Photo Tutorial: Improving Your Pet Photos In 4 Steps!

I originally posted this tutorial for our members on the Rat Chatter Forums, where I am a moderator. I also wanted to share it on my blog.

Everyone can learn to improve their photos with these simple steps. All you need is a photo program like: Paint Shop Pro, Adobe Fireworks, Photoshop, etc. There are also free programs out there on the web that will allow you to edit your photos to show their best. Picasa 3 is a free photo editing program. PhotoBucket even has a buit in program for editing photos as well.

I wanted to give a short tutorial on how you can edit your pet photos in just 4 steps to make them look their best. I'll be using Photoshop 11, but you can also do these steps with other photo editing programs.

Note: To view the pictures full size in this tutorial please click on them.

Here is our straight out of camera original photo:

This photo is good, but it has a gray overcast to it and needs to be sharpened & brightened up!

Step 1: Sharpening Your Photo.

Sharpening your photo will make it clearer & crisper. (It helps to pick a photo where the subject is in focus.)

Let's sharpen our photo & compare it with the original. You can see the sharpened photo is clearer.

Step 2: Brighten & Contrast.

We need to brighten up our photo a bit & increase the contrast.

I increased the brightness to 10 & the contrast to 5 for this photo. (You can increase or decrease to your liking.)

Let's Compare:

Step 3: Color Balance

I'm going to increase the color balance towards warmer because this photo has a gray overcast look to it.

I slide the bar towards warmer to warm up the photo and get rid of the gray look. (You can increase or decrease to your liking.)

Let's Compare Again:

Step 4: Increase Saturation

The last step is increasing the saturation to give the photo more color. This tool is usually called: Hue & Saturation.

All I'm going to do is slide the saturation bar up to 8, this makes the color stronger. (You can increase or decrease to your liking.)

Let's Compare:

Now that's we've finished let's compare the original photo to the finished version:

You can see our finished photo is clearer, crisper & brighter than the original. Just 4 easy steps is all it takes to make your photos look their best!

1 more tip for getting clear photos. If your camera has a MACRO setting, it will help for taking close up clear pictures without being blurry.

I use a Sony Cyber Shot DSC-W55 for all my pictures.


Wedding News...

I've got a bunch of questions from Misguided Mommy, so I'll answer some of them heehee!

Whats up with you and FB lately you haven't updated us in ages. Gosh! Nosey people need answers! How is he? Did he end up finding a job? Have you heard about your visa? Do you know where you are going after the wedding? How is work? Gosh girl your leaving us all hanging over here!

1. F.B. is fine. We were going back & forth on each other's facebook pages today. We have been meeting for "dates" every other day online to chat. I think we spent almost 4 hours talking today.

2. We did discuss some wedding dates for December. Right now we are waiting to see when his parents will book the hotel we will have our wedding "reception" at. I believe it's just going to be a small dinner with family & friends. I do know it's going to be at a hotel in Manila. But we aren't sure which one yet. I've already invited my friend Gayle to our wedding dinner, which I'm excited about! Gayle & I met on myspace a few years ago. She is also a mutual friend with my old coworker & friend Christie. We got to meet in Makati City in January 2008.

His parents have also said they will pay for 2 nights at a hotel for our wedding night. I don't think we are really having a honeymoon, since my whole trip in the Philippines is like a vacation. I do think F.B. & I will take a day trip to the beach sometime (Maybe Cavite?) and we talked about staying a few nights up in Tagaytay again, since they've built more shopping places, restaurants since our last stay there and we could go to Enchanted Kingdom too. Plus I always love seeing Taal Volcano. We won't be staying at the same hotel we did last time though!

3. Next year I'm not going back to the Philippines. F.B. & I have already discussed this. We agreed to take a year off from traveling due to the expenses. He's going to focus on the job thing next year and take anything he can get so he can save up some money for when he moves over here. He also won't have to worry about taking time off work to be with me if I come to stay 2 months.

I'll be working here in the USA with our immigration lawyer and be able to save more money while I'm not worrying about $1,500 plane tickets and other travel expenses. Immigration may take up to 2 years. I will be going back to the Philippines for another visit in 2011. The long distance sucks... but at least we'll be working on our immigration process and closer to being with each other for good!

4. Visa question can be answered here!

5. And work question can be answered here!


Ginger & Nutmeg

Just some pictures of Ginger & Nutmeg from the park last week. (Ginger is Blue Hooded. And Nutmeg is an English Irish Dumbo.)

I really love animal & nature photographs, which is why I always take so many! You can view some of my pet photos on Flickr Here.

I ordered a Marshall Carry Sack with some of my birthday money. It was smaller than I thought, but still big enough for at least 2 ratties and alot easier to carry around than the plastic carrier I use for them in the car, etc. Nutmeg was a little hesitant this time at the park. But Ginger just stuck her head out of my bag and was looking all around.

Oh! And an update on the Cute Workout Clothes post. I always forget Old Navy's sizes are cut larger. I had to return both the hoodie & pants for smaller sizes. So now I'm waiting for my exchanged items to come back! Believe me, if you're a small in a hoodie, you'll need an extra small. If you're a medium in pants, you'll need a small. I always forget that with Old Navy.


Cute Workout Clothes!

I ordered some cute workout clothes yesterday from Old Navy. I really want to go hiking/walking in the park 2x's a week for extra exercise and wanted something cute but more comfortable than jeans to wear. I've already got a pair of purple & gray Adidas sneakers I've never worn in my closet too. Both items were only $15.00! Can't beat that! And the hoodie is adorable, I love the flower design on it! If I had extra $$$ I would have gotten the other colors too.

Women's Graphic French Terry Hoodie

Women's Active Drawstring Pants


Another Birthday.

I'm 27 today... another year older, lol. Went to the park in the morning and took Saffy with me. Got alot of nice pictures and it wasn't too warm out in the early morning, I could actually wear a hoodie. Ran into 4 angry mean geese though blocking the path. Two bikers couldn't get through, I couldn't get through, whenever someone would try to walk to the side of the path out of their way they would flap their wings and chase after you! Finally a lady with a dog came through and the geese scattered. I guess they had a nest somewhere close to the path. I think I'm going to start going to the park twice a week for extra exercise... those hills kick my butt! Sad to say alot of my jeans have gotten tighter on me... and I have 2 months and 3 weeks to make them fit again! blah!

My boy sent me a letter & two birthday cards and a Watson's Drugstore Lemon Lip balm! He said he had to search 8 stores for it, maybe they are about to discontinue that flavor? I lost the last one he sent me in the creek at the park accidentally a few months ago, it fell out of my pocket accidentally. I promised him I wouldn't take this one to the park! Heehee!

After a quick stop at Starbucks, I was heading to the supermarket when my Service Engine light came on in my brand new Nissan Versa. I've only got 2,100 miles on and I'm not even due for an oil change until I hit 4,040 miles. I checked the manual and it said to check the gas cap, nothing was loose. I even stopped and put $5 worth of gas in even though the tank was already over the halfway point. The light was still on. I called Nissan and I have to take the car up there tomorrow at 9:30am because it could be something with the engine or emissions? Fun....

Turned around and headed to the library to pick up the 6 books I checked out. I love my library. They have an online catalog and I can just pick the books out and they email me when their ready to be picked up. I got there at 11:50am and there were a bunch of people waiting outside... they didn't open until 12pm on the dot.

My birthday got better in the evening. Steak pizza with the family & a chocolate chip cookie cake. Also got alot of great presents. A Sentry Safe from my parents. I've been wanting a fire proof box for awhile, now I'll be able to put my birth certificate, marriage certificate (In December!) and our immigration papers in my lock box. 5 for $25 Victoria's Secret Hip Huggers, Marshall Carry Sack for my ratties and my brothers got me a flashback from my childhood the 1st 3 seasons of the Animaniacs on DVD. Haha.

My passport came back on Friday with my 59 day visa. The expiration is still weird, it's 2 days after I arrive. Maybe I need to send it 1 month before I leave instead of 2. At least I know, once I enter before that date, I can still stay 59 days.

UPDATE 9-5-09: So as I'm approaching the exit I get off to go to the Nissan Dealership the stupid Service Engine Light goes off! WTF?! I still pulled into Nissan and the mechanic said if the light went off it's fine & he doesn't need to check it out. He said sometimes when you get gas if the cap isn't tight enough, etc, when you start the car the computer won't recognize something and it will take driving a certain amount of miles to make the computer reset. Gee, I wish the guy that I talked to on the phone yesterday had told me all I needed to do was drive it! What a waste of time! Glad the car is okay though!


Completely forgot to mention...

I mailed off my passport to the Philippine Consulate in New York almost 2 weeks ago for my 59 day tourism visa! And if my application and paperwork is filled out properly, etc. I should be getting my passport back with my visa in a few more weeks.

I still have to go shopping for another medium roll away suitcase. Last time I went away I just took one big HUGE roll away suitcase. It ended up being overweight on the way home and the airline made me repack it. It's a pain to take more than 1 suitcase (for me.) because when I get back to the USA, I always have to claim my luggage and then recheck it after I've been through customs.

But... this time I'm going to take two suitcases. I have a large but not over large purple roll away I've taken with my before, and I'm going to get a medium one as well so that way the weight my luggage will be more even and I hopefully won't have any issues with overweight luggage. So far according to my airlines rules, I shouldn't have to pay any extra for 2 bags since I'm traveling to Asia. But if I run into baggage fees, I'll just have to deal with it.

F.B. & I have been in discussions about a possible date for our wedding. His parents want to give us a reception and will have to make arrangements to set that up and they will also have to give the judge that will be marrying us a specific date. We've narrowed it down to a few different dates in December that will give us enough time to get our paper work done but nothing is definite yet, and... since I still want to do a wedding date blog giveaway, I won't be sharing it on here even when we do know. *wink*


Another season has ended...

Friday was my last day at work for awhile. Another season of work has ended. I've been a seasonal clerk at the Dept of the Treasury for 7 years now. Our work season usually runs from January through September. We are usually always let go just before Labor Day, but last year I was lucky and we worked until the end of October. It's different every year depending on how much work there is. I won't be going back to work until the end of January 2010.

So now I'll have some down time before I leave for the Philippines in a few months. I have to finish making copies for our immigration paperwork. I'd like to go to the park and walk around, take pictures. It would be nice to go to some other places I've been wanting to visit too.

I've been so worried over when we would be furloughed I forgot my birthday is coming up in less than 2 weeks. The other day F.B. & were chatting online and he said, "I'm going to mail you a letter this week." Since we usually only mail letters during special occasions I asked, "Why? Just because?" He said, "Someones birthday is coming up..." Oops! Lol! I completely forgot about my birthday this year.

I ordered some more cubes from my friend Brittney's rat rescue a few weeks ago. They are $10 each and the proceeds go towards Star's Rat Rescue.

My girls love the cubes, Sugar especially. She sleeps in it all the time. They loved their last cubes to pieces so it was time to order some new ones! Here are some pictures of all the girls:






Sugar's tumors are getting larger. She has one under her left arm and another on her belly near her left back leg. Since she will be 2 years old in October, I am not going to put her through the surgery to have them removed. Even though they are getting larger, she is still able to get around, walk up& down the ramp in her cage and comes running for yogurt peanuts!

You can see how larger her tumors are getting in this picture:


Taste Testing! (Asian Aisle)

I had a taste testing Friday night with my parents & three younger brothers. We tried all of the products I won in the Asian Aisle giveaway. (Thank you so much Cindy!) Some of the products, I’ve linked to the Asian Aisle blog where they were featured. (The products that have not been featured yet are linked to their manufacture website, etc.) I had a really fun evening trying all of these interesting and unique products and wanted to share my reviews.

SOO Singapore Jerky: Pork Jerky & Hot Pork Jerky.


The jerky had a sauce like coating on it. It tore really easy into smaller pieces and was really yummy. It reminded me almost of boneless spare ribs from a Chinese takeout place. I actually liked the spicy one better.

Philippine Dried Mangoes


Ahhhh this is why I entered the giveaway in the first place! I love Philippine dried mangoes. There is no better mango then a Philippine mango. These are sweet and chewy and addictive! F.B. and I would buy them everytime we visited the grocery.

Kasugai’s Gummy Candy. (Flavors: Apple, Grape, Muscat, Pineapple, Orange.)


I love the packaging. Each one would say the flavor and, “Comes in a attractive small bag” Heehee! Apple was good, I love orange. Even the muscat flavor was good. Kind of a cross between an apple & grape flavor to me. Pineapple was not so good. My brothers agreed- it didn’t really taste like a pineapple.

Pocky: (Almond Crush & Strawberry Cream.)


I’ve seen pocky in the international aisles at the supermarket, but I’ve never tried it. I really liked it. The chocolate on the almond crush one was really rich and creamy. The strawberry cream was awesome too. They have a nice crunch to them almost like a cracker or cookie.

Yan Yan Vanilla Cream Snack


Everyone had so much fun with these! All of the biscuit cookies have silly sayings on them. My Mom cracked up because she got one that said, “In a hole.” She made me take a picture. My Dad got “Beware of lies.” You dip the cookies in the vanilla cream. I would definitely get these again. My fiancé said he’s had them in the Philippines.


Nagaraya Barbecue Cracker Nuts


Wow! I’ve seen these in the Philippines and F.B. said he’s also had these before, but I never tried them. These were everyone’s favorite. The peanuts are so light and airy with a crunchy coating. Never tasted anything like them. I love the smokey barbecue flavor too. Will definitely be bringing some of these home on my next trip to the Philippines!

Hello Panda (Biscuits with chocolate cream.)


Yum! Yum! Yum! These were soooo good! The cookie is light and airy and crisp with rich chocolate cream inside. Everyone loved these! F.B. said he has had these before too over in the Philippines. I would definitely buy these again!

Ramune Carbonated Drink (Melon)


Opening the bottle was quite an experience! You have to use this plastic plunger thing and push it into the top of the bottle; this releases a marble. When you open it, it sounds like a bottle of champagne opening! The bottle’s unique shape keeps the marble from going down into the bottle. We each tried a little of the soda. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t sweet enough for my liking. I’m keeping the bottle; it’s so different and neat looking!

Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce


It says HOT for a reason! I only had the tiniest little taste of this and my mouth was on fire! It might be okay diluted with other sauces; it’s not bad, just hot. My 14 year old brother has a fondness for hot stuff. He took a spoonful of this stuff! And his eyes were watering, but he loves it! Haha!

Sambal Oelek Ground Fresh Chili Paste


This wasn’t as hot and has a different, almost sweet taste to it with a thicker texture. Will definitely find a use for this. I have some rice noodles in the cabinet; I will have to put together a stir fry dish with this sauce.

Philippine Brand Mango Juice Nectar


So yummy! Everyone enjoyed this too. Like I said, Philippine mangos are… well, heaven! It reminded me of sitting at my fiancé’s dining room table eating a fresh mango. (He would cut a half, and you would eat it with a spoon.) This was really good juice!

Ginger Candy


I’m not too fond of ginger, so I didn’t know what to expect with this candy. The rice paper covering was different- I did try to peel it off, even though it's supposed to disolve in your mouth, haha! It was chewy and spicy and I was surprised that I loved it! It reminded me of Brachs cinnamon heart candies. My Mom really enjoyed this too.

Flower’s Kiss Candy


Unique flavor. I’m not sure what the fruit flavor is supposed to be. I love the pretty paper and flower design. These were not bad at all, I liked them.

Meiji Gummy Choco (Strawberry, Muscat, Orange.)


I had a similar candy in the Philippines that I didn’t like because they were too gummy. But these were firmer and very fruity with a chocolate coating. You can smell the fruit when you open the container. I love the container- I think I’m going to keep it when their all gone, it’s so cute!

Hi-Chew (Flavors: Orange, Lemon, Green Apple, Strawberry, Melon)


Love love love these! I’ve never tried these before. The remind me of a firmer chewier starburst candy. Orange was the top favorite with everyone, followed by strawberry. Melon was surprisingly good, it tasted like fresh cantaloupe. The orange flavor, as well tasted just like an orange! All of them were good; I’m going to have to hunt these down around here in Philadelphia!

Botan Rice Candy


Different, another candy with a rice paper coating, hehe. These were chewy, with a slight orange citrus flavor. Not overpowering though, not bad.

Marukawa Bubble Gum. (Various Flavors.)


When I think of gumballs, I think of that hard crunchy break your tooth coating, haha! These were really soft and chewy & had a strong fruit flavor. All of the flavors were really good. Everyone liked them.

I also thought it was funny that underneath there was a piece of styrofoam that said this!


I had alot of fun with this taste testing! I really want to do another blog like this, with Philippine snack foods & candy when I am back in the Philippines in November. I would also like to do a Philippine snack food giveaway! (Look forward to at least 2 giveaway's while I'm in the Philippines! *wink* )

Similar Blog Posts:

Phil-Am Foods

Philippine Snack Foods

Foreign Food Cravings


Wow! (Updated)

I can't believe it! I've won my 1st blog giveaway! Wow! Wasn't expecting that!

I've been reading Asian Aisle for about a month now. I love this blog. It is all about different foreign foods around the world; mostly snack foods. Since I've been to the Philippines 3 times now (getting ready for my 4th trip in 3 more months!) I'm intrigued by foreign foods & snacks. There are really some interesting ones out there!

So excited! Here is what I entered to win. I have to admit the Philippine dried mangoes tempted me- they are so good and I can't find them anywhere around here! F.B. & I used to buy a bag every time we went to the supermarket. I love wandering around the supermarkets in the Philippines. I will have to take some pictures of interesting products my next trip back!

Edited 8-6-09: Thank you so much Cindy, from Asian Aisle! My package from the giveaway arrived today and check out all of the goodies! So exciting! I just love the little ribbons too & the ducky stationary! I can't wait to have a taste testing with my family this weekend. I will try to blog about all of the neat products! Thanks again!


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