the wonders of a new park

so the theme for this week is landscape photography, but let's be honest- i'm terrible at landscape photography.  i also don't have much of an interest in getting any better at it because i'd much rather devote my time to improving on my skills that have potential ;)  so, i think i'm going to leave the landscape photography to my talented friends who have a true eye for it and intentionally go off prompt this whole week.

today's weather is absolutely glorious, and i have a new 2 year old who is eager to ride his new tricycle uninhibited by petty obstacles like hills that are too steep to pedal up or streets that are too busy to ride in, so this morning we packed up the bikes and headed to our local elementary school.  we've never stopped at this particular playground because if school's not in session, then we're usually at the pool or at a different park, but all of our usual stops are overrun with summer camp kids, so we had to venture outside of our comfort zone a bit today.

turns out, that was the best thing that could have happened for all three of us.  the kids loved the equipment, there was an enormous amount of blacktop space for bike riding, and ample shade for me to hide in when the sun got to be too much.  in fact, i hadn't even intended to do a blog post today because i didn't anticipate getting many keepers from our little outing, but i wound up with 17 images that i just couldn't part with, so here we are.

^ when you tip your tricycle and refuse to let your mom help you up, she will take pictures of you moping instead.

happy monday all <3

a quick catch up post

on day 59, i took no pictures, but i somehow managed a post.

on days 60 and 61, i took a few pictures, but i didn't post.

today, i made sure i took a few more pictures, and i'm doing a quick post before i collapse into bed because i hate that i let myself miss a few days.

the theme for week 9 is "day in the life", and it's really unfortunate that i decided to get sick during this theme because this is my theme.  i live for this theme.  i had big plans of doing a different kind of "day in the life" shoot for every day this week.  instead i've just been taking pictures of the interesting things that happen as my kids take advantage of me being stuck on the couch ;)  

day 59: a little table side attitude.

day 60: when grandaddy visits...

day 61: play time on the deck.

day 62: the main reason i think i started to feel better today ;)

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 ;)

in honor of dads

earlier this week, i ran across a great blog post that talked about all the things we need to *stop* saying about dads (i was going to link it so you could read the awesome yourself, but the blog has since been made private.  i guess she created some waves with her words, i dunno).  the main point of the post was this- in general, there is an attitude that most dads are fumbling dopes who can't tell the difference between a sock and a shoe or a chicken nugget and a banana, and in general that simply isn't true and we need to stop acting like it is.

okay, so they can be pretty goofy, but goofy isn't the same as incapable ;)

this isn't the first blog post i've read that has made this point, and i doubt it will be the last.  it's kind of astounding to me the way we talk about our men, and every time i see another post pop up that stands up for fathers and husbands and celebrates how great they can be, i cheer a little bit.  after all, my husband is pretty much the only reason why my kids and i have survived this long with our sanity intact (the only one who can take more credit than him is Jesus) and i think he deserves to be praised for his hard work as much as i do.  and it's not like my husband is some sort of anomaly.  i know plenty of men in the world who are incredible and involved fathers- my own, for instance, did much of the tucking in and grocery store runs and nose wiping and homework helping and all those other things that come with finding yourself in the trenches of parenting. 

the trenches are an exhausting place, interspersed with perfect, soul satisfying moments.

and then, a few days after i ran across the earlier-mentioned blog post, this great new community, called Dads in the Wild popped up on facebook.  it's a photography community geared toward sharing pictures of dads doing all the great things dads do with and for their children, and so of course i joined in as quickly as i could.  after i was done scrolling through the work that had already been shared to their page by some really amazing artists, i popped over to lightroom to pull a few of my favorite dad images to share myself.  after about 10 minutes, i had way more than the 2-3 photos i had planned to pull out, and i also found myself sitting in a puddle of my own tears, overwhelmed by the amazing love my husband has for our children, and the love i have for him, and the joy that i've been fortunate enough to capture in just a few of the moments he has shared with our boys over the last year.

shortly after i took this image, my husband looked at me and mouthed the words "life made".  he may have been holding back tears, but that hasn't been verified :)

i did end up sharing one of the images i pulled on Dads of the Wild's wall, but i decided to hang on to the rest of them to share here instead.  i want to jump on the bandwagon to give dads their credit where credit is due, and i figure there's no better place to start than with the man i'm on this parenting journey with.  from the beginning, he has changed diapers and woken up in the middle of the night.  he has run errands solo for sick kids and run errands with kids for a sick wife.  he has taken over as parent-in-charge the moment his feet hit our foyer in the afternoon so i can escape for a shower.  he has cleaned spilled cereal and spaghetti sauce faces and potty training accidents and car seats and a thousand other things.  he's gone to doctor appointments and play dates and every park in the county.  he's comforted tired, sick, or hurting little bodies, and he's helped grow and nurture little souls.

the truth is, i could have pulled so, so many more images to share here.  i literally have dozens upon dozens of photos of my husband just being dad to our two boys, but this is a selection that i love both as a wife/momma and as a photographer.

he is their teacher and their guide.

he is our provider.

he is their example.

he is their comfort and their protection.

he is my partner, my safe place, my strength.

when he is with them, i don't have to worry.  he can handle it just as well as i can handle it because he loves them just as much as i love them.

he is their dad

and he will always be enough.

so here's to the dads- for all they do, everyday.  it makes all the difference.

day 40

i wasn't planning on doing a blog post today.  i thought maybe i'd take a handful of shots over the course of the day, pick and edit a favorite, and share just one so i could have the evening off.  buuuuuut, then i got an answer to prayer in the form of a call from my doctor, and for the first time in 2 weeks i felt like i was able to plug back in to the world around me.  so, instead, i picked up my camera with actual intent and enthusiasm for the first time in a long time, and ended up with enough to keepers to require a post.

we'll start with the on-theme images :)  here's a few low-light shots following a brief excursion outside during the beginning of today's mini snow storm.

clearly they were exhausted from all the walking around they did while also asking to come inside.  

i did manage to get a few shots while we were outside that i really like though.  i'm glad we went out while the snow was still softly falling.  and that the little kept his crying to a small whimper ;)

i have a weird thing for my kids' hair.  put snowflakes in it and i'll walk around all day taking pictures of the top of their heads.  i just can't help myself!

and then i taught this one how to make a little avalanche, which he thought was hysterical (and so did i).

meanwhile, this one stood by the door, staring longingly inside- while the dog also stood by the door, staring longingly outside.  

after we came inside and stripped down, we had our obligatory morning round of fruit snacks followed by some dress up time.  i don't think there's much in this world that's more entertaining than watching your 3 year old squeeze into an elmo costume that's at least 2 sizes two small.  except maybe watching his little brother help him put it on and then stand back and stare in admiration and awe.

and then at some point the big decided he had enough, so he passed the torch to the little :)

a quick side not about the dress up images- normally i would have converted them to black and white, but i kept them in color for 2 reasons: 1. bright reds like this one don't usually play very nicely with the camera, especially when converted, and i just couldn't get it to look right no matter what i tried and 2. it's elmo.  'nuff said.

day 24 (and some bonus snow)

today starts week four and a new- and challenging- theme: food photography.

i'm not good at photographing food.  i'm pretty good at making food, and i'm very good at eating it, but photographing food is another matter altogether.  there's an excellent chance that i'll be going off prompt a lot this week, but i do think it's important to push ourselves outside of our comfort zones, so i'm at least going to try to get some food shots.

today i kept looking at the meals i was preparing for myself and my family and trying to envision them in an artful way so i could photograph them, but nothing was coming to me.  usually when i see food, all i can think is "yummmm, get in mah belly" or something to that effect.  in fact, i'd argue that while i'm eating is one of the times when photography is furthest from my mind (unless there's a lot of steam involved.  i love a good steam shot).  plus, my food doesn't usually hang around long enough for me to take pictures of it; i'm not exactly a patient person when hungry.  anyway.  i was approaching the point of giving up for the day and just sticking some grapes on a white piece of paper and photographing them in some sunshine when my big asked for an apple for snack.  fortunately, he was distracted by daniel tiger because it took me a long time to get it to him.

i didn't get super creative with the angles i tried (i shot straight down from above a few times, but those were kind of blah) so instead i messed around with my focal point and DOF to try to give some variation.  there's nothing earth shatteringly pretty or particularly skillful about these, but i tried and so i'm counting it as a win for today.  perhaps tomorrow (and some light reading on food photography) will bring more inspiration.

 and now, before i go for the evening, i'll leave you with a few pictures from today's snow adventures.  my husband was still focusing all his energy on shoveling us out, which meant i was doubling up on mom and photog duty.  on normal days, i've gotten pretty good with balancing the two (especially now that the little is not so little) but when there's snow and the potential for slipping and both are walking the delicate tight rope between "total joy" and "massive meltdown", it's a little more difficult.  i'm hoping tomorrow we can pull the sleds out, build snowmen, and actually play instead of stand and watch while our neighborhood frantically attempts to dig itself out from under an entire winter's worth of snow.  here's what i was able to capture today of our 10-minute journey (a significant improvement over yesterday's 3) into the icy tundra that is our front yard.

day 23

in case you're not from the northeast (or you are and you  just live under a rock), we're currently in the middle of a record breaking snowstorm.  there's something close to 30 inches of snow hanging out in my front yard (and back yard, and everywhere else in at least a 50 mile radius), not counting the additional inches that have been piled on top from the 2 times my wonderful husband went out to shovel today to try to stay on top of things.  

it's literally been snowing for the last 24 hours, which on the one hand is really cool because we have little ones who are fascinated by the snow.  but, on the other hand, it's really bad because we have little ones who are fascinated by the snow... but have no concept of the realities of snow.  like how it's cold.  and how it's wet.  and how when it's still falling and it blows on your face, it's cold and wet and it also hurts a little bit.  cause when you're 3 and your dad is creating a mt everest out of snow in your front yard, you have to go stand on top of it right now.  and when you're 1 and your big brother is suiting up to go play outside, you obviously should also be suiting up to go play outside.

we gave it an honest shot.  we really did.  but even with enough layers to toast a marshmallow and a well-dug path by daddy, our adventure out into the snow today pretty much went like this:

and this:

sidenote: i took this one handed while trying to console the child pictured in the first image.

and so after about 2 minutes, we retreated back indoors where we enjoyed watching the snow fall from the safety of our warm, snug house in nothing but our summer jammies- cause that's how we roll around here.

stay safe and warm everyone, wherever you are!