Party at the Park

Hello, dears!

A couple of weeks ago, we went to a gorgeous park near where we live to celebrate a friend’s birthday. It was kind of like an arboretum, with elaborate gardens and landscaping, as well as more natural looking areas. Everything was in full bloom and full life and ahh, it was gorgeous! The perfect place for picnicking and exploring.

About half the photos I’m going to show you guys today are nature photos – blossoming trees, waterfalls, etc. The other half is not as beautiful but WAY more amusing photos of my friends jumping rope. And this isn’t your ordinary kind of jump rope, guys. XD XD

Ahem, now that you’re prepared, let’s get to it!

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Misty Waters

Hello, dears!

We have this charming little stream on our property that for some reason I’d only explored one side of til recently. But when I did, I found it was even more beautiful than what I’d seen before, if possible!

Shortly after I explored it the first time, a foggy day came by and, imagining how beautiful the stream would look in the mist, I took my camera back down and ended up with some lovely, foggy pictures that I can’t wait to show you guys! Would you like to come explore the stream with me?

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Mountain Hike {Photo Dump}

Yesterday we went on a beautiful hike in the mountains with our friends. It was tiring, but so fun! Plus there was a stream and a waterfall, so that automatically makes it a good trail. 🙂 I took quite a few absolutely TONS of pictures, so do some finger exercises, get comfortable, and start scrolling. 😛

Such a beautiful view, don’t you agree?

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Ahh, so sunny. ♥

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Beautiful ferns…

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We’ve seen these weird corncob-like fungi before, but I don’t know what they’re called. We probably looked it up but then I forgot. XD

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There were a bunch of mini cascades and waterfalls like this before we got to the big one.

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A few people pictures: 😀

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The kids were splashing rocks into a little pool and I got some really neat pictures with fast shutter speed. 🙂

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I love how clear the water was!

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Ahhh isn’t this waterfall GORGEOUS?!

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I love the next picture, even though it sort of looks like Megan’s holding up the fallen log with her head. XD

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Ha ha, my brother Jeff was climbing all over the place.

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The fallen log kind of got in the way of the pictures, although it looked neat, too.

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If you wade to the other end of the waterfall you find another, much steeper and narrower one. It’s basically just a shoot of white water.

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BOKEH!

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Aww, look at the cute little millipede. XD

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Trying out my new lens on some flowers here…

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Ohhh it was a gorgeous day, and the sun shining through the new leaves was just too pretty!

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My little sister and her friend are so cute together. ♥

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As we were driving back, I got a few good shots out the window. (Surprisingly, it worked a lot better when I rolled the window down. 😛 XD )

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AHHH I absolutely LOVE this next photo! I love all the layers and shades. ♥

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*Gasp* Okay Allison, maybe you went a bit too far this time. O.o I applaud you if you persevered to the end and actually looked at most of the pictures. XD I hope it wasn’t too strenuous of a journey. But wasn’t the waterfall gorgeous? And the mountains? Ahhh, it makes my heart happy. ♥

Have a lovely day, lovely people!

***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***

County Fair Photo Entries 2016

Greetings and salutations! XD

Our county fair opens in about two weeks, and I’m so excited! These are my entries for the photography section of the fair. (The fair categories are in bold). The links will take you to the post where the photo was first featured on my blog. Enjoy!

Abstract: {Flower Overload, Part 2}

Action: {The View from the Roof}

Artistic (which means creative photo editing): {CWWC}

Close Up: {More Snow Pictures!}

Humorous: {Bunny Therapy}

Landscape: {Vacation, Part 1: Niagara Falls}

Patriotic: {Boom, Crackle, Bang!}

People: {The View from the Roof}

Pets: {Meet Casey the Kitten}

Pictorial: {Mystery Revealed! #8}

Rural (Um, I’ll take out the county name): {Gone Fishing}

Wildlife: {BIBPC  #2: Praying Mantis’ Feast (and Other Critters)}

There we go – a few photography highlights from 2016. 🙂

Which photo was your favorite? Do you have an annual fair where you live? Do you enter things in it?

**Allison**

P. S. Hayley and I are renovating Art Lab! We’re adding a few more artists to the group and starting it up again. We’re also going to collect and repost all of the Art Lab posts onto the official Art Lab blog, so you can scroll through the posts with ease. 🙂 You can follow it if you like! Hopefully there will be an Art Lab post up tomorrow. 😀

Vacation, Part 1: Niagara Falls

The first day we drove up to our campground and that’s about all. (We had some car trouble unfortunately, so it took us a few hours longer than we thought. 😦 ) The second day we actually got to see Niagara Falls! We took the Maid of the Mist tour, and guys, it was AMAZING! I loved it so much! If you ever go to Niagara Falls, you have to do that. When you’re down there in the boat you can really feel the wind and mist and power of the falls. Be prepared to get wet, though – they give you ponchos but you still get very soaked! I was afraid the mist would drown my camera, but it didn’t, thankfully. 🙂

Look at the tiny blue people!

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Fluffy water!

A rainbow over the observatory area

After that we went over to the Canadian side and looked at the falls from there. I would have been fine with just being on the American side, but oh well. It was neat to see it from a different perspective.

A bird was getting buffeted about by the waters, but it didn’t seem to mind.

 

Verdict: LOVED IT!

Have you ever been to Niagara Falls?

***Allison***

P. S. This is the first time I’ve used Google Drive for my post! (You know, from Clara’s free space tutorial.) It certainly took longer than normal, but I’m getting the hang of it. Thanks again, Clara!

Waterfalls and Bear Paws

Last week we went on a gorgeous (and rather tiring) hike with some friends. It included lots of water and waterfalls. Perfect!

Note: I edited some of these pictures. 😀 Just making sure you weren’t like, “WHOA, how does Allison take that good of pictures in a badly lit-forest?” Well yeah, I don’t. 😛

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Ooh, so shiny.
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I love this one!

Along the path there was this gorgeous waterfall hidden away in a little hollow. It felt like a private picnic spot or something. So pretty!

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Mini waterfall off to the side

Look at all of this liquid energy! Churning, frothing, bubbling water. Ahh…

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I really like this picture of mountain laurel. BOKEH! XD

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Meet our friends’ dog, Penny, who swam around in the river a couple of times. She was awfully hard to get a picture of. XD

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Guess what? We saw THREE black bears on our hike! There are bears where I live, but it’s very rare (for us at least) to see one. So we were super excited to get to see three on one hike! They were pretty cute. 😀 They didn’t even seem to notice us, even though the first one was fairly close to the path. I got some rather bad quality videos and pictures, but at least you can see the bears on them.

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I’m pretty sure the cub is drinking milk from its mother in this photo. Isn’t it funny how the mama bear is sprawled out all nice and comfy (or not) on the ground?

I was going to add a GIF, but it took too long and wasn’t very good anyway. Heh heh, so much for that. XD I might show you some bear videos in a post later.

 

Have you ever seen a bear? Do you like hiking? What was your favorite picture in this post?

***Allison***

P. S. CutePolarBear, it’s your turn for WordCrafters! Visit the WordCrafters 2 page to read the story so far. GO WORDCRAFTERS! 😀

P. P. S. Wanna hear something funny? You know the Baby Changing Station thingies in public bathrooms? Once I saw one where the “C” had been scraped off the sign, so it read: “Baby hanging Station.” How awful! (But you have to admit, still hilarious. XD )

Quote Edits

I’ve been using this great photo-editing site (PicMonkey) to make quote edits recently. It is SO much fun! PicMonkey has some great fonts, but my sister told me about another website (1,001 Free Fonts), that has gazillions more free fonts, so I also used some of those.

All of these edits were made by me, from pictures taken and edited by me. The quotes are either verses from the Bible, quotes from Pinterest, or part of the lyrics songs or hymns.

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#1. This is one of my favorites of the edits I made. When the world is storm-tossed all around you, cling to the Rock that stands strong above the storm.

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#2. Stop and smell the roses – take time to enjoy the little pleasures around you. (Picture from this photoshoot.)

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#3. I love this verse, and the ones that go with it. Why should we worry when God holds all of creation in his hand? The third and fourth edit are consecutive verses, so they go together.

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#4. (Picture from this post.)

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#5. Always look on the bright side. Find the blessings in disguise.

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#6. Kind words are as pleasing as honey. Or more so! (This picture was from my “Bee Tree” post.)

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#7. From the Doxology…

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#8. Great things can come from small deeds.

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#9. From the song “Waterfall,” by Chris Tomlin.

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#10. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord who made the whole wide world.

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I hope you enjoyed reading those quotes – I enjoyed making them! Which was your favorite?

A lot of those pictures came from a big Western trip my family made in 2013 – some more of those pictures may show up in a “Photos from of Old” post. 🙂

***Allison***

P. S. The first WordCrafters story is finally finished! (At almost 10,000 words o.O :D) You can read it here. It’s a wonderful story – thank you SO much everyone, for participating!!

P. P. S. I know I haven’t been posting much about Farm Life, but the fact is, not many post-worthy farm things happen in winter. I suppose you’ll have to make do with photoshoots and stories and tutorials until spring. 🙂 There’s a clay tutorial coming up soon!

Fall Hiking: Part 2

Next up! A hike in the mountains. This is a spider we saw at the very beginning of the hike, but he was scared of my camera so he ran away and hid under his favorite leaf. 🙂

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Below is a rock that looked like someone cut a heart on it, but I’m pretty sure it was natural.

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Does anyone know what this weird red clump-of-berries-on-a-stem is called?↓

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Here’s a strange fuzzy-looking fungus – isn’t he so cute? 😛

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Now for some gorgeous fall trees!

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There was an overlook at the top of the trail where you could crane your neck (and camera) to see a small but very steep falls. I edited this picture because it wasn’t very good to begin with.

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For some reason there were also a lot of ladybugs at the overlook. I took a few close-ups of this pretty lil’ gal resting on my jeans.

090089And that’s it! I hoped you enjoyed the virtual hike – and trust me, you got off easy – that trail was TIRING!

***Allison***