NYC

The 8 y.o. has dreamt of New York City for quite some time.

I'm not sure what it is... her mom and I talking about the concrete jungle with buildings that dwarf those in Philly, the only other big city she's ever seen? Pictures in a book? She wrote a story once about a queen who lived in NYC.

Anyway, the time had come. We laid plans, meaning we put a date on the calendar, determined that we'd take the Staten Island Ferry, and beyond that, would meander around Gotham wherever the wind took us. Just the two of us.

The boat was a big hit.

Hopped off the ferry at lunchtime. Where to eat? We were determined to avoid fast food or familiar eating establishments. She saw a menu outside an outdoor cafe, and our search was over. "I want to eat here. I want to eat these." She pointed to raw oysters on the half shell, which she'd never had. She's been trying to be more adventurous with food.

Not her favorite thing, but she got through two of them. The mussels, on the other hand, she tackled like a champ.

A few blocks away was the 9/11 memorial. I tried to explain what had happened here, the Day the Buildings Came Down. One day we'll look at pictures, watch the news footage together.

But by far, the biggest hit of the day was Central Park. Who knew? Climbing on the rocks? Yes, please.

Then off to Bethesda Fountain, one of my favorite spots. Great people watching and big bubbles.

We hoofed it back to Times Square, a place I'm happy to avoid but every kid should see it at least once, and grabbed a New York slice at Michael Scott's favorite pizza joint just because it was close.

Then, back underground to start the journey home. She took to the subway nicely.

My film was too slow to shoot the Brooklyn Bridge at 10pm (you'd think it would be better lit) but no worries. By that time we were beat. At least one of us got to sleep on the 2 hour drive home.

Nikon F100, Nikkor 35/1.4G, Kodak Tri-X 400.

Analog Vacation

When I was growing up, vacations typically meant loading all the kids (I really can't remember how many there were at the time — there were fewer than there are now, but it was still a lot) into our 1982 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser station wagon, kids all piled in what we called the "back back" (courting danger, scoffing at seat belts), tents and laundry and groceries jammed into the luggage carrier cinched onto the top with mismatching nylon straps. Sometimes we vacationed with another family, and if we were lucky, our parents would mount CB radios on the two station wagons (theirs almost a direct match to ours) so we'd be able to communicate when it was time to stop for a meal, or for a bathroom break, or to air out because the family dog threw up in the car.

I remember the gas cap being left on the roof of the car one time as we drove away. (Whoops.) I remember the amusement park we'd driven an hour or more to get to being closed upon arrival. Before you start cracking National Lampoon's Vacation jokes, you should know that the actual, real-life name of the theme park was, if memory serves, Wally Land. I remember the lake at the park we went to one year being closed, because it was the end of summer and all the lifeguards had gone back to college.

Come to think of it, I think everything I just mentioned happened in just a single trip.

These are some of my most priceless memories from childhood. Sure, I remember the perfect days too, but the imperfect moments have burned themselves on my brain in such a way they're the ones I value the most, the ones that always start with "Remember when..." and end in laughter.

We just returned from a week's vacation on a small lake in Northeastern PA. We have fun, you can see. Yes, that's a trebuchet. Yes, those are Storm Trooper costumes. Yes, Aunt Mindy oversaw kids' art project time. Hopefully these are the moments my kids will cherish in 30 years.

For those who care: Shot on film to imperfectly capture moments as they should be. Nikon F100, 35/1.4, Tri-X pushed to 1600 and Fuji Neopan Acros, processed in the dark recesses of my basement.

Left: Video games a morning ritual. Right: Removing a splinter.

Processing B/W film at home

Years ago, when I was first getting heavily into photography, I'd spend more hours than perhaps I needed to at used camera shops, talking to people who knew more than I did — typically these were people who pursued the craft in their spare time, and who loved looking at a pretty stack of lenses as much as I did. It was right before digital photography took off. DSLR's were not something you saw every day, and I was quite excited at that point to get rid of film if I could ever afford a digital camera.

One of the gentlemen I spoke with said, "Digital has made photography fun for me again." Oh, how times have changed.

Today, of course, it's all digital, all the time. So what to do to make photography fun again? For my personal work, I've started processing film at home. Old school, lo-fi, analog. It took a little while to get my chemistry right, and I ruined a few rolls in the process, despite the fact that this is high school level stuff which I used to be able to do with ease.

Finally, I made some progress back down the analog road, digging out old cameras that haven't seen action in over a decade and doing what every photographer who has more than zero children does: capturing my kids in whatever way they'll let me. Slowing down, knowing that every click of the shutter now costs me a quarter or so. But I love the look I'm getting. Here are some frames from a few rolls over the last week, around the house and out and about. Sure, they're imperfect, and that's part of the appeal.

I'll also say that one of the best parts about shooting film is the element of anticipation and surprise. No more instant feedback — we have to wait, and somehow that makes it even better.

The first few frames are Kodak Tri-X 400, pushed to 1600. Nikon F100, 35/1.4, processed in HC-110.

And these last few images, Kodak Tri-X, shot and processed normally in HC-110.

I'm sure there will be lots more like this in weeks to come...

Day Out at Longwood Gardens

It's been a winter, and we've needed to get outside for some time now. More importantly, Kelly needed a day to herself to get some stuff done. So on Saturday, I packed up the girls, some stuffed animals, books for the car, raincoats, rain boots, and an umbrella, and we trucked on down to Longwood Gardens for the day to spend some quality dad/daughter time.

I surprised myself by bringing a camera along, too. That doesn't happen as much anymore, though I'm trying to be better about capturing my own kids as they really are. I'm glad I did.

One camera, one lens: Nikon D750, 35/1.4. Such a light combo to carry around, I love it.

Four

Do you remember what you were doing exactly four years ago this minute? Kelly and I were busy welcoming this one into the world.

Four years of joy and laughter. Four years of chasing no-longer-one-but-two energetic daughters. Four years of showing grace and receiving it back. Four years time outs, four years of breakfast dates. Four years of getting one more glass of water before bed, searching for one more stuffed animal before the lights go out. She with the ability to make you laugh, any time and anywhere. She with those big gorgeous eyes. She who thinks farts are funny.

Piper: your mom and I love you. Delight in you. Adore you. Pray for you and with you. We're proud of you, grateful for you. Here's to the next four years.

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