About Me

Lara David
Bay Area, CA, United States
I'm just a girl, writing and photographing my way through the world, one lesson at a time. Join me on my journey - you just might learn something.
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What Is This Place?

This site is a work in progress - much like life, actually. I am an amateur photographer who enjoys playing with my Canon EOS 10D. Questions, comments, and suggestions are always welcome, since I'm really just learning. Like what you see? Encouragement would be greatly appreciated!

BSM: Come Set a Spell

I can't say there's anything about this picture that's particularly unusual or fabulous; I just like how comfortable the bench looks, flanked by these beautiful pink blossoms. Doesn't it just make you want to sit down and rest your tired bones for a bit?

For other best shots, head to Tracey's!

More Self-Portraits

I wanted to create a collage of these for the Theme Thursday this week, but time has been hard to come by for some reason this week. I always feel behind on things, like I have too much to do and not enough time to do it. So instead, you just get a few basic shots from the mirror shoot:

I like the retro feel to them, with the red lips, false eyelashes, and long soft hair. It feels very 1940's Hollywood glamour to me, but maybe I'm crazy.

And here's one a friend edited for me just because he likes doing cool stuff like that:

Isn't it neat?

BSM: Surprises in Hiding

In a stack of logs near where I work, I found this surprising image:

Tell me those don't look like little baby footprints burned into that hunk of wood. How did they get there? How did they end up in that little shape? And how lucky am I to have found them one day when I just happened to have my eyes open and my camera at hand?

For more Best Shots, go visit the lovely Tracey!

The Much-Asked-For Explanation

I'm so glad you all liked the photo! I decided to let the photo stand alone in that post, but if there were sufficient interest, I would talk a bit more about the process it took to get the final product.

So, I actually hadn't initially been planning to take the picture when I did (Monday night). I was taking a shower and decided, "You know, I really should do that while I have the time." So I got out of the shower, threw on some sweats and a t-shirt, and started setting up the shot I wanted. After about twenty minutes of test shots, adjustments, etc., I came away with an initial shot I was pretty happy with:

As should be pretty clear - since both my arms are visible here - I was using my tripod and remote timer. I left the camera, tripod, and mirror all exactly in place and went to do my hair and make-up. I did full makeup, much heavier than I would ever wear for any normal activity, including false eyelashes, because it never shows up on camera as much as it does in real life, and I really wanted there to be a sharp contrast between the two "me" images. I also borrowed a wig from my beautiful roommate to contrast my hair. I changed my shirt to a contrasting color (white), and returned to my camera set-up. After a few attempts, I got a shot that seemed close enough to the original to work for post-editing:

Now comes the tricky part. Why so tricky? Because the shot doesn't evenly divide into two simple sides, so cutting and pasting was slightly more difficult than it might have been if I could have just cut down the middle. Basically, I free-selected a section of that second photo about like this:

... and pasted it onto the original photo. (Sadly, I didn't keep files at the various stages in between, so you'll have to use your imagination for a bit.) As you can imagine, there were a few places where the paste was startlingly obvious - at my wrist, for example, and at the line of the bed at the top. I used the smudge tool (in Gimp - I don't have Photoshop) to soften those lines a bit. In the end, I was able to come up with this product:

If you look closely, you can probably still see some of the weird lines where I pasted the two images together. It's easier to see in the color version because the lighting is a little bit different based on where I was sitting in each photo. However, I always planned to do the final version in black and white anyway, so once I made that last adjustment, we have the final product:

I would say overall, the whole process took 2-2.5 hours. Yes, upwards of two hours for one photo. However, while I had the camera out and had full makeup and hair done, I did get some other good self-portraits that I'll share soon.

Hope that clears up the mystery shot!

Self vs. Self

Well, I promised you something great, and here it is. When I found out that the Theme Thursday for this week was "Self," I was stymied at first. I do self-portraits so often that it hardly seems something I could do in any sort of new or interesting way. (Of course, this is just a flat-out lie - there are always new and interesting ways to take pictures.) However, the theme was quite timely, as I'd been contemplating a shot in my head for a few weeks, and this seemed like a good time to capture it.

The idea of a self-portrait is to capture yourself, as both artist and subject. But it seems that to be able to do that, you'd have to know who that self is. What about the fact that we all have so many different selves - which one are we capturing? It's the same with a mirror, really: When you look in the mirror, who are you seeing reflected back? Is that person the same person you will see the next day, or the next? Is that the person you want to be?

These questions really have no answers, of course, and will be revisited every time I take a new self-portrait. (Or look in the mirror, I suppose.) But for today's theme, I wanted to do something a bit different. So, without further ado, here is my take, on the theme of "Self":

For more variations on the theme, go visit Stacy!

Another Lucky Shot

The ringbearer at the wedding fell asleep:

So precious!

In other news, keep your eyes peeled, because something FABULOUS is coming Thursday. Seriously, I am beyond excited about my picture for Theme Thursday this week. Just you wait...

BSM: Radiant Bride

Saturday I attended the wedding of one of my best and dearest friends. The ceremony was lovely, and the reception was fun. I had my camera with me, of course, but actually took way fewer shots than I expected. My favorite part, though, was during the spotlight dances - the mother-son waltz, father-daughter waltz, and bride-groom waltz - when I just shot without thinking too much. I opted to keep the flash off, because I wanted to embrace the blur and see what happened. I got a few shots that I liked a lot, but this one was one of my favorites:

This is a close crop of a larger shot I took during the bride and groom's first dance as a married couple. Someone in the background happened to also be taking a picture, and the flash just happened to go off as I snapped this shot. I'm glad it did, though, as it gave the bride a luminous backlit effect. It sort of matches the stars in her eyes, looking up at her (now) husband.

Here's the same shot in black and white:

Sometimes, as a photographer, I work hard to get the shot just right. But other times, I just get lucky.

For other folks' best shots, head on over to Tracey's!

How I'm Spending My Weekend

My mom rocks, and we'll be having a blast.

What are you up to this weekend?

Love Thursday: Wipe Away the Sad

This is my first ride on the Love Thursday bandwagon, but I guess I'm in a loving mood today. My much-adored mother is coming in to visit me for the weekend, and I can't wait to spend time with her. I have many pictures of her that - to me - show how much love she has to share, but this is one of my favorites.

Tears are a hard part of motherhood, but they're inevitable. My sister turned 29 this year, and yet there is our mother, wiping away her tears, just as she's done since we were children. See that look on Mom's face? That's love.

Where have you been seeing love today?

The Road Ahead

BSM: Inner Light

Another Monday, another Best Shot. I am really enjoying the first glimpses of spring that I'm getting all around me these days. I am blessed to have a job that allows me to spend time outside and/or around fresh cut flowers inside. Fresh flowers make me happy - they give hope somehow, in a way I can't fully explain. These tulips made me especially happy, because when I looked, they seemed lit from within - fiery hearts wrapped in fragility.

For more beautiful shots, head over to Tracey's place!

That's a Nice Way to Put It

The theme for this week's Theme Thursday is "Spirited." It gave me a great opportunity to show off a picture I've had for a long time actually. As with many of my photos, this is unedited - I like the way the background blurs, and the way she's slightly out of focus as she stares into the camera. It so clearly shows exactly what was happening: she was running so fast that I could barely capture her on film.

It's funny how, depending on my mood on a given day, my opinions of small children can vary so greatly. BB, shown above, was adorable always, but on some days she was just too much to handle. On other days, she was spirited.

Really, it's all in how you look at it.

For more takes on this week's theme, head on over to Stacy's place!

Looking for Rainbows

Rainbows are a magical part of childhood, as many people know already. I've known many children through the years to find great joy in looking for rainbows - not just in the sky, but on the ground or in the house too. I know a number of windows that, when the sun is in just the right spot, will cast a rainbow against the wall, shelf, cupboard, or bookcase behind them. All through the day, children will look: "Is it time for the rainbow yet?" And at just the right moment, there it is, bright and colorful where just moments ago there was shadow. If we hadn't been watching for it, we likely would have missed it.

A couple weeks ago, it was a drizzly gray day, the kind best spent inside wrapped in fuzzy blankets. As I was getting ready to drive home from work, I noticed the sun finally shining in a patch of bright blue sky... A patch of blue sky surrounded by clouds that were still pouring down rain. "There must be a rainbow somewhere, right?" I looked all around, but couldn't see one. Into my car, off towards home, still looking. But still, I saw nothing. Finally, as I was driving through the foothills, over to my left I saw it - a faint splash of color across the sky, barely visible, but there just the same. And I realized again that if I hadn't been looking for it, I might never have seen it.

I shudder to think of how many rainbows - both real and metaphorical - I've missed through the years. Maybe sometimes I was too busy to make time for it. Maybe sometimes I was too focused on the clouds to look behind them. Maybe sometimes I was hiding in bed. But I try to look more now.

My good friend Sandra has been getting a lot of bad news lately, from many of her own good friends. She is looking for rainbows of her own these days, and I'm more than willing to share with her.

What rainbows have you noticed lately?

BSM: Flawless

Trying to decide on a "best shot" for Best Shot Monday is difficult sometimes. I'm so glad I joined in with BSM, because it keeps me shooting all week, just knowing that come Monday I will need something good to show. And I like looking for good compositions, interesting subjects, the right lighting - all that good photography stuff.

But when it comes down to it, the shots that are the best for me are the ones that I can load into the computer, look at, and love - no editing required. I'll admit that it's fun to tweak the colors and play around with interesting textures and tools in my software programs, but it's more fun to just look and know that I captured that image as is.

This picture is, to me, flawless, exactly as it stands.

And yes, I like roses a lot. So sue me.

For more great shots, head over to Tracey's place!


Until very recently, all of my self-portraits were taken by hand, in a mirror. I still like that style - it's become almost a trademark of mine, those photos with camera in hand. But in the photo featured on Monday, I used my tripod and the self-timer. I certainly liked the pics that came out of it, even if you can't see the camera. I mean, hey, you can still see that hat after all!

But of course, there's a downside to doing shots with the self-timer. When I shoot pictures directly, they're taken instantly, but with the self-timer I have ten seconds to get myself settled and wait, holding a pose, holding a face for the shot. And during that time, any number of things could happen: a lightbulb could blow out, something could startle me from my pose, or...

a cat could get all up in my face. Apparently, Tenny wants to be a star - or, at least, he wants his tail to be a star.

So yeah, self-portraits aren't as straightforward as one might think (especially with cats around). But when you're lucky, you get some nice shots to show for the effort.