Sunday, October 29, 2017

Senior Pictures

One of the things I was nervous about this year was senior pictures.  Photography is one of my hobbies, and I thought it would be nice if I could take them myself.  I also have been wanting to rent an expensive camera to see if it might be worth purchasing one down the road.  My aunt, who is a professional photographer, recommended Lensrentals.  They were great!  We ordered the Canon 5D Mark III and - for the lens - the Canon 24-70 mm f/2.8L II.  It came with a strap, hood, filter, charger, laminated cheat sheet, and battery.  We used everything except the filter.  We kept the hood on continuously, as that was the advice I read online.  We had to supply our own memory card, which we didn't know when ordering.  Good thing we had one from our own camera!  We also used our own tripod.

I'm a perfectionist, and pictures are something I really, really care about.  To me, there are two times in your life when you should have professional photos done: your senior year and your wedding day.  (OK, and maybe a few family photos and baby pictures too.)  The problem is that I'm a total amateur who does not enjoy learning my way around a camera.  All the technical jargon in the manual quickly loses me.  I prefer a good auto mode where I like to stay most of the time.

So I was putting a lot of pressure on myself.  We were aiming for late summer/early fall, and just as I was going to order the camera, we got fires that filled the sky with smoke.  I waited for the air to clear.  Then, the weather was hit and miss with rain and cold.  I started to wonder if we'd be able to take them before winter!  I am very sensitive to cold, and my top location of choice was Mt. Spokane.  I knew I'd be shooting a couple hours without gloves, and my hands are particularly sensitive.  Plus, it can easily be 10 degrees cooler up there.  While waiting, I busied myself with researching tips and ideas for poses.

Relying on the 10 day forecast, which I knew wasn't reliable, I finally got the order in.  The camera arrived a day early (no extra charge).  I had counted on having a few days to practice, but we moved up our first session to match the weather.  We scrambled to get ready, and in our rush out the door, small details were overlooked.  Like not realizing how badly Kylen needed a trim . . . and forgetting to remind him to use lotion.  Neither bode well for closeups.

I discovered how difficult it is for me to handle a camera that size, something I'd been concerned about.  I gained a whole new level of respect for professionals who lug those monsters around.  It was tricky to figure out how to hold the camera with my deformed hands (arthritis), and I had to rest frequently.  In fact, Greg took a large portion of the outdoor shots.  I would tell him what I wanted or frame the shot, and then he would take the actual pictures.  When the tripod was used, he attached and removed the camera for me.

Then there was the wind.  It was blowing his hair all over the place, and because he needed a trim, the impact was pretty significant.

We came home, downloaded pictures, and I got a shock.  They were terrible.  Truly terrible.  Mt. Spokane - where I have been dreaming of taking his senior portraits for years, where we have so many family memories, where I have gotten fantastic shots in the past - completely let us down.  There was something wrong with the lighting.  It was a clear sky, but there was a haze over everything.  The color was washed out, and there was shadow.  Even the shots with our own camera turned out bad, so I know it wasn't from using a different camera.  So disappointing!

Riverfront Park was another location I was considering, so we did a session there on a different day.  I had time to give Kylen a trim, and he remembered to use lotion.  Thankfully, some of those turned out well.  In another session, Greg took the camera to get pictures of him playing basketball.  Unfortunately, we didn't remember to find the action mode.  Most of them ended up blurry.  I did a couple sessions at home with him playing piano and video games, wearing one of his production costumes, and holding a basketball.  We probably took around 1,000 shots and got a handful we were pleased with.  Through it all, I was trying to maintain a positive attitude so that Kylen would have good memories associated with his senior pictures.  I didn't always succeed!

I guess I'm glad we did it, but there is a part of me that regrets not having them professionally done.  I will probably always wonder if we would have been better off that route.  It certainly would have saved me a lot of stress, and I would have been just as happy so long as they turned out well.  A professional would have known how to cope with the strange haze on Mt. Spokane.  In fact, he probably would have figured out how to use it to his advantage.

I've been slowly editing, and here are some of our favorites.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Willy Wonka!

Once we got past the initial excitement of Kylen being cast as Willy Wonka (I was over the moon excited!!  Wonka is ONLY my ALL TIME favorite fictional movie character!), the reality of the challenge hit home.  Kylen didn't sing much in his childhood, especially after illness robbed me of my singing voice and we switched to home church.  He resumed singing when he started voice lessons last year.  Although he's improved tremendously, it stretched him . . . A LOT!  We didn't realize just how much singing there would be.  You'd think the "musical" part of Willy Wonka Jr. the Musical would have tipped us off, but I was imagining Wilder with his short, random ditties.  Then Kylen got sick, and we experienced the stress of being a lead singer with a sore throat.  Through lots of prayer and tea, he made it and fared better than expected!  :)  Overall, it was an incredible experience.  He even got his first taste of fans when little children wanted to meet him and gave him drawings.

Construction was being done in part of the building, so they decided to paint the floor for fun!

Interesting door handles.

Presenting . . . Willy Wonka!

The oompa loomas were cute, a bunch of little girls with green wigs.

A simple hat change and jacket-to-vest transformed Wonka into the Candy Man.

The Bucket family.

Mrs. Gloop stole the show during her scenes.  She's an extremely talented actress.

Greg pulled two all-nighters to finish these boxes and a few other props.  Each time a ticket was found, a box would light up.  Then they would go out as each child was sent away.

Waiting to meet Wonka.

There will be no gum-chewing inside the factory.

Time to sign the contract.

So many extraordinary rooms!

I loved this scene with the pink candy boat.  It was brilliant the way they executed it.

Mr. Wonka at the helm.

Violet the blueberry!

This was hilarious!  They used a Ken doll for the shrunk version of Mike Teevee.

Of course, in the end, Charlie does the right thing and earns the ultimate prize: to become Willy Wonka's heir.

I loved, loved, loved this production, and it wasn't just because Kylen played a lead.  It was truly well cast, well done, and creative.  I take my hat off to the director, Jenna Solberg.  I could have watched every show and still enjoyed it.  We had good turnout from family and friends, which made it extra special for Kylen greeting them after the shows.

My brother celebrated opening night with us!

I started a tradition of presenting Kylen with a keepsake whenever he is cast in a lead role.  This time, I found a neat replica of a golden ticket and candy bar on Etsy.  I gave them to him at the restaurant after opening show.

We're so proud of this boy and excited to see how God uses theater in his future!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

September 2017

September had some fun highlights, a lot of school, and a whole lotta Willy Wonka rehearsals!

We were invited to an elaborate Old West mystery party.  Kylen was the sheriff, and Greg was a stagecoach driver!

Kylen came up with this idea, took a pic after mowing, and added a caption.

We attended a high school graduation for an awesome dude.

We were planning to skip Silverwood this year, but a very nice gal blessed us with free tickets on the last day.  And it just so happened to be a beautiful day.

The soup was AMAZING.  Some of the tastiest soup I've had.

Kylen talking to my brother.  We were able to get an extra ticket for him to join us!

We got in an old time photo shoot.

I'm in red, my brother's on one side, and Kylen's on the other.  :)