Monday, February 23, 2009

Good day to you all! Thanks for reading the AE 17 blog. If you don’t know who I am, my name is Alaina Butler. I’m 19 years old, from northeastern Oklahoma, and an EXCEL 31 graduate.

Today started off as all Friday’s do with an invigorating round of Pilates. Today Grace upped the usual to include leg-lifts and push-ups. Very fun! Now if only it wasn’t at six in the morning…

At nine o’clock, we started off our adventure into the wonderful world of color, aperture, mega pixels, sharpness settings, ISO, principle of thirds, lines, depth and all around becoming better photographers. Mandy Novotny and Whitney Lindsey teamed up to teach us Prize Winning Photography Lite. It didn’t take very long for most of us to figure out things about our cameras that we didn’t know existed, and how to properly use the many settings our little point-and-shoot’s possessed.

After our date with God time after lunch, we piled into a fifteen-passenger van and Grace’s little four-door and it was off to downtown Dallas to take 25 pictures using the techniques we had learned. We split up and teamed off in order to cover more ground and have some more freedom. It was ‘super cool’ as Mandy would say, and Emily Nicholson and I had heaps of fun photographing all over the place. The only catch was that we could ONLY take 25 pictures, and we couldn’t delete any of the pictures that we had taken… no matter how bad they were! The purpose of that was to make you think before you shot, and especially to analyze the image. Taking into consideration how you wanted it to look, and what you wanted to focus on. It worked really well, you think pretty hard when you know you can’t delete something if you don’t like it.

The other goal of the photo shoot was to have a bit of fun with a ‘contest’. If we wanted to, we could take pictures of something that said ‘grand’, something that said ‘spring’, and then a ‘pic-of-the-day’. After that we headed back to the center for another session before supper. We all learned a lot that would have helped us earlier in the day! We also learned about purposefully blurry pictures and how to take them properly, and how to take stop-motion pictures. The other hands-on project was depth pictures. One picture of an object with the entire picture in focus, and another of the same object when only the object was in focus so that the rest of the picture faded into the background. ‘Super cool!’

After dinner we headed out again, this time to Opening Bell, the coffee shop that’s sort of down the street from us. It’s a favorite AE hangout and we went there to get coffee (of course!) and to review and critique the pictures that we had taken that afternoon. We divided into two groups and we’d look at somebody’s pictures and either Mandy or Whitney would look them over, and tell us what we had done correctly, and what would be improved. We had just gotten started when live music started (Opening Bell has live music every Friday) and we had to go out into the hall so that we could actually hear the critique.

I’m not quite sure where Mandy’s team ended up, but those of us in Whitney’s crew settled down in the basement. It was tons of fun! The concrete floor, walls, and ceiling worked together to make some amazing acoustics! Well, it wasn’t very long before all of our prima donna tendencies came out and we were belting out a miriad of songs at the top of our lungs. Oh my word! It was so much fun!

Today was a really wonderful day, at least for me but I’m pretty sure the other girls were having a good time too. The end of today marked the half-way point of our time at the Dallas Ministry Center. We’ve all learned so much, and come so far. It’s been wonderful, deepening friendships that I already had, and making new ones. We’ve become a team. A unit. We’ve seen each other grow. We’ve laughed, cried, and learned together. As I look around at the amazing young women surrounding me, I am so profoundly grateful that God wrote them into this chapter of my life, and that He placed me here “for such a time as this.”

Blessings all and tons of love to my family!

~Alaina Butler

1 comment:

Christy said...

Oh Alaina!
Reading your post brought tears to my eyes. Such sweet memories you stirred, and such joy for the work God is doing in the girls of AE 17! I am so excited for you!
Mandy is 'super cool' herself, and has such an encouraging outlook on life! I love spending time with her. :)
It's great to hear of other girls who enjoy singing and goofing off in public places. :) I think we would get along quite well.
Blessings on you, and on the second half of your time *together* as Advanced EXCEL! Work to keep that unity after you go home! It will be vital!
Christy Wishart