Monthly Archives: June 2012

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Iceland: Photoshop Edition

My recent trip to Iceland was my first time experimenting with my newly purchased fixed focal length camera lenses; a 50mm/f1.8 and a 35mm/f1.8 on my Nikon D3100 DSLR. Oh what fun! I really love these new lenses, but there were times when I found it difficult to “zoom with my feet” to capture the whole scene. Thank goodness for Photoshop! Between the photomerge feature and some other Photoshop tricks I was able to get my pictures to come out pretty fabulously. I’m not one that believes you should photoshop a different reality into your pictures than what really was, but some of the features that Adobe offers with their software just make it so easy to “correct” things that aren’t quite right. Here’s some examples of my recent Photoshop work.

Photoshop Photomerge

The “photomerge” feature found in Adobe Bridge is just awesome. I took most pictures on my trip to Iceland with the 50mm/f1.8 lens. Needless to say this was difficult to get everything in one frame with this focal length. Thankfully I had experimented a bit with Photoshop’s photomerge capabilities before I started photographing this trip so I knew it would be somewhat easy to combine photos. I love that you don’t have to be too precise– no tripod was needed to combine these photos into their finished products! Take a look at the before and after shots

Above you can see the middle-steps that I took with my pictures of Hallgrímskirkja– I took 6 photos to combine into the image you see above. You can learn more about how to photo merge in Adobe Photoshop at the link provided. Photoshop’s photo merge does a wonderful job of matching edges and blending seams. I also ended up replacing the sky in this photo— here is the after:

Photoshop Sky Replacement

Photoshop techniques that involve replacing skies in photos are a little controversial for me. On one hand, it rained through most of my trip to Iceland and that’s how I will remember it. On the other, do I really want to remember it raining in every single picture I took? I had fun experimenting with different sky scenarios in my pictures. Some photos I simply enhanced the sky through Adobe’s Camera Raw graduated filters. Other photos I replaced the sky completely. I saved all my original photos in case I ever want to go back, but I’m thinking I like the improved skies in a lot of the photos 🙂 For instructions on how to manipulate some skies in Photoshop on your own, follow the link provided.

Seljalandsfoss before photoshop

Seljalandsfoss after Photoshop sky replacement

Skogafoss before Photoshop

Skogafoss after photoshop sky replacement

Reykjavik before graduated filter adjustment

Reykjavik after graduated filter adjustment in photoshop

As you can see I’ve been having fun experimenting with my new Photoshop knowledge. I’m going to start my Adobe Illustrator lessons soon— then the fun can really begin! I am more motivated than ever to continue to learn this stuff to make better and better pictures and digital artwork. Let’s hope I can keep this motivation up!

I <3 Reykjavik Graffiti Artists

My recent trip to Iceland had inspiration around every corner! I especially loved the street art that was everywhere, painted by very talented Reykjavik graffiti artists. I certainly wish our graffiti in Boston looked more like this! Shepard Fairey aside, most artists in the US probably feel that the risk involved in street art is probably not worth it. I certainly wish that wasn’t the case! The possibility for being arrested for beautifying something always has puzzled me….. But that just might be the part of me that has “problems with authority” 🙂 . Here are some pictures of my favorite Reykjavik graffiti examples.

My Personal Favorites

This giraffe “came here to chew bubblegum and  kick ass”. I can’t think of a better reason myself!

The “Robots Wrestling Smackdown” was one of my favorites– painted on the side of a building one block over for Reykjavik’s main street.

I don’t know what these characters are, but I like them.

Reykjavik Graffiti was Everywhere!

Many times I stumbled upon installations or “graffiti parks” put together by the Reykjavik graffiti artists. This one had a little bit of everything in it.

The example below was right across the street from my hotel in Reykjavik’s marina.

Many English quotes are used by the Reykjavik graffiti artists. This was good for me since I can’t speak Icelandic 🙂

The talent of the Reykjavik graffiti artists is really something. I was definitely inspired by the abundance of street art in this city— though I don’t think I’ll be picking up a spray paint can anytime soon myself. I hope you’ve enjoyed a peak into what I saw!

Icelandic Flowers & Plants

I was not expecting the Icelandic flowers to be quite so lovely on my recent visit— yet everywhere I looked there were gardens and wildflowers full of bright colors and beautiful scenery. I managed to take so many pictures of them when I was over there that I just had to share on this blog— I just couldn’t believe a country whose average summer temperature is about 50 degrees Fahrenheit could support such an abundance of color! My trip to Iceland was full of inspirational surprises which I will be sharing on Notso Kitty over the next few days. I hope you enjoy as much as I did.

A field of Alaskan Lupine in front of the Myrdalsjokull Glacier

A field of Alaskan Lupine in front of the Myrdalsjokull Glacier

The Alaskan Lupine: The Most Abundant of Icelandic Flowers

The first Icelandic flowers I noticed were everywhere you looked— lining highways and hillsides with pretty purple flowers. I later learned that it was the Alaskan Lupine– a flower that had been imported to deal with the issue of soil erosion. Since the lupine binds the soil and spreads almost anywhere it is put it is a very pretty solution for keeping soil on Iceland’s volcanic surfaces. The Alaskan lupine has made quite the home for itself in Iceland. Not only is it helpful, but it is quite beautiful and awe-inspiring in large quantities.

Other Icelandic Wildflowers

Iceland had plenty of other wildflowers besides the Alaskan lupine. Succulents, buttercups, and other wildflowers dotted every landscape I looked at in the countryside along the south coast. I especially loved how a lot of these flowers could grow in the harshest conditions– next to geothermal springs and some with hardly any soil available.

ReYkjavik flowers

Everywhere you looked in downtown Reykjavik pansies, daisies, and other flowers grew wherever the smallest bit of soil existed. Icelanders really take pride in making public areas both  beautiful and colorful. Window boxes, small flower pots, and terrace gardens were abundant.

The below pictures were all taken in a public garden surrounding the pond in Reykjavik. I had never even seen purple bee balm before (all mine is red or pink) but I thought it was so pretty mixed in with the other bright colors. Icelandic flowers were well-maintained in all public spaces, but this garden was particularly well kept and designed.

Geothermal Greenhouses

When I was in Iceland, I even got to visit a greenhouse run on geothermal energy. Iceland has many of these greenhouses mostly filled with cucumbers and tomatoes. If I ever move to Iceland, that’s what I want to do 🙂

I certainly enjoyed exploring the Icelandic flowers when I visited. I sometimes lament the fact that I live in the Northeast and I can’t grow everything I want to within a season (or have access to year-round cultivation). My visit to Iceland was a reminder to appreciate all that is available under limited circumstances. The Icelanders definitely make the best of their horticultural environment— I should have no problem doing the same!

 

A Creative Bucket List Update

Hello Readers! I am glad you haven’t abandoned me— I’ve been taking my sweet time between posts lately. It’s been very hard for me to sit down and type something  in recent weeks when I’m not at work– there are just too many things I want to do outside and around the yard! But alas, I will try to post more often than I have been– I need to do something to get me motivated to make more stuff for the Notso Kitty Shop. This blog was helping to keep me on track before, but I have been “off the reservation” for a few weeks now. So it goes sometimes! It’s just too nice outside to feel bad about enjoying it 🙂

Icelandic Poppy

A lovely Icelandic Poppy that is blooming in my garden

Back in April I posted a “Creative Bucket List“– a list of things that I wanted to accomplish to augment the creative ventures I pursue from time to time. It has  been about two months, so I suppose it is time to take inventory again. Where am I? Well— I admit— not far! Of the items on that list, the only things I have managed to complete are some Photoshop training (not the whole CS5 training which was my goal) and the backyard makeover which I posted about a few weeks ago. I’m not too worried about completing the other stuff on that list— all in due time. Except for planning my Iceland vacation— that is sneaking up on me quickly!

Peony

My white Peony didn't wait until I purchased my new camera lens to turn brown

Peony

This Peony faired better for photographing

In the meantime I’ve been enjoying some time with my cats and my garden. I also managed to FINALLY purchase better lenses for my camera! I went with two fixed lenses this time— one 50mm/1.8, the other 35mm/1.8— let’s see if I can take any better pictures! Between the garden, camera and cats it’s no wonder I’ve been so distracted. I’m not sure I mind though 🙂 Till next time, enjoy my recent pics that I’ve taken around the house.

The Great Notso Fluffy

 

Fluffy!

 

Hoarders: Tracy Anderson Edition

Sometimes I wonder if I will someday end up on an episode of “Hoarders”– that great show on A&E that catalogs the life of people bent on saving everything. It’s not that my life resembles “Hoarders” now– it’s almost the opposite. But I realize I have the genes that could easily turn me into a “Hoarder-extrodinaire”– my Mom’s side of the family has been known to progressively collect and hang on to things until they reach the point where an intervention is needed– usually about the time they hit retirement age. Since I’m a ways off from that milestone it’s easy for me to claim to be fine now, but I’ve always been aware that I have to fight my “innate hoarder” tendencies to keep them in check. Still, there is the occasional scenario where I have let a group of items get out of control– and I have to admit to myself that “Hoarders” is a part of my everyday life….. Tracy Anderson DVDs are my latest example of such a case.

tracy anderson dvds

A plethora of Tracy Anderson DVDs

My collection of Tracy Anderson DVDs started out innocently enough about a year and a half ago. I started by buying her book to help me lose a few stubborn pounds– this book came with a DVD. A few months later I ordered Tracy Anderson’s Metamorphosis program– a series of 4 more DVDs (1 cardio, 3 toning exercises). Then about 5 months after that, since I had such good results,  I ordered Tracy Anderson’s Continuity Program– a series of 4 more DVDs (1 cardio, 3 toning again) delivered every 90 days. I think you can see where this is going…..

Notso

Notso says: "these DVDs are clearly out of control!"

Now it’s been about a year since I signed up for the Tracy Anderson Continuity program and my fitness level has happily more-or-less been sustained. However the DVDs just keep coming! There’s no end…. I counted 22 Tracy DVDs in my drawer the other day. Even if I were to keep on Tracy’s suggested schedule of doing a workout everyday (which btw is crazy in itself) there is no way I could ever catch up with the DVDs at this point. It wasn’t until this month’s shipment of 4 more DVDs came that I realized that I might be just hoarding Tracy DVDs. What an odd thing to hoard! Best to nip it in the bud now though- time to call Continuity customer service and put these things on an indefinite hold…..

Tracy Anderson’s Continuity DVDs do work quite well for keeping me in shape— but there is no way I should need to build a new addition onto my house just to keep them in! This “Hoarders: Tracy Anderson Edition” intervention is complete! Now to find the next item I am likely to hoard– it’s an endless cycle 🙂

 

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