Sunday, December 15, 2013

Photo final!

This semester, I took a photography class. I really just wanted to learn how to use the camera I got last year for Christmas, but I came out with so much more than that. Sappiness aside, I got to do some pretty freakin' rad things and I took some sweet pictures.

I presented my final project this week — a very scary, intimidating task. I was afraid of rejection and I was afraid no one would like my concept, my pictures or me.

Because, after all, my project was extremely personal. I took my favorite songs (the ones that have hundreds of plays on my iTunes) and decided to represent them in a photo. Since all of them are country songs, I thought I'd go shoot a few horses, some nice landscapes, maybe a truck or two and call it a day. What I ended up with was a lot of self-reflection, some really good memories and the closure I needed most in my life. And of course a few really cool pictures.

Here they are: my "Melodies and Memories."

"There ain't a corner of this hallow ground that we ain't laughed or cried on. It's where we loved, lived and learned real life stuff. It's everything we're made of."
Tattoos on This Town — Jason Aldean
"Wouldn't last a single day, I'd probably just fade away. Without you, I'd lose my mind. Before you ever came along, I was living life all wrong. The smartest thing I ever did was make you all mine."
Crazy Girl — Eli Young Band
"My favorite color is neon, the light they always leave on. A weekend on the rocks, an old school jukebox with a little Johnny Lee on."
Neon — Chris Young
"Strong, like a river rollin', strong, gonna keep on goin', strong. When the road runs out, they're gonna keep on talkin' about how he was strong."
Strong — Will Hoge
"He aimed his truck toward that Wyoming line. With a little luck he could get there in time, and in that Cheyenne wind he could still hear her say...She said, "Don't bother comin' home. By the time you get here I'll be long gone. There's somebody new and he sure ain't no rodeo man."
I Can Still Make Cheyenne — George Strait
"I have weathered colder winters; longer summers, without a drop of rain. Push me in a corner and I'll come out fighting. I may lose, but I always keep my faith."
Country Strong — Gwyneth Paltrow
"God's lookin' down from that sky blue ceilin', he made these old country roads for drivin' and dreamin'."
Two Lanes of Freedom — Tim McGraw
"'Cause I've been sittin' on the front porch, watchin' the world go round. Through the eyes of a fool, head like a rock, my whole world tumbling down."
Take Me Away — Hayes Carll
"I don't know how to tell you what you want to hear. You see, guys like me, we just disappear. And you deserve someone who will never leave, but girl, the last few days are the best we'll ever be."
Clouds — David Nail
"I gotta be where I can see those Rocky Mountains, ride my horse and watch an eagle fly. I gotta live my life and write my songs beneath these Western skies."
Western Skies — Chris LeDoux
"For some ol' redneck reason, sometimes I get the feelin' maybe I give too much of a damn. I'm a little old fashioned leanin', out of style and out of season, but I reckon that's just the way I am."
For Some Ol' Redneck Reason — Justin Moore
"Funny how a melody sounds like a memory, like the soundtrack to a July Saturday night."
Springsteen — Eric Church
Thank you to everyone who helped me get this bad boy done! I took about 600 pictures and edited about 130 before narrowing it down to the final 12!
Thank you to my momma for buying me the camera in the first place, to my uncle Phil and my cousins for carting me all over east Texas during Thanksgiving break so I could get the pictures I wanted, to my many friends and family members who accompanied me on all my adventures and, of course, to Trent for being my cowboy model and posing when it was a mere 9 degrees outside.

Happy finals week!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

An odd conglomeration of photos I took last week.

The Great Salt Lake. Pearls. Tulips. Lace dresses. Kennecott smelter. Utah Lake. Multigrain Cheerios. Sunsets. Nathan Bayles. 

Quite the combination, right?

I took 187 photos between Friday night and Monday morning. All in an attempt to complete my photography assignment. We were supposed to turn in one "high key" image (LOTS of light values) and one "low key" image (LOTS of dark values). Google high key/low key photography if you want to learn more.

Anyway, the assignment seemed fairly simple but actually proved to be exceedingly difficult. There's a fine line between making an aesthetically pleasing picture composed almost entirely of light values, and overexposing a photo to the point of a crappy picture. 

Hence the 187 photos.

The majority of what I shot this weekend didn't work for my assignment, but I got to do tons of experimenting and came up with some cool shots, nonetheless. And spending some quality time with family and friends who were willing to aid me in my endeavors was just an added bonus. As for the 50 or so mosquito bites I had come Saturday morning...definitely not an added bonus.

The weekend's first adventure took us to the Great Salt Lake on Friday evening. The original plan was to go to the Salt Flats, but Siri lied to us about a shorter, easier route out there and we missed the good lighting. So we improvised.

When I called Austin asking him if he wanted to drive out to the Salt Flats with me, he IMMEDIATELY accepted and came along to take his own pictures. Cousinly bonding! 
For some reason, these footprints just kind of spoke to me.
I LOVED the way the light was reflecting off the small waves (ripples?) coming in, and I probably crouched at the edge of the lake for about 20 minutes trying to get the lighting just right.
Next up, on Sunday night, was a lovely photo shoot with my darling friend Nathan. I wanted to use him for my high key images, but ultimately the lighting was off and I couldn't use his photos for the assignment. I do, however, like how some of the pictures turned out. I might just be able to use them for a future assignment!

Anytime you're working with a goofball like this, you KNOW you're in for some fun pictures.
Cute, much??
We were totally goofing off at this point. It was SO windy out and there were some birds hovering right above Nathan, hence this pose. When I got the picture on the computer, I ended up REALLY liking it. Funny how things like that happen!
He was a pretty good little model. :)
So then, since my original high key plan didn't work out, I had to improvise early Monday morning to throw together something that WOULD work. I had some tulips and (obviously fake) pearls lying around. Add a lace dress and you get....

I liked how the light was almost coming through the flower petals....
....but I could never really get the composition right.
I knew looking at my camera's display screen I didn't like the pictures very much, but at that point, I was SICK of taking pictures and endlessly playing with my aperture, so I just decided to use what I had. 

I then went to the kitchen to get some breakfast, at which point I poured myself a bowl of Multigrain Cheerios. And then it hit me.

Sometimes having a white dresser is really convenient....
Nom nom nom. (That's actually a fork in the bowl!)
And so, the pictures I turned in this week were in no, way, shape or form part of the original plan.

I turned in THIS photo of the Kennecott smelter for my low key image... (The larger this image, the better it looks. So open that baby up in a new window!)
....and THIS photo of Multigrain Cheerios for my high key image. (Not bad for my first attempt at still life, eh?)
And that's what life's all about, right? Improvising. Being OK with doing something that's not part of the plan. Experimenting. Taking chances. Not being afraid to take pictures of your Cheerios. Suffering 50 mosquito bites in the name of a good photograph. 
And above all, having fun while you're at it.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

So I'm taking a PHOTOGRAPHY class....

I asked for an iPad for Christmas.

So on Christmas morning when I opened a box containing a Canon EOS Rebel T3 with not one, but TWO lenses, I was in complete and utter shock. 

I had really been expecting that iPad. Not a really, really nice camera.

Long story short, the camera has proven much more useful than an iPad. And now, I'm taking an Introduction to Photography class so I can learn how to work the dang thing in something other than automatic mode.

So this weekend I set out on my first assignment. The instructions were vague: do something fun and take some creative pictures.

I, being one of the least creative people on this planet, had a hard time coming up with stuff to shoot. Nevertheless, this is what I came up with.

On Friday, Cameron and I spontaneously drove to Wyoming to watch our alma mater (Sheridan) play football, and to see one of our old teachers. 

I didn't like the majority of pictures I took, but that's all part of the learning experience, right?

I tried to get shots of the game from different perspectives, and I kind of liked this one. Watching the game on the fringes of the action was kind of interesting.
This picture didn't turn out nearly as well as I had hoped, but what I really like about it is the sky. Few things are better than a Wyoming sky :)
On Saturday, I hiked Mt. Timpanogos (Utah's second highest peak at 11,752 feet) with a friend. I've been wanting to hike Timp since freshman year, but have always been lacking in the execution. I can't even tell you how many times I've set out to hike it, but one thing or another (flaky friends, crappy weather, you name it!) got in the way.

So on Saturday, I finally climbed that dang mountain (cross THAT off the bucket list!) and took some pictures along the way.

Not only did Spencer (aka the power hiker) push me to do my best on the hike (it's BRUTAL and tons of people end of giving up on the way to the top), he was patient while I took pictures and even posed for a few.
"STOP RIGHT THERE!" Part of our hike was IN the clouds. Which was stunning and beautiful and fantastic. 
Pretty moss!
It's not everyday that you get to be at eye level with the clouds. Being that high up gave me a great opportunity to work with my aperture and figure out how much light to let in to get both the clouds and the pretty stuff behind them!
As if the view from the top of Timp isn't stunning enough, I felt like I was playing in the clouds. I could just reach out and touch them!
And so, my journey toward learning how to work my camera has begun. I find myself constantly wanting to explore, learn, grow, go on adventures and, of course, take pictures of it all. 

So if you have any great places to explore, let me know! If you feel like adventuring with me, come along! And above all, if you have feedback, tell me! 
It's only just the beginning!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

So we went on vacation....

So, my family and I went on vacation last week. The first time we had all just gone and done something together in literally years. Between graduations, moving, weddings, new babies, holidays, we have seen each other plenty. But it's a real struggle remembering the last time we just up and did something for the heck of it.

So, we changed that and went on vacation. To Washington.

And during that time, I took lots of pictures. So here they are.

On Friday, we rode the ferry from Bremerton into Seattle.
I ordered Cameron to look "artsy."

Good morning, Seattle! :)
Then we acted like tourists and took a Duck Boat tour of the city — half on land, half on water.

Alexander was clearly NOT impressed.
A water plane took off literally right next to us. Water EVERYWHERE.

Then we went to the Pacific Science Center and played in a magical room full of butterflies.

Then we went to the top of the Space Needle, which was actually throughly disappointing and you can see it on our faces.

On Saturday, we climbed aboard the U.S.S. Turner Joy, a retired naval destroyer, where we laid in sailors' beds for about 15 seconds before getting weirded out, and Ethan got to sit in the captain's seat. Like a boss.

Then we went for a drive up the coast, where I tried to act like a photographer and take pretty pictures, and I also dipped my feet in the freeeeezing Puget Sound.

Pretty flowers!

Quaint little lighthouse!

Then we went to the park and had a barbecue, at which point I took numerous pictures of "Baby Xander" until he got sick of me, Cameron and I made a valiant attempt at a jumping picture on the dock and we saw a car sink into the ocean (unfortunately no pictures of that).

Hey, at least we tried.

And I also snapped a purrti pic of my lovely momma and Cameron.

Sunday we sat around like the bums that we truly are and did nothing! And Ethan also literally took hundreds of pictures and videos of himself on my phone.

On Monday, we ventured back to Seattle and took a tour of the city's underground.

Cute little sailboat on the Sound. :)

Ethan and Grandpa!

 Semi creepy, but pretty cool.

Old elevator. No longer in operation. Clearly.

Then we went to Pike Place Market, bought some gorgeous flowers for dirt cheap, ate delicious pirozkis from Piroshky Piroshky and sipped Starbucks Refreshers from the original Starbucks. Which tasted exactly like Refreshers from all other Starbucks, but whatever.

And then we left and it was sad.

And in the in-between, our ferry stopped in the middle of the Sound and Cameron thought it was going to sink and her reaction was absolutely priceless; Ethan attacked me while I was sleeping on the floor and it was painful; Alexander LOVED pulling my hair; Cameron took about 519859096 selfies; Adrienne made us some delicious homemade meals; Dad got to eat all the fresh fish he could ever want; Cameron gave her number to the Duck Boat captain, who was like a billion feet tall; I beat everyone in Scattergories; Adrienne got not one, but TWO giant flower arrangements; Mom took the middle seat on both flights because she's nice; and we had tons and tons of fun.

Moral of the story: spend time with your family and go do awesome things. Because I'd be willing to bet your family is pretty rad.