Friday, October 12, 2007

Out for awhile

Not like I am "In" too much, but this is notice I will be "Out". I was diagnosed this summer with a uterine problem that could cause me some long term health issues, and I have already been sick off and on for the best part of two years. We've agreed that having a hysterectomy will be the best thing for my health, and I will be going in on the 15th of this month.

So if you haven't seen me for awhile... I haven't died. ;)

To keep you busy while I am gone, here's some fun, free, and safe for your computer online games to play. :) Think of me if you're having fun!

Assorted Fun Games (addictive)

Arcade Games

Thursday, September 06, 2007


Well, as promised here is one of the images from today';s shoot.
It's titled "Fallen".
Not my fave, but my faves all have too much nudity for my blog. ;)

It was a productive day, which is the best I can say at the end of any day.

The Anatomy of a Photo Shoot

I go to extremes when I am doing shoots, spending way too much money, making costumes, investing in make-up and other supplies. I rarely, if ever, recoup my money from the shoots. But that's okay, I love doing it. So, for now, that's enough.

Crystal, (my friend and assistant) and I have been planning a shoot for over a month now with a model from Arizona. This shoot was to be a nude, and we decided to go all out on the props. It didn't work out as I had expected, but I have so far found the results to be satisfying anyway.

The first thing we did was to collect about 15 dead trees and sink them in a plaster base so they would stand on their own. No easy task in itself. For this shoot, the studio area was one quarter of
my fiancé's warehouse. We set up boxes and ladders, and attached two backdrops high and low.

Next we laid a flooring of carpet padding, and set the trees where we wanted them. Added some sprigs of wild grass, and sprinkled the whole set liberally with plaster.

Then we set up our lights, and added homemade diffusers. (I was not happy with the lighting setup, or my diffusers. Add something else to the shopping list please.)

Below are some photos of the setup as we were working on it. I'll post some images later tonight when I get them done ;)

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Raising Poultry

I am an old fashioned farm girl at heart, I always have been. I love the outdoors, hard work, animals, anything homey.

I started raising chickens last year, but had some disasters in the form of neighborhood animals and lost the lot. This year I lost quite a few due to my own pet, so we went to a great deal of trouble of building a poultry pen in the back yard near an existing shed which we are in the process of converting into a hen house.

This is the pen from the front, behind me is our house. (Excuse the yard, it's messy and still a a work in progress.)

What I like about it's positioning is that while the birds get lots of full sunlight during the day, there is also plenty of shelter on both sides for winter months and summer storms.

Inside the pen we've cut a hole leading into the hen house, with a shelter covering the low ramp and a bale of hay to provide additional wind reprieve.

The younger chicks tend to hang out under the ramp at the moment.

From the inside the doorway looks like this:

We need to enlarge it a bit for the Turkey we've just acquired.

We are still working on the inside of the shed to make it a poultry palace. :) It's still got a few of my things in it, but we have plans to build nesting boxes and install permanent heat lamps.

The area seen at the top of the hen house in the photo above as well as the one below are actually covered in thick Plexiglas which allows some ambient light, but no drafts.

These are the temporary shelves for the birds to roost on, but we are building better roosts in the next couple of weeks.

The light is movable, and far enough away from the smaller birds as not to overheat them or cause a fire. It encourages them to all come inside after dark, as well as providing the needed heat until they are fully feathered out.

The turkey hasn't shown much inclination toward social activity so far, though he isn't afraid of being handled. I think he is still traumatized from being separated from his flock. I have no experience in raising Turkeys so far, so I am reading up like crazy and worry like a mother hen. (pardon the pun.)

I also acquired two new Chickens yesterday, but I don't know what breed they are yet. Love their floppy heads. :) These guys wouldn't roost inside, I hope they change their minds come cold weather.

Overall I am a happy chick...(pun again) I have my little bitty corner farm-like area, and I'm as pleased as pie. ;)

Monday, August 06, 2007

The Best of the Best

Quick, name your top ten favorite computer and/or internet applications!

If you are like me, the difficulty isn't in finding ten, it's in narrowing it down to ten.

Here's a few of mine, narrowed not by numbers, but in which ones I use at least once a day, (These are in no particular order):

1. Picasa -
From the website: Picasa is a free software download from Google that helps you: Locate and organize all the photos on your computer, Edit and add effects to your photos with a few simple clicks, Share your photos with others through email, prints, and on the web: it’s fast, easy and free. See a better and in depth review from PC Magazine here, and download it for yourself free here.

2. Gmail -
From the website: Gmail is Google's free webmail service. It comes with built-in Google search technology and over 2,600 megabytes of storage (and growing every day). You can keep all your important messages, files and pictures forever, use search to quickly and easily find anything you're looking for, and make sense of it all with a new way of viewing messages as part of conversations. There is way more to Gmail than I can begin to tell you here, but lets just say it changed my life, and not simply because of the way it handles email. I am never on the internet that I am not using Gmail. Find it here.

3. StockXchange - A photography site that offers a huge selection of Royalty free images for it members, and membership is also free. While there are restrictions, (you cannot resell the images you find there and a few other very sensible requirements) for the most part the images are available for your needs. For everything from webdesign, to personal desktop use, from creating your own greeting cards to finding the perfect image for a magazine article, you'll find it all here.

4. Dreamstime
- Another stock photography site that offers a fantastic photos and illustrations to members. Dreamstime membership is also free, however the images here are not free. But these images comes at extremely reasonable prices, as low as $1 if you need a single image for your project, and as low as 26 cents of you buy a subscription. You'll find it all here.

5. Google Calendar- Google Calendar, part of every Gmail account, is every great calendar I have ever had, except it is web-based, so it follows me wherever I am . Customizable calendars allow you to create as many calendars for as many of parts of your life you need to track, which you can keep private, allow certain viewers, or make totally public at your discretion. Not to mention it's handy feature that can either email reminders directly to your Gmail account, or toss a pop-up at ya when you tell it to. I couldn't live without this program.

6. Google Documents - Like Google Calendar, this is an extension of your Gmail account and totally accessible on any computer with access to the internet. Even if you do not have commonly used word processing programs such as Microsoft Word, or spreadsheet programs such as Excel, you can save, edit, and even share your documents in this application.

7. GoDaddy - GoDaddy provides great web hosting, domain services and more for great prices, ease of use, and all with excellent customer service. I have heard and read some negative feedback about GoDaddy, but even after having used other companies for all my web hosting and domain registration needs, I find that GoDaddy has, for the past three years, given me the best value for my dollar, and all with no complaints. Find them here.

8. DreamWeaver - This is not inexpensive software, but I have tried other options, including FrontPage, and I simply love Dreamweaver. The learning curve wasn't too steep since I had some web building experience, and I have found in Dreamweaver the ability to be truly creative without difficulty.

9. Adobe Photoshop - I don't have to say much here. It's not like you haven't heard of Adobe Photoshop. I am only including it here because I do use it daily. It's a significant part of my budget, but well worth it.

10. Mozilla Firefox - It took me a long time to convert to Mozilla Firefox , despite the fact that tech minded friends I have had urged me to do so for a long time. I was well used to IE and was strangely afraid of the change. (Fear, perhaps, of looking like a newbie again on the internet.) It is a wonderful browser, however, and has changed the way I see the internet. Safe, secure, and so much easier to use than I ever expected. And it's full of fantastic add-ons I am addicted to. (see below.) Interested? Find it here.

11.StumbleUpon - StumbleUpon is this great add-on button that attaches to the browser window of Firefox. It's the coolest thing I have seen in a long time, and way addicting, as half a dozen people I have introduced you can testify to. With a single click to the button you can "Stumble" around the internet and view some amazing sites you might never have the luck to see without it. Or you have the ability to tighten the search pattern and find anything you might be looking for. Like the site?" Give it a thumbs up. Hate it? Give it a thumbs down. It adjusts itself to your likes and dislikes as you go... learning and customizing your viewing experience for you. What's cool about StumbleUpon is that unlike your average search engine, you don't go to the sites that are rated highest because of the keywords embedded in the page, or because the site has paid to be put first on the search list. You see what is getting the most thumbs up from millions of users just like yourself. Fantastic. Dying to try it? Find it here.

Okay, so that was eleven. I could go on and on and on. But I'll stop now, give you something to mull over. Have some sites you love of your own? Send them to me.. I'd love to try them out!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

First Wedding Images

I shot my first wedding today, and it was an amazing experience.

The couple are friends of mine, Jonathan and Tina Baca.

So much went perfectly, and more than a few things went wrong. Some of the mistakes could have been avoided with planning, others perhaps not. Over all the whole day was a success and I believe Jon and Tina will be thrilled with their images.

If I could do it all over again the thing I'd change is that i would try and find a better place to do the after wedding photos, such as those for the wedding party. I am not sure there would have been a better option, but I wasn't happy with the areas and lighting we used.

What I was most happy about? I brought an assistant, Crystal, and without her I'd have gaffed the whole thing. A good assistant is everything.

I can't show you all the images, there were well over 500, but here's a sampling. :)

Friday, August 03, 2007

Fantasy Anyone?

My dear friend, Tim of almost eleven years brought to me the most charming young woman the other day, Shannon. Shannon had agreed to do a photo shoot.

I hadn't planned on any particular image, there was no set design, no special costumes. She showed up, we played around for an hour or two, and I messed around with the final images in Photoshop.

The results were extremely satisfying to me. The top one here especially, it has a mood I absolutely relish. I call the top One "Wishes", the bottom one I've named three or four times, but nothing sticks because the names just don't go with the photo.

Why do I like these images so much? They tell a story to me, I can hear the words, feel the rhythm of each line in my head. I could take these photos and create an entire narrative from each story with little effort.

This is what I really look for in one of my photographs.

Sometimes I get lucky and get several images like this from a shoot, sometimes I fail miserably. Most often the disappointing productions stem from some attempt to either do shoots like I have seen other photographers do, or because I am trying to please someone else. Trying to create images from someones else's head is not a good idea for me.

I like to let go... be creative from the heart. Having fun is part of the key, low expectations tends to be another part of the puzzle.

Being myself... it sets me free. :)

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Making Custom Signature Stamps

I love Adobe Photoshop, as many people do, and I am constantly finding new uses for it. There are tools in Adobe that I know how to use well, and some I don't know how to use so well. Once in awhile I stumble across someone else's tutorial on how to create a special effect or use a tool I hadn't considered or understood, and I just love it.

Last year I finally figured out how to create my own brushes, which changed the way I do so many things. I will be explaining how to do this today, but as part of the lesson, I am going to explain how to create your own signature stamp. I am going to assume for times sake that you know how to do the basics in Photoshop, such as create a new project and entering text.

Open your new project, you can make the dimensions as big or large as you like, but I'd keep it within the screen so you can view it easily. Mine is 500 x 300 pixels. I am first going to do a simple "Signature". (I won't use my real signature as I don't want everyone on the world wide web to know how to sign my name.)

Type in the text you like, color doesn't matter, but font does. Choose the font and the size of the font you like and enter the appropriate size. Mine looks like this:

I used Ariel Rounded MT Bold and 36 for the font size. (If you make your signature too small it looks bad when you resize it, but you can make it smaller to some degree and it retains it's original look.)

Flatten your image and select the signature. (Keep the selection edges as close to the text as possible so as not to get too much background.) Then go to Edit> Define Brush Preset> and Type in a name for your new brush.

This will create a brush in the current brush set you are using. You can view the brush by open the paintbrush tool and scrolling to the bottom. I have a blank paintbrush tool set I use just for saving new brushes in.

You can create your own by deleting all the brushes in a set . Open the brush set and right click and tell it to delete, but make sure when you are finished you save it as a new brush set. Click the arrow at the top right hand corner of the Master Diameter tool and select Save Brushes. (see below)

Name it something new and easy to remember. I called mine "Dawn's Signature Set".

If you choose another brush set, you will not see the new signature set until you close and reopen Photoshop. If you do not save the new brush set before you close Photoshop you will lose your new signature brush.

I like to make an assortment of brushes for my signatures. Some plain, some fancy. Different sigs for different moods. One of my newer and more favorite signatures started with this:

You can copy and save that image if you'd like to create your own with it. I entered my own name and the year, with a little symbol in the center and I got this:

The font I used for this was Batik Regular, because I wanted that weathered look. (stamps don't have much crispness about them normally.) You can achieve the rotated font by a number of means, but I personally added each letter individually and used the Edit> Transform> Rotate tool to make each letter fit because I am picky that way.

Once saved you can do a number of things with your new brush or signature. I made a second stamp, this time with a postage stamp theme, and came up with this, that I intend on using as an email signature:
I don't know how clear this tutorial is, if you have questions, feel free to post them below and I'll try and make as much sense as possible. :) Hope you have fun with this!

Monday, July 30, 2007

When Dreams Come True

I am a dreamer, I admit it. I spent more than a small portion of my youth daydreaming about all the places I hoped to go, all the people I wanted to meet, who I hoped to grow up to be.

Most every child can tell you what they want to be when they grow up. My first dream , when I was about five years old, was to have a family. My step-father, Ray Hise, built me a playhouse for Christmas one year. It was beautiful, but icy cold in the winter months. That didn't deter me. I spent every waking hour in that playhouse, pretending to have a husband and children I was cooking for. It was never a popular dream when I was growing up in the late years of women liberation, the sixties and early seventies when modern woman embraced her right to be single and work. As I grew up I understood the equality issues, and womens rights issues, but I never stopped seeing being part of a family of my own as something to be embraced.

By the time I was eight I was considering jobs, and my new dream was to be a veterinarian. I have always loved animals, and I saw this as a way to be near my closest friends. I wasn't considering money, I was too young to think about income those days. I never really pursued this line of work, but I dreamed about it for years.

As a teen my interests moved toward art. I had discovered painting, sketching, and pottery. I had a wonderful teacher at Lumberton High School in North Carolina named Betty McKiethan. She took a hobby of mine and turned it into passion that consumed most of my waking hours. She encouraged me and a few other of her students to make art our living. I didn't have a lot of confidence however, and I joined the Navy instead, hoping to see a little bit of the world and find out a little more about myself.

During those years and the years following, my dreams kind of buried themselves. I gave myself up to the idea that I would waitress, or work as a cashier for the rest of my life. By the time I was 21 I had experienced a failed marriage and so much heartache that I wasn't sure I had too many dreams left.

Life has a funny way of surprising you.

I turned 42 this year, and recently I realized that in some sense most of my dreams have come true. I have a beautiful family, and more love than I could have ever hoped for. Though I have never become a veterinarian, I have many animals that I cherish and care for, and I have plans to volunteer for a wild animals rescue in the near future. And as far as art, it is still who I am.

I am a full time photographer these days, incorporating my artistic creativity into every apsect of the shoots, and I am due to have my first public gallery show in a few weeks here in Albuquerque. My family will be there, and one of my pets is in the show. :)

If that isn't a dream come true, what is?

Monday, June 18, 2007

Just My Luck :)

We drove out to the family reunion in Texas this weekend. Three cars, a total of twelve of us trudged 990 and something miles just southwest of Dallas to a lake near Comanche, Texas, where I was born and much of my family still resides. It is more beautiful than I remember out there. It was great fun seeing people, some who I haven't seen in one, two and even three decades.

I took some great photos... lovely kaes scenes, butterflies, wildflowers, bugs of all kinds, water doplets and clouded skies. And of course a ton of family pics.

I downloaded them to my sons laptop so I could reuse my digital card. and of course his computer crashed last night before I could save the images to my own files.

It was a great trip, with any luck I'll be back with the pics to show you soon. ;)

Monday, June 11, 2007

Good to smile :)

My sisters Birthday was last Friday, and we went to dinner together. It was nice, if you can get past the migraines I have been experiencing.

Anyway, she showed me a photo she keeps clipped to her sun visor:

Yeah, that she and me when I was about four and she was about two years old. I was a fairly happy kid, she was as tolerant of me as she could stand to be. We didn't become real friends until about four years ago. Now I'd venture to say we are best friends. She called me the other day and told me how much she loved me because of this picture and a few others she had come across. It seems she noticed I always had my arm or arms around her, laughing and looking as happy as I could be just to be in her presence, (which is not a far cry from the truth) and for years she just hated me touching her at all. Now she appreciates my love for her, returning it hardily.

Maybe the moral of the story here could be that if you love someone long enough they might love you back. But I prefer to think that the joy was just in loving at all.

I have been neglecting this blog in lieu of my Enchanted Ramblings. Posting pics and whatnot. It's so easy to get back into the groove of writing.

Friday, June 08, 2007

On the Edge of Relaxation

I love Fridays.

I probably shouldn't, because they not only signal the end of my work week, but they also highlight just how badly I manage my time during the five days I have to get things done. Yet, despite the fact that I have so much left to do and only hours left to do it in, I already am excited by the prospect of relaxing a little bit.

Okay, fine. Maybe the word "relaxing" for me is taking it too far. On a typical Saturday I wake at 7 am, leap out of bed, dress, brush my teeth, and start cleaning house. Somewhere around 1pm I garden an hour or so, and then I get ready for whatever real chores or other work I have set aside for the afternoon. My weekends stay busy, but usually with the things I have wanted to do all week and could not.
It's my own personal time, and I look forward to it.

(Pictured above is my son, Logan Mimna, doing a "stall" on his elbow.)

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Good Things

It is only June, and so hot already. With Temperatures already in the 90's some days, I am dreading the coming "hotter" summer months. I have hoped to do some outdoor shoots, but the bright light and heat limits my shooting time to a couple of hours in the morning and a few in the evening. I prefer the late day tones, but the remaining heat makes it fairly miserable if the shoot is more than half an hour. I have set up a temporary studio in a warehouse, but it is not air conditioned, so I need to think up some alternate possibilities.

I am in the middle of planning a shoot with another local photographer who I like quite a bit, Mark White. I enjoy his work, and I think we might create something good together. We both have some good things to bring to the table, so I am excited to see the results.

I am going to be part of a gallery show in September through October of this year. It will be at the Downtown Contemporary Art Center, here in Albuquerque, and is called 1 x 20. A cool concept, one model photographed by 20 photographers. Twenty different styles, ideas. I am looking forward to the opening.

I also just started a new job as the photographer for Posh New Mexico Magazine. It's a great opportunity, and the publishers are great people. I get to use my creative eye in a setting I haven't tried before. I know I keep saying this... but I am excited!

So many good things happening all at once. I've worked hard, and expect to work harder yet, earn the good things that come to me.

(View from my backyard of a storm meeting a sunset, 2007)

Friday, June 01, 2007

Tuning In

Well, as predicted, I am not good at keeping up a journal. My focus has rotated almost totally toward photography and my design work, squished nicely in the middle of parenthood, and a few miscellaneous projects I have on the side.

I am a board member now for the New Mexico Art League, a very worth while organization, and I am excited to imagine what kind of things might lay in store in the coming year.

The past few months have been full of spring and sunshine, gardening, and making pottery, and several new photo shoots. One of the most recent was for an up and coming gallery show which I am excited to be a part of this next September. I'll hopefully get around to posting some of that information shortly. ;)

It's late, I languish, and so I am off to bed. Tune in again, if there is even anyone out there looking at this at all, and perhaps I'll throw in something of interest soon.