The Pow Wow at SunWatch

Yes, crazy I know, two posts in one day! But after the day we had I just have to post it here. As planned the youngest and I went to SunWatch for the Pow Wow. We got there early and found the perfect place to sit so we wouldn’t have too much sky in the background. Again we were there on a day it was threatening to rain and the sky was overcast and grey. But as we waited the sun started to burn its way through the clouds. We were getting some beautiful shots as the entrance ceremony began. They asked two Veterans to come up and carry the US flag and the POW/MIA flag. Then they and two Indians carrying their flags led the entry ceremony.

sunwatch_062914_7934_cropxThe MC told us about a 5-year-old little girl they had been following up on from yesterday. It took a while to get the whole story, but to sum it up she was severely burned and air lifted from Mississippi to Cincinnati for care. Her family followed by car, but unfortunately the car was probably not able to make the return trip. One of the elders had received a call for help for the family, and as the story unfolded some men placed a blanket on the ground and without a word people started line up to walk to the blanket and place bills on it. I immediately realized what they were doing, so pulled out some money and handed it to my youngest and told her to follow suit. She did, standing so tall as I sat there choked up. When she walked back to me we sat there with tears welling in our eyes, leaning together, as more and more people walked to the blanket. There was a wonderful silence, and then the music of a beautiful song. It was then announced – $605.00 was collected today for the family. A cheer erupted and the clapping went on for a long time. It was an experience that we will never ever forget.

Here is the link to the Gallery of the picture I took today, enjoy! SunWatch June 29, 2014

Digging and Fishing and more . . .

We have some catching up to do. The last couple of weeks have been very busy and wonderful all wrapped up. The day I wrote my last post I started on a genealogy project. I was going to make a family tree poster for a friend’s birthday present. I knew enough about her family that with my 30+ years of research experience I felt confident in finding enough to make the poster and frame it. It went ballistic! I ended up going back to when one branch came to America in 1705. Needless to say, 10 days is not long enough to do a family tree and have everything verified and accurate. So the tree isn’t finished and she got a ‘draft’ book. But I am looking forward to finishing it for her in the future.

Well ten days might have been enough time if I had been doing nothing else, because a couple day into it the kids and I headed down to the Newport Aquarium in Kentucky. Now I took the camera as a challenge because you can’t use your flash in there, and boy what a challenge.

The youngest has now taken an interest in photography, so I have given her my old camera. We have discovered that it was the 18-55mm lens that had been causing all the problems with it. The thing is that you would still have problems even after you took the lens off the camera, so it didn’t click at first. Anyway, because she only had the 70-300mm lens to shoot with we had to share my camera. Well, let’s say she used my camera. So a couple of my fish from the Newport Aquarium 🙂

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For me the learning experience was definitely having to account for the ‘glass’, or acrylic, between you and the fish. This can get really bad and distorting when you go through the tunnels. This is a cool place to look at the fish, and especially the bigger ones like sharks etc., but not photographing them. The youngest learned a lot too. After we left the aquarium we went to eat and it rained, and rained. She had some real fun taking pictures then.

We only had one day off and then the two of us headed up to Columbus to the museum for “A House Divided: Civil War Reenactment”. This time she her own camera, and we had an absolute blast! But those pictures are still to come as the following week was so full I have only had the chance to play with a few. Then Wednesday I did a photo shoot for one of the wild child’s friends who wanted a headshot. All the while I am working on the genealogy project. You know what? I love my life 🙂

Learning at SunWatch

Last week we went to visit SunWatch. It is a local archaeological dig site of an 800-year-old American Indian village that they are rebuilding to look as close to how it really was as they can. This visit taught me a number of things on many levels, the obvious being the Indians, history and all that entailed. Then the motivation for going, taking my camera and playing with my new lens. Also spending time with my youngest, the wild child, and a couple of her friends from high school. I have watched these two boys grow into young men. They call me “Mama”, and have for years. It has been nice to spend time with them again.

As far as the Indian history – go to SunWatch and experience it for yourself. They could use your support. Too much of the funding of these programs is cut due to the economy etc., and it is a shame. There is a lot to learn, and to teach through them. When I was walking through their exhibit I thought of how much more could be done with it. Their displays are so cramped, but with just a little extra lighting and imagination it could be so much more. But it all comes down to the all mighty dollar.

But onto the camera – what did I learn. Well first and foremost; this I knew before we even got there, the time of day and weather conditions make the biggest difference.

pioneer_home_1137_smLast fall I went to a local historical park on a terrible misty day. It turned out to be a wonderful thing, and I got great shots, but it was because of what I was shooting. This park is where they have moved and restored old pioneer homes. So the misty grey day added to the old age look and gave a feel to the photo I couldn’t have achieved on a sunny day.

We went to SunWatch on a rainy grey day in June, but it was just bright with spots of sun coming though, and except for the occasional shot here and there when a cloud was my friend, the lighting was terrible. This is when shooting in raw, and my skills in Photoshop and Camera Raw are a handy thing to have. But I am no magician, and some things just can’t be fixed (and to those of you that the last bit I wrote was Greek to you, I apologize profusely).sunwatch_061314_6940x

I learned two important things. The first was back to the technical aspects of a camera. I figured out recently the way to sync up multiple flashes off-camera. It was so cool! But, if you forget to set your flash setting back to where they are supposed to be, when you are in an Exhibit hall, and you want just that little extra light of the pop-up flash, and for some reason the darn tootin’ thing isn’t firing right . . . fortunately I did remember and fixed it, after a few frustrating minutes. But it was another learning thing. Remember to reset things back when you are done goofing around. But again I will say, it was sooo cool having 2 off-camera flashes going off with my camera! 😀

The second thing I learned is that I need a monopod with the 70-200mm lens. I’m sorry, I know it is lighter than the f2.8. I intentionally got the f4 for that reason. But after walking around with it for an hour and a half my arm was getting tired, my thumb sore (yes showing my age with a little arthritis), and so we got some camera shake (again sorry for the Greek!). That all being said, here are the pictures and I hope you enjoy them SunWatch Gallery

A Dog’s Day

Life certainly has been a bit busy lately. This is both good and bad. Good, in that I am getting a lot accomplished. I am learning a lot, and growing a lot, and this is a good thing. But, my body is yelling at me a bit too. Yesterday I had a down-day as Hubby tore apart my computer in order to upgrade it. With all the ‘busy’ I really need an upgrade! Everything went smoothly until my email, it is being a pain. But as far as upgrades go, so far so good. I now have Windows 8, it will take getting used to just like every other time there is change. For the moment I only have two monitors; now that is something that would drive me nuts. But a new video card is on its way and will be here in a few days. Then I will be back to four monitors again, and I am sure soon Hubby will have the email issue worked out.

Now Saturday the wild child and I went to a local fundraiser for the Montgomery County Animal Resource Center at Bark Park. I was asked to take pictures so they could use them for their webpage, Facebook etc., so I was happy to go. Here is a link to the gallery to see them: http://www.halfpapdesigns.com/photo_galleries/bark_park_bake_sale_060714/

So, what did I learn from this? Well, dogs make wonderful models. The only time I had issues getting a photo of a dog was because of their ‘person’. Some just kept getting dragged around, so I wasn’t able to capture them. But others gave me some wonderful faces. One in particular, #32, I just fell in love with. He literally smiled for the camera in #47. His buddy, #29-31, had the most wonderfully expressive face (the pictures are numbered in the gallery).

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On the more technical side, I need to work on camera settings for mid-day. I had my new 70-200mm lens, and we were either out in the sun or under a shelter shooting out into the sun, and that caused some issues. I don’t think I did too badly actually, but until I have had this new lens for a while, and know it better, that just means taking more pictures.

Trying to Preserve the Past

Yesterday I went to Clifton Mill with my dearest friend and her son taking our cameras. She recently got her first DSLR and I can really relate as she is learning all the ins and outs of a new camera.

If you have been reading my blog for a while you know my love of old things, and Clifton Mill is somewhere I have known about because it is very popular at Christmas time. Everyone takes their family and especially out of town visitors to see the beautiful lights, the miniature villages, trains and of course Santa. We went back in 2005 and again in 2006, this is an old and bad picture, but hopefully you get the idea.

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I had the thought of going there during the daytime to photograph it. So I pulled up their website to check out their hours etc. I read that next door they also had a 1940’s Gas Station Museum. Well to be honest we were disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, we got some wonderful pictures thanks to Photoshop (I’ll explain more later), but the “Museum” wasn’t really one, and the mill is best seen at Christmas time lit up by the lights.

The website said that it takes 6 men 3 months to put up the 3.5 million lights. But from what we saw they are never taken down. The mill was just covered with lights, wires, and cables. What used to be a red painted covered bridge had barely any red to it.

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As I walked around it made me sad. It wasn’t that the place isn’t taken care of, because it is. There was a man mowing the lawn while we were there. It wasn’t trashed or dirty, but it wasn’t truly cared for either. I wondered if the reason things were in such shape was because they just can’t afford to keep it up. I imagine painting the covered bridge would cost a pretty penny, and being a historical site it probably requires a certain kind of paint. If it takes 6 men 3 months to put up the lights, then it would take them some time to take them down. With the economy the way it is we all have to cut corners. But when I looked through the covered bridge window and saw this scene, well that was too much for me.

So I have put up a gallery of the pictures I took. I put them through Photoshop and took out all the wires, the shabby paint, and things that made me sad. Some things I just didn’t put up at all, like this shot of the whole mill. Because the beauty of what it was still needs to be enjoyed, and I just couldn’t make myself get all those wires, cables and lights Photoshopped out. http://www.halfpap.us/galleries/clifton_mill_0605_2014/