Sunday, August 17, 2008

Weddings - Yikes

It was a busy but fun and rewarding week in the picture business. Again, miracles do happen and so does fun and growth. As you can see, the DC temple is a beautiful place. Unfortunately, they are doing construction around the ENTIRE temple so you just have to get your angles so the construction isn't visible. The above was taken from the back of the parking lot with my 18-200 zoom (somewhere in the middle) and turned out pretty nice. Anyway, the main point about weddings is, I'm really comfortable with one, or two, or maybe even three people, but when it comes to 40, the inadequacy starts to creep in! And that's where prayer and miracles come into play.
I honestly wanted these sweet kids to have memorable pictures and prayed hard that some of them would turn out. To be honest, I was worried on the way home whether I had any good ones.
Then my friend Becky Bruckner called while I was driving home from the temple after shooting the Hunter-McDonald wedding. I told her how I had prayed and she said, "I'll pray for you too." I said, "Isn't a bit late for that?" "Is it ever too late for God?" She helped me remember, instantaneously, that all things are possible with God. So, even if all the images on the card in my camera were bad, a prayer, even at this point, could change all that.
Well, thankfully, there were some good ones and they were very happy with the results.
Of course, that's not the end of the story. The reception was in New Bloomfield, about an hour from home. Jeanne agreed to come with me so we could spend a little time together, and it was a fun ride up. We arrived before the wedding party, who had been delayed and arrived 1/2 hour after the reception was to start. It would be a bit of a late night.
We were about ready to go, so Jeanne said she'd meet me in the car. She had put my camera bags in the kitchen so they'd be out of the way. As I was leaving the wedding party requested a few additional shots, so it took me longer to get to the car than anticipated, and I was in a bit of a hurry. I jumped in the car. We drove the hour home and arrived at 10:15p. On arrival, it became apparent I had left all me camera gear in the kitchen in New Bloomfield and I needed to be at the temple the next day at 1p. I dreaded the drive back up early in the morning to retrieve it, especially since I'd promised John Williamson, I'd help with some family pictures at 8:30a and had made arrangements with Tina to enter the mansion. Well, Molly McDonald, the bride, is about the sweetest person in creation. She made sure that her brother somehow got the gear to someone (Kristen Malasky) who was going to the temple the next day and I was saved the drive. I still had the D300 with me, so the miracle was complete, I was able to help John out the next morning and geet plenty of sleep.
Of course, I was still concerned about taking decent pictures.
Surprise, surprise, the next day was easier than the first. Must have learned something from day one because the whole posing and organizing the group seemed to go much better.
It was a beautiful day at the temple, about 80 degrees, not too humid, sun conditions a bit harsh, but a bit better than the day before as it was slightly later in the day.

You'd never know there was dirt and construction two feet in front and on both sides. Once again, give God the glory, things turned out just fine!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

For Kelly

This blog is dedicated to my loving son, Kelly Ditto, because he cares about such things (and it might be a good idea to have a record of my office when it was clean once in history).

And there's more to the story than just being clean.

Perhaps you noticed the big black box behind my desk and were wondering what it is. Well, that's my Kodak ML-500 commercial photo printer. Yes, I'm now competing with Costco. Well, not exactly, but it does mean I can print up to 8x12s without driving to Costco to do it and it prints 8x12s in 13 seconds (5x7s in 6 seconds and 4x6s before you can blink). Not only that, the prints are professional quality, in every way as good as lab photos. You may be asking, "wasn't that a little extravagant? Well, yes, but not as bad as you might think. You know me. The machine retailed for $25k. It is rated for life use by "feet" of paper and is rated at 250k feet. It has 30k feet on it which means I can print about 300,000 5x7s before it dies (at a mark up of $10 per print that means it can generate $3,000,000 in revenue). Well, anyway, I bought it from this super nice guy in Texas who runs a photography studio and uses these machines and bought 50 of them from WalMart photo or somewhere so he'd never have to worry again about printers. He kept 6 and sold the rest. Oh, he sold me mine, with $400 worth of paper and dye, and a dell computer to run it with XP pro and the drivers installed, for $2300. Yes, two thousand three hundred. I know, itis still a lot of money, but last week I generated $1,000 in photo revenues and next week I'm already scheduled for $2,ooo so it will be worth it!

Also, perhaps you noticed that there is a monitor on my desk. Jeanne has been on me for quite a while about getting another monitor in my office so when people come in to look at their pictures they won't have to crowd around the monitor on my computer desk. I've been putting it off because monitors are expensive and I'm the cheapest man in the whole world. So, yesterday, Emily and I went to Costco to do Sunday dinner shopping and there was a monitor, "display only" on close out for $199. I took it as a sign, since it was the very day I was cleaning my office and bought it. On returning home it was discovered that the monitor has a base unit that allows one to rotate it 360 degrees on its base. Absolutely perfect for its intended use.

Thanks to Annie for teaching me about little miracles (and big ones as well!).

God Will Use You on Vacation - II

So, in this case Jeanne and I are walking by the harbor in Newport one evening (walking off some ice cream or gelatto no doubt) and it is beautiful. The sun is setting. I've got my camera and am taking some pictures of the sunset (which will lead to a later point).
We hear a woman's voice say something like, "I'll give you two dollars each if you'll just be good for one picture!" There, at the waterfront is a mother trying to take pictures of her three children for Christmas Cards. They turned out to be extremely nice kids, but you how it is sometimes performing for your mother.So, Jeanne and I look at each other, you know the look, we didn't need to say anything to know we were going to help this mother get some good pictures. Well, you know how Jeanne is with kids. The minute she started working with them they became angels. Then I asked if mom minded if I took some pictures with my camera.This is where another part of service comes into play. You know you get blessed when you serve others - every time! Aside from meeting some nice people, feeling good and coming away with a smile, I learned something about my camera. As previously mentioned, I was taking pictures of the sunset right before hearing the mothers plea to her children. To maximize the color of sunsets, I usually go to a speed setting and play with the exposure time. I forgot that the setting for the sunset was still on my camera when I started to take pictures of the kids. I loaded my flash and started shooting and the results were very nice. So, now I know how to maximize a sunset and get nice portraits at the same time. Now that's a blessing of service!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

God Will Use You on Vacation

Meet the Smarts - as in "Get Smart." Once again, in more or less traditional fashion, I had prayed that we could be instruments in God's hands. It's a standard for me. Don't get me wrong, I mean it and earnestly want to do God's handiwork but most days it's not directly obvious what work was done.

So, on this day, Jeanne and I are eating at a famous little dive of a restaurant, The Lobster Pool, situated right on the ocean in Rockport, Mass., because the Shaffers told us it was a great place (who better to know about food than Byron Shaffer). Anyway, as expected, the food is very good and the scenery over the ocean is beautiful. The only real trade-off is putting up with the bugs in the grass that like to eat your legs. We could have eaten inside, but then it truly would have been just a dive of a restaurant.

Anyway, while eating, I notice this couple who look about our age. I noticed them because there are only about 20 of us crazy enough to put up with the bugs outside so we all noticed each other. After dinner, I get the camera out and start taking some pictures of the sunset and while doing so hear a woman's voice, "You look like someone who knows what they're doing, would you mind taking our pictures. My husband is so embarrassed that I'm asking you but it's our 30th anniversary and I'd like to have some nice pictures," she says while offering me her camera.

I gladly accepted the offer but suggested the pictures be taken with my camera and the picture taking led to a long, seaside conversation about California, nursing, social work and more. It was a great time, and at the same time, I felt again like the Lord had used me just a little to bring an extra portion of joy to someone's life. And that feels good. So, to sum it up; good food, good scenery, good company, doing good - IT'S ALL GOOD!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Vacations Basics

It's important before diving deep into the more ethereal topical matter that readers understand the basics of vacation for me and Jeanne. This, of course, can be different for every vacation but for this vacation the basics are clear: Eating, Walking, Picture Making.

Understanding those things before proceeding will help one comprehend the the rich lessons and experiences of this vacation. So, as you can see from the above picture, eating was preeminent on this trip. If you can comprehend this one photo you'll not need to wonder too much more about the eating part of the trip. What lies in front of Jeanne is an order of Fish & Chips from a little dive of a restaurant located right on the seashore in Rockport, Mass. The name of the place is the Lobster Pool. That might be significant for any of you traveling to Rockport in the near future because it is not to be missed. Yes, a single piece of lightly breaded, deep fried cod more than covered the 10" plate and under it was a full order of hand-cut fries, all of it soaked in malt vinegar and then covered with tartar sauce. In the foreground are the sweet potato fries, because there just wasn't enough to eat! What you can't see are the bugs eating our legs and the old picnic table, shared with other patrons, for seating.
Some of you may be gagging right now while others of you are jealously remembering the best fish and chips you ever ate and calculating how long ago it was. But what you must understand is that earlier that very day, Jeanne and I had walked perhaps 10 miles while investigating Salem, Mass., so we had a few calories to burn. Which brings us to the picture making portion of the trip.
This doesn't really take a lot of words, except to say that fish & chips, no matter how good, taste so much better when this is the view from the table. Wish you were there with us!

PS - it was a trip full of blessings. We entered Rockport on the east side and could tell by the directions that the restaurant was on the west side. I said to Jeanne on the way there, "too bad we won't be able to look west across the water to see the sunset." Well, apparently Rockport is bounded on all sides by ocean, because we looked directly west across the water even though it is located on the extreme east side of Mass. :)

Little Lessons

Just a starting note on some reporting on our vacation to New England. Because of timing issues, we decided to go to church at Lebanon Ward on the Sunday we left so we could get Mary and Ashlie to UMass on time. There was a young man who worked for us that left under suspicious circumstances and we have pursued legally who is a member of the Lebanon Ward. I didn't even think about it until Jeanne leaned over and asked, "Can you take the sacrament with (him) in the chapel?" Then the realization came that perhaps I hadn't handled everything exactly as I should have and my heart should be filled with more love and ... I'm glad Jeanne is around to keep me straight. So, that is the beginning of our wonderful trip - and I did take the sacrament in case you were wondering!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Beautiful Vacation

Well ... all I have time to say is was a beautiful vacation. (more to come)