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About Me

Single tired mom of four. Lover of chocolate and coffee - not necessarily in that order. Lover of Jesus, photographer by trade, Photoshop junkie and crime TV watcher.

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RSS Hallie Westcott Photography

Relief of the Biggest Kind

July 31, 2008

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If you have been visiting here on occasion, you might know my mom just had the majority of her esophagus removed.  It was a  major surgery, especially for a woman of her age, but God brought her through and she was well on her way to a full recovery.

After the surgery, the surgeon felt it best to put her in sub-acute rehab for awhile, mostly for physical therapy.  During her stay, she very suddenly stopped eating.  Even though she has a J-Tube in place for tube feedings, the idea was to get her eating and transition her off the tube and onto full meals, but it wasn’t looking good.  She has not even been taking a teaspoon at each meal.

She never complained of pain; only that she had no appetite.  I realized fairly quickly that the facility was not following the doctor’s requests to give her very small meals throughout the day, in fact, they were rarely bringing her a snack at all.  When she was supposed to be eating a soft diet, they were giving her things like bagels.

On one particular occasion, her feeding tube fell out and she had to be taken to Yale to have it replaced.  On her way back to the facility she asked to eat – a huge surprise to us, but upon arriving back at the facility, they realized that the fitting for her tube was not in place, so not only did she not get a tube feeding, they also never gave her anything to eat by mouth.  Of course I didn’t know about this until the next day and I was not a happy camper.

These kinds of things have become regular occurrences over the last couple of weeks.  The stress has been incredible and my body has not been cooperating.  Over the last couple of days, I have had a real struggle to get off the couch.

I raised my concerns and my voice about this issue on several occasions, but to no avail.  It’s always someone else’s fault. 

So the facility called a meeting yesterday and told me my mom could come home – with the tube.  UGH.  Honestly, that was the last thing I expected, or planned for.  All the while I’m thinking, “God, haven’t I done my time with my mom?  Can’t you send her home without a tube?  I’m so tired.  There is just nothing left for me to give.”

Selfish I know.  But you have no idea how tired I am.

Anyway, I asked her what she would like to eat if she could have anything at all.  She wanted pizza.  So I planned to bring her pizza today and this afternoon I called to remind her what I was bringing for dinner.  She informed me that she asked them to take her lunch tray away because she was getting something better.

“Uh mom….I’m not coming until dinner.”

“That’s okay.  I’m not hungry anyway.”

As I walked into her room holding the hot pie, she looked really excited.  I think she even licked her lips a time or two, but I was still skeptical.

And then she very slowly ate TWO WHOLE PIECES!

And this grown woman almost cried…

Thank you Jesus!

I guess the food there just stinks.

Barefoot & Fancy Free

July 30, 2008

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Wordless Wednesday – Mud Pie Makin’

July 29, 2008

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Thanks for all the awesome craft tips everyone suggested.  I’ll be putting them to use asap.  Mud is always good, but it’s time we branch out past a pot of dirt!

 

Keeping Them Busy

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I wish I was more crafty.  I need to have some tricks up my sleeve.  Anyone have some easy toddler crafts they would like to share with a craft impaired mother?

 

Learnin’ Some Skillz!

July 27, 2008

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Muwaahahaaa!  Look…..yet another convert!

 

Through the Lens: Assignment 3 – Better Composition

There are certain rules to follow for good composition.   Some call them rules, but rules do not always leave room for creativity, so I am calling them guidelines.  Using these guidelines will help balance your photos and make them more pleasing to the viewer. 

Good composition allows the viewer’s eye to flow through the photograph naturally and is just as  important as good lighting. There are many different guidelines to follow that will drastically improve your photos, but let’s start with the Rule of Thirds.  Hey sorry, I didn’t name it.

The Rule of Thirds suggests that instead of placing your point of interest in the center of the frame,  you divide your photo into thirds, both vertically and horizontally and use the intersecting lines as a reference point to place your subject or points of interest.   Studies show that a person’s eye will first land on one of these intersecting points and not the center of the photo.  Maybe that’s because our eyes are not on our nose, either way, composition can make or break your photo. 

Here is an example using the rule of thirds…..well almost thirds, but you get the idea.

 

 

Another way to improve your composition is to rid yourself of those cluttered backgrounds.    Taking a photo with a lot of things going on in the background is distracting to the viewer.  Keep in mind, less is more.  To declutter, try moving around for a better angle or move in closer. 

The first photo below is an example of a very cluttered background.  The second image, with it’s simple background allows you to focus on the subject without distractions.  (Note that the first photo also breaks another rule/guideline of not cutting people off at the joints.  It is better to go below the knee or at the thigh and the same applies to the elbows.)

 

 

If you are bored with the same old composition, choose a different viewpoint.  Mix it up; get down at your subjects level, or lay on the ground and shoot up for a more interesting shot.  

When you think your close enough, get closer.  Fill the frame with your subject.  There is nothing more boring than looking at little Billy, who is the size of an ant on the photo and is surrounded by two plus miles of landscape.  Personally, I would rather see the expression on his face, the dirt on his hands and his messy hair.  The details are what tell the story and you can’t see those from far away.  So get close and remember, less is more.

See the impact the first photo below has over the second.

 

 

Lines add interest to a photo and can draw the eye in a specific direction or directly to your subject matter.  Lines can also add depth and motion to your composition.  Photograph a pathway, a bridge, a line of trees, or a winding road.  Diagonal, vertical, horizontal, curved….lines are awesome!

 

 

Look for the details.  At times the details have much more impact than the full subject.   Sometimes a throw away image can be turned into a keeper by finding the details.  A simple crop did this for the images below.

 

 

The last tip I will share with you is one of many I learned from Scott Kelby and possibly one of the most helpful.  If you don’t know what your subject is, don’t shoot the photo.   Your photo needs to have a focal point where the eye will come to rest; an area of interest that draws the viewer to that particular spot on the photo.  So decide what you are shooting at before you take the shot.

Now that you have reviewed some of the basic rules of composition, let’s learn how to break them!   Here is a great article at Digital Photography School about breaking the rules of composition.

http://digital-photography-school.com/blog/break-the-rules-of-photography-and-take-stunning-images/

Your Assignment:

Use the basic guidelines you have learned in this lesson and apply them to your photographs.  We have gone over eight guidelines to follow for good composition, so take at least eight photos using the techniques you have learned and post them to your blog.  Return here when you are finished and link to your post by signing Mr. Linky below.  The next assignment will be posted in three weeks.

You can join here: ThroughTheLens-DigitalPhotography101-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. After clicking this link, just send an email expressing your desire to join the group, or a blank email is fine also.

Photographic Inspiration:

Steve Paxton has some of the most dramatic photographs I have seen to date.  His series of urban portraits, The Least of These is simply amazing.  Steve photograph’s capture the lives of the homeless and overlooked with compassion and empathy, while giving dignity and care to those that have no place to call home. 

Steve also has some fabulous tutorials here, including information on urban portraits.

Digital frame by K. Pertiet

Assignments:

Assignment 1 – Getting to Know Your Camera

Assignment 2 – Understanding White Balance

Oh That Face!

July 26, 2008

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Today was baby Carly’s first birthday and she has got to be the most well behaved child I have ever seen.  She let me shoot her for about 20 minutes and never made a peep!

I was changing my camera settings just as I saw her make this face.  I quickly pulled my camera to my face to capture her expression and cut off her shoes.  Drats!  Oh well.