Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Camera serendipity

You know those moments when you see something and hurriedly grab a shot of it and then realize that everything just came together for you? I was walking along Clark Street in Chicago, camera bag across my shoulder of course, and one of my friends pointed out the site of Al Capone's famous Valentine's Day Massacre across the street. Worth a photo, eh? So I was just raising my camera to grab a shot, when along came this cool old car. A little artistic editing, and...score!!

If you're ever on Clark Street, check out Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Co., across the street from Al Capone's spot. Wonderful food and very cool ambience. You can read about the building's colorful history here.

- Kelsey Schweickert

Discovering beauty...

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Note cards

I just ordered a few sets of note cards with this absolutely gorgeous Yosemite scene on them:

Cool, eh?  :D  Can't wait to use them!

If you'd like to pick an image from this album and contact me, you can have custom greeting/thank you cards too!

- Kelsey Schweickert

Discovering beauty...

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Monday, March 29, 2010

Hard day. But a good day.

(Practicing our portrait skills with a doll)

Today was hard...but good.  I spent the day at a photography studio in San Francisco, attending a training session for NILMDTS.  "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep" is a non-profit organization I mentioned in a recent post about my sister Amy.  They provide professional portrait sessions for families with babies who don't have long to live, or have already passed away.  Here's a video that sums it up...

NILMDTS was featured on the Today Show a couple years ago...not an easy video to watch, but it clearly shows what a priceless treasure this service is to the families.

"There is no foot too small that it cannot leave an imprint on this world"

So, hard day...but a good one.  Like these photo sessions are.  Hard, but good.  And entirely worthwhile.

- Kelsey Schweickert

Discovering beauty...

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Busy, busy...

Well, we just finished up the second concert for this weekend, and I'm really tired...and I have to finish a big print and notecard order...and this Blogger editing window is behaving weird...and tomorrow I'm going to the Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep training session, which I'm looking forward to, but then I'll be even tireder.  (Which is not a word.  But I'm too tired to care.  It's tired and I'm getting late.)  ;)

Anyways, I'll post Monday.  :)  Till's a cool photo for you to enjoy!

(Merced River, Yosemite)

Discovering beauty...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Concert tonight!

Just wrapped up another concert with the Contra Costa Chamber Orchestra, "Music That Stands the Test of Time."  We did works that have been around for a while -- one for almost 300 years.

I got to play harpsichord for the Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 by Bach, with eleven solo players, one to a part.  There's a GREAT recording here (wish we sounded this good!).  ;)  And you can hear the Really Scary Cool Super-Fast part here.  There's a couple nice close-ups of the harpsichordist's hands at 1:08 and 2:20.

We also did several movements of the famous Water Music by Handel.  It was fun to do such famous old pieces -- it's been used in ads, movies, even at Disney World.  Can you imagine floating along on the Thames River, on your way to a fancy dinner, being serenaded by a bunch of musicians on boats?  Rather elegant.  ;)

- Kelsey Schweickert

Discovering beauty...

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Blake and Jae

A few more photos of Blake and Jae...because they're such a cute couple and I had a grand time doing their engagement session and "discovering beauty"!

What can I say.  I love being a wedding photographer.  It's so much fun to work with all these happy couples!  :)

- Kelsey Schweickert

Discovering beauty...

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

A pretty peony

These luscious peonies are blooming just outside our kitchen window...half a dozen pale green buds have burst into huge pink delights that measure nearly 8" across.

I tell ya, the way spring is springing right now, I could post a dozen beautiful flower photos here every single day.  There is so much LIFE around.  The earth positively teems with it at this time of year.  The grass is covering the hills, showing up unwanted in our flower beds, poking through the cracks in the patio just can't stop stuff from growing like crazy right now.

I think spring is one way God shows us the meaning of hope.  Winter is only a season; it's not here to stay.  The life that lies dormant during those difficult months patiently awaits the right time and then springs forth in all its beauty.  My life passes through seasons of joy and grief, fulfillment and emptiness, pain and rejoicing...things that often overlap each other...but always with His presence through every step of it, carrying me through the sad times and rejoicing in His goodness that's always here no matter what.

One of my favorite verses ever, from Psalm 27, sums it up:

"Wait on the Lord:
be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the Lord."

- Kelsey Schweickert

Discovering beauty...

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010


When I was fourteen years old, my mom had a baby.  She was beautiful.  She had big eyes and peach-fuzz hair and perfect little hands.

As soon as she was born, the doctors and nurses could tell something was wrong.  There wasn't a newborn intensive-care unit at that hospital, so she was rushed to Children's Hospital in Oakland.  There they told my parents that there was nothing they could do to help her.  She spent her whole two-day life there, hooked up to a respirator, the only way she could breathe.

I'll never forget those two days.  We all held her and loved her and cried and prayed together.  It was hard to grasp.  This baby we'd anticipated for nine months wasn't going to grow up with the rest of us kids.  She would never learn to walk or swim or ride a bike...never sing or love or have her own children.

We named her Amy.  It means "Beloved".

It's been a long time, but I still think about Amy and miss her.  I'm looking forward to seeing her again in heaven, with our Lord Jesus, who made her and loves her...and I'm sure she can't wait till the rest of her family gets there!

We didn't know a whole lot about photography, but we did our best with the Minolta SLR we had, during the two days of Amy's life.  I treasure the prints from those few rolls of film.  Amy is gone; but the memories and photos are still here.

Now, years later, as I've become a photographer, that experience has colored how I view my work.  Every image is a long-term investment.  It might be as simple as a pretty flower, or as gripping as a baby with only hours left to live.  The moment you click the shutter, you hold time still.  That moment will never be experienced again.  But you have the photograph to keep the moment with you.

Yesterday I went with another photographer to the intensive-care floor of a San Francisco hospital where a baby was dying.  We took photos of him, and his parents with him.  They will forever treasure these keepsakes of the precious life that was given to them for just a short time.

The photographer I went with is a member of Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, an organization started by a photographer and mother who had a similar experience.  This is their mission statement: "To introduce remembrance photography to parents suffering the loss of a baby with the free gift of professional portraiture.  We believe these images serve as an important step in the family's healing process by honoring their child's legacy."  I'll be going to a day-long training with NILMDTS next Monday and I'm looking forward to doing more portrait sessions for these families.

God doesn't make mistakes; but we live in a fallen world, and tragic things happen.  As a photographer I treasure the opportunity to use my skills to help comfort grieving families and honor the child God gave them...even if it was only for a fleeting moment.

- Kelsey Schweickert

Discovering beauty...

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Monday, March 22, 2010

An award-winning photo!

This image was taken in Alberta, Canada, while I was there for a friend's wedding.  I entered it into the Northern California Professional Photographers' print competition a few meetings ago, and it won "Best of Show".

Shortly after I made this image, the storm clouds let loose.  You should have seen the torrents of rain and heard the pounding thunder.  Talk about dramatic.  I don't get a lot of thunderstorms in the San Francisco bay area, and I enjoyed this one to the hilt!

I wish you could see my big 16x20" print.  It's just beautiful.  Can you imagine it?  :)  Actually, a 24x36" canvas would be even better.  I love printing big, high-quality images on canvas or metallic...there's just something special about big prints.  I always have a 24x36 hanging over my piano.  It makes me happy.  :)  Hey, try it, you might be happy too!  Click here for a great place to start!  :D

Discovering beauty...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

the green machine

Alright...I'm a photographer, I love green, and I love my new (to me) car.  Therefore I take photos of my green car.  And want to share them.  So I ask you, kind readers, please humor me once more and allow me a few more car photos...  ;)

The first is my favorite.  What's yours?

Happy.  :)

Best of all, with 4WD, this kind of thing is a breeze:

And enables me to do THIS kind of thing.  ;)

I know it's not a fancy car by any stretch of the imagination.  But to me, it's a beautiful gift from the Lord.

I've looked and prayed for a car for long time. Not having a tremendous car budget, and not knowing much about cars, I was beginning to think it would be impossible to find something above jalopy grade.  I've looked and prayed for a long time.  Of course it wouldn't be the BMW of my dreams (yet!!), but if I could just get something reliable that could get me to piano and photo gigs, that would be great.  And -- I figured this was pretty silly, but I asked the Lord, if it was his will, could he please find me one with a sunroof?

I shopped on and off for months.  I got discouraged.  I began to wonder if God was ever going to come through for me.  After all, he's my loving Heavenly Father, but when you go for a long time without receiving something you know you need, something you've asked him about repeatedly, don't you find yourself beginning to wonder?  It's the same insidious question that Satan asked Eve, thousands of years ago in the Garden of Eden: "Isn't God withholding something good from you?"

In just one week's time, my doubts were shredded and my confidence in his goodness was strengthened.  It all happened so fast.  I'm still in awe of how he lined everything up so experience on snowy Tahoe hills with a 2-wheel-drive sedan that got me thinking about SUVs again.  A re-listed ad with a newly lowered price.  A friend who knows a ton about cars and had time to help me out.  A free Saturday.  A seller who was willing to give me a good deal.  A beautiful deep green (I would've taken pretty much any color I had to, but God knew I really didn't want boring white or silver, and definitely wouldn't buy something red or really noticeable!).  And 4WD and leather seats and cargo space and a roof rack and...oh yeah!!

It's not just a car.  It's a reminder that my Father cares for me.

Oh, and as you can see from the has a sunroof.  ;)

- Kelsey Schweickert

Discovering beauty...

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Smashing spring skiing styles (?)

Seen at Dodge Ridge yesterday: my two uncles, sporting some truly amazing styles...

Orange shorts and blue leggings.  Such class.  Not to mention camo suspenders.  But of course the pièce de résistance, in my opinion, is the old-style long, straight skis!

And then there was my cousin Tim.  Now here, my friends, is a gentleman who clearly knows how to dress for the occasion:

(And I'm related to these folks??)  ;)

My apologies for using a lowly cell phone camera for such important moments.  But it was all I had.  I'm rather glad the other camera was in a safe location, because I probably would have dropped it in the snow, being overcome with laughter more than once.  ;)

Now, don't let my relatives' amazing style fool you, they ski better than they dress.  In fact they ski very well.  They're just unusually gifted in their fashion sense.  Or perhaps they didn't want to overwhelm the other skiers with their superior sartorial effects.  Or...I'm not quite sure.  They're Schweickerts, what else can I say??

And let me assure you, clothing style aside (or perhaps because of it?), we all had a great day on the slopes.  :D

Discovering beauty...

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

This cracks me up.

I found this on a store window, while walking downtown with my mom.  It made me laugh.  Hard.  So I took a photo with my phone, and thought I'd share it with you.  (Can you see us in the reflection?)

In case you can't read the quotes, here they are:

God is good but never dance in a small boat!


As you slide down the bannister of life,
May the splinters never point
In the wrong direction.

And with that, I'm going to close.  :)  Hope you got a good laugh!

- Kelsey Schweickert

Discovering beauty...

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Happy St. Patrick's day!

So, in the spirit of St. Patrick's day, and my Irish great-grandma Callaghan, here's some GREEN for you!  And some not-so-green pretty things that I found along the way.

St. Patrick's Day, meet St. Valentine's Day.  ;)

Cherry blossoms

Green window box with green things in it on a green shed.  :)  Score!

My mom's picture-book lettuce.  (Don't tell Peter Rabbit where she lives.)

Rose leaf.  (A pinnately compound leaf, for my botanically-inclined friends.)

Anybody know what flower comes from this?  It's rather poetically titled.

(I'll treat you at Starbucks if you can tell me the answer.  But I doubt anybody can guess.)


I love this one.  :)

Johnny-Jump-Ups...wee itty members of the pansy family

Found on a golf course lawn.  Hehe.  That makes me chuckle.


Proof that spring is in the air...the maple trees are budding out!

And umm, yeah, another proof that spring is here.  ;)
(Well, you know me, I can't go for long without a silly foot photo!)

Hope you enjoyed the spring and the green.  Frankly, I was having so much fun making images of green things, I couldn't choose which photos to I just posted a whole bunch.  :)  Green is such a restful color.  I love it.

Parting shot...

Discovering beauty...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

My state flower

Found some California poppies blooming alongside the road today.  Aren't they pretty?  :)  I love their bright orange.  It just says "happy!!!"

Sometimes when I'm taking these kinds of close-ups, I like to fool around with my aperture.  Every lens has a set of blades that open or close to let in more/less light, depending on your camera settings.  It's fun to see just how much of the image will or won't be in focus at the different settings.  In case you're's how it looks:

at f/2.8

at f/4

at f/5.6

at f/8

at f/11

at f/16

at f/22

The less you have in focus, the more "magical" it feels.  Hmm...seems like there should be some cool life analogies here...things are more magical with less in focus...??  Have you found that?
I do think it's true about walking with God.  He knows where we're headed.  I don't.  But it doesn't matter so much, because we're going together.  It's all right if things in the future are kind of out-of-focus and fuzzy.  If I knew everything coming up, I might just forget about him and go about my life without him.  Not a good idea, because whether I admit it or not, I'm dependent on him for EVERYthing!
And that's how he likes it.  He could tell me all about what's ahead, but this way, he knows I'll have to stick with him -- which is, after all, what he really wants.  He likes us and wants to spend time with us!
"I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning..." (Psalm 130:5-6).
May you walk with Him.
Till next time, friends...
- Kelsey Schweickert
Discovering beauty...
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