Our traditional Christmas Eve consists of consuming a meal of assorted sausages, cheeses, and crackers while watching Muppet Christmas Carol. We always have a fire going in the fireplace no matter the weather — it’s usually cool enough. The final hidden presents are wrapped and placed around the Christmas tree and all go to bed with great anticipation.
This year my wife had Christmas pajamas for all the “littles” (some of which are growing to be “middles”). She asked me to take a photo of the kids just before bedtime and the result is shown above. I shot from (roughly) the kids’ eye level and used either manual or shutter-priority mode (can’t remember) with a 1/4 CTO gel’ed flash bounced off the wall/ceiling behind me. In the upper left hand corner you can see the well-lit wall reflected in our glass doors. Had this been a more “official” shot I would have switched angles, bounced the flash over my other shoulder, etc. in order to minimize the bright reflections. The littlest one only has so much patience though so we to fire off some shots and call it a day.
My son Evan has successfully completed all sorts of emergency/rescue training over the past two years. In addition to having become a fully licensed paramedic, he’s obtained diving certifications, high-angle and swift-water rescue certifications, sawyer certifications (yep), specialty medical emergency certifications, and who knows what else.
For his birthday we bought him a rappelling rope so naturally he got it in his mind to take his family rappelling. Off we went to the Barton Creek Greenbelt in search of scary cliffs to hang from. Evan scouted out a nice spot for us — a cliff ~25′ high, with a hollow cave-like area halfway down the wall which you had to rope past without having the benefit of using your feet.
Three of my girls and I learned how to tie a Swiss Seat — the poor-man’s harness — and were then schooled on how to attach the “eight” to the rope and to our harness. We practiced rappelling and belaying from a ledge about 6′ off the ground (none of us had ever rappelled). From the standpoint of the mechanics it really couldn’t get much simpler. With a little practice one learns to control their descent relatively smoothly.
On to the top of the cliff…got a little scarier up there. Out loud, I quoted (roughly) Rizzo the Rat from Muppet Christmas Carol — “There are two things I hate: heights…and jumping from them”. Now, I’m not *really* that afraid of heights and am fine looking over the edge of a cliff or climbing extension ladders, etc. However, the thought of backing myself over this cliff (rope or no rope) was making my stomach turn and my hands shake. I honestly haven’t been afraid like that since I was a little kid. I did it though. Walked back, pretended to be a cool cat. After all, I was encouraging my girls to overcome their fears and do this as well (all three did the 6′ ledge and two of them did the cliff). It was awkward going over the edge since the rope had no leverage point except a tree 20′ away, but once I got going and the rope resting in the cliff’s edge it was a piece of cake.
We glanced over and noticed my 3 year old attempting to tie a Swiss Seat — it was hilarious to watch. He was as serious as ever. I’m sure he’ll be rappelling down cliffs before long. I had to include a shot of that.
Since we were in deep shade I placed a remote-triggered (via an Elinchrom Skyport) flash on the ground while we were up on the rocks. We were busy climbing so I couldn’t always place it optimally or adjust the power but it worked pretty well for many of the shots.