Project 52- Week 52 – Merry



It seems fitting for me to round out the year and to end this project 52 photo challenge with an image that helps to define who I am as a photographer.  I love to capture everyday spontaneous moments that have meaning, and this picture of my daughter and niece spinning around perfectly illustrates what a happy, merry Christmas we had with our visitors this year in Texas.  I think the fun and joy in their faces is heartwarming.

I took this image in Galveston on a cold afternoon, with overcast skies but beautiful light, using my Canon DSLR paired with my 50mm 1.4 lens.  My ISO was set at 100 because of the bright light, my shutter speed at 1/640, while my aperture was wide at f/2.0.  I love my 50mm lens and find that its sweet spot starts at around f2.0-2.2.  It tends to be a little soft at 1.4, although that setting has certainly proved useful in very low light when I haven’t wanted to use a flash.  I cropped the image in Lightroom 4, lowered the highlights and whites, and finally increased the clarity.



As the new year approaches and the Christmas season begins to wind down, I thought I would post what I consider to be one of my ‘merriest’ photos of the season.  This is my neighborhood cafe all decked out for the Holiday.  The best part is that the people inside are just as merry and inviting as the store front itself.

This shot was taken with my iphone 5. I began the edit in snapseed where I sharpened the overall photo to highlight the snowflakes.  I then slightly faded the photo and increased the highlights and grain in VSCO. Then loaded it into squaready for an instagram download.

Many thanks to our readers for following along this past year. It’s been a pleasure to share with you over the past 52 weeks.

“A camera is a SAVE button for the mind’s eye.” ~Roger Kingston


Project 52 – Week 51 – Decorate



If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from this whole year of posting weekly inspirations, it’s that I love to photograph the everyday, ordinary moments in life. Not facing the camera with a full smile, but instead concentrating on squeezing hard to get the last few drops of icing from the tube, this picture of my niece, for me, perfectly represents decorating for the penultimate leg of this project.

Taken with my Canon DSLR and 50mm 1.4 lens, settings at ISO 1250, f/1.8, and shutter speed 1/125. I converted to black and white in Lightroom 4, and adjusted the temperature, tint, exposure, and highlights, before adding a post-crop vignette to highlight the hands in the image.



And so this is Christmas… Bright lights, fun socks and LOVE! Shot this photo with my iphone 4 and the edit was done in the VSCO app. I faded the photo slightly, decreased the contrast, and increased both the the fill and grain. I then used the squareready app to crop for an instagram load. I was thrilled to have this featured on instagram with #jj_fromwhereistand.

“Beauty can be seen in all things, seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph.”~Matt Hardy

Project 52 – Week 50 – Snuggle



Twas the Night Before Christmas, by Clement Clarke Moore.  One of my favorite poems of all time.  So one can only imagine how excited I was when my daughter came home from school one day and told me that in English class, somewhere in between her literature in film unit and the start of delving into and dissecting, The Trojan War, they had an assignment to memorize ‘Twas the Night before Christmas, in its entirety. Although not the easiest of tasks, my daughter completed the assignment in stellar fashion, and as a gift to me, I have asked her to recite the poem to the family on Christmas Eve.

So here she is snuggled up in her favorite Christmas socks, taking in some of the pictures from one of the many versions of the book we have acquired over the years.  I shot this photo with my iphone 4 and used the snapseed app to crop, center focus, lower the contrast and add blur.  I then went into the VSCO app where I faded the photo just a touch. Then once I sent the photo to my computer, I decided to convert the picture to black and white and add a bit of edge blur, both done in iphoto.

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,

And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”



Only 2 weeks to go… we are definitely on the home stretch. Watching The Lone Ranger, here are Will and Gimli (Ella’s Cairn Terrier) snuggled up on one of our couches.  It’s as simple as that!

Taken on a dark afternoon with my Canon DSLR and my 50mm 1.4 lens.  I wanted to focus on Gimli’s paws and so I chose a very wide aperture, f/1.4, so that I could achieve an extremely shallow depth of field.  It also let in maximum light in a particularly dark area.  My ISO was set at 1600, and finally my shutter speed was 1/80.  Post processing in Lightroom 4, I increased the exposure, but decreased the contrast in the image, then finally increased the clarity and adjusted the sharpening.

Project 52 – Week 49 – Something Old, Something New



As you can see, I’ve posted two pictures this for this week of the prompt.  An old, well worn, traditional snow globe Christmas decoration, and then the slightly psychedelic reindeer that I fell in love with last week at Target.  Both taken in front of our Christmas tree, I felt that the black and white of the first picture aptly reflected the item’s age, whereas the clashing, vibrant colours of the second illustrate the modern products in all their wonderful garish glory.

I took both images with my Canon DSLR paired with my 50mm 1.4 lens.  For image #1, my settings were ISO 2000, shutter speed 1/125 and aperture f/2.0.  I held the snow globe in my left hand outstretched a few feet away from the tree and snapped the picture holding the camera in my right hand.  Post processing in Lightroom 4 I cropped and leveled the angle of the image, then converted to black and white.  I increased the exposure, but decreased the contrast, highlights and whites, before sharpening the image.  For photo #2, my settings were ISO 1250, shutter speed 1/150 and aperture f/2.0.  I placed the two reindeer on a table, and then angled underneath the subjects with the christmas tree on the other side of the room behind them.  Post processing in Lightroom 4 yet again, I decreased the temperature and contrast a little, and then increased the shadows and blacks.  I finally increased the saturation of the blues in the image, increased the luminance of the greens, and decreased the luminance of the blues.



Hot cocoa in the snow, with a side of marshmallows.  An old classic treat on a snowy December day. The cup, an oldie but goodie.  We have a set, one for my daughter and one for my son.  The snow, new.  Another five inches fell today.

I shot this photo with my Canon DSLR with my 50 mm 1.4 lens attached.  It was 4:00 pm, just 30 minutes from dark, so I adjusted my settings accordingly.  My ISO was 1600, aperture 1.4 and my shutter speed 1/400.  For the edit, I adjusted the white balance, sharpened both the radius and detail, and decreased the contrast in lightroom.  I then slightly faded the photo and increased the fill on the VSCO app.

“Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second.”~Marc Riboud

Project 52 – Week 48 – Traditions



Cutting down the Christmas Tree.  It’s a tradition and one of my favorite days of the year!

This was taken with my Canon DSLR paired with my 35 mm 2.0 lens.  It was taken with the super bright noon time sun reflecting off the fresh white snow, so my settings were at ISO 100, shutter speed 4000 and my aperture at 2.0.  It was a quick edit in iphoto, where I simply  changed the photo to black and white.

“If you see something that moves you, and then snap it, you keep a moment.” – Linda McCartney


This past Tuesday was one of my favourite events in the run up to Christmas, and guaranteed every year to help get me into the Christmas spirit (I am a very reluctant wrapper).  We had 3 years of concerts with Ella and her clarinet at Riverwood Middle School, Jack joined her during her last year to play the cornet.  With Jack now in 8th grade and due to go up to high school in 2014, it was Will’s turn to play the french horn in his first Christmas band concert, Jack in his last. He really is a complete goof ball, and this is one of the only pictures I managed to take, when he wasn’t actually playing his instrument, where he was quiet and not actually talking.  Yes this was the kids who mouthed “Why thank you” when everyone applauded at the end of the last song… his 6th grade french horn playing friends looked very entertained.
Taken at around 7:15 in the evening, across a large, packed gymnasium, with horrible fluorescent lighting, I used my Canon DSLR paired with my 70-200mm f/2.8 L lens.  I set my ISO at 1000 due to the poor lighting conditions, with my aperture set at it’s widest, f/2.8, to let in as much available light as possible.  Finally my shutter speed was 1/125. I focused and recomposed the image on Will’s face, and as you can see the he and his instrument are in focus.  Post processing in Lightroom 4, I cropped the image and converted it to black and white.  I wanted to have contrast between the white, greys, and blacks in the image, and so initially I decreased the temperature significantly, then increased the contrast, whites, and clarity, then decreased the highlights, shadows, and blacks in the image.  I then sharpened the image, and decreased the highlight priority in post-crop vignetting, so that I could really try and highlight Will in the image.

Project 52 – Week 47 – Thankful



Not my best attempt at a group shot of my 3 kids, but illustrating nonetheless what I’m most thankful for… my happy, healthy, girl and two boys.  Taken in front of the “Synchronicity of Color”, a wall of colorful art boxes on permanent display at Discovery Green in Houston, and marking almost the end of another entertaining year with my 16, 14, and 11 year olds.

I took this photograph as the light was diminishing on a lovely Sunday afternoon, using my Canon DSLR and my 50mm 1.4 lens.  My settings were ISO 160, shutter speed 1/400, and aperture f/2.0.  Really this picture could have been so much better, but I still liked it in spite of that, so I really played around with my edit in Lightroom 4.  I really reduced the contrast and highlights, increasing the vibrance a little, and then the sharpening a whole lot more.



Thankful for the four seasons and the gifts they bring each year.

This photo was taken in mid afternoon daylight with my Canon DSLR using my 50 1.4. lens. My settings were ISO 100, a shutter speed of 640 and my aperture was at 1.4. The edit was done on my iphone4 using VSCO and then cropped in squaready for an Instagram download.

“Adopt the pace of nature:  her secret is patience.”  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Project 52 – Week 46 – Temptation



One lump or two?  I actually do not put sugar in my tea, but I am often tempted.

Shot with my Canon DSLR paired with my 35 mm 2.0 lens, with some morning natural light flowing in through the window.  My settings were ISO 400, shutter speed of 1/80 and my aperture at 2.0. The edit was done in lightroom where I applied a black and white rebelsauce preset. I also sharpened the photo a tad, and played with the contrast and the brightness.

I was thrilled to have this photo featured last week with Project Life 365.  It can be found on both their instagram feed and their Facebook page.

“To me, photography is an art of observation.  It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”~Elliott Erwitt



I’m not a huge fan of eating pomegranates, but Ella and Will love them.  I can definitely appreciate the beauty of the fruit though, the lush colour, and the symmetry of them when they’re cut in half.  It reminds me of folded butterfly paintings when the kids were little, or even an inkblot test, and it would be interesting to know what shapes and patterns other people see when they look at this picture.

I took this image in our front yard at around 11 in the morning, on the edge of the shade on a clear, bright day.  I paired my 50mm 1.4 lens with my Canon DSLR.  Due to the bright day, my ISO was set at 160, with a shutter speed of 1/80, and the aperture set at f/2.2 so that I could achieve a shallow depth of field yet not totally lose the detail of the pomegranate.  Post processing in Lightroom 4, I cropped the image, increased the clarity and contrast, and finally adjusted the saturation of the blues and purples in the image.



Project 52 – Week 45 – Indoors


Not a particularly ‘good’ photo for the blog this week from me, but a significant one nonetheless.  On 11-12-13 this year, my eldest son Jack turned 14.  He was born in Exeter, in England, and we moved to Houston when he was 15 months old.  Sometimes I try to imagine what my kids would be like if we had stayed in the UK, but I think that Jack was destined to be a Texan.  In a state where red heads are cherished, my boy with his southern drawl, love of football, and fondness of the heat, shorts, and flip flops, fits in just about perfectly!

I took this photograph at around 6 in the evening in our kitchen in full artificial light.  I used my Canon DSLR paired with my 50mm 1.4 lens, with my settings at ISO 1600, shutter speed 1/100, and aperture f/2.0.  Post processing in Lightroom 4 I initially cropped in the image, increased the exposure but decreased the contrast, decreased the shadows and blacks and increased the clarity.  Finally, I adjusted the sharpening and noise reduction in the picture.



‘Indoors’ at our local subway stop reading,”Murder on the Orient Express” by Agatha Christie. We actually created this photo for the Project Life 365 prompt, #currently_reading.  This is a prompt that has shown up almost every month over the past year, and a hash-tag that I will miss the most.  I have really enjoyed creating images around the books my kids were reading.  With one child in sixth grade and the other in eighth, they are finding themselves immersed in the classics, with each new book becoming their new favorite.

This photo was taken with my Canon DSLR using my 35 mm 1.8 lens. The lighting in an underground subway station is not particularly good, so I adjusted my settings accordingly.  My ISO was at 1600, the aperture at 1.8 and my shutter speed at 1/100.  The edit was done in Lightroom where I sharpened the radius, increased the luminance and applied a black and white (sucre noir) Rebel Sauce preset. For a better view of the image, just click on the photo above.

“Some of us, in the words of the divine Greta Garbo, want to be alone”~Agatha Christie (Murder on the Orient Express)

Project 52 – Week 44 – Spooky



BOO! One of my favorite family events this time of year is pumpkin carving.  We take it pretty seriously in the Malone household, and we were absolutely thrilled this year to  be able to share it  with our French exchange student.  It was Charlotte’s first time to go pick a pumpkin,design a face, scoop out the insides and carve!  She opted for what I described to her as “the classic” Jack-O-Lantern face. Our new friend did such a great job.  I loved her attention to detail.  My husband gets the award for most frightful or “spooky”, on the far right.  And I ALWAYS enjoy seeing what my two kids create!!  Libby free handed  her own “Hello Kitty” and I think Jack was maybe doing a some type of self portrait!?

I snapped this photo with my iphone4 the night before Halloween.  It was pouring rain out, so the pumpkins were actually sitting inside on a glass table, which gave a lovely reflection.  I did the edit in pic-tap-go, where I applied a couple of different filters.  I think the entire process took me just a couple of minutes.

“Art is not in the …eye of the beholder. It’s in the soul of the artist.”~Seth Godin



Having been a total idiot and taken down all my Halloween decorations before I’d looked at the weekly inspiration list, I had to improvise a little for this week of the blog.  Walking around Target on a Sunday morning, I spotted these Halloween themed sodas in the clearance section of the store.  I love the spooky graphics on these drinks, which proclaim “A creepy treat from the folks at Jones Soda” on each can, flavored respectively blood orange, red licorice, caramel apple, and candy corn.

I used my Canon DSLR paired with my  50mm 1.4 lens to take this photograph at noon on our kitchen table.  My settings were ISO 400, f/2.2, and shutter speed 1/100.  I did a very quick edit this time in Lightroom 4, cropping the image, and then increasing the clarity, exposure, vibrance, and saturation.

Project 52 – Week 43 – Personality



Will was the subject of a Halloween picture last year on this blog, and here he is again.  I think he looks fierce!  He blew every penny of his vacation spending money during our summer visit to France in the gift shop of the Roman amphitheater in Nimes on this leather replica of a legionary’s helmet.  He was determined to wear it on October 31st this year and he carried it off brilliantly.  I really love this picture, and I think that his personality shines through, particularly with the edit that I used.  He’s inquisitive, intelligent, can be both serious and incredibly light-hearted, a truly entertaining 11 year old to be around.

I took this image at around 6:30 in the evening with my Canon DSLR paired with my 17-55mm f/2.8 lens.  My settings were ISO 400, aperture f/2.8, and shutter speed 1/160.  I did a lot of editing to the photograph in Lightroom 4, starting with a crop which aimed to place him squarely in the center of the image, whereas originally he was situated to the right.  I also converted the picture to black and white.  I decreased the temperature and contrast, increased the tint and the exposure, decreased the highlights, shadows, blacks and increased the whites.  I finally decreased the amount of the highlight priority in post-crop vignetting, and then increased the amount of grain in the image.  I’m very satisfied with my edit and had fun playing around with the settings.



This photo was taken just before Halloween at the 8th grade Halloween dance. And I have to say, my daughter was the cutest Cookie Monster I have ever seen. This was actually the first year that Libby didn’t know six months in advance what she wanted to be Halloween and we actually stumbled upon this at the Spirit store.  If you know my daughter, she has a huge sweet tooth, so this was very fitting.

I both shot and edited this photo on my iphone 4.  It was taken using artificial lighting and the edit was done in pic-tap-go.  I then cropped the photo in the squareready app so I could download onto instagram. I also used the photo for my projectlife365 prompt “costume”.

“Me want cookie, Me eat cookie”~Cookie Monster!