...so I am learning how to use my camera manually and life got in the way.

I decided to take an online workshop called Rock Your Camera 101 through clickinmoms.com to learn the basics of using my camera manually.  The first week went great and then I overconfidently thought I could take my next lesson with me to my sister's as I helped her empty the home she is losing to foreclosure after her husbands death in February.  BIG MISTAKE!  Not only because I didn't pay attention that the lesson would be in 3 parts (and I only had the first part) but because I also was not prepared for the emotional and physical task helping my sister would be.  
By the time I arrived back home the day my homework was due, I was overwhelmed and exhausted.  I didn't realize what I had gotten myself into all the way around and my brain was on overload trying to catch up on my photography lesson.  I just couldn't process any of it, I spent the next few days just trying to organize and sort my sister's old married life onto tables and counters for an estate sale.  I read my lessons over and over including the new third weeks lesson hoping that something would sink in, trying to practice when I could.  This is the most important thing I have ever wanted to learn and I was mad at myself for spending the money without thinking about my ridiculously difficult schedule this year.  But somehow I am getting through it.  
I took some time one morning to practice my lesson on grey cards while having coffee with my husband.  I really didn't understand what I was doing, I still don't have the lesson clearly defined in my head as to what it all meant but it seems to have laid some groundwork for later lessons.  Here is that practice.
12.5% gray card     18% gray card
Not only am I trying to catch up with my husband but cats are trying to drink water from the vase and dogs are trying to get in the picture as well. I like this shot I got with one of the dogs, I was playing with focus which was hard with the very bright window and the big light drop off on the left.
dark to light in focus
The next morning, I didn't even have time for coffee...my homework is already massively late and I take a moment to play with my white balance buttons.  This is important because whenever I take my camera inside someone's house, I notice the colors are always to yellow and I don't know how to fix that.  This is one of the reasons I am taking this workshop.  This is my attempt at the assignment and I still am not sure of what the heck I am doing.
white balance settings
Now I have to get the actual homework done and the only people around me are my sister and her daughter who are overwhelmed with their life spread out all around them at the end of a very hard week.  My niece encourages me and offers to model for me.  She holds up the appropriate gray card I am learning to work with in a very poorly lit room about 10 feet from a window and the sun is going down fast.  My sister steps in and I caught a very intense moment but it isn't until I drive down the mountain road on my way home that I realize I forgot to set the custom white balance properly so this won't qualify for my homework.
grieving in twilight
Now my homework is late, I have a whole new lesson to learn and my life is feeling a little out of control.  I am an old mama dog who is not only past late homework excuses, my kids are too.  But because I am an old mama dog, I put one foot in front of the other and just take care of what's important knowing that somehow everything will just fall into place. 

At the end of the estate sale, a wild crowd of gypsy hippies come along and one of them (Sunny) shares her emotions, her dreams and her children with me to photograph as they shop what's left of my sister's old life.  They have no guile, I can shoot away while changing my settings, playing with my focus, clumsily trying to figure out what I am doing.  
As I practice, I start to understand the lessons and I am so excited to finally get it, have that AHA moment.  The photos aren't great, these people don't stand still but I understand how to get the light right.
hippy gypsy family white balance
I guess my excitement was contagious because Sunny broke into song and nursed the baby at the same time) while Dylan continued to play his pretty green guitar.  So as the kids wandered around, I practiced changing my settings including the custom white balance settings I had given the camera in the house.  
willow & maya in focus     willow & maya (picture tells story, don't it)
My crazy 2 weeks ended in a crazy, colorful way.  I came of age in the late 60's, early 70's when hippies were everywhere.  It was never a lifestyle I was attracted to, I liked baths and security as well as fashion way too much.  But I love art, creativity and openness in people.  I realized as I listened to Sunny's romantic vision of the world, that my sister and I have already lived a lot of Sunny's dreams.  Romantic vision means hard work and time, sometimes money.  Things don't end up as romantic or appreciated as we hope and sometimes they are better.  But our dreams once fulfilled or ended means that there needs to be new dreams, new adventures.  That is why I am finally learning photography, it is an old dream I had given up on for lack of money when my kids were young.  I guess inside I have a young hippy child with creative hopes and dreams although I still love baths and fashion!  I have learned that security is something I can give myself and share with my family and that it is still important to me even with an itinerant life.  I had so little emotional and physical security as a child, that insecurity has sometimes kept me from enjoying my dreams.  I hope that little Willow and the other children in this group never have that in their lives.  
Many thanks Sunny, Dylan, Willow and the rest for helping me get my homework done!
gypsy hippy troupe   

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