Quality Kid Time

August 03, 2008  •  Leave a Comment

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Matthew at Partition Arch, Arches National Park, Utah. Nikon D300, lens: Nikon 17-35/f2.8, 1/100@f14, ISO200, manual exposure, center-weighted metering; Gitzo 1325 tripod, Kirk BH-1 ballhead; RAW conversion CaptureNX, B&W Conversion Photoshop CS3.
 
"This is my favorite place in the whole world," my son said as he jumped out of the car after a 7 hour drive. We were on our first Father-Son photo adventure and we'd finally hit Arches National Park, near Moab, Utah. It was time to stretch our legs. Excited to use his new camera, he switched it on and started shooting pictures of the moon over "The Guardian."
 
Some background:
Each spring for a number of years now I've had the opportunity to head south to one of my favorite regions of the country known as "The Grand Circle." This trip has been timed to coincide with my son's Spring Break at school. Both my wife and son usually head to Arizona for a stay with the folks, and I take off, wandering around the American Southwest for a week or so. It's almost perfect. While I love to wander, I miss my family.
 
A few years ago we retired our Canon Powershot A70 given to my wife a few Christmases back. When I say retired, I don't actually mean retired intentionally-we gave it to our then 8 year old son as his first digital camera. He did pretty well with it for an 8 year old kid. Until the fateful day he decided to take pictures of he and his friends doing a slam-dunk competition out on the pavement. Even then, things were going well. Until he put the camera on the ground, pointing straight up, to get a zoomed shot of one of his buddies pretending he was Michael Jordan. Let's just say that is the last photograph that camera took.

p510301183-2  Neighborhood Slam Dunk Competition; Nikon D300, lens: Nikon 12-24/f4; exp: 1/8,000 @f4, ISO 500, auto,  center-weighted average; aperture priority; active D-lighting: normal; RAW conversion CaptureNX; hand-held while standing on ladder above backboard.
 
While genuinely disappointed in the loss of the camera, the photographer in me was impressed with his creativity and ingenuity. Oh, to be reckless again and not think about things like basketballs smashing your camera... imagine what you could do if you weren't concerned about putting your (now rather expensive) camera gear in harm's way. Since that day, he has been without a camera. Until this spring. We figured it was time to give him another shot at being a responsible kid; after all, he had a birthday coming up. 
 
Before the annual trip, before his actual birthday, we surprised him with a new Nikon Coolpix L14. While he (somewhat condescendingly) referred to the late Canon A70 as "the little silver camera," he went absolutely bananas over the shiny black box with the revered yellow & black Nikon badge on it, no doubt remembering his dad receiving and opening many such a box in the past. He was stoked.
But wait, there's more.
This year we had a new plan for Spring Break. He was going to accompany me driving from Fort Collins down to Phoenix, and mom was going to fly down a few days later. So on the first leg of this year's "Grand Circle Spring Break Photo Safari Extravaganza" I'd have the privilege of my son's company. That he even wanted to come pleased me beyond words.

If you're looking for a fun family activity, photography is a great one. No matter what your level of expertise, what kind of equipment you have, or where you live, there's always something to make photographs of and share the process together. I've found that shooting with your kids provides an entirely different perspective-on photography, and how their little minds work. It's fun to watch the young, creative mind develop.

fast forward...
"Let's head a little deeper in before we lose our light," I said after a bit. We had the hotel room so there was no need to hurry back into Moab, and I wanted him to see my second favorite National Park in its dramatic display of evening light.

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Arches National Park, Moab, Utah. Shot on Kodak TMax 100 with Nikon F5, 28-70/2.8 at 1/60 at F14. Heliopan Circ. Polarizer.

By the time we took a lap through The Windows area, and another around Balance Rock, his little head was spinning. He walked down the path alone and stood at the end, watching clouds build over the Mante La Salle mountains to the east. On the ride back to town for dinner, cold but sitting in the Trib's heated seat, he said, "You're the greatest dad in the world." We had had a very good day.

 

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