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30 October 2011

Attempts at Self-Portraiture

Because self-portraits are the hardest part of photography for me (mainly because I HATE having my picture taken, and I am super critical of everything), I worked specifically on that area today. It was a gorgeous fall day, and I was out and about. I stopped at a local park to get some fall foliage shots and decided to give self-portraiture a go ... again. Plus, it's officially fedora weather now, and I had one of mine on.

Here's what my attempts produced ...

This is one of the better ones. I actually like this photo. Which is surprising for me. 

I like the angle, but I can't figure out how to tweak the lighting just right on this one. 

I kinda love my hair here. 

This photo makes me feel like I'm in a Smashing Pumpkins video. 1979, anyone?
So, it wasn't a complete fail. But I'm certainly not in love.

And I took a few nice shots of foliage as well. And, autumn makes for great sunbursts, so I got a few of those as well.

I kinda love paths. It's a recurring theme in my photography.

Looking up. 

24 October 2011

I wanted to go to bed an hour ago ...

... but I can't sleep, so, therefore, I am still awake. I haven't had insomnia in quite some time, but I've got it tonight. And, sadly, there is no one out there to talk to. Nobody on Fb, nobody online, nobody to text. Which isn't surprising because most normal people are either asleep or getting there at this point in the evening. It's doubly annoying that I can't sleep since tomorrow night is a long-awaited GNO (Girls' Night Out), and I know it will be a late evening. And before GNO is kickboxing ... the first one I've been to in over a week which will result in major pain. So, long story short, Wednesday has the potential to really suck.

At least I've got "I'm Not Really a Waitress" to lacquer my nails and Bravo for some mindless entertainment. And blogging. There's always blogging. :)

Good times, good times.

Thanks, Murph, for catching the massive error in my title. I was clearly beyond normal functioning at the time of the post. :)

Back on the juice ...

... the Facebook juice, that is.

As you may or may not know, I turned off my Fb account about a month ago. I had a variety of reasons for this move, but most revolved around being sucked into trivial, completely unimportant garbage by people that I haven't seen/talked to/thought about in a decade. It's been a great month, and I haven't missed the garbage at all. But I have missed the photo updates from my dear friends with babies. And I've missed keeping in touch with those I care about who are far away. Fb is great in that it is easy to say a quick "hello" when you have five minutes free. So, after some deliberation and discussion, I've returned to the equally engaging and repulsing medium ... for now.

But I've made some changes, and I already like them.

First, I deleted friendships with anyone that I don't really care about. I don't mean to sound cold-hearted or evil, but there are people in the world that I'm just not concerned about. I don't wish them harm or ill will, but I don't need to know what is going on in their daily lives. I whittled my friends list down to under 70 from the previous over 200. I've always been proud that I've met every one of my Fb friends in person (except for Stephan Pastis, the cartoonist), and I've added a new layer to that friend criteria. If I haven't thought of you or communicated with you in the past 9 months, there is no real need to have you on my list. Again, not trying to sound harsh. I'm just trying to make Fb more manageable and beneficial for my purposes.

I've also deleted and "unshared" a lot of personal information that was previously shared. I'm not trying to be secretive or mysterious; let's all be serious because we know I'm not. But people who know me know those things already. There isn't really a need to share it on Fb. And, if you don't know, I'm happy to share. But in a less public and permanent forum.

I've left my privacy settings on "lock down" and that will stay the same. I'm more comfortable with that.

So, for now, I'm back. We'll see how long I can tolerate it.

23 October 2011

I found it!

Fall, that is. :)

After CCD this afternoon (which went amazingly well. Thank God for a group of engaged and excited teenagers on Sunday afternoons!), I stopped by Lake Crabtree to see what I could see. And it turns out that the sunset made for some fall-esque photographs.

And my newest self-portrait. 

Autumn is passing me by!

This gorgeous fall weather has got my trigger finger itching ... you know, my camera trigger finger! I haven't had the opportunity to get out and document the beautiful fall that is beginning to burst forth, and I need to soon before I miss it! Mom and Dad are coming down in November, and we are heading to the mountains for the weekend. But I fear that all the autumnal beauty will be gone by then and winter will have arrived.

Fall is so weird here in NC. It's hard to tell when it has really arrived because there are no hills here (well, at least where I am) to watch the color changes as autumn sweeps across the state. Every once in a while you'll catch a glimpse of vibrant reds and yellows on random trees, but it is nothing like being back in CNY where everywhere you looked, the hills were painted in gorgeous colors. The view from Mom and Dad's house in the fall is pretty damn spectacular. It's the fall when I miss home the most. See?

My goal this week is to get out and enjoy some fall photography opportunities. Perhaps I can find some opportunity this afternoon when I'm done teaching CCD. There's a nice park between my house and church ... maybe I'll find something there ...

In the meantime, I've been looking back through some favorite fall pics from years past. They've got me feeling almost sentimental ...

I can almost smell the leaves and the crisp air ...

22 October 2011

99 versus 1

I've not been very caught up in the Occupy business that is going on around the country right now. Don't get me wrong, though. I thoroughly support the position and the ideals behind the movement, I've just been too busy within my own sphere of influence to really focus on it. It started while I was over in Ireland (which is part of the reason I'm a little out of the loop), and, when I got back, I've just been too swamped in work to get into it. 

Today one of my friends on Google+ posted a little piece about the movement by Lemony Snicket, and, since I love Snicket's writing voice, I decided to check it out. I'm glad I did because it's pretty fantastic. You can check it out here as well.  The piece is entitled "Thirteen Observations made by Lemony Snicket while watching Occupy Wall Street from a Discreet Distance" and it is written in the very same voice he used for his Series of Unfortunate Events. It's pretty spot-on, so I'll only share a few direct quotations. 

#4 - "People who say money doesn’t matter are like people who say cake doesn’t matter—it’s probably because they’ve already had a few slices."

#6 - "Nobody wants to fall into a safety net, because it means the structure in which they’ve been living is in a state of collapse and they have no choice but to tumble downwards. However, it beats the alternative."

#7 - "Someone feeling wronged is like someone feeling thirsty. Don’t tell them they aren’t. Sit with them and have a drink."

#11 - "Historically, a story about people inside impressive buildings ignoring or even taunting people standing outside shouting at them turns out to be a story with an unhappy ending."

#13 - "99 percent is a very large percentage. For instance, easily 99 percent of people want a roof over their heads, food on their tables, and the occasional slice of cake for dessert. Surely an arrangement can be made with that niggling 1 percent who disagree."

Spot-on, no?

Future photog?

I recently had my first photography "show." I write "show" because it was informal and in the gallery in the fine arts building on my school's campus. There were no requirements that I had to meet other than doing all the work (putting up the art and then taking it al down a month later) by myself. The school likes to showcase faculty work as well as student work throughout the year, and, since they had some empty time on the calendar, I offered to fill the walls for a few weeks.

The weeks leading up to the "show" made me terribly nervous. While I love taking photographs, I am very critical of my own work. I always see something that I didn't notice before that ruins the shot for me. After seeing the images on paper, I don't really love the lighting or the composition or any myriad of things. But my friends tell me that I take good photographs, and I trust their opinions because I have very honest and often times blunt relationships with my friends. If they don't like something, they speak up, and I value this infinitely. So I listened to them and pulled together about 60 of my best photographs for the show. I spent hours prepping for the show and setting it all up. Once they were on the gallery walls, I walked away form the gallery and tried to forget that they were up there. Having my stuff up in a public space makes me feel very vulnerable, and that's not a feeling that I enjoy (who does?).

During the showing, I received a few emails from colleagues who had seen my work, wishing to share that they enjoyed my photography.  A few random parents who happened to see them praised the photographs as well. The art teacher who I work with (who is an amazing artist that I respect immensely) told me that she thought I had a true "artist's eye" and that I had real talent. While I appreciate all of the feedback, I don't really know how to respond to compliments. I thanked them all for their kind words, and that was that.

Earlier this week, I took the show down to prepare the space for the next faculty showing. It took me less than 30 minutes to get everything off of the walls (which had taken me about three hours to put up!). I had left a small notebook on a podium throughout the show for people to leave comments in, and the comments left were kind and complimentary. After all of the work was down and packed up, I felt an odd sense of relief.

I've seen a few different parents since the show ended, and they have all told me how much they enjoyed the show. One parent (who I simply love!) told me that I was in the wrong profession and needed to make photography my full-time gig. Not that I was a bad teacher (I taught her son), but she thinks I have a natural talent for photography. I found myself saying, "teaching pays the bills" to such feedback.She also blamed me for inspiring her son to do photography because he now wants a fancy-schmancy camera. :)

But I don't really feel that teaching "just pays the bills." I love my job. I love working with my students. I love that every day is different and presents new challenges. While I'm sure being a professional photographer would be amazing, I don't know if it would be as gratifying. Now, when I get the opportunity to take photographs, it's like a special treat. I enjoy it and have fun with it because I can do what I want when I want. If I were being paid to perform on demand, I don't think I could do it. Even when I do small shoots for friends and family in which we trade photographs for goods (wine, dinner...), I get really nervous. I don't think I could handle that daily anxiety about being good enough. I have enough anxiety as it is. I also worry that the pleasure and relaxation that I get from photography now would be lost if it was my day job.

So, for now, I'll teach. I'll do some photography on the side for fun, but I'm okay if it never evolves into anything more than a hobby. That's okay, right?

A few of my favorites from the show:

21 October 2011

My students make me laugh ...

... which is wonderful because it reminds me to take life less seriously. 

My kids have been cracking me up all day long. They are on comedic-fire, and I love them all the more for it! I'm pretty sure that the Fun Fest that begins immediately after school today has sharpened their senses (as well as made them a little wild), and they have had me laughing out loud multiple times in class today.

My morning started with this:
We were talking about the parts of speech, specifically nouns and verbs. We were identifying which words were functioning as nouns and verbs in a sentence when one student suggested that "on" was a verb. We know that verbs are capable of changing tense and that is a little test that we try when figuring out word function, so I asked him what the past tense of "on" would be.

Without missing a beat, he replied "off."


My afternoon ended with this:
While discussion creation stories and folktales, we have come across religions, beliefs, and faiths that have multiple gods as well as those that only have one. When I asked if anyone knew what the word for a religion that believes in only one god was, one student replied "unigod." And what is a religion that believes in more than one god?

You guessed it. "Polygod."

19 October 2011

Thankfully Target moved in up the street ...

I stopped at the newTarget on my way home tonight. The new one that's two miles from my place just opened and I had to check it out. I stocked up on extra-soft Kleenex because 1.) the house had none and 2.) I've got a head cold coming on. Good thing I did. Since I got home at about 5, I've used almost an entire box. Glad I got the extra aloe variety. My nose will still be reminiscent of Rudolph in the morning.

And I thought my fall head cold/sinus infection had forgotten me this year. Not likely. Hopefully I've nipped it in the bud (with lots of cold and sinus medication and the ton of rest I've been getting this week), and it will subside quickly.

While I adore my job, being surrounded by germy 6th graders all day does have its drawbacks. But they are so dang cute most of the time ...

The good news is that my eye issues were the result of a touch of dry eye and the start of a sinus headache (which I didn't even realize I had until the doctor mentioned it and then the morning afterwards my head had exploded!).

18 October 2011

A sad day for my shoe collection ...

Today the doctor told me that I can't wear heels for two weeks. TWO WEEKS! I don't think he realizes who he is talking to. I own approximately five pairs of flats ... and that includes sneakers. This just about breaks my heart.

The sesamoid bone in my foot that broke oh-so-long-ago remains in two separate chunks. The good news is that it hasn't fractured any further. The bad news is that it is in a spot that easily gets inflamed and aggravated with a lot of jumping and side-to-side movement. (I'm also a little annoyed that I didn't get copies of my X-rays. I love that stuff!) This means no more kickboxing or zumba or cardio classes for two weeks as well. Happily, I can still make use of the elliptical and the Stairmaster and weights, but not my favorite Tuesday-afternoon stress reliever with Vanessa!

So, I'm back on Aleve and ice and a taped up foot.

Good times, good times.

17 October 2011

Eye woes

I'm not sure what happened, but somewhere between Annapolis and here, my eye glasses started revolting against my brain. I'm not sure if my prescription has changed spontaneously or if I have some rare form of brain cancer (I do tend to go to extremes), but I can't wear my glasses without my head feeling like it is on the verge on imploding. The arms aren't too tight on my head (which I suspected at first) and my prescription sunglasses are causing the same discomfort.

So, it's either wear the glasses and have a splitting headache or don't and squint all day. A girl can't win.

Thankfully I got in a last minute appointment at the eye doctor to get my eyeballs checked out. But, of course, my insurance only covers one exam a year and my last was in January. Gotta love paying for an eye exam out of pocket.

Annapolis round-up

This weekend was absolutely gorgeous in Annapolis. I was worried that the weather was going to be rainy, but it proved to be perfect. The lighting was perfect for pictures, and the temperature was perfectly Indian-Summer. I especially loved the pictures from the pumpkin patch. They are perfect autumn pics!


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