Three lessons learned from my favorite tree falling

before - last view

I’m not necessarily the tree-hugging type. Although these days my husband and a few family members might disagree. Having to cut down a big beautiful tree in the front yard of our cottage touched me in ways I didn’t anticipate.

A huge limb randomly fell from this beloved tree the other evening. Sitting on the patio, we heard a strange crackling sound. We turned our heads to watch a big branch break away and fall onto our neighbor’s roof and yard.The sound was startling, the falling limb frightening and the experience one I won’t soon forget. Thankfully no injuries to report, however it has left a very obvious void in our yard.

limb down limb decay

Viewing the decay causing the limb to fall, it was apparent the tree had to go. The process was not going to be simple. The Box Elder tree was enormous and tucked tightly between cottages in our yard. A crane was required for the job. The four-man tree removal crew included a guy who’s job involved riding up with the crane into the tree and repelling to cut limbs for the crane to lift onto trailers. It’s a skill the young guy in his 20’s learned from the 70-year-old owner of the company, who was up in a tree himself repelling and cutting within the last year. Owning the tree company for 40 years, John has climbed lots of trees and cut many limbs. Only a few years ago he began employing the help of a crane operator to expedite the removal process.

crane truck tree man guy climbing tree guy with ropes in tree guy in tree 2

 

Cutting down and removing the entire tree, which they estimated to be more than 60 years old after counting the rings in the base, was an amazing process to watch.  I never realized such equipment existed to do these kind of jobs and the type of skills and training required. I have tremendous respect for the crew involved in each part of the removal process, from limb cutting, log loading to stump grinding.

stump counting lines

As the “family photographer” I recorded the entire procedure and shared photos with my husband while he was stuck working. Included below is a collection of photos of the tree removal experience.

tree & crane

Along the way, I took away a few lessons that I never expected. Here’s a rundown of what I learned from the loss of our favorite tree.

  • Embrace change … of every shape & size. I consider myself a change agent. I typically welcome change. However, when it involves removal of a tree, particularly a tree that has a very long history, that tends to strike a different nerve. Following the tree removal, I admit to appreciating the additional sunshine in our yard. I’m coming around and getting used to it being gone. .
  •  Don’t get too attached … probably easier said than done. In the case of our beloved tree, it served as our umbrella over our fire pit and shaded our yard. However, the sunshine is nice and we shall buy big umbrellas to keep on hand,
  • Appreciate good service … the tree company we hired was a small local guy, referred and highly recommended by a neighbor. Good idea and good job done! With 40 years experience, it’s easy to see how this 70-year-old has built a solid business cutting down trees. His knowledge, experience and care for doing the job all the way to the end is clearly why his business has thrived for all these years. And he has hired and mentored an enthusiastic crew.
  • Crane operating is great business … in watching the entire process it hit me — the guy who owns/runs the crane has a pretty good thing going on. He was young, maybe early 30s, had purchased the crane (a very big investment), was trained in operating it and subcontracts himself and his crane out for hire. Not a bad gig, considering John our tree cutting owner says he’s given this crane operator about $68,000 in business in the last year, and he’s only one of the crane operator’s clients. Heads up to all the young guys (or gals) out there wondering what major to choose in college.

upside down tree in air tree stump cut tree man tree limb guy tree in air tree in air over Barretts tree decay tree coming down stump rising stump in truck log in air limb on crane limb in air limb cut last branch cut stump cut broken limb

4 tips from the self-dubbed family photographer

I recently uploadeda photo album to my Facebook page highlighting the many smiles and laughter shared during our annual summer family gathering. The album includes photos snapped by me and my father-in-law throughout the holiday weekend. As the kids whip out their iPhones to capture moments, we reach for our 35 mm digital cameras (mine a Canon Rebel, dad’s a Canon Sureshot). The younger generation could view us as outdated, but instead they greet us with happy grins when asking them to smile and pose.

FB album

Granted smartphones offer an easy option to photography these days. And the many editing apps available allow for a whole new level of creativity in online photography.  I also whip out my iPhone 5 often to shoot, upload, edit and post to social media. But there’s still no replacement for a photo taken with a real camera.

My love for cameras and photography is something I inherited from my dad, who in turn got it from his dad. Grandpa spent his career surrounded by the latest photography equipment of the day as a camera buyer for the former J.L. Hudson Company. We grew up lining up and squeezing together for group photos at every event and blinded by the bright lights of the old movie cameras while blowing out birthday candles.We moaned and groaned in counting to three and saying cheese for what seemed like a million times at every family gathering. However, to this day the photo albums filled with these pictures are the favorite things when visiting my parent’s house.

Following our family get-togethers my dad was known for dashing off to Walmart to get his photos developed and quickly placed in an album to show off the latest activity. He even had a numbering system where the back of each photo was marked so the matching negative could be identified, in case someone wanted copies.

Nowadays those photo albums lined up on my parent’s fireplace hearth have been replaced with digital photo albums posted online. I feel as though I’ve stepped into my dad’s role as our family’s chief photographer. I’m armed with my camera and snapping pictures at our many life events and activities and then hurrying to upload, edit, post and share them.

Luckily the task no longer requires a trip to Walmart for processing. As the family photographer there are a few tricks I’ve learned about capturing moments, editing photos and posting and sharing. Perhaps these four tips will be helpful to other family photographers. If you play the role of photographer in your family, I’d love to hear any tricks you’ve learned.

4 family photographer tips

  • Capture smiles in action: perhaps it’s a result of all those years lining up, squeezing together and saying cheese, but I tend to avoid forced group photos. I opt for a bit more spontaneity and go for a stop in the midst of action shots.

IMG_2921

  • Less is usually more:  I find photos with two to three people turn out better and are preferred over photos with larger groups. You can just plain see a couple people’s faces, expressions and emotions better when there’s just a few in the photo.

GPA camera 017

 

  • People are preferred: I use the term “peoplize” in working clients to create content. My point … include people always (or as often as possible). People prefer seeing people in photos. Test this theory yourself, look at a collection of photos and see which ones your eye is drawn to. I’m betting on the people pics.

 

  • A little editing goes a long way: I recently discovered picmonkey.com and I run every photo through the easy-to-use online editing suit before posting. Regardless of how perfect the shot, I’ve found a dash of color and a pinch sharpening can enhance any photo. If you haven’t tried a photo editor, picmonkey.com is free and very user-friendly. If you’re a Mac user, it compares to iPhoto. Can’t say enough about photo editing.