Conscious Competence

I’m not usually one to write New Year’s resolutions. They’re too much like goals, and I don’t do goals either. I think it’s because of my perfectionist tendencies—if I don’t think I can do something perfectly, I might not try it at all. If I make a resolution and then don’t stick to it, or set a goal and don’t achieve it, I’ve failed. And I can’t have that now, can I?

After our guests left last week and I got sick, I spent a lot of time lying around like a slug. Not only did it give me time to think, but in a strange way it also motivated me. By Monday, I just wanted to do something. I’ve decided what that something is, and I think I’m even making a little resolution here. And I’m putting it on the internet. This is a big step for me, people!

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Uninspired

Neighborhood decor

So as William reminded me today (in the comments on my previous post), I’ve been a little lax in my blog posting. I actually had a good idea and some camera-phone pics to post on Friday, but then I couldn’t get my phone to send the pics anywhere. So they’re still there, and now the moment has passed for the topic I was planning to discuss.

Isn’t this entertaining, reading about what I could’ve written?

I haven’t been writing, but I have been working on some photos. Tonight after work I grabbed the tripod and headed for the neighbor’s house. She’s an avid cyclist, and always has this old bike in her front yard as decoration. It would never occur to me to do that, and I certainly would never think to put Christmas lights on it. But I think it looks kinda cool.

Since I’m not doing so well with the words tonight, you’re probably better off going to my Flickr stream to see some of the other recent shots I’ve taken. (Tricia, you’ll recognize one of the subjects.)

Hope your week is going well!

Exhausted

Hangin'

Well, today was the big day. It was the Blessing of the Animals to benefit the rescue we work with, and we took family/pet portraits. As you can see, we went with the simple, no-frills background. Toward the end of the day, we had everyone sit on the floor (amidst the dog hair) and I think it worked out well.

I also bought some fabric that’s similar to the backdrop and made a sort of tablecloth for our coffee table. We hauled the table down to church, where the event was held, and threw the tablecloth over it for people to sit on. That worked pretty well for small pets, but was somewhat problematic with the bigger ones because the humans’ faces were so far away (vertically) from the dogs’ faces.

Rather than set up in the fellowship hall where all the commotion (and fluorescent light) was, we chose the narthex. It was good from a lighting standpoint, and I think the photos turned out better because of it. But we were also away from the traffic, so I think we probably ended up with fewer shots overall. But we still did pretty well—I think we raised around $200 with the portraits, and the other events (raffle, silent auction) raised $500-600. So it was a good event.

After everything was over, we had to rush home so I could turn around and head out the door to meet a friend at the mall. T and I have known each other since we were five. She left Minnesota for college in Washington (state), finished her Ph.D. there, then went to San Diego for her post-doctoral work. Then about three years ago she took a job in Pennsylvania, and now lives about 40 minutes away.

We did a little shopping and then took a break for a long dinner and a couple drinks. Shopping after that was pretty entertaining. Even the sales people at Eddie Bauer thought so. Or maybe they were just pretending to laugh along with us. Not sure, but who cares? We had a good time.

And now? It’s finally time to turn off this computer and rest my weary eyes.

No turning back

The more I know, the worse I get. Have you ever had that experience?

I’m really enjoying my photography class, and I’ve learned a fair amount in addition to what I’ve been learning online (Flickr discussion groups, Strobist, and Photodoto are some of my favorite haunts). I *think* I’ve moved beyond the Knows Enough to be Dangerous stage in a lot of ways (but really, how dangerous can you be with photography?).

Now I’m in the phase called Recognizes Imperfections But Not Until After the Shutter is Clicked. I’m getting better at identifying the good and bad qualities of an image, but usually after it’s too late to do anything about it. Why does it always happen that the subject’s best facial expressions happen on the shots where the lighting isn’t quite right? And why are their eyes closed on the ones that are perfectly exposed?

In tonight’s class we learned some Photoshop stuff. Oh. My. Gosh. When I got home I started working on a self-portrait (plus Maggie!) that I did yesterday, and I think I took about 10 years off the age of my face. It’s still me, but wow. Oh, to look like that again! I also worked on some other images, but think I might’ve been a bit heavy-handed. It gets to the point where I work on something so much that I don’t trust my own judgment about its appearance.

So I figure that my only hope is to keep plugging away, trying to improve my photography and Photoshop skills until I can see my images for what they are instead of what they could be.
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Some of you have commented about the location of my comments link. I know, I know—I went back on my word and chose a template with the link at the top. And I do hate it. But I like the way the darker color makes the photos pop, so until WordPress comes up with something new (or I change my mind again) it’s staying. Sorry!

Downward trend*

Nope, smells the same!

So yeah, it’s been about 10 days since I last posted. I’ve been busy, you know? Busy, and also boring. Wanna hear about cleaning the bird cages at my parents’ house? How about what it’s like to ride in the car for two days straight? No? I didn’t think so. I’m feeling a little beat up by the world today, so let’s talk about the last week or so.

When we were in Minnesota last week, my mom helped me make a tutu (using this tututorial) so I could do a photo shoot with Lauren. I followed her around the backyard, and probably snapped about 100 shots. The tutu isn’t really visible in this one, but you can see it on my Flickr site. After a while, she got a little tired of the whole camera thing.

So we went in the house, and I took about 100 more photos in front of the backdrop that we hauled with us from Pennsylvania (have backdrop, will travel!). Yep, after about the first 20 shots I had worn out my welcome with the older two. And I feel kind of bad now because toward the end Alex was SO over it. It didn’t seem like many shots at the time, but looking back on it? Yeah, I don’t blame him. Here’s one of him and Catherine from before he got too impatient:

Beginning to goof around

We drove home last Friday and Saturday, primarily so I could be here for my photography class’s field trip to Longwood Gardens on Sunday morning. There are 10-12 of us in the class, but only three of us showed up for the field trip so it was nice to have some more time with the instructor.

Longwood lily pad

(I really hate the way this template crops my photos.)

We took landscape shots and macro shots, and even got to do some portraits. Some of the instructor’s clients met us there for their engagement shoot, so it was cool to see how he worked with them.

And now it’s back to the work week. I think I can, I think I can. Only two more days . . . .

*This post’s title refers to the graph for my site stats. Funny how no one stops by to visit when you haven’t posted in nearly two weeks.

Epitome

Lensbaby Leaf

We’re still at my mom’s house, and tonight I was working on my computer when Frank (my stepdad) wanted me to see some photos he’d taken this summer. He was using his laptop about ten feet behind me. Do you think I got up and walked over to his fancy new (HUGE!) flat panel monitor? Oh no . . . he emailed them to me.

The jumble in my brain

Toy

So many tidbits to write about tonight . . . .

I’m taking a photography class on Monday nights. Initially I wasn’t too impressed. The instructor is a wedding photographer, and I’m sure he does a great job. But the class is two and a half hours long, and the first night he didn’t even really have anything planned. We all just asked him questions. I was a little leery that all the sessions (eight total, plus a field trip) would be like that, but this past week was a little better.

And I can’t complain. Since I’m going to be missing a few classes, I emailed him to ask if he could schedule the portrait session for one of the nights I’m there. He did! And he drew up a syllabus for the remaining weeks, even though he said he wasn’t going to. I think I may end up learning as much from some of the people in the class as I do from him, so that’s good too.

The image above was taken for class. It’s supposed to demonstrate the rule of thirds. I’m not sure how well I did on that part, but I don’t think the shot itself is too bad. I set it up with my new backdrop, so that was fun.

I’m debating whether we’ll have enough room in the car for the backdrop for our trip to Minnesota. Oh, didn’t I tell you? We’re leaving for Minnesota on Saturday. My mom and step-dad could use some help while she recovers from her surgery, so J.P. and I are headed that way, probably for a few weeks. We can take our work with us, and they had an extra phone line installed, so we’re all set. Hopefully Maggie won’t revolt when it’s time for her to get in the car.

Friday is J.P.’s birthday. If you have a minute, stop by and wish him a happy one.