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Once I decided to bring film on our most recent Texas trip because of our Franklin Barbecue/Austin, Texas excursion, I determined to find something else to photograph so I could make the most out of bringing my Pentax 6×7.

So, on a sweltering Saturday afternoon before our Astros game, Jeff, my younger brother Geoff and our friend Hannah agreed to indulge me by going to the Sugar & Cloth color wall.

It’s basically one long warehouse wall painted in eight different colors, with each paint color extending out onto the pavement below by six feet. This makes it extremely Instagram-friendly; in fact, I’ve seen on Instagram numerous photos of engaged or married couples and of seniors against the backdrop of the wall. Because my parents live just on the outskirts of Houston, we don’t often go “into Houston,” so it was a treat, albeit a sweaty one, to spend an hour at the color wall.

© 2016. Ektar +2.

© 2016. Ektar +2.

© 2016. Ektar +2.

© 2016. Ektar +2.

© 2016. Ektar +2.

© 2016. Ektar +2.

© 2016. Ektar +2.

© 2016. Ektar +2.

© 2016. Ektar +2.

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It’s now tradition/a mandate that whenever Jeff and I visit Texas, we go to a local-ish barbecue joint.

Previous outings have included Gatlin’s BBQ in Houston, Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que in Llano, Roegels Barbecue Co in Houston and The Salt Lick in Driftwood. Separately, I’ve been to Smitty’s Market in Lockhart, and Jeff has eaten at Pecan Lodge in Dallas.

So we were long overdue to eat at Franklin Barbecue in Austin, which is perhaps best known for the line that forms 4-6 hours before it opens at 11 a.m.

With my younger brother Geoff, we left Houston at 5 a.m. one hot Friday morning and arrived at Franklin at 7:40 — just in time to snag the last spot in line with almost full shade cast by the building.

Here are some frames, courtesy of my Pentax 6×7, that I took of our long-awaited pilgrimage to Franklin, and of our walking tour of Austin afterwards.

© 2016. This is part of the line after we’d already eaten. The line was so long that Franklin staff had to tell some relative late-comers not to expect to get anything. Portra 400.

© 2016. This is before Jeff moved into the shade. Franklin staff later brought out umbrellas for those in line to protect themselves against the sun. Portra 400.

© 2016. Boots. Portra 400.

© 2016. No boots. Portra 400.

© 2016. The fuel. Portra 400.

© 2016. Fin. Portra 400.

© 2016. This is after we took a free tour of the Texas State Capitol. The flag was at half-mast after five Dallas police officers were shot and killed the previous day. Portra 400.

© 2016. Portra 400.

© 2016. There might be more five-pointed stars on the Texas State Capitol grounds than there are in any other state. Portra 400.

© 2016. Portra 400.

© 2016. Geoff! Portra 400.

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When I wasn’t chasing landscapes with my Pentax 6×7 during a recent weeklong visit in the Bay Area, I was chasing my niece and nephew with my 5DII throughout their Fremont home, San Francisco and everywhere else.

Fortunately, their mother and my sister-in-law Emily has never known me to be without a camera in hand, so here are some pictures of Layla and Henry, and occasionally Matt and Emily:

© 2016. Eating tacos from Ofelias Taqueria Truck in Fremont.

© 2016. Fremont playground time with Jeff.

© 2016.

© 2016. Henry was just starting to stand on his own when we were there.

© 2016.

© 2016. Henry, crawling up the stairs, watches Layla brush her teeth.

© 2016. Up and about after an afternoon nap.

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Jeff and I are suckers for national parks, so almost immediately after we booked our flights to California, he reserved a campground site in Yosemite National Park. We budgeted only two days and a night for the park, but, accompanied by my brother Matt, we definitely made the most of those 30 hours.

As we drove into the park, the sunshiney day turned to spitting rain, and we barely got our tents up in time. We then immediately started heading toward Glacier Point Road, with a few stops along the way. Pentax 6×7 the entire time, of course — I left my 5DII at Matt and Emily’s house in Fremont:

© 2016. I stood in the rain for almost 10 minutes to wait for the sun to break through the clouds and hit those trees. We didn’t see the sun again that day until sunset. Cathedral Rocks and Spires. Sunday, May 1, 2016, in Yosemite National Park. Portra 160+1.

Then onward and upwards:

© 2016. El Capitan, Bridalveil Fall and Cathedral Rocks and Spires, from Tunnel View. Sunday, May 1, 2016, in Yosemite National Park. Portra 160+1.

© 2016. Bridalveil Fall, from Tunnel View. Sunday, May 1, 2016, in Yosemite National Park. Portra 160+1.

As we continued on Glacier Point Road and gained elevation, the temperature dropped precipitously. While we’d enjoyed low 70s in Yosemite Valley, we suddenly faced upper 20s and snow:

© 2016. Matt and me, off of Glacier Point Road. Sunday, May 1, 2016, in Yosemite National Park. Portra 160+1.

When we arrived at Glacier Point, we found Half Dome and much of the rest of the view obscured by clouds. So we decided to hike the Panorama Trail to Illilouette Falls Bridge, in hopes that the sun would eventually overcome the clouds by the time we returned to Glacier Point.

© 2016. Jeff, Matt and Half Dome, from the Panorama Trail. Sunday, May 1, 2016, in Yosemite National Park. Portra 400.

© 2016. View from the Illilouette Falls Bridge. Sunday, May 1, 2016, in Yosemite National Park. Portra 400.

We spent maybe five minutes on the bridge, and then went right back up the Panorama Trail to return to Glacier Point.

© 2016. Moss on the Panorama Trail. Sunday, May 1, 2016, in Yosemite National Park. Portra 400.

As we made our way up the Panorama Trail’s gradual incline, the clouds slowly began giving way, and the quality of light changed before our eyes. Unsure if we’d reach Glacier Point by sunset, we stopped to grab photos of Half Dome as it was bathed in a beautiful glow.

© 2016. Half Dome from the Panorama Trail. Sunday, May 1, 2016, in Yosemite National Park. Portra 400.

Then we hiked for maybe 10 more minutes and realized we were basically back at Glacier Point. So we hurried to the overlook and waited for the sun to finally come out. This frame — my only one of Half Dome lit by the sun — was the last on my roll for the day:

© 2016. Half Dome from Glacier Point. Sunday, May 1, 2016, in Yosemite National Park. Portra 400.

The next morning, over breakfast burritos, we decided to hike the Yosemite Falls Trail.

© 2016. Yosemite Falls, as seen from Yosemite Valley. Monday, May 2, 2016, in Yosemite National Park. Portra 400.

This trail is notoriously steep, with an elevation gain of 2,700 feet over 3 miles, and it was definitely a challenge for me. Worst of all, by the time Jeff and I got to the top of Yosemite Falls, we found it difficult to enjoy the vista simply because of the time of day — it was just past noon, and half the valley was cast in dark blue haze.

So here’s one more photo of the upper falls, taken on the trail’s downhill section after Columbia Rock:

© 2016. Yosemite Falls, as seen from the Yosemite Falls Trail. Monday, May 2, 2016, in Yosemite National Park. Portra 400.

The next day, Jeff and I flew out of San Jose, marking the end of our trip. Despite my occasional misuse, it was an excellent test run for my Sekonic L-508, and I’m excited to use it for future outings!

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Of course, our Bay Area visit last month wouldn’t have been complete if we hadn’t made a Golden Gate Bridge expedition.

© 2016. Saturday, April 30, 2016, at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Ektar +2.

It was at this point in our trip that Jeff actually complained about our having blue skies every day. I knew he wanted that iconic San Francisco fog for photos, but the picture-perfect day combined with Ektar was all I needed to make me happy.

© 2016. Saturday, April 30, 2016, at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Ektar +2.

© 2016. Saturday, April 30, 2016, at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Ektar +2.

© 2016. View from the bridge. Saturday, April 30, 2016, at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Ektar +2.

We’d walked most of the length of the bridge with Matt, Emily and the kids when Emily decided to take the kids back towards San Francisco. Matt, Jeff and I continued on to Battery Spencer for probably the most popular overlook of the bridge:

© 2016. View from Battery Spencer. Saturday, April 30, 2016, at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Ektar +2.

On our way back across the bridge, we saw two couples of gray whales breaching beneath the bridge. While I didn’t attempt to take any photos on film, seeing whales in the bay was definitely a highlight of the day, as you can tell from my tweets.

We reunited with Emily, who provided much-needed pastries, and went on to Baker Beach, but only after Jeff and I paused in a sandy woodland area for quick portraits:

© 2016. Baker Beach. Saturday, April 30, 2016, in San Francisco. Ektar +2.

© 2016. Baker Beach. Saturday, April 30, 2016, in San Francisco. Ektar +2.

Then onward to the beach:

© 2016. Baker Beach. Saturday, April 30, 2016, in San Francisco. Ektar +2.

Anyone who knows me knows I strongly dislike beaches. I’m not a fan of hot sand or dirty ocean water or greasy sunscreen or salty, humid breezes. It turns out, however, that I’ve just been on the wrong coast this entire time. Baker Beach, at least when we were there, was delightfully cool and crisp, and even the wet sand didn’t cling to my feet.

Plus, Atlantic beaches don’t get the sunset, nor this view:

© 2016. The Golden Gate Bridge, as seen from Baker Beach. Saturday, April 30, 2016, in San Francisco. Ektar +2.

Coming up next: YOSEMITE!

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I hauled both digital and film cameras on our trip to California last month — digital for my very active niece and nephew, and film for everything else. I did manage to capture the kids on film, though — in Livermore.

Matt and Emily live in Fremont, so Jeff and I never considered going to Napa Valley when Livermore is practically in their backyard. Accompanied by them, as well as their friends who have Livermore wine connections, we went to BoaVentura de Caires Winery, McGrail Vineyards and Winery, Page Mill Winery and Wente Vineyards. Here’s some Ektar from BoaVentura, which featured two very friendly dogs and a (fenced) yard of chickens clucking near the wine-tasting room:

© 2016. Henry in the bocce court at BoaVentura. Friday, April 29, 2016, in Livermore. Ektar +1.

Especially in Fremont and Livermore, I noticed beautiful, soaring rosebushes everywhere. Emily said roses are grown in vineyards because the flowers are susceptible to the same diseases as the grapes. While each vineyard we visited featured rosebushes, BoaVentura boasted a wider array of flowers, which I loved.

© 2016. BoaVentura. Friday, April 29, 2016, in Livermore. Ektar +1.

© 2016. Layla at BoaVentura. Friday, April 29, 2016, in Livermore. Ektar +1.

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A number of friends have moved to California (SF, LA and everywhere in-between) over the past few years, which means I’ve heard “west is best” more than once.

I admit, after visiting the Bay Area for the first time last month, I might have to agree.

After my sister-in-law, Jeff, the kids and I visited Muir Woods National Monument, we took the very winding drive up into Mount Tamalpais State Park and then the very winding drive on the Pacific Coast Highway. I’m embarrassed to say the wildly curvy roads gave me an uncomfortable case of motion sickness, which lessened my enjoyment of the scenery, but here are a few frames out of the Pentax 6×7:

© 2016. Mount Tamalpais State Park. Thursday, April 28, 2016, on the Pacific Coast in California. Ektar +2.

© 2016. Mount Tamalpais State Park. Thursday, April 28, 2016, on the Pacific Coast in California. Ektar +2.

Plus, the hazy day didn’t lend itself well to photos of the far-off vistas of San Francisco or the coastline, except when we came to this spot off the Pacific Coast Highway:

© 2016. Pacific Coast Highway. Thursday, April 28, 2016, in California. Ektar +2.

Gotta love Ektar for those ocean blues. We’ll see more Ektar blues in a future blog post, but next up is a wine break in Livermore.

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The first day we walked around San Francisco, I fell in love with the trees. All the trees.

I love what trees do for a place, and for photos. When my parents had to have one of their three large oaks removed because the roots were threatening the house’s foundation, I was pretty upset. Jeff and I got married in an orchard of 100-year-old pecan trees. The first thing I want to do when we get a house, if the yard will allow for it, is plant a tree.

As much as I loved the trees in San Francisco itself, I somehow didn’t take any photos of them. But here are some fabulous trees further out in the Bay Area, all captured on my Pentax 6×7:

© 2016. Thursday, April 28, 2016, in Muir Woods National Monument. Portra 400+1.

© 2016. Thursday, April 28, 2016, in Muir Woods National Monument. Portra 400+1.

© 2016. Thursday, April 28, 2016, in Muir Woods National Monument. Portra 400+1.

© 2016. Thursday, April 28, 2016, in Muir Woods National Monument. Portra 400+1.

Yes, Muir Woods is where the forest moon of Endor was filmed in Return of the Jedi. No, we didn’t see any Ewoks.

Later that evening, we met our friend Esten (with whom we roadtripped into the American West in 2009) in Oakland. I had two frames of Ektar in my camera that I wanted to kill, so when Jeff and I emerged from the Jack London Square parking garage and I saw a stand of trees against the fading twilight, I immediately took out my meter and camera.

When Jeff texted Esten to let him know why we were running late, Esten responded back in astonishment that I was still shooting film when a digital exposure at that hour would call for something upwards of ISO 6400.

Well, this is Ektar rated at/pushed to 400, at f/4 and probably 1/8 or 1/4:

© 2016. Thursday, April 28, 2016, at Jack London Square in Oakland. Ektar +2.

Coming next on the blog: The coast.

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Jeff and I visited my brother and his family in the Bay Area last month, marking my first entry to California since I was 11 months old. We spent a full week gallivanting, wining, dining and adventuring with various combinations of my brother, sister-in-law, niece, nephew and old friends. And, of course, we brought cameras.

I took my 5DII strictly for the kids — Layla is a very active toddler, while Henry is a very active crawler/soon-to-be walker — and my Pentax 6×7 for everything else. Along with 18 rolls of film (12 of which I used), I brought a new-to-me toy: A Sekonic L-508 meter, which I happened to misuse for the entire trip. (One day, I accidentally kept the meter set for spot when I wanted incident, and I looked through the wrong lens/side for spot-metering the entire trip. The good news: Now I know better, and all my mistakes only meant I was overexposing the film, which is not a terrible thing.)

I’ll break up the film blog posts by topic, and will soon share the digital photos of the kids. First off, the city of San Francisco:

© 2016. Grant Avenue in Chinatown. Wednesday, April 27, 2016. Portra 160+1.

© 2016. Grant Avenue in Chinatown. Wednesday, April 27, 2016. Portra 160+1.

© 2016. Grant Avenue in Chinatown. Wednesday, April 27, 2016. Portra 160+1.

© 2016. Looking west down Filbert Street from Telegraph Hill. Wednesday, April 27, 2016. Portra 160+1.

© 2016. The Mission District. Wednesday, April 27, 2016. Portra 160+1.

© 2016. Mission Dolores Park. Wednesday, April 27, 2016. Portra 160+1.

© 2016. Mission Dolores Park. Wednesday, April 27, 2016. Portra 160+1.

© 2016. The Painted Ladies from Alamo Square. Wednesday, April 27, 2016. Portra 160+1.

Check back for more blog posts over the next few days!

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The last time I blogged photos of my niece was almost two years ago. Much has changed since then — most notably, Layla now has a baby brother. Jeff and I got to meet little Henry when he was only a few weeks old at our wedding last May, but perhaps you’ll understand why I didn’t photograph him the way I have with Layla at the time.

The next time we saw Henry was in Houston for Christmas — the first time my two brothers and I were together for Christmas since 2010. Henry was then a solid 9 months, while Layla was just over 3 years old. Having everyone under one roof made for a riotous house, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Jeff and I will be visiting Matt, Emily, Layla and Henry in California this upcoming week, so it was high time I edited and shared these photos from Christmas:

© 2015.

© 2015. The weight of the world on Matt’s shoulders.

© 2015.

© 2015.

© 2015.

© 2015. It’s hard, being 9 months old.

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Late last summer and early fall, we took a number of short trips: New York City, Rochester, Niagara, Corning, Rehoboth Beach, Bethlehem. Wherever I went, so did a few rolls of Portra 400 and either the Mamiya or Pentax. I’ve been sitting on these scans from Film Box Lab (which is now closed) for far too long now. Enjoy.

© 2015. Jeff (and a bird) outside the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. Mamiya C220.

© 2015. Catherine and me, at the Rockefeller Center in New York City. Mamiya C220.

© 2015. Foliage on the High Line in New York City. Mamiya C220.

© 2015. View from the High Line in New York City. Mamiya C220.

© 2015. Jeff, and Dewey Beach. Mamiya C220.

© 2015. Jeff and his beloved Thrasher’s French Fries, at Dewey Beach. Mamiya C220.

© 2015. Corning Museum of Glass. Pentax 6×7.

© 2015. Corning Museum of Glass. Photo by Jeff. Pentax 6×7.

© 2015. George Eastman House in Rochester, N.Y. Pentax 6×7.

© 2015. Niagara Falls, N.Y. Pentax 6×7.

© 2015. Flora. Niagara Falls, Ontario. Pentax 6×7.

© 2015. Mom ran a 5k, 10k and half-marathon in two days for a “hat trick” in the Runner’s Half Marathon and Festival in Bethlehem. Mamiya C220.

© 2015. Mom and me with farm-fresh vegetables from Goldfinch Farm’s CSA. Mamiya C220.

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Philadelphia has become my favorite city, tied with Houston (which has the hometown advantage). It’s walkable and has plenty of restaurants, which is great since Jeff and I tend to plan our trips around where we want to eat. We’ve established a tradition of visiting the City of Brotherly Love every mid-December since 2012, but we usually end up trekking over at least three times a year.

Easter weekend brought a much-needed three-day weekend in Philadelphia, after several long months of projects that culminated in two insanely busy weeks. I also got to try a new camera bag for my Pentax 6×7 and lenses, ahead of several upcoming trips.

All the below photos were shot on Portra 400, rated at 800 and pushed +1 in development by the FIND Lab.

© 2016. Outside the Barnes Foundation.

© 2016. Eastern State Penitentiary.

© 2016. Eastern State Penitentiary.

© 2016. Eastern State Penitentiary.

© 2016. Eastern State Penitentiary.

© 2016. Philadelphia Chinatown.

© 2016. Philadelphia Chinatown.

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Recently, I took a dive back into some older film scans and found a few frames from our Colorado trip that I hadn’t blogged. Coincidentally, their composition and subjects are pretty similar. Here we go:

© 2014. Looking westward from Ute Pass Road off of Highway 9 near Arapaho National Forest, Co. Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014.

© 2014. Tundra Communities Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park on Monday, Sept. 29, 2014.

© 2014. Tundra Communities Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park on Monday, Sept. 29, 2014.

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© 2015. Jeff and Vera, after a quick breakfast from Russ & Daughters on East Houston Street in New York City.

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Analog: Birthday crabs

At some point in the past year, I put my film cameras down and, more or less, forgot about them. I could blame our move in January or our wedding in May or a general lack of inspiration since I’d last used film (in Colorado). Whatever/regardless of the reason, my film cameras sat in the closet and stayed there.

Then my friend Zach got a Mamiya C220, like mine. And he and his wife had a beautiful baby girl. And he began taking exquisite frames of their everyday life and sharing them, and inspiring me to pick up my damn cameras again.

So, here’s some film from my mother-in-law’s birthday lunch of steamed crabs in Essex, Md. — and there’ll be more film to come.

And thank you, Zach for getting me out of my rut.

© 2015.

© 2015.

© 2015.

© 2015.

© 2015.

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Analog: Colorado

Jeff and I went to Colorado for a friend’s wedding in Snowmass Village, where it was autumn and the aspen leaves were in their golden prime. Then we spent the next day and a half at Rocky Mountain National Park, where it was winter and the snow crunched under our boots.

When you go to a big, epic place like Colorado, you need to take a big, epic camera. So I brought my Pentax 6×7 and all three lenses, plus a few rolls of Portra 400. Enjoy!

© 2014. Looking westward from Ute Pass Road off of Highway 9 near Arapaho National Forest, Colo. Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014.

© 2014. Aspens at Maroon Bells near Aspen, Colo., Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014.

© 2014. Wildflowers along the road to Snowmass Village, Colo., Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014.

© 2014. Maroon Bells near Aspen, Colo., Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014.

© 2014. Maroon Bells near Aspen, Colo. Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014.

© 2014. Wildflowers along the road to Snowmass Village, Colo. Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014.

© 2014. View north from Falls Road near West Horseshoe Park in Rocky Mountain National Park. Monday, Sept. 29, 2014.

© 2014. View east from Rainbow Curve in Rocky Mountain National Park. Monday, Sept. 29, 2014.

© 2014. Tundra Communities Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park. Monday, Sept. 29, 2014.

© 2014. Tundra Communities Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park. Monday, Sept. 29, 2014.

© 2014. Tundra Communities Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park. Monday, Sept. 29, 2014.

© 2014. View from Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park. Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014.

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When I went to Houston in May for my grandfather’s funeral, I brought not just my digital camera, but also my Mamiya C220. I shot an entire roll of just family time in the backyard, but this one’s my favorite.

© 2014. Emily with Layla, then almost 20 months old, in Houston.

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When I first made plans to fly to Houston for my grandfather’s funeral, I had no intentions of bringing a camera. When my brother made plans to fly himself, my sister-in-law and my niece to Houston, I packed up my cameras, both digital and film.

As I previously wrote, exploring our childhood home through the eyes of my niece, then almost 20 months, was a lot of fun. Without further ado, I present pictures of the world’s most important toddler:

© 2014. A particularly grueling customs process at IAH put Matt in the depths of despair, but gave Layla some time for a nap.

© 2014. Wide awake, Layla explores one of her favorite things — the stairs — under the watchful eye of my mother. To the right are baby portraits of my younger brother and me. Matt’s baby portrait is out of frame.

© 2014. Mother and child.

© 2014.

© 2014. Jet-lagged.

© 2014. You’d be pretty self-satisfied too, if you’d navigated going down the stairs by yourself not long after waking up.

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Earlier this month, I returned to Houston for my grandfather‘s funeral, but I was hardly the most far-flung traveler: My brother, sister-in-law and almost-20-month-old niece flew in from Italy.

Not since Christmas 2010 had my two brothers and I been together under the same roof, so while we had gathered to pay respects to our grandfather, we had fun being siblings again and exploring our childhood home through the eyes of Layla, who is now a very confident toddler.

Making pictures of a constantly/unpredictably moving target is a lot different from making pictures of a babe who is either being held or lying relatively sill, but it’s also a lot more fun. Unfortunately, editing down pictures of a toddler who is rambunctiously touring her new domain is pretty difficult. How can you say no to this face?

Saturday, May 3, 2014. Layla at 19 months in Houston, Texas.

© 2014. Like many other young ones, Layla has been trained to stop what she’s doing and smile at the camera. I think I’ve largely trained her out of that when I’m the one holding the camera, although she’s still pretty intrigued by its buttons. This was the first (and only) time she actually walked right up to me and smiled. I’m okay with that.

…Or to this face?

Friday, May 2, 2014. Layla at 19 months in Houston, Texas.

© 2014. EPIC POUT.

Layla isn’t quite ready to put nouns and verbs together to form sentences, but she is very capable of understanding directions and making pout faces. The pictures in this blog post wouldn’t have made the final cut for what I’ll ultimately share, but I take my responsibility as family photographer* very seriously and believe that not sharing these pictures would be akin to committing a serious transgression.

Saturday, May 3, 2014. Layla at 19 months in Houston, Texas.

© 2014. At the breakfast table, with the “Little Mermaid” plate that was my favorite when I was 5 or 6.

14-0503-layla-0861

© 2014. I think my younger brother Geoff made this picture, at Grandma’s house.

Obviously, there will be more Layla pictures to come.

 

* Apparently I was always the family photographer: While looking through photo albums for pictures to submit for my grandfather’s obituary page, my uncle Doug discovered this picture:

A picture of Chris taking a picture of extended family at Uncle Emmo's Sugar Land house in 1994. Friday, May 2, 2014.

A picture of me taking a picture of extended family at my second-uncle Emmo’s house, probably in 1994. I would have been 6 years old. We couldn’t figure out who actually took this photo, unfortunately, nor who the girl on the far right is.

Uncle Doug was very proud of this discovery. I am very excited about this early evidence that I’m better behind the camera than in front of it.

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Grandpa

My grandfather — my father’s father — died earlier this month. Tomorrow, I’m flying to Houston to spend time with family and attend his funeral.

The announcement that was printed in the Southern Chinese Daily News.

The announcement that was printed in the Southern Chinese Daily News.

My grandfather led an enormously productive life (as you can read in his obituary), but my brothers and I mostly got to know him better after he retired in 1997 and settled with my grandmother in a house 10 miles from our own home. A significant language barrier lay between my generation and him, but I knew him as a stern yet benevolent patriarchal figure who was largely content to spend his retirement in peace and to observe us quietly as we grew from rambunctious, bickering kids to generally functioning adults.

Every Sunday night for years, we’d drive over for family dinner. Every Christmas, Thanksgiving and Chinese New Year, my father’s two brothers would fly down and join us for a food-filled celebration. These were rituals that we could count on. At first, as an oblivious, sometimes bratty kid, I resisted particularly the weekly dinners, for which my grandmother often cooked up seven different Chinese dishes from scratch. But over the years, I learned to appreciate these times and, especially once I went to college, my grandmother’s cooking. I therefore made a point of visiting my grandparents every time I was in town during college and afterwards.

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The Dunn clan (plus Jeff, minus my younger brother and cousins) on Chinese New Year, Feb. 10, 2013, at my grandparents’ house. Four generations are represented in this picture. This is the last picture I ever took with my grandfather.

My grandfather won’t be present at Jeff’s and my wedding — one reason we booked a Texas venue was so my grandparents could attend — but it’s okay. He served his country for 54 years in three (I think) different countries, and earned his long, quiet retirement. He lived to see one of my generation get married and to meet one of his two great-granddaughters, and he liked Jeff and knew of our engagement.

creepin-web

© 2009 by Jeff Lautenberger. Jeff took a picture of my grandparents at my older brother’s wedding, and I probably intentionally hopped in at the last minute and probably unintentionally became a creeper/photo bomber.

In Chinese culture, it is important to honor your elders, and in addition to attending his funeral and spending time with family, writing this blog is the best way I can honor and remember my grandfather.

Rest in peace, Grandpa.

  • You can read more about my grandfather’s life and see pictures here.

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