25 March 2015

Week 12: 2015

This week the guys built a potato gun, we set things on fire, and we visited the niece whose appendix burst over the weekend. There was also a hoof trimmer appointment for Shuga, a vet appointment for all the horses at the farm, and other stuff that I'm not thinking of at the moment. Busy, busy.

One of the medications appears to have a side effect of turning little girls into Care Bears

07 March 2015

Week 9: 2015

Late again! Oops. But at least I'm remembering to post, right?

My focus in March is side light. This doesn't necessarily mean the subject is lit from the side, but that the light comes from the side of the camera. I've never consciously used this kind of light, but I've been finding it a lot easier than low light. 3 out of 4 pictures in this post follow this light study, which I'm excited about.

The last week and a half-ish has been a little bit busy. Shuga got sick and needed a little extra care, I got food poisoning shortly after, and normal life just kept going on regardless. The good news is that both I and my horse appear to have recovered at this point. I hope that we'll be able to be back in the saddle again soon.

Shuga's vet exam

Cinnamon continues her progress toward becoming a "dog", as puppies don't really count. We still have some big training issues to work through, but I feel like she's starting to make sense of what's expected of her. She's definitely growing on me as she sheds more and more of that annoying puppy thing.

I'm still very surprised that pictures of my wiggliest child are the ones that turn out the best every week. This one I fell in love with, though:

This last picture is my absolute favorite of the week. She was screeching like a pterodactyl for no reason that I could discern. Though, honestly, do you really need a reason when you're 3?

26 February 2015

Week 8: 2015

Oops, this post is a day late. I have a better selection of pictures this week, I think. A couple even qualify for the low light theme of the month, finally. (The last two in this post.) I wonder how much of my difficulty with low light pictures came from trying to capture things that I don't have the skill or equipment necessary for.

I need to remember these limitations and creatively use what I have instead of what I wish I had.

All of these were taken with my SG4.

18 February 2015

Week 7: 2015

Didn't get a whole lot of low light study in this week. It's impossibly challenging to do with phone photography, and my old DSLR's auto-focus is crap in low light settings. I can't really blame it, though; my manual focus is crap in low light settings. Haha.

And of course, I must admit that my favorite picture of the week was not taken by myself. Selfies using a phone while posing with a unicorn are not the easiest thing in the world. But look it, Shuga is totally snuggling with me. *swoon*
That picture was taken before we rode in our third NWWJS ground poles class. We were 25 seconds slow with 4 faults, but we finished without any falling. That was my real goal this time. No ribbons, but Shuga and I did win the popularity contest of the day. Funny how unicorns do that.

11 February 2015

Week 6: 2015

All taken with my SG4. Phone photography does not handle low light situations very well. I think I need to get out the DSLR to work on this month's light focus.

04 February 2015

Week 5: 2015

I have SO many pictures I want to share from Comic Con, you guys. But since my favorites weren't taken by me, that's for another post.
I do have a relatively nice picture with my DSLR for this week, but I forgot about posting until I got into bed tonight. So I might include that one in next week's post. In the meantime, enjoy the phone photography.

21 January 2015

Week 3: 2015

I got quite a few awesome pictures in this last week, all of them with my SG4. There hasn't been a whole lot of reflective light for me to use since it's been so gloomy foggy, but I have definitely had more awareness of the light around me, and I feel like I'm getting better at using it to improve the quality of my pictures.

These are my absolute favorites of the bunch: 

To understand why this picture of Lila and Cinnamon is so special to my heart, we must backtrack to last month:

Cinnamon has big, big shoes to fill. Not just Lucy's, but Tardis' and good ol' Scamp's, too. (Because any dog I ever have has to live up to Scamp's legacy.) The pup isn't there yet, but she's getting closer.

As much as I love the previous pictures, this one has to be my favorite of the entire year so far:

10 January 2015

when the ride doesn't go as planned

"How was that fall off your horse, Mom?" Yonah asked when I got home.

"Oh, you know," I shrugged. "It was a fall."

"Was it pleasant?"

"No," I said. "No, I definitely wouldn't call it a pleasant experience."


Last month I rode in my very first ever ground poles class at a schooling show. We did really, really well - and while we didn't get a ribbon, we didn't come in dead last. Plus, we completed the entire course! That in itself was a huge win.

blissfully confident before the disastrous round
I thought that this month we'd be able to actually maybe get a ribbon. My goal isn't to "win", nor am I hugely into showing by any stretch of the imagination; but how else am I supposed to start my obligatory Shuga Wall?

Besides, it's my birthday month. This timing, combined with how well we did last month, combined with how few people were in my ground poles class, made it feel like fourth place was manageable. Maybe even third if I got really lucky.

The trouble is that horses and their riders don't progress in a straight line. It's a circular mess in which there is always room for improvement, and things that you have mastered will likely need to be mastered again (and again) later on.

So when Shuga freaked out so badly that I lost my seat during our schooling round, and couldn't complete our showing round*, I wasn't as upset as I thought I might be. Instead I was able to understand the opportunity to grow.

*We couldn't complete because Shuga balked and thoroughly refused the course, not because of injury.

already showing spazzy hints of difficulty before we tacked up

Crappy warm up
Because of the hectic amount of riders all trying to get their horses warmed up and practice before their rounds, Shuga and I didn't have enough time to really run the course beforehand. Last month we were able to not only address the trouble fences, but also to familiarize ourselves with the course. I think being able to do that again would have made a big difference today.

Shuga's side:

Hyper energy
The biggest issue creating the disaster today was the fact that the ground is frozen. Without an accessible indoor arena I haven't been able to do anything at all with Shuga for a month, and she hasn't even been able to play with her horsey friends in the pasture because of these winter conditions. On top of this, I also wasn't able to lunge her pre-show to work out excess energy. Since excess energy always makes her nervous of her own shadow, I knew we were going to have some issues.

Another contributing factor was that in the midst of this spazzy, hyper, spooky scenario we were already working through, we ran into some old horse friends she knows very well. Because she is very herd-focused in personality, she immediately based more security in their presence than in my hands. Remove the horsey friends and suddenly everything is a shark trying to eat you.

so many horses trying to warm up and practice!
I feel like we would have been fine if we only had one of these issues to deal with. A more experienced rider could have gotten through both. Unfortunately for Team Shuga-and-Brenna, I'm still learning.

My side:

Loose reins/inconsistent contact
After warm up and practice she began to settle down so I let her relax. She didn't feel like she was going to be trouble after that so I didn't think to tighten my reins again. Shuga is a horse that must feel strong and consistent contact during nervous moments or she feels all alone and completely loses her brain. Especially when she isn't basing very much safety in my hands in the first place. This was a dumb rookie mistake* that ultimately sealed our ride's doom.

*I am lenient about most of my rookie mistakes, but I know Shuga is like this and I knew she would be having beyond normal spooking issues. I don't know what I was thinking.

Not being present 
The course was much less intuitive today than it was last month, and since practice was so hectic I didn't have time to become familiar with it. Instead of being with my horse and letting her feel more confident with my presence, I was thinking a fence or two ahead to keep us from getting lost. (Which we did, anyway. Very frustrating.) I don't think it's a coincidence that I fell during the more confusing middle part of the course.

My trainer asked if I needed to move to the back of the list so I could recover from the fall. I told her I needed to finish the school round. That was a great choice. I would have lost a lot of confidence if I hadn't. The problem was that I decided to just get it over with and do my show round immediately after, when it would have been smarter to retreat momentarily to process and regroup.

if you can't win a ribbon, at least you can look fancy
I lost my center when she started spooking left and right. This did not help my attempts to not lose my seat.* After remounting, I felt like I was physically doing everything right. Instead I was curling up defensively. Worse, I couldn't correct the issue because I felt like there wasn't an issue, and there wasn't enough time to think through how my trainer's directions were not already being done.

*Although to be fair, when your horse's back suddenly and unexpectedly goes from looking like an I (from the rider's viewpoint) to looking like a C (again from the rider's viewpoint), it's a bit challenging to not lose your seat.

07 January 2015

Week 1: 2015

Yet another 52 Week photography challenge that I am hoping to succeed with. I completed NaNoWriMo last year, so I feel more confident about actually seeing this challenge through to the end.

My focus is to become more aware of light this year and more creative in utilizing it. At the end of the 7 day period, I will evaluate the picture(s) I've taken that week and post my favorite(s).

So far all of my pictures have been taken with my SG4. I am debating whether or not to officially associate this challenge with phone photography. Either way, most of my pictures will likely be taken with my phone camera, as it is what is most readily available. Both of my favorite pictures this week are phone photography. (Very notable in the first, less so in the second.)

During the month of January I am attempting a study of reflective light, though not all my pictures will fit into this category.