The Frugal Grandma

I have a weakness for Christmas items on clearance, so the adrenaline rush hit when I discovered a mid-January 90% price reduction sale recently.  Whoa… a gingerbread tree kit for less than $2.  This would be fun to do with my two-year old granddaughter! Oh, no…Christmas is 11 months away.
So what.  She is two and we can call it a winter tree. 

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Rachel2-8865plCurious fingers open the box and pull out the contents.

Rachel2-8887hfm20plHmmm…pretty, but what do I do with them?

Rachel2-8903It wasn’t too hard to stack the cookies, but the kit frosting wasn’t quite as plentiful as the box portrayed.  Cream cheese frosting would have been easier.

Rachel2-8900dmvOops!  Someone took a bite…

Rachel2-8914Add the pretty candy balls.

Rachel2-8923hfm20dmvEven winter trees need a (broken) star.

Rachel2-8925Tah-dahhhh!!
Considering that a two-year old tends to have the attention span of a gnat, I’d say lasting one full hour on a project is impressive. On top of that, it held MY full attention for an hour. I did rush the decorative frosting part and pretty much globbed it on. Martha Stewart would have rolled her eyes and tisked

Rachel2-8944Even though the results weren’t as perfect as pictured on the box, it looked just fine to me.  In this case, I declared the process  more important than the results.  I doubt that I will be asked to be a contestant on any of the cake decorating reality shows, anyway.  That’s O.K., I have enough to do already!

“Create with the heart; build with the mind.”

~Criss Jami

Street Performance… it’s a living.

Street performers add an element to the tourist environment that sometimes defies historical significance of location, but they do add sparkle. I especially enjoy musicians that add their artistry to soften the harsh sounds of daily reality on the streets, subway stations, etc.

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Santiago, Spain

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Santiago, Spain

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Santiago, Spain

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Segovia, Spain

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Madrid, Spain

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Chicago, Illinois subway platform

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Downtown Chicago, Illinois

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Downtown Chicago, Illinois

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Santiago, Spain with a boot to collect donations.

Bea: loyal ~ companion ~ friend

Bea

Bea

Hair has always been a challenge when trying to extract a subject from its background and still have it look natural and not “cut out.”

Below is the original image.

schmitz-2004Refine edge to the rescue!  Rather than reinvent the wheel, I’m posting the link to the Youtube tutorial I found that seems to be the easiest for me to comprehend and follow.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2N4HmM6QOYM

Photo info: Canon 5D Mark 2 | Canon 70-200  L lens with image stabilization | Editing done in Photoshop CS5 | ISO 200 | 2.8 aperture | 1/500 shutter | available light

Embracing Winter

Since Gov. Dayton has declared all public schools closed for Monday, January 6 due to dangerous temps and wind chills, it seems fitting to blend some snow images.  While the temps warmed up to -4 degrees F on the day these images were captured, it really didn’t seem all that cold.  (The subject may beg to differ since she had fewer layers on than me.)

Embracing Winter

Embracing Winter

Photo Info: Canon 5D Mark 2 / ISO 160 / aperture 2.8 / shutter 1/800
Two images blended plus a little extra “snow” added in the air with Album DS clipart.  Album DS is a software plug-in for Photoshop which, interestingly enough, is based out of Spain.

I’m glad I’m not outside capturing these images today!  Even I have limits…

It’s all about the energy

The energy of the mind is the essence of life. ~ Aristotle

I love life.  Life is up… life is down…  Images can reflect that emotion with a little planning.

Moyer-7598popdmvhpshcr2Long beautiful hair lends itself to the movement of the image above as does the fun, playful personality of the subject.  I focus on the subject, subject turns to the back, swings hair forward and just feel the fun.  I played with the cropping until I decided that this was the most pleasing angle.  Focus is tricky and the shutter was as fast as my flash sync would allow – 1/200. If using a darker background I back light the hair to show separation and depth. 5.6 ~ 1/200 ~ Canon 5d mark 2 ~ 70-200 L lens

VanD-6796wwdmvhpshcrBack light from the sun gives extra “spark” to the image as does the athletic pose of a volleyball player.  2.8 ~ 1/1000  ~ Canon 5d mark2 ~ 70-200 L lens

On the edge of adulthood…

…excitement, anticipation, anxiety, questioning, wondering…

This Bible passage seems to speak to young people as they look forward to graduation.
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Thoughts race through young minds on the cusp of a new world. Which direction should I go? Which school or vocation should I pursue? …and the age old question – What if I fail?
So many opportunities before them in high school and beyond. If one tries, there is an activity or pursuit that will fit their talents, personalities and interests.

I am usually in envy of young people with their whole adult lives ahead of them, but should I be? I am in a transition phase, as well, but I have many years of experiences and efforts behind me.  I already know what I can and cannot do so that narrows the field. (Lots of things I use to be able to do that are not options now)  I also know what I want to do which is also a plus.

The big question, though, is what SHOULD I do?

O.K., so maybe I’m not so different from these young guys and gals after all!  Maybe the Bible passage is a good one for all of us in any of our stages in life.  Hmmm…

You don’t choose your life… you live it.

~The Way

Another phase of my life goes by… taking a career break from traditional portraiture.

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This has been in the planning stages for the past 4 months and I was going to wait until mid October to announce my future plans, but I guess now is as good a time as any.

It’s been 16 years of growth and transformation, starting with 35mm and medium format film, darkroom processing and now the digital age with Lightroom and Photoshop. It is time to move on, so I will be closing the traditional portrait studio as of October 15, 2013.  All sessions scheduled up to that point will go on as planned and the current website will be up until May 1, 2014 to facilitate senior orders.  After that, I’ll start working on a new website reflecting the art of both Randy and myself.  The studio will then be transformed into Randy’s painting studio and workshop.  It’s his turn now.

I still love photography and hope to continue learning and exploring new, unusual techniques and push for a more and more creative style. Maybe even try an impressionistic painting style of photography.  I also plan to continue showing art work in galleries, promote the arts,  and hope to find time to put together other products using images.  (Greeting card line?)  I may ask to borrow some of your kids if I get an idea for some prairie photography because, after all, southwest Minnesota/Eastern South Dakota is a great place to raise children and that is a theme near and dear to my heart.

I will not be twiddling my thumbs and eating bonbons by the truck load, as I move into this phase of my life.  I’ll need to complete this year’s photo orders, try to be Randy’s farm hand/gopher, occasionally Granny Nanny (Grandkid #2 is expected in March 2014), clean/organize/paint inside the house and sheds (long overdue), continue involvement with community and art organizations, garden and go back to the classroom environment as a substitute teacher – look out, G-D!

Then, in my spare time, I’ll learn Spanish, how to knit/crochet, bike/hike or maybe even jog, work on songs with Randy (maybe my sister will dust off her accordion and we can hit the nursing home circuit!), read the books I haven’t had time to read and travel / hike anywhere I can, as well as visit friends and relatives.  Yep, lots to do.

Don’t worry, I’ll still blog about whatever trail I’m on or something that wanders through my mind and conjure up some “thought for the day” to amuse myself and the world from time to time.  Hey, I may even bring back “Photo Friday” with educational topics.

Thank you to all who have been on this journey with me…  It’s been a good ride.

It’s Photo Friday ~ Seniors…the art and the card

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Lately it seems like most of the hours of my days have been spent designing high school graduation announcements/cards for my class of 2013. I know they aren’t my kids but I have spent some quality time getting to know them through their sessions and I try to follow their sports and academic accomplishments. The graduation card is the grand finale of this process. I don’t know if I just get the best seniors around or if this class of 2013 is one to be proud of. I’d like to think it’s both.

I confess to be somewhat attention deficit in how I conduct my life ( I blame it on my years teaching kindergarten ~ if you can’t lick ’em, join ’em!) but this does not seem to be a detriment during the card design process. Or, is it? I try to make each card unique and approach it as though it is a work of art. I know this is not a good business practice as far as making the most money. I should offer a handful of designs and take it or leave it, or else charge five times more than I do. I’ve been a parent with bills and now I’m on the other side trying to make a living with this photography gig. I struggle with this balance and hopefully will find a happy medium at some point. I have a feeling that I’m not the only photographer struggling with this balance of making a living versus creating art.

It’s Photo Friday ~ A girl remembers Grandma’s place.

Photography is more than just documenting a time in one’s life.  It also captures the emotion of the subject and its background.

This young lady is a senior in high school and chose her grandmother’s childhood home as a location for some of her senior portraits.  The old farmyard is now beyond repair but still holds memories.  I’m sure we can all think of a time and place in our lives that we would like to go back and revisit.

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Grandma’s Place

Two images blended together. All available light

Background ~ 2.8 aperture ~  1/200 shutter  ~ ISO 400

Girl blended ~ 2.8 aperture ~ 1/1000 shutter ~ ISO 100