Monday, June 30, 2008

Doe... a deer...

... a female deer.

No, really.

Doe, a deer...

Sorry, I really couldn't help myself. Especially when the opportunity presented itself to me yesterday during my weekly photography foray into Oklahoma City. I visited Martin Park Nature Center, located on the NW part of OKC. Partially wildlife sanctuary and trails, it was mostly just a mild hike in nature. However, this doe ran past me so fast, and at a decent distance that I thought it was just the sunlight filtering through the trees. Thankfully not, and she stayed still long enough for me to fire shots off on both cameras before fleeing into the creek.

This past week was a long week, I think I was at work about 90 hours this week. Something crazy like that. We opened "Sound of Music" last Tuesday and closed Saturday night. Meanwhile, we started rehearsals for "Swing" and are gearing up for going into tech for that after the 4th of July.

Where did June go?

For other various photos of the last few weeks, check out my flickr pages.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Remembering April 19th, 1995

Do you remember where you were on April 19th, 1995? I'm ashamed to say that I don't. I was much younger in those days, and the Oklahoma City Bombing, though a horrifying tragedy, just did not register in my brain the same way that 9/11 has forever been etched into my mind.

I remember visiting the site relatively shortly after the actual event, on the way back home from one of our annual family summer vacations. The memorial had not yet been erected, there was just a ton of chain-link fence, covered with momentos of visitors.

Memorial Fence

When I took the job in OKC this summer, I realized that I would be able to visit the memorial and take pictures. In the last few days, I've been twice. Once at night because I'd heard the memorial was gorgeous at night, and once during the day. For a location in the downtown of a major city, I felt remarkably safe photographing at night. There were rangers and security and a fair amount of visitors.

The memorial is simply gorgeous. It is bookended by two gates. One labeled 9:01 - representing a city of innocence. The other is labeled 9:03 - representing a city forever changed. The bombing happened at 9:02. What used to be the Murrah building is now the Field of Empty Chairs. One chair for every life lost, including 19 children. What I didn't realize until after touring the museum is that there were two unborn babies who also died that day. Loss of life is heart-breaking, but loss of young life just hurts a little bit more. Also represented in the Field of Empty Chairs are the five individuals who fell outside of the building. One of them, Rebecca Anderson, was a nurse who rushed in to help. While she was inside, she suffered a head injury. She died on the street outside in the arms of other rescuers. Heartbreaking.

What used to be 6th Street is now a shallow reflection pool spanning the distance between the two gates. Where the parking lot was, is a plaza, and next to it, a raised portion where the tree known as the Survivor Tree still stands. This tree survived the bomb blast - a pretty incredible feat considering its proximity to the bombing. A seedling from this resilient tree was presented to Rudy Giuliani after 9/11 by OKC.

The Journal Record Building still stands and is home to the National Memorial Museum - 2 powerful floors of exhibits. The museum starts with OKC history and the history of the building itself. Then you are taken into a room, and shut in. You listen to an official recording of a meeting being held across the street starting at 9am. It is slightly horrifying to sit there knowing what will happen 2 minutes into the recording. After you're done in there, you walk out and watch the first breaking news footage, and thusly, begin your exploration into the aftermath of the bombing.

You see relics recovered - personal effects or file cabinets from the building where you are currently standing. The blast blew out windows nearby. A cast member in the show who was quite young at the time was actually knocked out of her seat (I don't know how far away she was). The blast was certainly felt at least 5 miles away according to the news footage because it was felt at their building.

The devastation was incredible but OKC was resilient. Reading and hearing survivor stories and/or stories about those who died were just heartbreaking. At times, I felt almost physically ill because the emotions were so powerful.

The iconic picture of the firefighter with the baby? She turned 1 the day before she died. Isn't that heartbreaking? Could you imagine being a parent of one of those children at that daycare or the YMCA down the street? There was apparently much confusion in the beginning because there were injuries at that daycare as well.

There was a section about how they caught Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. I did not know that Ford (builder of the Ryder truck) voluntarily repurchased the truck immediately after the bomb truck so that they could better identify that truck forensically. Being a CSI fan, I enjoyed that part immensely.

I also enjoyed the 1000 golden cranes that flew above in the end of the exhibit. If you're unfamiliar with the story of Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, you need to go read it. It's a touching true story about a girl named Sadako who falls ill after the atom bombing. She is told that if she folds 1000 paper cranes, that she will be healed. She perseveres, but she is often too weak to fold any. Before she died, she folded 644. They are a symbol of healing and many were left at the OKC site. There were also many that were left at 9/11 as well.

The day I chose to go to the Museum with a colleague was our day off, and coincidentally, Father's Day. My colleague arrived before I did and wandered around the outside Memorial. While he was there, he happened upon a weeping father, crying on the chair of his son or daughter. Heartbreaking.

Part of me was thankful to miss that sight, but discovered that "World's Best Dad" balloons had been tied to the chair of David Walker.

World's Greatest Dad

On a child's chair was a signed softball:

Ashley Megan Eckles


The memorial is gorgeous at night, each of the chairs is lit from below, like candles in a church. Please visit my flickr page to see the many pictures taken over both visits.

In short, really, how could I not visit, pay tribute and enjoy the beauty that has risen from tragedy?

Monday, June 9, 2008

OKC and Dale Chihuly

I have been a fan of Dale Chihuly for as long as I can remember. My parents can correct me on this, but I think it all started when they took me to an exhibition held at the STL Art Museum. I was instantly enchanted, especially when I walked into a room with a glass-drop ceilling. Between the actual ceiling and the drop ceiling were tons of his pieces, some large, some small and all beautifully illuminated from above. I swore right then and there, if I was ever filthy rich, I wanted a room in my house like that.

The next time I saw Chihuly en masse was during his exhibition at the Missouri Botanical Garden. I only wish now that I could go back and revisit, now that I'm more passionate about photography. It was a gorgeous exhibition, and I enjoy every piece that the Garden and/or its patrons purchased.

On yesterday's day off, I decided to stay indoors (the weather was potentially questionable) and visit the OKC Museum of Art. I had heard of their Dale Chihuly collection and couldn't wait to check it out. Unfortunately the rest of the museum was closed because they're prepping for a big new exhibit, but I decided the entry fee was more than worth it just for the Chihuly exhibit.

And boy was I right. The exhibition is pretty large and simply stunning. I went through it at least twice before sitting down and watching the Chihuly film about his work. I soaked in all that I could. I took at least 450 pictures, experimenting with the different settings. People were allowed to take flash photos but I could not for the life of me understand why. Every piece was gorgeously lit, to show off its colors. A flash would just lose all the color value.

This mosaic is just a sampler of the 120-odd photos I painstakingly uploaded last night (flickr's independent uploader was giving me fits, so I had to upload the old-fashioned way). Please click on the sidebar flickr link to check them all out. And please don't forget to let me know what you think!

If you are ever in OKC, I urge you to check this exhibit out. Or if you're near any Dale Chihuly exhibit - run, don't walk- and enjoy the stunning art he and his team creates out of sand and fire.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Oklahoma Tidbits

High winds are apparently commonplace here, they've been gusting like crazy for the last day or so. Turns out we have a tornado watch tonight... didn't they just have a storm right before I came here? If the sirens go off, we'll be hunkering down with our show's choreographer who has a 1st floor apartment. I'm not terribly worried. Just the same, I didn't park my car underneath any trees. I'm more worried about the winds than anything else. My car was not fun to drive on the 10 minute drive home.


Seen on 16th street: A little old lady driving a red sedan at 20 mph (the speed limit is 30 or 35) and quite possibly drinking a beer while driving. I didn't get close enough to see and when my patience ran out, I passed when the lines on the road let me. Yikes.


Nothing against the children in our production, I am looking forward to when the rest of the adults arrive next week. Today, we had a discussion with the children about the end of the show and why the Von Trapps were leaving. The director drew parallels to today and it was very solemn.


Despite the relatively light schedule so far (it's going to get busier), I haven't had much opportunity to take the camera out for a whirl. But my next day off is coming up soon - where shall I go next?

Monday, June 2, 2008

Canon Digital Rebel XSi... I heart thee.

Now, you won't often hear me using contemporary slang terms, mostly because they generally irritate me, like most texting shorthand. But I'm getting away from the original subject of the post... my new CAMERA!!

Now, I have been drooling after a new camera for awhile. Pretty much after I really started getting into photography and learning more about aperture, shutter speeds, etc and getting really hooked into nighttime photography. And when I started hitting the limitations of my then-current camera. Don't get me wrong, I do love my Fuji FinePix S700, and I'm not jettisoning it yet. But I was ready to expand my camera horizons.

Thanks to a combined birthday present (in no particular order) from my parents, from myself and from the government, I became the proud new owner of the latest Digital Rebel. Now don't tell my new camera this... but I hadn't intended to get this particular model. I had originally intended on getting its predecessor, the XTi. After doing some serious and lengthy internet research, and talking to several salespeople at various stores (serious camera shops and more casual camera shops alike) and having my hands on both models, the new bells and whistles on the XSi were just too good to pass up.

I ended up going with the kit lens because it seemed to get pretty good reviews for a kit lens and it gives me plenty of time to discover what I miss from my ZSLR (the so-called nickname for my former camera - a zoom lens reflex.) A new lens will be my next big purchase (not anytime soon, thankyouverymuch.) By then, I'll know what I want and perhaps be able to get a good deal as well. This ain't no cheap hobby!

With the new camera, I had to get a nifty bag to protect my newest acquisition (not to mention that my current one was far too tiny.) After more research, the appeal of the Lowepro Slingback 100 was irresistible. It's part backpack, but it swings around to open like a traditional camera bag when needed. I love it. LOVE it. Of course, eventually, I'll want a camera bag that looks a little less camera-y, but that's for later. I needed a practical, yet fun, bag.

My cameras (yes, both) and the new bag and I had an outing this past Saturday. I definitely don't have the zoom that the Fuji has... but I think it takes pretty good pictures - even though I ended up cropping a majority of them to get the "zoom" quality I wanted. I can't wait to go on more photo-taking expeditions and learn more about how to use the amazing new camera in my possession. I'm so excited!!

I just posted some puppy pictures to flickr, so the OKC Zoo pictures will have to wait.

Until next time...