June 10, 2013

DIY Graduation Photos

It’s Graduation time again, which means another photo opportunity!

graduation1

graduation2

Commencement itself is going to be crowded. Between the other graduates, family and honored guests, it’ll be hard to find a good secluded spot for photos without passerbyes. Campus is also far away, so it’s going to be a long day, even though the actual ceremony isn’t too long. I don’t want to tax the patience of my family (including Nicki!) by trying to cram in photo time as well. It seemed our best bet for graduation photos was to make a separate trip to campus. Domingo took the day off from work, so we drove down to pick up my cap and gown together with Nicki in tow. Our plan was to leave the house just before Nicki’s morning naptime. We hoped she’d nap in the car on the way to campus, be up for photo time, and nap as we returned home. Car naps aren’t ideal, but they’re better than no naps. At least that was the plan.

Nicki woke up before 6 am, so no one was rested for the long day ahead of us. We decided to use Domingo’s car since his car seat which has better head support and we wanted her to be as comfortable for the long ride as possible. As we were getting ready I noticed the right strap had somehow become twisted to the point where it no longer seemed safe. The strap couldn’t be fixed without first removing both straps completely, and in order to do that I had to readjust pretty much everything. It was a giant pain, setting us back a full half hour. Nicki then refused to sleep in the car for the majority of the trip, only falling asleep for the last 30 minutes.

A full belly later, an opportunity to explore new places while walking and she was a content baby, although a tired and not an overly smiley one.

Alas, I didn’t like the way most of these turned out. I like the two above, but in most I have a weird expression in most of these trying to entice a smile from Nicki. Think deranged clown. It didn’t occur to me at the time, but the popped hip to support Nicki makes the gown especially unflattering. We did the woods/bridge photo first. When we got to the vista I adjusted the shutter speed, but didn’t really think about the aperture. That’s the ocean behind us yet despite it being a clear day you can’t tell because the aperture is too large. boo

Some things I have learned:
* This one came from the woman distributing the caps and gowns: Use a pin to attach the hood. The hood is so heavy it kept falling back against my neck and I felt like I was being strangled with it. Next time I’ll pint it to the front of the gown to keep it in place.
* I draped the PhD hood over my shoulder a bit like a cape in the top photo. It makes the hood more noticeable, and helps with the strangling problem.
* Where dark pants, or at least dark shorts. I figured since the gown was supposed to be tea-length, you wouldn’t see my shorts. Except the zipper starts at thigh level, and a pop hip can reveal the color of your shorts like in the second photo.

While there’s a part of me that wants to try again, it doesn’t seem fair to Nicki. We have a local park that has a similar back drop to the hills on campus (just not the sweeping vistas, ocean backdrop or iconic bridges and redwoods.) We may make a family outing there and try for a full family photo, Domingo included. It feels a little like cheating since the photos wouldn’t be on Santa Cruz campus, but no one has to know. (Shh, don’t tell).

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  1. […] our last attempt at DIY graduation photos, we were thinking of trying again at local park. We decided against the park for a couple reasons. […]

  2. […] some rookie mistakes lately with my photography. Remember when I went down to campus for some DIY graduation photos and forgot to change my aperture? I confess it hasn’t been the only time. At home, I can always re-take a photo, so I don’t […]


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