Saturday, August 28, 2004
Baby kisses Baby Doll
I finally closed a small rip in the time/space continuum by bringing our baby daughter Cianna to meet Rachel Whang's Baby Doll. Baby Doll is a plastic doll that Rachel photographs with all kinds of Baltimoreans (including our Mayor) and in various local hangouts. Rachel, who is co-owner of Atomic Books, posts the photos to Baby Doll's Blog naturally.
Rachel e-mailed me back in May 2003, about a week after I returned from many months of working in New York City, about posing with her doll. I hadn't heard about Baby Doll's Blog, but I was happy to meet up with her to be photographed with the doll. It was massively freaky that I was asked by a reader of my blog to pose with a baby girl doll before we made the general announcement that Amy was pregnantand two weeks before the amnio test came back with news that we were carrying a girl.
Cianna had to meet Baby Doll. I drop into Atomic Books every few weeks, but either I didn't have baby or Rachel didn't have doll. The two finally met earlier this month, and Cianna, as an encore to her meeting the Elvis statue down the street, planted a kiss on Baby Doll. I don't dare stage a meeting of Cianna and Baby Doll at the Elvis statue. A tiny black hole might form and devour all of Hampden.
Footnote: I finally fixed the domain redirect so that www.CiannaLee.com points to the Family section here. I haven't been able to build a page for that domain, but one day, I'll archive all the curiousLee and hiptop Nation posts about Cianna under her domain.
Tuesday, August 17, 2004
The open rooftop rotunda of AARP Headquarters satisfies my need to have a grand vista before me at my place of work as I meditate on the challenges of the day. To me, the rotunda walls represent strength and harmony, a circle that makes all ends beginnings, and caps a physical and organizational entity that must persist for many decades into the future. It's a private little Stonehenge that helps me focus learnings from the past and present into visions of the future. Looking up into the open sky from the center of the rotunda, the blue sky reminds me of the infinity of space/time, but almost aways there are some clouds of uncertainty.
Last week, two circles of work life completed and began again. My friend Victor Lombardi resigned from the job he took over for me about a year ago when I left AIG and New York City, and I started a new job role after completing another at AARP.
I recruited Victor from the then SBI Razorfish to take over the new Senior Information Architect role I created at AIG Corporate eBusiness. Victor has since grown his practice of one into a team of three who, along with the rest of the eBusiness team, work with business units to define corporate standards for web information archictecture, content strategy and usability for AIG's 2000 or so web sites around the world. Victor finally announced on his blog yesterday that he is leaving the corporate world to become an independant consultant, and his (my former) boss is eager to find a replacement. Taking the expanded perspective he's gained from working in a thriving global enterprise out into the world of free agency, some number of lucky clients will soon be able to apply Victor's talents to their digital projects and products.
At AARP's Web Strategy & Operations (WSO) group where I work, a re-org was completed last week and it was announced that I am the Acting Director of Client Services. I will oversee the newly-merged editorial content and online community teams, which total 12 people and will grow to 19 next year. For the first time, I don't have to squint to see where I am on an org chart. I am going to serve in this acting capacity for the next many months to define the new role and finalize a new client service process. And yes, my wife and I are now directors in the same group, but we don't manage each other's work. We both report to the new General Manager, and my team takes a larger place adjacent to my wife's design/production team and the technology team. I'll also continue working with John Maeda on projects at the MIT Media Lab.
The new client services team remains responsible for content strategy, editorial oversight, online community, e-mail newsletters and more for the AARP.org web site. Bringing on new staff in the coming months will help us fulfill our mandate to take on a more consultative role as a group and do more outreach and education across the AARP organization.
In preparation for our first team meeting on Thursday, I've invited Jesse James Garrett of Adaptive Path to come speak to most of WSO and some of our internal clients on the Nine Pillars of Successful Web Teams tomorrow morning. Jesse and his partners are in town to deliver User Experience Week 2004. The talk should be an inspirational boost to the start of our newly-restructured teams.
Interesting times ahead...
Monday, August 16, 2004
The Olympic sport of choice in the curiousLee household is watching Cianna's first teeth grow. At close to nine-months-old, these two little white nubs are late arrivals. Many babies have two lower and four upper teeth by six months. As a change of pace from the cute kid portraits, I'm going clinical with this super-macro photo taken while Cianna was asleep. They call the arrival of baby teeth "eruptions," and I think the color palette and lighting in this photo of Cianna's mouth are evocative of volcanic activity.
Sunday, August 15, 2004
Dimensions of Janet
It was an interesting coincidence that my third photo shoot with Janet on the same day as my blog-a-thon for charity. Because I was moblogging the shoot wirelessly with my Sidekick, I created a real-time activity journal that presumably allowed interested readers to follow along. It was a challenge to remember to post at 30 minute intervals on top of juggling my photo equipment, props and directing Janet. Producing 48 blog posts in 24 hours sapped my interest in posting to the main column here for a couple weeks, but I've still been trickling posts into the sidebar. Below, finally, are some samples from the shoot.
My previous sessions with Janet were out in cold weather and indoors in front of a window. So I was excited to finally go outdoors in warm weather to expand our photographic collaboration. We were working in the yard of a house in Ellicott City that has a panoramic view of the Patapsco River Valley and Old Town.
I had hoped for sunny weather, but no such luck. I took the cloudy skies as a challenge to re-create morning sunlight with my studio flash kit. I ran a long power cord from the house to my power pack and set up two flash heads: a bare bulb on the left, and the other bouncing off an umbrella from the right. It became windy about an hour into the shoot, but I was able to poke the light stands up through a couple heavy wooden lawn chairs for stability. I did have to straighten out the umbrella several times. Here I have Janet seated in front of the river valley. We did a variety of poses seated and standing. In retrospect, I wish I had a third light head to point at the dark silhouettes of the tree trunks.
Then we turned the set-up around 180 degrees and made some portraits against the ivy-covered hill. Janet said that she looked and felt tired from only four hours of sleep the night before, but honestly, I couldn't tellshe looked fantastic as always. I haven't blogged this fact before, and I don't think Janet will mind now, but does this look like a 44-year-old woman to you? I say ROCK ON BABE.
Next, we moved indoors, and set up the backdrop stand by a bed and draped the whole scene with many yards of white cloth for some simple figure studies with flowers as props. I just used window light and a couple silver reflector discs.
The most interesting effect of the indoor series was my first attempt at the old technique of simulating moonlight by shifting the digital camera's color balance from daylight to incandescent. The effect works well, but I'm glad I shot a bunch of alternalte frames in standard daylight mode. Next time I have this image open in Photoshop, I think I will mask off Janet and subtract some of the blue out to make her skin tone more realistic.
Janet attains muse status with this third shoot and many hours in front of the camera. She was even ready to do another session this coming weekend, but I told her to get ready for, and enjoy her upcoming vacation. I'm fortunate to have Janet as a friend, and that she's interested in photography herself.