Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween 2011

 This has been a whacky October.

Maybe because of Halloween falling on a Monday, things seem kind of discombobulated.

The Babies and Books I do at a local library falls on a Wednesday.  This year, we gave folks lots of heads-up that they could bring their little darlings in costume to the "last session before Halloween". (that would be last Wednesday).  A few folks did a spectacular job, but there were a large majority of kids without costumes.  More than usual.  Oh well.  I rocked the concert wearing a fuzzy pink bathrobe and my hair up in a towel. (Note to costumers out there:  If you want to copy the costume, it really, REALLY doesn't work well with dry hair in a dry towel.  I was fixing my 'do after every song.  But it's the thought that counts.

At the schools, some places did Halloween on Friday, some are doing their costume events and parades today.  Nate's school voted for Friday, although everyone I talked to had voted for Monday, so I don't know whose vote was the one that really counted.  (And there's this MASSIVE piece of school gossip that is just burning a hole in my pocket, and may involve lawyers and a restraining order, and I am right smack dab in the middle of it, and all I want to do is pull out my camera and document the crazy.  But I'm staying mum for a bit longer, just in case.  so this is just a little juicy aside).  Anyways.  I have photos from Nate's event.  It was  great. Skip let Nate 'recycle' his creeper costume from last year.  I tihnk being shorter, Nate was a little bit more stable.  But just a bit.

Saturday, Kelly and her friends did that hot glass class.  It was immensely satisfying (if a bit pricey, once a fifth girl got rolled into the bunch.  Ouch).

Yesterday we went to a pumpkin carving party at the neighbor's place.  It was a hoot. Nate made a creeper pumpkin (of course, he is all things Minecraft these days).  Kelly made Hello Kitty.  I managed to take a big chunk out of my left index finger while carving my masterpiece.  But I think it will be worth the infection and antibiotics...

But I wanted to touch on today.

It being Halloween.

Or, as I like to say... "Remember, remember... Tomorrow's November"

Monday, October 17, 2011


 I'm hanging out on Google+ more and more these days.  Not really keeping track of the stories of the family, though.  There are too many great photos to see, and enjoy, which kind of put me in my place in a "Well, I like to take shots, but I've got a long way to go, really" sort of way.

But that's neither here or there.

What I wanted to say was that I'm following a bunch of great photographers, and sometimes, they sponsor events, or little get-togethers, like the coastal photo walk that I went on last month.

A week or so back, I noticed that one of the guys that I follow was hosting a "Spooky Haunted Cemetery Photo-Walk".

Sounds good!  I RSVP'd, and then I started getting excited about taking photos that would be DIFFERENT.

No horses.  No kids.  No beaches.  No 'gotta take a photo because someone's mom isn't here to take it herself'.  Just me, a camera, darkness, and the whispers of the dead.

I mosied over to Fremont (it's a bit of a trek, and I was very happy for my GPS), and made it to the meet-up place (An artists' studio) with some time to spare.  So I put on lipstick.  Gotta make a good first impression.
This group of photographers was way closer to my own style than the photogs at my last meet-up.  The last one was loaded with semi-pro shooters, with thousands and thousands of dollars of gear.  Not that I'm knocking that kind of set up, but man, I was feeling a whole lot of intimidated that time.

This time, it was just folks like me.  We take photos for fun.  We do other things, and we don't have high-end gear, and that's just fine with us.

After about a half hour in the studio, waiting for stragglers, and giving us all a chance to use the potty (I didn't relish the idea of hiding behind a grave stone in the middle of the night, if you get my drift...), we headed to our cars, and convoyed to the site.

We were at the old St. Joseph Cemetery (not the cemetery associated with the big old church, but a lesser known historical site just nestled at the side of the road.  I might not have even noticed it was there (and I certainly wouldn't have noticed it in the dark, which it was by the time we were on the road.)
We met up in the tiny parking lot, our 15 cars Tetrised (thanks, Jeanine, for that great descriptor word!) into a parking lot that probably would ordinarily hold 6 or 7.  We all got out our gear, and then we were set loose on the spooky dark graveyard.

I had borrowed Ken's Firesword (Honestly, if you've never seen one of these in action, go look it up.  The thing is a BEAST!), but it was too bright of a light to light my path, without lighting up the neighbourhood, so I just flashed it every once in a while, to make sure I wasn't treading on anything nasty.  I was searching for old gravestones, but I especially wanted to find an old angel, or some other old piece of statuary.

My first finds weren't all that spectacular.  But they were still pretty cool.

I loved the deep relief in the carving on the flowers and draperies on Frank Brown's monument.  In the background there, you can see someone else, shooting at another gravesite.  I believe they were lighting their subjects with flashlights, and maybe a headlamp or two.  This shot is a 24 second exposure, with me moving around the site, and flashing the Firesword for just the briefest of times.  I was really using it like a speedlight, or a flash unit that could flash for longer than the 1/200th of a second that a usual flash fires.

Here's a wider shot of the whole thing.  I think there were probably close to two dozen of us moving around this site, and we all had different types of lighting that we wanted to explore.

This is a 22 second exposure, and I wasn't as liberal with the Firesword, hence the muted tones.  You can see a headlamp moving through the frame at the right.  I like how the little cross over there is so well lit.
There were some pretty old graves in the site.  And some famous local names, too.  I particularly liked this one, of a "Native Of France"

Gotta keep the Frenchness alive.  Even if I have the worst broken anglo accent of them all.

What's that?  Are we being visited by Francois?

Um, not unless Francois is a woman who has a very shiny watch, and very dirty running shoes...

Let's move on.

What do you know?  It's TRUE what they sing about John Brown's body! (37 second exposure.  You can really see the color in the sky, highlighted by the sodium vapor lamp in the back yard of a neighbor's house)

Whoops.  Someone didn't like us making fun...

And hey... why are my spectral arms all flabby?  Shouldn't I be all lithe and ghostly?  I can't even catch a break as a spirit.

I was almost done for the night.  I'd packed up my gear, and was heading back to the car, when I finally came across my angel.

Coolest find of the night, I think.  I took about a hundred shots of this little guy.
The spiderwebs were a bonus, too!

And there's the artist, taking a break on the marble wing.

It was great fun.  I would NEVER have thought to go shoot in a cemetery, and I know that I would never do it alone, but it just seemed like such a great idea when there was a group of like-minded folks around me, cheering me on.  And then, at the end of the evening, we were chatting in the dark, and showing off our photos, and the group organizer, who was VERY generous in his praise of my photos, starts talking about Ansel Adams.  Turns out, he used to work with him.  So now my Ansel Adams number is 1.  I may still have a million degrees before I get to Kevin Bacon, but I'm only one link away from the famous Yosemite B&W photographer.

And I'll take that as a win.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Middle School Volunteerism

I finally got my volunteer clearance at the middle school.  Good grief, the way I got shut down when I first walked into the office there this year, you'd think they'd all found out I'd committed multiple felonies over the summer.  The chorus teacher that I accompany was about to have kittens, he wasn't ALLOWED to have me in the same room with students until my clearance passed with the county sherriff office.  Good grief!

Apparently Middle School doesn't talk to the Elementary Schools, because I'd cleared ages ago through their channels, and, you may recall, had been volunteering nearly full time since the day before school started.
Anyways.  I'm back at Middle School.  Accompanying the choruses (which should be fun, because this is the year that they do the Disneyland Trip.  Wonder if I'll have to accompany, or if they'll use the CD trax.  It'd be kind of fun to say "Yes, I have performed at Disney", and not be lying through my teeth.)

Nobody stepped up to Chair the ice cream fundraiser committees for either the PTA or Band Boosters, and I made the mistake of saying "How hard can it be?"

You know the rest of that story.

Apparently, it's VERY hard, because this year, all the nutritional guidelines have changed, and they're all strict (and different, depending on the AGE that you are selling ice cream treats to, if you can imagine THAT goat rodeo!), and I'm about >THIS< close to just saying "Sorry, we will not be selling ice cream this year".  I can't believe all the hoops that we're going to have to jump through, JUST to become nutritionally compliant.  Blargh.

Anyways, I mentioned the Middle School volunteer clerarnce, because I stumbled into my new favourite volunteer gig.

This past Friday, I was the Photobooth Photographer for the first School Dance.

What. A. HOOT!

The evening flew by, and when I was done, I'd taken 504 photos, and had kids clamoring around me like some freakin' pied piper, wondering when they'd be getting their prints.

A sample:

Kelly and her friends, after indulging in the Sno-Cone fundraiser.

I love the photobooth.  It's also a fundraiser.  Kids can be in as many photos as they want, and if they want a print of a specific photo, they hand over a dollar, and write their name down on a list.  The photos are printed over the next little while, and prints are delivered to the home rooms.  I managed to get a deal, and printed everything for 10 cents each, so the school made a cool 90 cent profit on 500 photos, in just over 3 hours.

I did mostly full-body shots, in color, although it was the Black and White dance, so the shot up there isn't really representative.

And I took a few freebies, too.  I loved going out into the crowd in the down-times, and just shooting from the hip.

Parents are allowed to volunteer for ONE dance during the year (it's a gig that lots of folks want to be a part of, so there's a limit, so more parents can do the 'fun' volunteering job).  But when I brought the 500 shots to the Student Government Teacher-in-Charge, first thing Monday morning, with all shots organized, and labelled as to shot number, and home room, she immediately said "You *WILL* be volunteering for more dances, won't you????"  And when I said "Well, there's a limit.  Parents are allowed to volunteer for ONE dance only."  she immediately responded "OH, I can pull strings.  I can pull ANY strings.  Just say Yes".
I must say, it's FUN to be wanted.  Good thing I didn't screw up the photos.  I'd much rather be the hero than the goat.

So happy that Kelly's cast is off.
She went immediately from the hospital to her first riding lesson.

And then the next day saw her riding down the beach.

She's making up for lost time.

Gotta get rolling here. Choir practice in 2 hours. We are evaluating potential new directors as our current director is retiring.
But before I leave, I want to drop in a little fun shot.