Wow February went by fast, didn’t it? My attempts at a daily non-portrait type of photo a day have not been perfect, but I”m hanging in here. If I miss a day or two, it’s really not a big deal. We aren’t doing this to prove anything to anyone but instead it’s a way to keep shooting things that are out of my normal realm. And the important thing is to pick up and continue and to have fun with it.
So the month kicked off — (get it? football joke … bwahaha) with Super bowl XLIX and TV Time — football — commercials — avocados — red wine
February 2, 2015
Groundhog Day… Puxatawny Phil saw his shadow today…
But my favorite boyfriend brought me these pink beauties.
” … If Winter comes, can spring be far behind?” – Percy Bysshe Shelley
February 3, 2015
When I come “home” from work, the commute is a an exhilarating 16 steps from the up to the down. My only traffic jam consists of a rescue pointer mix or a geriatric Aussie on steps 4 and 5 from the bottom. Once I weave past that obstacle, this is what greets me in the kitchen when I arrive. Fred has an innate tablet aptitude, and he just wants to help.
February 5, 2015
Just a motley collection of selfies. I have a goofy little habit of taking selfies as I set up lights in the studio. Sometimes I even save them, but I don’t really have anything to do with them – so I gathered up a few in one place for grins. (One day I’ll get the guts to pull the really super bad scary ones – everyone will love that! )
I have had super-short hair most of my adult life, but last summer I discovered a salon that specializes in curly hair. We are taking the anathema of my youth to new lengths – and embracing it. Although this collection is in no particular order, I think I will continue this little game and document our progress – as long as it lasts.
February 6, 2015
The new office manager, Fred the Cat is in charge of catnaps and distractions. I REALLY do love my commute.
February 7, 2015
Saturday mornings meant one thing in our home when I was growing up. Pancakes! As I got older and started spending Friday nights with friends, I was always disappointed to find that my price for a night of fun and giggles away from home usually meant cold cereal. I just couldn’t believe that other families didn’t eat pancakes on Saturdays like we did. What were they thinking?
Pancakes on Saturday continued as long as I can remember, except on weekends that we made WAFFLES! Oh My! When I was in high school, my dad got in on the act too. He experimented with a wide array of different batter recipes and home made sourdough too. Lots of variety, but always loads of melty butter and dripping with syrup. To this day when I smell fresh cut grass (another Saturday tradition) it automatically triggers the thoughts of maple syrup … and bacon too.
I tried to carry the tradition forward while raising my own kiddos. Some weeks were more successful than others – and then my husband was diagnosed with celiac disease. No more pancakes for us. – UNTIL a sweet neighbor gifted us with a box of King Arthur Flour Company’s Gluten-free Pancake mix and a bottle of Vermont maple syrup. And it was GOOD!
The griddle lives again, and Saturday mornings are special once more.
February 9, 2015
Stylus – oh the drama
When the stylus disappears, stress increases by the minute. Found this afternoon – on the floor – under a shoe. I think Fred the Cat may have been involved.
February 13, 2015
Happy Valentines Day – One Day Early
Way back on our fifth anniversary, I gave Mike a box full of funny little gifts signifying our love. Among the items, a handful of glass hearts with instructions to carry one in his pocket as a reminder that my heart was always with him.
I didn’t just give him ONE heart. I gave him a bag full because I didn’t want him to worry if something happened and he lost it. I wanted him to know that we had plenty of love to spare.
Guess what … he has carried the same glass heart in his pocket every single day and never lost it.
He dropped it once, and there’s a chip in it now, but I think that gives it character.
We will celebrate our 18th anniversary in two weeks! A heart of glass is more durable than you think it is.
February 14, 2015
Do you dare surprise someone on their 99th birthday?
If it’s MY Mawmaw, you sure do. Is she not amazing?
She didn’t want to have a party this year because she’s saving that for the big 100, but fortunately for us her birthday fell on a Saturday. That made it fairly easy for nearly all of her grandchildren to gather for lunch in her hometown. My son stood in for my brother who lives more than 700 miles away.
February 16, 2015
Fred has discovered the magic cursor.
February 19, 2015
Lenten Photo Challenge – Preparation
I’m going to take a stab at the Lenten Photo Challenge with devotional thoughts again this year. Two years ago I did a pretty good job. Last year, not so much. Here’s to 2015…
The wooden spoons and chopsticks in my kitchen take quite a bit of abuse. I use and misuse them all the time. They have a role in nearly everything I prepare in our little kitchen – and I’m a pretty good cook, if I do say so myself.
Nothing beats the feel of wooden spoons against a pan or in a mixing bowl, but I am not careful with them. They stir our oatmeal and then rest too close to the burner, getting scorched. They reach vitamin tablets that bounce under the stove. I throw them into the dishwasher where they withstand heat and harsh detergent ….
Even though I have a canister filled with wooden utensils, there are a few that I always reach for first. These are the ones I have had the longest, too. They just seem to be the most seem to fit my hand and work the most efficiently. These are the ones that are worn to a rich patina, their grain is tighter and water doesn’t damage them nearly as easily as it does the newer ones. One of them even got caught in a blender blade once, but over time the chipped end has worn to a new funky smoothness, and it’s still a favorite.
Eventually they ALL become dry, and pale, and rough and just plain tired, so when I can, I place them all together into a pan and season them with mineral oil. Just rub it in real well and let’em soak overnight. After a little time of rejuvenation and polishing with a soft cloth, they’re ready to go back into the canister by my stove where they will continue to serve well.
Sometimes after a good oiling it’s hard to distinguish the old ones from the new.
Life does that to us as humans too. We go about our business, doing whatever needs to be done. We spend our time and energy doing things that are not always in line with our priorities. We don’t take good care of ourselves, and we get tired, cynical, distracted, and depressed. But there are always a few people who seem to be in the midst of every activity, every service project. They’re the first ones to offer encouragement. They’re the ones organizing coat and sleeping-bag drives for the poor and meal schedules for families in crisis. They always seem to have a smile on their face, time to listen, and a warm hug to share. Sometimes they even get stuck in the blender blades of crisis themselves, and they crack a little – but they bounce back faster than others.
And we as believers gather together, the seasoned leaders and disciples, the raw eager learners, the givers, the needy, the creative thinkers, and the organizers who bring us back onto topic… and we mingle and work together, soaking up the healing oil of hope, the balm of mercy. And we serve together again. Each time we are a little more scarred, a little more worn down, but also a little more trusting, a little more resilient.
I want to be like the most used and worn out spoon in the kitchen.
This is Lent, y’all. Let’s soak up the Peace that passes all understanding so that we can do everything that we are called to do.
“ For by grace you have been saved through faith; and NOT OF YOURSELVES, it is the gift o God; not as a result of works, THAT NO ONE SHOULD BOAST. For we are His workmanship, CREATED in Chris tJesus FOR GOOD WORKS, which God prepared eforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10
February 22, 2015
– and it’s Fred on the Red … Carpet that is!
February 23, 2015
Lenten Photo Challenge – Water
It’s mentioned more than 700 times in the Bible and it is so important to everything in history
From the days of creation to Noah’s flood to Moses’ baby basket and the parting of the Red Sea . . . through the waters of baptism to the water that Jesus turned into wine.
Cities have been founded on it. Wars fought over it
Water … it’s a blessing, and it’s generally abundant. It refreshes. It makes things grow, and it washes away the dirt.
Parts of our country are in severe drought stages. Not just one year or two with low rainfall … SEVERE! Lakes sit stagnant and nearly empty. Farmers have shut down operations. Once verdant hillsides have turned brown and crispy, but when just a little bit of rain falls in those areas, the tender grass greens up quickly, wildflowers bloom, and people who are not aware of the overall situation forget that water is in short supply. They turn back to their wasteful ways. … and eventually the taps WILL run dry.
Is your soul in drought?
The Living Water that our savior offers is different from the water that comes from a well or the garden hose. Take a tiny sip. Drink up. Jump in! Splash around and get yourself soaked – right down to the skin. . . . Because THIS water will never run out. THIS! This is the good stuff!
“ … but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” — John 4:14
February 26 –
Spent some time this weekend photographing people photographing people. Lots of great food and fun.
February 27, 2015
Day two of the barbeque cookoff. NRG stadium, looking back across the bridge at the end of the evening
Cowboy Mardi Gras
Wrapping up the barbeque cookoff with the amazing Dim Fiefelmann Cookers . What an amazing group of people. They made me feel like a true part of their family.
I’ve lived in Houston for about 16 years, and have thoroughly enjoyed Rodeo Season, but this was my first experience with the cookoff. I promise y’all, there isn’t anything else like this . . . anywhere.
1/5 second at f 2.8 while zooming. Shot with rear curtain flash, a technique that needs a little more practice.
So there you have it … a picture a day for MOST days in February. Happy March everyone!
This post has nothing to do with my business. It’s just My Life 2015.
This year I am trying to get back into the groove that really lit my fire for photography and also brought me countless friends from around the world. I was using a Canon Rebel …. D-300 if I remember correctly, shooting mostly in automatic mode or one of the program modes . . . and having the time of my life.
I started a little gallery on my page called Shelly’s Photo Blog 2007 and joined a Daily Photographs community on Smugmug. That community opened the door to so many opportunities to learn and grow, it gave me inspiration and encouragement, and it gave me a chance to inspire and encourage others too. I truly can’t begin to think of where I would be without the experiences and friends that photography h as brought me.
Then there was Shelly’s Photo Blog 2008 and another — Shelly’s Photo Blog 2009-2010
The galleries ended about the same place where I started this blog… and over time, I quit posting every day but eventually Shelly’s Sporadic Dailies developed and dwindled – but I’m using it again.
I missed the creativity as well as the mild panic of not having a picture for today. So in 2015 I started this back up again and for now I’m using that same gallery. I’m participating on the premise that these pictures should not have much if anything to do with my business photos, but that they are just to help me keep my creative juices flowing and also to help document My Life 2015. I haven’t hit every single day, but I don’t care. This is for fun…
Here’s a recap of January 2015!
Well . . . wecan back up to Christmas Day. Happy Mom — My kids are here for Christmas Dinner.
January 1, 2015 Happy New Year from the Studio Backlot. We love our new t-shirts from our son’s business venture. Watch for wonderful things from Grateful Dane Distillery in the coming year.
January 2, 2015 – Backwards Hangers —
That thing where you turn all your hangers backwards at new years and by the end of the year anything you haven’t worn is still backwards — OUT it goes. I really think I wear all my clothes though. We shall see.
January 3, 2015
Today started out cold and gray — and I was a little bit sad (in that Mom sort of way) because my son left to drive across the state on icy roads to go back to school. Then, I got out my Rainy Pot. It was a Christmas gift from my California Kids. This thing is pure magic! You put water in the cloud, and it rains on the plant that you grow in the pot. I don’t have any potting soil or anything to plant right now, but couldn’t wait any longer to make a practice rain storm. This thing is PURE MAGIC. As soon as the rain started falling, my heart was happy and I smiled. Then I looked out the window and the sun was shining. How very cool is THAT?
January 4, 2015 – The New Phone Books Are Here
Just another sign of the nerd (or jerk, if you’re a Steve Martin fan) that I am. I really got excited this morning when our church passed out a new pictorial directory. We have a lovely church family, and I know some people pretty well, but then there are others that I see week after week, but still haven’t really connected with, and can;t even remember their names.
That makes me sad. I need an extra visual clue to help me remember names and faces, so this is like a goldmine to my heart. Oh my goodness, the kids in here have already grown so much since the photos were created.
Time flies, but this little book is a tangible portrait of my church family — or about 30 % of them.
That’s right. I told you I was a nerd. I analyzed the book today. We have about 625 households, but only 193 photographs in the book. For somebody who disdains math, the numbers fascinate me. I don’t know what to do with those numbers. I don’t know what they mean. I think it means that the missing faces are the ones I need to reach out to in earnest. I think it means that some of the missing faces may not feel like they completely belong. I think the missing faces are the ones that should REALLY be in the book because I want to know them too.
Now, I wish we could throw all the addresses into a big mapping system and find out who our closest neighbors are. If I did it, it would be an old fashioned wall map with pins and tags. That’s not nerdy. That’s cool! Okay — maybe it’s nerdy but nerds rock. I want to find ways to connect better with the people who are in this book and with those who missed the photo opportunity in 2015.
THANK YOU to Chris and Pam for all your hard work putting this little treasure together for us.
January 5, 2015 – Dog O Clock Thirty
A little wine, a little good music — waiting for time to say “It’s soup yet”. AND a Very Good Dog. What more could we wish for?
January 6, 3015 – Epiphany
Westward Leading Still Proceeding,
Guide us to the Perfect Light.
January 7 – Old Flute
RE: The sports announcer who got press this week for bullying the marching band at the Rose Bowl: Some people never grow up.
This is my old concert flute. Poor thing doesn’t make a sound anymore because the pads are all old and leaky, but she was a beauty in her day. She’s still a treasure that I take out of the case on occasion. I can still pretty-well finger our Fight Song as well as a couple of the other arrangements and marches that we memorized – back between 1975 and 1978.
Athletic? I was a scrawny kid, but still lost a pound a day sweating during summer band.
Competitive? You Betcha. Losing was not an option.
Teamwork? You try to keep a straight line and diagonals with 199 other people of varying shapes and sizes while spinning a design on a 100 yard canvas.
Even though I only had very average musical skills, I gained sooooo much from my years in band – and years later as a Band Mom.
Many of my band friends and directors are still friends to this day. They are incredibly intelligent, well-educated, witty, down-to-earth, successful, and in my mind they are all VERY COOL. And you can’t take that away from us.
#Band – it’s a GOOD THING .
January 8, 2015
Homemade Veggie Soup — Yummmmm… Just pure good stuff.
January 10 – Broken China
Did you ever wonder what would happen if you dropped a $1.99 soup/cereal bowl from Target on top of a stack of Lenox Oxford China in the kitchen sink?
Wonder no more.
This is what happens.
And… it’s okay.
We don’t entertain often, so I wanted to keep things casual , and that usually means paper plates. But then on Friday my friend Dottie talked me into getting out my china. After all — I have it and it doesn’t do anyone any good locked away in the hutch. If I’m not going to use it, I should get rid of it…. Right?
So… I pulled out the good china with a discontinued pattern that I love so much. Then, I mixed it with cheap colorful soup bowls from Target, iced-tea glasses from Ikea, and a mish-mash of wine glasses that have survived 14 years of annual Bunco nights. Wide-Mouth Mason Jars held the silverware, and we seated half our group at a borrowed plastic table.
We had one loss during the dishwashing game, but it’s still only STUFF. It gave me JOY to treat our guests like the special friends that they have become.
Besides — there’s this company here in town that makes LOVELY jewelry out of broken china. My favorite boyfriend designed a necklace and earrings for me last year. Now maybe I’ll get a bracelet to match.
Insert smiley emoticon here.
January 11, 2015
My Heroes Have Always Been Packers
#Myfavoriteboyfriend grew up in Lubbock, the heart of the Llano Estacado… so he was a bit out of place as a young Green Bay Packers fan in the land of Blue. But he never wavered.
See, an All American running back at Texas Tech University by the name of Donny Anderson caught 8-year-old MikeChetty’s attention and then went on to play for the Packers just two years before they beat the Dallas Cowboys in a legendary sub-freezing -temperature playoff game that became known as the Ice Bowl.
Not long afterwards, another Packer superstar, Jerry Kramer, penned a book called “Instant Replay.” It was basically his memoirs of the 1967 season under Vince Lombardi. Mike devoured the book and gave it credit for helping shape his own character.
And he has been a Packer Fan in Cowboy Country all his life.
Less than a half hour before kickoff this morning, when the Packers and Cowboys would again square off in a playoff game at Lambeau Field, we decided that we needed to create a Packers Fan profileicture for his facebook page so we did.
There was a little bit of sweating going on this afternoon at our house, but no explanation is necessary.
He’s Happy. I’m Happy. THIS is the Good Stuff.
He’s happy. I’m happy.
THIS is THE GOOD STUFF!
January 12, 2015
Do you have room in your heart and home for a new furry buddy?
I spent the better part of this afternoon photographing close to 30 cats that live right here in Katy and all need good homes. My veterinarian and his staff at Green Trails Animal Hospital are fostering so many sweet young cats that they are on absolute overload.
Each of these sweeties has already been spayed or neutered. They’re all micro-chipped and they’re in great health.
This is the second time I’ve photographed the homeless felines at the clinic, and several of the ones from my August Session are still waiting for a furr-ever home. I’ll be posting more on my blog and facebook page in the next few days, but in the meantime if you need a sweet kitten or cat to keep you company, I know where to look.
And here is a link to all the new sweeties that are currently available.
Call the good folks at Green Trails Animal Hospital. 19825 Greenwind Chase Drive, Houston, TX 77094 Phone 281.492.6100.
January 13, 2015
The Last Christmas Candy
One last piece of Christmas candy remains in the shiny green box that’s sat on my desk since mid December.
I’ve savored the aroma of these little delicacies almost as much as I’ve enjoyed letting them melt in my mouth chased by a nice strong cup of Louisiana coffee. Tomorrow’s treat will taste bittersweet.
January 14, 2015 –Wedding Album—YAY!
It’s their third anniversary and the wedding album is finally a reality!
At the very top of my “To Do” list, there’s been one single task that I have carried forward for nearly three years. It’s even had a star beside it, that’s my personal shorthand for PRIORITY – Do this ASAP. Still, it has taken me nearly three years to design a wedding album for my son and daughter-in-love.
When Ian and Lisa got married, three years ago today we had my friend and fellow photographer, Alison Carlino photograph the wedding. We made special professional trade arrangements for her to provide the images on a disc, and then the plan was that I would handle the design and production of the album and prints. We made a few prints and a canvas, but that blasted album hung over my head every day.
I just couldn’t get it done. I feel embarrassed that it has taken me so very long to actually get this album designed and produced. I have designed and delivered a huge number of albums to my clients over the past three years but . . .
The shoemaker’s children go barefoot. Faucets in the plumber’s house leak. And the photographer’s family patiently waits for their album. They wait and they wait and they wait.
FINALLY I took a deep breath and dived in. The book was delivered just the other day.
So THIS, my friends, is one reason that I discourage people from trying to simply order their images as electronic files. If I have the tools, skills, and album company connection to get this job done and it still took me three years to complete the task, it is a nearly certain bet that without investing in a professional, the electronic images will sit unprinted and unseen – perhaps forever.
But – we got ‘er done…. THAT is the Good Stuff!
Happy Anniversary, Lisa and Ian. Your album — your tangible memory of January 14, 2012 is finally a reality.
January 15, 2015 – Monkey Houseshoes
The sun DID come otu this afternoon, but it’s still COLD . Not cold by Philadelphia or Chicago standards, but to thin-blooded Houstonians, it is still COLD.
That, my friends, is why monkey house-shoes and leopard pj’s co-exist peacefully in this city.
January 16, 2015
Moody Blues on Vinyl Black — Friday Night at Home!
January 17, 2015
Can you say SUCKER? – Story to be continued here tomorrow.
January 18, 2015
Remember Yesterday’s photo?
Here’s the rest of the story. We’d like to introduce you to the Green Bay Packers’ newest fan. He’s a 5 month old blue eyed bundle of LOVE .
I photographed a group of adoptable cats last week, and this guy stayed on my mind all week. We picked him up yesterday and he says it was the best day of his life — and then, TODAY HAPPENED! Even Better!
Green Trails Animal Clinic here in Katy has a great selection of little sports fans waiting for couches and televisions of their own. Please help spread the word.
We’re currently narrowing down name choices and will keep you posted.
Yep… I’m a SUCKER … but so is my favorite boyfriend.
January 19, 2015
Shorts in January.
That’s one reason I love living in Houston.
It wasn’t pretty — glaring white legs and paint-stained ensemble, but this is how I cleaned the pool, went to the hardware store, and started painting some new backgrounds for the studio.
January 21, 2015
He makes cornbread for ME! The best gluten-free and actually yummy cornbread EVAH! That’s just one reason why he’s my favorite boyfriend
January 22, 2015
Rain – Just a dark cold rainy day.
January 23, 2015
We’re currently engaged in a rousing and competitive round of Kitten on the Keys – This could get interesting. Must Win – Must Win – Must Win
January 25, 2015
After a week of contemplation, we announce the Royal Coronation of Crown Prince Friedrich Leopold Von Katzenburg.
In his first official address to the public he is quoted as saying, “You can just call me Fred.”
Fred, it is.
Hey, I have an idea. Let’s grow potatoes in the pantry and pretend that we are post apocalyptic farmers!
January 30, 2015 – Fred had a rough day
Fred had a rough day. I thought he had a concussion after he collided HARD with my boot running through the house. Seriously, y’all. I heard it CLUNK, and then his pupils were completely different sized. He ended up in kitty ER where he stayed all day for observation and treatment. Then he got better. An ER trip always ends in a mildshake run…. Right?
January 31, 2015
First Camellia of the season.
This is the only white stuff you’re likely to see in Houston in January. Condolences to our friends in colder climates.
There you have it …. my January — but not the business side of me. You can always follow these posts daily on the Sporadic Dailies page of Smugmug but I hope I’ll have a collection to re-post at the end of every month this year. Subscribe to my blog — up in the upper right hand corner of this page, and you won’t miss any of these posts as they come up.
Last week I met up with a lady in the parking lot of a bank. She opened the trunk of her SUV to reveal baskets of beautiful tiny silk and satin treasures — baby outfits. Whoah, they were GORGEOUS , with lace and pearls, and elaborate embellishments, even tiny bow-ties . . . and the BONNETS! Oh Swoon!
Angel Gowns by Diane donated a supply of handmade gowns to photographers who volunteer with Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. From left: Emily Crump, Affiliated Photographer; Renae Carr, Area Coordinator; Pamela Schwarz, Community Volunteer; Pamela Contreras, Area Coordinator; and Shelly Chetty, Area Coordinator
I hope and pray that nobody reading this post EVER becomes the recipient of one of these gowns, because they were sewn for babies who don’t get to go home with their families and grow up. But if you should ever go through an infant loss, and see one of these gowns or use the services of a Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep photographer, please know that your baby will be wrapped in LOVE!
You see, these aren’t just beautiful baby dresses. They have been lovingly crafted from wedding dresses by a newly-formed group of volunteers in the Katy area, Angel Gowns by Diane . Their concept is to use memento from a happy and joyful day to help ease the sting of sadness and grief when a baby dies. This specific supply of gowns in preemie to newborn sizes is going to the local professional photographers who serve with Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, a worldwide nonprofit organization that provides bereavement photography at no charge to families The Angel Gowns group also contributes their gowns directly to hospitals in the area.
Want to get involved? Want to help?
First — NILMDTS is in DESPERATE need of more qualified professional photographers, both in the Houston area and throughout the United States. In Houston we ask our photographers to be on call and available to go to the Texas Medical Center just one day a month, and to help with suburban cases near their homes or studios on an as-needed basis. If you know a photographer or if you are one, I (or one of the other two local NILMDTS Area Coordinators) will help get you through the application process. You will receive training, and one of us will actually accompany you on your first shoot and walk you through the process so that it’s not as intimidating the next time around.
It’s just SO STINKIN’ SAD when a hospital calls us, and we do not have a photographer available to create beautiful images for the grieving family. There are SO MANY TALENTED photographers in this city, and I believe that just about anyone who wants to can find a way to schedule one non-appointment day a month to be available provide this gift of healing. Please check out the NILMDTS Web Site to learn more about our organization.
If you’re not a photographer,
you CAN still talk to photographers you know and encourage them to get involved.
Also, I know that NILMDTS operates on a shoestring. Tax Deductible financial contributions will help keep the organization’s website and resources up to date and to provide training and support for volunteers.
And if you’d like to to get involved with Angel Gowns by Diane. They need
- wedding dress donations
- people to dismantle the dresses, cut patterns and/or sew the gowns
- people to help coordinate with area NICU’s and with NILMDTS.
- People to pick up and deliver donated dresses
Just check out their facebook page (I understand that a full website is in the works) for more details.
My favorite boyfriend, (the one that I married) and I just got back from an exhausting but wonderful long weekend in Los Angeles. This is purely a vacation snapshot blog post, so if that’s not your cup o tea, just come back later. If you want to travel along with us . . come on!
I traveled with only one camera and one lens — my 16-35 2.8. It provides a wide and different, sometimes warped, perspective on things. Oh yeah …. and we also threw in a few phone pictures as well.
We started out at the airport after driving through POURING rain to get there.
After a good breakfast at home, we launched into vacation mode with airport french fries (don’t tell our trainers) and by turning our electronic media into RELAXATION mode. It was also Mike’s birthday, and things just fell into place for us all day long — like being seated in the first row with nobody in front of us. GET A LOAD of that legroom. Miracles do happen.
We wanted to stay someplace close to our kids, so Hotel Amarano Burbank was to be our home for the next four nights.
I’m always a fan of smaller boutique hotels and this one did not disappoint — EXCEPT we don’t understand why hotels have quit putting at least one comfortable chair in the rooms.
Other than the missing chair, the hotel was lovely, with waffle-weave robes and very courteous service. Our favorite person of the week though just had to be Harvey the Bartender. He’s everything you expect in a bartender. Funny and friendly, he mixed us up a couple of good stiff and very refreshing drinks then served up a delectable Ahi Tuna Poke appetizer. Before long we were ready to roll . The kids were off work and meeting us for dinner.
Another thing about Harvey …. he even remembered our names the next day! Call me impressed! — oh, no …. he called me Shelly!
On Friday we were on our own to play tourist, so we headed out to the Gene Autrey Museum of the West where we thoroughly enjoyed their Route 66 exhibit.
Arriving shortly before the exhibits opened, we met clusters of school children in matching t-shirts as well as seniors with sensible walking shoes waiting for their tours. Those ladies with wheeled
walkers can make TRACKS! Still, the groups all spread out nicely, and we never felt over-run or crowded.
So, the Route 66 Exhibit had plenty in store for both of us. Mike enjoyed the mapping and road construction portions — especially the collection of asphalt pavement pieces from different areas. He promptly analyzed them all to explain why they had failed. (That’s road construction talk for why the road fell apart) And I got a big charge out of all the advertising and signage. BRING ON the KITCH and COLOR!
The entire museum was very well planned and entertaining, covering all things western — especially Hollywood Western!
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED if you are in the area.
After the Autrey, I could hardly contain my excitement as we went in search of the old abandoned Los Angeles Zoo.
I was wearing a sundress and flats, so was hardly equipped to crawl around on the ground or climb into some of the hidden areas like I wanted to, but exploring the old exhibition facilities was fascinating — and a little bit creepy.
I couldn’t help but stay on the alert for a forgotten lion or gorilla to creep around the corner. They didn’t; but we did see a deer, several squirrels, a BIG honkin’ lizard and a couple of photographer/model sessions.
SOMEBODY was on the wrong side of the fence….. Hmmmmm. Wonder who?
Lots of fun monkeyin’ around . . . but don’t GOOSE me when we’re taking a selfie!
Always the tourist, I fell in love with the hot pink building and signage ot Milt & Edie’s Laundry and Dry Cleaner near our hotel.
From their lighthearted approach to warnings — offenders will be forced to wash clothes — to the public acknowledgement of their entire staff with years of tenure and country of origin flags — these people must be brilliant!
Just a little more local color!
And a stop for Pie! Mmmmmmm Coconut Cream!
The REAL reason for our trip, though, was that we are about to welcome a new daughter in love to our family, and there was no way we wanted to wait until the wedding before we could meet her parents. On Saturday morning we all drove down to Orange County where she grew up.
A day of driving and eating and drinking and walking and eating and drinking and driving ……Oops….. that didn’t quite come out right — but you know what I mean.
This is our Sarah with the lucky duck that she got from her grandmother’s estate. How can you NOT love a girl who carries a brass duck in her bag? She’ll fit RIGHT in!
We also had a chance to visit the Newport Harbor (in the midst of the Big Boat Show) to see the boat where the nuptials will take place next spring.
It just happened to be at the dock and in between events so we even got to take a little tour.
That’s the galley, the reception area, and of course, the front (or maybe it’s the back) of the boat. This thing isn’t just a boat! It’s a blinkin’ 3-story floating building with glass walls. STUNNING!
We also walked out to an area of beach called The Wedge . I can only imagine growing up in such a lovely place.
Capping off our trip on Sunday we headed out to the Getty Museum.
First…. I didn’t even take my camera on this outing because I know that I would have been obnoxious. The following are all just phone pictures — mostly by Mike because I can hardly figure out how to work my phone camera.
This place is not to be missed. We WILL be back!
Aside from a parking fee, the entire attraction is free. After a tram ride up the mountain, the building, the gardens, the exhibits, and the views are all beyond outstanding.
We took the architecture tour with a delightful docent who has been involved with the museum for 17 years, and we learned not only about the structure itself, but also about Getty’s philosophy in establishing, building, and running the museum. Surprisingly, and maybe it’s because we went early in the day, we were the only four people on the tour. Can’t beat that!
So after a big lunch and an afternoon of hanging out and playing board games with the kids, it was time to return to our hotel and rest up for the trip back home.
What a wonderful trip!
Every once in a while I like to throw something different out here, so I’m really excited about today’s project.
The Katy area is chock-full of photographers who can photograph you and your family — and some of those people are downright FABULOUS. I’m delighted to be friends with some of the best locals around. While I love to work with your teens who really would prefer to be hanging with their friends than taking ‘FAMILY’ photos to make mom happy, than sugar-crazed toddlers, I have the resources to take care of TODAY. See, these collleagues of mine happen to be particularly WONDERFUL Childrens’ photographers. That’s right. If you call me for a photography job that I think is more suited to someone else, I will do my darndest to get you together. After all….. You have a choice, and a four-year-old is WAY DIFFERENT from a High School Senior.
SOOOOOO….. If your kids are beyond the new walker stage and younger than 10, SPCcreative MAY NOT be the best studio for you. HOWEVER….. I have connections…. YES!!!!! RIGHT HERE IN KATY!!!!!!
Just for grins, my close-circle of local professional photographers has started a blog circle. You can read through a selection of our blog posts and then follow a link to yet another one of our colleagues. Be to follow the circle all the way around until you get back to where you started.
UMMMMMM…… That would be ME!!!! HELLLOOOOOO!
Our blog circle this month centers around the theme of SUMMER.
So, even though you already know that I specialize in portraits — and there’s NOTHING I love more than high school seniors and teenagers, this is where I”m letting my LEFT BRAIN …. or maybe it’s the RIGHT take over. Whatever it is, OTHER LOGICAL SIDE — SHUT UP and let me play!
Come join me as we PLAY in the backyard garden.
All of these images were created in broad daylight, but I used my flash to darken the background and eliminate distractions.
What’s that? you say… Use a flash to make it dark?
YEP! . You’d never know that just a few feet behind this lovely Picasso’s Fantasy Petunia hanging basket there’s a white garage, would you.
Wanna know how it’s done?
First, you do need a camera that allows you to use the manual settings, and you’ll to know some basics about how your camera works.
You also need a flash unit that allows you to control the strength of the flash, and it’s WAY COOL if you can trigger that flash from off the camera.
Okay — if you need help, go get your manual. It’s okay. I’ll wait.
This will be a little bit technical but I am SOoooooooo not a techie person that I HOPE I can explain the steps in a way that makes sense to you and me both.
If you don’t know how to adjust a few settings on your camera, take a moment to read up on them. They include turning OFF all automatic settings and putting your camera in MANUAL mode, then adjusting your
ISO, Shutter Speed, and Aperture.
There’s NOTHING automatic about this little exercise, so the very first thing you want to do is shift your camera over to the MANUAL mode.
Thats the M on the dial that probably also has a little green square. Maybe there are some pictures like a flower, a runnnnnning guy, and a mountain. You might also have other letters like B, A, T, & P — but we want the M as in Monkey or Moon or . . . Magic.
Got it? Now you’re TOTALLY in charge of your camra. Feel empowered? Let’s go on.
Next, lets set your camera so that it reads very little of that bright summer outdoor light. So find your ISO setting.
ISO stands for International Standards Organization, but that doesn’t matter. It simply affects how fast your sensor collects the light once it’s let in. The controller is probably on the right side of your camera near the shutter button, but use your manual if you need help finding it.
Choose the lowest number available.
I don’t speak Nikon, but most Canon cameras typically go down to 100.
Next you want to set your shutter speed so that it is as fast as possible without outpacing your flash. Some systems can go as fast as 1/250 of a second before you have to make a battery-draining high speed sync adjustment to your flash. On other models you may only go up to 1/200 before high-speed sync becomes necessary. We don’t want to fool with the high sync thing, but if you shoot faster than your flash will allow, you’ll only get about half a picture. Nobody wants THAT!
Still with me? Great! Go ahead and set your shutter speed at 200.
Next you want to adjust your aperture (that means the size of the hole that opens up in your lens to let light in) as small as possible so that it doesn’t let in much light at all.
Here’s where things get wonky. The higher the aperture numbers go, the SMALLER your aperture really is. So….. if your aperture is set on 2.8 or 5.4, the hole is really big, and lots of light gets in. That’s great for if you want to freeze action, but that light just comes into the camera and goes EVERYWHERE – and for THIS project we want to block out most of our surrounding light so that we only see the light that our flash puts on the subject.
NOW… with your shutter speed set fast, start adjusting your aperture to the bigger and bigger numbers — smaller and smaller hole — until you can take a picture and the result is totally (or nearly all) black. 20 or 22 is usually pretty good. Once you get a black image, stop. Keep those settings where they are.
NOW — we’re going to bring in the flash.
Be sure it is set on its manual setting too, not automatic or ETTL, or it will try to do the thinking for you and you’ll just get whatever exposure the camera thinks is normal.
Start with the flash at about 1/8 power and hold it about 3 or 4 feet away from the subject …. we’ll just say it’s a flower since it’s summer and things are blooming like crazy.
Be sure the flash is pointing DIRECTLY at the flower.
Take a picture.
What did you get? Is it all still black or too dark? If so, there are two things you can do. Either move the flash closer to your flower, or turn the power up a stop to 1/4 power — but not both!
Is your subject over-exposed? Then what do you think we’re going to do?
BINGO! Turn the flash power DOWN or move it away from your subject. How cool is that?
This is where it’s super fun to have a flash that you can fire from off your camera. Once you find the exposure and flash distance that works for you, you can move that light around and experiment. Try placing the flash above your flower pointing straight down …. now try one with the flash off to the side or even behind or underneath the flower….. Pretty cool to see the light falling on just one part of your flower, isn’t it?
The light came from behind this little baby dragonfly. That’s why his legs have that pretty rim-lighted effect.
Can you guess where my light was for the mushrooms? That’s right, it was at about 10 o clock to the subject and was laying on the ground.
Now, the plumeria picture is a cheat. The sun was actually shining right through the petals so I made some quick adjustments and took that picture without any flash at all, but I still used the same principles, making the swimming pool background a deep dark teal instead of black.
Think you want to give this a try? I believe you can do it too. I’d love to see the images that you can come up with.
Go play and let me hear and see how it goes!
NOW — so the SUMMER-THEME circle remains unbroken, click THIS LINK to get to know my fellow photography buddy, Desi and what she and her ADORABLE kiddos have been up to this summer.
And when I say KIDS, you really will see GOATS! How cool is that on a hot summer day?
When you get to the bottom of her blog, keep on linking until you get back to where you started. !
NOTE: My blog has traditionally been all business, but for at least a little while it is going to become intensely personal. During Lent, the 40 days leading up to Easter, I am participating in a photo challenge. The way it works is that the organizers have given us a list of words, and every day we are supposed to take and share a picture based upon that word. Because I hardly ever do things the easy way, I am also attempting to write a devotional that goes with these pictures. I have not been very consistent, due to some craziness that we call LIFE , but with God’s help I will continue to write a few as I can. Last year I participated in a similar challenge. This link will take you to my 2013 Lenten challenge. This years challenge is entirely blog-based. This year the challenge is sponsored by Catholic Sistas.
Please pray for me and/ or bear with me, and if this isn’t your cup of tea, just keep on checking for portrait posts in between these challenges — or check back in after Easter.
I’ve started three or four times to write a devotional for the topic of SOLITUDE, and every time I just rehash all the same old things about being still and quiet and waiting for God to speak.
I want a new and exciting solitude experience to share with the half dozen or so people who actually read these Lenten challenges –WHEN I even manage to get them written.
The writer of Ecclesiastes tells us that there is nothing new under the sun, and I’m starting to think that my efforts in this challenge are all in vain. Maybe I am the one who should take a little time to be alone with God rather than to try and write about it.
God hasn’t given me anything new or particularly inspiring to write. But then, I haven’t TAKEN THE TIME to be still and listen to what He has to say. No wonder my brain is mushy.
Jesus often went off to a quiet place to pray, and I think that’s just one of many ways that he set a good example for us to follow.
He didn’t have the constant dinging, beeping, and vibrating vying for His attention that we’ve all become accustomed to with our smart phones and other techie devices, but he had crowds constantly pushing up against him clamoring just to touch His robe so that they could be healed. And he was so consumed with COMPASSION that he wanted to be available for every single one of them. It must have been exhausting for him. Still, he would step away from the crowds into a quiet cove of a garden or He would climb into a fishing boat and pushout onto the water for some peace and quiet.
For us, finding a quiet place to open our hearts and pray can be as simple – or as gut-wrenching—as turning off the smart phone.
Try it. It’s harder than it sounds … at first. Then we realize that texts, e-mails, phone calls can wait.
I’ve had a very busy chaotic past couple of weeks and the coming week doesn’t look much calmer, but I think that Sunday after we get home from church I will actually be able to go out into my backyard – just me and my little shovel, with a few tomato plants, and maybe a couple of flats of annuals.
That’s where God and I have our best conversations. He meets me where I am, but I have to clear the garbage out of my own head in order to keep from running right past Him.
So today, I pray that each of us has a few moments of quiet peaceful SOLITUDE so that we can hear and experience the very specific and personal blessings that he is holding in his hand to pour out onto our heads.
Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. – Psalm 46:10