Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Photo Editing

Brent bought me my first digital camera in 2005, and I have been a picture-taking maniac ever since. In Cincinnati, I was known as the family photographer - my camera was always present and always in your face! I walked a thin line between appreciation and annoyance.

I got my first SLR camera in October of 2010, just a few weeks before we moved to Grand Cayman. I knew I wanted a SLR once we had kids, but I figured moving to another country was a good enough reason to make the switch a little early. I must say, I love love love it. I have a Canon Rebel t1i with a 50mm f/1.4 lens. It's a great camera and an amazing lens, but I have to admit, every image is improved with a little photo editing.

I've always used photoshop to edit my pictures, but in September last year I started incorporating photoshop actions into the process. Photoshop actions are "a series of recorded steps by the designer to help a photographer achieve a look without having to manually apply each process." If you want to learn more, this is a great article from the MCP Actions blog that explains what an action is and how it can help or hurt images. I love this excerpt from the list of how actions can hurt: "Photographers may go on a buying spree. If you own too many, it can waste time, not knowing which to use when." This was definitely true for me when I first started using them! I've learned now, it's far better to have quality over quantity!

I usually use a combination of presets and actions to edit my pictures. For most pictures I am just brightening, sharpening and making colors pop, but sometimes I like to play around with different variations. For fun, here's some editing before and afters. Pictures on the left are SOOC (straight out of camera).

It's usually not a huge difference, just enough to give the pictures some zing. If anyone ever has questions about something you see on my blog, feel free to ask! I consider myself still very novice at all things photography related, but I love to talk about it and learn from others.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Osetra Bay

Friday night was another awesome date night. We decided to do "official" dates every other week now, which relieves some of the guilt about those final tabs! This week we wanted to eat in West Bay since we were meeting friends at Jenn and Nate's after dinner. We've done Calypso and Morgan's Harbor, time to try Osetra Bay!

The dining area itself is beautiful, and there were also some very cool lounge areas. Très fantaisie.

"Forget the necessities, it's the luxuries I can't do without..."

So chic and fresh!

On to the food! We got there at 6:30, and asked for the bill at 8:30. A nice drawn out meal with lots of unexpected extras - my favorite kind of dining experience. First they brought around a big tray with seven different kinds of breads. Three kinds of butter too - seaweed, regular and something with a little kick.

We splurged and ordered an appetizer, but didn't know a mini one would be sent compliments of the chef. This included lobster bisque, a fried bacon ball (which I'm sure had a fancier name than that), and some potato crisps.

Our ordered appetizer - big, melt-in-your-mouth, delicious scallops

Before our entrees came out, they brought us this little masterpiece to cleanse the palate. It was amazingly tasty!

Brent ordered the snapper. He thought it was great, but still ranked it below the Abacus seabass. I'm not sure anything will be able to surpass that in his book! I got Pulled Pork Belly with Caybrew Sauce (Caybrew is the local beer in Grand Cayman). It was fantastic.

Can I just say how crazy I am about unique serving dishes? Check out the mashed potatoes!

For the finishing touch, we got this dessert sampler free of charge. Chocolate macaroons, banana marshmallows, dark chocolate cake, passion fruit jellies, and cinnamon cookies.

Brent and I judge restaurants with different standards. He gives value and quality first priority (as any good accountant should). And I give big points for ambiance and atmosphere. Osetra Bay ranked high in my book - I felt like a princess! I would love to go back some day.

On Saturday night, we rushed from the grocery to the beach to enjoy the last 30 minutes of daylight. We brought cheese, crackers, pepperoni, and strawberries. It was the perfect night. We had a fun picnic, then laid back on our towel and gazed at the stars.

Unfortunately the only pictures I took were on my blackberry, but I'm sure it will be a repeated experience. I adore putting on the ritz at fancy restaurants, but a casual beach picnic is every bit as lovely.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Lazy Afternoon on the Boat

Last Sunday, Brent, Walter and I took the boat on a lazy cruise around Governor's Harbor. We decided to forgo the North Sound this time and explore the canals instead. The good news is that we didn't need a tow back! The boat has questionable reliability, but I still enjoy taking it out. It was nice to bask in the sun somewhere else besides the beach and pool. And since I knew it would be a nice slow ride without a lot of splashing, I brought my SLR on its maiden voyage!

There was a whole lot of panting and drooling from Walter.

And this was before Brent even untied the boat!

We have liftoff!

Walter doing an armless impersonation of Leonardo DiCaprio's "I'm the king of the world!"

I love to catch this dog's funny faces. I'm not sure if it was wind or salt water that caused these, but he sure is cute.

And here's a guy who really doesn't take a bad picture :)

Walter stays up front most of the time, but every now and then he'd come and sit by us. Sometimes he would find the tiniest amount of shade and lay there. His life jacket is probably pretty toasty, but better safe than sorry!

You can never really tell, but I like to think that's a happy face.

Iguana sighting!

How relaxing

I got up to take a few pictures and Walter stole my seat. Sneaky dog.

Nothing beats an afternoon on the boat with my boys!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


When standing at our front door, you will find yourself greeted by this:

Welcome home.

I used to hate this little gnome, and I swore I would get rid of him as soon as we moved in. But three and a half months later, I guess he's growing on me.

We've been in Grand Cayman for almost 5 months now. It's hard to believe. In many ways, the time has flown by. I'm constantly saying how fast the days, weeks, months go by here. But then it also seems like an eternity till our next visitors, our next trip home, and our return to the states. I miss our Cincinnati home every day, but am reveling in the time we have been given here. I'm amazed to say it, but Grand Cayman is a "home" now too.

Home is where you hang your laundry

Home is where your puppy sleeps

Home is where your puppy beseeches with squinty eyes, will you please put that camera down?

Home is wherever I'm with you

On Friday Brent and I took Walter for a sunset walk on the beach. I love this part of my new home. Cross the street (don't forget to look right-left-right), walk down the path, and you're there.

Brent looking back to see what's taking me so long. Apparently, Walter's not the only one who gets sick of my picture-taking.

Can you believe this is real?

You know the Rascal Flatts song Summer Nights - "Flip flop tans and some white sand, I know the perfect spot." Ringing true.

Nothing calms and soothes like sunsets on the beach. As soon as I step on that sand, a million pounds is lifted from my shoulders. A friend from our old small group wrote Psalm 139:9 in a note before we left, and I think of it often. "If I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast."

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but this isn't such a bad place to settle.

Eventually I made Brent and Walter take a seat so I could snap some wave shots without getting too far behind. Brent said, "You don't want to walk, you just want to take pictures." Haha, busted. My true motivation for a walk on the beach is revealed. And of course, I had to capture the faces in my "home."

It's true - as long as I'm with Brent, I'm home. But I'll take the rest of this too.

Yes indeed, this home is pretty amazing.

Laugh until we think we'll die, barefoot on a summer night
Never could be sweeter than with you
And in the streets we're running free, like it's only you and me
Geez, you're something to see
Home, let me come home
Home is wherever I'm with you

- "Home" by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros