No Assembly Required

May 27, 2009

I’ve always been a big fan of scrapbooking, or happy booking as my friends and I call it. Taking pictures, which are a window into a moment in time and embellishing them, gives them a personality, any personality you want. It is a way to make a memory more special, to reference all the things that you may not have captured within the photo.
I used to save every little bit of happiness I came across; wrapping paper, movie tickets, empty seed packets, anything that reminded me of something special. Then I would take my free time and surround myself with these bits of treasure.

Miles of tape later each page would reflect everything I wanted to remember about that moment. Sometimes even without a photo if somehow a photo was not taken. It always ended up consuming lots of time, not to mention space and funds. Well worth it when I had those things to spare, but I don’t anymore.
As a new and full time mom, trying to squeeze a few hours of work into nap times, I can tell you that none of my hobbies have seen the light of day in many months. I still photograph pretty much nonstop, but I consider that part of being a good mom. Just about any parent will tell you that the most attractive words on any box are “No Assembly Required” for the same time challenged reason. I was recently ordering some prints online when I discovered the equivalent for happy booking.
I know all about digital albums, utilize them quite a bit actually, especially for the out of town relatives. However, to discover digital scrapbooking templates that you just drag and drop your photos into made my day. No tape required, or anything else. You don’t even have to print them; you can just share them online. And if you want to fill a scrapbook, just print them and drop them in. Then there are the gorgeous collages available in photo paper or pictures on canvas for easy display. The possibilities are endless.
Now of course, you are going to lose a bit of the personal element, but it’s like buying a blanket instead of knitting one. You would knit it if you had the time, but who has the time. That being said, if you have the time, great. Keep up the good work! I look forward to rejoining your ranks one day. Right now, time with my son outranks being surrounded with bits of paper and tape. For me the reward of a smile or a kiss full of drool drives thoughts of time hungry hobbies out the window. Dive into time with your loved ones right now. If you have more photos than time together, make the most of those memories until you can make more.
Don’t forget to capture each precious moment. Even if you have forgotten your camera, grab a pen before the memory passes you by.

Surgery At The White House

May 26, 2009

A Desperate Call From A Grandson

We had turned off the cell phone for the first couple of days of the Memorial Day Holiday, but when we turned it back on we got the message. Our grandson, age 8, had called regarding the need for Grandma Nana to help heal his dog.

So arrangements were made to bring the dog to our home, and as the preparations for the surgery were made specific instructions were given to the surgery staff.

Anesthesia would be required as the wound to the animals neck went almost all the way from below his ear to his nose. Serious wound, this! Josiah (our grandson) was to hold the animal and keep him still during surgery. He placed the animal upon a pink blanket and held him tightly, comforting him as Nana prepared him for the surgery.


Quickly he was asleep, and the wound cleaned and stitched with the skill only a grandmother knows. Wiping the blood from around the wound, Josiah watched with careful eyes and interest as the surgery came to a close. Done at last they waited for the animal to regain consciousness.

Soon a slight whimper could be heard as the dog slowly regained awareness of his surroundings. The bandage on his neck caused some minor discomfort, but quickly disappeared as dog and boy were reunited, and all was well with the world once again.

Lest you worry that Nana is practicing medicine without a license, you should know that the dog is a stuffed animal, a treasured friend of our grandson.

And so it goes around the White house, where all kinds of adventures are to be had by young and old alike. And what a great opportunity to take a picture, upload it to an online site to share with family and friends.

As you interact with your children look for opportunities like these to stretch their imagination, involve them in the process and take lots of photographs. You will be amazed at the great photographs you can get of your child as a result of this adventure.

Until next time keep your camera ready and your eyes wide open for the next child photography opportunity! You will be glad you did.

Betty Muscott aka Betty Alicia White, Child Photographer

Longwood Gardens

May 25, 2009

The wide paths and vast lawns make it an ideal place for children to run and play outside. Inside the conservatory amidst all the hot house flowers is a children’s garden, full of hands on fountains and low passages. It is designed solely for the entertainment of little ones and is quite the magical setting.

During my family’s last visit we took my niece and nephew, Dylan and Madie and they had a grand time. With a three year old a two year old and my infant son, Aiden, in the stroller you would think the trip would be unmanageable for two adults, but surprisingly it was completely enjoyable.

The children were so enthralled with all the different flowers and trees that they actually stayed close and listened, mostly because they were bombarding us with questions. The landscape was unbelievably beautiful and not just for the children. The spring offers a walkway lined with tulips organized by color and tint, like walking through a rainbow and many paths through the flowering trees that sprinkle you with petals in the breeze.

We captured many wonderful photos to share with friends and family online and even more precious experiences. After telling the kids they couldn’t touch the flowers, they began stretching out on their bellies to smell them. They threw crumbs to the fish and geese on the lake and they danced in the rain of dogwood flowers. Between the natural light and wonders and their glee the pictures were priceless. We weren’t even halfway home before the kids were begging to come back.

As if the outdoor wonders were not enough, there is a huge greenhouse within the conservatory that is designed by region. You can see the flora and fauna of everything from the rainforest to the desert. There is even a room with floor to ceiling orchids of every variety that is my personal favorite. Each area has passports and little stamp stations to entertain the little ones and of course the children’s garden. A second set of clothes is required because most of the fun is water related. Even our littlest one, Aiden, was enthralled with the fountains and trying to catch the water.

I am a big fan of the outdoors, for myself and my whole family. Longwood Gardens and its sister properties are definitely a shining illustration of nature’s beauty. If you happen to be on the upper east coast you should definitely consider planning a day trip to Kennett Square. If you are further away see what your area has to offer because there is beauty everywhere. Share it with your loved ones. It is sure to be a bonding experience, one not to be passed up.

See the world through your children’s eyes. You will be amazed.


At My Mother’s Knee

May 17, 2009

At My Mother’s Knee

I grew up immersed in photography. My mother is a photographer and my brother and I were her favorite subjects. Still are, with the exception of her grandchildren. My earliest memories are in front of a camera, soon to be behind it.

I‘ve always known exactly what image I was trying to get, and rarely do I stop before I get it. Another lesson learned at my mother’s knee.

I remember her stopping on the side of the road in the morning traffic to get a photograph of a hot air balloon touching down on the river. She jumped over a guard rail to get the balloon’s full reflection and wound up with an award winning picture.

I love photographs and I love taking them. Capturing one moment in time and preserving it for a lifetime is a calling. Most people feel that calling at least once in a while but only a few take the time to do it well.

I try to learn new things about photography whenever I can because it is evolving so fast. I still love my film cameras but I discover wonderful things about my digital all the time.

I am currently taking some time off from my professional photography pursuits to be a full time photographer of my new little boy.

Children grow up too quickly. Capture every moment you can. You will want to savor it later.


Birthday Weekend

May 16, 2009

Birthday Weekend

This week I celebrated my 29th birthday. I had originally planned for a low key dinner at home with my husband and son, but when my mother asked if she could throw me a party I got very excited. I agreed to make the four hour drive that is required to see any of my family and packed our bags. I found myself giddy like a child and it felt good. I asked for my favorite foods even though they clash. I even started breaking up the day into how and where I would spend it.

Because of the length of the drive it had to be a weekend trip which opened up even more possibilities. Less than an hour’s drive from my parent’s house is my favorite place in the world, Ithaca, New York. The waterfalls and the college town culture make it my version of heaven. I got to introduce my son to Cascadilla Falls where I had spent many a college afternoon. His grin rivaled mine as we discovered he loves the falls as much as I do.

I got to hunt worms with my niece and nephew and share my most recent pictures with my mother. My party was wonderful. I got to catch up with my relatives whom I see far too little of. I got to be the birthday girl and the proud mom of my son that they just gushed over. With several photographers in the family there is always a subtle clicking in the background. Then there were rounds of family pictures; my parents and I, my son and his great-grandma, etc. We shuffled, posed and re-posed until everyone had gotten their fill. All in all it was a weekend to be treasured.

Celebrations are important. Celebrate everything you can think of, you will be so much happier for it.


My Photos Have Arrived!

May 14, 2009

How I Really Enjoy My Photographs

Often I enjoy getting some of my favorite photographs printed into 12 by 18s and so I am always on the lookout for the special deals with my favorite online store. About once every quarter they put on a sale, so I am always getting ready by locating those favorite photographs to upload to be printed.

Getting ready for these sales allows me to look at some of the many photographs I have taken of the grandchildren, and as I look through them I can see where I have done well and where I need to improve.

This time around I think I found some great shots, and I am very pleased with the prints I received today.
Over the years I have collected many of these treasures, and I enjoy giving them as gifts to family and friends. It is always a joy to see the look of pleasure spread over the face of mom or dad when I give them a framed photograph of one of their great grandchildren!

But you have to be careful – I like to work with photoshop and create more artistic renditions of some of my photographs. I had one in particular of my grandson that I wanted to share with my father, so I excitedly prepared the photo and took it over on a visit.

Much to my surprise his reaction was that “this isn’t my great grandson!” I guess an artistic rendition of the image wasn’t quite what he expected, and that what he really wanted was a regular photograph of his grandson. Well, no problem. A quick fix and he got what he wanted.

It just goes to show you that you never know what someone will like or enjoy. Some enjoy the more artistic images, and others just want the regular photographs. My advice? If you are trying to make a special gift for someone in your life who is a little older – ask them before you do all that work!

Until next time keep your camera handy and watch for those fabulous opportunities to photograph your children.

Betty Alicia, Photographer

A Rainy Day

May 13, 2009

Indoor Photography Challenges

Today it was rainy outside, so the grandkids decided to play indoors. After the usual feast of Reeses Puffs cereal, a banana and a small bowl of ice cream for my granddaughter, off they charged to the living room for a little game of “you’re it”.

Soon enough they settled down and were playing well together with a doll house. Now, consider this – a 9 year old girl and an 8 year old boy – siblings – playing well together inside on a rainy day. Kind of unusual for siblings, eh?

So the trick is how to get some great photographs of these two. Outside it is dark and rainy, the gloom sinking through the two skylights into the living room, shadows everywhere. How can a great picture be taken in this lighting and situation?

Time to whip out the flash unit which, conveniently, can be rotated to bounce flash off of the ceiling. In this manner the subjects – the grandkids – can be the focus of the photograph without deep shadow covering their faces.

A quick snap of the scene, check out the histogram, and I can see where the shadows fall. As long as the spikes aren’t lined up against the sides of the LCD screen, and are basically in the middle of the LCD screen.

A small adjustment to the camera, a few more shots and the next thing you now a few more great pictures are ready to be downloaded onto the computer. So how do you learn to take these kinds of photographs? Why, with a few lessons in photography, of course!

A Birthday Party

May 9, 2009

Yesterday our granddaughter, age 9, was invited to a birthday party for one of her school friends. The party was held at a pottery club, and each of the girls made something out of pottery. There must have been around 15 of these young girls, and fun was being had by all.

The birthday cake was unique: it was Cinderella’s wedding dress. Cinderella stood on top, her veil trailing off behind her, and the cake itself was her dress. It was conical shaped; you know, like the dresses of old that were wide at the bottom and tight around the waist. I think they used wooden hoops to keep the bottom round and away from the feet back then.

While this was going on grandfather and I walked along the lower part of the high banks on a river. We had hoped to see some rock formations, but because of mud from recent rains we couldn’t get that far down the river. There is an island in the river, so we strolled out there with our son and grandson to wait for the party to be over.

Upon our return we found the birthday girl opening her presents. Her mother was desperately trying to take pictures, but she was not having much luck. Birthday girl would hand the tag from the present to mom, then open the gift and slowly swing the gift from left to right in an arc to show all of the guests what her gift was. At the end of the arc she would simply drop the gift into the pile building off her left shoulder. It was really cute to see.

There was more to do at the party, so grandpa and I simply excused ourselves and headed home, enjoying the perfect end to a wonderful Michigan spring day.

Some days are just perfect.


Spring Adventures

May 6, 2009

The grandkids arrived again today, and immediately set out on their adventures. Overturned rocks, sticks dragged around, dirt spots examined.  Baby roly pollys and Lydia and Squggly are quickly discovered, and the mad dash to show Nana their treasures is under way!

The baby roly polys are tiny snails snuggled underneath rocks that line the driveway, while Lydia and Squiggly are worms found under wood left on the ground. Each one requires close examination, and observation posts are set up on the picnic table.

Soon Lydia, Squiggly and the roly polys are on the move, executing their escape plan from the grasp of these giants. A little inattention, minds distracted and upon return their captives have fled to places unknown. Oh well, tomorrow there will be more adventures.

Grandma heads to the gorchard, grand daughter in tow.  She discovers the apple tree is in full bloom, and the bees have flown from their hives to do their work with the beautiful flowers that adorn the apple tree.  Pinks and white, the flowers attract the workers from the hives as they quickly gather their treasures to give to the Queen.

What a great time to photograph your children. Discovery around every corner, adventures to be had and action all around. Grab the camera quick, before the moment is gone!

Keep those cameras handy!

Betty Alicia

A Picture Perfect Day

May 5, 2009

Today was one of those wonderful Michigan days, the kind you just like to spend outdoors.  Not too cold, not too hot, but just right.

Today I didn’t have  to pick up the grandkids, so I finally had time to plant my strawberry plants in the Gorchard.  Well, that’s what my family calls it anyway.  I have rhubarb, currents, grapes, apples, blue berries, raspberries and four bee hives to keep them producing.  Located just behind the cozy forest, I find my refuge there.

Tomorrow, however, chaos returns and it will be time for the camera. You see, at this time of year the little ones explore the cozy forest and the gorchard for any kind of bugs, worms or snakes they can find.  Spring brings out all kinds of things, the forest is greening nicely, and the warm sun feels good after the cold, dark and dank winter.

One of the best times to photograph children is when they are happy, full of energy and exploring the newly emerging world with the wonder only children seem to have.  They will turn over rocks, sticks and fallen tree limbs to discover what is hiding there.  With luck they may scare up a rabbit or two, but hopefully not a skunk.

I say that because years ago one of our sons, and our dog, cornered a skunk, determined to do it in.  They may have succeeded at that, but the skunk got its revenge.  After a couple of baths in tomato juice he smelled OK to me, so I sent him off to school.  Shortly the phone rang and the principle told me our son smelled like skunk.

My reply? Again? So, I told the principle to teach him not smell him and left them to their problem.

Ah, life in the cozy forest.

Betty Alicia

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