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The Black Laser

Happy Merry from the Four of Us

Another year has come and another year has mostly gone. That means holidays, and holidays mean holiday cards. Consider this my holiday greetings if you celebrate or don’t or whatever.

Check our this year’s holiday card. I think we’ve outdone ourselves this year. It started out as a Halloween card idea, but with a couple of minor tweaks it became a Christmas card. Sweet.

HAPPY MERRY

And, yes, Penny was not at all happy about being held upside-down for the photo. Fortunately, she is resilient and two blue M&Ms turned her mood right around.

Schellville

Here in the wilds of Southern Delaware there is a residential housing developer called Schell Brothers. They also have outposts in Richmond, VA and Nashville, TN, but from what I can tell on their site their major operations happen here in the good old First State. They build a bunch of houses.

For the last few years they have been putting on an event they call Schellville—a winter festival/market/family thing. They have a fake ice rink! They have little shops! They have more than one Auntie Annie’s pretzels from the mall! They have a beer stand! They have a great big slide!

It’s fun!

It’s wholesome!

It’s free!

They wisely require tickets for entry, even though those tickets cost nothing. What could be an absolute disaster for crowds, wasn’t all that bad… once we got inside. But let’s back up.

Last year the girls were too small to enjoy something like this and Sarah knows well how pathologically allergic to crowds I am. We skipped it. And by “we”, I mean “Sarah” because I had no idea it even existed so I really had zero part in making that particular decision. This year, however, she got tickets thinking that the girls are finally old enough to enjoy the spectacle.

She was right.

After waiting half an hour in line to be let in—with Penny absolutely wide-eyed at all the lights and people and snow machines and music and pretty much everything—we got in, found a relatively open, uncrowded space, and let them free. It was like watching their heads explode.

I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen them have so much fun. Ever. In their whole lives. It was awesome.

We only lasted about 40 minutes before we had enough toddler-chasing and the crowds started to get a little thick. When we told Bea it was time to go, she responded with “No, stay here,” which was the first time I’d heard that out of her mouth. Too bad for her it wasn’t her decision. She let us know how she felt about it in the car on the way home while Penny drifted between sleep and talking to the night outside the window.

I didn’t bring the right lens with me and the dark was a struggle with two fast-moving targets, so not a ton of photos. I took my trusty 85 which is fantastic with good light and while not trying to chase two speedy jackals, but it was too hard in the dark to focus on the girls. Should have gone with the 50. Oh well. Next time.

Here are the photos I liked enough to spend time on. Enjoy.

Thanksgiving at Poppy’s

We visited Sarah’s dad in Maryland for Thanksgiving this year. It was a quick trip, but nice even if holidays can be a little nuts sometimes. They had a bunch of friends and family over, all trying to put the final touches on a Thanksgiving dinner for 20+ people. Two little girls were, surprisingly, not being the most helpful.

To help reduce chaos as much as we could, we took them outside to play on the steps. It was the only moment of the time we were there I had to make some photos and I spent most of it preventing the girls from doing real physical damage to themselves. I’m waiting for that self-preservation instinct to kick in. Any day now would be great.

Enjoy the small gallery of a couple of sunset crazies on Thanksgiving.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, no, they were not at all interested in eating Thanksgiving dinner.

Playground

What do you do with two toddlers who are losing their minds because Daylight Savings has totally messed up their sleep schedules? You take them to the playground!

Penny is super into throwing herself down slides right now, and Bea is a little more cautious. You’d think it would be the other way around (and at another time it was) but that’s how it goes, I guess. Kids.

The autumn sun was giving us beautiful light even if the girls wouldn’t sit still. Enjoy the photos.

Pumpkin Patch

It’s October! That means a trip to the pumpkin (or “PUMPIE!” if you are the kids) patch was on the docket. I was looking forward to it, too. Last year was great and all, but this year the girls are much more mobile and much more interested in the world around them.

They ran around like a couple of kittens let out of a carrier. Each pumpkin was the most exciting pumpkin they’d ever seen in their lives. There were many attempted pumpkin carries and some surprisingly successful pumpkin carries. Bea spent some time wandering around by herself while Penny contented herself by relocating handfuls of hay from the ground to the wheelbarrow, on top of pumpkins, and into her own hair.

All in all, it was a successful day. Pumpkins came home with us and meltdowns were few. Enjoy the photos.

Tennis Courting Success

It’s not a tennis court. It’s a pickleball court. But, talking about pickleball courts is silly. Does anyone even know what that is?

I’ll tell you what, Bea and Penny have no idea. I’m making an official editorial decision: we’ll continue to call it a tennis court in all future references to the pickleball court.

All this huff is to say that we took the girls out on a sunny morning to run them a little bit. The last time we availed ourselves of the tennis court Penny wasn’t quite walking. Now, however, she is a champion walker, sometimes walking as much as all over the damn place. It was time to revisit the location.

I decided to play around with a wide zoom I purchased around Christmas time. I’m a bit hopeless with a wide angle lens, so I thought a little exercise with it couldn’t hurt. Plus, photographing toddlers is an especially physical type of sports photography allowing me some good practice. I also threw a diffusion filter on because why the hell not. I wanted to see what it looked like under bright, sunny conditions. It’s nice!

Enjoy the photos.

Sarah Dances – Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself

Do yourself a favor and watch this one fullscreen.

Last week was Sarah’s birthday. Happy birthday, Sarah! Beyond celebrating my wife’s birth, the event lit a fire under my ass to finally finish the dance video we started shooting last fall. Between the children and greenhouses and all sorts of other stuff, it seemed like there was never time for it.

I started the cut when she was away this July and made decent progress, but then I lost steam. I wanted to have it done for her birthday, but I found the project difficult to work on. Sarah’s dancing is great and fun. The song is driving and easy to cut to. The footage is really nice and allows for flexible decision making. But whenever I got into the flow state that editing something I care about requires, the project made me think of Olive and the hell we went through trying to keep that poor baby alive. I would get choked up while working and have to walk away, go talk to the babysitter or play with the girls or whatever to gather myself.

And as soon as I walked away, focus shattered.

So it took me a whole year to get through the video. That’s quite a long time for a three and a half minute dance video. But I felt so much weight tied to it. Like, I needed to really nail this one because of Olive. And that made it pretty scary. I mean, not in some “life or death” kind of way, but more of a “confronting hard emotional truths” kind of way. Which is still scary!

I think the video turned out pretty nicely and I am proud of this silly, little, emotionally fraught project. It was a good trial run for a camera I purchased just before the pandemic that I had some plans for which never really materialized. I tried out a bunch of new edit tricks and spent a whole lot of time in Resolve working on the color. It was great having raw footage for the first time on a Sarah Dances production.

I hope you enjoy it. I had a hard time with this one. I’m having a hard time even writing about it, actually. But it’s good. And it’s fun. And I hope it brings some brightness to your day.

Download the audio for this post.

Playing in the Rain

What I’ve learned recently is that toddlers do not care at all if it’s raining or not. They want—they need—to go out. Now.

In order to appease the girls’ screaming and to save myself from tantrums in stereo, I took them outside and let them play around in the grass. The water pouring out of the downspouts was especially exciting. We topped off the romp with some yogurt, which doesn’t seem like a very good post-rain snack to me, but was a hit with them. Who know. They’re nuts.

Enjoy some photos.