Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Smartphone Photography

I love taking photos on my iPhone. I love Instagram. I love sharing bits of my life through photos and Instagram. It's really fun for me because I love photography. Trust me I know how narcissistic it can be, but I do it for myself because I enjoy it.

I made Wen and Caitlin hang out with me to take some photos so I can share with you some unsolicited advice about smartphone photography! I know, I know. I digress.

Here are the things I think about most when I'm taking photos on my iPhone:

1. Light. The brighter it is, the clearer the photo will be. A lot of photographers avoid direct sunlight like the plague, and I totally get it, but I also kind of love direct sunlight. It makes iPhone photos super clear.
You definitely do not want to shoot INTO the light source, unless it's for a specific effect. And in case you didn't know you could do this: once you tap on the screen where you want the focus to be, you can actually adjust the exposure. Just drag the sun icon that shows up when you tap where to focus. For a safe bet when you're in a rush, turn your camera on HDR mode.

2. Play with space. Not everything needs to be perfectly centered. You can move things around so they look neater or more put together. You can take your photo of your ice cream in front of a cool wall or blank space, if you want to.

3. Don't be embarrassed to move around if you want to get a nice photo and create a pretty memory, but if you are shy about it, make the best of where you are. That's something I've had to come to terms with, and something that I still struggle with. I get really embarrassed when I'm "staging" a photo of something. But seriously nobody cares if you're taking a picture, so there's really no need to be concerned with what they're thinking. And you'll be happy with the result.
On the other hand, sometimes I don't want to make a show of it. I've adjusted and figured out how to get the shot I want without having to move an inch. I took the photo below while sitting in a chair.
I also love messing with perception. I like the big picture. A small detail on a big canvas. Not every photo has to be up close and personal.

4. With people, candid is always better. Getting everyone to smile and look at the camera is fantastic, but I love the in between moments. I will choose candid photos over staged photos almost all the time.
5. Don't use the zoom. The quality just won't be good, just get closer to or further from whatever you want to take a photo of.

6. Focus. Pretty much the only editor effect in Instagram that I use is the blur effect, when I want to zero in on one aspect of the photo. That being said, there's a limit to how much you can do with the blur effect in Instagram, so I often use Snapseed for this particular effect (I'll write a bit about apps down the page)
7. Don't overthink it. I love "curating" my iPhone photography as much as the next photographer/blogger/social media hound, but I love the memories more. So yeah, I'll post a grainy selfie of me on the couch with my dog right next to the posed shot of my ice cream (I literally did that last week). People relate to people, so why pretend like your whole life is a stream of symmetrical, bright, clean photos?

Apps I use: VSCO and Snapseed are pretty much the only two editing apps that I use. Occasionally I'll tap into another resource (I have a ton on my phone), but I generally try to keep it pretty simple and consistent. I almost exclusively use the C1 filter on VSCO, and use Snapseed for the aforementioned focusing and to eliminate for the "healing" feature (similar to the one in Photoshop). I  also LOVE Boomerang, I just wish I could edit/filter those outside of Instagram!

Check out the infographic below from Aura Frames for more smartphone photography tips. This digital picture frame company is currently in the middle of a partnership with charity: water to raise funds for three wells around the world. While it's not in my current (non-existent) budget, it's definitely something I would want on my shelf someday. 

Aura created this graphic that shares some of my own personal tips for smartphone photography, as well as some more specific tips from their team!

Some other snaps from this day...
When you accidentally match your friend and you're wearin' your favorite bandana, you document it. Occasionally it's nice (but mostly weird) to be in front of the camera instead of behind it.
Thanks to Aura Frames for the graphic and encouragement to write this post! If you guys have any tips for smartphone photography, let me know, I'm always looking for more information because I love taking photos.

You can follow me on Instagram here if you don't already and you like pictures of puppies and admittedly a lot of my face and stuff.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Slices of Life

Some leftover photos from my "vacation" in Florida. We hung out with grandma, we saw Hairspray in the park and got upgraded to some amazing seats towards the front, we went to the beach, we ate a lot of ice cream, we chased Joonbug around my mom's house, we ate fried chicken with dad. It was a fun week at home.
When I got home we had some parties to go to and we tried rock climbing! It was so fun. It's been nice to be back home. I've started working almost full time at the office now, just getting into the swing of summer. Dan and I booked a vacation and my birthday is at the end of the month. I'm stoked.
Here's a Cooper for good measure :)

Friday, May 12, 2017

Pup's First Summer

This summer will be Cooper's first ever! I mean technically he was born in August so he's a summer puppy, but this is the first summer he'll be conscious of his surroundings. Arizona summers are notoriously no joke. It's actually been pretty nice so far though; after some 100º+ days (while I was in Florida, ha!) the temperature came back down and the past week has just been lovely. We know it's just biding it's time. 110º+ is coming. Soon.
We have a lot to learn about having a dog in the summer, so mentally we're making a list of things we need to watch out for. Here are some things on my mind:

1. Dog booties. The pavement here gets really hot and it's not super safe to let your dog's bare paws hit the burning pavement. I have a feeling Cooper will be one of those dogs who refuses to move once you put the booties on, but it's certainly at least worth a try. The ones I linked to look like a good option, lightweight, inexpensive, with good reviews.

2. Dehydration. I sometimes trick Cooper into drinking water by putting an ice cube in his bowl for him to try to get. Sometimes he gets bored or frustrated and leaves the ice, but usually it gets him to drink at least a little more. When we go to the park he sometimes gets excited and forgets to drink, so it's definitely something we have to look out for.

3. Frozen food. Dan had the idea to dampen and mush up some kibble and then freeze it in Cooper's small pink Kong for him to eat as part of his dinner. It's cold and it's fun for him! If he liked fruit and veggies I would totally freeze those for him, but he just doesn't like them much.
Did you know that May is National Pet Month? (Every month is national pet month at my house, okay). Puppy Spot reached out to me and sent me this great graphic that they created that outlines some tips for keeping your puppy healthy and happy this summer. While they may not all be applicable to the desert, they make some great points that I hadn't even considered.

I will always advocate for shelter adoptions, but if you or someone you know is looking for a specific breed, purebred, or designer puppy, Puppy Spot seems like a great and convenient way to go. You can find the puppies that they have available now here.

I know I'm no expert, not even close, but I wanted to share what I was thinking along with the advice from Puppy Spot! If you have any advice for helping an energetic puppy survive summer, send it my way please I beg of you. He has so much energy it doesn't even make sense.
(One more pic of Coop for good measure. He looks huge compared to way back when *cries a lil*!!!)

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Rebecca's UF Graduation

My little sister, who was never really so little, graduated from college.
We're lucky because Grandma, Kyle, and I could all come in from out of town.
I mean, we would never have missed this. But still.
Rebecca's friend made her the most amazing decorated cap. In the picture, Joon is wearing Rebecca's glasses.
So at the end of the week she's moving to Detroit, Michigan to get a job and study for the LSAT. 
She's going to go to law school, which couldn't be more awesome.
We're so proud of you, Becca Boo.


Sunday, April 30, 2017

On Ending a Bizarre School Year

Oh my gosh, I am so happy to be done with this year. I turned in my last paper, taught my last lessons, and I made it to Florida right to see family and friends and watch my sister GRADUATE from college it's fine I totally didn't cry at all.

This year was so tough. I don't even know specifically what it was, but for everyone I've talked to this seems to be the case. Obviously there has been a lot of social tension across the country and maybe that seeped into academia as well. No joke I had at least three panic attacks. It was really, really difficult. I am terribly glad it's over.


Some of my favorite people in the entire world will be leaving ASU and Tempe and it makes me so sad that it's kind of amazing I don't just burst out in tears like every afternoon. I'm not really sure what I'm going to do when they're gone. I'll have to make some new friends I guess (ugh when will it end! just kidding). 

Anyway, only ONE YEAR OF SCHOOL LEFT before exams and dissertation and then Dr whatever. So trust me, I understand how lucky I am. I really 100% do. I love my life and what I get to do everyday, I love my boyfriend so very much, I love my friends, my family, and my puppy. I am very, very happy. I just struggle with anxiety, and that's okay.

So don't mind me while I grapple with humidity and snuggle Joon for the next week. And I have photos from graduation to share within the next few days! 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


The past two weeks have been a whirlwind, and honestly that word doesn't even do the craziness justice. I (and hopefully my studio mates, too) have had some of the most inspirational experiences of grad school, all within one semester--and a lot of them in just the past month.

Dr. Bish was here and performed a recital and gave a master class. What an experience to have her here, in this bubble I've created, with her teacher who is also my teacher, sharing her clarinet-unicorn knowledge with us. I'm going to see her again in a couple of weeks and I am thrilled.

3/4 of my most influential musical people. My heart could explode!
On a strictly personal level: two weeks ago I travelled to Little Rock, Arkansas to play with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. It was my first professional orchestra gig and such a treat to play with Dr. Kelly Johnson, who also teaches at the University of Central Arkansas. She was kind enough to invite me to observe her studio and give a little master class during her studio class; it was an incredible and unforgettable experience. And Sibelius Symphony No. 2--go listen if you've never heard it. What a joy to perform it twice in a row.
Unfortunately I came down with a gnarly cold literally right after that day at UCA, but over a week later I'm feeling human again so it's fine. It was well worth it.

This past week, amidst recovering from this disgusting cold, my troll-y friends created this incredible day of new music where the famous composers themselves were here at ASU: William O. Smith (grandfather of extended techniques on clarinet) and Eric P. Mandat (who took Bill Smith's ideas and ran with them).

Pat, Jack, and Jeremy each played a solo recital of just Eric Mandat and Bill Smith's music, and then a trio recital that featured a bass clarinet quartet accompanying Mandat himself.

We spent Thursday through Saturday schmoozing and absorbing as much as we could from these incredible people and musicians. As exhausting as it was, I am so thankful and proud to be in an environment that encourages this kind of creativity. I love my friends, I love my teachers, I love my studio. The inspiration is palpable. We are indebted to them for creating this experience for us.

So yeah, it's been insane.

I'm really tired.

Dan's parents are in town, I'm going home in a little over a week for Rebecca's graduation (!!!), and school ends shortly after I leave. This year has been weird and crazy and stressful in a lot of ways, but man has it been amazing.

And a Cooper picture for good measure, how cute is he?...


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Spring Feelings

I've noticed that every year since I moved to Arizona, I'm both the busiest and the most grateful in the Spring.

My schedule gets insane, our studio has recitals and guests like every other day, I usually have to prepare for my own recital or something, write papers, work, etc.

But I don't know, I look around at all the trees and cactuses blooming, the weather is perfect for these blissful three months, and I just can't help but feel so happy and thankful to be living here and going to school and work with so many amazing people, and living life with Dan.

I mean it can be so stressful and give me so much anxiety, but when I finally manage to take a step back I am so lucky, you know? I love what I do, even when I hate it, and I love the people in my life. And my puppy. I love my puppy.

Maybe I'm just in a good mood because Dan surprised me with breakfast yesterday morning, Dr. G surprised me with coffee, I got out of rehearsal hella early, the weather is amazing, and Dr. Bish was in town (!!!). Maybe it's because of all of those amazing things, and an amazing Monday. Or maybe I'm just really happy and I'm having a clear-minded week :)

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Antelope Canyon + Horseshoe Bend

On day three of our trip, we drove up to Page, AZ to take a tour of Upper Antelope Canyon and then drove five minutes down the road to Horseshoe Bend. UNREAL!
It was a fantastic and extremely memorable trip--from the fact that my sister could be at my recital to seeing so many natural wonders, I'm so glad to have these memories. See the Grand Canyon portion here.

The day that we drove home was Dan's 25th birthday! Dan, my better half, if you're reading this, thank you for coming on this trip with us and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Life with you is the absolute best.

Thus ends the Spring Break blog posts. I swear I'm hoping to post more, but alas, life gets in the way. Thanks for tuning in.
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