Saturday, September 3, 2011

Met a Friend for the First Time

I know that sounds a little strange...but let me explain.  Back in January, I took an online photography course taught by the amazing Karen Russell.  Many of us in the class really spent some time together on the message boards, working hard to improve our photography, sharing tips, and supporting each other in many ways.  Even though we never met face to face, we developed friendships.  A couple of weeks ago, I got to meet one of my classmates, Kelley Wenzel.  She flew into Philadelphia for the beadfest and she kindly gave a couple of hours to me.  (Check out Kelley's beads when you check out her blog - she is truly an artist with flame!)  I wanted Kelley and I to shoot some photos together and I also wanted her to get a little sample of our Philadelphia.

We only had a couple of hours and we had a little driving to do.  Kelley definitely got a taste of Philadelphia traffic.  We headed down to the Constitution Center.  It is embarrassing to admit, I don't think I have been there since grammar school!

They have done such an amazing job with the visitors' center and independence hall.  It is really beautiful and there is so much to see.  In the visitors' center, we saw the Liberty Bell.  We were taking all kinds of photos - different angles, different crops, you know - the way photographers do.  The whole time I am thinking, "Funny, how when you are a kid, things seem much bigger - much grander."

So, that isn't the Liberty Bell.  You probably knew that.  Anyway, we did find the real liberty bell in a building on the grounds with a huge waiting line.  We decided the replica would have to do so I had to post the photo.

Then, we walked across to Congress Hall.

Congress Hall is being renovated.  There is scaffolding all around.  I don't know if you can see it in the photos but there is an image of building to cover their work in progress.  It wasn't what I wanted in the photo but it was well thought out by the park.

This is a statue of Commodore John Barry, located in Independence Mall.

Then we went into the Second National Bank.  It is a beautiful Greek-inspired building modeled after the parthenon.

This is Kelley and I heading inside to see the portrait gallery.

Most of the portraits are painted by Charles Peale.  There are portraits of signers of the Declaration of Independence, statesmen, military men, and many heroes of the revolution.  The statue inside is Charles Peale.

Now, I have to go back and really spend some time.  There is a lot to learn, a lot to see, and a lot of great photo ops!  But, the treat of the day was spending some time with Kelley.  Many times, the students from Snapshots of a Good Life photography class have talked about getting together.  One group was able to coordinate it and get together in Florida.  I hope we can get a group together in the northeast.

Thanks, Kelley,  Continued success with your new ventures!!

And, to anyone was has read this, thanks!
See you soon!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ocean City, 2011

I was very, very fortunate this summer and had a week of vacation in Ocean City, New Jersey.  Melissa rented a house for all of us.  It was located about one block from where my parents always rented and we have so many wonderful family memories in that part of town.  Jen and Jeffrey stayed all week.  It was a mother's dream to have that kind of time with her children.  We were relaxed and we just had fun.  After the last year of pretty intense stress, it was just what this family needed.  

We arrived on Saturday afternoon.  We usually run late for things and I was pretty proud that we were able to achieve our goal of getting on the beach our first day.  It might sound small to you...but, believe me, it was the first success of the week!

That night, we just settled in and Michael cooked a wonderful scallop meal. 

Even though we were just relaxing, that first day on the beach really wore out Stephen.  Aahh...the sleep of a child.  Nothing like it!

The next day, Michael was heading home.  (He isn't really a beach person!)  He wanted a photo of the three rugby players together in their rugby shirts.  So, here it is...Three Generations of Rugby!

Later, on the beach, Stephen lost one of his many (many) sand toys.  He came over to explain to his mother that his watering can was washed away in the water.

Melissa asked, "You want me to search the whole ocean?"  Yes, he did.  It did give us a good giggle.  He soon forgot and played a little more...

On the boardwalk that night...

I got to shoot a lot of photos and it was great practice.  I have to work on cropping out body parts in candids.  I think that means I have to get faster at shooting.  All in all, I was pretty happy with most of my photos.  The last night  we were in Ocean City, the kids were awesome and let me takes lots of photos.  

After the sunset, we went to the boardwalk.  Check out the moon!  

Then we played a little mini golf.

When did they start having bands on the boardwalk in Ocean City?  We were singing about pina coladas and people were dancing.  

Even though my family usually runs when I have my camera, Stephen was in such a good mood, he actually jumped into my photo!

Jen got feathers put in her hair.

Then we went on the big ferris wheel.

By the end of the week, Stephen was asking, "Mom, can we just stay home tonight, put on our pajamas, and watch a movie in bed?"  We actually tired him out!  He loved every minute of it!

The last day on the beach, Ellen joined us for the day.  Ellen and Jen took a nice walk together.

I am already looking forward to next year!  It is definitely times like this that make me so thankful for my wonderful family and so proud of them.  They are each so different and so amazing in their own way.  I am very, very blessed.

Thanks, Liss!  You gave us the best week!!

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Photographer's Woes

I have been working really hard on improving my photography. Photography is a fairly new skill for me and I take this hobby seriously. I enjoy every minute of it and I have progressed to the point where I can troubleshoot my photos. I am shooting on manual all the time. I really understand the exposure triangle. I am just beginning to understand photography as art. Mostly, I love this hobby because it provides a snapshot in time of my life. My life, which includes my family and my friends, is recorded for me. In years to come, these memories will be a source of great joy. I hope that I will also provide some joy, through our memories for my family.
But no matter how much I have studied, I still end up with photos that look like this:
From Nancy's News and Memories
Every time I pick up the camera, people hide. They either hide behind things, they cover their face with their hands, or they duck. Somehow, they make sure that their face isn't fully in the photo.

When I first started working as a nurse in a large downtown hospital, I saw my first cockroach. I learned that when I walk into a dark utility room and turn on the lights, cockroaches quickly scurry (as only they can) out to the periphery of the room and disappear. People can have a similar response when they see a camera. These chairs were vacated by friends of mine at our local knitting store:

Of course, my friends and family have learned from each other - we call this the Jen move:

Children don't see the need to hide. They allow their feelings to show. And, sometimes, you get priceless family photos that look like this:

I have tried to explain that I want to capture wonderful, candid moments. Moments that show real love and emotion, joy and happiness, family and friends. I have read articles dedicated to persuading people to allow their photo to be taken. Articles that describe ways to keep people from contorting their face or hiding their face when they see a camera. None of them have given me any insight. Do you have any insights that would work?

Leave a strategy in the comments - maybe we can help each other out!
See you soon!

Monday, August 1, 2011

A Week in the Life Day #6

Even though Michael had a pretty crazy Thursday and we both had a pretty crazy Friday, we decided to make a trip to New York with one of the photography groups that I joined. We were planning to spend the day walking around Central Park. I had never been there and really, my only impression of the park is from police shows on TV. I had no idea what I was in for! The photography group planned to end the day taking some photos at Times Square.

We took the train...

which isn't exactly scenic

and then we took a subway

and we met the group at the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park

The fountain was right by the pond and the boathouse.

At this point, I changed my lens to my 70-200 2.8 and the manual focus ring was pushed the wrong way. I shoot on manual exposure but my focus (like most photographers) is automatic. Except for today. I don't know why I didn't notice but I didn't. The quality of my photos is not what I wanted. Well, that is why I am shooting so much - another lesson learned! These are some I could salvage from the day.

Central Park is so full of life! I absolutely loved it and hope to go back soon. There is something different happening at every turn.

Afrobats - African American acrobats that gave their entire performance speaking in unison. I loved them!

In the last photo, the acrobat is jumping over four people.


There was even a place for beach volley ball.

Skating dancers


And then we went back on the subway and headed to Times Square. We had dinner together at Ruby Tuesdays and then went out for a few photos before the trip home.

My favorite photo is the last one - I used a long SS and a tripod. It was just the look I wanted.

We had a great day - dozed a little on the train ride home.
At home, we heard Jeffrey's account of his week with ASP. We are so glad he had this opportunity and that he is home. Not too many young people give a week of their summer every year they are in high school to reach a hand out to help others. We are so proud of him.
(I might have mentioned that before...)

See you soon!