Friday, April 8, 2016

Big Bend Photography

I was out in Big Bend National Park for a photography workshop last week.

The backstory is a friend of mine who also loves BBNP and photography called and asked if I wanted to do a girls trip and I was HELLS YEAH.  Then we signed up and I discovered it was being taught by a guy I knew from elementary-high school.  Wow.  So I wasn't sure how that would go.

Then we got to the park and I got my Boquillas cherry popped.  (It was fabulous, btw.  Highly recommended.)  And then we went by the burn damage because I wanted to get some shots of it.  We were talking about photography on the way there and just from chatting with my friend it was obvious to me that I was going to be the least experienced person there.  And then, in my freak out, I completely forgot how to do anything.  It was terrible.  I was terrified.

The good news is the instructor was super friendly when we met up with him and it really wasn't awkward.  And the class was small - just me and my friend and one other guy.  We went and got our tent set up in hella wind, and then went to shoot the sunset.  In the process of that, I managed to remember how to use my camera and even ran some learning experiments, and somehow I became at ease.

The following days were filled with pre-dawn mornings to shoot stars and sunrise, mid-day editing, and then sunset/star shoot evenings.

It was not the sort of workshop where the instructor took a shot and asked us to replicate it.  It was more like we'd find a location and then find stuff to shoot.  It was really cool because we'd all be within 100 yards of each other, but everyone would come out with something different.

Long story short, I came out with about 20 shots that I'm quite pleased with, and about 5 shots that I'm really really super mega pleased with.  I came out knowing how to use my camera soooooo much better, understanding my settings better, but also and most importantly, stretching myself in terms of finding my shot and also really looking for light.  It was really a perfect trip.  There were a lot of imperfections, but all together, it was perfect.

I've been thinking a lot about it since I got back.  I've been trying to work through the shots and do some editing.  There is a contest right now at the Bullock museum that I want to enter and I'm trying to figure out exactly which I should submit.  The thing is, for me, this is where uncertainty creeps in.  There was one shot of bluebonnets that I got while I was there that was backlit.  I was originally shooting with the rising sun at my back but at one point I turned around and I saw how the light was filtering through the seed pods and I just thought it was the most lovely thing.  And the instructor practically nutted on it.  But I put an album of my favorites on Facebook and it is one of the least liked ones.  So I started questioning everything.  Then I was chatting with a friend and he said maybe it is a shot that only a photographer would love.  It kind of killed me.

Another of my favorites is a backlit shot of the instructor's wife with their dog.  My "friend" said it looked posed.  In truth, the location was selected so she'd be silhouetted as the sun went down, but goodness help me if I could figure out how to pose a dog running up and leaping into her owner's arms!  This was really a shooting break and therefore about as candid as you can get.

Gah, now I'm questioning everything.

I was talking with P this morning about it all.  He was telling me that he actually likes one of the burn shots that I got.  He was saying that it looks "dreamy" because of the shallow depth of focus that I chose and how it sort of distorts the fore/background.  "Dreamy" was the word that the instructor chose for the bluebonnet pic.  And it is the word that I'd choose for the dog pic.  And then I started to think... is "dreamy" my style?  That would actually be pretty neat - if it were and if I knew it.

P.S.  Totally unrelated, but I've been dropping weight since I got back from BBNP.  I was 149.4 when I left, up from 148.4 due to hormones.  When I got back I was 148.4 and I was ok with that - I didn't hike a ton and I was grateful not to have gained.  But then as soon as I got rehydrated and settled it dropped to 147.4 and then 2 days later to 146.6.  Now I don't know if that 146.6 is real yet or not, but for whatever reason I'm SUPER excited about it!  It isn't a goal weight or anything, but it is less than 7 pounds away from the upper end of my goal weight range and for some reason less than 7 feels imminently more achievable.  Like suddenly, after all these months, I can see that this is really happening.  I'm also really proud - I am in the 4th month of losing and I have continued to lose through multiple trips and other temptations.  I am solidly on the wagon and I am steadily losing and I am really proud of my consistency this time.

P.P.S.  We WERE in the green last month!  Just barely, but GREEN!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Goal Update

I am going to be out of town on the first, so I'm writing this up a few days early.

1. Work: make at least one presentation. DONE.
2. Work: write an article.  Working on it.
3. Work: get involved in "the community".  Not yet.
4. Workout: Train for something in a focused way.  Not yet.  But I've continued with P90X3, plus managed to get myself both back on the road for a run about once a week, and back into the pool once a week.
5. Workout: Get at least one not-in-Texas race.  Not yet.  Looking at you, Florida.  In June.  Hot.
6. Workout: Do a triathlon.  Signed up for the CB&I and also the Tri Aggieland.
7. Workout: Get my butt back in the pool regularly.  At least once a week, yes.
8. Workout: Go climbing. Not yet.
9.  Life: Lose 20 pounds.  Weight on January 2 it was 152.6.  Weight on Mar 1 was 151.4.  Weight on Mar 30 was 149.4.  I've seen some real progress this month and I am pleased.  I was *particularly* pleased that I didn't gain any back on the wedding weekend!  
10. Life: Focus on conscientious spending.  It is tight but I'm pretty freaking sure we will still be in the green at the end of this month.  Preeeeeetty sure.
11. Life: Improve the garden. Got 5 half wine barrels from a friend that I want to plant tomatoes in.  Hopefully when I'm back in town next week.
12. Life: Go camping in Brazos Bend State Park. Not yet.  Maybe mid April?
13. Life: Go camping in Huntsville State Park. Not yet. But we did go camping in Stephen F Austin State Park and it was awesome!
14. Life: Have an epic Disney vacation.  Not yet, but I'm paying it down.
15. Life: Make stained glass things. Not yet, but I finally started talking about it again with Preston.
16. Life: Take fabulous pictures with the awesome new camera.  Yes!  Got some more fab pics this month and right now at this very moment I'm at a workshop in Big Bend where I GUARANTEE you I'm getting more!

Not a goal, but I read or listened to 6 (official) books in February!  I also read 6 romances that I didn't track on Goodreads, for a total of 12. ;-)

THE AQUARIUM HAS FISH!!!  6 of them.  3 lemon yellow cichlids and 3 frontosa.  I LOVE THEM!