Wednesday, January 29, 2014

New blog coming

I am taking advantage of yet another snow day (DO NOT get me started on the weather this winter) by making the official switch to a Wordpress blog.

Check out the work in progress --->>> NEW BLOG.

Watch for a "real" post later today.

And farewell, dear Blogger. I have enjoyed our time together. We would still be together if you didn't feel the need to edit my pictures for me. Best of luck.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Family time with the "A" children

I first met Bethany when she was a student teacher at Oakview South Elementary School. I had just started working there myself and she was about to embark on her teaching career. I remember her as this beautiful, young and quiet girl with a nice boyfriend.

Fast forward several years and she's my neighbor, now married to that nice boyfriend, with three ridiculously sweet and adorable children. Her oldest is in first grade at Oakview.

How crazy fast time zips past us.

She sent me a message a few days ago asking if I'd take some photos of her youngest Bentley, who will soon turn two. And while I am transitioning to photographing seniors only, there was simply no way to say no.

We are actually 2/3 of our way through her session. We started with some simple shots in my [tiny] basement "studio" where it quickly became clear that young Bentley was more interested in dancing and running around my basement than sitting still for photos. The oldest, wise beyond her years Emma, was more than happy to attempt to corral him and she even shared posing ideas with me. I told her she'd make a great assistant.

This was one of the two shots I managed to snag of all three kiddos looking and smiling at me. (For all of you photographers who regularly photograph children - you are my heroes.)

Ava wasn't sure of me at first but with some coaxing by her mom, and with Emma standing over my shoulder making silly faces, she started to have fun.

The girls were dressed in these fabulously colorful and sweet outfits - they matched but in a subtle way that photographed beautifully.

Did I mention they were barefoot, too?

Can you spot Ava's toes curled around the chair? So cute!
This was my last shot, and it came together too fast for this photographer who failed to adjust her aperture so that all three kids were in focus. Yes, I make mistakes. I freely admit that.

After about an hour we decided to call it a night and re-convene for the second part of our session later in the week. For this I made the long trek from my house to hers, through snow drifts and gusting winds....ok, so not really. Our houses are pretty close together.

We wanted to focus on Bentley today since his second birthday is quickly approaching. We thought it would be easier to catch some candid moments and genuine smiles in his own home.

At first he wasn't impressed with me and my "look at me" silly voice.

Goodness, look at those eyes!
But that passed and he started warming up to me.

We also inadvertently taught him a new word which resulted in this laugh:

While following the kids around I peaked into the master bedroom and spotted this amazing bed with equally amazing window light pouring in. I whispered in code to Bethany - "Can the kids j-u-m-p on the b-e-d?" To which she responded, "Of course!"

Candid moments are my favorites. They capture a moment that isn't staged or choreographed. They catch an honest interaction that can't be replicated.

Playing peek-a-boo behind a curtain, complete with crackers in his mouth.

Once the weather warms up we will venture outdoors for the final part of our session for fun in the snow.

Hopefully that will be sometime soon. It shouldn't be colder in Michigan than it is in Alaska!


*Disclaimer - Recently I have learned that Blogger is now "auto-correcting" images. It seems to affect black & white images more than color. All of my black and white images are true; they are not sepia or brown-toned. Because of this change it is likely that I will soon part ways with Blogger. When that happens a link to my new blog will be provided.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Little details

Given that we are in the throes of yet another Arctic blast, I've had to resort to indoor photos.

Like this:

Yet another example of how a simple crop can save an otherwise meh photo.

This is the original image:

When I zoomed in to see if this was in focus I was immediately struck by how her whiskers filled the frame.

Pretty cool, huh?

On Saturday, before the roads became impassable, I dragged my daughter along on a wild goose chase (we were looking for the remains of a house that had burned several years ago). I'm not going to talk about how scared I got when the roads narrowed and the drifts threatened to overtake the county. I'm not going to talk about the huge sigh of relief when we finally landed safely on US-127 and turned for home.

I'm also not going to talk about how seriously bummed we were that we never did find that house - if it even exists anymore.

But I did manage to take a handful of pictures.

Again, the original:

 And the cropped version:

See the snow chasing across the roadway? The shadow of the branches on the road? The hint of sun in the left corner?

Details can make all of the difference in an image.

I'm going back to my couch now.

Hopefully it will look like this someday soon.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

When color isn't always the only way

One of the [many] things I love about Lightroom is the ability to edit, reset, and edit a photo again. Nothing is ever final.

The following photos were all taken with the intent to be shown in color. Red barn, blue skies, brilliant ice and pure snow - I was sure a black and white conversion would not do these scenes justice.

Well, I was wrong.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Making something out of, well, a little bit of nothing.

It's day 7 and thanks to [another] snow day I've been able to stick with a daily photo challenge on Instagram. Which is actually becoming quite fun, and guess what - one of my images from last week was chosen as one of the top 16 submissions. Kinda cool!
The word for this day was "winter."

 Our prompt for this morning? "The sky today."

I knew most would think of sunrises and sunsets, clouds, clear skies, etc. I wanted something a little different.

Unfortunately what I WANTED and what I GOT weren't exactly the same thing.

The sun had been playing peek-a-boo with us most of the day. The day alternated between crazy blue skies and dismal dark clouds, punctuated by a vicious, arctic northern wind. I eventually settled on a plan to take a drive west of my subdivision to an area that is open and flat. I was looking for blowing snow across the fields with the sun peeking through. Yeah, I know, also been done to death but I was hoping for a car to "just happen to be going by" at the same time to add visual interest.

Sadly, the weather and road conditions were having none of my great vision. So with my daughter riding shotgun and ordered to look for "trees and interesting buildings with color" I slowly made my way south and then west. While driving I began to realize that snow day #3 was likely a reality as the roads were drifting shut with each breath of the wind. It also became clear that this little adventure was.....a pretty bad idea.

We ended up doing a u-turn to avoid landing in a ditch. Within five minutes I spotted something I thought would work. The clouds were attempting to break apart revealing a hint of pale blue skies. There was a single tree in a field. And no cars behind me. So I stopped (in the road - there are no shoulders right now due to the snow), rolled down my window, and snapped off 4 shots.

This was the best of the 4.

And when we [safely] got home and celebrated the announcement that school indeed was closed for tomorrow, I went to work in Lightroom.

Less than 5 minutes later I had my entry for today.

A quick crop, white balance adjustment, graduated filter to bring out the sky (which was visible and NOT painted on), reduction of shadows and blacks, and increase in vibrancy - and I was done.

And I didn't even have to get out of my car.

I owe today's inspiration to National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore, whose photography course I am currently taking. (Luckily for me I got it while on sale during Christmas)

"Failure is an essential part of success. Take risks, be bold, learn and try again." ~ Joel Sartore

Monday, January 6, 2014

The very best of friends

They're not supposed to get along. She's supposed to chase the cat. And she's supposed to turn around, rise up, hiss viciously, and swat her nose.

And yet......

Day after day after day.
This is how you will find them.

Lily LOVES her red dog. And Roxy, although she keeps that thought pretty close to her heart, loves her orange cat.
Wherever Roxy is, so, too, is Lily. She seeks her out and literally lays on top of her at times. I've even caught her grooming Roxy.

And for her part, Roxy's role is to jump in to referee any cat "fights" she may witness or overhear.

She has a feline sister to protect.

She's such a good, good dog.

We kind of like our Lily, too.

"If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans. " ~ James Herriot