Movie Soundtracks: Emotional Memories

I grew up before cable, video recorders, smartphones, and many, many TV networks.  Because of that, I went to the movies a lot.  I soon realized that I was drawn to many by their soundtracks.  Not songs, not dances (although I did enjoy the musicals, also), but the music that is played throughout the film as well as when the credits are listed at the beginning and end.  Rather than collect albums of the current popular singers, I collected soundtracks.

One that always evokes memories of childhood and the wonder they feel as the world opens up to them is “To Kill A Mockingbird”, composed by Elmer Bernstein (brother of Leonard Bernstein who did the music to West Side Story – did you know that!!!).  We here in Alabama are rather tied to this movie as Harper Lee, the author of the book, was a resident in Monroeville, and each year they hold a dramatization of that story.

 

Listen to the music during the opening credits of the movie.  Close your eyes, and imagine the wonders of a young child as the world unfolds before her young eyes.

 

 

 

I always strive to create feelings that evoke emotional memories for my clients.

 

Project 52: Day in the Life

This week’s theme for the Pet Photography 52 Project is “Day in the Life”.  Of course, it had to be my muse, Chloe, since my other dog goes into hiding when I bring out the camera.  The weather has been rather iffy, so we were inside most of the time.  But it was a good time to practice using high ISO’s and/or practicing using my speedlight, which I don’t usually use.

This is what I usually see when I’m trying to make the bed in the morning.  Chloe is so comfortable from her night’s sleep.

After I change cloths, wash my face, comb hair, this is what I see when I come out of the bathroom.  Chloe’s still waiting for me.  That white blob on the left is my senior westie, Bonnie.  If she knew I was taking a picture, she would be hiding instead of sleeping.

Then Chloe and I are off for the walk down our dead-end street and back which includes, ummm, her business. (These photos were taken with my iPhone; please excuse)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now it’s meal time.  Twice a day, the two dogs and three cats get fed.  While everyone, like Misty, one of the cats, is watching all the movements, waiting for their turn, Chloe takes the waiting time to gnaw on her large nylabone (for super aggressive chewers!)

 

 

But, occasionally, Chloe will stop her chewing to see the status of the meal prep.

Then everyone gets their meal… Chloe finishes hers in about 1-2 minutes! (iPhone shots)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since I’ve had her, Chloe has gone into the master bathroom after eating to pick up one of the cat dishes (my cats eat at various locations in the house).  She’ll lick it (even though the food has been totally eaten by the cat) and then, I guess ’cause it’s plastic, she starts chewing on the rim.  I’ve had to replace so many dishes because of that.  Eventually she will take the dish into the kitchen so we can wash it. (This photo I used a speedlight that was pointed back and up to the ceiling).  Note that to the right is Chloe’s crate… which hasn’t got much use lately!

After she’s been fed, especially in the morning, it’s time to check what’s going on outside.  Many times, the sassy cat down the street prances on our neighbors’ yards, which drives Chloe crazy. 

Once I go on to my computer, she curls up in a small bed next to me.  She’s always there.

A couple times a day, everyone gets a treat.  Chloe is great at catching what I throw her.  Of course she has to sit first before she gets anything.

Several times a day, she goes out into the backyard to sniff my husbands’ vegetable garden (sometimes to dig it up, too), bark at the next door neighbor’s dogs through the fence, or just sit and enjoy the weather.

After a busy, busy day, Chloe is ready for bed…. even before we are!  I’m so glad we can be there to make her life so smooth and easy!

You can now check out The Hoof and Hound Photographer covering the Lancaster UK area to see how her dog passes the day.

 

 

Ono-licious: A Healthy Hawaiian Recipe

If you are into food and what’s happening out there, epicurean-wise, have you ever heard of Dr. Terry Shintani?  Well, in Hawaii, he started his popular “Hawaii Diet” in the late ’90s.  He developed this diet especially for native Hawaiians who, unlike their ancestors, were obese (many morbidly), had high cholesterol and blood pressure.  He feels that people spend too much money fighting the results of a poor diet.  He looks on proper food as the best medicine and he promotes that medicine.  You can go to Amazon to check out his books, shown below (click on each one)

 

What I want to share here is, not the philosophy or science behind his diet which you can check out on your own, but one of the recipes (shown below) that I re-discovered.  You will notice that he doesn’t cook with oil or high-fats.  While getting used to this may take time, both my husband and I enjoyed this one from the get-go.  Try it…. it’s ONO-licious!

POTATO ZUCCHINI STEW  (from the  “Eat More, Weigh Less” Cookbook)

1-1/4 C            Onion, chopped

1 stalk             Celery, chopped

2 C                  Potatoes, cubed

¼ C                 Carrots, sliced

½ C                 Broccoli

½ C                 Zucchini, sliced

½ C                 Kale

¾ C                 Vegetable broth

1 clove           Garlic, minced

½ tsp               Salt, or to taste

½ tsp               Paprika

½ tsp               Dill

¼ C                 Red Wine

1-1/2 Tbsp      Tomato Paste

Olive Oil Cooking Spray

Spray nonstick skillet with olive oil cooking spray and heat.  Saute onions for 5 minutes in 3 tablespoons of vegetable broth.  Add remaining ingredients and cook for 10 more minutes or until done to taste.  Makes 2 portions  (1 portion – 338.9 calories, 1.4 grams fat, 12% protein, 79% carbohydrates, 4% fat)

 

 

Project 52: Revisit & Re-Edit

This week we are revisiting and/or re-editing a past project.  I initially was not going to participate, but last week I took photos at the local shelter where my camera volunteers, using a woven basket I’ve used in the past.  It’s a small basket, so the animals, usually kittens, have to be fairly small.  The shelter doesn’t get too many that small, so it hadn’t been used in a while.  But they had three tiny kittens and we took a photo of each one in the basket.  So cute!

I then recalled a similar photo I took about 4 years ago when I started taking photos for the shelter.  Looking back, it was a horrible picture.  I think I had my camera on auto, didn’t really focus it on anything important, and then snapped!  As soon as you see it below, you’ll understand what I mean.  Before I posted it here, I used the lightroom plug-in you can install to see where the focus point is, and, as you can tell, it was on the basket.  It’s so bad, I didn’t even watermark it.

One Sunday morning in October 2016, I opened the Living section of the area newspaper and this horrible photo was staring at me.  Wondering if that was really mine, I went to my computer and searched for it.  Yep, it was mine.  (see below).  Even though it’s a bad picture, I kept the newspaper (why not!).  Notice that the credit was “AL.com file”.  During the time that I took the photo, the shelter I work with was submitting a pet of the week to the local newspaper (when they were truly “daily”).  That’s the only reason I can think that the newspaper had it.  Fortunately for me, I didn’t get the credit.

Compare that to the one I took last week.  Same basket, different cat!  The focus point is on the right eye.  And it’s a photo I’m proud of, hence, the watermark.

I need to do more of these comparisons.  Makes me see that, every year, I’m getting better.

Time to move on to Sandra McCarthy Photography to see what she has highlighted from her past.

Heart-Tugging Stories: Lassie Come Home

Because I love animals, I will watch most of the movies out there about them.  Most will move me to tears, every time.  But, you cannot beat the original “Lassie Come Home”.   Below is a clip from the ending of that movie.  For those who have never watched it, in the beginning of the movie, Lassie is sold to a wealthy landowner very far from where she lived since her young master’s father could no longer afford to maintain her.  But Lassie was determined to return to her beloved companion.  This scene I’ve selected opens after she has returned but, upon hearing the clock chime the hour, she realizes that it’s time to go into town, as she always did, to greet the boy she loves as he comes out of school, even though she’s hurt and exhausted.  If you have never seen it, grab some tissues.  One person commented, “If this doesn’t move your heart, you’re not human.”  Like this movie, I strive to move people with stories I create of their beloved companions.

 

Lassie Come Home

BTW, (a little trivia) Lassie was always a male dog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ono-licious!

Some of you may not know that, for over 30 years, I lived in the Land of Aloha, Hawaii.  Besides the great weather and people, there are plenty of small little drive-ins, cafes, restaurants where you can eat some of the local food.  This is especially important since Hawaii’s primary industry is tourism and all those great people want to experience the local cuisine.

The locals love their “plate lunches”.  What is that?  If you go to one of the small drive-ins, you could probably get a plate with two scoops rice, macaroni or potato salad, and some kind of protein such as teriyaki chicken, meat or fish.  There’s also sushi, poke (pronounced po-key) which is actually raw fish mixed with vegetables, and perhaps some kind of marinated vegetable like seaweed or kim chee.

Typical Hawaiian Plate Lunch

One thing that Hawaii people love is spam!  Yes, SPAM.  In fact, Hawaii has been called the spam capital of the world.  There are aisles in grocery stores just full of different flavored spam.  OMG!  But my favorite use of spam was always spam musubi.  Basically, it’s seasoned rice formed into a ball or square, topped with a slice of cooked spam, then wrapped with dry seaweed.  Below is a recipe if you are adventurous enough to try.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups uncooked short-grain white rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 6 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup oyster sauce
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 (12 ounce) container fully cooked luncheon meat (e.g. Spam)
  • 5 sheets sushi nori (dry seaweed)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  1. Soak uncooked rice for 4 hours; drain and rinse.
  2. In a saucepan bring 2 cups water to a boil. Add rice and stir. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in rice vinegar, and set aside to cool.
  3. In a separate bowl, stir together soy sauce, oyster sauce, and sugar until sugar is completely dissolved. Slice luncheon meat lengthwise into 10 slices, or to desired thickness, and marinate in sauce for 5 minutes.
  4. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Cook slices for 2 minutes per side, or until lightly browned. Cut nori sheets in half and lay on a flat work surface. Place a rice press in the center of the sheet, and press rice tightly inside. Top with a slice of luncheon meat, and remove press. Wrap nori around rice mold, sealing edges with a small amount of water. (Rice may also be formed by hand in the shape of the meat slices, 1 inch thick.) Musubi may be served warm or chilled.

When you go to Hawaii, make sure, after you have eaten one of these plate lunches or spam musubi, you say “ono-licious” or “broke the mouth”.  Both mean that you particularly LOVE what you have just eaten; that it was delicious; that your mouth is tingling.  Personally, I like ono-licious – I’m sure you can figure out why. (HINT:  my last name!!)

Project 52: Catchlights

This week’s topic is Catchlights. I never realized it until recently, but I am obsessed with making sure the pets I photograph have catchlights, even if I have to add them myself. Just a little light can add so much personality into the shot.

Below are two photos… one without catchlights and one with. Sweet 11-year old Oscar has very dark eyes and they just don’t grab the light easily. My own dog is the same. I learned in a workshop I attended last year that you can further enhance existing catchlights (very subtly) by using the history brush tool in Photoshop. We were actually in a church and a flash would have added those needed catchlights, but Oscar’s caretaker told me that he doesn’t like flash. So, what I did was use the clone tool and grabbed something light (either the white in his fur or the tile) and just dropped it lightly on his eyes. I think he has much more appeal with them.

Oscar with no noticeable catchlights
Oscar with catchlights

Kelly Garin Photography, Columbia, SC is the next one in this loop.  Click on over to see how she caught the catchlights.

 

Project 52: Wood

Textures – of which wood is one – always adds interest and character to a photo.  When I have a photo session, I always strive to have pleasant surroundings but I sometimes fail to look for textures.  Something I have to improve on.  In the meantime, for this exercise, below are two examples, one very old and one very recent.

The photo below is of Old Dan.  As an aside, that’s an odd name since he was only about 1-year old when I took that photo.  And that was about 1-1/2 years ago.  The client and I were walking around her yard finding interesting spots to take photos, and she mentioned that Old Dan loved to climb the pile of logs that they kept for their fireplace.  Because of that, I wanted to take a photo of him on top of them.  But they lived in a subdivision and, if I had, I would have shown all the roofs of the near-by houses.  So, I just asked Old Dan to pose by the pile of logs.  PS – you can tell it was an older photo; I removed the leash, but the collar is still positioned as if the leash was still there – Oops!!

This next photo was taken at my most recent session with Jack.  Not only was it my favorite picture of the session, but it turned out to be the client’s favorite one too.  I think it was a combination of the wooden fence as well as the leading lines.

Continue the arch by going to Darlene with Pant the Town Pet Photography serving MA & NH and see how she interpreted this week’s theme.

Project 52: Comic

As soon as I saw this week’s theme, I knew the photos I wanted to share.

I’ve recently added horses to my portfolio and during my first session, I managed to get a few humorous encounters.  My friend, who owns and runs a pet sitting business, also boards her horses at a local stable.  She knew I’ve been wanting to practice photographing horses, so she invited me along when she fed them.  Her one horse, Mariah, is so gorgeous and, apparently, a retired polo horse (we have polo matches locally).  Several photos were rather amusing and perfect for this week’s theme.

Below is Mariah giving me a lip curl.  Although rather amusing, my friend said that it was her way of analyzing scents.

We all know that dogs roll in the grass.  Well, so do horses.  Since there were a lot of droppings in the pen… yes those kind of droppings… I inquired if horses roll in that, too.  “Yes” was the response.  Yuk!

I’ve always felt that this photo demonstrates Mariah’s feelings about what I was doing.  Sorry, Mariah!

Keep the loop going and click on to my friend, Linda Metcalf at Dog Shotz Photography serving the Indianapolis IN area to see her amusing photos.

Project 52: Bokeh

One of the great techniques of photography that most of us love is Bokeh which comes from a Japanese word that means blur or haze.  And that is our theme for this week’s Project 52.  Simply put, it’s blurring out the background to highlight the subject.  Those who do it well will say you need a fast lens, open it as wide as possible, and be a fair distance away from the subject.  For my first photo, I actually was at 70mm on my 70-200mm lens, and I was at f2.8.  But, I went in our backyard, not to practice getting bokeh, but to practice back button focusing (which, as an aside, is FABULOUS).  I used that particular lens since I always tend to miss a well-focused shot when my Chloe is running around and I’m using that lens.  Have to say, most of the shots were in focus (Yah, BBF).  It was after 6pm and the sun was setting, but, as you can see, we have a 6′ privacy fence and a lot of trees around the side where the sun was setting.  But I noticed that I did get some nice bokeh.  Not “Wow” but it’s there!

The next photo is from a session I had just yesterday, so it’s not completely post-processed yet.  This sweetheart is Jack.  It was very hot, even though it was after 6pm.  Mr. Jack, as you can see, is very senior (about 14 years) and he did a lot of lying down throughout the session.  Don’t blame him.  This was taken in front of a pier near his house.  You can see I was able to get some pretty decent bokeh.

Keep the loop going and go to Jessica Wasik with Bark & Gold Photography, celebrating the joy and love between Pittsburgh pets and their people to see their bokeh photos.