Cajun recipes

Frog Leg Sauce

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup all purpose flour
3 tbsp butter
1 large onion diced
1 celery stalk diced
1 small bell pepper chopped
3 cloves of garlic minced
1 can tomato paste 6 oz
1 can whole tomatoes 16 oz drained and chopped liquid reserves (I use Rotel Brand Tomatoes)
4 cups chicken broth
1 tsp Tabasco pepper sauce
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp black pepper
3 pounds frog meat (15 to 20 legs) or 8 to 10 carcasses
cayenne pepper

In a large saucepan over medium high heat, combine the oil and 2 tablespoon of flour to make a roux. Stir constantly until the roux is a light to medium brown about 15 minutes. Stir in the butter and add the onion, celery, green pepper and garlic and saute' for 5 minutes or until soft. Add the tomato paste and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the tomatoes with the liquid, chicken broth, Tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce and black pepper. Cover and simmer over low for 45 minutes.Meanwhile dust the frog legs or carcass with the remaining 2 tablespoon flour seasoned with a small amount of salt and cayenne pepper. Coat a large skillet with non-stick cooking spray or a small amount of oil, add the frog meat and saute' until lightly brown about 3 minutes on each side. Add the legs to the sauce and simmer for an additional 15 minutes if frog legs and 30 if using carcass meat. Serve over rice. If using cut up chicken, saute the meat 5 to 10 minutes longer until nearly cooked through, and simmer for 25 minutes. If using catfish, add directly to the sauce and simmer for 20 minutes.

Chicken Gumbo

1 cup oil
1 cup flour
2 large onions, chopped
2 bell peppers, chopped
4 ribs celery, chopped
4 - 6 cloves garlic, minced
4 quarts chicken stock
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoonsCreole seasonsing or to taste
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 large chicken (young hen preferred), cut into pieces
2 pounds andouille or smoked sausage, cut into 1/2" pieces
1 bunch scallions (green onions), tops only, chopped
2/3 cup fresh chopped parsley
Filé powder to taste

Season the chicken with salt, pepper and Creole seasoning and brown quickly. Brown the sausage, pour off fat and reserve meats.
In a large, heavy pot, heat the oil and cook the flour in the oil over medium to high heat (depending on your roux-making skill), stirring constantly, until the roux reaches a dark reddish-brown color, almost the color of coffee or milk chocolate for a Cajun-style roux. If you want to save time, or prefer a more New Orleans-style roux, cook it to a medium, peanut-butter color, over lower heat if you're nervous about burning it.
Add the vegetables and stir quickly. This cooks the vegetables and also stops the roux from cooking further. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, for about 4 minutes.
Add the stock, seasonings, chicken and sausage. Bring to a boil, then cook for about one hour, skimming fat off the top as needed.
Add the chopped scallion tops and parsley, and heat for 5 minutes. Serve over rice in large shallow bowls. Accompany with a good beer and lots of hot, crispy French bread.
YIELD: About 12 entrée sized servings.

Pecan Pie

3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 c. melted butter
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup pecan pieces or halves
1 tsp vanilla or rum
1 9" unbaked pie crust

Thoroughly beat the eggs, add the sugar, salt, melted butter, and corn syrup. Stir in the pecans and vanilla or rum. Pour in the pie shell and bake for 40-50 minutes at 375 degrees or until a toothpick comes out of the center clean. © 1984 John Albrecht, CEC

no more yahoo?

So it appears that the all free, all the time Yahoo! albums I've been using are going to be defunct. Some nonsense with Flickr and bandwisths, etc. Gak! In the meantime, I've deleted all my client albums and will notify my clients of uploads to someplace else, when I find someplace else...

Check back soon for details!

rockin' the iPod

Bill has a 'so last year' iPod Shuffle. I got it for him for Valentine's day last year. I never really pined for one, despite how fun they are, but when the Shuffle came down in price this year to under $100 I started considering one. Well, last night while we were out shopping for our vinyl barriers, we came across the iPod case, and I figured well shoot - I want one. I had the Shuffle in hand, and Bill said, "Get the Nano." "No, the shuffle is good." Bill said, "Just get the Nano." He took Serejane to the bathroom and I had swapped out the pink chicklet Shuffle for the silver Nano, and, feeling no small amount of guilt, brought the damned thing home. My sister, as I was sitting there formatting it and downloading software and whatnot said, "Oh, good! You'll love it! You'll never go back." I think it's important right now to point out that never have I listened to an iPod. Not even Bill's. And imagine my surprise and subsequent glee when I discovered the colour screen and Bill told me I could put pictures on the Nano...

So last night in the wee hours, after burning too much midnight oil getting stuff packed and hauled into the boys' rooms, when the iPod was all formatted up and loaded with a buncha songs, I plugged myself in and...

I'm a convert. Completely. I am in love. And it just gets better - there's a calendar I can upload from my Outlook, and an address book. (OK - so I know millions of you already KNOW these things, but I told you, I never wanted an iPod, because I always just thought, well, it plays music - whoopee - so does a radio...) Tonight, after I finish packing up some clothes and moving some more furniture, I may have to take some time to upload my calendar and address book and a few hundred of my favourite pictures... Woot woot to the Nano Nano!!!

update for the week

Obviously I've been a little bit of a blogging and photographing slacker this week. To be perfectly honest, I haven't even turned on my camera. For *ME* that's a REAL stretch. But alas, the hardwood guys arrived in SIX SLEEPS, and the boxes don't pack themselves nor the furniture walk itself downstairs. Thus far the girls' bedrooms are barren save for the beds and dressers, the bedroom closets are mostly empty, and we've purchased our vinyl sheeting for taping off the doors and cupboards. The pictures and paintings are all down in Mr. K's room (beside the treadle sewing machine I found for a steal at Goodwill last week while dropping off a load of purge...) The plants will be living in his room, too. Tonight we're purging some more (yay!) and putting aside just the stuff we'll need for the week before everything else gets buried under stacks of household goods and furniture.

I guess I better get up the nerve to ask my Mom to babysit the guinea pigs soon, hey?

My sister is in town as well. She was up in NWT doing some research before heading home. Since she's passing through, we're going to bury my Dad's ashes this weekend. I'm not sure what I'm expecting of the day. I don't foresee any kind of closure - the idea of burying ashes in a graveyard seems odd to me. I'd be more tempted to let them sink to the bottom of the lake where he spent so much of his fair weather time. But it isn't up to me. Hopefully it'll bring some of the closure my step-mom needs. We made it through all the 'firsts' already. The last 'first' to cover is the first anniversary of his death. I ask for grace and patientce, and above all, the strength to make it through the day without freaking my kids out too much. Wil's new baby brother or sister is scheduled for c-section on August 3rd, and so it begins that August 3rd can return to being a day of joy, for my uncle Adolph & Auntie Doris's anniversary, for remembering my Daddy's time on this earth, and for celebrating this new baby's birthday.

can of worms: pirates vs. ninja as babysitters

Who would make a better babysitter, a pirate, or a ninja, and why?

(This is my lame way of letting everyone know I'm still alive - just really busy getting the house ready for the hardwood guys to come!)

splashes of colour

Certainly not my finest work, and definitely a stretch, mostly because colours don't excite me...

I have a few more coming, but this is the bulk of what I've managed to do for colour week. Next week: Composition!

hot 'nuff for ya?

80 in the shade...

a little Steve Martin for Babzy


(I told you they'd be wonderful.)
(I told you so.)

how much?

How much of 'you' is out there on the internet? If you googled or webcrawled yourself, would you find anything? Is everything under a nickname or pseudonym? And if someone knew your alias, would they find you THEN? And when they did, what kinds of things would they find out?

fish bowl

It's very easy to look into a fishbowl and make assumptions or pass judgment, and if you were to ask the fish for clarification (which you wouldn't, anyways) you probably wouldn't understand them because you aren't able to see things from their very unique perspective. Or speak goldfish-ese.

So this little fishy says, "Blub blub blub..."


Those exhibiting the superiority complex commonly project their feelings onto others they perceive as inferior to themselves. Accusations of arrogance and cockiness are often made by others when referring to the individual exhibiting the superiority complex.

Behaviors related to this mechanism may include an exaggeratedly positive opinion of one’s worth and abilities, unrealistically high expectations in goals and achievements for oneself and others, vanity, extravagant style in dressing (with intention of drawing attention), pride, sentimentalism and affected exaltation, snobbism, a tendency to discredit other’s opinions, forcefulness aimed at dominating those considered as weaker or less important, credulity, and others.

Social aloofness, daydreaming, isolation could also be associated to the Superiority Complex, as a way to evade the fear of failure related to the feelings of inadequacy to face real world.

so so very tired

Serejane was really tired after daycare today.


a little colour for ya?

I have to admit, this week has been tougher than I thought. I'm just not really into eye-popping colour and I'm finding it difficult to notice things that grab my attention based solely on 'colour.' I'm going out shooting on Friday, though, so hopefully I'll be feeling a little more inspired by then.

I admire this bike every day.

They're creating 'water' spaces all over campus, and the one that is situated adjacent to my building was sporting, of all things, a water lily!

This is the somewhat abysmal-looking hallway I enter my office via each day, viewed from behind the security-locked stairwell door. I promise it's a much more cheerful place than it looks...

bye, Ed.

You will be sadly missed. And I still love your store. My front hall coat hangers and wooden spoons and 1984 Pope John Paul II postcards and the Elvis bust are even more special to me now.

Bush cogitates

From today's ribbon cutting at the White House.

THE PRESIDENT: I want to thank Peter Doherty -- where is he? Yes, Peter, thanks for working hard here. You get a lot of credit for making sure this thing works. And one of these days Laura and I are looking forward to coming and actually see what it's like working here. I've never toured -- I've never even been able to get beyond the podium -- (laughter) -- if you know what I mean. As a matter of fact, I've always felt comfortable behind the podium in front of you, kind of as a shield. (Laughter.) But I would like a tour.

Q Bullet-proof --

THE PRESIDENT: Well, it's not exactly bullet-proof. Some of your bullets are able to -- verbal bullets -- (laughter) -- are able to penetrate. But you've been around a long time, see, you know what it's like to query Presidents. You've been -- you're kind of an older fellow. (Laughter.)

Q -- (inaudible) --

THE PRESIDENT: Yes -- proudly so. Thanks for the birthday greeting, too. I appreciate that thoughtful gesture.

But, anyway, we're glad to join you for this ribbon-cutting, and we thank you very much for working with Hagin and the bunch to make sure this thing -- deal works. And it's going to. And it's going to make your life better and, frankly, it's going to make the lives of future Presidents better, as well. And so it's a good contribution that you all have left behind. And we're glad to have been a part of it. And so -- wait --

Q What, do you think I'm going to ask a question?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I did think you were going to ask me a question, yes. (Laughter.)

Q I am. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: Well, maybe some other time.

Q Oh, but do you think you open --

THE PRESIDENT: See what I'm saying? (Laughter.)

Q You can't come to the press room, especially a modern press room --

THE PRESIDENT: Wait a minute, let's do this -- let me cut the ribbon, and --

Q You think anything has changed?

THE PRESIDENT: Let me cut the ribbon -- are you going to cut it with me, Steve -- and then why don't you all yell simultaneously? (Laughter.) Like, really loudly. (Laughter.) And that way you might get noticed.

Q It doesn't sound like you're going to answer --

THE PRESIDENT: No, I will. I'll, like, listen --

Q And leave?

THE PRESIDENT: -- internalize, play like I'm going to answer the question, and then smile at you and just say, gosh -- (laughter) -- thanks, thanks for such a solid, sound question.
Here we go, ready? I'm going to cut the ribbon. (Laughter.) Then you yell. I cogitate -- and then smile and wave. (Laughter.)

Are you going to come, Laura? Here we go.

(The President and Mrs. Bush cut the ribbon.) (Applause.)

Q -- (inaudible) --

THE PRESIDENT: Brilliant question.

Q -- (inaudible) -- cogitating that, right?

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. See you soon.

Q We look forward to seeing you come and do a little --

THE PRESIDENT: I will see you soon, thank you.

Q Y'all come back. (Laughter.)


For fashion-forward snorkelers.

inflammatory breast cancer

*I* didn't know. I do now, and so do you.

can of worms: stranger pictures

There is no shortage of photographers who have made or still make a living doing street photography. Some people shoot on the street for art or fun, others scour for a juicy news bit, and others are just taking pictures of buildings or their own family and strangers happen to get caught in the background. No matter what the original purpose, laws in Canada regarding being photographed in public reads something like, you have no right to privacy, where no reasonable expectation of privacy exists. For example, I can photograph you sitting in a sidewalk cafe or attending a festival, but I can't follow you inside the bathroom stall to snap a few pictures, and I can take a picture of you on the street out in front of your house, but probably not in your backyard. No one has the right to demand your film or camera or memory card, unless of course the police are there with a warrant, and the images you capture are considered your intellectual property and fall under your right to artistic expression. There are also laws against images being potrayed in the 'wrong light,' for example, a random law-abiding teenager who just happens to be sitting in front of a wall someone else covered in graffiti, with the caption, "Youth Vandalism on the Rise."

Now. This is all fine and good, but it does raise a few moral and ethical questions for me, personally, as I am very uncomfortable and creeped out by strangers wanting pictures of my kids or me and am sensitive to this fact in those around me. For what purpose do you want a picture? Are you a hobby photographer and just think we're cute? Are you going to go post my child on some pedophile hot-or-not site? What the hell, how am i supposed to know, you know? Then of course sometimes the issue of money gets involved. If I shoot a street scene and there happens to be a person or 12 sitting in it who are obviously the primary subjects and not just the unsuspecting flotsam and jetsam sitting around the fountain I am photographing, and I manage to sell that image to a newspaper or magazine or enter it into some sort of competition where I receive a cash or kind prize, the subject(s) may feel entitled to all or a portion of the funds. It becomes a question of whether a person's right to their own image trumps a photographer's "art."

This is not a new debate. The Supreme Court has seen cases come and go, with rulings in favour of both sides, for any number of reasons - location, age of subject, content, monies received, lawful or unlawful uses, etc. and I waffle on how I feel about this issue on any given day. This is the set of laws that gives me the freedoms I have and as a photographer I genuinely appreciate the ability to photograph, say, the Empire State Building, without needing a permit to clear everyone out before I can do so or model releases from all of them before I can print it. I also genuinely appreciate the fact that shooting all variety of street scenes, regardless of how prominent or recognizable the subject(s) might be, make for some mighty fine art.

Now, for the most part, the people I photograph obviously pay me to do it, and consent is express and/or implied that I am supposed to be doing that. However, I do go street shooting, and no I don't always ask for permission, but I do tend to carry a huge stack of business cards, a deck of smokes, and pocket change, just in case I get busted shooting and need to explain. Usually though, I am very sneaky about it. I'll shoot from behind trees or bushes, or from inside the van. The reason I take this approach is because when you identify to most people that you are taking their picture, they 'pose' whether they mean to or not. They carry themselves differently, walk differently, change the expressions on their face subtly, and the scene then loses its spontaneity and sense of random everyday-ness. I also often try and respect a person's privacy by taking pictures in such a way that the subject isn't necessarily recognizable. Most of us walking down the street aren't looking into people's faces. We're watching the ground go by - a series of shoes, a brief blurry sideways glance at a group of people playing hacky-sack, a couple holding hands over a romantic dinner, some pigeons on a rooftop... Save for a few that stick in our minds for whatever reason, I doubt most of us would recognize half the people we pass by on a day-to-day basis if we were shown their picture even 5 minutes let alone weeks or months or years later, because we saw them in a blur. Therefore, when I go street shooting, I try and embrace this feeling of walking along in a series of fleeting moments, taking no more time to focus and compose what I'm shooting than I normally would my vision while commuting from point a to b. (The "crotch shot" I always reference is great for this, which really is only taken from the crotch on occasion and can also be accomplished by merely holding the camera at waist height, or poking it out of a pocket, or pretending to hold it under your arm and shooting backwards...)

So if the (primary) subjects in the photo are readily recognizable, I am tempted to introduce myself and hand out a business card, and I make my models sign a model release. It is implied as well as written for clients that I retain 100% copyright of my images and am free to do whatever I lawfully choose with them, while they are given limited rights to make reproductions and enlargements for personal use only. I did have a legal issue once with a client who entered an image of her child that I had photographed into a competition, in which she won a monetary prize. I took her to small claims court not because I gave a damn about the money, but because she took credit for the image based on the fact it was a picture of her child. Small claims court was the fastest, easiest way to make my point about copyright infringement, instead of a lengthy drawn-out court battle which she would ultimately have lost and been ordered to pay me anyways.

I also know some people who, despite the fact they frequent public places, are intensely private. I have a couple of friends who, although I've taken many pictrues of their kids, they prefer not to have any recognizable images of their children splashed on my website or blog, and I completely respect that. And although I often share stories and pictures of my family, I am myself a very private person, who loves using her married name and making it as difficult as possible for people I have no desire to talk with ever again find me; hence, although I don't really CARE if a picture of me is posted on the internet, I don't want you to 'tag' or otherwise identify me in photos on Facebook or the likes.

Anyhow. The questions that always arise are pretty much the same no matter what the circumstances are. Legally, it's: Does the photographer or the subject own the rights to an image? On a personal level it's: How do you feel about other people being legally allowed to photograph you and your family, your children, without your prior consent? Would you feel entitled to compensation if a photographer won or earned money from an image unknowlingly captured of you or one of your children? Would you be mad to see pictures of you or your children prominently featured in someone else's pictures posted on the internet by whatever stranger just happened to be in the right place at the right time to snap you? Would you be comfortable allowing a stranger to take and use pictures of you if they asked for prior consent? Why or why not?

Wade on in, peoples!

lucid dreams

In this morning's dream, I'm living in an apartmnet with 2 other girls. One has just been fired as a waitress from some half-assed buffet-style restaurant, and the other has some sort of mental illness - maybe schizophrenia or multiple personalities? I'm not a psychologist, so I'm only guessing here. I had just come out of the shower and I'm wearing my wet hair up a towel. We start eating ice cream with Dream Whip (yarf) and chocolate curls. There's a knock at the door. Schizophrenic Girl goes to the door, opens it just a bit, murmurs something inaudible, closes the door and comes back. Neither me or the Waitress Chick bother to ask who was at the door. I notice Waitress Chick has very very bloodshot eyes. Another knock at the door. Schizophrenic Girl repeats actions as above. About 8 (or maybe 25 times?) this scene plays itself out again and again. I finally ask, "Who is it at the door?" She says, "R~." R~ is the professor I work for. When he knocks again, I answer it. R~ hands me the file folder (yes, THE file folder; it's my dream and I have no idea what's in THE folder but it was THE folder, trust me.) I say thanks, and he turns to go, leaving the smell of shaving cream in the apartment's dingy hallway.

I'm suddenly transported back to the last time I saw my Dad. He seemed so small and grey as he curtsied at me and said, "Bye Hopey, I love you," and I remember noting how strong his hug felt in spite of him being a very little old man, the skin of his papery smooth cheek with not even a day's growth of stubble brushing against my cheek and leaving me smelling the traces of his aftershave for hours after.

I wonder how much of this has to do with the fact we're finally putting his remains to rest in 2 weeks' time, burying the plastic block full of ashes between my grandfather's and my uncle's headstones.

sabbatical week 2: colour

Welcome to week 2, during which I am going to challenge myself to explore the world of Colour. I prefer black and white photography for a plethora of reasons, not the least of which is, colour horrifies me. Very much outside my comfort zone. I fixate on things like the colour not matching what I remember in my head, how the sun and the shade mess with the hues and tones and saturation, how people's skin always looks too ruddy or too yellow or too bruised... I am prone to spending hours getting the skin colour *just right* and twiddling with the exact tone of this dress or that shirt or the bloody TREES that drive me batty for not just looking like the green I saw them when I was right there myself and before the stupid SUN got involved and made them look all white or yellow... ~pant pant pant~

>insert deep cleansing breaths here<

This week what I am hoping to do is step well outside that comfort zone and capture and manipulate colour photographs. I'm going to make some loud 50's beach party technicolor-saturated pictures, and some delicately tinted pictures, and some pictures that feature the bane of my existence: R-E-D.

(This bit's for you, TM.)

Most really vibrant happy colours DO NOT convert well to (my preferred) black and white. Bright happy blues, obnoxious pinks and noxious oranges, vulgar fluorescents and poppy reds lack depth when they are shot in black and white, and come out looking like bland flat featureless bits, lacking the lovely gradations that are the only thing you have to worry about in B&W. A loud gerbera just does not look as lovely as a pastel one when you're wanting a nice black and white image.

(Note the difference between the yellow one and the pastel peach one on the botton right.)

So here's a lesson to all y'all about those fancy coloured filters you might have seen on some people's lenses - they aren't used for colour photography. They are so that the reds or blues or greens will they have depth when shot in B&W. But I digress.

Where was I? Oh, yes. The beach, as the pictures might have hinted at.

Today we set out to take my sister and the kids to the beach. We stopped at a beach we'll call Ghetto Stank Beach first, hoping to make a happy mistake, but it was just a mistake... The day use area was about 12 metres wide, smelled like rotting fish entrails and duck poo, and was inhabited by a hodge-podge assortment of trailer trash that seemed to have migrated north for the summer from someplace down in Inbreed Park, Alabama . I'm still trying to eliminate the image of a very large cottage-cheese textured woman in a not large enough bathing suit chowing down on a whole family-sized bag of ketchup chips, crumbs on her lips and ample bosom, who decided to heft herself up with her butt facing me, exposing the dead looking hamburger flesh between the tops of her thighs. I wasn't trying to look. And God help me, I did not look away fast enough. ~shuddering~

We vacated shortly after gagging down our picnic, which tasted a lot like rotting fish entrails and duck poo since that was kind of the overpowering scent in the air and headed for the beach at Elk Island, which although smattered with its own healthy collection of ducky doo (and maybe a buckalo plop or five) was guaranteed to be a vast improvement. We enjoyed several hours there digging in the sand, netting tadpoles and minnow, and dodging duck poop. The sky and the clouds started turning and we got to watch the rain storm build over the lake and follow us home on the highway above the fields of canola - the clouds were bloody amazing, and made for some really awesome colourful pictures.

Colour week. Bring on the red.

success on the follow shot, and the transition to week 2

One of my co-workers got a new camera, and asked me to go wandering campus to shoot. Of course I was wont to decline, but she twisted my rubbery arm and off we went...

I was working on a texture picture (above) which she thought was nifty enough to try herself, so here she is duplicating what I had done (below); I'm really excited to see her version of it!

She humoured me and I managed to finally figure out the follow shot (mostly) with her as my guinea pig, and I've been churning them out pretty consistently since.

The flowers on campus were positively popping, and so I decided to swap 'composition' week in favour of getting a jump on colour in week 2.

We spent most of today putzing around the newly renovated Rundle Park (awesome park! Bring a loaf of bread or some stale buns for the ducks and seagulls!). I was having WAY too much fun with the seagulls!

a musing: piano scales

Babzy's critiques of my pictures brought up an interesting train of thought for me, one I've kind of been having for a couple of days already, but it's in pretty clear focus now, pun entirely intended... ~snicker snicker~

What I've found the most interesting is people's reactions to the technical approach I have taken this week. Yes, it's dull - I'll be the first to admit it. My clients, friends, and family are saying weird things to me about it, like, "Oh - that's nice dear..." and, "Oh, that's different...." in that kind of pseudo-patronizing way that indicates they aren't quite sure what the hell I am doing but feel obliged to say something pseudo-supportive. My husband is simply "very surprised" with the work I've been churning out this week. (read: he doesn't understand what the hell I am doing)

My sabbatical - it's an exercise, of course, not unlike doing piano scales. Start at the beginning, practice makes perfect and all that jazz. This is a deconstruction of the things I take for granted, that I've gotten out of practice with, in order to heighten my awareness of these elements so that when I am shooting on the fly it's second nature to notice the lacy pattern of shadows cast by the leaves or the way there's light dancing on the water or birds silhouetted against the horizon that I may overlook until I am pleasantly surprised by them after the fact.

For the most part, though, because I am experimenting on a technical level, for me it lacks spontaneity, emotion, fluidity, personal touch, and spark, the kind of qualities that I am usually complimented on. Putting this much forethought into what I shoot has really run me through the wringer. This week has frankly been a real stretch for me, going about methodically looking for the "money" shots. ~snore~ I'm usually a 'shoot from the hip' kinda gal. My brain aches, and I have a totally new level of respect for people like the immensely patient and hugely talented Becky (link on the right) who manages to take stunning pictures of the very things that I struggle to photograph with any kind of flare or style. She truly amazes me, and I can't even hope to duplicate her skill or eye with my silly little exercises. She seriously kicks my lily-white butt in this department.

Some of the playing has been decidedly amusing and definitely broadening, while other bits incredibly monotonous and uninspiring - in short, a real return to the 'basics' for me. I've always known that the technical aspects of photography, though I am fairly well versed in them, really bore me. But of course, mastery of the technical aspects allow for greater latitude when the time comes to break or even better rewrite the rules. It's like practicing scales on a piano - something you gotta know before you can compose a symphony, even if you have to figure it out by ear.

Although Babzy & I won't always see eye to eye on the same things, it's apparent we have similar taste in photographic qualities. I find a lot of the work I've been doing this week challenging, with the results less than spectacular. I like bold images, both to look at and create, with super white whites and pitch-black blacks. Mind you (and here's where it gets especially interesting for me) I have also realized that I tend get into a black and white rut both as a person and a photographer, so exploring the many shades of grey has forced me to become conscious of the more subtle nuances I'm usually blind to, thereby encouraging growth for me both as a photographer and a person. Even if I don't manage to get my sparkler pictures done before I switch to composition studies next week, this realization alone has made the week a success. The rest is all gravy.

Huzzah for me!

typical Hope processing

I like my whites white and my blacks black; this is a stylistic preference and certainly not everyone's cup of tea. Here's a series of 4 'boring' pictures. 1st one is 'RAW' (converted to JPEG but not adjusted at all; camera was set to medium-low contrast and low saturdation) and the 2nd is the grayscale version. 3rd is the colour adjustment and 4th is the B&W adjustment as I am prone to do. Anyone familiar with my work will recognize the differences right away...

favourites so far

My husband commented last night that all but the last image here are very atypical for me in that I tend to go for the stark black and white look. I've really been embracing the subtle shades of grey with this week's pictures centred on illustrating light, texture, and movement. These are some of my favourites so far.

the kids' picnic table

There was initially a glass jar on the kids' picnic table, casting this funky warped light (see little sour green apples below) which inspired me to play more with light and glass (above, bottles on picnic table.)

water and a bowl

This was way too much fun. I initially figured I'd let Mads drop apples into the water while I tried to snap a shot of that exact moment it broke the surface tension or as it plunged to the bottom and set up symmetrical sprays of water... however... trying to coordinate a 6 year old to do that when simply filling the bowl up at high speed using a Tupperware container was far more entertaining proved more difficult than one might have hoped. In the end, I had to employ my husband's services to get the plunging apples, only to discover that the ones of the Tupperware fast-fills were infinitely cooler. And of course the beauty of it all were the shots that I couldn't have even dreamt up had my concept gone as smoothly as I'd planned. There's just so much going on in the picture below it almost takes my breath away.

Sarah Dog takes a cooling dip in the river

Very typical of my style, and of course very attractive to my eye. Again, lots going on in this picture - the texture of the water, dirt, fur, the blur of movement as she prepares to shake herself off, the paw poised just above the ground, the light playing in the grass, the streams of water dripping from her emerging body. It has a very frenetic quality to it.

come out come out wherever you are!

This is a request that some of you lurkers (those of you who email me instead of post here and those of you who read but don't post) to join in. Don't be shy. Let's get to know you. Spread some love, now!

happy 4th of July

To Kate & Hal & your 9 sprogs and Angie, Matt & Co. all in Ohio (and Joni & family visiting from the UK), Eli the Spy, Emily & Alex in Texas, Mom & Dad Eli in Washington State, and Jamin wherever you're posted this month, my lovely Linda~Lou~Who and Kylee in New Mexico, Tori in NYC and Carla in New York State, Chelsea in Minnesota, Kathleen in Kentucky, Mandywhohatesherkids (lol!) and Beanserama Llama, and of course Displaced Danna in Detroit! (I know I missed a few million Americans on here - a special shout-out to you, too...)

May your day be filled with good food, friends, and family, and your night be full of sparklers!

P.S. Bill & I are playing with sparklers and the cameras tonight - I'll put up my own sparkler pictures later!)

sabbatical week 1: light, motion, and texture

I'm throwing composition and colour out the window this week, and focusing on capturing either in combination or individually very basic elements, namely: light, motion, and texture. Because I'm often doing family or event photography, I'm focussed more on the 'money shots' than being able to indulge in capturing these soft pleasurable effects. In dedicating a week to this, I hope to heighten my awareness of these elements when doing family and event photography so that I may actively exploit them. I'll be posting this week's shooting here. I welcome your feedback and critique - what works for you, what doesn't, and why. Don't be afraid of hurting my feelings here - the point of this sabbatical is to grow as an artist.

Why are they interesting or boring? Ignoring composition, are they successful (or ineffectual) at portraying the elements of light, texture, and motion? I'm looking for technical feedback, and hopefully an emotional reaction from one or two of them - is one of the images particularly attractive? Disturbing? Fun? Happy? Depressing? Annoying? Dig deep. Think harder. Look with a critical eye as well as your heart.

the best spoof of Paris's commercial

for babzy

can YOU spot the burger in this ad?

an exercise in determining perspective: fat chicks and light yogourt

"Forget About It. Men's Preference Will Never Change. Fit Light Yogurt."

Insulting or inspiring?

This is a Brazilian yogourt ad campaign. Call me stupid, but I don't get it. Really, it's irrelevant whether I'm insulted or inspired as there's no such thing as bad publicity, and not since Paris Hilton had sex with her burger at the car wash have gums been flapping this much.

the formals are coming, the formals are coming!!!

Despite my best efforts, I was unable to get ALL the formals processed this weekend, though I have to say that these last 20 or so are the ONLY pictures I have left to process... YAY!

I thought I'd share these ones with you, though. Each student was asked to choose a biblical passage that they felt spoke to them, which was read as they took the stage at the beginning of the ceremonies.