This is what failure looks like


Well, this blog has gone beyond abandoned to bereft, forlorn, and all those nasty adjectives that make me feel super guilty.  I’m sorry I haven’t posted in so long.  I’m even more sorry that I haven’t been able to actually do any work.

Brief update – we now have 3 kids, and the last, Kelton, is 11 month old now.  If trying to keep up with 2 kids was crazy then dealing with 3 under the age of four is insane.  I’m just now starting to catch my breath and start inching toward beginning my cyanotype work again.  I wanted to enter some photographs into the recent county fair here ( I know, quaint! that’s the best I can do right now!) and I was seriously depressed to only find pictures of my kids that I could work with.  Good pictures of my kids, true, but very one-note.  So…here’s to new beginnings and grand promises that I probably won’t be able to keep.

So, first I have to admit: these aren’t my photographs.  Nope!  But it doesn’t really matter because you can’t tell what they’re supposed to be anyway.  We hosted a French exchange student this summer, and while she was here we tried printing some of her photographs in cyanotype.  Wow, what a difference location makes!

I vividly remember struggling with the heavily chlorinated water in NY when I printed, but I finally found the process that worked for that set-up.  Here it’s totally different.  We tried to print using the same process and the prints looked like we fogged them in direct sunlight for a minute or more.  It was bad!

There seems to be some sort of chemical reaction in this water as well.  I’m not a chemist, so I can’t explain what the problem is.  So far, it looks like I’m going to have to do a single coat of emulsion, maybe skip the sizing, and probably adjust my curve to account for wonky effects.

I have a Herculean task ahead anyway due to a new printer.  It’s not an HP, so I can’t hope that the ink is the same.  It’s a very basic Epsom workhorse that we needed for office stuff, although it prints fairly decent photographs too.  I’m probably going to be working through a ton of charts as I figure out how this Epsom printer does with digital negatives.  And since I have almost nil free time that’s going to take a while.  Boring!


Portrait Myth #465 – look at the camera!


I have to admit, I’m purely going on my personal opinion here.  That said, some of the best portrait shots I’ve seen by noted photographers did not have the subject looking squarely at the camera with a vapid smile on their face.  Nope, most of the more interesting ones I can think of, not that I’m thinking very well at the moment being annoyingly sick, may not even show the subjects’ face at all.   Looking back at photographs of Corbin, most of my images of him that tell a story are not facing front to the camera.  In fact, one of the recent best doesn’t show his face at all!  Not to say that classic portraits don’t have their place – a good mix is best, as in everything.  Especially if you’re sending photographs to distant grandparents who don’t get to visit that often.  More is better!  (Frequent is better too, but I’ve turned into a lump of tired mommy lately.)


That said.  Here’s Anarah at 4 months.  She’s highly interested in what her  big brother is doing at the moment.  She’s watching every move he makes (and eyeballing nearby crayons with a speculative eye.)   She’s so excited about what’s going on that I had to stop every few shots and haul her back up onto the pillow.  Otherwise she was reduced to chewing on the pillow and slowly slipping below eye level because of all the kicking and wiggling.   Big brother Corbin has been  a great help getting good shots of Anarah.  She’s so interested in what Corbin is up to that she tends to ignore the annoying thing hiding mommy and making noises.

You’d think 2 kids in that I would have this baby photography down pat.  Nope!  I’m still learning.

  • Baby girls look a lot more feminine (when bald) if they wear a headband.
  • Distraction is key.  Siblings are great!
  • Get on their level.  Shooting at a downward angle hides their eyes.
  • Boppy pillows are great photography tools.  And no, I don’t get paid for that endorsement.

Image details:  shot indoors in natural low lighting, with a pretty hefty ISO that ended up making a lot of images too soft to use.

My kid could do that! (he did)


Corbin is 2 years old.  Well, 2 and a few months, which in kid world is FOREVER!  He considers himself such a big boy, especially when he sees all the babyish things his little sister does like drool everywhere, be incredibly boring, and not play with all the cool toys.  (although both he and the dog thought the squeaky teether Anarah recently acquired was a wonderful thing and totally wasted on her.)

And since he’s such a big boy, it’s only natural that he move on past the boring, dated squishy toys and onto something better.  A techno-gadget toy.  One that actually does something.  Like my old camera.  It has all those wonderful buttons (oops, he turned on the red-eye!) and the shiny thing in the front (cue Corbin fingerprint photographs.)  And it makes gadget noises!  Awesome!

Once he got over the shiny not-so-newness of his new, supervised toy, he got down to the nitty-gritty of what you can actually do with it.  Since it does have a view screen on it despite being an absolute dinosaur, he’s learning to frame his pictures and hold the camera still while he takes the shot he wants.  And he certainly knows what he wants – I was told in definite tones on a walk recently, “take pictures of trees.  Pictures of leaves.”  Which he then proceeded to do.  He’s fascinated with the year rings in tree stumps, and the first time we saw some on our walk, he shot over to them and started snapping away.

It’s terrifying and cute at the same time to watch him hold up the camera and concentrate on the view screen.  He’s so serious!  I’ve seen that same look on professional photographers trying to get that perfect shot.

House rules: you must always wear the strap around your neck.  Problem is, when he bends over the camera smacks the ground.  I’ll have to get a smaller strap for my budding photographer.  I have a sneaking suspicion that the camera won’t last that long though – after all, he is two!

On our last photo shoot in a visit to Shenandoah National Park, I pulled out my camera to get a shot of him sitting on a log.  He immediately hopped up and said “Corbin take pictures!”  Um, no!  Mommy’s camera is off limits!

Humor aside, I’m fascinated to watch him take pictures.  What he decides to shoot, the viewpoint, and the angle are all uniquely childlike.  What we wouldn’t consider worth a second glance he finds interesting.  He generally shoots it from the viewpoint that catches his interest – a child’s eye level, and up close.  I’m super proud of him, and I’m looking forward to seeing what he does with this in the future.

The depressing thing is, with an auto setting and decent lighting, you can’t really tell a 2 year-old took the shot.  Digital: so simple a toddler can do it.

Meet Anarah



Hullo blogging world

Meet the newest addition to the family – Anarah.  She decided to wait until her exact due date, and she weighed exactly the same as her older brother when he was born.  Go figure!  We’re glad to have her here – me especially! pregnancy with a toddler in tow is no picnic.

When we had Corbin, I decided to do a monthly photo shoot with him documenting his growth for the first year because they grow so quickly at first.  We’re doing the same thing this go around with Anarah, although I’m having difficulty hitting the exact month schedule.  This image is Anarah at  about 5 weeks instead of a month.  We’re a lot more casual about things with the second kiddo, but I’m astounded by how quickly she seems to be doing some developmental things – like reaching for her image in a mirror and holding her head up.


I can already see that my next big cyanotype project will be a set of images of my kids when they were little – I tend to like the more conceptual images in black and white while the family prefers the color shots.  Both are good to have, but the conceptual ones will make a good series.  I might, if things go well, get this series done by the time they’re teenagers.  We live in hope!

Seriously though, I’m tearing my hair out trying to tend to the needs of both children without neglecting either of them.  Bedtime is a much appreciated milestone in our day – the parents, not the kids, duh!  I shouldn’t complain really – Anarah is truly a happy, well-adjusted baby who sleeps well, and I’m so blessed to have two wonderful children.


About the image:  shot indoors, with natural light and a pretty hefty ISO. Basic darkroom edits only – like I have time to manipulate images these days!

Angled, again



Time flies.  Trite, but true!  It’s been a few months since I posted last.  I’ve got to stop saying “sorry” because obviously, this is the hallmark of the new, not-so-improved, mommy me.


Anyway, I did it again.  I shot a photo at an angle (accidentally) and ended up liking the shot because of the way it framed the subject.  And yes, it’s wholly accidental – when your two year old son offers you a strawberry (and you’re 8 months pregnant sitting on the ground) the only way to capture it in time is to throw the camera up and click the shutter!

I do have to point out that it looks deliberate.  That makes the sin of the angle a little less problematic.  If you happen to get a slight angle in your image or the horizon isn’t completely straight, it can sometimes look like you accidentally goofed and just weren’t paying attention.  This was deliberate.  Yup! 

Corbin and I went picking strawberries this season, and unlike last year, he actually ate all the ones he picked instead of squishing them.  None of them made it in the bucket, but that’s ok.  Quite a few made it on his shirt, so as far as photography outings go this wasn’t truly a winner.  And I have to note: yes, he does actually have scars on his face, that’s not strawberry mess.  The poor kiddo face-planted off the sofa into the carpet and skidded a bit.  I seriously considered editing out the evidence but we can’t remove all the less-than-happy memories from our photographs.  It’s not very truthful, and someday we might (might!?) actually laugh over the incident.


Hopefully the next time I post there will be brand-new baby pics of the new little one. 


Getting back on my feet


Wow.  Boy, do I feel horrible.  I’ve severely neglected this blog, and while I have reasons, I have to say I’m so sorry!  I’m not sure anyone’s even reading this blog anymore, and I can’t blame anyone for deciding that I dropped off the face of the earth.

It’s been a difficult few months, to say the least.

Brief update: we’ve settled in D.C. pretty well in our new house out here in suburban-ville after a little over a month of roughing it in a hotel.  While we were in the process of selling one house and moving to D.C., I experienced another miscarriage, and this one put my medical issues over the edge into serious business.  After a few weeks of very difficult life, I finally got a diagnosis of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis – an autoimmune disease that causes my body to attack my thyroid.  Luckily, unlike most auto-immune diseases, this one is the easiest to treat.

As a side note, I have to say that anyone who thinks that chronic fatigue is simply being really tired (and/or lazy, I got that reaction too) it’s totally not.  It’s more a lack of energy to even get on your feet, let alone take care of an energetic toddler.

Thankfully, I’m back on my feet with the assistance of the wonderful pharmaceutical industry.  And no, I’m not being sarcastic.

No sooner had I gotten that under control than I discovered a side effect of a correctly working thyroid: it’s a heck of a lot easier to get pregnant! (The thyroid regulates your hormones, among other things.)  And while I’m really happy and excited for baby #2 to come along, this pregnancy has been a bumpy ride.  When I heard that the new Duchess of whatever Kate what’s-her-name (Prince William’s wife) was hospitalized for a difficult first trimester, I confess to feeling a little smugly sympathetic that even royals have to put up with what we commoners do.  Barfing has this weird class leveling ability.

So, you can maybe forgive me for not posting as much as I should have lately?

Image: Our new house is adjacent to one of Virginia’s innumerable official battlefield sites, and it makes a lovely place to go walking.  There’s a decrepit silo on the park site that had Corbin intensely curious – he kept saying “Up! Up!” and pointing to it.  Thanks to photographer mommy here, I have a picture I can use as blackmail in his teenage years.

Moving on

We’re headed out!  We’re finally going to Washington DC, and I won’t be able to post for a while (like I’ve been posting all that much!) because my computer will be in storage until the housing situation is finalized.  Life has been hectic lately with illness, move details, and house hunting.  I always seem to have some excuse or another.

I’m going to miss living in NY – we’ve been here long enough to put down roots.  Pulling up those roots always hurts, even though we’re excited to see what’s in store for us in DC.  Hopefully a new house without issues, a dog for Corbin, and a lovely new back yard for both Corbin and dog.  We’ll see!

So even though this image is symbolic and all that conceptual jazz, I have to say it’s from our recent trip to Long Island NY.  It’s the lighthouse passage from the tiny stone house nestled at its foot to the entrance of the lighthouse itself.  Because it was super hot and Corbin wasn’t allowed up the lighthouse stairs on the tour, that’s as far as we went.  And, I have to say, my new lens is awesome!  Let’s hear it for wide angles!
Hopefully my next post will be full of DC iconic images  – so much history there.  I’m super excited to try and catch the DC cherry trees in flower next spring.  Here’s hoping for the best!