So I'm quite sure we've never had a snowy February 28th. Tomorrow we will be iced in on March 1st for a very late winter. Today the husband, boys and myself went out to the farm for some walking, sledding and outdoors time. I wasn't about to drive so I took my ice road trucker with me. Still cloudy so no stars with a white backdrop of snow yet..
I have this lens which is a wonderful lens, that I don't love like I think I should. The 24-70 is supposed to be the great catch all lens, yet I just don't like it as much as the fixed 50 of the 70/200 or my wide angle.
I was trying to catch the water dripping off.
Jack went with me. We didn't take the other dogs with us today.
Definitely feeling the stress of the weekend; Jack and I went on a walk before meeting up with the boys who were out on the four wheeler.
I don't think there is anything great about the photos I'm posting today.
So I don't have a lot to say about them. I do get amused when I get followed by other photographers on twitter or interact with them on message boards on Facebook and I had one woman tell me she was a "high end" photographer (rolls eyes) and another whose profile went into being an award winning photographer. Okay. I don't need that, I want to learn more about photography but if you know you're good at something why do you need to be validated by other people? I mean it's nice when people want you to do their portraits or hire you but, come on. When you're motivated internally you know when you reach a certain point or standard.
But I still have a lot to learn from other people. I'm not sure if I want to play the game that way. I don't really want to play the raise my prices until I'm a "high end" photographer. I also appreciate the people who send me business, but they don't have to. Clearly, I find time to do what I enjoy.
Although, I hope the sky clears and the snow doesn't melt tomorrow so I can get some starry night photos under the snow. I also wish the roads would be clear instead of sheets of ice so I can go to more interesting places and photograph besides the farm (but that won't happen).
Photography teaches you to appreciate negative spaces.
The sled left without the kid...
I kind of just wanted to be outside but it seemed a shame not to photograph the snow. But yesterday was far better when the snow was falling.
Jack was my solitary companion. Jojo moved to a new home and Pumpkin and Ozzie didn't join us. Jack is much more subdued in the snow.
One thing I notice about other photographers is the crop. I think the crop is the most important part of the editing process. But it's March now and I've wasted enough time playing around with these photos I took in February. Looks like tomorrow will be the first March in many many years when the ground was covered in snow. So goodnight.
So, the news said it would snow today. I got up and took the kid to school, I didn't really believe it would snow. I went home, medicated my asthma and fell asleep after my morning kid drop off and woke up at 10:30 am to a text telling me that everyone was getting picked up from school and school would be dismissed at 11:30am. I knew that since it was 10:30 am and snowing hard that it would take me at least an hour to make the twenty two mile drive to the school. I looked out the window and could see the snow coming down. I went the route with the gravel road for about 10 miles but as I was turning my car kept going. I am very thankful for the three or four trucks that stopped and the men who lifted my car from where it was high centered over the ditch. I drove home last weekend in ice from the OKC area and certainly wasn't eager to repeat that white knuckle experience (no, I didn't take any photos... because that was very stressful).
I called my Son's bus driver and found out her route so I could meet her further up the road.
I had good timing I didn't have to wait on the bus long. I made it a few miles past my parents' house to meet him.
I don't remember having snow this late in February before. It will be March on Sunday!
I enjoy snow. I don't enjoy driving/sliding on snow.
Yay for the school bus. I wasn't waiting more than a couple of minutes, but of course my accident slowed me down.
We headed back to the gravel road to go home. We met a couple of trucks one which apparently got stuck at the corner when he tried to turn.
We stopped by to check on my Dad and he had the wood fire burning...
I could not believe I got these shots, because birds do not like to be photographed.
They really don't.
Well, I knew it wasn't meant to be...
So we didn't stay long, but now were on our way back home.
The squirrel... was sitting there. So we stopped.
It doesn't feel like it's almost spring.
I was taking my time. I was actually dreading turning the corner at the end of the road where I slid off the first time.
We haven't had very much snow this year.
I spent the afternoon messing with these pictures, working on laundry and not doing that much else.
Why am I listening to Christmas music? Probably because my playlist made it to Christmas music.
These cows are also probably looking forward to Spring. Isn't it about time for Daylight Savings Time again? Can it hurry? I like my longer days-- yes I know the days are the same length but I'm not a morning person so come on, give me my illusion. I also know the sun doesn't really set and rise.
Moove along, nothing to see here...
Desolate winter scenery... needs to be replaced with greenery. Oh. I must have a poetic soul.
Home sweet home...
Pumpkin and Sister were ready to go out for a break.
Pumpkin likes the snow, Sister is a little bit smarter than Pumpkin I think. She reluctantly went out in the snow.
It's about time to go in... and we did. I went out a couple of hours later to feed the chickens. They escaped their warmth and came out to eat a little.
They were eating cracked corn, but you probably don't care.
That's all for tonight. I kind of wish the stars would come out because I'd like to see what a starlit snowy night would look like. So, tomorrow we finish February with more wintry weather.
My "Baby" is 14. I love him. He's extremely intelligent, never has missing homework, never in trouble at school. But he sprained his ankle Friday so we had a trip to the ER.
I'm proud of my 14 year old Son. Birthday's aren't as much fun when they're teenagers. You try, but the lack of total excitement is underwhelming.
Fortunately it is a short lived time in your life; those Junior High years. I posted about his 10th birthday in 2010. This makes me realize how quickly time flies!
So happy birthday to my biggest surprise! We didn't know whether he was going to be a girl or boy before he was born so I was in shock that he was a boy!
So, you see as much as your birthday is about you, it is also about your parents.
And your Great Grandparents and those you love who you've lost.
Justin's first portrait - yes this was newborn photography in 2001.
Mr. Justin at 3months. :-)
13 years ago today.
One of my favorites.
Anyways as much as teenagers hate their baby pictures, here is my baby. Happy 14th Justin.
So all of these shots are composites, they are 25+ shots merged into one. So 25 shots that take 30 seconds apiece to shoot - one photo is worth about at least an hour of my time, between driving, editing, and posting. The one above is the best shot from last night's drive to the farm. I actually had to stand outside by the tripod and not sit in the car to get this shot. I love that I caught the reflections of the stars on the pond.
Why did I not discover how fascinating the night sky is before now? I never looked for it. I never had a reason to. Maybe what we need to understand and get in tune with nature is finding a reason. One reason I love photography was being able to find a reason to explore my world, with or without companionship. One reason I love exercise is being able to be outside in all four seasons and enjoy our world and the happiness of my pets. I think we need a reason. A reason to exist.
Perhaps that's why people fight so hard for their ideologies, they can't handle the idea that they're wrong and that perhaps this tiny, insignificant life on earth is all we have. They have to seek reassurances that their existence will continue beyond the physical. Yet, if you look into the stars you can see that your existence has always been here. Your existence will extend beyond your physical body and beyond the existence of the earth after it's swallowed by a massive sun or when our galaxies collide.
Do we need a god or a greater deity to guide us personally? All I see is strife over religion over this existence that must be proven or we will suffer eternally. I view religion as being so far disconnected from nature and so cerebral that people have lost touch with the goodness that is the earth, while we sit and argue from behind our screens with strangers online.
Perhaps the Universe is so immense that the only explanation is that there is a god. But what an amazing assortment of elements that we are composed of on this tiny planet. I have been thinking about how my first few years of photography were about looking at our planet and my years of study have been focused on social sciences and the science of humanity, while I have missed out on the science of the earth and the story of the galaxy. I spent the last few years chasing the sunset and worrying about our own star that sends us our warmth. To see another galaxy in a photograph now is just amazing to me.
My journey to shoot the stars has taken time first a wish and then action. I'm proud of these images. I want to work at improving them, but I have time for that.
Valentines Day night, I took myself out and shot my first star trails. I've been playing around with this night photography since January and I thought it was time. I wasn't in a wonderful mood last weekend but it feels good to get outside.
I was reading some tutorials and I turned off my long exposure noise reduction function on the camera which really caused my processing speed to go much faster.
It's kind of nice back on my road now that all the oil activity has calmed down. I can go walk and run again. I'll have some more startrail photos up tonight. I have at least two more to process. I kind of enjoy it because the skills to process these complex images are skills that I learned while working on batch editing for weddings.
I started reading Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution the other day, and it is hard to wrap your mind around some of these concepts but it is interesting. I've always been a social science person, fascinated by the actions of man. Maybe the truths found in science are more profound than the actions of man whose world is so limited.
My world of photography has been relatively small by focusing on just the actions of our star and this planet, it's hard to believe that there is so much more out there.
My first Startrails! I'm so excited I have to share the image here and now.
Isn't it amazing, not only can I show you the universe. You can see that we are just a tiny planet moving within it. I'm so happy I can do this. I've wanted to do this since the first time I read about this kind of photography.
This is a composite of 25 images which I did a batch edit on in lightroom and merged into a star program. This is the first night I shot my images with a white balance set to tungsten and I also turned off the long exposure noise reduction which enabled me to shoot many more frames tonight. It was so much better. The long exposure noise reduction was hanging up my image processing time in camera, which I normally do post-processing.
These are all thirty second exposures shot at ISO 800 with a 11-16 Tokina (at 16) on a full frame Canon 6D at f/2.8. It seems counter-intuitive to shoot star photos as wide as you can yet it is how it is done.
So, I'm happy now. I did it. I can mark it off my "to do" list, now to get better at it.
I had a portrait shoot last night in Elgin. Once or twice a week, I'm behind on editing and mailing sessions but I hope to work at them late tonight and catch up.
So after capturing those lovely sunset moments at the end of the golden hour, I knew I wanted to stay for my own personal reasons. It's so funny, I love the sunset on Mt. Scott. It's a beautiful view and I imagine there aren't many to top it. But once you know when and where to be when you want those glorious sunset shots, you know there is no mystery in it.
But, last night - despite being tired from Monday's adventure in OKC - I wanted to watch the stars come out and I had an excuse to be there.
It was eerie and quiet in the refuge - I just stopped along the highway and took a few night shots.
Do you see the galaxy in this photo?
I didn't stay too long. This song is as relevant for my life as it was in 2009 when I first heard it Stop and Stare
I love that I am successful doing photography, yet it wasn't a "childhood dream" it was never really a full blown business scheme. I still consider myself a teacher, yet I am not sure if I belong as a public school educator because I think so many issues cause the actual educating in education to take the back burner.
Isn't this interesting at night? It was very dark there as I drove my way out of the refuge.
I left the Wichitas and headed south out of Lawton to Walters - and headed on highway 53 to Comanche and on home. I have been wanting to photograph this abandoned church at night and it seemed like a perfect night to do it. I was shocked at the amount of traffic from both directions.
You can see the traffic in this shot.
I love finding the universe within a photograph. I watermark these images differently, many images I just don't care about. If people steal them - I know I created them. But when I'm taking late nights and standing outside in the cold and alone for periods of time. I don't want them stolen, they are my creation. I feel differently about these images. They are a challenge and It takes so much more thought to create and compose them. I also feel that they'll end up as some idiots inspirational meme and they'll take my image and place their own thoughts and emotions on them. So, I mark them as mine.
If I didn't value myself I wouldn't be creating these images. These images come out of my selfishness and how I value my solitude and my time to create. I need this time.
So, I read online last night that today was one of the last "free" days at the zoo. What a fun thing to do I thought, I could take the older kids to the zoo today. So after dropping the youngest off at school I came home to my 16 and 18 year old and asked them if they wanted to go to the zoo. Now I don't think we've all been to the zoo together since my 21st birthday or something like that. I did go to the zoo in 2012 with my two boys, but haven't been with my daughter in a very long time.
I've been having tire problems for ages! I'm stuck driving gravel roads fairly often and put a lot of miles on my car commuting. But I noticed a knot on the tire- and I thought surely it would be okay just one day and I checked my air pressure and I carry a small air compressor with me at all times so if I ever get a low tire I can air it up (which it was worth the investment that I made in 2010 for it). So we left and went to the city and my car did have more vibration in the front. We had made it to the edge of Oklahoma City on Interstate 35 and BOOM! The tire blew out, fortunately I was aware of what it was right away and no one was tailgating me and I was able to pull off the very busy interstate. It really did scare me and I was shook up for a while afterwards. I really don't want to experience that again.
I'm so thankful for my brother today. My blowout happened about a mile from his business and he was there within five minutes and changed my tire on the interstate initially. Then took us to Norman to get a new tire for my car and back to change it out so we could continue today. I love my Brother and I couldn't think of a better person to have for a big brother than my brother, Steve.
We finally made it to our destination, at three- two hours before the zoo closed.
Snake neck turtle.
So the hole that the tree frog was in was about the same size as my lens; which made for a cool reflection.
Hungry, hungry Hippo!
It was tshirt weather. I kind of have this love/hate relationship with Oklahoma this time of year. We can have snow or ice and a few days later have 70-80 degree days. Today was a great winter day to visit the zoo.
It blows my mind to see pages like this. To know that people (Americans, etc) go to Africa and hunt these beautiful animals for sport. Speak Up For The Voiceless- What a sad world it is when people would kill a creature just to say they killed it.
I'm sure I have photos of my kids at the zoo from many years ago. I felt obligated to bribe them to pose for me.
This Sumatran Tiger is beautiful. I love seeing the big cats. I kind of hate that we enclose such exotic animals for our viewing pleasure.
The snow leopard had it's own tail.
Giraffes are incredibly sensitive souls. But we power walked for a two hour zoo visit after a very stressful morning - and - then we went to the mall (because the 16 year old needed to look for something at a particular store). Headed home for the 80 mile drive on the wobbly wheel that needs a new rim (which is ordered) and stopped for just a few photos of the night sky.
So, you can wish upon a star. If you could go back in time to say the right things to people to let them know they matter, wouldn't that be wonderful. That they knew they had an impact on your world before you lost them.
I can spend a day doing portraits and still go out and spend two hours shooting the stars. So we have wishful thinking and can wish upon a star, and we have willful thinking. The type of thinking is why some of us can go out and photograph the stars and others do not. Wishful thinking is what I told myself for over a year when I wanted to learn to photograph the stars. I envied others who had the skills and knowledge that I did not. Yet, the information was available for me to learn.
It is always the same isn't it? I can't stop listening to this song by Seether. I'm tired tonight. It's almost midnight. I didn't post last night's photos of the stars but tonight's are far better.
I revisited my favorite tree. I am amazed at the difference between my early February and early January photos. Tonight I got away from the 11-16 wide angle lens and used the 24/70. I needed a little more zoom to focus on the tree.
I love being out early - much better than shooting at midnight. But, fortunately the oil rigs are down and the road is peaceful on the way to the country. I appreciate the silence. I am enjoying this new aspect of photography, because it is so much more than going out and taking photos. I am learning something new. I am learning these constellations whose names and references I have heard my entire life. I am not just photographing the stars, I'm learning a whole other aspect of my universe.
Photography is about being in the right place at the right time. Photography is a mindfulness. It is an awareness of your surroundings. It is a hyperawareness of your surroundings. It is something I realize now that many people do not possess. Photography is this desire to be in the right place at the right time to capture the right moment. Photography is positioning yourself, not just your camera body in the right location. Photography is so much more than taking a photo with a fancy piece of equipment.
But if you can master the light, you should be able to master the darkness. I love that my apprehension has turned to curiosity about the darkness, I'm not alone when I'm in the dark. I'm surrounded by a billions stars and galaxies and as my eyes adjust I can see more.
So I wrote about landscape photographers and how so many post so many similar photos. I know there are many people who photograph the night. But right now it is a new universe for me. I'm glad I took my desire for knowledge and turned it into reality. Even if there are millions of astrophotographers, portrait and landscape photographers all posting to social networks, blogs and pages none of our experiences are exactly alike and none of us went down the rabbit hole of our obsessions for photography with the same intentions. Some of us started by discovering the beauty of the perfect sunset and nearly six years later are looking for the perfect night.