Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I chose...

I want to thank everyone for your input on my portraits. It was so fun to read everyone's thoughts and opinions. I really appreciate that you shared. It was like having you all in class with me.

After reading the comments and taking these pictures I learned quite a bit. About photography. About perception. And about myself.

I learned...

• I've always tried so hard to take pictures that do not look "posed." To catch the person doing something. But I found that I really enjoyed trying to take a portrait of someone that was more formal.

• that taking a good portrait is not easy. Giving directions is hard. And I'm not confident enough in my ability to take a good picture for someone else.

• that a good portrait conveys something about the individual.

• that things are not always as they appear. I've always strived to take photos that are "real." But I'm finding that, for me, playing with reality can be a fun part of photography. You can alter the viewer's perception simply by what you leave out of the frame. Or add in.

With that being said, this was my favorite photo of M...
because I had to "work" to create it. I chose that specific location for her. I loved the spray painted numbers on the wall. I asked her to sit on top of the weights.

And then I had to face my fears. Can I get her to look the way I envisioned? Can I convey to the viewer that she is young, beautiful, strong, confident and down-to-earth? Yes. She is gorgeous so that made it easier to get a pretty picture, but her expression and the location make it for me. It feels like a true reflection of who M is.

This photo was a close runner-up.

I love her concentration. I love what others mentioned in the comments also. Her incredible body. Her strength. The curl of her toes. The looseness of her fingers. And again. The location. While I love all of these things I think this photo, on its own, brings out a different perception than the first.

The teacher asked for a print of the first photo to be displayed in a show at the Contemporary Art Center. So cool!
I haven't yet shown the photos to M. But I did try to give copies of the photos of my artist friend to her. She took one look at them and said, "ewww!" Completely wiped away the high of being asked to display M's photo in a show. Perception, baby. Perception.

Next assignment...Self-Portrait. Perception, baby. Perception.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

More than just a pretty picture...

Turned in my photo assignment. We were given two weeks take a portrait of someone. But it couldn't just be a pretty picture of someone. And it couldn't be a family member. The directions were...

"When you are taking your portraits I want you to think about the person that you are photographing. Ask them, as well as yourself, what defines them. Is it their job, where they live, their hobbies, etc."

"I’m not just looking for a pretty photograph of someone. Your portrait should have a strong message as to what defines your subject. You can put your subject in an environment that defines them, use props, etc."

So...of course I did what I always do. I thought about it. And thought about it. And thought about it. I came up with grand visions of who I was going to photograph. And then two days before the assignment was due I asked my neighbor if I could photograph her while she was working.

It was hot. It was muggy. Everything in the background was interfering with my vision. And after much fiddling and cropping I was stuck with these.

Now I know what she's doing. And I know what message I was trying to get across. But I'm pretty sure those of you who don't know her won't. But it's what I had. And class was two days away.

I had no one else in mind. I was going to suck it up and just use these. Until I got to the gym on Tuesday morning and it hit me. 

The gym is really just a warehouse. Totally devoid of frills. And windows. Or the glimmer of any decent light. But it has grit. And dirt. And "M." Perfect.

This is "M." 

She's our trainer. 

She is the nicest, most down-to-earth girl you've ever met. 

She was willing to do anything I asked her. Why wouldn't she looking like that?
There were so many good ones. I had a hard time choosing. But in the end, I had one clear favorite. And a close runner-up. What about you? Which one would you have chosen for the assignment?

Oh. And to set the record straight. When I sent BSD the last photo and asked him, "What message do you get about her when you see this photo." His response was really...
The only thing I can think of is I want a picture of you like that cause it's sexy. Sorry.
Not your usual gym.

Not quite what I was looking for. But OK. I'll take it.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

When I grow up, I want to be...


Just a sneak peek. This picture is for my photo class. More about that later. But when I sent the pictures I took of her to BSD for his advice on which one to choose. He suddenly decided he wants to give up surfing. And join my gym. How strange is that?!?!?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

First Date...

I went on a first date today. I was excited. And nervous. Would I like my date? Would my date like me? All those first date jitters were alive and kicking.

Unfortunately, I didn't have a chance to get dolled up for our date. I was in the middle of doing laundry. And cleaning hamster cages when I got the call. "I have an hour and a half break. Let's just hop in our cars and drive til we meet!"

And so we did. I had no choice but to bring the Little Ballerina along too. She was quite confused as to what we were up to. "Do I know this person?" No. "Does this person know me?" Kind of. "Where are we going?" I'm not really sure.

We finally pulled off at our destination. The King of Tires. In the middle of Yuckville, VA. Oh yeah. High class date.

As soon as my date pulled into the parking lot, though, LB was quite impressed. "WOW! She's pretty!" Yes. She is. And here I sit in my frumpies with my dirty hair. Ready to meet my pretty date for the first time. Lovely.

I gave her a great big hug as soon as she stepped out of her car. I'm sure she was thrilled to hug me back as she took in my lack of proper date grooming. But she immediately ran to get her camera. And begged LB to take our picture. I was in love. Total kindred spirit.

Now many of you will recognize the pretty lady on the right. That's Jen from Jen's Ink Pen. She's just as pretty and sweet in person as she is on her blog. She even sounds as I expected with her cute southern accent.

Sadly, she only had about 30 minutes for our date. Her daughter was playing in a volleyball tournament a half an hour away. So I couldn't take her to the beach. Or any other exciting destination. Instead we wound up at Wendy's. We grabbed a quick bite. Before she had to scoot back to the tournament.

I wish we could have had more time together. I wish we were neighbors. But instead, our dates will have to remain here in Blogland.

Jen, if you do wind up back here for another tournament in the future, I promise I'll take you somewhere more exciting. 

 Maybe here?

And then we could take our kids here?
And I promise next time I'll shower first.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

How does your garden grow? Square Foot Gardening, Take 2...

This is the second year we're trying out the Square Foot Gardening method. Last year the veggies grew like gangbusters. We had so much fun with it.

Until the plague hit.

See that cute little green guy up there? I always thought they were good bugs. Turns out they're just buggers. They annihilated my garden last year. And I let them. Because I had no idea what they were capable of.

This year I'm armed. With knowledge. And a shoe. If those grasshoppers come back, I'm gonna whack 'em. You've been warned, grasshoppa.

I learned some other things from last year's garden. And I've made changes accordingly. I'm not following the Square Foot Gardening method as strictly this year because it got overcrowded. So here's what I learned...
  • plant less plants
  • plant only 1 tomato plant to each square
  • plant all of the tomato plants next to each other at one end of the garden. They spread too much if you intersperse them and interfere with the neighboring veggie's sunlight and happiness.
  • plant the other tall growing vines like green beans and cukes next to the tomatoes at one end of the garden also. Same reasoning as above.
  • zucchini is an ENORMOUS plant. Make sure you plant it at the end of the garden where it will have room to wander.
  • you need major supports for tomato plants. Those little cages they sell at the garden store are NOT big enough. BSD made super wide, super tall chicken wire cages this year. We'll see how those work.
  • bean stalks will grow into the clouds just like they did for Jack. Be prepared. I'm not prepared yet.
  • strawberry plants will stay in the garden all winter here and grow new strawberries in the spring. Great for the gardening ego.
  • I cannot seem to grow lettuce. Spinach and Swiss chard, yes. But lettuce ain't happening. I need lettuce. What's up?!?
So...we planted this year's garden over Spring Break. The tomatoes and cilantro were little starter plants from the nursery. The rest we planted seeds. Here's how it looked a week later...
 I don't know why there's a border around this picture.

Those large plants in the foreground are the strawberries leftover from last summer. They are thriving and spreading. If the veggies don't pan out, in a few years, we'll just have a U-Pick strawberry farm.

I love the way this picture looks kind of Mayberry RFD-ish.

I'll keep you posted on how the garden grows this year. If anyone has any experience with grasshoppers, I'd love to hear how you got rid of them. Or any advice on why I can't grow lettuce?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

She better be hot...

It never fails. As soon as BSD leaves, something breaks. Something important. Something we can't live without.

Our hot water heater has always been a temperamental bitch. She lives in the attic. Which she hates. Every time it gets unbearably hot, she turns off her pilot light. So we bought her a fan. A big-ass fan. A fan that turns on automatically when it gets hot. And vents out through the roof. Was that good enough for her? Apparently not.

Yesterday she turned her pilot light off...again. Even though it was barely 75 degrees. And this time she refused to relight.

Of course, I hadn't showered that morning. And I spent the afternoon sweating out in the yard. And then I was enveloped in smoke as I grilled burgers for dinner. I was looking forward to nothing more than a nice hot shower. Three minutes into it last night, I realized it wasn't going to happen.

Our faithful neighbor came to our rescue. But even he couldn't get her to cooperate. So I was forced to take a bone-chilling shower. It sucked. But I wasn't about to let her gloat by going to bed dirty.

This morning I cornered my other neighbor for help. Luckily, he has a better rapport with the ladies. He sweet talked her. Did a little dirty dancing with her. Bought her a special gift. And got her so hot. That she's still all aglow.

Hopefully, he left a really lasting impression. Because if she pulls anymore of this crap. She's going to be replaced. By a newer. younger. hotter. model.

I am not a big drinker. Especially not a wine drinker. But I am making a huge pot of my dad's special tomato sauce.

And I've saved myself a glass of wine. I'm going to make a nice hot bath. And stew myself. Just like those tomatoes.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ten on Ten: May 2011

May 10, 2011. Ten on Ten. Definitely not a day that I'm super excited to record in our family history book. But...it is what it is.

BSD left for work today. He'll be gone...a while. The last day we're together is either absolutely wonderful or completely lousy. This one goes down in the lousy column. We were both on edge. There's a "hurry up let's get this started already so it can be over" vibe that goes on. When it plays out this way we usually end up annoyed with each other. And this time was no exception. 

But compared to what we've been through before. This really isn't that big of a deal. Really. It isn't. And, hey. We're that much closer to it being over now.  


Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day rocked...

Mother's Day rocked. 

From the breakfast in bed served by the cutest ballerinas. (They actually managed to toast the toast this year. And add my flax seed. Major props, girls.
 I love this picture of BB because her dress is too small. And her boots are too big. So symbolic of this stage in her life right now.

To the sweet art projects and homemade cards. 

To the handmade bead necklace that BSD took LB to make for me.

To the awesome new camera bag that I desperately needed. And wanted.

To the freshly washed mom mobile that BSD lovingly detailed for me.

To the Super Big Gulp delivered to my door by a sweet friend just when I needed it. 
To the sushi dinner with my peeps.

Mother's Day rocked. 

Hope yours did too!

There was one more little detail that made the day extra special. It's too late to get a picture today. I'll fill you in soon. But here's a hint. It involves my good friend, Craig Slist.

Wanted to be sure to get on tonight to remind everyone that tomorrow is Ten on Ten. C'mon. Join the fun!


Friday, May 6, 2011

Project Orange: Check

My homework got done. It was even done by Wednesday afternoon. And I was able to see Water for Elephants that evening. So glad too because the movie was gooooodddd. It was two hours long. And I never once looked at my watch. That is how I rate a movie. The imagery and costuming alone kept me enthralled.

On Wednesday afternoon, the teacher emailed saying "extra credit" if you turn your photos into a collage. Since we're not taking the class for any kind of grade, we all kind of scratched our heads on that one. One of the women even asked, "What do we get? Money?" My kind of gal! The teacher promised cupcakes. I heard that one and I was in. Will work for cake.

We're also supposed to keep a journal. Write about what works. What doesn't. What we've learned. Here's my journal entry for this assignment...

Limited Color Palette Notes: 
• I chose orange because the ballerinas have been really into oranges lately. I've been buying the big eight pound bags so I had plenty of them to photograph. Plus, BB has that sweeettt orange beach cruiser. Easy choice.

• very hard to shoot two kids together. One is always looking off, striking a cheesy pose, or not cooperating.

• I need to learn to give directions better.

• Make sure your kids poop before you drive them to a field where there are no bathrooms. Because even though there's no one around for miles. And you have wipes. She'll refuse to go. And all your pictures will look like this. Or you'll have to cut your shoot short.
• It's hard to take good pictures of things you're not that excited about.

• It's hard to find things that are orange that excite me.

• I don't like super saturated pictures.

• Don't plan to take pictures with balloons on a windy day. (Kim recently blogged about the same thing. I should have paid attention.)

• Discovered the "scale" slider in Lightroom. LOVE!

• Need to figure out how to crop proportionally in Lightroom. It never looks right to me.

• Need to learn how to selectively add brightness in photos (to faces, etc.).

• Bring along a stepstool to make it easier to take pictures from above. Climbing on your car hood is not a good idea. And your DH will kill you if he finds out you did that.

• Even though artistically you're supposed to group things in odd #'s, make sure you bring along EVEN numbers of props when you're shooting your kids. Or they'll fight. And you'll yell. And your pictures will suck.

Here are the photos I turned in...

And the cupcake collage...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Project Orange...

My photography class started last week. The syllabus looks great. Lots of things on there that I want to learn. And a plan to go out together to shoot during the Golden Hour. Looking forward to that in a big way.

So...assignment #1 is due on Thursday. It's Tuesday. And I just started. I told you I was good at procrastinating. I guess Tuesday night is better than Wednesday night. Right?

Assignment #1: Shoot photographs that have a limited color palette. Pick one color for your palette and bring in 3-5 printed photos as examples.

I chose orange.

I've been working on my homework since 7pm. It's now 11:14pm. Here's what I've got so far.

Don't you just love that shade of orange? Ummm...yeah. I suck at following directions.

Off to bed. I'll try again tomorrow.