Friday, December 14, 2007 --- Moments of Light Around the House...and Depth of Berries.

[ If you are going to swipe any of my pictures, I think we all know that the polite and righteous thing to do is to make sure you credit me for it with a link. If you don't, well then, you are a photo-thieving asshole and you should be shot... ]

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Wednesday, December 5, 2007 --- Today's Question: Whether to shit or go blind?

See that beautiful tree with its orange and red leaves? Up until this morning, that tree was merrily going about its business believing that it was still Fall in Virginia. It has been so warm here, that our leaves changed very late and have been holding on to some of the trees longer than usual. But this morning, we had our first snow of the season...and let's just say that the poor tree doesn't know "whether to shit or go blind..."

It is very odd to be looking at the colorful foliage covered with snow...but the contrast sure is lovely!

I thought the berries on this tree were pretty, surrounded by the fresh new snow...Needless to say, it is a perfect day for hot beverages and wood burning in the fireplace.

Welcome Winter! You are beautiful.

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Saturday, August 11, 2007 --- Studies in Facial Symmetry...the Amber Valletta series.

As a graphic designer, photo editing softwares like Photoshop and Fireworks are a part of my everyday life. But, when I am not using these programs for a design project, I love to edit and manipulate photos purely for the fun of it. I suppose you could call it one of my "hobbies"...

One of my favorite things to do is a Facial Symmetry study. The majority of us have extremely assymetrical features...and, if you have ever done one of these on yourself, you will probably get very disturbing results! Typically, one side (half) of the face reflecting itself to create a "symmetrical whole" will produce a very strange-looking wide head, and the other half becomes a narrower head, or has what I call a "pinched" face. Trust me, generally, it is not very attractive. When I have done my own face in the past, one side produces a cute, wide-eyed and wide-foreheaded, semi-retarded-looking girl and the other side, looks like I was squeezed in a vice as a child...I shall call her "pinhead"!

Not too long ago, I was listening to an NPR or PRI podcast -- and I heard a story regarding the study of facial symmetry and attractiveness. I seem to recall it had something to do with criminals as well, but I have been unable to find the exact story on either website. [Connections between lack of symmetrical features = perceived ugliness = less-liked and fewer opportunities = tendency toward anti-social behavior = crime, etc.?? Something like that...]

Anyway, scientists have been doing variations of these facial symmetry studies, body proportion ratios, genetic health, etc. for a long time. The thing that stuck out to me in this story, is that they mentioned studying the faces of many people, famous and not famous, that were perceived universally by subjects as "beautiful" -- and it always came back to having high symmetry and particular facial size-ratios. The model Amber Valletta was mentioned as having one of the highest measured facial symmetries and almost perfect size-ratios -- and therefore, in the study, she rated very high with subjects on her "perceived" beauty. This got me would be interesting to do one of my Facial Symmetry studies on Amber Valletta's face!

I needed to find photos that were as "forward facing" as possible, preferably with a relatively "even" or "neutral" expression. I found three very interesting pictures to work with that I thought would yield interesting artistic results. As I began to work on them, I was truly amazed...I have never seen anything like this...

Normal Front View

Left-Side Symmetry ------------------- Right-Side Symmetry

There is almost no difference between her Left-Side Symmetry and her Normal Front View -- while she does still have some asymmetry (crooked smile, slight nostril difference, etc. which, personally, I think creates her most charming attribute, her impish grin) -- it is so slight that her Left-Side Symmetry could be a post-plastic-surgery "after" photo, displaying a minute nose job correction and right side chin implant. I would say this is her "too perfect" incarnation.

What is even more unusual, is that her Right-Side Symmetry looks completely normal. It does not look as much alike to her Normal View as the Left-Side Symmetry did, but it is still so much like her that it could be a slightly different "twin" sister. Neither one of these symmetries has any hint of being abnormal-looking, like you would expect to see with most faces. Indeed, apart from the "overly perfect" aspect of the exact-mirror symmetry, these women could be triplet sisters with small facial differences. This is incredibly unusual and I am amazed at how these pictures turned out.

These next two groups were very bizarre! I did them purely for the crazy symmetry fun of it -- to see what would happen! She still looks like a beautiful lady, but with some serious...ummmmmmm...birth defects?!? Yikes.

Normal Front View

Left-Side Symmetry ----------------- Right-Side Symmetry

Here is a body series, but again, aside from the weird shadows on the face and the crazy bodies, look at how much the face on the Right-Side Symmetry version still looks very normal!

[ I would recommend clicking on the image to zoom in on the face -- you'll see better how "normal" it looks close up. ]

Normal Front View

Left-Side Symmetry ----------------- Right-Side Symmetry

Photo credits:

Picture #1: Photo by Jeff Vespa/ - Image courtesy

Picture #2: Photo by Raymond Burrows

Picture #3:

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Thursday, July 26, 2007 --- One of my most treasured a coffee can.

This lamp, which sits amongst my plants in our living room, is one of my most favorite possessions in the world. Which is sort of funny, because it is basically worthless on a "parts" was made from a coffee can, a piece of wood, a bulb socket and some wiring. One of my parents' fellow hippie friends made it for us as a gift when we lived in Sacramento, California. I don't remember who the person was -- because I was only a baby at the time -- but, I have loved this lamp my whole life. And last year, my mom let me take it home!

We recently replaced the wiring to ensure its continued safe use in our home. I never get tired of seeing the beautiful swirly patterns it makes all over the ceiling and on my plants. It just goes to show you, recycling can be beautiful! ;-)

Anyone else out there have a monetarily worthless, prized possession? Why not tell me about it in the comments section? I would love to hear from you! :-D

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Monday, July 9, 2007 --- Blythe was very excited to do another photo shoot with me...

Oh, so pretty and serene. I love how she looks against my mosaic dish from Pier 1. Nice contrast to her coloring...she really pops against the fiery the inspiration for my background choice from her sunglasses. Annoying reflections on her plastic skin were a challenge.

This is the shot that I used for the comment banner in my sidebar. I needed to retouch the photo so that I could get rid of her pull-string hanging down in the back. Also, I had to do a duplicate layer and flip horizontally so that I could make the background wider for the text area of my banner. I love the way it turned out. What do you all think?

Lighting was a little weird in this one, but I like the way her hair seems to glow and you can really see her green eyes. I should take some more pictures with her other eye colors (blue, pink, and orange), but the green eyes are my favorite.

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Friday, June 22, 2007 --- We went to visit my little friend tonight...

This is my little friend Cally who lives at Petco. [Sorry for the bad picture quality...we took the pictures with the man's camera phone.] We needed to get a new light fixture for one of our frog tanks so, I got to visit with my "bird friends" again. Isn't she cute?? And colorful?? ;-D

She gets very excited when we come to play -- as you can see from the picture -- as do all the other birds. She "beak climbs" up and down the bars to show off and get the feathers on her belly stroked. Funny Girl...

Here's where she begs, "TAKE ME HOME! PLEASE, TAKE ME HOME!" Awwwwwwwww. Well, maybe someday...poor baby. ;-D

We had a very nice visit with all the other varieties of Conures (including Tank -- who is another Sun Conure) and the Cockatiels, too. Everybody is desperate for attention when we come into the bird room...lots of screeching until you visit each one and say "hi". So, of course, we must coo at all the birds and give them some individual "hello" touching!

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Monday, June 11, 2007 --- Recently acquired items of cuteness...and a heart-melting sweetie!

I am loving these new items that we got at the outlet a few days ago...very cute cotton, empire-waisted shirts from Old Navy. I got this white one as well as black and navy.

...and my ethnic-looking leather sandals from Naturalizer (very comfy on the tootsies!).

And, as a bonus treat for all of you cat lovers...a picture from Noodle's latest kitty photo session! He just melts his momma's heart --- in spite of how evil he can be...

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007 --- We had an ice storm in the DC area last night...

This morning, everything was candy-coated with a layer of ice. I decided to take some pictures after I saw how pretty the holly bushes outside our front door were looking...

And then, I discovered that the ice on the holly leaves had actually made perfect little crystal-like molds of each leaf. I tried photographing them in my hand, but it was not doing them justice.

I decided to gather several of them and brought them inside to photograph as quickly as I could! I love how glassy and delicate they look.

After the first few pictures, I put them in the freezer so that I could extend my photographing time. When I took them out again, they were all frosty and beautiful in a new way. I tried to capture this and thought they looked quite smashing in black and white.

According to the Lizzard, the ice storm has made its way to New York today. Be safe, everyone!

Have a Happy Valentine's Day!

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________ - THE BUTTERFLY BLOG - Copyright ©2007 Vanessa Lee Hamlen. All rights reserved.

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I am a graphic designer. I love animals and have quite a few pets. There is a frustrated DJ inside of me --- hence, my ongoing obsession with making music mixes.

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-- Music from Butterfly's personal library --

LORI'S LABOR: A collection of 6 unique playlists with varying intensity and mood for your listening pleasure! I created these original mixes for my friends to use during the labor and delivery of their first baby, Nicholas.

You can visit their blog here: ---> The Bridenstines!

Listen to my comical, purposefully nasal, total HAM-job submission to the 2007 Blogger Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert in the mini-player above!
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