Remembering My Wife’s Birthday

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Today, May 14th, is my wife’s birthday. I remember Denise’s birthday now but there was a time back when we were first dating when I got her exact birthday date confused a few times. I became a better husband and remembered her birthday each year, even though she never liked attention brought to her, even on her birthday. And a gift? Oh, boy, I got in plenty of trouble each time I got a gift for her. I sometimes think I am the only husband who got in trouble for actually remembering his wife’s birthday and remembering to get her a gift!

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Denise fought a courageous battle with breast cancer but lost that battle on October 28, 2014. While those seven weeks from diagnosis to death were short-lived, we had some very good, quality conversations during that time. We had so much in common that it made it very easy to be her husband and companion. Denise loved sports. She played sports in high school. She was a field hockey goalie and in her senior year, her team won the District Championship, with her winning a Flick-Off, and then the team went to States. She played basketball, softball, and ran track, too. When our children, Lydia and James, were born and began to grow up, Denise was right there with them every step of the way, especially in their perspective sports and other extra-curricular activities. She was catcher for James and Lydia, who both pitched, and was right with them through it all. I also remember right after we got DirecTV, I received a call from Denise. She said, “You’re gonna be mad at me.” I asked why and she simply replied: “Because I bought the DirecTV MLB Package!” Now, seriously, how could a sport-loving husband ever be mad at a wife like this?

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Now, I still remember Denise’s birthday. I admit it’s a little sad for me though. I cannot give her a gift anymore or take her out for dinner or talk sports like we used to do all the time. I miss those times dearly. But I know this: Denise enjoyed life to its fullest and would want Lydia, James, and me to keep doing the same now. Last year for Father’s Day, James bought me a ticket to an Orioles game. That night was the first time I attended a baseball game since Denise was gone, nearly a year later. I couldn’t help but be a little emotional, but a smile came across my face during the seventh inning stretch, knowing Denise would’ve sung that song: “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

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Denise also supported me immensely as I began getting more serious in my sports photography. We would look through the best photos of each game and she was so encouraging to me! It helped that she knew the sports in-depth. In fact, there were times when I swore she knew the game better than some players and coaches! Her input and encouragement were a huge part of my early success. These photos in this blog post are in precious memory of Denise on her birthday. I miss her very much!

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Life is precious. Hold on closely to those dear to you! Take time to enjoy each other’s company and companionship. And of all things, remember their birthday!

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Fireworks on My Birthday

This 4th of July I had the chance to photograph fireworks. Yes, my birthday is actually on July 4th. I’ve been called a firecracker and many other names over the years, but I am blessed to have fireworks on my birthday! This year my family took me out to dinner and then fireworks. For the first time in a long time I really tried to capture with my camera the breath-taking images the fireworks produce.

I first read an article online to refresh my memory and learn a few tricks to take with me. I actually printed the article out so I could take it with me as a reference. I set up my tripod in the middle of a swampy area because it was free of power lines and other obstacles. The mosquitoes were active but not overbearing. I was set up and prepared before darkness set in and well before the fireworks display started. This was helpful because I could still see the dials and switches on my camera. Otherwise I would have needed a flashlight to be sure all the settings were correct.

I set my camera in the manual mode with the bulb shutter speed and an aperture of 11. I was rather surprised to find out I was almost too close to the fireworks because I had to shorten two legs of my tripod dramatically to get the proper angle for my camera to see the fireworks. This provide a more unsteady base but I managed to keep the tripod still and sturdy throughout the fireworks display.

I used a cable release with the bulb shutter setting, so the shutter was open as long as I held the button. I experimented with various times and found my favorite to be pressing down on the cable release when I though the firework was just about to explode and then release it when the brightest light had just flashed. I wished I had more time to experiment because the display seemed to be over before I knew it!

Here are some of my favorite shots from this July 4th. It was a great way for me to top off a great birthday! Do you like any of these photographs? Which one is your favorite?