Friday, July 15, 2011

Picture This

I'm about to say something shocking.  Are you ready?  Lean in close to your computer or phone so that I can whisper it to you...

I like to do things other than watch my children.  

Or talk about them, or even write to you about them.  The same goes for other people's children as well.  I really love that quiet no-kids-hanging-on-my-ankles "free time" that is so rare and so totally needed.  I don't get much of it, and that is mainly by choice because I genuinely do love being around my family, but I also love my hair and I'd rather not have to start buying Rogaine for Women because I've ripped my already frazzled hair out of my head.

So what do I do, anyway?  I've got so many hobbies and all are passions I've tried at one point or another to turn into a business, but the bottom line is that with small children still at home, I'm not able to put the time and effort into these things that is needed.  My custom cards and invitations are a fun side job but bring in almost nothing for income, and my chocolate/candy business is one of my most favorite things to do but is uber time consuming.  What is left is photography.

I'm sorry.  I think I made a mistake there.  I can hardly call what I am doing photography.  A more accurate categorization would be "pointing and clicking haphazardly while simultaneously avoiding bodily fluids, injuries and lawsuits from concerned parents who have entrusted their children in my care".  Or something like that.  But whatever it is called, I love to take pictures.  I didn't get into it until I was pregnant with Cael, and finally learned my very basic digital Canon.  I loved to take macro photos of flowers in my yard; photos that now make me cringe from their poor megapixels and bad composition.

After Cael was born, however, I learned some new tricks.  I loved taking photos of him at all angles, and thankfully this made for a really unique album of his first year, and probably made him an even more documented child than any of Brangelina's kids.  Here and there I would take photos for friends and family... a birthday photo here, an engagement pic there, but never anything serious.

Last year I received a newer Canon handheld camera, which only served to boost my interest in capturing the individual hairs on my dog's face, or in zooming so close on Cael's feet that his toe lint was a sharp as a kitchen knife.  I carried that camera everywhere (and still do) and face the daily task of narrowing down the several hundred shots I took that day to just the best ones.  My computer's iPhoto program only has 7,573 photos from the last year.  I'm very selective.

I've always wanted to learn more about photography, and would love to someday take senior pictures as a side job when the kids are older, or take family photos out in the park.  I think I could be good at that, and by avoiding weddings I could also avoid the added pressure or embarrassment that would occur at a ceremony if I stood up and had a pair of tiny boy's dinosaur underpants clinging to my skirt.  I just don't have time for fabric softener, people.  I'm too busy taking photos.

Knowing how much I love it, Joel surprised me last spring with another baby.  Not a human baby, or a canine baby that would also ruin tender moments with incestuous feline trysts, but a brand new digital SLR camera, a Canon EOS 7D.  "EOS 7D" is Canonese for "high-powered enough to count your nose hairs".  I was so daunted by it that it sat, unused, in my closet for a few months.  I was frustrated by it's plethora of settings and my brain's inability to process all of them.  It seemed that a simple photo in the automatic setting was neither simple nor automatic, and with a gaggle of toddlers undertoe, I didn't have the patience.

But a few weeks ago, bothered by the large, empty wall above my new bed in my freshly painted room, I was inspired to pull it out again.  Joel has a hang-up about wall art that is meaningless; he wants all of the paintings/photographs/metal art in our home to be taken by someone we know or have a subject that is meaningful to us.  I like that idea too, but it has resulted in shrine for our children that is overwhelming and to some, maybe a little creepy.  But that's okay, because Cael already likes to push social boundaries.  Our creepiness seems personal in that way.

So for the last couple of weeks, while my generous husband has put our children to bed, I have been roaming around town taking photos.  My husband gets ridiculously long back rubs and I get a couple of child-free hours.  And I get to drive my car without listening to "The Wheels on the Bus."  That's worth the back rub right there.

I've been trying to find a photo that will bring together the colors I already have in my room and look nice with a bright matting in an orange tone.  And here's where you come in.  I'm going to show you a few of my favorite photos I've taken with my new camera, and you tell me what you think.  Joel thinks we should frame a large photo of the homemade pizza I made on Monday night.

You see why I'm turning to you.

Until I learn more about my camera and have an opportunity to take a photography class, I'm sticking to landscapes and scenery that I find inspiring.  Earlier this week, we had a beautiful sunset right outside my kitchen window.  I couldn't snap a photo that didn't wash out the sky or blacken the ground, so I gave up and pointed the camera upward.

A few days later, I was able to escape the house and headed over to Lake MacBride.  After chatting for nearly an hour with a very verbose woman about her run-in with a snake, I was able to capture a really pretty sunset over the water.  Snake-free, mind you.

On the way home from the lake, I pulled down a winding gravel road and caught the sun just before it sank behind the cornfields.

Okay, so I seem to have a thing with sunsets.  I just love the colors and thought it might be a really serene image to fall asleep below.  I also snapped this photo of some ditch flowers near Kroul's Farm on Hwy 1.  I stopped and asked a nice farmer if I could take some photos of their field of hay bales, to which I was told that yes, I could traipse through their property, and they were NOT hay bales, but rye bales.  As an Iowa-born and bred woman, I was very ashamed.  Not of my lack of crop knowledge, but of the really pathetic photos I took.  Ouch.  Those won't be going on the wall.

Lastly, I snapped a few of my blue Rose of Sharon that was a birthday gift from my Dad.  Isn't he good?  It's my favorite and right when it was transplanted it was really outstanding.

So what do you think?  Is there any potential there?  Should I keep sneaking away each day in hopes that I'll find something better?  Maybe you need to see some less "earthy" options.  How about this photo of Graham at the parade practicing his "double dream hands" dance while Joel winces in disgust?

No?  Okay, let's see.  Here's a shot of the fireworks display at the kick-off for Heritage Days.  Would this look nice above my bed, perhaps with a plaque that reads, "Where the fireworks happen"?

Too crass, maybe.  Here's a photograph I took that documented a sweet moment with my Cael-bale.  Not a "hay" bale, mind you, but my Cael-bale.  I have to document these moments so I can be sure they really took place and weren't an Inception-like creation of my subconscious.

Cute, but not the right subject matter, I'm guessing.  I also have a wonderfully emotive photo of Oscar howling in protest of my earlier statement regarding his behavior with our cat.  He has a real problem accepting constructive criticism.

But I don't have that problem, so bring on your thoughts.  Is there something here that would be a good addition to my room?  Or maybe you think I should keep practicing, keep shooting and hope for the perfect image to come along.  Either way, I'd love some feedback.

And a masseuse to pay my debts.


  1. I'm struggling with the same blank spot. I haven't figured mine out yet either... I wouldn't put a picture of the kiddos over the bed. If I were a photog, I would go hunting for something the shade of blue from your room to incorporate into the photo. Of what you have so far, I would pick the photo from the lake.

  2. I have that same blank spot. Surprisingly, I will not hang a picture of my daughter there because there are things that happen in that general vicinity that are just for grown-ups. ;) Her sweet little face might be a big distracting. My two faves would be either of the sunsets but honestly, leave it blank until you have a pictures that you love, love, LOVE!

    I wouldn't do a macro shot because you want this picture big, yes, big at least 24x30 but preferably 30x24. Anything smaller will look too small on the wall. Any sort of landscape would look lovely.

  3. ok the first size in the above comment should say 24x20.

  4. I love the sunset lake picture! The only thing might be that it has a lot of black tones and your room has more brown tones in it....but I bet it would still look really good :-) If you did something by water during the day though it might have more of the browns and blues of your bedroom...


  5. Kristy- I also agree about the kids... a little weird above the bed. Kinda creepy. I was just kidding with those kid shots. I'm not sure what kind of marriage karma we'd be inviting! Good luck finding a good shot for your room, too!

  6. Dorie- Thanks! I agree about the kid shots, although I think you could put Sydney's photo just about anywhere and it would brighten a room! I like all three of the first ones, and I think for me it would depend on which prints the best. I don't want to have all three printed, though, so I'm stuck!!

    Thanks so much for your help!

  7. Shawna- I totally agree about the black- it was my main hang-up about that shot. I did take some with daylight there, but without the sunset they were actually kind of boring! I really need to learn this camera... :)

    Thank you!

  8. To "fix" the black tones issue, you could edit it to have an antique feeling to it, which would keep the color (though it would be muted) but change the tones to a brownish color. Not sure how it would look without trying it, but worth a try! I like the lake and sunset shots, too! And very appropriate for a bedroom! :) -natasha

  9. I hadn't thought of it before, but I agree 100% about meaningful art. Now to find some...

  10. Andrea- Good luck! If you find something that my husband would find meaningful, let me know!


Leave your own "ism". Cael and Graham double-dog dare you.