Monday, February 27, 2017

Getting a Head Shot Taken

I figured getting my head shot taken for work would be a no-brainer.  I mean, how hard could it be?  I was wrong. It took two tries over two separate days.  Here's what I learned:

1) Know which side is your "good side".  We often prefer pictures of ourselves taken from one side or another.  It may be the way our hair falls or how one eyebrow arches.  Whatever.  If you have a preference, know it going in so (if possible) you can have your picture taken from that angle.

2) Get sleep the night before.  I didn't the first time, and "Blech" is all I have to say about that.

3) Be thoughtful about what you wear.  I'm sure you all know that solids or simple patterned tops are best.  Nothing too distracting.  And yes, you should wear something that you're comfortable in.... but not too comfortable.  Whatever you wear should rest smoothly on your form; if it's too loose fitting, the rolls and folds of the fabric will not flatter your figure.  Be sure to ask the photographer to check your collar is straight, your shirt fabric's not bunched up under your armpit, etc.  Clean lines will help, a lot.

4) Look like yourself. I was repeatedly advised to put on make-up so I wouldn't look washed out.  But I didn't put on too much.  I  don't regularly wear that much make-up and if I had put on a lot more, the resulting image just wouldn't have look like me. This isn't high-def TV after all.  That said, if you have the time and the funds to have a professional do your make-up for you, absolutely do.  But be sure to try it out a few days beforehand so you're not surprised with how you look.

5) Get to know the photographer, even for just a few minutes.   I was nervous.  I'd never done this before and it showed in the pictures from my first session.  It's hard to smile naturally in front of someone you don't know, especially when that someone might be asking you to continue smiling with your head at an angle, with your chin down, now close your eyes and open them again. Just taking a few moments to chat will help you relax and will likely result in a better picture.

6) Ask to review the proofs so you can choose the image you like.  A professional photographer will undoubtedly have a good eye, but only you can decide which image you like best, that represents how you'd like to be seen.  Try to keep control of that process.  A good photographer will try very hard to please you and will, if necessary, come back again if you don't like the end result after editing.

7) Be realistic.  No matter how little or much I weigh, I'll never have cheekbones.  I'll always have dimples.  My eyes have turned from blue to green.  It's how I look and that should be my expectation.  We should expect the editing process only to work with what we have, not to turn us into someone we're not... not even our selves from five years ago.  And so, here's me today...

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Taking Pictures

Leaf in blue ice ©Vivien Zepf
Nikon D90; image taken in early morning

My father tortured us as children, insisting that we do it "one more time", as in walk down the stairs again or point at that tree again.  Okay, it really wasn't torture; we did it so he could get the picture he wanted. But it sometimes spoiled the fun and might be why I don't take that many pictures of my own children.   Instead, I record where I am, whether in front of grand vistas, on a city street, or in my backyard.

Taking pictures has made me look more carefully at the world around me.  Sometimes I see things as I'd frame them in a picture.

For the last 15 years I've always carried some kind of camera with me.  I used my small digital camera until the lens -- literally -- fell off.  I make room in my carry-on for my big camera whenever we travel.  There's no way I'm leaving that baby at home.  And now that cell phone cameras are pretty darn good, I use it a lot too.  I can be an annoying person on her cell phone, but I'm stopping to snap pictures, not texting, tweeting, or chatting.

Subway lines ©Vivien Zepf

Because I also use my phone for work calls, it's not practical to get all sorts of supplemental lenses because I might be tempted stop what I was doing to put a lens on.  Nope, no can do.  I do miss the flexibility that a lens gives to picture taking, like depth of field.  And that's why I said yes to Tim's request to write a blog post about my photography.  Tim works for Light, a start-up with a new compact digital camera that merges different lenses to achieve high quality DSLR images.  It looks amazing.  Maybe I'll be able to get one some day.  (hint, hint Tim)

Monday, February 20, 2017


Our older daughter came in for a quick 24 hour visit and it was lovely.

We inhaled guacamole at lunch
We went to the American Museum of Natural History to visit the Titanosaur.  Sigh; one of my favorite places.
Can someone please remind me what trees these are from?
I can't believe the snowdrops are blooming; but then again, it was 57° today

Looking up to see cool lines and light
The cityscape reflections didn't disappoint
One of many bridges

I hope you've had a chance to enjoy family time, too.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Bedside Table + Evening Commute

I've taken to reading for at least 15 minutes on my evening train commute. (Not in the mornings; I'm usually reading and writing emails.)  This time is a wonderful supplement to my bedtime reading ritual.  So, what have I read lately?

This charming Young Adult book asks the question "Is there true love at first sight?" And then asks the second question, "Can teens experience it?"  Finally there's the inevitable, "Does it last?"  Though I've made it sounds that way, The Sun is Also A Star is not formulaic.  There's so much more to the story than love -- prejudice, choice, siblings -- and I was sucked in and raced through it.

Lab Girl satisfies my science itch.  This is Jahren's first book, combining a look back at her childhood and the years spent conducting botanical research with chapters describing how plant-life grows and survives.  The personal sections are raw and poignant, and the "tree" chapters are fascinating and very readable.  Her enthusiasm for her subject is palpable and I'd love to hear her lecture.

Though many of us have seen the movie, "Out of Africa", Paula McLain still has a fresh story to tell about Beryl Markham in Circling the Sun.  Beryl was a woman ahead of her time, an adventurer who didn't let her sex stop her from exploring and doing all the things she wanted to do.  Her life reads like a epic -- which, of course, it was -- and I dreamed of being in Africa.

What are you reading?

Friday, February 3, 2017

Off the To-Do List

A while back, I showed you an old needlepoint canvas I had pulled out a drawer full of unstitched canvases. I thought it might be nice to work on something other than a Christmas ornament.

Today I dropped it off at the shop for finishing.  Somehow, I've managed to stitch this in 15-20 minute slots I've stolen here and there.

The canvas will be folded in half and then finished as an upright, 3D bunny.  (There are ears, too, but I forgot to take a picture of them.)  Hopefully it will done in time for Easter, but perhaps not; I didn't realize the deadline for finishing Easter items was on January 26th.  Ah well.

Still nice to cross this off my list; this poor canvas has been (literally) waiting years to be stitched.  Now I can also move onto other things.... like Christmas ornaments.  I discovered today that the Christmas ornament deadline is August 17th.  Egad! Who knew?