Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The State of Things on My 25th Birthday

I've said and written this before, but this year had a lot of really difficult moments. More than I care to admit. Two steps forward, four steps back type of moments. Even the week leading up to yesterday just wasn't so great, I dunno.

I wasn't too excited about this birthday. I made plans because I felt like I should, like I might feel disappointed if I didn't. I'm happy I did, don't get me wrong, but I was definitely not even a little bit as excited as I have been in pretty much every other year of my life. Dan said it's "because you're an adult".

But honestly, despite the lower moments, my life is so good. I am so fortunate, I feel so loved, and I love the people in my life so very much. I am so grateful to have Dan as my partner, because life with him is beautiful. And it gets better everyday.

I ended up having a wonderful day, full of my smushy puppy, Dan, and friends. It was a lot of fun.

So. The state of things, today, on my 25th birthday.

- I am working 9-4 everyday at my desk job in the School of Music. My back hurts and my eyes are tired, but I like the people I work with so I'm good.

- Dan and I are going on a 4-day cruise at the end of June! Leaving out of LA and going to Catalina Island and the West Coast of Mexico. I've never been on a cruise! We're both really excited. We booked it at the beginning of May, it's almost torturous having to wait until the end of June. Really, really excited.

- This summer, unlike previous years, the only other traveling I have planned is 1 week in Orlando for this year's ClarinetFest. Last year, our whole studio went to perform; this year, I go by my own volition. My friends and teachers are performing and this past school year I made so many professional connections (and friends) that I hope to continue by going to ClarinetFest. Our community is pretty amazing, and it's going to be a really fun week. Another perk is that it's close to home, so I can see my parents! And there may be a trip to Harry Potter World in there somewhere too...Win/Win/Win

Now, I'm 25 years old. I live with my boyfriend and we have a dog. I wake up early, go to work, come home. Sometimes I practice on my lunch break and after work sometimes I take the dog to the park, if it's not too hot. (it's pretty hot already, but we make it work). One day I just woke up and realized that this is my life and that I am so happy.

I'm excited about the state of things. Excited to see what this year and the future will bring.

Thank you for reading :)

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.

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