Monday, December 17, 2007

Retro Thanksgiving - A Look Back

Since blogging is new to me, here's a question for all you experienced bloggers: When you take 200+ pictures at a large family event and wish to blog about it, where do you begin? How do you effectively represent the magnatude of something like that when your blog allows you to only upload 5 pictures per post? Not having had your answers in advance, I just went with what turned out to be some of my favorite pictures from our fantastic thanksgiving trip to Utah. And, there will most likely be multiple posts about the trip. If you have better ideas, please comment below. The picture above is one of my favorites. Ella has the sweetest face. I sneaked up on her and Becca with the camera and she looked just as the shutter actuated (another perfectly planned moment in photography). While color balancing in Photoshop Elements, the thought occurred to me that the real focus of the picture should be Ella's face and everything else should take a back seat so I extracted her face, blurred everything else and put her face back in. Even Jeanne liked it (which is saying a lot!) Photos like this were possible because of the miracle of the Condo. You'll have to review my journals after my death for the whole condo miracle story but because of the miracle, Becca and Jake and kids were able to stay with us the whole time we were in Utah which gave lots of opportunity for good pictures.
Like this one. There was a playground in the gated community where the condo was and one of the playhouse features was a little round opening (perhaps to provide more light or maybe the designers knew how cute it would be to photograph grandchildren looking out the opening). The tough part about the picture is that Ella had a runny nose the entire time we were in Utah so you just have to get past that to really appreciate it.
It's still a bit stunning to me that Emily is growing up. This was a candid shot at Joanne's house which simply made me pause and realize just how grown up she has become. It is a great blessing to have her at home. She is fun, full of energy and laying the foundation for a good, strong testimony. A parent can't ask for much more than that (although I'm sure Emily feels like I do).
These are "Four Young Girls." The Young's are so good to Becca and her family. Natalie and Audrey are like sisters and Sister Young has taken Becca in as a true daughter. You can see from this picture that I'm entranced by Ella's face - the others are beautiful but Ella's is mesmerizing.

To me, the picture below just captures the whole meaning of "Thanksgiving" and the restored Gospel for that matter. While the picture isn't special the people and the purpose are. It is of those who attended Victoria's baptism on Thanksgiving Day. A baptism on Thanksgiving with family - there's just something Celestial about that.

All In The Name of Friendship

When Joe Nehila reminded me that I had offered to take family pictures for him I imagined Joe and Heather and the three boys. At 10a Saturday, just as the Littles were leaving, a knock came at the door. It was the Nehilas - all of the Nehilas!
It is, of course, an entirely different thing, managing that kind of crowd, trying to keep everyone happy, looking for good shots, and dealing with "posing misery." Of all the things I lack in photography (and there are many) posing is my biggest shortfal (that I'm aware of). We had good fortune and got some reasonable results.
This picture is sort of like "Father of the Bride 2." The little girl belongs to Kelsey and Dan (Kelsey is Joe's daughter) and the little boy belongs to Joe and Heather. Kelsey is pregnant with number two and Heather is pregnant with number 6. So, when Heather delivers, she will have had 6 and Joe will have had six and when you add it up, 6 + 6 = 8. (You figure it out.)
This was a fun shot, taken on the run. I used Photoshop Elements to blur Joe and keep the little one in focus. I first tried that effect on a picture of Ella and Becca. Even Jeanne, the biggest critic of "Photoshopping" ("It looks fake" is her standard comment) liked the effect with Ella a lot, so I tried it again here with good result.
It took a fair amount of work to get Ashley to smile (13 is a tough age for that sort of thing) but as you can see, it's a great one when it happens. I like this photo and feel like it's as good as any professional studio shot. It was taken in the living room with an 85mm f1.8 lens and camera mounted flash (SB800).

Is This Really Hometeaching?

One of the unexpected advantages of learning photography is the ease with which one can give Christmas presents to hometeaching families. OK - it wasn't exactly "easy" to get Ray and Donna Little to find a time where they were both available for a photo session but I think they really wanted to have pictures taken and they liked the results.
They came over to the house Saturday at 9am. It was 26 degrees outside but you can't tell that by looking at the outside shots. Of course, Ray and Donna are outdoors people from way back so maybe they were completely comfortable in the cold. They didn't pick the pictures I would have but that's part of the fun of portrait photography, learning what the client likes. (I picked the one below but Donna didn't like the way her glasses were resting on here face.)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Little Birthday Miracle

Tonight we celebrated Laynie and Jeanne's birthday. Birthdays are a remarkable thing, reminding us annually of the miracle it was that a child was born. It's a time that is so happy and carefree that we actually willingly and joyfully eat food that has been spit upon. (To my knowledge birthday cake is the only such food.)
Laynie received many gifts but the Little Kitty CD player was her favorite. Had we known, we all could have gone in on it together and it would have more than sufficed. She wanted to carry it all over the house (unfortunately it was plugged in at the time). I think it made her feel "grown-up" like Addison who has an old CD player in his room.
Since the big party for Jeanne is to be held Tuesday night, she received a couple small items so she could join in the party. It was the little gift I gave her that gave rise to the birthday miracle. Sometime ago it came to me that Jeanne needed a knitted Christmas stocking like all the rest of us. She didn't have one because she knits them for the rest of us and for some reason never knitted one for herself. Years ago I purchased a rather pathetic stocking for her and wrote her name on it. For whatever reason, this year it seemed particularly out of place. Of course, we didn't get around to decorating for Christmas until the first week of December so as I began my search for knitted stockings, what seemed like a good idea quickly became discouraging.
There were many on-line stocking knitters, but one after another told me they were booked for the rest of the season and there could be no "Jeanne" stocking until next year. Then came the little miracle. I called a sweet woman in Vermont who knits stockings and inquired about one with the name Jeanne on it. She told me she couldn't make any more for this year but that she did have a box of overruns or extras or something that she would check. She checked it as I was on the phone with her. "OK, here are the j's. Jackson, Jane, Jacob ... Did you say J*E*A*N*N*E?" "Yes, I did." "Well, here's one. It's green and red with sleighs and bells on it and the name "Jeanne" embroidered on it. Will that work?" "That is just great!" I was filled with thanks and awe that another little miracle had happened in my life. Then the voice on the other end of the phone said, "Oh, since it's in my overrun box, it's half price." If you know me, you'll understand, the miracle had just become HUGE.

Friday, December 7, 2007

For Sarah

The continuing comedic saga of "For Sarah."
Sarah is cute. Sarah is Mary's roommate. Sarah thinks Rodger should write more about her in his blog.
Sarah adores Rodger's grandson Clay and he adores her so Rodger believes it is a reasonable request to include more of Sarah in his blog. Sarah loves Clayton so much that she allows him to kiss her with "frosting lips" because he thinks it's funny. That's a lot of love.
Sarah is hungry. It's fun to make food with Sarah around. She is very appreciative and makes the cook feel good about her recipes. She is nice to Clayton and she is nice to Jeanne. Hummm, that's two good reasons to include more of her in Rodger's blog.
Sarah loves trains, just like Clayton. They share their love of trains together. They both like to make very long trains and then crash them.
Sarah and Clayton like to play "chicken" with trains. Who will give in first? Will they crash in the valley or will one begin to back up frantically? To find out, tune in to the next episode of "For Sarah" perhaps sometime in February 2008. Sarah, you are very cool. Rodger

Monday, December 3, 2007

Pickett Star Power - Miracles Have Not Ceased

O.k., we had to marry into stardom, but we still consider Rochelle one of our own, whether she achieves fame or not. And no, that's not the miracle, that Bill married a nice girl who's going to be a Broadway star. So let's go back to the beginning for an explanation of the title.
One of the more enjoyable events of Thanksgiving vacation was attending the Saturday night showing of "Little Women" performed by the BYU MTD students. Rochelle played Meg and was WONDERFUL! In fact, I've seen 5 Broadway musicals this year and this production was as good as any on Broadway. No, that's not the miracle that BYU MTD students are as good as Broadway performers. In fact, I sort of expected that. Just wait, the miracle is coming.
We arrived Friday night, so the show was one of the earlier items on the agenda. Of course, I took my camera and somehow think they are only talking about flash photography when announcing "it" is strictly prohibited. Well, I was quite happy with how the photos turned out. The 85mm f1.8 at about 160th/sec worked quite well. Rochelle and Bill would have something nice for their scrapbook. By the time Thanksgiving day came around, the card in my camera was getting full so I transferred all the pictures of Rochelle to a flash drive to make some room. While modern digital technology is a miracle to be thankful for, that is not the miracle of which this entry speaks.
Upon returning home, I accidentally deleted EVERY picture of Rochelle on the flash. I called Kelly - no help. I called Casey, who generously travelled up to the rental condo where I had performed the function but found that since I had never put the images on the hard drive there, they could not be re-captured in Utah. I went to bed very late and prayed, "Heavenly Father, if there is a way to recover the pictures show me how, and if not, help ME RECOVER." Well, God is faithful and a God of miracles. Despite the fact that everyone had told me if you delete something off a flash drive it's GONE - I got up Saturday morning and typed the words "recover deleted files from flashdrive" into Google search. Up came a company who claimed their software could accomplish just that. Allow me simply to say, it was the best $50 I ever spent and IT WAS A MIRACLE. Miracles haven't ceased and God is good.