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Archive for August, 2009

Meet Miss Marie

Miss Marie is the latest in a long line of cats that have stayed in my office over the 11 years that I have worked at Lollypop Farm.  They come to my office for a variety of reasons – waiting for an investigation case that our law enforcement department is prosecuting to conclude, recovering from an injury, or that they just need more room to stretch out after an extended stay at our shelter.  The cats stay for months or just days with the longest stay being 11 months.  It is always hard to say goodbye, but all of my “in office foster cats” have been adopted to good homes.

Meet Miss Marie

Meet Miss Marie

Miss Mariejoined me this week and has proven herself to be a great companion.  A real sweetheart that enjoys a snuggle and doesn’t mind being picked up.  She is 4 years young and can still play like a kitten.  Her tail is a bit ragged looking because she lost some hair when she was first here, but it is filling in nicely.  My young neices visited me at work this week and she was great with them.  Some cats shy away from children, but Marie was happy for the company.

This time of year can be a tough time for an adult cat to get adopted.  The shelter is flooded with kittens.  As a matter of fact Marie came in with a litter of kittens.  They have all been adopted, but she is still waiting for her forever home.  To help reduce the flood of cats at Lollypop Farm, the shelter is running a special this weekendAll cats over 1 year of age are FREE and younger cats are just $60. 

As much as I have enjoyed Marie this week I am hopeful that she might get adopted this weekend.  So far most of the adoptions that occured yesterday (Friday) were kittens.  Young adult cats make great additions to any family.  They already have that crazy kitten stage out of their system, yet they are often still very playful and entertaining, while also enjoying a good cuddle.

I took some video of Marie this week and put together a “highlight” reel of her.  I hope you enjoy her antics and maybe if you are in the Rochester area and reading this would consider adopting her or one of the many other cats available for adoption

By the way, you might be wondering why I don’t take her home.  Unfortunately Nina would prefer to consider cats as a meal rather than a companion.  Also with the number of cats that have stayed in my office over the years I would have a houseful if I brought them all home.  I am lucky to be able to enjoy a variety of cats as companions at work and look forward to my next office mate.

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This summer we have been blessed by the birth of twin fawns on our property. We are lucky to catch glimpses of them with their mom on occasion. On Saturday, August 1st Charlie got out of bed before me and put the shade up in the hallway window that overlooks the front yard.  I was still a bit sleepy so when he said, “Oh my goodness, you aren’t going to believe what is lying under the serviceberry tree.  One of the fawns!”  My reply was that I wasn’t sure if I believed him because he often does things like that to get me out of bed earlier than I would want to.  He swore it was true and that I should get up quick before I missed it.  He sounded sincere so I decided to take a look.

Fawn under serviceberry tree

Fawn under serviceberry tree

I wasn’t disappointed that I looked.  I grabbed my camera, slowly opened the window so I didn’t have to shoot through it, and started snapping away.  I was able to capture a very cute sequence of the fawn under the tree standing and stretching.  I put it together in a video so you could see them in sequence.  They wandered off out of view after this and I thought that was all to our morning visit.

After eating breakfast I went upstairs to take a shower, but the shower would have to wait.  The twins were back in view on the front lawn.  This time I grabbed my video camera and captured them relaxing on the front lawn and grazing on the shrubs around the edge of the lawn (not the good stuff, just the wild scrub).  While the twins hung out for a while I also got a few still shots of them.  You can see all the pictures I took that morning by visiting my image galleryHere is some of the video I took of them.

You can see how they have grown by comparing them to the first video I took about a month and a half ago.  What a great way to start a weekend.  I can’t wait until I have another opportunity to see them again.

Hanging out on a Saturday morning

Hanging out on a Saturday morning

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Audrey Kramer & Alex Chernavsky's Wedding

Audrey Kramer & Alex Chernavsky's Wedding

Last Saturday I undertook a very challenging photography task. About a month prior a friend and co-worker, Alex Chernavsky, asked me if I would be willing to photograph his upcoming wedding to Audrey Kramer. I was hesitant at first because photographing a wedding is a huge responsibility that I wouldn’t want to screw up. You only have one chance to capture the special moments of a once in a lifetime day. Previously I have photographed events for work so I did have some experience with event photography, but the venue for this event would be a bit of a challenge. Since I am not a professional photographer and it was my first ever wedding I told Alex I would do it and my services would be my wedding gift to him and Audrey.

As usual I took this assignment very seriously and started doing my homework. I picked up a book, Digital Wedding Photography by Glen Johnson, and starting studying its pages. I learned about creating a shot sheet with the couple to make sure I captured all the day’s events and participants they wanted. I also secured some additional lighting equipment from a friend to help with the portrait type shots taken after the ceremony. The final preparation task was to scout out the unique venue.

Audrey and Alex live in the South Wedge area of Rochester an historic section of the city that includes The Cinema Theater, one of the oldest continuously running movie theaters in the United States, and the venue for their wedding. This unique building has a great art deco exterior that would require a very wide angle lens to capture it (unless I wanted to stand in the middle of a very busy intersection!). The concession area is under construction, but was transformed into a nice reception area with the help of the couples family and friends.

My biggest challenge was to deal with the lack of lighting where the ceremony and reception would be taking place. After all, this is a movie theater and not usually well lit. About a week before the wedding I was able to visit the theater with Audrey and Alex as they did some last minute planning for the reception set up. I was able to take some test shots to experiment with the camera settings needed to capture the action in the low lighting conditions. A conversation with a professional photographer later in the week gave me additional advice for taking low-light shots.

When the big day arrived I was up early to pack the car and get to the theater a couple of hours before the wedding. I wanted to get the lighting equipment set up before the ceremony started. Since it isn’t my own equipment I wasn’t very familiar with setting it up and I wanted to make sure everything worked properly before the guests arrived. I also took some test shots to make sure I had my cameras set up properly.

Popcorn anyone?

Popcorn anyone?

As the hour of the wedding approached I headed out around the theater to photograph the reception area, theater decorations and the exterior of the building. The theater owner put Audrey and Alex’s names on the marquee. Not an easy task since it requires climbing a large ladder and sliding the letters in one at a time. As part of the theater renovations the owner is hoping to install a new digital version soon.

The guests began arriving just as I finished recording the theater set-up. The invitation stated that guests could, “…come dressed in your favorite movie-themed outfit…” and I didn’t want to miss any of the special “guests”. The resident cat, Princess Baby, was also on the guest list and I was lucky to catch her relaxing with one of the guests before the ceremony began. The cat disappeared just before the ceremony began. I think some of the guests costumes might have prompted her to make a run for her favorite hiding place.

Who you gonna call?

Who you gonna call?

Guests entertained themselves by watching a slide show of Audrey, Alex and their family and friends before the ceremony, and munching on popcorn. A Bugs Bunny short, The Barber of Seville, was the signal to the start of the festivities. A fun way to start a wedding that is taking place in a movie theater!

The ceremony was short and sweet. I had to kick off my shoes so I could move quickly around the theater without making much noise. There wasn’t much time to capture all the significant moments: vows, ring exchange, and kiss, but I managed to get it all.

You may kiss

You may kiss

The reception followed immediately. Good food, good friends and the usual ceremonial parts too. The challenge during the toasts was that the concession area of the theater was even darker than the theater itself. All the guests crammed into a very small area to participate in the toasts. This was an especially difficult challenge for me. At only 5′ 2″ tall I had to be right on top of the action to capture any of it. A set of stairs allowed me to gain a slight advantage, but if I ever want to make a career of wedding photography I will have to get myself a set of drywall stilts.

After all the ceremonial activities were completed I set up the lighting equipment for the portrait sessions. A challenge in itself to corral the desired participants, get them posed, smiling and looking at the camera all at the same time. I could not have done this without the help of my friend, Maggie Huff. She helped gather the groups and get them set up for me. The most challenging shot was the one Audrey and Alex wanted of all their friends and co-workers that work and volunteer where we work. I wanted to be in the picture so while I installed a remote control on the camera, Maggie wrangled the group into position. There was just the right amount of room for me to squeeze in on the side.

The Lollypop Farm Gang

The Lollypop Farm Gang

I finished the day with some shots of the happy couple. By this time the reception was winding down and everyone was a bit more relaxed. I was done with capturing the shots I wanted, but I still had to pack up my gear and head home to process the pictures. I managed to get all the pictures processed and posted to my photography web site by the end of the weekend. The biggest lesson I learned about wedding photography is that it is an exhausting endeavor. If I was going to make a career of it I would have to do more training. My right arm was a bit sore the next day. Carrying around a large camera with a flash attached is harder than you might think. Being a career event photographer is not something I would strive for, but if asked again I would not hesitate to do it. Thanks for the opportunity Alex and Audrey. It was a pleasure.

Their name in lights!

Their name in lights!

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