Saturday, April 09, 2011

Changes - Blog Consolidation

After some thought, I've decided to merge my two blogs into one blog. I've found it too difficult to keep up with both, and there was some repeat content.

So, my main blog will be shirleybehindthelens. I've imported all the posts from this blog over, so it's all in one convenient place!

We'll see you over there!


Friday, April 08, 2011

Sara Bareilles Concert - Millikin University

It’s been two years since I had the opportunity to catch my favorite recording artist / performer, Sara Bareilles in concert. She sang an acoustic set on campus in early March, 2009. I guess she has a thing for college campuses in the spring, because I caught her again Tuesday night, this time at neighboring Millikin University’s Kirkland Center for the Performing Arts.

I am a bit forlorn that I didn’t try to sneak in my camera. The University website clearly stated “no photography or video recording allowed”, that “all bags are subject to search”, and persons in violation would be “removed from the venue”. Not wanting to break the rules, I left my big camera in the car. Heck, no one took a second look at my bag, and the students were all toting their cameras around in the auditorium. I did take in my daughter’s point and shoot camera, but after looking at the image rendering on the back screen (completely washed out stage), I didn’t even try.

I selected a seat in the balcony this time – by the time I learned about the performance, many of the good seats on the floor were already gone, and I got a front row balcony seat. The view was a little far back, but a really nice vantage point (totally reachable with a 100mm+ lens). I remembered to bring my little binoculars, enjoyed the view and was really jealous of the students in the front row.

The concert opened with two acts – soloist Ximena Sarinana and group Elizabeth and the Catapult. Both performances were likeable – very indie in feel – real musicians (no Ke$ha or Gaga or Katy Perry wannabes here, thank goodness) who really perform without all the antics.

While the crew was setting up for the main event, I took some time to “guess” the upcoming setlist. My predictions – open with Gonna Get Over You, then Uncharted and Hold my Heart. I predicted she would close with King of Everything and an encore performance of Gravity. I hoped I would get to hear Let The Rain and Between the Lines. I knew I would be subjected to Love Song (fine song, but I’d rather hear something else) at some point during the night, but I guess you don’t forsake what made you famous in the first place.

The actual performance:

  • The band took stage as the studio recording of Kaleidoscope Heart started in the background, with the stage lights pulsing on and off. I’m not sure if the light people were on top of things yet, because Sara was still in the dark as she started playing the beginning chords to Uncharted, which moved into her second song: Gonna Get Over You (OK, I was wrong with my opening guess - I just had it reversed).
  • Third song – a surprise – Love on the Rocks.
  • Fourth song – Love Song, which Sara encouraged everyone to sing along (no problem there), and it was fun to hear the song rise from the crowd.
  • Next song – Hold My Heart, with a great guitar solo by Javier Dunn during one of the chorus sections.
  • After Hold My Heart, Sara stopped to don a guitar, and I thought – yay, she’s going to sing Let the Rain. But instead, she played Basketcase (probably my least favorite of all her songs, probably because it is so different from her upbeat, jazzy style).
  • 7th song – a stripped down version of City (another favorite of mine) – just Sara and the piano. The twist - Sara wasn’t the one playing – her other keyboardist, took the seat at her piano and Sara sang standing behind the microphone, no doubt a position she isn’t accustomed to (see, even professional performers need to step out of their comfort zones). I love this song and the stripped down performance really highlighted her vocals.
  • The band members returned and sang a cover of Little Lion Man. The banter between her and the audience centered on her habit of swearing when she’s been told not to, and this song (of course) has the f-bomb in the chorus, so they took suggestions from the audience on what to replace it with. The song provided a fun segue into her next song – a rocking rendition of Machine Gun, a song aimed at harsh critics.
  • I didn’t recognize the next song – a reworked, amped up, bluesy Bottle It Up – until she was two lines into the lyrics. I like how she re-invents her music. It shows constant evolution and growth. It was rocking until the bridge and then it was all simple again, just Sara and the piano. I must find a video on You Tube! She used this song to introduce the talented members of the band – the same guys she’s been playing with for years – [several of them are on her Constant Confessions album].
  • Unfortunately, this act normally means the concert is nearly over –and I thought the next song, King of Anything, would be her last. It was another fun audience participation number – clapping and singing in harmony. Even the two ladies sitting next to me were grooving on it.
  • But I was wrong, as Sara didn’t leave the stage, but sat down at the piano to sing one of my favorites, Gravity. I think she performs this song as much as she does Love Song, however, I could listen to it again and again.
  • Gravity marked the official end of her set, and the crowd clapped and clapped until the band and the opening acts all came back on stage. The girl behind me was yelling “sing Many the Miles”, but when I saw her pick up the guitar, I knew Let the Rain would be the encore. Sara talked about how the song is about moving through the unknown (umm, I thought that’s what Uncharted was about), but to me, the song is about embracing change, letting go of the past.
If I my hands could hold them, you’d see
I’d take all these secrets in me
And I’d move and mold them to be
Something I’d set free

I want to darken in the skies
Open the floodgates up
I want to change my mind
I want to be enough
I want the water in my eyes
I want to cry until the end of time

I want to let the rain come down
Make a brand new ground
Let the rain come down
Let the rain come down
Make a brand new ground
Let the rain come down tonight
  • Finally, she sat at the piano again and performed the last song of the night – a cover of Coldplay’s Yellow. I liked the song, but I would have preferred to hear her sing Bluebird from the Kaleidoscope Album. Still, it was a great way to end the show.
So, how did this performance compare against the performance two years ago? The overall vibe in the auditorium was very different from the performance I caught two years ago. The entire floor level was on their feet, dancing around, hugging the stage and interacting with the band. The stage lighting pulsed and fanned around, like in a club. The music was definitely louder – sometimes too loud, as the bass or guitar would drown out the vocals and piano. I guess that is the difference between an acoustic tour and a full blown one. But with an artist like Sara, any performance will be an enjoyable one, and I feel fortunate to have attended last night’s concert. I even attended by myself (a Tuesday night is really hard for many of my friends to get away) because I knew getting Sara to the cornfields of Central Illinois isn’t going to be a common occurrence.

As for a picture, I am posting photos I found on flickr (remember – I didn’t bring the good camera in and I am still kicking myself about it). The pictures are from the talented Nicole Wamsley, taken at the Michigan concert the day after the Millikin one. I couldn’t find a single photo from the Millikin concert, so I figured this was close enough – even Sara’s outfit is very similar.

Sara Bareilles COPYRIGHT©Nicole Wamsley

Sara Bareilles, ©Nicole Wamsley
Nikki has some concert video footage she is working on. As soon as that gets uploaded, I’ll embed here, too.

If you remotely like Sara’s music, catching her live is a great experience and highly recommended. Life is too short to not get out and enjoy things that make you happy.


Thursday, March 31, 2011

Last Evening in Florida

Our last night in Florida and we’re going out to eat at a Floridian Institution – Mel’s Diner - known for its food and reasonable prices. Let’s not forget retro styling, which I always appreciate.

Mel's Diner

Even at 5:30 on a Wednesday evening, we had to wait a little bit for a table to open up. The kids didn’t mind – the weather was gorgeous and they could goof off outside.
While We Wait
Afterwards, I realized that the sunset would be really nice and if I could convince the rest of them to head over to the beach, we could watch the sunset along the water. But alas, no one wanted to go with me! Instead, we pulled into a gas station as the sun was starting its descent.
Sunset at the Gas Station
I guess a sunset at the gas station is what I get to enjoy on our last evening in Florida.
Once we returned to my parent’s place, the kids wanted to take one last dip in the clubhouse pool. We allowed them to swim as we supervised (the pool closes at “dusk”, so we may have stretched that rule - depending upon your definition of “dusk”).
Like the moon coming up along the water. Too bad I'm at the pool and not the beach
Taken with my iPhone - I thought the street light looked like the moon coming up along the water.

As we finally left the pool, I took a picture of the final remnants of daylight over the pond.
Rookery Pond


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Florida - Family Pictures

Unfortunately, all family visits must come to an end, and life must go back to their normal rhythm.

We really enjoyed our relaxing vacation in Florida - my mother and father were great hosts!

And as usual, we must have our standard "group picture" - taken in the screened in lanai:
I should have positioned Scott differently - the palm looks like it is growing out of his head!

This one is a little better, although you can see the remote control in my father's hand (Brian held it in the last picture):
Family Take 2

Of course, we have the outtake:
Say Hi to the Camera

And the rejected background:
Rejected Background

A bonus - Erica let me take a picture of her:
With Curls
She spent a lot of time curling her hair and I thought it was so pretty.

And we have a wrap on Spring Break Family pictures


Sunday, March 27, 2011


We've done the parasailing thing before - the first time in 2006, when Erica (7 years old) went up for the first time and had a blast. That year, we even convinced my mother to parasail.

In 2008, a very nervous Brian (8 years old) parasailed for the first time and received high-fives from the flight crew as well as the others on the boat. That year, we convinced my father to parasail with us.

So it's a tradition for us to parasail when we visit Florida on spring break. We always go back to the same company - Ranalli Parasail, located at the Diamond Head Resort on Fort Myers Beach. They offer a 1200 foot ride (the longest / highest ride you can take on Fort Myers Beach) with a great flight crew. In the past, up to three people could take flight on their parasail rig, but now, they have the capability to fly up to six people at a time. This meant that our entire family could go up together.

It was another beautiful day in SW Florida - the air was warm, the breeze refreshing and little clouds dotted the sky. Our family got on the boat at 1pm with another couple and the boat jetted off to the middle of the ocean.

The crew guy who set us up in our harnesses was nice enough to take a picture of us:
Family Fun

The woman from the other couple saw my camera and also offered to take pictures - she has a Nikon D90, so she was familiar with the general operation of mine.

Blue Skies Above
I believe we used this blue and yellow chute in 2008. It's so pretty against the blue sky.

Here we are, ready to launch:
Ready to Launch

And we're flying!
Just a Dot in the Sky
It was really nice to be able to experience the flight as a family - we chatted about what we saw up in the air and when we were dipped into the water, had fun getting each other wet.

A Dip in the Ocean

Back on land, we enjoyed walking a bit along the beach. A lovely day.
Beach Scene

Take a Walk


Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Trip Down Memory Lane

The embedded slide show includes pictures from 1999 to 2003, film that I had developed at Seattle Film Works / PhotoWorks. I received an email from PhotoWorks this week that they were closing, that I had over 1000 pictures with them that they would transfer over to Shutterfly. I didn't realize the breadth of photos I had developed through PhotoWorks, and I am so glad they had all these archives of my film pictures. Pictures from before Brian's birth, all the way to 2003, just before I bought my first digital camera. I plan to have Shutterfly send me the archive DVD of the full resolution files so I can save them on my computer, load them up to my Flickr account, organize and tag them.

Click here to view these pictures larger

I didn't realize when I developed my film with Seattle FilmWorks/PhotoWorks they would provide these archives. Back then, it was very tempting to drop my film off with the Wal-Mart or whoever had the best deal. Being consistent will save me hours digitizing my archives.

Even in today's digital world, I think it is still important to be consistent with your photos. Delete the bad photos, organize the rest, back them up. Choose one photo printing company and print those photos out. I know I've been bad about the "printing the photos out" part, especially since I've been consistently blogging these past three years. I still plan to get my photos into photo books and the like. Receiving these old photos in electronic form has just emphasized that (and most of the photos already reside in scrapbooks).


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Farmer's Market and Wetland Preserve

Saturday morning - and it's Farmer's Market time.

But that's after a nice early morning run as the sun rises -
Morning Pines
It's perfect running weather - mid 50s when I start and mid 60s when I finish - this means shorts and a t-shirt, the first warm weather running of this year.

I go to the Farmer's Market with my parents - they eat lots of fresh vegetables and fruit. I picked out two mangoes (they were delicious) and a pair of sunglasses (I left mine in IL).

But most of all, I like looking at all the beautiful produce.
Japanese Eggplant

Today's family outing - the wetland preserve - a large wetland area, complete with lake and board walk that winds through the 2500 acre facility. It was a great way to enjoy the evening.

Down the Boardwalk

Crocodile Lake, where we saw a crocodile, sunning himself on dock:
Crocodile Lake

Scott points out the Croc to Erica:
There's a Croc Out There

I didn't capture it well at all (and hence deleted the picture), but on the left side of the lake, there's a grove of trees where hundreds of birds roost at night. In the evening, they fly back to the shelter of these trees. Next time I'll bring my zoom lens to capture this amazing sight.


Copyright Notice

All images on this blog (unless stated) are the intellectual property and copyright of SLPhotography and shirley319 (© 2009, 2010). Do not steal, borrow or pirate the images here.

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code. and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act) prohibits the use of digital property to be used without the consent of its owner.

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