Got over the Wednesday hump of 8 matches, made it through last night's four, so tonight's mere two matches should be a breeze! I found my happy shooting place with my ISO, shutter speed, white balance and aperture so the photos are coming out sharper and better. Just in time, right?
You might think I have nothing better to do with my time than to sit around and put photos to music, but frankly I make these slideshows because you can jam a zillion images in there and the movement helps tell the story without making it seem like you are looking through someone's squash photo album. Snore. Lastly, it's great because you can send it around easily, and virally.
Here is the link for the first two rounds featuring some of the best squash players in the world. Some of my more conservative fellow Richmonders were a little suprised by the choice of song, but they didn't make the slideshow so it stays :) Ha! Besides, it has great energy and the lyrics work better than the expected songs about 'apple bottom jeans and boots with the fur'. Know what I mean?
Anyway, it takes a minute to load all that squash, so click the link, grab a cup of coffee and enjoy.
First and Second Rounds of The 2008 Virginia Squash Championships
Had fun last night shooting the matches and we're finally through Round One. Phew! The boys came with me for a bit (I left my daughter with a friend as 'not moving during match-play' is a physical impossibility for her). They were each given a signed ball from the winners' matches for spelunking under the bleachers to retrieve a runaway ball during a match. They loved it, but am suspicious it had a lot to do with not having to do their homework while there.
Not to whine too much since I am not the one out there running around, but I am facing some challenges shooting these matches. The room, while dramatic and very well-lit for watching, is brutal for shooting. There is zero ambient light apart from the lovely overhead fluorescents (oy, that word took six tries with spellcheck to get right) which forces me to shoot at far wider apertures than I'd like for all the depth of movement, and also leave me at much slower shutter speeds than I'd prefer. They are moving so freaking fast from corner to corner and back to front that I am working hard to keep up. Just learning as I go...
My camera shoots an insane 8 frames per second, which can add up reaaaally quickly if you're not careful. I slowed it down for some of last night but as the matches get more heated I will have to suck it up and just overshoot. Can't miss a thing! You can see some of the latest shots at SquashSite.
Check Patrick out. Thank God he isn't teaching us that one in clinic. Ouch.
This week I am the 'official' photographer at the Virginia Pro Squash Tournament. Crazy, eh? But once you gain a solid technical understanding of your camera you really can shoot anything, and if you actually enjoy and know what you are shooting, all the better. In the spirit of 'you never know where your next job is coming from' it is really cool to get this kind of global exposure and the hits to my website become wildly varied (Ghana, Malaysia, Japan, Hong Kong, Finland, the Middle East, etc.). Maybe someone in Italy or New Zealand will trip across my blog and think I'd be perfect to shoot their wedding, ya think?
8 of the top 10 players IN THE WORLD are competing in our tournament. As the photographer you have to shoot crouching down by the corner of the front wall, just outside the glass. By day three, Motrin is a dietary staple and you might need a super-chilled, Chopin vodka, extra-dirty-martini-3-olives just to unclench your shutter-release hand (yes, at the end of the day). It is tricky not to flinch when they are literally beaming 90 mph shots towards your face. If you move you risk distracting the players and they can call a 'let' on you (not good and very embarrassing, I imagine). Even trickier is freezing the action in the 'not great' lighting conditions when they are lunging towards you in bursts. You have to have a pretty fast-focusing camera, or pre-focus on a spot and hope they step into your focal range while possibly missing something else. The above shot was taken at 1/250th of a second, and that couldn't even freeze the action. It's definitely a challenge and every match is different, which is what I love about it.
Patrick, reaching for the shot in the photo above, is our local pro. He's awesome. He teaches our squash clinic, is insanely quick, and is totally ruthless on us amateurs. You do not want to be the only one showing up for clinic or he runs you into the ground (8 more, no, no good, 10 more...no...again!), and when it's over you're so exhausted you wonder how you will even drive home.
Here are a few squash slideshows (because I am a geek and have to put everything to music) from last year. With double the matches this year due to tournament growth there won't be quite as much slideshow-making, but we'll see. And if you think of any great songs to go with 'em, email me!
First Round Matches 2007
Second Round Matches 2007
Quarter Finals 2007
The Semis & Finals 2007
If that wasn't enough for ya, here's a slideshow from the NYC tournament last year in Grand Central Station:
The Tournament of Champions 2007
Peyton turned ten this weekend. The little golden-haired peanut we brought home from the hospital ten years ago now stands just below my chin. His sneakers are the same size as mine. He keeps stealing my college T-shirts and they kind of fit. The books he buries his nose in are thicker than the few I have time to read. His homework is even becoming a challenge, and I confess, I have secretly googled an item or two just to keep up.
But the one thing, the main great thing about him that we've picked up on since day one, is his caring, gentle nature. He has a soft spot in his heart for his sister and for lots of little kids. My daughter thinks he hung the moon. Our neighbors' kids and toddlers flock to him like the Pied Piper. He has something special.
It's his sister he looks after most. He manages her better than I can most days, and lets her hang around without complaint. Even this weekend, when he had 5 guys over for his birthday to go to the movies, spend the night and play outside, he let her be around the whole time and not even once did he ask us to keep her out of the way. She tagged along, and he let her. They have a neat bond that I am so eager to watch evolve. Of course in ten years we won't be letting her hang around his friends...I mean, yikes.
I couldn't resist this shot of all their shoes by the back door. Dorothy lives!
Orchids rule. Seriously. This was my awesome Valentine's gift. LOVE it! Trust me, I am aware it takes a certain brand of crazy to shoot your Valentine's present, but what can ya do. Slow season. Must..shoot...something. The spa gift certificate wasn't as pretty. And yes, my dining room curtains are grass green and azure blue stripes. Hmmm... that looks kinda crazy too.
I am off to school to have lunch with my son, who is turning ten. TEN. Double digits. That is huge!! He is so excited.
Yep, she picked out this combo herself. Don't you love it? Heartstravaganza, tights and all.
Valentine's Day is such a great excuse to spoil your kids and let them know just how....nice you are. As a little Valentine's token I gave my daughter a four dollar t-shirt from Target that had a 'kitty and puppy' on it encircled by a pink heart. Yes, it was dreadfully cheesy. Glittery. Plasticky. I knew she'd adore it because her love of things plastic and pink, while deeply cliche, is decidedly chromosomal (plastic watches, even green ones, are cool too). Moreso, I knew she'd love it because these days she's all animals, all the time. She brings home books from the library like "Raising Your Bulldog" and "Jasper's Big Day", which incidentally, my weeping husband told me, was about a family having to put their dog to sleep. She loved it.
So she took one look at her new shirt and exclaimed, in her sing-songy voice, "OH my GOSH... it is SO beautiful it...it...it makes my eyes fill up with tears. You are the best Mom in the whole live world". And then she hugged it like it was her new best friend, her eyes glistening. Oh, sweet validation. And that, my friends, is how parents are trained to spoil their kids. And she's only six.
Spencer on the other hand was a little down this morning. He says 2nd grade "sucks all the fun out of holidays". All work no play makes Spencer a dull boy. Poor guy, he's having a little one-fifteenth life crisis as it sets in that he is, in fact, getting older and they don't have parties all the time in school. He's gonna love college though, eh?
My kids wanted to know what celebrities we saw in L.A. and I could not impress them to save my life. Michael Bolton, will.i.am, Ryan Seacrest, various basketball players and the Millionaire Matchmaker chick did not register. Go figure. But you kind of wonder who you might have missed along the way.
Well, it has been brought to my attention that Us magazine ("7 Nights in Hollywood") reported Orlando Bloom was seen dancing crazily to "Tainted Love" at the Friday night hot spot 'Teddy's' on January 25th. OK wait, WE were dancing crazily to "Tainted Love" at Teddy's that night. And that dance floor was about 10x20 and not that crowded....so.....that means he must have been...wait a minute... oh man! Missed it!! What the heck was I looking at, my feet? The ceiling? Now THAT would have impressed the kids...the swashbuckling guy from 'Pirates of the Caribbean'. Argh.
As I came into the yard, I caught three little nymphs dancing under a tree. It was a balmy 80 degrees instead of the usual winter fare, and fairy costumes were the requisite uniform to relish the balmy weather. After a busy afternoon spent pushing dolls in strollers, clacking on the pavement in their plastic Barbie shoes, and painting the driveway a rainbow of colored chalk, they celebrated the day.
The setting sun brought an indigo sky more typical of August than mid-February, and their pink gauzy skirts caught the breeze as they twirled, each fairy carrying her own very distinct rhythm. The boom box bellowed “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, their little voices gleefully sabotaging whatever words The Duchess had written. And I was so grateful we’d been too busy to take down the holiday lights, their glow adding to the already magical night.
At that moment, all seemed right with the world.
In the time it took to grab the camera, two little fairies had grown shy leaving the tiniest dancer to proudly close the show.
Spencer stole my heart when he came barreling into the world 8 years ago, all 9 lbs 11 oz of him, even breaking his collarbone in the urgency to make his debut (I had opted for drugs, yes indeedy). He came out looking like a 2 month old, perfectly plump and round, so I took lots of pictures in the hospital. I swaddled him in the bed and stood above him, shooting down, my north-facing room offering beautiful diffused light. The nurses weren't happy about me standing on the bed, but the photos were well worth it.
Funny, he was my chunkiest baby and now he’s all sinewy and slim. He climbs everything. He scales the doorways in the house, suspending his body 6 feet off the ground by his outstretched arms. He doesn’t like bread, or math. He can shoot baskets for hours. He doesn’t like to read, so at night he sits in bed drawing in his sketch pad. He’s hysterically funny and deadpan, his observations are unique but often true and beyond his years, his homework is sparse with words but illustrated beautifully (even when not part of the assignment). He does not like to wear stripes and he won’t play games he can’t win. I 'get' him.
He reads people well. “Mom, why is your voice all bumpy, are you tired?” or “Did you have a good day?”, he’s the first to say “you look beautiful” on a night out, or “please do not dance on the Ellen show”. For the record he thinks that if my favorite song, 'Falling Slowly' from the movie 'Once', wins best song at the Oscars, that “they should carve worst song ever written” on the back of the statuette. He’s quite honest.
Yesterday was Spencer day. Just him and me, and his fever that prevented him going to school. He let me put in a few hours of work, but once the Tylenol kicked in he was not going to let me be. We downloaded a few 'good' songs to his ipod, ate lunch, talked a lot. Freakishly warm and summerlike, we went outside as he miraculously healed. We went on an excursion, he on his bike me running alongside for some exercise, up to the 7-11 for a treat then continuing on our course. It went like this:
Spencer: Mom, you can go faster if you want.
Mom: um…this is fast.
Spencer: No really, I can keep up if you go faster.
Mom: Dude, this is all I’ve got.
Spencer: Can’t you sprint or something? Dad goes much faster.
Mom: No. *Gasp*
Spencer: Man, no wonder your runs take so long.
He’s not perfect. He used to have these horrific temper tantrums, he introduced his first grade class to the worst cuss word you can imagine (that he learned from his uncle and thankfully has no clue what it means) and he can be mean to his sister (that's in his job description). But somewhere along the way he became this cool little guy who says “I love you more” without fail, every single time I tell him I love him.
It was hard sending him to school today. He tried to stay home but the thermometer wouldn’t budge over 98.6. I got an extra long hug though. I miss him!
Italy is very, very, very high on the list of places I'd like to photograph a wedding. I have shot many destination weddings but Europe hasn't called... yet. I got close with this one, they brought Italy here! The couple and the majority of their guests came from Milan, most not speaking any English. Fortunately, the camera gave away my purpose and we all knew what I was there to do.
They are such a beautiful couple. While communicating was tricky at times, it never posed any real obstacles. They did everything they were supposed to do: be happy, be in love. This wedding was a little different from what I am used to in that they got married very early in the day, followed by a luncheon. The focus was really on the ceremony, not as much on the after-party (which they did the night before, which I guess makes it a pre-party). Overall, the day was so elegant and very impressive.
Her father gave a toast during the reception, in Italian of course. She was so moved, as was he, that my eyes welled up and I had no idea what he was even saying. The translation that followed filled in the gaps. It was the most eloquent speech I have ever heard, and there wasn't a dry eye in the house.
As you may know, I love pairing music with my slideshows. Each wedding has its own story and takes on its own personality. I try my best to find music that serves it well. Of course, not knowing this couple at all I had to wing it a little and ended up with a song that I adore and just happens to be in Italian, "Sogno" by Andrea Boccelli.
You can watch the slideshow by clicking HERE.