Sunday, January 6, 2013

Project Life 365

I have never been the mom that remembers to run and record a first word, the date a tooth fell out. I don't have the patience for scrapbooking.

However, I love to take pictures. I also like to think a lot.  My thoughts get lost and forgotten in the everyday.

So this year, I decided to participate in Project Life 365. A photo a day for a year. That's not a hard challenge for me to actually take a photo. What I am attempting to do though, is share the thoughts that go along with that photo and that day.

A diary so to speak ...  I hope it's something I can print & bind for memories sake, so that my children can reflect on it when they were older, and perhaps get to know their mommy a little more.

You can follow the journey here ...

Friday, January 4, 2013

Finding the light...

Since I don't currently have my photographer website up & running, which is where I normally would post this kind of thing, I decided to go ahead and post here :)

I am doing a 'P52' photo project with a group of photographers. The overall theme, is 'light'. The concept is, that you learn better, how to use and find light creatively for your photos to succeed.

Having a stomach bug and not getting out much lately between car troubles and not yet wanting to venture out solo with 4 littles (one of which is 3 weeks old!), I am restricted to my house and was honestly thinking about quitting, on the first week.

However, today as I was thinking about my p365 photo journal (, I was frustrated because it was 5pm,  the light was going fast and my camera battery was only just charged.

I went into my dark kitchen, only lit by the light coming in through 2 small windows. One, the light was rather flat and neutral,  but the other window, ever evening, the setting sun blasts through it with blinding warm light, so that I have to close the blinds.

Then it dawned on me... It's photographers GOLDEN HOUR outside, this is prime photo op time outside, why couldn't I attempt to use that golden hour sunlight, INSIDE my house.

Boy, was I challenged!

When sharing this pictures, I want to make some things clear first...

- All were taken within about the same 8 square feet, just from different heights and angles.
- My camera really needs a good clean and so does my lens
- They were all taken with natural light, no electric lights, no reflectors, flash etc, just light from the 2 windows.
- I made some minor contrast/exposure tweaks in ACR, but these have not been photoshopped in order to give an authentic representation of the experiment. I chose not to go in and remove shadows/color casts etc because I wanted to show what the lighting really did.
- This weeks specific theme is 'Breaking the rule of thirds' - which will explain some of my more unconventional framing.
- No children were hurt in the carrying out of this experiment ;)

Attempt 1 - Backlight:

My first attempt, I used the sun bursting in from the window as a back light, here you can see the light in very warm, you get a very soft hazy picture, with lots of pretty highlights. However, I was having a hard time because of the strength of the light and movement restrictions, getting a good angle in which I could get her face as sharp as I like, and we are lacking much catchlight in her eyes. I think a reflector would have helped in this case, but I didn't have access to someone to hold one for me to bring the light back into her face.
I will go back to trying to successfully get a good backlit image in this lighting, plus she isn't making the best face.

Attempt 2 - Side lit :

I decided to try and place around with the contrasting light coming through the slats from the side. I have seen some neat pictures done this way... I don't honestly think I 'got' it. Although I think that perhaps a black & white conversion and some tweaking in photoshop, some cloning out of my plug and camera charger back there could actually make this a decent picture.
Here you can see how parts of her face are really blown out and yellow from the bright golden light, and there are some harsh shadows on the left of her face.
I really want to attempt to do something cool & creative with these slats .... so I think more on this.

Attempt 3: Using light from both windows at an angle.

Ok ... kinda bleh. The lighting is boring, I have this huge WHITE distracting segment in the back because of the window,  subject is too soft, but there is non of that golden flaring light that makes it acceptable.   It's not an BAD lighting situation, it's just not terribly exciting and I am not sure what to do  to make it more creative.

Attempt 4: Using my kitchen as the 'open shade'

Here I had her sit down and pushed the chair further back, this removed the harsh light from being right on her, and I think created almost an open shade effect. The light is very evenly distributed on the subject, nice catch lights in the eyes, nice and crisp, lots of color.
This is the SAFEST use of the light, it's really the best portrait lighting and it took me quite a while to figure out how to find a good place to get this in my dark kitchen.


Despite what I thought, I really don't know as much about light as I thought. I know how to use SAFE light. I know how to use light in basic, easy situations, but I do not know how to use light difficult lighting situations to my advantage, how to use them creatively & how to overcome the problems they present.

I am going to keep going back to my kitchen, at sunrise, and sunset (you see the light comes through the other window in the morning!), until I can master using the light creatively!

I am feeling very challenge and excited to see how this journey improves me as a photographer and creatively.

This is exactly what I needed for 2013. I had decided already to step away from professionally offering photography for this year already, for personal reasons and was looking for an opportunity, to use the time off, to challenge myself technically and creatively.

Excited to see what 2013 brings!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year Resolutions...

I thought so much about 2013, about THIS blog. I had eloquent words, wisdom, high hopes. Then this morning I woke up feeling quite wretched. After months of exhausting, morning aches of pregnancy, my 2 year old waking up at 5am, I had developed the habit of immediately putting on Thomas the tank engine, then drifting off on the sofa to sleep.

My first resolution was LESS TV. We used to be a no TV home, but the last 9 months, eradicated my resolution, and the habits slowly formed. 2013, we would have a basket of pre approved DVDs, that the children would only be allowed to watch one per day, during the time I was preparing dinner.

Yet, as I woke up with this hard hitting stomach bug, I caved into Thomas, since I knew I needed the cheerful engines help during the sprints to that porcelain throne.

It was 6 hours into 2013 and I had already failed.

My children all awoke. We gathered on the sofa with blankets and PJ's, and I clutched my bottle of water, nursed tiny almost 3 week old, snuggled little boy, and watched girls in PJ's & tiara's enjoy Cinderella.

It was then I realized, that I hardly even just sit like this with the kids. If they are watching a movie... I am working, editing, cleaning ... and then it became clear, I had not completely failed, since my other resolutions were falling nicely into place....

Time to sit quietly with the children...
More time to soak up and observe the simple things in life...
Observing my children's personalities through varying reactions to Lucifee, Gus Gus, the sisters...
Watching their faces, hearing their thoughts...


2012 my resolution was to have more joy...  more joy that comes from Christ. 2013 ... my prayer is that I will have more peace ... in my heart & in my home.

I think that all the resolutions that are filling my heart ... have one over arching theme... the desire for peace.

The type of peace, that allows you to see more clearly and enjoy simplicity and silence.

The kind of peace that adds a steady pace and routine to each day.

Peace that brings organization, that helps life fall into place, because you have found a rhythm.

Peace that pauses the action and opens eyes to the beautiful.

A peacefulness that opens your eyes to praise and thanks.

A peace that shows you how much you have to be thankful for and to soak up every second before it slips away...

The peace that lets anger, frustration, raised voices ... become quiet...

A peace that slows down your negative emotions and gives you self control over them,

A peace that shows you Christ in all things.

A peace that teaches you how to be like Christ in all circumstances...

My resolutions aren't rules I can fail at... my resolution, is a prayer...  for a peaceful spirit, that when 2014 begins, I can look back at 2013, and see all the ways, that a journey to greater peace in my heart and my home, has permeated all the tiny details.

The same way, I can see how 2012's prayer for JOY permeates every single aspect of our daily life, and our family identity.

And I pray, that there will be lots less, maybe NO tv... because I think my need for it, comes from lack of peace... because... I don't have the peace to believe, that in Christ, I have the strength and ability to handle the hard days without it.

I came to NEED it, as a coping mechanism... to bring peace... when I believed... that I couldn't handle my day without those times of cartoon induced rest... and when I rely on a show, rather than Christ to get me through... I miss out on ways He can sanctify me and also, opportunities to read, play, talk or create with my little ones... before they are grown, and its too late... and I look back and regret...

Now ... for some FUN goals for the year ...

  • Paint my nails every now and then in fun colors. 
  • Write out 1000 Gifts
  • Take a photo a day
  • Read a book, one at a time, from cover to cover, instead of having several on the go all at once, that never get finished. 
  • Always fold my laundry right out of the dryer.
  • Dye my hair a different color ... red? brunette? 
  • Write more poetry
  • Fill out the children's baby books. 
  • Go to the outer banks and sleep on the beach! 
  • Find a favorite Thai and a favorite Indian restaurant in the Raleigh Area
  • Run the 5K with Holly Barton in Washington DC
  • Mix colors and patterns creatively when I dress