SECOND BEACH - OUTTAKES

I apparently wrote this post in July of 2015 and never posted it. Here it is.

I have a Canon Rebel and I love it. Sometimes it malfunctions (which is annoying, but not the end of the world) and occasionally won't focus, creates images that are entirely white or entirely black, or skews the white balance in completely the wrong direction. In between taking totally normal, functional photos sometimes I end up with a few wonky ones. In this case, while at Second Beach on the coast of Washington, my camera took a few images that were washed out and had sun spots in entirely the right way. I figured I would share!

Check out that lens flare in some of the photos! It's a bit of a bummer sometimes when I can't capture what my eyes see, but when my camera is as unpredictable as a film camera sometimes I end up with unexpected (but pleasant) surprises.

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MUSEUM ARCHIVES

In case you haven't noticed by now, I'm a huge museum nerd. I haven't dedicated much of my blog to posts about what I get to see behind the scenes, so I want to start a new series. I can't promise that it'll be a regular thing, but I do believe that these are things that should be shared!

On average, about 1% of any museum's holdings are ever on display to the public. Most museums have archives that are viewable by staff and volunteers, some museums have portions that people aren't allowed to photograph (and some portions that are completely off-limits to anyone but a curator) while other museums offer behind-the-scenes tours. As a museum volunteer as well as a traveling educator, I get to peek at things that a lot of people don't get to see EVER because I work closely with collections managers, education department heads, and curatorial staff.

Unfortunately I wasn't great at keeping track of digital files because I didn't realize how much those photos would eventually mean to me, but here are a few random images before I delve into museum-specific archive posts. A few were taken on old film cameras, but I love them because they're so unique.

Left: human fetus. Right: chimpanzee fetus. Taken at the Field Museum, October 2013. Canon Demi (half-frame) camera with expired film - excuse the dark exposure.

Left: human fetus. Right: chimpanzee fetus. Taken at the Field Museum, October 2013. Canon Demi (half-frame) camera with expired film - excuse the dark exposure.

Left: cyclops deer fetus. Right: six-legged kitten. Taken at the Field Museum, October 2013. Canon Demi (half-frame) camera with expired film - excuse the dark exposure.

Left: cyclops deer fetus. Right: six-legged kitten. Taken at the Field Museum, October 2013. Canon Demi (half-frame) camera with expired film - excuse the dark exposure.

Left: two-toed sloth study skins. Right: platypus study skins. Taken at the Field Museum, October 2013. Canon Demi (half-frame) camera with expired film - excuse the dark exposure.

Left: two-toed sloth study skins. Right: platypus study skins. Taken at the Field Museum, October 2013. Canon Demi (half-frame) camera with expired film - excuse the dark exposure.

Left and right: pangolin study skins. Taken at the Field Museum, October 2013. Canon Demi (half-frame) camera with expired film - excuse the dark exposure.

Left and right: pangolin study skins. Taken at the Field Museum, October 2013. Canon Demi (half-frame) camera with expired film - excuse the dark exposure.

Sambar selfie at the Houston Museum of Natural History - December 2013

Sambar selfie at the Houston Museum of Natural History - December 2013

Posing with an elephant tusk in the educational archives of the Audubon Zoo - April 2014.

Posing with an elephant tusk in the educational archives of the Audubon Zoo - April 2014.

Skulls and skull replicas - Audubon Zoo, April 2014

Skulls and skull replicas - Audubon Zoo, April 2014

Archival study skins from birds via the Burke Museum at University of Washington, on loan to the Henry Art Gallery as part of artist Ann Hamilton's  The Common S E N S E  - a large-scale installation for which I was a guest speaker on sourcing and taxidermy in education.

Archival study skins from birds via the Burke Museum at University of Washington, on loan to the Henry Art Gallery as part of artist Ann Hamilton's The Common S E N S E - a large-scale installation for which I was a guest speaker on sourcing and taxidermy in education.

I'm sure I'll share more as time goes on. I've been hoarding my large collections of archival photos but I didn't know where to put these one-offs, so I hope you've enjoyed them!

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HIDDEN LAKE GARDENS - 35MM

Hidden Lake Gardens is an incredible treasure hidden in the Irish Hills of southeastern Michigan. The land was donated to Michigan State University in 1945 and it has become a destination for plant and nature enthusiasts alike. I remember visiting as a kid, and my favorite was the Mimosa pudica (sensitive plant) which would move when something brushed up against it. I returned and took my Canon AE-1 with some Kodak T-Max film. I developed the film and scanned the photos myself at home (in college, not recently) so they're a little rough around the edges but I do enjoy grain and imperfections. It's a reminder of how far I've come.

Here are my photos of the bonsai collection:

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I've always been fascinated by bonsai trees. I had one when I was a kid (inspired by the ones pictured here, actually) but I definitely had no semblance of a green thumb. I killed the bonsai accidentally and replaced it with a venus flytrap, which I fed chocolate to as an "experiment" and which subsequently died.

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I'm still learning the quirks of this camera since it's so old and there were so many things to factor in - the overcast skies, a new type of film, and not knowing if any of the adjustments on the camera were doing what they were supposed to. In addition, it's hard to develop your own film, so I'm quite proud of how these turned out. Even better are the photos I took inside the greenhouse.

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I always save the best for last and this final photo is my favorite. I think they're tiny oranges or tangerines or something, but I just love how it turned out!

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I'm really looking forward to spending more time photographing plants. Since I moved to Chicago I know there are more than a few conservatories awaiting me - my favorite so far is the Lincoln Park Conservatory because there are dinosaurs hidden all over the fern house. I also live in an apartment on a double lot with a huge garden, a bee hive, and a peach tree (which is blooming this year!) so maybe I'll have to hone my skills. Until next time!

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2015

What a year, what a year! Talking to everyone I know, it has been twelve months of significant ups and downs. Here are my most memorable moments of 2015, some of them bittersweet.

JANUARY

Plastinated brains with friends! Read about what the facility does here.

A road trip to Tampa and then Savannah with my friend Ashley, where I got tattooed by Dean Denney for the second time.

Getting a visit from my Canadian friends and then visiting Toronto just a few days later with my friend Amy! This is the view from our very strange Airbnb.

Moving to Chicago! The weather was terrible, so instead of a picture of Chicago, enjoy this photo of dragonfruit and horned melon, both of which were kind of disgusting but probably out of season.

FEBRUARY

Exploring the frozen lake (and the rest of Chicago) with Eric.

Rescuing Riff Ratt for Valentine's Day...

...then realizing that Riff and Osiris were best friends.

MARCH

Going on the weirdest day trip ever with Eli (who I met from Instagram), my tattooer Lauren, and Eric, where I purchased twelve dead baby skunks from some guy in his garage (they were euthanized according to law, pretty sad but they now live eternal life) before we stopped at Culver's as well as the Mars Cheese Castle. "Whatcha gonna do with all those skunks, all those skunks inside your trunk?"

Visiting Boston (and the Harvard Museum of Natural History) for the first time. I'm hooked.

APRIL

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Getting the cover of the RedEye and a feature in the Tribune.

Flying to Houston, driving to Austin, staying with my friend Connor, celebrating my 100th taxidermy class with a big brownie and pushed-down "9" candles for zeros, driving back to Houston, teaching four more classes, and heading home all within six days.

Signing the lease on my storefront!

ICELAND! It's really hard to choose a favorite photo because everything there is so beautiful, but this is the glacier lagoon. We spent seven days in Iceland and two days in Toronto on either side of the trip eating at Momofuku and exploring Queen West. Definitely one of the most epic adventures I've ever been on.

MAY

A Tigers game with tall cans and great seats as a (very) early birthday present from my grandpa.

Rescuing Milhouse!

Hanging out in Ojai with Chuck and working on a menagerie of animals from baby monkeys all the way up to elk. I need to make time to go back!

JUNE

A perfect day of Chicago fun including my first visit to the Lincoln Park Zoo!

Drinks at Cindy's on the rooftop patio with Sterling & Eric. This was my first time actually seeing the Bean because despite living in Chicago, I almost never venture downtown.

JULY

A trip to Portland to teach at Portland State, a drive up to Seattle, a weekend jog over to Second Beach and down the coast with my college buddies, back to Seattle to teach for a weekend, and a drive back to Portland just in time to catch a flight home.

Settling back into Chicago, and my new apartment which I apparently have no photos of.

AUGUST

Drinking and losing at pool with some of my closest friends from grade school at Emporium.

Another visit to Boston, and a trip to St. Louis before returning home to take in a pregnant cat from a high-kill shelter.

After she was dropped off at my house, Maria hung out for less than 24 hours before giving birth to seven kittens. She was an absolute trooper through everything.

As the kittens approached seven days of age and their eyes started to open, they slowly started losing weight and getting very sick. Unfortunately Maria had contracted and passed on panleukopenia while in the shelter before we rescued her from euthanasia, and all seven of the kittens passed away. It was hands down the hardest thing I went through this year, and I bonded with Maria a lot during the days following their passing which led to her becoming a permanent part of my family.

SEPTEMBER

Peaches from the tree in my backyard!

Photo fun with Riff Ratt.

A visit to Oakland, where I had over 50 students in two days, and a day trip to San Francisco, where I finally got to experience the highly sought-after sushi burrito. I also got to see the California Academy of Sciences as well as the Oakland Museum of California. I'm getting good at cramming entire cities into five-day trips while also working for two of the days.

OCTOBER

Getting a toast from my great-grandma (well, all she did was yell "MUD IN YOUR EYE!" and then chug her champagne) at the grand opening of the store - a long time coming since we had already been hosting classes since May.

Celebrating Randi's birthday with pizza, whiskey, and Britney Spears singalongs.

Teaching Riff Ratt to ride on Osiris' back.

NOVEMBER

A visit to Scott Smith's All-Animal Expo where I got to cuddle this pup.

Getting back into the groove of photography with outfit shots for Randi's blog.

DECEMBER

My third time visiting the Boston/Cambridge area this year and my first time TEACHING AT HARVARD! Probably the proudest accomplishment of my year.

A fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants visit to NOLA followed by a great time at the Noise FM's Noise for Toys benefit for Toys for Tots. Louis Tomlinson from One Direction was there sporting a very sk8er boi hairstyle, which he used to his advantage while making out with multiple teenage girls, racking up a huge bar tab, tipping 10%, and then not staying to watch the show. Afterwards my friends and I discovered the magical Twitter hashtag #louisisinchicago and taste-tested frozen pizzas.

Seeing The Academy Is... on their Almost Here ten-year anniversary tour (holy shit, ten years!) with Randi was the cherry on top of a very strange (but wonderful) year. I saw them on the first tour for this album when I was fifteen and it was even better this time around, because I've had ten years to grow to love them.

Not everything this year was perfect. My car took a dump and so did my phone. The ceiling of the shop started leaking and then falling down at the same time that the electricity gave out - while I was in New Orleans - rendering the entire space useless. I got three cavities.

This week, my friends are helping me move the freezer from the shop into my apartment, so it looks like I'll be going back to working from a home studio and traveling to teach classes again. I have a new car and a new phone and new job opportunities. Harvard invited me back. I am actually blessed, in every sense of the word, with an amazing support system here in Chicago and beyond, made of friends I have grown to love and who have grown to love me over the years. Not everything is sunshine, but I guess sometimes you need a little bit of shade (or perhaps a giant ice storm like the one outside right now) to make you appreciate everything good.

Thinking back to a year ago makes me wonder what kinds of things I'll be writing about a year from now. I hope it's a year of adventure, happiness, and not sweating the small stuff.

Happy new year to you and yours!

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