Monday, May 31, 2010

Playing Around in Photoshop

One of my goals for this weekend was to improve my Photoshop skills. It has been a slow and painstaking process and I haven't learned near as much as I had hoped. However, it was not a total waste. Here is a picture that shows I had a little fun.

And now I know that if I ever need a pair of fairy wings, I can draw my own.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A College Reunion

Well, I won't be posting any pictures of my college reunion. Partly, because this blog is supposed to be about Chloe and Pearl, and partly because I left my camera in the car. Yes, I was too embarrassed or lazy or whatever to get my camera out of the car. Sometimes I get like that.

Pete and I both met in college and we both majored in architectural engineering. It was fun to share experiences with fellow alumni and even a couple of our professors. After a few hours singing the blues about how the economy has affected the engineering and construction business, it was off to revisit the old campus and town.

This was the view from our hotel (above).

The next day we stopped by a local park to have a playdate with a couple of other families with children from China. This last picture is of the girls with their new friends.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Black and White Wednesday

I still consider myself a beginner in this new hobby of photography. It's been just over a year since I purchased my first DSLR camera. I think I have worked pretty hard at it even though I work full-time and then try to spend most of my remaining hours in quality time with my family. I have edited a few shots in black and white, but it is rare for me. These past couple of weeks, I have made a greater effort to work with images in black and white.

Pearl on the Mission Steps
This first shot is of Pearl from this past weekend. I sized the original a little too large for this web page, so if you want to view it larger, click on it and then click on "all sizes" after you are linked to my flickr stream.

We traveled to San Luis Obispo to a mini-college reunion of architectural engineering graduates from Cal Poly. Both Pete and I were ARCE majors and we met in college, 25 years ago. In three days, we will celebrate our 17th wedding anniversary.

After the reunion, we explored the town to see how much it has changed over the years. We usually come by here every year or two since we only live a couple hours away. The changes in this town are amazing. This picture of Pearl was taken on the steps of the mission (one of the original California missions). It is one of the few buildings in downtown SLO that hasn't changed, and I hope it stays that way.

"A" Family in Black and White

Hopefully, in a day or two, I will get the rest of the pictures up from last weekend. My second black and white shot was taken almost two weeks ago in the yard of my old house. It closed escrow last week. The mother in this young family is a dear friend and former employee who has helped us so many times over the years. It was my pleasure to practice on her and her family as I try to expand my photography skills. I liked this shot because it felt so natural and so tender between them. The son is sitting on a stone pillar and has his hand on his Dad's hand, which is resting on his leg. You can see his Dad's wedding ring. The parents are obviously engaged in the activity of their sweet baby girl. I think it tells more of their story than the posed shots where everyone is looking at the camera, although we took plenty of those shots too.

For some reason, I couldn't make the button above link you to Lisa's wonderful site, so if you would like to see more black and white images, go here.

Sunday, May 09, 2010


I put this picture first because it is my favorite.

It's been awhile since I took my girls on a photo-shoot. I decided to take them separately. Pearl has always been easy to take a picture of. It is sometimes difficult for her to relax and hold a natural position, but she loves being the center of attention and she will flash her gorgeous smile on cue.

We didn't get to bring Pearl home from China until she was 3.25 years old. We were looking for an older child (much older than 3) and then we totally fell in love with her profile. There are several behaviors that she has that we attribute directly to spending so much time in the orphanage. She needs a LOT of structure, consistency and direction. Even with those setbacks, Pearl has been the perfect addition to our family and I expect the brightest of futures ahead for her.

Pearl is very smart, almost too smart. Her reading skills are off the chart for first grade and none of the other students in her class are even close to her level. She learns from imitation and she learns quickly, although her comprehension skills sometimes lag behind. I attribute this to her only having spoken English for less than 4 years.

Pearl is a gentle soul, although she moves quickly and impatiently. She is sweet and loving, but the world revolves around her and she is easily distracted. She is kind and giving, but she is also carefree and oblivious. She is loud, quirky, goofy and a drama queen. She speaks in extremes and is quick to engage in debate. Sometimes I think she is already a teenager. She lights up a room and will strike up a conversation about herself to anyone who is willing to listen. She is amazingly popular.

Pearl is a true gem that needs to be nurtured and loved. She and her little sister Chloe have taught me so much about what it means to be a mother, something I NEVER thought I would be until I turned 40. I feel like my life has just begun.

Happy Mother's Day to all the other lucky mamas out there!

Saturday, May 08, 2010


It's been a very long time since I took the girls somewhere with the specific purpose of taking their pictures. Usually, I just bring the camera along to whatever activity we have planned to capture the moment. These past couple of weeks, I have been taking portraits for friends, so I thought it was about time that I take some pictures of my girls.

This post will solely be devoted to Chloe. The next one will be devoted to Pearl. Chloe has been in our lives since we met her as a 14 month old baby. While the first six months were a little rocky, every moment since then has been more wonderful than the one before. She is my intuitive, sensitive deep thinker. She's cheerful, enthusiastic and loving (in a very touchy-feely mushy way). She learns things in her own way and does not easily follow direction or structure. She has taught me that there is more than one way to accomplish a task.

Chloe has been undergoing vision therapy for about 8 months. Her lazy eye has improved considerably and while her eyes are usually misaligned a bit, they are much straighter than before. She has total ability to straighten her eyes at will, so that is our major focus these next 12 weeks. It was so nice that she could keep her eyes straight for this photo shoot. In the past, I either had to do some major Photoshop or I had to discard perfectly good pictures because her eyes were misaligned. I am very impressed that she has worked so hard to get this far.