Ask Marsha: The Ins and Outs of Guest Blogging

Before I get to guest blogging, let me make a confession.  The pure, honest, and whole truth is I’m not sure why my husband thought people would write in and ask me questions on my website.  Really!  It’s not that I don’t get tons of questions daily.   I do.  “Where are my glasses?”  “Have you seen my keys anywhere?”  “Could you come here and hold this?”  “Do you know if this or that person is on this or that committee?”  “Do you want me to make coffee this morning?”  “What are we having for dinner?”  “Did your power go off in the storm last night?”  Each of those questions would make a marvelously interesting post, don’t you think?

Glasses male

I mean, after all, where could glasses be?  In the refrigerator, I doubt that?  I’m always in the middle of something when Vince asks me that question in a  tone reminiscent of lost homework when you can hear the school bus is turning the corner approaching your stop.  So mid-email, I get up, start looking for the glasses, in all the right places, and can’t find them.  I’m worried for him.  I know he has an important meeting sometime that morning.  So I search all over the house, and in the meantime, he quietly slipped outside to check the truck, found the glasses, put them on, and is now out in the back yard watering.  Meanwhile I’m still looking for the glasses.  There ought to be a rule, if you answer your own question, please tell the researcher so they will quit researching.

Where are my glasses

To be fair to Vince, turn about is always fair play, and I FINALLY found my sunglasses the other day wound up in the dog’s retractable leash laying on the antique sewing machine, right inside the front door, where we always dump stuff.  I don’t remember if I told Vince that I found them after we both looked for 10 minutes – EVERYWHERE – even in the bathtub.

The the only question that might interest you this week involved preparing a guest post. My friend, Carol, graciously asked me to do an article for her blog.  I think that is an honor, by the way. I mean she could have just pressed the reblog button.  I’m not sure there is a lot of difference, really.  The problem she ran into was that even though she had access to all my pictures, some of them were in galleries.  WordPress galleries don’t transfer when you cut and paste.

When you trade posts, or write articles for magazines, it is best to have the pictures in a folder to pass on to the publisher.  In the case of blogs, it is best to resize them to either 400 X 600 or 600 X 400 pixels.  If you want credit, you can either put a watermark signature or embed it in the photo information.  Then save them at a low quality – I choose 3.  This takes time to prepare the photos unless you do batch processing in Photoshop, and that is another lesson.

I have a blog just for unpublished materials, and Carol has administrative access to that blog.  In her case she could open two windows of the post from “our” blog.  Leaving one post open in preview form, she could use that as a template to see what pictures were intended to got with which paragraphs.  Then, in the other window, she could edit the post, remove the galleries and go to the media library to insert the pictures individually into the article.  Finally, she could cut and paste the finished article into her other blog, The Eternal Traveler.  Look for it on September 3rd.  She’s already scheduled it.  How cool is that?  (Another question!)

After
Take a journey with the Eternal Traveler to a far away place, Fresno, California.  

Sharing blogs with someone else is another lesson for another day, but it can be either interesting or forgotten.  I’ve done both!

So is my husband right?  Do you have questions for me?

 

 

Ask Marsha: Easy Tips to Improve Photos

You all know that I took an online lesson with Leanne Cole.  You can too, by the way.  She gave me some composition tips as well as some Photoshop tips that I’ve been practicing and will share with you today – even though NOBODY asked!!!  hahaha

Composition tip#1  If you take a wide angle shot, to get a record of a building, person, thing, make sure that you don’t cut it off.  It looks like you are being lazy.  Ouch Leanne!  Me – LAZY – I’ve been caught!  I have to work at that because I just automatically go in standing, and shoot from eye level – bad photographer – SOMEBODY SLAP ME!

Composition tip #2  Watch for stuff around the edges of the photograph, such as legs, poles, cars, anything that detracts from your focal point.  I corrected these in Bridge using Camera Raw.  Given that we had to be quick so that we didn’t hold anybody up in line, and given the fact that I had let my camera battery go dead, sometimes you just have to get what you get, and fix it as best you can .  Vince saved the day, and for an iPhone pix, I think this turned out great!  🙂

Composition tip #3  Keep the horizon on about the upper third line of the photograph.  Here again, if you mess up, and it looks ok, great.  If you mess up and it doesn’t look ok, you can crop.

Photoshop tip #1  Work in Bridge in Camera Raw.  Right click on the picture and choose, “open in camera raw.”  You have lots of choices, and it is faster than in Photoshop.  You can edit several pictures at once.  Here are my before and after pictures.  I accidentally shot the pictures on AV and not P.  It was 108 degrees.   Vince wanted to get the table fixed and get back inside.  This edit took just a few seconds.  I pressed auto.  Bridge made its correction.  Then I clicked the scroll bar that said clarity and vibrance and made the pictures a little clearer.  They were all done at once!  Awesome – Problem solved!

Now here’s the story behind the picture in case you asked me – which you didn’t!  We were inside where it was cool, and walked out for a second to see how hot it was getting.  We both got house bound yesterday.  The umbrella had blown on its side upending and moving the heavy metal table about 4 feet south taking the one chair with it.  Notice in the background, the other umbrella still upright in the holder in the pool  Go figure. We get funnel clouds here, but we don’t call them tornadoes.  They are dust devils.  This must have been some devil of a whirlwind.  🙂

Dear Abby

I may be trying too hard to be the “Dear Abby, or “Hints from Heloise, ” of the internet.  Maybe it will take longer than a week to catch on. (hahaha)  Picture me sitting by my email box, hoping, checking it every day. Today might be the day for someone to ask me a question about anything. (Oops!  I’ve broadened the scope of my expertise to God level!  Such confidence conceit!)  Remember, I’m a teacher with no students.  What’s puzzling you?  Do you have problems?  (Ok, that’s asking for it!)  I’ll listen, at least – like Dr. Frasier Crane.

Dr. Frasier Crane

Relaxing: …. In Photoshop?

How could Photoshop be relaxing?  Well, for one thing it’s not 110 in my house!  That’s helpful because it is about that outside. I walked and swam this morning, but that was before 8:00 a.m.  If you are thinking about coming to see me, you might want to rethink coming in late June through late August.

I started another blog on Blogger and am specializing in history resources.  Basically I’ve taken some of the articles I have here, and revised them for that blog.  Today I decided to put some of my Photoshop classes to work.  I edited these photos in Bridge, and all I did in Photoshop was to add my name.  Can you tell the differences?  There are three.

In these I worked in Camera Raw. I pressed Auto and immediately Camera Raw saw things to correct that I wouldn’t have thought possible.   After CR made changes, I adjusted for more clarity and vibrance.  I was pleased with how they came out.

Actually I’m not sure I like the after better on this third set.   What do you think?

Amazingly, I spent hours doing this.  Then I checked my emails and realized that five hours before our new secretary for CCSS had asked me for some information.  So, I guess I spent FIVE hours.  I think I fixed lunch somewhere in there also!  Amazingly I didn’t get too frustrated, so it was a RELAXING day.  OK I did get frustrated with Blogger because it wouldn’t delete my WP slide show, but it wouldn’t show it either.  That resulted in having to completely redo the post and reinsert all my new pictures.  I forgot about that frustration!  hahaha!  You can check out that blog too, if you’d like.  I’ve had 85 views just today, and I just got it done right!  🙂  Most of them saw the bad job that I did!  🙂

Now I must stop being so relaxed and get ready for a birthday party in the next 10 minutes or so.  I have swimming hair and no make-up.  Not a good sign.  🙂   Tomorrow I’ll be relaxing looking at your blogs,  So shop around in my other posts, please and leave me some likes and comments.   Have a great weekend.  🙂  Lots of love to y’all  🙂

A Truly Retired Day

V is home, so my alone-time retired day is over, but I thought I’d share what it was like to be truly retired today.

While I waited for the guy to fix the cabana, I spent several hours writing my first fiction book (short story – whatever it turns out to be), a romantic mystery about a therapist named Amanda Church.  V named her.  She’s beautiful and 41, widowed, smart, independent, and funny.  (Hold on there Ralph, she’s not real!!!)  I’m up to chapter two.

Of course I read blogs and answered comments and emails, but I wasn’t overrun with emails full of things I need to do, like normal, so I took my time and explored new sites.  I made a few phone calls including an appointment with a man in our area to get learn more about the history of Tulare County.  His family was one of the first settlers, and in fact, started the first school in this area.

Yesterday when I was making a Valentine’s Day card for V I discovered that I could draw in Photoshop.  Now, I am not much of a drawer with a pen and pencil, (Dianne Gray’s gherkin-faced salesman looked pretty sophisticated to me) and have even less control with the palm of my hand, but I actually drew a flower – like you would see a first grader draw.  I actually scribbled all over V’s card, and had a great time. Fortunately I also made him chocolate chip cookies and yummy soup and sandwiches for dinner.

I don't think I'd win any card making contests!!!
I don’t think I’d win any card making contests!!!

So today, I tried drawing again.  This is what I came up with after a couple of hours, maybe.  The time disappeared.

Piggles was my favorite guinea pig of all times.
Piggles was my favorite guinea pig of all times.

 

So that was my wonderful, lazy, retired day.  What did you do today?

 

Photoshop Miracle

Today Cindy and I went to the World Ag Expo.  This is THE hugest event I have ever attended, and I’ve been to TONS of exhibitions.  This is an international farm show, and not being a farmer I have never attended, even though I have lived here 28 years.  That is all past tense now.  I joined Kiwanis, and they had a food booth.  So I went to take pictures.

Woe was me when I saw one of the photos that came out like this:

Don't you love it???
Don’t you love it???

I was just about to throw it out, but I thought, “This is the perfect example of whether Photoshop really works.”  So I kept if and played with it for about a half hour.

Kiwanis Club Booth

This is what happened after I cropped it, adjusted brightness, vibrance, and then painted with a dodge and burn tool.  I was astounded.  It’s still not a great picture, but it IS a picture, and that is what amazed me.  If I coud do that with my little dab of experience on a picture that is so awful, just think what Photoshop CAN do in the hands of an expert – photographer and processor!!!

Any thoughts?  I’ll write about the Farm Show tomorrow.

Photoshopped Foothill Peach Tree Orchard

Yesterday you voted on possible covers for a Kiwanis magazine published in the foothill communities of Woodlake, Three Rivers, and Exeter,California.  Thank you so much for your input.  At one time I took a series of fruit tree pictures, and I couldn’t find them.  I did find one picture, but I hated the sky.  So I tried a Leanne.  I tried to made major changes to it.  Please tell me whether you think my work is believable, and if it does the trick, or whether I should stick to the original.

Original peach grove

Sometimes the skies, even in the spring just look dirty.  Sometimes they are stunning.  So I borrowed a stunning sky from the following picture, and I copied it into the picture you see above.

Beautiful spring sky in the foothills

The next thing I had to do was fill in the area between the part of sky that I pasted in and the tops of the trees.  That was hard work.  I started with the cloning tool, and got all kinds of extra tree tops, ugly dirty sky, layers of clouds, and odd colors in odd places.  So I used the brush tool and picked up a light color from the sky and erased the weird layers of clouds.

Peach trees with altered sky.

I am not super pleased with the left side of the sky, but I’m not sure how to make it look any better.  So what do you think?

Photoshop

One of my favorite sites, Leanne Cole, regularly gives tips on how to alter her photos.  I am just learning how to use Photoshop Elements 10.  So tonight I practiced a couple of techniques we learned in the last two classes.

Asian Art Museum in San Francisco

This was my original photo.  It was taken at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.  As I was looking at my pictures, I noticed that ALL the photos were green.  This comes from not having enough light. – and not knowing what you are doing.

So I tried improving it.  It was pretty easy once I got the hang of it.  I went to the menu tab “Enhance” then to Adjust Color and finally Removing Color Cast.  When you click on this you get the eye dropper, and click the eye dropper on a place that is supposed to be black, gray or white.  The the rest automatically adjusts.  Unfortunately, my photo went from lightly green, to VERY chartreuse green to reddish to yellow.  I don’t think that the above picture is all that great, but it is a change.

I also brightened the photo  and changed the contrast so that if you were blind, you could make out a few more details.  Next I cropped the picture and added my name.  Just adding the name a few weeks ago was too difficult, it seemed.  Now – piece of cake.  I even know how to adjust the density or opacity of the color of my name.

I’m not very happy with this, but I tried.  What do you think?  Is it just changing one bad photo for a different?

 

Blog and Retirement Management

Books are in place.  I’m open for business.“What business?” you wonder, then you advise.  “Well, Marsha, now that you are retired and blogging you ought to blog about things that are everyday here, and other people have probably never seen.”  Great idea – I wrote the first article like that about picking table grapes  – as I came up on it.  It’s soon to be a best-selling book, I’m sure.  So far there are no comments.  I drove by a field of walnuts being shaken.  Dust spiraled into the blue sky giving it that aged look.  I had an appointment, so I had to hurry on.  When I came back, the shaker and the dust was gone.  Missed opportunity, and that only rolls around once a year.

“Marsha, you ought to write a blog about retirement.  Just go day by day and tell people what it’s like to be retired.”   Great idea – so that’s what I do every day when I blog.  I’m doing it.  I’m retired.  Therefore retired people might do this kind of thing.“Marsha, it just seems like retired people are so driven by their schedules, and it’s not as important as the working person’s schedule.”   Yes and no.  I haven’t established a schedule yet.  I exercise every day I’m home.  I fix more meals, and do more grocery shopping.  I write every day, but times vary. I may stop to talk to someone on the phone, do laundry, run an errand for myself or someone else, but I’m still too new at retirement to have set times for retirement activities.  And thus a month has zoomed by and I haven’t accomplished anything of great import other than working on the CCSS Bylaws and Standing Rules, arranging my books, and committing to cyberspace a journal of my life.“Marsha, we could take off for a month and just drive.”  Great idea – we’ll see how that one plays out.I could quilt.  I’m almost set up in the other room – no pictures yet – it’s wall to wall mess right now.  But I’m set up with enough quilt ideas to last me the next 20-30 years without buying a single book, or coming up with a single idea of my own.  AND I have friends who share the interest.  That one has definite possibilities.

I am taking classes on things I want to learn.  Photoshop is first, so today I practiced renaming this batch of photos at the touch of a button.  It wasn’t nearly as easy as when Steve was right there guiding us through it.  Some folders work.  iPhoto acted like it didn’t have any files, therefore I couldn’t choose them to alter, and I couldn’t save altered files to iPhoto.  I did save them all as low quality gifs, and that took about 2 seconds.  The hardest part was finding them after they were done.  They are all supposed to have a watermark on them as well, but I sure can’t find it.  So I still have a lot of work just implementing that simple lesson.Yesterday I spent quite a bit of time photoshopping Puppy Girl into a picture she didn’t get into.  That was quite time consuming, then at the last second, when I thought it had been saved, and saved again, I pressed “do not save”, and it didn’t.  Retirement and learning new skills is frustrating.  I think I should tone her down a bit because this was a picture of her outside in the sun playing with Mama Kitty.  Obviously the tones are a bit more muted in here.  Nonetheless, I thought she came out pretty well.  I used the marquee tool, the eraser tool and the clone tool, and it took about an hour the first time, and about 15-20 minutes the second.I thought I could do book reviews of all the great books I never had time to finish (start) when I was working.  “And Marsha, you could put the reviews in the form of power points, so they’d be ready to use.”   Great idea.  Oh yes, and my newest professional history books are in the car still from my last presentation.  Not to mention the ones I have on Kindle.  Since I haven’t done an official review, just a couple of blog reviews, I’m not sure what that all will entail, but one thing is for sure – I have a lot to read!

So now I feel overwhelmed.  Think I’ll listen to Tale of Two Cities for a while as I load in some more reading material, then sit down to knit a hat before working out.  One thing for sure.  I won’t be bored!!!!

Weekly Photo Challenge: “Mine”

During all my searches to come out of your Spam folders, I discovered another photo challenge.  Who can resist what is “mine”.   So I will share with  you what wonderful surprise my husband had for me when I got home from my Photoshop class last night.

Bellavista Office
Hopefully enough room for all my books!

When I went to my class, the room was empty, and still needed finish work.  

When I got back, I found my new office ready and set up.  I was so surprised by the sight that I laughed out loud and clapped my hands.  Puppy Girl, totally confused by my behavior, thought she had done something wonderfully worthy of so much praise.  She bounded throughout the house barking and racing madly, chasing around the living and dining room, jumping from couch to recliner, to floor around the table, and back to the couch again.  My husband and I brought our admiration of the new office to a complete halt and enjoy her response to our most obviously deserving praise.

So I present to you what is newly “mine”.

 

 

Practicing Photoshop

Steve Woods from Tulare County Office of Education runs a tight Photoshop ship, and he navigated us through some difficult waters.  I practiced quite a bit today, with mixed success.  Steve says I’m persistent, and that is a prominent character quality of mine.  He didn’t say I was artistic, brilliant, creative…just persistent.  I’ll take it as a +Here is the before picture of a lavender quilt that Carmen made for me.This is after I adjusted the color.  I used Adobe Elements 10, went to Enhance, Adjust Color, Remove Color Cast.  You merely clicked the eye dropper that automatically appeared on a white, black or gray spot, and BINGO, there it was.  By the way TOEMAILERS, I left my toes in the picture just for you.My texting wasn’t quite as successful. Not that it looks bad.  I just couldn’t rasterize it or whatever that is.  Which means I couldn’t play with the shape of the words.  Not only that, Elements does not have the cool fonts that Photoshop the full program does.  I did “simplify” the text, but I couldn’t do all the cool things we did in class with the text after it was a jpeg.

When I put it in Facebook, the image was too big for the words to show anyway.  To create text over the picture was easy enough.  You just press the T, click where you want your words to appear, and start typing.  I had a false start, and ended with two layers of writing, and didn’t know how to delete, so I closed the picture without saving, and that worked.  The menu bar up at the top worked just the same as it does in the extended version of Photoshop which we are learning.

Another little learning experience in today’s practice, the pictures that I did save as jpegs weren’t allowed on WordPress.  I chose the same picture that had been duplicated, like every other picture I have uploaded, but the message from on high told me that the file type is “not allowed”.  By learning experience I mean frustration, but not to the point of screaming or pulling out my eyebrows.Just so you know, this picture started out like this.  And yes, is was a great retirement party at Café 225 on Main Street in Visalia, CA.  It’s a great place to eat, and a wonderful place for a surprise party.  I wasn’t the only one having fun at my expense – I was totally surprised by the event.  The happiest looking person in the picture besides me is my former new boss, Charlene.