Our friends invited Wendy and me this past weekend to see their kids Harrison and Kennedy performing at a Show Choir invitational. I dusted off my camera and enjoyed capturing some of the action. Enjoy.
While in Palms Springs a few weeks ago I spied a pair of shoes tossed over and dangling from a power line. My head was suddenly filled with nostalgic images of years gone by when such iconic pranks were the stuff that childhood was made of.
The shoes and the power lines made an interesting composition against the cloudless blue canvas of California’s desert sky.
Last year I put together a slideshow of some of my favorite photos from 2014. I thought I would continue the tradition again this year. So, for Photo Friday, here is a compilation of some of my favorite photos from the year 2015. Some of them are favorites because I liked the shot from a photographic point-of-view, and others are favorites simply because of the moment and the memory.
If you say to yourself, “These nations are more numerous than I; how can I dispossess them?” do not be afraid of them. Just remember what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt….
Deuteronomy 7:17-18 (NRSV)
There is a technical term used in movie making called “shift focus.” It’s when the camera is focused on one object while another object in the shot is blurry, then then camera shifts the focus so that the other object is in focus and the first object blurs out. Filmmakers use this technique to transition the audience’s attention and to move the story along.
When things in life go wrong and times are tough, it’s easy to get myopically focused on our present circumstances. Our brains zero in on what’s happening in the moment and, as a result, our hearts can drive all sorts of negative emotions such as fear, anxiety, doubt and depression. These emotions can be spiritually crippling and paralyzing.
In today’s chapter, Moses anticipates that his people may find themselves in such circumstances. He instructs them to do a mental and spiritual shift focus as an antidote to their fears: remember.
- Remember when you were slaves in Egypt and God delivered you.
- Remember when the plagues hit and you remained safe.
- Remember when the Egyptian army was chasing you and God miraculously saved you and gave you victory.
He could have gone on:
- Remember when you thirsty and God provided water from a rock.
- Remember when you were hungry and God sent bread from heaven.
- Remember when you wandered and God sent both cloud and fire to lead you.
The shift focus from our present circumstances to past situations reminds us that God has been faithful in the past (So why shouldn’t I believe He will be faithful in my current situation?), that we survived in the past (So why shouldn’t I believe I’ll get through this), and that things eventually worked out (So why shouldn’t I trust that my current situation will work out, too?). The result is that our faith begins to counter our fear and our paralysis gives way to us moving forward.
Today, I’m reminded of the many times God has provided and protected me through the years. Why then, should I fear present troubles?
I took some time on this New Year’s Day to go through all my photos of 2014. I’ve pulled some of my favorites for this 2014 year in review slideshow. It’s interesting which photos stood out to me. Some of them are photos I’m proud to have taken. Many would never qualify as great photography but they are connected to personal moments or events that are particularly meaningful for me. Anyway, here’s our year in review through my camera lens. Feel free to Take Five and have a look.
Happy New Year!
I love the process of theatre as much as the performance. It is also one of the things about the stage that I love to capture with a camera. Most people attend a play or a musical at some point in their lives, but few see the process of rehearsals, character development, set construction, make-up, and lighting. It’s such a fascinating thing to be a part of, and to watch taking place. The magic of theatre is the culmination of an amazing amount of human effort, and it creates so many opportunities for interesting photos.
Wendy and I have bit parts in this holiday’s production of A Christmas Carol and the other week I had my camera with me at rehearsal. In this shot, Lonnie Appleby (playing Scrooge) is sequestered in fear on his four-poster bed which at this stage of the production is nothing more than a bench with a couple of posts screwed on. I’ve loved watching Lonnie play with and develop the physicality of the role and I liked the way this photo catches the contortion he’s both developing and which is being forced upon him by the set piece.
At that time Abijah son of Jeroboam became ill, and Jeroboam said to his wife, “Go, disguise yourself, so you won’t be recognized as the wife of Jeroboam. Then go to Shiloh. Ahijah the prophet is there—the one who told me I would be king over this people.”
1 Kings 14:1-2a (NIV)
Yesterday I had the privilege to give the Sunday message at Westview church in Waukee. I shared a tongue-in-cheek illustration about church pictorial directories. Every church I’ve ever attended has done a pictorial directory. A company comes in with their portrait cameras and families sign up to come to the church to have their professional portrait done. The company puts together a directory of the families for the church and makes money off of the photos packages that they sell.
My illustration was simply that when we go to have our family portraits done, we put on our nice clothes, get cleaned up for the camera, and try our very best to look the part of a picture perfect family. We want to appear to be who we think God and the church want us to be. I think it’s very similar to what many of us church-goers do every Sunday morning. We want to appear, not as we really are, but as who we suspect others want us to be. What would that portrait look like, however, if the camera captured us as we really are?
Jeroboam’s wife did her best to pretend to be someone she was not when she went to Ahijah the prophet. But, God and the prophet saw through her charade, as I believe God does with all of us whenever we try to pull the same trick.
This morning I’m thinking about living authentically and being honest about who I am. Life is messy, humans are imperfect creatures, and the further I get in life’s journey the more I discover the depths of my own depravity and my need of grace and forgiveness from both God and others. Hiding and pretending does nothing for my spiritual progression, and, in fact, only hinders and delays the process. Only when I am honest and authentic with myself, God, and others, can I deal honestly with my blind spots make progress on this spiritual pilgrimage.
Wendy, Taylor, and I had the pleasure of attending our friend, Kennedy’s, dance recital. We were in the back of the auditorium so I was forced to shoot with my 300mm telephoto lens which is never ideal. Nevertheless, I was able to capture a few shots that made me happy. This is, perhaps, my favorite. The girls in their classic ballet costumes reminded me of a Degas painting. I was struck all evening, as I zeroed in on Kennedy, just how joyful she was in each dance. I thought this pose of Kennedy’s captured it beautifully. Watching Kennedy grow up and knowing her heart, I felt that her eyes at this moment were lifted heavenward to the Lord of the Dance, whom had to be pleased with His young dancer.
For Throwback Thursday I’m going all the way back to 1980. Much of my love of photography took root while I in the Photography Club at Meredith Junior High School in Des Moines led by my guidance counselor, Mr. Stearns. Several years ago Mr. Stearns, who happened to go to the same church as my folks, was going through a bunch of old photos and happened upon these photos and gave them to my parents to pass on to me.
We were experimenting with “bulb photography” in these photos which were taken in the school’s dark room. That light spot in between my hands in the top photo is the flame from a lighter. The white lines around me in the second photo was made using a pen light. Basically, with bulb photography you get in a pitch dark place and open the shutter of the camera and keep it open. Then you use a pen light, flame or some other light source which is imposed on the negative. You set of the camera’s flash to impose the rest of the image in the scene.
I used the same technique with a young Taylor in the basement one morning. In the shot below, I told Taylor to put out her arms and hold still in the pitch black basement. I opened the shutter using the “bulb” feature on my camera and then moved behind Taylor and used a pen light to outline her and wrote her name backwards in the air. I shut of the pen light, made my way in the darkness back behind the camera, set off the flash, and closed the shutter.
It’s kind of a fun effect.
The Pella VLs asked me to shoot some family photos of them in the fall colors this weekend. Wendy and Suzanna went along to help corral and entertain the three VL children. It is always a monumental task to get three young children to all look at the camera and smile at the same time. As usual, I shot hundreds of frames and came up with a handful of decent shots.
As I was going through the photos with Wendy and Suzanna last night, we found ourselves howling with laughter at the number of silly faces young Aaron [the middle child – shocking] created in an endless effort of non-conformity. I just had to share a few.