Condo Renovations: Kitchen Wall Knockdown!

We’re still knee-deep in the condo renovations, but we are making significant progress. As I type this, the upstairs is about 80% complete and the downstairs remodel has begun!

Downstairs officially began when we suddenly decided to knock down a wall that divides the living/dining area and the kitchen. We were having difficulty deciding on a color for the wall that “connects” upstairs and downstairs by the stairs. It was hard to decide because downstairs hardly gets any light due to the lack of windows and a wall blocks all the light coming in from the kitchen’s large glass doors. The plan all along was to knock down that wall but we weren’t going to do it until upstairs was finished and we were moving onto downstairs. Last weekend we suddenly decided to forgo that plan and just tear it down! And so we did! The result is a major wow! So much light comes in now and its wonderful. It makes such a difference, the place looks a lot more open.

Here is the Before:

You can see the light peeking through that doorway, just waiting to come in!

Where is Shawn?

Tear down!

Here is the After:

Let there be light!

Oh, and yes now we know what color to paint that wall! – Eastern Amber.


A Bright Idea

If you have been doing photography for quite some time, chances are you own some film cameras, but now since digital is the way to go, those film cameras are probably spending more time in the closet or on the shelf than actually in your hands, shooting. But you probably don’t want to part with them. Maybe they have sentimental value for you, or maybe you plan on shooting a roll of film one of these days, or maybe you’re trying to find some other use for them.  Photographer Jason Hull has a nifty idea: he takes old cameras and transforms them into night-lights.

On his Flickr set, he states: “I’m converting a few old cameras from the 50’s & 60’s into nightlights. I’m not modifying cameras if they are in pristine condition or if they’re rare, I’d rather they stay usable as cameras in those cases. The ones I’ve chosen are lightweight plastic, produced in huge numbers and easily found for sale at flea markets/ garage sales/ eBay.”

How awesomely appropriate are these for us camera geeks? I could see myself putting these in my future kid’s bedroom. Also makes me want to dust off some of my old cameras and see what kind of other useful household item I can turn it into. Which brings me to the best part of this post – yes, saving the best for last! – Jason Hull was kind enough to post a step-by-step tutorial on how to do this yourself. Check it out here: on Instructables.


Trygger: The Case for Serious iPhoneographers

It can be quite daunting with all the various iPhone cases out there, but I just came across one that makes it quite easy to choose if you’re a serious iPhoneographer.

Discovered on Kickstarter, the Trygger iPhone case is one that is dedicated to taking better photos: it comes with a polarizing filter for anti-glare.  Polarizing filters have been around for a long time – i.e. since during film days.  The purpose of a neutral density polarizing filter (whether it is used for film or digital) is: lessen brightness and minimize glare, meaning it can remove reflections from places that are prone to getting its highlights blown out, like the ocean or sky for example.  It can also darken the sky and make landscapes with greenery appear more vivid. As well as saturate colors and bump up the contrast in general.  Check out the Before & After photos below to get a good idea of the difference it makes.

The Trygger is made of 1.8mm high strength polycarbonate, so it is pretty protective while keeping the thinness of the case. The filter, which is made from high-grade optical Borosilicate glass, is adjustable; so you can control how dark or light you want it.  The way the Trygger works is: there is a felt-lined sliding back on the case, and when you’re going to take a picture, just slide it up so that the filter is over the iPhone’s camera lens, make the necessary adjustment, and shoot! That’s it. Pretty simple!

The Trygger is up on Kickstarter until July 3rd, a pledge of $35 or more will get you a case in your color choice.  While I may not personally own an iPhone (yet!? Still holding out till the 5 comes out…) I must say that if you own the iPhone 4S and you take a lot of photos with it, remember that the iPhone 4S’s camera phone is a whopping 8 megapixels – which is perfectly suitable for making 5×7 prints – you might as well take advantage of that and make a small investment to be able to get the most out of your iPhoneography skills.

Condo Renovations: Bathroom #1 & Bedroom #2

The month of May was a pretty busy one! We only had certain weekends where we were able to work on the condo, so it was a month of slow (but sure) progress.

Unfortunately we discovered some mold in the bathroom so to be better safe than sorry, we ripped out 3 1/2 of the 4 walls – including the shower walls. So basically we are starting the bathroom over from scratch!

Shawn ripping out the sheet rock and tile in the shower.

Ripping out the smaller pieces.

Shawn also installed new shower pipes – which meant he got to break out his soldering tool! He was pretty excited to use the Benzomatic.

Ah the power of fire! To the right is the finished result of the new piping.

We decided to use Dermaboard (i.e. cement board) instead of sheet rock in the shower (and most of the bathroom walls) because cement board is impervious to water and will hold the wall tile much better than sheet rock. Less damage will be done should there ever be a leak, plus it will withstand the humidity a lot better.  Later we will be tiling these walls.

This is what will be behind the tile.

Currently all the new cement board is up in the bathroom, this past weekend was spent tearing out the drop ceiling, and framing out the bathroom so that we can add dry wall to the ceiling instead of a new drop ceiling. Shawn says he is over engineering it but at least we know for sure that the ceiling won’t ever be caving in! 😉

View from the bathroom doorway.

View from bathroom window

In addition to the upstairs bathroom, we also worked on Bedroom #2. That room has popcorn ceiling – we’re not fans of popcorn style so that needed to go. However, popcorn knock down is very costly and even more messy! So we took an easier route: drilled in furring strips to the ceiling, attached sheet rock to the strips, and goodbye popcorn! No one but us would ever know that there is popcorn hiding behind there – well.. I guess you now know too huh? 😉  It wasn’t as easy as it sounds though! First we got the popcorn tested for asbestos, result was negative. So that gave us the okay to be able to drill into the popcorn and the concrete behind it. Next Shawn redid the electrical wires and made it so that we can install 2 ceiling lights and a fan.  Once the furring strips were in place, then came the hardest part: carrying the sheet rock up the stairs and holding it up, drilling it into the strips, and filling in the gaps with putty. All credit goes to my hot handy hubby on this one! I was only able to hold up smaller pieces of sheet rock during this project. (Note to self: start lifting weights more.)

Popcorn is almost gone!

Once that was completed, we could move onto the next – and more fun – phase: painting! While Shawn worked on the bathroom, I painted this room. We went with “Polar Bear” on the walls and “Full Moon” on the ceiling. Since this is also going to be an office, we went with  neutral colors. Don’t worry, I haven’t lost my craze for colors, I’ll be sure there is a pop of color somewhere in there! 🙂

“Polar Bear” under a “Full Moon.”

Needless to say it was a tiring weekend.  But we are getting there!

(Note: you can see a larger view of the images by clicking on them)

Tog Tech

I’ve been doing some guest blogging on a fantastic photography-related blog  for a couple of weeks. It’s called Tog Tech  – dontcha love that name? Clever!

If you’re a gear junkie, love all things photography, an app fanatic, an Instagram addict (like me!) or like to look for DIY projects, I suggest you bookmark and check back with it, it is a great source of info!

If you’d like to see a list of my guest blog entries, check them out here:

Klout & Moo

Last week I received something exciting in the mail: new business cards from!

Let me backtrack and explain: A couple of weeks ago, I joined – for those of you who don’t know what Klout is, it is a website that determines your “rank” on the web. You log in via your Twitter or Facebook account. Then it measures your activity on the net based on what you do on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WordPress, Google+, etc. and from that, determines your score. In their words, the score measures “influence based on your ability to drive action.” Another thing about Klout, is the more you’re active on social networks, the more perks you get. Klout Perks are “exclusive products or experiences that you earn based on your influence.” The best part is you don’t necessarily have to have a high score to be able to score perks. Also, you are in no way obligated to talk about whatever perk(s) you get. You’re welcome to rave about it, say you dislike it, or keep mum about it. Its totally up to you.  Which brings me to

I currently have a Klout score of 44 and received a perk of getting 50 free business cards (only had to pay $5 S&H) from I had heard of Moo before but had not taken advantage of their services until now. The thing that is awesome about Moo and what makes them stand out is their use of “printfinity.” This is their option of getting a different image printed on every card in the pack! This is quite awesome especially if you’re a photographer, designer, or in the arts of any kind. This makes for a great way to showcase your work and makes you stand out from the crowd a bit more. So, I immediately took advantage of my Klout perk and ordered my free 50 business cards with 10 different portfolio images. Now, we all know certain “catches” come with free things. This one was that the Klout logo had to be printed on the image side of the business card too. I was 100% cool with this though, as a business owner, I certainly understand why they want their logo on the front. If a client were to use one of my images for free, I certainly have to watermark it or have my company logo on it somewhere.

The packaging of the Moo cards was quirky – just way the way I like it!


Boo! I can see you!

I am quite pleased with the end result. The cards look really good! The colors look great, the printing is well-done, image quality is thumbs up, and the card stock is really nice – has a nice weight to it. Also, I look at the Klout logo as a plus, it is another social network thing that our clients can look into. Well done Klout & Moo! I will happily order my next batch of cards from you, Moo. Thank you for coming up with Printfinity!

Instagram for Android – finally!

As an Android phone owner and a photographer, I was quite excited when Instagram became open to Android users last month. I could now finally be a follower in the cult that is Instagram. Even though I am an Apple fanatic and own several things from an iPod to a MacPro; I don’t have an iPhone (yet? 😉 instead I currently own a Samsung Captivate.

The first photo I took with it was of one of my favorite subjects of course: my 2 dogs. After a few photos, I suddenly understood why the hype over Instagram: it’s simple and awesome.  It’s really easy to use. There’s only 16 filters to choose from. It’s square-ish shape brings me back to the times when I shot with my Hasselblad 500C. (love that camera!) Then there’s the whole social networking aspect connected with it.  Before Instagram, I was constantly using various photo apps on my phone (Little Photo and Vignette being my faves – more on those in another post). While those did some pretty neat and fantastic effects, the filters and choices were a bit overwhelming at times. I remember my first use of Little Photo resulted in a significant battery drain because I was so enthralled with the choices and spent so much time trying different effects!  Don’t get me wrong, I still love those apps and use them just as much, but sometimes one is in the mood for a more simple one, and that is the beauty of Instagram.