Monday, August 26, 2013

Family, Fun, and a Bush Run

My family loves to run. During the winter we take turns pounding out a few kilometers on the treadmill every morning. During the spring and summer we get up early and go for a run along the bush track before breakfast. We also love to spend time together as a family. So what would be better than to go out on a run together as a family outing?

Shoes tied and water bottles in hand we headed out to try one of the local bush tracks. Together we walked from the car to the path. Together we set off. And together we hit the first hill. My muscles were already burning as we scrambled to the top and plunged down the other side. At the bottom we hit another steep hill. Up and down. Up and down. And up and down again. I puffed and panted, sweat rolling down my face as I worked hard not to fall behind. Somehow I kept up almost all the way to the end of the track.

At the end of the track it was time for triumphant photos, inspection of wounds where various family members had fallen over on the loose rocks, and a quick rest to catch our breaths. But then, we had to run all the way back. The track had led us deep into the bush, and our water bottles and picnic were 2.5km away, back at the car. I looked at the hills. I'd never make it all that way. 2.5km back, all up and down those hills again.

We split into two groups as we headed back. There was the slow but steady group, led by me, the tired, out of practice runner. And then there was the fast group, rapidly disappearing into the green of the bush way ahead of us. I looked round at my little group. 2.5km. We could do that together. I'd make sure of it. We set off after the quicker group, our tired feet carrying us steadily up and down the steep hills, heading ever closer towards the car, our drinks, and lunch.

"You can do it."

"Just a little bit further."

"You can make it to the top of the next rise."

"Careful, it's a bit slippery here. I'll help you."

My little team and I pushed each other up the hills, encouraging each other. I was tired, and my feet and legs hurt. But this was actually really fun. I had my team, and we were doing well. I looked around at my little group and had to grin. Even us really tired people were working hard and still going. No one said that they couldn't possibly run another step. And there was the end of the bush track and the concrete path back to the car. Why, we were almost there already.


My team and I looked at each other. We grinned and nodded, then picked up the pace, sprinting past little old ladies, dogs, and children on bikes. Feet pounding, arms pumping, we flew towards the car, pulling up, puffing and panting. We collapsed on the grass, red faced, but triumphant. It might have been a long run, it might have been hard. I might have been a little out of practice. But we'd made it the whole way. I'd made it the whole way. And it was picnic time.

Looking around the picnic table not long after, I was very thankful. I had my family. I was fairly fit. And I'd had a whole day of fun. It might have been a tough run for me. But it was worth it to spend time with my family like this. Yes, I was very thankful indeed.

Friday, August 23, 2013

How to Make a Colour Splash Photo

I have always admired other people's photos. How do they manage to compose the photo so perfectly? How do they get the lighting just right? And how on earth do they manage to edit those pictures so spectacularly, like that great effect where just one thing in a black and white photo is coloured? Obviously they must use some extra special editing programs that are incredibly difficult to use. Normal people couldn't do it. Or could they?

The other day my clever mother found out how to make these colour splash photos, and she taught me how to do it too. You only need a photo and some simple, free, online photo editing software. It's so easy that even I can do it! I'm going to show you how you can make these fantastic your photos, even if you know nothing about photo editing.

Step one is to find a photo to use. You can use one of your own, or, if you're like me and aren't any good at actually taking photos, you can use a free one. Most of my photos come from Morguefile, a creative commons photo resource website. I find that using a photo with a strong subject in a strong colour makes the photo more striking. This is the photo I've chosen.

Now go to Picmonkey. It's a free online photo editing program, and it has all the tools that you're going to need for this. If you need to play with the colours and brightness in your photo, now's the time to do it. Make sure that the part of the picture that's going to be coloured is just how you want it to look. Once you've started the next step it's difficult to go back and fix colouring. My picture already looks ok, so I'm ready to move on to the next step.

This next step is where the magic happens. Go to the 'Effects'. It's in the left sidebar, and looks like a bubbling flask. Scroll down and click on the black and white effect. Now your whole picture should be black and white. Do not click on apply. You should see a floating window with slider bars sitting near your picture. This is the paintbox, and it's going to help you make your amazing photo.

Make sure that the 'original' button is clicked on the paintbox. Hover your mouse over the picture. It should be a little round circle. Click and drag across the part of the picture that you want to colour. The black and white effect will disappear. Use your paintbrush to colour the subject of your picture. This might take a while, and can be a little fiddly. If you make a mistake, just click 'Effect' on the paintbox and rub over the mistake and it'll go away.

Once you're sure that you've got the picture right, click on 'apply'. And there you have it, your black and white picture with a splash of colour. Isn't it awesome looking? And you didn't need anything special to make this effect.

If you're feeling like the black and white is too harsh, you can use the slider bar in the left sidebar, where you clicked on the black and white effect, to fade the black and white, like I've done in this picture. This lets a little colour into the picture, but keeps everything except the painted area very muted.

Isn't my mum clever to know how to do this? And now you can do it too. Why not give it a try? Then leave me a link in the comments so I can go and see your masterpiece. I'd love to see what you come up with.