Posts Tagged ‘halloween’

Keep At It

1 November 2011

Dear J-

This is Halloween: laughter and a group of kids trooping up together to the doors and screaming out trick or treat with huge abandon. Repeat and rinse. All the exclaiming over costumes never got old, nor the proud crowing over some particular treats shared amongst friends. We were out for maybe an hour and a half and I spent the entire time with camera in hand and ended up with something like 500 shots, most of which were unusable because of blur or poor focus (I need to be less afraid of manual focus) but not so much blur. I wonder sometimes if investing in a 35/2 wouldn’t be a bad ideaas that would let me replace the huge, heavy zoom with a relatively light mild telephoto (on 4/3rds) instead.

In the cold light of morning though I wonder and worry about the photographs too much perhaps: did I try to sneak too many shots? Was I guilty of making the pictures too dark? Should I have set my white balance better instead of relying on imperfect memories? Noise and grain? I remind myself that it was more about the kids last night and capturing the spirit of the evening but then the paranoia starts to set in and I wonder if I should have spent more time showing how much the parents might have enjoyed it, or what they might say if they were more honest about the whole thing: maybe you should have … or why didn’t you …

In my mind I keep going over what I could have done and try to incorporate for next year: maybe if I prefocus and catch action at its peak rather than rely on the questionable ability to autofocus in dim light, but then I wonder about what I might be able to do if only I had such-and-such piece of equipment but honestly I don’t think there’s much more. It was honestly all I could do to manage one prime lens all evening: throw a zoom into that and I’d be all over the place with composition. I am glad I left the big lens at home — wouldn’t have been able to use it — and the year of shooting with the prime on the other camera has trained my eye pretty well at prime composition, at least with this focal length. We’ll get it next year, and I’m sure I’ll find something else to improve upon, but that’s why you keep shooting.

Mike

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All Hallows

31 October 2011

Dear J-

Well, this is it: the last day of October and of course the night to go trick-or-treating. I woke up late this morning, whether because of oversnoozing or overexertion yesterday with the little saws and punches that are the pumpkin carver’s tools. I’m starting to realize just how little physical activity I actually get in the course of a typical day, and it’s fairly sobering; at least by driving today, I reason, I’ll get home a litle earlier and we’ll be able to prepare for tonight a little better, right? It’s a curious mix of trepidation and anticipation I have tonight as our plans are to meet up and go to a strange enighborhood so that figgy can go trick-or-treating with some of her classmates.

By now we’ve all been to enough birthday parties and activities to be able to gauge how the kids will be and how they’ll react tonight; I have some questions about how Calcifer will take the later-than-usual night but I think about how our social life has in short order come to revolve around this core group of friends. For me it feels like a constant balancing act: is my natural tendency towards taciturn shyness offset by the excuse I have hiding behind a camera? Should I instead be making more of an effort to speak or is that the role I’m in now? Is there that much that we should know about each other or is the casual nature of facebook and occasional encounters at school sufficient? So many questions, so much doubt every time we meet.

I’m looking forward to it as they’ve promised that last year there were a ton of decorations and it’s an easy couple of blocks. No pressure, just a mission in to extract candy from a strange neighborhood and we’re done. I can dig it. And it gets us out of the house for the evening though I wonder if we should go to the mall like the last couple of years too, even though there’s no particular inclination or tradition to hold up. We have good kids and it’s fun to have them head out together in a little mob, even if they seem to be inseparable we all know that entering kindergarten next year will likely scatter their social group to the winds, so it’s maybe the first and last time with this particular social network.

Mike

Calendar Days

28 October 2011

Dear J-

The problem with going out to eat on a Thursday is that my body has it so pegged as a weekend activity that I woke up this morning fully expecting to turn the alarm back off and sleep in at least a little. Well, there’s that and the extra salt my body didn’t need, which coupled with this weather (it’s reminding us that we live in a desert by the ocean: dry with col nghts and warm, clear days) left me feeling at least a lttle like calliing in sick. It’s hard to imagine that it’s already been four weeks gone since we went on vacation and I feel like nothing has gotten done at work. Eventually I’ll move over to the new job and my responsibilities will shift, but right now there’s a million things to do and a thousand different directions to head all at once: no wonder time has flown.

Tonight, of course, is figgy’s Halloween carnival, someething we’ll probably be able to attend for a few more years, given that we’ll probably stick Calcifer in the same school by this time next year. Last year was the first and I was surprised by the outpouring of creativity by staff and parents; it is no wonder that kids love Halloween, given the attention and care that adults lavish on it. Monday we may meet up with some other kids from preschool to go trick-or-treating throughout the neighborhood; we do run the risk of not having our house ready for junior ghosts and ghouls but unless you’re going to send your kids off by themselves, there’s only so much you can do.

I probably wrestle with the problem of photographing kids more than I should; reactions to the finished product have been pretty uniformly positive when I send them links to flickr or facebook, and most people get over the shock of having me walk around with a big lens. I wonder if less would be more; of course it’s intimidating to have every glance at me with my face hidden behind a camera; would it be better, you think, for me to hold conversations where I’m not completely obscured? Three things to remember for tonight (as though I’m secretly a robot that needs to be reprogrammed): smile, make conversations, don’t hide.

Mike

Free Time

31 October 2010

Dear J-

It’s the tail end of the day — the weekend — again and there’s a lot to look back over; today was a full day and I wouldn’t have traded the way this weekend went for any other non-test, non-holiday weekend.  From skiving off work on Friday (I kept telling people what a nice break it would be, and I wasn’t kidding — sleep in, take a test instead of trying to smother sixteen different fires at once) to a bit of sanity time on Saturday to the relentless mall crowds today (last year I thought the UTC trick-or-treating crowd was crazy, but it was nothing compared to this year) it seems the only time we get to sit down is in the lee of the day.

I suppose that’s the way of it with kids; your time is not free time and I don’t think I appreciated that growing up, how generously we received everything we didn’t ask for, how wisely apportioned what we got.  There’s lots of things you want when you’re little — toys, cereal, books, other random things that cost money — and I never realized how valuable the time we got instead was even though we never requested it.  There will be hours to fill later on in life, once the kids are grown and out of the house, lives of their own to take care of.  I’m not looking that far forward, though.  It’s today that’s going to echo in October 31sts to come.

Mike

Halloween Town

31 October 2009

Dear J-

We gorge on candy tonight; for the first time in years not just stuff we’ve bought for handing out, but also on stuff we sent our little beggar figgy around to harvest tonight (in our defense, she’s still allergic to peanuts as far as we know, so we’re doing her a favor by removing all the tempting Snickers, Butterfingers, Reese’s Cups, etc.). As first Halloweens go, this was pretty spectacular: the costume was well-received, the crowds at the mall (trick-or-treating at the mall — in daytime — this truly is a new world) thick and happy, and the neighborhood was happy to see her come around for the first time.

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Yesterday coming home from daycare, she pulled out her little bag of candy out and asked me to name each one. We got home and opened up a little bag of gummy bears and, while walking the dog afterwards, ate them with a little grave expression, concentrating on the chewing and flavor. Life is full of perfect little moments lately; the best part is that you don’t know when they’ll start and you can’t make it last when you realize it. There is no TiVo for life — the things that motivate us now may be rejected tomorrow, and it’s the discovery that makes it amazing.

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Walking around the mall today was fascinating; there were so many kids, so many parents, and figgy, as figgy does, got very mute — motivated enough to go up to strangers, silently holding out her bucket for candy in mute supplication, but awed enough to stay mum. This is the same girl who got the Great Argus Pheasant to scream out WHOA-WHOA by repeating it over and over, the same one who thought nothing of admonishing us for pointing out bubbles and otters. At two and a half the emotions can’t be hidden for long and it’s unfamiliar situations that bring the quiet to the surface; it is a perpetual wellspring of joy reading the weather patterns fleeting across her face.

Mike

Define Success

26 October 2008

Dear J-

There are those people who are refreshed and recharged by their vacation times, ready to tackle all sorts of obstacles and challenges at work.  Then there’s me, hoping that the days off didn’t hurt my memory of the password I use to log in.  The days are now conspiring against me, too; it’s dark so early now that I’m having to use lights for the ride to and from the vanpool.  Time moves at a blur, speeding up, asking me to carve a pumpkin before Friday’s Halloween.

As I get older, I get more set in my ways.  Things must be just so.  Routines, paramount; this past week and a half has been a lesson in rolling with new things, agreeing and deciding on the fly.  More than idle fears about being locked out of the system, it’s losing that freedom and going back to a daily schedule — production, numbers, bring this down, bring that up, let’s see some paper fly — that bothers me the most.  I’ve had a taste.  It’s exhausting, but I think I can make it work.

I finished the Chronicles of Prydain series (Lloyd Alexander) a couple of weeks ago, and the book that won the Newbery, The High King, strikes me as one of those retroactive Oscar votes — Scorsese winning for The Departed instead of Goodfellas, for instance — as the preceding Taran Wanderer is by far the strongest of the lot.  Suffice it to say that losing your goal isn’t the end of the story; choosing to re-aim doesn’t mean that all is lost.  Success is a relative term, and you choose its definition, no one else does.

Mike