Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Photo Class

Last Saturday I traveled to Seattle with some fabulous ladies and my 14 year old son, to take a photography class

from this guy:

His name is Clane, (this link is for you, in case you don't believe everything you hear) he's like 15 and he's ridiculously good at what he does, not to mention he is just the nicest guy around. His photos are some of the most beautiful and thoughtful shots I've seen. He has a real personal approach with his clients that puts people right at ease. And, although he is young, he's not really 15. But, you probably figured that out by his facial hair. I mention his youth only because he is so talented and his ability amazes me!

Clane offered a class and I called my photo friend ladies and they happily joined my son and me. Now, originally my son was a little concerned about riding all day in the car with some, ahem, "older ladies," while his dad and two sisters went to the opening of the Harley Davidson store in town. He agreed to come because first and foremost I begged him. I knew I needed his young 14 year old mind because there was no way I was going to learn all this techy stuff and then be able to recall it, much less ever apply it. Also, he is quite the budding photographer - so it was a great opportunity for him to learn. To illustrate what an amazing guy he is, he offered to allow my son, Jordan, to join him on one of his next wedding shoots! Can you say, where do I sign up?

My goal for the class was to learn enough so that I will stop using the green box button on my camera all the time. I like the green box because it is comfortable, but apparently it is the sure sign of a lazy photographer. So, I practiced with a whole lot of other settings, and took some pretty awful pictures in the process. It was kind of like sitting in an emergent language classroom. I am not losing all hope - I am told I am smarter than the camera. That is apparently why I shouldn't use the green box dial on my camera. Unfortunately, my pictures do not look smarter. I took some pictures at a dinner the night after my class. They were bad. Here are some examples of bad photography:

Okay, besides the overexposure, I am pretty sure this is one of the least flattering photos of every single person in the picture.

There's also this one:I had a lot of trouble with the lighting this day:

too dark
I took this one after sitting in the class all day - I discovered "White Balance" and learned how to alter it. I deleted the ones I didn't like, but should have hung on to a few of them to show the difference. Here's what I ended up with:

I really like that one!

Here are a few my amazing son snapped:

and this one of downtown Seattle through the sun roof of the car:

We stopped at this really darling Italian restaurant - not a chain food type of place. My son, Jordan, actually ordered octopus. He's still talking about how good it was! Here are my fun photo friends - Andrea, Sue, I'm in the reflection there, and then there's Miss Tonya.

We feasted on delicious and beautiful food. Isn't this just so pretty? I'm still not sure I totally understand ISO or F-stop, although after some bad pictures, I'm pretty sure I know why they call it f-stop.

Next post - the fabulous Mock trial dinner pictures - don't worry, I'll post the good ones!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Time Lost and Found

Time lost and found

Enjoy this article from a recent Sunset magazine. I appreciated so much of what Anne Lamont had to say here.

Be blessed,


Turn off Twitter, Anne Lamott says. And don’t clean the house. That’s what it takes to create the rich life you deserve

Author Anne Lamott

Lamott’s books include Operating Instructions and Traveling Mercies. Her new novel, Imperfect Birds (Riverhead Books; $26), will be published this month. She lives in Marin County, California.

James Hall

I sometimes teach classes on writing, during which I tell my students every single thing I know about the craft and habit. This takes approximately 45 minutes. I begin with my core belief—and the foundation of almost all wisdom traditions—that there is nothing you can buy, achieve, own, or rent that can fill up that hunger inside for a sense of fulfillment and wonder. But the good news is that creative expression, whether that means writing, dancing, bird-watching, or cooking, can give a person almost everything that he or she has been searching for: enlivenment, peace, meaning, and the incalculable wealth of time spent quietly in beauty.

Then I bring up the bad news: You have to make time to do this.

This means you have to grasp that your manic forms of connectivity—cell phone, email, text, Twitter—steal most chances of lasting connection or amazement. That multitasking can argue a wasted life. That a close friendship is worth more than material success.

Needless to say, this is very distressing for my writing students. They start to explain that they have two kids at home, or five, a stable of horses or a hive of bees, and 40-hour workweeks. Or, on the other hand, sometimes they are climbing the walls with boredom, own nearly nothing, and are looking for work full-time, which is why they can’t make time now to pursue their hearts’ desires. They often add that as soon as they retire, or their last child moves out, or they move to the country, or to the city, or sell the horses, they will. They are absolutely sincere, and they are delusional.

I often remember the story from India of a beggar who sat outside a temple, begging for just enough every day to keep body and soul alive, until the temple elders convinced him to move across the street and sit under a tree. Years of begging and bare subsistence followed until he died. The temple elders decided to bury him beneath his cherished tree, where, after shoveling away a couple of feet of earth, they found a stash of gold coins that he had unknowingly sat on, all those hand-to-mouth years.

You already have the gold coins beneath you, of presence, creativity, intimacy, time for wonder, and nature, and life. Oh, yeah, you say? And where would those rascally coins be?

This is what I say: First of all, no one needs to watch the news every night, unless one is married to the anchor. Otherwise, you are mostly going to learn more than you need to know about where the local fires are, and how rainy it has been: so rainy! That is half an hour, a few days a week, I tell my students. You could commit to writing one page a night, which, over a year, is most of a book.

If they have to get up early for work and can’t stay up late, I ask them if they are willing NOT to do one thing every day, that otherwise they were going to try and cram into their schedule.

They may explain that they have to go to the gym four days a week or they get crazy, to which I reply that that’s fine—no one else really cares if anyone else finally starts to write or volunteers with marine mammals. But how can they not care and let life slip away? Can’t they give up the gym once a week and buy two hours’ worth of fresh, delectable moments? (Here they glance at my butt.)

Can they commit to meeting one close friend for two hours every week, in bookstores, to compare notes? Or at an Audubon sanctuary? Or a winery?

They look at me bitterly now—they don’t think I understand. But I do—I know how addictive busyness and mania are. But I ask them whether, if their children grow up to become adults who spend this one precious life in a spin of multitasking, stress, and achievement, and then work out four times a week, will they be pleased that their kids also pursued this kind of whirlwind life?

If not, if they want much more for their kids, lives well spent in hard work and savoring all that is lovely, why are they living this manic way?

I ask them, is there a eucalyptus grove at the end of their street, or a new exhibit at the art museum? An upcoming minus tide at the beach where the agates and tidepools are, or a great poet coming to the library soon? A pond where you can see so many turtles? A journal to fill?

If so, what manic or compulsive hours will they give up in trade for the equivalent time to write, or meander? Time is not free—that’s why it’s so precious and worth fighting for.

Will they give me one hour of housecleaning in exchange for the poetry reading? Or wash the car just one time a month, for the turtles? No? I understand. But at 80, will they be proud that they spent their lives keeping their houses cleaner than anyone else in the family did, except for mad Aunt Beth, who had the vapors? Or that they kept their car polished to a high sheen that made the neighbors quiver with jealousy? Or worked their fingers to the bone providing a high quality of life, but maybe accidentally forgot to be deeply and truly present for their kids, and now their grandchildren?

I think it’s going to hurt. What fills us is real, sweet, dopey, funny life.

I’ve heard it said that every day you need half an hour of quiet time for yourself, or your Self, unless you’re incredibly busy and stressed, in which case you need an hour. I promise you, it is there. Fight tooth and nail to find time, to make it. It is our true wealth, this moment, this hour, this day.