Reflecting on Back-to-School. Photographic failure.

As a parent of young children back-to-school morning is a big day.  Almost as much as it is for the kids, wouldn't you agree?  As a parent with a nice camera and a bit of skill you have high expectations of how you are going to capture the special morning.  I'm finally getting over my sense of photography failure and now can see the humor in the day.   These are the photos I captured.  I'm not just showing you the bad ones.  

She's excited to get to school and won't slow down for a photo.  He's pensive.

When she runs past him she sees how he is playing cool and tries to act like him.
 She avoids my camera.

Yes, I'm still behind you...

They will not stop for a photo.
I slowly stalk them to school.
Planning my next move. 

I plead for photo.
He won't stop.
 She turns around and gives me brief moment, but it's not what I want.

I repose her for better light and plead again for a photo.
She negotiates and agrees to one more shot.

"This IS my good smile" through clinched teeth.

My last chance as we arrive at the crossing guard.
"Give mom a kiss goodbye."

Fat chance.
Until next year.
 I will work on a new strategy.
I go home and see on Facebook all the wonderful photographs my friends take of their children on back-to-school day.
Sigh...I laugh even harder. 


Owl and the family

I was taking out the trash this week and this beautiful owl landed right above my head in the front yard. I've seen him once before from a distance.  I hurried inside to tell the kids to come outside and see the owl.  As we were coming out the backdoor to sneak up on the owl he flew around the back of the house and landed right above us on this branch.  He swiveled his head from left to right and he watched us.  He was curious.  The kids were thrilled.  I raced inside to grab my camera. 

 My photos were not turning out!  My 50 mm portrait lens was on the camera, my White Balance was set for day and my ISO was at 100 for a sunny day.  The owl was patient.  He hung around watching us long enough to give me time to change my lens, set my White Balance and struggle with finding the right ISO for the dusk.    

We were so excited to see the owl in our yard because I recently finished reading Owls in the Family by Farley Mowat to my children.  My son's teacher read the story to his class and my son begged me to read it at home because he thought his little sister would love the story.  She did.  This old story is about a boy and his pet owls.  If you like sweet old fashioned stories about kids, pets and the trouble they cause this is a fun read.

He was as curious about us as we were about him.
My kids and I moved upstairs and opened my daughter's window to get a birds eye view of the owl.
I like how the red buds on the tree brings a pop of color to this soft photo.

The sun was setting and I used my flash. 

The bluejay chased our owl friend away. You can see the bluejay in the branch behind the owl.  


Tae Kwon Do ~ A great sport for girls ~ lessons learned

Tae Kwon Do is a great sport for my kids to do together that builds both their self-confidence and body awareness.  My son loves the physical aspect of sparring and the tangible achievement a new belt after testing.

When I think of reasons why I like Tae Kwon Do so much I think of something interesting a friend told me once.  Kids today are not allowed, as much, to have rough and tumble playing time.  My friend who was raised in another county said "Americans don't let their boys be boys."  She explained that we often tell our kids at play dates "don't touch," "hands to yourself," "no tackling."  She said that is fine but some boys need an outlet.  Tae Kwon Do sparring provides this type of outlet for my kids.  At the end of a sparring day they are worn out and happy.  

My daughter started Tae Kwon Do when she was 3 years old and it really brought her out of her shy shell.  She is much more self-confident and I see how this confidence works for her in school.  During a school recital a teacher once told me she put my daughter next to the disruptive boys because she knew she could handle them.  I like to know that she can handle difficult people at a young age.  This is a good life skill for a girl to have as they grow up. 

Recently, my kids tested for their new belts.  My daughter told me that I was really embarrassing her by taking so many photos.  She said I was not allowed to take photos during the testing, so I had to sneak these photos of her testing from a distance.  I hid behind a wall and swung out around the door jam to take some shots spy style.  I used my Nikon D7000 and my Nikkor 70-300mm lens.  I turned my ISO up really high so my flash would not go off.  My shots are grainy because of the high ISO.  After testing she said, "Mom, I saw you taking pictures."  Who me?  "I could see you in the mirror peaking in the room with your camera." Busted.

The week before belting testing I brought my kids into the basement and moved the furniture so they could practice their forms.  They stared at me with blank looks.  They could not remember their forms outside of the classroom.   Hmmm.  What to do?  I had to learn their forms to tutor them at home.   I learned the forms and helped my kids.  My husband was very impressed.  So was I.  My son said, "Mom, you can take Tae Kwon Do with us.  I won't be embarrassed."  Oh my, pitter patter my heart, what a sweet boy.   I told him, "Yes, you would."

Her kicks are getting higher.

She watches herself in the mirror...a lot.
My white balance was on auto.  My photos turned out orange tinted.
A friend suggested to set my white balance to fluorescent.
Huge improvement the next time I tried.

Concentrating to keep the foot flat.
I am leaning out from the door jam to take a photo
and not let her see me or let the flash go off.

This little girl knocked my daughter flat on her rear three times during her first ever sparring day.
She lay on the ground in shock, fighting back tears.  I saw a range on emotions cross her face.
 Fight or flight.
I thought "what did I do?"  She got back up each time and continued sparring.
 My daughter had to spar with her for the testing.
  I saw her overcome a fear that day.

Sister and brother.

Her first ever wood break.  Finally!
 She failed a few times before.
Confidence builder. 

A trophy!
 She tenderly arranges her trophy, certificate, and belt.
 I'll keep my opinions to myself (for now) about trophies.

A confident, tough, happy little girl.


Me Ra Koh CONFIDENCE Photography Workshop in DC ~ More Photos

A few of my new photography friends from the Me Ra Koh CONFIDENCE workshop in Washington, D.C. are getting together soon, so I revisited some of my photographs I took during workshop.  Five months later, I see the photographs with a new eye.  

 If you have a passion or enthusiastic interest in photography and want to start a business then you have an awesome opportunity to join Me Ra Koh at her Spring 2011 CONFIDENCE workshops in Seattle, Chicago and New York.   I have several friends in the Northwest who could take the Seattle workshop...hint, hint. 

 You will learn.  You will gain confidence. You will cry.  You will laugh...a lot.
 Available now: Early Bird for Spring CONFIDENCE.  

Since the workshop, I have had a blast photographing the kids and my daily life.  I've challenged myself to try new techniques and take risks.   The workshop gave me the confidence to start a photography club in my neighborhood.  The club members host, research and teach a topic our group women with diverse skills and interests.  We will improve our photography skills together and support those who are starting a business.  It's really fun to have local friends who share an interest in photography.  With photography on my mind I look forward to photography field trips, blooming flowers, and little league baseball.  There is so much I want to learn and do with photography. 

  Like my jewelry business, photography is calling me and may lead me to yet unidentified opportunities. 

Me Ra Koh is very open sincere person with a lot of laughter and passion for photography.
 She is a generous with her knowledge and information.

In this photograph Me Ra warmly answers questions from Natasha Soreco of Ponteuf photography with undivided attention.   During the workshop Me Ra and Brian answered our many questions with patience, detail, humor and sincerity. 

One of our baby and mother models pose for our practice group.  It must have been exhausting for them to have our group pose, repose and follow them around for over an hour as we practiced our indoor natural light photography.

 I stepped back and admired this scene with the baby's nonstop smiling at the cameras.

He had stamina.
This photograph makes me laugh.

As I revisit the photos I took, I keep going back to this shot.
 I like this photograph much better now than I did at the time.

At the end of our session you could tell the mother was exhausted and the baby was ready for a nap.   This photograph looks reflective.  I like the shadows on her face and chubbiness of the baby on the balcony as he leans towards the street with new interest of  the passing cars.  
Day 2.  Father and daughter wait for Me Ra to tell the group our assignment on the street with our model families.

This is a just missed shot, but as I look back the blur of the photograph seems to fit her far-off stare.
 I asked her a question and she was thinking of a response.
Many of my shots were out of focus.  I learn now that my 50mm lens did not communicate with my camera properly.  I purchased the wrong lens.  I wish I could retake the class with my new camera.

Too cute and a relief for me.  I was shooting a mother with her toddler and baby.  It wasn't working for me and I stepped away behind a tree to hide my frustration while I reviewed my shots.  One of the other workshop attendees came over and told me not to give up.  She suggested I go over and photograph this lovely young lady who sat much more still than the baby and who was loving all the attention.  Me Ra teased me that I could specialize in 8 year olds since I found the toddler and baby difficult.

Air kiss.
Until later!


Maryland Science Center ~ Baltimore's Inner Harbor

Baltimore's Inner Harbor as seen from the front of the Maryland Science Center.  The building with the pyramid roof is the  National Aquarium (previous post).

In my January meeting of our photography club we were given tips to tilt your camera to add a different look to a photograph.  The tilt in this photo looks great with the geometric sculptures and the shapes of the buildings along the harbor edge.   To be honest, this photo makes me dizzy, but it highlights what I like about Baltimore so much.  Baltimore's Inner Harbor is a visually stimulating location and a lot of fun for the family.

Baltimore is also a very old city.  The vintage editing of this photograph also suggests how I also see the city.
I'd love to get out of tourist areas and photograph the old row houses, urban art and statues.

There is so much history here.

 A must see history location in Baltimore is Fort McHenry. Just around the corner.  The Fort McHenry's visitor center has a great movie about the War of 1812 and the creation of the "The Star Spangled Banner" poem by Francis Scott Key.
 Maybe I'll post about this site in the Spring. 

Dinosaurs!  Run for your life!
My son was a good sport.
 My daughter told me "Mom, you are embarrassing me."
  Me, "What? Why? I'm only taking photos."
 Peering at me over her glasses "Mom, please put your camera away."
How embarrassing am I going to be when she is a tween?

The MSC has a lot of interactive displays.
This computer is in the dinosaur exhibit area and lets the kids
create a colorful dinosaur and email it to a special someone.
My husband in the background was the lucky recipient.

 I metered off my son's face.  I really like how the windows in the background are so bright.

Newton's Alley.

She was on the winning side every time, of course.

Newton's Alley.
He worked up a good sweat by cranking the handle to move the marbles through the maze.

Now I'm having fun.
 He looks like the front cover of an album.

Through the fish tank.  

Bed of nails.
 You lay down and then the nails raise you off the platform.  The nails are about half way extended in this photo.

At this point, I decided to put away my camera and interact with my children.  We listed to a presentation about the solar system and went to the planetarium.   About two hours in we decided it was time to eat, so missed the entire third floor, IMAX and special traveling exhibits.  Now we have something new to do when we go back again.
A plug for West Springfield Little League.
Got Ball?

This is a lesson on paying attention to your background.
  I wanted to get a shot of him in front of the harbor line
and I ended up with my son and a lovely street lamp.

So long!


National Aquarium, Baltimore. Fun with fish and more...

National Aquarium is an excellent destination in Baltimore's Inner Harbor during these cold "what should we do today?" kind of days.  Bring your kids or just your DSLR.  

We toured the Australia exhibit, watched a dolphin show, spiraled down the shark tunnel, observed volunteer divers hand feed stingrays, turtles and sharks.  The kids were totally inthralled and I was having a good time taking photos of the vibrant tropical fish.  

The indoor low light was a challenge for me so the aquarium provided a great learning experience.  I had to change my ISO for each exhibit.  When we left the aquarium, I forgot to change my ISO back to sunlight and most of my photos were overexposed.  I was exhausted of thinking so much and switched to my camera to auto.  Shame on me.

We spent about two and a half hours touring.  The same day a family we know spent a couple hours, went to lunch and returned for a few more hours which included an optional IMAX show.  
I could have sat at this tank all day and
photographed these vibrant tropical fish.
They went eye to eye and were interactive with the kids.
My husband gave me the "look" to move on
 and let a new family enjoy the prime viewing spot,
or I would have taken more shots.
The lighting in the tank was exceptional for photography.  
 Tropical fish that seemed very interested in the kids
 and followed their fingers along the tank. 


Who doesn't love a clown fish.
I think I have that movie memorized.
"Just keep swimming" is one of my life mantras. 
She loved the fish.
It's so hard to get a good shot of
 her face when it's pressed up against the tanks.
In this shot I  like the glow from the tank and her fingers on the glass.

Kiss-y Fish Face. 

Australia exhibit bird.
A beautiful pink, grey and lavender coloring.
 He had his eye on me.
One of two hundred volunteer divers feeding the rescued
 the three finned sea turtle named Calypso.  
Hand fed twice a day.

Dolphin and environmental show.
My son wanted to sit in the splash-zone.
Maybe in the summer, but not in the dead of winter.
He put on a nice pout for the first half of the show.