Monday, February 25, 2013

In need of focus... After Focus (App review)

So for the second time in, oh, FOUR DAYS we're about to get socked by Snowzilla. Really? Really Old Man Winter? Do I have to throat-punch you to make it stop?

*sigh* At least snow gives great opportunities for pictures of the kids, right? Well, when they'll comply. Which isn't often. Thank God for my phone. And the thing is, I HATE my phone. Passionately. Hate isn't a strong enough word... neither is loathe. In fact, my feelings are so strong that after I finish this post I'm going to dig out a thesaurus and find new ways to describe how much I hate my phone.

But right now I"m stuck with it... at least until I can decide if I'm staying with Verizon and if I'm going to go iPhone or Android or smoke signal, or perhaps learn semaphore. So I'm making the best of a meh situation and loading this rockin' Samsung Fascinate out with apps... and wouldn't you know it, I found one I REALLY like.

Ever taken a great selfie shot only to discover you got that pile of (clean! I swear, it's clean!) laundry on the bed behind you? Or taken a truly lovely photo of your child only to find out AFTER posting it that some CHARMING PRANKSTER in the house decided to hang your bra on the banister for all to see (thanks. Thanks A LOT. Not that it's ever happened to me... *cough*) Stop worrying about it. Let After Focus take care of you. After Focus can be downloaded for either iOS or Android platforms. There's also a Pro version ($1.99 through Google Play) which I have downloaded, if only as a thank you to the creators for making such a great app. Seriously, this thing rocks out.

The After Focus App allows you to take
pictures within the app or select from your
phone's gallery. I tend to choose the
latter so I can fully control how
my images look. Yes, I'm a control
freak. What, are you new?
Once you choose "Select from Album"
you'll... well, you'll select an image
from one of your phone's albums.
What did you expect? 
Choices! After Focus has two methods
in which you can control your focus
areas: Smart focus allows you to
choose generalized areas for primary
focus, mid, and background; Manual
gives you full control. Without a
stylus (You go, Note 2 users!)
I recommend Smart.

Your bottom toolbar allows you to
start by chosing your primary focus
area with white lines. You don't have to
be overly precise. 
Your primary focus zone will remain
red. Midrange is denoted with
the grey line, and background with
the black. If you screw up, no worries-
that's what the eraser is for. 

Since "smart" modes are seldom
Ivy League in nature, you'll likely have
to do some fine tuning. The zoom feature
lets you get in and do that, so half
of your kid's head doesn't end
up a blurry mess. 

Once you're satisfied with your focal zones,
click on the "play" button and see what you
think! Not happy, hit the "rewind" button
on the top left and do it again. 

Now you can fine tune- Adjust your
level of blur (and choose motion blur
if you prefer), as well as other
aspects of 'aperture control'. 

And if you're twitching because NO
are several to choose from, from
high contrast black and white... sepia tones...

... as well as antique and cross-processed
Your last stop can add a vignette or
even sharpen up your image a bit.

After Focus allows you to save your
edited image to your camera's
micro SD card as well as shoot
it out to others via instagram, gmail,
facebook, twitter, flicker, and picassa
uploads. Now everyone can see how rockin'
that roast beef sandwich really was!

While it may not be GREAT ART, for this Mama it's a happy rememberance
of a day on our favorite sledding hill with their new sleds. And really,
isn't that all that matters?

After Focus is remarkably easy to use, though you do get your best results working in manual mode with a stylus as I did on the photo below. While there aren't as many filters as in, say, Instagram, there are enough to satisfy (and more options available through Pro). Simply put, if you're wanting to achieve that shallow depth of field look- or want to make those bright pink unmentionables disappear (AGAIN... THANKS)... give it a try. 

You've gotta admit... that's kind of cool :)

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Sunday Drive-- Trifecta

His rifle in the back of the car, 
A blanket of pine needles over hollow bones. 
Relief came, no sensation of panic
As she drove back to the house. 
He wouldn't be discovered. 

This weekend we are playing another type of word game with you.  Below are photos from the 33rd page of one of our very favorite books, Elizabeth Strout's Olive Kitteridge.  What we want you to do is to scour the page (click to enlarge), choose 33 words, and reshape those words into a piece of your own.  Your piece does not have to tell an entire story.  We just want to see what you can do with this particular word bank.  Punctuation is up to you.  Use whatever you need, whether or not it appears in the photos.

It was my first time trying Trifecta (Or Triextra in this case)... That was harder than I thought! Give it a whirl....

Thursday, February 21, 2013

#KetchupWithUs.... Raise your Glass!

Happy Thirsty Thursday and HAPPY NATIONAL MARGARITA DAY-EVE!  Thanks to @olddognewtits and @accordingtomags for giving me a reason to buy more tequila.

As if I needed a reason.

In 57 words or less, tell us about the best drink you ever had

When the sun is high and the temps are hot,
And the party's just begun in the parking lot-
Put on your party panties like the Sisters do,
And come try a cup of our signature brew!
We've got something better to do with that Corona-
'Cause everybody loves Sister Mary's Margaronas!


Assemble ingredients, grouping them nicely on the counter while
your cat tries to steal your soul...

Make ridiculous duckfaces at your camera. And
this is BEFORE you've had anything to drink.

Pour half a bottle of Cuervo silver into your pitcher,
shaker, or whatever.

Pop the top off a bottle of Corona light. A regular sized bottle,
not the Coronita things. And if you can, use a cool bottle opener 
like the one I have, shaped like a guitar. Thanks Corona girl
at the Arlington, TX Hooters. 

Briefly turn into a college girl on spring break when
you give into the urge to put on a cowboy hat
and plastic lei and pose with a bottle of beer.
No shame, people. No shame. Then pour the beer
in with the tequila.

Add the frozen limeaid concentrate. Well, it probably isn't very
frozen at this point, but that's okay. Add it anyway.
Apply your @TeamCocktail  Slap Boozie. I mean,
that's not CRITICAL but it does make the whole
experience less slippery and more... colorful.

Gently swish to mix. Don't shake, for the love of God, don't shake! 
Finish off with lemon-lime soda. Amounts vary- we usually use about a liter for 
this particular amount to start. It will depend on your particular tastes and how 
sober/inebriated you'd like to be. 

Pour into your favorite margarita glass... or, if you're like me, realize that you aren't
sure WHERE your margarita glasses are, or even where the decent wine glasses are..
wait, where is ANYTHING actually  made out of glass?
Then you'll pour it into whatever you can find, regardless of how
appropriate it is. 

Even if it's a cheerful Christmas 2007 Snowman Cocoa mug. 


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Weather Reports in BOLD FONT

I wish I had more time to write tonight, but I don't. See, we are under a

Hrm. I don't think I made that... urgent-y enough. Let's try again.
We are under a


Yes, I know I live in the midwest, and yes, I realize it is February. But people! This is a WEATHER EVENT. There is a WEATHER EVENT bearing down upon us and I am NOT PREPARED.

Well, I'm sort of prepared. There is a (clean! Yes, clean!) trash can full of firewood in my living room. No, I"m not joking. My man, he knows how to take care of us even when he's not around for the WINTER WEATHER EVENT. And he takes care of us... by filling an oversized rubbermaid trashcan full of firewood and depositing it in the living room.

There's been rumor of a potential "event" for the last week or so, but last night someone posted a weather map that predicted up to 20" of snow for our area, which meant that it was getting real, yo. And today our local weatherfolk began creating their graphics for the upcoming onslaught.

I've become more than a little jaded about the weather forecasts lately. After three years of crazy snowfall (who can forget the Blizzard of 2011... am I right? AM I RIGHT?), it's been dry pastures around here. Too often we've had a lot of this..

 but got this: 

Or, you know, something like that. 

But I don't know, I"m buying into this a little bit. Enough that I decided maybe I should stock up on a few things. A few important things. Like transportation needs

And important nutritional supplements

And... well... dammit, it's supposed to snow. Don't judge Mommy. 

Obviously tomorow will be spent preparing for the coming onslaught. We need ice melt. We need a frying pan that can be utilized over the fire in case of POWER OUTAGES. We need  MARSHMALLOWS AND HOT COCOA THAT IS RICH AND CREAMY. Obviously I will be on top of it all. How could I not be? I have a trash can full of firewood in my living room. 

Wow, bro! Look at that firewood! oh, yeah, and new sleds, too... but the firewood!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Social Responsibility

The other day, while checking out one of my favorite websites- -  I was treated to images tweeted by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield (@cmdr_hadfield) as he orbits the Earth while aboard the International Space Station. The pictures are, beyond the shadow of a doubt, awe inspiring. In the snarkfest of social media, Hadfield's pictures make you stop for a moment and consider the bigger things in life.

It got me to thinking... how does my use of social media impact others? How do I inspire the world? Looking back at some of my 1,162 tweets (you can follow me at @thepiratemommy) ... I think I do a pretty damned good job. See what you think.

Inspiring stuff, huh? You're welcome world.