School’s out for summer.

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I cringe at the thought of being sprayed by ice water, but for some reason, my kids love it. Apparently other people’s kids love it, too, because we have a dozen splash pads scattered throughout town, usually crowded with soaked, screaming children, dashing through jets of frigid water. As far as I can tell, they’re screaming with joy. (I know. It’s weird. It’s fun to watch, as long as I don’t get splashed.)

To celebrate the first day of summer vacation, my kids screamed at a splash pad and then their lips turned blue while they waded in the murky, glacial waters of the nearby creek. Convincing them to eventually end this activity took a fair amount of coaxing. If not for the fact that I’m 100% sure I gave birth to them, I might wonder how they could possibly be related to me.

To top off the day, they slurped up their first ever root beer float (I had one, too. I like cold liquids, as long as my body isn’t being sprayed by or immersed in them. Also, I didn’t want the kids to think I don’t know how to have fun).

Let the adventures begin!

From the bottom up.

Here are two tips I’ve come across frequently from people who know photography:

  1. Practice. A lot.
  2. Change your perspective when composing your shot.

With tip number one in mind, I lug my camera bag wherever I go. If it’s with me, I’m more inclined to use it. It’s become such a habit that I’m positively certain the one time I forget it will be the time I come across a rainbow, a flying pig, Viggo Mortensen, or some other ultra-photograph-able scene that will end up captured solely by my eyeballs.

My purse broke the other day, so I’ve re-purposed one of my old totes to carry my purse-y type items (I’m a mom, so these consist mostly of things like bandages, tissues, and wet wipes. Also Chapstick for when I want to get fancy). This tote is a size appropriate not only for a miniature dog of the variety carried around by Paris Hilton, but for perhaps one or two additional doggie-friends. Any more bags and I will begin to get strange looks from people on the street. Or perhaps people on the street are already looking at me strangely. It’s hard to tell because I can barely see past my bags.

As for photography tip number two, the easiest way to change perspective when shooting, so I’ve heard, is to move your body, starting with your feet. Move up or move down. How would the scene look from above, or below, or anyplace else other than how most of the world sees things, i.e., eye level? Climb a tree. Lie down in the grass. Composing this way is more likely to result in an interesting shot. You may look strange to others, but if they’re already looking at you strangely because of all the bags you’re carrying, who cares?

So, today I strapped my camera over my shoulder and rode my bike to the park with my children. I laid on my back in the wood chips beneath the play structure. It was, I’m surprised to say, strangely comfortable. From here, my view was drastically different than it had been on the sidelines. I had a nagging fear that one of my kids would fall on top of me and I’d end up with a broken camera and a mouth full of wood chips, in addition to a scraped-up child (not to worry, I carry bandages for that).

Happily, no blood was spilled, I did not eat wood, and my camera is still functioning. Not all my shots were very interesting, but I took a liking to this one.

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To summarize, here are two easy ways to improve your photography:

  1. Become a bag lady.
  2. Lie on the ground more often.

Thanks, as always, for stopping by ☺

At the speed of light.

May 13 (1 of 1)

The speed of light? Well, hardly. My subject is a child, riding a bike. Uphill.

I wanted to see if I could capture the feeling of motion in a photograph, so I tried out a panning technique.

Panning gives the impression of movement in a photo by blurring the background while keeping the subject relatively sharp. For this shot, I slowed my shutter speed down to 1/6 second and focused on my biking muse, following her movement horizontally with the camera while I pushed the shutter release.

When I try this again, I’ll probably try a faster shutter speed to help sharpen her form, and I’ll try to place her a little more to the left of the frame (so it doesn’t look like she’s about to race right into the hard edge of the photo).

In any case, I’m happy with my first attempt at panning, and she’s happy that she looks a bit like the Flash.

Win-win.

 

Raring to go.

April 29 (1 of 1)

When you’re ready to venture out – near or far – on your own:

  • May you proceed with caution (this is your mother talking, after all).
  • May you find the courage to wander roads rocky and unknown.
  • May you relish the journey as well as the destination.
  • May you realize the value of experiences over things.
  • May you travel using all of your senses, an open mind, and your whole heart.
  • May you remember to call your parents once in a while.
  • May you always know your way home again.

 

For more interpretations of the WordPress weekly photo theme of Wanderlust, click here.

Hand in glove.

April 23 (2 of 2)

We know every day should be Earth Day, but we also know we’re guilty of taking her for granted, so this weekend we tried to get outside as a family to participate in Earth-y activities.

We grabbed gloves and shovels for community tree planting, which resulted in new living quarters for a slew of skinny sugar maples. We also donned the gloves as we formed a mighty family litter brigade, cleaning up a section of our neighbourhood strewn with junk food wrappers, bags of dog poop and at least one pair of frilly undergarments.

April 23 (1 of 2)

There are still so many trees to be planted and so much litter to remove. There are still so many ways in which we need to pay better attention to the connection between us and our planet, and the enormity of our environmental impact. But we wanted to show the kids (and remind ourselves) that even small acts, especially carried out as a community, can make a visible difference.

Hey, once we introduce them to such activities, the kids may not want to stop. Who knows? They could end up like bestselling author and humorist David Sedaris, who picks up so much litter that he had a garbage truck named after him.

Lofty goals aside, our true aim is to better cultivate an appreciation for nature in our children.

And we’ll try not to wait until Earth Day to do it.

Go fly a kite.

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Ingredients required:

  1. A kite (caution: one originating from the dollar store is likely to require a double dose of ingredient #3).
  2. Wind (preferably a steady, warm-ish one).
  3. Patience (you may have to detangle the lines a few hundred times).

Blend. Repeat. Enjoy. 😊