Chasing fall

Do you ever feel like you just cannot wait for fall to arrive? Do you ever feel like you can’t wait for it to come to you so you decide to just go chase it down? That’s just what we did when my mom came to visit. On Saturday we went Up North to find fall. As it turns out, the best color was found off our beaten path. Is it that way with just us or do you find that happens to you as well? Our trip was originally only going to take us to the tunnel of trees on M119 (you can read about this beautiful drive here) but when we stopped for lunch about 1/2 way we changed our plans a little, thanks to hashtags and a very nice gentleman at Bear’s Den Pizzeria in Grayling, MI. If you’re looking for a yummy pizza with super friendly people, this is your place. All morning we had been joking about hashtags and how they’re getting out of control. (And if you know anything about my family, you know we beat that dead horse for hours and hours.) Before I go any further, if you haven’t seen Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake poke fun at the hashtagging phenomenon, then do yourself a favor and watch this:

Back to my story. I went to Instagram, put hashtags to work for me and happened upon a picture from Deadman’s Hill (for you Michiganders, this is near the Jordan River Valley). One of the employees heard that we were trying to find it and was so kind to come back with written directions. Talk about going above and beyond! After devouring the pizza, we were off! Here are some photos I snapped on our way…My mom has become quite the Instagrammer!
This is the view from the scenic overlook. Beautiful, isn’t it?I need your opinion. The overlook is situated on a hill. Should this photo stay as is and have a wonky fence and straight horizon…

OR should the fence be straightened and the horizon become crooked?
Which one looks better? Obviously, I think both are perfect since this hottie is in them. By the way, he has lost over 40 pounds this year and I think he looks simply looks amazing. 

After some more picture taking, we were back on the road.I’m pretty sure I could live here:It was a great day and I’m so glad my mom was able to see some color. Hopefully next year my dad can come along, too! And since it’s been a while, I made a movie of my mom’s visit.


The year of the camera

For the Chinese, 2011 is the Year of the Rabbit. But for me, this is the Year of the Camera. Remember when my friend Vickie gave me this camera? Well, for my birthday I got two more cameras! Can you believe it? Vickie sent me this Brownie with a box and owner’s manual!! Look at this baby:I can’t wait to get some film and see if it works! Even if it doesn’t work, it’ll be a great addition to my collection. Then, a few days after I got home from my California trip, my other friend Raegan gave me this little number:This is a Metascoflex TLR (TLR stands for twin lens reflex – instead of today’s SLR, single lens reflex).This one didn’t have an owner’s manual but came in this awesome leather case.It has a little window that pops up on top and becomes your viewfinder!And this is probably my favorite picture I’ve taken in a long time. 


Thank you, friends! You’ve sent me over the moon with your gifts. See guys, I told you I had the best friends anyone could ask for!

The California coast and crepes

And now I understand why some people feel overwhelmed with vacation pictures. I was only gone 3 days and I can’t seem to get my head above water. Tons of pictures plus new editing software means I haven’t been able to blog about the rest of my trip. So I’ve made a compromise with myself. I’ve done only the bare minimum on these pictures I’m about to show you. I’m excited and I cannot wait any longer. So here goes nothing…

After the interview, I went back to the hotel to pick up my car. As one of the other interviewers said, “Only in California can you rent a luxury car for just $25 a day but pay $30 a day to park it!” He was right. It was $30 to park our car in the hotel’s garage. Crazy, no? Since the day was young, I picked up my car and headed to The Third Street Promenade. This is an outdoor pedestrian friendly shopping center where they’ve closed off 3rd Street to cars. They have a web cam so I called home, waved to the family, blew kisses to my boys and went on with my shopping. This is a great area and would be a regular stop if I lived in Santa Monica. The Third Street Promenade has the biggest Anthropologie store I’ve ever seen. I’m pretty sure I heard the angels singing as I walked in. Other stores include Apple and a gi-huge-ic Urban Outfitters. 

Old movie theater:

Lots of street performers. Not quite as unique as the guy rollerblading and playing electric guitar on Venice beach, though. But maybe that’s not a bad thing after all.

Water fountains like these were up and down the whole shopping center.

After walking around for a while, I decided to do a little tourist thing (I can shop at home, after all). I had read online that the beach house from Spanglish was only a few miles from where I was staying! This is probably one of my top 10 favorite movies so I just had to see the house. It took less than 15 minutes to drive to the house, hop out and snap some pictures. I hear that it only costs $45,000 month to rent it. Maybe I’ll do that next time I’m out there.

Remember when they walked next door so the guy working on his car could translate & ask Flor if she could stay for the summer? I love that scene. The guy is so cute – putting on his shirt to talk to her. And the shot from across the street while she’s trying to decide what to do and all the cars are passing by is another favorite scene of mine. If you look to the left, you can see that area where they had that conversation:

Then it was back to the coast. I couldn’t help it, it keep calling my name. I would drive 1/4 mile and have to pull over to see and hear it. I read about a good place to see the sunset so I rushed back down south just in enough time to see this:

See the tiny sun hidden in the clouds? Yep, the sun had set behind the clouds and wasn’t stunning like I had hoped. I had to laugh at the thought that I had raced to that spot just to see a beautiful display only to have it ruined by clouds. One day I’ll make it out there again and see the beautiful sunset of the West coast. 

Looks like shopping was in the plans for me that night. I found the neatest mall, Santa Monica Place. It’s just like a multi level shopping mall but with no roof. It’s open air but not in a strip center style. Make sense? I browsed around and decided that I’d have crepes for dinner. Thank you, Yana.

Let me go off subject for a minute here and tell you how very connected I felt during my entire trip. I used Facebook to connect to those at home and received more than one recommendation for dining.  I felt that my friends were really rooting for me to make it to Beverly Hills before the sun went down. And I could almost hear then cheering me on as I walked around Rodeo Drive, posting pictures of the stores and their window displays. I think that the social network thing is amazing.

OK, back to my crepes. I only have an iPhone picture of it & I’m surprised the poor little crepe lasted even that long. May I present the Nutella crepe with strawberries and a hint of cognac:

It was heavenly, delicious, delightful, enchanting and simply yummy. If you make a trip, I insist that you try Cafe Crepe. You’ll thank me.

Well, that about wraps up Monday. I’ll be back tomorrow with tales of my beautiful drive on Topanga Canyon Road as well as my favorite part of my trip and how I connected with another blogger while sitting at the shore. I have to catch up because I also have two great birthday presents to show you!

The quickly disappearing Magic Hour

If you’re a photographer (and even if you’re not), you may have heard of the Magic Hour. It comes right after the Witching Hour. Usually. The Witching Hour starts (for me) about 30 minutes after the boys get home and it produces great stress and sometimes tears (the boys cry sometimes, too). The Magic Hour is the hour right before the sun sets and it produces magical light for photographers. As witching as the Witching Hour is, the Magic Hour is just as magical. Make sense? Good. Now that you’re familiar, I can continue.

Jackson, my mom & I quickly ran down to the store tonight. When we were leaving, Jackson put a newly purchased crate over his head. What 8 year old boy wouldn’t? When I looked back at my lollygaging boy, I just knew it’d make a great photo. Aaaand, of course, I didn’t have my camera. But since the store was less thaan 1/2 mile from my house, I knew we’d make it home in time to snag that great photo in the magical light. You guessed it: by the time we got home, the Magic Hour was over. The light and the magic were gone. I had to proceed inside the house. Ick. I hate taking portraits inside my cave house. There’s no sparkle in the eyes. Always, always, always use natural light if possible. So, I present today’s photo with a catch: I reserve the right for a Do Over. Hopefully, sometime in the near future, I’ll get to do this photo shoot over. In the Magic Hour.


Lens envy

Man, have I been busy! I can’t remember if I’ve told you but I’m throwing a 40th birthday party for Ken. It’s going to be quite a bash so that’s why I’m starting early. I’m making all the invitations and can’t wait to show them to you. No peeking till they’ve been delivered, though. But I will tell you that they’re the bomb! It’s been birthday party central around here. And we’re taking a long weekend getaway next week so I’ve been prepping for that, as well. Not to mention the everyday stuff like laundry, dishes, etc. 

So, onto some photos. I’ve really been obsessed with these mushrooms that are popping up all over our lawn during the rainy season. For some reason, I’m only taking pictures of them in the stinking dark. This one looked like an alien space ship to me.


On Thursday something wonderful arrived. Something shiny and beautiful and lovely. A new lens! Well, not really. Remember the wedding that I’m going to shoot in April? The groom rented a lens for me! He’s a fellow photographer and knows what he wants for the wedding. Since I don’t own the lens he wants me to use, he rented it so I could play with it and use it for an engagement photo shoot with him and his beautiful bride-to-be. To say I was thrilled would be an understatement. It’s a Canon 24-105 lens and let me tell you, I love it. If it were’t quite so pricey, I might just keep it. This is what my 50mm wants to be when it grows up. There’s definitely some lens envy going on in this house.


The above picture was taken on my iPhone with Camera+. Ken loves the app but I can’t say that I fell in love with it. Maybe it was because I’m not particularly in love with the composition or the lighting. What apps do you use for your smart phone? I know that everyone and their brother loves Instagram. Is it really all that?

I decided to have a photo shoot with my two favorite subjects on Friday. They were actually pretty willing and we had some fun. I fell in love with the lens even more. Boy, am I in trouble.


Who knew standing on the a/c unit could be so fun? My boys, that’s who.

I actually captured a good one of Ethan. Let me just tell you that my two children are so different. The camera loves one & the other…not so much. Ever see the episode of Friends when Chandler & Monica have engagement pictures taken?

That’s usually Ethan. I think he got it from me. Sorry, son. But I managed to work through it to get this one:

He sure is a cutie, isn’t he?

The rest of the weekend is full with the engagement photo shoot (as long as it doesn’t rain) and a beach baptism. Yes, the family that hates the beach will be there. I actually love going to the beach for that. Maybe it’s because I count it as church and not technically a trip to the beach. What are you doing this weekend?


Photoshoot homework

We went to Philippe Park in Safety Harbor yesterday. My friend Anna and I will be heading there on Saturday to take some engagement pictures of my friends so Ken and I decided to scout out the place so I could get some ideas. We’ll see how it goes on Saturday but I like what I came home with…

I’m not sure what Jackson was trying to tell me in this next picture. Maybe it was, “Wait, Ethan is getting ready to pick his butt.” Or “Wait, I’m going to scratch my nose in a second.” Either way, most of the pictures in this pose were ruined by one or more of those reasons.


After snapping pictures and getting eaten alive by mosquitoes we headed to Cold Stone Creamery. Who doesn’t love ice cream on a summer evening?


and after…

Gee, homework for photo shoots are quite fun. I can see now why people enjoy being photographers!

Questions and links

I’m going to put something out there but first you have to promise not to say to yourself, “Her? Really? Maybe they need glasses.”

That’ll make sense once you hear what I have to say but you have to virtual pinky promise me not to think those thoughts before I say it. Because, above anything else (even swearing on your mother’s grave), the pinky promise is the most binding promise. Ever. 

Ready? OK. Some friends asked me to shoot their wedding for them. {Huge, giant gulp} I’m excited, nervous, terrified and stoked all at the same time. (Anthony and Melissa: if you’re reading this, just substitute “over the moon excited” for “nervous” and “thrilled” instead of “terrified”.) I’ve been dreaming up ideas since they asked me. What I want to ask YOU is:

If you’ve ever done this before, what do you know now that you wish you knew then?

What’s the best way to put people at ease (including yourself) when taking pictures (especially wedding pictures that’ll be in frames for years to come)?

Are there any favorite photographers that you always turn to for inspiration?

Are there any other pointers you’d like to give me?

I think that’s all the questions I have (for now). I’m sure I’ll come up with more as the date nears. The wedding isn’t until April 2012 but I really want to be prepared. And since you’re going to be giving me answers (I sure hope you do), I’d like to give you something in return. Here are a few links I’ve found and I think you’d enjoy them.

This phone cover is ingenious. 

What do you think about this upcoming camera? Be sure to click on the picture for some fun!

Wouldn’t these make the cutest save-the-date wedding announcements? I just love How About Orange

These are the best cupcakes I’ve ever tasted in my entire life. And that’s saying a lot because I really like cupcakes. I’m insisting you make them and then invite me over. And in case you read the comment at the end of the blog (you’ll see that it was never answered), you really do use that much amaretto. Totally delicious!

Isn’t this just taking it a bit far? I love my DSLR camera and my iPhone is with me at all times, but this might be too much even for me.