Archive for the ‘Beyond Megapixels’ Category

Hello, friends! Happy New Year!

A non-zero number of you have asked about my writing schedule for 2011. I think this was spurred by the fact that you (they) saw less of me over at UpTake and Beyond Megapixels in November and December. The special project I was working on at UpTake occupied my writing quota – if you follow me on Facebook you may have seen the “playlists” I was publishing for a while (like this one). Now that the project is wrapped up, I’ll be going back to my regular posting schedule of two vacation blog posts per week. As for Beyond Megapixels, I’ve decreased my writing quota over there a bit (7 per month at the moment, plus the contributions of a very excellent guest writer), but we’re hoping that will pick back up in the new year (oh, and I know I pimped it on Twitter and Facebook, but if you haven’t read my latest article, you should! I’m proud of it, and it’s been getting really positive feedback! Which was the point.). Finally, I’m still writing for Demand Studios, to the tune of about three or four articles a week.

It strikes me, as I peruse the job boards for more freelance work, that I’m much more optimistic about being able to one day support our family on my writing income. It also strikes me that, as much as I love photography, it is to my writing that I continue to turn to pursue my ambitions. I guess one’s first love is always one’s strongest love. Plus, of course, it’s easier to freelance in writing when one has a full-time job – I can write at night and on weekends and only have to contend with my own schedule. It’s harder to line up photography gigs around a full-time job.

Not that I plan on backing off on my photography goals. Quite the opposite is true – I am now a card carrying member of NAPP and I bought a subscription to Kelby Training just last week (both tax write-offs!). I’ve only watched a few training videos so far, but the very first one, a photo walk of New York City with Jay Maisel, was worth EVERY PENNY of that subscription. If you’re serious about learning photography, and you’re looking for a great alternative to formal education, consider signing up for Kelby Training! It’s a truly excellent resource. And I’m totally plugging them for free – I seriously doubt that anyone at Kelby Media Group even knows that I exist.

Bill continues to encourage me on the photography front – he got some overtime over the holidays and wants me to spend it on gear. That was a supremely generous gesture, wasn’t it? So I’m looking at a 580 EXII Speedlite. Further along on the gear-purchasing front, I still have plans to turn Amanda’s bedroom into a small studio eventually, and now that I have Kelby’s “10 Essential Studio Techniques Every Photographer Needs to Know” training under my belt, I know exactly what I need. A wide roll of white paper on a rod and stand to serve as a simple yet effective background, this Elinchrom strobe kit, this Elinchrom softbox, and this Westcott strip bank. For $1600 and an understanding of how lighting works, I can do professional work that rivals, well, the professionals! So, that’s my next big purchase to be worked for over the coming months.

Then I’m going to get this 70-300 telephoto (there’s a much more expensive L-series of the same focal range and speed, but I’m not convinced the extra GRAND is worth it, and reviewers agree with me). This macro lens and this wide angle lens will wrap up all the lens purchases I wish to make. I hold no expectation that I’ll be able to purchase all of these within the next year, or even within the next two years. A wish list is named thus for a reason.

When I worked with my friend Karen’s daughter and her friends back in October, I found that I really enjoyed the experience. I think my niche just might be that sort of assignment. I like going to client’s homes or working on location (as my work with Sandstone attests to). My friends have asked my why I don’t want to be a wedding photographer – to which I respond that I don’t want that kind responsibility. I don’t want the responsibility of capturing the details of the most important day of a person’s life. I work much better in a less formal atmosphere. Hence wanting to develop my own studio, and enjoying location work that doesn’t involve gowns and cake and nerves. I would much rather attend a wedding and gift the bride and groom with the shots that I took as a guest.

I also like shooting a variety of subjects – people, sure, but also products and architecture and landscapes and food and sports. I guess I liken it to being a General Practitioner, rather than specializing in a particular service. One of my goals for this year is to further formalize my portfolio, which demonstrates examples of all of these types of photography. I have a portfolio on my media site, but it needs to be updated and re-vamped. Plus, it provides access to ALL of my photos on Flickr, and, well, many of them are NOT portfolio-worthy.

Finally, there will be a total overhaul of Snerkology, its domain, and its off-shoots. Snerkology (including the original site), World Famous Nosh, Snerkology Media, and Photos by Tiffany will all finally be under one roof, and hosted on Dreamhost. I am very excited about this in particular, as the site redesign has been a long time coming. Details are just about finalized (yes, I’m hiring someone, and she comes highly recommended), so rest assured you guys will be receiving regular updates. For now, I’ve just finished my own page which helps to summarize my Internet domination. I think it needs a better picture on it still, but for now that one will do.

I think that’s quite enough ambition for one year, don’t you? AcronymCo continues to find me employable for some unfathomable reason, we have a trip to Maine and a trip to Indy planned this year, I have grand plans for debt payoff and eventual solvency (mostly), tax season is upon us so I have to get all of THAT crap together in the next few weeks, I have a workout schedule that I think finally jives with my level of ambition (snort) and my schedule… and I don’t understand what it is within myself that disallows even one SECOND of laziness.

I’ve been reading everyone else’s blogs on the subject of the coming year, so I know I’m not alone.

BRING IT, 2011!


Today, I am going to Kohl’s to pick up a few items of clothing for myself. We went clothes shopping for Bill on Friday evening, and I’ve got to say he is going to look quite dapper during our vacation! Which you shall see in photographic evidence. And no, I don’t plan on being in any of the pictures myself, thanks. (Heather is gonna pitch a fit at that one – “I want to see pictures of YOU, not just the places you went!”)

I’ll be fetching a rat for Kali so she doesn’t need to be fed again until after we get back. I’ll need to time that particular trip for later in the afternoon, so that the critter doesn’t languish over-long in the box before Bill gets home. I procure the food, Bill offers the food. I just can’t do it. Then, probably after she’s eaten, Kali will hang out in the tub with Bill keeping an eye on her, while I clean out her tank.

I have GOT to make a trip to the post office today to mail a couple of boxes. I have this thing about the post office in that I HATE going. I don’t know why. Is it the line? The way that I feel vaguely inept? The fact that there’s all this small talk going on around me that makes me want to scratch people’s eyes out?

And, oh, crap. I almost forgot it’s Monday, which means the landscaper will be here today. His schedule is probably the only reason why we’re not hip-deep in doggie doodie in the back yard. I just don’t go out there in the summer unless I have to.

I have three remaining articles to write – one for UpTake and two for Beyond Megapixels. That’ll probably happen between today and tomorrow. Tomorrow itself is going to be all about house cleaning and laundry, and the beginnings of packing. Which leaves Wednesday to balance the checkbook, back up my computer hard drive, get a pedicure, top off and chlorinate the hot tub, select a bunch of CD’s to take with us on the trip, hit the grocery store for toiletries, and finish packing.


I think I must have been distracted about a week ago, when I wrote the article that posted today for Beyond Megapixels. There were a couple of mistakes that several folks in the comments AND on Facebook pointed out. Ah, but it’s a comfort and a joy to a writer to know that there is a whole PLANET of editors out there, just WAITING for their chance to point out where you went astray. But seriously, I do appreciate it when folks point out that I may have been misleading, or unclear, or just plain in error. In today’s case, I’d mentioned the use of a high ISO when I meant to say a low ISO, a certain product link was in error, and for some reason folks kept getting the idea that I was suggesting that the shutter speed controls the pop-up flash on a camera, when I was just talking about ambient light exposure (the aperture controls the flash). So, I actually went into the article and made changes, which is something I rarely do after something publishes. When enough people get the wrong translation, clearly it is the fault of the writer. Live and learn, right?


Okay, I’m gonna get breakfast, work out, shower, and get this show on the road. In parting, I’ll just say that it’s interesting to still have a wicked case of the Mondays while on vacation.


Posted: June 28, 2010 in best things, Beyond Megapixels, Home, UpTake

I wasn’t planning on writing an entry today, but I’m so geeked about this that I had to record it. You know, for posterity and stuff. See, the roofer we were going to go with gave us an estimate of $8221. It was pretty much in the middle of the range of quotes that we received. Then I contacted a company we’ve gone with before, and they gave us an estimate of $6775 for the same work, same materials, everything. That’s nearly $1500 cheaper, and even less expensive (by about $50.00) than the original quote they gave us several months ago. That one included the use of less-quality materials (three-tab vs. dimensional shingles, if you’re wondering), but our timing is such that we’re able to take advantage of a seasonal discount that they offer.

Investing in this house, which we don’t plan to retire in, is grating. That we’re able to put a new roof on for less than we feared is a total WIN. Bill’s planning on painting the exterior later this year, then once Amanda moves out we’ll start slowly getting the upstairs in order. By the time we’re finally able to move and sell this place (WHEN, not IF), we’ll have a minimum amount of work that we’ll need to do to make it “sellable”.


In case you don’t follow my other writing gigs, here are a couple of recent articles I’m especially proud of:

From Beyond Megapixels:
Photography 101 – How to Read a Histogram
Tips for Critiquing Another’s Work
Five Tips for Great City Shots

From UpTake:
Amtrak Downeaster Adventure – Portland, Maine (this is part of a series – I’ll be writing articles on all the Amtrak stops between Porland ME and Boston MA)
Road Trip Photography Tips
Rockland, Maine – A Small Town with Big Flavor

(Heh. Let’s see how many hits THAT title gets.)

Man. I am un-be-LIEVABLY tired. I am SO sleeping in tomorrow.

The benefit party just… kind of came together, all at once. We now have SEVENTEEN raffle items, with another EIGHT items that are a “maybe, but probably” at this point. I’m going party decoration shopping today at lunch, and hitting a few more restaurants/bars (plus the local BevMo, whose employees frequent The Sandstone). Folks have volunteered to decorate and to man the raffle table. Folks at my work are donating money.

It has just been… awesome. And kind of exhausting. I’m half-way through that list of phone numbers I need to call, hoping the rest will be finished by this afternoon/evening.


In keeping with the cancer topic, Jen sent me this AWESOME video. If you love Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory (he’s my favorite – except I really didn’t need to see him in a banana hammock), you’ll love this. It is COMPLETELY FULL OF AWESOME. Full. Of. AWESOME.


I wrote an entry about Gaining, and Keeping, Your Confidence on Beyond Megapixels that seems to be getting a lot of traffic, and positive feedback on the BMP Facebook page. I admit, I’m kind of proud of it myself. It weirds me out though, sometimes, to contemplate how many people end up reading my words. What a long strange trip it’s been.


Posted: January 8, 2010 in 3P, Beyond Megapixels, Friends, photography

I was futzing around in Photoshop yesterday, some during the day while I waited for a report that I needed for my analysis to publish, and some last night before Taoist Biker’s radio show. They’re all pics from last year’s road trip, and I was messing around with the best way to add a frame around them. I also decided in Flickr to start posting a link to the original, unaltered photo in the comments of the Photoshopped version, for comparison’s sake. I’ve already posted them all over the place (Twitter, Facebook, Flickr Groups) but here they are for your amusement if you don’t follow me in those other locations (click to embiggen, and to see the original SOOC versions):






Last night’s radio show hosted by Taoist Biker was very amusing. We were joined at different points by Maleesha and Steve (MTAE), and talked about keeping original versions of photography/musical works (such as flubs that we would otherwise discard), THE BOOK and how painful it is to read and how NOT like the book the movie is going to be, football and betting, Steve did a mini-version of one of his comedy routines, and Maleesha lead the discussion about regional accents. So, gang, you’re missing out by not joining us! Fortunately he holds these things monthly, so you’ll have your opportunity. Plus the recorded version of each radio show is up on Blog Talk Radio for posterity’s sake. I, personally, refuse to go back and listen to the shows that I’ve participated in. I’m sure I come off like a total choad, and I’ve NEVER liked the sound of my recorded voice. YMMV.


Positive: I’ve gotten a ton of participation in just two hours over at Beyond Megapixels, on the poll I posted this morning; also, one of my guest post contributions was chosen to publish on Digital Photography School (an explanation of metering modes).

Productive: I’d like to get the housework done after work today, so that we can relax in a clean house all weekend long.

Plan: I doubt it’s going to take much arm-twisting, but I’m hoping to convince Bill to take a motorcycle ride up to Chuckbox tomorrow for burgers and beer. And my diet be damned.

Well, I have officially “come out” on all the sites that I contribute to – Beyond Megapixels and UpTake were the last, this morning. And yet, when I Google myself (come on, you know you do it too) it’s still hard to track down the “real” me. So I’m guessing that my ex will still find it difficult to stalk me. If he’s so inclined. I heard from him last August, so I’ve got at least another eight or nine months to go before his regularly scheduled craziness. At which time, if he HAS found me on the internets, he’ll most definitely mention it, in a way in which HE intends to be cutting and hurtful, but will only end up amusing me.

I’m actually a little bit sad that I’m completely letting go of the “Laura Charon” persona. It was, in majority, a tribute to my Grandmother, that I used that name. Ah well, I’m just giving up my secret identity, not my Grammy’s memory!

We watched parts of The People’s Choice awards last night. Is it me, or does it seem that Johnny Depp doesn’t know which accent to speak in, when he’s not playing a character? He enunciates in a Brittish-ly fussy way, but without the actual accent. It’s off-putting. Also, Ryan Reynolds is super duper oh my god hot. And the shrieking eels were out in full force when Team Jacob won for best breakout actor. Should have gone to Chris Pine, IMHO. Finally, I continue to love the hell outta Cloris Leachman. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Bill is up in Tuba City overnight (you wish you had is glamorous life!!!), so this evening will be occupied with working out, some on-line work, and eating leftover Chinese food prior to Taoist Biker’s radio show. I like to keep busy when Bill’s away.

Positive: I have “Let’s Stay Together” stuck in my head, and it’s really not making me unhappy. “Loving you whether… whether… times are good or bad, happy or sad…”

Productive: I’ve got a big ol’ analysis due today at AcronymCo, which is where most of my time today will be spent.

Plan: I’m going to do some yardwork this weekend, and force myself out into the sunlight. I’ve been trying to get some sun for at least a few minutes every day – it’s been hit and miss, really.

A while back, Dyskinesia (or was it Taoist Biker? or was it Dyskinesia e-mailing/commenting from Taoist Biker’s account?) asked me about my writing routine. She wanted to know how it was that I organized my work and came up with topics for the two writing gigs that I have (Beyond Megapixels and UpTake, for those of you who have been REALLY distracted lately and missed that part).

At the beginning of each invoicing cycle, I list out the days that I need to submit a post (whenever I feel like it for UpTake, though I try to offer 13-15 per month; and every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday for Beyond Megapixels, plus one entry per week e-mailed to my editor for him to submit to other photography-oriented websites). Next to each date I list a potential tentative topic to write about. I actually have a list of ideas, one for travel related topics and one for photography related topics. I’m continually mildly surprised that I haven’t run out of ideas yet, and here I am 71 articles in for Beyond Megapixels, and 75 articles in for UpTake.

I am a wordy, wordy bitch. Have I mentioned?

For UpTake articles, I write about the places I’ve been, the stuff that’s going on in Arizona, the stuff that I recall and love from Maine, and any other travel related topic that comes to mind. Any time I go on vacation or out of town, I regard it with an eye toward spinning an article out of it. If there are holiday related festivals occurring in my home state, I write about them. I wrote a LOT about our road trip last summer – not only what we did during the trip, but how I planned and prepared for it.

Here are some of my favorites:

The Story of the Happy Buffalo
Eight Road Trip Pet Peeves
Three Jumping-Off Points to Canada
I Left My Heart in Portland, Maine
A Typical Sight at Scottsdale Fashion Square

For Beyond Megapixels, I write about photography and post-processing tips and techniques. Often times I’ll learn how to do something, and then immediately turn that into an article. If a new product has come out, I’ll talk about that. I’ve done lens reviews, book reviews, and talked about what’s going on at other photography websites. Articles about composition techniques seem to be popular, as are the articles where I’ve done a before/after post-processing tutorial, then asked folks what they would have done differently.

Here are some of my favorites:

Four Things Photography Has Taught Me
Photoshop CS3 – Create a Black and White Image
Four Basic Tips for Photographing the Moon (a guest entry for PhotoDoto)
Inspiring Emotion – Technical or Talent?
Event Photography – Restaurants

It’s fun, but it’s a lot of hard work. There are some weeks where I have so much to talk about, I don’t even know where to begin. There are other weeks when I have writer’s block like you read about, and can’t come up with a single topic. There are some weeks where I’m really on the ball and get all of my writing done per my schedule (Three on Saturday/Three on Sunday/Three on Monday). There are other weeks where I Just. Don’t. Feel. Like. It. Then I scramble on the day they are due to whip up a halfway-decent article.

I have a lot on my plate, but I’m having fun, so it still doesn’t feel like too much. When it stops being fun, then I’ll address what needs to stay and what needs to go.

1iconsnoopydanceI just heard from my editor over at Beyond Megapixels that a couple of guest entries that I wrote, that he’s been presenting to other photography websites, have been accepted.

Photoshop CS3: Adding a Neutral Density Gradient Filter on Digital Photography School.

Photoshop CS3: Add A Touch Of Color on Your Photo Tips.

Also, Scott Kelby has seen fit to mention, not just once, but TWICE, on his website, articles that I wrote on BMP. That, to me, is like being one degree of separation away from Kevin Bacon.


beeI just posted on Twitter, “Hmm. I’m on “vacation” and yet I have just come to the conclusion that I have done enough work for today. Ponder. Discuss.”

My days are every bit as busy as they would have been if I were at AcronymCo this week – since I didn’t take a vacation from my other THREE jobs (eep), this week is more about catching up on all of my other stuff, than slouching around napping and reading and whatnot.

Not that I’m complaining (no, not really!), since I enjoy the other stuff. And, what else would I be doing with my days, anyway? I like to be productive. It keeps the depression and anxiety at bay.

Calvin is gone for the week – got called down to Tucson (I always always ALWAYS want to put the “s” before the “c”) this morning and will be there until Friday. So, on the one hand, lonely. On the other hand, looooots of “free” time on my hands to get shit done. Not that he “takes up” a lot of my time, per say – just that I’d rather be doing him than doing anything else. And all that statement implies.

I got up bright(ish) and early(ish) to get a start on things – I’ve gotta say, I’m feeling rather accomplished:

– I finally got the domain set up and “turned on” for Sandstone’s website – go check it out and let me know what you think!
– I posted the pictures from the Four Peaks Beer Event that I did the photography for back on Sunday night, and I also wrote up the Staff Bios.
– I added a bunch of e-mail addresses to Sandstone’s Google Group and sent out an update.
– I edited a handful of pictures that I took when we were just hanging out at the bar back on the 2nd. I was getting used to the lens.
– I wrote a guest post for Beyond Megapixels – my editor will submit it to another photography website. Once I know where it’s landing I’ll update you guys – it’s one I’m rather proud of.
– I wrote an entry about Scott Kelby’s latest digital photography book, which will be publishing on Beyond Megapixels tomorrow morning at 8:00 a.m. (my time).
– I took Marie’s pit bull for a walk down to the edge of the neighborhood and back.
– I watched one episode of Supernatural and two episodes of House.
– I soaked and fed worms to both of the beardies.
– I ate a salad, and also some crackers with Trader Joe’s spicy hummus dip.

Tonight, though I still feel like I should keep hammering away at all the writing I need to do, I’m going to call work “done”. I’ve got the series premier of “Stargate Universe” waiting for me on the DVR, and an episode of “Medium”. I’ve officially (after only one episode each) given up on “The Forgotten”, “Mercy”, “Trauma”, and “Flash Forward” (I actually just read the book, so now I’m all “Eh, I know what happens”). I watched the first episode of “Three Rivers” and plan to keep going with it – it made me cry, so there’s gotta be some good there. So! My TV watching schedule isn’t as insane as I originally feared it would be.

I also plan on getting caught up on everyone’s websites – sorry I’ve been quiet on the comments, lately. Still love you all to pieces!!!

Yeah, gotta clean the kitchen first, though. No rest for the wicked! (whine whine whine whine…)

bugssteamtailAugust is over, finally. You won’t find me complaining.


I’m scheming up something to surprise Calvin with on his birthday. It’s squee-worthy for me, as well. Full deets will be disclosed after October 1st!


Calvin and I watched the Country Music Festival on TV last night, because there was nothing else on. But! These three songs specifically are tending to change my mind about country music. I might have to become a (selective) fan, after all.

Joey by Sugarland (I actually have, and love, this album.)

In Color by Jamey Johnson (Made me bawl right there on the couch. I miss my Grammy.)

Then by Brad Paisley (Couldn’t find the full version on Blip, so this is a link to YouTube.)


I’ve actually been pretty busy over at Beyond Megapixels, and UpTake. Here’s some links if you’re interested.

Beyond Megapixels:

Add a Signature to your Digital Photos
Gems – Black and White
Five Photography Websites I Rely On
Photo vs. Image (this one sparked quite a conversation in the comments!)


The Story of the Happy Buffalo
The Cody – Luxury and Comfort in the Heart of Rodeo Country
Eight Road Trip Pet Peeves
Three Jumping-Off Points to Canada


There has been big drama in the Land of Marie, lately. I think I mentioned a while back that her boyfriend joined the military, and his departure to boot camp coincided with the end of Marie’s lease on her condo, so she moved back in with us to await his return. From there they were planning on getting another place together and living Happily Ever After.

Yeah. SO not happening.

Turns out that this punk ass kid was carrying on a DUPLICATE relationship with another girl. And by duplicate, I mean exactly that. He was giving them the same Christmas presents, right down to identical “Build-A-Bears” with the exact same song that plays when you press their paw. He was writing them identical letters from boot camp (with identical requests to send money), just changing the names. Or, referring to them as “cutie” instead of using actual names. The list of transgressions goes far, FAR beyond that.

This all came to light when the other girl’s sister started calling and harassing Marie. Then the girl herself got on the phone, and they started comparing notes. The other girl would read one line from a letter, and Marie would follow with the next line. He was trash talking Marie to the other girl, and trash talking the other girl (who he referred to as his “Bitch Ex”) to Marie.

Marie started putting pieces of the puzzle together, and it turns out that this kid had not been faithful to her for their entire two year relationship. Calvin and I never liked him (which this kid knew very well – we haven’t seen him since last Christmas, and he left for boot camp in July), and have always thought he was kind of an asshole, but now the full truth comes to light. He’s been warned to never EVER show his face around our house, if and when he comes back to Arizona.

So. Brandon Mason. He’s about 6’2″, twenty, blonde, scrawny, and is stationed in South Carolina right now. If you run into him, kick him in the nuts for us. Tell him Laura says hi.

Asshole dickhead motherfucker.


On that note, happy Tuesday!