Sunday, 23 June 2013

Daily Challenge, Day Seven - FINAL DAY!!!

Today is the last day of the Daily Challenge from the Art of Seeing online class!  Yippee and yahoo, I stayed on track, time-wise!!  The time frame thing was suggested but not mandatory, but there was some sense of personal challenge in there for me to actually try to achieve the goal within 7 days.  It's been fun, it's been consuming, it's been so eye opening - there are beautiful things to photograph everywhere once you start seeing with new eyes.  A friend teased me this morning after church; she said she half expected to see my camera sitting on top of the piano while I played this morning.....ha ha, you have no idea how tempted I was to do that!  A little hard to multi task on playing the piano AND taking pictures at the same time.....unless I grow another pair of hands, or become capable of strange things with my feet.  Anyway.....largely off topic.....  
I do want to thank you for looking at my pictures/blog every day.  Thanks especially to Cathy Walters for inspiring us to better things and for looking at this blog EVERY DAY and making nice comments.  Thanks and welcome to co-learners from the class.  I want to look at all of your shots too!
So, today, after church and Sunday Roast Chicken, my friend, Barb, and I packed up our cameras and headed out to the RRRR Rodeo (Red River Riding and Roping) just north of town.  What a sweet spot for a rodeo, in the middle of a field in the middle of spruce trees and open spaces.  There was no commercialism or hype attached to this rodeo, just rodeo-in' for the sake of competition and skills.  A friendly place to be on a Sunday afternoon.
While I grew up on a farm, we weren't cowboys, so this culture is largely unknown to me.  Horses both intrigue and terrify me; perhaps the 'terrify' part comes from a couple horseback rides in my past whereupon the horse decided to take off and get rid of the rider (that's me) without her permission....ahem. 
I don't know any of the people here and, no, I don't have their permission to post these photos so they will heretofore be referred to as "anonymous". I hope they don't mind.
These two riders had just completed a steer roping round.  There were 4-5 of us 'photographers' hanging around this side of the corral and they strolled right past us - maybe they were 'open' to being in a spontaneous photo shoot.  Mr. Anonymous (on the left) is still twirling his rope to get it back into form.  They were chatting it up and were in no hurry to get anywhere.

Love, love, love the Canadian flag on the rump!  I HEART CANADA, 'my home and native land'. 

I got several shots of this beauty and the light was just right.  He/she (anonymous horse) didn't seem to mind posing for a portrait.  I got several views of him/her and it was hard choosing which one to use.  So pretty.

What to do with a little cowboy during a rodeo?  Let him play in the mud! 

This little guy had just completed a steer roping competition.  The audience and announcers cheered him on with great enthusiasm, he was so small.  However, he was unsuccessful in his roping attempt and when he came back here to park beside his mom, he cried.  It was a bittersweet moment to watch but I just had to capture him.  Shortly after this, he saw me taking his picture and hid behind his mom while she told him that it was all part of the rodeo process, winning and losing.  My word, he was sweet. 

Trio, waiting their turns.

Barrel racing, these girls can really GO!  Both the woman and her horse are full speed ahead, straining for the best time result.

Rusty wire and weathered fences abounded.

Beautiful chicken in a wire cage.

Steer wrestling.   The dirt under the steer is still flying as the cowboy looks to see what his final time was; shirt's untucked, pants and boots are covered in mud.  Love.

And that is IT!  Thanks again!  I hereby declare myself to be on a blogging holiday - but I'll be back soon!  Bye for now!

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Daily Challenge, Day Six

It's Day 6 of the Daily Challenge and I'm definitely getting a feeling for what comes easier to me and what challenges me.
Easier - close ups, still life shots and occasionally people.
Harder - scenery!!!!!  "The Big Picture" eludes me.  How do I make things 'pop'?  I don't know yet.
That is what I decided that I needed to start tackling today.  The forecast was for thunderstorms, but we got SUNSHINE instead!  Yippee!!  So happy for the blue sky!
We live along the North Saskatchewan River.  As I said yesterday, within a week, those waters could be turbulent and raging.  Today, they were peaceful and I checked out various points of view along the kilometers of riverbank. There was lots of life on the riverbank - people, birds, vegetation.  People sitting on the benches watching the waters.  Dogs and their walkers.  Bikes.  A bridal party!
The left hand picture was obviously home to some small song birds.  It was loud with cheerful birds in song.
On the right, the wind whispers through the grasses as they bend under the force of the eastern breeze.

This was pretty.  At some point in time, someone planted these flowers here.  It hasn't been kept up and appears wild now.
If I learned anything from this nature shot, it would be to appreciate the dimensions present in the first picture.  I like the people in the background in picture #2.  Another layer of 'interest' in the shot? 

I know the tree is just a tree...but I tried to capture the tree, its shadow AND its reflection in the puddle.
Picture #2 - I like the sunburst lines through the canopy of leaves.

Further up the river, we get to Central Avenue and the Fire Hall Museum.  I think there are shots there that could fill another day and that could be a project for the summer.

Shot #1 is part of a band stand gazebo thing.  It's kind of a beautiful/gross building, sorry.  Looks pretty, smells bad.  I think a lot of "after dark" life happens there.  But I like the chipping of the paint.  On another beam within the gazebo, someone wrote in graffiti "Don't forget to laugh!"  Well, okay!
Picture #2 - the clouds covered the sun for a few minutes and the grey sky seemed to match the angry face. 

Picture #1 is too small to show what I wanted to focus on - the sand dune was covered with seagulls and they were NOISY!  If their chatter is anything like our family chatter, they would probably be saying "Where's Ben?  Get up Ben!  It's time to go?  What do you mean, you can't find your shoes?  Where did you leave your shoes?  Ben!!...."  I do wonder what birds talk about.....
Picture #2 - again, I like the look of chipped paint.  Haven't you seen my back fence?  ;)

That's it for Day 6!  Thanks for looking!

Friday, 21 June 2013

Daily Challenge, Day Five

Day Five of the Daily Challenge dawned a rainy day.  I'm afraid I'll run out of things to photograph.  Unrelated to this challenge, I've done a recent post about rainy days, what to do, what to do.

However, I took some time to review some of the course content and Cathy reminded us to document our days.  Since documenting my morning (which consisted of laboriously typing some lengthy meeting minutes from a recent board meeting) wasn't inspiring, I decided to get outside again and perhaps focus on 'drops'.  For a start, at least.
I have to say for the sake of documenting history that, while it's raining in my world, Calgary is in disaster mode, having to evacuate 100,000 people today due to overflowing rivers as a result of unprecedented heavy rainfall.  I may be tired of the rain, but I'm safe and dry in my home.  A hundred thousand people from Calgary alone are not. Canmore residents have lost their homes.  High River businesses are destroyed.  Here at home, the highway north has eroded, blocking our only major highway to the northern communities.  Our blessed Little Red park has been closed indefinitely due to floods and we are a long way away from Calgary.  Our river will also rise in the next week or so as the waters flow east.  So I will endure what's happening in my own world today,and pray for help for those who are in desperate situations.
It's all about perspective.  "All we needed was some fresh perspective" - name that movie quote.
My 10 shots for today:
Getting to know my macro setting.  Sometimes it feels as awkward as getting to know my bifocals.  ;)

I have a couple of texturally interesting plants in my front pots this year instead of flowering annuals.  This deep purple one is lovely, and tenderly cups the drops of rain.

Chain link

These lily leaves are loaded with drops.  Why haven't the drops slid off?  Pretty.

The wind and the rain have caused seeds to drop all over the trampoline.  Mr. Ben will have to sweep before jumping.

I then listened to more of Cathy's in regards to photo content for the 7 day challenge.  She directs us to capture things that we will (eventually) look back on and be glad to have.  What did my world include in June 2013?

My eyes fell upon this note that mom sent me this week.  Mom has always had the prettiest script.  In the note, she's talking about the sun and the rain and their plans to go to Seniors Camp this week if "all goes well".  One day, 10-15-20 years from now, I know that this photo will be very meaningful to me.  I love the letters she sends and, by the way, handwritten notes are uncommon treasures these days.  Sigh.  I love my mom (and my dad too!).

However, this picture was SO HARD to take to capture the focal point that I had in my head.  Take, retake, retake, retake......

The day finished and evening found us, like it does every Friday night, at church helping out with the youth group.  The lighting in the gym is never friendly for cameras but this picture was a keeper!


And, common to fun youth events - Angry Birds!!  In this game, the adult leaders were instructed to hide the Angry Bird stuffies all around the church, take a picture that would only partially reveal a clue about their whereabouts and then let the kids find them.  One boy kept asking "where did you hide yours?"  Hmm.  Not gonna tell. 

More hide and seek games - this girl was brave enough to hide behind the garbage can in the kitchen.  We had a lovely visit while she hid and I made the koolaid.  "Do you like volunteering?", she asked.  "Yes, I do."   Look at those beautiful blue peepers.

Church foyer.  I'll bet these flowers have heard a lot of chatter. 

Ack, my FAVORITE shot of the day got overlooked last night!  Here it is today!   It was way past my bedtime last night when I assembled this collection...... 

That's really is now for the Day 5 collection!

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Daily Challenge, Day Four

I was brushing my teeth at 0630 this morning, disappointed that I wasn't going to be able to do any photos for Day 4 of the challenge.  I was disappointed also that the whole day would be a photography wash (since when did I become so interested in this photography thing?  Hello, personal challenge.).  As in, I could neither photograph nor study.
All I was going to get to do was work.
Poor me.
I love my job.
I love the people I work with.  Both the residents and the staff.
But their identity must remain a secret....shhh!!
I couldn't really truly visualize myself lugging my big-ish camera to work, pulling it out for those secret photographable moments.  I knew those moments would hit the moment...and there would be some and they could be fun and my mind screamed HOW CAN I DO THIS?!!
iPOD!!!  It hit me, somewhere between Vaseline Intensive Care Lotion, L'Oreal facial powder, and Crest toothpaste.  Somewhere in the midst of my daily beauty regime, inspiration struck to go small and raw and capture views of our crazily sweet facility with the smallest camera I own.  The iPod hit the leg pocket of my scrubs and off I went.  Got to work and remembered the fund raising Garage Sale slated for the day. Bonus!  And inspiration wound its way through my crazy RN/photographer mind as I passed out pills and drew up insulins.  Every wheelchair, oxygen tank and sit/stand lift became food for creative thought as potentially visually interesting to some of you who may not see them in your every day world.
But, then, to get a really good shot of a structurally interesting wheelchair, I'd probably have to lie on my belly to get the shot and THAT AIN'T happening on those floors.  Just sayin'.  A lot of stuff happens on those floors and bless the hearts of the housekeeping staff, I'm just not going to lie there on my belly intentionally.  Period.
Then, I looked at some of the wheelchairs and Broda chairs and thought that it would be fun if I crawled inside some of them and focused on the view from the chair.  While there may be many intellectually challenging statements that could be made from that point of view, I also got the giggles, thinking about me, the so called "nurse in charge" climbing into some of these elaborate chairs, sitting there quietly, taking pictures with my little iPod while the busy day went on around me.  "Where's Maureen?  Dr. Jones is on the phone!!"     ",  she's sitting, in her chair...."  (and she can't get out).
Anyway.  Picture it.  ;)
Instead, here are some treasures found in this little world I spend 12 hours a day in.
(I am only just learning how to make collages; I have no idea how to number my pictures)
Row one: 
        - picture one - resembles the window sills of many people.  Personal spaces must become "home" and knick-knack treasures of all shapes and sizes abound in their rooms.  These are cheery little friends.
        - picture two - art work done by some of the residents.  Our facility hosted an Art Gala last fall that raised an astounding amount of money.  There was an abundance of previously untapped artistic talent that got discovered then.  I love seeing what happens when a paint brush and canvas are placed before someone.  The gnarled hands and sometimes foggy minds can produce beauty. 
        - picture three - a very friendly stuffy.  Stuffies are friendly and comforting, no matter the age of their master.


Row Two - these are all pictures from the Garage Sale tables.  Hats off to the staff and volunteers who organized treasures into visually pretty groups.

Row Three - also pictures form the garage sale.  There was this box of records - all retro - waltzes, polkas, Barbara Streisand in her younger years, etc.   I don't know why this box was being sold - if we played that entire box of records all day long, the residents would be in music heaven.  Then there was the stash of homemade yarn creations.  What do grandmas do?  Knit, crochet, create treasures for their families.  Pretty colors, soft yarns.  I can feel the softness under my fingers just looking at the picture.

And then there was that last box which was a box full of headless doll bodies and bodyless doll heads.  TOO WEIRD!!!

Today was fun and a challenge in a whole new way!  Glad I was forced to think outside the box.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Daily Challenge, Day Three

The daily photo challenge continues.  It is most interesting to start seeing your day's events through a view finder.  What seem like "normal" moments become unique and interesting.  But it's taking some energy and focus!  Tomorrow will be a break day for me - my work place would be a really really really fun place to take some shots IF (BIG IF!!) I had the time and IF (BIGGER IF!) I was allowed to share the photos.  Alas, confidentiality reigns in health care although I'm itching to take the camera to work and look for photo ops that do not breach any confidentiality.  I am quite positive that there are capturable and beautiful moments in our facility amidst the chaos of caring for these aged souls.

I spent a good part of my day today on the school grounds with Son #2.  Alas, unlike Andrew, Ben's mantra of the day was "Mom, put the camera away, you're embarrassing me."  Good point.  Perhaps laying on my belly on the school ground taking pictures of grass and pylons was a bit over the top for this 12 year old.
I didn't mean to stay at the school all afternoon.  It just happened.
Play Day at our school is open to parents over the lunch hour.  The school facilitates a pizza lunch that families can eat together in the school yard for K-6.  With Ben in Grade 6, this was our last year to participate in this so we got our lunch schedules together and hubby and I arrived on the school yard at just the right time. 
I have a hunch that Ben wasn't all that interested in us being there....friends were quite interesting, parents, not so much.  But I NEEDED to be there, to participate in this event for the last time.  Firsts and lasts mean so much to me. 
So we ate our lunch and Ben disappeared to do his thing.
....And we got visiting with this other mom.  And 2 hours flew by....
....On our way out of the playground, we got visiting with a teacher/friend....and a few more minutes flew by.....
....And by that time, I figured I may as well stay for the big finale of the afternoon - the class races.  For some reason, I love this event.  All the kindergarten girls line up and race across the soccer field.  Then all the boys do.  And so on through the grades up to the "big" kids on the field, the Grade 6-ers.  The kids all sit on the sidelines of the field and cheer their precious hearts out.  It's noisy.  It's happy.  It's encouraging.  And those little guys run with all their might.  And then the next grade goes, and they're a little bit bigger and run a little faster...and I remember that my kids were once that small and now they're not and it's good and I'm happy and a little tear slips out of the corner of my eyes.  They all return to their spots, waving purple "GOOD JOB" ribbons and the ribbons wiggle free from their chubby fists and they go chasing them across the soccer field.  The fast runners commit to winning.  The slow runners commit to finishing.  Everyone.  Is.  All.  Good.  With.  Being.  In.  The.  Moment.  The races end, the kids head back into the school with their teachers and the field is suddenly silent, just like that, it's over.
I will miss it.  But new and good things are coming.
I'm okay.  Big breath.
Here are my shots of the day:

I made THE best batch of rhubarb muffins for breakfast today.

I make these muffins every year.  Rhubarb season inspires me for annual "make again" recipes.  This recipe is from a fellow nurse and I just have to make a batch each spring.  Light and fluffy morsels of goodness.  I planned to make some yesterday but ran out of time.  This morning, they were done in time for my first cup of coffee.  Bliss.

Here's Ben at the ball toss station of Play Day.  I managed to capture the ball mid-air.  Lucky shot!  ;)

Little piggies in need of a new splash of paint.

Where did he get those?  I think he traded some pizza away for them!
...I want some too...

Blades of grass

Blades of grass, and now you can see the playground equipment in the background.  Macro setting.

Young cowboy

Pylons standing at attention in the long jump box

A tangled mess of bikes

Park your bike and get your face painted in the background.

And there are my 10 shots for the day!  Thanks for looking.  See you in a couple days!

Daily Challenge, Day Two

Tuesday was Day Two of my Daily Photography Challenge.
A friend and I had a brief chat on Facebook the other night about our mutual love for APRONS!!!  We both agreed that aprons are a fun "must have" item and I seldom cook without one on.  There could be a couple reasons for that.....mostly that I'm a messy cook and I hate spoiling a good shirt with a sloppy splatter.  When I open the apron drawer, my apron selection for the day is deliberate - "I want THAT one!  Because.........."  And I have my reasons.  ;) 
 Wanna see my favorites?

I purchased this one at Winners a couple of years ago.  It is stylin'!  I love the halter top and the gathered waist.  The fabric is kinda retro and puts me in the mind of The Partridge Family! 

This one was purchased from a fair trade vendor.  The cutwork/pressing/sewing element of this is impressive.  Have to say, though, that I haven't worn it much....too pretty!

This one!  This baby is my GO TO apron.  I wear this apron endlessly.  It is home, comfort, friendly.  Ikea was the source.

This apron makes me smile!  I have a friend who travels often and she has, on occasion, brought me an apron as a souvenir from her travel spots.

This one is from Hawaii and I smile every time I put it on!  It is fun, colorful and makes me think about sunshine and friendly places.  If I EVER prepare a luau, I'll be sure to wear this apron. 
......Don't hold your breath on that one, though.  I haven't been to luau cooking school yet.....

These two aprons are the oldest in my photographed apron collection.  They were a shower gift from my mother-in-law.

One for her.....

And one for him.....
Reflecting on that now, there was some hope attached to this "him" didn't cook much when we got married.
He does now!

I have always loved the cross stitch and embroidery work on these aprons and I love that she sewed these and crafted the special designs on each of them just for us.  So pretty and a nod to tradition.  I heart tradition.

My final apron and photo for Day 2.  This one is also a gift from my friend and is from Israel.  This one is new and so very special.  Soon, it will be as well worn as the others.  Love it.

So there you have it, Day 2 shots.  I started the day thinking that perhaps inanimate objects would be easier to photograph because you're not working to capture emotion or thoughts. 

However, ahem, au contraire!!

I did my first attempt.

Looked at them.

Went back for re-takes.

Looked at them.

Went back for more re-takes.


You have to bring some life or story to inanimate objects.  You need depth. 

Still learnin'.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Daily Challenge, Day One

Veering far away from the original intent of recipe sharing on this blog site...
I started taking a short photography course yesterday.  Carolyn from I Am Unique pointed me in the direction of this course and it looks interesting.
Actually, the term "started taking a short photography course yesterday" might be a bit misleading.  I paid for the course ($10!!), opened the page, scanned through the content and declared myself to have "started"!  I have a lot of watching and learning and reading and experimenting to do to consider myself to have actually started the course. 
The first challenge that my eyes feasted upon was to "take 10 images a day for a week. See if at the end of the week, your 70 images are a good representation of your life."
So, late yesterday afternoon, I dug the camera out of the case and started thinking about what to take pictures of.  It seems that the idea here is to not necessarily stage photo sessions, but to document your days, trying to capture moments out of ordinary days.
I started with trying to capture some "I'm making supper shots".  Stimulating, I know.  ;)
For the record, we had souvlaki chicken with alfredo pasta.  It was very good, thanks for asking!

Supper wasn't that photogenic, so I moved into the back yard.

Dandelions, while ever so happy to live in our lawn and anger the neighbors, make a lovely photo!

Dandelions blowing in the breeze.

I like the sunlight on the following dandelion shot:

Am learning to use photo edit options on "Picassa".  Loosely translated, this means that I'm learning to make the process of picture taking into a very time consuming, detailed creative endeavor!  Not sure if that's a good thing or not!

Then I got thinking about how there was nothing left in my yard or household to take pictures of.  Not spontaneously anyway.  I mean, how many shots of a boiling pot of pasta does one want to attempt?  (yes, I attempted; yes, it was terribly uninteresting...)

Andrew is in his last 8 days of classes at JD.  That's kind of a big deal.  Unlike his dad who moved schools every 3 years or so, Andrew has been at this school from K-8.  He is so happy to be moving on to high school.

However, being the emotionally sappy mom that I am, I wanted to attempt to get some shots of him at the school yard in the evening sunshine - a reflection on the setting sun of his JD School years, so to speak.

It took a bit of convincing to get him to be a happy participator in this session, but soon we were off to the school yard.  The sun was perfect.  I asked him to bring his drum sticks - hello, comfort zone.  He rode over on his bike.  His hat and shades were a 'must'.

Andrew, outside the Grade 7/8 wing of school.

Andrew, same spot.  However, when I edited this picture (and the previous one) I got so excited!  Without thinking, Andrew posed outside of the music room.  Unnoticed through the view finder as I laid on my back on the asphalt, but noticed on the larger screen - there is a music staff coming out of his head.  Cool.  Couldn't have planned that better for this boy who loves music and thinks music and dreams music.

Typical conversation Andrew - "I'm going for a bike ride."  Me - "okay, where to?"  A - "my usual route."  Me - "okay".  Andrew, many days later, "Oh yeah, I biked downtown, to DQ, over by the hospital, all around the Rotary Trail...."  Me - "THAT's not on your regular bike route!!!!!!"  This picture should be titled "The Secret Life of Me and My Bike".

Grade 8 door, drummer/bike pose

Looking west

I LOVE this shot - I love the sunshine on his silhouette and the dark clouds gathering.

Love the sunlight here, too.  I also like the contemplative feeling of the photo.  The football players in the JD yard in the background are from Carlton, the school he'll be at next year.  Sort of makes me think that he's thinking of the years behind him and contemplating the years ahead.  Very sentimental perspective for me.

That's my Day One wrap up.  To get 10 shots that I'm reasonably happy with, I took 70.....thank heavens for digital cameras!