Beyond this life

This morning, as I was sitting in my office just getting my day started, I received a text message from my wife. She teaches preschool, so she only texts if she has something really important to tell me. (OK, every once and a while I get a text just to tell me that she loves me, and those make my day.) Today, her text read, “Jason in my class whose dad has cancer came in and told me his daddy is going to heaven today. And it’s true, they have called the family in. ūüė¶ I can’t handle this!”

I read that and my heart skipped a beat. I don’t know Jason, but I do know that there is a four-year-old boy who will soon never see his father again on this earth. A hundred thoughts and questions filled my head. Sorrow for Jason, sorrow for his family, thankfulness for my good health, a prayer for those who are sick and hurting. I asked myself, “How do you explain to a young child that they will never be able to talk to or see their father again?” Then I thought about my own children, and how lucky I am to have my family.

Then I thought about the assurance we have in heaven, of a life infinitely better than this one that is to be had if we live this life for God and obey his commandments. To me, there is no greater comfort in death than this. Paul wrote in his second letter to the Christians in Corinth, “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” We have hope to be reunited with our loved ones after death, that death is temporary, and that victory comes only after death. I pray that I will teach my children to love God and obey his commandments so that we can all be in heaven together when our time on earth has ended.

I’m back (I hope)

It seems like it has been an eternity since I updated this blog, and it is not because I was unwilling or had nothing about which to write.¬† In reality, quite the opposite is true.¬† On numerous occasions, I have thought to myself that I need to update my blog.¬† I have plenty of pictures I could post, plenty of information to share.¬† What I haven’t had is time.

We are each given twenty-four hours in a day.¬† During that time, it is up to each individual to decide how much time he or she will spend sleeping, eating, working, exercising…well, you get the idea.¬† Since January, I have found a new consumer of my time: school.¬† I started work on my MBA in January, and it has become like a pet that follows me everywhere I go.¬† Just like you can’t give a pet enough of your time to satisfy it for a length of time, I can’t seem to give my schoolwork enough time to get ahead where I can focus on other things for a while.

Thankfully, I am getting a break starting Monday.¬† I have a month until my next class starts.¬† Hopefully I’ll be able to catch up on most of the things I’ve neglected the past few months.

Some of the books I have for school

Some of the books I have for school

What will you do for a picture?

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I saw this lovely sunset as I was traveling between Athens, AL, and my house.¬† I was going over a small bridge and noticed the beautiful colors.¬† Being the avid photographer that I am, I decided that I must try to capture the beauty in a photo.¬† But it wasn’t enough for me just to stop the car and take the picture from the bridge.¬† No, I needed to get under the bridge for the best shot.¬† So I stopped the car and waded through knee-high water, walking across slick rocks while holding my camera, praying the whole time that I didn’t slip.¬† Oh, and I took this on January 28.¬† The water temperature was probably under 40 degrees.¬† Looking back, what I did will probably rank pretty high on the “Stupid things I’ve done” list, but at least I got the shot I wanted.

Light play

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This is one of my all time favorite pictures.  I love the way the light brings out the texture in the building and how the stairwell runs through the picture.  The dark sky contrasts with the bright reflection on the building as well.  And I shot this at about 4:30 in the afternoon in January.  The sun was probably an hour from setting, and it reflected off of the building.  This is how the image looked straight out of the camera; no photoshop was done.

Photograph literally means “light painting” or “painting by light,” so it’s easy to see why light is so important when taking pictures. ¬†Light really is the key element in any picture, and learning to master how to light a scene or subject is vital to becoming a good photographer.

EXIF data: Nikon D80 with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens set at 18mm, f/16, at 1/1000 second, ISO 1000.

Senior Portraits

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These were the first senior pictures I took.  I was very pleased with the way they turned out, and I really liked the location I found.  These were shot on a couldy day, so the lighting was very soft.  I love shooting on cloudy days!  Clouds make it possible to get soft light in areas that are normally too sunny for good pictures.  A scrim could be used to get the same effect, but they cost money.

Nashville skyline

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This is one of my favorite photos.¬† I took this from the top parking deck of the Baptist Hospital in Nashville, TN, on the night my niece was born.¬† As we drove in looking for a parking spot, I noticed this great view, but it was still light outside.¬† I knew at that point I wanted to go and get this shot once it got dark.¬† The original shot had the moon in it, but it was too high in the sky to include after I cropped the photo down.¬† This is only one photo that I cropped to be 5×20.

I sat my camera on the ledge of the parking deck and used a manual focus 50mm lens set to infinity focus.  I took a multiple shots ranging from 3 seconds to 30 seconds.  I think this one was about a 15 second exposure.

Disney Rose

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This picture was taken at the Disney World Magic Kingdom on July 3 in the morning.  Early morning light is softer than light later in the day.  This makes shadows softer or even non-existent.  It was somewhat cloudy this morning as well, further softening the shadows.

Tip of the day: The best light for shooting outdoors will come in the first hour or so before sunrise and the last hour before sunset.¬† The hour before sunset is often referred to as the “golden hour” because the light from the sun tends to give a golden hue to photos taken during that time.¬† Clouds will also help to soften sunlight, so shooting during cloudy periods is advisable.

Bonus tip: Try not to include much (if any) of the sky in your photo on a cloudy day to avoid a drab gray or dull white sky.