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taking stock #14

black and white beach and surfer photograph

so, life got away from me….

Taking stock is a month late. In between appointments with the Boy and getting the Girl moved into her new place, the truth is that I simply forgot all about it (even though I have a blog post calendar and ‘taking stock’ was clearly marked for last month!).

When I realized, I pushed it back on the calendar, because I really do enjoy these posts.  They’re a chance for me to look forward and back at what has been happening.  A chance to catch my breath, remember to eat the elephant one bite at a time and know that regardless of how much life gets away, I’ve still got a damn good one, and for that I am thankful.

So, a month late.  Here it is – taking stock #14.

Making: raspberry jelly.  Jelly has been my evening sweet treat lately – and yes, it’s the Aeroplane variety
Cooking: cooking….. arrrrgghhhhhh.  I. Am. So. Over. Having. To. Decide. What. Is. For. Dinner!
Drinking: water, water, and more water
Reading: Smith Journal.  I’ve started picking it up for my Boy because he enjoys the articles, and anything that can get a boy reading is worth buying
Wanting: another weekend on the coast with my Girl
Looking: for….
Playing: the iPod in the dock – music ranging from jazz and the 70’s through to gangster rap and electronic dance
Deciding: that enough is enough
Wishing: I lived closer to my nephews…. seeing video of their hijinks is great, but I’d love to be there in person
Enjoying: the quiet
Waiting: for our next appointment with our new functional medicine GP.  It’s so exciting to have found a medical professional who wants to help and heal you, rather than push pills or tell you it’s all in your head
Liking: that we still are having cooler nights
Wondering: if the weather will ever warm up though!
Loving: that my Girl has settled into her new life in her new town
Pondering: what next year will bring
Considering: the options
WatchingThe Vampire Dairies with my Boy.  Just about finished Season 1.  It’s fun sharing these shows with my kids now that they are old enough
Hoping: for a treatment plan that will halt the progress of my Boy’s disease
Marveling: at how the mind of our new GP works – you could see the cogs turning as she talked to us
Needing: a decent night sleep
Smelling: the raspberry jelly I just made!
Wearing: socks over feet rubbed with Happy Feet cream (it’s a mixture I make myself, and it makes my feet happy)
Following: the news
Noticing: how if I plan my top 3 priority tasks for the day, I seem to get a lot more done
Knowing: that there is always tomorrow to do more
Thinking: about how I haven’t dusted for a few weeks now.  Or ironed.  And how it’s bothering me but it’s not
Feeling: tired a lot
Admiring: the strength of women… mums in particular
Sorting: through stuff in cupboards…. still….
Buying: or bought. A new bed for the ‘spare’ room (feels so weird saying that!)
Getting: ready for after school pickup
Bookmarking: Dear Mama.  A photographic appreciation of motherhood.  Well worth a look for all mums.
Disliking: how this time of year gets so busy
Opening: a can of worms
Giggling: I told you last time… I don’t giggle
Snacking: on crystallized ginger
Coveting: the definition of covet is ‘yearn to possess’ and I really don’t covet anything… I have all I really want or need
Wishing: that it was next weekend already… my Girl is home for a few days
Hearing: the wind in the trees through the open back door

In the comments, I’d love to hear:

Do you ever get sick and tired of cooking!?

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useful online editing tools – canva photo editor

I’ve been using Canva since it’s invitation-only beta launch in 2013, and love the simplicity of its ready-to-use templates, which makes for drag-and-drop design software that is easy to use (and free!).  What I didn’t know though was that Canva also has a photo editor as part of its suite…

canva - simple and easy to use for the non-designer designer

Way back in 2011, I was just starting to tinker with my photos.  I didn’t have dedicated photo editing software and was using whatever was easy and free online.  Since then I’ve progressed from Photoshop Elements to Lightroom, and don’t have the need to use online photo editing apps any longer, but am always mindful that there are others out there, who like 2011 me, are just starting out with their photography journey.

Then one of the folks from Canva reached out and asked me to do a review of Canva’s Photo Editor, which brouth their photo editor, colour palette generator and font combinations tools to my attention as well.

So, I had a play around with Photo Editor and here’s what I thought:

There’s an array of filters to suit any style.  My personal favourites are Street (because I love dark and moody black and white images) and Cali for its matte effect.  I like too that you get a thumbnail preview of each filter so you get a bit of an idea as to what your photo will look like before you click.

where can i find the filters in canva photo editor

The next tab along allows you to adjust your brightness, contrast, and saturation.  There’s plenty of scope to play here and tweak the image.  As I’m now used to Lightroom, the sliders aren’t fine-tuned enough for my liking, but if you are just starting out with photography it’s a great way to learn about what brightness, contrast, and saturation can do to your photo.

where do i find the adjustment sliders in canva photo editor

Then comes the crop tab.  You have the option to set a custom size for your image, using the width (W) and height (H) boxes, which is handy if you know you want to resize an image to a specific size and purpose, e.g. a blog header.  The 1:1 ratio is your square option and just right for resizing for Instagram.  From there though, the aspect ratios (the relationship between the width and the height of an image) aren’t sizes that are commonly used in photography.  It doesn’t hurt to play with them though!  And they have the ever handy rule-of-thirds overlay on the photo, so you can crop to divide your frame into thirds with the main focus of your image on one of the horizontal or vertical lines or at one of the points where they intersect.

where do i find the cropping tool on canva photo editorThe resize tab is next.  If you leave the ‘lock aspect ration’ toggle box ticked, when you drag the little white circles in the corner of your image, it will keep your aspect ratio and not distort the image.  It’s when you untick it that things can get a little funky.  It’s actually one of my pet peeves… photos that have had their aspect ratios messed with… they just don’t look right!

how do i resize image in canva photo editor

The rotate function is pretty simple – clockwise or counter-clockwise.  Not something I have a use for every day, but handy to have just in case…

how do i rotate images in canva photo editor

And then finally is this flip tab.  Believe it or not, sometimes an image looks 100% better if you flip it!

how do i flip an image in canva photo editor

And there you have it – Canva Photo Editor.

It’s a simple site and while it may not be of use to the more advanced photographer (unless you’re on the road and your editing software is really playing up!), it is perfect for the photographer who is starting out and learning about post-processing.  It’s easy to use and best of all is free.

So, would I recommend Canva Photo Editor?

Yes, I certainly would.

This is not a paid promotion of Canva Photo Editor.  The team reached out and asked me to review it.  I agreed because I’m all for sharing useful tools with fellow photographers.

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inside my camera bag

This is a post I’ve been meaning to do for forever, so finally I am sharing with you (most) of what is inside my camera bag and where I work.

my gear & bag

canon eos 7dii and 550d

  1. Canon 7D Mark II: it was an agonising decision to go with this camera body, as I’d been contemplating purchasing a mirrorless camera for their (light) weight.  In the end, though, the 7D won out as I already owned Canon lenses and didn’t want them to collect dust.  Plus the 7D is excellent in low light, which makes it the perfect camera for photographing events in the school hall.
  2. Canon 550D: my original baby.  I pushed this unit to its limits before upgrading to the 7Dii.  Now it’s the camera that my son picks up to practise his photography with and the one I loan to friends when they need a larger camera than their phone.  It’s still in perfect working order and I always have this one charged and ready to go when I’m on a shoot – just in case!

canon camera lenses

  1. Canon EF-S 55-250mm: one of the original kit lenses that came with my 550D, the zoom mechanism is completely flogged out because this was my go-to lens for a long time.  I keep it in my bag because it comes in handy for photographing sports days at school.
  2. Canon EF-S 18-55mm: the other kit lens from my 550D.  It doesn’t get used all that often anymore.
  3. Canon EF 50mm 1.8: the nifty fifty. This is the lens that lives on my camera now.  I had a hate/hate relationship with it for a long time as I struggled to find its focal sweet spot, but in 2015 I made the decision to leave this lens on my camera until I mastered it.  It’s the lens I favour for photo shoots, although I’m hoping to upgrade to the 1.4 soon (ideally, I want the 1.2, but don’t know about the price!)
  4. Canon EF 85mm 1.8: I purchased this lens with the intention that it become my go-to lens… Hasn’t happened yet, so I’m thinking of doing what I did with the 50.  Put it on my camera until I master the sucker!
  5. Canon EF 100mm 2.8: I *love* this lens.  If I’m having a particularly rough day, the 100mm goes on the camera and I go into the garden exploring the world in miniature until I calm down.

speedlite 270EX II

I keep a Speedlite 270EX II in my bag as well.  Again, I had every intention of learning how to use it, but preferring to photograph in natural light, I’ve just never really had the need to master the flash.  It’s on my to-do list for this year, though.

blackrapid camera strap

I don’t know how I managed without my Rapid Strap before I bought it!  Lovingly called the Sniper-Strap, I purchased mine after attending a Love Your Camera workshop with Angie Baxter and seeing hers in action.  Since then I’ve bought one for Daughter’s camera as well.  Why do I love my strap so much?  It slings across my body and takes all pressure off my neck when I’m wearing my camera.  I can (and have) literally have my camera on my body all day without it being a nuisance.  Best money I ever spent!

camera accessories

  1. spare memory cards: formatted after each use and ready to go when I pick them up.
  2. lens pen: to keep my lenses and camera body clean and free of gritty bits.
  3. blower pen: great for blowing dust and grit off.

kelly moore camera bag

All of my gear (plus bits and pieces I’ve purchased and never really used… can you say Gary Wong diffuser?!) lives in my Kelly Moore camera bag.  It helps keep the dust off of everything when it’s not in use and protects it when I travel or am at a photo shoot.  It all lives beside the Mercedes I got for my birthday a few years back (the real thing was a tad expensive), and my 2 red hippie camper vans (because one day I’m going to own one and travel around Australia in it!).

my space

photography by tasha chawner work space

This is where I work. I made the decision to purchase an electric standing desk last year because I find that sitting puts too much pressure on my back.  I have a Human Tool Balance Spot anti-fatigue mat that helps to keep me upright and moving and alleviates the pressure on my feet when standing for long periods.

  1. I run a Dell XPS 8700.  It’s a couple of years old now, but still (mostly) working a charm.  Has the odd hiccup, but runs Lightroom (my photo editing software) easily and efficiently.
  2. I moved over to a Wacom Intuos pen and touch tablet a number of years ago.  I use it instead of a mouse as it allows me finer control when editing photos. I still have a touchpad mouse on my keyboard, as every now and again I come across programs that won’t play nice with my tablet.
  3. my Big Picture planner from Design Aglow.  I’ve customised my own weekly to-do list, but love having everything in this folder and at my fingertips.
  4. my Paperblanks journals.  One is for my jewellery design sketches. The other two are used for keeping photography tips and notes, and for sketching out poses for photo shoots.
  5. my creative matra’s for 2017: ‘I am one with the creative flow of life’ and ‘I capture the beauty of life in my art’. are my creative goals for 2017.
  6. my alter.  I keep a Ganesh and Krishna statue at my work space and an amethyst, rose quartz and clear quartz crystal.  They’re there to help me calm and remind me to engage in self-care.
  7. my glasses.  Can’t see sh*t without them anymore, so I need to know where they are at all times.  This is their permanent home when they are not on my face!

So there you have it.

my gear, my bag, my space

I’d love it if you would share a link to photos of your workspace if you have one.  I love being a little voyeuristic and peeking at how others set up their spaces.

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a few things you might not know about me

I'm not one to share a lot of myself online, but inspired by a photographer I admire, I've let my guard down to share a few things you might not know about me.

i’ve never been one to share too much of myself online

No duck-face selfies.  No excessive photos of what I had for lunch.  And no moaning about how so-and-so is pissing me off and I wish they would just stop.

Those types of shares don’t interest me.  They’re too shallow and don’t show me.  The real me.  The one who is shit-scared of frogs, won’t tolerate energy-vampires in her life and believes in ghosts.

So instead, inspired by a photographer I really admire, I’m sharing bits of me that matter.

a glimpse into what makes my life tick

How do you take care of yourself so that you’re physically and mentally prepared to be your best self every day?
My morning yoga session helps me to start my day in a positive way.  And if the day has been particularly taxing, and I’m having trouble turning my brain off, a guided meditation to fall asleep to sets me up for a good nights rest.

What’s your favourite beauty secret?
Charcoal soap, water and my home-blended-essential-oil Dew Drops moisturiser. Plus a good nights sleep and plenty of water throughout the day.

What’s your favourite outfit?
I’m a jeans girl, through-and-through. Paired with my Birkenstock Gizehs and my current favourite zombie t-shirt in summer; or hiking boots with wool socks, a men’s woollen jumper and a beanie for winter.  Comfort is key, and not giving a shit if you don’t like my t-shirt comes a close second.

What’s your favourite quick-prep dinner?
Cinnamon-roasted vegetables with couscous and grilled halloumi. Yum!

What routine is important to you?
Routines have been a part of my life since the kids were little. It was the only way to get through a day unscathed when they were growing through their terrible twos, truly terrible threes and fucking awful fours.  And it’s a habit that’s stuck.  Helps me to get shit done.

What’s in your purse?
Money, cards and my Husband’s business card. The one time I really needed his mobile phone number (in the ambulance on the way to have the Little Man’s broken arm surgically reducted) I drew a blank.  Not cool.

Where do you find your inspiration?
Books. I read. A lot.

How do you balance all of your work responsibilities along with your home life?
I’m lucky that all of my family knows how to pull their weight around the house. If there’s something pressing I need to get done, they give me space and time to do it.
The most important practice for balancing work and home that I’ve found has honestly been switching off devices (for all of us) and dancing around the kitchen singing at the top of our lungs or hanging on the couch dissing a movie. As long as we’re all together, then the world is in balance.

What’s your favourite place to be on a Saturday night?
On the couch with my Little Man, watching whatever chick flick is on the television. We love those couple of hours together.  And he’ll be pissed at me that I’ve told the world he enjoys chick flicks….

What’s the best thing you’ve learned from your children?
To appreciate modern music. Music is such a big part of our every day, and while I’ve introduced the kids to everything from Nina Simone and Billy Holiday, to Cold Chisel and ’80’s music, Mozart and movie soundtracks, it’s their turn now.  And I’m having fun with it.

If I could change one thing it would be….
Religious intolerance.  We don’t need to think alike to love alike.

In the comments, I’d love it if…

You answered one of the above questions about yourself!  Let me get to know you xo

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10 tips to stress less

7. Invite your neighbour over for a cup of tea.

cup of tea

Image Source

Do you know your neighbours?

I must admit that I don’t.

The reason why?

Our house is sandwiched between the telephone exchange and a vacant block – so we effectively don’t have neighbours.

No excuse really…

So what are the benefits to getting to know your neighbours?

It’s all about community.

Borrowing a cup of sugar to finish a cake.

Having the house watched while you’re away for the weekend.

Being sure someone will find you if you should pass away while watching the television (it happens…)

At our old house, our Neighbours were an important part of our lives.  We still visit them when we are back in our old town – they’re more like family now.

Our kids played together in the drive way – epic games of make-believe.  There were communal morning and afternoon teas, with excellent ‘Steve-made’ coffee.  Summer dinners on the upstairs verandah.  Highly competitive ping-pong matches.  Karaoke nights.  Discussing the world at length.

I do miss it.

And it’s something that online communities can’t replace.  While you can experience ‘community’ online, it will never truly replace the physical-ness of sitting and sharing.

Will you get to know your neighbour?

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