Friday, November 30, 2012

Pearl suffers a disappointment

Pearl's favorite place to hide from Penny is the linen closet.  She loves it here because Penny is too psyched out to jump up and between the shelves:

Until today:

Pearl asked me to intervene, but what can I do?  As my mom always says, you can't do something for one child and not the other ... Sorry Pearl, but I guess it's Penny's turn?

Yeah, I know: the closet's a mess. Don't judge me. I have ONE closet for hairspray, towels, and wrapping paper.

So Pearl has lost her last sacred, unshared spot in the house.  Sorry kid: That's called "being a sister."  Don't worry--you'll live.  Just ask Aunt Wezwee.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thanksgiving in the desert

Remember my friend Marcie?

She sent me this picture over the weekend after the really cold air settled in here. The subject line of her email said, "This is November in the desert."

Marcie's been celebrating Thanksgiving in Palm Springs, CA, for a few years now.  While we had a beautiful Thanksgiving Day here, it didn't look like this!

I miss you, California!

(Anybody else thrilled that today's snow only turned out to be rain??)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Erin swears this will be her only pregnancy ...

... so we documented it two weeks ago.

We were really lucky--an almost 70 degree day in the middle of November.  Erin bought a new sweater for the occasion, and she couldn't have made a better pick.  The royal blue highlights her eyes, and her hair beautifully matches the autumn surroundings.  Don't worry, Tom, you're looking good too!

Erin originally promised to reveal the sex of the babies ... but then she changed her mind and decided to reveal them at her shower in early December.  It's been an agonizing month of waiting for me.  At first, I was betting on a boy and girl. Now, I'm leaning toward two boys.

This is the same place where Steph chose to do her pictures back in August--the Binky Lee Preserve.  (Can you believe how green it is in Steph's pictures??)

When I worked on solo pictures of Erin, Tom would just wander around and explore the place.  Erin would point and whisper, "Take some pictures of him goofing around!"  Tom looks like a well-dressed Sasquatch at Binky Lee.

Really, she's looking great:

At one point I joked, "You people are too damn tall. I should've brought something to stand on." (Really, I might start doing that. I already bring a ton of stuff with me for these things, so I may as well bring a stool if it improves the angle of some of the pictures.) So Erin and Tom made themselves short for me. Not awkward at all:

At one point, there was a family with a bunch of kids wandering around in the pine trees next to us.  The kids began shouting to their mom that they had found a bunch of animal bones.  Tom found this pretty exciting and I lost him for just a second. I think it's funny that he kept the smile and only shifted his eyes:

Well you guys, while you won't be outnumbered after this pregnancy is over, you will be equally matched in your own house.

You better maintain a united front.  Very united.  Start practicing your Scary Faces (aka, "The Look."  Ama hears me on this one.)

* hint * These will not work for scary faces:

Thanks for letting me photograph you both!  Erin says she wants to do one more shoot much closer to the end of her pregnancy.  It'll be really cold by that point, so we'll have to get creative with indoor lighting.  I'll worry about that later.  For now, I'm really grateful to Binky Lee for giving me two very workable settings in two different seasons.

Erin's shower is coming up in two weeks, and her mom and I are going all out with the party decor.  More on that later ... can't spoil the suprises!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Scenes from the holiday

I completely appreciate that this family went all out with the Thanksgiving decor.  Most people in town decorate for Halloween and Christmas, and Thanksgiving is usually totally forgotten.

Sweet potato biscuits

Martha Stewart chocolate bars: print out the template and wrap around a Hershey bar.
My mom also made these adorable Hershey kiss acorns, but I don't have a picture of them.  You can see how to do them here.

My mom's Thanksgiving table.  The felt leaves were a pack of thirty for $3 ($3!) at Target.  Yes, they came with the veins printed on them.

Ina's apple crostata

This angle makes it look like everything is going to slide right off the tabletop.  My mom continues the family tradition of serving stuff from the past holiday (jack o'lantern chocolates) on the current holiday.  It's typical for us to use Easter napkins on 4th of July.

I used the pumpkin pie recipe from the back of the can.

I asked my mom if we could open some champagne, and she was fine with that until she saw my sister pouring a glass for my grandmother.  My mom was seriously like, "MOM! NO! YOU CAN'T HAVE ANY OF THAT!!"  I said, "Will it interfere with a medication or something?"  (My grandmother never takes meds, so I was totally confused.) My mom didn't answer me, but gave my grandmother this look that I RARELY ever see ... something like, "Don't you DARE.  DO YOU REMEMBER THAT TIME WHEN ...?????"  And my grandmother took a gulp of the stuff in response.  Apparently, my grandmother (who hardly eats or drinks anything) has quite a history with champagne.  I think she had three glasses on Thursday. How hilarious is that?

So bring on Christmas. Here we go.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Turkey Day

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

YAY! The babies I know actually use the stuff I make them!

Here's Eileen's baby girl with the blanket I made for her (which was technically a gift from my sister). It proved especially useful on Halloween:

And here is Lauren's Abigail with the menswear bunny that I made for her:

Yay! Thanks Moms for sending me these pictures : )

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Monday, November 19, 2012

Lillian joins the club

You can put a large, odd fall flower arrangement in front of me, but I'll still get my shot.

How are we here already? Didn't Steph just announce her pregnancy?

Ok, Lil, can we try that again?
That's better.

And we were all there to see you:

Welcome to the club, little girl.  We're glad to have you join us.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Friday, November 16, 2012

What's wrong with this picture?

Seriously, why buy two couches when your family insists piling onto one?  Complete waste of money.  Good thing Ron was heading up to bed because (evidently) there was no other seating available.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Photog class: Final assignment

Last Thursday, our photography class met for the last time.  We had the choice of turning in one of three assignments: "Pet's view" (shots taken from the point of view of your pet), "abstract body part" (I know, right? That could get a little freaky), and "rural landscape."  I decided to skip the pet assignment (because who needs to be tortured with one more shot of the Fluffs?) and go with the other two.

I decided to try the landscape assignment even though landscapes are one of my least favorite subjects.  When a landscape is so gorgeous that I want to take a picture, I always take the shot knowing that it will never even come remotely close to the real scene itself.  For me, the point of photography is that the final, edited shot looks even better than the way your mind's eye remembers the subject--the photograph should do the work of remembering for you (and do the remembering better than you).  Most of the time, my landscape shots don't even come close to reality mostly because I don't have the right equipment to shoot them.  (4x5 cameras are best--apparently, 35mm and digital can't touch this format.  This site has me pretty interested in it.)

So anyway, out I went to find a landscape on Election Day morning.  My initial results were pretty boring, but I hadn't had my hopes up to begin with.

This is a public trail (the name of which I forget--Birmingham Trail? Brandywine Trail?) on Birmingham Road between Meetinghouse Road and Wylie Road.

ugh, so much about this is awful.  So flat. I honestly hate it.

The only one of these I sorta like is the tree.  My camera didn't pick up most of the color or detail that was present in person.  Apparently, this is why a 4x5 camera is best for this subject: Every little shadow, leaf, and blade of grass gets picked up by this large format rather than just blending into a flat greenish brown.

I ended up using these two for my final submission:

Most times, I think the sky is always a little more interesting than the ground.  I messed around with the contrast to get the silhouettes of the trees, etc., just right against the sky.

In addition to the landscape shots, I turned in two "abstract body part" shots.  Here, your final result should make observers go, "Huh? hmmmm ... oh I see it!" like those weird portraits Picasso did.  I knew who I wanted to use as a model right away.  Here's the first shot:

*hint* this shot was taken vertically, and then I rotated it to make it appear horizontal.

When this went up on the screen in class, I didn't say anything.  After a really long pause, the teacher said, "And ...?"  So I told her to flip to the next one.

Another long pause, and then everyone went, "OHHH!"  I used Erin's twins as my subject. The idea came to me after seeing this portrait of Hillary Clinton (the highlighted silhouette) in a recent issue of Marie Claire magazine.  Clinton is clearly in a huge, darkened space (maybe a convention hall) and the photographer moved to hide one light source in the distance with Clinton's head.  (You could almost say that this is a "solar eclipse" effect.)

I tried to do the same thing using Erin's twin-carrying torso as my subject.  We took the shots in her basement and made the space as dark as possible. Since it was a very small, tightly enclosed space (unlike a convention hall) the light source (just an unshaded 60W bulb) bounced off the walls and really brightened everything (unlike the Hillary portrait).  But the effect is still pretty cool.  I added a lomo-ish filter in Picasa to heighten the shadows/highlights.  Here's what it looks like without the filter:

It was hard to get these super crisp and clear because we were working with three second shutter speeds, and Erin had to hold her breath and not sway even the tiniest bit on her feet. (It's virtually impossible to hold perfectly still if you're not a corpse.)  So even the best shots had some reflection of movement.

Erin and I are very bestest friends, so I could say things during the shoot like, "Wow, Erin! These pictures are looking like photos out of my college astronomy textbook!"  Rather than punch me in the face, she simply responded with something like, "I don't know how I feel about comparing my stomach with a large, orbiting planet."  And then she laughed.

My photo teacher said, "HOLD UP! What if you took the first picture of her stomach in the black T shirt and placed it in front of the sky from your landscape shot?? That would be SO COOL!!"  Again, not sure if Erin would like having her 23-ish week stomach compared to a large, rolling hill against a fall sky, but that would be really cool.  I only have Picasa (not Photo Shop), so I don't think I have the technology to try it.

I'm really sad my class is over--it makes me miss my high school classes that much more. I cannot believe that for three years I had 50 minutes every day to just do photography with state of the art equipment.  I was really grateful for the opportunity back then, but I'm even more grateful for it now.  It's no secret that public education in this country went to crap about 25-30 years ago, so I can't even believe that I had the opportunity to first learn about this subject as a teenager in a (albeit, very privileged/elite) public school.  Yes, quitting the orchestra in 1998 to make room for Photo I in my sophomore year schedule was probably one of the best decisions that I've made during this lifetime.  I knew that I was interested in learning photography, but I had no idea back then how much happiness it would bring me over time.  Good call, Clueless 14-Year-Old Me! I guess you did know something.