Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A New Perspective

I don't even have a valid excuse for the lack of blog posts! Sure, I have a technically full-time job, but with no homework, the only thing that has been preventing me from posting is laziness.

Which stops today! You see, recently I bought my first lens for my SLR. It's a beautiful 55-250 mm lens. My kit lens is 18-55 mm which is an excellent beginners lens. However, I found myself wanting to taking pictures of things further away. Also, this lens is great for portraits.

And nature shots! It was difficult to adjust to a new lens. It requires you to think of things in an entirely new way. You have to be surprisingly far away from your subjects when at a focal length of say 100 mm. The huge advantage is the shallow depth of field-- the way that the bloom is in focus, but the wall behind it is nice and blurry. 

While it did take me a while to figure out how to set up my shots with the new lens, I loved the results. The shallow depth of field really makes the photos pop. 

 This is a head of garlic. While the subject may be unusual, I loved how the composition of the photo turned out. The setting sun was almost masked by my house, but a little light managed to get through, turning to blurry streaks of light orange in the background. 

 I think this is dill...I love the wispy feeling of the delicate strands, and the mellow green vibe.

In other news, my brother is getting married! Last Sunday after church I did a little photo-shoot with my brother and his fiancee. It was my first time doing formal portraits and not just quick shots where I drag my friends into the good light and tell them to smile. 

I really loved how the photos turned out. I took like a hundred photos. The new lens worked marvelously for the portraits. 

The happy couple!
I'm super excited for their upcoming wedding, not only because I'm a bridesmaid but also because I can't wait to take a million photos. 

I can't believe my robotics job is almost over! I just have a couple days this week, a week off, and then a couple days more then it's over! Then I move out of the apartment, go to Houston and apply for a visa, and then get ready for the weekend!

It's a wonderfully busy summer :)

As always, thanks for reading!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Photoshop Tutorial: Faking Angles

Some people have a SLR with a huge array of lenses, able to catch every angle, even the wide ones.

I am not some people.

Working with a kit 18--55mm lens I've come up with a couple tricks along the way to fake the wide angle close ups that my lens just won't do. I thought I would share one of the simple Photoshop tricks today.

Say you're taking close-ups of your favorite flower:

You like it, but you wish that you could include more of the flower's surroundings-- while keeping the nice blurry background. Now if I zoomed out, I would lose the blurry background.

There is more to this scene that you can see in this narrow snapshot. So what did I do? I took multiple photos, moving my camera to get a new part of the background with each picture.

TIP: Do not do what I did and become trigger happy. I barely moved my camera an inch to the left (or whatever direction) before snapping another photo. Try moving the camera more than that. Make sure that your new photo will overlap the previous one, but try to minimize the overlap. Photoshop gets really confused with you give it ten photos that are almost identical.

Step One:

Take the photos, like described above. If you're photographing a tall flower then you might take five photos, each time tilting the camera more up to get the rest of the flower.

Step Two:

Open trusty Photoshop. Go to File-->Automate-->Photomerge. For now, keep the default settings-- Layout should be on auto. Now, upload your five or so photos you took and click 'okay'.

Step Three:

Photoshop should have used some black magic and put your collection of photos together, mostly seamlessly.

If you make the same mistake I made-- took too many photos that don't alter greatly-- Photoshop might have just randomly tried to connect your photos. Manually overlap your photos to the best of your abilities-- don't worry, it doesn't have to be perfect-- and then proceed to the next step.

Step Four:

Go to Edit-->Auto-Blend Layers. This will fix any mishaps with the overlapping photos. If you had to manually align your layers, then this should fix all the seams.

Step Five:

Now, on to fixing all those awkward gaps that your photos didn't fill.

 Using your select tool, grab a section of the transparent area. Go to Edit-->Fill, or click CLT+F5. Make sure that 'Content Aware Fill' is selected. Content Aware Fill is one of my favorite magically Photoshop tricks. Using some mystical algorithm Photoshops looks at the surrounding areas and then predicts what should be in the empty area.

If Photoshop is giving your gibberish when you try to fill something, try to fill a smaller area and work from there. Content aware fill isn't perfect-- sometimes it's just better to crop out the empty areas.

Step Six:

Add any final edits you want to your photos!

Et, volia! You should have a photo that keeps the crisp focus but is more expansive that your first shot.


 I loved the way that this one turned out. It doesn't look that large, until you consider how narrow one photo was. It took like eight photos for this-- but that was with me taking far too many photos, so it could have probably done in three or four shots.

There are other ways to do this technique-- for example, using the transform tools rather than the Content aware fill. I just thought I would a little trick for those of you who are like me and don't have a lot of lenses. I also used this technique back when I still had my point-and-shoot.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Homemade Pizza Rolls

Living own my own for the first time-- well, I mean, on my own with my roommates...and friends-- has made me appreciate the school cafeteria in a new way.

Instead of dropping by the caf when I'm hungry and being greeted by a huge variety of good food, I go to my apartment and am greeted by a empty kitchen. What this means is that my cooking skills are being challenged, but with surprisingly good results.

I got the idea of homemade pizza rolls from Pinterest-- where else? It's super easy, super quick, and super delicious! What more could one want?

Prep time: 5 min
Cooking time: 5 min
Total Time: 10 min
Yield: (around) 15 rolls 

  • A prepackaged pizza crust-- they are amazing creations
  • A cup (or two) of shredded cheese-- I used a mix of Colby, Cheddar, and mozzarella. Because there is no such thing as too much cheese.
  • Some pepperonis-- however much you want. I live with two vegetarians so I never use much meat, just however much I want to eat. 
  • Garlic Powder
  • Rosemary

Step One:

Open the packaged awesome-ness of pre-made pizza crust.What makes this invention even more amazing is that you just pull some paper, gently twist the can, and it pops open without the need of a can opener.

I just love civilization sometimes.

Anyway! Unroll-- oh yeah, another benefit of this pizza dough, is that it rolls out beautifully, no need for a rolling pin-- your dough. You can unroll the dough on a greased pan but it's not terribly necessary. You will need to put the rolls onto a greased cookie sheet though.

Step Two:

Pinch off some of the dough. You don't need much-- the larger amount of dough, the larger the pizza roll. Spread it out with your fingers into a nice circular shape. I pinched maybe two inches off the dough for each roll.

Step Three:


Here's the fun part! Load up your dough with cheese, pepperonis, anything your heart desires. Be careful not to over load your roll-- it won't fully close, and the toppings will run out when baking.

Step Four:

Pinch your roll together and flip it over, so that the seam is on the bottom. Dust the top of the roll off with some garlic powder and rosemary.

Step Five:

Bake! For my rolls, there were done in five minutes at 350. If your rolls are bigger you can start with five minutes, check them, and see if they need to go longer.

Step Six:

Enjoy! I really loved how these pizza rolls turned out. I am not a tomato sauce person, but if you are you can always put a little in your roll before baking. Not only was this a quick, good recipe, but it was also pretty cheap. I don't have the exact numbers, but the crust was probably the most expensive ingredient-- and that was less than three dollars. Considering we made this feed three people, the cost per person was wonderfully low.

Sorry it's been so long since my last post! I can't even claim that I'm swamped with homework anymore. I started my researching job at Hendrix-- robotics! It's a challenge but mostly fun. I have a ton of recipes, crafts, and even a photoshop tutorial to post so be sure to check back!

Thanks for reading :)