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052313shallowtypewriter

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photos:
1) toys on my office windowsill
2) my old typewriter, I need to get a ribbon for it
3) wooden bunnies, i love they way the two pieces fit together, so simple, i also love the shadows, this was taken for a hard shadow assignment, but it also demonstrates shallow depth of field.

I took my camera outside at lunchtime last week to shoot this beautiful campus in its springtime glory. It took me more than a minute to remember all of the photography skills I had just learned in my photography class, which only ended a couple of weeks ago. Use it or lose it, I guess. So I will continue to review my photo 111 lessons here, with you, my unwilling pupil.

Shallow depth of field was an early assignment, which I felt like I had some success with. (I ended a sentence with a preposition right there. I know.) Shallow depth of field is used when you want an image where only a small part of the photo is in focus. See above.

The aperture is wide open for these shots, which is really counter intuitive isn’t it? You would think that opening up your lens means more light (yes) and more of the image in focus (no).

What I really like with shallow depth of field is that you can still get a good shot on a gray day without a flash or strobe or tripod, because your lens is wide open. Plus I like the way it can emphasize what you want to emphasize in a shot, and leave a little part of the story to unfold as the viewer makes it out.

One girl in my class took a beautiful close up shot of a blond Barbie doll’s face, chin titled sideways and slightly forward, blond pony tail high and sassy, not a hair out of place, lips slightly parted, a cheerful, vacuous look on her flawless face as her brilliant blue eyes stare off into space. The contrast of the blond barbie on the black background was really lovely…but then…there is something in the nearly black background… another Barbie…is she lying down? no wait! She is naked…and her hands and feet bound! What?! Naughty blond Barbie! Maybe that pretty little head is not filled with thoughts of shopping, the dream house and Ken after all. (Wait! I just realized those are the thoughts that fill MY head…well not Ken.)

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052013philspectorletter

052013hulapackage

052013zoeyedgarletter

052013grumpyreturnthey joy of snail mail

I love receiving real mail; handwritten, personal and delivered from my mail carrier. I love recognizing who the letter is from by the handwriting, before I even see a return address or name.

I, like everyone else, rarely write letters anymore, occasionally a birthday card or a thank you note, but not nearly enough of either. Email, a phone call or text is so much faster. Being in constant electronic contact with people often leaves little to write about in a real letter. Still, even if it contains no real news, I just love having the writer’s handwriting in my hands, seeing it, seeing them.

Oh so many years ago, when I was home for the summer from college, My friends and I wrote weekly, detailed letters to each other, decorating the envelopes with cartoons, pictures from magazines and our own illustrations. Sometimes just folding a page of the National Enquirer or the Weekly World News into an envelope and adding a stamp and address. (“Hilary Clinton Gives Birth to Alien Twins” complete with photograph.) I loved the creative process that went into making those letters and envelopes as much as the joy of receiving them.

When my daughter started college this year I revived my letter writing and envelope decorating practice. Not as creatively as I did when I had endless amounts of time, but enough to feel a tiny bit creative. With my daughter home and no longer in need of my letters, I hope to keep this practice up with family and friends living too far away, including, of course, those college friends. Although I am in contact with all of them electronically, what I lack in interesting content, I hope to make up for in interesting envelope decor!

catching up

May 14, 2013

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photos:
1) the best birthday package
2) birthday heart from my 15 year old son, clean kitchen included
3) My dear mom and my dear sister Jen

Back from my blogging hiatus. I hope. Something had to go. I have been away from most of the past 4 weekends.

My dear sister from Seattle was here for a too short visit. Our family spent a weekend with my daughter for her birthday at the end of April. I had my final exam for my photography class. You roll your eyes, but there was a great amount of technical information to learn, such as the electromagnetic scale and length of the color waves that is viewable to the human eyes (400 – 700 nanometers in case you were wondering).

Then it was my birthday. Guess what was in the package from my amazing friend Cathy? A vintage red purse and a Catherineholm fondu pot! As I told her, I hugged them to my chest when I opened them! That woman! I have to be careful about what I post on my blog!

The night of my birthday my husband and I went to the simulcast of “Wait! Wait! Don’t Tell Me!” a nerdy NPR radio show that we love and have seen live several times. I came home to a giant chocolate chip heart-shaped cookie/birthday cake, made by my 15 year old son. Even more of a gift– he cleaned the kitchen when he was finished! Yes, my son cleaned the kitchen after baking. What?! Who is that manchild?!

The next day it was back to my daughter in Wisconsin to pack up her dorm room. Before leaving Ann Arbor, I went to pick up a rental van and was asked if I remembered to renew my driver’s license, which expired on my birthday, the day before. No van for me. Still haven’t renewed that license. Yikes. So we packed up my Prius, and what couldn’t fit we had packed and ready to go for my husband, who (new plan) would now be renting a van midweek, when he had planned to travel to get her anyway (after her last exams). While in Wisconsin my daughter and I drove an hour to meet my friend Cathy for lunch. I wish I could see her every weekend.

Back to Ann Arbor. The photography class ended. (A on the final, A- in the class. Gah! A MINUS?!) Two days later my daughter returned home. Hooray! My mother got in a car accident, not her fault. Her dear car which was old but low miles and pristine condition was totaled. Airbags deployed and she is fine.

Then it was mother’s day which included too short of an overnight with my mom, and too quick a visit with too few siblings and their families, shopping for teenager clothes (gah!), taking the dog to the vet, and a too short visit with my mother in law. Mother’s day weekend also included– white steamed pudding with raspberry sauce (made by husband), a peanut butter and chocolate cheesecake (made by mom), blueberry pie (made by husband) and lilacs— which are finally out and smell like the start of summer.

The last month also included nights volunteering at the Ark, an attempt to exercise more and oh yes, work— my busiest time of the year at work. I won’t sleep well again until my summer programs end on June 28.

Next up? Renewing my driver’s license. Helping my daughter find a summer job, and helping my son decide on how he wants to spend his summer (in addition to his volunteering at a zoo). Helping my mom get a new car—a team effort with her and my siblings. Putting my dog on a diet. Working on my flower beds. Exercising more. Maybe I’ll clean my house and do laundry one of these days! Oh yes, then there’s work…

In the spaces in between, I plan to blog…though it may be about how to get my whites whiter and how to get a pug to lose weight…That’s my life. And I’ll keep it, but I’ll understand if you need to move on in order to stay awake…

eggsredtub

eggbook

photo 111: i am the eggman

photos
1) this is the one I matted and turned in: eggs in a tubtrugs bucket with old green onions peeled from the bottom of the vegetable drawer, winter, sunday morning light
2) outtake: egg on “radioactive: marie & pierre curie: a tale of love and fallout” by lauren redniss. redniss is a “graphic biolgrapher” and if you have not seen her books, you should. gorgeous.
3) outtake: eggs in bowl my sister-in-law made. do you think our windows need a little work…ugh.

In January I signed up for an introductory photography class at our local community college. Blogging was a motivator, but also, I was looking for something that would interest my teenage son, something that would get him off of his computer. He was interested, so we signed up together. Since he is only 15, and dyslexic, I wanted to take the class with him to make sure he wasn’t in over his head. Turns out he helps me more than I help him. (Turns out we also have to keep one empty seat between us in class so we don’t argue.)

We have an assignment every week that we edit, print and mount on matte board in class on Monday night. On Wednesday nights in addition to a technical lecture on our camera, or Lightroom, we have a critique. Our work is displayed anonymously and we have to vote on which photos we like the best—with the idea that clusters of votes will help illuminate key elements to a good photograph.

The matted photos are pinned to a bulletinboard/wall and the instructor puts a push pins above each photo that gets votes, one push pin per vote. Then we go in order, from the most push pins to the least talking about our process and getting critiqued.

I have had many weeks with no pins (votes), but two weeks ago my son and I tied for most votes. He gets votes almost every week and frequently gets the most votes. Once I told him it is even more exciting for me, as a mom, when he gets votes, than if I do. His response was, “No! You don’t get to claim credit for my work! No!”

For our egg assignment, we had to take a photo of an egg with the goal of getting a well-exposed, sharp image. I liked my image and technically it was good. But it received no votes from my classmates. My son put his egg on our pool table and had it in the foreground sharply focused and all of the colored pool balls in the background out of focus. He received many votes. One girl broke an egg in the snow and had a small LED flashlight illuminate it from underneath. There was a layer of snow between the egg and the light. The whole critique was really eye opening to me. Think creatively, or, take the egg out of the kitchen.

We only have 3 more weeks left and both my son and I are sad it’s coming to an end. As much as missing the photography class, I will miss the time with my son. He will get his driver’s license at the end of the summer, and it’s clear to me he can handle the classwork on his own. He is planning to take another photography class in the fall, without his mom. Of course, as a mom, I am proud of his growth toward independence, and I will let him know this, at the risk of him accusing me of claiming credit.

what my daughter made for me

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0041513ilyzoeydetail

photo
1) the chick my daughter made in her dorm room for me. made from cardboard, legal paper, a sharpie and…a paper clip?
2) my mothers day card from last year made by that same girl
3) mother’s day card detail

My daughter gave me this chick last weekend, and the card last May. I love that girl. I think she should be in art school. She’s more of a Tim Burton than a Michelangelo, which is why I love everything she makes so much.

She will be coming home soon! Less than a month– can’t wait!

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you say belstaff, i say i want that

photos
1) women’s trailmaster jacket view 1, http://www.belstaff.com
2) women’s trailmaster jacket view 2, http://www.belstaff.com
3) skyfall’s eve moneypenny in a belstaff, http://www.ingredientsofstyle.com/2012/11/bond-style.html
4) more of eve’s pretty wardrobe (yes, his suit is pretty too), http://www.ingredientsofstyle.com/2012/11/bond-style.html
5) and more,
http://www.ingredientsofstyle.com/2012/11/bond-style.html

Like vintage lambretta scooters, I so salivate when I see an image of a Belstaff jacket. I am not sure when I first saw one, it was years ago. Watching Skyfall last week with my son, I was pretty sure I spotted one on Eve Moneypenny. Turns out I was correct. (I loved all of Eve’s wardrobe.) Belstaffs are too pricey for me, but a girl can dream.

stuff i don't need but like to look at

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040913daisyhat

040913radios1

040913radios2

040913typewriter
040913scarybabies

040913wedding

040913weddingdetail

photos:
1) i need this storage shelf for the stuff I have but don’t need
2) barbie thermos
3) this is a daisy-covered 60s hat. i couldn’t get a good shot. it looks similar to this one, but with more flowers!
4) i love old radios, such great designs
5) and more radios
6) i love old typewriters too
7) i’m bought you these babies for your birthday.
just kidding.
they look like something found on regretsy. seriously, why? who?…when?…what?!!
8 & 9) i find old photos mesmerizing. i wish i had taken a sharper photo of this one. do you see her delicate little glasses? did she like her glasses because they made her look smart? or did she hate them because they made her look school-marmy? or did she not bother with such thoughts; she needed glasses so she wore them.
did you notice her simple wedding band? And her lovely boots, legs crossed at the ankles? do you think her feet look big? do you see the beautiful details on her black wedding dress? the design around the neckline and arms? near the wrist? The buttons down the top layer of her skirt? Is it her wedding dress, or is this her post-wedding dress?
who were these people? did they not have children who cared about preserving this photo? or maybe it was passed on to grandchildren to whom it meant nothing? there is no name or year on the photo.
did they love each other? did they have a happy life? hmmm…this photo is so compelling to me. now i wish i would have purchased it.

My daughter and I visited one of the several antiques malls in her town this weekend. What I like about antiques malls is that there is always a lot of crazy, cool and interesting stuff, pretty clearly displayed so you don’t have to dig.

I haven’t visited many of these malls, but some seem to have great prices, others, like the one we visited this weekend, not so much. It seems like you can always find great vintage linen table cloths and napkins, and vintage aprons for very cheap. (I have some pretty great vintage aprons. I wish I could wear them to work.)

The only thing we purchased this weekend was a yellow plastic bracelet for my daughter and a necklace for me—I haven’t taken photos yet. At about $11 per piece of costume jewelry, I didn’t think it was much of a bargain…but we liked them.