March 30th, 2020
Wow, the world has changed in a matter of a couple of months. We are going through a pandemic. The first in my life time. Everyone is asked to stay at home as much as possible, and practice social distancing when out and about. Which that means people should be with in 6ft of each other.
So, I'm spending a lot of time at home, that I'm not used to. I have to admit, I'm going a bit stir crazy. It's not that I go out several times a week (aside from work), but that I am unable to now. Even though we are not on a Shelter-In-Place order, everywhere I like to go is closed even the parks and reserves.
This means I have to find things to do and things to shoot to keep the boredom at bay. Also, to help me get out of my head with my worries. It's good to be informed, but we can't stay on the news site all day.
Someone in a Facebook group posted a screw cityscape. I thought it was such a brilliant idea and gave it a whirl. If you're stuck at home Google some activities. Especially if you have a hobby, or you have kids and need to fill some time. TV shows and movies are great for taking our minds off things, but they don't let you exercise your imagination.
Stay safe, wash your hands, stay within 6ft of people, and stay home the best you can. Just don't become a couch potato. Once this is all over we will be able to go back out in to the world and resume normal life. I hope.
It's not about the gear, but it is.
There are a lot of gear happy photographers. I'm one of them at times. Gotta get the latest and greatest, the fastest, and with the newest technology. There are photographers that think you aren't worth your salt if you shoot with a four year old "relic".
Then there are the clients. "Wow, that must be expensive!" or "Your camera takes great pictures!!" There are some who know a little about cameras and/or photography that will vet you by your gear or even require certain equipment to be hired.
Sometimes, you'll run in to another photographer with their big lens and battery grip and you automatically assume they're so much better than you. They are nailing those shots, and here you are with your little camera doing "OK". I just read someone in a Facebook group ask if others also feel intimidated when running across another photographer. To be honest, I used to as well. Now, I'll take my itty bitty entry level Olympus and walk around with confidence. I shoot with other gear as well. Gear that may be considered pro or semi pro, but when you bring a little camera around people ignore you. That can give you opportunity for more candid and "real" captures of people.
Folks...it's not about the gear, but it is. Let me explain.
You need to know your craft to make older technology work for you. You need to know the limitations of your equipment before you expect good performance. The 14 year old Canon I used in the first image at the start of this post is perfectly capable of capturing a still subject in good light. However, if I had tried to take a photo like the one above, I'd still be trying to lock focus on this fast moving subject in low light. The old entry level camera wasn't made for that. Maybe a pro camera the same age would have some success. I'm not sure. The continuous focus (Servo) doesn't seem to track well, then account for the low light, my best guess is that it will hunt a bit. I think I might experiment on this and maybe post my findings.
If you're a photographer looking to upgrade step back and consider a few things.
Are you wanting to shoot fast moving subjects, or shoot in low light like in weddings for example? Do you want to print huge pieces and the resolution just isn't there for you? I read somewhere, I'm not sure if it's true, that billboards were once printed from cameras shooting at 6MP. It's about viewing distance. However, if you have found that you can not reach what you need due to the limitations of your equipment (and not your ability) then yes upgrade to something more capable.
Are you struggling in good light with still or slow moving subjects? It might be your ability and not the camera's. A lot of photographers will say get good glass first, then when you hit that wall again, consider a new camera. I agree with that. Lens quality is important. The quality of glass, and how wide open it can go to let in more of that light will make a huge difference.
This is all matter of opinion of course. You do need the right tools for the job. Just don't jump the gun unless you're sure it's the gear and not you.
I love my son, he is a character. Several actually. If I let him dress up or have a theme, he is all in.
My husband built this deck for my pergola. So I wanted to test it out for photography. I wanted to see how and where I need to light it if I put a subject there at night. Well, my son thinks it looks like a villain's lair. So, tonight he was a "villain".
He gave me smug, mean, and cunning looks tonight. He makes me laugh.
When I was playing with colored gels I told him to look serious...like a detective.
However, he will also give me his genuine self. I adore him. He is my baby who is growing up faster than I realized. It may be "cheezy", but hold your children. It really is true. Those endless nights when they are sick, the days when you just want peace and quiet seem to last forever, and the frustrating push back when they start becoming their own being and not just an extension of yourself. It really does go by quick. Your children will live as adults far longer than they did as a kids. Memories will fade as new ones fill up your heart. So..just enjoy what you have now. It's not long in the grand scheme of things.
Trying to find focus
I am trying to find focus. I'm starting to realize that that for the last several years I have been looking for self fulfillment in the wrong place. I have put all my eggs in to one basket. Which wouldn't be bad if it wasn't the wrong basket.
This doesn't mean I'm going to change careers, drop photography, or pick up a new hobby. Actually I think I'm going to go deeper in to my photography and work on connecting deeper with my husband as we prepare the next few years for an empty nest. It's just going to be the two of us, and we'll have to get to know each other all over again. I love my kids, but I'm kind of excited for that new chapter.
I think we have expectations for our lives that society told us we should have. I think I need to really dig deep. I need to find out what I need to put my effort in to in order for me to feel happy and fulfilled. My career? If I focus on that as my largest source of fulfillment, will I be rewarded or disappointed? My hobby? Will I have regrets later with thoughts of feeling like time was wasted? Can focus be wide spread? Can I put a little here, and a little there and be acceptably successful in all those areas in my life? Is there such a thing as true balance?
Focusing on me this year...
We have settled in to our new home, and as our dynamics have changed inside and outside the household I started focusing on me. My daughter has moved out of state, my son is a full fledged teenager, my management team is shifting at work, and things are changing all around me. Relationships with family and friends have changed. Nothing negative, just different. My brother and I are really building a solid relationship. We've never been especially close in the past, but we are finally growing a stronger bond in our adult sibling relationship.
I submitted a piece to a small local art gallery. This was a big step for me. I post my work publicly, but I stay within my comfort zone. From what I shoot and to what platform I share, public, or private; I have control. The gallery was more of an assignment. I had to submit something under the theme "Divine Femininity" , I didn't know if it was going to be accepted. I had a lot of support from friends and family. Family, I expect support. Friends, wow! You can really feel the love from those who are happy and excited FOR you and your accomplishments even if they aren't all that into what you're doing. It speaks volumes and made me feel WONDERFUL. To get the support from people who aren't obligated by blood is a powerful feeling. I adore each and every one of these people. So, thanks guys!
Then I started working on my health. My mom got injured earlier this year. Due to her medical problems it put her at high risk for stroke or a diabetic coma. I really needed to focus on my physical body.
I will say that losing weight initially was at least 50% vanity. However, it has turned in to this health goal. Since 2010 my insulin production has been really high due to resistance. This means my body was pumping out more and more to keep blood sugar down..and you know what even with high levels coursing through my veins my fasting sugar was still a little high...EEEEK. After losing 10lbs, being good about taking my Metformin and Vitamin D (was low on that) My insulin, glucose, and vitamin D are ALL WITH IN RANGE!!!!!!!!!! For the first time in nine years my insulin was within the 2.-29.1 range. I was rocking numbers i the 80s for years! My fasting glucose in September was 136....This month 96!!!! This has been the biggest motivator! I joined a gym (again) to take advantage of a work bonus. My employer pays for almost my entire membership, I now live six minutes from a gym and figured I have NO excuse. I can scrounge up the $3/mo my employer doesn't pay, and $40 a year for the annual fee.
So there you have it. I am working on me. I'm working on things that bring me joy.
I've been busy, how about you?
Ok, I never said I was good at this blogging thing. However, I have been busy. We are stilling trying to sell the old house, and we've been making this place home as well. I've done some portraits, event coverage, and personal projects. I even created, submitted, and got accepted to display a piece at a local gallery event.
I have been building on new friendships and experiencing new things. I even have a side hobby to my photography hobby now. I've been collecting vintage slides from consignment shops and scanning them. One of the most interesting one is a set from the early to mid 70s on the USS Okinawa. I found someone that was photographed because his name was printed on the slide. I contacted him and sent him the box of slides after I scanned what I wanted.
Our house finally feels like home. For the first several weeks I felt like a guest that was very comfortable going through drawers and closets. We can't wait to get our old house sold so that we can afford to continue making the new house our own. We have trees to remove and we want to add a privacy fence. There's an "Amber's Corner" waiting to be established in the back yard. We have images of a fire pit, Edison lights, and seating in our heads for this area. We want an outdoor retreat to entertain guests and to enjoy as a family.
Well, that's about it with me. I hope everyone is well.
I'm going to be.......40!!!!
I'm going to be forty and I don't know how I feel about it. Where did my thirties go? Everyone keeps telling me "It's not that bad." "Thirty was worse." Thirty wasn't that bad for me. Granted, I wore a tiara all day while my mom pampared me with a pedicure, hair cut, shopping and lunch. Forty though? Wow. It feels it didn't take me long to get here since highschool. Yet, at the same time my childhood seems like forever ago.
Am I officially old? Am I still young? Where do I stand now. I work with people who have never heard of Soul Asylum (I rocked runaway train in my youth damn it.) My own son did not know how to hang up a landline. He just kept pushing buttons trying to end the call the first time I called him on the house phone!
I hope I find someone that can teach me to appreciate my age, and look forward to the years to come. I don't want to dread the aches and pains I'm starting to feel in my joints. How is age changing me mentally? Am I more open minded or am I more closed minded?
Whatever the answers are I have no choice but to move forward; because that's the direction I'm going.
EEEkkkkk it's been 4 months!!
A lot has happened in four months. My son started high school, I celebrated 20 years of marriage with my husband, we've had Halloween, Thanksgiving, and we bought a new house.
It's always a huge deal to buy a home. Ours have been years in the making. We bought a home 11 years ago, and since then the neighborhood declined quite a bit. It was never considered a "good" neighborhood since we've bought it, but it was quiet and felt safe. It was just an older neighborhood.
We have been talking about moving for years, but we always dragged our feet. In the last two years it seems that it wasn't unusual for the police to look for people in our back yard, arrest people in front of our house, fights to break out, drug deals to go down, and things to disappear from outside the home. We finally had enough.
It started off that I was too embarrassed to invite people to my home, then to tell people the area I lived. Then I didn't want to be home, but was afraid to leave at the same time. Not knowing what I was going to come home to. When my husband would go away for work I worried someone was going to break in. Our pride in ownership was gone, and the house started to show it.
We are so much happier now. We feel safe in our new house. It's pretty, open, clean, and feels new even in it's 30 years of age. We still have a lot of work to do to make this a home. We hung a couple of pictures and placed furniture, but it still feels like we are a guest here. I can't wait for the day that I feel that this is our home.
Now it's time to prepare our previous home for sell. We need to paint, do repairs, and lay new flooring. I hope this goes quickly so we continue to move forward. We have memories in that house. A lot of good ones, and some bad. I don't regret living there. I would have never met the people we've met or have the church family we have.
The Journey Is Almost Over
On July 12th my puppy, Loki, had surgery to remove what was thought to be an invasive cancerous tumor. Every week for the entire month he was back at the vet at least once, but mostly twice a week. The location of the mass on his leg made it difficult to stay closed and heal. Let alone his Houdini ways with the cone. The good news was, it was not cancer. It was an abscess caused by a foreign object under the skin.
He had one four day overnight stays and a one night stay during that time. I was exhausted, he was in pain and frustrated. He was put on antibiotics and sedatives, and he was crated for 80% of the day for a month. He couldn't go anwhere and training came to a complete halt.
During this time I developed friendships and grew one with someone I didn't know very well, but have always liked. These people were resources of information who truly cared for Loki's well being and my sanity. They eased my worries, gave advice, and sent prayers. I am very grateful for these people. All are involved with dogs in some way. One is a former vet tech and dog mom who gave me all the medical information I needed when I was pulling my hair out. I would send her pictures almost daily of the incision site for her opinion, she answered questions about medication, behavior, and ways to keep him calm. One new friend is also a fellow dog mom who's own dog had surgery in the same area in the past. She knew my struggle. This friend makes reversible bandanas, collar covers, poop bags, and more. She would cheer me up sharing new fabrics, gave suggestions that worked for her, and understood my struggle making me feel not so alone. Both of these friends own bully breeds as well, purebred and mixes. We've had discussions on popular views of these breeds, my fears of being looked down upon walking my little beast out and about, and how sad it is that our dogs are demonized by some people and communities. The third friend is my dog trainer. She encouraged me when I felt Loki was going to forget everything he learned, when he would behave oddly, and whenever we had a set back. Which was almost weekly.
My friends and family were always there too. Social media groups I am in followed our struggle, sent well wishes, and also encouraged me. We are almost to the end of this trial. He is now in his cone part of the time instead of 24/7. He is no longer on antibiotics or sedatives. He even had a small outing last weekend to visit some friends at one of my favorite shops.
I can not forget my vet and her staff. She was new to us. We actually had his surgery the week we had our first appointment. She did everything in her power to help me. She was kind, and when I made mistakes she did not lecture or chastise me. She taught me and supported me. Her staff loved on Loki, took care of him, and was kind.
My husband and my son were the biggest help at home. When I was at work they took care of him. They also didn't mind if I went out for a girls' night to have a break from everything every now and then. When I had already missed a lot of work that week for vet appointments my husband took him for me. Since it was summer time, my son stayed home with him, took him out, watched his wound site, and kept the fort down while my husband and I worked. I am forever grateful and I feel so blessed to have them by my side.
It's been a journey that I never want to repeat, but I know now that if I have to go through this again I am not alone. Thank you to everyone who took this journey with us. Your deeds will not be forgotten.
Remember playing pretend as a child? I do. I don't remember having tea parties, or playing the bride. I do remember pretending to be an animal, a superhero, and a wizard. I had an imagination back then and photography has forced me to reach back in time and retrieve it.
I get to encourage play with children. Today's world has our children growing up so fast. You've seen the references of how back in our day we were happy to have those special scented markers, while today's children are using smart phones and tablets. Playing more with video games and watching videos instead of creating a story and telling it through play.
I want to encourage play and capture it. I want to use my own imagination and create. You've seen the photos of my dog. He's kind of like Barbie. He can have any career or adventure I choose. He may not know it. He's just along for the ride...and the treats. All the treats.
Just because you're a grown up...does not mean your imagination needs to stop. Mine did. When my kids were young I didn't know how to have imaginative play with them. I fumbled around with the Barbie dolls and the Legos. I missed out on that part in their development. We had fun, don't get me wrong, and I'm not a bad mother. However, if you are at that stage in your life where your kids are trying to use their imagination in play...join in. Fumble around, feel a little awkward, just don't miss out. That is a regret I have has a parent. I steered my children towards structured play because I knew the rules. Be silly, be creative. Your kids won't judge you, they will relish the attention they are getting, and you won't miss out on getting to know your child a little better.