Saturday, April 30, 2016

Some news

Warning: Very long text post ahead.

When you were younger, what did dream of becoming when you grew up? It’s probably no surprise that my aspirations varied greatly; I bounced from nun to doctor to writer to astronaut as a child. As I got older, I realized that I had a talent for writing and stumbled blindly into the world of journalism. In college, I discovered my passion: telling other people’s stories. I loved peeling back a person’s layers, getting at what they didn’t think was worth examining and showing the world just how lovely it was.

After college, I was fortunate enough to elbow my way into the world of regional magazine publishing. I was doing what I loved, even though I had to juggle three jobs to make it work, and I was busy but mostly content.

Then the magazine got bought out. My colleagues were getting laid off or jumping ship in droves, so I seized a lifesaver of my own in the form of a communications office for a government agency. After a few years, I was making more money than I ever would have imagined making before my 30s, doing a job that I was quite good at and that made decent use of my journalism degree.

And I was restless.

I dreaded waking up Monday mornings. And Tuesday mornings, and every other weekday mornings. I lived for the weekend, when I felt like my time was my own. I found myself calling off sick because I just couldn’t stomach the thought of being a cubicle drone that day. I used my vacation days liberally, desperate for any excuse to escape my life. I accepted that this was my normal, my life: Living each day as a countdown to 5 p.m., viewing my job only as a means to an end, a necessary evil that must be endured in order to live the rest of my life the way I wanted.

You, blog readers, can probably always guess when something big is happening in my life. I quietly disappear from my corner of the internet, either because I’m simply overwhelmed and need to “do” one less thing or because it’s the only way I’ll keep secret information from spilling out in a public forum. Such is the case these last few weeks.

I woke up. A series of perfectly timed events jarred me out of my complacency, which I realized was no way to live a life, and I took an enormous risk. It’ll be quite a while before I can be sure that it pays off, but I’m fairly certain it will.

I’m leaving my cushy government job for a gritty, difficult job with less material payoff but far greater job satisfaction. And starting in May, I’ll be the editor of my very own magazine. I’ll be the one-woman show running Columbus Weddings, the publication I’ve been freelancing for these last several years (and the one I was an assistant editor for right after college, back when it was called Columbus Bride). I never could give up my ties to that publication, even when I was making enough money to not need the freelance income. I feel like that has to mean something.

I’ll also be editor for several ancillary publications of the main parent magazine, Columbus Monthly. It puts out numerous niche products a year, from Best Driving Vacations and City Guide to special feature sections on the Columbus-area suburbs and several small advertising-driving features.

It’s going to be a rocky few months; I’m going to hit the ground running with two big projects from day one. I don’t know what that’s going to mean for Verbal Mélange in the long run; but for now, I ask for your patience as I adjust and keep things pretty low-key around these parts. I’ll see you on the other side :)

(Also, because I can’t skip my attribution: The quote in my post title is from Mary Oliver’s poem, The Summer Day, in case you were wondering.)

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Weekending: Virginia Beach & Colonial Williamsburg

Hey there ladies and gents (or let's face it, probably mostly ladies), I haven't disappeared! Things have been crazy lately, it tends to be when I'm not posting much. I'll get into all of that in a few days, I swear.

In the meantime, I thought I'd share some photos from the trip I took last weekend. Matt was working in Virginia Beach for the week, helping open a new store, and I decided that was a good enough excuse for a road trip. I drove halfway, to Roanoke, VA, Friday after work. Emily lives there with her boyfriend, Will, and I crashed with them for the night. We all got up early Saturday and headed down to Virginia Beach. Matt ended up working all weekend, but the three of us had a lot of fun exploring the area. Sunday afternoon we started back to Roanoke, but stopped in Colonial Williamsburg for dinner on the way. Will's parents gave us a little tour of the area, which was about the most adorable thing ever.


It was pretty chilly on the beach, with the wind, but we saw some surfers from the pier nonetheless.


I was dying over the kitschy sea life taxidermy. I didn't buy this guy, but I did get a little blowfish with googly eyes and a straw hat to hang from my rearview mirror. Cam promptly ate it. (Don't worry, she's fine.)



We toured the old Cape Henry lighthouse, which was the first federally funded lighthouse in the country. It's not in use anymore, but the newer black-and-white one nearby is. We toured the inside of the old one.



Would've been a great shot without the graffiti. Damn kids!



Colonial Williamsburg was so, so pretty and quaint in the best way. We were there just before sunset and got some amazing light as we were exploring.





I recently won a new Panasonic DMC-FC1000 bridge camera, and I took it with me to test it out. I thought it might be a nice camera to take on vacations and trips, instead of lugging (and risking) my Nikon and a few lenses. It's a nice little camera, can go fully manual, and it's super lightweight. But I felt like it just had a couple of limitations that I couldn't get past. It does do fantastic macro shots, though.

I took Monday off to drive the rest of the way home, making a pit stop in good old Athens for lunch on my way. It was a great weekend :)

Now I have to dive back into another crazy week. I'm hoping to get my 52 Week Challenge photos posted soon (I haven't fallen behind on that yet), as well as some good news to share with you!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

52 Week Challenge: Week 13

This week was another portrait week, and it should have been a breeze because portraiture is my main photography style and the one I'm most comfortable with. However, the theme was "high key" and while I thought I knew what that meant, turns out I was wrong. Kind of.

When you Google "high key portrait" or "high key still life," the first thing you'll notice is that there's a lot of white and a lot of brightness. "Okay," I thought, "high key is just a nice, bright image." I wound up shooting three different models for this one, because despite the simplicity of my understanding of the theme, I wasn't quite satisfied with how the photos looked.

I learned photography with natural light, and when I shoot indoors I'm typically working with babies and toddlers so I tend to flood the area with light. That was my initial approach for this week's challenge, but after my second shoot I decided I wanted stronger shadows. Which is how I got this:


I think it's a great shot. It achieved exactly what I wanted it to, thanks in part to the model following direction extremely well. However. It turns out my instinct to bump up the shadows was incorrect; a true high key photo has relatively low contract in terms of the ratio between light and shadows. In that respect, my second shoot was more of a technical sucess:


So there you have it! Have you ever shot high key photography? What challenges and successes did you experience?

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

52 Week Challenge: Week 12

It's an artistic shot this week, and the theme is "transportation." I had a couple of ideas, but one didn't pan out and another I didn't have time for, so we're left with my third option:


This little car has lived on the outside sill of our garage since we moved in. I'm fascinated by it. Where did it come from? Who put it there? The previous tenants of this duplex lived here for five and 10 years respectively, and they didn't have kids. How long has this little guy sat here, unable to leave without a working wheel?

In other news, I had a couple of photo shoots this weekend. If you're interested, you can check out some adorable first birthday photos and some beautiful maternity photos on my business blog in a week or two. Having clients this awesome makes my job easy!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

52 Week Challenge: Week 11

This week, the challenge was a landscape that features a reflection. Initially, all the rain we got for the week had me thinking I'd do a puddle reflection. Ultimately though, I decided that that kind of shot would fit more into the "artistic" category than a true landscape one, and after my totally lazy portrait-as-an-artistic-cop-out, I had vowed to stick more to the true spirit of each week's challenge.

So I headed up to Antrim Park with Cam, attaching her leash to an old climbing harness so I could shoot with both hands, and had a nice stroll around the lake. The clouds rolled in about halfway through and I thought I'd missed my chance at any good reflections, until this happened just as we were about to leave:


How serendipitous, right? As always, there are a few things I wish I could change--my shutter speed was a little low, because it was so overcast and I was mostly shooting the actual landscape, not the birds. But hey, I'll take what I can get.

Someone in the Facebook group for the challenge suggested I crop it in tighter on the ducks. I thought about doing that during my initial edits, but again, the shutter speed wasn't quite right. See what I mean?


Close, but no cigar.

Of course, that wasn't the only good shot I snagged during my walk. The following was a close runner-up, but ultimately I decided that while it was pretty and well-composed, it just couldn't compare to the action in the duck shot.


The next two challenges are going to be pretty interesting, I think. I've got a few ideas for both (and some new gear to try out on one), so I'm pretty excited!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Hello from the other side

I don't want to jinx it, but I think we might have winter behind us. HELLO FROM THE OTHER SIIIIIIIIIIIDE! Yes. I did that.

I'm very excited about this, obviously. Not that I don't love my light therapy lamp, but I'm looking forward to some REAL SUNSHINE in my life for the next several months. And the temps! Oh god, it's 7 a.m. and the window is open right now. I don't think I can even begin to describe how happy that makes me.

Anyway, I took this photo at the dog park last night because it is officially light enough for long enough after I get home from work to take Cam to the dog park! Huzzah!

IMG_0531 copy

Welp, I'm off to spend the day staring wistfully out my office window and wishing that it opened.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

52 Week Challenge: Week 10

Well guys, if I had any doubt about making my portraiture my photography style of choice, those doubts were erased this week. The challenge was to take an environmental portrait; that is, an image of someone in his or her "natural environment." I originally was going to do a photo at the dog park, but after last week's dud of an image I decided to push myself a little more.

After a little bit of thought, I settled on the idea of a vintage/junk shop. I liked the idea of creating layers around my subject, and a nice, messy junk shop seemed like the perfect setting. The first few I stopped into this weekend were entirely too curated and tidy. I wanted chaos and age and the sense that a treasure was just waiting to be found.

The second I walked into Down Memory Lane, I knew I'd found it. It felt like walking into a grandparent's basement. Boxes of seashells or buttons were stacked on the floor, piles of jewelry and jars of marbles were tucked into shelves. Little piles of kibble were hidden away to satisfy the shop cat. I was in love. I waited until a few customers cleared out, then approached the women who had been helping them. She directed me to the older gentleman puttering around the store; her father, the owner.

I tried a few posed shots, which didn't work as well as I'd hoped, then eventually wound up just following him around the store as he continued to putter.


That was the image I shared as my official photo. It immediately became the most popular photo I've shared in the challenge to date, with more than 100 "likes" in the first 24 hours I posted it to the challenge's Facebook page. On Instagram, the challenge creator "liked' it and I literally dropped my phone in excitement.

It's just been such a relief to finally nail a shot; I haven't felt this good about a challenge image yet.

I had a few other favorites from this shoot, but I liked them all so much that I decided to share them on my photography blog. You can check them out here. (Sorry for the clickover. It sucks, I know. I promise not to make a habit of it.)