Posts Tagged ‘photography’

Lake Compounce 2017

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

Lake Compounce provided us with free tickets to visit this month, but all opinions, statements, and photos are my own.

Here is the Top 10 List of reasons we had a great time at Lake Compounce:

  1. Right in the middle of Connecticut, so it’s close to us and lots of other places.
  2. Tons of rides in the kid section that everyone over age 2 could ride without grown-ups.
  3. Super fun scary roller coasters for the grown-ups.
  4. Wicked friendly employees.
  5. Lots of shade and places to sit down when you’re tired.
  6. Free fountain drinks all over the park so no one ever complained they were thirsty.
  7. Stroller-friendly.
  8. Nursing-friendly.
  9. Parent-friendly (My husband changed all the diapers all day, because the men’s room had changing tables.)
  10. Just the right size to spend the whole day.

E and I took Evan to Lake Compounce several years ago, back when he was Baby Evan, and had a great time then too. But I had a very tiny Baby Caroline and didn’t get to ride very many things myself, so I mostly remember just the toddler area. Since then, they’ve done a bunch of renovations, added new coasters and spruced things up so even though it’s the oldest amusement park in the country it’s beautiful and clean. Don’t worry, about the nostalgia though, because it’s still got plenty of that.

We got there at 11 am on a Sunday and the kids walked on to every ride until at least 1 pm. They’re the only ones on those drums!

The only photo of me from the day: Caroline LOVED this thing and was super mad she couldn’t go on the grown-up version.

We got free soda while we waited for E to ride Phobia. It took me several more hours to decide if I was also going to ride Phobia. I did. It was fun.

Praise hands for this Joovy stroller we still love. Finn was happy riding/sleeping/chilling in it all day, between rides in the Tula so I could nurse.

After Evan suddenly, drastically changed his mind about roller coasters (Saturday: “I WANT TO RIDE THEM ALL!” Sunday: Won’t even get on the kid-sized coaster Linc rode with his arms up) I wasn’t sure he would try any of the rides. But he loved the log flume.

Evan also loved the Ghost Hunt ride, probably because he likes shooting games. I did not partake, because haunted houses are not my thing. Caroline and Linc both rode, because they take after their father.

That is possibly the best picture I’ve ever taken.

I don’t remember the dinosaurs from the last time we visited, but the kids loved it.

Caroline clearly didn’t enjoy herself at all.

Despite Evan’s skeptical face, we rode Thunder Rapids twice in a row and got SOAKED. It was great.

The lake/waterpark opens this weekend. I promised the kids we could come back for it later this summer.

I bought extra clothes JUST IN CASE they got wet, which is why they’re in different clothes than the beginning of the day.

Goodbye Lake Compounce! See you again soon!

If you’re in the New England area, I would definitely recommend making the trip to Bristol to have your own super fun day. You can use this link/code to get a discount on your internet tickets:

Link: https://www.lakecompounce.com/blogreader?promocode=BeBehSBlog17

Promocode: BeBehSBlog17

Thank you again to Lake Compounce for providing us with the tickets (p.s. kids under 3 are free)!

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Life on Film

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

I bought two new cameras recently. One is a new DSLR, the D750 I’ve wanted since the very first time I heard the term “full frame” and imagined maybe some day I would be good enough to justify such a large purchase. The other one was a Nikon N80 film photography body, an SLR camera released in 2000 that uses 35mm. I paid $26 for it on eBay after losing out on half a dozen other Nikon film cameras. The best part is I can use my good lenses on that cheap camera, so I can shoot at 1.4 or 1.8 and my film doesn’t all come out super dark.

I’ve been carrying both cameras around with me since they came. The D750 is everything I’ve ever dreamed of – fast, incredible in low light, super sharp, amazing with my favorite 35mm lens. It’s making me excited to shoot again, trying out how it does with all my lenses and getting used to the slight differences in button set-up from my last Nikon.

But the film camera has my heart. There is just something about that delayed gratification that makes me really treasure my film photos more than my digital. Which is funny, because even though I take the photos on film, when they’re developed and sent back to me they’re digital files. So it has less to do with the tangibility of the product and more to do with thinking of each frame as a valuable commodity – is this moment worth capturing? When I develop this roll will I want this picture on it? Does it go with all the other photos?

I’m making it sound more serious than it is. I’m trying to make sure my shots aren’t a disaster but I’ll still take a pic of the kids making funny faces or toes in the grass or someone twirling even though I’m pretty sure I will never take a twirling photo in focus. There is still SO MUCH I don’t know about film and honestly, I might never learn it all? But that’s ok. You don’t actually have to know everything about something to enjoy it. I like cooking, but I can’t make a turducken. I like knitting but still can’t do short rows. I really like money but who even knows how that stuff works?

My only goal is to be proud of my work, and thus, here is my whole first ever roll of Fuji 400H Pro (the film stock of fancy wedding photographers). I love them all, even the technically bad ones.

If you have an old film camera laying around somewhere, I am happy to answer questions that might help you start using it again!

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Bluff Point Hike

Monday, April 24th, 2017

During spring break we took the kids to Old Sturbridge Village, which is one of our favorite places. We only made it 45 minutes before Evan started complaining his feet hurt, and after 3 hours all the kids were D O N E with the walking and looking at stuff and waiting a whole 10 minutes for a carriage ride. It does not fill me with confidence that our trip to Disney World will go well.

(Have I told you we’re going to Disney World??? We’re going to Disney World! I am SO EXCITED.)

The kids don’t know we’re going yet. I’m not planning to tell them anytime soon. But I do need them to get used to walking, so I’m instituting the Disney Training Plan. Basically, that just means we’re spending a lot more time hiking and a lot less time watching Netflix between now and June.

But I’m not trying to make their lives miserable, I’m just trying to whip them into shape, so I’ve planned our hikes in places they will have fun. I need them to enjoy the walking now so they will REALLY enjoy the walking when it’s between rides and parades and restaurants in Florida. Our first training day involved a 3.5 mile hike around Bluff Point. I wore Finn, Evan and Caroline walked the whole way, and Linc did about half walking, half in the Tula on E’s back. We all survived!

He really wasn’t as annoyed as he looks in that last photo.

Everyone went to bed very early with no argument tonight. I think *I* am going to need the longest to recover, I haven’t hiked with a baby on my back since last spring and it’s a lot of work when you have a super chunk for an 8-month-old. Our next walk will be a nice short one around the neighborhood, then a longer hike again. I’ll let you know how the Disney Training Program worked out once I force them to walk 10 miles a day for four days. I figure if we all survive, that’s a success.

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My Photographic Eye

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

I read an incredibly interesting article the other day that analyzed the photos Melania Trump has posted publicly on her Twitter account.

(No this isn’t a political post. Yes, the article was pretty critical of Melania. Yes, I agreed with it. No, I don’t want to have a political discussion here.)

If you look beyond the actual subject of that post, the idea of learning how someone sees the world from how they capture it is fascinating. Even if you don’t think of yourself as a photographer, any time you stop long enough to take a picture you’re saying “This is how I see things, this is a moment I want to be preserved, this is my reality as I want it to be presented.” In this era of social media, photos are even more performative – you can crop or filter so your friends (or strangers) can see what you want them to see. You are making a lot of choices, whether they are conscious or not, and looking at those choices can be eye-opening.

Because I’ve been doing a 365 photo-a-day project for three years now, I have hundreds of everyday life photos to look at and analyze for patterns. Once I started thinking about my pictures (many of them not more than snapshots) as a body of work versus just individual photos, it became super clear that my photographic eye says a lot about what I value, what I want the world to see, and what I want to remember.

The most obvious fact about my photos is they are almost all of my children. I almost never photograph myself. I could make a list of my excuses for that, or I could look at it more analytically. My appearance in the photographic record isn’t a priority for me. I don’t want to remember what I looked like during these years. My body doesn’t need to take up space in the frame. It’s incredibly important to me that I witness my children’s lives, but not necessarily as a participant in their activities. This feels both sort of uncomfortable for me (I don’t want to be distant or emotionally separate) and accurate (I’m much more free-range than helicopter mom).  Also, from a practical standpoint, my live as a stay-at-home-mom revolves around my children, so obviously my work shows that.

The next pattern I saw right away is my love of capturing a small body in a big frame. I’ve chosen my equipment (mostly a 35mm lens) so I can focus on my subject while also including a lot of their environment.

When I think about how I framed these photos, I intentionally avoided other people in the frame (unless they were also my children) to make my subject stand out. I didn’t try to blur or compress the environment to the point where you couldn’t identify it – WHERE is an important part of the story. I took photos like these in every season, at home and away, with my subject aware of me and not. Children are small and the world is big. I want my kids to be confident and bold when faced with big things, unafraid of the world, so they remain the focus even though the environment could overpower them.

Another fairly obvious trend in my pictures is that I center my subjects.

 

There they are, right in the middle of the frame. The main focus. There is balance in this composition, and something very calming about a photo that tells you exactly what it’s about. It’s easy. When I think about these photos, I often took them during challenging times, when I didn’t have the energy to devote to seeing something artistic or unusual. Simplicity is something I often value.

Something I was actually surprised to see was my love of taking a photo from behind my subject. I think of my work as being full of faces, so I wasn’t expecting so many of these.

 

These photos are about seeing what my children see, looking at the world from their point of view. I often crouch down, sit on the floor, get low so I can capture their perspective. I want to learn about what catches their eye, what THEY view as important or noteworthy. I’m following along as they direct the show, ready to be supportive but not interferring. Without the emotion of their face, you have to infer feeling from their body language. When you’re raising kids, this feels true in everyday life as well; they often don’t – or can’t – tell you what they’re feeling, so you’re left to interpret what they need.

Something there is slightly less of but still often featured is taking photos of small pieces of my small people.

Fingers, toes, hair, eyes, hands. I love them. They are soft and unlined, a perfect example of how children are unbothered by the realities of life or age. The same way an elderly person’s hand speak to their lived experience, a child’s hands show innocence. Their eyes are clear and open, unguarded. They also are little pieces of where they come from – Caroline’s red hair comes from her father, Linc’s blue eyes are from me. These photos are more personal than any of the others. I do have to be physically close my children to take them, even if the small bodies are in motion and I have to be quick. They capture something so very fleeting – the split second before those feet grow bigger, run faster, carry the children away.

And finally, my neverending love of taking pictures of my kids while they sleep.

The sleeping photos fall into almost all of the previous categories – sometimes up close, sometimes lots of environment, etc – but I took them because of the sleeping so it deserved its own analysis. Children are loud and busy, capturing them at their most quiet and still is a treasure. While they are vulnerable, I watch over them. They feel safe in their home and with their family, which is why they so often fall asleep in places other than their own beds. Our home is comfortable, even if it’s not always magazine-worthy, with plenty of places to take a nap when you need it.

I really loved this exercise for myself, even if putting my emotions and inner thoughts into words was difficult. I appreciate my photographs more and I’m thrilled this record will exist (as a reminder, print your photos! I have both 2015 and 2016 books as hard copies of many of these, the rest are from 2017 and will go in a book in January).

Are there any trends you can recognize in your own photographic record? Go look at your Instagram feed or Facebook photos and see if there are patterns or constants that emerge. Or you can take some of this analysis and use it to inspire your own pictures. I’m definitely going to make an effort to take at least one self-portrait this spring.

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Photography: Making The Most of a Convenient Location

Monday, April 3rd, 2017

I wanted to take some photos of Caroline in her new princess dress last week, but it was dinner time and Multicultural Night at school so my timeframe for this magical photo shoot was about 7 minutes. I live on a teeny tiny lot in a city neighborhood, so meadows and forests are in short supply. We do have an empty lot across the street, but most of it has been turned into a community garden (the vegetable kind) by a church.

But the weather was warm-ish and the sun was shining and my model was cooperative, so we popped across the street to borrow their grass, figuring we would just be making the most of a convenient location.

And we found a beautiful field of crocuses!

But it wasn’t actually that magical. It was just a little square of flowers between a driveway, a dead spot, and the church’s mulch pile. Here’s the cell phone pullback shot of Caroline in the same location:

 

There are several tricks you can use to maximize a less-than-ideal location if it’s all you have to work with. I knew when we went out to shoot I would be trying to disguise the background so I choose my 85mm f/1.8 lens, which is a medium length and is good at separating the subject from their surroundings. Once we found the flowers I decided to shoot at about f/2.2 or f/2.8 so I could include a good slice of the photo in focus – I wanted to be able to get Caroline’s whole profile in focus instead of just her eyelashes, or her whole body as opposed to just a sleeve.

Here are 5 more pieces of advice to help turn a bad spot into a good spot:

  1. Light! The sun is starting to go down and partially blocked by some of those trees, which means a great glowy kind of backlight instead of harsh overhead shadows. If the sun had been coming from the opposite direction I would have shot the other way (which would have been unfortunate, because there’s pavement the other way).
  2. Work your angles. I took a lot of these photos from overhead with Caroline crouching down, which includes a lot more grass/flowers and a lot less background. You can also get super low yourself, and shoot straight across the ground – you’ll end up with fewer distracting background elements.
  3. Get close. Fill the frame with your subject instead of trying to get too much of the environment. Yes I wanted to capture the crocuses, but having her hold them or shooting the flowers on their own is a good option.
  4. Horizontal vs vertical can be your friend. I shoot horizontally 90% of the time, but in this location I didn’t have a lot of space to work with. To create some variety in my shots, I took a series of photos vertically. Sure, she was standing almost next to a dirt pile, but because the photo is narrow you can’t see it.
  5. Don’t say cheese. Almost none of these photos have Caroline looking at the camera. Instead, you’re looking at what she’s looking at – her hands, the flowers in front of her, etc. Let your subject guide the viewers eye into the foreground instead of the background.

 

If this was a client shoot instead of just a fun session for Caroline, I would have taken the extra step in  post-processing and fully removed the fence posts, dirt spots, and blue trash can from the background of a few of these. It’s not a hard fix in Photoshop, but I’ve gotten in the habit of using only Lightroom to edit my 365 photos or blog photos, just because it’s so easy.

Let me know if you have any questions!

Making the most of convenient locations

 

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