Viewing entries tagged
Life Photography


On being Alone

Speed Racer often travels for work, and as soon as he's gone I hear "What do you DO while he's gone?" "Aren't you afraid to be by yourself?" "But you're ALONE!"  So I thought I would show just a few words of wisdom and insight on being alone. Being alone is always a hard thing.  I try to stay tough but I have to admit that when I'm in the house I lock every door...even ridiculous the closet...just in case.  But when I'm not being neurotic, I try to stay busy.  I can't even imagine how hard it would be to be a single Mom.  I don't have kids but it takes a lot more to keep the house running and the kitties fed when Speed Racer isn't around.

But when I'm not super busy, here's a list of things I do to have fun and keep entertained.  And to keep the "missing Speed Racer" thoughts away.

1. I take funny pictures...mostly of myself...and the kitties.

2. I watch lots of girlie movies.

3. I eat

4. I dance around the house, weirder than usual.

5. I talk to the kitties...alot...not just like "Hey pretty kitty.." but more like "Woah! Did you see that? I saw that..that was crazy...crazy."

6. I hang out with friends

7. I don't watch scary movies, I can't handle them on my own.

8. I sleep in the middle of the bed...I only crowd Speed Racer's side a tiny bit more than usual.

9. I try to do chores.

10. I miss Speed Racer...alot.


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Camera Basics: Shutter Speed

We touched on Shutter Speed a little bit in Camera Basics 101, but today we're going to talk about shutter speed and motion. Specifically we are going to talk about Stop Motion versus Motion Blur.  Again, a lot of photography elements are based on your preferences.  I personally lean more in favor of stop motion.  I like the look of it, probably from my days working for the sports beat for the newspaper.  BUT, there are times where I really enjoy motion blur.  For example, low lit artsy pictures, anytime you're dealing with some fun light, or lights that are moving.  Here are a few examples of what I'm talking about and how to achieve these lovely pictures.

Stop Motion

The idea here is that you are "stopping" or freezing something right at the peak of it's motion.  It can cause some really fun pictures.  Since this is a self portrait and I'm using a wireless remote for my shutter, you can see it gets a little motion around the edges, and a tad out of focus.

Here's a little bit better example, and one I have used before.  By having a faster shutter speed (ie higher numbers) you will be able to stop the action.  Now remember to compensate for your lighting in each situation by adjusting your ISO and aperture as necessary depending on your situation.

Motion Blur

As I stated in the above paragraph, motion blur isn't usually my the point where I had trouble finding a good example to show you in my library of photographs.  SO, I cheated, this is one that Speed Racer took of me while we were camping.  It's a great example of motion blur because the real action that he's blurring is the sparks coming off the fire.  They make beautiful spirals that if you had stopped the action you wouldn't see.  If you're worried about your other subjects blurring, we're getting some blurring here, be sure to use a tripod.  Sometimes it's nice though.  I like it in this photograph because I think it helps add to the softness and feeling of a campfire.  Have I mentioned I love camping?  I do.

Again, in motion blur situations be sure to adjust your lighting to the situation.  Also, it's a good rule of thumb that if your shutter speed is lower than 60, you probably want to use a tripod instead of hand held.  There's so much you can do with motion blur.  You can set up a tripod and track the stars by leaving the shutter open for hours, you can crank down the shutter speed and let the lights of cars paint your photograph, you can pan with a runner or car and get streaks behind them, and you can even make water look like real!  Lots and lots of options, so go out there and experiment with stop motion and motion blur!

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Momma K

Last Friday evening we celebrated my Mother-in-Law, Momma K's birthday.  It was such a great time, and I really enjoyed just being able to relax and goof off with these ladies.

Even though it may not look like it right at this moment, we were having a great time.  People just got shy around my awesome lens.

We even corrupted some youth with scary tales of our early childhood.

There were more incriminating photos later, but I was too busy wrestling my sister-in-law...she had it coming.Have I mentioned that I love red hair on this blog? Once? Twice? Too many times?  But I do.



The Twin

Two weekends ago, I went home for a busy weekend away.  While I was there I teamed up with my wonderful friend The Twin.  She wanted some lovely portraits done, so we headed to the river and had a grand ole time.  I even stepped in for a couple cameo shots with my best bud.  The Twin and I have been friends for a long time, so it really meant a lot to me to be able to do some portraits for her.  And here is the end result.  Happy viewing!



Summer Surprises

I have to admit I was not in the best of moods when I woke up this morning.  I did not want to wake up.  I did not want to run.  I did not want it to be blazing hot.  I did not want to do anything productive.  Lucky for me, Speed Racer has motivation, and I have guilt.  As soon as he's out of bed I know I have to get up or forever feel like a bum.  I rolled, literally rolled out of bed, my old runners feet creaked and popped as I shuffled down the hall on the hardwood floors.  I pulled on my running clothes and poured some cereal.  Hunched over my frosted mini wheats, my eyes finally peeled open. I still really wasn't awake on my way out the door.  It was hot, the humidity engulfed me to the point it was hard and thick to breathe.  My glumness transferred to the weather.  Everything looked brown, everything was crusty and dead.  (This is how lovely I am in the morning.)  As I walked towards the road, this caught my eye.

A beautiful lily was just opening up, still covered in morning dew.  I smiled.  Flowers always make me smile, especially stubborn flowers that just try to carry on no matter how hot it is.  This lily was there going, "I'm a flower and I'm going to bloom, dagummit."  I started to run and as I ran it was like little flowers opened up to me everywhere.  Blue, white, red, and yellow just peeped out from all the dead foliage.

As I ran I was reminded of how last Lent, I decided instead of giving something up and being sad about how I couldn't have chocolate, to dedicate a time each morning to come up with five different things I was thankful for.  It worked amazingly well, I felt so grateful for all that I had been given, and it got me out of the habit of just saying, "I'm thankful for my husband, my family, my friends, my home, and my kitties."

I really enjoy trying to figure out the little things I'm grateful for.  The small changes in life that make it surprising and lift my spirits.  So in the hopes that this lifts your day as well as mine, I encourage you to write down ten unique things you are thankful for today.  Here is my list:

1. I am thankful for stubborn flowers.

2. I am thankful for the shuffling sound of my running shoes on pavement.

3. I am thankful for curiosity and that I still have some.

4. I am thankful for furry paws that greet me every morning.

5. I am thankful for late night talks.

6. I am thankful for fingers gently moving through my hair.

7. I am thankful for the feel of sun on my skin.

8. I am thankful for funny emails from friends.

9. I am thankful for hugs that take my breath away.

10. I am thankful for smile wrinkles.

Oh! And #11.  I am thankful for my camera so that I can share pictures and my random thoughts with you! Happy Wednesday everyone!


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Jack and Pockets

While on Vacation at Pipestem State Park, my brother Jack and his wife Pockets (also called Scientist Lady, because she's super smart like that) gave me the privilege of taking some portraits of them.  It was their anniversary present to themselves after celebrating 4 years of marriage.

I'm really excited how the portraits turned out.  We took some more conservative ones, then we frolicked, lounged around, played with leaves, and tried some new things.  Some of them worked out, and some were okay.  But we had a marvelous time and it was really fun getting to do that for my brother and one of my new sisters.  Unfortunately it took me most of the day today editing them because I was having such a good time trying some different effects.  Sorry for the late post folks but here is the end result, enjoy!

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Hello, Monday

The day after coming back from vacation is always a rough one for me.  I have a sense of "coming back to reality"and trying to play catch up, while really all I want to do is go bask in the sun. There are good things about coming back from vacation though.  It's always good to realize you're home, to be kissed hello by a husband who maybe, (maybe) missed you, and to sleep in your own bed again.  But even then, I usually spend the first week back, thinking about my vacation and smiling at all the great moments.

This vacation my family and I spent at Pipestem State Park in West Virginia.  We stayed in a cute little cabin at The Resort at Pipestem, and were fantastically isolated in the woods.  It's always hard, for me, to find a balance between activities and just being lazy on vacation, but this time I think we got it right.  We usually got about one activity in a day, whether it was cards, playing life, archery, hiking, boating, swimming, or horseback riding.  There was even a little mini golf...I won't tell you my score, because I would just hate to brag that much.  And between it all I was able to get some couple portraits in of my Brother Jack and His wife Pockets, but more of that later.

If you've never been to Pipestem State Park, I highly recommend it.  The park is clean, there are a variety of places to stay from the lodge to tent camping, and the staff were all really nice.  So without further ado, here is a lovely mix of our activities.  Sorry there aren't more of the swimming, archery, etc type activities...I had my hands a little full.



I feel Pretty

I feel pretty.  That's right, I, goofy, awkward, uncoordinated Runawayalice, feel pretty. Yesterday I went and got my haircut by AJ at California Concept, here in Knoxville.  I love her!  She does such a great job and is really fun and easy to talk to.  Anywho, she had some extra time so she curled my hair for me.  I don't do hair very well.  We're talking my glam look is maybe I will put it up in a ponytail.  But the curls were different and made me feel very pretty.  So I did a little research on why women should feel pretty, the results were interesting.So by research I mean I put that exact question into google, just to see what would come up.  I got hits on everything from "I don't feel pretty please help me," to "successful middle aged women," to "I don't feel pretty without make-up."  It was a little scary.   I felt like starting a support group.  "Now repeat after me.  My name is Runawayalice and I feel pretty.  It's okay for me to feel pretty." The truth is it's taken me awhile to become okay with feeling pretty and with my "girlishness."  Ever since I was little I've been a Tom-boy and trying to keep up with my brothers.  I fell down stairs trying to keep up with them because my legs weren't long enough yet.  After my brothers, I always had guy friends, and I wanted to keep up with them.  I mean, I had to run just as fast, or faster.  I had to be able to be tough, to not cry, to hike mountains, skydive, bungee jump, not scream when something was scary.  All those things.  And I love every one of them.  I think that's what took me so long to figure out, I don't have to be one or the other.  I can love shooting guns and having my hair curled too.

I spent most of my teens and college, being one of the guys, and trying to be a tough chic, and I succeeded.  That's part of who I am and I have a great group of guy friends.  But now as I'm getting into my mid twenties, I feel like I'm coming into my womanhood a bit.  That sounds dumb but it's true.  Really over the last year I realized how many amazing women I have in my life.  They've taught me that I can embrace both sides of me.  So here it is, what makes me feel pretty and why I feel pretty.

Hi, my name is Runawayalice.  I feel pretty.  I feel pretty when...

1. I'm wearing my chacos

2. My hair is curly for no reason at all.

3. I'm camping in the middle of nowhere.

4. I help people.

5. My husband whispers he loves me.

6. I see my mother.

7. I shoot a gun.

8. I'm in a bathing suit.

9. I'm at the beach.

10. My Dad hugs me.

11. I'm with my girlfriends.

12. I laugh.

13. I take photographs.

14. I hold a baby.

15. I'm hanging out with the boys.

16. I'm skydiving.

17. I'm alone.

18. I wear cowboy boots.

19. I make art.

20. There's no reason at all to feel pretty.

Why do I feel pretty? (This is the hard one to say because we've been taught not to say it.) Because I am pretty.  Because I enjoy my life.  Because there's so many reasons to feel pretty inside.

Feeling pretty comes from confidence, from finally getting to know who you are, and taking joy in life.  It really has nothing to do with mascara, hair, clothes or anything else.  It's feel pretty Friday.  Feel pretty, because you are.  Happy Friday.



Pinhole Photography

Lately I've been thinking a lot about art.  My darkroom is still in transition, still lots to figure out about water pipes, and demolition.  But I have been absolutely craving to do a pinhole photography project.  Pinhole Photography is tons-o-fun, very easy to do, and you can get a lot of creative effects. Hanging above my desk is a pinhole photograph that my photography professor took of me for a class example in college.  It was one of my favorite wedding presents that we received.  In the foreground is a statue, one side is lighter than the other side, I think he was showing the difference in exposure times.  Then he had me stand on the right side for a certain amount of time to get a ghost image.  I love the mystery and the ambiguity of the photograph.  And in some ways it's like seeing a ghost of myself from back in college.

A Pinhole Camera is a basic camera without a lens.  Really it is just a box or object with a very small hole in one side that light passes through.  Whatever you use for your camera needs to be primarily light tight, and you will need to make some sort of shutter (I usually used electrical tape).  Getting the light right in pinhole photography can be a bit of a trick.  It can take anywhere from 5 secs to hours of exposure, depending on your light situation.  When it's done right pinhole photography can have exquisite tones, eerie ghost images, or funky focus.  You can make a pinhole camera out of an oatmeal can, a hat box, a regular box, something that can fit in your mouth, or (I've never actually seen this but I've heard about it) a red pepper.  Supposedly the light that does come through the skin of the pepper is similar to that of a red safe light in a darkroom, so it wouldn't expose your sensitive paper.  But like I said, I have yet to experience this.

One of my favorite artists is Ann Hamilton.  She does large scale installations that deal a lot with textiles, as well as photography, language, video, and sound.  Some of her works include Indigo Blue, Corpus, and Myein.  They are absolutely beautiful and moving, but also deeply thought out.  It's fantastic to hear how she speaks about her work as well.  One of my favorite photographic series that she did, though,  was called the "face to face" series.  In this series she made a pinhole camera out of a small plastic container, small enough to fit in her mouth.  She used her lips as the shutter and would open them to expose images of the people she was talking too.  Obviously she would have to keep her mouth open for quite awhile to expose the image, and she talked about the social awkwardness of having your mouth open while staring at someone's face.  In the photographs you can see the outline of her lips.  It's very interesting and you can check out some galleries of her work Here and some videos of her HERE.

Pinhole is a great way to get some fun, and beautiful images.  Sometimes going back to the basics can inspire and intrigue us in new ways.  If you decide to give pinhole a try, all you need is: photographic paper, your object that you are going to make into your camera, I suggest a small strip of metal to drill your hole into and then attach to your camera, something for a shutter, and lots of tape to seal up any holes or light leaks.  And then of course you will need somewhere to develop your pictures.  I'm hoping to do some pinhole soon, I'm just bursting with ideas.


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Dish-o-the-week: Broccoli and Cheese Casserole

Today we're trying out a Broccoli and Cheese Casserole, slow-cooker recipe for the dish-o-the-week.  Who doesn't love cheese, and broccoli, and garlic, and salt, and heart attacks?  I mean come on it's delicious together.  If you're eating well, or trying to avoid the goodness that is cheese, then be warned, stay away from this post.College students, Grad students, busy people your new best friend...the crock pot!  Was that not epic enough?  Let's try it again....THE CROCK POT!!!  Better?  I kinda feel like I should be saying, "RELEASE THE KRAKEN'!!"  Anyone? Anyone? The crock pot (or you could call it the Kraken if you like) is a delightful invention.  Speed Racer's Aunt and Uncle gave him this particular one back in his bachelor days, so he could have dinner ready when he got back from work.  You really can go as blinged out as you want with a slow cooker these days.  They have digital displays, timers, inserts, stainless steel, and lots and lots of gizmos.  If you do not want to spend money right now do not look at William Sonoma's website, fo real.  I just did for some "research" and I am sorry.  Now that I have told you how much I love my crock pot, we can move on.  But really I love my, I mean "OUR", crock pot.

So first things first, you want to boil yourself some rice.

Next up, chopping up some celery.  You really don't need specific measurements for this recipe.  It's pretty basic and in the end you are just mixing everything together, so pretty much just put in how much you want of each, and what will fit in your crock pot.

And of course you will want to thaw some broccoli or cook some fresh broccoli.  I went totally lazy on this recipe, so most of my stuff is store bought.  Sorry fans.  I also added cream of chicken soup, salt, pepper, garlic, mushrooms, and cheese sauce.  Like I said, not the healthiest recipe in the world, but hopefully it will be yummy.

One of my friends who also uses her crock pot a lot would have actually made chicken broth from a chicken, instead of the can.  But I bought the can, I even bought the discount can.  What can I say?

Then you mix it alllllllll together.

And Ta-da!  I can't tell  you how it tastes yet, because we haven't eaten it yet.  It was prepped this morning.  So jury is still out on that, I could be giving you a recipe that tastes absolutely horrible.  But I will let you know.  I put mine together pretty early, so right now it's in the fridge.  You want to cut it on low and cook for about an hour and a half (until it's warm all the way through) before you serve.  Enjoy!

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