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Travel | Grand Canyon National Park

It's been awhile since I travelled out west with a dear friend. You may remember my post of all the prettiness in Scottsdale from this post here. While on our trip, we also drove up to Grand Canyon National Park. We didn't really luck out weather wise, per se. Even though it was late April, we encountered a 30 degree day with blustery snow. It was very chilly on the south rim and we rode the bus a lot that morning to stay warm. We really hated packing jackets for Arizona when we were coming for a long, cold Midwest winter, but I'm so grateful we did. There were, however, moments of clear when the snow subsided and then I managed to make a few images on film. I think we were also lucky to see this place in a different light than most get to see it. I certainly didn't bring home the typical "postcard" sunny day images, although I would love to go back and see it in that light as well.

This was really my first attempt at landscape photography on film and between the gear, my skill set with metering landscapes on film, and the weather, it was certainly a challenge. I used a rented light meter that had a spot meter to help me because obviously, the distances are so great, you can't just meter the light you are in because the light can be drastically different in the scene a great distance away, especially on a cloudy day with changing light conditions, like the one I had. I overshot, and made lots of various exposures, all in desperation to come home with something. Honestly, though, I truly believe no image could really come close to capturing what an amazing and awesome place the Grand Canyon truly is. You really must be present in it with your own eyes. So, please go and do me favor. Take a photo, then put your phone or camera down and just look, really look with your own eyes. You will thank me later, I promise.

I was awestruck at this place, without a doubt. Here are a few images I am happy to share from my visit. The film ranged from, Kodak Ektar 100 for the color images to Fuji Neopan Acros 100 for black and white. 

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And of course, one of us at Mather Point, first thing in the cold cold morning, before a blizzard hit us maybe 20 minutes later.


Travel | Scottsdale, Arizona

Last month, I was fortunate enough to get a little break from my everyday and go on a weekend getaway with a fabulous friend. We spent some time at both the Grand Canyon as well as Scottsdale and enjoyed all the beautiful scenery and warm sunshine. We were there on an unseasonable cool weekend, but the weather was perfect for the Scottsdale portion of our trip and the cactus and gardens were in full bloom. I already miss all of the amazing pastel tones. Everything was so colorful, I could have spend days with a camera there. These shots are all from one morning stroll around our resort in Scottsdale, Arizona.

All images are captured on film with Kodak Portra 400.

Saying Thanks

If you have hopped on over here today via Ben Willmore's Digital Mastery site, then I'd like to thank you for stopping by. I know there is plenty of photography out there and many images are thrown at us everyday, so I really appreciate that you took the time to click a link and visit my site. I hope that you browse around and enjoy my work while you are here. 

I'm truly honored that Ben featured a few of my images on his blog today and I'm always grateful that we all are in this amazing community of photographers who are willing to share their knowledge and passion with each other. After my 15 minute of photographic fame are over I will continue to be a Midwestern girl pursuing my passions with a camera by photographing the people I meet and the landscapes I wander and hopefully you will see me again someday soon.

Thanks again for visiting. Happy shooting, my friends!

Pinterest | The Addiction

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So, now that I've been at home with the baby. I get very little free time and what little free moments I get, I spend on my iPad, usually checking my email, facebook, and just getting caught up on daily news, weather, etc. However, if I get more than a moment, I find myself wandering over to my latest addiction. Pinterest! Oh my, there is so much great craft, DIY, fashion, home, recipie and photography inspiration out there! It's my new love. If you find yourself emailing website links to yourself so that you can find them again or you have 100 bookmarks in your internet browser, then this needs to be the next place you check out. It's part social networking (from the sharing or "pinning" as it's called) and part inspiration board. It's a great time waster, I mean inspiration finder. Truthfully it makes me feel crafty even when I'm not being crafty. I have actually made a few things I discovered on there. Mostly, I daydream about how I would design and decorate my dream home and yard. 

So, hop on over to Pinterest and sign up and start daydreaming yourself. You can follow me here, if you feel so inclined.

A Poetic Friday

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Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

    I took the one less traveled by,

    And that has made all the difference..

- "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost

I hope that leaves you with a little inspiration and creative thought for the weekend. Obviously one of, if not these most famous, of Frost's poems. It still inspires today. I always find the winter months are a time of both reflection and revelation. We stop and think about what we've have and haven't accomplished yet and set out to make new goals for a new year. What is your path for 2011? I still don't know what mine is yet, but I will be contemplating it and pursuing a path in the new year.

Desktop Background | Bonus Background

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This time of year I always stop and think about what I am thankful for. Of course, the usual and first things are my family and close friends for their love and support of me. Without these people, I wouldn't be who I am. Next, I'm thankful for being healthy and having all the things I could ever need or want in life. After that, I start to think about how thankful I am that I have a creative outlet that lets me express myself and interact with interesting people and be in beautiful environments that reinvigorate my soul. Photography is good for me in that way and I'm lucky that I have the means both in time and money to do this sometimes demanding and expensive, but very rewarding profession. It's what I need as a person and I'm fortunate that it fills me up and lets me spill it out for others. I'm thankful that I have this blog to write my (sometimes crazy and late night) thoughts. Even if no one ever read it, I think I will still write for me. I'm thankful that at least a few people do take the time to read it. It's a moment out your day, so thank you for listening.

I just wanted to say thank you to my readers and my friends, family, and clients that stop by to read this blog and check in on what is happening in my photographic world. As a special thank you, I am offering a bonus desktop background. No calendar this time, just my little logo at the bottom. When I want something new on my own background on my Mac, this is how I make them for myself and if it's good enough for me, it good for you guys, right? =)

This shot is from Indiana Dunes State Park in Indiana, right on Lake Michigan. I found this piece of drift wood settled into the sand late in the day. It called out to me as a split tone and I like the calm mood it left and I thought it would make a nice calming backdrop. This time of year is busy, so a little calm is always good.

I'm keeping this one simple and only offering two sizes for the bonus calendar, a 1080  desktop version and one that will fit the iPad. If these sizes don't fit your screen, don't worry, December's calendar is here next week and has my usual 5 size offering as well as iPhone / iPad sizing.

Click the size you need below to get your bonus calendar. Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!!

For those that do read this blog, I'd love hear what you are thankful for. Feel free to leave a comment and share. Don't be shy. I read everything you guys write to me too. Now go eat turkey (or tofurkey) and be with the ones you love.

Stormy Spring Lake

I was digging through the archives over the weekend and came across a series of images shot back in August at Spring Lake in Illinois. I had the rented 24mm f/1.4 lens at home when my friend and fellow photographer, Julie Dodge invited me out again to Spring Lake for another round of kayaking. Now, you'll remember from my last post how much I enjoyed this activity, so I jumped at the chance to do it again. I took the 24mm with that night as I was both determined to use it as much as possible while I had it rented and also wanting the challenge of shooting with only one lens. In, truth I think this might be good practice in a kayak anyway. There is enough going on trying to maneuver the kayak, let along fussing with lots camera gear or switching lenses. So, in the name of both safety and practicality, I shot only this lens.

As I was driving out there, the sky started getting darker and darker as big puffy storm clouds were rolling in. I had a few sprinkles on my windshield, but I decided I was still going for it. When I got there, Julie helped me launch out. I saw some amazing skies and a breif sunset before the storm clouds took over. There was so much wind pushing my little kayak around I was struggling to stay in one place long enough to take a photo. I resorted to paddling past where I wanted to be and I'd let the wind drift me backwards past my subjects and I would shoot frantically trying to lock focus as I drifted away.

It was probably a sight to see I'm sure and with an ever darkening sky and no stability to rely on I shot almost everything wide open at f/1.4 and a boosted ISO. It was truly a "spray and pray" technique. I did come away with a few interesting shots that are pure luck. Regardless of the fact that these aren't "portfolio" shots, these images are a fun memory of yet again another kayak experience of Spring Lake as well as a reminder that having the right tools makes a difference in bringing home a shot or not. Any slower of a lens, and I'm certain I wouldn't have anything. I saw some nice light that night and it's yet again a reminder to me that good gear or not, the most important thing about being a photographer is just get out there and shoot. You won't know until you try and even when the weather seems against you, there the possibility of magic to be seen.

    

    

    


Travel | Great Smoky Mountain National Park

I'm very excited to share with you all some images from a recent trip to Great Smoky Mountain National Park (GSMNP). First, I just have to say that the Smoky Mountains are amazingly beautiful. It is easy to see why this is one of the most visited National Parks in the USA. Tucked in within driving distance from the east coast, south and midwest, it easily gets a lot of traffic.

A 10 hour drive I traveled with 3 other local photographers, Bill Shaner, Tim Lester, and David Vernon. Yes, even as the only girl, I managed to hold my own and hike with the boys. I'm proud to say that I did this with minimal whining. I might have been a little tired and had feet that were ready to explode after two full days of hiking. I took my shoes off and vowed not to put them back on for the remainder of the trip. The hiking over 11 miles and 1700 of elevation was challenging at times for me. I hope in future to be in better shape to be able to go a little faster and a little farther. It was worth the feet of fire though, because at the end of each trail was a stunning waterfall; a display of nature's beauty just waiting to be photographed. The smokies delivered everywhere we went in the park. I can honestly say everything we saw was worth the drive or hike. If we'd had more time, I'm sure we would have enjoyed the rest of the park left unseen on this visit.

This will be a two part blog post sharing my favorite images from the trip as well as what I took on the trip to create my images. Let's begin with some of my favorites from the trip. For more details about the place, head over to my Smoky set on Flickr. I've given more description and details on locations within the park.

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Travel | Back from the Smokies

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I'm really excited to report that I am back from a trip to Great Smoky Mountain National Park. I had the pleasure of shooting with three other Peoria photographers and the park is undeniable beautiful. Images have been pouring into flickr from the trip. As I get all of my final images selected I will share a special blog post with you all.

In the meantime here are some fun facts about the trip:

  • Between all four of us, we pressed the shutter 2,750 times! 
  • We hiked 11 miles of trails over 1,770 feet of elevation gain.  
  • We saw 5 major waterfalls, one of which was an incredible 180 feet tall! 
  • We saw a plethora of wildlife including; deer, elk, herons, coyotes, black bears, and a snake. 

I can't wait to show you all more, so please stay tuned!

Travel | Especially in Michigan

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I'm still playing catch up with this blog, but I couldn't wait any longer to show some images from my summer vacation up to Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore in Michigan. It was a relaxing trip and the only photography I really did was in the evenings. Every night, we would head out the beach on Lake Michigan and watch the sunset while I snapped away beach scenes and made long exposures of the sunset and clouds. It was gorgeous every evening. There is nothing more relaxing than just listening to the waves lap against the shore while the setting sets the sky aglow with vibrant hues. It's just pure magic. 

I had a new toy to play with and focus primarily on taking really long exposures. Some of the ones you see below with obvious cloud movement are anywhere from 2-4 minute exposures. The really neat thing about this type of image is that you really capture moving time during one frame. Water is smoothed out, grass waves in the breeze, and clouds come alive. I'm really captivated by this kind of imagery currently and I hope I can get out to try it more. I used the B+W 10 stop ND filter to slow my shutter speeds. This filter is black. You put it on the front of the lens and you can't see anything. As you can see, it is a challenge in it's own right. You have to get your composition and focus all set before you put the filter on. If that weren't tricky enough, you also better really like what you just framed up because you are committing to not only the 4 minute exposure, but also the extra 4 minutes to noise reduce the image (assuming you have it turned on). This filter creates really interesting and dynamic images, but it also presents a new round of challenges. 

I hope you enjoy my beach images from Michigan and if you ever get the chance to visit, you won't be sorry.

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