Category Archives: iPad

The Easy Trick to Getting Crisp, Eye-Catching Photos

Well hi there!   Hope your week’s going great!

I have a confession to make:   as the family pest historian I shoot a gazillion photos.  I’ve always wanted to take good photographs, but if anyone mentions the words aperture or shutter speed or ISO my mind goes blank.  Not sure why . . . perhaps because the basic rules seem counter-intuitive?  You know:  if a subject is moving fast you need a fast shutter speed, but to let in light you need a wide aperture, and that involves a slower shutter speed, and large apertures (where lots of light gets through) are given f/stop smaller numbers and smaller apertures (where less light gets through) have larger f-stop numbers. So f/2.8 is in fact a much larger aperture than f/22. . . blah blah blah blah . . .

Huh?  If you’re anything like me (translation:  amateur photographer),  you’re trying to wrap your head around these concepts, because you want crisp, clear, stunning photos and you’ve been told these terms are PARAMOUNT to getting a great shot.  Or (and this would be me)  you’re shaking your head back and forth to wake yourself up.

But I am here to tell you, dear readers:  there IS a trick to getting gorgeous, crisp photos that does NOT involve those nasty A and S words!!

Now as the cliché goes, a picture tells a thousand words.  So before I reveal my easy trick, here are Before and After shots of a bee:

Bee Shot, before the Easy Photo Trick

Bee shot, AFTER the Easy Photo Trick

Big difference, right?  Yes, my After shot could be even better if I were to master the A and S words.  But I know my lazy clueless self and it ain’t gonna happen pals!

So you ready to know the Easy (not so) Secret Photo Trick?  Drum roll please!

 . . . It’s a camera app.  Yep, nearly every photo I post publicly gets the app treatment.   Here’s what you can do to get photos like the Bee After shot, above:

1)  Snap a photo with your smart phone  (I used the iPhone 4Gs, and it has an awesome camera, but most of the latest cell phones have good cameras)

2)  Open your camera application and insert your photo.  (I used Camera+ , which I downloaded for 99 cents from iTunes)

3)  Enhance your photo.

Camera+, like most of the photography applications out there, has a lot of filters and options, but I usually keep things simple:  I give the photo Clarity, Crop the photo, and then add Effects, which is usually a filter.  My favorite filter in Camera+ is HDR, located under “Special.”    That’s it!

It takes me less than a minute to enhance a photo.  If you want to, you can add a border and a caption– I usually select simple borders, but sometimes I’ll pick one of the “Styled” selections.  My favorites are Light Grit (used in the Bee After shot, above) and Dark Grit (same look as Light Grit, but in black).

Once finished, save the enhanced photo to your camera roll.  You’ll have the original and enhanced photos right there, on your phone so you can show all your friends!

Cheating?  Maybe.  But photo apps are fun and easy . . . and who doesn’t LOVE fun and easy!

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Filed under iPad, iPhone, Life, Photographs, Photography, Uncategorized

Volcano Ash Cancels all Flights to Ireland– Stranded in London

It’s a busy travel month for our family– went to New York in early April, enjoyed San Diego last week, and now we’re on our way to a wedding in Ireland. Boy, do I feel spoiled! Even if we’re stranded in London.

Yes, stranded!

The Iceland Volcano has erupted again, and all flights to Ireland and Scotland were cancelled today. Before we left Los Angeles we called British Airways, as we were afraid this might happen. They assured us not to worry so we went ahead with the trip. Made it to London no problem. And get this: I flew Coach, but Ron and Jenna went Business Class. You see, I happen to think Business Class is a big fat waste of money. What’s the big deal about a bit more leg room? So I stubbornly REFUSED to go Business Class.

Well, I didn’t know that British Airways’ Business Class is like being in a Penthouse in a Vegas Hotel. Here’s Ron and Jenna in their FULLY reclinable seats. Yes, that means FLAT.

Did I mention their menu? They had a choice of Duck Salad with Walnut Vinaigrette, Beef Fillet with Black Truffle Butter, or Pan Roasted Scallops with Saffron Potatoes. In Coach, I didn’t get offered a dinner. But I did get a 6 ounce diet coke.

The water bottle is just to give you a size perspective. British Airways does NOT give out those big water bottles in Coach.

But do I regret my decision to slum it in Coach? Uh, NO WAY! Because with the money I saved us I’m getting myself an iPad 3G! Yes, and it will a GUILT-FREE purchase!!! Take that, my pampered, rested, and well fed husband and daughter!

Sorry, I digress. Our connector flight to Dublin cancelled, so tonight we’re in a London hotel near the airport. Tomorrow morning we’ll try to catch another flight to Dublin so we can get to the church on time! Ron’s longtime employee Ursula is marrying an Irishman, Johnny, on Friday afternoon.

If the flight tomorrow is also cancelled, we’ll just stay in England this week, rent a car, and roam the countryside. It would be a huge bummer to miss Ursula and Johnny’s wedding, but we can’t afford to get stranded in Ireland. Luckily her Mom, Dad, Brother and Aunt made it to Ireland just before the airport closed, so we’re all happy about that.

Hopefully we’ll be able to fly home next Tuesday as planned, and Ron can get back to running his business, and Jenna can get back to school.

Whether we end up in England or Ireland this week I will post pictures when I get a chance. As the Irish Blessing goes,

“May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.”

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Filed under Family, iPad, Menu Ideas, Travel, Uncategorized

Carnegie Hall Chronicles: No New York Today After All

We all got up early this morning, ready for a long flight across the country. Destination, JFK Airport, New York City. It’s an exciting trip for us, because this Friday, April 9th, our daughter Jenna is singing at Carnegie Hall with the Valencia High School choir. The choir is amazing, and the director gets the kids in some great venues– last June they sang at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Italy. Ron and I were fortunate to go to Italy and it was a thrill to hear the kids sing in such a magnificent setting. The choir sounded like angels. It was a highlight of our family’s life and a memory we will cherish always. So we have been eagerly anticipating this trip to New York and the choir’s Carnegie Hall performance.

Since we’ve been to New York with Jenna several times before and done all the touristy things, she opted to travel independently from the choir and stay in the hotel with Ron and me, and meet up with the choir kids for rehearsals and the big performance. Jenna and I planned to arrive in NYC today and spend the next couple days shopping and exploring Central Park (the Balto statue is a favorite). Ron would fly out on the Red-Eye on Tuesday night and meet us Wednesday morning at the hotel. (He’s a CPA and it’s close to April 15th, so he’s working Monday and Tuesday).

All went smoothly in the morning. We had to be out the door at 8:30 am, but Ron and Jenna were up early and even made chocolate chip pancakes. The coffee smelled great as I headed down the stairs. Love that husband of mine! The bags were packed. We got out the door on time. Drove an hour to LAX. Kissed Ron goodbye and watched him drive off. (He planned on getting a few hours of work in, then meet his mom for Easter lunch.) Got the bags checked in and went through security no problem. The security gates always stress me out– having to take off shoes, unload the computer, get through the metal detector without being frisked– but this time it was easy and stress-free. It was relatively quiet at LAX at 9:30 AM on Easter Sunday. Yay.

A few minutes later Jenna and I were seated comfortably at American Airlines Gate 39, with an hour and a half to spare before boarding. I was happy for the long wait actually, as it would give me more time to explore my new iPad (which I got yesterday, the day it launched, and will tell you more about in a future post.) Jenna grabbed a $20 out of my purse and got us some pretzels, water, and the latest Teen Vogue for her to read. We settled in.

At 9:50 AM I was absorbed in my iPad, but was distracted by Jenna cocking her head listening to an announcement. It was hard to hear, but sure enough, the man on the speakers said “Flight 40 cancelled.”

Checked the ticket, and saw it was our flight. So I made a mad dash for the ticket counter. Found out the flight was cancelled because of mechanical problems. All Sunday flights to New York were full. So we’d have to wait until Monday. It took another 45 minutes but we got tickets on the Red Eye to New York, arriving Tuesday morning. We’re only missing one day in New York.

The only big glitch is that our checked bags were routed to JFK, so we don’t have our clothes– hopefully they’ll be waiting for us when we get to the airport Tuesday morning! And luckily Jenna listened to Miss Tazares, the choir director, and packed her choir dress in her carry-on. That move saved us a LOT of drama!

Ron came back to the airport and picked us up, and we were able to meet his mom and a couple of her friends for Easter lunch. It was a lovely day, the restaurant is on a lake, we sat outside and they played Italian music; it was almost as good as being at Lake Como in Italy! Much better than spending Easter in an airplane.

Luggage snafu aside, I like to look on the bright side– two fewer nights in NYC means we save a boatload of $$$ on the hotel– which pays for my new iPad! Whoo hoo!

Here’s Ron and Jenna at the restaurant; you can see the Westlake Lake in the background.

Coming up the next post of @ Home With Cheri: Exploring New York. (Hopefully!)

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Filed under Family, iPad, Travel, Uncategorized