Katie and Bryan got married: the re-cap

This past summer my dear friends Katie and Bryan finally got hitched and it was wonderful. It was truly simple, elegant, a blend of traditional and modern, sincere and even a little bit nerdy (their processional music included Star Wars and Firefly nods!). And as added bonus Katie asked David and I to take the photos. Here are a few of my favorites:

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I like how the Sarah, the make-up artist frames Katie’s eyes in this shot. Sarah did an incredible job and Katie looked incredible.

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I love this moment of the bride and her sister enjoying some good old fashioned squeeing as they got ready.

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I really like it for two reasons. First, Katie looks lovely in this light and second, I managed to successfully edit out the TV in the upper right which you can see in the above photo.

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Another fun make-up application framing shot. I love Anna’s expression in this and way her face is perfectly in focus.

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Katie and her father squeezed in one last dance practice in the hotel room before the ceremony. While the lighting made it hard to get this shot completely in focus, I really liked how this turned out in black & white.

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Anna kind of steals the show a bit in this shot, making it another favorite of mine.

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This was taken not long before I literally filled up my camera card (even the extra one!) and discovered why you can never have too much memory when taking photos at a wedding.

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Bryan and Katie showed the flawless results of their dance lesson during the reception with a lovely waltz (Or at least I think it was a waltz? I don’t really know the names of dances…)

Want to see the rest? Check out these sets on Flickr.

Photo Monday

Before I get into showing you pictures I took this weekend, I just wanted to say thank you for all the lovely comments on my previous post, it is really nice knowing that there are so many folks out there being happy for me (and Alex!).  Also holy cow guys! Apparently you like looking at pictures of my boyfriend and I, because my Flickr stats have been through the roof.  Now all I need are some a few rainbow-vomiting pandas, adorable tree-climbing kittens, and some stormtroopers caught in the rain and I will be ready to take over the Internet!

This past weekend I went on a walk to search out signs of the now technically existent spring.  While the trees are not showing any signs of progress there are plenty of small green shoots and actual flowers the help convince me that sunny, breezy blue sky days, perfect for wearing skirts without tights are just around the corner.  It was also really fun to mess around with aperture and force myself to try out a little ISO tricks that I picked up from this post by Karen at Chookooloonks.  I had familiarized myself to aperture and have some knowledge of shutter speed (although the numbers part still confuses the heck out of me), but ISO was a newer concept and one that I need to learn more about.  Here is my own experiment with aperture, also heavily inspired by Karen’s post (roll your mouse over the photo to learn the aperture I used):

f/1.8, which I found a little too blurry and narrow in depth of fieldf/9.0, which created too wide a depth of field which allowed too much background detailsf/4.0, just the right depth of field to create the look I was going forIf you want to see the rest of the photos from my walk, click on one of my favorites below for the full Flickr set.

And finally just to demonstrate how much I still have to learn about photography, here is my rather pathetic attempt to take pictures of the Supermoon on Saturday night.  Head over to this Flickr blog post, to see how it is really done.

And I even had my tripod with me and all my newly minted ideas about shutter speed, alas this was the best I could do.

oh ‘ello there blog

Well that was a bit of a breather, wasn’t it!  Not really intentional, but anyways lots to catch up on, which I will do in my characteristic “giant post with lots of pictures” format.  In other words if you have already hopped over to that Flickr link on the right, you might as well skip this one. 🙂

My Seattle trip was awesome, but I didn't actually take that many pictures. I might write more about it later, but for now let me just say it was my favorite trip out there yet.

Unfortunately I didn't get any photos of my beautiful night arrival into Seattle, but I also had some great views on my departure.

I had only been back from Seattle around 24 hours, when "The Storm of the Century" blew into town and this time the weather forecasters actually got it right. Crazy winds (and thunder), over 20 inches of snow and my first TWO snow days during my time in Evanston made for a pretty thrilled Abby.

 

Wednesday afternoon I got to flex my snow-shoveling muscles and discovered that I find a perverse pleasure in clearing 3 ft drifts of snow (of the powdery type) off the front porch, I am less ethusuased about the 2 plus hours it requried to dig out my poor car.

Of course the lake was also so beautiful after high winds had scraped the beach almost clear and added layers upon layers of ice.

It was a lovely surprise on Friday after my first day back at work to come home and find a new animal in the front yard.

What can I say, I have a very talented housemate!

Then after the blizzard had settled down a bit, I went over to a neighboring house to hear an evening of music provided by some talented local singer/songwriters. Once again my housemate Anne got to show us all how amazing she is. Unfortunately my camera battery died before I got to take pictures of Jess singing some very lovely songs with her mother.

So that should bring us roughly up to date, other highlights include a rocking Chinese New Year’s party, dinner with an old friend from junior high and her adorable family, another week back at work and the quickly approaching weekend.

As an added bonus to this already way too long post, here are three things I thought were cool today:

Unhappy Meals by Michael Pollan – I finally finished reading this article that the always amazing Katie recommended on her blog recently and while long it is really worth it, especially if you haven’t read much by Pollan already.  He every so succinctly presents why nutrition in its current form isn’t the healthiest for Americans, why we should eat more food (and less of the stuff that just resembles that concept) and the dangers of trying to fix your diet with the newest health craze.

Valentines by NPR for the public radio nerds among you – I don’t normally find valentines that entertaining unless of the snarky vein, but these were both hilarious and cute.  Plus they are free to send to any and all of your friends/lovers/arch-enemies/etc.

World Press Photo Contest 2011 – I tend to find the field of photojournalism a fascinating one and this link proves over and over again the incredible power of the perfect image to inspire/sadden/frighten/disgust/comfort/etc

day 8, in which I talk about my new camera and the weekend in general

Oddly enough I think blogging is much harder to get around to on the weekend than during the week.  Especially on weekends like this one, where temperatures are ridiculously high for November (we broke 70!) and the sky doesn’t contain a single cloud.  The beautiful weather and general lack of scheduled events might be part of the reason that I am sitting here on Sunday evening wondering what the heck just happened to my break?  There is something about relaxing that tends to just suck up all the time you give it.

And of course I didn’t do nothing this weekend, although that was part of it (in the best kind of way).  Saturday consisted of an early morning breakfast with Becca and Jess at our neighborhood greasy spoon diner, followed by a furious burst of leaf raking by me (to counteract the stupefying effect of omelet and hash browns).  After which I made a quick trip to the bank for cash and to set up another saving account (for those larger purchases like a future replacement macbook/car/big trip/etc).  Then it was off to a local flea market with Anne (my housemate) and Jess, where we had lots of success buying old postal scales, glass bottles, children’s books and most importantly an old film camera.

Yes I am the proud owner of a Praktica FX, made in Germany in 1953, fully manual (and missing a light meter, which I will probably need to correct before I can take pictures).  For only 20 dollars, this is a much better deal than the Holgas and other lomography cameras I have been drooling over for ages.  While I still need to get it cleaned and buy some film, I am pretty darn excited to be trying this out in the next few weeks.  Of course there is lots of information out there on the internets about this camera, but that didn’t stop Jesse and David (my housemates) from spending a good half an hour figuring it all out for themselves.  But right now I just like listening to the sound of the shutter.

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Other events from this weekend include a rousing game of Tichu, two lovely (if too short) naps, and a quite fun welcome home party for Tim in recognition of the ending of his 2 month period of deflection to the far off country of England.  So all in all it was a pretty good weekend, short, but refreshing, which of course means that this coming week I will actually need to address the various homework assignments I have been blithely ignoring.

Also I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who has been commenting as of late, you should know it makes me ridiculously happy when I see those little comment received emails pop up in my inbox.

Picnik, or my new obsession

While I had known about this free online photo editing program since this summer, I hadn’t really messed around with much.  However earlier this week, I discovered that it is actually now linked directly to Flickr, so with the click of a button and a little messing around you can do all kind of neat edits to your already uploaded photos and save them as new photos on Flickr.  You can also just save over the origional if that’s more your fancy.  Obviously the software isn’t as powerful as Photoshop, but for basic fixes and a few fun things it is a pretty nice program. Also if you feel like having unlimited options you can purchase their premium edition which includes even more edit options and lots of stickers/fonts/etc of that’s your thing.

Luckily enough I managed to get Jess into it as well when we both had to work late Thursday night.  So below are the fruits of our labor.  I highly suggest you all give it a try if you don’t have a Flickr account, now is the time to sign up!

These first three were all edited by Jess, who I must say did a bang up job, don’t you think?

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Jess sipping tea in the Lake District

The rest of these I edited, but this first one was taken by Jonathan and the last one was taken by either Erini or Becca.

Leaves and Ice

Close-up of the Pinus Negra

Hills of Swaziland

Joanne pretending to watch the kite

Not actually black and white

Walking through the leaves

Walking with Jess

why I am pretty sure Jennifer Hudson hates me

My good friend Libby is getting married next spring, so last night Jess, Becca, her fiance Zach and myself all traipsed down to the J. Crew store on Michigan Ave.  Now this part of Michigan Ave is full of the ritzy stores, Giorgio Armani, Gucci, that type of thing.  So it wasn’t too surprising to see that there was some big event happening at the Michael Kors store as we entered the mall.  But we had more important things on our mine (Wedding Dresses!).

After spending an hour watching Libby look stunning in a variety of beautiful dresses, we finally left the store. Only to realize that below us on the first floor there was a fashion show going on.  Loud music, freakishly tall men and women wearing lots of sequins and lots of other fashionable hipsters watching the event were all really good clues for us.  Fortunately our timing was really great (as was our vantage point from the second floor balcony) and so we got to see all the models come out for the recap of the line.  Which for those of you who watch as much Project Runway as I do, tends to end with the designer him/herself walking down and back on the runway.  So I can now say that I have indeed seen Michael Kors (in his apparent uniform of black blazer and jeans) walk the runway with my very own eyes.

Now one celebrity sighting should probably be enough for one evening*, but as we left the mall and headed over to Ghirardelli for a quick treat, we noticed a horse-pulled carriage near the store with a small group of people standing around.  There appeared to be a video camera and a few big lights and then we looked and realized that sitting in the carriage was Chicago’s very own Academy Award winner, Jennifer Hudson.

So there we were outside of Ghirardelli and not 15 feet away from Jennifer Hudson and surprisingly there weren’t a whole lot of big security folks or even paparazzi around.   Jess and I quickly realized that this kind of encounter definitely needs proof, I tried to take a picture with my camera phone, before realized that duh, I had my big ole camera right there with me because of Libby’s dress trying on event.  So I took it out and tried to take a few pictures (which were turning out awful due to the fact that it was NIGHTTIME!).  And as I fiddled around I noticed that Jennifer Hudson kept looking over at me and she didn’t look happy.  See, my camera although not at all papparazi level is a larger one, SLR, bigger lens, etc and so I am assuming she figured me as one of those types, because just bit later, she got the carriage to move away from the sidewalk a little further down the street.  Plus she even turned around to look at me one more time as they finally drove off.  So that’s it, I will never by BFFs with Jennifer Hudson, however I will get to say I took crappy photos of a celebrity!

*Obviously this encounter was pre-planned because as I wrote about here, these kind of random Chicago encounters always happen in pairs.

UPDATE: Just to state the obvious if you use derogatory language in your comments, I will delete them.

Brief selection of recent Flickr uploads

So on Memorial Day, a friend hosted another awesome Murder Mystery Dinner and this time it was set in 1943 – Great Britain.  Which of course meant lots of fun trying to dig up a vintage outift.  With some help from Jess (thanks for letting me borrow your awesome hat!) I was able to put together this outfit from just the random clothes I had in my closet.  This of course is both kind of awesome and kind of weird.  If you want to see more pictures (in which I actually capture the entire outfit) click on the photo above to see the complete set.

I never got around to posting these pictures from my walk down to the lake that I took with Tim and my parents two weekends ago.  So here is probably the best one taken by the genius Tim.  I didn’t do anything to this one in Photoshop, which also means you can see living proof of how bad I need to clean my lens if you look at the photo close-up.

Last but not least my 50mm lens finally arrived Thursday and I celebrated by taking pictures of cats!  I have a lot of learning to do with this lens, I miss the zoom, but I love how it is forcing me to learn more about my aperture setting and narrow depths of field.  Stay tuned for lots more practice shots!

Day 1 : Seattle

My goal for this Seattle Week is to post a picture everyday of neat things I see. Partly as an attempt to force myself to take more pictures and post them and partly as the ever-ongoing goal of taking better pictures.

This was obviously taken yesterday during my flight. I had a really great view of Mount Rainier and the Cascades as I few in, but I didn’t have a chance to post it last night. So hopefully there will be another photo later today to count for Day 2.

Just in case

you aren’t reading my older brother Tim’s blog at the Mennonite, go do that now! In his most recent piece Tim talks about the role of light and shadow in photography and showcases just a few of the absolutely amazing pictures he has taken over the last few years.  Plus if you want the whole set go check it out on flickr and then prepare to spend the next half an hour favoriting every single one.  Among many things Tim’s pictures are proof that big fancy cameras are not needed to take great pictures.  Tim’s camera (the slightly newer version of my old camera that broke) fits in his wallet and yet is able to capture beautiful images.  While I do love my SLR, I do find myself wishing at times that it was just a little smaller, both for ease of transportation and for a less obvious method of photographing events.

Anyways here are two of my favorites from Tim’s great collection!

Morning light across the table, originally uploaded by mennonot.
Waiting at Cumberland station, originally uploaded by mennonot.

Morning droplets, originally uploaded by mennonot.

Okay I lied, my favorite three.

one for your brain, one for your ears, one for your eyes

The Good Master by Kate Seredy
I first read this book in junior high and it fit right into my obsession with stories from “the simpler times”. Along with Little House on the Prairie, Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, Eight Cousins, and All of a Kind Family, this book tells a simple story of a young boy growing up on in the last days of the large farming pre-industrial Hungarian plains. Jancsi and his city-girl cousin Kate experience the joys and difficulties of a year on the farm, interspersed with tales of gypsies and Hungarian folk tales. Set in the early 20th century, the story carries a bittersweet tone due to the knowledge that in only a few years World War I would sweep over this area of the world (the Singing Tree actually tells the story of the first world war as experienced by Jancsi, Kate and their family).
So in continuing my current re-reading books from my youth kick (Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, Eight Cousins, Etc), I recently bought The Good Master and The Singing Tree. And I found myself just as enthralled with them this time around as when I first read them. Also it should be noted that Kate Seredy also provides the illustrations for both of the books, which are so beautiful and add great mental images to go along with life on the Hungarian plains.

Antarctica by The Weepies
I first discovered the Weepies when they showed up on my Paste Sampler CD and I was quickly hooked. Luckily enough for me they ended up appearing in two issues back to back, which was easily enough to win me over. Consisting of the husband/wife duo of Deb Talen and Steve Tannen, they produce lovely melodies that just worm their way into one’s brain. In fact I am pretty sure I was singing along to the chorus of Antarctica the very first time I listened to it. On top of their simple melodies and harmonies they add in lyrics that both fit the songs and show depth, for example (from the song Hideaway):

I see the bare moon
Raise it’s big bald head
I see my friends play the fool
I’ll make my own way
In the wide world
Just know I don’t want to wander too far

Even the stars
Sometimes fade to gray
Even the stars
Hideaway

Composites, my new favorite photo thing
Camp Lake pier early morning
I first noticed composites when I noticed one in Heather’s photostream on flickr. Put together in photoshop, composites combine lots of different photos taken from one perspective to make a panoramic layered photo. I was on retreat this weekend (my first of back to back weekend retreats) up in Wisconsin and Saturday morning I walked down to the pier and sat on the dock. In order to get the raw photos I needed I basically took around 30 pictures just pointing and shooting at various angles, although I stayed at the same zoom level for all of them. After arriving home on Sunday night I was so eager to put the composite together that I stayed up an extra hour (I think that sentence adds nicely to the huge dorkiness of this website) just to finish it. The process reminds me a lot of scrap booking and carries much of the same addictiveness. I definitely think I will be making more of these in the future.