The Christmas Photographer – Part Deux

So I did end up taking the Nikon DSLR to Sydenham. Considering the amount of stuff we were toting anyway, the extra camera/flash bulk was negligible. The Nikon is surely the best camera for family photos as I can attach a separate flash, avoid redeye and get better light exposure.

You can depend that one or more kids are going to get sick, and this time Susannah was feeling under the weather. She did perk up later when the giftapalooza started.

Bisnonna with Sarah and family.

Grandkids and great-grandkids.

Maria, Serge, Lina, Patricia.

Looking at a slideshow of photos over nearly 50 years.

Lasagna is always a good start to a Christmas feast.

Teddy and Jacob digging in.

As are Sierra and Patricia.

Serge and some old friends from an earlier life.

Time for a little birthday cake.

And maybe a present (or 10.)

After a safe drive back to Almonte, we were ready for giftapalooza Boxing Day edition. But first some of Nonna’s cinnamon buns.

Grandpa is always a million laughs (at least when you’re 9.) The gingerbread house was a little shaky when we brought it from Ottawa, so Nonna hot glued the roof back on. Don’t tell the kids.

Dad is always the best at this age.

But Mom does OK.

Must be something worthwhile in there.

Even gummy berries are great.

Pokemon cards never lose their appeal. Or do they?

Still lots more to go,

Grandpa had the batteries to bring this dog to life. Dad is responsible for replacements as I am now out of Size C until I get back to Costco.

This cat had batteries included. It’s really annoying though – meowed in the trunk all the way from Ottawa to Almonte.

Beyblade arena didn’t need any dry cells but it got lots of action.

This guy got quite a workout over the course of the day.

And so did the Beyblades.

The cat and dog behaved themselves most of the time – although it was pretty hard to shut up the cat.

And so went the two day Christmas festival. Hope you enjoyed looking at the pictures and I’m glad I used my best camera to document everything.

The Christmas Photographer

We’ll be on the road this Christmas Day (again.) Off to Sydenham to Maria’s brother’s place.

Taking a trip on Christmas Day brings along two of my best Purgatory moments – driving in crappy weather and taking family photographs at Christmas.

The weather looks pretty good for the 25th at this point, so maybe I’ll be spared moment #1. But #2 never gets old.

About 50 years ago, I decided that my best efforts as a photographer would be in landscapes. I never wanted to work for Sports Illustrated or be a wedding shooter. Generally, landscapes don’t move, have their eyes closed, or don’t pay attention.

Add to that the frustration of family photo shoots – especially Maria’s family. At least one member (cough! her mother! cough!) is the world’s worst photo subject. If she isn’t talking and distracting others, she’s looking down at her shoes or off-camera somewhere. I won’t publish some of the horrors here, but Maria has put together a slideshow for her mother’s 90th birthday and some of my best work is in there, NOT!!!! I simply don’t have the patience or stage presence to keep her or the rest of this group of deplorables in line.

So my strategy is to try to get near small groups and photograph them. Sometimes this works (sorta.)

Christmas present opening frenzy is another time where most of my work is horrible. About the only time I manage anything worthwhile is with individual activity.

Add to that the fact that you are photographing in low light and most of the time need a fill flash, and a flash ticks off the grandkids (Teddy most of all.) It’s a labor of love.

About the only thing positive I can say about Christmas Photography is that it documents times and events. The grandchildren grow, the old folks get older. You get the idea.

I’m still thinking about what is the best photographic tool to take along on our Christmas odyssey. My choices are:

  • Smartphone: Yes I’ll take it, no I probably won’t use it. My experience is limited with using a smartphone camera, and mine isn’t the best example of the art. Maybe if I wanted a selfie (Eep!) or pics of sliced turkey and veggies I could use it. But that’s not my objective.
  • Travel camera: It’s tiny and lightweight and I normally would use it. It isn’t the best in low light but it would probably be OK for some lunchtime snapshots. I haven’t ruled it out.
  • DSLR: The largest and heaviest option, but as I already need to take a laptop for Maria’s slide show, I can just toss it in the backpack. I won’t take a complete system and heavy flash, just the camera and one lightweight zoom lens. This camera is the most versatile and takes the best photos, plus I look more authoritative toting it around. Maybe people will quit talking, texting, web surfing and scoffing down appetizers long enough for me to get a few pics and escape. We’ll see.

I guess this post is gonna have a sequel with some examples of shock and awe on the 25th. See you on the other side.

The Solstice Returns

It’s our fifteenth winter solstice in Almonte, and December 21st marks the fifteenth anniversary of my retirement from the workplace.

I have written before about this anniversary and about the anniversary of moving to the Valley, so I won’t go into all the details in this post. Suffice it to say that making the decision to go back to Eastern Ontario and spend the final chapters of our lives here in this Hallmark Christmas movie town has been a good one. Maria has found an interesting volunteer career and I have returned to my small town roots. Plus lots of great opportunities abound to photograph Almonte in all the changing times and seasons.

This used to be a very depressing time of year – going out in the dark and returning in the dark. Now the days are short and you are lucky to get one or two errands done before the darkness closes in. Thank goodness for cataract surgery which has restored my ability to drive in the dark, even if my reflexes aren’t as good as they once were.

But the recurring winter solstice will continue to mark a great change in life and lifestyle. As long as it lasts, we should be grateful.

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