Thursday, July 28, 2011

Picture Extravaganza - Vacation Rocks!

A common discussion at our dinner table is the appropriate length of a blog post and the correct ratio between words and pictures. I argue that post composition should be about 99% pictures and 1% words. Amber likes the lots of words and some pictures. Most of the time we strike a deal and our blog posts tend to reflect a compromise between our desired ratios. 

The reason this is important is because we recently returned from vacationing in North Carolina with my family, where we took lots (like...lots!) of pictures. As I was preparing some for a blog post I realized that I had way too many pictures to post (~100). Amber gently reminded me about her golden ratio theory (remember...lots of words, some pictures). My counterpoint was that I was the one typing and would make the final decision. Not a good move. Note...arguing about blogging is counterproductive to a healthy marriage. 

However, we still have lots of great pictures to share. 

Pic #1: Greg holding his Uncle Christian's (aka Chin) hand. Christian is such a wonderful addition to the family and Greg was all about his "Chin." 

Pic #2: For someone who loves the pool, Brighton had a little bit of a hard time adapting to the ocean. He still loves the water, he just had a hard time with the sound and movement of the surf.

Pic #3: First day at the beach and Greg couldn't even wait to change into his swim trunks. Got to love the pseudo-plumber crack. 

Pic #4: Wipeout...Love the TV show and also watching Greg bite it in the surf. Best part was watching Greg laugh and laugh every time he fell. There is something important to learn from the unconquerable nature of toddlers...never give up when the reward is so great! 

Pic #5: Typical Brighton...old man hair and intense stare. Plus some awesome bull-dog cheeks.

Pic #6: Brighton sporting his Crocodile Dundee pool/ocean hat.

Pic #7: Brighton and Grandma. That little boy was attached at the hip to my mother when at the beach. He loved sitting in her lap slapping at the waves.

Pic #8: Best part of staying at a home along the coast is that you only share the beach with other large home residents. In other words, even during the busiest times of the year the beach is relatively uncrowded. Greg particularly liked being the king of the beach.

Pic #9: Another one of Greg playing in the surf.

Pic #10: Brighton and the hat. Like it!

Pic #11: Dangerous picture...Lying in the surf in front of a toddler throwing sand.

Pics #12-14: Light trails and glowing orbs.

Pic #15: Gordie and Lynne being adventurous with the ocean kayak. Go Skinny Lynnie!

Pic #16: Wipeout

Pic #17: The Lion stalking his prey.

Pic #18: Bubba chubs and Amber after a nice mid-morning nap. Both are happy. Sleep + beach = Awesome!

Pic #19: Bubba chubs downing water. We discovered that Brighton loves water bottles. Literally loves water bottles. He goes crazy every time we place a bottle in front of him.

Pic #20: Post-nap bedhead.

Pic #21: Simple

Pic #22: Not a great technical picture, but makes we laugh every time. We went to the local sea aquarium and afterwards stopped at the gift shop. Hayley found the hats and Greg tagged along for a classic picture.

Pic #23: Went trolling off the outer banks one morning. Took this image, desaturated it, and inverted to IR. If you are ever wondering how to take a good sunrise or sunset image: Set your flash to "on" and place your horizon either at the upper or lower thirds line (it is at the lower in the this image)

Pic #24: The family minus the Hansens. Even Grandma Dickens made it into the image. We know who the favorite grandchildren are (that's right...Ambo and Noel).

Pic #25: Almost looks like Greg has freckles.

Pic #26: I find myself in very few images so I had to include one with me in it. 

Pic #27: Such a fun and bold image. The place where we stayed had a pool and it was awesome. When we had vacationed before in NC we had never had a pool. Now I will never go back. It was great being able to come back from the ocean and wash off a little in the pool.

Pic #28: What a beautiful couple.

Pic #29: Greg's cousins Luke and Julia have scooters that are rigged with three wheels instead of two. They love them and so Grandma brought with her a similar scooter for Greg. He loved it and had the best time pushing it around the neighborhood and house. When it finally cools down a little in Kentucky we will take Greg to the park and let him scoot to his heart's delight.

Pic #30: This is one of my favorite images: Greg running off into the middle of nowhere. Greg loves to run. He would run until he passed out if we let him. As a parent it is so much fun watching his little legs go and go and go.

Pic #31: The third floor living room had a sectional with a huge ottoman that Brighton loved to crawl on. Here he is peeking his head over the cushions.

Pic #32: My mother (Skinny Lynnie) found a pattern for these ocean towels via blog stalking. She made one for each of the grandkids. Greg loves his. Brighton likes his too once he has it on, he is just going through a period where he hates putting anything on...even diapers.

Pic #33: Read an article on non-tripod HDR imaging technique. Wanted to try it. Here is my best trial image. If Amber didn't get sea sick I would love to someday own a small yacht...if only :)

Pic #34: One of my favorites. You should have seen me contorting my body and almost losing the camera over the side of the ship attempting to take this image. Well worth the effort.

Pic #35: Brighton and his hat...need I say more?

Pic #36: Seven years next Saturday. What a hot momma!

Pic #37: Hot, humid and tired...what a great combo for infants!

Pic #38: Peek-a-boo! Kind of reminds me of some J. Crew catalog image. Did anyone else notice how asymmetrical his eyes look. Yeah, kind of crazy!

Pic #39: Did you laugh? Yup, us too. Brighton recently learned how to furrow his eyebrows. Love the combo of the furrowed eyebrows and furrowed chin. Makes me laugh every time.

Pic #40: The last. Took a sequence of Greg riding his scooter down the driveway. Thought it would be fun to stitch together. What do you think?

Well, that was our summer vacation in a nutshell of images. Hope you enjoyed. Next week it is back to the grind. This summer flew by and we are so sad to say farewell.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Timbers of my Heart

During lunch one afternoon I had an interesting conversation with some friends; one that was probably deeper than one expects while taking a break from studying. We had spent the morning studying embryology. A topic that derives life down to the basics of biophysics and molecular chemical signals and atomic interactions. I was feeling pretty comfortable with the material and was excited to talk about what I had memorized. Soon the topic shifted to the amazing product of embryology...US! Like a proud dad I found myself talking about life's absolute beauty and how grateful I am to watch the dynamics of nature and providence play out in the lives of my two sons. 

That evening as I was working on pictures from a recent wedding, I noticed an old folder I had highlighted for editing titled "Timbers." Weird name for a folder. At first I thought it was from some random landscapes I took. When I opened the folder I was pleasantly surprised to find images of my family that I had stored away. At some point I had inspirations to create a portfolio book of meaningful images, but with life things are often stowed away in the attic of wants and wishes. Funny thing about that folder is that most of its images weren't that great in terms of composition or even simple photography mechanics. In fact, some of them were just simply "bad." I snickered a little bit and after enjoying the respite redirected my efforts into wedding processing.

A couple of days later I was discussing image selections with the newly wed couple whose images I had been working on the night I found the "Timber" folder. There was a lot of, "We would like two 5x7s of the siblings and three 8x10s of the family shot." For each wedding I offer one free 11x14 metallic paper print. When I asked them which one they wanted for their 11x14 they chose a most unlikely image...the groom being smashed in the face by a handful of cake. I laughed thinking it was a joke...Whoops! The bride didn't think it was so funny. I apologized and told her that most couples reserve the free print for one of their "sentimental" pictures. Her reply was simple, "This is who we are, funny, not sappy." 

Love it!

As a photographer my job is always easier when my clients know exactly what they want. 

After saying goodbye to the young couple I thought about all the time I spent editing their wedding images. I had fretted about straightening, composition, rule of thirds, white balance, contrast, sharpness and a slew of other things. In the end the couple only really wanted what best represented them and not what I had contrived to be the archetypical wedding shots.

I thought back to "Timbers", that funny titled folder. The title is from Joe Pug, a crazy drunk Irish artist, who sings about "the timbers of his heart." The analogy has stuck with me; an image of a man, his hopes, his desires, and his soul defined by what pumps his heart. The timbers of my heart are sewn from a lot of things; family, friends, faith, and fatherhood. But like the newly weds, my strongest timbers are buttressed to the notion that I have so much for which to be grateful. This idea was never more evident than in the images I stowed away. 

Everything can be broken down into core components. Life can be defined by moments of time. Religion to its key beliefs. Embryology to developmental stages. And to me...timbers.

I realize that up to now you have dredged through a lot of words...most unlike me...Right? Hold on a little bit longer. Indulge me for a little bit longer and let me share with you one of my timbers. 

You've probably seen this image before. One of my favorites. Taken at an awkward angle with a point and shoot. Outside the Chill'n Grill in Palmyra, NY. It's late and Greg is tired. Chocolate hangs on his right vermillion border. The hat is crooked and his left hand clenches his bear. Every so slightly he leans against my left elbow, too small to find a proper rest in the angle of my elbow and too big to be swept up and cuddled. Tell tall signs of sleepiness drape the canthi and his stout chin clenches after a brief yawn.

So much to say for something so seemingly simple. 

However, as Joe sings, "Will you recognize my face when God's grace strips me of my jacket and vest and reveals the treasure of my chest?"

Yup, here it is.