Friday, March 28, 2014

Exposure Practice

Ever since digital photography school introduced me to the idea of holistic photography, I've been trying to learn more about the technical aspect of photography. Many things still confuse me, but that site has helped me a lot to advance in the knowledge of how my camera works. One of their most recent posts Understanding Exposure in Under 10 Minutes, written by Annie Tao, gave a new take on exposure and how to comprehend it. I'm so grateful because that was a concept that I had struggled with. After reading it over several more times to really grasp it, I decided it was time to use the information in practice. I used my mom's camera, which is quite old, so I couldn't find how to control shutter speed. Other than that, I was able to understand aperture and ISO more and how they work together. Another good thing is that Sloane said I've become more patient and gentle, meaning I'm not going hardcore Nazi mode on her.

(I love seeing Sloane's goofier side.)

(She loves her poncho...)

(She insisted upon taking photos with the samurai sword she had won at her most recent jiu jitsu tournament.)

-Have a wonderful day
Sierra Joy

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Girl Who Thought She Could Fly

    I open the door of my apartment building, and the brisk, icy sharp breeze instantly strikes my flushed cheeks, sending a violent chill down my spine. Goosebumps prickle my hairless skin even underneath the layers of clothing engulfing my sickly gaunt frame. I release a spacious sigh that had been rising in my lungs, causing my hot breath to mingle with the frigid January air. I tug my crimson coat closer to my body as I descend from the stairs onto the snowy sidewalk. My boots imprint the newly fallen snow with every step I take, trailing a momentary glimpse into my fleeting life that's lost in this large city full of people. I admire the faint pastels of the sunrise as they glisten against the frost blanketing the dull, sleeping city until I arrive at a quaint building with a sign that reads "The Baker Boy".
    I peer into the dimly lit room until my breath fogs up the glass. I pull away and trace a smiley face with my mitten-less finger against the misty window, grinning at the recollection of my once childlike amusement. I unlock the door to be welcomed instantly by the strong scent of fresh coffee beans and baking bread.
    "Good morning, Parker," I try to sing with enthusiasm. I step into the break room and remove my jacket, revealing a black slip and thick stockings. I then attempt to tie my apron, but my fingers are too numb to grab the strings. Yawning exhaustedly, I enter the kitchen where a cleanly shaven man with hair like sand is intently kneading dough.
    "Parker..." I say softly, in attempt to obtain his attention.
    "Oh sorry," he grins goofily, looking up at me from his work. I see that worried expression that I know all too well begin to form on his face. "You look drained. Did you sleep at all last night?"
    "I just went to sleep late. My favorite film was playing," I lie, grazing my thumb softly against the drooping bags under my eyes. I concentrate on tying my apron, but my fingers are nearly frozen, making it impossible to grip the thin strand of fabric. 
    "Could you tie me up in the back?" I request, "I can't seem to do it today."
    "Sure," he responds as he extends his arm towards the back of my apron. I feel the strings being tightened slowly and carefully, as I visualize Parker's furrowed brow and fixated eyes while he laces a perfect bow. 
    The room begins to spin though, and I lose focus because of my languid eyelids. I apply my weight onto the countertop to support myself temporarily, but the overpowering strain of fatigue weighs heavily on my consciousness. I succumb to the hazy sensation and nearly collapse, but Parker secures me protectively before I do. His warm touch tingles against my icy white skin as I lie feebly in his cautious, careful arms. 
    "May, you're freezing! Should I call 911?" I struggle to find words in my muddled brain, but I can only respond with a wobbly head shake. An ambulance is the last thing I want right now. He must know that because instead of hurriedly dialing the phone, he calmly says, "You just need some rest, huh?" 
    I nod in compliance and struggle to prop myself up with my arms, but malaise overwhelms me, causing a severe ache in my head. Parker raises my body towards his gently and supports my limp head against his shoulder as he carries me bridal style. I allow my eyes to close and then lull peacefully away to the steady rhythm of his stride.
    A euphonious melody of guitar strings being fingered lightly arouses me  into reality, and my head suddenly throbs. I groan in discomfort and open my eyes, recognizing the small, organized room immediately. I turn towards where the sound of the guitar had once been and see Parker sitting anxiously with his guitar resting in his hands. 
    "I didn't call for an ambulance. I know how much you hate that place. I've been worried though. How are you feeling?"
    "I'm okay. My head just hurts a bit. How long has it been?" I ask, looking out the window where the sun now illuminates the world outside.
    Glancing at his watch, he replies, "About six hours. I'm boiling water for tea. Would you like some?"
    "Yes, that would be delightful right now," I smile as he enters the kitchen and quickly returns with two mugs, black and white, "What about the bakery?"
    "I just closed it for the day. I couldn't leave you up here alone."
    "But it's just down stairs. I would've been fine."
    "I wanted to make sure you woke up okay," his deep green eyes communicate sincerity and kindness. Having experienced his inescapable concern before, I prepare myself for the questions I know are coming. He hands me the white mug and sits down, giving me a moment of silence to enjoy my tea. I lift the mug and let my senses react to the wonderfully serene aroma. 
    "Thank you," I chime, my hands wrapping around the tepid mug. The first sip radiates a cozy warmth around my body and brings a comforting sense that trickles down my throat. It's not enough to disperse the dread burdening in my gut though.
    "What's going on, May Flower?" 
    The mention of my childhood nickname reminds me of Parker's faithfulness throughout the years, giving me courage to look into his piercing eyes. The same intensity blazed in his eyes the first day we met almost ten years ago. When I unsuccessfully flew from a plum tree, he ran to me with his portable first aid kit and bandaged my laceration skillfully, my sobs ceasing shortly after he came to my rescue. I was entranced by his expressive eyes then and still am today. Smirking at the brief memory, I escape his stare and inhale deeply before confessing the reason for my unusually tense disposition.
    "The chemotherapy isn't working, and the doctors can't help me anymore. They got me this far though, and I'm grateful for that. I'm not ready to die so soon though. I know His plan is greater than my understanding and that I will unite with Him, but I don't want to leave you yet."
    The tears I had choked down are now flowing down my face. Parker's enduring arms embrace me tenderly, and he cradles me against the core of his being. He's trying to stay strong and confide his sobs, but I can feel every trace of vulnerability. His heart thumps loudly and his ribs quiver. My cheeks catch his salty tears as I repose on his chest, small and frail. Even during this somber moment, I rejoice in the existence of it. I won't have many of these moments left. I realize now that every spark of life must be cherished. I can't wait anymore because all I have left is the present.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Music Discoveries

I'm recovering from a fever today, and I've had quite a bit of time on my hands. (Even though I have an English article rough draft due. Oops!) So as I was procrastinating on the Free People blog as per usual, one of their latest posts lead me to some delightful music findings. Here's a link for you to check out the post yourself: SXSW 2014 Must-See Bands

(Image Source)

This band is radical in every sense of the word. It gives me an idea of what the 60's era was like though the band was formed in 2012. The British group of four creates psychedelic pop music, and their music videos are exactly how I'd imagined and more. They're full of interesting mirror illusions, colorful powder, and trippy effects. All of their songs are amazing, but I recommend Prisms, the song that got me hooked, and Keep In The Dark, the music video that intrigued me and kept me wanting more.

(Image Source)

Nicole Atkins is a compelling musician with a beautiful Broadway-esque voice. I don't exactly know which genre to classify her as or who to compare her to. Each song has a vibe so different from every other, it's hard to put her in a box. You'd think that because of this you understand who she is more through her music, but it's quite the opposite. The contrast between her songs only adds to her mystery; some are perky and upbeat while others are haunting and thought provoking. It's hard to only choose a select few songs because of her diversity, but I can narrow it down to three: Brooklyn's On Fire! (this one's probably my favorite right now), Hotel Plaster (I have been troubling over the meaning of the music video so to those of you who watch it, tell me your insights), and Maybe Tonight (the video must have been really fun to make).

(Image Source)

This quintet has contagious melodies with beats that make you wanna dance. The front women have an excellent personality combination, and their voices compliment one another's in perfect harmony. Not to mention, the two guitarists and the drummer are just as handsome and talented. Although most of the music is upbeat and poppy, there's a dark almost cult-like underlining that's portrayed through their music videos. They also have some slower songs that are dreamy to listen to. Three songs stick out to me personally. Turn It AroundGo Home, and Dear Tom which I cannot seem to find anywhere.

(Cover of their latest self-titled album)

Warpaint is a quartet of four gorgeous girls who make amazing artistic alternative music and have great style might I add. The soft vocals and soothing guitar riffs cause me to sway in peaceful bliss. It's the kind of music I would unwind to after a long day with a nice cup of tea. The beauty of the music touches my ears like a delicate kiss. That sounds ridiculous, but if you listen to it you will understand. BabyWar PaintUndertow

(Photo by Erin Hagstrom)

This darling married couple has the cutest story, which they express in every song. We get a small glimpse into the intamacy of their love; it's such a wonderful experience. They met when they were college students, and after graduation they bought a sailboat, named the Swift Ranger, and for seven months sailed the Eastern Seaboard. They then moved back to Colorado and recorded songs with a hint of 50's pop that were inspired by their adventure on sea and the conversations they had. Precious, right? And I can always tell when they come onto Pandora because of the personal lyrics. WaterbirdsDeep In The Woods100 Lovers

(Image Source)

Okay, last one for today. This band wasn't on the list from Free People, but I found them through the Papa Pandora station, who I ended up not liking at all. Their sound reminds me of Panic! At The Disco, except less eclectic. The lyrics are amazingly meaningful yet simple which I appreciate at times. Sometimes, I don't want to solve a puzzle to understand the message of a song. Though the complicated poems of some songs consume my mind with wonderful thoughts. Their songs truly are beautiful if you listen to the lyrics. Don't Forget Sister (doesn't this video make you want to be their friend?), Heart Attack, and Cinema Tonight.

Hopefully, I get that rough draft done... Wish me luck!

-Have a wonderful day.
Sierra Joy

Saturday, March 1, 2014

My Inspiration

It's amazing what my mom has done for me, and I'm reminded of that everyday. She cares for me, gives me advice, makes me laugh, and encourages me. She's the one that pushes me through the day, constantly giving me hope. Not only that, but she inspires me with the amazing work she's done. She started photography as just a way to have pictures of her children. That's all she says she does, but it means so much more to me than she'll ever know. She captured the emotion and events of my childhood perfectly and so beautifully; I will treasure that forever. I aspire to be as good as my mom some day. Her old film Nikon N75 sits on a shelf in my room, encouraging me every time I glance at it to keep trying. I'm so excited to use it and attempt to take amazing photos like her. Well I'll just show you.

See what I mean?

-Have a wonderful day
Sierra Joy

Summer Dreams

There are sun-kissed children racing down the shore with bleach blonde hair flowing behind them. Their bottoms are covered in sand, and they chase the waves until the clear water threatens to nip their toes. These are the memories I've collected from summertime. I reflect on them as I flip through my family's precious scrapbooks. It's not even spring yet, and I'm already yearning for summer days on the beach. I miss the outings I used to experience as a child, but as the days transition from rainy to sunny, I'm hoping to explore more and enjoy the people in my life. My trusty camera by my side to capture every moment of it. I aspire to take photographs like the ones my mom used to take with her old film camera, a Nikon N75. 


-Have a wonderful day
Sierra Joy