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. ūüôā 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. ūüôā 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.

Photographing Still Life Tutorial

I’ve never been drawn to photographing “things.” ¬†So far, it’s just not my thing.

But . . . that doesn’t mean I don’t want to learn how . . .

So here goes my tutorial on photographing still life with two flood lights: a key light and a back light.

This was my first attempt at shooting this lovely toffee.  (It was really hard not to eat it, by the way.)  Notice how white the background is in this image . . . you might be surprised at what it looks like when the lights are pointing different directions.

This was the set up shot for this image above:

Notice how I’m using two lights for this subject. ¬†I am using two 500 watt tungsten bulbs with beauty dishes (the round dishes around my bulbs) to channel and reflect my light in a controlled direction. ¬†I placed my key light (the main light in front) high above my subject to avoid nasty harsh shadows and blown out highlights. ¬†There is not an absolute rule as to where to place the lights because every subject is different. ¬†You have to manually move your light around, paying close attention to the shadows and highlights to determine where to place it. ¬†I placed the second light in the back shining on my very high tech white sheet that I taped to the wall. ¬†(I know, so classy. ¬†Call me lazy, but I seriously did not have the energy to put together my background stand when I set this up.) ¬†Lighting the white sheet made the background very bright (white) and the overhead light lit up my subject. ¬†Remember to move your subject about five feet AWAY from your background to avoid photographing wrinkles and lint. ¬†A shallow depth of field (F3.5 to F1.4 will do the trick) will also throw the background out of focus, eliminating such distractions in your image.

This was the second lighting set-up I tried.  Look at how grey the background is!  I still have the white sheet up, but I turned the back light (the one that was lighting the white sheet) around and faced it directly onto my subject.  No light = dark background.

This is an overhead shot with the same set-up as above.  Do you notice the shadow?  What a bummer, I know.

This is how the set up looked for the two images above.  I turned the light around, and placed both lights at the same height to light my subject evenly.  It worked nice, but seemed to be missing one thing . . . so I tried one last set up . . .

This is it!  The shadow is gone!  Both lights are set up at the same height, evenly lighting my subject, but I added a diffuser.

Ideally, I probably should have diffused both lights, but I was happy with the results.

What do you think? ¬†Do you want to shoot still life now? ¬†I have to admit, it’s really relaxing to shoot¬†inanimate objects because there is no pressure to hurry up the shoot (like with kids!), and you can try as many lighting scenarios as you want without feeling like you’re wasting their time (like with adults), and you’re only dealing with ONE variable: YOU! ¬†Instead of many variables: you, kids, parents, pets, the weather, etc.

It was a lot more fun that I expected (probably because I was so relaxed) and I might start experimenting with this more. ¬†ūüôā

I have a really fun project in the works I hope I can share with you (if my subject my obliges), so cross your fingers because it’s going to be good! ¬†ūüôā

Painting With Light

I was asked to “paint a portrait with light.”

Huh?

That’s exactly what I thought!

I was told I could only use a flashlight, tripod, and my camera to “paint light” on a portrait.

OK.  Are you throughly confused yet?  Because I was for a few days.  I mulled this over in my mind for days and the only thing I knew for sure was this: I had NO IDEA HOW TO DO IT, and I had no concept.

That is a double bummer if you know what I mean.

I consulted my BFF, Google, and came across this incredible video that walks you through step-by-step how to “paint with light.”

After I watched it I was all, “YEAH. ¬†(AHEM) ¬†RIGHT.” ¬†I will be the first to admit, this dude is pretty amazing and what he does is completely out of my skill level at this point.

Please watch this.  You will be amazed.  (This video will not work in Google Chrome, so use Internet Explorer or Firefox to watch this.)

Amazing, right?

So . . .

I was feeling pretty lame about my skills after watching this.  I mean, SERIOUSLY?  WHAT THE HECK WAS I GOING TO PHOTOGRAPH WITH A FLASHLIGHT?!

And just as an F.Y.I., photographing someone reading a book in the dark with a flashlight would not have cut it.  But trust me, it crossed my mind several times . . .

For the record, I had no concept for this shot. ¬†I’m normal. ¬†I get creative blocks. ¬†Especially when I have a technical assignment that doesn’t make sense.

All I knew was this:

  • The house had to be PITCH BLACK. ¬†(I shot this about 11:00 PM on Friday night)
  • I needed my camera
  • I needed my tripod
  • I needed a flashlight
  • I needed someone to photograph

There wasn’t a lot to this equation.

It just so happened that David was home (Yay! ¬†After FIVE LONG DAYS away every week, I get to see him on weekends!) but dog tired. ¬†So I was all, “Hey! ¬†Lucky you! ¬†You get to be the subject in my experimental photograph! You have such perks as my spouse! ¬†Go lie down on the couch, close your eyes, and I’ll take your picture!”

After many lame attempts at “painting him with light,” ¬†I randomly came up with this idea:

The word “LOVE” is written with the flashlight while outlining his profile.

To do this, I turned my shutter speed to BULB (which means the shutter will stay open as long as you want it to) and held the shutter release remote in my left hand while I wrote the letters in my other hand. ¬†I had my f-stop at f22 (so really small), my ISO at 200 (so there wouldn’t be any noise), and I took the flashlight and wrote each letter individually and turned off the flashlight between each letter. ¬†This made for a clean, crisp look between each letter. ¬†The shutter was open for 18 seconds.

David got into the fun, and took a turn photographing me! ¬†As you can see, he had fun making fast circles. ¬†ūüôā

This is another shot of David, with only a flashlight used to ¬†illuminate parts of his face. ¬†The key to “painting with light,” is to constantly move your light source, have your model hold their breath (so avoid blur) and have the room pitch black.

I was surprised at how fun this was and I plan to do more. ¬†Maybe, I’ll try a complex shot like in the video above. ¬†ūüôā ¬†OK, probably not, but you get the idea.

Try it! ¬†It’s fun!

Self-Portrait Round Two

I started my classes this week at AAU, and I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed.

For one of my first assignments, I had to take a self-portrait.

ANOTHER ONE.  AS IN, CANNOT USE ANY SELF-PORTRAITS TAKEN MORE THAN SIX DAYS AGO.

UGH.

Couldn’t they just accept the self-portrait I took over the summer for another class?¬† Heck, I look the same.

I kept hoping this assignment would just disappear into a black hole.  Maybe we would be assigned a new assignment?  Maybe my twin brother would magically become a TWIN SISTER and voila!  I could photograph my identical twin!

So pathetic, I know.

Taking a self portrait is right up there with getting a root canal.¬† UGH.¬† I hate taking self -portraits, or heck, even just getting my own picture taken by someone else is just not on the top of my list.¬† I really enjoy being behind the camera, not in front of it.¬† I took several self-portraits this week.¬† I wasn’t 100% happy with any of them, but that is more personal than it is technical.¬† I’m like that client you can never please because they’re just not happy about the way they look in every picture.¬† Nothing to do with the photographer, everything to do with the client.

I have issues.

I’m sure it’s because of the lovely extra pounds that just refuse to disappear, and other neuroses I have about myself of which I won’t go into a description.¬† (See?¬† I’m neurotic!) ¬†Photographs have a way of magnifying all the things you wish would just go away.

That being said, I did learn a few technical things from this experiment, and if nothing else, I know my equipment better this week than I did last.

This is what I came up with:

“Hello camera!¬† Why aren’t you responding to my trigger?¬† HELLO?¬† Do you think I like to do this?”

Then there’s the “straight hair on me” = “drowned rat look.”

And this one where David mentioned I looked a little ticked off in this picture.

Not exactly the message I was trying to communicate.

I ended up submitting the second image.  No word on how I did yet.

Please say this is the last self portrait assignment ever.¬† PLEASE?!?!¬† ūüôā

How Am I Supposed to Concentrate Now?

I’m sitting here, minding my own business, writing essay after essay, and critiquing photography portfolios for my final exams when David sends me this picture he took from his hotel room balcony:

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He is currently in New York.

Rochester to be exact.

This is the very area we lived in this summer.

I miss it SO MUCH.

I even think the snow is beautiful.

Look how quaint it is.  So quiet.  So serene.

I could live with freezing cold New York winters.

I could. ¬†(I’m sure I could, right?)

He should NOT have sent me this picture.

How am I supposed to study for finals when I’m distracted thinking about beautiful New York and the fun times we had this summer when we lived there?

GO! GO! GO!

I feel a bit disconnected.

Wait, what?  Did you say something?  Because there are 400 other thoughts racing through my head right now and I do not have the capability to listen like a normal person.

The end of this week wraps up one crazy semester for me at AAU.  (Just for the crazy record, I started out the fall semester living in New York, then we moved back to Kansas City, and then we moved to Utah.   TWO OF THE MOVES WERE UNEXPECTED.  Nice, huh?)  And can I just say, that after all my final projects are turned in I will be able to breath a bit easier?

I have some fun projects in the works as well and I’m excited to focus more attention on them as soon as this week is over.

Deep breath . . .

To top off this¬†craziness, David has been in and out, and back again, over and over to the point that it’s even confusing me. ¬†Just last night I ran into some of my cousins (who happen to be deaf) at a concert, (which sounds bizarre after reading the¬†aforementioned¬†bit of info about them) and they were like, “Hey! ¬†Where’s Dave?”

And you know, I was frantically signing¬†apologizing¬†for my sloppy and forgetful speech, while trying to remember State signs and grasping for words. I was like, at this moment, he is in Utah, but he’s only been here for 24 hours because he just got back from Denver, and Cheyenne, and tomorrow he will be in New York, but then he’ll be back, and he should be here for a few weeks, but then I don’t know where he will be and did I mention we’ve had FOUR major moves this year?

And it all comes out like a big run-on sentence like that.  With no breaths.

It is a bit¬†embarrassing¬†to tell our story because we really are¬†gypsy’s.

He is constantly on the move and it is no wonder why this little guy’s favorite word is “GO!”

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What do you call a car?  GO.  What do you call a ball?  GO.  What do you call Grandpa?  GO.  What do you call mommy?  GO.

GO.  GO.  GO.

He has YET to say mommy.

He’s working on it.

I think.

Wish my husband luck at his interview in New York! ¬†This is Hannah’s location pick for residency. ¬†She asked TWICE this week when we were moving back to New York. ¬†Along with the rest of his interviews, I REALLY hope they fall in love with my husband!

Well, not fall in love with him because that would be weird . . . but you know . . . I hope they really, really like him and decide they HAVE TO HAVE him for their program.

Nine Days? What Kind of Cruel Punishment is This?

After fighting a headache that has plagued me for NINE CONSECUTIVE days, I’m feeling quite blah.

Really, I feel nauseous and spent.

My neck has been adjusted four times in hopes of relieving this nasty pain.

It seems to have worked.  (For now anyway.)

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I may or may not up to my eyeballs in finals right now and ūüėČ and I might be a teeny bit stressed about some projects I’m working on.

I hope all of you have a healthier, more stress-free weekend than I’m having!

Gloves That Make Me Squeamish

The house is too quiet.

David is in Atlanta, taking the clinical skills (CS) part of the USMLE Step 2 exam.

Confusing, right?

That’s what I think.¬† Too many tests.¬† So much travel.

CS, as the name implies, tests his clinical skills.

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I decided to help him prepare.  (By prepare, I mean I asked him to model for me for one of MY assignments.)

I figured if he could put on his gloves, he’d pass for sure.¬† What more does he need to know for this test?¬† How to speak English?¬† Medical stuff or something?

Wish him luck!

Today it’s All About Me!

MY PHOTOGRAPHY WEBSITE IS LIVE!

Ahem.

My photography website is live.¬† ūüôā

I first thought about making an official photography website this summer while I was taking classes at the Academy of Art.  After spending hours shopping around for the right website company that would not only represent my style, but figure out all the HTML mumbo jumbo for me, I chose to work with BluDomain.  They have fantastic templates, that allowed me all the creative control.  This website represents hours behind the lens, hours in post production, and hours creating the site!

I’m obviously super excited about the launch of my new website, and it would make me feel a teeny, tiny, bit justified in procrastinating packing (and other tedious things that go along with moving)¬† if you checked it out!

www.emilylesher.com

Learning a Thing or Two About Photoshop

Tonight feels like Christmas Eve.

Tomorrow, I start the fall semester at the Academy of Art University.

I thoroughly enjoyed taking two online photography classes this summer, and I can’t wait to learn more.

This semester, one of my classes will be Photoshop.

Photoshop is the coolest, most amazing, powerful program ever.

I love how you can take a straight out of the camera photo like this:

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(This is the straight out of the camera photo)

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And make it look like this.

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And this,

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And this.

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Actually, the possibilities are endless.

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You can transform any photo to create the emotion you want to convey.

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Photoshop to Photographers is like spell check to writers.

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Make-up for make-up artists.

Any professional photographer that says they don’t use Photoshop is either lying to you, or way behind the photography curve.

That’s about that.

I’m excited to expand my limited knowledge of this program over the next four months!