29 April 2012

Sunday Morning at The White House

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28 April 2012

Photography Class: Week 4

I finished up my final week of photography class although the virtual classroom will be left open for a couple more weeks so that we can decompress.   As of right now, there are 10,062 posts in the classroom!  Don didn't this we would break the previous record from the last class of 10,000.  This is from 30 students, teacher, and assistants.  It was a pretty active and involved group of students.  This class has changed how I shoot and I will never look at photography the same way again.

This week we used all that we've learned in the past 3 weeks and added some new compositional elements to our toolkit.  Our goal this week was to look through past photographs and find images that meet the compositional criteria and edit them in a new light, getting rid of distractions etc.    Looking back through my photographs was a little depressing because now I see all the faults.  It was a tough pill to swallow and a hard week to get through.

Here are my images from the week.  sooc = straight out of camera (no edits)

cr reflection sooc

My edit.  The hardest part was 'stretching' the canvas to create more negative space on the left side.

cr reflection edit

Bowling sooc:

bowling sooc

Bowling After:

bowling after

Chelsea sooc:

chelsea chair sooc

Chelsea After:

chelsea chair color

I was starting to run out of "good" images to edit and another student posted something about Barcelona and I remembered this image.  This is a good example of having "framed" the image and leading your eye from left to right up the path.  The arrow doesn't hurt.

door sooc

door bw

I was pretty much "done" with all my previous images and was hitting a real creative block.  Quinn and I were having fun blowing up water balloons on the front porch and this shot came to mind.  I think it reflects my sad feelings about the day and my happy go lucky 4 year old.   This was my submission for critique.


walking out sooc

my submitted image:

walking out

The instructors critique which just made my day.  This kind of image really isn't my normal style but I'm happy that I was able to create an image with some real depth and meaning.

Amy, this is heartwarming and heartbreaking all at once. It's a beautiful, incredibly emotional image. The handholding and the way he's looking up at you ... oh, it just makes me heart want to burst!! Description: http://www.clickinmoms.com/forums/images/smilies/heartpump.gif Once I get past the immediate emotional connection between the two of you here, the most interesting part of the image is the stance of each of you. He's holding onto your hand, and he's looking at you with adoration and trust and a clear need to have the physical connection ... but look at the feet. You are grounded. You don't even appear to be moving forward -- perhaps it's a cautious stance, perhaps it is that everything is a bit more deliberate. But look at his feet -- one foot up, ready to go ... it's almost like he's guiding you out. He's not bouncing out the door, pulling you along -- there's still a gentleness in his stance, but he's gently prodding you forward, too. It also brings in the reflections/shadows ... there's the break between the child and his -- yours is completely continuous. I am guess since this is a SP that that positioning and snapping at that exact moment wasn't deliberate, but oh what a story you captured. Description: http://www.clickinmoms.com/forums/images/smilies/heartpump.gif

I like your crop because of the simplification of it -- and standing alone, I wouldn't have any reason to ask for more ... but the pullback is still very clean and nicely composed ... and (now that I've seen it) I actually prefer the complexity of that ... the various paths here. We don't really know where you and your son are headed because of the blown out door (which was a good choice, though I wish it was about 1/3 stop more deeply exposed just to preserve his face a little more), but in your pullback, there is a trio of doors, two closed, one open ... lots of metaphors to be found in that ... plus four directions from which the subjects may have come ... left, right, behind the camera, down the stairs ... and there's an uncertainty as to whether they've been journeying together completely or whether they converged at the door and opted to go it together from there (a scenario which I quite like). The composition is strong, and the scan paths are not so very different (for me, in your final -- lead in to door, child, hands up to you, down to the reflections, back to the child, and cyclical from there; in your SOOC -- come in at the banister, up along the reflections, door, child, hands, you, and back around ... but once we make that first scan, there's a lot more to explore -- none of it distracting). All you'd need to do is convert and clone out a light switch and an outlet cover (btw, my edit was a simple conversion as a point of reference -- yours is much more polished .... I love that you deepened those shadowy reflections): 

And my final image based on her critique.

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23 April 2012

The Sign Over His Head

Right after I took this picture, Quinn pointed to an imaginary sign over his head and said "See this sign here?  It says No Cameras Allowed".  Enough said little man.  The camera rested for the remainer of the day.

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22 April 2012

Photography Class: Week 3

We had a break last week in photography class which was a much needed breather after 2 weeks of intense shooting, editing, and posting.  This 4 week class has 30 students and we've already posted 9,000 messages.  Wow.  It's been intense, educational, and enlightening.   I'll never photograph the same again.

This past weeks lesson was all about finding dark in the light and light in the dark.  This is all very new to me so another step out of my comfort zone.

Here is the image that I posted for my final critique.   This was shot in the complete dark on the dining room table.  The camera was on a tripod and I used an app on the ipad for lighting.

And here's the teacher's critique.

Amy, what I love about the Buddha image is that you have taken someone else's art and used light to transform it into something of your own -- your use of light here is wonderful. The crop, however, is very abrupt for me and counters the peacefulness that I'd associate with the Buddha. If your goal was to be a bit subversive, then throwing me off works - but even then, I'd question if this was the most effective way to do that ... the crop just doesn't feel entirely deliberate to me in its placement. 

I want to critique #1 because this one really speaks to me. You have given the artichoke life and a little bit of personality -- there's something playful about the image, like it just rolled in from the shadows. The light is fantastic, and the reflection is wonderful. I like that you have kept the "horizon line" (the foundation on which the artichoke rests) above the halfway point. I wonder about the top edge placement, though -- what was behind that decision? I'd have been inclined to place this one lower, though I see an argument for the upper placement suggesting a little more movement. For comparison's sake, here is the lower placement: 
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You asked about some of your technical decisions and how those might have been approached differently. Am I correcting in assuming you were shooting from a tripod or beanbag with such a slow shutter speed? If so, as a general rule, the only reasons why you'd need to choose a relatively high ISO are a) you want the noise/grain for artistic effect or b) you're impatient.  I'm guessing this may have been a case of the latter? You could slow the SS down even more and go for increased clarity with a lower ISO. Similarly, there really are no limits on the available apertures. IT looks to me like your frontmost leaves may be a bit OOF, so I'd advocate closing down here for sharpness from front to back on the subject. Shallow DOF is kind of irrelevant here artistically -- your background falls into total shadow, so background blur is a nonissue.  I also think you could have gone 1/3 stop darker, as it looks like you've blown a few channels on the highlight edges.  

Great work!!

I had also posted this image as she lets us post more than one and she will pick the one to critique.

And here are some of my other images from the week.

(This is a pullback of the shot above.  The things I will do to ge the shot.  I lit if from above with an ipad)

This is my ghostly self portrait cleaning up the kitchen at the end of the night.  I think I had a 30 second shutter speed on this shot.  

This was completely unstaged.  Quinn was hungry and decided to do a little late night 
grocery shopping in the fridge.  

I think this one is my favorite from the week.  It's just so Quinn.  But I have too many distracting things in the background to make it really great.  It's the kind of shot only a mom/grandmom/etc could love.  

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We Love Chelsea!

A year or so ago Barbara sent me an article on the Chelsea High Line and I was instantly intrigued.  A group of activists convinced NYC to allow them to take a set of abandoned elevated railroad tracks and turn it in to a nature conservation.   The high line is a beautiful natural spot above the busy city below.  It was pretty crowded on Saturday but still a really beautiful spot.

A view of the city below.

Here we go on our adventure.

This company always has thought provoking or funny ads and they seem to change them pretty frequently.

All of the plants are native to the NY area.  Lots of things flowering this time of year.

And a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty way off in the background.

There are lots of places to stop and just sit in the sun and they are all really well thought out.  In one spot they have wooden lounge chairs on wheels that roll along the original train tracks.  Here's a spot to sit and watch the traffic go by.  Or for the traffic to watch you sitting.   (Behind the glass there is stadium style seating.)

A selfie.

The Chelsea Market is a converted Nabisco plant that was turned in to shopping and offices.  This is where the Food Network  is located.  The shops are all full of great little finds.    I'm still in my photography class and I took these two as part of last week's lesson.  More to come on that later.

We've had a handful of dud days in NYC but this was not one of them.  One of our favorite days in the city.  We ended our day with sushi in Westfield.  Quinn had been asking for sushi all day, breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  That boy loves his sushi!!

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12 April 2012

Today, we...

...woke up and got ready for gymnastics.  Quinn has been attached to his teddy lately and will ask for him when he goes to bed and when he wakes up.  

After gymnastics we played with our little twin friends and then went to the dentist.  No cavities for either of us.  Wahoo!  How do we celebrate our visit to the dentist?  With a cupcake!  I think our last cupcake was 6 months ago after our last visit to the dentist.

Nice to be home and back with all our stuff.  Quinn thought it would be fun to make rollerskates.  He was surprising OK on them.

That was our day.

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10 April 2012

Photography Class: Week 2

I got so many positive comments from my post about Week 1 of photography class that I decided to continue with Week 2.  Week 2 was very difficult and threw most of us for a loop.  I think that was the whole purpose.  Get us out of our comfort zone  so that we shoot differently and with purpose.   We learned another way of composing photos using Golden Triangles (GT)  and Golden Spirals (GS).  I won't bore you with the details but lets just say I'm a Golden Triangles Girl.  I see the world in Golden Triangles.  It was a week of struggles but I was able to get this shot that I submitted for critique.

 sweet toes

And here is the critique:

You nailed it, my friend!! And I love hearing you say "the blue and whites are just my cup of tea." My gut would have been to convert, but that is so ME - and I love hearing your confidence and conscious preference for the color ... because this is your art.  And really, it is such a peaceful and relaxing color, which of course plays beautifully into the image and the boyishness here. 

So, your GT - WONDERFUL. I love seeing this and knowing that you visualized it for the assignment - clearly no set up here ... and as we train our eyes to start seeing these things in natural circumstances, it just begins to come more and more easily. You've used the main and lower secondary well and nailed your sweet spots. Truly - I'm very impressed.

You made an interesting focal point choice - on the feet instead of the face - and it paid off. It creates a little bit of anonymity, and there's a sweet little quirkiness in his little toes ... I love how much personality we can see there. All cuddled up, too - I want to go place a blanket on him and lift his little head onto the pillow - reminds me of the way my boys sleep, actually ... this really brings out an emotional reaction in me.

Creative, moving work.

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Our Week with Grams

Quinn and I travelled south to Maryland for his Spring Break week to spend some time with Grams and Pam and family.  On Monday night Pam, Jeff and Ben came over for dinner.  Quinn loves his "brothers" Ben and Alex.  Ben and Quinn had a good game of hide and go seek around the house.   Quinn keeps telling me that he wants a wheelchair for Christmas just like Ben's.  I guess he sees how happy Ben is in his that Quinn thinks it's a pretty great thing.

Grams found Quinn a new bike at the Thrift Store that's more his size.  We took it out for many test rides over the week.   He also got a new helmet a month or so ago because his head is so HUGE.  

I woke up on Tuesday morning to a pant-less little boy sleeping next to me.  When he woke up he put them on (inside out) and I asked him what happened.  He said that the bed took them off.  Hmmm??

I am still in the middle of my photography class and doing lots of practicing.  This was a bit of a botched shot, but I still kind of love it.  I was lying on the ground with the camera next to my head and Quinn and I were playing airplane.

We were very excited about going in to DC on Thursday.  We were taking the Metro in to visit the Air and Space Museum.  Unfortunately our plans were derailed by a little boy who woke up at 3:30 am and wouldn't fall back to sleep.  Needless to say both mama and baby needed a little nap.  Before I woke him up I got these shots.  They may be some of my latest favorites.  I just love the cool and peaceful blue and white tones.

Someone wasn't quite ready to wake up after a good 2 hour nap.

All of these shots were taken with specific composition visions in mind.  Needless to say that they didn't all work out but it was a week of creativity.  And even better to spend it with Grams <3

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