my husband found some butterflies

yesterday we took the kids out to spend the day with our dear friends.  it was hot, but the kids were wild, so we took them out on the back deck to play in the wading pool.  after awhile, they were ready to burn off more steam, so while i sat with my feet in the pool and caught up with our friends, my husband ran with the kids around the yard.

a few laps of their townhouse row later, my sweet, wonderful husband pops his head around the stairs and says "hey, there's a bush down there that's covered in butterflies.  i thought you might want to go take some pictures."

seriously.  they don't make men like him anymore.

so i ran inside and grabbed my camera.  i was halfway to the door when it occurred to me that this was the perfect chance to practice free lensing a little more after a months-long hiatus.  after a few minutes spent hacking my poor neglected 50mm lens, i was outside and zooming my way over to the butterfly bush.  

i wasn't able to grab focus as well as i had hoped (free lensing is always, always harder than i remember it being), but i was still pleased with the number of images i ended up hanging onto.  a little something different for my creative soul :)

soul food

if you don't live in the northeast, then you may not be aware that it's been raining where i live since the start of time.  or at least, it feels that way.  we had this amazing stretch of beautiful, warm, sunny weather that prompted me to get my kids' summer clothes out a few weeks early and let us fully shake our cabin fever with long stretches of outdoor play every day.  and then, the temperatures tanked and the rain started.  and every night for at least the last 10 days, i would check the forecast and see sun 3 or 4 days away.  and i would breathe a sigh of relief knowing that sunshine was coming.  and every morning i would double check the forecast and the little sun had somehow been replaced with the little rain cloud icon overnight.  and i would stare at it with large eyes and a quivering chin, and i would remind myself to breathe, and i would strap on my mom armor and remind myself that rainy cold weather can't last forever.

did you know 10 days actually is forever when you have 2 kids under 4?  because it is.  it is forever plus some.

so today, when stepping outside didn't feel quite so much like stepping into a damp, barely functional refrigerator, i decided to venture out while the kids were sleeping and feed my soul with a little nature.  i took my camera, and i took the quiet, and i wound my way through my parents' front yard and soaked in the proof that it actually is spring and that summer really is coming, even if the weather refuses to admit it.  i picked my way between branches that are just the right amount of overgrown to be beautifully quaint without looking unruly and i let myself shoot what i wanted to shoot and how i wanted to shoot, and i felt the weight of all the rain lifting.  it's good, to find what feeds your soul, and to let yourself get lost in it every once in awhile.  for me, being a momma fills me up and makes me feel complete and gives me purpose and reason and joy- but when i need something just for me, i've found that what i need is time to get lost.  lost in a book, lost in my thoughts, or lost behind my lens, entrenched in the beauty of the creation that surrounds us.

today was good.  it was a reminder that even in the rain, there is goodness all around if you're willing to take the time to look for it.  and after i packed my camera up for the day, after i got my fill and was able to breathe a little more slowly and a little more deeply, i was able to settle back into the rhythm of life and reality with joy and thankfulness- and that's the best soul food there is.

day 57: a (very) short story

the tricky thing with free-lensing, at least for me as a nikon user (because remember, i need to hack my lens every time i want to free-lens), is that i can't do it at the spur of the moment.  that means it doesn't play well with documentary photography.  usually i'll have my camera on me or at least close by, and when i see something i want to photograph, i just grab and go.  with free-lensing, i need to get myself set up and ready, and i don't want to leave my lens detached from my camera while i hang around waiting for a photograph-able moment, so many times this week, i've had to nudge a moment along in my favor.  which is why i may have taken my kid's snack bowl from him today while he was in the middle of eating.  soooo, i'm not winning any mom of the year awards, but at least i got some cute pictures out of it!  and truthfully, the pictures do capture something he does all the time, he just didn't necessarily choose to do it himself this one particular time ;)

after wondering why on earth i took his bowl away, he realizes i put it on the shelf behind the couch.  target acquired.

making sure everything is as it should be in there.

yup.  i'll be taking this now.

...i was never here...

happy friday all :)

day 56

my photography has once again dropped down towards the bottom of my priorities list this week.  in fact, it's been on a burner so far back that it might actually be in the neighbor's house.  i'm hoping next week i'll be able to devote a little more time and energy to creating my photos, along with jumping back into the online photography community a little more.  i've missed out on doing much sharing lately and it's bumming me out.  but anyway, today i decided to not worry about getting the perfect shot, and instead i just played around and let myself enjoy practicing with free-lensing instead of stressing over it.  my big has been very anti-camera lately, so the little is again the subject of today's pictures.  they turned out very differently from the pictures that i usually take, but i decided to embrace them for what they are and roll with it.

i'll call this series "whoa.  look at this amazing toy."   ;)

and these next 3 go together; they're just too cute:

day 53: continued adventures in free-lensing

i wrestled a little bit with whether or not i wanted to choose a single image to post today, or if i should just go ahead and put all of what i got out there.  in the interest of remaining authentic, i figured i might as well share them all.  it's clear that free-lensing isn't my strong suit, so this week i'm not as concerned with showcasing my best work as i am with sharing the learning process.  

so- today i took my kids for a "hike" (as much as you can hike with a 1 and a 3 year old), and right before we turned around to head back to the car, they started asking for a snack.  i gave them each a granola bar, so as they chowed down and (mostly) stayed put, i thought i would try free-lensing the sun filtering in through the leafless trees...

yeah, not so much.  i mean, the flare is awesome, but that's about all these have going for them.  for the life of me i couldn't get a single thing in focus, not matter how much i twirled the manual focus ring on my lens.  i figured i would try again once we got home on a stationary object that wasn't quite so far away.  that was until we spotted a little bridge over a small creek on our walk back to the car, and the kids realized how cool it was to throw rocks into the water.  so, while they were occupied and (relatively) unlikely to fall into the water themselves, i decided to be brave and attempt to free-lens non-stationary subjects.

out of this set, i like the last one the best.  i think it's cool that i somehow (don't ask me how) managed to get his little hand in focus- although i do love the detail in the railing on the first one, and then varying degrees of out of focusness (new word!) in the second.  they each kind of tell a story in their own way.

i thought that was going to be it for free-lensing attempts for the day, but this afternoon was crazy beautiful out, so we took some of our favorite toys out on the deck to play with.  being outside has this magical effect of making kids super engaged with what they're doing, so i ended up with another really good stretch of time to mess around with my camera while they played contentedly.

i took quite a few while we were out there, but only ended up with these 2 that were kind of worth keeping.  i definitely prefer the second over the first.

one of the main things i noticed tonight when i was going through these images is that they're all lacking in interesting light and composition- you know, two of the most important elements in a strong photograph.  i get so focused in on getting the free-lensing part correct that i forget that i'm still trying to create a compelling image.  so, my goal for tomorrow is to think of the overall image first and the free-lensing part second.  we'll see how that goes ;)

week 8, day 52

another new week and another new theme!  this week, instead of shooting for a concept, we're working on developing a technique- free lensing.

for my non-photographer friends, free lensing is a shooting technique where you remove your lens from your camera body and then hold the lens up to the camera's sensor to shoot while tilting the lens at different angles.  this causes the large majority of the image to fall out of focus, while leaving a specific area of the photo sharp and clear.

a few important notes about free lensing:

- if you're a nikon user (which i am *insert sarcastic thumbs up here*), then in order to free lens effectively, you need to hack your lens.  the reason is this- when you free lens, the aperture on the lens needs to be open as wide as possible.  nikon lenses close the aperture all the way down to a teeny tiny hole when removed from the camera body, and that prevents you from seeing much of anything while attempting to free lens.  in order to get the aperture to stay open on a nikon lens, you need to find this tiny little metal lever on the back of the lens and then slide it as far over as it will go and stick an equally tiny little piece of paper in the lever's track so that it stays put.  and also you need to make sure the piece of paper has a tail so that you can pull it out in case it falls into the lens (not that i'm speaking from experience or anything...).

- i love the look of free lensed images.  i feel like they're the perfect combination of artistic and clean, and they have a little bit of added interest.  they're also very soft, but can still be very emotive and powerful images when done right.

- it's really freaking hard to do correctly.  like, really, really hard.

i've tried to free lens a handful of times in the past, but i've always given up because i just can never get it to look the way i want.  i'm also a little wary of it lately because my grip and dexterity are not what they used to be, and up until recently my only lens choices were my enormous kit lens that i could never manipulate with one hand or my relatively pricey 50 mm that i would never forgive myself for dropping and breaking (which was bound to happen because, it's me).  now that i have my lighter, less expensive 35 mm, i'm not as apprehensive about trying it out.  

i have all these amazingly talented friends who somehow managed to free lens humans, who are moving and stuff, and i can't for the life of me figure out how they pull it off.  so instead i decided to start out easy today with subject matter that remains stationary and does what i make it do.  these aren't great, but they're not as terrible as i was expecting either.  i'm just glad i was able to get parts of the images in focus.

the differences between these 3 are subtle (excluding the fact that one is black and white), but that's kind of what free lensing is all about.  my goal this week is to push myself to try to free lens at least once a day, even if i end up going off prompt for the image i share.  we'll see :)