Family, History and Love

Wanda and I have been discussing, of late, the need to set down in writing some portion of our family history so that in the future our children and grandchildren will have the stories and tales of our lives direct from the source. The technophile that I am, I choose to do this online so that the what we write will be accessible and available for comment to our wider family (though I reserve the right to moderate those comments).

To that end, I have repurposed this blog. In coming posts, we will endeavor to provide an abridged story of our life (hey, everyone has their secrets). We're writing this for our children and their children and those that come later so elements of these tales will be familiar only to our family,

Monday, December 28, 2009


I've decided to revamp my blog, and to some extent my website. This particular journal will be family centric and will concentrate not only photographic events related to the family, but to generally family friendly events like the various fairs and festivals that we attend during the year. I've gone back through the previous entries and deleted many that were not appropriate for a family journal. Other entries have been marked as NSFW (Not Safe for Work), but not deleted because they contribute to the flow of the journal.

I have copied those entries over to a different journal that will be specific to my glamour photography. This will allow me to separate my photographic interests more appropriately and keep the journal very specific to family and family events that are only of interest to my closest friends and family.  If you've been following my glamour photography and want to continue to do so, let me know and I'll send you a link (or just check out the link for Through the Lens in the side bar).

We spent Christmas with our grandchildren (as much as we could) this year. Unfortunately, our Christmas with Jocelyn was limited to a video show via the PS3 network, but that was quite delightful. We got to see her open her presents from us and to watch her play in the ball pit that her mom and dad gave to her. She certainly had quite a lot of fun with that. We're hoping that next year we'll be able to actually spend Christmas with her like we did last year.

After the all-too-short video show, we went to our daughter Talitha's house for Christmas brunch with Makayla and Ryker, their mom and Aunt TeeTee, and their Grandma Carol. We managed to get there before the kids had been up very long and they hadn't yet opened their presents from Santa. Makayla was reluctant to go look at the tree full of presents until she was absolutely sure that Santa wasn't still in the room.  The kids got to open their Santa presents right away while the adults put the meal together (or at least while Grandma Wanda put the food in the oven to finish cooking)

Brunch was delicious. Wanda made her hashbrown egg casserole as well as homemade biscuits while I made some sausage gravy to go with the meal.  While certainly not light in calories or fat, it was good and filling. Afterwards the kids finished opening their presents and the adults got to share theirs too.

Of course, the most fun was watching the little ones play with their toys, or in Ryker's case, with both his toys and his clothes.  Makayla also treated the adults as play accessories, especially since she got a medical cart as part of her Christmas. All the adults received medical exams and I received special attention and even a call for mommy's ambulance to take me home due to a "really bad owie."

Okay, now you can see why I'm separating the journals, right? :)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Zoo Lights

We took the grandkids to see the Zoo Lights at the Portland Zoo last night. It was the first time for even though we've lived here in Portland for nearly 14 years. I guess grandchildren are a great catalyst for doing things you wouldn't normally do because you wouldn't want to deal with the crowds or because it's too cold or too wet or just about any other excuse that you could profess. But with grandchildren, you set all that aside when your grandchildren are part of the equation.

Makayla has been so excited about Christmas this year, and has had a real fascination with Christmas lights. So we all bundled up last night--her mommy, her brother, her auntie and her grandmother and I--and braved the traffic, the drizzle, and the crowds to see the lights at the zoo. And, I'll have to say that it was definitely worth it (though, somehow I wound up paying for the entire family, a patriarch's duty perhaps?).

Mayayla was certainly entranced by the lights. Very few of the animals were to be seen. The penquin house was open, and we did see a few monkey and a sleeping ocelot, but no elephants, bears, giraffes or other animals not depicted in the lights. The light displays more than mode up for the lack of animals though. Many of the displays were animated. There were monkeys swinging from tree to tree, elephants spouting glowing water, butterflies bursting from their cocoons, and an eagle soaring from one perch to another. There was even a river filled with alligators while elephants played in the background.

The kids were delighted, as were the adults. The zoo was quite crowded and it certainly wasn't a dry night. The rain wasn't too bad, though, mainly just mist and fog. The chill temperatures provided the touch of winter without being too cold. Makayla had hoped to see more real animals, but she did enjoy all the lights, and Ryker was really fascinated and wanted to touch all the lights. He did enjoy walking around the place, annoying his sister, and keeping the adults busy trying to keep him from running off in the crowd. He had just as much fun as his older sister, if not more. They both enjoyed the cotton candy that their Auntie TeeTee bought them near the end of our tour.

Jocelyn also got to goto the zoo lights , but she went with her parents to the zoo in Arizona. Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of that yet, but perhaps her mom will read this post and SEND SOME TO THE GRANDPARENTS!

Zoo lights also gave me a chance at some difficult lighting conditions. The images you see here were shot with a Canon 40D and a 17-55 f/2.8 EF-S IS lens. The camera was set to manual, and because the displays were most static, I enabled the image stabilization (IS) on the lens. I set the camera ISO to 1250 and the exposure mode to manual. The lights varied greatly in their brilliance, so I was constantly adjusting the shutter speed (within limits) to control the exposure. The biggest issue I had was a smear on the clear filter I had on the lens to protect it from the weather. Once I removed the filter, I was much happier with the image results.

Here are some final images from the night:

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Thoughts at the End of the Year

I think, perhaps, my long running battle with my computers may be over, or at least in a lull. My laptop drive has been restored with only the loss of a list of images that I needed to process. The images are still there, but the list of images the model chose for me to process was lost in the recovery.

The external hard drive that failed when PGE cut the power to my neighborhood has been restored and the thousands of family photos on that drive have been copied over to a new drive, backed up, and re-cataloged. Additionally, the main images will be backed up to a small hard drive and stored in my safety deposit box. I’ve also added to UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply) units to my computer network and optimized the system drive on my desktop. Now, at last, I can actually begin processing the images I’ve taken over the last few months. In fact, I did manage to complete processing the Autumn Fairy Reshoot images for the model chosen for that shoot and will deliver them to her this weekend. Now I have to start processing the Sword and Sorcery shots from mid-November.

In the meantime, I have a number of family images to process, including some Christmas portraits of my grandchildren and daughters. Those will need to be completed before I travel to Arizona next week so my daughter-in-law will have them for her scrapbooking. Of course, Wanda has a few thousand photos she wants scanned a retouched too. Maybe I should consider golf as an alternative hobby.

It’s hard to believe that 2009 is almost over and with it the end of the first decade of the 21st century (depending on how you look at it). The 2000’s were sure different from the 90’s, and not all in a good way. We’re still in the midst of two wars, the economy is, at best, staggering along. Unemployment is at an all time high, and more people are homeless this Christmas season than ever. What I can’t understand, is why we can’t as humans, despite our political and ideological differences, pull together as a country to do better and be more kind and humane toward each other.

I feel fortunate I have a wonderful wife, great children and adorable grandchildren, as well as a job, a home and the time and money to spend on a hobby. I know there are many others who are just scraping by these days and would be grateful for a 1/10th of what I have. That makes me appreciate my family and friends all the more—and I’m certainly happy I have the ability to take photos of them, and my other projects, and share them with the world.