2011 Christmas Portraits – lickedee split!

by on Dec.20, 2011, under Creativity, Family, Photography

Took some snaps of my kiddos for the 2011 Christmas cards – did them fast!

This past weekend was pretty busy (broken record) and Liz came home on Saturday (after shopping) and said, “Why don’t you pull out all the fancy camera equipment and take some pictures of our kids in the backyard so I can get some Christmas cards done?”

“But it’s going to to be too late.”
“Really? Christmas is just a week away…”
“But I’m right in the middle of working on my computer…”

Luckily…those were just thoughts that my brain expertly managed to trap behind my lips.

“Sure Honey…when?”

“Right now!” she responded and went to the backyard with some garland she had purchased and began to decorate the back fence. She then coaxed the kids to dress up and wear their Santa hats.

…yeah…coax is the word I would use…

I snapped some pics under a cloudy, overcast day and tried experimenting with a shoot through umbrella with mixed results. I’ve posted some below.

In an hour, we had downloaded the photos, culled them and I did some minor color corrects, then we jumped on Ritzpics.com, uploaded the photos and created a card – the one above.

On Sunday @6pm, we drove to Wolf Camera at the Quarry where Liz picked up the cards. By 10pm, she had them all addressed and stamped. She dropped them in the mail on Monday. We didn’t even have one left so I had to log back into Ritzpics.com and screen snap the card!

“Lickedee Split!”

See some of the photos we used and didn’t use below. Some have been corrected some have not. Even Mom and Dad got into the spirt with Emmy snapping a photo and Max got jealous so he got one pic too. You can click on the images for a larger view.

Merry Christmas everyone.


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It is Christmas!

by on Dec.24, 2010, under Film making

Just about 15mins ago my package arrived! Wasn’t expecting it until Monday or Tuesday but Santa must have heard my thoughts! I almost hugged the FEDEX guy.

Now the question is…do I wait? Or do I tear into it?

I think I’m gonna have to wait….grrhh…..

I couldn’t wait! I opened it up and found only HALF of it here! :-( Bummer.

I guess it’s shipping in multiple boxes and the other half will be here next week.

Santa…you’re such a tease.


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Cyber Christmas Carolers?

by on Dec.24, 2009, under Around the Web

Just when you thought you’d seen everything…Robots dancing to Christmas music.

I must it admit, it does look cool though. Although, I see them and think of the song, “Hey Mickey.”


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Suck It Up and Be A Woman Dec2017

by on Dec.25, 2017, under Creativity, Family

Below is College Scholarship Essay by Emma Saldivar

Every year, my family has a tamale-making day a week or so before Christmas. Everyone from my mother’s side of the family gathers in my Aunt Julie’s house and we spend the evening in tamale frenzy. Now the women in my family have an organized system for how these tamales get made. One person washing the cornhusks, two people spreading the masa, two people filling them with the different meat, and a person folding them and putting them in the pot. At the head of it all is my five foot zero aunt, standing on a stool, spreading masa and giving orders like there is no tomorrow.

In my family you get thrust into this controlled chaos of women fairly young. These tamale sessions are only one example of how the women of my family control things. I am the second youngest woman in my family, with the next oldest being four years older than me. I was separated enough to just observe everything the rest of these women said or did. I make a fool of myself for the enjoyment of others because that’s what my Aunt Maggie would do. I am very competitive because my Aunt Julie and Aunt Bibi would find a way to turn anything into a competition. I try to find the middle ground in arguments because my mother was often a mediator for family disputes.

The ratio of women to men is two to one. The women are in charge of this family and all the men know it too. They know that once our minds are made up there was no possible way to change it. My feisty aunt has more power than her husband who is more than a foot taller than her.

Everyone is also very loud, as any Hispanic household should be. Every time we are gathered together, many conversations are held at once, all at the same volume. I learned quickly that I had to speak up or else the person I was trying to talk to would never hear me.

One common thing I noticed about these women was how strong they were. Part of that was because they always supported each other through the hard times, but most of the time they stayed strong because that what needed to be done. The Castillo women are mothers or are at least a parental figure to someone else, and they are strong because they have other people counting on them.

I think that is what I took away from them most of all. Sometimes life is tough, but your family is looking to you for strength, so suck it up and be the shoulders that support the people you love and all of their burdens. My aunts, cousins, and mother all had their fair share of struggle and heartache, but from what I have seen, that has never stopped them from being the powerful and nurturing women that they are.

That is what I strive to be. I want to be as selfless as they are. I try to find that perfect balance of confidence and humility that all of the women in my family have. Especially now as I grow into my own person and become more independent, I try to provide for those who need my guidance. It actually brings me joy when I am able to help or teach someone and I have come to realize that it takes my mind off of whatever bad things might be going on in my personal life at the time.

I also learned to not let anyone, especially a man, undermine me when it comes to something I am passionate about. Countless times I have seen my uncles and father be put in their place if they step on the female’s toes. I learned how to fight back and make my opinions known.

I may have been labeled crazy or too stubborn by some of my male peers, but I would much rather be called that than be considered weak minded or subdued. Those are two characteristics that are foreign to the Castillo women. And they will stay that way as far as any of us are concerned.

No one can change who we are. We stand strong and provide for those who need us, whether that is a comforting hug or a slap on the back of the head and a “get your life back on track” talk. We will always be the constants in our family’s lives.

Emma Saldivar

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New Camera – Sony A6000

by on Dec.07, 2014, under Creativity, Photography, Sony A6000

SonyA6000_NikonD7000So for my 22nd wedding anniversary/early christmas gift, my wife got me a new camera.

I’m moving towards the route of “mirror less camera” route. You can see the size difference above next to my Nikon D7000 with a battery grip.

What is a mirror-less camera you ask? Well it’s basically a smaller camera with all of the functions of a larger DSLR like my Nikon D7000. It just doesn’t have a mirror that flips up when taking the picture – see image below – click on it for a larger view:


This camera offers me the flexibility of:

  • Cost competitive
  • Shots 24 megapixels
  • Shoots in RAW and Jpeg – RAW offers more flexibility in the digital darkroom
  • Much smaller which allows me to carry it with me – inconspictiously
  • Has interchangeable lenses
  • Can buy an adaptor and use my other Nikon lenses
  • Can even use my external speed light flashes with it too
  • Shoots HD video at 60FPS – smooth slow motion
  • Has focus peaking which tells me visually what is in focus (old eyes)
  • Wifi capabilities
    • Can control camera with an app on iPhone
    • Send photos to my iPhone
  • Has facial tracking
  • Even has a “smile shutter” – it detects a smile and it fires the shutter – pretty cool feature.
  • And has SO many other “Intelligent” features built in.

I rather excited about this little guy. Not getting rid of my Nikon D7000, that one is still my work horse, but now that I have a small compact powerful little camera, I hope to capture more special moments of life.



Below is a selfie using the smile shutter. Click on the image for a larger view.


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