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Someone Make Me Put The Toy Camera Down

I promise to stop posting goofy photos.

I keep playing with this little camera, and I can’t seem to stop.

(I’ll actually be shooting some real, supposedly serious, shots with my grown-up camera this weekend.)

In the meantime,

I can’t resist playing just a little bit more ….

Doc and I are wishing you a fun,

And hopefully a slightly silly,

Weekend!

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The Dog Days of Summer

Thank you for your patience –

My wonderful web designers will be making some changes (hopefully today) to help with the readability of 24.

In the meantime,

I’ve begun playing with a “waterproof” GoPro HD Hero 2 (Outdoor Edition) camera.

I haven’t even had time to read the instructions for it yet.

I opened the camera box yesterday afternoon, jumped in the pool with it, took a few shots, didn’t edit them –

And I’m sharing them today.

I love them ANYWAY!

In fact, I maybe love them more because of the simplicity …

Golden Retriever smiling at the pool

I’ve been yearning for underwater housing for my Canon 5D Mark III, but it doesn’t make sense to purchase it.  (Underwater housing for a professional camera costs almost as much as the camera does.  I would never get enough use out of it to make it worth the cost.)

My son has loved experiences he’s had shooting videos with a GoPro, so I was eager to have an opportunity to “play” with one.

I find myself really liking the old fashioned, much less polished, look to the shots.

Golden Retriever Dog Jumping into swimming pool to get ball

Doc, my golden retriever, was more than happy to be my subject as I played around with the settings of the camera.

It’s so fun to be able to show you my perspective as Doc jumps in the pool.

In the above photo, he’s literally “flying” towards me to get his ball.

(Our swims together are pretty much a daily occurence.  I play ball with him, then I swim laps, then I play with him again.)

GoPro shot of dog jumping into pool

It’s a good thing I know what a sweet guy Doc is, or I might be frightened by his giant mouth flying towards me.

I realize none of these shots are the quality I’d get with my “real” camera, but they’re also shots I’d never be able to take with it.

dog retrieving ball in pool

How fun!

Doc had fun!

I had fun!

Golden Retriever dog at swimming pool

When can we do it again?

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Transitions

You might have noticed, Twenty Four At Heart has begun the transition I mentioned it would soon be going through.

The site isn’t (remotely) done.

I’m requesting your patience for the next few days/week until it can be completed.

In fact, as I write this –

The only change that’s outwardly happened is the background of the blog turned black.  (Although, it’s possible more changes will have happened by the time this publishes.)

A few of you have told me it’s hard to read the type/font and I’ve sent those comments on to the web designers.

(I didn’t know this was about to happen any more than you did!)

Hopefully they’ll make it very easy to read asap!

I DO know the designers are behind the scenes doing an awful lot of work right now and there might be some bumps/bruises/oops moments during the transition.

I really appreciate your patience – I’m hoping everything will be completed very, very, soon.

(In the meantime, if you’d like to drop off a bottle of wine I’d appreciate it!)

Just kidding!  

Everything will be beautiful and wonderful before we know it.

I think.

In other news, I received my new tripod yesterday.

Here’s a blurry iPhone photo of the box:

The above photo is blurry because it was:

   a)  Hurriedly taken with an iPhone, and

   b)  I didn’t use a tripod!

Bwahahahaha!

Tripods are like tires for a car.

You need them, you want good quality, you want them to last, and you absolutely hate to spend money on them.

(Lenses are fun, cameras are fun – tripods are necessary!)

I’ve been using a “travel”  tripod for a few years now.  I bought a travel tripod because it was SMALL and very, very, LIGHT –

Characteristics which are necessary with my bad arm.

Of course, a travel tripod is built for occasional use and I used mine all the time for everything.

It officially bit the dust while I was on my last trip to San Francisco.

This time I bought a “real” tripod because I know how much I use one.

(A lot!)

It’s carbon fiber so it’s pretty light for its size.

I’ll let you know how I like it after I use it for a few shoots.  I’ve made other (non- tripod) purchases from  Really Right Stuff  before and been very happy.

Really Right Stuff tripods also come highly recommend by several of my photographer friends.

In other, non-related, news:

•  My oldest son leaves tomorrow for a summer job back east.  He’s been home for three weeks, and it has been wonderful to have him here.  I hate saying good-bye to my kids.

•  My youngest son isn’t even out of school for summer break yet – one more week!

•  I had a pervert encounter at the grocery store yesterday.  Why are perverts always at grocery stores?

•  Perverts need to buy food too?

•  OK, so perverts aren’t always at the grocery store.  Sometimes they’re at parks or driving oversized white vans.

•  I’ve got more mint growing in my backyard than I can use – I’m making tabbouleh today.

•  The Neanderthal hurt me a lot yesterday.  He insists he’s “helping not hurting” me.  It takes a special type of personality to be a physical therapist, doesn’t it?

•  I will be testing out a waterproof camera this weekend.  I’m very excited to get wet with it!

•  That’s what she said?

•  How many of you have fireflies right now?  (And if you have them, where do you live?)

Once again, thank you for your patience during this (hopefully) brief transition period here at Twenty Four At Heart!!

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Creative Outlets

What’s your creative outlet?

Maybe you’re crafty?

Perhaps you build Swedish furniture in your spare time?

Can you sing like Adele or paint like Picasso?

Statue at Huntington Gardens, Los Angeles

I really believe everyone needs a creative outlet.

You don’t have to be good at your creative outlet, you just need to have one.

I don’t think a person can truly be happy without giving their “right brain” a source of communication.

Mind you, I’ve never thought I have an ounce of real creativity myself.

In fact, I’ve wondered if I have a right brain at all.

I draw stick people because I can’t draw anything else.

(I used to hate any drawing/artistic projects in school.  I begged my artistic brother to draw for me when it was required.)

I love to sing, but absolutely no one loves to HEAR me sing.

I played guitar for years but my skill was mediocre, at best.

Still, I’ve noticed I’m much happier when I let even my sub-par creativity out.

It took many years before I realized there are many types of creativity other than those falling under the “art” or “music” categories.

Maybe you have a flawless fashion sense,

Or the eye of an amazing interior designer.

Maybe you can do a striptease worthy of a porn star.

I have a long-time friend who transforms a corner of her yard into a stunning garden each spring.  Her creativity comes out as she works with her hands, digging, planting, and visualizing the end result even before she begins.

I know some of you are thinking you’re too damn busy to be creative.

Creativity can come out through our jobs, through our parenting, through our relationships and communication with others ….

(Although I do think our brains thrive on a “purer” outlet if given the opportunity.)

I was thinking about all this last weekend as I observed my three kids.

My daughter is compelled by her love of writing.  If asked, she would say she’s “not the least” creative because she’s not artistic or musical.  The creativity is there, though – in her written words.

My oldest son can draw and paint with an inborn talent few people have.

(Especially me!!!)

For him, drawing is as natural as breathing.  He thinks it’s relaxing and fun, and has no intention of applying his creativity to a job in the arts.

My youngest son can’t seem to stop “making music,” in spite of the fact he’s never had a single music lesson.  He’s constantly composing music especially when he should be doing his homework.

Writing, drawing, music … three kids and three very different creative outlets.

I’ve dabbled with a lot of creative outlets over the years.

Of course, the one I’ve always had –

Has been photography.

Fisheye photo of staircase at the Embarcadero, San Francisco

And by always,

I mean …

From the time I was 7 or 8 years old.

(Pretty much my entire life except when I was too damaged from the accident to hold a camera.)

What about you?

How do you exercise your right brain?

How do you express your creativity?

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Mastro’s, Beverly Hills

We had a very special family celebration last weekend.

My daughter recently completed her Master’s program (with honors!), at the ripe old age of 22.  A few weeks later, she turned 23.

A very significant graduation and a birthday (almost) at the same time!

(It’s very odd she turned 23 when I’m only 24 … but!)

We thought about throwing her a big graduation party, but ended up planning a family celebration at Mastro’s Steakhouse in Beverly Hills.

Mastro’s Ocean Club in Newport Beach is our favorite, special occasion, restaurant.

My daughter is living in L.A. now, so we thought we’d try the Mastro’s in Beverly Hills.

It was a beautiful day.  Prior to dinner I begged for a visit to nearby Santa Monica.

View of Santa Monica beach

The Santa Monica and Malibu beaches are the primary beaches of my childhood, so I always enjoy visiting.

Eventually, the afternoon ended and it was time to meet my daughter (and her long-time boyfriend) at Mastro’s.

Mastro's Steakhouse, Beverly Hills

Can you see the above, tiny, photo of the restaurant exterior?

(For once in my life, I didn’t take photos – leaving me dependent on Google’s image search.)

Mastro’s is apparently ranked as the top restaurant in Beverly Hills, something I didn’t know when I planned our celebration.

There were six of us in our party, and every one of us absolutely loved our drinks/food/service.

As Briefcase and I have experienced at the Newport Beach Mastro’s Ocean Club, the food was extraordinarily delicious.

Servings are always large at Mastro’s, and sides (and salads!) are intended to be shared.

If you don’t have a Mastro’s in your area, you might be familiar with the restaurant from reading about it in many of the celebrity-type magazines.

Photo of brad pitt

Brad Pitt (seen above exiting Mastro’s) and a zillion other celebrities frequent the Beverly Hills Mastro’s.

To be honest, a lot of celebrities frequent Mastro’s at their other locations too.

The Beverly Hills location has a very strong celebrity/Hollywood/L.A./Beverly Hills/See and Be Seen feel to it.

If you’re into star gazing, you’ll most likely spot at least one celebrity while visiting.

(We’ve run into several celebrities at the Orange County Mastro’s locations too.  The OC locations, however, don’t have the same hyped up feeling.)

The food is equally delicious at all three of the Mastro locations I’ve been fortunate enough to try.

Personally, my favorite is the Ocean Club in Newport Beach.

The Beverly Hills location is crowded in comparison.  They pack a lot of tables into the space they have.

(I wish they had a few less tables and a little more breathing room.)

The Newport Beach location is much more beautiful, spacious, and relaxing.

That being said,

We had a delicious meal, the service could not have been better, and we had a fantastic evening.

It was a very special treat for our entire family, and not an evening any of us will be forgetting soon.

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Photography Advice From the Experts

Whether you’re a casual iPhone shooter, or a serious photographer, it’s always an asset to learn from the best.

I’ve been given a lot of photography (and photography business) advice in my lifetime.

I was curious to hear what some of the top photographer’s in the world would advise at the Google + Photographer’s Conference.

I’m going to list points that were made to me by various photographers, so you can make your own decisions.

(Some of this advice was given in conference sessions, and some of it was said in casual conversations.  All of this advice was given in reference to photography not written blog posts.  These are not direct quotes, in most cases.)

•  Never publish anything but your very best work online.

•  Publishing something, anything, frequently is the most important part of building your audience.

•  Do not watermark your images if you want them to be taken seriously.

•  Everyone should be watermarking their images.

•  Watermarking your images does nothing to reduce image theft.

•  Do NOT take photos of flowers, if you want to be taken seriously.

Bee on a flower

Photo Titled:  I’ve Been Creating a Buzz

•  Floral shots are the most popular shots, by far.

•  HDR photography is “fake” and real photographers don’t need to rely on it.

*  HDR has revolutionized photography.

•  You should have THREE backups of every photo.

•  I wouldn’t have fewer than FIVE backups.

•  You should spend 3-4 hours, minimum, online each day using social networks to improve your business.

•  Real shooters don’t have time for online social networks.

•  You should be online, building your network, most of each day.

•  If you don’t know the “rules” of photography, you’ll never succeed.

•  The next truly great photographer won’t know, or will choose to ignore, all the rules of photography.

•  Never shoot directly into the sun.

•  I like to shoot directly into the sun.

•  I don’t like seeing the sun in a photo.

•  I like seeing the sun in a shot.

•  Spend some time nurturing relationships with top photographers so you can learn from them.

•  Top photographers don’t have time to spend with you, so try to network with “second tier” photographers.

•  If it isn’t shot at sunrise or sunset, you might as well throw it away.

•  Photoshop won’t fix bad light.

•  You can probably adjust the light on this shot in Photoshop.

•  I won’t take a photo seriously unless it’s black and white.

•  I will only look at color photos that have been greatly desaturated.

•  I like pumped up, vibrant, colors in photography.

•  You should have a goal for each photo.

•  If you’re a passionate photographer, you’ll shoot for the sheer joy of it.

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It’s A Dog’s Life

Swimming is exhausting, but it makes for a very happy golden retriever!

Doc has been swimming every day lately.

He has a permanent smile on his face this time of year.

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San Francisco Glimpses, Again

I wanted to share a little (teeny tiny?) bit more from San Francisco.

Also …?

Hello Friday, it’s nice to see you!

Cheese Shop

I love cheese, and the cheese shop in the Ferry Building was adorable!

I didn’t buy anything there, but I’m sure I would have if I was visiting for longer.

I wish I was brave enough to be a street photographer.  I know street photographers rarely make any money, but I love candid “real” moments like the one captured at the cheese shop.

Embarcadero Walkway

I took the above photo at the Embarcadero.

I wanted to eavesdrop on the couple’s conversation.

I bet it went something like this:

“Who was that crazy woman back there laying on the ground?  Do you think we should call the cops  Maybe 911?”

View from Twin Peaks, San Francisco, at night

The coldest I’ve ever been was one night, at Twin Peaks, in San Francisco.

I was wearing about five layers of borrowed clothing in an attempt to keep warm.  I had so many layers on, I could barely move.  I looked like the abominable snowman.  I was still absolutely freezing!  The wind was so strong, I had trouble standing still in it.  I ended up bracing myself under a retaining wall to take the above photo.  The loopy circle-ish thing on the left side of the photo are the headlights/brake lights of cars going up and down the road to Twin Peaks.

(I really didn’t think any of my long exposure photos would be salvageable with wind like that, but the above shot is kind of cool.)

Probably the most beautiful light I’ve ever photographed was during sunset at Sutro Baths.

The light was golden and it was magical.

Sunset at Sutro Baths, San Francisco

 

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I Gave Birth To A Tomato??

Those of you who have been reading Twenty Four At Heart for awhile know I lost my ability to garden nearly six years ago.

The two things I’ve missed most about my pre-accident life, besides having two working arms and being pain free, are

a)  Photography

And

b)  Gardening.

After several years of surgeries and physical therapy,

I’ve learned to handle a camera for limited time periods with my non-dominant, working, arm.  

I’ve never fought so hard for anything, in my entire life.

Seriously, there are no words to describe how hard it’s been.

Gardening, however, has continued to be something I’m unable to do.

This spring, I (finally?) got help.

As in,

Please help me bring home a couple plants, please plant them for me … I will water and fuss over them.

Tomato Plant

Photo:  Baby tomatoes!

I can’t tell you how happy I am to be the proud mother of baby tomatoes.

(OK, so I wasn’t able to dig the dirt myself to plant them, but they’re “my” tomatoes anyway.)

It’s been nearly six years since I’ve gardened, in any way.

I know, many of you will think this accomplishment “doesn’t count” since I needed (a lot) of help to achieve it.

But …?

I’m over the moon excited.

A part of my soul was broken, and has now found peace.

I know it sounds dramatic, but when you’ve lost everything “normal” in your life,

So many things you love doing, but take for granted …

It feels fantastic to get a small piece of that old life back.

Honestly, I’m so proud of my baby, green, tomatoes –

It’s like I gave birth to them myself.

I’m hoping I can keep the canyon critters away from them while they grow.

Although, even if my tomatoes get gobbled up by a critter,

It won’t matter (that much).

I’ve “gardened” again.