Skip to main content

Moving beyond the postcard

There are a few new things going on ‘round here.  We took advantage of The Great Courses sale and bought NatGeo’s Travel Photography and a geology course: 36 Geographical Wonders of the World.  We love them both.  

To be fair, we have only done one lesson in each. I recently read an opinion that adult courses are usually very good because adults don’t have to take them!  They have to pull you in, teach you something interesting, and hold your attention.  This is what we have found to be true for both these courses based on lecture #1.

The photography course was 100% interest-led.  Both my girls have an eye for photography.  Both love their Instagram accounts, which give them the opportunity to connect with kids who have become friends all over the country from CA to FL and lots of places in between!  They both share Crosby’s Instagram account, and have researched popular pet photography accounts to get new ideas on photo composition.  Plus Crosby is a real challenge to capture because his fur is so dark you lose definition in almost every photo.  They have had to learn edits and use other apps for to enhance photos or their viewers would never know Crosby had eyes!

The real motivating factor behind Grace’s photography is our upcoming trip to Florida.  She wants to take really great pictures, not just point and click.  She is building a collection of cameras from her latest Christmas gift, her GoPro, and last year’s gift: her all purpose Olympus Tough camera, the TG-820 which is amazing underwater.  She is always allowed to borrow my Cannon T2i, a dslr camera.  

Our first lesson was about moving beyond the postcard.  Why capture the same photo that has been done over and over and over again?  If you think with an artist’s eye, you can make the ordinary extraordinary.  
*You have to think as an artist, not a travel photographer.  Many of the reviews of this course are missing the point.  This instructor has a budget, a travel allowance and access to the world’s most beautiful places.  He is going to approach photography differently that a family of 4 on a road trip down the east coast.  HOWEVER, the principles still apply and he makes point of that.

After a recent snowfall, the girls took my camera outside in the early morning light (6:30-7:00am) to photograph our yard as if it were a place they had never seen before.  If this were a stop on our travels, what would they capture? What would they want to remember?  This is what their artist’s eyes saw.  My house in a whole new way.  They had to explain to me where some of these pictures were taken.  

This week we watch lesson 2 and I take my memory card to CVS or Target and make hard copies of these photos for their portfolios and possibly for my walls.....


  1. Wow, that first fence picture is great! (Not that the others aren't good, too, but that one really caught my eye.

    We have the Fundamentals of Photography Course, but haven't watched it yet. My son has been taking a photography course which has been good at getting him to think a little more, but I am not sure that he has really developed his "eye". Although, he does surprise me sometimes getting really cool shots that I never would have thought of. I must say, I am so thankful for digital cameras because that kid would bankrupt me with all the film he would use!

    Another snowstorm coming - more great pictures to be had!


    1. I love that one too. I had no idea where Grace was when she took this picture. It is an angle I never ever would have thought of. She is interested in the fundamentals class after we finish this one. We were just talking about film cameras vs. digital cameras. I love film and I sometimes wonder about the longevity of digital photographs but there is no way I could keep up with the printing costs!

  2. New reader here. My husband and I recently decided to homeschool our girls next year, they will be in the 4th,5th and 7th grades. You have some great ideas on your blog, particularly art journaling. And your girls have an eye for photography. I particularly love the one with the American Flag in the background. My husband is a retired Marine.

    1. Welcome! I'm glad you found inspiration here. I have more art journaling on my Instagram account. #notebookgirlz

      My brother is a Marine too! He is reservist out of NY.

  3. I have been looking at that course for awhile now. I am glad that I now have someone who is using it for a good opinion. I think that all of us would enjoy it. The boys love taking photos. Thanks for writing about it.

    1. I plan on doing lesson #2 tomorrow. I will let you know what I think as we get further into it. The take away from lesson 1 has been wonderful. Yesterday Lilah was taking pictures for Instagram and she told me she had the lesson in mind when she was planning her pictures.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. These both sound amazing Jess. I've never thought about adult classes like that but it makes complete sense. The girls snow pictures are wonderful.

    1. The flip side of that comment is that classes don't have to be full of visual or computerized models to catch and keep attention. We watched the second geology lecture (Mt. Fuji) and the girls felt is was boring. It focused more on the science of plate tectonics and subduction and it was not boring. I wish these videos had just a bit more visual interest. It it were a classroom lecture, I think the professor would incorporate more pictures, video of the location he or she was speaking about. For each of these lectures I have to find supplementary material to bring it to life. Thankfully there is so much out there. I found a great 3 minute video on showing the spender of Mt. Fuji. Next we travel to the Galapagos and Lilah should find that interesting!


Post a Comment

Due to high levels of span, comment moderation is turned on for the time being. Thank you for taking the time to leave me a comment. I will return it shortly!

Popular posts from this blog

Defending Homeschooling

Yesterday I was called to defend my homeschooling to someone who did not know me well and does not understand the concept of homeschooling well.  Some of the questions that were asked included:

How do I grade?How do I know they are on track?How do I teach what I do not know?How do I have patience?How will they go to college?
These are fairly typical questions and I should have been able to answer them with ease and confidence but I sensed judgment and it shook me a bit.  After all these years, I thought I was beyond being shaken up by questions, especially when asked respectfully.  To be fair, the questioner has a very traditional outlook on education and has two children younger than mine, who already know which Ivy League schools they wish to attend.

So how did I respond?

Grades - we don't grade.  I have gone back and forth over 
the years about grading but I wrote a post a few days ago that sums up my thinking on grades.  It took Grace a year and a half to make it thought algebra an…

Art Journaling: Quotes

If you saw our group’s art journal pages on display, I wonder if you would be able to guess how old the artists are.

Their work is mature beyond their years.  

I wonder why this is...Is it talent?  It is interest?  Is it passion?  
I don’t know.  What I do know is that magic happens when they are together...  

...and that I love every single minute of it.  

Shelling in Coastal Connecticut, Rhode Island

It is a wise father that knows his own child. - William Shakespeare

Our family has always embraced each other’s interests.  We almost take them on as our own.  I have attended two weather conferences with Grace.  I have run a baking camp for Lilah.  It is truly wonderful when we discover an interest that we all share. For us, this interest is shelling.  
You can’t shell as home.  After a long and at times difficult week, Greg and I decided to skip our normal Saturday routine of food shopping, running errands and having a nice family dinner at home, in favor of exploring beaches in Connecticut and Rhode Island.  We threw food into a cooler, grabbed water bottles, our microscope, shelling bags (mesh laundry bags), and headed north.
Our first stop was Rocky Neck State Park.  We have mixed feelings about this beach.  We love the soft white sand and the glacier formations to climb on and the contrast of colors created by the water, the sand and the rock, but we disliked the Amtrack trains that…