Wednesday, November 30, 2011

NOPHO Week 4 - Negative Space

I had such fun shooting this weeks photos. The kids and I went to the Franklin Park Conservatory - one of my favorite places around town and I went to town with my camera.

Having no photography background and my artistic background is limited to one Art History class in college, I will admit I had to do some research on the topic of negative space. I think I captured it. At least I hope so.

Again, I have to thank Allie for another wonderful challenge. I have learned so much. First of all, I have learned about my camera and editing digital photographs. I have struggled with temperamental models. I played with a concept, until I got something that really worked. And this week I expanded my knowledge base, in terms of photograph as an artistic medium.

On top of all of that, I had a great time.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

NOPHO Week 3 - Elegant



[el-i-guhnt] Show IPA
tastefully fine or luxurious in dress, style, design, etc.: elegant furnishings.
gracefully refined and dignified, as in tastes, habits, or literary style: an elegant young gentleman; an elegant prosodist.
graceful in form or movement: an elegant wave of the hand.
appropriate to refined taste: a man devoted to elegant pursuits.
excellent; fine; superior: an absolutely elegant wine.
Between you and me I elegant is like porn, you know it when you see it. Otherwise it is hard to define. Sometimes elegant is bordering on regal. Sometimes it is the opposite of trashy, ostentatious, or too much. Sometimes it borders on austere.
It is subjective and really a matter of sensibility and taste. Or in terms of art, ascetic.
L, wrinkling up her nose,  asked me what elegant was exactly and it took me a bit to explain it. She snorts and says, "you mean boring." L's tastes skirt or dive into ostentatious, depending on the day. She hasn't met a pattern she couldn't live without or mix and match with... She thinks black and white as a design scheme is in a word, BORING. (She also gave each photo in last weeks wrap up a thoughtful and very critical critique. She knows what she likes and she has, even at her young age a very fierce and well defined aesthetic.) 
I struggled with this photo this week. At first I had planned an outing for myself and I had an idea of what I wanted to shoot. Somehow I never made it there. Then I set up a shot in my kitchen and while I like and it is very sensual, it just wasn't exactly what I wanted.
I took a shot of the cat and well elegant it isn't, but regal, we nailed regal.
On a lark I took my camera with me Saturday as we hit the park and I hoped something would speak to me. The park is new and the season at a rather stark point, but I decided to be free and just take pictures.
As I edited the photos, I realized I had a few wonderful shots. And then finally, in the last three, I saw my picture! Simple, strong, and elegant.
(I posted the runners up on Monday and Tuesday and will finish up on Thursday and Friday. A week of photos this week.)
Don't you agree?

Monday, November 21, 2011

NOPHO Week 3 - Elegant - Runner Up

I think this reads more regal than elegant.

She is a beauty and she knows it. Her color is pink with skeleton's on it. She is a goth cat, our Snickers. This picture shows off her amazing stripes and lovely caramel colors. It also shows her eye, which isn't exactly right. Much better after her surgery. She is perched on H's car, which was warm, I had just come back from being out to lunch and running errands. She sits on the cars alot, she likes to be up. She can also see into the house from this vantage point.

This will be our second winter with Snicker's I think. We have tricked out her winter abode and she has a very plushy bed. This is the time of year where she stays closer to home and eats alot of cat food.

What can I say - she is Queen of the Garage. And wants every body to know it.

Music Monday: LIVE - Lightning Crashes

It's been a month. A month since we walked away from a hole in the ground, leaving her behind. In the freezing rain and puddles of mud.

It is the circle, I know it is, we are born, we live and we die. Sometimes in a matter of hours, sometimes in a matter of weeks, and sometimes that time stretches into years. We are dying the minute we take that first breath... it is the first, until it is our last... Only what if we are ready for it to be our last or her last...

Going through her jewelry, I found last night the scrabble tiles the kids picked out for her, on the pretty pink chain. Only a year ago... it seems like forever and yesterday all at once.

oh now feel it comin' back again
like a rollin' thunder chasing the wind
forces pullin' from the center of the earth again
I can feel it.

(H took me to see LIVE in 1994, I think you could say it was one of our first dates, only I did not know it at the time. I had never heard of LIVE before he invited me to the concert. I am not sorry I went... They remain one of my favorite groups.)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

NOPHO Week 2 - Comfy Cozy

So this week, I took and edited two pictures because, I had to learn a bit of a lesson about digital photography and frankly my helpers like to push random buttons.

The long and short of it is, my camera was set incorrectly, therefore I was taking pictures at a low resolution. Allie is a dear and emailed me that again, same as last week, my pictures was an incorrect number of pixels. Thanks to H and a friend, I have been set straight and they tried not to make me feel too dumb in the process, even if I did sense some head shaking and muttering under their breath.

What did I learn - you cannot in photoshop resize a picture that is 400 px to one that 700 px. What you have to do is reshoot. Which is big fun when you use models. L and E were each paid two pieces of candy for their collective time investment of 10 minutes, 5 minutes or so on Friday afternoon and again 5 minutes or so on Sunday late morning. I will say laying under a blanket is hard work and they probably deserved more pay than two pieces of candy, but I am working with a budget.

The idea for this week's picture came from my childhood, I always liked to hide under the covers. I would read, play with my dolls and color, all while hiding in my bed under a pile of blankets. Also, E is a tornado in the bed, he is all over the place. So many mornings, when I peek in at him, all you see is a huge pile of balled up covers with his little feet sticking out. It is so adorable.

And as they say a picture was born.

What you can't see is their arms are sticking out and they are each holding two of their favorite stuffed animals. We experimented with some longer shots - to show hands and feet, but for some reason, their feet won out.

It was a fun shoot, even if my models were a tad surly and cranky and frankly, bossy. Talent these days, what's a girl to do?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Holiday Story -- Santa Gets Thanked by L

L had to write a story for class and frankly, it is pretty good and it proves my point, a writer writes and a writers personality and sensibilities shine through, even in works of fiction. She asked me if I thought it was good enough for my blog and I told her it was absolutely good enough for my blog.

So here is her story!

Santa Gets Thanked
by L

It was the night of Christmas Eve Seema and Percha were hoping to get all they wanted. Seema and Percha were sisters. The two sisters were sitting on the to rusty metal chairs on the deck. “Mom said we have to get to bed early if we want Santa to come,” said Percha.

“I know,” said Seema “but I want to see what Santa looks like."

“Well,” said Percha “Santa has a fluffy white beard and a red cloak”.

“I know that,” said Seema “but I also want to thank him for last years gifts”.

“Girls,” called mom “time for bed.”

Seema and Percha quickly got up, ran inside, got on their PJ's, and went to bed. I really want to see Santa thought Seema. Seema had a hard time gong to sleep but when she did, she woke to a very loud sound. Seema jumped out of bed and ran down the stairs. When Seema got down stairs she saw me. Seema carefully crept up to me. I finally looked at Seema and said “Hi are you Seema?”

“Yeee...sss,” Seema said very scared.

“Ho, Ho, Ho, Ho!” I said, “there is no need to be scared.”

“I came to say thank you for last years gifts,” Seema said.

“You are welcome,” I said and with that I was gone.

Seema sat on the chair and softy touched the wrapping paper. Seema looked at the clock, it was 6:00 am, one hour before her sister got up. So she waited and waited. Her sister was up half an hour later. Seema and Percha opened the gifts. Seema got two stuffed animals, a craft and a movie. Percha got the same. Both of them had the best Chrismas ever.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Bench 'em All, Sack 'em All - Their season is over

I will be the first admit, I am not a sports nut. I like the occasional baseball game, I love Wimbledon, most especially the cut outs to the little British cultural bits and the fashion. Venus and Serena Williams have made women's tennis wear fun and high fashion.

I loathed youth soccer, but the little boys loved it. In fact I think sports are healthy for kids in moderation. Being a part of something larger than yourself, learning discipline, team work, driving hard towards a common goal. Those are all very important and impactful lessons.

Over the last few days my Twitter stream (which by the way is my source for news. If the tweeps are talking about it, it is probably something I so at least take a gander at. I also follow the AP news wire.) At first I ignored the Penn State news. Football, coaches, blah, blah, blah - just not on my radar. I blame the Buckeyes, no really I do. One cannot move around this city and not get blasted with some flavor of Buckeye Fever and so I have developed a finely honed protective anti-football talk filter.

This is until the posts in my timeline made it clear that this was sexual abuse or the attempted sexual abuse of children, young boys. Um, what? For years. With witnesses. What? On what planet does someone see a child being assaulted by an adult and does not call the police, scream stop, break it up, jump up and down, yell, all of the above or something equally impactful. Run over and grab the child out of the abusers clutches? There are dozens and dozens of better responses than the doing nothing...

What is wrong with people? I mean we are talking about possible life long physiological scars, which sex abuse and attempted sex abuse leave, verses possibly offending a coach of a football team.

If the graduate student saw a coach, in a locker room, with a 10 year boy and the adult's mouth is on the child's genitals, or worse yet there is the adults fingers, mouth or genitals are in or near the child's anus,  I think some immediate action to stop that is in order.  Do not pass go, do not go for coffee, do not even take 5 minutes to pee, stop the behavior, yell - scream - do something for the love of mike. That behavior is illegal. Period. Beyond that the sexual abuse of a child is immoral. There are somethings which just are not allowed to happen, under any circumstances and the sexual abuse of a child is one of them. Period.  If the kid had his pants down and there was some question, is the coach looking at a possible injury, well then, I think the witnesses should have made themselves known and at least asked a question, "Um, what's the issue? Should we get the team trainer or doctor?"

(UPDATE: After rereading the grand jury indictment a janitor saw something similar two years prior and reported it to his supervisor. Nothing was done. Seriously people, did it not occur to you to intervene and aid the child?)

Instead they go to the head football coach's house to discuss this. What is there to discuss? This is illegal. If you saw it in a mall bathroom, you call security and or the police. In a public park, you call the police, in a train station, you call the police. Is anyone seeing a pattern here?

My eyes about popped out of my head as I read multiple news reports where the lawyers are playing legal semantics. The statute of limitations, the burden of this, the burden of that, the following of internal protocol. We have a strong defense.

Newsflash - you have no defense. You are morally bankrupt. Every single person, who knew what was happening and DID NOTHING has no defense.

Now hear this the lot of you. You are horrible, vile excuses for human beings. Anything short of benching and sacking and throwing the book at everyone and anyone who knew about the abuse of children is unconscionable and speaks to how devoid of common decency we as a society have become. They should all be hung in public stocks and pelted with rotten fruit for days for starters.

These 8 to 10 children had something very important and sacred stolen from them and then they were violated again when other influential people, who were in a position to help them and furthermore prevent the possible abuse of another child, decided that protocol, chain of command, and unbelievably FOOTBALL was more important.

What play book are we working from? What has happened to our society that this was even allowed to become such an issue? Is a National Title really worth that???

Crafty: Canisters

So I have been slowly, very slowly working to achieve a Zen pantry. I crave organized spaces, not that I ever really seem to achieve them, I crave them all the same. I have slowly thru the acquisition of a number of wonderful IKEA containers, slowly gotten a handle of a number of our loose odds and ends in the pantry.

I struggled with canisters. I don't have just regular AP flour to worry about. I have besan, and sweet white rice, and sorghum and the list goes on and on. The joys of being gluten free.

Early this summer I spied these glass jars with screw top lids at the Wasserstrom stall at the North Market for a buck a piece. I know totally cheap! The problem is with so many flours, I need to be able to label the jars.

Chalkboard paint.

Right - chalk board paint. I can change the label when I need to, it is cheap and easy.

While I couldn't find the paint in a can that I could paint on with a paint brush, I did find spray paint and I decided to give it a try.

So I used painters tape to tape out a rectangle on each jar. I will be the first to admit, I totally eyeballed it. I didn't measure and I wasn't consistent. The last two were the best, and if these guys were going to occupy a place of prominence on the counter, I would have gone back and reworked the others, but they aren't. These jars will be in my pantry and the only person who is going to see them is me.

Monday afternoon I went outside and painted these guys as the evening was calm and warm enough that the paint would work properly.

I used paper to cradle the jars and an old shirt to cover the lid and top portion of the jar.

Following the paint can instructions, I shook the paint well and worked in controlled overlapping rows, re-shaking every time I moved onto the next jar.

The paint goes on very shiny but dries to a dull black. As per the can's instructions I allowed the first coat to dry for an hour and then did another one.

Yesterday I carefully removed the tape and lucky for me there was very little stray paint. It removed easily with some finger nail scrapping or paint remover.

All I have to do now and condition the surface, which means coloring it with chalk and then wiping it off.

I am pleased with the results. They are serviceable and will be easy to use, now that I can label them and change the labels as needed. If I were to try this project again, I would make a template out of bendable cardboard I think.

All in, I think this project cost me about $10.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

NOPHO: Week 1 Arranged

On and off this fall I have been taking pictures of my dahlias. Mostly outside. These are the last of them. These guys sort of survived the frost. Since the word or the week was arranged, I contemplated arranged marriage, given my mom's passing, I thought about arrangements, as in final arrangements. Then again - flowers are often arranged.

I spied these old medicine bottles arranged on the shelf in my living room, considered furniture arrangements and then decided - no flowers in bottles. Dying flowers in bottles.

I shot about 30 pictures - playing with light, experimenting with a black light (which really did not accomplish much), futzing with the camera and the flash settings. (Yes a smart girls would have written down what she did, but I never claimed smart. Clever and creative yes, smart and organized, not always.)

I then decided on this one (number 28) and I cropped and experimented with edits in iPhoto.

Other than the shadow, which I could not seem to get rid of, I think I accomplished what I set out to accomplish. I like the effect in the photo and I think the bottles are very beautiful...

Monday, November 7, 2011

Music Monday: Brick Songs

Today I am thinking about bricks - not the kind that require mortar though, today I am thinking about Lego Bricks.

Yesterday I took the kids to the Lego KidsFest in Cleveland. You really haven't lived until you watch your kids sit in a pile of 40,000 plus lego bricks and build like crazy. How about monochrome building stations? Giant lego murals.

Insane - totally insane.

Yesterday I learned that legos do in fact come in pretty pink and that both of my children have fantastic imaginations and can build a wide variety of things if given the chance. I joined in the fun also, it really was an event designed to spark your creativity.

So today I offer three songs about bricks.

First a snazzy remix of the Pink Floyd Classic Another Brick in the Wall.

I also particularly like this one...

Arctic Monkeys - Brick by Brick

And finally another classic... It seems fitting - considering I saw all manner of inspiring brick art and brick houses or more correctly house like structures....

The Commodores - Brick House

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

November Photo Challenge

Allie is doing it again and I am going to give it a go, once again.

This time the photo challenge is a bit more challenging as to subject matter and equipment - but easier in terms of time commitment. Four photos this time, instead of 30! Regular camera instead of cell phone camera. I will be using my handy dandy Canon Power Shot SD 780 Digital ELPH. This is what I used to shoot my pictures in Iceland and I love it. H gave it to me as a gift a few years ago. It might be little, but it sure is mighty.

Want to participate, there is still time. This weeks photo isn't due until Sunday.

Get all the details on her blog - show + tell.

I will also be posting my photos on my blog the Wednesday they hit her blog. I plan to tell you alittle about what I trying to accomplish and how I achieved the photo I did.

The other night, H sighed and said, "if you keep this up there are photography lessons and a fancy camera in our future, right?"

I just smiled. I am not sure, but for now this is holding my creative in focus.