Sunday, February 27, 2011

Photo Workshop

On Friday I had the chance to attend a photography workshop hosted by Kate Williams of The Rancher's Wife's Photography.  Several gals showed up to learn how to use their cameras and how to shoot better photos.  It was nice to learn how to use my camera!  I learned how to change the settings on my camera to allow more light into the camera and how those settings will affect the pictures taken.

These first two photos show the how the shutter speed affects the photo.  The first one was a higher shutter speed (1/2500) and the second one was at a lower shutter speed (1/200).

These next photos are just a few (ok lots) of my favorites from the day. We had two adorable little boys to practice our skills on. (I was playing around with cropping so they are lots of different sizes).






Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Temptations

We got home from church today and Natalie wanted to hear some music. I put on the Temptations' greatest hits album (courtesy of the Rhapsody app on my iPod, which has given me more music than I would have ever thought possible). It's a good feeling when you pick the perfect music for the moment, and today after church that was the Temptations. Those guys kind of had it all, along with the Funk Brothers who provided the instrumental parts. I think it's necessary in the current musical climate, where if a song is more than a week old nobody wants to hear it anymore, to groove out in the kitchen to some songs from the 1960's. More people should do that.

I firmly believe that one of the criteria for music to have legitimacy is staying power. If it's still awesome 50 years in the future, it's legitimate. 100 years, and it's important. It saddens me how music is abused these days. We're to the point now where music and fashion are intertwined. Kids feel like their music, just like their clothes, has to be in style. People listen to music not because they like it, or because it speaks to them, or even because it's important. They listen to it because the media tells them they're supposed to.

There are many elements that make up music. Properly done, music can be an art form - it can say something true about the world in a way that transcends spoken language. Music can also be fun. Different music for different occasions, I say. If you can't stand complex music, then you need some more depth in your existence. If you can't stand simple music, then you need to chill out and quit taking yourself so seriously.

When I'm cooking, I like jazz. Creative within certain rules, requiring knowledge of the underlying structure while demanding spontenaety, taking someone else's creation and going your own direction with it; jazz is pretty much the audio equivalent of cooking. (Don't believe me? Check out Miles Davis' album "Cooking with the Miles Davis Quintet." See? Cooking.)

While I'm lifting weights, I stick to the hard stuff. Yesterday, it was Shockwave. Some hardcore bands take themselves incredibly seriously. Too seriously, I think. Yeah, you've got some things to say, and you feel so strongly about them that the normal human voice won't get the job done so you yell and play really fast power chords. I get it. The music makes sense for what it's trying to convey, and that's all I ask. However, I love it that there's a hardcore band out there who writes all of their lyrics based on Transformers episodes. Have some fun, for Pete's sake. Anyway, if I'm going to strain my muscles and push myself, I need something produced by people who are straining musically. Perhaps not so much technically or creatively, but at least emotionally and sonically.

So back to the dismal musical fashion show we're all stuck in now. There's music out there now which has nothing to say. At all. No meaning, no passion, no expression. The people who create it have taken the "fun" elements of music - catchiness, beat, and excitement - and composed music that is made up solely of those elements. What's wrong with that, you ask? Well, in real life the "fun" elements make up a small percentage of the whole. Not only that, but if that percentage of fun stuff gets to be too big, life to a large extent loses its substance. Consider: If you go out and celebrate your buddy getting engaged and drink some booze while you're at it, in most people's books that's OK. If you drink yourself blind every night for a year, in most people's books that's not OK anymore. You've taken something fun and made it the whole point of your life. Once that happens, your life no longer looks like it's supposed to. Well, once you strip away everything except catchiness, beat, and excitement, music no longer sounds like it's supposed to. It's pure frosting. Be careful about your intake of frosting; it tastes good, but it won't keep you alive.

So I listen to the Temptations from time to time. I get catchy lyrics and melodies, I get a strong beat you can dance to, and I get the excitement that goes along with speedy tempos and synchopation. I also get layered vocal harmonies, improvised sax solos, and a wide variety of bass lines, piano and guitar comping, and drum fills, all of which give the music depth and meaning and substance. It's the cure for what ails you, especially these days.