Bridge sunset with my lil’ photogs

I love sharing my hobbies with my little boys. They’re now at the ages where we can start doing “guy stuff” together, and I’m reveling in it. I’ve been waiting for this since the time I blurted out, “You’re WHAT?” The time for “three dudes” activities is upon us, and I couldn’t be happier.

I’m especially happy that they like cameras, some days more than others. I think they’ve actually outgrown the picture quality of their little Fisher Price and V-tech cameras, but unfortunately they aren’t ready to handle something more fragile on a regular basis. That’s okay, there are lots of things we do together; photography is just one of them. The most important thing is that we three dudes stick together!

Double Ditch, triple dudes, and 21,000

We reached a milestone this week when I passed the 21,000 photo mark on my newest camera. Above is photo #21,000…a shot of us “three dudes” enjoying Double Ditch at sunset. It was also a mission as we were taking a photo to use in making an anniversary card for Mommy, which she thoroughly enjoyed (along with the flowers).

My boys and I really enjoy those “three dudes” times, and being Daddy is an honorable pursuit. I’m glad that my little guys are becoming old enough to share a lot of the things I like to do, and we can give Mommy a break by going out and roaming (my favorite pastime). Their little cameras are in the truck and ready to be deployed, so between the three of us we’re always ready to get the shot.

You’d be angry too if someone grabbed you by the eyeballs

My four year old has a knack for catching bugs…any kind of bugs. Recently he proved that he can catch a fly, and this afternoon he proved that he can catch a dragonfly too. I’ve chased these things with my cameras enough to know that they can be skittish, but this one proved no match for my little guy. He isn’t afraid to grab even the creepiest, crawliest bug, either…even to hold them by the eyes sometimes, like this one. Naturally it was beating its wings like a hummingbird with indignation.

So I suppose it was predictable that when little J modified his grip on the dragonfly to the tail that it would say, “Hey, cut it out!” in the only way available to it: with a bite. That got my boy’s attention in a hurry, he let the dragonfly go to resume catching mosquitoes in our back yard, and I had to chuckle because (of course) I had a camera to document the entire encounter.

Big boys crave big toys

Sometimes the ol’ Fisher-Price just isn’t enough. That’s what my little fellas quickly discovered last summer when taking pictures of the tailrace turmoil at Garrison Dam. While they can play games and do fun stuff on their little VTech and Fisher-Price cameras, their enthusiasm for getting the shot can only be satisfied by the resounding click of a shutter. I had to chuckle while beaming with pride as I snapped this shot of them really getting into it with one of my “big cameras.”

“Just doing what guys do, Daddy”

That’s what little PJ says it’s all about these days. We took their bikes out for a ride and watched the sunset, airplanes flying overhead, and even stars beginning to show up in the darkening sky. While we do plenty of family stuff too, it’s nice for Mommy to get all three guys out of her hair for a while and give her a break while we explore the world.

We’re really thankful for this pleasant weather…a guy’s gotta roam, whether he’s four or forty. Now that we can do it without freezing little noses or other extremities, the possibilities are opening up quickly. Add to that the fact that our city isn’t battling a flood this time around, and we should be able to draw a stark contrast between this summer and “the summer that wasn’t” of last year.

I was distressed to find out that the Minot Air Force Base’s “Northern Neighbors Day” air show has been CANCELLED for this year – I’ve been looking forward to it since 2009 – but I’m determined to make this summer one for the record books anyway.

Just in case you thought we missed it…this year’s capitol Christmas tree

While we weren’t able to attend the tree lighting ceremony at the capitol this year, my little fellas and I were able to make a visit to the capitol later in the week to see the big tree. They’re big fans of this tree, even though there are no presents beneath its boughs. After the tree came down last year, they kept asking about it for quite some time. I told them to be patient and another tree would arrive… now it was time to see it.

A couple of years ago, Mommy brought these little guys to the tree lighting ceremony. That imprinted them with a fond memory of the tree, so we’re making it a holiday tradition when possible. On that first visit, I was actually videotaping at the event for work…and was able to sneak a cameo of my little guys into the final sequence of the movie “Best Christmas Ever” as a result.

The tree itself is spectacular, decorated with ornaments donated by North Dakotans. You can visit it any time during the day when the capitol building is open, but I highly recommend seeing it in the late afternoon as the sun is setting. You have until 5:30…it’s worth the trip.

Photo buddy

What’s the best way to enjoy a break in the cold weather? Grab a camera and head out into the wild with Daddy! My boys are quickly tiring of their Fisher-Price and V-Tech cameras and wanting to use one of Daddy’s “big cameras.” So far they’ve been very careful with the expensive equipment. One thing my fancy cameras don’t have that their toy cameras do: games!

Quality time

It was a busy weekend, even with Friday off, but I still managed to sneak in some one-on-one time with each of my children. My boys like photography as much as I do, and their little toy digital cameras are not as appealing as Daddy’s “big” cameras. My four year old and I took a little venture northward to see the sights and stop for a couple of photos. As you can see above, he really gets into it.

Here’s one of the images he brought back. I did the color processing in Adobe Lightroom, but this is his work. I first started putting cameras in little guys’ hands so I could get a glimpse at how they see the world around them, but was quickly impressed that they are holding the camera level and composing some pretty nice shots!

Photography can teach a lot of skills and other lessons, so I plan to encourage them to keep up with it as long as they find it appealing. Besides, it’s a great opportunity to spend time together. As PJ told me on this trip, “hiking is all about taking pictures and being with Daddy.” I couldn’t agree more.

Three can play at this game

What happens when you’re having a “guys’ night out” with the fellas and our cameras? Well, of course the Proud Daddy Instinct™ kicks in, and I start taking pictures of my boys taking pictures! Well, apparently three can play at that game…

Taking pictures of Daddy taking pictures of the boys taking pictures! Whoa, we’re lucky we didn’t get caught in some sort of infinite loop there!

Of course, I did avail myself of the opportunity to get a little artsy with the windmill we were photographing. Then it was dark, past our bedtime, we were on a muddy road that required a little four wheel drive, and there was a Winnie the Pooh story waiting to be read before bed. Needless to say, mission accomplished.

Boys love flying machines

Boys love machines, period…it doesn’t matter how old. Airplanes and helicopters are particularly cool, which is why I’ve always taken the time to give my little fellas plenty of exposure to aircraft. In fact, we may be taking them to the skies for a joyride this week… and Daddy is planning a video gig with plenty of helicopter work! Doesn’t that all sound fun?