It’s been six years, but I remember like it was yesterday. I remember coming home to my mom waiting out front of the house for me. I remember her crying and thinking I was in trouble. I remember the feeling of shock when the words hit the air. “Susan was killed in a car accident today.”
I remember the days that followed. The confusion and anger at God. I remember she was supposed to come see me twirl baton at the high school football game that weekend. I remember the funeral. Sitting in the room with all of the family while Pastor Douglass prayed before the service. Hearing my aunt sob. I remember crying through the whole service.
To this day, I can’t watch Rascal Flatts’ video for What Hurts the Most. It’s too much for me. When Kenny Chesney sings Who You’d Be Today, I think of her smiling face. But through the sorrow, we have hope. Her mama has hope. Susan was such a great witness for God to her friends. Through her death, students were able to see faith lived out. Through her life, through her death, and through her family’s trust that God was in control. Because he has a plan. I may not fully understand it, but he does.
Miss you, Suzy. (That’s us in the middle of the back row!)
It’s finally Friday. Good thing, because I don’t have class or work on Fridays, so I can catch up on a little bit of sleep, but mostly catch up on all of the WORK I need to get done. I’ve recently added about a million things to my to-do list, so here’s hoping I can get it all done by the time I retire.
In other randomness:
- I finally got my wedding announcements mailed yesterday. They should have been sent out, oh, a month ago, but whatever. i had to buy a new printer to print the addresses on the envelopes (which look bomb, if I do say so myself), but that was a huge ordeal in itself because we fought all day. It took FOUR HOURS to print 113 envelopes. Out of control? Yes, I believe it is. But don’t worry, they had pretty purple “LOVE” stamps on them :)
- You might have seen me post on Facebook yesterday about a big announcement coming next week. Well, I lied. There’s going to be a THREE PART ANNOUNCEMENT coming to the blog next week. There’s a lot of changes going on around here, and I’m SO excited for them. Seriously, I get more pumped by the minute.
- 1AM and me have been having this love/hate affair thing going on. I swear, you stay up late once and you can’t get back to your regular schedule. I think I’m getting sleep deprived.
- I’ve started studying Search Engine Optimization to get better traffic to my website. I’m excited for the results, but kill me now. It’s a ton of work, quite confusing at times, and who knows how long it will take to start working.
- My dog is the cutest freaking dog ever. I’m not kidding. I go all googly-eyed about thirty times a day and use my most annoying baby voice to tell her how adorable she is. And then she just stares at me like she’s thinking, Duh, Mom.
I have to complain a little bit. Corey is in Europe for two weeks for work, and John Deere didn’t provide him with international service on his business phone. I haven’t talked to him since Friday, and haven’t gotten an email since Saturday. I’m so sad that I can’t tell him happy birthday. So I’m reaching out through the internet, praying he’ll check his email.
Happy birthday, Corey. You’re my everything. I can’t wait to be your wife. To fall asleep in your arms and to wake up next to you. To do life together. You make me laugh, hold me when I cry, and always push me to be the best person I can be. Thank you. I hope you’re enjoying your birthday wherever you are in France.
All my love, Rachel
(One of our engagement photos by the ever awesome Rik Andes Photography.)
I wasn’t originally going to blog about 9/11. What did I have to say that hadn’t already been said. Of course I was shocked. Of course I was scared. To say I wasn’t would be a lie. I was afraid to ride the bus home from school that day and to wait at home alone until my parents got back from work. I was afraid to go to sleep that night, because I kept hearing noises outside and imagined us being under attack again. In rural Ohio. Yep. I was that scared.
My story is about like everyone else’s story, aside from those who lost loved ones on that terrible day.
As I was skimming my news feed today, however, a Time article caught my eye. It featured “unpublished photos” by James Nachtwey. I can’t pretend that I knew who he was before this article, but his work is really something. James was in NYC that Tuesday, coming back from a trip to France. Once he realized what was happening, he grabbed his camera and headed towards the towers, while everyone else was running away from them.
That kind of courage stops me in my tracks. If something happened in Lincoln, would I have the courage to do what James did? He says he wasn’t really thinking anything except, “Do your job.” I wonder what my instinct would tell me? Would I risk my life to do my job? To photograph the unthinkable?
Just something to think about.
The Blue Angels were in town this weekend, and I was lucky enough to attend on Saturday. It was quite something to see them flying over the whole city. And a great way to honor those brave souls we lost ten years ago.
I was home this past week for an afternoon, and while everyone else was at work, I decided I wanted to get out and photograph some. I haven’t been following the Missouri River flooding information very close, but wanted to head out and see what it was like. So I headed down Highway 75 and ended up on some county roads that led me to one that was under water.
I couldn’t believe what I was seeing when I walked up. I mean, yes, I’ve seen the water before, but for some reason, being out in the country with nothing but nature, the awesome power of the river hit me. The road was completely under water. It actually didn’t even really look like a road.
I totally forgot to attempt a panoramic shot. This is the best I got that shows the expanse of the water. It was seriously all around me. The real kicker? The actual river bed is about TWO MILES from where I was standing (I was facing east). This is the first major flood I’ve experienced before, so that may or may not really be a crazy number, but to me, it is. To the northeast I could see buildings (houses?) that were totally flooded out.
You could see by all the driftwood and debris that the water has receded some. However, I was actually listening to the Blair radio station and they were discussing how no one should be letting their guard down, as levee breaches and more water could be possible. It’s unbelievable to me. My heart goes out to all of those seriously affected by this.
So, this week is slightly lame. But given that I still haven’t even accomplished last week’s 52 Weeks of Awesomeness assignment (“show us your home”), I think something is better than nothing! (Don’t worry, I’ll make it up one of these days…)
This image is slightly ironic for a couple reasons. The first, well, is because I’m admitting that I’m a Facebook-aholic. Not gonna lie. I spend a lot of time online. It’s also ironic given that my name is changing soon (yay!), and he’s in my picture. It’s going to be weird getting used to a new name. All I’ve known my whole life is Rachel Ruffer.
It’s been busy. Real busy. Classes are in full swing for me (quarter system = woo!), so that’s been taking up a lot of time, plus I’ve been enjoying life. Or trying to at least. Here’s what my life’s consisted of the last couple weeks:
My BFF (now that she’s finally back from her internship):
The Iowa State Fair:
And wedding planning with my fiance ♥
Corey and I bought a new camera. It’s fancy. Not for the reasons you’d think a photographer would consider “fancy,” but because it’s WATERPROOF. Admittedly, I did only a little bit of research (shh, don’t tell him!), but found some really good reviews about the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3. I’ll do a thorough review later, once we’ve had other chances to use it, but I think it’s going to be a great little camera.
On Saturday, John Deere hosted a family outing event to the Lost Island Water Park in Waterloo, Iowa. When Corey told me about it, I could help but squeal. I’ve wanted to go to this water park since last summer when he was just interning in Waterloo. So needless to say, it was a YES from the get-go. And a perfect opportunity to test out our camera.
Lazy river? Don’t mind if I do…
In just a few months, I’m going to be taking photos of REAL palm trees. Yes, please.
There’s not a lot of opportunities to take “underwater” shots at a water park. I considered making a video going down a one of the awesome slides, but was more worried about holding on to the tube. So we played around in the wave pool a bit. (From Corey to Aquafina: “Those of Aquafina, contact me for rights to this photograph if you wish to purchase it for advertising purposes.” Haha)
A perfect day.
I’m looking forward to testing the camera out and writing a full review, but for now, I’ll just say that I’m extremely happy with it. Happy Tuesday!
It’s Friday again. Finally. I’ve been waiting for the weekend since Monday. Although, I still have to get through today, which looks like it’s going to be a long one. Work for 7 hours, plus driving for 6? Not quite looking forward to that. So to help declutter my brain for the weekend, here’s a bunch of randomness that’s been floating around my brain this week.
- I hate laundry. Especially when it involves driving to a laundromat because my apartment doesn’t have a washer/dryer. What a waste of time. I normally sleep with socks on (even in summer!) but have been learning to sleep without them because, you guessed it, no clean socks. I also even picked up some cute new underwear at Target because I was running out. It’s not laziness – I just have better things to do with my time.
- I update Facebook way too much. Mostly on my personal profile…I try to keep my photography page reasonable. But I feel that Facebook is like a living diary of my life. And I’m making up for 10 years of never keeping a real diary.
- Wednesday I woke up with four oddly placed bug bites. Or what I think is bug bites. It might be chickenpox. Or it might just be bug bites. But boy do they itch. You think that since I’m older I’d be able to refrain from scratching, but no. So now I have quarter sized red marks all over my stomach and chest.
- Corey and I had our engagement pictures done last weekend. It was ridiculously hot, but we made it work. Thanks to the awesome Rik Andes Photography for driving up to Lincoln to hang out with us! You can check out the sneak peeks here!
- I started the new 52 Weeks of Awesomeness this week. And I have already started working on next week’s assignment: introduce yourself. I sat around yesterday playing with my softbox to see what kind of lighting setups I liked. For this shot, I really wanted something drastic, with a lot of shadow and darkness. It’s not my normal style, so it was fun to get out of my comfort zone and try something new. I’d love your feedback.
That’s what she told me. The woman who comes into my work every other week and asks me how my wedding planning is going. We talk about dresses, honeymoons, rings. Everything. I don’t know her name. I don’t know where she works or what she does. Maybe I should ask next time I see her.
She told me to remember this time. Remember the happiness. Remember the love. Remember every moment because it goes by so quickly. She told me to keep a journal. That way, I’ll be able to relive all these moments when I’ve forgotten the details.
That way, I won’t forget.
Over the holiday weekend, aside from celebrating with fireworks, Corey and I took a drive north of Blair to check out some of the flooding on the Missouri River. It was a lot worse than I had imagined.
This is the very north side of Blair, and as you can see, the Missouri River has turned into the Missouri Lake. You’re not even supposed to be able to see the river from here.
See the big railroad bridge in the top right corner? That’s where the river actually runs. And that’s a long way away.
What was under water in the first photo were fields. This whole thing sucks because that water will be there for quite a long time. The farmers will be fighting this forever.
There’s a road under there somewhere…
This is Highway 30. They’ve got these bags of rock running up and down the road because Hwy 30 connects Blair to Missouri Valley, Iowa. They’re really trying to do everything they can to keep it open. But the smell is awful. We figure there must be a hog farm nearby that got flooded because all you smell driving down 30 is waste.
I didn’t take a whole lot of images because from the ground, it’s hard to capture the essence of it all. Looking back, a panoramic shot would have maybe worked, but it’s really the aerial shots that put everything into perspective.
The stars twinkled above my head as I swung my feet from the toolbox on the back of his pickup. The full moon was the biggest I’d ever seen it, and with the help of the fireflies, it lit up the cornfield around us. The sprouts were a few inches abover the ground and swayed slightly in the gentle breeze. It was a perfect night. Corey climbed up beside me, and I smiled at him as I took a bite of my M&M cookie dough ice cream. He put his arm around me, took a sip of his malt, and looked up at the stars.
“I had a great time with you this week. I love having you here. Even though you drive me crazy sometimes, I love it, and you never cease to amaze me.”
Curious to better understand the meaning hidden in that phrase, I turned to look at him. He had left the cargo lights on, and I had to squint to see him. “What do you mean, never cease to amaze you?”
He shrugged. “I dunno. You got along great with my engineering friends, and you’ve been a cute little homemaker this week – cooking, cleaning, and doing my laundry…”
I nudged him playfully and laughed. “Oooh, so that’s why you like me?!”
He chuckled too. “No, but it’s definitely a plus.”
He continued to talk, but what he said, I can’t remember. The cargo lights were still blinding me when I tried to look at him, and being totally oblivious to what was happening, I interrupted him. “So, I think it’s bright enough out here that we don’t need the cargo lights on…”
He looked at me. “My point is…”
Realization hit as I saw his hand come into view from his other side, holding a box that was sparkling inside.
“Will you be my wife?”
I was blown away. Completely blindsided. Totally unaware that he had been trying to propose. His face softened into a grin as I smiled like a little girl and whispered YES! I couldn’t say anything else. I could barely mutter my answer. I wrapped my arms around his neck and kissed him, struggling to believe everything was real. He put the ring on my finger and it sparkled wildly in the light. The cargo light that he left on so that I would be able to see the diamond. It was more beautiful that I could have imagined.
I wanted to stay in that moment forever. I rested my head on his shoulder and we talked for a while longer, while the fireflies continued to dance around us.
It was a perfect night.
At the reception for yesterday’s wedding, one of the guys from the bridal party came up to me while I was photographing the wine bottles that were to be used for toasting. As wedding photographers, we always get detail shots like that, but I was overly excited about this one. They were toasting with BOONE’S FARM.
The usher was interested in why I would photograph a wine bottle. I explained that we always get detail shots, but I especially wanted to document this because although I’m not a huge fan of alcohol – or wine for that matter – Boone’s Farm is the best. Then I quickly added that I wasn’t a party animal. Why? I don’t know. But I wanted to put my foot in my mouth for acting like someone with a guilty conscience.
The usher’s response?
“So, you’re not a party animal, but you spend every weekend shooting weddings where it’s a constant party all the time?”
I wasn’t sure where the conversation was going but told him I liked photographing people having fun and enjoying themselves with family and friends. Unsatisfied with that answer, he raised his eyebrow. “You have fun watching people have fun? Come on, seriously, what do you like to do to have fun?”
I insisted that this was fun to me. Shooting weddings. Rik (who I was assisting) proceeded over to enlist my help for something, and the usher walked away. But the strange conversation left me thinking. Above all the traveling, editing, early mornings and late nights, yes. I have fun shooting weddings. I love the love that is radiating from everyone. The happiness. And all day I find myself smiling as I watch two families become joined together in a big celebration. Full of laughter, kisses, and Boone’s Farm.
It’s Monday. Normally, I don’t hate Mondays other than the fact that I have to wake up earlier than I’d prefer. But this Monday is different. I’m so in over my head today and tomorrow with homework. It seems like every class has its final assignments due tonight and tomorrow. The worst part? I have to work all day today and go to a chiropractor appointment after work at 5 (which I’m still not sure if it’s helping or not…).
Normally things slow down in the summer, but my life has only sped up. I’ve shot three weddings so far, tired endlessly over the end of the quarter, and have most unsuccessfully tried to find time to sleep. I’ve been running on empty for a while.
But even with all that’s going on, I still try to get out and shoot. There’s three weddings in my queue to edit, and I can’t wait to blog them! Next week I will definitely have more time. I’m also still trying to challenge myself by shooting in different ways than I usually do. Being predictable is overrated.
Here are two different perspectives that I don’t normally try: looking straight down and looking up at something. Not sure that I rocked either of them, but at least I tried something new.
Happy Monday! I’ll be back in full swing soon!
I just wanted to take the time to say thank you. Thank you to the past, present, and future men and women who defend this country and protect us all. But I also want to take the opportunity to thank the families of these men and women who go through just as much. This great industry has introduced me to many military spouses and I can’t ever image dealing with what they deal with.
So from the bottom of my heart: Thank You.
I’ve had no motivation lately. To do anything. Seriously. I sit around wasting away. It’s pathetic really. I’ve almost completely mentally checked out of school even though there’s still 2 weeks left. But I haven’t been getting a lot of sleep, either. Mostly because I procrastinate and do nothing during the day, so when I realize I should probably get my butt in gear and do homework, it’s late. I’ve been a worthless pile lately.
Hence the lack of blogging. What should I tell you? How AWESOME my couch is? How great I feel after laying around all day being sedentary. Ridiculous.
I have been busy on the weekends. I’ve shot two weddings (one with La Brisa Photography and one with Rik Andes Photography) that I’ll be blogging soon! Super excited about all of that. My sister graduated high school and I got to spend time with family that lives all over the country. I’ve gotten to see Corey every few weeks, which is pretty good compared to what some people deal with, but obviously I would prefer to see him every day!
I’ve also been playing around with Android camera apps. I am so incredibly jealous of iPhone owners, simply because of the Instagram app and the lack of an Android equivalent. However, I’ve found some decent ones that I’ve been trying out. I haven’t yet decided what I like best, but it’s definitely a starting point. Phone cameras tend to be pretty dull and boring, so I love being able to spice them up a bit. Here are some examples of what I’ve been using!
Right now, I think I’m leaning towards the LittlePhoto app. It has more options and you can combine the effects (a lot like PS actions) to get different looks. However, this might change and I might discover a better app. Mostly, I just think Instagram needs to get their Android on!
What are you favorite Android camera apps? I’d love to hear about them!
The other night I decided to go for a bike ride. This was after my attempt at running with my dog failed (doesn’t she realize I only have two legs and am OUT OF SHAPE??), and after running by myself failed also (am I supposed to be dizzy like this??). Needless to say, although biking isn’t necessarily easy, it’s a lot nicer to my body than running. Although I still have high hopes for being a runner someday.
There’s an awesome bike trail that runs through town, and I don’t know why I never utilized it more. And what’s more, I found an app for my Droid (My Tracks) that uses Google Maps and GPS to track information. My ride the other day had a total distance of 4.15 miles, 28 minutes of moving time, a maximum speed of 15.77 mph, and an average speed of 8.79 mph. That 15mph? Yea, that was downhill. I’m not that awesome.
I’m excited to be able to track my progress as my mind and body get stronger. I’ve never been big into exercise, but it’s time to step it up. I’d love to hear your stories about exercising. Or failing at exercising, because let’s face it, that’s me!
And because posts are always better with a picture, I’ve been shooting quite a bit of nature lately, and I’m not sure why. I’m by NO MEANS a nature photographer, but sometimes it feels good to walk around the quiet with nothing but my camera and God’s creation.
Ok, so I don’t normally read email forwards. I’m not sure why, but after I spent a great chunk of my time in high school reading, forwarding and deleting most of them, I decided they weren’t really my thing. So they sit in my inbox, taking up precious space and taunting me with their many FWD: FWD: FWD:s in front of the subject.
This forward was different though. Short, sweet, and to the point. Not dirty or crude, but genuinely hilarious. It was too funny to not pass along. (Plus I’ve been failing at blogging lately, so I figured I’d try to make you laugh to get back in your good graces!)
Here’s how it was sent to me. Enjoy:
You, who worry about democrats versus republicans–relax, here is our real problem. In a Florida State University classroom, they were discussing the qualifications to be President of the United States. It was pretty simple. The candidate must be a natural born citizen of at least 35 years of age.
However, one girl in the class immediately started in on how unfair was the requirement to be a natural born citizen. In short, her opinion was that this requirement prevented many capable individuals from becoming president. The class was taking it in and letting her rant, and not many jaws hit the floor when she wrapped up her argument by stating “What makes a natural born citizen any more qualified to lead this country than one born by C-section?”
Yep, these are the same kinds of 18-year-olds that are now voting in our elections!
Sunday morning, my sister walked into the gymnasium a regular student. But one hour and a short walk later, she left as a high school graduate. My mother and I fought back tears as we sat on the hard gym seats, and I sit here choking up again as I write this.
Abby, you’ve been through a lot. Some great, some not-so-great. But you’ve grown into such a beautiful woman that I’m proud to call my sister. I’m excited to see where the next chapter of your life takes you.
I’m not very good at balance. Not the keep yourself from falling over kind (well, maybe a little..), but the balancing everything in your life stuff. Things happen, I get overwhelmed. Then I shut down. And forget to stop and enjoy where I’m at. I freak out about the little things. Have meltdowns over the big things. And just forget to live life.
My blogging has been pretty terrible lately. I apologize. It will get better, I promise. But for now, don’t lose sight of the beauty in life. (And I’m writing this more to myself than anything.)
Yesterday was an interesting day. I had a meltdown. Which, really, isn’t that uncommon lately. Trying to start a business is kind of ridiculous at times. Like a roller coaster. Like this quote from Jeffry Timmons that I found in one of my textbooks: An entrepreneur is anyone who wants to experience the deep, dark canyons of uncertainty and ambiguity, and wants to walk the breathtaking highlands of success. But I caution: do not plan to walk the later until you have experienced the former.
Yep, yesterday was big, dark cave.
So I went for a long walk. To clear my head and focus on things other than my problems. Like God’s beautiful creations. Spring.
And then, randomly, last night I had a dream. That I was in Manhattan with Chris and Brandi (of La Brisa Photography) at the beach. Like, the ocean. Yep. In Manhattan, Kansas. I think I’ve just been thinking a lot about how I’m excited to shoot a couple weddings with them this summer (and Rik Andes Photography, too!). And the ocean part, well, I just really want to visit the ocean.
This morning I woke up with a headache. Well, I call it a headache, but really it’s a migraine. Not a full-fledged, lose-your-vision type migraine, but a migraine nonetheless. I hate waking up to a hurting brain. Sleep is supposed to regenerate you, not make you hurt more (the same can be said for my back!).
But there are things that I love in the morning:
Scrambled eggs with cheese.
My puppy’s need for playing with her squeaky ball.
A fresh start at a new day.
The picture above is thanks to my trusty (most of the time) Droid, with some slight cross-processing in PS. Sometimes that phone drives me bonkers, but other times, it completely amazes me. This morning, I’m focusing on the positive. Not the negative (like the test I have in an hour that I haven’t studied for!).
Happy Tuesday! Hope you focus on the positives today, also! :)
So, with all the hype about my first year of blogging (oh, wait, that’s just me celebrating??), I decided to go back and take a look at my very first three sessions. They consisted of my two roommates and my sister. Hey, I had to practice on someone.
They took place in February 2010, and I have to admit I was scared to go back and look at them. And even more terrified of posting some of them. I was afraid they would look horrible to me now that I’ve been learning and growing so much. When I first bought my Canon, it came with the 18-55mm kit lens. This lens had the widest aperture of f/3.5 at 18mm and f/5.6 at 55mm. I quickly realized (as in, after these three sessions) that was not what I was wanting. I wanted the beautiful bokeh that came from fast glass. So I rented the 50mm f/1.4 lens and fell in love (see previous post).
However, I think I learned some really great stuff in these three sessions, and although my style has changed and developed significantly since then, I’m still fond of these images. They bring back the excitement, joy, and drive that I had to learn everything possible about the art of portraiture. And as I continue to hone my skills, I get even more joy from finding myself within this big world of photography.
To my dear blog. One year ago, today, I posted my very first blog post. I can’t believe it’s really been a year since I started this thing. So much in my life has changed since then. So much about my photography has changed also. And yet, still, so much is the same. I’ve learned a lot, grown a lot, and am encouraged by my progress. I hope this next year brings more learning, more progress, and a lot more pretty images!
So. My very first post. This was about a month and a half after I bought my camera (Canon Rebel). I bought it with the kit lens (18-55mm f/3.5-5.6) and was not happy with the results I was getting. I’m a huge fan (I mean HUGE) of some good bokeh, and that lens just wasn’t cutting it. I had a vision, and my current gear wasn’t getting me there. So it was time to upgrade.
I rented the 50mm 1.4 lens from BorrowLenses.com and I was floored with the results. I couldn’t get enough of it. Unfortunately, my shortsightedness and need for instant gratification convinced me that the difference between 1.4 and 1.8 wasn’t much, so I could settle for the $100 50mm 1.8 lens instead of the $350 50mm lens. How I was mistaken. Friends, if you’re wavering between the two, save a little longer and get the 1.4. Much better quality glass. Trust me. Better colors, better sharpness. Better.
All reflections of the past aside, here are my two favorite shots from that day. I’m so proud of these images.