Confessional

As Written in 2014, While I Lived in France:
Our visit to Château De Chillon along Lac Léman proved to be quite amusing. Guess we’ve been visiting a lot of castles lately.  It’s the same routine every time. Everyone goes in at once. We are handed these little audio tour guides and spend a couple of hours crossing off the numbers on the brochure.  Not gonna lie – it’s gotten a little old.  Confessionala (1280x851)But what happened at Château De Chillon was a little different.

Grace walked over to the ancient structure dominating the room. She stroked it gingerly as the rest of us gathered to observe.

“This pole,” she stated as a matter of fact,”is older than our country.”

A very confused little British boy stepped out from behind. We couldn’t control the laughter. It’s true though, the US is younger than most the architecture anywhere out here.

As we continued on with our self guided tour, Grace, Collin and Mackenzie took turns recounting some very imaginative accounts of the castle’s history. At one point, a crowd of strangers gathered around Grace as she described how the castle’s pet dragon used the fireplace to roast it’s food… thinking she was a legit tour guide, the others blinked in disbelief before chuckling as the act became less convincing.

So anyways, that’s how we passed the time at Château De Chillon. Here is a video my friend Grace made on the experience:

* I started writing this post two years ago and am now using it as back up since I’m currently stuck in a blizzard in Utah 😛

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#‎jayaramsmiles‬

“Hello? Can anyone hear me?”

There was no reply, not even in cheerful melodies usually sung by birds. I dropped the sound kit on the forest floor and ran further along the dirt path.

“Hello, Hello!?”

Again, nothing except the eerie buzz of silence. I turned back, but every direction seemed a mirror image of it’s self. The only comfort came in the form of sunbeams piercing through the canopy. Even then, it was awfully dark for a Sunday morning.

“Jacquie?”

Searching for the voice proved unsuccessful until it’s owner emerged from the trees.

“I thought you might have missed the turnout.”

Indeed, we had to walk back quite a ways before finding the hidden route among the branches and leaves.

“I found her!” Zach called when the ground started rising into all sorts of ramps and rails. In the distance, Jayaram snickered. He knew it was hard to find. The bike trails had remained unmarked for years and it was exciting to be let into the secret world they created.

Jayaram showed us around. I remember specifically the rack where bikes were hung and the deck on which he and his friends spent countless afternoons. One couldn’t help but marvel at the structures that had been so carefully built and wonder how long it had taken. Coming out to watch the guys or even reading a book in the morning seemed like a good idea. Jayaram said it was ok as long as we kept the location on the down low. 

That day, there was no time for leisure reading in the woods. Instead, I glanced at an instruction manual as we set up tripods, cameras and sound. It was the second time in less than twenty-four hours. The first had been for Video Yearbook, this time Zach was filming for his ‘Group Production’ project.  I recorded sound on an R-44. Jayaram, an expert at his sport, was not short of tricks to perform. #‎jayaramsmiles‬We interviewed him afterwards and he told us about his childhood and passion for the outdoors. I was especially thrilled because I hadn’t realized how much he cared about nature. He seemed to be a genuine person to be friends with. Unfortunately, despite the various classes I shared with Jayaram, this was the only time that I got to hang out with him.

Two years later, while returning home from Central California, an unsettling post made it to my newsfeed. Fingers were crossed and prayers were sent wishing for a misunderstanding. Too soon, the social network was overflowing with messages confirming the fact. Jayaram was gone as a result of a tragic accident.

In the following days, I searched for the external drive containing the images taken of Jayaram during the shoot. I wanted so badly to post them on his wall, but felt uneasy since I didn’t know him like the others. Regardless, in those couple hours that we worked on the video, Jayaram’s character shown through and left an impression.

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The footage we took in the woods was used during Jayaram’s memorial. It starts off in the beginning and again at 06:11. I chose to post it today since it’s graduation weekend and he would have walked with a Bachelors in Communication.

This unfortunate event has left me thinking. Mostly, I realized that when treating with people – strangers especially – it’s wise to uphold a positive attitude. Life is unpredictable; one can never tell when the last memory will be shared or what will be the most lasting impression. Let it be a good one 🙂

Primera Pasarela :D

The last time I attended a REVO Fashion show, it was from behind a bush and with a telephoto lens. This time, Veronica asked if I wanted to be in it. Of course, such opportunity could not be missed.

Dress fittings, alterations, song choosing practices…preparation was much like that of a wedding. Even in the hours before the event, the girls lounged in sweatpants and make up, much like brides maids on the day of the wedding.

Make up by VanessaFinally, when everyone’s nails were dry and every curl was in place, the girls tipped toed across the campus. Backstage we got dressed and in the larger of the rooms, practiced once more.

Music came on and the models peeked through the newspaper covered windows in attempt to see. The runway was a little different than we’d been lead to believe. We had to try again with the new setup in mind.

La Sierra Revo Then at last, it was our turn to walk the walk.

There were only two other lines after ours. I ran out to the back to see if there was the opportunity for a good shot. Only got one. The rest were the result of the wrong shutter speed.La Sierra RevoWhile being a part of the show was wonderfully experienced, a part of me still longed to hold a camera. Guess sometimes a choice must be made.

This time I’m glad to have been a part of the action 😀

South of the Border

There was something exciting about seeing the rays of sun touching on the hillside of a country not my own. It had been a while since I’d crossed an international border on foot. In Europe, it was as easy as an afternoon stroll, but in the states, it’s gotten more complicated than that. Despite the research and fading memories, getting to Tijuana required guidance from a young man who pointed towards the right direction.

Baja (4)The hope of seeing an international border line marked across the road faded the further we walked from the gates. Unlike previous occasions, there were no red light check points or soldiers poising their high caliber weapons. Instead, American tourists and Mexican school children mingled in the street. The sight of it was beautiful and in some ways deceitful of the  issues that have presented themselves in that area.Baja (5)I’d gone south of the border for various reasons. The first was quickly resolved after walking into the immigration office. That would be the first Baja California stamp on my passport. Chihuahua, Zacatecas and Distrito Federal have already been stamped on there.

Of course, I’d been to Tijuana on various occasions, but considering the border zone, I didn’t realize one could get a stamp for visiting.Baja (7)Also, I wanted to get pictures of Tigger in Tijuana. Of all the road trips through Mexico and the year he accidentally stayed behind, Tigger had never been to TJ.

To my delightful surprise, the Mexican soldiers did not poke his shoes as they did in Zacatecas and they did not pretend to cut him open as security at Sainte-Chapelle, Paris  had done. The thing is that since I’d gone to Mexico with a friend, and wrapped Tigger like a baby, many of the locals thought we were newly weds. Definitely had to turn down offers of tequila and fine dinning.

Baja (2)

Instead, I was set on getting a Mexican blanket! The sky was too cloudy to not have one. Research on buying souvenirs was done before hitting the shops. Of course, it was the usual – don’t purchase anything on the bridge because it will be more expensive, avoid this and that.

Honestly, the marketing strategies used in attempt to get sales were quite universal:

The Flirt – 

Individual appearing to be attracted to customer. Often complimenting, smiling and giving discounts biased on physical or linguistic appearances. [Previous encounter – Brussels, Belgium, when a group of Moroccan salesmen thought it was cute that I spoke French.]

The Creeper –

Individual who disrespects customer’s personal space in attempt to get a sale. Often appearing out of  nowhere, intimidating, grabby, pushy and loud.  [Previous encounter – Paris, France, when a group of vendors demanded that I buy Eiffel Tower souvenirs… also encountered in San Francisco… and Los Angeles, but without Eiffel Tower souvenirs.]

The Storyteller –

Individual who shares personal stories during business transaction. Often entertaining, friendly and sometimes distracting. [Previous encounter – San Andres, Colombia, when a hotel owner became friends with my family during our weekend stay.]

The Bored –

Individual appears indifferent to customer. Often looking off in the distance, talking on the phone or watching TV. [Previous encounter – Amsterdam, Holland, particularly in the red light district with the girls doing their nails behind the glass.]

The Genuine –

Individual who attends customers from a neutral standpoint. Often courteous and attentive but basing interactions on customer’s needs. [Previous encounter – Geneva, Switzerland, when a guy friend was shopping for boots. The store employees were helpful but didn’t follow us around or provide unsolicited information. The third visit was very conversational.]

Baja (6)One little souvenir that could not be resisted was this engraved keychain. When first seeing samples of the artisan’s work, I was upset that I hadn’t brought along my fountain pen for the treat. After watching the process, which consisted of sawing out the negative space, perhaps it was best not to have repeated it on the pen. Nevertheless, the finished product looked absolutely amazing, especially since it was done by hand. Couldn’t help but get two of the customized key chains.

As for the blanket, it was suggested that we take a cab to Avenida Revolucion. Not wanting to miss out on the colorful walls and alleys, we made our way on foot. All along, I asked for prices which ranged from $40 to $25 for the same product.

Haggling was the name of the game in Tijuana. That being the case, perhaps the stories behind the marked down prices were falsified. Vendors always appeared to be in a hurry, plummeting  discounts up to 50% off. Some claimed to have prearranged meetings, other had to pick up their kids from school and so on.

When someone quoted $20 as starting price, I just wanted to purchase the blanket immediately. By then, I’d given up on speaking Spanish as a way to disguise tourist status. Strangely enough, the owner – a fluent  English speaker -thought I was Mexican. Got it down to $17 by the help of my friend. Even if we could have gotten the blanket for a lower price, the sales man deserved to get something for it. After all, everyone’s got to make a living.

Baja (3)

As soon as I bought the blanket, a woman came up to me at the store entrance.

“I’ve been waiting for you,” she said, trying to steer me towards her booth.

Frightened by her sudden approach, I answered in French, saying “Désolé, mais je ne comprends pas.”

Her facial expression didn’t change. “You must come with me.” Dang, she was persistent! We walked away and mingled into the crowd. Blanket in hands, it was enough shopping for one day.

Glamping

For a long time, I knelt on the floor of the cage recounting the sandbags with the professor. The numbers were always different but there never seemed to be enough of them. We walked around the set, but again, there was nothing. The scenario in which a crew member had walked out with the sandbag as a purse was highly unlikely. Equipment check-ins, camera checkouts, tears, the missing sandbag, broken headphones, low audio levels, otherwise successful production, a student loosing privileges and me without a job. That was more or less the summery of the day.

“Of course, you will be working for the rest of the year.” The professor stated.

I looked up in disbelief, especially after everything she’d said earlier. As a film TA, my only fault had been to arrange so that  students would have access to cameras for their final projects. As she put it, this had cost me my job because making sure the cameras were available was not in the best interest of the department.

Oh really? Here I was, thinking that students made up the department. Not entirely sure how hindering final projects could be considered beneficial. Good thing school was out for an entire week, because I didn’t plan on sticking around for much longer.

My friends picking me up that night. Within twenty four hours, we were so far removed from civilization that even cell service was extinct. Thus began a new series of projects; mixing camping and fashion photography. The first trip was so loosely organized that everything kind of happened spontaneously. Behind the Photos (1)While most stayed in tents, a couple of us slept under the moon and stars. In the mornings, we’d wake up to the guys cooking breakfast with machetes. Throughout the day, some would go swimming while others ventured to climb rock formations. It was that kind of blissful atmosphere in which time and date didn’t exist. Everyone could pretty much do whatever they pleased.

It wasn’t till the afternoon before the last day that we realized that the photoshoot had yet to be done. Panic swept across the group. We stumbled into the van and set off to chase the light. Except for the driver, no one was quite sure where we were going. Those who couldn’t make it were left at camp.

PhotoBackstage (2)In the van, the girls curled their hair and retouched makeup. None of us had ever heard of using a curling iron in the car. Thankfully everyone survived without a burn.

We ended up on a desolate path and hopped into action. The first couple shots didn’t work out very well because the girls had nothing to do. The van was scavenged for any items that could potentially be used.  We found a knife, a walkie-talkie and a flashlight.   Cave dwellers? Search and rescue? Something like that.

Behind the Photos (3)

Given the limited amount of time, its surprising that we were able to do a total of three different locations. By the the sun finally slipped under the horizon, we’d gotten our fill of shots. It would be up to post process to finish up the job.

Here is one of the mock runway shots. From left to right: Original, Windows Live Photo Gallery, Photoshop.

Mexican Sun (3)

Although the girls wanted the shots right away, I no longer feel comfortable with with giving away SOOC. Too many times I’ve allowed others to edit their own images only to be credited with the lousy results. Also, sometimes they use these before I get around to posting them.

Currently, I’m trying to come up with a workflow that will satisfy both myself and those in the pictures. So far, I’ve been using the following:

  1. [Photoshoot]
  2. Sort images into folders.
  3. Go through folders and delete unwanted shots.
  4. Crop, color correct and adjust lighting. Cloning or other details if absolutely needed.
  5. Choose favorites and edit RAW files on photoshop.
  6. Upload favorites to Facebook.
  7. Dropbox client/model/friend.
  8. Create post for WordPress.
  9. [Do it again]

Going through the images will only take a couple hours, but finding the time to do it takes forever.
PhotoBackstage (4)

Scars Behind Grins & Smiles

They ran for their lives and in the mist of the chaos, were silent as they fell. The men walked away with blood on their hands. It got to the point that one could no longer tell the red from mud.Scars (2)Disgusted and unable to stop it, I walked away with the child. We went to an empty cornfield and watched the clouds contort as the last rays of light warmed the earth. And then, as night fell, trucks rolled in and the army arrived.

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Frightened, I picked up the child and left again only to be faced by the presence of high caliber weapons held by those who were meant to protect us.

#animalcruelty #drugwar #bloodeverywhere

And One Day We Can Laugh About Those Epic Fails

As a photographer, I’ve learned that things don’t always flow smoothly as planned.

1. Monster in the BushesLight ArtOne time, while doing light art at the lake, my light artist messed up an outline. I laughed so hard at the result that I almost peed! That wasn’t as serious but on a different night while working on astrophotography – I really had to go! 2am in the middle of nowhere and no Portapotties around.

Ben JosseAfter taking advantage of a shadowy area across the street, I told the guys that I’d heard some eerie sounds in that direction. They laughed and claimed to have followed me and ‘seen everything’. A few minutes later, though, the eerie and bizarre sounds reached their ears. Everyone became increasing paranoid and we had to leave very quickly!

2. Shooting Snipes
The Saleve at Night (1280x404)
Speaking of Astrophotography, one of my photo buddies tells a story in which he was interrogated by police because they thought he was a sniper! Wrong kind of shooting >.< always thought it was hilarious until a patrol of French police decided to lecture me on night photography. The fact they’d caught me under a street lamp didn’t help my case at all!

3. Hanging Out With Ninjas

Some friends and I dressed as ninjas to scout out a rooftopping view in Geneva. We decided to leave our perch when the man watching TV in the building across ran into his room to change.

IMG_0192 (1280x837)After a successful decent, the police happened to drive by (sirens screeching into the night sky) which scared us into switching outfits. While the officers didn’t see us, a group of pedestrians sure got a good look at our undressed bodies as we struggled to get different cloths on!

For weeks after the incident, I had some serious flashbacks/issues with European sirens.

4. No, Really, Don’t Get Blown Away

Behind the ScenesOnce, we were shooting on a mountain during a wind storm. The person holding the reflector may or may not have almost gotten blown away. In the end, it took three people to hold down and steady the reflector!

5. When that One Guy Got Attacked by Gypsies

During a photoshoot, we had people dressed as gypsies and clowns carrying equipment to our location which was close to a mile away. Got lots of strange looks and smiles from people.How to carry Things (995x1280)A couple weeks later my friends and went gypsy camping. While our misadventures included getting burned while dancing around the fire, guarding our belongings from a ‘group of men’ and waking up to freezing temperatures in a cave… We got back to school in time to hear that one of the theology students had been confronted by hostile gypsies the previous night.

That’s definitely not how we remember the incident! What a misunderstanding. Anyways everyone knew who the gypsies where because of the photoshoot. Both parties laughed and apologized for scaring each other in the middle of the night.

6. Are We There Yet?

WorstPhotoShoot (2)Pretty much anytime the crew has to hike over a mile just to get to the location! Happens more often than I’d like. Even worse when we have to transport crippled people. It’s gotten creative.

7. Case of the Missing Ringmaster

Piano (3)I’ve been working closely with an acrobatic gymnast in a series of editorial circus photoshoots. While our results are always fabulously awesome, our heads don’t always flow in the same direction. After three months of struggling with our project we’d finally arrived at our final shoot. Unfortunately, the day of – it became apparent that we were missing a ring master!

Tension really picked up when I suggested a name and got “Eww, no!” as a response.

“You hate everyone!” I screamed.

We exchanged quite a look as we stared at each other in absolute horror just hours before the shoot. Didn’t see each other again until it was time to take the pictures. We laughed in the aftermath of the situation. As it turned out, both of us had spent that time feeling bad and trying to find the other. Neither of us even wanted the unnamed person to be involved.

My photo editor agreed to be the ring master and everything went on as planned.

8. Why We Be So Ghetto?

WorstPhotoShoot (1)We’d planned a photoshoot in a specific location during the month of January. Because of a series of complications, said photoshoot didn’t take place till after the time change. No one had revisited the location and when we got there… Well… It looked like a hot mess! Not only did people have to stand on chairs in an attempt to fix lighting – but one of the guys ended up walking around the pond in my high heeled rain boots trying to clear up the debris.

While the people came out great, I have yet to fix the background situation.

9. Wardrobe Malfunctions
Abandoned Houses (2) (1024x662)
During a film shoot, a friend asked for advice on what his model should wear for a photoshoot at an abandoned building. While the original suggestion was ‘elegant long dress’, the model and assistants (including myself) showed up in quite the opposite.

The photographer stared at us in disbelief. “How did we go from elegant to rebel …. to, to this!?”

We couldn’t quite answer… Except for that maybe dressing in that way was rebelling against our somewhat conservative backgrounds.

While knowing that clothing malfunctions and dancing assistants proved to be a distraction through out the shoot, I honestly don’t know how the final images turned out.

Deans and TAs offered questioning looks as the girls and I ran into our separate dorms at midnight.

10. Dreaming of Cow Licks

astrophotographyWhile trying to get pictures of star trails, a friend and I dragged out a picnic table through a gate and into the middle of a field. Given that these sorts of images take forever, we fell asleep.

Worst case scenario – we wake up as a result of moos and cow licks produced by a herd now surrounding the table and blocking every possible escape route. The low hum of a tractor increases followed by angry and threatening explicatives. We make it 15 minutes late to our first class and definitively arrive under questionable circumstances.

The truth: we left soon after realizing that the above situation could have easily happened.

11. Nightmares for Days

IMG_9496We discovered a freshly killed dehorned dead goat during a photoshoot at an abandoned property.

While trying to report the incident, there was a huge misunderstanding which almost got myself and the crew in trouble. Apparently our dean heard that we had trespassed into an abandoned house to take pictures but had suddenly found ourselves surrounded by goat corpses… a whole heard of them!

One misfortune animal is enough, and for the record nobody was prowling about inside an abandoned house!

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So yeah… there are more stories, but you probably get the point. Photography is always an adventure. You never know what you are going to get.

Goodbye – One Last Time

We were up by 2:45am. Yeah, I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only way we’d be out by 3. Of course, the night sky was a cause for constantly running into things. Oh the stars, so many stars, oh so overwhelmingly marvelous!

We tried to set up the tripod at the base of the mountain but were soon chased away by a pack of unchained dogs. Thankfully a group of men racing down on scooters unknowingly diverted them away from us.

Out of all the times being paranoid, this was probably the worst. There was obviously some creep lurking in the darkness. Maybe human, perhaps a beast… Oh, all the things a wild imagination can come up with! At one point Sarah and I had to crawl under the guard rail to hid from an upcoming car. Ironically, we didn’t trust any weirdos riding up at at four in the morning!

The sky lightened and the glitter faded away as we reached the top. It was such a surreal view with the lights still glowing in the cities below. I stared at it for a good long time because I assumed it would be the last.Snow, Sunrise Over the Alps 628 (1024x683)Deep breath, deep sigh. It was time to move on. We walked for at least another half an hour. It could have been 45. It probably was 45.  Finally, after crossing from one side to the other  it was certain that the sun would rise before our eyes. I set up the tripod and promptly fell asleep by the side of the road. Don’t worry, no one slept through the grad event; we’d given ourselves enough time for a handy dandy nap. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Then all of the sudden, magic filled the air. Sarah told me to get up. It was so exciting! We stood on our tippi toes as the sun peeked over the horizon and spread it’s warmth across the Swiss,French, Italian alps. Words  and pictures cannot express the beauty we witnessed that day. Not even in composite.

Sunrise Over the Swiss Alps (1024x109)

We danced in the morning light, just as we’d danced under the moon.

Sunrise Over (1024x389)But all too soon, the time was up and we had to go back. The hills jingled with the sound of bells. The cows grazed peacefully in a way that no California cow could ever dream of. They were friendly and curious too. Snow, Sunrise Over the Alps 706 (1024x683)One day, I’m going to own a little herd of cows… each one will have a cowbell with a different note down the musical scale. And as they graze, they will make songs… and be moosical cows!

Anyways, we probably ran the rest of the way down. I had to dress up for a program at the chapel. It was crazy that we’d done everything with enough time to participate in it.

So many things happened in a short couple of hours that it seemed like forever since we’d stood on the edge of a mountain to look over the alps. Less than a couple sun ups  and four countries later, I stood in the MontBlanc store in Las Vegas, Nevada. All of the sudden I got the connection between the pens and the mountain. Excitedly, I ran over to the clerk and showed her a picture in my camera.

“Is it the same?” I asked.

She looked at the logo in comparison.

“Yes, it looked like it. Where did you take that?” the woman asked.

“On the mountain behind my school.”

She looked me up and down. “Really?”

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Yeah. That’s where I’d spent the last year of my life. Feels just kinda creeped up. There are very few places in the world when you can have windows as tall as the sky and literally live with the Alps past your backyard.

How to Scare Off a Cowboy (or Any Guy)

Scaring off cowboys is a backbreaking activity because it requires an enormous amount of time, dedication and insanity to complete the desired effect. Cowgirls or not, many are willing to sacrifice their reputation in order to win the affections of a dashing gentleman. Little do they know what a challenge it is to catch a cowboy’s wink. It is much more entertaining to scare him through strategic manipulation. The cowboy is sure to notice the girl … and keep a distance.

To frighten a cowboy, a girl must begin by appearing at locations that he frequently visits. It is important for him to know who she is. Even better, he must know her by name.  Cowboys are close-knit with their friends and family. For this reason a girl does not have to interact with him directly. Instead she can mingle within his social circle so his closest companions can become comfortable in her presence. Most importantly, the girl must become close enough to the cowboy’s family that she is invited for dinner. This is an excellent place to start. A kick here and a kick there, pretty soon she might have a full-fledged game of footsies under the table cloth.

While attending the many events surrounding a western lifestyle, a girl will find that a pink lasso can be her most amusing companion. Girls not familiar with the art of roping must have the desire to learn the techniques. For best results, she can ask her target cowboy for assistance. He will gladly hold her hand as she twirls the rope. Learning to swing the lasso is frustrating. Being able to rope the cowboy’s feet makes the effort worthwhile.  At first, most cowboys will find this gesture cute. With time, they will grow weary of being tripped. In anger he might question the purpose of her teasing. The girl can simply say that she is practicing what the cowboy himself has thought her. In the future, the young man will disregard her attempts to tighten a rope around his ankles.

During these roping events, the girl must take the opportunity to photograph her cowboy. Cowboys love to have their pictures taken, especially if they are on the job. The girl needs to make sure that the pictures are clear and enjoyable. Another approach is to have a friend photograph the cowboy then upload the pictures. Either way, once the pictures are online, the girl must have her friends comment on them. She must be generous with her own comments as well; often mentioning how handsome the cowboy is. Her posts might become mushy. This will only add to the desired attempt to scare off the young man.

By this stage, if the girl doesn’t already know where the cowboy lives, it is important that she finds out immediately. She might even discover that he lives nearby. If this is the case, she can take advantage and obtain pictures of his house from the comfort of her rooftop*.   For best results, when he asks to see his roping pictures, the girl is obligated to lend him her camera. She might want to have another camera at hand. In this way she can capture his reaction when he recognizes his home among her photography collection. The girl may admit to taking the pictures or she may act surprised that he discovered them. The cowboy will take a good long stare at the girl and he will never think of her in the same way again.

Next, the girl must create a web page directed especially towards the cowboy. She must include pictures of him and even Photoshop herself into some of the shots. The webpage will be all the more appealing if it includes poetry and love quotes. The girl might choose to use the webpage as some sort of diary where she can express feelings towards the cowboy. When page appears to have an adequate amount of mushiness, the girl must make sure the targeted young man (or his friends) ‘accidentally’ get a link. Most likely, the cowboy will be appalled when he discovers the online tribute.

To further the effect, the girl must get her friends involved. On a lovely afternoon she can direct them to create hordes of posters. Each poster must include: the cowboy’s name, hearts, and most of all, glitter. Pictures of him may be included but are not necessary. In the dark hours of the night, the girls must sneak into the young man’s property. The posters can be used to decorate the exterior of the home.  If the home itself is unreachable, then the posters may hang from the fence, gate, trees or shrubs. What a surprise when the cowboy wakes up in the morning!

Most girls may choose to stop at this point. However, it is possible to become friends with the county sheriff and asked for permission to steal the cowboy’s horse. If he grants permission, the girl must also share her intentions with the horse’s legal owner (provided that the legal owner of the horse is not her cowboy). After formulating the perfect plan, the girl is welcome to carry it out. The best time to steal a horse is on the day of a roping event. The girl can remove the horse form its stall and transport it to the event before the cowboy has the chance to notice the horse missing. This of course, is a suggestion that might be carried out by any girl who is desperate to scare off a cowboy.Playing With Color (2)

Another thing a girl can do is to spread rumors. She can say that she is so infatuated with the cowboy that she intends to kidnap him.  For better results, she must include spine chilling details; the use of chloroform, a stolen vehicle, some desolate ranch, etc. Obviously by now the young man will be horrified by her conduct and will go out of his way to keep a distance.Playing With Color (3)

After the girl realizes the extent of her inappropriate behavior, she will be ashamed of her actions. Embarrassment may cause her avoid any contact with the cowboy. The young man will miss the previously unwanted attention. He may only see the girl through nightmares. He will question her absence and become curious enough to look for her.  Needless to say, it’s hard to rope the heart of a cowboy, but with constant pestering, a girl is sure to be on his mind daily!*

*Option only available under certain circumstances.

*All examples taken from real life experiences, thankfully not my own.

*Pictures in collaboration with Juntsu Photography.

  • Models: Caitlin and Johnathan
  • Location Scout: Erwin
  • Horse help: Caitlin’s Dad

Drama Behind the Scenes

“This is probably the best still I have ever taken as a set photographer” read a post from last year which never quite got published… and so I’m just going to emancipate it from the drafts box:

The image was taken during a cinematography class project. We were supposed use a K3 film camera but nobody imagined that using it would be such a hassle!  At first, we couldn’t even get the film into the camera… it took six different people like two hours!

These are some other stills from the class project. We took great care on set design for that first shoot.  Costumes, poker chips and smoke, we had it all. Dolly tracks were set around the table, actors arrived and the tripod was set. Like I said earlier, it was two hours and 6 people before that camera saw the light of day.

As the problems with loading it became apparent, several suggested that we filmed on a HVX or Cannon T3i for backup. Unfortunately, it was decided to only film using the K3, as to save time. The director was freaking out and the rest of the crew and actors was stressed out. We needed to be done as soon as possible.

Being done as soon as possible turned out to be the least of our worries. Apparently the film was loaded incorrectly and the gadget responsible for pressing it against the shutter came loose during production. Fingers were crossed as we decided to move on.

The story evolved from the class’ desire to get slow motion shots of flowing fabric.  “What better way than a runaway bride in a gossamer dress?” They thought.

Being chosen as the bride was an interesting mix of fun and tragedy. Several class periods were spent running down the halls of the art department in a lime green dress. The rest of them regressed into the childish psychological mindset of ‘cooties’.   Yes, I did say the dress was lime green. In fact our costume designer did a wonderful job of creating it out of sheets and a slip.

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The last scene was supposed to have the bride die gracefully into a body of water. What was not graceful was the ungodly hour at which the cast and crew met up on a chilly, cloudy Sunday morning. In February. IN FEBRUARY!!!  This was not plan A – a heated pool in someone’s fancy Napa villa, this was more like plan Z and a half –a visit to the school’s fountain.

The director actually waded into the water in an attempt to coax us in. She succeeded – but as the frigid water engulfed my body, I found death wasn’t as beautiful as the shot had been described.  The groom’s shirt suffered a make-up imprint in a desperate attempt to muffle my unwarranted screams.  No one wanted to attract campus security!

The crew watched in horror as the fountain was vacated and cloths came flying off bodies faster than bullets.  The campus may or may not have witnessed an underwear clad person being chased by an ice soaked individual who in turned was followed by someone who’d been slipped into cloths at the last minute >.<  We are all running for a position within the Student Association. Good thing the administrators didn’t look out the window during their meeting!

The film was promptly sent to be developed. I jumped into a waiting vehicle and spent the rest of the day avoiding paint balls at a shooting range.

“There was some good footage and some bad”  our professor wrote, “but among it was a few MAGICAL slow motion shots of a fleeing bride”.

Of course, our poker scene is ruined because the film was loaded incorrectly – but you know what the worst part is? One of the rolls is missing. Specifically the roll featuring a ‘not-so-dead-someone’ in the fountain. There were many unhappy faces  and under breath comments to go around.

Deep breath. It’s ok. Our grades WILL survive.

As discussed in class, there were other factors that affected the success of this project. Some commented that the director wasn’t getting along with everyone on the team. Others mentioned that the producer wasn’t contacting the right people. Several glared at the bride & groom knowing that our ‘none speaking terms‘ attitude during production had ruined the chemistry.

Regardless of the outcome, this film making fiasco has brought many lessons along with it:

  1. Have back up lined up so if plan A fails at least you will be able to rock plan B (and not get to Z1/2).
  2. Group effort is needed so work with your team regardless of personal differences.
  3. Enjoy whatever it is that you are doing and have fun while you are at it.

As for my film loading abilities -thankfully one of the TAs decided to take the time to teach me how the camera worked. I took two freshmen into the darkroom with us so they could watch him load the K3.  Besides the occasional flicker from the little red lights on the enlargers, you can’t see anything! Nada. Rien. The poor TA must have rolled his eyes as the freshmen and I spent the next 25 minutes trying to figure out why we could all ‘see’ and were seemingly running into a fictitious pole in the middle of the room. Other opportunities to load the camera were much appreciated and encountered with eternal gratefulness. Trial and error does pay off and by finals week I could load the K3 by myself with a record under 10 minutes. No time to run into imaginary poles there!

That One Time Switzerland Invaded France

One hour of determined hiking can get one to the top. The view is absolutely amazing. Makes you realize how small you are and how big the world is in comparison. It’s fun going with friends, but sometimes going alone is the best option. You can loose yourself from pretty much anything. All the troubles and stress … pretty much just let everything drain out.

That’s why I really love the Salève.

But do you see that tiny red dot near the top? What is that?

Climbing in a Dress (2) (1024x683)

Depending on who you ask, you might get a different story. Department flag, Swiss flag, street art… so many things it may or may not be.

Yesterday, we had some visitors from California, specifically from the same city where my parents live. They drove in an Italian car and brought us beans from the US! Oh, it was so, so exciting! This is probably the only time I’ll admit to missing home. Anyways, one of the men stated that his father was a student at our school… and may or may not be responsible for that red dot on top of the mountain.

According to the story told, in the 1960’s there was a group of people who were up to nothing but mischief. Most of them were American students but of of them was a professor at the school. One night, they hiked up the mountain and repelled themselves down on the face of the Salève. Armed with flash lights and cans of red paint, they set to work. Their plan? To paint the Swiss flag on the French mountain!

The next morning, as you can imagine, France was freaking out! The Swiss were invading, possibly planning to take over the mountain! The boarders were closed and both countries glared at each other, preparing for the worst. Meanwhile, an investigator set out to find the culprits of the offending vandalism. The professor’s French girlfriend alerted the authorities that American students were responsible.

When the investigator appeared at the school, the dean of boys could not believe that  he wanted to question them. Never the less, everyone was lined up. Since the Americans had made a pact: to tell the truth if they were caught but not to incriminate each other, the investigator caught all of them except the professor. They never even found out that he was involved.

The tension between France and Switzerland ceased as they charted the Americans up the mountain to clean up after their devious adventure. Strangely enough, no mater how hard they tried, the paint was permanently stained on the mountain. The boys were all expelled from France and sent back to the US. Sometime later, someone repainted the mountain with the regional Savoy flag. Only if you hike up to it can you see the original Swiss flag underneath.

“But wasn’t it worth it?” I asked our visitor. “Oh yes!” he said, and we all laughed in agreement.

Climbing in a Dress (3) (1024x683)Apologies that this is the only close up of the flag. Here I am after climbing the mountain in the rain with my dress and high heeled rain boots. Not smart, I tell you. Not smart. Within the image, you can see three layers of flag. The Swiss one in the deep red, the regional French flag and one 4th of that which was repainted the fall of 2013.

Climbing in a Dress (4) (1024x575)Here is the view as seen from the flag. Directly underneath is France. The village on the lower left of the screen is Collonges-sous-Saleve. Can you spot the freeway splitting  it in two? The Swiss boarder is is not too far from that.

Oh, that reminds me! As we were descending from this hiking trip, a series of bikers rode by. The first one greeted us in an American accent. We got so happy that we started singing out the National Anthem to cheer him on. Unfortunately, the annoyed face and flag on the second biker let us know that at least that one was  definitely Swiss! Oh, how embarrassing! Americans do have a reputation out here, for being loud and obnoxious >.<

* All images (except of mountain from afar) were taken by Grace who also made this video of our hike:

*This blog post was originally written in March.

Night Under the Mountain

There is a group at our school that is often going camping or planning such outdoor activities. Wish I’d been better friends with them, because honestly those are the types of things that I miss from my childhood. The things I hope to continue doing in the future.

I did get to hang out with them a couple weeks ago when they decided to camp out back by the boulder field under the Salève. The weather report was super sketch. It was actually supposed to be raining, but not a drop fell from the sky.  It didn’t matter, we were determined to go camping either way.

We met up at 8pm, girls dorm. After blankets and sleeping bags were arranged, we set out to look for wood. Sometimes, when the laughter would fade into smiles, we’d hear music in the distance. Tried to ignore it, but it was kinda hard not to feel the base booming through our veins.

I led two of the girls into the woods to help collect loose sticks. You will not believe what was hidden amongst the foliage. Two enormous speakers almost as tall as we were! They played loudly into the trees as we stood there, mouths hanging in utter disbelief. A couch, table and among other things had been placed nearby. I ran to the dorm to get my camera but upon my return, one of the guys said that a large group of party people had formed in the woods and we should probably stay away. Bummer.

Wish there were more pictures to depict the evening happenings.  This is just the progression of our campfire. The last two images in the set were taken by Grace after she climbed on top of one of the boulders. Camping Sous Saleve

S’mores were devoured along with an apple pie one of the boys had baked on the campfire. Stories were told, songs may or may not have been sung. We had a darn good time.

After everyone had laid down for the night, Sarah agreed to stay up with me to take pictures of the stars.

The Saleve at Night (1280x404)Doing astrophotography of the European sky has been on my bucket list for quite some time. The predicted rain clouds where nowhere in sight. The moon was shrunk to only a sliver. The conditions where perfect… well perfect except for the camera. The lens to be specific. As I’ve found, a 50mm is not always a best friend. Specially not in this case.

Try as I would, I could not get a good image. We were camping way to close to the mountain. Not only that but the white balance was an issue. After an hour or more of unfruitful attempts, Sarah went back to the dorm. I tried one more thing; panorama shot.

Bedtime! I laid awake long after snuggling into my sleeping bag. Perhaps trying to count the stars, perhaps watching them circle above the mountain. Lid were eventually shut as I slipped away into a dreamy world…

 

Twirl Me

A week or so ago, I helped Kae film a choreography she’d been working on.  Being the first film project in a while, it was a little rough.  Guess that’s actually because  I’d never filmed with a 50mm Prime lens before. The result is not so bad though. Kae actually did an awesome job at editing and of course, her routine is fabulous!  LOVE it!

It’s kinda funny that the umbrella, which played such a big part, was complete coincidence. We grabbed it on the way out. Added that magic sparkle though, didn’t it?

 

Dragons at the Castle

Dragons and Paparatzi (8)On our way to Paris, we stopped at the Château de Chambord. It was actually pretty early in the morning, the castle had yet to be opened. Having traveled for so long, we eagerly ran around the grassy lawn. We also dance, we sang, and even pretended to be dragons.

Dragons and Paparatzi (1)The castle was just amazing. For some of us, it was the first real one we had ever seen.  I just remember standing there with the others, savoring the first glance.

Dragons and Paparatzi (2)There were so many details in each little tower. So many widows too, almost a little cluttered, perhaps a little too fancy.

Dragons and Paparatzi (7)The black and white option was preferred for these architectural shots because the grayscale allows one to focus on on the design.
Dragons and Paparatzi (3)Black and white however, did not really work for pictures of my friends. The lack of color made them merge into their surroundings.

Funny story – security was after us half the time!  None of us meant to attract attention to ourselves or maliciously provoke anyone… but stuff kinda happened. I got in trouble for crossing over a rope in order to get a picture of one of the girls sitting on the edge. Meanwhile, as we got reprimanded, I looked up to see one of the guys running on the floor above the security guard. Definitely another restricted area.

In the end, several of us were sent off with warnings while one girl was removed from the property entirely for doing a handstand on the edge of the wall some floors up.

Dragons and Paparatzi (9)Besides getting mischievous, we spent most of out time in tourist mode. PICTURES OF EVERYTHING!!!

Once again, I did them in black and white, this time to appreciate the light distribution within each image.

Dragons and Paparatzi (5)My favorite part, without doubt, was the helix staircase designed by Leonardo  da Vinci.  We were told that King François I chased his children up and down the stairs. The elusive stairs caused the children to think he was about to catch them when in reality that would have been impossible.Dragons and Paparatzi (6)This is the view from one of the little slits at the top of the staircase. Kind of looks like a prison cell, though the other side is certainly an artistic marvel.

Dragons and Paparatzi (4)Time spent at the castle was genuinely enjoyed by all.

Here I am, always dreaming all the places to shoot pretty girls decked out in red dress. Not gonna lie though, a fashionable photo shoot would have been fabulous here.

Take Me to Africa

Like I’ve previously said, I’ve always wanted to travel to Africa. But sometimes, when one can’t go to Africa, it’s ok to bring Africa to wherever you are.

Africa (1)Meet Leila, my lovely and very wise roommate. Also the first person to gladly teach me how to tie head scarves the right way. When I told her about my 9 countries, 9 photo shoots, 9 months project she was willing to help out. Obviously, I was way to excited about the whole scarf tying thing. Told her she had to wear one for the pictures!

Originally, this was supposed to be the photoshoot for ‘France’ but boy does it look geographically incorrect! Where are we? Perhaps in a Francophone? Could it be somewhere in Africa?

Yes, for the sake of this project and my current failing status – I should probably just say yes. A little quick internet search for an African country with similar landscape. Uganda? Not a Francophone but sure. Now what about this cow? It does not look very Africanized! Ok, we shall just say that it’s an imported English cow.

Done. Just like that. We are in Africa.
Africa (3)Now, how did we really end up with this shot? Well, you see, the mountain behind our school supports several herds of cattle… and I’ve always also wanted to do a photoshoot involving cows.

One sunny afternoon we set off to conquer the mountain! Unfortunately, when we got to the top, the air was chilly and the sun played hide and seek behind the clouds. Cows were easy to spot. All of them wore Swiss little bells that clinged and clanged with every step. We tracked them down and set up for the shoot. The reflector was useless. The sun was really gone.

And then the cows got a little tricky to handle. They were getting a little grumpy, looking at us funny and even doing a little stomping. Thankfully, Sarah was there as cow wrangler. She stated that she disliked hows, but she did a better job with them than either Leila or I could have done.

Africa (2)Here we are, a blotched attempt at a group picture. Nobody was dressed appropriately for the sudden temperature decrease. We ended sooner than expected and ran down the mountain, shivering as we went.

Oh well! Some good pictures were taken!

Now that my nine months abroad are are almost done I only have four of the nine photos needed for the project. USA, France, Belgium and Monaco.  Switzerland is just a 25 minute walk from my room so that’s easy. Mexico might be a thing before the summer is over. But the rest? What if I pretended the models were in diffrent countries. What if this one was in Uganda and I did another photoshoot for France? Might be a thing. I don’t just want to give up.

Worst Photoshoot Ever :(

 

Guess I’ve gotten too comfortable with my photography skills. Thinking nothing will go wrong is literally a foolish assumption in itself. Guess sometimes that lesson has to be learned the hard way.

After three months of planning, here we are working on photoshoot #2 of our circus themed photo series. It was a drastic difference from the success of our first shoot.

WorstPhotoShoot (1)The main problem was lighting. Now that the time has changed, the sun sets way too late. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem, but since dinner is at a fixed time we had to schedule the phootoshoot  three hours before sunset. The location was visited  in advance. One look and it was obvious that there would be trouble.

Once everyone arrived, the models took turns in front of the camera. The lighting was too harsh. Those around where asked to stand on chairs and hold coats and things to block out the sun. It was an embarrassingly ghetto set up. The rest the time was spent struggling with all sorts of unimaginable complications. The final images may work out alright, but boy am I bummed out!

WorstPhotoShoot (2)After several frustrating hours we hurried back to the school. I snapped a couple images. The sun was finally settling down. It would have been perfect lighting – but the photoshoot was already over.

The images are yet to be edited.

Gypsy Me

We’ve been trying to execute our circus photoshoot series for three whole months.  Every time we schedule; it rains, it snows, and it pours! Finally, we decided that rain or shine the first of these circus photoshoots would be done before the end of March.

Of course, the morning of the 30th, I woke up with a groan. The sky was dark and bleak. Piles of homework layed on my desk. Why was this a good idea?

All of our models,  were sitting on the edge of their chairs. They knew that the cooking class had to get out before 4 and the weather must contain itself in order for everything to flow as smoothly as planned. Around midday Kaelibeth, our photoshoot organizer/planner asked if we were still on. Thankfully, she was able to sneak out of class  in order to do makeup for our two clowns and juggler.

Meanwhile, Sarah and I visited the location. It looked a little different and it was a little further than we remembered. Nevertheless our minds were made up to proceed with the project.

IMG_0198a (786x1280)After, I dressed in my gypsy outfit… maybe a little too early. A North American highschool was visiting and my outfit definitely needed an explanation!

Sarah and I tied sheets filled with pillows and scarfs onto a long stick. We also added a chair since one of our clowns has yet to recuperate from a twisted ankle.

Up the road we went, gathering plenty of stares and smiles to go around. Can’t even imagine what everyone thought. A van full of people from our school came by. They were pretty surprised. Maybe Sarah and I were running away from school! Somewhere along the line, as we waved to a group of cyclists, our stick broke and we had to scramble to gather everything.

After about an hour of confusion, trips and setting up, things were finally starting to look up. Sarah had actually built a boho tent for me, the clowns and juggler were styled and in full make up. Maja, our clown with the twisted ankle was carried to the location… we’d gotten permission to borrow a different lens… (mine is broken)

Thus our photoshoot proceeded with great success.

And we all ran off on the account that dinner was served half an hour early…

IMG_0229 (1280x813)We ate in a hurry hoping that no one had stopped to rest in our little tent. The pillows and cushions were deceiving; if anyone had sat on them, they would have gotten their butts nailed.

We stared at our creation. Not wanting to take it down, we played cards and started planning. What about a gypsy campout in the mountains? Wouldn’t that be fun? We shall see, lol. I’m actually really excited!

It was getting dark. We finally loaded all of our stuff on a longer, stronger stick.

How to carry Things (995x1280)This time the three of us, Kaelibeth, Sarah and I, carried the stuff back. It was funny because we entered our dorm right in the middle of a Tahitian party.

People were like “What where you doing?” XD

Ice and Sky

We climbed up high hopping to catch a glimpse of the setting sun. The days had been getting warmer, thus we were truly surprised to find a blanket of snow. Live Life (1)

Even more amusing was the team of paragliders standing next to the edge. The sun pierced through their gliders. The colors spread throughout the sky. It was so beautiful.  Hopefully these extreme sports fans weren’t bothered by our presence. We may have gotten a tad bit too close.

It would be an absolutely amazing experience to try it out. Unfortunately, Kaelibeth and I won’t be able to go paragliding anytime soon. We have to wait till the end of the school year. Fingers crossed!

Live Life (2)In the meantime, we should probably hike more often so we can enjoy the view!  It is truly inspiring.

 

Gold, Mummies and King Tut

While in Paris, I dragged my friends through several stories in the Louvre trying to find the Egyptian mummies. We finally found them, all right – but it wasn’t enough.

King Tut (1)One of the girls said she had seen the Tutankhamun exhibit while visiting Egypt… so of course, I was ecstatic when King Tut came to Geneva! Ok, well maybe not his actual mummy but it was exciting never the less.

King Tut (3)Although I’d been in the area throughout break, it wasn’t until the last week of the exhibition that I got to go.  It was amazing to experience the discovery of the young Pharaoh’s tomb, and too see exact replicas of his treasures and tokens.

King Tut (2)It was definitely interesting to compare Tutankhamun’s mask to the digital reconstruction of his features. I felt like they looked similar straight on. Same nose and ears at least.

King Tut (5)It was quite a treat to see a recreation of the throne room and Pharaoh’s chariot. Egypt must have definitely required a lot of artists.  Just imagine how stories were constantly told during every reign. Hieroglyphics, statues, writing and all. Art so beautify and carefully created to keep the story of ancient Egypt alive.

King Tut (4)Oh, and look. I found a cat! Of course, we know that Egypt is known for their love of these furry felines!

Anyways, I’m super hyped up about Egypt and everything. Now all I want to do is pack my backpack and take an adventure through this historic land.

Gargoyles in Space

Project 9 countries, 9 photo shoots, 9 months… how is that going? Well it’s definitely not a thing to randomly walk up to some stranger that does not speak the same language and demand to take their picture. Does it count if the model looks like they are in another country? Is that a thing? I have many pictures that look like they were taken in Africa!

Brussels (1024x683)Well this one was definitely not taken in Africa but obviously somewhere in Europe. Where? Belgium of course! We arrived in Bruxelles expecting rain.  Indeed, the clouds hung heavy over our heads but thankfully only a drizzle came down.

We headed straight to the church. The doors closed soon after our arrival.  We lingered outside by the steps. Josué tried to teach me how to do a handstand. It didn’t work out very well.

He climbed on to the railing and waited for me to adjust the settings on my camera.  The town’s square was beautifully lit behind him. I captured the moment in black and white – couldn’t tell if he was a gargoyle or a super hero. The full color RAW file was used to edit the final image.

Brussels

When the camera was ready, Josué stood on his hands and walked down the railing. Grace went around and took this picture from a different angle. She loves taking pictures of people taking pictures. Pictureception!

Note: The image at the very top, taken from the side is also by Grace Romstad 🙂

Fire Sparkles and Blue Flashlights

Filming Fireworks (4)Got a text from Arve during an after vespers tea party. Were we up for some night photography? With sparklers? How could we say no? Headed to a nearby field. The fun was just about to start.

Filming Fireworks (3)The most important part of night photography is making sure enough light is coming in through the lens.  We made sure our cameras were set to the correct settings before moving on to the sparklers. Didn’t have very many of them!

Filming FireworksThe top picture with Matt waving the sparkler was taken by Zach. He set the shutter speed at just the right setting for capturing stars.  I took the one at the bottom.  Behind the scenes yo!

Filming Fireworks (2)Here’s one of Regina with a flash light. Tripods were probably used for all the shots. Definitely hiking up that long exposure.  There was not enough light to do it any other way.

Filming Fireworks (1)My favorite picture is the one that Zach took of Arve with all the stars in the background. The light was created with a lighter.  It took so many tries but the final result was way cool.

My SD Card was misplaced shortly after the pictures were taken. Glad to have finally found them! I’d actually like to try some night photography in Geneva. We’ll see how it goes. Wish me luck!

Antsy to get to Annecy

That View (1024x683)

After dinner one night, an older man stopped for a chat. He recommended that my friends and I visit the French town of Annecy and  Pont de la Caille.

Having just arrived in France, I was scared to venture out. But I really wanted to go! Thankfully, our school had an outing planned.

IMG_4151 (1024x683)

The town itself, especially old town, is so cute.  We spent a lot of our time taking pictures and at one point just sitting along the river absorbing the beauty.

That One Spot (1024x620)

My favorite part was probably seeing this view. It’s pretty much the only thing I had seen online while researching the town. I’m still a little upset that we weren’t there at night.  I would really like to come back to this place here and do some long exposures.

Them (1024x681)

After walking along the canals, we climbed up the hill. On our way, we saw a dungeon looking place. Naturally, we ran in excitement. Unfortunally, a strange stench rose from beyond the iron bars.  Everyone left the area very quickly.

IMG_4047 (1024x683)And yes, we did get to visit Pont de la Caille. The feeling of wind rushing through our hair as we ran up and down the bridge was totally worth the visit. I went to the edge and looked down. It was a long way. I’m saddened to hear that this is also called Suicide Bridge because of the number of people who jump on a yearly basis.

That’s really sad. It’s always important to look at the best things in life and leave the worst behind.

Anyway…. to end on a beter note, here is a Vlog from Grace’s youtube.
http://youtu.be/Foi_a2F_AJk

Can’t belive it… I actually moved to France!

My Room Window

This is my room window in Collonges-sous-Saleve. Can’t belive it… I actually moved to France!
Ok, so the whole trip was actually less stressful than going to Mexico. No joke. The couple sitting next to me on the way to London were really nice, and figuratively adopted me for the length of the trip. They appeared to have a lot of friends in the film business. Directors living in France and what not.

Switzerland

The weather report lied! It is freezing out here! I was stupid to have brought so many summer cloths. Can’t wear any of them. But I’m surprised I fit everything in one suitcase. People brought like two, three and I’ve even seen four.

Geneva

On my birthday, which was a few days after my arrival, a group of us went to Geneva. Strangely enough, the boarder between France and Switzerland is a walking distance from where we live. In less than an hour, we lost people on the bus, on the tram, in the city and within the shops. Here are the girls standing on a bridge after we crossed the border back into France. The freeway  leads to Milan which is 326.0 km away.

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Oh, and then theres my roommate. Never met before, but…We are both art majors. My Dad and her parents are from the Caribbean. They studied together in Mexico. Isn’t that crazy weird!? O.O

IMG_0471a (1024x682)

Anyway, it’s so gorgeous out here. I just want to stay forever. It’s like Napa but it also reminds California’s central valley… and you know I was never quite fond of SoCal’s lack of agriculture.

Campus Adventiste du Salève

The internet at the school doesn’t work as well as I’d like. It’s been a month and I’m still unable to upload pictures to wordpress. I hope this changes soon!

Unexpected Turn of Events

Pumulo
As you get distracted here, by these lovely images of my friend Pumulo, I’d like to share with you about the strange events that occurred that day.

We had decided on doing the photoshoot at an abandoned train station. It’s quite the popular shooting location around here.  As soon as I arrived, Pumulo pointed out that we would not be the only ones visiting on such occasion.

She had arrived earlier than I and was quite frightened by the behavior of three individuals who were resting in the shade. Two of them, a man and a woman, where engaged in a cycle in which they would argue, fist fight, make out and then cuss each other out.

We tried to go on with the photoshoot as planed – but left very quickly when the man stormed through the set and caused yet another reason to argue.

Later on, Pumulo wanted to try out her skills at photography and asked me to model for her.  – which I’m terrible at, by the way.-  A woman came up to us and started giving me tips on how to pose correctly.

As the woman was about to go away, she suddenly returned and asked if we had change to spare “So I can buy food at Vons for my daughter. She is two years old”.

Pumulo and I looked at each other. The only change I had was for the bus fare. Pumulo reached into her purse.  I had a better idea. I told the woman that we would go with her to Vons and I’d purchase the groceries she needed.

She seemed to feel really bad about straying us from our photoshoot and making us walk so far.  But never the less she agreed and led us to the store. Pumulo and I started freaking out … we had never walked through so many back alleys before!

I floated through the store in a daze. Pumulo asked several times if I was ok and if I was really planning to pay for the woman’s groceries. “Yes,” I told her, but I had never done this before.

I was able to keep the woman from getting unhealthy food such as soda… but I couldn’t convince her against the chips!  She got some breakfast and dinner items as well personal hygiene products.

The woman was very grateful. She thanked and hugged us several times. In addition, she got us large iced water from Starbucks.

It felt good to help her, especially with actual things, instead of throwing out random change.  It was a great ending to a photoshooting day 😀

Linea Caffe

Working With the Coffee Guru 029Woke up early on a Sunday morning  and headed down to San Francisco. Mission: To help film  Linea Caffe‘s Kickstarter.

PicMonkey Collage

On the way to San Fran, I talked to my professor about my interest in becoming a set photographer.  Tag gave me lots of advice. He said that the most important thing was to stay out of the way of the crew but mange to capture quality images of the set.

While I did take a bunch of images on set, my main job was to capture sound with an R-44.  Boy was I scared! I had spent the night before looking up information on how to properly capture sound. Of course, I had already survived one quarter of sound design, but it was better to be safe than sorry.

PicMonkey Collage2It took a while to get used to the jest of things; to properly set up the equipment, to make sure it was working and such things.  I had to be ready, hiding under counters or next to the camera ready to capture even the slightest wave of sound.  Ben and Zach, who where doing lights and grip work, also watched out for me and made sure I was doing things right.

All three of us were amazed by our professor’s ability to quickly get the task done.  The shots would be called out, we set up for the shot, filmed and were ready to move on.  It was such a professional environment in comparison to the sets of student films.

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We shot for a total of two days in three different locations.  I think my best memories of this project was the interaction between the crew and the public.  It was very interesting to see the reactions of people as we filmed on the streets. Some chose it as an opportunity to start fights while others wanted to hog all the attention. There was also some confusion with the word ‘shoot’ as several individuals related it to a gun rather than a camera.

f84b0fe981990e789f4ebbbb2282ba11_largeTo see the final product, click on the image above and watch the video from Linea Caffe’s kick starter page. Enjoy!

And He Danced Once Upon a Napa Stage

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“…And we danced, and we cried
And we laughed and had a really really really good time
Take my hand, let’s have a blast
And remember this moment for the rest of our lives!!!” – MACKLEMORE

Except for the crying part – well that pretty much summarizes the experience of attending Macklemore’s Bottle Rock concert. It was amazing!
Napa Bottle rockI tried to reach over the crowd to capture a couple good shots. My favorites were those of others gathering images on their phones.

Sunlit Moon

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Would you believe me if I told you this picture was taken at 1:12am?

The challenge was to take a picture of the stars.  We set out really late because my last class ended at 10pm.

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First stop was lake Hennessey.  It took a while for us to figure out what we were doing.  The pictures kept turning out under exposed, over exposed , out of focus and so on. A bunch of them even  made it look like it was broad daylight!

As soon as we had figured it out, a thick mess of clouds covered the sky. We were very disappointed.  The boys wanted to leave but I convinced them to help me out with a few light photography tricks. It wasn’t the best choice time wise.

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We all hopped back into the car and Ben drove us out to Pope Valley.  The ideal thing would have been to drive out to lake Berryessa, however I was only allowed out till 2am.

Instead we stopped at a random location in Pope Valley.  Markus, Ben and set out their cameras on the side of the rode. We tried again. It still looked like daytime.

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This is one of the ones that I took of just the stars.  We found out that the reason why our pictures weren’t coming out was because of the moon. It was way too bright. We are going to try again as soon as the new moon comes about.
Thankfully, the assignment has been extended till the end of May.

Beyond the Scenes

Sophomore year, we had a Group Production assignment for a ‘fictional narrative’.    We were to work in pairs, each with our own project, alternating directing and cinematography positions. Zach and I actually stayed through spring break to work on our short films, but he was both director and cinematographer for his own project.

Beyond Production (1)Because his story was post-apocalyptic, we actually considered filming in a ghost town. Unfortunately, the nearest one was several hours away.  Location scouting proved that many locations nearby would work just fine.

Beyond Production (4)We did have minor difficulties getting access though. For example, Zach found a tractor graveyard but had the hardest time contacting those in charge.  He finally got the keys, and we moved right inside.

I was often distracted and wanted to do spontaneous photoshoots of Ben. He played the main character and his outfit went fashionably well with the locations.  Had a camera and reflector ready just in case.

Beyond Production (2)Kélanie did sound design for our first shoot. We were glad to have her on campus while the rest of the school was gone.  I’m not 100% sure, but this may have been one of her first experiences using the sound equipment.  She also went location scouting with us, and we pretty much hung out the whole break.

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Funny as it seems, location scouting was not the biggest challenge. We needed to find a girl! Kélanie agreed to play the part as a last resource. There weren’t many options, since EVERYONE was out for the break.

We waited till after break to film those scenes. Serena played the girl. Serena was so much fun to hang out with. We were always up to some sort of mischief or another.

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The second day we shot at the lake was intolerably hot. The water looked so pretty and inviting from the bridge!  Serena and I told the boys that we were ditching production to go swimming. They were fine with it as long as we had bathing suits. We told them we didn’t. One of the boys had just asked if we were planning to go skinny dipping when the police showed up to escort us off the bridge.  It was so awkward.

The next time we returned to the lake, Serena and I were ready. After filming was done we grabbed the car keys, stripped to our bikinis and ran off screaming. We didn’t see the boys for a long time. When they finally appeared, they found us shivering and unable to get out of the water. Thankfully they weren’t upset.That Friday night, we returned with blankets, glows sticks and a larger group of friends. It was loads of fun and thankfully, this time the water was warmer.Beyond (2) (683x1024)

It took forever, but Zach was finally able to get all the footage for his film. We got to see it at the Vineyard Festival at the end of the school year. I didn’t post anything till now because the final video didn’t get uploaded to youtube till recently. Feel free to take a look!

Rain Drops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens

It’s kinda tradition to go to the Rose Parade. My Dad used to go as a child and my grandparents would even spend the night just to get a good viewing spot.
We had to wake up super early to get there in time. 4:30am to be exact.

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Something that made me kind of angry is that as I was taking this photo, a man behind me got angry and started shouting for me to move away. I just thought it was kind of rude, especially in such a crowded environment.  I had been there less than two minutes. I was about to explain that I just wanted to get a close up, but figured it would be pointless. After that, I walked around to another location.

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Took a lots of video but not as many pictures. There where other photographers out there with really fancy rigs. It was kind of intimidating.

Rose Parade 090aThis was one of my favorite floats. It was just so colorful, tropical and exotic. The dancers really added something , maybe a slice  Costa Rica, maybe Southern Mexico… I couldn’t really tell which.

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One of the reasons I was really excited to be there was that I had gone to see the Norco Cowgirl team practicing for the Rose Parade. Unfortunately, as the actual parade was in progress, I failed to recognize them! Oh well, major sadface! I did get to see them on TV though XD

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Ah, Dr. Seuss! All the childhood memories of elementary school and learning to read. Gotta say this was another favorite.

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For part of the time, I changed to a telephoto lens. It was perfect for capturing closeups of the bands and drill teams… but it was no good for the floats! They were just far too grand and far too big! That up there was probably the only good picture of a float obtained with the telephoto lens… and it was a close up at that. Only possible because the float stopped long enough for me to focus on it.

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Of course, there were also those pictures where I was too busy filming as the float went by and was only able to photograph it after it had gone by. But this one came out kind cute, don’t you think? It’s a good thing the back of this float was just as awesome  as the front 😀Rose Parade 075aFinally… (but actually at the beginning of the parade) is that Mckayla Maroney got to ride in one of the floats. I thought that was really cool because I never thought I would get to see her in person. Even from afar.

Over all, and despite that grouchie old man, this year the Rose Parade was pretty darn awesome! It was more so in person than on the perfect footage captured for television, because nothing can compare to attending an event in person.

Behind the Scenes of Harrison & Gregor

For our Intro to TV Production Class, thought by Tag & Rodney, we were asked to make a short segment for a children’s show. Our group was determined to make something better than the other team, so we set to work.

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We decided to use a green screen for our project because our lab hours where late at night and it would be too dark to film outside.
Hannah did make up for our actors. It was a bit exaggerated due to the nature of our short film. Nothing was supposed to look realistic.

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Connor was our director. He read over the lines with the actors. Chloe didn’t need to read from the script, she wrote it!

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We had plenty of time to mess around. Mostly because we had to get our lighting set up just right. There couldn’t be any shadows or anything in the background otherwise our green screen effect would be ruined. Charles, a upperclassman with much more experience came to help us out. We figured that the lighting formula was similar to that of high key lighting in photography.

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But we weren’t just using the green screen, we also had to set up studio space to look like a playroom. Morgan was in charge of production design.

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She did a good job. We got a little carried away there. Group coloring time, just like the good ole days, lol! Some of the girls and I also chased the guys and colored the tips of their noses with the make up sticks. Naturally, they didn’t like that too much!

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But soon, we all had to get back to work. We had to make sure all the equipment was ready to use. Half of it we hadn’t quite used before. Kalle did sound for us. He and his brother usually team up on film projects but this time his brother was chosen to be on the other team.

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The actors got ready…

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And Grace clapped the clapper board.  Are you ready to see our final result?
Here it is, brought to you by Chole’s youtube channel.

Mud Caving & High Key Lighting

The way I was able to get these shots has to do with mud caving,PicMonkey Collage1Meeting new friends & hanging out

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Rides in the back of Ben’s truck and discovering extraordinary modeling talent

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So we scheduled a photoshoot. I took pictures of Manny. Chloe took pictures of Larissa.

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This was actually the biggest studio project I have ever worked on. It lasted from 8pm till almost 1am. We had two photographers,three models,Kelanie was documenting, Shyana was doing hair and makeup, Amanda was assisting, Neil let us borrow his scooter,  Zach connected the camera to the tv and Ben brought guns.

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Actually – Ben brought the fan too and while I wanted to achieve the same effect from the tuck ride it was Ben’s idea to use the fan on fabric. Flowy Fabric and Guns-158c

That totally worked for recreating pictures in the style of Barbara Morgan. I used Maya as my model because she really knows how to work her body. I worked with her the most through out the photoshoot and we got a bunch of great shots. I put several of them together and Voila!

You know, Barbara Morgan’s models portrayed a lot of motion and emotion as they danced. Here Motion is portrayed in the way that the three images of Maya are put together. She was happy, she was full of confidence, she was spinning in blissful joy.

To view more images visit:

High Key XD

Making Dreams in Film and Digital


I recruited my roommate Cheyenne to help me out with a film/digital project. In between studying, I did her hair and makeup. The carnival inspired eyeliner and hair bow made her look like a little kid. Had her dress in a pretty blue dress, got some baloons and we were ready to go!

The point of the photoshoot was to capture angel lighting on film, but I decided to take advantage of the situation and capture some images on Digital that could later be manipulated.  The Result: 
I call this one “Underwater Dreaming”

Within it, Cheyenne’s reflection can be seen, as if she was resting right beneath the water’s surface.

This one is “The Fairy Tale Dream”
It’s the happily-ever-after she is dreaming.
I am super glad that Cheyenne’s boyfriend, Boris was able to dress up and come help! He actually held the reflectors so we could light up Cheyenne’s face. On the account that it was their 6th month anniversary, I took an extra series of pictures just for them. They looked so cute!

This last one is titled “The Nightmare”
It’s when she wakes up form her beautiful dream.

During the photoshoot, one of the balloons accidentally popped.  Chey immediately made a sadface and I was like “Hold it, this is perfect!”  I later had to alter the image digitally in order to get her and the grass in different degrees of light.

A few days after the  photoshoot, I went in to develop the images captured in film pictures. I have to admit, this was my worst experience in developing film ever!
To being with, I was worried about something else and was not focused on what I was doing. Halfway through the process, I absentmindedly opened the canister,  freaked out then closed it as soon as I realized what had happened.

Soon after, I spilled fixer all over my shirt and had to take it off and let it dry in the ‘film drying closet’. While the film it’self was drying off, Kelsie came over and we took pictures in the studio just for fun. Unfortunally, and because I was wearing my hoodie, I forgot about my shirt drying…
OMG – what if someone came in and just saw it chillin’ there!? Ahhhh the embarrassment! I ran to the film and television department up stairs and explained my situation.  “Do you mean to tell me that you are not wearing your blouse under the sweater!?” Sho asked.  Thankfully he had a master key that opened the door!

Out of the pictures developed, this one was the best. A little over exposed but still cute, is it not?
To view more of my work, click here 🙂

Girl Time!

This weekend, I was going to work on a portrait photography assignment – and then I realized that I had to use my film camera, which wasn’t working >.<
Well the girls and I were all ready to go, we weren’t gonna let a little film problem stop us from having fun!

With two DSLRs we set out the a ledge at the edge of our school and jumped right in.  I took individual pictures of three of the girls, Sharla, Regina and Jazmine.

Afterwords, the girls including myself and Jenny sat on the ledge while our friends Patrick and Queenie snapped a few shots.

After a while, Jenny decided that she would prefer to be behind the camera instead of in front of it. She joined Queenie with the picture taking while Patrick sat off to the side.

The girls and I had so much fun messing around and we enjoyed the rest of the evening thoroughly… well that is until we decided to jump into the fountain, but that is a whole other story!

To view myfacebook page, click here … don’t forget to like me! 😀

 

Ferns and Flowers

Last week I got to take pictures of three beautiful young ladies.

Abena, who is visiting from Moscow Russia asked for the favor.  Her sister and her cousin who are both named Adwoa were also there.

In Ghana, the country from which the girls are originally from, Adwoa means ‘girl born on Tuesday’.

I had a lot of fun editing the pictures the next day, especially this one with the cute jaguar kitten.

The picture that took the longest to edit was this one with the parrots. It took like six hours!

I made other versions of this picture but Abena did not like them! She did not want to have wings or any ‘weird mess’ like that, lol. Inspiration to add jungle animals  came because the day we shot was very, very hot! It was nearly 107 degrees that day and the humidity was just awful. Thankfully we all managed to survive. Well, almost; I stubbed my toe during the photoshoot  and couldn’t walk for a bit. Still hurts but at least it’s not swollen and purple anymore.

Throughout the shoot, whoever was not modeling helped me with the reflectors and other things. Abena’s sister was willing to do the girl’s makeup as well, so that worked out nicely.

Here we all are after an evening of taking pictures in the summer heat.  From left to right: Me, Abena’s cousin Adwoa, Abena’s sister Adwoa, Abena’s little cousin and finally Abena herself.  Abena’s little cousin was not happy to be there at all! He was really upset that we had picked him up from school to bring him to the photoshoot.

(From left to right:  Adwoa, Abena, me, Awoa and Ama- second row.)

Here is another picture taken last year when Abena came to visit from Russia.  The girl on the bottom is Amma. She is Adwoa’s little sister. I’ll be doing her senior pictures sometime soon.


I really love the traditional African style and hope to do an African themed photoshoot in the future. I feel like the Ferns and Flowers photoshoot had more of a South American feel to it. So international!
To view the rest of the pictures please visit:

Ferns and Flowers

Group Shots XD

These are some group pictures that I’ve edited.  Just randomly found them today and decided I’d post them up 🙂

This one is from Prom my senior year of highschool.

This is from a friend’s 18th birthday and promise celebration.

This is from another friend’s surprise birthday dinner.

All of the Lights

This week I had the chance of photographing Sarah.  We spreed it out on two different day with four different outfits.

Here is a picture of my assistant/apprentice Amanda.  I asked her to bring her own equipment so that  could take her own pictures as well. I got to say that Amanda is super creative! She helped out a lot with the artistic aspect of this photoshoot.

On the first day, we started off a bit late.  The three of us girls hiked up some nearby hills and the photoshoot began. Though rays of light still peeked from behind the mountains, the sun was soon gone.

Even in the dark, we kept going.  Amanda and I experimented with anything we could come up with. In this picture for example, Amanda used flash from the left while I took the picture with extended exposure.  The result is a weird mixture. The sky is light as day, the city lights glow and Sarah is split  lit.

The next time we meet up, we were able to catch the sun a little earlier.

And instead of hiking, Sarah drove us up. It was a plus, especially since neither Sarah or I were wearing the right shoes.

Unfortunately, the setting sun made all of the pictures very warm.
But we still got some good ones 🙂 I tried adding some blue to the pictures in order to even them out and also in the attempt to add a vintage look.

We did walk down the hill to take some pictures by an old structure.

Sarah walked down in 3in heels and managed to survive!  We had to hurry back up the hill in attempt to catch some light for Sarah’s last change.

Most of the natural light was gone, but we still found ways of lighting her up.

Overall, we had lots of fun. Can’t wait for the next photoshoot 🙂

To view more pictures not shown here, please visit:

All of the Lights

A Birthday Break for the College Student’s Soul

We went out to eat for Patrick’s Birthday. Afterwords we went a candy shop in Santa Rosa.  Then sat around outside, devouring our newly bought goodies. These are my attempts to capture the moment:



My friends where aware that I was photographing them; they kept making silly faces … these are actually some of the lesser silly ones.

This is a night picture from the location we were at:
 It was taken during a previous trip to Santa Rosa last fall.

Eclipse!

Today I had the opportunity of photographing an eclipse 🙂

The light outside was very bizarre. It was like a picture with bad lighting. People gathered around to see the phenomenon.

The sun was playing peek -a- poo behind the moon!

And the shadows on earth grew weirder and weirder!

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Flowers in Your Hair!

A few weekends ago, I had the pleasure of helping out with Peter Han’s  Senior thesis film. I mostly helped out with the set and took stills.  We were all out in the woods behind our college. It was crew, parents and like 20 little ones.

During one of the breaks, the little girls got creative with the wildflowers around them. They put them in each other’s hair and also decorated the crew members with them.

I took notes and used the same flowers for the Blue Belle photoshoot  did later that afternoon (Even though you can’t see them in any of the pictures).

Runaway Gypsy Child

For the longest time I’ve had a this suspicious looking suitcase in my dorm. I actually used it to make a short for my film class. But after the project was over, I forgot about the suitcase. You can image my horror when I opened it and found  a large bloody looking knife inside!

So anyway, I was supposed to return the suitcase to the prop room, but I thought I would do a photo shoot fist.

Thankfully, Audrey was willing to help me out 🙂  So where Brandon and Keslie who agreed to hold up the reflector. This was the first time I’ve ever use a reflector in my photography.

The reflector made the images so much better! Especially since a lot of the pictures where taken with the sun behind Audrey.

We took the first half of the pictures at our school’s airport, but for the last half…well…

Earlier that day, my friend Jose had taken me flower picking at a field near the airport. There were so many flowers that the ground was white! As the sun began to set, we all ran to the field of flowers barely making it.

The sun sank into the hillside and we rushed to get back to school. It was important that we get back by 8pm so we could attend Vespers. (At our school it is mandatory.)

Upon our return to the airport, our friends Ben and Zach let us ride to Vespers in the back of their truck. (We had fun hiding from security!)  It was a productive day 🙂

To view the full set of photos, visit: Runaway Gypsy Child

Story of a Newborn Child

 

This is a picture of my cousin’s baby, Emmi. Oh yes, he is cute, and he’s got that natural hair gel. But sometimes I get a little jealous because  I used to be the youngest at my house in Rio until he arrived. In addition, he is staying in my room! And every time I come home from college, the house is filled with cloths that my mom collects to send him in Rio.

Before Emmi was born, his mother became very ill. She had to stay in the hospital for a long period of time. Then the bad news hit. Her condition was such that there were two possibilities; either the baby would die, or else she would. My cousin stayed strong and she choose to keep her baby regardless of the consequences. Thankfully both were able to pull through and survive.

I often hear of individuals who support abortion. I completely disagree with the idea. There are so many out there who have had miscarriages and all they long for it to hold their own child.

 

 

 

Cheers to That!

“Cheers to the freakin’ weekend, everybody put your glasses up and drink to that!!!” miss quoted from RIHANNA

(And make sure that it is a non alcoholic beverage due to our written contract with PUC)

Yes!
My friends and I were able to survive dead week, finals and a 10 hour mini road trip 🙂
We celebrated, of course, but not with real wine since our school forbids us to do so.
I have nothing against that, but it’s a funny thing, you know since we live in Napa Valley.

Instead of ‘Happy Birthday’ we say “To the Fountain!”

On that special time of year… when the candles are blown and wishes are made… the student’s of PUC have made it a tradition to gather around for an anticipated event.

This is Queenie, and today is her 19th birthday. She has just returned from a surprise birthday dinner… but there is one surprise left.

She gets  thrown in the fountain!!!

Yes, it is a tradition here at PUC to throw students into the fountain on their birthdays.

The water is freezing cold, but they come out smiling every time.

Caring friends will stick around…

And bring towels. Lots of towels!  Maybe even a cup of hot coca.

Sometimes it is easy to get carried away. Witnesses might be chased and caught….

They need to be careful or they might get thrown in the fountain too!

Unfortunately,  a few weeks after this happy moment, an email has been sent to the students of PUC saying that it is against the rules to throw people in the fountain.  The school said that it was considered “an illegal act of hazing.”
Regardless of the email, people still end up in the fountain. They might be thrown in on their birthdays – or they may go swimming in the rain…. The tradition lives on!!!

Of Cows and Silver Spurs

In a place where pancakes are served for diner, the local Priest and City Mayor throw midnight parties, when people dance till 4 am, while fireworks light the sky…

Don Ignacio prepares himself for the day ahead. Don Ignacio isn’t just a cowboy –  he is a Charro, owning his own horses, cows and hundreds of acres of ranch land.

Meanwhile, on a hill top outside the city, Don Ignacio’s son, Nacho milks the cows.

There are several members in the family who prefer the rich and creamy fresh milk to the watered down processed stuff.

Nacho delivers fresh milk to his family everyday. Several neighbors have also requested the service.

Don Ignacio waits across the street for his son to arrive.

In addition to his son Nacho, Don Ignacio’s grandson Carlos and 14 year old great grandson PJ also arrive.

The men jump into the tuck and off to the ranch they go.

After a 45 minute drive, they arrive.  Before they can do anything else, they must alter their attire and make sure that it is suitable for the ranch environment. Cowboy hats, wranglers, chaps…you name it, they got to wear it.

These are Nacho’s vintage silver spurs, a gift from his father. Legend has it that they were hand crafted by a silversmith over a hundred years ago.  The large rowels on the spurs are mostly for show. The family prefers the sound of authentic spurs to the flimsy sound of the newer models.

The horses are readied with their saddles, bites  and bridles.

This one is named ‘Starlette’. She is the youngest and newest addition to Don Ignacio’s horses.  Carlos will probably get to keep her.

This one is Palomo. Don Ignacio bought him after his favorite horse passed on. The newer Palomo is not as tall as the original. Nacho usually rides Palomo.

The other cowboys arrive and the game is on. Today the new calves are rounded and branded.

Regardless of their studied profession, the majority of Don Ignacio’s children own cattle. A representative from each family is present to make sure that the process goes by smoothly.

Don Ignacio watches from afar with two of his horses.

He becomes impatient due to the lack of skills displayed by the younger men.

Don Ignacio has been riding since he was a year old but it has been two years since the last time he mounted a horse.

PJ leads his great grandfather’s horse out of the corral.

Tired, the men sit down and rest.

The gate has been left open and the cows give one last look before they  return to fields.

Most of the cows keep their distance but the hand reared ones that grew up in the city aren’t afraid to come close.

Meanwhile, in a neighboring town, a cow carcass hangs from a tree. It is the dreaded fate that eventually catches up to the cattle once they are sold.

Someone must be planning a party… a cow can feed up to 500 guests.