Just One For Now . . .

I have so many fun images to share with you!

But I will only share one image for now . . .

I wish there were more hours in the day.

Actually, I wish I could function on less than seven hours of sleep . . .  I could get a LOT more done if sleep didn’t interrupt my nightly routine.

I took this picture of the Timpanogos Temple last night right after the sun went down, around 9:00 PM.

I really wanted to capture the rich blue stormy sky before the sun completely set.

I may have raced out the door, sped down the road, rushed to my setup spot, and savored the last bit of light the day had to offer.

That may have happened.

Random Weekend

Oh boy. This week is slipping away from me. I meant to post about some fun things this past weekend, but you know . . . where did the time go?

On Friday night, Hannah and I went to the musical “Singing in the Rain” in Lehi to see my good friend Bethany who starred in it. This was Hannah’s first play, and let me tell you, SHE LOVED IT. She giggled, and rooted for everyone. We were splashed by real rain that fell from the ceiling, and that was probably her favorite part along with all the singing and tap dancing. 🙂 She was so giddy with excitement, her little body was about to burst, and part of the “bursting” was confessing her undying love for me no less than 98 times . . . that was my favorite part. Now she wants to learn how to tap dance so she can join a musical too.

On Saturday, I had an idea hit me over the head. It was like a persistent itch: I had to execute my idea to relive my brain of this cool concept.

I called Brian. (Naturally, I expect him to be available anytime I’m struck with a concept to photograph.)

I left him a message telling him my idea. I told him to clear his schedule for the next couple of hours because I was the most important thing in his life right at that moment.

Ahem. (Usually when you have to spell something out, it’s probably news to other people.)

He called me back, telling me he was on a plane, just about to take off.

Um . . . Hello? What part about “clear your schedule” wasn’t clear? And, to add insult to injury, he was off to meet his new girlfriend’s parents. (He meets EVERYONE’S parents . . . this is not serious yet.) I know my new rank now.

On Saturday afternoon, David and I went for our first barefoot run. He toughed it out and actually went barefoot for the majority of the run. I was smart and wore my five fingers from the start. 🙂 It was our first “date run.” It was actually fun, and totally apparent that David is in way better shape than I am.

Saturday night, we finally got to spend some time with our good friends Marshall and Jill. They live five houses down from us now, (this is a crazy coincidence, since we haven’t lived in the same city or state for over a decade) but it took three months for our schedules to align. We had such a great time chatting, and just hanging out together. It really is amazing how everywhere you move, there are cool people everywhere you go. We’ve been fortunate to make life long friends everywhere we’ve been. Marshall and Jill have been part of our lives since we’ve been married.

On Sunday, a really nice person got up to bare their testimony (which was really sweet) and they talked about how challenging it was to be in school full time, while their wife was in school part time, and they had a child. If I had heard this before med school, I would have thought, “Oh my! How do you even deal with it?” But, sadly, we are almost POST medical school (did you read that! SIX more weeks!) and I am totally JADED. I looked over at David and whispered, “Whatever . . . try medical school . . . average of 32 credits a semester, and 80 hour work weeks during clinicals . . . did I mention I’m in school part time too and we have two kids?”

David whispered back and me saying, “Where is your compassion?”

You see, that’s the thing, I lost compassion somewhere along the way . . . it could have been when the school screwed us over, not providing nearly enough loan money (this is not an opinion, this is a fact) or the grueling hours David has spent away from us studying, or the FOUR (COUNT THEM FOUR) cross country moves we HAD TO MAKE last year, plus the MONTHS we’ve had to spend apart as a family while David completed rotations elsewhere. My compassion was swallowed up in the process of being jaded by medical school.

I’m trying to be a better person. Maybe my outlook will improve when I see the light at the end of the never ending tunnel of medical school in six weeks.

Let’s hope.

A Beautiful Night, A Rant, and a Small Tutorial on Night Photography

This weekend, we pulled out our warmest coats, hats, and gloves and headed to Salt Lake to see the Christmas lights at Temple Square.

_DSC9760-edited-1

We haven’t been in years, (and really, I mean like 10 years . . .) but it was just as beautiful and cold as I remember.

Hannah-on-Trax

Riding on TRAX was the highlight of Hannah’s night.  It ranked right up there with attending the Nutcracker ballet.  Who needs to ride on the “Polar Express” in Heber when you can take your kid on TRAX for free?  She kept telling us we were headed to the North Pole to see the “Mo-Tab” (which, is short for “Mormon Tabernacle Choir” to us Mormons) and David and I were like, “THE MO-TAB?”  How old is she?  Who taught her that?  Where do kids pick up on lingo like that?

When she wasn’t talking about the “Mo-Tab” she was asking when her hot chocolate was going to come.

Obviously, she thought we were on the Polar Express . . .

_DSC9721-edited-1

See this get-up here?  Not one peep out of her saying she was cold.  Not one.  (Not pictured is her big winter parka.  The kid was WARM thank goodness.)

_DSC9755-edited-2

I think 10,000 other people had the same idea we did on Sunday night, so I had to fight a few crowds to take some pictures.

_DSC9759-edited-1

These floating votives were so beautiful in the water with steam surrounding them.

_DSC9769-edited-2

I experienced something new last night.  Usually when I’m out photographing, I’m by myself, photographing something that is interesting to me. When I’m doing night shots, I’m by myself 99% of the time.  Last night, 1,000 of the 10,000 people at Temple Square had the same game plan I did to get some shots of “Christmas at Temple Square.”

_DSC9740-EDITED-2

However, only a handful of “serious photographers”  (SLR peeps) had a tripod on them.

_DSC9749-edited-1

I’m now going to interject and tell why it is totally pointless to photograph in a low-light situation without a tripod:  Because your images will be blurry.

End of story.

I’m going to be completely honest here, if you have a GREAT shot that is even slightly out of focus or has even a hint of camera shake . . . it’s crap.

Is that rude?  Gosh, that’s just how I feel.  And let me tell you, I’ve deleted hundreds of good shots that were slightly out of focus.  It’s a bummer, but who wants a great composition that isn’t tack sharp?  UGH.  Not me.

_DSC9769-edited-1

So, back to my “new experience” story . . . every time I would set up my tripod and spend a few minutes moving it around to just the right spot, other photographers would surround me on both sides trying to get the same shot I was.

Now, I want  you to know that I wasn’t flattered.  I thought it was hilarious.  I mean, they’ve never seen my work, so how do they know if I know what I’m doing?  Just because you have an SLR and a tripod doesn’t mean you take great pictures.  (We all know cameras don’t read minds.  It’s our job is to speak “camera” and that is why the 12 inches behind the camera is the most important part.)

I think Ashton Kutcher could use this experiment on “Punk’d.”  What do you think?  Have someone go to an amusement park, pull out all of their gear and have them start taking pictures of the most ridiculous stuff!  Seriously!  I guarantee people would flock to the same area to take some pictures!

The moral of this story is: Follow your own style.  Be true to your vision.  How someone else see’s the world is their perspective, not yours.  Variety is what makes art so amazing.  The same place can be photographed a million times and look different in each image because each person has put a personal stamp on how they view the world.  Don’t assume other photographers know what they’re doing just because they have equipment.

Now, to help you with your vision, I’m going to mention a few tips about night photography:

  • Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, use a flash when shooting places or architecture at night.  The only time you should pull out a flash for night shots is when you’re photographing people.  And even then, please don’t use the pop up flash on your camera.  It completely washes out your subject and makes it nearly impossible to see the scenery behind them.  Get an external flash.  Preferably a diffused flash.
  • You must ALWAYS shoot on a tripod.  ALWAYS.  If I forget to bring mine, I don’t shoot.  It’s pointless.
  • Set your ISO to 200 or less.  I know this is counter intuitive when you logically think about ISO and how it works (the lower the light the higher the ISO needs to be to generally, but trust me, if you want a clean sharp image, set the ISO to 200.) but you don’t want all that digital noise in your night image.  It looks messy and the “reduce noise” filter in Photoshop is not a miracle adjustment.
  • Your light meter will not give you accurate reading in the dark of the night, so you must do some test shots, and adjust your aperature and shutter speed until you like what you see.  In general, on a very dark night, your F-stop could be set at F22 and the shutter anywhere from 15-30 seconds.  On a brighter night (like a full moon with lots of lights around) if you keep your F-stop at F22, you might only need the shutter to stay open for 2-4 seconds.
  • If your lens has vibration reduction on it, turn it off when your camera is on a tripod.  The VR actually looks for camera shake and if it can’t find it, it may produce it making your image blurry.
  • If it’s a windy night, FORGET IT.  Even with the VR on, a 30 second exposure in windy conditions is going to make a blurry image, and you all know how I feel about blurry images.
  • Take a flashlight so you can see your manual control and display screen in the dark.

Where am I going with this post?  My intention was to tell you about how beautiful temple square is and how we’ve missed going to see the lights year after year.

However, It sounds like I may have ranted and provided a small tutorial for night photography.

That’s about that.

Salt Lake Temple After Hours

This is the Salt Lake Temple.

It took 40 years to build back in the 1800’s.  It is so beautiful and large.

_DSC8507-edited-1

It sits right in the heart of downtown.  In fact, every address in Salt Lake is based off the temple’s location.  For example, if you find yourself at 600 West and 400 South,  you are exactly six blocks west of the Salt Lake Temple and four blocks south.

Cool huh?

I’ll take pictures of this temple during daylight hours sometime, but for now, just know that it is super beautiful.

_DSC8510-edited-1

There are six spires on the temple, (only three can be seen from this angle) and one day I’ll actually get a photograph of the temple from a bird’s eye view.

One day.  (Along with all the other things I plan to photograph in Utah while we’re here.)

Hello Utah Valley

Hello Utah Valley.

_DSC7859-edited-1

I’m back.

I’ve missed your beautiful mountains.

_DSC7877-edited-1

I’ve missed being near so many LDS temples.

_DSC7864-edited-3

I’ve missed this view in particular from our neighborhood.

However, I don’t know how I’ll be able to continue to photograph at night with temperatures below zero.  I can only do so many jumping jacks in the middle of the road while I wait for the extended shutter to release.

My love for night photography might have to take a little break until March.

I’m just sayin’.

It Never Hurts to Ask

Hours before we left New York, one of my secret readers (aka lurker) decided to comment telling me that her parents were serving a mission in Palmyra.

She wanted to know if I could take a picture of them.

You know what?  It never hurts to ask!  Two phone calls and 30 minutes later, I met and photographed them.

Then, I got a crazy idea.  I almost didn’t ask because it is so crazy.

But . . .

It never hurts to ask, right?

I asked this girl’s parents if they had access to the roof of the Historic Book of Mormon Print Shop.  I wanted to take a picture of the four large churches on the corner from a high vantage point.

They asked someone, who asked someone, who allowed permission and gave detailed instructions on how to get up on the roof and what to expect when up there.

After climbing the fire escape, walking from one rooftop to another, (praying I wouldn’t fall through the roofs!), and shimmying my way up to the pitch of my building, I took one deep breath (mostly so I wouldn’t freak out and fall off the building) and held it so the camera wouldn’t have any camera shake.  (I was told my tripod could not make the trip to the roof and after getting to the top, I agreed.)

_dsc7416-edited-2

This is what the four churches look like from the roof of my building.  It was worth the adventure on the roof for this image.  🙂

_dsc7412-edited-1

I really, really, really tried not to look down, but I did.

After my rooftop adventure, I got down and photographed the churches up close.

_dsc7390-edited-1

This is the Presbyterian Church

_dsc7392-edited-1

I think this one is Catholic . . . but please don’t quote me on that.

_dsc7395-edited-1

I have no idea which denomination this church is.  I can tell you it’s not the Methodist or Presbyterian.  Does that help any?

_dsc7397-edited-1

All of these churches are so old.  The newest one was renovated in 1850.  Most of these were built in the 1700’s.

_dsc7350-edited-1

This last picture is just for fun.  I had a great time shooting buildings during my last few hours in New York, and the Phelps General Store was one of them.

Apparently, this building is haunted.

I did not go inside.  🙂

When God Closes One Door

When God closes one door . . .

_dsc7348-edited-1

He opens another.

After much fasting, prayer, and pleading with the Lord, God has provided us a way to stay together as a family through this messy rotation thing.

Really, that was all we wanted.  We just wanted to stay together as a family.

Turns out, we will be able to spend the majority of the next seven months together.  We will also be surrounded by lots of family in Utah which is a rare treat for us.

It puts a smile on my face to sit back and watch the Lord move mountains.

He really does know each of us.

He really does care about each of us and our desires.  Regardless of how silly or small they may be.

Want to Peak Inside this Building?

While following my nose last weekend at Canaltown Days in Palmyra, I found myself at a small art exhibit in the gym of this church.  After looking at the art, and inquiring how my work could be displayed and sold at that art show next year, I got a crazy idea.

I’ve wanted to see the inside of this church that I photographed a few weeks ago, but the only time the chapel is open is during the time I’m at my church.

However . . .

Everyone comes out for Canaltown Days.

EVERYONE.  EVEN PREACHERS.

With my camera gear on my back and tripod in one hand, I asked someone, who asked someone, who got me in touch with someone who opened the chapel doors JUST FOR ME.

I got a private tour of this church building while the street out front was filled with thousands of people enjoying the festivities.

_dsc6254-edited-2

This is the what is looks like behind the front doors:

_dsc7282-edited-1

It is the oldest church in Palmyra but also the newest building since it was somewhat reconstructed in the 1800’s.

_dsc7285-edited-1

The workmanship was beautiful.  Apparently it was built in one year.  A record during that time period and I would say a record by today’s standards!

I think this is the Methodist Church.  I’m not sure.  I could probably go outside and find out for sure, but it’s kind of cold, and I’m all warm inside my house.  🙂

I’m learning that a camera, tripod, and nice demeanor can get you into places you might otherwise not be able to see.