Wednesday, December 23, 2009


I'm not very good at composition, so I often read lists of tips and tricks to try to improve. Most of 'em (like this one, for example) recommend having a non-distracting background, so I try to clear out background objects when possible, especially when taking yarn pictures. But sometimes I think I like 'em better with the background distractions. Case in point:


That's the non-distracting one. Here's the shot I took first, before clearing out the background:


I don't know...I think I like it better with the hose in the background. I think it has kind of a "leading lines" effect. What do you think?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Lens Love

Last weekend, when mom and I went down to see PW, we also stopped by Houston Camera Exchange. I was hoping they'd have a C-Lux 3 in store for her to play around with, but they didn't. She ended up getting a Nikon Coolpix, her very first digital camera! While she was looking at those, I asked the Nikon rep if I could play with some of the lenses that were out on display. She put the 50mm f/1.4 AF-S lens on my D40 and I just about died. I was wearing a scarf/shawl I'd just finished, so I put it on the counter to play around:

Lens Love

Look at that depth of field! Wowza! Do want, very badly.

Also, just for kicks, I did the auto-lighten in Picasa on that pic:

Lens Love Lightened

I think it blows out the colors a bit, but shows off the texture more nicely. What do you think?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

PW in Houston!

Last year I got to meet Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (The Yarn Harlot). Today I got to meet Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman). I can now die and go to Bloggy Heaven! Those are the first two blogs I ever read, back before blogs were something everyone had, back before I'd discovered Google Reader, and so I actually checked each site every day. (Crazy, I know!)

Ree's talk was at Georgia's Market in Houston, a cute place that focuses on locally-sourced food from small farms in addition to carrying more standard organic fare. Ree did a little talk/Q&A and then started signing books. She's so sweet and funny, and very gracious, chatting for a bit with everyone who was in line. I can't even imagine how long it took to get through the line...there were a lot of us! Luckily, mom had pre-ordered our cookbooks from Blue Willow (the bookstore that sponsored the event) early enough that we were in the first signing group, so we didn't have to wait very long at all.

Pictures! (There were lots of Nikon DSLRs in the audience...coincidence? I think not, haha.)

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Conundrum

I'm back! (Three months after I said I might be blogging more...nice...) And I have a conundrum, a quandry, a puzzle. I got some yarn in the mail this afternoon. It's cloudy and dark outside (I miss Daylight Savings!) so I thought, it's okay, I can take pictures inside. They won't be great, but they'll be okay. The problem is, two cameras and few different WB settings later, I can't for the life of me get the colors to work.

Look at all these pictures of this lovely yarn:

White Balance Fail

White Balance Fail

White Balance Fail

White Balance Fail

The problem is, the yarn is not that color. It is sitting on a white background, which appears to be fairly white (on my computer and camera monitors), but the yarn is much greener than it appears to be in the pics. The closest I can get to the true color of the yarn is this:

White Balance Fail
(I know, it burns my eyes, too!)

That is obviously awful, and still not that close to the color of the yarn.

What gives? Does anyone have any ideas? I know it'll be best to wait for a sunny morning, but I've gotten decent results inside before. Why not this time?

Regardless of the pictures, the yarn really is a gorgeous color. I won it in a contest over at Threadpanda's blog, and I love it. I can't wait to start a Parallel Lines Scarf with it. If nothing else, I'll get good color pictures then! =)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Home Sweet Home

After three months of almost non-stop travel, for both business and pleasure, it's good to be home for awhile. My office may not be fancy, but it works for me, and it's good to be back!

ETA: Interesting...I blogged this from my iPhone, and it kept one of the paragraphs of the email, but not the other. Maybe if I can get mobile blogging figured out well, I can post more often!

Sunday, June 28, 2009


Before I get to spot metering (don't worry, Melissa, I haven't forgotten!), a little bit on exposure. Not for any particular reason, even though spot metering has to do with exposure, this isn't necessary info, it's just that I haven't taken any spot metering pics yet, and have taken these. ;)

The other day, I was photographing a bunch of finished knitting projects for my knitblog and to update my Ravelry projects page. Normally, I keep my D40 set on +0 EV, which means that it doesn't over- or under-expose the images. It just does its best to properly expose them. Usually, this works really well. However, that day it was being cranky. Here's the +0 EV picture, taken in A mode, so I picked the aperture, and the camera picked a shutter speed to match:

+0 EV

Um...not fabulous. It looks a little dark, even though it's supposed to be properly exposed. The exposure histogram (from Picasa) confirms this:

Exposure Histogram of 0 EV Dishcloth Pic

Since the peaks of each curve are near the middle of the histogram, it's pretty well exposed, although there is a little bit of underexposure in the red channel, as evidenced by the small red peak on the left side. (Do I sound like I know what I'm talking about? Because I don't. But this is what I've yeah, one day I'll actually understand these histograms. Just not today.)

Here we see the beauty of digital cameras - I could see immediately on the view screen that the picture looked dark (cranky camera!), so I bumped the exposure to +1/3 EV, which means that the camera automatically overexposes the picture by 1/3 of a step. (I don't know what this translates to technically...and the internet doesn't seem to be much if you do know, please share in the comments!) Here's the slightly overexposed image:

+1/3 EV

Much better! Now, just for kicks, let's bump it up another 1/3 of a step and see what we get:

+2/3 EV

Yep, at +2/3 EV, it's definitely more overexposed-looking, as anticipated.

I ended up using the +1/3 EV image for the project page, because it looked the best to me.

Changing this setting, called exposure bias or exposure compensation, can be useful in other situations, too. Here's a good article from Digital Photography School: Using Exposure Bias to Improve Picture Detail. I've used it before in similar situations, when the camera was, e.g., exposing for the bright part of an image, but I really wanted to see details on the dark part. I'd set the camera to overexpose, so the dark part would be more visible., actually, I was wrong, way up there in the beginning...this does tie in to spot metering. Now that I know how to spot meter, I would probably spot meter in a situation like that. Hmm...the question then becomes, when should you spot meter, and when should you use exposure bias...I think it would depend on the subject and composition of your photo...I'll have to investigate further!

In the meantime, while I think and research, go play with the exposure bias on your camera! Even most point-and-shoots have an option for this, in my experience. That's when it can really come in handy, because on an SLR, you can always just go to full manual mode and expose how you want by controlling the aperture and shutter speed. You rarely can do that on a compact camera, but you can change the exposure bias - giving you more control over the picture, which is a good thing. If you try this, let me know how it works out for you! And if you have any questions, ask away. =)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Some pictures!

So...I have literally taken multiple thousands of pictures in the past few some point, I'll get them edited and posted...maybe...but in the meantime, here are some of the first. Mostly because they didn't need editing, and are ok SOOC. ;)

From a visit to Kansas, gorgeous flowers from the Saturday morning farmer's market:
Purple & Gold Flowers
(Purple and gold, natch!)

And a supercute Honey Bee (or something like that) latte:
Honey Bee Latte

I learned a new trick - spot metering! But the only good demonstrative pics I have are of my bro, and he's not too keen on being on the blog, so one of these days, I'll take some different ones and show it off. It's really pretty easy, and you probably already know how to do it, but I was very excited. To be continued... =)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Hi Mom!

My Mom told me the other day that she was tired of looking at my dirty dishes on this blog. ;) So here's a quick new post!

Happy Birthday Brother!

My "little" brother with his birthday cake. As I say on the Flickr page, "There's a good story behind it...hopefully one day I'll tell it, illustrated, on the blog."

About two more weeks of classes to go...

Friday, March 13, 2009

It's 3am...

...I must have a midterm tomorrow! (Well, later today...)

For Melissa, who requested more of these.

Illy = Love

I love Italian coffee. I don't love midterms.
And no those are not dirty dishes in the background. And they are definitely not leftover from breakfast. No way.

Back to studying!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Drive-By Blogging

I have no business blogging this week. But I'm really good at avoidance and denial, and I promised Melissa (who is suddenly blogless? what???), so here goes:

I got a new toy today!
New Toy!

After longing for one since Nin posted about it, then getting to play with my uncle's, I finally gave in and dropped a chunk of my savings from summers at camp on a D-Lux 4. Love. The very first picture:

Very First Picture!
I could be lamer cooler, but it would be hard. I got up early, booked it to UPS, and drove straight to the office, where I charged the battery then took a pic as soon as I could!

More fun shots from today:
Waiting for Seminar
Waiting for seminar to start. (Hi Zach!)

My Cool Professor
My prof, making faces at my friend who was taking the pictures.

Shannon's so Pretty!
Shan and I went for a little walk around campus (sometimes you just need to get out of the building!) and I made her model for me.

Knit Night Candid
This picture sums up one of the biggest reasons I bought the camera: in a dimly-lit restaurant (yeah Knit Night!), after the sun had set, I got a great picture without using the flash. Love.

Now, back to work! =)

Friday, February 27, 2009

Happy Mardi Gras!

Spanish Town 2009 was a giant success. We caught tons of beads, cups, coins, and, in Jen's case, bunny ears!

Spanish Town Mardi Gras 2009

The pics are up in a Flickr set, so go check 'em out. I will warn you, though, that the theme was "Bayeaux Bailout" and so some of the floats were a bit, uh, racy...a relatively clean example:

Spanish Town Mardi Gras 2009

So, if that doesn't offend you, check out the pics! If it does, well, then you're better off not clicking over to the set. It's actually a family-friendly parade (none of the "traditional" bead acquisition techniques, that's part of why I love it so much) but this year the floats were somewhat scandalous. ;)

Many, many thanks to the lovely Carly for hosting us all at her house! Isn't she fab?

Spanish Town Mardi Gras 2009

Friday, February 20, 2009

It's 3am I must be lonely...

What was an annoying little cough this afternoon and evening has reared its ugly head as Tuberculosis Junior (TJ) tonight.  TJ is simultaneously keeping me from sleeping and from calculating the potentials of confocal spheroids.  (Homework.  Due tomorrow.  Nowhere near finished.  Hurts brain.  Requires focus.  Can't focus and cough at the same time.)  So instead I'm sitting here drinking tea, trying not to cough up anything really gross, and catching up on some blogs.  They've been woefully ignored lately.  I blame the Ravelry Twilight groups.  I used to attack my Google Reader at mealtimes, now I chat with the ladies over there.  They are more fun.  Oh well, whatev.  Anyways.  Blogs.  I thought I'd share some recent favorites with you.

Of Course, I Didn't Have a Camera. by the amazing Dez at Mambocat's Knitting Asylum.  I go to that market every week I'm in town.  It's amazing.  She describes it well, and shares her refreshing outlook.  She also makes beautiful yarn.  I spend a lot of money at her booth, and in her newly-opened store.

I Want Gum! by Kim at Mommy Knows.  I cried I was laughing so hard at this.  NSFW.  (Not safe for work.)  I'm so grateful that digital cameras and blogs didn't exist when I was growing up.

I'm loving the new-ish blog academichic.  Basically, it's a blog by three Ph.D. students about what to wear as a female Ph.D. student.  They even have Fashion 101 modules/challenges and calls for papers!

Eye-tracking studies: more than meets the eye from the Official Google Blog.  I think this is fascinating.  I wish I could track what I look at like they do in the video example.

And that's it for now.  Still with the coughing, though the Vicks is starting to help a little bit.  But TJ has made my tummy hurt, too.  (Whine whine whine.)  So I'm going to curl up in bed and pretend to sleep so I can get up early and tackle the homework...ciao ciao.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

That's right, it's Mardi Gras! We've been parading in BR for a few weeks now, though I haven't been to any of them yet - I'm saving my time & energy for the big ones this weekend! But look what I discovered on campus Monday morning on the way to my office:

Beads in Trees!

Beads in Trees!

Beads in Trees!

Beads in trees! There are a few trees like this right near the Design building, and the beads have been cut and hung nicely, so I like to think it's some type of installation art. Whatever it is, it makes me happy and even more excited for this weekend! =)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

A Quick Story

So, most of y'all, my dear readers, are bloggers, and most are also avid picture takers. You know how much room pictures take up, and how important it is to backup, and thus how wonderful external hard drives are. Well, I was near a Circuit City yesterday and thought, "Ooh, they are going out of business, I wonder if they have good deals on HDs..." I walked in and couldn't find them right away, so I found the one person actually working there and the following conversation ensued:

Me: Where are your external hard drives?
Employee: Oh, they are over here. *points, as I start to walk that way* Do you know what you are looking for? There are...*starts to explain*
Me: No, I'm just looking to see if there are any good deals.
Employee: *walks over to HDs* Well, there are two basic kinds...
Me: *cuts him off, smiling* Yeah, I know.
Employee: See, there are smaller, more portable ones...
Me: *cuts him off again* Or the bigger ones you can plug in. I know. I have three at home.
Employee: *realizes I might not actually be a dumb girl* Oh, ok.
Me: Thank you. =)

It sounds a lot ruder in writing, haha, it really wasn't, I promise! He just kept trying to explain hard drives to me, and I kept trying to politely insinuate that I had a clue, and he just didn't quite get it. "I just want to look for cheap storage, sir, because I'm a technology addict!" It was kind of surprising that he was so helpful, because he really was the only employee in the store (that I could see) and so I'm sure he spends all day answering props to the nameless Circuit City employees who are helpful even though they know they'll be out of a job soon. Just please don't bother me too much when I'm trying to bargain shop. ;) Oh, and on that note, drives were only 20% off, making them still more expensive than just waiting for a sale at Staples, which happens about every other week. So I didn't buy any, but maybe I'll check back in a few weeks to see if the prices go down any more. I was with a friend who's a new grad student, and I think she was surprised when I said I didn't want to buy one that was less than 500 gigs. Um, yeah, I already have 750 gigs at home, and about 500 gigs of that full. So, yeah...

And so this is not a picture-free post, I present me testing the range on my new toy, a remote for my camera:

Testing the Range...

We were doing a knitting photoshoot on campus (yep we got some strange looks) and wanted to take a group picture at the end. There were very few places to set the camera - this is the first one we tried (it was on a trash can about 30 feet away, haha), and it worked pretty well. The next one was awesome, and a tribute to the Gorillapod...hopefully A will send me the pictures of that soon and then I'll share. =)

Thursday, January 22, 2009


You've probably seen it already on other blogs, but if not, go check out You input some text, a blog/RSS feed, or your address, and it spits out a cool word map, for which you can change the font, color, orienation of the words, etc. The more frequently the word appears in the text, the larger it is on the map. Some examples!

This blog:
My LoveFromTX Words

My tags:
My Tags

And that, my friends, sums up a large reason why I haven't been blogging much lately. Astronomy. Research. Software. Technology. It's an exciting life I live!

In other news, my Granddad turned 91 (!!!) last weekend. Besides getting to see him and the rest of my Mom's side of the family, the most exciting part was playing with my Uncle T's new camera:

Uncle Tobie's D-Lux 4

Oh that's right, it's a Leica D-Lux 4. And yes, it's even cooler than it sounds. Shout-out to Nin who posted about it when it was announced, so I knew exactly how amazing (and expensive, ouch) it was and could take advantage of a lot of the fun features. =)