Friday, April 27, 2012

HDR Photography Intro

Word up... I know it's been only Kalli, and she's the most popular but it's time to break the silence.

I'm going to start posting new photographs of my HDR photography.  Some people will see this and wonder why it looks so weird!

So this is a little introduction to the niche world of HDR photography.


The concept is simple... use multiple exposures to recreate a scene that is more like the human eye and memory view it.

Here is an example of a recent HDR photo I took coming home on my bike:

Mexico Bici Path HDR - With Brackets

At the bottom you see the three images I used to create the photo.

If you were looking at this scene with your freaky human eyes.  When you look towards the sun your pupils SHRINK in order to take in the light from the sunset.

When you look into the darker areas your pupils dilate (get bigger) in order to take in as much light as possible.

So as you are standing there, taking in the scene, your eyes adjust to take in the entire range of light.

A camera cannot do this in one shot.

You see from this pic:



The camera could get the details with lower light... BUT the sunset was too bright.

And this pic:



This pic limits the light and is able to get a great capture of the sky... but cannot get the details from the darker areas.

And this midrange pic:


This get's all the mid range tones and details.

I use a software program to combine the images into one picture:


This picture has the details from the sky, the ground, and all the areas in between.  This view is how your mind "dynamically" saw and remembers the scene.  A camera cannot get all this range of light in one photo.

Thus we use HDR photography to process the images and great awesome photography.

Sometimes HDR can look fake or overblow, or magnificent like a painting.  This is a personal preference and depends on how the photographs are processed.

The photographer can choose to make the photo more or less saturated and impactful.  But HDR can be used to recreate a scene more like the human eye sees and remembers a scene.

Here is another recent scene I took:

Mexico Pregnant Pic

This photo was done with only one photo.  But I used a program called Lightroom to bring out the light data.

The original picture looked like this:


Notice how white the sky is and how dark Kalli and I are.

Because this is a RAW file it contains all the light data that the camera captured.

I was able to bring more exposure onto our kiss-pic and lower the exposure on the sky so that that the details could come out.

This is an example of doing HDR with only one file and where the range of light isn't as drastic.

I'll be posting more of this type of photography.

Here is another one that has a bit more saturation.

Revolucion Monument HDR

Monday, April 23, 2012

Amazing Catholic charity

While the country of Mexico is not poor in comparison to the rest of the world, it is not a socialist country by any means. Its welfare system is underdeveloped and can’t reach everyone, so there are many people in very sad situations with little access to resources to help them.

Once again, the Catholics have stepped in to help, this time at Hospital Perineotologica. I went with some ladies from our Relief Society to see what these full-time volunteer nurses do. We had gotten together to tie baby blankets for the residents of the hospital earlier last month.  There is nothing like forgetting your own problems when you see people who have life so much harder than you do.

Hospital Perineotologia 002Hospital Perineotologia 004


With only 200 hospital beds, they have to turn many away, but they help over 1000 women who are the poorest of the poor every year who are pregnant and in dire situations. They receive free medical care including ultrasounds, clothing for the baby, food, and milk because the women can’t breastfeed since they have too many health problems. Many are diabetic and get blood sugar testing and insulin. One is currently an 11 year old with a 28 year old boyfriend. One pretty lady came in with the cutest little girl. She had been raped by a priest and gotten AIDS. They get prenatal counseling to help them. These stories were of course difficult for me to hear as an 8 month pregnant woman. Pregnancy is hard enough with a healthy baby, a husband and the support of family and friends.


If you are interested, here is the contact information of the hospital. They accept donations.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Mexico is not poor.

If any of you come to visit us in Mexico (which you should) (because we have an extra room/bed/bathroom) (and it’s the closest to the US we’ll be for a while probably) (and there’s so much to do and see you would love it) (in fact Jacob ranks Mexico as his most livable country so far) (probably because it has so much shopping) (of course the weather’s beautiful too) (personally I’d rank some European cities higher but I’d still put it in the top 5ish) you will be surprised if you’re anything like me.

You will be surprised because Americans love to refer to Mexico as a “third world country” and Mexicans are negatively profiled in the US. Dirty, impoverished, ignorant Mexicans.

I now know…

#1. Mexico City has the 8th largest GDP of any city in the world, just after Osaka, Japan. It is an “alpha” city.

#2. The wealthiest man in the world is Mexican. His name is Carlos Slim. He built this museum:

carlos slim museum

#3. Mexico is a member of the G-20 major economies. Its economy is one of the top 20 in the world, larger than many European countries.

#4. Mexico is ranked #35 in literacy with a 93.4 % literate population.

#5. Mexico is the tenth most visited country in the world. Its cuisine, art, holidays, and history make it one of the most diverse and interesting destinations globally.

jacob dia del muertekalli dia del muerte

Day of the Dead (Dia del Muerte) at the Zocalo.

Summary: I will never look or think of Mexicans in the US the same again. Mexico is not the US, but it certainly can hold its own.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Chicken brain, ant eggs, and basketball

Jacob’s been playing a lot of basketball here in Mexico. Since I’ve known him, he has said he wanted to be in the best shape of his life by age 30.

After making a lot of connections and playing in tournaments and even winning a trophy with some Church ball,


Jacob was invited to play a professional basketball game.

It was his first paid game and we went in with low expectations—maybe it would not even be paid at all, but he ended up getting paid several hundred dollars! He put on a dunk show, and people asked for his autograph.


It wasn’t easy getting there though.

We’d just driven about 6 hours coming back from a vacation to Acapulco. Jacob thought it was in the city of Puebla, two hours away…after we’d been driving for two hours, we asked our driver’s daughter if we were almost there. She said we had about 6 hours to go because we were taking an alternative route to avoid a dangerous road. It still took us a while to figure out we were going to Puebla the state, not the city…a little town in the mountains called Huehuetla.


It took us about 12 hours through ear-popping altitude changes to get there. Not what this hungry, pregnant, allergy-prone sleep-deprived woman was expecting. Our driver’s racing over speed bumps and then laughing hysterically and apologizing afterwards, and having no idea where he was going and depending on Jacob’s Android GPS to get us there, and being the only car on the lonely highways of central Mexico at one in the morning were all part of the fun. Also, it was Easter weekend, so we drove around for hours looking for an open hotel. Our driver, who was the owner of the team or in some way associated with it, I’m not sure how, was very nice though, and won me over by calling me a tough warrior so I couldn’t complain. In the end, it turned out to be absolutely worth it. The state of Puebla is really charming, and after the game  we attended a traditional dance with live band and costumed folk in the town square.


They brought us chicken to eat. Tasted like chicken pot pie to me. Jacob was positive it was chicken brain. I threw up the next morning, but that could have been the combination of the windy roads through the mountains and petal-to-the-metal driver more than the chicken brain. Chickens and turkeys seemed to be the only animals they raised in this town, so I imagine they get creative with all the body parts.


On the way there, Jacob tried the traditional maggot tacos and ant egg tacos. He couldn’t eat more than a bite of either one. He couldn’t even muster pretending to like it for our driver, who endorsed them. I abstained. Didn’t get a picture, but looked similar to this:

ant eggsworm tacos


I’m really proud of Jacob that he has managed to achieve his dreams of playing pro ball just by making his own contacts in the country we happened to be in. He played very well and hopefully this will lead to more opportunities!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

10 Things I WON’T Miss About Being Pregnant

Now that I am entering my eighth month of pregnancy, here are the top 10 things I will NOT miss when it’s all over…

10. Looking like I belong in a nursing home because the front of my shirt always has food spilled on it.

9. Forgetting what it feels like to be skinny. No longer feeling curvaceous… just fat. Not being able to keep up with my old workout routine.


Can you believe I’m two months pregnant in this picture…with Alejandro from my study abroad in Vienna and his work buddy near the German museum in Mexico City.

8. Having everyone tell you your life is about to never be the same when you were already perfectly happy with your life.

7. Sleeping on my side because of being unable to walk if I lie on my back for more than 10 minutes.

6. Living in limbo without knowing how this baby thing is going to go down. Spending time with other children and wondering if my child is going to be like that one, and if so, what will I do.

5. Always being hungry yet not being able to satisfy it no matter how much I eat. Feeling guilty for chewing gum (aspartame) yet not stopping. Wondering in general if I’ve done something to hurt the baby unknowingly.

4. Not being able to go to amusement parks, ride horses, bodyboard, etc.

3. Living in Mexico and not being able to handle the chilies…chile on the candy, on the fruit, in the sauces…everything is spicy! When something is bland to everyone else, it tastes just right to me. Like this huevos divorcados (eggs with red and green sauce).


2. Navigating the Mexican health care system. Well, this one probably won’t go away after I stop being pregnant. Although, actually, some of it can be amusing. For example, to get my glucose checked I was sure I would have to drink the special nasty drink friends told me about. So I went to the hospital nearby and they handed me a little green vial. I pantomimed drinking out of it. (Pantomime being necessary when your Spanish is minimal.) No, no, they said. Finally I realized they were just wanting me to see that the needle had never been used. They tested my glucose by drawing my blood instead of that drink. They probably thought I was so weird for trying to drink it. hahaha. The hospital has been around since the 1600s and is quite pretty.


1. Not being able to take medicine!! I’ve had a couple of raging allergy days, the worst sunburn of my life, and a scratchy throat, but I don’t trust doctors that tell me meds are okay. I can’t wait til I can medicate myself again!

I should probably do a post about the ten things I’ll miss most about pregnancy, but perhaps hindsight is 20/20 and I should write that one when I’m not actually pregnant anymore.

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