Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Black and White Wednesday - Water Baby

Here is our Starr shining so brightly in the water during a recent swim lesson. I like what the Black and White conversion does to this shot since there are so many variables between the water, the toys and our sweet girl. Hope Katie Starr's smile brings a smile to your face today too! :)

IMG_2741 black and white

For more beautiful black and whites please go to The Long Road to China and check them all out!

Monday, March 29, 2010

I Heart Faces: " Dramatic Black and White" Challenge

I am entering this photo into the I Heart Faces "Dramatic Black and White" photo challenge. The challenge has lots to do with post processing and the dramatic look and feel of a photo.

This photo was taken yesterday at my dear friend Kira's anniversary party. Here she is swinging our daughter around on the dance floor in happiness. Now that is my kind of drama! I blurred the background to make them stand out and then converted it to black and white. I really like the photo and the effect.

IMG_3150 revised

There are many other wonderful entries so click on the button below and check them out!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Mommy....why China?

Today was our our dear friend Shannon's baby shower for our G-dson. Katie was invited along with me so that she too could be a part of this special day for this family that is very special to us.
It was a wonderful day and in addition, it seemed to have spurred on a new area of thought and conversation about babies and adoption.

Tonight at dinner the DD started talking about the impending birth of "Peanut" as he is affectionately known at this time. Katie started the conversation and then had to excuse herself from the table to use the bathroom. Ethan took that opportunity to go down the slippery slope of questioning as to how a baby is born. Before Katie came back to the table he asked how the baby came out of the mommy's tummy. I really do believe in honesty in all matters but with a few details for this tender age of four. I proceeded to tell him that the baby comes out of mommies bottom. (I did not need to get explicit as to which part it was as he did not ask) He did not seem convinced and began to laugh and tell me I was WRONG...."Mommy, the baby is going to come out of Aunty Shannon's mouth!" Silly me, how did I get that wrong?!?

Katie came back to the table and Ethan let the subject mercifully end. Just when I thought the coast was clear the following was heard from Katie.......

Mommy, why did you choose China of all the places in the whole world to come and get us?" My response came very naturally after years of thought on the subject. "That is where you and Ethan were living so that is where we needed to go to get you and bring you home." Then came the next bombshell out of my soon to be 5 year old's mouth.....

Mommy, there was another mommy that had me in her tummy in China and she put me in the orphanage and they told you to come get me!" Then Ethan launched into a similar version and added in that when he was a baby he had a hole in his heart as well. They both questioned me very specifically about why Ethan had a hole in his heart and who did the operation. Was the doctor from America or China and what was his/her name. Once I answered their questions with the little bit of information that I do have and let them know that they were correct about the birth parents that were not able to keep them, I ended the discussion by reaffirming our love and devotion to them and how lucky we all are to have each closed for today....that was all my heart and probably theirs could take.

Marc and I have told the children from the the very beginning that they were adopted and that we came to China to bring them home. We have read them children's stories about it and have even given them a very simplified version of the fact that they had birth parents before we came to adopt them but that part always seemed completely lost on them. Well, we seem to have entered into a new realm with them and now the delicate dance of understanding begins to evolve slowly over the next several years.

As moved as I was and even somewhat dazed by the whole exchange, I was happy to find that I am at a place in my life and in this adoption experience where I felt very comfortable in the discussion with them. I was pleased that I did not get overly emotional and make them sad or uncomfortable. They do not yet understand the implications of all of this information but they seemed pretty solid in their understanding that Mommy and Daddy would go to the ends of the world for them and their big brother Justin and quite honestly for them......we literally did.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Weekend and Workshop Review

This past weekend and photography workshop was so wonderful that I wanted to diary it immediately so that I could keep the memories for the future. The sieve that I call a brain is just not cutting it these days (smirk)! I posted a few photos on my previous post for you to view.

The weekend began a little early this past Thursday, right after work. After my wonderful son picked me up and dropped me of at the airport, I met my dear friend Grace and hopped a plane for The Country Music Capitol of the World - Nashville! STOP...NOT SO FAST....15 to 20 minutes after takeoff, the pilot's voice came over the speakers with a message that no passenger ever wants to hear.....


What?!? After I heard those words, my first emotion was confusion. Is this man joking? You know how S*outhWest Airlines is; they are notorious jokesters right?!? But nobody would joke tens of thousand of feet in the air about bad news and I was correct as he went on to explain that we had hit something on the way up and "it" was banging on the side of the plane. They needed to make an emergency landing in Orlando.

I am a "white knuckle" flyer of the first order. I really hate to fly but I do...I have never let it stop me, which is quite obvious since I traveled around the world twice to adopt two children but I totally abhor it. Panic was the first order of business for me and thankfully, I was next to my buddy Grace who was feeling a little upset herself but went into nurture mode when she saw my level of panic was higher than hers. We held hands and kinda huddled close together while she talked about a million other things that would take my mind off of what was happening. I love that woman. We had a bit of a lighthearted moment when the gentleman sitting on the other side of me looked over (while wearing headphones) and saw us holding hands and decided that he needed to know what was going on. Wonder what he was thinking?? I told him and he looked a little upset himself. He travels A LOT for business and he had never experienced this either. You know I had to ask him. The three of us became fast friends as we talked non stop on our decent. Of course, we landed safely and other than the fact that the pilot landed the plane so hot that I thought we were going to go skidding off the runway, we were the no worse for wear. Then, maintenance checked the plane and after determining that the bird strike did no real damage, sent us on our way. Of course, many people had now missed their late night connections and had to be put up in hotels. The free drinks were flowing to them and things got a LITTLE interesting to say the least. It was quite the show!

We got to Nashville and settled in. We had chosen, upon Michael Howard's recommendation, a lovely hotel close to the workshop that was perfect for the two of us. We enjoyed a late dinner and then went back to the room to try to chill before our first day of the workshop. After talking and laughing for quite awhile, Grace's brain knew that she was tired but my brain was not cooperating after all of the excitement of the evening, so it was a much later night for me and our wake up call came way too soon the next morning!

The first day of workshop started with a bang. After securing a much desired coffee for Grace and hot chocolate for me, we were off to the location. Of course, we did not know exactly where we were going so we walked in late and with a grand entrance as we normally do. We were told to sit with two women who were already ready and waiting to go. Rhiannon and Amber, our new table mates became fast friends. We all clicked was great. After meeting Michael and having a little breakfast the session began. The discussion was about creative vision and I was able to take away many little gems from the session in order to find my path in this new field of study I have chosen. He also drove the point home about making sure that no matter what work that you do for pay, that it is important that you continue to pursue your private work in order to continue to feel the passion that we feel for this form of art. After lunch we were able to begin photographing a model with the use of available light and reflectors. Then it was on to a lesson on off camera flash. Once we were done with that, we split off with our group for candid photo shoots around the wonderful location that Michael had chosen for this workshop. There were so many photo ops was awesome. We fed off of each other's energy and had a total blast with the shoot. We finished up our day with a Lightroom 2 demo and then broke for the evening with a homework assignment.

Famished, Grace and I went to dinner before attempting to begin our work. We shared good food and wonderful conversation and laughter. Then we headed back to our hotel for our assignment. We completed our assignment but it really was a miracle that we did because by this time we were uber silly and just about peeing our pants every other minute from laughing so hard. We did gather ourselves long enough to compile photos from the day for critique the next day....gulp!

The next day was awesome....there was more lecture and then we launched into critique which was so beneficial to us. We began to understand how to truly pull apart a photo and judge it objectively and then subjectively. Not only Michael critiqued them but we were part of it as well. The feedback was all taken in the light that it was given and was a true learning experience. Grace and I felt proud that we held our own during critique as we were the newest photographers there. We finished up with a discussion of the history of Photography and we learned so much there as well.

I must say that Michael Howard met and exceeded all of my expectations. This was his first workshop but he has such a vast breathe of experience as well as a true gift for this art form that he was able to impart to us. I would definitely take more workshops from this wonderful and kind gentleman. He gave me the gift of confidence in my talent. Thank you Michael!

I also received the gift of new friendship in Amber and Rhiannon. We have formed a bond of friendship, support and networking. I also received the special gift of sharing a this very special time with my dear friend Grace. We had such a blast and we "get" each other on so many levels. I have not laughed like that in a long time. I will never forget the last night of our trip just sitting in our room, going over photos, facebooking, sharing music that we liked, talking about our lives and laughing till we could not laugh anymore. Being away with her was just the best. We both missed our families but treasured the wonderful time in space that we shared together.

We even had the additional good fortune to meet with two very special people in my life through adoption. I met Diane and Laura online five years ago while we were waiting for Katie Starr's referral. We shared our last morning there with them and Diane's two daughters. It was like we had always known each other and just were catching up after being apart for a couple of days....what a joy! Adoption mama's are the best!!

Lastly, there was a woman photographer by the name of Julia Margaret Cameron, that Michael mentioned in his history lesson. Her career lasted a relatively short time (11 years) and it began at what was the ripe old age of 48 back in the 1800's. It was a very important and influential career. She had a lot to say and she said it through her photographic art.

48 is my age. I intend to make the coming years as meaningful with my photography as Julia did.

I know that this is a learning and growing time for me and that I will continue to do that in this and many areas in my life. I know that I will bring the joy of catching a moment in time to others and for myself, for as long as I live...that is what photography is to me.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

A few pics to post from the workshop

Here are a few photos that I took at the workshop this weekend. It was everything and more than I had anticipated. Michael Howard is very talented, inspiring and was able to give us all great critique and information that we could take home and use right away. In addition we met quite a few very nice people and two new special friends that we will stay in close contact with.

Photography is such a passion for me and to share it with people who share it is quite amazing.

The first two photos are with a professional model that Michael Howard brought in to the workshop.....



Here is my friend and photography partner, Grace in her Superwoman pose ;-)


Our new friend Amber who we did a photo shoot with.....look at those eyes.....


I call this Jailbird Grace


Hotel living.....


Grace doing her homework in the hotel hallway and me doing mine (smirk)....


So what do you think?

Photography Workshop

I am in Nashville with my friend Grace at a photography workshop. We are learning, growing and having a blast! I promise to post all about it when we get home!

Talk to you soon!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Hilarious Outtake!

This weeks photo challenge on I heart Faces is Hilarious Outtakes. It just so happens that last night when I was just about to take Katie's Four year referral anniversary photo I got my photo for this blog post as well.

I was taking a test shot to see if I was in the ball park with my settings. I was taking the photo in a low light situation and did not want to use the flash. When I looked at the photo I got an outtake that totally made me laugh out loud.

Sorry Katie!! Mommy is always in need of good blog posting material and the fact that there was a challenge involved....well.....again....sorry (smirk)

Check it out!


There is nothing like a good pick...just don't get caught!

Check out the other funny outtakes at I heart faces :)

Monday, March 01, 2010

Happy Fourth Referral Anniversary!!

It has been four Years since the day that we found out who you were; Wu Hong Shan of Wuwei, Gansu Province, Peoples Republic of China. We did not get your picture for another agonizing 16 days but there was never a doubt that you were our daughter. The red thread of destiny brought us to you and you to us.......

We adore you Katie Starr Hongshan and we always will.