Spending Time

Another week gone by.  The weather changed from highs in the 80’s to highs in the 50‘s.  What is most shocking about the change in the weather is the sudden awareness of the passage of time.  This never fails to surprise me:  “What?  Is it really late enough in the year for frost???”

Every year goes faster.  This is an inevitable effect of aging–the older I get, the smaller the portion of my life a day represents.  The perception of time is relative.  Ironically, the more I want to slow the clock down, the more it speeds up.

Time has become my most cherished commodity.  There is so much to do and so little time in which to get it done.  I have come to long for sleep with the same nostalgia I once longed for Christmas–it always seems far off and then disappointing when it’s over.

In choosing to spend more time on enjoyment, I have seem to amassing a time deficit.  Even when having a great time, I wish for long nights of solid sleep and slower days with less to do–is it possible to just enjoy without wishing for something more?

I seem to vacillate between exhaustion and hyperactivity.  Exhaustion leads to periods of time of keeping to myself, not socializing, not taking on extra activities.  Boredom and frustration sends me back into hyperactivity.  Doesn’t it seem like by now I should know how to strike a happy medium?

Of all the things I have going on right now, most of them are fun.  Other than our dog who has horrible allergies that keep him scratching and licking himself all night, disturbing our sleep, I only have my usual complaint, which is work.

I’m staying up late Friday and Saturday nights volunteering for the Acres of Darkness haunt.  It’s so much fun, I can’t complain about that.  I’m also having a ball preparing to teach my first photography workshop.  No complaints about that time spent.

Work is work.  It’s hard to let go–it haunts my dreams far more than the ghouls and zombies found along the trail at Acres of Darkness.

I gave up on keeping up on my other blog this week, opting to skip many days of posts on snapgreatphotos.com in favor of getting to bed before midnight.

Social engagements and early morning yoga on Friday’s are really the only other things occupying my time.  These are energizing and balancing activities for me–they keep me centered.

So, what do I give up?  The things I love doing?  The things I do to pay for the things I love doing?  Or sleep?  I am reminded of a quote from Carl Sandburg:

Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.

How do I decide if I’m spending my coins or someone else is?


What would a haunt be without some haunting?  This was another idea I had while shooting the Acres of Darkness event.  I know I’m not going to have people begging to buy prints, but the entertainment value of creating “ghosts” in images is priceless.

For the second time in one night, photography served not as an art form but as a game.  I’m beginning to think I’ve found my niche–I may not be an artist, but I’m pretty entertaining.  😀

I managed to recruit the subjects to play “ghost.”  This required no acting.  It simply required standing still and moving on command.  By having the subject pause periodically and then move a few steps slowly and then pause again, we created a see-through ring of a ghost image of the subject.

People are amazed by this effect.  In fact, I am amazed by this effect.  No matter how many times I do this, I am still amused.

I learned a few things from this little experiment (OK, so maybe this should be obvious):

  1. People wearing light colors show up a lot better in a really dark image than people wearing dark colors.
  2. This effect only works well if there is enough ambient light to create a clear outline of the subject.
  3. To create a single image of a ghost-person, have them stand still in the frame for about 1/3 of the total shutter time and then walk out of the frame really fast.
  4. To create a trail of ghost images, they need to take two steps forward slowly, pause for about a 3-count (with a 30-second shutter speed), and repeat until the shutter closes.

The last image was an accident.  But, it seemed fitting with the theme, so I kept it.  It might just be a technique I want to try again someday. 🙂   I took a shot of the 3 kids using my flash, but I’d forgotten to change the settings on my camera from when I was shooting the previous images with a 30 second shutter speed.

So, my flash went off, creating a solid and clear image of the kids, but then my shutter was still open and I was waving my camera all over the place while I was talking to the kids, explaining that I needed to retake the shot but I had to wait for 30 seconds (this seems to be a difficult concept).  While I was waving my camera around, it picked up on the different things I pointed it at just enough to create the “fog” over the image.  I am not sure what the bright light at the top is, quite honestly.  Might not be able to recreate that part.  The next time I want to add fog to a scene, I might just give this a try!

Today’s life lesson from photography:  sometimes doing something just for the fun of doing it is more satisfying than worrying about the end results.

Show Me Terror

While shooting the Acres of Darkness haunt, I wanted to get shots of people while they were waiting in line.  This was truly shooting in the dark because I literally could not see them in the view finder at all.  Unfortunately, I had a single flash unit attached to my camera and was trying to light groups of people, so it was a bit tricky.  The lighting is, well, shall we say “not dramatic”?  But, the assignment for this series of shots was fun and the participants nearly made up for the bad lighting.

The assignment I came up with for the attendees was to show me their most scared face.  I asked each group waiting in line to show me absolute terror.  I got some mixed results, but overall, I was impressed with much of the acting!

Some people were immediately into it.  Like the ladies in the 3rd shot.  They really got a kick out of how scared they could look.  We actually did 3 shots because they were having so much fun.

The larger groups were fun because they would have some people who were really into it and others who really just wanted me to go away.  Like the family in the 8th image–the teenage girl in the background looking utterly bored spoke volumes about adolescence.

But even some of the pairs were a 50/50 mix on willingness to act.  One of my personal favorites is the 6th shot where the guy is totally acting scared and the girl is looking like she’s not really sure she wants to be seen in public with this guy.  Made me wonder how long they’d been a couple and how much longer it would last.  🙂

Then, there’s the image immediately after that one with the three guys.  The one on the far left said he imagined he was writing an alimony check to inspire his expression.  I thought he looked more like he’d had an accident in the restroom, but I appreciated his effort.

The two young girls in the 11th image cracked me up.  The one on the left gave a pretty realistic scared look.  The one on the right, who appeared to be the younger of the two when seen in person, seemed to think throwing up her hands was all it took to look scared.  Maybe she has yet to experience real fear?

This assignment, by the way, only worked well because I could show the subjects their picture immediately on the LCD of my camera.  They looked at the result and immediately wanted to try again to make it even better.  They all laughed and made fun of each other’s faces in the shots.  Who knew photography could be so entertaining for the subjects?

Afterwards, I had several people approach me and ask if there was somewhere to view the photos so they could decide if they wanted to buy them.  Maybe next year.

Fright Night

Halloween is perhaps the most magical holiday there is.  After all, you get to transform yourself into a princess, a witch, a football player, a horse, or whatever your imagination can come up with.  People hand you goodies.  It’s suddenly socially acceptable to scare the pants off of everyone.  And best of all, you don’t have to struggle to figure out what to get in the way of gifts–candy comes in fantastic variety packs that pretty much provide something for everyone.

And, it’s at the best the time of year in the US–the leaves vibrant in the golden light of the sun and the air dry, crisp, and cool–refreshing as a dip in the ocean after a day on a hot beach.  And the harvest moon lighting the night sky with a brilliance not often seen in the summer time.

When you combine all that with bonfires, haunted mazes, s’mores, and scary story telling, there’s just no beating Halloween.

My husband and I have been debating on a costume for Tisen.  We’ve never costumed a dog before, but there’s an upcoming dog party.  I want to dress him as a cow.  Pat wants to dress him as a poodle.  Pat’s idea has two advantages:  first, there are no logistical issues involving an udder and boy-dog naughty bits; second, it’s funnier.  However, neither of us knows how to transform a pit bull into a poodle.

In the meantime, I’ve gotten into the spirit by volunteering at the annual “Acres of Darkness” event at the Audubon Society.

My job is to greet visitors at the entrance to the haunted woods and attempt to scare them with the history of how the woods became haunted, and then send them on their merry way into the pitch-black of the woods at the right time.

It’s a fun job.

Since the first weekend the event ran was a little slow, I took my camera and tripod out with me to see if I could get some pictures of the trail.  It was really dark, but with the ISO set on 25,600 (every time I type that it still blows my mind–I remember when people used to talk about 800 ISO film being really fast), I managed to capture a few images.  In fact, some of them were over exposed.

Capturing the glow-in-the-dark faces on the trees was easy enough–I could shoot them from my position at the entry to the haunted woods.  The rest of the images required walking through the haunted woods.  Since I couldn’t leave my post until after we closed for the night, I was wandering down an already dark trail turning off lights and stopping to shoot every once in a while.  Fortunately for me, the zombies and monsters has worn themselves out on all the earlier visitors, so I made it through the trail unmolested.  Unfortunately, that made for less exciting photos than I was hoping for.