Archive for 'Personal'
Today is our Reilly’s 12th birthday!! And breaking news in the past few hours…the 14th grand baby on the Hays side of our family is going to share a birthday with his cousin. Such a fun day! To my brother-in-law and sister-in-law today–treasure every moment, as it will go by in the blink of an eye and before you know it, you too will have a 12-year old. The past 12 years have in ways felt like minutes, but in others like an entire lifetime. We have been blessed with two amazing and completely different daughters. Reilly, our firstborn, is so smart, determined, and always mature beyond her years. A perfect student and competitive gymnast, Reilly is always up for the next challenge; she definitely keeps us on our toes! Take these portraits, for example; a few nights ago, she informed us she wanted a photo shoot the next day. She immediately started tearing apart her bedroom, choosing outfits. At that particular moment I wasn’t exactly in the mood to style her session, and will admit, I wasn’t into it at the moment. Morning came and she had clearly not lost momentum, as she plugged in the curling iron and sat on the stool in the kitchen, beckoning me to curl her hair for her photo shoot. I curled and sent her and James and their way to the studio (I have learned from experience that things go much smoother if I stay home for these sessions!) I have to admit, I was very pleasantly surprised when James started showing me the images. These images represent more than just my 12-year old daughter; they represent our daughter becoming an independent young woman. Looking back, I’m glad I wasn’t “into it” that day, because had I been, these images may have reflected too much of me and not enough of Reilly. Happy birthday Reilly! We love you!!
Shhhh…don’t tell anyone, but I just had the big birthday. Yep, it happened–I turned 40. When James turned 40, he wanted a party with his family and closest friends. While I would have certainly enjoyed that, I knew what I really wanted was to take a fabulous vacation with my husband and daughters, so that’s exactly what we did. We spent a wonderful, relaxing week in June in beautiful (and steamy…) Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. We stayed in Nuevo Vallarta, which is basically “New” Vallarta; it was great! We spent the week doing exactly what I wanted to–relax and be together. On my actual birthday, June 14, the girls and I swam with dolphins, which has been the dream of our youngest daughter, Teagan, for the past 3 years. On most other days, our routine was as follows: lounge around our room, James and I would go exercise, back to room, lunch, slather ourselves with sunscreen to arrive at the pool just in time for Happy Hour at the pool bar at noon, drink mango margaritas in the pool, read in the shade while the girls swam, back to room to enjoy the luxurious air conditioning, shower, relax, out for dinner, dessert, and back to room for more lounging. Repeat. Not overly exciting but exactly what we needed. Here are a few snaps from the trip (disclaimer from James: please excuse the less than stellar images, as the humidity made it extremely difficult to use professional-quality equipment).
Vinyl is killing the mp3 industry…
I’ve made no secret about my recent (re)-infatuation with vinyl records. Several months ago, I dusted off my 35 year old turntable I bought in Oregon a while back, got it refurbished, and began spinning again. I either own digitally or have access to almost everything I could ever want to listen to, but I can’t compare the feeling I get when I take the effort to place an LP on the platter and drop the needle. There is something deliberate about it, calculated and valued. The analog crackle and pop of the spinning wax conducting through the needle somehow seems incredibly more “real” than pressing play on my mobile device. I get to touch and view the artwork in the size and format that the artists intended. When I buy an old record, I’m having the same visceral experience someone had 30-60 years ago. My daughters (and their children) will someday be able to hold these and experience them the same way I did, even when I am gone.
The parallels to my photography business hit me like a ton of bricks. I love digital technology. It has allowed me creative opportunities I would have never realized or been able to express. But as time goes by, I am realizing that despite my greatest digital creations, without a physical representation I “have” nothing.
About two years ago an educator/peer in my industry unexpectedly lost his wife in a tragic accident. Immediately he searched for her photographs and memories of them as a couple. She had always been the one in charge of storing/archiving their digital media and he was in a near panic as he could not locate anything. He feared all those memories were lost. Fortunately he was able to locate the old hard drives and the data was still intact. He immediately printed the images and they are still hanging on his wall.
I’ve been going to the San Diego Comic-Con off and on for quite a few years but this year I wanted to do something a little different. Each year hundreds of Con attendees dress up as their favorite characters, some of them quite elaborate. Armed with lighting gear from Phottix, I managed to find an area where I could set up and make portraits of this cosplay wonderland. Another mission of the trip was to make a portrait of one of my favorite artists Gris Grimly. His booth was fantastic and made a perfect background for this moody image. Thank you to all who stopped to share. Here are some faves.
Reilly and I spent the last couple of days in Santa Cruz, Monterey and Carmel with her church group. It was a whirlwind trip and we crammed a lot in a very short time. The weather was perfect and the skies were crazy blue which made for some cool black & white photos. Here a a few faves.
Reilly is in fourth grade which means she is studying the California missions this year. One of her assignments is to visit one of them, and we chose the Mission Santa Barbara. Before that, we decided to make a 3-day detour to my favorite place on earth…Disneyland!
The first two days were remarkably crowd free and we all had our fill of rides and attractions. The third day was leap day and the park was open for 24 hours. We did not know this when we booked, but it was a huge event with thousands waiting at 5am for a chance to enter the park early. I left Stef & the girls in bed and made my way into the two block line. I have been to Disneyland many times but have never seen the sunrise there, it was quite special. I walked the park for an hour and just explored, something I used to do when I went with my parents, but this time of course I took photographs.
I’m proud to say the girls went on every ride we asked them to this time and never chickened out. Their highlights were the Aladdin stage show, World of Color (an amazing night time show in California Adventure), and the chain swings. It was a fantastic time.
NERD ALERT Non techies can stop reading now: My Fuji X-100 review starts here. I know this camera has been reviewed ad nauseum but I thought I would give a perspective from real world use. Ever since I sold my last Leica M7 years ago I have been searching for an “every day use” camera that I take with me wherever I go(Stef gets quite annoyed when I bring the 5d and a few lenses to dinner). Most small digital cameras just don’t have the quality or features I like but when Fuji announced the X-100 last year they got my attention. I won’t go into the features of the camera as that info is widely available and much better described than I could do here. I carried the X-100 every day of our trip and enjoyed using it. So here is what I liked:
The camera is SMALL. Having this little thing around my neck was quite liberating compared to my big Canon and a zoom lens. I saw hundreds of people in Disneyland with a big DSLR/lens around their neck and couldn’t help but smirk a little as they all eyed mine. I hardly noticed it and it never got in the way on any of the rides. I knew lighting situations were going to be all over the place so I shot exclusively in aperture priority mode with auto iso. With a few clicks of the exposure dial, this method worked wonderfully most of the time. I also almost exclusively used the viewfinder to frame and shoot. I prefer shooting that way (instead of the lcd) and it just makes me feel more connected to the scene.
Now, this is not a camera for quick grab shots or rapid fire shooting…and I like that. The design and operation makes you think about your shot and, slow down. I took easily half as many pictures with this camera as I would have with my Canon, which made things much more enjoyable to go through when we got back.
In use: My main goal with this camera was to document our vacation. While it did that very well, it was also very fun to use! Hard to explain really, but I haven’t had that much fun with a little camera since my Leica days. The act of framing, getting exposure, and waiting for the decisive moment was a great experience for me. The lcd screen seemed just “ok” and got the job done for reference, but it’s certainly not the brilliant 5d lcd. I found the camera very easy and intuitive to compose and focus, again not lightning fast but fast enough for my needs that week. The manual aperture ring is right up my alley and in no time I found myself constantly fingering it preparing for the next shot. While I’m not a flash user, there were a couple of occasions where I just couldn’t take a risk (the girls getting Goofy’s autograph in dappled light). The little Fuji does a pretty nice job balancing the flash with the ambient, I was quite surprised.
Focus: Apparently this has been quite a polarizing topic regarding this camera but I can honestly say that in the over 700 frames I shot that week, I think about 4 shots missed focus. Sorry Mr. Kelby, sounds like you got a bum unit. My method was pretty simple: If I was shooting at f2 and needed critical focus, I used the EVF. Shots f4 and smaller I switched to the beautiful OVF. This really worked well for me. Of course this is a smaller sensor and only an f2 lens and granted most of my shots were at f4 outside in bright light, but I just did not experience any of the reported focus gremlins.
And of course there is the image quality. I am consistently impressed with the incredible quality this little camera puts out. So much that I have used it on several professional sessions. The colors are great and I’m more than comfortable shooting at up to 1600 iso.
So who is this camera for? Certainly not someone looking for a good point-and-shoot, there are much better offerings for that. The X-100 is designed for people who value the experience of making pictures. Using it requires some effort, and yes there are a few quirks, but overall it makes me feel a little bit more analogue in this digital world…something I need every now and then.
The girls were in rare form and decided they wanted to have a “serious” photo shoot. Stef and I had to drop everything to accommodate, but were glad we did. We splashed on a little makeup, got some new clothing options, and voila! They decided to be little models. It had been a while since we have had them both in the studio and just reminded me how fast they are growing up 🙁
Here are some of our favorites. Reilly particularly enjoyed her magazine cover…
Whenever the kids are on a break from school we try to take advantage of it, even if only for a couple of days. One of our favorite nearby getaways is Carmel/Monterey. I’ve grown somewhat addicted to online travel deals, and when I got the email about this cute Carmel bed & breakfast, I knew just where we were going during Spring Break! This was the first time we stayed in the heart of Carmel, which is definitely cool since we could walk everywhere. The kids were especially fond of the breakfast portion of the B & B, as well as the free VHS movie checkout (no, that’s not a typo…probably the last time we’ll see VHS tapes anywhere! 🙂 Another one of my new online addictions is to find the best places to eat wherever we’re at. Well, the review sites did not disappoint, as we had a fantastic dinner at Flying Fish Grill (Japanese) and amazing lunch at Dametra Cafe (Greek). Of course we had to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium (the kids weren’t letting us off the hook on that one), but I honestly think we had the most fun just hanging out in Carmel and exploring. You will see from the images that the kids did an excellent job of that! Can’t wait to find out where our next unexpected travel deal will take us!