Heather's First Day of Kindergarten

Heather was very excited for school to start again.  She has some friends in her Kindergarten class from TK last year.  Stress levels have been high all weekend due to a malfunctioning smoke alarm on Saturday morning (Heather has been freaking out about the idea of the house burning down).  But despite her amped up anxiety levels we made it to school on time and she had a good first day.

She got to watch the eclipse at school.  They had the kids watch pinhole cameras and then took them one-at-a-time to use eclipse glasses.  I'm glad the Livermore schools actually made an event out of it and found something that would work for young kids.  The Lab donated enough eclipse glasses to the school system for every student and faculty member.

She finished the day with a smile (and Oreo crumbs all over her mouth).

Another Round of Summer Soccer

Heather is doing soccer again this year on Saturday mornings.  This week was her first week and it was hot.  Soccer starts at 10:50am and it was already over 90 degrees and climbing.  But she stayed hydrated and I used the time to work on my action photography skills.

It's interesting how a small change in camera settings can result in a dramatic change in image presentation.

I started with the shutter set to 1/100th of a second, which captured images like this:

The scene is representative, and fairly sharp.  You can see some motion in her hands and feet, but overall it is a static image.

Stretching the shutter to 1/25th of a second gives you a totally different result:

She's clearly moving, the background distractions are reduced via the motion blur and she becomes the uncontested focus of attention.  It's a much more interesting, dynamic image.

You can try using a wider aperture to reduce your depth of field to achieve similar separation between subject and background (which I've tried in the past), but that's tough in full sunlight.  You'll need filters to stop down the light and then capturing the subject in focus becomes difficult as your depth of field shrinks.

The trick here is to pan the camera with the subject throughout the shutter release.  It takes practice, but the results are worth it--which is why I've been practicing it.

Here's a couple more shots that came out decently.  In the first one, Heather is jumping over the pile of balls.  And in the second she is dribbling across the field.

Heather's Dance Recital 2017

Heather had an absolute blast in this year's dance recital (as evidenced by the huge smile on her face through the entire dance).  Other than the rather stunning lack of theater etiquette displayed by a seemingly large chunk of the audience this year, it went great (seriously, who fully stands up from the front row during the middle of a performance to amble their way to the aisle and out of the theater!  Which meant my view was blocked completely during much of Heather's big solo!  Grrr!).

The theater provided some pictures (both audience and from the stage) as well as video.  My pictures turned out much better this year than in the past.  Not sure what was different, but they're definitely better.  Not amazing, but better.  The studio's pictures were all slightly over-exposed, so I'm glad I took a bunch of my own.

Not much more to say, so I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.  Video at the bottom!

Or download here: Heather Dance Recital - New York, NY - June 11, 2017 (40.4 MB)

Heard from the Girls

Heather, while camping: "Let's have a conversation.  What's your favorite food, drink, and, ummmmm, dinosaur? No wait, just dinosaur."

Heather, while showering after camping:
"Ummm, Mom?  Dad?  Anybody out there except Corinne?!"
[Corinne's interest is piqued and heads for the bathroom.]
"I need a washcloth!"
[Corinne wanders in, grabs a washcloth off the sink and tosses it into the tub.]
"Thanks Corinne."
[Corinne wanders back to the TV Show she was watching.]

Corinne is confident in her identity if not her language skills:
"What's your name?" -- "I Kin!" [She's missing 'r's]
"Are you a monkey?" -- "No! I Kin!"
"Are you tired?" -- "No! I Kin!"
"Are you my little girl?" -- [Throws hands up in the air] "No! I big gul"
"You're not a little baby?" -- "No! I big!"
"You're my big girl?" -- "Uh huh"

These two are goofballs.

Heather on Wheels

We gave Heather a pedal bike on her birthday last year, but she still needed to improve her balance before she'd be able to pedal.  So I took the pedals off so she could focus on balancing (she had outgrown her balance bike).  Last weekend she was ready to level up and add the pedals back.  She really improved her balancing ability and lifting her feet to the pedals went off without a hitch.  She is greatly pleased with this new skill and enjoys riding laps around the neighborhood at every opportunity now.

Download video here: VID_20170513_140642507 (28 MB)