Hey Howdy Hey

Hey Howdy Hey

I think the most gratifying part of the holidays this year was seeing how much Jason loves his extended family. We spent Christmas with Juliette's family and New Year's with mine, and with both groups it was obvious how much he enjoyed being around them. He was particularly attached to Juliette's younger brother and one of my aunts, but he spent time with just about everybody and talked about all of them through the entire 11-hour drive home.

Technical info: Shot with a Nikon D40, Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 DX lens, and Vivitar DF-383 flash (in Gary Fong Lightsphere). Manual exposure mode, manual flash mode. Aperture f/2.8, shutter 1/500, ISO 400, flash power 1/16. Post-processing in Aperture 3: straightened horizon; auto WB picked from Woody's vest; levels to brighten highlights and midtones; curves to darken shadows.

Thoughts for improvement: I wish I had been moved back just a bit so I could have gotten Jason's entire right leg and not cut off my aunt's knee.

Our Christmas Table

This Christmas, for the first time, Juliette and I hosted her family at our house for the holiday. Her parents came, as well as her younger brother and sister and new brother-in-law. Things were a bit hectic leading up to it, as we were planning our first ever Christmas dinner, but in the end it all came off without a hitch and a good time (and good meal) was had by all.

Looking around the table as we sat for Christmas dinner, I was struck by just how many kinds of people were represented in that small group. There were eight of us together that night, and in that eight were included a toddler and a 78-year-old, a college student, and a pair of newlyweds. There were Caucasians, Japanese, and a black man. There were Canadians, a Brazilian, and Americans from both coasts. There were at least two different Christian denominations represented, plus a Jewish man, an atheist, and at least one agnostic. Conservatives, moderates, liberals, and the politically indifferent were all there.

And the most amazing thing to me is that despite all of our differences, we all get along. We have our disagreements, true--we even had a little political discussion during the meal. But even when we argue, we listen to what each other have to say, actually weigh the merits of the other's points, and treat one another with respect.

In my more optimistic moments, I believe that we as a species are capable of being more and better than the shrill, angry voices that seem to be dominating political and social discourse right now. It's not always easy to keep a level tone and a reasonable perspective, but seeing a group like the one we had for the holiday makes me know it can be done. If I could have just one wish for the new year, it would be that more people could see it--and live it--as well.

Christmas Morning

Christmas Morning

I meant to post this one a week ago, but our post-Christmas travels took us away from the Internet for the duration and I didn't get the chance. I suppose it may be a bit tacky to be posting holiday snaps several days into the new year--a bit like all the people in my neighborhood who still have their Christmas lights not only up but lit. I figure, though, that the beginning of a new year is a time of anticipation and excitement, and a kid on Christmas morning has that in spades, right? That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Technical info: Shot with a Nikon D40, Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 DX lens, and Nikon SB-400 flash. Aperture-priority exposure mode (matrix metering), TTL flash mode (+0 EV). Aperture f/1.8, shutter 1/60 sec (+0 EV), ISO 200. Post-processing in Aperture 3: flash WB preset; crop to 5x7; curves to bring up exposure and add contrast; cloned out some spots on her face; applied skin smoothing to her face.

Thoughts for improvement: The flash here is simply bounced off the ceiling, so the shadows under their cheeks and eyebrows could be filled better. It would also be nice if I hadn't cut off her shoulder. I think it's a good capture of the moment, though, and I like the soft reflection of the Christmas tree in the background.

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