Scarlett’s recital

This year Scarlett did hip hop as her dance class and the instructor selected a Pink Ladies meets Hip Hop sort of outfit for the kids. Like last year I did a portrait session with Scarlett in her costume. Unlike last year, it actually came out nice this year. (Last year I rushed it and the lighting was off)

After seeing another dad do it last year, I decided to rent a lens this year so I could have much better low light performance. I rented the 70-200 II IS L lens. On the plus side, I was very happy with how close I was able to zoom to Scarlett without having to push the ISO past the limits of my camear. On the minus side, I just don’t have that much experience with dance photography and this year Scarlett’s class only had one dance. So although the lens was a reasonable $100 to rent, I am not sure if I’m going to do it again next year (assuming Scarlett does dance class again) since I only got 3 photos worth sharing.

“School’s OUT!” – Scarlett’s Recital Photos

Their song this year was School’s Out by the Disney-affiliated Kyra Christiaan.

The part above is Scarlett shouting “SCHOOL’S OUT!”

Scarlett’s Recital Photos

I love how dynamic Scarlett is in this photo. And you can tell it’s in focus if you look at her shoes or bow. She’s just moving faster than the shutter speed.

Scarlett’s Recital Photos

Easter at the Farm

This Easter we went to the farm so they kids could hunt for eggs there and then enjoy the farm. Unlike my childhood, Easter’s pretty cold up here as you can see.

Stella and the Goat
With Aunt Dina’s help, Stella gets over her fear of petting goats.

It’s pretty ridiculous to me, considering almost my entire childhood consisted of going to the local park.

Stella’s been enjoying horseback riding for a bit now, but this was the first time she was old enough to do it on her own without me holding onto her the entire time.

Stella on Horseback
Stella on Horseback

Sam made big strides this time by actually allowing us to put him onto a horse.

Sam gets over his fear of riding horses to the degree that I can stand far away to take the photo.

And no trip to the farm would be complete without a session of feeding the goats. This time with Stella losing her fear of feeding them.

Feeding goats
Feeding goats

Sam and Stella’s First Disney Trip

Back in November we took the twins on their first trip to Disney. This time around Scarlett wasn’t as interested in the parades as she was last time, but the twins were REALLY into them. Surprisingly, both twins ended up warming up to the characters. Sam’s reluctance with Mickey on the first day made me think he was going to try and avoid them the entire trip. But as you can see in the video, he eventually got into interacting with the characters.

The twins were a little more patient about waiting in line – not sure if it’s because they had Scarlett to copy or if they’re just a little more patient than she is. It was a little tougher with three kids’ schedules to balance, but the twins also eat a more varied diet than Scarlett did at the same age so they weren’t constantly hungry like she was. We’ll see what happens in the future as they all get older, but there weren’t really too many arguments or disagreements about what rides to go on.

It was also special that my parents once again went for the grandkids’ first time. The kids just about enjoyed their time with their grandparents as much as their time on the rides and at the shows.

Enjoy my favorite photos from the trip.

Eagles at Conowingo Dam (Jan 2018)

For the past couple years (ever since my mom got back into photography), I’ve been trying to get her to come in the winter to go photograph American Bald Eagles at Conowingo Dam. They tend to be there from around November to about early January and I usually go in December. This year at the semi-last moment she decided to visit and I suggested we go try and photograph some eagles. So she brought her long lens and we took off. Of course, the one day we had available to do this also happened to be the coldest day of the 2017-2018 winter so we were physically being tortured. I had told her ahead of time to make sure to get long johns, so we didn’t get hypothermia.

Mom, bundled up for the frigid temperatures
Mom, bundled up for the frigid temperatures

I’d read that this was just about the tail end of the eagles’ time here so I wasn’t sure we’d have anything to show for our freezing butts and 2-hour round trip commute. And at first it seemed my fears were credible. All we saw were some seagulls and ducks.

I asked one of the other photographers there if he’d seen any eagles and he told me they hadn’t been active for at least an hour and had flown off into the woods. I usually get there with the sun, but we had arrived pretty late. I was really getting worried.

Mom checking her seagull photos
Mom checking her seagull photos

But then we spotted an Eagle!

And we would spend as long as we could tolerate outside. When our fingers and toes no longer had any feeling, we would go back into the car until we defrosted.

Mom shooting eagles
Mom shooting eagles

I was a little disappointed with my photos. I was rusty on wildlife photos. I remembered to do a high shutter speed (greater than 1/2000). But the photos just weren’t as clear as I wanted. Probably partially the lens, partially not fully in focus, and eagles are very fast-moving. That said, I got this series of shots:

“yeah, I got it”

And, again, it’s not as clear and in focus as it could be. But I’ve wanted this shot for about five years. I never was able to get an eagle grabbing a fish out of water. What was amazing was how quickly it happened! And to be able to get that photographed, even if not perfect, was amazing for me. Next time I’ll try renting a longer lens and beefing up on my technique and try to get that again.

There was also this goose-like bird.

I shot over 1100 photos to get to these 30ish photos – of which I’d probably print a couple – one of them being one of the goose photos.

Overall, the trip was VERY worth it. I got 4 hours of bonding time with mom (and she’s SO busy that’s a rarity worth so much) and I finally got an eagle grabbing a fish out of water. Next time – when it’s warmer and there are more eagles – some time in December – should be great.

Columbus Day 2016 at the Park

I took Sam and Stella to the park on Columbus Day (Scarlett was in school) and they were finally old enough that I could step back to take photos while they worked their way through the jungle gym.

A Fall Visit to the Farm

Back in October, we went to the pumpkin patch to do our annual pumpkin patch portraits.

Sam inspects pumpkins
Sam inspects pumpkins

Unfortunately, the twins were not amenable so we just did the other farm activities.

Stella checks out the portrait photos
Stella checks out the portrait photos