Monday, January 30, 2012

Immersion is the best form of learning

When we first moved out here three years ago, my girlfriend casually mentioned that she was going to "join a local Roller Derby team, was I interested too?"  "Uh... No, I'm way not tough enough for that" was my response.  I'm the person who quit water polo because I didn't like conflict in the environment that I'm most comfortable in, the water.  Never mind that it had been years since I'd been on a pair of roller skates. I was out, but the idea was interesting, I told her we'd definitely go support her in a bout.  Three years later and (many) broken dates on my end (sorry), I finally made it out to one and (at Carri's urging), brought along my camera.

The morning of, I had a moment of panic when I was all of a sudden lacking confidence in my abilities (a common occurrence right before most of my shoots), and knew that with my manual focus zoom I just wasn't going to be anywhere near fast enough (and dude, let me tell you, this sport is fast).  This must require a new lens.  A trip to the store later my camera bag of tricks now contains a 55-300mm.  Jeff says I'm getting a card for Valentine's Day (I don't even need that).

When I pulled all seven-hundred-something (!!) photo's into the computer to start gratuitously deleting processing, I knew I wanted to take a very harsh, vivid, but shadowy kind of approach to processing them.  Most of them I totally got the look I was going for.  And how fun to completely change up my normal style, it was like Halloween for my processing.  Anyway, here are my top photos of the night and a few things I learned:

Working clockwise from the top left corner:
1.  A Jammer on the last jam of the night, the girl in the background cheering is the coach for the other team. It was great to watch how supportive everyone was of each other, regardless of the teams.  I also love her expression, you could tell she was really enjoying herself.  
2.  A ref's skates at half-time.  But more importantly, his socks.  Let me tell you, if you're a detail shooter, there's so much subject matter at one of these. 
3.  The "crappy wooden sign" to let you know where to turn off the main road.  It's right on the corner of this desolate lot, and just begged for a picture.  There I was in the middle of the road taking it.  
4.  My favorite shot of the night.  Two girls and their knee pads lined up waiting for the whistle.  
5.  Blood on the track.  Someone told me it wasn't real, they had some zombie thing here a couple weeks ago, but it so fit into the roughness of the whole event, I couldn't resist.  If you're a story telling kind of photographer, go to Roller Derby!
6.  As my wuss-self anticipated, it's rough out there and people fall.  I loved her expression in this picture.  Just pissed mad.
8.  More skates lined up waiting for the whistle.  It was interesting to be able to be so up close and see all the personal details the girls put into their costumes and gear, my camera allowed me inside the safety tape, so I was able to observe so much more than your average spectator.  Lucky!
9.  Another Jammer (denoted by the star on the cap), getting ready to go, her make-up made it really difficult to resist shooting her.  I loved the intense focus in her eyes in this picture.  

Now, lest you think I've abandoned portrait/kid shooting, I did learn that, while action is fun, it's the people and the details that I really tend to enjoy.  However, learning to shoot action will undoubtedly serve me well when Haley and Kale start to really get into sports.  But then again, shooting my kids can sometimes be action (goodness they can be quick).  All of that said and learned I met this guy:

Meet Barris.  His mom is a Derby Girl, and I found him hanging out (camera in his hands the whole night) upstairs.  Super cool, polite kid that just has and old soul, kind of way about him (I couldn't resist his photo, he's a total natural - look at that face!).  Apparently he's into skateboarding, has some serious moves on the dance floor, you'll be seeing more of him here for sure.

I also met Al.  I'd show you a picture of him, but, like me, he had a camera to his face almost the whole night too.  He gave me about a million crazy useful pointers about where the good shots come from, how close I could get away with, and just photography stuff in general. Most strikingly he was really willing to help an amateur out.  So great.  Al, I totally appreciate it, thank you!!

Interested about Roller Derby or want to check out a bout?  Go here to learn more:  Missile Mountain Roller Derby

Friday, January 27, 2012

Project 52 {4}

My favorite thing about you is:
Your style.

f/1.8 1/250 ISO-500

Every day is a battle with you, 5 year old.  Most of it stems from the fact that we live in Colorado and the weather is one of two options:  Very hot or very cold.  Inevitably, you will pick the least appropriate outfit for the weather, and we'll battle it out (we have to go to school 5 days a week and likely, if I let you just "figure it out", someone would arrest me for neglect).  Add to this the fact that you strongly dislike wearing jeans and would rather just wear your tights or sleeveless dress every day...  The other part of it is that you are me, and we are both stubborn and independent.  But then there are those days when we have no where to go and nothing to do.  I let you wear whatever your heart desires and you surprise me with the greatest outfits (sometimes the only thing that ties them together is the fluffy factor, or the color - not shade or hue - of pink).  You picked the above outfit on a (very) cold day in January, but it was one of those days.  And the fact that you paired it with a classic strand of pearls?  Perfect. 

I could take pictures of these kids' eyes for days.  I probably have a million of them already.  But this is the first time that I've loved her eyes without even seeing them in the picture.  This day we were trying to even up the good pictures of the kids since I took that one of Kale last week.

Want to check out some other super great Project 52 eye candy?
Can I link you too?  Leave me a comment.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Project 52 {3}

My favorite thing about you is:
Experiencing old things through your new eyes.

f/4 1/30 ISO-1000

This week you both had a couple of firsts.  Haley had her first slumber party at a friends house, and at barely 5 years old, managed to outlast the older kids and her friend and held out till 11:30 before she finally went to bed.  We purchased some light up bracelets to make the night extra fun and let you take nearly your entire bed with you.  Let me just tell you, not having her in the house that night was a little strange, like we'd forgot something.  I have a feeling this is the first of about a million of these so I'd better get used to it.  

That same night we took Kale to his first Hockey game.  Colorado College vs. St. Cloud State.  A great game, but even better was watching how much you enjoyed it!  And can we just say... The Zambonis?!  Those were "Super cool mom"!  I was amazed at your attention span and ability, to sit through 2 periods plus over time, especially considering when we got there it was already past your bedtime, but then you were receiving undivided attention from both Mom and Dad.  Also great (aside from your Tiger face(s) above)?  You decided you didn't much care for Cotton Candy, which is makes me happy because I love it and there's more for me!  However, you were not so great at sharing the popcorn.  

Both of these things I can remember doing all. the. time. growing up.  While something may seem so everyday or un-special to me, it was a first for you and brought back what it was like when I was younger.  As many grey hairs as you're sure to give me, these experiences this week took me back and it was fantastic.  I can't wait for more.

Want to check out some other super great Project 52 eye candy?
Can I link you too?  Leave me a comment.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

My Sweet Boy

f/1.8 1/160 ISO-500

This should have been my Project 52 pic this week, seeing as how it's head and shoulders (yuk yuk yuk) above anything else I've produced this week, but I got so excited I went and shared it on Facebook.  Dangit.

Jeff went hunting this past three day weekend so I decided to play with my hobby.  I went into my loft, and hung a white sheet from the desk, which is right by a North facing window.  Behind me I hung another white sheet off the ironing board to help me reflect the light.  This was taken in the afternoon just messing around with the kiddos.  There was some minor processing in Photoshop, in the interest of full disclosure.  Also in the interest of full disclosure, I had a great one of Haley too, but I missed the focus so it got scrapped.  

Three years old is a crazy hard age.  My dad once told me "you know why they call it terrible twos?  Because they hadn't met three yet".  No joke.  I've lived through one and a half years of the threes now and so far?  Man.  It's tough.  They push boundaries like never before, they're sassy, they forget how to listen, and the list could go on.  But, they're still your kids, and I don't have to tell you that you still love them.  You just realize how lucky they're going to be to make it to four.

Kale has taken to the three's exactly as his sister did only this time the three year old is taller, tougher, still likes to head butt things, and can't dress himself yet (ARGH!  But we're working on it).  The one thing that seems to reign him in is asking him "Do you know where my sweet boy is?  Because I just can't seem to find him right now".  He'll disappear (to another room, below the bed, somewhere), and reappear with this face.  His sweet boy face.  Never a full smile, just enough of a smirk to let you know he still has some nice left in him, but mischief is doing everything it can to take him over.  It only lasts a moment, but I love it, and it's enough of a reminder that this age is only a moment.  Talk to me again when they're fourteen.  

Sunday, January 15, 2012

And then one day we were a family of four

There's a baby boom abound right now, and lots of friends are having their second wee ones.  When Haley came around she was right in the middle.  Some of my friends had their first already, some were pregnant right along with me and others were still about to travel down that road.  But when Kale came along, I was one of the front runners to have #2.  Mostly, because we made the decision to have our kids close together... 17 months apart to be exact.  Haley was just 6 months old when we tried (and succeeded) with Kale.  We got lots of "you know where babies come from right?" and "WOW, couldn't keep your hands off each other" and "Are you crazy?!" comments.  (Mostly) These were answered with "Yup, we actually planned it this way", and even started prefacing it with "Yes, we planned this."  People right?  But my sister and I are a tiny 15 months apart and I really appreciate the relationship we have, being a military family I wanted my kids to have a built in best friend that would always be around.  

I was incredibly focused on their relationship, the transition for Haley, and the fact that the second time around was going to be a boy.  A boy!  Coming from a family with lots of girls, the boy thing was completely new to me, and I was consumed with all things blue and what a contrast they were to the sea of pink we were currently in.  I completely glossed over the transition from a family of three to a family of four. My thought was "I'm a good mom and I can handle it". 

I stay at home with my kids and have been lucky enough since weeks before Haley was born.  She and I had a great, close relationship, and I was wholly unprepared for what adding another into the mix would feel like.  I planned for the transition for her, we talked about having a brother, and how he would be tiny and need lots of Mommy's attention.  We talked about how you need to be gentle, and speak softly, but she was only 17 months (walking for only 3 months!).  

The day Kale arrived was mostly uneventful, we had a planned c-section so I just hung out till it was my turn.  But in those "stewing hours" I began to freak out a little... What had I done to Haley?  It would no longer be the two of us/the three of us.  There would be this newcomer.  Would he fit in?  How would he fit in?  Oh my gosh, it's too late to take this back, we're stuck here, and I've completely destroyed my precious girl.  I even remember thinking that there was no possible way that I was going to love him as much as her, my heart just wasn't big enough.  Funny how those hormones work isn't it?  

So.  Here are 10 things that I wish I had been told, right then, in those moments:

1.  Yes, no matter how much you love #1, you will love #2 equally.  But maybe not right at first in the same way.  Remember when #1 was born and you loved them right away?  That love has evolved into the kind where you know them inside and out.  You have to get to know #2, but you'll get there.  You'll still love them right away and you won't even realize when it changes to the inside out kind.  I promise.

2.  You haven't destroyed your relationship with #1 by bringing in #2.  You've strengthened it.  And it's okay that they no longer get 100% of your attention during the day, they're going to be better people because of it.  I promise.

3.  By making them the older sibling, you haven't forced them to grow up before they're ready.  They're still the same kid you had before #2.  I promise.

4.  It's okay to put #2 down and snuggle up with #1 in the hospital bed, and when they'd rather play with with whatever cool medical stuff they can find in the hospital room, it doesn't mean they're taking anything out on you.  I promise.  

5.  You're going to have a split second when you're going to wonder about #2 and if they'll be as great as #1.  They will be.  I promise.  

6.  When you're feeding #2 and #1 does something terrible, they're not trying to tell you you're a bad parent.  They're testing your boundaries.  This might sound totally rational now, but the thought will cross your mind. You're a great parent.  I promise.  

7.  There will come times when you'll have to choose between the two and #1 will get the short end of the stick.  It's okay.  You can make it up to them later.  They won't hold it against you, and they'll still turn into good people.  I promise.  

8.  It's okay to call your friends and freak out a little.  Call one that already has two kids.  She understands.  I promise.  

9.  Trust your "Mommy Sense".  You know what you're doing this time around.  I promise.

10.  Everything's going to be fine.  There's a happy ending.  You'll sleep again someday.  I promise.   

Friday, January 13, 2012

Project 52 {2}

My favorite thing about you is:
The way you love and take care of each other.

f/4 1/800 ISO 200

Most days the two of you flip back and forth in a never ending circle of loving each other and driving the other up the wall (which, in turn, drives me up the wall).  You are each other's best friend.  Your very first and most important best friend; and I've been here from the very beginning to watch this amazing friendship grow.  When one of you is hurt, the other runs over as fast as you can and gives the best and most sincere hug, you can see how badly you want the other to feel better (even if you're the one who caused the hurt).  You miss the other when they're not around.  When you send each other off to school, you each get the last hug before you head off into class and the first one when we come to pick you up, and in the in between time, you hardly know how to play by yourself.  Watching you love each other is one of the best parts about being your mom.

When I took this picture, I truly meant to document their feet, together.  If they're anything like me, they're going to be growing at a rapid rate, and for this brief moment in time, they're pretty much the same size (though, in about a month, Kale will officially be a whole size bigger than her, I'm sure of it).  I was going to talk about their steps into the world and how they should be sure to take them together.  I don't think that's going to be an issue.

Also, Kale will tell you that winter in Colorado (when you're three) is the only time you are (EVER) allowed to wear socks and Crocs.

Want to check out some other super great Project 52 eye candy?
Can I link you too?  Leave me a comment.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Project 52 {1}

My Favorite thing about you...
Is how much you love school.

f/2.8 1/400 ISO 3200

Haley, today you turned 5! FIVE... F.I.V.E. FIVE! That's a whole entire hand! Instead of dropping you off at the door with a boat load of cupcakes to celebrate with your classmates, your dad and I got the opportunity to be there. Right there. With you. We experienced your excitement at being the leader, heard your show and tell, and got to sing "Happy Birthday" with your classmates. I love seeing you interact with your friends, getting to know your teachers and helping with the craft projects. Both of you love school. Nothing makes my heart happier because I loved school too. I hope that your love of learning is something you take with you your entire lives.

So... Yeah. It's been more than a year since I've blogged. My sister told me (at Halloween) that it was time to post something since it had been since last Halloween that I had done anything with it. I honestly can't tell you what the blog even looks like right now, it's been so darn long. I can tell you though, that it needs to be updated.

So here it is the first week of 2012 and I've vowed three things this year: Get fit (again), blog more often, and work on my new (favorite) hobby: photography. What better way to do two of the three than with a Project 52. I was inspired by the one my friend Shawna did last year, check out her blog here. I really looked forward to it each Friday, like I hope you'll look forward to mine. She's also doing another one this year and I'd really encourage you to follow her too - you won't be sorry.

For my theme I mulled over a few ideas and up until about 15 minutes ago was convinced that I was going to do "Growing up", but my mind kept nagging me. I didn't want this to be about rushing them through childhood, at 3 and (now) 5, they're just starting to grow up and as I kept looking at the pictures today "My Favorite Thing About you" grabbed hold of me and wouldn't let go. So, there it is. Each week I'll use my pictures to illustrate to my family what my favorite thing about them is. I have lots of favorite things about them. 52 isn't going to begin to cover it. But it's a start.