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Space and Rime

58.365 165mm f5.3 1/250 ISO 200Yesterday I decided there is no fighting the 55-200mm lens.  If I must zoom, then let me zoom in on something with lots of detail. 

Here is one thing I really love about taking pictures:  it forces you to keep an open mind.  I often go into a location with a specific idea of the image I'd like to capture.  Yesterday, when I stopped at this creek I had ideas of overexposed morning sun reflected off a meandering stream of ice.  And I sort of made that picture. 

But then, as I looked a little more closely I noticed this gorgeous rime on the grass on the creekbanks.  Oooh, yeah.  So I slowed down and framed that up.  And as I combed the bank looking for a patch of rime lit the way I would have liked it, I started to notice the little islands of frosted leaf debris.  Click, click click

So I love that this practice forces me to be flexible and to slow down enough to notice the details.  I may shoot out my car window sometimes and I almost never have more than five or ten minutes to give to a photo op.  But in that five minutes I have to slow down and keep my eyes (and mind) open if I want to have any hope of noticing something worth capturing. 

I would have easily taken another half-hour in this park yesterday morning to work the area if I had the time.  But even if the slow, open moments only come in increments of five, I'll take them.


Rush Hour

57.365 55mm f4 1/30 ISO 400First of all, let me say that this 55-200mm lens that I'm confined to now that my wide is back at Nikon getting a tune-up is, er, challenging. My god, you have to have an incredible amount of space to be able to frame anything with that sucker and in these short days where everything takes place inside, well, that's tough. I know that 55-200 isn't even a lot of zoom in the grand scheme of things and I remember being so excited about this lens when I first bought it. But I'm coming to realize how distinctly I've developed a preference for my wide angle lens and for the flexibility it gives me when I shoot.

Moving on.

I have written here before (ad nauseum) about the feeling that I am constantly rushed these days. And yes, I realize that most reasonable people with jobs and families to nurture would not take on another daily commitment, especially one as elective as this photo project. But as I sat in traffic tonight, noticing the tiniest little sliver of a Shiva moon hang over the mountains, and watching the chameleon sky change colors and the digital clock on my dashboard tick up to the hard deadline of daycare pickup, I felt a little crushed by it all.

I actually shot this photo out the driver's side window of my car while it idled at a red light at the top of my exit. I would have liked to break out the tripod and frame it up correctly and make sure the focus was razor sharp but all there was time to do was fire the shutter and hope to capture the sky. It brought me face to face with a feeling that I half-ass everything. Hopefully well enough to get along, but perhaps not as well as I possibly could. And that is more demoralizing than the rushing.


Religious Education

56.365 55mm f4 1/25 ISO 1600Since I became an adult I've never been very good at these December holidays.  Generally I prefer the food and community overdose of Thanksgiving to the consumption frenzy of Christmas.  But now I have a two year old, so it's time to get on the ball.  I visited my grandmother earlier this year when she was busy downsizing and she bestowed one of her menorahs on Ezra and me.  It's been sitting in his room ever since and when he started singing Happy Birthday to it and pretending to blow out the imaginary candles, I decided we should teach him about Chanukah. 

Now I don't know much about Chanukah beyond the basics.  In the past week we have shown Ezra how to light the candles from right to left and we read the prayer.  Then I give him a new dinosaur each night because (as we explained to him) dinosaurs are an integral part of Chanukah.  And then he sings Happy Birthday and blows the candles out.

Then tonight, after that, we decorated a Christmas tree.

I like to think of this as the kind of flexible, creative thinking you can engage in when like me, you don't observe any religion and yet feel entitled to pervert any demonstration of religiosity for the purposes of your own family fun.


Worth the Wait

 55.365 55mm f5.6 1/200 ISO 400

I was getting ready for bed about five hours after that side-by-side pedi when I got a text from Loren saying her water broke but she wasn't yet having contractions.  Months ago she had asked another long-time friend and me to attend the birth of this child so we started the is-it-time-to-go-to-the-hospital? game around 10:30 and finally went around 5:00am yesterday morning.  By the time we two cheerleaders arrived the L&D staff had already pushed Pitocin and hooked up an epidural, so we settle in to wait.

And wait.

And wait.

Long story short, a day ensued of lovely quiet visits, a Latke Land sign stolen from the hospital Channukah celebration, some punch drunk efforts to expand the name list (I was rooting for Schotzie, but Tinsel was high in the running for a middle name), and the world's toughest test of patience.  But late last night after much pushing and cheering on, Loren was wheeled into the OR to get this done the modern way.  Shortly thereafter, and confounding the guesses of nearly all the gender prognosticators, we got to meet Sydney Logan Dressel.  She is beautiful, nearly eight pounds, already utterly bewitching her father and the rest of us, and completely and totally worth the wait.


Backup Plan

54.365 55mm f4.5 1/30 ISO 800In the last week or so I've been having problems convincing my 18-55mm lens to cooperate in single point autofocus mode.  On a few compositions I've worked around it by putting it in manual focus but that's just not a good option with any kind of shallow depth of field or active subject.  I feared taking it into the camera shop because I didn't want them to tell me there was a problem with the body and take it away for weeks.

But yesterday I broke down and took it in, only to receive the good news that the problem is in the lens rather than the body.  The downside is it's the lens I most often use so for the next few weeks I'm going to have to find good excuses to use the zoom.

I started with the polish wall at the nail salon yesterday afternoon since I couldn't resist the colors.  My good friend Loren is having her first baby this week and a little last minute pampering was in order.  She and I were friends for many, many years of kicky single-gal antics.  A lot of things have changed in our lives, but the theraputic benefits of side-by-side pedis remain constant.  Nothing like cotton candy pink toenails to make you feel pretty when you haven't slept in days, you smell like lanolin and have infant spit up in your hair.