Monday, February 27, 2012

Best Shot from February

Time to weed through the month's photos and choose a favorite for the Click it up a Notch challenge.

Not much weeding to do though, since, just today, Nico volunteered to pose for me a few hours before sunset and we went out to have a session.  I didn't get a lot of shots before another duty called, but, in those few moments of looking through the lens and seeing him standing so tall in his hoodie I realized what a young man he's becoming.

He's no little boy anymore.  Sure, I've known for a while that he's threatening to pass me up in height any day now (not saying much).  I know when he hugs me and tells me I'm 'the best mommy ever' but then runs off to make his own iced tea or read Bleak House, that my days of hearing such notions are numbered.  And even though he still asks for permission to check out the Lego web-site, the day he can out manage me on the intricacies of file-downloading and network-maneuvering is imminent.

None of this is news, but, when I looked through that lens today, I was able to stop and see the lean, tall young man with the gentle smile and thoughtful eyes, and I almost couldn't imagine that he was the same little bubbie with the chubby cheeks and all the questions.  Oh my, how he's grown.

That's why I love photography and that's why this is my February favorite:


I also posted this photo for critique with Mom Tried It's Blog Hop.  Have mercy... LOL

Sunday, February 26, 2012

P52/Week 8: "Light" and Zoo Visit

The week was flying by as usual and as mostly usual, the weather here was dreary, rainy and uninspiring. Uninspiring on lots of fronts but, especially for a photo challenge called "Light."  Nothing was coming to me.
On Saturday we made a visit to the zoo for their Polar Bear Day. Nico's current animal love is this biggest and cutest of beasts, so there was our motivation to get out on a coooollllldddd day.

While we waited for the 2:30 Enrichment Activities to begin we claimed our spot in the tunnel that carries viewers beneath the bears swimming pool.  It was warmer there than the above ground outdoor viewing areas.  When the bear made her splash into the water and the crowd exclaimed to see the bear coming toward us, back lit by the glinting water, Jt said, "This can be your light shot."  I'm glad he said it because it put me in the right frame of mind for considering the light and not just the cute bear doing cute bear things.

She was cleaning her face here, but we laughed that she was playing peek-a-boo.

Oh, and talk about cute.  These two are just so playful and active. It's a joy to see the sea otters every time we visit the zoo. They push off the sides of their tank and just enjoy the ride, dipping under the water and avoiding each other in just the nick of time with a flip and a splash.

We checked out some of the non-water-loving animals, of course. Lots were not to be found on this chilly day, but those we did see were a bit more active than usual.  We really wanted to see the new baby gorilla, but mom had her elsewhere, unfortunately.

Not sure if this leopard thought we couldn't spot him behind those branches, but, well, we could.  He's in a new enclosure since the last time we were there and seems a bit more comfortable.  He always paced in circles before, this time he was relaxing and cleaning himself.

Here's another I took at the Water's Edge (where the polar bears and sea otters are).  The sand tiger sharks are definitely a sight to see. They swim sooo slowly, which is great when you're trying to catch a photo of them and they're in the right spot... annoying when they're in the wrong spot and you have to wait for them to come around.  How rude. LOL
My boys on the other hand have an amazing tolerance for their mom and her desire to get the right shot and will stay still as needed. As you can tell, my photography is very much made possible by my supportive family. :-)
So this is the one I used for the "Light" entry at My 4 Hens

Heading over to Flickr to see some of the other entries...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Follow the Yellow Brick Wall

Placing another photo on Sweet Shot Tuesday.  This one was on my list of shots to get as soon as I noticed this building.  It's the home of a sign/advertising company and they obviously know how to get noticed.  One side of their building is yellow, one green and the other purple.  The side that doesn't face any traffic and really only faces the side of a hill was left to it's natural yellow brick exterior.  But, it's bright (I toned it down in this first shot) and I thought it would make for a fun background.

You can click through here to see lots of other great entries on the Sweet Shot Tuesday challenge at My 3 Boybarians:

Here are a few others from that shoot.  We went on a Sunday, when the building would obviously be empty.  Enzo in particular was a bit nervous about it. Can you tell?  HA

They can seriously jump.

One of our go-to poses when I'm having a bit of trouble getting them to warm up to the camera.

Nico said he was waving to anyone who would see this photo. So consider yourself waved to. :-)
I like these shots, but have it in the back of my mind to go back and try again.  The light was fading, I didn't notice Enzo was wearing yellow until we were on the way and well, it was fun. So, we'll wait for another sunny/warm Sunday and hope it comes before July.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Winter Tree ID

The boys and I went on a winter tree ID walk this weekend. It was lead by Kate St. John of WQED, a public TV/radio station.  Kate is an expert birder, with a particular fascination with peregrine falcons.  She blogs about them on WQED's website.  She told us, "Once you want to know a lot about birds, you want to know a lot about trees."
It's clearly worked for her as she was able to adeptly identify and sort out many trees for us on our walk based on their twig characteristics or their bark.  She also taught us how to use the tree identification book we have to figure them out through a flow chart of questions about the tree's twigs.

I took the opportunity for photos, of course.  With a combination of seeing the beauty through her eyes and the personal challenge of finding an interesting shot in the dreary depths of winter,  here's what I found:

A Black Locust tree. Love the crooked path the tree takes as it winds into the sky and how the other, wispier trees stand away from it as if they're afraid of it's sharp personality.

Cheated -er, uh, was inspired on this one.  I saw a shot just like it on the cover of one our fellow hiker's tree ID books.

The ghostly sycamore.

The sycamore from another view.

Friday, February 17, 2012

P52/Week 7: Wildcard

I've committed myself to participating in a photography project called Project 52, where each week there's a challenge to take a photo with a particular theme and enter it on the group Flickr site.

It's week 7 of my Project 52 with a 'wildcard' theme, meaning:  anything goes.  So here's what goes:

Yep, you've seen it before, but it's just that good... or, maybe it's just book-keeping.

What I  like: The triangle, the light, the classic and clean look that the b/w conversion gave it.

I still need to come up with one for 'imperfection', which was Week 4.

P52/Week 6: Emotion

I've committed myself to participating in a photography project called Project 52, where each week there's a challenge to take a photo with a particular theme and enter it on the group Flickr site.

Playing catch up for last week. I let myself get overwhelmed with the idea of creating some terrifically emotional photo... something dramatic or intense... so I did what I often do in such cases... nothing.  But, I'm over it and looking over my latest photo shoot, I decided to be perfectly satisfied with the commonplace (especially when my boys are involved) emotion of 'joy.'

Monday, February 13, 2012

Banjo Weekend

We spent the weekend at the Annual Allenberry Banjo Massacre in Boiling Springs, PA.  It's one of many banjo conventions that go on throughout the year and all over the country.  It's one of the few that we've attended with regularity over the past 5 years or so.

Here's one of my favorite shots from the whole weekend.  They were practicing in the room and my camera suddenly screamed out to me (only after I was done sorting out and discarding the brown M&M's, of course).

It's fun to watch as the boys progress in their banjo playing with an event like this as a metric. From the time they first picked up the banjo, they've been invited on the stage at this event with the hosting banjo band.

It's clear that they're at the point where they're there not only to show some progress, but also to entertain.  Nico started taking the mic at this event last year, but, said as little as possible. This year he's a bit more confident and I think with a bit more forethought and practice will really be improving even more in the coming months and years.  He even managed a joke.  Here's a link to the video.

They have a terrific time the whole weekend, seeing familiar faces and meeting new ones.  They get lots of feedback and praise for their efforts.  And, they look forward to performing, but breathe a sigh of relief when it's over, then sit back to watch the rest of the show.  Here they are with a few of the banjo-world celebrities: (notice the catch-lights... wheeeee!)

With Steve DiBonaventura, an absolute marvel on the banjo and just fun and friendly guy. We've met him a few times now and he's always encouraging to the boys and excited to see them progress and gain interest in the banjo since he's got littles at home.

The Chiodi Trio with Charlie Tagawa, band leader of the Peninsula Banjo Band in San Francisco, and the weekend's headliner.  A great entertainer and just a real character.  He was especially impressed when Nico asked for his autograph.

The Chiodi's with Nori Tagawa, Charlie's son. A violinist by trade, this guys is an amazing player and as his smile reveals, just a joy to watch and all-around nice guy. He had lots of advice for the boys on everything from finger exercises to dealing with life as a musician. So happy to have met him.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Trying Something New

I decided to try my hand at street photography today. The only problem I encountered was that my subjects didn't show up. Slackers.  They were probably all at some fab Superbowl party or something. I knew the streets would be sparse of people on a Sunday, especially Superbowl Sunday (who's playing again?), but, it was emptier than I thought it would be.
Not one to let a little detail like everything-I-planned-not-being-available derail me, I went for the next best -and probably easier- thing. It was really the color of the sky that drew me out afterall, so I hunted for interesting architecture and detail shots. Here's what I found...

These two were just too cute to pass up. With red doors behind them? Forget it.

 Love the way the tree in the background mimics the fence in this.

Oohh, the rich tones.... and the way the leaf breaks the circle ... (No, I didn't put it there)
Love it.

Not surprisingly, this is Enzo's favorite. 


I might have a love/hate relationship with this next one.  I was disappointed to see Mr. Gillece in this shot and didn't have a lot of options for changing the composition because these ladies are pretty tall and there was only one planter for me to stand on. But, then I laughed at the dichotomy of it and decided to give it a try.  At least if I ever need a drain cleaning, I'll know these ladies will remind me who NOT to call.

Another "been meaning to try" shot. I love seeing patterns in photos, but have never tried it until now.  Definitely something different from me and I'll keep trying.

I noticed the puddle before I noticed the house and wanted to see what interesting reflections I could get. Love the asymmetry of the house.

 More 'gotta get the sky' shots.  The building has great potential for being quite striking, but like most things in this town, function comes before aesthetics.  I waited and waited for the flag to fly even though it meant I'd be even colder when it did.

I always notice these buildings when I drive by. Whomever the brave soul is that decided to paint their little share of the row-house pie purple did a great deed for humanity (or at least the West End). It makes everything around it look more interesting, too. 

And this one, I just liked the seeming label for future generations. 

...And... one more...  I've been meaning to get a self-portrait. So here's my first attempt.  Was wishing whoever owned the parked car would suddenly show up and drive it away, but, like I said, they were all in hiding.

Friday, February 3, 2012

P52: Week 5 "Simplicity"

I've committed myself to participating in a photography project called Project 52, where each week there's a challenge to take a photo with a particular theme and enter it on the group Flickr site.

This week's theme for the Project 52 is simplicity. I was going through my week thinking about what I would do.... a simple cupcake that makes the boys so happy or the boys against a solid color, but brightly colored wall (makes me happy) were among my thoughts.

The boys have been taking various classes with a man named Ryan, who, it seems, can do just about any handicraft imaginable.  This week they learned leather working and he was talking about how amazing leather is as a material. It's versatility, it durability and its beauty all in such a simple package.  He started sanding a piece of antler that he wants to attach as a handle to the leather tankard he's making and I realized I had my shot.

I love the whole set up. He's sitting on a piece of sheepskin, wearing wool pants and next to him you can see the leather bag that he'd made for himself while in college and still uses years later. He's definitely a man with passion for his art and living from the land and that's why I love that my boys have the opportunity to learn from him.

I missed last week's challenge, which was, appropriately enough "imperfection." I nailed that one, hunh?