Thursday, September 26, 2013

Look Up//Look Down #38: Going to College (and blog break)

I'm up in Oregon, getting Henry settled into college. This week's look up//look down pair (for the meme started by Helena) features a view looking up at his dorm and a view looking down at the packing we were doing last week at home. As I get him settled, I'm going to take a few days off from posting to my blog. I'm also giving myself blog amnesty on commenting on all your wonderful blogs (other than the scavenger hunt posts, which I'm still enjoying). I'll be back and active after the weekend.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

2013 Scavenger Hunt Winners and Final Thoughts

Well, summer is officially over, and it's time to say a fond farewell to the 2013 Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt. . . . but not before I name a few winners and post a few concluding thoughts.
First, the winners!
Congratulations to BJ of ccraftcorner and sky-blu-pink
Please email me at rinda1961 (at) yahoo (dot) com, and you can select your prize. You'll be able to select a photography book from my list of favorites, and I'll have Amazon send it directly to you.
Also, I still owe Susan her June prize, which is some really fun summery washi tape.
Next, I want to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who participated this year. I really enjoyed seeing all the scavenger hunt blog posts during the summer and the incredible turnout for the linkies. Besides seeing wonderful windmills, funny signs and, uh, inventive cloud interpretations, the real pay off for me was reading the stories behind the pictures. I loved hearing about the special trips you took to cross an item off the list, the heartfelt meaning behind some of your photos and the camaraderie you developed with family and friends while on the hunt. I am also touched by how the scavenger hunt helps people dealing with difficult times and am forever grateful when they choose to share this type of message with me. I feel like there's a scavenger hunt community which develops every summer, and its members are all over the globe. They hunt in Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Canada, the United States and all over the United Kingdom. Be sure to come back next summer when we do it all over again!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Look Up/Look Down #37: Seasons Change

The view off my deck this week. It really feels like summer is truly over, with the shift in the weather. Even when it's sunny, it's much cooler these days. And we have many more days like this - drippy, cool and grey. Another sign of the change in seasons - as the college kids have all gone away, their beer pong table (it's a drinking game - don't ask) has been pushed aside.  Looking up at the neighbor's house (previously captured here) ; looking down at our back deck.  Posted as part of the look up//look down challenge started by Helena.
And it's last call to visit yesterday's post and link up your final summer scavenger hunt post and leave a comment letting you know how many of the items you found. I'll pick a winner and post the results tomorrow. THANK YOU so much for playing along this year. I'm having such fun looking through all the links!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Final Scavenger Hunt Check-in and Linkie

Well, today is the last day of summer and this weekend marks the end of the 2013 Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt. Thank you to everyone who has joined in this year. There's been a terrific turn out this year, and I have loved seeing everyone's posts.  Today, I'm posting my item #21 a photograph with an artistic tool. I have found that I use my iphone more and more often in my photography, so I took this selfie with it.
Today, I would like you to post a comment telling me how many of the 21 items you found.  I will award two prizes.  One randomly selected from those who have found all 21 items and one from everyone who participated and found any at all. I'd also love you to add a link below to a post about the scavenger hunt.  It can be one you put up this weekend with some new finds. Or it can be to an older, favorite post. I also ask that you visit a few other participants to see what they found this summer.
Thank you again soooo much for participating! I'll leave this post up all weekend and pick winners sometime early next week.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Let's Talk . . . Family Portrait Sessions

Hope to see you all back this weekend for the final Scavenger Hunt link-up! That's when you'll let me know how many items you found and be entered in the final prize give-away (there's two prizes . . . one open to people who found all the items and one open to everyone who participated, regardless of how many items you found).
On Sunday afternoon, my friend, the amazing professional photographer Becky Ruppel came over to our house to take some family portraits. The main occasion was to capture a belated "senior portrait" of Henry before he leaves for University, but she also took portraits of Clara and some family groupings. The session got me thinking about all the family portrait sessions in my life. 
The very first portraits I remember having taken were taken in a Foremost mobile studio truck/van that would drive through our neighborhood and have families take portraits. There was also a person who brought a pony around, dressed the kids up in cowboy gear and took portraits. These two experiences are the only formal portraits my family every took when we were children. 
One of my very first jobs (the summer after I graduated from college) was working for Olan Mills Studio selling portrait packages. My sister and I were living in Boulder, Colorado, and we even got some of the studio portraits taken. They had your standard studio backdrops and the poses were pretty mundane.
When the children were babies, I tried to take them to a mall portrait store front (Picture People, maybe) every few months to capture their growth. The backdrops, props and poses were a bit better than Olan Mills, but still nothing really special.
When Henry was two, we took him to a nice photography studio in town and had a series of gorgeous black and white portraits done. They were beautiful and classic.  
A few years later, we had a photographer come out to our house and take portraits of the children. These remain my all time favorite portraits.  
Finally, about ten years ago, we had a major portrait session with the local photographer. But this time we went outdoors. It was also the first digital portraits we ever had done. Some of the portraits were stunning, but I never really loved the big family photograph she did.
So, this time when I set up the portrait session, I asked Becky to come out to the house. I snapped the photo up top of Clara on my iphone when Becky asked Clara to hold her camera. I loved the pose which Becky set up of Clara in the big chair.  I also took this candid of Clara and Aria in instagram:
I love how Aria naturally sat at Clara's feet, how they are both looking in the same direction and the interesting parallel they present. It's interesting to compare the two photographs (from a composition standpoint, not a technical one) because I like both of them as portraits. The first one is a little quirky, but still pretty and has the advantage of Clara looking directly into my camera.  The second one, on the other hand, tells more of a story. . . of a teenage girl and her dog. If I had to pick just one as a portrait, I'm not sure which one I would choose!
I feel really good about the portrait session with Becky and can't wait for the proofs. Which got me thinking about family portrait sessions and what I wanted with them at this point in my life. I wanted portraits that capture us as we are now - not dressed too fancy or matchy-matchy, but in our regular clothes (okay, so we all showered and put on clean clothes). I wanted a photographer who would take the time to get to know us and would try to capture our personalities in the photos (with Becky, this was easy because she knows us all pretty well). I wanted a photographer who was an excellent technical photographer - one who knows light and has the right equipment (reflectors, diffusers, etc.). It's telling that Becky asked me to snap a few photos of my living room and backyard at the times I wanted her to come and send them to her in advance so she could get an idea of what lighting she would need. Finally, I wanted someone who takes pride in their work and would not be willing to give me something that she didn't love. I feel like I got all this (and more) with Becky! She even asked to meet Henry on another afternoon to get a few more shots because she had some ideas that she wanted to try out. I'm glad I set the location for our living room and back yard (but also happy that Becky took Henry out to the "enchanted forest" as well). I know these portraits will be more meaningful because they were taken in our home; the only home the kids have ever known. And I'm really glad that there were not a cheesey backdrops in sight!
So, now, I'm curious. Let's talk family portrait sessions. What has been your experience with them? Good? Bad?  Have you gone to a studio, had the photographer come to your house, or gone on location? What would you do differently? What would you do the same? Of the two portraits of Clara posted today, which would you choose and why? All opinions welcome!
"Let's Talk" is a semi-regular series designed to inspire frank discussion and sharing of information on issues relating to photography, art and blogging. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

5 in 5: Boxer Stadium

Hope to see you all back this weekend for the final Scavenger Hunt link-up! That's when you'll let me know how many items you found and be entered in the final prize give-away (there's two prizes . . . one open to people who found all the items and one open to everyone who participated, regardless of how many items you found).
My blog friend Sandie is hosting a monthly photo challenge where you take photographs in one location for five minutes and then select and edit your favorite five from the shoot. You can see the September participants at this link.  This month I took photographs at Boxer Stadium while waiting for my son's soccer game to start:
This doorway is what first caught my eye and started my five minutes.
Stairway aisle
Still life created by drain, cigarette and ivy
Bleachers, looking up
Ivy, climbing down the wall.
This is the second time I have participated in this practice (you can see my first 5in5 here), and I have found it a very helpful. In five short minutes (plus selection and editing time), I feel like I learn something about photography and editing. For most of these shots, I took multiple images of the item, moving around to capture different perspectives and to see how the light fell from different angles and different sides. I also explored many different areas of the stadium, truly seeing and noticing parts of it which I would have passed by otherwise. In editing the photos, I thought hard about how to crop them for maximum impact.  Finally, in the selection process, I tried to come up with a balanced grouping that had a similar feel and color palette. I think texture is a big theme in these photos.
If you're a photographer of any level, I urge you to give this meme a try. I think you will improve your photography skills each month! Is anyone else up for the challenge? What do you think of my choice of venue and photos this month?  Got a favorite?

Hello Busy!

Hello Monday Tuesday of a very busy week . . . haven't had a chance to update my blog lately or get round to visit/comment on others. Because I've been so busy saying hello to lots of things . . . 
Hello Aria dog . . . helping me check out the afternoon light in the living room in preparation for a family portrait session with the amazing Becky Ruppel. She came over on Sunday; I can't wait to see the photographs she took.
Hello packing . . . only four more nights before Henry heads off to college. I'll be driving him up on Saturday and staying in Oregon for about a week. I'll be doing some work projects, taking some interesting photographs and working on my faces/LSNED art journal.  He'll be training with the club soccer team before he moves into the dorm on the 26th.
Hello work . . . I've signed up for a lot of conferences this academic year and committed to writing several articles/book chapters. It feels good to be getting back into my academic side, but it is a lot of work.
Hello work2 . . . there also seems to be an inordinate amount of committee meetings and administrative projects. Sigh.
Hello to preparing for the end of the 2013 Summertime Photograph Scavenger Hunt and the final link-up coming this weekend . . . I'm thinking I'm not going to have time to get to the zoo, so I'm posting this substitute item (person wearing an item that symbolizes your country). I'm thinking this gentleman symbolizes my country in oh so many ways! LOL!
Hello laundry, laundry and more laundry. . .  It piles up when I'm really busy.
Hello to more cross-country meets and success for my awesome girl Clara . . . tomorrow is the third meet in eight days!!! She ran in a huge invitational over the weekend and came in 4th overall for the frosh-soph division (out of 465 runners). As she said, "Mom, who knew I was actually good at this?" Her frosh-soph team placed first as well.  After this, she gets a break for about ten days and then participates in meets about once a week for the rest of the season. 
Hello to obedience classes for the dogs (two more left), still volunteering at the humane society once a week, and lots of homework for the girl . . . no wonder I'm so busy!
Hello to LSNED on instagram . . . I haven't been able to keep up in my art journal but have been taking snaps and writing down lessons. And I feel okay with that!
Hope to see you all back this weekend for the final Scavenger Hunt link-up! That's when you'll let me know how many items you found and be entered in the final prize give-away (there's two prizes . . . one open to people who found all the items and one open to everyone who participated, regardless of how many items you found).

Thursday, September 12, 2013

1 Photo/20 Words(x2) : A Classy Tradition and Why I'm Barefoot

Abi, at Creating Paper Dreams has challenged followers to find a photo and tell its story in just twenty words. I thought I'd give it a go and had so much fun, I did two! 
Do you care to join the fun?
After they run, they stay at the chute, congratulating opponents as they finish . . . staying until every racer crosses the line.
I packed her racing flats, but didn't bring her trainers. She took my shoes for warm-ups. I'm a good mom.

Today was a good day

My daughter Clara ran her first cross country meet, and it was a day full of fun, happiness, friendship, and family. 
Plus sweat, ponytails and hair bows!
Clara is second from the left.  She's running on varsity because it turns out she's really fast! 
She came in sixth overall in the Varsity race (out of 82 runners) - not bad for a sophomore competing in her first race ever.  Her whole team did really well. Their top five runners placed in the top eight spots, and they ended up tied for first place.
Paul, Henry and I all went out to watch the meet, and I captured this sweet shot of Clara and her dad talking after the race.  
Today was September 11, a day I will never forget . . . a day of tragedy and heart ache for my country. But, days like this, days when I see a happy girl, a healthy husband and beautiful children give me hope for the future. Because today truly was a good day.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Look Up//Look Down #36: In the Back Back

I went out to the back-back over the weekend (the lot we own behind our house) to check the afternoon light for a family portrait session.  I was struck by the intense green of the apple tree and the pittosporum hedge and thought they made a nice late summer pair for Helena's weekly photography meme, Look Up//Look Down. Are things still green where you are?

Monday, September 9, 2013

More Faces and Lessons

I'm participating in Shimelle's Learn Something New Everyday class, creating a journal with a daily lesson learned. I'm also using the journal as a way to practice drawing and painting faces.  My lesson for Sept. 5 was "Follow your muse, even if she doesn't follow your original plan." The lesson came about as I was creating this face.  I actually started with the following Richard Avedon photograph of Audrey Hepburn as my reference:
I started by drawing the constrained face in a circle, and she immediately made me think of images I have seen of women wearing head scarves. So, I went with that. And I really like what I created, which led me to my lesson!
I have on other lesson to share, which I'm posting even though I don't like the face much because I like they story that goes with it.
I painted this face back on September 2, and I can already see how much better my faces have become since then! Anyway, the lesson is "Don't judge too fast . . . people (and dogs) are not always the way the first appear." I learned the lesson while volunteering at the Humane Society.  Clara and I walked one of the new dogs, and he seemed perfectly nice, but nothing special. But when we took him into the play yard, he blossomed.  He loved to play fetch and run about. Then we tested him to see if he knew any commands.  When we said, "sit," he dropped, rolled over, and waited in down position! He did this over and over again! He had clearly been taught this trick, and it totally melted our hearts. Thus, my lesson for the day.
Have you learned anything new lately? Do either of these lessons resonate with you?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Faces and Lessons: Pairing Photos and AJ Pages

I'm making an art journal featuring faces for the Shimelle class Learn Something New Everyday.  For most lessons, I'm also taking an instagram photo.  Here's a couple of the pages from my journal and the accompanying instagram photo.  The lesson for Sept. 7 was "Sometimes you can accomplish something in just a few minutes." I parked in this limited time spot and still had plenty of time to get the photo of City Hall I needed for the Scavenger Hunt.

The lesson for Sept. 3  was "Don't be afraid to take a chance. Sometimes you get lucky!" The lesson was learned when I decided to try to grab lunch at my favorite burger spot between two meetings, even though I wasn't sure I would have enough time. I was lucky; there was a parking spot out front and no line! I really enjoyed my burger from 5 Guys (instagram of a bag of their potatoes).  
I don't always have a photo to pair with my art journal page, but I am finding that snapping photos throughout the day gives me a variety of lessons to choose from when I do sit down to make my journal page. It does feel a little bit like I'm doing the class twice, but it seems to work okay. Is anyone else doing instagram and something else?

Saturday, September 7, 2013

How Items Made It Onto the Scavenger Hunt List

Item #3 City Hall, Capitol or other Civic Building
The 2013 Summertime Scavenger Hunt is winding down - there's just two weeks left to find all the items.  I made a quick trip out today to take a few photographs of our local City Hall, which used to be a bank.  I had planned to go to downtown San Francisco to photograph this beautiful building, but I decided it might be more interesting for you to see a small town city hall instead.  I hope you like this peek into my home town!
Several people have asked how I selected the items for the Scavenger Hunt, so I thought I would share my thought process.  
First, I I want to create a list of items that is do-able, but will be also be a challenge.  It should require both effort and luck to get all the way through it.  But it should not be impossible.  To make sure it's not impossible, most of the items are flexible enough that they can be interpreted in several different ways.  Finally, I want the list to be fun and a little quirky!
Second, my goal is to create a list that will encourage people to get out and explore! Since it's a summertime scavenger hunt, I focus on items which would be found on a typical summery outing. I am very aware that participants in the Hunt live all around the world - so the items need to be things that can be found in any country. And, they can't be too summery because many of the participants live in the southern hemisphere where it is winter!
Third, I include some everyday items that people can find simply by wandering around their town. For these, I try to include things that could be interesting photographically or that would show interesting differences across countries.
Finally, I will often include items that I want to photograph personally or which remind me of some of my favorite blog friends. 
So, based on these ideas: the open air market, sunset, plane, someone napping, zoo animal, and fisherman were all things that seemed summery to me.  A theatre, city hall, local/coffee or tea shop, and tower are all things that could be found by taking a little trip.  The fence, candle, and bench are all commonplace things that could be photographed in an interesting way (and my blog friend Carola loves fences).  The funny sign, something that doesn't belong and cloud in the shape of something are items requiring a little luck and imagination. The stained glass item is on the list for my cousin Irene; the dinosaurs are there for Stacey. I was curious about the different police/fire trucks that could be found around the globe. The windmill was a challenging item (kindof like the unicycle from last year).  I love windmills and wanted to see what people would find. And, truly, I haven't been disappointed!
I've mentioned before that the original idea for the scavenger hunt started with a contest which the San Jose Mercury News runs each year.  Here's their list for 2013:
  • o Building that's shaped like something else
  • o Neon sign at night
  • o Rack of postcards
  • o Funny bumper sticker
  • o Unusual wild animal (not in a zoo)
  • o Historic statue or marker
  • o Abandoned pay phone
  • o Elbow in on someone else's tourist/family photo op
  • o Water tower
  • o Police officer eating
  • o Tacky souvenir
  • o Street performer
  • o Dead end
  • o A restaurant sign that's unappetizing
  • o Exotic-looking plant or tree
  • o Someone reading a book
  • o Unusual hat
  • o Overloaded truck
  • o Merry-go-round
  • o Something unusual not on this list
Also, my friend Young Nancy was the one who turned me onto the whole idea because her family runs a scavenger hunt.  So, those are my thoughts on what made the list and why. I'd love your feedback on what items you liked and whether there were any you really hated!  Also, be sure to check back in on September 21 for the final link up and opportunity to win a few prizes!

Friday, September 6, 2013

My Month in Numbers: August

Time to join in Julie Kirk's meme "Month in Numbers" for August. I've really enjoyed playing along with this meme as a way to blog about a few happenings/photos which didn't quite merit their own blog post but which I do want to remember.
12 The number of Henry's classmates who gathered for a going-away dinner. So proud of all these beautiful young people heading off to college and their next adventures. Feeling so blessed that Henry has been surrounded by such a fine group of friends.
20,000 the number of people who attended the wonderful Sunday afternoon concert in Stern Grove.  
19 the number of people in our group, including 3 men named Paul and 2 women named Molly. 
1 the number of people who went to the concert dressed as Flavor Flav.
28 The numbers of exams I graded. 2 classes taught in the new semester.
2 the number of soccer games I went to watch Henry play.
14 days (from today) until I drive the boy to University.
And for the communal count:
There's usually 4 people who live here. We didn't have any overnight guests.
The earliest I woke up was 5:30 a.m.  on Clara's first day of school. Definitely unusually early for me! I do need to wake at around 6:30 a.m. on Mondays to get ready to teach my class, but most other days I get up around 8:00 a.m.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

PPF: Using a Reference to Draw and Paint (+LSNED)

I'm taking an online class from Dina Wakley on drawing and painting a particular style of face. One thing she recommends is drawing from a reference. I didn't follow that advice for my first few faces, but I did for the two faces I'm posting today.  On the whole, I like these better.  The face up top is based on this drawing by Fabio Mingarelli.
It really helped me get the shading right (or at least better) and gave me some idea about what to do about hair. I also created this art journal page:
I based it on this wonderful print from Ellen Heck's Forty Fridas collection. 
Although I find it really helpful with my drawing and painting (and I'm not planning to sell or display these beyond my blog), it still feels a little wrong to me somehow to "copy" someone else's art. Do you know what I mean? Does anyone else have similar qualms?
Posting these to Paint Party Friday and 29 Faces.  These are also pages in my Learn Something New Everyday art journal.  The lesson for the top page is "Using a reference photo really is a good idea." My lesson for the second drawing is "Don't be afraid to take a chance. Sometimes you get lucky!"  I'll blog more about those lessons this weekend.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

PHC: Finding Peace in the Viewfinder

As I wandered deeper into the back yard of the shop, I found myself enveloped by the calming sounds of burbling water. Surrounded by fountains of every shape and size, I stopped, closed my eyes and soaked in the soothing sound. The air was cool; the sky, a sparkling blue.  I had come to shoot dinosaurs for the Scavenger Hunt and decided to take a quick walk through the statuary in the hopes of finding a sun dial. Now, I slowed my pace, enjoying the peaceful environment. I trained my lens on fountain after fountain, finding peace in the falling water captured in my viewfinder. I wondered at the ability of photography to ground me and bring me peace, even in the midst of a hectic month. Later, looking at my images, this photograph brought me back to that place of peace. When I look at it, I hear the water and feel myself relaxing once again.
Each month, Kat Sloma hosts Photo Heart Connection which encourages photographers to review their images from the month and choose the one which "gives you the strongest connection to your heart and soul." This peaceful photo is it for me. Interestingly, when I reviewed my images from this month, there were other contenders, all of which also touched me because of the peace I found in the viewfinder.
A solitary chair on the beach.
Looking up into eucalyptus trees in Stern Grove.
Empty bleachers at the soccer stadium.
As always, you can get a larger, better view of the photographs by clicking on them. You can visit this link to see other PHC connections or to link up your own. Do you find these photos peaceful? Do you crave peace at this time of year? I guess I do.