Wiki Loves Monuments Contest

Until the end of this month Wiki is running a contest inviting people to submit photos of local monuments here in the US.

Here’s the link: Wiki Loves Monuments. There will be cash prizes and winners will be automatically submitted to the international competition. They’re also encouraging people to do research and contribute to articles. Sounds like a great homeschool project to me!

Honestly, sometimes the pictures I see submitted on wiki articles are dreadful and inaccurate, so this is a great way to up the ante. Yay, Wiki!

If you do submit pictures, or your kids do, I’d love to hear about it and see them! Either comment here, or email me.

Cats Are Easier Than Web Programming

You just take the plastic off the box. That’s all you do. Remove the Gatorade label, the cat is happy, life goes on.

Unlike web design.

I spent I don’t know how many hours today restoring the back up of this site…. I finally called tech support, after fiddling and diddling because I’m bullheaded like that. Picture a 3 year old dressing herself. I can do it mySELF!

Yeah, well, I did ok. The thing that was entirely holding me back was 5 files in the wrong place, 3 of which had extra extensions from the backup (HEY! Pay ATTENTION! I see your eyes glazing!) so I had to rename them, removing wp-content-_____ and move them. TADA! I have finally learned that calling tech support is not a sin, venal or mortal.

So anyway, I’m back shooting again.

I was on Lyrica for a couple of years or so, and one of the <insert sarcasm tag here> awesome side effects </sarcasm off> is a loss of balance and shaking hands. I cried, and put the cameras down. It broke my heart. I have no joy in shooting with a tripod. Anyway, I gave up on the drug when I saw a friend using a cane and leaning in the breeze like a drunken sailor… I thought, do I look like that?

I don’t pretend to be the greatest photographer in the world, and I sure don’t have the latest equipment, but that’s your advantage because you probably don’t either and you just may be tired of being talked down to. Here I am. If you don’t know something, ask, email privately if you like and want to be anonymous and I’ll do my best to answer you or point you in a good direction. Let’s have some fun together, at any rate. That’s what art is, right?

Now I better get the plastic off the box.

Glowing cat eyes peering into my soul.

Remove plaztik, hooman. I need box time.


Heartbreak and Healing

My son Levi took this from an access road on the opposite hillside on March 24th. He had to actually photograph a series of shots to get the whole thing in.

My son Levi took this from an access road on the opposite hillside on March 24th. He had to actually photograph a series of shots to get the whole thing in.

As many of you know, everything in the Stillaguamish valley changed dramatically on March 22, 2014. Under all that mud was a neighborhood, a community. Kids with bikes and balls, pets, homes. Every person I know in the area was somehow touched by that tragedy. They all knew someone who was lost or were related to someone who was lost. There were those that suddenly found that there was a 2 hour addition to their commute in each direction morning and night. Some people stayed what we call “down below” either with friends or sheltered by FEMA, etc. Some of them don’t see their families for days at a time. There were those that lost everything they owned, except their mortgage in some cases. There are those that are still dealing with fears both up and downstream of the slide from flooding or a sudden breakthrough of the dammed river washing away their homes. My heart aches and my throat closes just thinking about it.

his is the western edge of the slide. You can see a white house across the river that was just missed.

This is the western edge of the slide. You can see a white house across the river that was just missed.

There was a flipside to those losses, and that is the incredible bravery and stamina of those that have put their own lives at risk in the rescue work, and the tireless work of those who supported them. Those people saw things no one should have to see. They found our dead, and every time they did and the helicopter would come to lift the bodies away all work would stop and everyone watched them go. The respect and love shown to the victims really honors us all.

2nd shot, still toward the western edge heading to the middle. The humps are debris under the mud, including homes.

2nd shot, still toward the western edge heading to the middle. The humps are debris under the mud, including homes.

There were the the people in charge who handled logistics, made decisions, took the brunt of the press and dealing with a lot of grieving folks. Thanks for your sleepless nights and the courage to make difficult choices. The local business people that worked so hard to keep up with demands, contributed funds and goods to help the locals were outstanding. Our largest local employer, Hampton Lumber, was absolutely stellar about letting the guys off work to take part in the rescue effort or be with their families and friends. They’ve been hush hush about their contributions to the victims and their families. They’re not in it for publicity, like some companies would be. I admire that. Then there were men and women that came from all over to help. I saw trucks from the San Juan islands, Skagit county, Marysville, Edmonds, Mukilteo, Stanwood, even an airboat from Orange, Texas. I know I’m forgetting a lot of them. It was a blur. They came and covered shifts so the locals could continue the search.

The center toward the east.

The center toward the east.

No one will ever forget those awesome women who fed everyone. I’ve never seen so many cookies and goodies in one place in my life as I did at the community center! There were those that contributed to our community’s needs out of the kindness of their hearts, those who were inspired to put together their own ‘relief convoys’ and brought truckload after truckload of food for both people and animals, including livestock. Above all I kept hearing over and over again from those who live outside of our community, like the press, that they just had a hard time believing that such a community spirit still exists in this day and age. I had one reporter tell me that it reminded him of his hometown in Texas, that he could tell the roots of the community are southern. 🙂 His photographer didn’t know what to make of it. She said “All these ladies just kept asking me what I wanted to eat, if I’d eaten, here honey, have a bite to eat you look hungry…” LOL

I saw so many people hugging each other, everyone was comforting someone somehow, and even those who had suffered great losses of their own were doing their best to comfort others. It really shows that there are still good people out there, kind people, if you look for them and give them the chance to shine.

The eastern edge of the slide, towards Hazel, and the beginning of the ponding from the river being dammed.

The eastern edge of the slide, towards Hazel, and the beginning of the ponding from the river being dammed.

One thing I kept hearing over and over again on various news shows was ‘it was an act of God’ or ‘God took him’ and I just want to share what gave me some comfort from the bible about that idea. In the bible in the book of Ecclesiastes at chapter 9, verse 11 it says

“The swift do not always win the race, nor do the mighty win the battle, nor do the wise always have the food, nor do the intelligent always have the riches, nor do those with knowledge always have success, because time and unexpected events overtake them all.”

In other words, bad things happen. Unfair things happen. It’s not God’s fault, it just happens.

We’re all familiar with the scripture at John 3:16 where Jesus said ““For God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.” A God of love doesn’t kill people or allow their deaths because ‘he needed another angel’. No. Another scripture, James 1:13,  says this:

“When under trial let no one say, ‘I am being tried by God.’ For with evil things God cannot be tried, nor does he himself try anyone.”

The bible explains clearly why God has allowed people to suffer this long, and that he is going to undo all the bad that has happened very soon. Revelation 21:3-4 will come true.

“With that I heard a loud voice from the throne say: “Look! The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his people. And God himself will be with them.  And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.”

These bad times, the “former things,”  will pass, God promises it, and he never lies. This article explains God’s promises in the bible about when natural disasters will be a thing of the past earth wide. I hope it brings you as much comfort as it did me.

Most of all, though, I just want to say Thank You to everyone who took it upon themselves to get involved, to show kindness to those who had lost so much. Thank you.


Don’t Take Chances- Take Multiple Shots

I was recently watching a photographer on a shoot and I noticed something that really concerned me. There were several group shots, and as each group was assembled the photographer went ‘click’ one time, and then the groups moved on and the next one assembled. One click… Yikes. That’s leaving a lot to chance.

How many times have you taken a picture of a group of friends and everyone’s eyes and attention were where they were supposed to be? There’s always a guy who’s grinning at a girl across the room or who has his eyes closed. There’s the idiot who thinks he’s hilarious flipping off the camera or doing bunny ears behind someone’s head. Then the baby turns his head to look at mama and became a blur. Then there’s your little brother Dwight with his finger up his nose.

Can a photographer always catch all the details by chimping? No. There have been times when I looked at the 3 inch view screen on the back of my camera and thought ‘got it’ when I was feeling rushed and it never ever fails that when I get home and get the pictures uploaded that I have a serious heart-sinking oh-no moment when I see them full size. Don’t get in a hurry!

Take. More. Than. One. Picture.

One thing I always use is the ‘continuous shooting’ mode when taking pictures, whether they’re group shots action shots, or anything, really. Most digital cameras have this capability now, even point and shoot pocket cameras. The camera won’t take multiple pictures every time you hit the shutter button if you have a light touch, but when you want more you can leave your finger down and get more, so I just leave it there because there is never enough time to switch when you’re in the moment.

We’re familiar with hearing the clickclickclick of photographers shooting action shots or the paparazzi machine gunning a celebrity, right? You can use that same setting to catch the fleeting expressions of a child, the quick movements of a pet, or to make sure that you get a shot of a group with everyone’s eyes open and no one’s tongue out.

Once people hear the first click of the camera they tend to relax, and you get some nice natural expressions for portraits, too. Sometimes the second or third picture in a series will be less blurry if camera shake is an issue. You may also get some unexpected expressions in shooting a series, like my son channeling his inner Grumpy Cat.

The whole point is to make things easier on yourself, and to catch the memories you want to. If I wouldn’t have been on ‘continuous shooting’ I never would have caught this expression, or have the fun of teasing him about it. 😉 Or have my younger son tell me, “Yeah, that’s how he looks when he’s really going to throw it hard. I always know I’d better brace myself when I see that face.”

Have fun, catch the moment.


A Beautiful Wedding

All of the work and worry came to beautiful fruition Sunday, when my son and the girl of his dreams were wed.
Congratulations, Luke and Ellie! Thank you for letting your family and friends be a part of one of the most important days of your life.

First Dance as Man and Wife

Two become one.

I shot this with a nice compact 50mm 1.8 lens, no flash. I had my ISO cranked, which makes for some grainyness, but I didn’t want to carry a big flash and camera in my purse. And carrying my ‘jurassic bag’ wasn’t an option with my mother-of-the-groom formalware on. I’m still recovering from my bling shoes! LOL

You can see the ‘real’ photographer crouched on the other side of the happy couple getting the mirror image of the same pose. She is an amazing person who we called on very short notice because the first photographer we hired got the stomach flu. The very morning of the wedding the maid of honor gave Denaje a panicked call and she flew to our rescue. She’s our hero! You can find the DPB Photography page on facebook by clicking here. Thank you again, Denaje. 🙂

I also want to give a shout out to The Marysville Opera House, the gorgeous venue the bride’s family found. It’s a truly lovely historic building with a wonderful ambiance.

What did I learn from being inside a wedding? Hmmm. Wear waterproof makeup, that’s a given. Stuff will go wrong, but it’s ok. Friends and famly are the most important decorations in the room, and their loving support made the beauty of that day possible. And it’s over before you know it, so be sure to stop and appreciate the moment.

I will cherish these memories forever. Thank you all so much.

Much love,