Friday, May 27, 2011

Snapshots of a good life...

I've been wanting to take Karen Russel's "Snapshots of a Good Life" photography class for a very long time. I have been on the wait list for the class for about a year and half, but it never worked out because the class was always full or the timing didn't work (natural-light photography class in Oregon in January... I don't think so!). Well this year it worked out perfectly and I was finally able to enroll.

My hope with the class was to learn more technical aspects... mainly getting my camera off of the preset settings (auto, portrait, landscape, sports, etc.) and taking control of my photos by going manual. I also really wanted to start taking better photos from the get go, so that I could spend less time editing. The class started a few weeks ago and I think it's heading me in the direction I want to go.

Each week we have mountains of pages to print off and read (about 70 each week for the last few weeks). We talked about equipment (which has now got me salivating over a new lens that I really can't afford. LOL), composition and are now on ISO, shutter speed and aperature. Each week we're given assignments to complete and post to the forums. I have completed and posted week 1 and just have one more do for week 2 (hoping to finish that when I'm out on the river with Brian tomorrow).

Sooooo... I thought I'd share my photos from week 1 and continue to share them as I go along this course. Two things you should know:

  1. You are required to post two photos for each assignment - your favorite/best photo and one of your not-so-favorite photos. Then you have to post what you liked about the better photo and what you'd do differently in the not-so-favorite photo.

  2. These are SOOC (straight out of camera). No cropping or editing is allowed. That is not how I usually post photos - I love my photo editing! LOL So consider this the stripped-down version of my photography.

Week 1, Assignment 1: Viewpoint (You had to take photos of one subject form different viewpoints - low, eye-level and high above) to see how that would affect the subject and background.

You have already seen these photos before, but these are the SOOC versions.


Not-so-fave (I didn't like that you lost some of the story because you don't see her arms around the doll and the way she was hugging her. I also would have liked to see her more to one side of the frame, rather than the center):

Week 1, Part 2: Composition (Giving no directions, take a photo of an event with focus on thoughfully composing the shot. Things like the Rule of Thirds, filling the frame, offcentering, mergers, lines, etc.)

I have to admit to fudging this one a bit. It rained the end of last week and the family walk we had planned to take just didn't happen. I had taken these pictures during the week but didn't take them specifically for this assignment. With the deadline just hours away and rain still on the horizon, I just decided to make them work for me.


Not-so-fave (I didn't like how the lines weren't straight in the background and I would have liked to have Carissa on one side of the frame):

Week 2 is due on Sunday and I'll post my photos here sometime next week. :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

On Stage

Both Tristan and Carissa had their school music programs a few weeks ago. This was Tristan's last program at Sauvie Island, as he moves on to Middle School next year. He played the part of a frog

and also played a mean recorder. ;) He did a fabulous job!

Carissa's 4th grade music program was fabulous. She played the White Bird of Hope and was just adorable. Here she is amongst the rest of her brightly colored flock. :)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

She has arrived!

Carissa has been asking for an American Girl doll for years... and I literally mean years. But with a $100 price tag, it just wasn't something we were willing to provide for her. We did tell her that she could save her money for an American Girl if she wanted her. Little did we know that she'd do just that. She has been saving money for months and months. She has saved her grade money and money that she received at Christmas and her birthday. She hasn't spent a dime since she started saving and has saved $65. Grandma heard how well she'd done to save money and decided to put in the rest to make Carissa's dream come true. As soon as we got home we ordered her doll and last week she arrived. So, meet Ella:

Ella is a "My American Girl" doll, meant to look like Carissa. She chose a doll with the same eye color, same hair color and length and the same skin color. As soon as she arrived Carissa squealed with delight and tore open the box. Since then Ella has been carried around and graces a spot on the bed next to Carissa's head. When Carissa goes to school Ella sits up on the bed by Carissa's pillow, waiting for her to come home. It's adorable how much Carissa loves her. :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Weekend at Jimmy's - Wrap-up

Our last stop on Saturday was to Deception Pass. We stopped just before the bridge and got out for a closer look. It was beautiful! It was a gorgeous day and the view was fabulous.
The kids loved it and walked part of the bridge. I stayed on solid ground... being up on that bridge with the wind blowing wasn't thrilling me so I let Mom take them instead.

It was a great pitstop and allowed Jimmy & Virginia to get a nap in for the kiddos. :)

Oh, and Jimmy finally had a chance to email me the pictures of our group from the tulip festival. This was his favorite... without him in it:

Though I did request the picture of all of us in it, even though it wasn't his favorite (maybe because he's butt is sticking out, though I look funny too so I shouldn't talk. LOL). Shortly after these pictures I got pretty sick. Then Randal got sick. That ended our weekend.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

For Mom

More pictures and the full story to come. Right now, this is for Mom...

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Weekend at Jimmys - Part 2

Our second stop on Saturday was the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. We went to the "Tulip Town" site and ventured out into their fields. The first thing I noticed was that it was different than the tulip fields I usually go to. I missed the colorful windmill amongst the fields and the benches and tractors they have scattered throughout.

Im the beginning I also missed being able to walk in the rows of tulips. Tulip Town has signs everywhere asking you not to walk the roads. I thought I would miss that... I mean, you can't walk the fields? Only the edges? But in the end I loved it because it allowed me to get photos like these...

See? All those tulips and not a single person wandering the fields in the background. And since we went on a busy Saturday, you can imagine how difficult these would have been to get at our regular tulip field.

We did, in fact, go with family on this excursion. We even accosted some random stranger and asked them to take a photo of all 8 of us. Those pictures, however, are on my brothers camera. So I'm at his mercy and will have to wait for him to post them before I can share them.

I do have a few pictures with adorable little Randal in them though. He seemed to have a good time looking at the flowers and walking around with his family and his cousins.

(Not sure what happened in this photo... he must have his hands behind his back because it looks like his arms have been cut off. LOL)

As usual, I asked the kids to chose their favorite color of tulip to be photographed with. Tristan waited until the last minute and went with a field of red ones... but what he really liked was the random yellow and red streaked ones that were in this field. Not the red ones, the yellow ones.

He also got photos with these beautiful purples ones. Purple is one of his recent favorite colors so I was glad to see him choose some purple ones to be photographed with.

Carissa said that she wanted pictures with all of her favorites. I gave in and told her that was fine. She ended up with pictures in 6 or 7 different varieties, mainly pinks (imagine that, LOL). Here's a few of my faves of her:

Chase chose the reds as his favorites. They actually had some subtle streaks of white in them. They were really fabulous tulips! It was a big, thick patch of tulips too and I was thrilled to be able to get a photo with nothin but red in it.

Jimmy and his family were saints to put up with me. I take my sweet time, dilly-dallying around, taking tons of pictures of the kids, stopping to look at the tulips, playing with my camera settings so I can take artistic shots, etc. I forget what it's like to have little ones who aren't interested in hanging out at the tulip fields for 2 hours just because. LOL But I did get some great flower shots while there. Here's my faves:

The funniest moment of the entire weekend happened here. The paths were wet in places from the rain that had fallen that morning. Randal was in his cute little blue boots and wasn't quite watching where he was going. He hydroplaned on the slick, wet mud and landed on his bottom in a thick muddy patch. He got up saying "aaaa... aaaa... aaaa... there's mud in my boot!" And there was. There was mud on his bottom, mud on his legs and he'd fallen so hard that mud had actually fallen inside his boot. We just sat there and laughed, it was so funny! Then Chase decided to help and picked Randal up, holding him backwards against his body, coating his own self with a layer of mud. *snort* Oh well, we still enjoyed the rest of the festival. :)

Friday, May 06, 2011

Weekend at Jimmy's - Part 1

Last weekend my Mom, my kids and myself went up to Washington to see my brother and his family. They have just been restationed in Washington and Jimmy is soon-to-be deployed. We made the most of the 3-week window between when they arrived in Washington and when he gets deployed and made a trip up there. It was a long drive, but it was worth it.

First off, my newphews are STINKING ADORABLE! My kids had a great time playing with Randal and were constantly trying to get Alden to come sit with them. We came in on Friday and spent the evening hanging out with them. On Saturday we headed up to Mount Erie to see the view. It was beautiful! I took lots of pictures of the kids up on the mountain, where they climbed the rocks and trees and looked at the beautiful view.

My favorite picture from the spot... Tristan, Carissa, Chase and Randal overlooking the Sound.