Thursday, June 30, 2011

It's About Respect...

Monday I went to Grinnell for a yoga class.

Not just any yoga class mind you, a special class taught by Jeanelle Boyer on her run across Iowa.

Yes, you read that right...she's RUNNING ACROSS IOWA. See...



It's not just any run across Iowa mind you, it's a fund/awareness raising run for Practical Farmers of Iowa and Slow Food USA. Which is why I drove 60 miles for a yoga class instead of the 15 minutes into one of the studios here in the DSM metro. Both of these organizations promote farming practices and a food supply model that is fair, healthy, and sustainable for our environment, those who work to grow/process/supply the food, and those of us who consume that food.

Jeanelle is one of those incredibly energetic people you kinda want to hate a little bit because she's doing amazing stuff, which in comparison makes you yourself feel a little like a sloth. But you can't hate her even a tiny bit. Here is a woman that on the day I spent a bit of time with her ran 30 miles (bringing her 6 day total to over 200 miles) and then after a shower sat down to ice her legs in the kitchen of my friend Monica (who had opened her home to Jeanelle and her support crew for the night) with blisters on her feet the size of grapes, a smile on her face, and questions and encouraging words for her new friends. (Never mind the fact she's mid-way through a 300 mile RUN!) She joyfully welcomed everyone who arrived at Grinnell Heritage Farm for our lovely outdoor yoga practice, laughing about the 4 goats who were our audience for the evening. And then, after returning to Monica's house for the evening, she generously offered us one of her run T-shirts, complementing us on how great we looked as we tried them on for size.

She's that positively nice.

But beyond the fact that Jeanelle is super sweet, and I got to visit old friends while in town, I wanted to participate in the class to help support the organizations and the farmers, like Andrew and Melissa, who promote respect for food, the earth that grows that food, the workers that grow said food, and those of us who are nourished by its goodness. It's a movement in the farming/food world that I find myself more and more passionate about. Maybe it's because I was fortunate to have grown up with a Mom who grew a big old garden, raised chickens, and canned/froze for our winter meals. I grew up loving (and honestly taking for granted) the goodness of home grown food and really never imagined there were kids who didn't have access to that same, simple pleasure. Maybe it's because as I have worked to make/find a peace in my relationship with food I've found I'm drawn to the natural goodness of locally grown, whole, REAL foods because it tastes better and makes my body feel better from the inside out. Maybe it's because as a Mom myself I hope to help my daughters navigate the often scary and confusing world of food in a way that helps them grow up with positive relationship with food and a healthy respect for the earth/people/animals who provide it for our consumption. Maybe it's because I've come to realize that one of the most valuable gifts I was given growing up was an appreciation for what it means to be respectful for what I am blessed to have in life. And in my opinion eating healthy, responsibly raised food while supporting local farmers and small operation food producers is all about respect.

To find your farmers' market, CSA, meat producers, etc visit Local Harvest and fill your dinner plate with wholesome goodness tonight!


peace

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Mid-Week Report...

Today the parent communicator at camp sent us our mid-week report on Lexi. Here is just a little snippet from her email:

Today, her village got to do the high ropes course, Summit. Lexi did awesome! She made it to the top of all three high rope elements: the rope tube, the rock wall, and the play pin. She was so energetic and excited about the high ropes. She kept telling me, "I'm so excited!" She's a fun girl. Her positive attitude is great for the other campers. Lexi's village counselors, Emily and Dan, and I really enjoy having her around. I've attached a photo of Lexi at the high ropes.



I'm so proud of the amazing little lady she is becoming...even when we are not around!


peace

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

31 Days of Summer...

So as you may be aware, I bought a new camera recently.

And I need to use it.

And while I could just carry it around with me and take pictures and show you them, I thought it would be a lot MORE fun if we ALL practice taking pictures over the next month.

Sound like fun?

Here's the scoop: I've started a Flickr group called 31 Days of Summer. The rules of the game...take a picture every day during the month of July and share it with the group. Use your dSLR, your point & shoot, your camera phone...whatever inspires you at any given moment to capture all that is summer for you...and share it with the world.

I love how a simple photo takes one persons unique perspective on life for one fleeting moment and captures it forever. We're all special that way...we all have our own unique perspectives. Take a moment every day in July to share yours.

I'll try to post some of my favorites here throughout the month for those of you not playing along. And who knows...maybe come the end of the month someone from the participating members might get a little treat. One never knows what might happen!

Looking forward to playing with you!


peace

Friday, June 24, 2011

Because It's Friday...

And I love my girlies...

And I got a new camera because yes, I'm going to seriously (FINALLY...really I am this time) pursue my photography business..



I have so much to learn to maximize the technical abilities my new Canon 60D, but oh how nice it feels in my hands, how awesome it is to have the ability to do wireless off camera flash triggering, and how lovely the straight out of the camera shots look. (As these are.) Thankfully I have beautiful models on which to practice.

You can probably guess what I will be doing this weekend...how are you going to feed your passions this weekend?


peace
.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Love...

A poem written for me this morning by Lexi, age 9 3/4. (Spelling corrections by spell check.)

Love is hope,
Love is peace,
Love is dreams,
Love is connection.

If you love someone, stay near them. Show them you do. Attract attentions in a funny (but not embarrassing) way.

If a man,
Say, "I love you."
If a woman,
Stay near and kiss.

Love


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Randomness...

  • I have not worked out "formally" since last Thursday. I'm am already dreading tonight's run knowing it will be hard, but on the flip side I will feel more like myself afterwards.
  • I'm a bit discouraged by the fact I have not done anything physically strenuous for 5 days, yet my knees still hurt when I go up or down stairs.
  • Growing up in Nebraska I was subject to watching those horrible Tornado & Severe Weather education films during the spring all school assembly that were meant to educate us on what to do in the case of severe weather...but instead just scared the pants off of a room full of 7 year olds. To this day I'm not overly comfortable in severe weather situations. With nightly storms blowing through the past couple of nights I don't know that I have slept very soundly. I'm feeling it today...or it could be the aforementioned lack of working out. Flip a coin.
  • Lexi goes to sleepover camp next week. I really hope the storms calm down by then because she isn't good in severe weather situations either. I may need meds to get through the week if next week's weather patterns remain consistent with this week's. (Even though I know camp is a very safe and responsibly run establishment, as a Mom I've signed the "I will obsessively worry about the safety of my children for as long as they/I shall live" agreement.)
  • Old school educational products, like printable transparency sheets, are proving to be hard to find in our increasingly high tech world...which is causing a bit of a snag in our summer "learn how to screen print" project.
  • Online social networking sites make me feel less, rather than more, secure with a variety of relationships in my life. Is it a reflection of my insecurities or simply the nature of cyber-connections? I'm guessing it's a little of both.
  • Some people, like my husband, have natural magnetic personalities. I am not one of those people.
  • I'm starting to think when it comes to building a service based business it's not so much what you know as how you present yourself. Lack of natural magnetism + poor ability to self promote = a challenged business model.
  • I don't blog for comments/readership, I need to apply that same approach to posting photos online.
  • Realizing that my biggest fear with "going pro" in photography is not so much a lack of confidence in my skills as a fear that what/how I like to shoot does not equal what customers want to see in their finished project. Photography for me is a creative outlet...I don't know that I want to chance screwing up that relationship. (Kinda like trying to build a business based on my passion for yoga has done.)
  • I still stand by what I said in this post last week, but sometimes I have a little too much time on my hands to contemplate life. Maybe I do really need to start seriously looking for a job for both the health of our budget and my own sanity.

peace

Monday, June 20, 2011

Bella...

Yesterday my "job" was to photograph babies. I find it sorta ironic that my favorite age group to work with in the yoga studio are seniors, and my favorite subjects to have in front of my camera lens are small children. But how can you not love a face like this?



(BTW, I shot in both RAW and JPG formats. Got home, uploaded the JPGs, did a little processing and have a folders of pics all ready to share. RAWs haven't been touched. I think all the work I've been doing to get better in camera shots is starting to pay off.)



peace

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Exploring File Formats...

Warning...this post is all about photography blaa, blaa, blaa. Feel free to skip if photography is not your thing, I'm just playing again.

The other day over at The CoffeeShop Blog, Rita explained her take on shooting RAW vs JPG. (Image file formats.) And since I read her post, I've been thinking...

For a couple of years I have been shooting exclusively in RAW format. Why? Well because so many digital photography focused websites/books/chat forums have always said RAWs are a far superior file format for "serious" photographers. And for the most part I like shooting RAW files and playing with them when I edit, except for those times when I just want to snap a picture of every day life and slap it up on my blog (or on Facebook) to share with friends and family without the effort and time required for editing a RAW image. No to mention the computer on which I edit all my RAW photos is old, and tired, and needs more memory AGAIN (thank you huge RAW files even though I have most of you stored on an external hard drive +huge software program required to work on you), and contains exactly ONE program that can read my RAW files...a program mind you that has 4 newer versions but that I can not afford to upgrade. (OK, really I have 2, but I don't like to use one.) And then there's the point this post makes. Interesting.

So today while I was testing out my new light/flash reflector (aka the silver car window shade that I bought on clearance at Target for $6.31) I decided to to a little comparison of file formats to see just exactly what difference it makes. My subject, the flowers given to me over 2 weeks ago by my lovely husband for our anniversary. This shot is nothing special, but I thought provided enough variety in colors and contrast to be able to make some comparisons. The photo was snapped using my 50 mm lens with flash bounced off the ceiling behind me to add to the natural light coming from the window just to the right of the flowers.

First up, the RAW file straight out of the camera (downsized for posting obviously)...


Followed by the JPG file straight out of the camera...


Then I processed the RAW file two ways. First "by hand", or step by step as I had been processing RAW files before I started using action sets...


And finally a RAW file processed using action sets...


The end result...other than the unprocessed RAW file looking totally flat, there's not a whole heck of a lot of difference in the end image in this particular instance. In fact I might venture to say I like the JPG image which required me to do nothing besides take the picture the best. Which makes me think I'll be shooting JPGs a little more often in the coming months.

Tomorrow I'm taking pictures at a family event. Some will be inside in poor lighting. Some will be outside in the bright summer sun (well, maybe I should say available outside light given how many clouds we have had hanging around lately). I could have the need to white balance adjust the indoor images being that they will be taken in a church...so I think as a test I'm going to shoot RAW+JPG...which means I'll be eating up my memory card in large bites. Good think it's a biggie.

Pre-shoot nerves...that's basically what this is. I wonder if they ever go away?


peace

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Right Where I Should Be...

If you would have asked me a month ago how I felt about the changes going on in my life I think you would have gotten a much different response than what I write in this post. I was in the process of closing my studio space, dealing with both my personal disappointment and that of my clients. The end of the school year was wrapping up and with it all the end of the year activities. A year after dealing with so many changes and transition, here we were facing it again...on a slightly smaller scale. My emotions weren't quite sure how they felt about it all.

We're already at the mid-way point of the first month of summer and I can honestly say I can't imagine being any place other than right where I am. In many ways I believe the unexpected direction my studio plans took at the end of April has been a blessing. Yes I miss teaching, but I don't miss the underlying stress that comes with trying to successfully maintain/grow my own business space. I will find opportunities that allow me to teach, because it's simply part of who I am. I'm looking forward to growing my workshop offerings. (I have my first scheduled here in July!) I'm teaching gentle yoga to a small group of ladies 2 mornings a week at a local church and am working with a local business to teach 4-5 classes a week in their space in the near future. The space might not end up being/looking like what I would have created in my own space, but it allows me to do what I love to do...teach...and it has windows that can be opened to the outside world during class. I love that.

In the mean time I'm blessed to have the freedom to spend endless summer days keeping our family fed, organized, and entertained. We're juggling formal activities such as camps and swimming lessons with less formal activities like trips to the pool or rainy day visits to our favorite coffee spots. We've gone to the greenhouse and the farmers market. I've dug a garden, planted veggies and potted flowers. We've already used up 2 full cans of sunscreen swimming, swinging, and biking. I've pumped water from the basement following a very wet 24 hours and started re-organizing the storage attic after digging out summer wear for our 2 growing girlies. I've been training to run a 5K later this summer. Some of my creative juices have been used to organize a local fundraising walk. We're sharing our house on Wednesdays with 2 extra kiddos while a friend starts her own new part-time job adventure. (In fact as I type this there is paper plate mask making going on in the front porch with plenty of giggles...and it makes me smile.) I've had time to, as I seem to do every spring/summer, once again fall in love with my camera(s) and the time we spend together capturing little moments of life. I've got a couple photo shoots for parties other than my normal subjects on the calendar for later in the summer.


Our days are nothing special...yet full of all the little things that makes life special. My heart is full and I've settled into a feeling of contentment that feels like home.


I'm so thankful for the blessings of our simple, joy filled life. Thank you for sharing little bits of it here with me.


peace

Friday, June 10, 2011

Reflections...

It has rained a lot over the past 24 hours here...


Officially, according to the local weather peoples, we received 5-6 inches...



There have been un-official reports that say it could be as much as 8-10 inches...



Our neighbor loaned us his pump to help dry out our basement once he had pumped out his unwanted moisture...


Some days you just have to smile and find beauty in unexpected places...like the reflection of a naked light bulb in the 2 inches of water sitting on your basement floor...




peace

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Complete...

I have to say, my days just feel more complete during the summer...





peace

Saturday, June 4, 2011

5 Floors of Goodness...


Several years ago Scott and I, somewhat accidentally, wandered into an architectural salvage place in downtown Des Moines. Today, thanks to a tip from a friend, we more purposely wandered into their "new" location. I think it's safe to say we are all looking forward to the next time we venture downtown for a visit to West End Architectural Salvage and Coffee .



  • Good coffee and smoothies.
  • Cool stuff spread out over 5 floors of an old brick building.
  • And the staff were those super friendly type of people that make you feel like you've been hanging out with them for years.

(Scott and I decided we could pretty much live there if they'd let us.)




Now that we own an old house that needs a few extra pieces of useable history (dinning table and a buffet/side board being at the top of the list) I'm hoping as our budget allows a few pieces that we drooled over today make their way home with us in the coming months/years. Seriously, if you are in or coming to the DSM metro and haven't yet discovered West End, make a point to go there...and give yourself plenty of time to just soak it all in!

(Hmm, I wonder if they need any new staff...I happen to know of an unemployed coffee and old stuff lovin' yoga teacher looking for a fun job come fall.)



peace

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Shooting Old School...

My Dad gave me a Minolta X-370 Manual SLR film camera when I was about 15. He bought it used from some guy wanting to upgrade to newer equipment. It came in a bag with 3 lenses and a pocket full of miscellaneous accessories. At the time I thought it was the bomb. Today after Google searching to see if I could figure out when it was manufactured I found out it's really nothing special...except to me it totally special. For years I've toted it around from place to place, not sure what to do with it, yet totally unwilling to get rid of it.

It's no secret for the last 12 years of his life my father and I had well, shall we say a COMPLICATED relationship at best. But at one time I was totally a Daddy's girl. We were bound by our love of horses and an interest in photography, sparked by the darkroom he created in the basement bathroom of our rental house when I was 5.

In March I decided to buy a single roll of B&W film, replace the batteries in my old Minolta, slap on the good old 50 mm lens, and see what I could find to shoot. I finished up the roll of 36 exposures this past weekend and picked up the prints I had developed at Alexander's Photo today.

Between the Cracks

And just like that I'm reminded why I fell in love with photography in the first place...and how as cool as digital is, nothing can replace the feel of film...and I want to load up another roll of film...and another and another and another...only our budget has a conflicting opinion. So for today I will simply love this set of prints and memories they bring to the front of my thoughts.

You can see a few more shots from the set here.

Thanks Dad.


peace