Tenacity of Life

Tenacious Life Tenacious Life

At the top of the mountain, I captured a wonderful vista with my children descending off the peak.  In this seemingly desolate space, just a few feet away was this cluster of small flowers.

Throughout my trip one theme arose before my eyes time and time again, it was the tenacity of life.

On this windswept mountain, these little flowers stubbornly cling to the thin soil in the brief Rocky Mountain summer just a few feet from my position in the first majestic photo.  In the plain states it was large trees owning the low ground, avoiding the windy peaks.  In the high prairie we saw how grass and cactus eked out survival on little water.  In each case life was present and thriving where it was not easy to achieve basic survival.  Yet as you can see, the beauty and power of that little life is just as moving as places rich with plants and animals.

Today's Gospel reminded us that life here on Earth is a struggle...and every moment of success we get should be savored...and every hardship we experience should help us revel in the beautiful moments a little more.


P.S. Fujiflm X-E1 with 14mm top and Pentax K-5 with 60-250mm below...

Hardship and toil...they saw it too...

Through hardship and toil they persevered through faith in God's stewardship This weekend my church celebrated the Holy Family.  It is my wife's favorite mass of the year.   It is a very personal theme for us, and gives us as a role model family to look up to.

This statue sits outside our church, and on the cold rainy we saw today it reminded me of their challenging life together.

Here we have a man and woman, given the mission of raising Christ.  They are displaced from home during the pregnancy, chased into exile by a homicidal king killing every male child from Bethlehem, go into Egypt a country alien to them with nothing but their clothes and talents, and finally they lose their child in the temple together.  They fought hunger, exposure, heat and other men to survive.  Any way you chalk it up, this family faced hardship, toil and challenges matched by the most unfortunate in this world past and present.

Through all these challenges, and the madness of trying to keep their family alive, they still found time to listen for the direction God sends each of us for these adventures.  The most prolific messages came from angels, but I often wonder how many were just whispers in the wind of the desert or the guidance of old proverbs.

Our pastor today at mass reminded us, the last words we hear attributed directly to Mary are at the wedding in Cana.  There she instructs the servants to do whatever her son directs them to do.  This in a manner was the culmination of the Holy Family's stewardship of the Son of God.  The love of Joseph and Mary ensured the people of the world have the word of God no longer confined to angels and prophets.  We actually have it now available to us in the first person.  The words of Christ in the bible direct our hearts and actions on the way to communion with the Father because of their faith.  It is the Holy Family's eternal gift to our past, present and future.

So this year, I challenge myself and anyone else out there to 1) Read the words of Christ and 2) Meditate on those words.  Just then maybe out hearts will hear the whispers of wisdom directing you through life's challenges in the fashion Jesus directs.

Who knows...we just may find ourselves following the footsteps of the Holy Family!


P.S.  The inspiration to write this came from the image of the stature I saw at church, and the many friends and family of mine of know of in crisis.  Please pray for them and all those you know of in need as well.

Brotherly Love

Big Brother gives Baby Si a love on Christmas Day Just a quick picture to illustrate something the great Tony Corbell said at Skips Summer School.  5.6, Auto Flash and be there.

I know i-TTL or e-TTL for those of you shooting the big brands..or me with P-TTL on the Pentax...is supposed to be "the solution."  Well I think it often is, but sometimes a little "old fashion" goes a long way as well.

In this case I ran the whole day with the camera on Aperture Priority, ISO 100, center weighted metering and flash on Auto.  This is a sample of what I got right out of the camera.  I only cropped the photo a bit for the web.  I think exposure was pretty good, the reaction time of the camera acceptable and I could understand why it happened.  The last part is most important to me since if I understand what happened, I can either modify my work to change the results or repeat it if it works correctly.

Either way I got a photo that really summed up Christmas Day with my four kiddos and loving wife.  It was fun, relaxed, family and God centered.


PS Go visit Tony Corbell at http://www.corbellproductions.com/

Five Year Old Saves Christmas

20121224-151139.jpg My five year old saved Christmas!

The last few weeks pressed me from every angle. Work, not being able to get my dream moving, the evil at Newtown and in my own town..All felt like a bone crushing weight on me. Even my picture taking, my refuge for sanity, was falling flat. The spirit of Christmas felt as far away as the moon. I could recognize the evil was in a person's choices, not the wonder of creation.  I was just overwhelmed by the amount of darts thrown at good people of late.  I had closed myself off to the spirit of Christ's power because I was letting things other than keeping God foremost in my thoughts and family's development matter.

All this started to change when as I put my head down, my lovely wife said...make small changes and the change will come. I slept on it, and through the night the weight of everything started to feel workable. I got up and walked into the living room to watch the sun rise on the Christmas tree. It was then that my five year old came down the stairs and plopped himself right on top of me.

His first words were, "Dad we have a wonderful tree. It is magic." God was speaking through the mouth of a babe. For ten minutes we sat still, and quietly talking about favorite ornaments lest we wake up the other four souls in the house to early. Then he said, "Dad we need to take some pictures of our tree." That was all I needed. Out came the tripod, the light for my first light painting attempts, and photographic direction from my five year old. My soul was alive, and responding to the cuing from God to live and enjoy Christmas in the present.

Every year I look at the Christmas tree form a new perspective. This year I took it from my five year old. Christ does bring grace if we let him. I pray that you and yours can do the same.


PS These photos are from perspective of my five year old...his height I hope conveying some of the awe we felt as kids before the Christmas tree.


Palm Tree Christmas

Decorations of South Georgia Being born in Hawaii...I should be use to this site...but I was three when I left so I'm not!

Palm trees are fun to look at.  To my mind it is like peeling back an onion that is 60 feet tall!

The moral of the story is that anything can help bring out the Christmas spirit!


Christmas Ball

Christmas Ball on a tree at Church We enjoyed another evening at church with my service and fraternal organization, The Knights of Columbus, at the annual Christmas Dinner.  We enjoyed being with other families, good food, and a festive atmosphere.  During the day my family went to church to help decorate for the holy day coming up, and my wife and four kids decorated two trees in the church.  I was pretty impressed when I heard my wife had the 11 month old on here back while stringing lights!

Well they inspired me to take a look at the trees for something fun to snap!  The hardest part of this was getting me out of the reflective surface of the ornaments.  So this took a  few minutes....and caused my wife to come rescue me from my photographic obsession!

This is yet another photo with my hip bound Oly XZ-1.  Processed in Perfect Photo Suite 7.  Just a note for you tech junkies... I am shooting RAW with my Point and Shoot.  So my files are typically the RAW flat, so I need to post process them.  This is just my normal preference and gives me more control over the product.  If I had no time to process them, I'd really have no problem with the on board jpeg engine or effects filters.  Olympus colors are just great.  I often use filters when I am on the road to get an effect without the post shoot work of RAW.

I am leaning to picking up a M4/3 camera as a slightly bigger "hip" camera.  That way I'll have a few accessories that can be used on either camera.  We'll see what the future will bring.  For now this is a good tool for my mission.



Christmas Bird

Christmas Bird...Tree! At the same concert I saw the string of lights...I saw a set of trees made from bird feathers!  The lights backlit the feathers and it really was cool.

I wish I could borrow one for a full day to experiment with. It would be a really good project to play with this type of soft, glowing light!

For this photo all I did was do a simple import preset in aperture, and custom built an S-Curve for some pop.  I wanted to give the photo depth, but still convey the fragile nature of the soft diffused light.


Sting of Stars

Stars and Lights on display These lights were part of the decorations at a small dance company's holiday show.  They mesmerized me, so I tried to get at least one good shot of them before intermission ended.

For the techies...shot in RAW on the Olympus XZ-1, edited in One Perfect Effects 7 using a Surreal HDR effect.  I used some blurring effects in Aperture to make the bokeh a little more attractive after the HDR provided a lot of detail in the small lights I did not want.


Southern Christmas Glory!

Southern Christmas Preparations...lights and pine in an almost tropical location! The lights were on in St. Mary's as they prepare for Christmas last week.  It was a combination of lights, pine wreaths, and palm trees!  After so many Christmas pasts up north, this was a new perspective on the season for me.

Thankfully the symbols of Christmas are all there, and it was those symbols that tied me in with every other season I've enjoyed.  The round Christmas wreath of pine symbolizing the eternal God, the celebratory red has many other joyful meanings, and the lights fighting back the darkness as we near the winter solstice all made me feel like I could be anywhere preparing for the Lord's arrival.  Those common symbols are so important since they convey a message from one generation to the next.  They made me feel right at home in their midst.

It was a lovely night for a walk amidst such splendid sings of the season.