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. 


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.

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 | Especially in Michigan


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.


Travel | Italy

I was so fortunate to visit some amazing places this summer. We visited Naples, Rome, and Pisa. I've been promising to post some of my photos for quite some time now. I won't hold out on you any longer. Here are some of my favorites from Italy (Italia).

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Chicago | Photowalking the Windy City

This is like sharing day in kindergarten and I'm sharing some fun I have with some other local photographers when I am not shooting fabulous couples. I usually hang with this fun and motley crew known as the "Peoria Flickr Group". We get wild ideas sometimes to attack an area with our shenanigans and take lots of photos in the process. We've made the rounds around Peoria before so we decided to take this trip on the road. Yep, we hit the rails and choo-choo'd our way up to Chi-Town for a day of fun and photography.

There were

10 of us in total

: Dave, Tim, Connie, Lynn, Lily, Bill, Laura, Maria, and Ivan, and yours truly. There are actually some fun shots of everyone from the group that Dave took, you can see them here. Here is Lily, Dave, and Lynn below.

We started off the day at Union Station. It has some fantastic architecture (duh! It's Chicago, after all!)

Then we hit the streets around the Board of Trade area. The morning sky was still grey and threatened rain drops on us. We had the companions of hungry pigeons when we visited Federal Plaza and just one of Chicago's lovely sculptures. This is "Flamingo" by Alexander Calder, which was installed in 1974.

We stopped for a quick lunch break and then made a few of us made a mad dash for a sweet camera shop,

Central Camera

. I was on a mission to buy 620 film for a gifted Argoflex 75. After playing in the camera store and a quick lesson on how to properly load my new 620 film. We headed out to see Buckingham Fountain. After some shots with both my digital camera and the Argo, we all posed for silly

"jumping" group shots

. Then

Bill got kissed by "Big D" the horse

. Ha!

We meandered on to the Chicago Institue of Art on our way to Millennium Park. Here is a front view and a little pretty nook on the side of the building with a fountain.

Then we stopped at a more modern Sculpture at Millenium Park. This is "Cloud Gate"by Anish Kapoor, also loving referred to as "The Bean" for it's shape. The sculpture was completed in 2005.

And a quick shot taken with the Argo 75.

We spent a lot of time here taking silly photos of ourselves in the reflective surface both on the outside and underneath the bean. Then we got together again for a group "phoon". It was fun to watch all the people taking silly photos of themselves in the bean. We even saw a wedding party. I'm sure it is a popular photo op spot. I took a few more downtown building shots from here and then we wandered on again. As you can see that blah morning sky turned into gorgeous blue skies with big white, puffy clouds! I loved it!

One more Argo shot. =)

We stopped over by Wacker Drive and the Chicago River again. Here is a very cool clock on 35 East Wacker Dr. Followed by a view of the Wrigley Building and Chicago Tribune simply by turning around 360 degrees.

One of the last shots I got before we finished up the day at P.F. Chang's for some good food and conversation was this shot looking down the Chicago River. Chicago is such a cool city.

It was a really fun time and a great place to photowalk. I hope we do it again soon, maybe even at night. I'd love to capture the skyline at night and visit Buckingham Fountain again at night! I, of course, have many more photos, and if I get a chance, I will upload a few more to share.