and now they’re doing fine, I think. 🙂 )

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I love the view of our farm from this hill. ♥ Sooooooo pretty!

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Aren’t mountains beautiful?

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My little sister Carmen, holding a barn kitten we named Truffle:

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This is a pretty edit I did of a huge, puffy pink cloud.

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One day we studied ladybugs in Nature Study and went out to search for them in an alfalfa field. It was kind of hard to get pictures, but I got a few neat ones. My friend got an amazing one of a ladybug eating an aphid! But sadly, I did not. 😦 😉

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I really like ladybugs, but I have to admit – they look a little creepy when you put dozens of them in a jar. XD

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These are the kind of bouquets I made to decorate tables for a church potluck in May. It was supposed to be a “Farmer’s Market” theme, so I used a bunch of different stuff from our farm and garden. I think they turned out pretty well, and I love how this picture turned out too!

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Hee hee, well this is random. XD We made the BEST playdough ever (seriously – it is!), just for fun one day when my friend came over. It hardly feels like playdough at all, it’s so soft and silky and stretchy. (Wow, alliteration skills. XD ) You can see the recipe here.

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Another VERY random photo. 😛 I was going to do a mystery picture of a clementine, but it didn’t turn out. I decided to keep the photo, though, because for some reason I like it.

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Lilies are gorgeous, and so photogenic, aren’t they?!

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Okay guys, you are going to LOVE this! We’ve been feeding our neighbors’ kittens while they’re on vacation, and they are the sweetest, prettiest little things!

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Look at those eyes! ♥♥

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XD

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Our neighbor has a wonderful in-ground pool that she so generously lets us use pretty much whenever we want! I thought the clouds looked really neat that day, so logically, I took pictures. XD

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Ahh, I LOVE this picture! The water looks so bright and clear and… almost plastic-y. XD

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Mimosa tree photography…

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It looks like someone climbed the tree and threw a rope into the clouds so they could climb up. 😀

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Hee hee, Megan jumping:

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We shall end with one hilarious picture. My cousin said this looked like a whale farting. XD XD XD

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Well, I hope you enjoyed scrolling through those pictures, my dears! Do you have a favorite?

Thanks for reading!

***Allison***

P. S. Guess what?! My sister Megan wrote the next part of WordCrafters, and it’s GREAT! You can read it on the WordCrafters 3 page here.

Furry Things

CUTENESS ALERT! I have to say, these barn kittens are pretty adorable. ♥ Let me show you some pictures and see what you think, sound good?

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AHH I LOVE THAT PICTURE! ↑

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Peek-a-boo.

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Doesn’t she look like a little stuffed animal in the next picture?

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Cutie kitten eyebrow whiskers. XD (Is that even how you say it?)

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Argh, this one would be almost perfect except for the grass blade across her eyes. 😡 XD
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Ah I love that one!
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And thus concludes the cuteness. SO NOW DO YOU AGREE THAT THEY’RE ADORABLE? EEEEE! It’s so fun to find barn kittens. 🙂

***Allison***

Furry Faces

Ohhhh I have some simply adorable pictures for you! I tagged this post with “EXTREME CUTENESS ALERT,” so you have been warned. XD

*Ahem* Violet the barn cat had kittens again! They are the sweetest, cutest things, and very tame too. I only took pictures of two out of the five kittens, but here they are…

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I looove the color of kittens’ eyes.

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Aww!
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HA HA! He was getting tired here which makes him have such a hilarious condescending expression on his face. XD
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And there he goes…

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AWWWWW!

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I looove this picture! It looks like she posed for this shot. XD

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So sweet. ♥

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ARE THEY NOT THE CUTEST?

Here’s Violet, the mama cat. She doesn’t seem impressed with my photographing abilities… In fact, she looks rather mad at me. XD Maybe she doesn’t like having her picture taken…

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Oh, and we found this sweet kitty in the barn the other day! She seems awfully tame for a barn cat, so we don’t quite know where she came from. Anyway, she is such a nice cat – when I was taking pictures of her she jumped up on my lap and settled right in. ♥ I love it when cats do that!

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She looks kinda grumpy in this picture, but she was just about to fall asleep. XD

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Are you overloaded with cuteness yet? Maybe I’d better stop before you… oh bother, it’s too late.

Oops. XD XD XD

***Allison***

How to Edit Photos, Part 1: The Basics

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Hey, guys! 😀

Grace recently wondered if I could do a tutorial on how to edit photos, and I thought that was a great idea! I decided to make this a mini-series, covering basic photo editing, adding effects, touching up photos of people, and maybe a little bit of graphic design and collaging too. I’m really excited!

Anyway, let’s get started. Today I’m going to go over the basic photo editing tools and then show you how to use those tools to fix two common photo problems.

Introduction

I use PicMonkey for pretty much all of my photo editing, and I highly recommend it! It’s very easy to use, and it’s free – although you can pay to upgrade to Royale and get some extra features. (I have Royale, by the way, and I would definitely recommend it if you edit photos a lot. I’ll talk more about Royale later in the series.) But don’t worry about that for now. All the tools I’m going to go over today are completely free.

So, open PicMonkey, and hover over the bar at the top of the page where it says “Edit.” Open the photo you want to work on. The section of the editor that pops up is called “Basic Edits,” and that’s what we’ll be using today.

Basic Edits

  1. Crop: The first tab of the “Basic Edits” section is “Crop.” Cropping is quite a valuable tool that allows you to cut out ugly surroundings from the corners of your pictures, make the composition of your photo more interesting, or simply zoom in closer to the subject.
  2. Canvas Color: This just covers your whole picture with one color. You won’t use it to edit your photos, although it’s great for graphic designing.
  3. Rotate: The rotate tab allows you to flip your picture any way you want. It also allows you to straighten your photo, which is very helpful if you were accidentally holding your camera crooked and your subject looks like it’s sliding off the picture. 😀
  4. Exposure: In my opinion, this is the most important tab in the Basic Edits section (well, maybe it’s tied with “Crop”). You can work wonders simply by adjusting the exposure of a photo, and we’ll be using this tab a lot, later in this post.
  5. Colors: This tab includes sliders for saturation and temperature, as well as a mysterious button called “Neutral Picker.” Actually, it’s not that mysterious. 🙂 Basically, when you click on the parts of your photo that should be white, the Neutral Picker auto-adjusts the temperature to turn those off-colored spots white again. Temperature controls how warm or cool a photo is – in other words, whether it has a red (warm) tint or a blue (cool) tint. And saturation, as you probably already know, makes the colors of your photo more saturated and bright.
  6. Sharpen: Sharpness and Clarity actually ARE different – just a bit. My unscientific description is that Sharpness yields a more subtle effect and focuses on sharpening the details, while Clarity is bolder and boosts the contrast of your photo while giving it a gritty effect at the same time.
  7. Resize: This simply downsizes your photo to a smaller file size so it takes up less space on your computer (or blog). Anywhere between 800 and 1280 (and even a bit larger) would be a good size for sharing online. One thing to keep in mind is the smaller the size, the lower the quality of the picture.

Using Your Tools

Now that you know what everything does, let’s put your tools to use! I’m just going to show you a few examples and walk you through what I did. (Note: the “before” pictures are on the left, and the “after” pictures on the right. Just in case you couldn’t tell. 😉 )

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Isn’t it amazing what the Shadows slider can do? That’s seriously all I did. I moved the “Shadows” slider to -44, and that’s it.

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This is a more subtle edit, but I think the “after” picture definitely looks more vibrant. The photo on the left is kind of drab and gray, so I upped the saturation a bit and adjusted the exposure. I also straightened the photo so the ocean isn’t tipped to one side like that. (And hmm, I might have lowered the temperature also, but I can’t recall for sure. Oops. XD )

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The main difference in this photo is that now you can actually see the cute wittle kitten instead of losing him in the surrounding scenery. I told you cropping was a helpful tool! 😀 I also straightened the photo so the kitten wasn’t falling off the face of the earth, upped the “Sharpness” slider, and adjusted the exposure just a tad.

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Wow, so much better! This picture was washed out to begin with, but by lowering the brightness and shadows, and adding a little bit of contrast, it looks bright and beautiful again like it’s supposed to. And speaking of over-exposed photos, we should move on to the fixer upper part of this post. (By the way, I l♥ve the show Fixer Upper! Have you ever watched it? It’s sooo good. Ahem…)

How to Fix an Over-Exposed Photo

An over-exposed photo is one of my most common problems. But thankfully it’s easy and fun to fix!

This is the photo we’ll start with:

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Eh. The content is good, but the lighting is off: it’s too bright and has a sort of bland grayish-white wash over everything. We must rescue this poor photo in distress!

Pretty much everything you need to fix an over-exposed photo is in the Exposure tab, so go ahead and open that up. The two main things to do for an over-exposed picture are to lower the brightness and lower the shadows. Here’s a screenshot of what I did:

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You can tell from the sliders that I lowered the brightness and shadows significantly (to -14 and -18 respectively) and added a tiny bit of contrast and highlights. And that’s pretty much it! (Note: I did also use the “Burn” tool to darken a few spots in the photo, but I’ll talk about that more in another post. For now, just concentrate on using the “Exposure” tab.)

Before and after. So much better!

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How to Whiten a Photo

Sometimes photos have a weird yellowish or bluish tint, especially on the light parts of a picture.

Like in this photo:

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This really isn’t a bad picture, but you can see a slight orangish tinge over everything, which makes it look dingy rather than fresh and clean. It’s especially important to get good, clean-looking photos of products you sell, and this owl just so happens to be in my Etsy shop. So, let’s clean him up a bit, shall we?

First, open the “Exposure” tab.

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The main thing you need to do here is bump up the highlight slider, but I also messed with the brightness and shadows slider a bit too. Here’s a tip: use mostly highlights instead of brightness to brighten up a photo, because too much brightness will make the photo look washed out. “Highlights” brightens just the white parts instead of the whole photo.

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Next I opened up the “Colors” tab. Since my picture is too red, I moved the Temperature slider down to -10, which added some blue to even it out.

And here’s the before and after. A subtle difference, but do you see how the one on the right looks cleaner, fresher, and more appealing?

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Well, I guess that’s it! I give you a pat on the back and a virtual bag of chocolates if you read that whole thing. O.o XD

Heh heh. I hope that was helpful to you! Feel free to ask me any questions in the comments if you didn’t understand something. 🙂

Have a lovely day, lovely people!

***Allison***

Return of the Fluffballs

Hi, guys! I’m back with another cuteness overload, starring the little cuties from this post. ♥ Eeeee, they’re so adorable! You may want to take a few deep breaths before you start… XD

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The eyes… ♥
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Ha ha, sporting that smug look again, are you? XD

 

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Aww, isn’t that sweet? I’ll bet Megan got a cute picture from that. Note: I edited all the pictures in this post including this one, but on some of them you can tell more than others. 😉

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Somebody is scared. XD
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Awww!
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AWWWW!
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AWWWW!

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Ha ha, she (or he) looks so funny!
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Wow, that is one intense stare.

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This is a rare picture of the very skittish black and white kitten. 🙂
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OHHHH my goodness! That’s adorable!
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*Melts*

 

 

*Happy sigh* They are way too cute for their own good. XD Which picture was your favorite?

***Allison***

The Cutest Wittle Fluffballs

My brother Jeff found a litter of barn kittens today, so I thoughtfully went down and took some pictures for you. XD Take a deep breath, guys, ’cause THESE KITTENS ARE ADORABLE! Jeff found four, but when Megan and Carmen and I went down to see them, we only found two. 😦 Oh well, they were the two fluffiest ones, so that’s good, right? YES IT IS THEY ARE SO CUTE OH MY GOODNESS THE FLUFF! Okay, I’ll stop screaming so you can see for yourself…

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AHHHHHHHHH HELP MEEEEEE!
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LOOK AT ITS TAIL!

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This was a fun edit to do. It makes everything look really wintery…
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“Help, Mom! Come get me down!”
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This is Violet, the momma cat.

 

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Hee hee, isn’t this picture hilarious? What would you caption this? I would do “Ugh, is he doing the smug face AGAIN? Just because he’s two minutes older than I am… *Rolls eyes*” XD XD

 

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Oh look, a pile of fluff. AHHHHHHHH!

 

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And a sleeping fluffball. AHHHHH AGAIN!
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Oh my goodness I love this picture so much! (And if you’re wondering why I’m doing so many black and white photos, it’s because the background was horribly distracting and ugly and B&W really helps with that.)

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Chubby cheeks!
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Kitten love. ♥

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AHHHH! *Pant, pant* Settle down, Allison. Don’t hyperventilatEEEEEEE I JUST CAN’T HELP IT. Oops.

Was it just me, or do they seem to have that effect on people? XD

I hope you enjoyed this post, dear readers. 🙂 Merry almost Christmas! 😀

***Allison***

P. S. Do you like my new sidebar layout and profile picture? Yep, that’s one of the pictures Megan took in our sisters photoshoot, and then I edited it a bit.