Owen & Renee

Owen and Renee

May 15, 2016

I’ve known Renee for several years from working at Wal-mart. When I first met her she was quiet and kept to herself. It didn’t take long to discover her goofy side that I love so much. I met Renee at a time that we were both going through our own individual ‘tough spots’ and she was hugely responsible for keeping me sane and bringing me up when I was down. Likewise I was there to witness the knight and shining armor, Owen sweep her off her feet and make her troubles melt away. It was beautiful watching the two form their relationship and how they helped bring out the absolute best in each other. Renee’s always been a tough cookie, but with Owen I felt she was safe and she could let that guard down for a while. I’m very proud to call these two my friends.

This month I had the privilege and honor of being a part of Owen and Renee’s wedding day. It was inspiring seeing so many friends come together and contribute to Owen and Renee’s wedding day. It’s obvious that everyone else can see the extraordinary love that Owen and Renee share for one another. It’s that love that people cheer for and celebrate.

These past few months of helping plan the wedding I’ve gotten to know their friends and It’s been a pleasure meeting everyone and getting close to them. It’s obvious that good people surround themselves with equally good people.

I’d like to say thank you to everyone at Brew Works and Marielle for their amazing efforts in making this event come together. A heartfelt thanks especially goes out to Linda, Scott and Jessalyn for all the hours they put in, making Owen and Renee’s ceremony and reception beautiful. Another thank you to Sarah Swartz for being a totally awesome person in general and her help with the decorations, planning and wedding dress. Lastly, thank you to everyone who helped put this day together for Owen and Rene

Congrats Owen and Renee and I wish you the best in your future together!

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Trexer Nature Preserve

When I was growing up it was always called the Trexler Game Preserve. I believe the correct name is now the Trexler Nature Preserve. It also hosts the Lehigh Valley Zoo, so sometimes I end up calling it the Lehigh Valley Game Preserve. Either way, the Trexler Nature Preserve is probably my all-time favorite Lehigh Valley photo spot.

On a good day it’s perfectly serene and majestic. I pretty much have a routine set when I go there. Rather than take a direct route, I follow the same route that I took when I happened upon it for the first time by. From my house I zig zag around Blue Barn Road then follow the Jordan Creek. I take Packhouse Road through Geiger’s Covered Bridge. There is a small parking lot just past the covered bridge on the left where you can park. Here I take some photos around the creek and bridge before carrying on. After taking some wildlife and covered bridge photos, I drive up the hill and make a left on to Orchard Rd which will lead you to the Trexler Nature Preserve Enviromental Education Center. You should immediately see the large gravel parking lot on the left. You can get a trail map from one of the signs in the parking lot or I’m sure there are some online.

From the Trexler Nature Preserve Environmental Education Center I head up to the top of the building where I take a deep breath and enjoy the seemingly vast oasis sandwiched between the Lehigh Carbon Community College which lies in the North and Kids Peace which resides in the Southeast. The roof deck is an especially serene location for sunsets. My favorite part of my trip to the nature preserve is standing on this roof deck and just listening to everything for a few minutes.

There are a bunch of trails and I have some favorites. I haven’t hiked them all yet, but I will eventually. In the past few years that I’ve been going there, I’ve always wondered how you get to the part where you drive over the creek. Would you believe that I just discovered how to get there two months ago??

Hoarding Photography

Hoarding Photography

For the first time ever, I’ve moved ALL of my photos into Lightroom (Okay maybe not all, but definitely most of them — 55,897 photos). When I first started photography I did all my editing in Photoshop and I was vehemently against Lightroom. I thought it was bulky and it didn’t let me do exactly what I wanted. Flash forward to today where I do 90% of my editing in Lightroom and have harnessed it’s capabilities for file organization and metadata.

I just got a shiny new 4TB external hard drive so I’m doing some digital “Spring Cleaning”. I’m combing through my previous external hard drives for duplicates and large files from either my freelance graphic design or photography. My plan is to move every image into Lightroom so I can get a better sense of what is in the 2TB of files that I have stored.

I have probably 12 years of archived photos in folders on my hard drive. Many of which I don’t intend to ever edit or use, but I can’t find it in me to delete them because “what if” I want them later. Some of them are blurry or out of focus but I choose to keep even some of the bad photos with the anticipation that as time progresses, so will technology along with the ability to fix some of those photos. Some of my earlier photos are merely sentimental. How necessary is it to keep everything? How do you decide what to keep?

My first step is to delete photos that are beyond repair. I don’t know why I am keeping those. My second step is to start deleting some of the nearly identical images. No sense in keeping both or all three of the same photo, right? The great thing about digital photography is that you can over-shoot as much as you want and delete later. I always shoot with that intention but most of the time I never delete the “duplicates”.

What about only keeping CR2 files and deleting JPGs as a way to save room? What happens if the CR2 file becomes obsolete in the future?

What are your thoughts on the topic(s)?

Business Cards

So I made business cards in 2011 when I was in my senior year of college. I don’t use those business cards anymore because I changed my branding (and because few people knew what my logo was supposed to be).

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My Old Business Cards from 2011

I went from “Jessica – Creative Design”, to “Mixie Design”, to “Jess Petrohoy – Photo/Design”. Each stage of branding had its purpose at the time. Despite the fact that I majored in graphic design, I am also very passionate about my photography. I’ve begun to stray away from graphic design self-promotion. I’d like to put more of an emphasis on photography as an art while letting people know that I do graphic design too.

So here is where I need your help. I would like my new business cards to feature one of my photos on the front with simply my logo/signature on the back. I’ve also decided I want to feature a few different photos – possibly five to start. Here’s an example:

Example of New Business Card
Example of New Business Card

Here are some of photos in the running for placement on the business cards (vertical photos will be cropped to be made horizontal):

Use the comments section to vote for your favorite photo or add your own option to the mix. If you’d like to “write-in” your choice, make sure to put the title of the photo with its URL in the comments.

I can’t wait to see what you pick!

#IceBucketChallenge

Where do I start…

Last week, I started seeing people post videos about an “Ice Bucket Challenge” for ALS.

Admittedly, with the first video that I watched, I figured it must have been for something else with the acronym ALS. I did not expect it to be for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.  Here’s the scoop from the ALS Association’s website (http://www.alsa.org/news/archive/ice-bucket-challenge.html):

Beverly, Mass., resident Pete Frates, started the “Ice Bucket Challenge” with his family on the social sites Facebook and Twitter.  Frates, 29, has lived with ALS since 2012, and he has worked with The ALS Association’s Massachusetts Chapter.  A former Division 1 college athlete with Boston College Baseball, Frates tirelessly spreads awareness of Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

So when I found out that it was in fact for the same ALS that I have witnessed first-hand, I was overjoyed that other people were successfully raising awareness for ALS. Truly, I am very happy to see ALS getting noticed. A headline from Huffington Post reads, “Ice Bucket Challenge Leads To 1,000% Spike In Donations To ALS Association.” That’s incredible. Also from Huffington Post:

The ALS Association’s national president, Barbara Newhouse, said donations to the national office surged during the 10-day period that ended Thursday, to about $160,000, from $14,480 during the same period a year ago. That’s not counting donations to chapter offices around the country, Newhouse said.

“It’s just been wonderful visibility for the ALS community,” Newhouse said. “It is absolutely awesome. It’s crazy, but it’s awesome, and it’s working.”

I’m glad to see that it’s having a huge impact. This is wonderful news. The funds received will be a tremendous help in aiding research, and to further continue to raise awareness.

In addition to research, the funds will be a huge help to families in need of assistance and extra care.

The nerves that are affected when you have ALS are the motor neurons that provide voluntary movements and muscle power. Examples of voluntary movements are your making the effort to reach for the phone or step off a curb; these actions are controlled by the muscles in the arms and legs. (http://www.alsa.org/about-als/what-is-als.html)

In the case of my dad’s muscle degeneration, he started off needing a cane to help his balance when walking. From the cane he went on to using a walker. Walker to motorized wheelchair. Motorized wheelchair to hospital bed. Mobility is only one aspect. Consider trying to feed yourself when you are no longer able to chew or swallow food, let alone even be able to lift your hand to reach a fork. Blood circulation and bed sores become an issue, as the patient’s body is pretty much in one position most of the time. Even with extra care, it’s difficult, to keep up with the body’s decline.

It is an immense task for both the patient and the family members who are involved. It can be frustrating and can begin to break your spirit. ALS attacks voluntary muscles, ultimately leaving the patient trapped inside their deteriorating body with no way of communicating or helping themselves.

Thanks to the kind-hearted souls at Lehigh Valley Hospital, Good Shepherd and The Greater Philadelphia Chapter, my dad was able to live as comfortably as possible. My dad used a BiPAP and Coughaltor to keep his lungs clear, since he was losing strength in his chest and lungs. Without a motorized wheelchair and a wheelchair ramp, he would have been more or less confined to a bed for the last two years of his life. The hospital bed made it a million times easier to move him into the shower, or simply to adjust his positioning in bed and help circulation. Thankfully he had a feeding tube put in while he was still pretty healthy. He was able to eat with a fork up until a week before he passed. But the last week that he was alive the feeding tube allowed him to not starve to death.

These are some of the realities of ALS and other neurodegenerative diseases.

Machines, equipment, doctors – it all adds up. For the majority, the disease is not hereditary. We weren’t prepared. Dad had started to lose some weight and got weaker before he was diagnosed. But never would we have been able to imagine the road that lie ahead. We simply could not have done it on our own financially.

So I personally thank the people who are donating and helping to spread the awareness of ALS.

But… I do have to say this…

Please don’t forget that this disease is real. It’s not just a fun game to play on the internet. I started to get the feeling that it was becoming a online game of tag-you’re-it. It’s a devastating disease.

The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed. (ALS Association)

I admit, that I’ve never taken something like this personally. It’s not something that I’ve experienced before. I’ve seen people raise funds and awareness tons of different ways, I’m sure. But I’ve never had one of the hardest things that I’ve had to experience in my life… blasted all over the internet like it’s a game. I watched my dad wither away. I held his hand while he was in a morphine coma the day before he died. I felt the regret of being at work on the night that he died. I cried and drank myself stupid the night before my college graduation, because there was going to be one person missing.

So if you’ve donated because of the #IceBucketChallenge, I thank you. If you’ve kept the #IceBucketChallenge going, I thank you.

But I’d love for you to strive to spread real awareness even after the #IceBucketChallenge dies down. Educate yourself and others on the realities of ALS. Spread awareness because you feel compassion for the families whose lives are never going to be the same. Spread awareness because there is no cure for ALS. Hopefully research backed by your funds will be the answer. Donate to help those currently struggling with ALS, that they might receive assistance and care while they carry out the rest of their days by spending what time they have with their family and loved ones.

To donate and find out more go to: http://www.alsphiladelphia.org/donate

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