And do you like the bows? Our very own Jessica made these. She is very talented, don't you think?
I am trying to be zen about the fact that Hazel is no longer in diapers. I'll live through you. If you get a bow to match your diaper, I WANT TO SEE PHOTOS.
So much is going on! First of all, we got mentioned in Cloth Diaper News again! Exciting! That reminds me, there are still some auctions going on Hyena Cart. Yesterday was a huge day and I am still recovering, truth be told.
We have gotten to the bottom of the cart errors, and we think we have fixed them. I won't know 100% until I stock again, but my IT people tell me things should run much more smoothly.
Some bad news is that I am realizing that most of the emails I have sent out in the last week have not arrived at their destination. I am switching my outgoing email address and hope that does the trick. I feel really bad about people thinking I have just left them dangling. You can still write me at email@example.com, I will just answer you with a different email address. I'm getting that set up now and then we'll see.
I am super exhausted from this week and am torn between wanting to get stuff done and knowing that I need to take some time off so I will be fresh and ready to go on Monday morning. Honestly, I'm leaning toward the latter. A friend suggested I put up a message that says:
Internet hours of operation Monday thru Friday 8 am to 7 pm. While I do check email on the weekends should you not receive an immediate reply, you can expect a reply during opening business hours on Monday. Special holiday or vacation hours will be posted in advance to avoid any disappointment in communication.
I'm thinking it's a good idea. There's a reason they are called business hours, right? Then if I get a rebound of energy this weekend I *can* answer emails but everyone knows it's not that I'm ignoring them, I'm just recharging so I can do a good job later. I stayed up until 2 am Thursday night getting ready for Friday and my husband went out of town overnight last night, and when he is gone I cannot sleep (but I can't focus on anything either) so I stayed up until 3 a.m.
Let's hope there is lots of sleep in this weekend!
Look, we made it into Cloth Diaper News! Thanks for the mention, guys! :-)
In other news, I can't remember the last time I stayed up until 1:30 a.m. working. Before Becky started working here, that is for sure. I'm going to be a zombie tomorrow (today!). Fortunately, Hyena Cart is going to do most of the work for me. I'm stocking the store too, but I won't say when. At least not yet.
My tech team has been working hard on our cart. We don't think all the bugs are worked out, but at least some of them are. We are viewing any stockings at http://www.thegoodmama.com as further cart tests, so your patience is greatly appreciated.
It's going to be a serious party though. It has turned into a social event to chatter online in the forums during store stockings, not just mine. Even if you aren't buying, the party is always fun! And who doesn't want more fun?
I've seen lots of discussion lately about using flash. Some say a good picture never uses flash -- you just can't capture true color with flash. Other say you can use flash -- if the room is dark, you'd rather have some picture than no picture, right? What's a girl to do? To flash or not to flash? If no flash, how do I get that perfect light in my pictures?
Light is one of the photographer's most useful tools. In the past you probably haven't thought too much about lighting in your pictures. If the picture is dark, the flash automatically fires. Easy, right? Unfortunately, it's not that simple.
Light will act in one of three ways -- it will either refract, be absorbed, or reflect. Knowing how your light will behave and how to make it work for you is one of the biggest steps you can take towards taking the perfect picture.
Using reflected light, light that is bouncing off of something else -- can be one of the simplest and most effective ways to take a picture that will have perfect lighting.
My grandfather, photographer extraordinaire, loaned me a DVD when I was first starting to learn about photography that forever changed the way I set up portraits. It was all about using light that reflects off white surfaces to put a natural, glowing light on the face of the person you are trying to photograph.
If you feel like learning something new, try this:
1. At around 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon when light is soft and warm (do not try this in full sun at noon), find a shady spot directly opposite a large white surface.
2. Position your subject so that the light reflecting off of the white surface is bouncing right onto your subject's face. Even when it is overcast, you'll be surprised at the amount of light reflecting off the white surface.
3. Press the shutter!
It really is that easy!
You won't believe the beautiful lighting that this creates. It's like using one of those expensive reflectors that photographers use. After a few weeks of shooting like this, I found myself driving around on errands and looking for buildings that would reflect the perfect light -- and, yes, we pulled over and took some pictures!
This was taken outside at 2:30 p.m. on a dark winter day. Notice how dark the picture is? Also, because it was so dark, the shutter speed slowed down to allow more light to enter the picture. This made it slightly blurry.
When she was placed directly opposite this fence:
This was the result!
Amazing. Same time of day, same camera settings, same colors, etc. The difference is the reflected light coming off of that fence.
So What About The Flash?
The truth is that sometimes you need to use the flash. Here are two surefire tips to help you use your flash effectively:
1. When you place your subject too close to a wall or other object, the flash light casts a shadow. This is the biggest hinderance in flash photography. Try moving your subject at least 5 to 10 feet in front of your background.
2. Light may also be reflected on the forehead, nose, cheeks and chin which can make the face appear flat. Try diffusing your flash with a piece of white tissue paper which will allow for a softer light.
Have fun experimenting with light!
As always, I am here for questions or any help you might need.
I have been looking for some pretty sport weight sock yarn for a while now. Imagine my delight when I found this treasure at Radiant Yarns at Lily Pad Landing this morning.
Cupid Works for the Devil
It's in a new yarn she is calling Fat Sock. I'm all about Fat Socks, and fast projects.
I can't wait for it to get here so I can see it for myself. I may have a new addiction. I wonder if she does custom dyeing? And now I am wondering if I should have kept her to myself.
It's okay, everyone else is looking for worsted for longies and soakers. My daughter potty trained over the weekend, so I have to express my yarn lust in some other way now.
One way to make your pictures interesting, aesthetically pleasing, and of the ordinary is to consider the composition of each shot. Composition is the plan or placement of all things in your photograph. Here are some suggestions to help you with the composition of your photographs:
1. One thing to consider is the Rule of Thirds. The Rule of Thirds states that a composition can be divided into 9 equal parts with 2 equally spaced horizontal lines and 2 equally spaced vertical lines. The points that the intersection of these lines create can then be used to place objects of focus in your photograph. The Rule of Third states that when objects are aligned in this way, the result is a composition that is more interesting and aesthetically pleasing.
Take a look at the
picture below. Each child was placed at one of the intersecting points.
The result is a placement that is aesthetically pleasing and even
professional looking, even though it was taken at a moment's notice
outside on the front lawn.
2. Consider framing your shots. Doorways, tree branches, window frames . . . these can all act as natural "frames" for your subject.
3. Another composition tip -- and my personal favorite -- is to get closer. Robert Capa, an acclaimed 20th century combat photographer who covered five different wars, said "If your pictures aren’t good enough, then you aren’t close enough."
Next time you set up a shot and think you are ready to press the shutter button, take 5 steps forward. You'll find that this enables you to focus on one singular part of your subject, and the result are fantastic. Your perspective will be different, and you'll find some detail about your subject that will become the focal point of your shoot. It changes things entirely.
In this picture below (a favorite of my son), I was aiming to capture his attempts at crawling. After a few shots of his entire body, I took about 4 steps forward and snapped this. The result? A picture with leftover food on his face, a common misshap here with three children running around. Truly, this is how he looks. Had I not stepped forward, I would have missed the opportunity to capture this moment and remember always his dirty little face.
4. Think about your background. Sometimes we get so interested by the foreground of our picture that we fail to see problematic things in the background. Take a glance past your subject . . . make sure no tree branches are coming out from behind the subject's head . . . if you see something problematic, don't worry! Take a step left or right, and this will change your perspective and the view of your background.
5. My last composition tip for the week is to not be afraid to utilize negative space. Negative space is all the space that is not your subject. Don't be afraid to use it now and again -- and lots of it when you do! Note the use of negative space in the photo below.
As always, I am always available for questions, tips, suggestions, or help at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have fun shooting this week -- I know I will!
All of our products are made in the US by Americans in a well-organized first-class woman-owned and operated sewing business. That is part of the price tag of our products, is supporting the standards that we believe in.
It's an interesting topic, fair labor. I think if I ever had to go out of the US to have product made, I would go to Cambodia. Sound strange? Consider this from Fashion Incubator:
Imagine a nation where the sewing industry is characterized by:
Does this sound like Shangri la? It's not. It's Cambodia; the only poor country in the world to guarantee fair labor practices in the needle trades. Comparatively, their successes far outweigh the standards used in more developed nations. Yes, Cambodia, where one third of the population was killed during the civil war in the 70's. Today, the needle trade amounts to nearly 100% of the nation's exports and one third of GDP, thanks to a program instituted under the Clinton Administration. Then, Cambodia agreed to become an unlikely experiment in quality manufacturing and workplace standards, agreeing to random and unsceduled factory monitoring. By all accounts, the experiment was a rousing success. That is until preferential trade practices expired in 2005. Then, it seemed that all could be undone.
In a repeat of a story first run on This American Life from NPR affiliate WBEZ, Rachel Louise Snyder reported on the consequences of nation building via fair labor practices (move the cursor to 19:30, the start of the Cambodia segment). The teaser reads:
Variations on an old tale with very modern consequences. Cambodia is competing with other nations for the business of big clothing companies all over the world, buyers like the Gap, Nike, Adidas. But they've vowed to follow fair labor practices, which, while eliminating sweatshops for workers, also ensures their costs are higher. Other countries end up with the contracts - and the profits. So an official Cambodian committee sets out on a mission to convince the U.S. Congress to give them a special trade agreement. Also, a story as old as David and Goliath themselves: the tale of big sister vs. little sister.
Can a poor country survive if it treats it's workers fairly? With customers pricing packages from China where labor compliance is nonexistant, Cambodia is in a double bind. Cambodia doesn't produce the textiles, zippers, buttons and thread used in the process, everything has to be imported. Then there's infrastructure costs rivaling industrialized nations since electrity (for example) costs the same as the prices paid in downtown Tokyo. Then is the cost of compliance and monitoring itself. Currently, 70% factories are struggling. In the works is a plan to lobby the US congress for preferential trade practices. Currently, 35 LDC s -mostly sub Saharan Africa- receive lower tariffs; Cambodia is currently paying tariffs of 17% .
Still, Cambodia has retained a few good customers. One such customer is GAP; and say what you will about the company, their commitment is unwavering with 45 factories constituting about 25% of the Cambodian industry. GAP spokespersons say they have no plans to pull their factories out of Cambodia, relying on the Cambodian reputation of fair labor practices to build their brand.
If you're in the market to outsource, you can find out more from the Garment Manufacturers' Association in Cambodia or Better Factories. Better Factories provides support services and training to make Cambodia's industry more competitive -including training in lean manufacturing. From their website:
The Remediation program has been redesigned to cover 7 training modules, involving 2 groups of 7 factories over a period of 12 months. Each module lasts approximately 2 months and includes expert training, factory visits, and factory improvement plans, which help enterprises to make practical improvements at the factory level. The modules cover quality and productivity improvements, Cambodia in the global context, workplace cooperation, OSH, HR management and working conditions, and continuous Improvement.
Made in Cambodia. Finally, an outsourced label you can feel good about.
One of the best things about digital photography is that even after you press that shutter button, you have the option of using software to change your shot. Is the picture slightly blurry? Is there a leaf that blew by right at the wrong moment? Does the color look a little drab? You can change all of this! Changing the picture after you have taken it is called post processing. Here are a few simple post processing tips that will have your pictures look like they were shot like a pro!
There are many different programs that you can use for post processing, ranging from free downloads on the internet to pricier versions that the pros use. One of my favorite free versions is Picasa from google. It's available for download at www.picasa.com Here are a few of my favorite, easy to use tools that can save almost any shot.
Crop it! Is there something in your picture that just doesn't belong? Is there too much business in the periphery? Do you want to focus in on the subject of your shot and get rid of all the extras? Does your husband hate the way his stomach looks in the picture? (yes, of course you were holding your stomach out like that . . . no, it doesn't look like that in real life). Crop it!
The two pictures below are the same shot . . . the first one before cropping, the second one post cropping.
Sharpen it! Once you turn that flash off, your shutter will try to compensate for the lack of light by staying open longer (and thereby letting more light in). Because our little babies and toddlers don't know to stay perfectly still, you may notice a bit of blur. This is easily remedied! Sharpen your images with the "sharpen" tool.
The first picture below is before sharpening, the second one is with only sharpening applied.
Straighten it! Do you ever have the perfect shot set up, and then your little one moves? Does it look off center and crooked? Easy fix! Straighten it with the "straighten" tool.
Before and after straigtening:
Try some post processing this week. You can make any shot a perfect shot!