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Posts tagged as “Photography”

Cute Outfits and a Warm, Sunny Day

Some cute new clothes and the first day of 2022 with weather nice enough to sit outside were perfectly good reasons for a fresh set of photos.

Penny had a great time putting all sorts of stuff into her mouth that she shouldn’t have. Unfortunately for Beanut, she got some sunblock in her eye and was pretty unhappy. Worry not. As soon as the irritation wore off, Beatrice was just fine.

Enjoy the photos of one happy, leaf-eating child and one grumpy, eye-irritated child.

And because why not, here’s two minutes from the day before of the girls enjoy the grass and wind.

A Brief List of Goals for 2022

While I’ve gone over my primary goal of staying away from social media for the year previously, I’ve also been thinking about some things I’d like to accomplish for the year. It’s not a bad idea to add a positive thread to a year about avoiding things, even if the things I’m avoiding are crazy-making.

These aren’t just personal or professional goals, but a mix of the two. In this era of working from home in the midst of being a stay-at-home parent, the lines between the two types of goals are often hazy, so why not mix them together in this list and let it fly? They’re already mixed together in my head. Besides, work is essentially personal since, for me at least, I work to support my life rather than live to work.

I share these with you as a commitment device. If you, faceless reader, know that I am striving to accomplish these things, then I will more easily be able to pressure myself out of slacking.

In no particular order, here we go.

  • Record some TBLR episodes: I dabbled with The Black Laser Reads many years ago and then sort of let it drop. However, I’ve been thinking about The Black Laser Reads non-stop since then. A dig through the post archive reveals that only two episodes were released, both in the in summer of 2011. That means it’s been bouncing around in my head for ten and a half years with little public action. I’ve finally got an acceptably imperfect VO booth set up here in my office and an ever-deepening list of public domain works that I am interested in. It’s just a matter now of doing the recording.
  • Make more photos: Sarah and I have this crazy idea of owning a photo studio one day, but, as a photographer, I feel like I still need lots of practice. I’m getting the dust out and I shoot and process very deliberately, but there are so many aspects I need to improve on before I’d be comfortable charging for the work. Practice practice!
  • Improve my photo compositing skills: I am like a B-minus level photo compositor. The problem is that I don’t really know what I need to do to improve. I enjoy the work, definitely, but I am at a bit of an impasse where I need some structured education in the matter. I really just want our holiday cards to be better than everyone else’s. Simple.
  • Write more on The Black Laser: I’ve already started doing this. I’d like to keep it up. At the beginning, I wrote here all the time about anything that interested me. A lot of it is very bad, but that is the price we pay to get better at a skill. Then, for many years—let’s call them “The Quiet Years”—I worried that no one cared at all about what I wrote here. That is the result of my skill and taste levels increasing at different rates. Significantly better taste with moderately better skill. Many ideas were hatched and all were killed by the “Why bother?”s. Much silence ensued. Now, while I am still unconvinced that people are too interested in what I have to write, the whole purpose is the bother. That is, the work is the reason to do the work. And I’m enjoying it again!
  • Write some more stories: During the class at Cabrillo I was on a streak. Sure, it was for the class, but I was in the mindset and the barrier to the work was low. Then we had COVID hit the world, the cross-country move, the triplets pregnancy, the temporary move to Maryland, the birth of the girls, the unending hospital misery, the loss of Olive, the move back to Delaware, and the struggle to figure out how to be parents who work. Somewhere along the way, the needle just sort of popped out of the groove. I’d like to flip it over and start the B side.
  • Make a local friend: It’s crazy what social distancing and two little girls who can’t walk yet will do to prevent you from making friends. No one’s fault, of course. As much of an introvert as I am, having a friend within driving distance would probably not be such a bad idea. How to make that friend is a totally different proposition.
  • Continue to practice my penmanship: My handwriting is not bad, by any means, but it is a funny mix of half-remembered cursive and printing. You will often see both a cursive S and a printing S in the same word. I purchased the Spencerian Penmanship book set a few months ago and was steadily practicing while doing overnights just after we brought Penelope and Beatrice home. After the move back to Delaware, I have not been keeping up with it so well. There’s something about not having 8 hours of forced quiet time every single night to make you lose sight of the learning you were doing. Of course, my penmanship doesn’t matter at all, but it’s something I’d like to improve so I am going to.

That’s kind of a lot of stuff, I guess. But there is kind of a lot of time in a year and it is important to have goals. Keep up with me and see how far I get! Commitment devices!

Also, you might have noticed an audio file embedded in the top of this post. Click it! That’s me reading to you on my website for your enjoyment. I thought that adding audio versions of these posts would be a fun way to add a little value to the site and give me a chance to hone my monologue editing skills. You get all the benefit; I do all the work. Win-win.


Photo by Erfan Afshari on Unsplash

A Couple Of Dang Turkeys – November 25, 2021

Picture this:

It’s Thanksgiving. The 23-pound turkey is in the oven and cooking nicely. Stuffing is warming in the slow cooker. The first bottle of wine is open and halfway to the bank. Your kids are dressed like little turkeys in outfits gifted by the babysitter. You find yourself with a brief moment before the sun dips behind the horizon.

What do you do?

If you’re me, you throw the kids on the lawn and take some dang photos. And, with the help of our friendly neighbor Doug, you get a couple almost-good family portraits. To be fair to Doug, he had the barrel of the lens pointed directly into the setting sun. A valiant effort, but we’ll have to try again.

Enjoy the photos.

When the Sun is Nice, Take Some Photos – November 10, 2021

Sarah purchased these outfits for the girls a while and ago and we’d been looking for a good time to use them. She worried that we were too far into autumn for another outdoor shoot, but the climate change gods came through for us, delivering a warm, lovely November afternoon. We were also fortunate enough to have the sunset shining directly between the houses with which we share a weird, communal back yard.

All in all, we had about four minutes of prep time for these. Get the girls dressed. Throw a blanket on the lawn. Go go go. The sun dipped behind the buildings shortly after taking the last photo. It’s nice when things come together at the last minute.

A For-No-Particular-Reason Photo Shoot – October 25, 2021

Sometimes you just bathe the kids and force them to sit near a window as the sun sets so you can get some photos. I think it is important to make regularly scheduled photos of the girls, even if you have no great purpose. They’re just growing so dang fast.

A bunch of these came out really nice. I find I have a hard time editing out photos because I have emotional feelings about the subjects. So, you get bloated, unfocused galleries. No big deal.

I was playing with a diffusion filter I purchased recently. I think it added a pleasing, dreamy haze to some of the photos, even if it wasn’t quite the right light for it. In other photos, it kind of just looks, I don’t know, soft? Diffuse? That’s the point, of course, even if the outcome wasn’t exactly what I normally like.

The Inaugural Pumpkin Patch Visit – October 28, 2021

One of the nice things about working from home is that I can decide to get up and go to the pumpkin patch in the middle of the day on a Thursday in late October with Sarah and the girls. And no one except my dwindling prospects and collapsing career can tell me otherwise! Supreme freedom!

It was a beautiful day here in lower, slower Delaware and we couldn’t bear to miss the opportunity to drag the children out for photos. And I think they’re pretty dang cute in their Halloween-y witch outfits. They seemed to enjoy the trip. Penny was totally jazzed the rest of the day, until 6pm when she promptly fell asleep.

Upstairs, in a Window – August 8, 2021

Here’s a gallery of photos of the girls sitting on the sofa upstairs I shot this summer. Well, sort of sitting. Slumping. Sliding off. Loafing. It took me a while to share these because, well, I am forgetful and I didn’t yet have a way of sharing Google Photo albums. But now I do! So I am sharing these. This also means sharing photo galleries will be easier in the future. Be excited.

I’ve shared some of these photos on the social medias already, but Instagram really crushes the quality out of them.

A new tool.

About 13 years ago, I wrote about the purchase of a new camera in a series of posts. That was the last camera I purchased and it has been through hell with me. After untold thousands of photos, a complete replacement of the shutter assembly, dings and scratches, and even more miles, I’ve decided to replace that old 5D Mark 2. She’s been a valuable work horse, but the technology is long in the tooth and I’m feeling a touch impulsive.

I have children now. Taking photos of kids is like taking photos of sports (that line is my dad’s, not mine). The 5D2 is no longer up to the task. Honestly, the 5D2 wasn’t up to the task in 2008. The AF performance is all right for adults who know how to sit still or for landscapes or for tables filled with inanimate objects. The astute reader will recognize that children are none of those things. My kids aren’t even really mobile yet and already trying to get them in focus is a chore. Wiggling newborns are beyond the limits of the 5D2’s antiquated AF system. I got pretty good at the old “focus and recompose”, but it’s not the best method and modern technology has solved the problem.

She also never worked well in low-light. Anything above ISO 1250 and the photos displayed easily discernible noise bands. Some noise is, of course, fine. But horizontal lines of noise through an image are not. Maybe I’m particular, but I don’t like stripes through my photos. So that meant fast lenses and long shutter speeds, both of which come with their own attendant issues. It was a problem I ran into when trying to photograph my little Olive in her hospital room. The natural light was mostly insufficient, the artificial light was hideous, and I couldn’t push the camera past ISO 1250 for fear of ruined images, so I shot wide open and long shutter speeds. But wide open and long shutter speeds means tiny focal ranges and motion blur—there was no IBIS in 2008—which also means bad photos. I missed a lot of photos of Livvy that I shouldn’t have because of technical reasons. That was incredibly frustrating. Beyond frustrating. It was heartbreaking.

Now it is time to retire the 5D2. She will live on in my camera bag as a back-up until I find something better to do with her.

Say hello to my new friend, the Canon R5.

My cell phone, though newer than 2008, still doesn’t take great photos.
So cute.

It should come as a surprise to no one that I went all out. It was a terrifying purchase, but thinking of all the cute baby photos it is going to make helps me feel better about the splurge.

First impressions after having for just a few hours? This thing is slick and surprisingly small compared to the 5D2. It makes sense that it would be smaller since it doesn’t need to make room for all the mechanicals that lived inside the older DSLR, but holding it in my hands I still find its size a little weird. Nice, but weird.

The operation of the thing is amazing. The metric of a good tool for me is that it doesn’t stand in the way of translating thought into action. Let my brain tell you what to do and then do it. Don’t erect a bunch of extra steps for me to climb. The R5 feels like it is going to prove itself to be a good tool. Even the test photos I took around the house to familiarize myself with the camera are beautiful. Not good photos, but technically beautiful.

I’m going to take it out for a walk tomorrow while the babysitter is here and will be back with some sample photos to share.