And the world fell silent

And the world fell silent The world fell silent on that Holy Saturday.  The Lord who lowered himself to become a mere mortal man, in death went even lower.  As he opened the gates of hell, we could not see his preaching and the legions coming to the sound of his voice and the promise of salvation.

This thought from todays Divine Office sermon in the daily Office of Readings made me think a lot differently today.  The rain here last night stopped baseball and sports in its tracks across northern metro Atlanta.  My day went from overfull to silent in outside activity.  We were able to do what my heart really no desires, focus on preparing for the big religious celebration tomorrow.

I spent time with my father collecting a few final supplies for the big Easter feast.  It was busy out in public, but the time we spent together reflectively.  The children were at home with my wife, mother and sister prepping the house and the easter cake (A two foot tall bunny cake).  When we arrived home we all decorated the eggs made with care in the morning by my mother, dad and I.  My wife was checking out the clothing for Easter Sunday, and making sure we had enough of the vitial things like dark socks cleaned and folded.  Then a final treat when my Dad took us all out for dinner...before we shuffled everyone off to bed.

Now the house is quieting down...only the two year old remains calling for anyone to get her out of the crib to play a few more hours (this kid does not sleep enough...GO GO GO).

I'm now reflecting on the incredible challenges we overcame, the love of friends helping us in deed and prayer through those challenges, and finally the growth my family went through spirituallyin the 40 days of Lent.

I am happy the world went silent today.  It gave me the time to now go to bed with a long list of thanksgiving prayers I need to say.

The first to the Lord for his suffering and final victory.  The rest to all those who followed his teachings to lift us up when we were down.

-ehw

Easter Weekend Easter Weekend Easter Weekend Easter Weekend Easter Weekend Easter Weekend Easter Weekend

Spot On

Basking in the light My little girl Kellie her was reading like her big sister bookworm, and I just had to capture the smile...so I did.

Now in this little photo I found myself able to teach myself the value of a feature, and to remember an RC (as in Raphael Conception) rule.

I knew the had a high contrast scene, and to use the zone metering would make everything 18% grey  (aka blah).  So for this photo I slipped into spot metering (my spot metering is aligned with my focus point).  This means my focus point will be exposed properly, and everything else will be exposed relative to that value.  As a result you get all the blown highlights above my daughter, but I accepted that since I wanted it to be light and airy.  Had I used zone metering the camera would attempt to meter different segments of the photo to have as much properly exposed as possible.  Normally that is great, but it would take the pop out of this photo and make it flat.  So my desired light and airy feel would be gone.

The other rule, RC's rule for kids, is in full force here.  I had to take three photos with Mr Fuji to get the combination of smile, head tilt and light I wanted in the final product.  RC is right that you can get good photos of kids...you just need to take lots of photos to get the one worth keeping.  I can say for sure this is not luck, it is perseverance.  (RC is often on the video blog Photography Tips and Ticks, Kelby One and his website www.aboutrc.com)

Just one point here about how lucky I've been so far in my short photography career.  Even though I'm just a little guy, sold only a few photos, have so much to learn...I've had the opportunity to meet some of the nicest people in the business.  I've met and briefly worked with big industry names like Skip Cohen, Michele Celentano, Bob Coates, Scott Bourne, RC, Bill Fortney, Jim Begley and they all gave me the time of day deep respect as a person.  I've also met great photographers I count as friends like Adrian Ciolacu, Fran Ruchalski, Bret Watkins and many others who inspire me and helped me with things like finding a good print shop.  I actually I hope I don't insult anyone who I run out of space to mention....

I think the thing that makes them so special is that they know how to approach a crowd with multi zone metering...and when given the chance to meet you one on one switch to spot metering.  As a result they speak to you, treat you well and make you want to take care of them as they do to you.

So look them up, and enjoy their work.  I'll try to get a link in to each over the next few weeks so you can see the wide range of talents that inspire me...and maybe you too!

-ehw

Inspired work on the way!

The Slow Spring

The Slow Spring I don't know about you, but this almost feels like we're going to have a year without a summer!  The flowers and blooms though are trying to come out and enjoy the sun.  Just a quick shot from the yard in the fading spring light this weekend.  These flowers are very graceful for a day at most, then they get twisted, and lose a lot of their appeal.  So if I want a shot of them, I need to photograph them as soon as they open.  So the lesson of the day is to take the shot now, because you never know if it will be there tomorrow.

Good lesson for life as well.

-ehw

P.S. Fuji X-E1 with 60mm close up lens.  (This is not a true macro as it will only do 2:1, not the full 1:1 a traditional macro will obtain)

Serious Intent

Serious Intent A quick post for today.  I love photojournalism.  In this genre I find that the key to a photo to to capture the story and emotion in one frame.

It is a great challenge to have!

If you want to see some great photojournalism check my friend Fran Ruchalski out!  He is a great artist and photojournalist!  Here is his webpage!  Fran Ruchalski

Well this is my son at the closing concert of an orchestra one day intensive.  He was intense as they played their patriotic songs and those of God's glorious nature!

The shot was as captured in camera.  One advantage of my Fujifilm camera is that the film simulation modes have some easy customization features.  As a result putting a curve into the photo, and then using EV compensation eyeballed through the Electronic Viewfinder shortens my time in post on most family shots...and many jobs.

-ehw

P.S. Fujifilm X-E1 with 50-200

Hardened Steel

Hardened Steel Guards a Box I took this photo on Saturday, and when I took it I immediately thought about Lent.

One of my goals this lent is to work on accepting God's love myself in my personal life.  I've noticed over the last few years that when I accept more of his agape (self gift) I can give more of me to them than I could before.

I know it sounds funny, but it really is true.  I see this in the lives of many saints.  Little Mother Theresa is a giant in what she she accomplished because of this very lesson.  So if I can do this on even a small scale in my life, maybe this could help my family more than I ever could going it all alone.

So even though the world crushes us with all it has to make us harden our hearts towards God, we have to fight that.  We have to get a peace in our lives that can only come by keeping hearts unlocked to his spirit's love.

Might be a neat idea for you to try as well!

-EHW

PS Pentax K-5 with DFA-100WR, post in Aperture.  I used a combination of global contrast, definition and brushes for detail, and polarization.

A mother's sorrow, and our salvation

The sorrow of a mother Imagine the sorrow a parent feels when death stands at the doorstep of their child's life.

I personally get rather sick at that thought, and feel a sudden panic to account for my children wherever they are.

Now imagine you are Mary the Mother of God incarnate.  You chose the path of God your entire life.  You accepted the saving grace of your son before you could understand what it meant!  Then after 33 years of raising this man you see your son unjustly condemned.  He then walks past you beaten and broken as his final mission...walking to his death on a tree.  Yet in her sorrow, she still watched her son Jesus become the ultimate passover sacrifice.

The Bible says Mary kept these types of things in her heart from Jesus' earliest days.  I wonder when it all came together for her, when she understood the events she witnessed.

How I'd like to hear her explain how her simple childhood wisdom carried her through these burdensome times!  Or what she thought when she realized the earth shattering gifts her son obtained for us!

When I think about it, I can only say that I've got it so easy compared to her right now...she is definitely a role model to follow as we take the journey towards her son.

-ehw

PS Fuji X-E1 with 18-55, post in Perfect Effects 8

A Lenten Lesson

And so it begins! Ash Wednesday!  The preparation for the most important day of the year started today.  I attended mass near my office at the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary here in Atlanta.  The priest provided a great suggestion on a Lent tradition.  The usual tradition is that we give up something we really like for Lent.  Our celebrant put a twist on that tradition.  He reminded us Jesus does not mind us giving things up that we like as a method of preparing ourselves for a spiritual journey...but what what makes him happiest is when we give up the things he does NOT like before we meet him!

That matched up pretty well with my daily devotional in the Liturgy of the Hours.  So I'm working on giving up a vice everyday (lets say improving my language and vocabulary skills)....and a an extra vice (coffee) on Fridays.  Accomplishing #1 on a normal day will be interesting....without coffee on Fridays?  Oh maybe I'll find a way to stay in bed and hide!

I hope and pray that you too will grow in faith and wisdom on this Lenten journey.

-EHW

P.S. Fuji X-E1 with 18-55

Spring's Flowers

First Flowers of Srping Well not to rub it in to those of you looking at more white stuff this evening, but look what was in my yard today!

Two weeks ago we had an ice storm.  This weekend we had springlike weather, flowers, and our first baseball practices with the boys.  

Walking the yard today, I think the big tragedy may be my gardenia bush near our deck.  The frost just ravaged the leaves.  It is mostly brown now, and I don't know if it will recover.  We also took some damage to the shed, and it needs roof repair now.  Hopefully I can teach myself to fix it without too much trouble.

This all just reminds me life is so precious, and our journey in the world so tenuous.  

See we're still praying for a lady our age who after having her fourth child in December collapsed in the parking lot at our children's homeschooling music group.  Her husband, knowing she was not feeling well that day was with her and immediately started CPR.  The ambulance came and she went off intubated to the hospital.  All this while her four children sat in the van...again a little miracle since friends nearby swooped them up and took them home for safety.  70 minutes later .... yes 70 minutes later.. her heart started working again on its own.  At first there appeared to be no brain activity...and they they tested again the next day....and found some hope.

By the third day she moved her feet, hands and made sounds.  She even wanted to know if the baby was hungry.  A little over two weeks later she is teasing her husband, who still sits at her side.  She knows her children and family.  She thinks it is 1996...but she is alive (and with children who were not born yet in 1996) and moving towards recovery.   Three doctors already said this is a miracle, even compared her to Lazarus more than once.

I told told my wife I was satisfied a miracle occurred when her husband was at her side that day...and even though feeling queasy she went along to help him get the kids to music. (probably knew Dad would get the times messed up...I know the drill because  my wife writes down everything for me and tells the kids they are my alarm clock).

The cause?  An extremely rare injury to an artery resulting from childbirth in December.

When told about the cause...she said without hesitation the child was worth the cost.

This my friends is a miracle we should all take note of.  We are witnessing a husband and wife who gave all without question to each other, and a witnessing their faith journey with us out here on the outside of their family.

For my wife and I it reminded us to love every moment of our lives.  They could be us.  Our children could be theirs.  It reminded us we need to be living our lives the best we can, because in a flash we could be meeting Jesus.

If you can, add a Marrietta family to your prayers .  They have a long way to go before the healing is done.

If you envisioned the scene, and you shed a year of sorrow and joy just hearing this love story...let this miracle help you be better than you were before for the rest of your lives.  I think the Lord will be pleased, and help his family even more.

-ehw

P.S. X-E1 with 60mm macro.

 

Rose of the Americas

St Rose of Lima, St Margret and St Catherine St. Rose of Lima...in 31 years of life did everything she could to honor the Lord.

The stories we hear of her life, describe her as a child and woman so beautiful that people would just stop, stare and lose all sense of time.  She hated this adoration, and instead wanted people to honor God.  When told to marry she disobeyed her parents for the first time and said no...she'd already given her heart to Jesus.  She faced many trials created by the devil in her short life, including one described by Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, that of losing the ability to feel God's presence.  Instead she often felt alone, and this caused her great sadness.  In the midst of all of this, she cheerfully offered up her suffering as another offering to God.

I am in awe of people such as her.  I'm in awe of my lovely Rose as well, as she kneels to say her prayers in the hallway without prompting at this very moment.  She does not want to disturb her baby sister, who is partying in her crib a few feet away.

St. Rose...and saints in training like my Rose...make me realize how much harder I have to work to be a good servant of Christ example in the lives of those around me.

I hope on this Sunday, you too can think about examples you can following for spreading God's love around the world to make it just that much better.  I know will!

-ehw

P.S.  Mr X-E1 with the 35 F1.4 mounted up.

Cold Rabbit

Cold Rabbit This was a fun shot.  This darn rabbit watches over my yard day in and day out.  An I finally caught him in the camera.  He was so cold I could not miss him!

I initially did this in color, and got a pretty nice file from it all.  However I wanted to express how cold this rabbit had to be.  So I turned over to my B&W in Nik SilverEfx2.  This Nik (well now Google) application is simply awesome in rendering B&W.  Perfect Effects is getting closer all the time, I just know SilverEfx and can get the results I want very fast right now.  So I turn to it most often for B&W.

I hope this type of photo inspires a few of us to get out and look at our environments when seasons change.  Just the addition of snow, of new pine needles, leaves and green grass change our perspective significantly.  If we all take a few minutes to enjoy our environment, maybe we'd a little extra motivation to realize how lucky we are to have what we have.

I just mention this, because today a mother of four (the youngest being three months old) collapsed in front of her family just a few feet from my wife and kids.  We're waiting on word of her condition, and praying for everyone involved.  Luckily her husband was at her side and was the first responder, and friends and family were able take care of the children while Dad tended to his wife.

Life is precious.  Life is short.  If we do not recognize that, we'll miss moments like this when the whole world of Atlanta, Georgia turned an unusual white..or our children smiled at the sight of the sun coming out from behind the clouds...or the fleeting moment we get to hold the hand of a loved one for what could be the last time.

Wouldn't it be a shame to miss that moment?

-ehw

PS Pentax K-5 with 16-50 F2.8.

HDR Love

A Rose for You! Here is a photo that is a little more than meets the eye.  It is another High Dynamic Range (HDR) photo I composited from seven clicks of the shutter.  Each click gives me information, and when I composite those seven shots I can do a whole lot of art with it.  I can pick realistic, surreal, structured, B&W you name it.  There is no "right" answer, it is just how I see it.  Over time I am also blessed because I can come back to the shoot with new lessons learned, and make a photo which takes those seven layers into a new and different direction.

Today is St. Valentines Day and he is the patron saint of marriage and love.  It will sound geeky, but marriage and love require HDR.  Our english language does not serve us well when we talk of love.  The church fathers knew there were four dynamics: Agape (Divine Love), Philia (Friendship), Storge (Affection) and Eros (Emotional).  Today our society outwardly values eros, and seemingly on purpose denies the others even exist.  This is of course a recipe for failure in families and human commitment.  We all know that emotional love fades, that when the hormones fade and age sets in...the pull of another set of hormones  or selfishness will tear the relationship asunder.  The self giving love flowing from Agape is the most important to emulate as it feeds everything else, yet to speak the name of the Lord in relation to being the example of human love will only get you scorn on the major networks and advertisements.

My love just read me a story about a couple married 65 years who said the secret they held was they grew up in a time when you did not throw a damaged item away...you fixed it.

That story says it all.  Just as I may find a new direction with my HDR next year, and could create a new version of this image...so must we adapt in our marriages finding the right mix of agape, philia, storge and eros as we advance through our lives. What was right for us as newlyweds, is not what will sustain us on our 16th anniversary this year or our 50th...I can foresee we have many a layer to examine and thrive with in the coming years.

I see the same example in the longevity of marriages by my parents, my in-laws and grandparents.   I pray St. Valentine and you will join me in asking the Lord for the wisdom to help us all down here to do the same.

-ehw

P.S. Fujifilm X-E1 with the fabulous 60mm Macro

Kids at Twilight Part 5

Kids at Twilight Part 5 By the time you read this it will be five days since I found out a friend of mine from West Point died last year, right up the road in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Deirdre Sisson Etheridge was like my big sister when I was a Plebe at West Point, and a tremendous lady.   We snag in the Catholic Folk Group every week.  Without her support and encouragement life would have been pretty dreary those first few years.  She left behind a husband and two children.  I hope they are going strong, and she is in the arms of the Lord.

During the week these photos will post we are also burying our pastor Father Austin at St. Thomas Aquinas in Alpharetta.  He too passed unexpectedly.  In just about a year he invigorated many efforts at our parish to reach out to many people and help them enhance their spiritual journeys though kindness, love, encouragement, and being a Father moving changes along.

This picture of my youngest is the type of moment I know I need to continue to enjoy, because in a flash we could all be history...and I may never get another opportunity to enjoy them.  Life is short, and it will be full of struggles.  I hope it is full of struggle, because nothing of excellence built for the Lord ever comes easy.  The Devil can't let us have too many free successes...it would ruin his reputation.

So here is to Deirdre, Father Austin and us...that we may all one day be able to enjoy such memories (and make new ones) together worshiping in heaven with the Lord.

-ehw

Kids at Twilight Part 3

Kids at Twilight-Kevin Oh my my funny guy was a handful! All is good though!  He and Dad got to go out to lunch at the doughnut shop!  Cool beans huh!  Subway was way too crowded.  Then we worked on the yard while the other kids did more schoolwork.  He showed me a lot more focus than ever before today...3/4 a yard bag worth of pinecones all by himself with one hand!  He is growing up in his own unique way, and I am happy to see it.  Yep dirt does make this guy cuter.

-ehw

Two years of Joy!

I'm two! How fast can two years go?  For child number four, my precious Kellie Marie it is like a stroke of lightening across the sky.  Here are just a few highlights....

Thank you God for every minute I have with each of these incredible people you graced my family with, and charged me to care for.  I can only pray I am doing right by them, and get to do it for a lot longer before you call me home.

-ehw

BelliLights!

Princess

Halloween 2012

Kellie Marie's first birthday party!

15 Months!

Schoolwork

Reading Assignment

Christmas Present and helping Mom

Happy New Years!

Return to Old Car City

Enter in to a world of photographers delight My son and I braved the cold to visit Old Car City yesterday.  The temperatures started at 24 F and moved up to 41 F over the course of the day.  The owner greeted us and said, he could not understand anyone coming up to shoot on such a cold day!  We started the day with great winter light, and then had clouds come in to add one more challenge to the self-assignment.  Despite these challenges, the two of us had a great day together talking and walking several miles through the 4100 cars on the 600 acre lot.  Having my son along was part of his education, and the only way I can show him how I work with others...my day job just does not allow that.  It was my first return visit since last March when I toured the grounds with Bill Fortney and the His Light Crew.

This scene shows you the entrance to Old Car City.  The owner and his crew made a number of changes to the front part of the City, and it was nice to see the growth of the yard to keep it fresh.  I like this photo a lot better than the bicycle shot I captured last year.  I think it has a little more charm, and tells a better story of the environment of Old Car City.

For this adventure I went in only with my Fujifilm X-E1, my shoulder bag, and my heavy tripod.  I also made the test decision to take everything in jpeg, since I was going to make HDR photos with my captures.  The data in an HDR is massive just because of how they get processed, and I think it ended up working for me.

Over the next few days I hope to show you some of the work I did...and yes I already have them ready to order and grace your walls!

-ehw

P.S. X-E1 with the 18-55 Kit lens...the only shot in the series from the kit lens.  I switched over to primes for all but one other series for the rest of the day.

 

Capturing a sunbeam

What energy one can find after a nap! Yesterday afternoon I had a couple fun experiences with my girls.  First I got a hours of time with my big girl, we went out to lunch.  We talked, and talked and talked.  It was fun, and a good time to be a Dad.  After we arrived home, Mom had to depart for WalMart leaving me in charge of the house.  After a mere thirty minutes my little one found herself startled out of a good deep sleep.  When this happens you have two choices, let her go with a minimal nap and watch her feel ugly all night...or hold her as she tries to sleep.  Well this Dad scooped her up, and held her close.  She did what we all do when we want comfort, put her head down and listened for my heart to calm herself down.  After getting her calmed down and almost asleep, I put her in the big bed and she fell asleep on my arm.  This resulted in forcing me to get a good nap too!

Ok the point of this is that after we awoke, the sun was shining in the way only a winter afternoon sun can into out living room.  We both had energy now, and could really enjoy playing with the sunbeams.

Thankfully with my camera at hand, I was able to capture a sunbeam in the eyes of a happy little girl.

-ehw

P.S. X-E1 with 60mm Macro at F4.5, 1/150, ISO 800, -.5 EV.  Minor edits in Aperture using the RAW file.

The camera you have with you

The camera you have with you captures the best photo The old saying is that the best camera you have is the one you have with you.  Here is an example in point.

During mass on New Years Eve Kellie was not being bad, just demonstrating she had more energy than the two parents sitting with her in the pew.  She also had more curiosity in everything around her than the next fifteen people you could find in the adjacent pews.  So of course I had to take her out to the narthex for most of mass.  While we were there, she of course found the nativity scene fascinating.  Not having time to get good angles, or my good camera sitting in the pew...I grabbed my iPhone and snapped two frames.  Then like a hawk I switched into protect the church property mode, and became the hover parent.  Meanwhile one of the deacons from the parish sat behind me, laughing with his whole family.  He just looked up and said, I've been there three times myself!

So I would not have an image to share with you of her sweet doting on the nativity set without the small little camera I had with me.  If you want an image you have to have something to capture it.  You have to know the tools you have with you as well...so it should behoove me to learn a little more about the darn thing as well.  I guess I should give it some of the attention I normally reserve for my "good" cameras! It just might pay off when I capture the moment I would otherwise lose to unrecorded history.

-ehw

P.S.  iPhone in Program mode using the standard camera program.  Post processed in Perfect Picture Suite 8 and Nik Define to reduce some noise.

A child's eye silent night

From a Child's Eye A great photographer I met once, and listened to often, Scott Bourne once said to explore the world creatively you need to see the world from the mind of a five year old.  Well I've been doing that with my now six year old. Today I reviewed photos he took over the last four months on my old Canon P&S.  My wife mentioned several times he imitates me when he shoots...he was actually doing quite well!  He does video much better than I do!  Well in his photos I did see the sense of wonder I often miss as I get older.

So tonight I set the tripod up and looked at the tree from the level of my two year old.  I just fell into the wonderful world of bliss.  I saw the lights, the shiny ornaments, the dark spots, the smiles on faces, the tassels and beads.  It was fun.  It was like my first memories of Christmas growing up...and when I made up the HDR images I just had to capture the feeling of the moment of when I can remember looking at my family Christmas tree a the age of four or five at Fort Devens, Massachusetts in 1974 or 75.

Then I thought about the most important part of the evening...the arrival of Jesus.  A hundred thoughts started running through my mind.  I can see so much of the story rushing together, and my mind is just too slow to understand or explain it right now.  I turned my lens on the family nativity scene, and turned of the lights.  I felt a peace come over me as I worked the light and tried a few different angles.  I began to reflect, that on a night like tonight I don't think Jesus wants us to think too deeply.  He wants us to look at his arrival like a child who can feel something special in the air, and now that in the darkness of the night a child was born who gives peace to our souls if we but choose to listen for the sound of his voice.

-ehw

P.S. Fujifilm X-E1.  These are HDR processed in HDR Efex Pro 2..the second one got a touch up in Perfect Suite 8.

Away in a manger from a child's eye...

Getting Ready!

A simple street A few weeks ago I was able to walk around town and snap some images on a cold November morning.  Our town works hard to create an old city center worthy of visiting, and the business owners do their part to make it inviting.

In these final days of preparation for Christmas, don't forget the reason for the season of advent (and it has nothing to do with present lists or parties).  Do your best to ignore the last minute sale emails ,and focus on getting your heart ready for the arrival of our Lord!  Take a walk, dodge raindrops, and look at your fellow man for all the reasons he came to die for us!  Then ask yourself...have I made a home inside of me for him?  Have I risen to the challenge?  When I failed did I beg forgiveness and make amends?

Ok...time for me to get ready for church myself and get my own head in the right place!

-ehw

PS-Fujifilm X-E1 with 18-55mm.  Cropped in camera using the square framing option.  It is fun to see the world in different framing formats than the standard 2x3.  It think it really allows you to do some extra mental calculus, and come closer to making the final product in your camera.  If you spend less time behind the computer the better off you are!