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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!

So here we are at the close of another holiday! We celebrated last night with our family and friends, so today was a lounge day. I recorded last night's airing of the The Ten Commandments, and spent a good part of the day on the couch watching. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I got to see the whole thing! It was great.

Blooming cookies.

Lauren and I baked a lot of cookies this year. Not quite as many as for Christmas, but it was close! Lauren suggested that we used neon food coloring, and I have to say that I don't think I'll be going back to the regular kind because they turned out awesome. Although I should have taken an accompanying photo of my matching dyed fingers...

 Pastel sugar cookies

Last Christmas, I discovered the joy of cake mix cookies. The pink is flavored with strawberry Jello, the yellow with lemon pudding and the green with pistachio pudding.

  Pastel cookies lined up in a row.

It's an easy way to make a whole lot of cookies at once!

Queen of the Egg Hunt.

It's become a tradition that we have an egg hunt in our backyard the evening before Easter. This year, we invited several of Lauren's friends to join in. We had 104 eggs in the hunt, and we think that there's a least one somewhere out there in the yard. I wonder if it will sprout Reese's cup flowers?

I wish I had family pictures to share, but my hostess responsibilities seem to grow with each holiday, making it increasingly difficult to play the role of photographer as well. On top of that, for the most part Lauren can't stand to have her photo taken. If she's in the right mood, I can occasionally coax her to pose for me, but for the most part, she wants nothing to do with it (In fact, I had to beg her to hold that basket over her head, and with all the sighing and eye-rolling I got, you would have thought I was painting her portrait for hours rather than snapping a few photos that took all of five minutes.). I realize that I have only myself to blame for it, so I try not to pester her about it.

Which brings me to something I've been thinking about - the blog. Between our increasingly busy lifestyle and the fact that it's difficult to document our family's daily life when a third of our family has adopted a no photo policy (And I might add, the part of family who has the most going on), I've been thinking about what to do going forward. First off, I've decided to quit doing Project 52. I actually finished through week 6, and while I could handle the assignments from a skill standpoint, I feel like I'm doing way too much assignment photography, which is taking away from my desire to do personal photography. I am going to continue with the 52 Weeks of Cookie because her adorableness needs to be documented for the world.

So while it may sound like I'm preparing to announce the end of The Ross Family Equation, I'm not. Actually quite the opposite. I want to revive it to be what I first intended it to be - a way to document the everyday goodness in our lives. I just have to figure out a way to make it work!

In the meantime, I added my Twitter feed to the sidebar. I've gotten in the habit of tweeting photos from my 365 days project, so there will be new content there on a fairly regular basis.

52 Weeks of Cookie: Week 16

52 Weeks of Cookie:  Week 16

Sometimes, my people leave the room. I don't like that AT ALL, no sir! So I watch. And I wait. I don't know where they go. I mean, who would want to leave me and the comfy couch. Sometimes people just don't make sense to me.



52 Weeks of Cookie: Week 15

 52 Weeks of Cookie:  Week 15

Everyone has something that they're good at. My something is that I can run super duper fast! Up to 35 mph, even! But after running around, I get super duper sleepy, which I'm really good at too. So I guess I'm luckier than most because I have two things that I'm good at!



Wednesday, March 20, 2013

52 Weeks of Cookie - Week 14

52 Weeks of Cookie:  Week 14

Today is my 6 month birthday - yay! 

Sealed with a kiss.

It can't be a coincidence that today is also the first day of spring because there's always a spring in my step!

 Puppy love.

My first six months have been swell, especially the time I've spent with my new family - The Big Guy, My New Ma, The Little Girl and Big Brother.

There's lipstick where?

I am one lucky dog!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Project 52 Assignment 3: A Simple Recipe Shot for a Magazine.

Project 52 Assignment 3:  A Simple Recipe Shot for a Magazine.

For this week's assignment, we had to shoot ingredients for a simple recipe. I really wanted to emulate the style of Martha Stewart's now defunct Everyday Food magazine, so to get ideas I spent some time flipping through my huge library of back issues. In fact, the recipe that I chose was from one of the last issues:

Peanut Ginger Ramen

Puree 1 tablespoon of lime juice, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 3/4 teaspoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon of ginger with 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter and 1/3 cup of water.

Prepare ramen according to package, but without the seasoning packet. Toss ramen with peanut ginger sauce and serve.

Arranging the ingredients was pretty challenging, and I actually took the time to sketch out the placement of everything before I made the shot, which was very helpful once it was time to set up. I wasn't very happy with the way the lighting turned out, in particular the shadows cast on the right side by the bowls. That could have been rectified with some lighting modifiers, but I'm lazy when it comes to lighting setups. Maybe I'll experiment more next time.

I was surprised when Don was pretty positive in his critique. He said that my photo was "real pretty and modern", and the cropping was "fantastic". While he didn't mention the shadows, he did call out that I lost the details in the sugar. The poor guy couldn't even figure out it was sugar - he kept guessing it was milk!

Project 52 Assignment 2: Vision Statement

For this Project 52 assignment, we had to come up with our vision statement and take a photo to represent it. I'd actually thought a bit about my vision statement when I built my website, but this time, I really, really thought about it. Like for days. Unlike the last assignment, I enjoyed this one because it was helpful in putting into words what I do.

The harder part was actually coming up with a photo to go with it! I've taken a lot of photos that I feel really translate what's going on in my mind, but Don wanted a brand new photo. There are two things that I cannot do on cue: 1.) Provide a urine sample. 2.) Take a photo that bears my soul to the world. Hopefully no one ever asks me to do both at the same time.

But back to the vision statement.

Project 52 Assignment 2:  Vision Statement

I am a champion for everyday life.

I spotlight the moments and details that we take for granted and use them to communicate concepts in a expressive, engaging way.

I'm always in the mood to photograph.

When I asked Lauren to pose with this camera, she kept checking the back for the LCD screen. When she asked if she could take my picture with it, I explained that she couldn't because it was a film camera, and it needed to be loaded with film. Then she asked, "Well, can't you go get some?"

Don said that I nailed my vision statement and thought my photo was "very cool." One thing he couldn't figure out was what kind of camera Lauren was holding, which is funny because I'm sure he's shot a lot of film in his day (Although in his defense, I think he primarily shoots with Canon and this is an old Nikon.).

Project 52 Assignment 1: Photograph a Stranger.

So I promised I would post these, and now we're about 5 assignments into the project - lol. Actually, I was waiting to share this because I wanted to test the waters to make sure I was going to stick with it. Unlike the daily challenges (which I'm also doing, daily), it takes a lot of time and thought to complete these assignments, and I have to say that with the four that I've completed thus far, I was ready to give up at some point on each one. But, somehow I've kept plugging away.

To recap - Project52 is the brainchild of Phoenix, AZ photographer Don Giannatti. This is his third year offering the program. The premise is that each week he posts an assignment to help you learn the world of commercial photography. Commercial photography involves taking pictures for advertising, marketing, brochures, etc. While it's not wedding or family portrait photography, it can involve portraits. The assignments that Don posts are real life examples of what commercial photographers are hired to do. They are due to Don by a specific date, and a few days later, he posts a critique of everyone's work to YouTube. He does this for free, but he also offers a more intensive Pro version for a fee where he gives more in depth feedback and individual attention. Obviously, I'm doing the free version since I'm ready to bail at any point.

And speaking of bailing, when I saw the first assignment I was ready to quit before I even got started. I'm pretty self-conscious in general when I have my camera with me in public (and even among family and friends), and on top of that, I'm an introvert. Now that doesn't mean that I'm not friendly, it means that I am not proactively friendly. So just the thought of asking a stranger if I could take his photo was enough to send my heart into palpitations. On top of that, I don't consider myself a portrait photographer. I shoot stuff. I pose things, not people. No, wait, I style. That's what it's called. Anyway, I can shoot a passable portrait if I have to and know what camera settings to use and all that but it's just not my thing right now.

Anyway, I was almost not going to go through with it, but then an opportunity dawned on me. For our next Girl Scouts meeting we had arranged to have a guest speaker. Each year, we celebrate the Girl Scout holiday called "World Thinking Day" by learning about another country. The girls had chosen to learn about Mexico, and one of the moms offered to ask a co-worker who had moved to the United States from Mexico if he would give a presentation.


So here is Luis. Luis works in the IT department of a local grocery chain company. He's been living in the US for around two years, but his English is so polished that you probably wouldn't guess it. I cannot say enough how impressed I was by him. He brought his iPad along so he could show the girls photos and maps and completely tailored his presentation to the attention spans of 2nd and 3rd grade girls. You would have thought that he did this sort of thing all the time! The mom had mentioned that he was even a little nervous about giving the presentation, which made me feel better because I was certainly nervous about asking if I could photograph him! When he was finished, I asked if he minded if I took his photo for our troop scrapbook, which, while it was the truth, was also great excuse to get the assignment done. He agreed, and after a few seconds, it was over.

 Project 52 Assignment 1:  Photograph a Stranger.

I tried to do a little planning ahead of time. I knew I would be up against ugly fluorescent lighting and busy backgrounds in the classroom where we meet. The classroom used to have a map of the world hanging on the wall, and I had planned to pose him in front of it. Of course, when I arrived I realized that the teacher must have taken it down. So I improvised and had him stand so that the word "Friend" would be in the background because we certainly made a new friend that day.

So what did Don think of it? Well, he said it was a solid portrait, but that I should have cropped out the door on the left because it was unnecessary information.


And of course, Don was right. When I cropped it originally, I was trying to keep him to the right of the frame as much as possible without losing all that cute artwork in the background. But it does look better this way, even if he is more to the center of the frame.

I promise not to be as wordy for the next few assignments because those are more in my area of expertise. :)

Saturday, March 9, 2013

52 Weeks of Cookie: Week 13

 52 Weeks of Cookie:  Week 13

So I'm all better now - yay! Today, the weather was nice so my New Ma dressed me in my fancy sweater and took me outside. I like my sweater a lot, but I only wish it was pink because the blue makes everyone think I'm a boy!



Sunday, March 3, 2013

52 Weeks of Cookie - Week 12

52 Weeks of Cookie - Week 12

This week I finally got my special operation. It was a little scary for me because I had to spend the day away from my family. One good thing was that I slept most of the time. I'm not sure how it got there, but when I woke up, I had a boo boo on my tummy. I was so happy when The Big Guy finally came and picked me up! But when we got home, all I wanted to do was sleep again. I'm feeling better now, and the best part is that everyone wants to snuggle with me on the couch. That's my favorite thing in the whole wide world!



52 Weeks of Cookie - Week 11

 52 Weeks of Cookie - Week 11

This week, I got to wear my spiffy coat and went on a field trip to the pet store - yay! I was going to get something called a vaccination. Apparently this must be a very good thing because the line to get one way really, really long! I didn't mind though - The Big Guy kept me inside his coat while I got to dog watch. We ended up leaving empty handed though because The Big Guy got tired of waiting. Next time I'll get my paws on one of those vaccinations - I'm sure of it!