Aiming Arrows

Musings of a Mommy

Category: Photography

Women’s Ministry Leader’s Retreat

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to get away for 24 hours with about thirty other small group leaders from our church.  Our wonderful women’s ministry pastors, Trish & Stacey, inspired us with possibility from Andy Stanley’s book, The Next Generation Leader. 

I threw my camera in my bag at the last minute as I was anticipating some time outside.  From the deck of our lodge, I looked down over the red, orange leaves of this tree.  It seems that most trees are just turning brown instead of their normal fall beauty, so this was a treat to see. 

Very few things get my blood pumping like freezing a few inches of this beauty on my camera.

We stayed at Shepherd of the Ozarks where we had a very large lodge.  I bet it slept 75 people.  Of course, many of those beds were bunk beds.

I started hyperventilating upon sight; my sweet friends Christy and Kristina let me have the first choice.  I picked the middle.  What would you have picked?  

After making my selection, I began scoping out a non-bunk bed option.  Christy and I found this loft which we accessed through the little hole up this straight ladder. 

Here’s a look at our 2 single beds inside our little cubby.  I think Christy and I would have slept more in our coffins bunks, but instead, we talked until 3 AM!   My friends Allison and Ronni also had the privilege of sleeping in a section of the loft (loft as definied by ladder access only) but they were more reasonable about actually resting on the retreat!  This lodge had so many little nooks and crannies.  There was a double bed tucked away with an openning of, literally, 2 ft x 3 ft.  Aronna slept in there and informed us in the morning she heard the scratching of some other living creature in the walls!  Uh.  No thanks.  I like my nook better.

I also met several new friends.  One new friend, JoBeth,  is into photography and told me about back button focusing.  I’ve done a little research and can’t wait to try it out.

Friday night we played  Apples to Apples which is the perfect game for a large group of people.  Apples to Apples is definitely not a “smart people only need apply” type game which I really appreciated!  (Thanks to whoever brought it!)  Even though I came no where close to winning, it was so fun.  Apples to Apples is definitely going on my Wish List.

There is one character from our retreat that I really wish I had a picture of… the donkey-dog!  You know I love animals; this donkey was the sweetest thing!  He’s retired so doesn’t work anymore.  Instead, he just wandered around camp like the camp dog.  Except, as I mentioned,  he is a donkey. 

We ate our meals in a cafeteria which had the feel of a lodge.

Being with a group of wise, sweet, wonderful women with nothing to do but enjoy each other was so refeshing! 

Refreshment turned to concern while we hunted, for close to an hour, for a set of lost keys.  The keys were found where all of us women would expect to eventually find our “missing” keys!  All retreats and vacations are not complete without a memory of this nature!  Don’t you agree?

Happiness returned with the keys, and we all began to head home.  The wheels on the van went…. round and round, round and round; the wheels on the van went round and round… but we went nowhere.  We were actually losing ground.  Ronni insisted that it was not the heavy load in the back impedeing process up the steep hill, but she finally agreed that maybe we should get out.  As we watch the van drive up the hill we could not stop laughing!  You will be glad to know we made it home without further incident inspite of the Out of Gas light being on for several miles!  Yes, I noticed the light, I am a terrible back seat driver!

Photoshoot Lessons

It seems that my first post after an unexpected hiatus should be filled with amazing news and spectacular pictures.  The truth is, things haven’t been particularly news worthy around here unless you consider loads of snot production interesting.  All four of us have been hit hard by the pollen, but we’re so much better now.  I also pulled a muscle in my lower back which frustrated my normal routine for a few days.  Throw in several hard conversations with various friends, some sad news with other friends and you see our month has been pretty full. 

One highlight for me my own private lesson in photography with my dear friend and professional photographer, Gretchen.  She wanted to do this for me because I had helped her with some other things, but I can tell you I got a lot more out of the deal than she did!  So one evening, after Steve got home from work and before her husband who is an eye surgeon (don’t know exactly what he’s called but you get the idea) got called in to work, we headed out. 

 Gretchen picked a location.  I agonized over hair style, clothing choices, and props.  In the end, the dress I chose was a gift from my aunt who purchased it during their trip to Greece.  Love it.  Love it.  Love it.  And, I loved it for a shoot at this location.

Our subject, Graceanna, was less than enthusiastic though.  We kept her busy with crackers, therefore, any really good shot was usually full of cracker mouth.  From that standpoint our session was a bit of a disappointment, but, the real purpose was for me to learn.  And, learn I did! 

The light was perfect, so warm and soft.  I finally have embraced the fact that if I want a “portrait” i.e. something I’d hang on my wall for all time, I have to committ 100% to the right light which is the right time of day.  I’ve known the importance of light and have experimented a lot with it, but I’ve come to a new level of understanding.  Oh!  And, I learned something completely new to me…dynamic lighting!  This is lighting you can’t find in a studio.  I don’t think.  Maybe you can, but wow what God has done with the sun and trees and grass just can’t be beat.

One thing I love about Gretchen’s work is that if it’s not excellent, it doesn’t leave her “shop”.  See how I cut off Graceanna’s hand?  Not good.  See the crackers in her hands and mouth?  Never, ever would have happend in the first place.  Gretchen is committed to excellence.  She is skilled in the traditional “rules” (why am I using so many quote marks?!) of photography and if she breaks one it’s for a good reason.  She has mastered her camera of course.  She also has a determined style.  But, she has something that can’t be taught or learned.  She sees in a way I just don’t.  When she puts her eye to the viewfinder something great happens.  I’m learning and improving but what she has is God-given and remarkable. 

Ok.  I didn’t mean to have a Gretchen commercial.  She’s going to be so embarassed if she reads this.  I just so admire anyone who is so committed to growing and learning and improving and committed to excellence.  And, of course, I love photography.

The next morning, Gretchen came to my house while our kids were at Mother’s Day Out.  We openned PS and from the first mouse click she did things differently than I had taught myself.  The only thing I know about developing film is that each step is precise and if done incorrectly the actual photograph is damaged, and it’s very similar to digitally developing your “film”.

I definitely had new tools and skills to practice but our edit session ended all too soon.  Gretchen was called away on a volunteer assignment for an organization called Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep.  I love this organization.  NILMDTS is made up of professional photographers who give their time and talent to families whose babies are not expected to live at birth.  So, needless to say, I was eager to send Gretchen to this family in need.  Since then I’m finding it difficult to get this family out of my mind.  I know nothing of them.  I just know that a family in my city is hurting with such terrible loss.  What is boggling my mind is to know how many times these photographer’s services are needed.  One day, I would love to be a good enough photographer to offer myself for this cause.

Bokehs, Concerts, and Trains

I love taking pictures of Christmas lights.  Unfortunately, I discovered that my lens needs some serious help from a professional technician.  The good thing is that I can’t see the problem except when I’m doing these bokeh shots.  And, since sweet hubby bought me another lens for Christmas, I can just use that one when I want to work on some blur.  But, I’m sad that my first lens is sick.

Bokeh is totally in the eye of the beholder.  And, this beholder loves it!  The term bokeh is often talked about in contexts similar to the example above, where the entire is shot is a blur and usually the blur is of lights.  Bokeh actually just refers to the out of focus area in any photo like a portrait with the subject in focus and then the blury background is the bokeh.  

Mid-December Steve and I got to spend some time together and away.  i.e. we went on a date!  While we were eating dinner, we found out Shane & Shane  were having a concert in a town not too far away.  We love Shane & Shane, so we decided to see if we could still get tickets.  Not only did we get tickets we got great seats!  A few years ago we went to another one of their concerts.  That particular night, they were in some tough spots in their own lives.  And as they continued through their show, Steve and I both felt as though a balm were applied to our hearts as we were in some difficult times too.  This concert was totally different though!  We had so much fun singing along with their Christmas songs and some of their own songs.  Also, if you want to hear a couple guys who sound great together, this is them! 

The next three pictures are from a winter village exhibit at Gunnar’s school.  There were several trains running through the village which was so much fun!  Aunt Sandi (aka Neenie) took the third picture and it gives a little feel for the size of the display although it was probably 3 times bigger.

the Edge

Last night, on the way out the door to the Edge band rehearsal I snatched my camera.  I figured I might get in a little fun once I got the lighting ready for Sunday service. 

With no kids, captive subjects, big Christmas trees, lights, lights, and more lights – fun I did have!