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Monday, December 10, 2012

Still Life

We met with our 4H Photography group today.  We had a small group of six photographers but it worked well for our small set up on the dining room table at my house!

We talked about keeping early attempts at still life photography to simple compositions.  The main goal is to focus on lighting, angles, and simplicity.  We worked with candles a lot!  I think everyone had a candle shot, except Katie who was determined to get a nice still life with her boots and star.  She also wanted to try to incorporate the theme for this year's 4H photo contest....Texan holidays.  I think she has several nice photos to make a good pick.

We also discussed reflection, which often goes along with still life photography.  I showed the trick of adding water to a large shallow glass dish to place an object to reflect.  We also discussed the dew drop pictures that have an image (flower, face, etc) reflected inside it.  Brooke had done this and showed an awesome picture of a colorful swirl reflected in a dew drop.  We will need to play around with this concept and see if the boys and I can duplicate that effect as well!

The main thing I showed the group was the easy way to set up a still life 'studio' with tri-fold boards purchased at a local craft store (various colors to choose from) and an overhead light.  We used my dining room light but a lamp, flash light or natural lighting can be used as well.  The other thing is to avoid outside light creating shadows or excess light in the picture.  This can ruin a good shot.  We were able to close all the shutters and lights in the other areas so we could focus the light as needed.

I really let the 4Hers take over and play with the concept or composing a shot and determining the needed light.  I could compose photos fro them but I like to see their creativity.  I look forward to seeing what the group has learned and what they bring out in their holiday pictures over the rest of the month.

Not sure what we will do in January but it sounds like a lot of interest in special effects and story boards so we will see what comes of those two ideas.

There are no projects for the remainder of the hard to believe I will not be posting again until January.  I hope I do not get of the routine of posting on the blog in the next month.  See you in 2013 as we will find new ways "to make the best better!"

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Night of Giving

Tonight we had our monthly 4H club meeting.  The main part of the business meeting was the norm for our club....project and committee reports with a little new business thrown in.  However, I wanted to focus on three things that occurred tonight that made the meeting a night of giving back to our community.

First, we had an awesome idea thanks to some great thinking on the part of some of the moms.  We wanted to do something different for refreshments this month.  Really in the past years we have not even had a club meeting in December so the issue of what to do for refreshments has never come up.  This year (due to our meeting date changed to earlier in the month) we had a regular meeting.  In the past we exchange our regular club meeting for a community service outreach (Salvation Army bell ringing...Christmas caroling...etc).

I thought we could combine our refreshments with a community outreach project.  We could have an old-fashioned cookie exchange!  However, instead of taking cookies home ourselves, we could give the cookies to a charity organization.  I sent a message out to the other moms who were signed up for refreshments and the idea grew into a full blown Christmas charity for a local women's shelter.  We made contact with the shelter and the director suggested that we gather cleaning supplies and toiletries for the families at the shelter.  It turned out that we had the same number of families in our club that were at the shelter!  It was a perfect match!

In reality, it turned out better than could be imagined.  Our club members were very generous in their donations.  We had enough cookies to fill a nice size tub with an assortment of goodies.  We also filled a basket for each family with various cleaning supplies.  These will be taken to the shelter tomorrow for distribution.  This will also include several special items that club members made or purchased above and beyond the requested items.  And...there are blankets and a quilt that we had set aside from last spring to add to the assortment of gifts.

Then we discussed serving lunch at the VA Clinic.  The last couple of months have difficult for our club to keep this activity going.  I was not sure if our club wanted to continue for the next year.  I could not continue to lead the activity myself (although we want to help), so I gave several options (including stopping the activity altogether).  The main thing that was needed was someone to lead the activity.  After the meeting, I had two moms volunteer to help lead.  I think we will be able to continue to help our local veterans each month.  I am so glad because it means so much to our family to see the veterans served in this small way.  I am looking forward to continuing this effort.

The last thing that I wanted to share from the meeting was our guest speaker.  At the last minute, the planned guest speaker lost his voice and could not attend our meeting.  Kevin (our Vice President) quickly thought of a replacement...his church youth pastor.  A great he was very comfortable talking to youth and he had a great message (it went right along with what our family had as a focus for our daily Advent devotion!).  He talked about the angels announcing to the shepherds the Good News (Luke 2:8-20).

What I thought was so fitting was the connection he made in this one line of the passage.  In Luke 2:14, we hear the angels say, "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."  The pastor spoke about this in two parts.  First, Jesus comes to give glory to His Father in heaven.  Second, Jesus comes to give us peace on earth.  It is the two levels of being that are connected because of Jesus.  God in heaven is glorified and men are given peace...the greatest gift we can give to God is glory and the greatest gift He can give to us is peace. God does not need a gift but he is always deserving of glory.  We desperately need peace and can only find it through the sacrifice Jesus offers us by becoming man and dying for our sins.  Jesus bridges he gap between heaven and earth!  Praise be to God!

A great meeting and a wonderful way to lead us into the Christmas season.  I am so glad we were able to share all of these gifts as a 4H all ways we were able to truly share the spirit of 4H to "make the best better!"