Sunday, August 29, 2010

Simply Our Path

For at least the next thirteen years, seventeen if all goes well*, I will have a child in school. It's a strange time. One of those moments that you wonder how the rest of the world is moving forward without marking the moment you are experiencing.

He likes to tell people his school is in his house. We have a year of adventure ahead of us. A year of figuring out balance and reaching out to family and friends to help us. I'm thrilled to be the one who watches him learn to read and write. It is different than my own experience and different than what I had expected for him.

Heck, six years ago I couldn't imagine having a child in my life, so I guess nothing should really surprise me now! He told me yesterday that he wanted to be born because parts of him loved me. He's a wise little soul.

I'm going to treasure this next year. I've finally given myself permission to focus on him and let other things happen as they will, because they will. It is a little strange to watch people's faces when we describe what we're doing. Some audibly worry that he won't get enough social interaction. I laugh as I think of the little boy I know who insists on introducing himself wherever we go. He's not a shy boy and I have no worries for him.

I'm so appreciative of those friends who have been supportive and without judgement. Those who have just listened. Those who understand that there are many paths and we've chosen one. It's not the right path, nor is it the wrong one. It is simply our path.

That alone makes it right.

*We might be in for more than 17 years as he asked yesterday if he could be a doctor so he could give shots and squeeze blood out. :)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Behind The Lens: Tracy Muilenberg

Thank you all for your wonderful comments and support in response to my last post. I am honored and touched so many of you check in here and find value in what I share.

One of the amazing things the internet has brought me is the opportunity to reach out through photography. Helping others to use their equipment so they can better capture their memories and moments brings me great joy. I love being able to watch skills develop and see the passion you all have for photography. I'm beyond proud of those who take the skills they've learned from me to improve their personal photography or to start on their own professional path. 

Tracy Muilenberg is one of those amazing people I've been able to cross paths with. She takes beautiful photos and is spreading that beauty to families around her. There is something so special about truly capturing the essence of a family. With each click I know she is creating a work of art. 

I'd like you to meet Tracy. 

What sparked your interest in photography?
I’ve been interested in photography for a long time. I dabbled in classes here and there throughout high school in college, but it was the birth of my little girl that truly brought out my passion for photography and motivated me to buy my first DSLR. My camera is now pretty much glued to my hip.

On this picture I focused on blurring the background and filling the frame to really make my subject stand out.

What camera do you use?
I use a Nikon D60 primarily and a Canon g10 when I need to travel light.

I used the focus and recompose technique for this photo and the rule of thirds to come up with a satisfying composition.

What is your favorite lens?
Right now it is my 50 mm 1.4, but I’m just dreaming about getting the 24-70mm f2.8

What makes you happiest about your photography?
Capturing images that people will be able to look back on for a lifetime to remember special moments and times in their lives. I love doing this for my own family and I love doing it for others. I get so excited after every photo-shoot as I download the photos and start sorting through for those treasured shots where the emotion just shines through.

Backlighting- oh how it used to terrify me! Now I love it. Katrina’s lesson on metering helped me to figure this out. I meter and adjust my settings until I get the image I want.

What have you learned from me that has helped your photography most?
Your Life Captured Through the Lens got me off auto and has completely changed the way I take pictures. I was stuck on auto for a long time and Katrina’s class was exactly what I needed to help me take the plunge. There was definitely a difficult period when I first started shooting manually. I felt a little panicked because my pictures were getting worse not better, but I stuck with it and now I almost always shoot in M and I am so much happier with my photos. The class helped me to focus on what I want from an image and how to use ISO, aperture and shutter speed to achieve my desired effect.

For this image I played with depth of field. I wanted the primary focus to be the delighted look on my little girl’s face, but I also wanted the viewer to see that it was the result of being pulled by her little friend.

What photography Projects for 2010 are you working on?
I’m starting a natural light portrait photography business, Tracy Grace Photography!  I have a degree in Biology and a Degree in Landscape Architecture, but I’ve discovered my true love is Photography and I’m attempting to pursue this dream.

Thanks Tracy for sharing your beautiful images and thoughtful words. Be sure to stop by her blog, Tracy Grace Photography, to see more of her beautiful images. She's got the style I would choose in a photographer for my family photos!

I'll be announcing dates for my next classes soon. You can find Get Me Off of Auto on sale today at Designer Digitals!

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Corner Seemed Safest

Nine months ago.

I stepped into the studio and found a spot in the corner. So close to the corner that my elbow rubbed the wall if I wasn't careful.

I was nervous.



The corner seemed safest.

After 75 minutes following the teacher's directions I realized something. Somewhere in the previous five years, I had stopped breathing. Holding my breath had become my way of getting through my days and weeks and years. Everything about a boy in my life had challenged my confidence and presence and direction. I no longer had rules or a manual or a map. I had a little boy who needed me and frightened me and brought me love, all at the same time.

In the studio with each breath, I felt better. I felt stronger. I felt more like the me I'd forgotten I could be.

Six weeks ago, I stepped into that same studio to begin a 40 Day Transformation. I wasn't sure what that meant for me. I knew I wanted to be more fit and perhaps a little smaller. And if I'm honest with you, the lure of unlimited yoga for 40 days seemed like a great bargain.

I had no idea.

I had no idea the work I would do and what would be on the other side of that work. Yoga six days a week, daily meditation, awareness of food, journaling questions, community meetings. I can mark it on my mental calendar as the moment I got my life back.

There were tears. There was joy. There was laughter. There was a lot of sweat.

Through the work I realized some things about myself. I realized I love my husband more than I ever could admit. I understood that the pain and rage I so often hurled at him was from somewhere deep inside me. The very anger I felt for myself, I'd piled upon him, blamed him for it, and taken it out on him. And because of that we all suffered.

They say through yoga your heart opens. I know how that may sound to you. I know how it sounded to me the first time. But then I felt it. I melted into a pool of sobs on my yoga mat. I met all my ugliness head on and knew my heart was ripping open. There was pain, both physical and emotional. But it was the work I needed to do.

My house is different now. I feel joy. True joy.

I can feel a difference in my brain and see a difference in my body. The work is not over because the work is my life.

Are you wondering why I share this? Are you wondering why I am putting this out into the world on a blog typically filled with photos and stories of a little boy in my life?

The last 40 days I've spent a lot of time away from my family practicing yoga, meditating, and in community meetings. In that time away, I grew closer to my family. I was forced to question my presence, my ability to be in the moment. I was forced to look at the relationships in my life and the intention that defines my days.

I began to understand how much I'd been reaching out to a community of strangers to fill something in me. To provide something for me. I don't even know what it was I needed from you. I thank you for all you have given me, the kind words, the great questions, the support of my photography classes and ebook. I love you for that. It is an important part of the journey I'm on. In building an online community of friends, I had been robbing my family of me. I spent more time typing on plastic keys than holding Ian's hand or having real conversation with my husband. We shared common space, but we were often so far apart. Doing our own things. I was fooling myself into believing that is how everyone wanted it to be.

So I left you my friends. I left you to truly engage with my family. I left to be present with a little boy who is growing and changing and who will someday (despite what he says today) want to step out the front door to create his own life. I left to be present with my husband who loves me even though I did everything I could to push him away for the last ten years.

It has been an incredible 40 days. I have deepened the relationships with those most dear to me and in that will begin to redefine the rest of my life.

I'm not leaving you. I'm really not.

I'm just changing our terms a bit. I will no longer attempt to post every day. You may miss some of the mundane day to day details About A Boy, but what I will bring is more depth. More real. More me. I vow to engage with you in a more present and centered way as well. Quality over quantity.

Thank you for being here for me. And thank you for understanding.

Thank you for being part of my transformation.

Oh, and by the way, I've moved out of the corner. The middle feels much better.

Monday, August 02, 2010

How To Photograph Meeting The Mouse

It was a high point of his trip! He told me, "I love all of the characters." The little boy part of him wants to believe they are real, the practical, I want to know how everything works part of him reminded us they were just costumes.

40mm | ISO 2000 | f/4.0 | ss 1/100

Taking pictures at Disneyland can be a bit tricky. One minute you are in bright light and the next it is dark and shadowy. One minute you want a sweeping wide angle view and the next you want the up close detail. Top it all off with long days and you've got to limit your choices!

I chose to carry my camera on me as usual with one lens tucked away in my bag, just in case. I shot almost everything with my 17-40mm f/4.0 L lens. I compromised a wide aperture for the great quality glass.

Our shot with Mickey was in a tight dark space that my 50mm 1.4 just wasn't going to be wide enough. I didn't carry a flash since you can't use it in most places anyway and I didn't want the weight. I bumped my ISO up high enough to get a shutter speed that would stop movement and shot away. I was counting on Ian being pretty still for the photos and the Mouse to be picture taking savvy. He was! It all worked!

What's your biggest frustration with amusement park photos? I'd love to hear it! I'll be posting Disneyland photos all week!

This is also my M photo for a fun photo challenge at GetItScrapped this month! We'll be working our way through the alphabet all month! Obviously not in order!


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