Archive For The “Rants” Category
My family has a history in the military.
My biological dad retired from the Army. My step-father retired from the Army. My brother served in the Navy. One sister served in the National Guard, and my oldest sister retired from the Marines. I was the only sibling who did not go into military service.
Why? I don’t really know to be honest. Maybe it was the public showers…
In any case, we all went in different paths in life. I think we all turned out OK for the most part. I am definitely the baby still when it comes to life experiences.
This article, however, is about my brother-in-law, who just retired last week from the Marines as a 1st Sergeant. I wouldn’t even begin to tell you about his military history as I don’t understand much about the military (despite having grown up around a military base for most of my life).
Clayton joined our family oh, around 20 years ago maybe? I’m horrible at keeping track of time. He and my sister Maria met while both serving in the Marines, although I can’t even remember where they were stationed when that happened. I didn’t pay much attention to anything. I was a stupid teenager back then, 18 years old.
I used to be young and stupid… I’m just not young anymore.
Anyway, 23 years of military service is nothing to scoff at. I may not have served in the military, but I respect those that do. My step-dad retired at 30 years. My sister retired after over 25 years. When family get together, conversations usually result in discussing stories about life in the military. I can’t relate or add to the conversations, so I sit quietly and listen…. (or yell at my kids to stop being so loud or running around).
The retirement ceremony was nice. A lot of his friends and colleagues attended. Some of his colleagues stood up and gave speeches and tribute to Clayton’s character, drive, and dedication during his service.
He and my sister have a son. My sister has 2 children from a previous marriage, and Clayton took to them like a father. Their child together, Clayton Pettus Jr (CJ) has grown into a young man, about to enter the Marines himself this summer (hence one story closing and another beginning). I have no doubt he will succeed. He has Clayton as a father to push and drive him to excel in everything he did growing up, from academics to sports. Not to say my big sister didn’t have anything to do with it, but this story is just about him. 😉 Hopefully we can raise our kids half as well.
I can’t attest to his military life, but I can say that when it came to family, Clayton was always there to help out in anyway he could. I remember on my way to my mom’s house to visit (they were up for the weekend), in the pouring rain, I blew a tire. He was by my side changing it within minutes. He and my brother even took me to get my first tattoo. We don’t talk much. it’s probably more because of me. I can’t relate to military life, or his hobbies in his personal life. I didn’t have anyone to take me camping, hiking, or fishing growing up. I may appear to be anti-social, but I just don’t have anything to relate to, so I stick to basic conversation.
He gave a rather touching speech himself, thanking family for our support through the years, as well as those in the service who helped shape him along his military journey.
Retirement isn’t the end. I don’t think it will slow him down at all.
I am proud of him and all he has done, both in his military and family life. We all are.
Twice the kids = 4 times the work? What kind of maths is that?!?
So if you’ve read my previous post, you are up to speed on the happenings around here. After nearly an entire year, we added to our family, and we couldn’t be happier.
Having twice the kids doesn’t equal twice the amount of work or time. It’s more like quadruple. It’s not a complaint in any way, but more an observation. I get how 1 + 1 = 2, but 1 + 1 = 4? I’m not that great at the maths. Must be because I’m only half asian. 😉
So Christmas is around the corner. my kids have already stated the long list of things they want.My wife and I don’t do Christmas for each other… at least not in the normal sense. We get presents from “the kids” that we actually pay for, but let the kids present them to each of us as if coming from them.
So as with every year, we do a Christmas card. Ours is running a little late this year (remember, not twice as much time… 4 times as much). Plus it snowed this past weekend, which wasn’t a bad thing. It actually gave it more a wintery holiday look outside. Unfortunately it wasn’t a lot of the white stuff, just a small dusting that immediately turned to slick ice and slush.
In any case, I thought maybe I could use the snow to my advantage. The crap part of it was it was freezing outside. I think it hovered in the mid 20’s, which is fine for me because I can stupidly stand outside in the cold and take pictures all day. My kids, on the other hand, shouldn’t be out in that kind of weather… for long at least.
So we bundled them up as best as we could and worked fast. It was probably around 3-4PM (I forget), and was overcast. I had a streaklight 360 at full power in a 32″ softbox. In hindsight I should have put it much closer to them, but again, it was cold, and I was trying to work fast.
Fuji XF 50-140mm f/2.8 @ f/5.6
1/125 shutter speed
I was trying to tell them to look sad and not cheese for the camera. They didn’t do too bad. Skylar looks cold and sad-ish… Liem looks like the ever- comforting big brother taking care of his little sister.
Sending you warm wishes and holiday cheer to you and your families. 🙂
So in other posts, I may have hinted at my family expanding, or maybe I didn’t. I forget. Happens as you get older.
In any case, we’ve been in the process of adopting a little girl. We first started fostering her last November, and today we FINALLY received confirmation that the courts finalized the adoption on October 17th, 2017.
I would like everyone to meet Skylar, our little curly haired Shirley Temple. I went with a muted look similar (to me anyways) of those old colorized magazines.
I was going for something like this…
But it looks like I got a little of this…
which resulted in this.. 🙂
She certainly loves to dress up, and she most certainly loves getting photographed. Now if only she could listen to instructions better… but she’s 3, so we’ll work on it.
And the big announcement photo. Taken the same day we got a phone call telling us it was finalized. Although, we got the phone call on October 25th, they told us the finalization was actually October 17th.
“Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.”
Once again it has been a while since my last post. I don’t do this for a living, although I have had many requests over the years. I shoot them all down. I don’t know if it’s anxiety over the fear that I would suck or what, but that’s what happens.
So I’ve had a lot going on over the last several months. Our family is expanding, although don’t expect to see maternity and newborn pictures here. We are adopting. I can’t say much until the adoption is finalized, but we have a sweet 2 year old girl who’s been with us the last 6 months. You can be sure once she is fully ours, this site will explode with photos of both the kids, but until then, we are not allowed to share photos publicly.
In any case, my son’s 6th birthday is coming up. Last year’s theme was Star Wars,and this year it’s the Avengers. Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. I always do a custom birthday invitation for him ever year. Now it appears this job is going to be doubled. Expect to see some cutesy, princess-y shoots on this site as well.
My son has a full closet of costumes. We buy them on clearance after Halloween. It’s great getting costumes for $3-4. He can play and pretend in them, and we can use them in photoshoots like this.
I picked Thor as his character. Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk are all great… but all have masks. Thor has a helmet, but in the movies you don’t see him wear it hardly at all. I want to be able to see my son’s face.
Here’s the setup. Once again, confined to small spaces in our little 1,200 sq ft house. Photographers aren’t just photo takers… we are problem solvers as well.
My back was literally to the front door.
For inspiration, I looked at this photo from the first Thor movie.
This is what I ended up with. I processed this photo with muted tones.
But, the Mighty Thor is nothing without his lightning. I took the photo to photoshop, cooled it down, and added some blue lightning.
He was quite happy with the results, and gave his approval for this to be on his birthday invitation.
It’s my Super Son.
It’s been a few months since my last post. I’ve been busy with my real job, which involved some travelling this Summer.
Anyway, we were visiting our friends in North Carolina. They just moved into their new house, as well as having a new child. So of course the wife needed to go see the baby, ooh and aah over the baby…. let the baby unload in her diaper at full force (more powerful than a locomotive) while she was holding her…. You get the idea.
Every time we go to visit, we always end up at this shopping area. It’s a beautiful area, but the one thing that always caught my eye were these old red telephone booths. Every time I’d see them, I’d say to myself “I’m going to get that into a shot.” And every time we would not have time.
This last visit was going to be different. I was bound and determined to get my shot.
We ran out of time. DAMN… it wasn’t any different…
Hell with it…on our way home, I made a slight detour, and headed back to that shopping area.
Normally in my posts, I have a diagram showing where my lights were, my subject placement, etc. I figure I would spice things up a bit, especially since one of my test shots just happens to incorporate everything I would in a diagram. 🙂
So here we go.
Of course when we got there, it was already noon. The sun was blaring overhead with harsh shadows. Luckily the side I was shooting on was getting blocked by the phone booth, so my son was in the shade. My wife was my voice activated light stand.
Crouching down so I was down to my son’s height didn’t quite work for me. It didn’t give off that super hero vibe.
So I got down on the ground. Literally… I was laying on the ground. I got up close and personal with a cigarette butt, some chewed up gum, and ants… Lots of ants…
I think my son is finally getting the hang of when I say “Strike a pose!”
It was a really fast shoot. I think I took maybe 20-25 shots total. In and out. Faster than a speeding bullet you might say…
It seems like life never slows down for the parent of a 4 year old…
Every weekend we have something planned or something going on. A family get-together, playdates, projects, etc. This upcoming Mother’s Day weekend is no different.
However, this is the first Mother’s Day where my family and I won’t actually be at home. We will be going up to Washington D.C. for a 4 day (well, 3.5 since we’re not technically leaving until this afternoon) weekend. My son loves the National Zoo as well as the Museum of Natural History.
I didn’t want to leave the mothers in my life empty-handed this weekend, so last night, after getting home late from running errands, getting my son a haircut, grabbing a bite to eat, and maybe a little shopping… I did a rather quick little photoshoot. I’ve got to give it to my son. He behaved EXTREMELY well, and very cooperative during this process, even though I know he was tired and ready for bed.
My wife had bought me a roll of 53″ thunder grey seamless paper for Father’s Day (a bit early). I figured this was as good a time as any to break it out and give it a try. I also eyeballed a nice wooden crate last time we were at Walmart. She was kind enough to run out after work and pick one up for me. 🙂
The costume I picked up on Amazon. It was the cutest outfit ever. The newspaper I created from a template I found on the internet. If you are able to zoom into the photo, you can actually read the stories I typed up. I didn’t feel right just putting random text on the page.
I think after setting up and after taking pictures, the whole process maybe took 10 minutes altogether. To me, that was extremely quick, especially considering working with a child lol.
Setup was pretty simple. I sat the crate and my child on the seamless. My wife was my voice activated lightstand for the speedlite behind, and to camera left. I had another speedlite in a 28″ softbox slightly to camera right. You can see the diagram for more technical info.
I took maybe 20 photos, and due to it being late already, I only processed a few of them. I wanted the photos to have a vintage feel, kind of like how the colors looked on old LIFE magazines. Processing them with perfectly balanced color just didn’t give them the same feel in my opinion.
Here are a couple of the resulting shots.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of you ladies that put up not only with all of your children’s crap, but your significant other’s as well. 🙂
“All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” —Abraham Lincoln
“I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.” —Abraham Lincoln
“My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.” —George Washington
“A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.” ―Washington Irving
Too bad it’s not me making the trip. (I couldn’t fit in the box).
However, I do have a stand-in. 🙂
I am a member of a great online forum for Fuji camera owners called Fujix-forum. Really friendly bunch. A big Fuji family.
The forum founder, Robert ….(and I don’t know his last name….DOH.), had the idea to take a vintage manual focus lens, and pass it around to various forum members. The idea was to use the lens for a week or so, snap some photos, and then upload them to the forum. It’s a great idea, especially to see how everyone uses the lens similarly, or differently, and the photos taken with the lens.
I have a few vintage Canon FD film lenses laying around, so I offered up my Canon FD 50mm f/1.8 lens to traverse across North America. Depending on how many people on this side of the globe sign up, the lens could be gone for well over a year or more. I thought I would add a little something to make it more interesting…
Danbo, a little figure known to many as Amazon’s little mascot for Japan, is hitching a ride! I’ve asked the forum members who have signed up for this lens “road trip” that, in addition to taking whatever photos they want, to also take a photo of this little guy so I can post it on this blog (with their name and website of course), detailing his adventures (or misadventures) as he tags along with the lens.
I put him in his best Fujifilm “shirt”, and I have since changed his name to Fujibo. 🙂
He is ready to go!
Packing things up.
This was taken with the Canon FD 50mm f/1.8 lens as a matter of fact. @ f/2.8.
As things progress, I will have additional posts, so please stay tuned!
Fujibo and the Canon FD lens is currently making its way down to Cary, N.C. for their first stop in hopefully a long journey across the continent.
St. Valentine’s Day
So one of the best days of the year for people in love, florists, and probably the local dentist offices. But does anyone think of diabetics and those that are lactose intolerant? that’s gotta be a pretty bitter and crappy day for them. 🙂
In the United States, about 190 million Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, not including the hundreds of millions of cards school children exchange. Additionally, in recent decades Valentine’s Day has become increasingly commercialized and a popular gift-giving event, with Valentine’s Day themed advertisements encouraging spending on loved ones. In fact, in the United States alone, the average valentine’s spending has increased every year, from $108 a person in 2010 to $131 in 2013.
My wife doesn’t wear much jewelry at all, which tends to play in my favor monetarily…. Well, not really. The money just ends up getting spent on the child….spoiled brat…
I’ve gotten her all sorts of jewelry over the years…rings, bracelets, necklaces, earrings. She’s just not big on jewelry. Same with flowers. They are fine and dandy, but you can blow a nice chunk of change on a bouquet, and they last maybe a week? My go to holiday gift (that’s not Christmas or birthday) is usually a nice, big box of chocolate covered strawberries, or some other type of edible arrangement. It’s especially devious sending it to her place of work, and hearing about how all of the other women at the office are green with envy lol. What can I say… I’m an awesome husband.
So the other day, I realized Valentine’s Day was a week away. I wanted to do a little themed shoot with Liem since, well, he’s freakin’ adorable, photogenic, and if I can catch him in the right mood, easy to capture his personality in pictures.
So, I took the little man, picked out a nice button up shirt, pair of jeans, and my red tie. My wife prepped him with lipstick kisses all over his face.
I set him up in my home “studio”. If you’ve followed some of my other posts so far, you know I try to utilize small spaces around the house as my studio. This shoot was no different.
This time, instead of a bare wall, I setup right in front of the front door. I have a black piece of fabric I’ve had for, I don’t know… 4 or more years. I think I actually bought it when Liem was born so I could do one of those cheesy, overdone hands holding the baby’s feet shots.
Here is a “behind the scenes” pic of my setup. Please excuse the crappy camera phone pic.
Here is a more technical layout.
I had a bare speedlite up and to camera left behind my son to throw some light on his hair. I used my Streaklight 360 (I love this freakin’ light) in a 28″ umbrella softbox to camera right.
And for all of the 30 minutes I took planning, getting him setup, and shooting a few pictures (I think I only took a total of 12-15 photos), it didn’t turn out too bad.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Blizzard Jonas, like the pop rock group, has come and gone. It’s the first good snowfall we’ve had in more than a decade around here. Sure we’ve been pelted with ice storms that, while left the landscape looking like a beautifully sculpted crystal work of art, played hell with the power lines.
It took a while to dig ourselves out.
There was still time to play too. 😉
And when you are feeling the sting of boredom, break out the Lego sets!
Pew! Pew! Pew! The blizzard did leave the Rebels on the run…
I’m glad we didn’t lose power, although we had plenty of nights with our fireplace going so our heating system didn’t have to work so hard.
Happy New Year and warm wishes to all.
My son can’t quite handle his sparkling apple cider…poor little guy. 😉
One of my favorite photos of my son is the “Sweet Dreams” picture I took of him when he was 14 months old. I thought an “updated” photo using the same chair and lamp was in order as he is growing up. 🙂
I took a different approach than the sweet, innocent, sleeping child. With New Year upon us, I thought a light-hearted photo of him passed out from too much apple juice would do nicely.
The dollar store provided pretty much all I needed for props. the pile of confetti, hat, plastic wine glass, etc. were all $1 each or less.
My son has upped his fees for the new year. I used to be able to get away with gummi snacks to get him to cooperate. This time he asked for Hershey Kisses. I guess cost of living affects everyone. 😉
56mm @ f/8