Archive for 2011

I’ve been wanting to get Paige down to the end of our street where all these yellow flowers are blooming. However, when scouting out a location like this I have to take into consideration more than just the pretty background and light. I sometimes need to be sure there’s decent parking and a way to get my big, heavy props to the location. We managed to get the old, red chair down there, as you can see, but wish we would have had more time with the beautiful backlighting on her hair. So, here’s a few of my favorites from tonight, right before sunset, and also a pullback which looks like Paige is doing all of our heavy work returning the chair to the car. She really did pull it most of the way back!

Even though Paige enjoys getting ready for a mini session with Mimi (me) and she is great at helping me get everything set up, she’s really not that thrilled when we get going. Often she can’t wait to get off itchy clothing like these leggings I bought both of the girls. So, out of many, many shots this morning these two were the best.

I love this navy and raspberry color combination. The cool shades are my favorites and these are so popular this fall.

This past weekend I finally met Kali and her family of nine for their outdoor photo session. This has been planned for a long, long time starting with a gift certificate purchased for Christmas last year. Kali and I have had many email conversations about scheduling, what-to-wear, etc but this was the first time we met face-to-face. It’s a small world in NW Illinois, though, and I remembered her mother-in-law from classes at Highland and her mother worked with my son at one time. Our original plan for the session was early May but that day turned out to be too rainy so we all agreed to reschedule for last Saturday and I’m soo happy we did. The field was full of yellow flowers, the sky was perfectly blue with some clouds mixed in and the temperature was surprisingly warm. The bigger girls amazed me with their tumbling skills at only seven and four and one-year-old Reese just smiled and smiled! Who could ask for more than that?


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One beautiful August morning, I headed out to a field of Queen Anne’s Lace that I’d had been scoping out. Sena and her four children were charming and polite despite the very early hour. To catch that gorgeous early light you have to start early in the summer time. We were there by 8 am and captured these images of her growing children: Christian, Samuel, Sophia and Nathan – she’s so blessed. Sena is just a delightful mother, friend, runner and occasional assistant to me with newborns and families. Thanks for letting me capture this stage in your children’s lives.

Hi everybody,
Just a quick post for the last What-to-Wear for summer. A fall one will be out soon!

Summer is so short! We no longer take vacations during the summer as we love to spend time here and have family join us at the lake. We’re thankful they will come from Ohio and Iowa during the short summer months. We now prefer to vacation during the cold & miserable midwest winter if at all possible. We have been to the lake several times this summer and are looking forward to lounging on floats in the lake again this weekend. I’m sure the water has warmed dramatically since the last time we were there.

Last weekend, though, we did make our way to Madison with Dawn’s family to go to the Farmer’s Market. It was hot and crowded and overwhelming so we were all ready to leave after only doing half of it. Do you know it’s the largest in the country? We had a nice, cool lunch at the Great Dane after eating a whole loaf of warm cheese bread and sampling lots of cheese – it’s all about the cheese! State Street was just as busy due to Maxwell Street days and the patio of the union was packed, too!

On the way home, we stopped at Brennan’s in Monroe to get the rest of the ingredients we needed for Dawn’s special gourmet, grilled pizza. Everything but the fresh mozarella had been purchased at the Farmer’s Market. We were really proud of ourselves for dragging along a pull-behind traveler and a cooler in the car. We were all pretty exhausted at the end of the day! What are your favorite things to do in the summer time?

A couple more tips for you on photo processing: I use purchased actions for much of my blog’s photo processing. I always use MCP’s Crystal Clear Web Resize to prepare my images for this blog. On these images I also used the Pioneer Woman’s free Action Set 1 How nice of Ree Drummond to give away these actions and to provide so many, many wonderful tutorials on photography and photo processing. If you are an aspiring photographer, spend some time on the photography section of her blog. She has some Flickr groups, too!

IT’S ALL ABOUT the CHEESE

This last photo appeals to me so much: Lars, our son-in-law, is pelting his wife with some little beads off of the trees and in the background it appears that Grandpa, aka Gpa, is telling Erin another fanciful story about how his little finger became crooked (yes, it really is). Jim is so much better at this pretending and story-telling than I am. I love him for that!

Erin was a happy, little six-year-old last weekend. She was enthralled with this little monkey from one of the State Street stores and had it riding her Webkinz pet. Lovingly wrapped around her is the fabric we found at Hobby Lobby for her new, tied blanket. We located the perfect color fleece for the other side at JoAnn’s so she didn’t understand that it wasn’t going to get magically done and go right home with her that day.


Kelby is such a fun kid, now! He doesn’t talk constantly any more but when he does, it’s usually a conversation about animals – more specifically fish of all kinds. He’s a walking encyclopedia and though he’s a voracious reader and listener of fiction, he checks out just as many non-fiction books from the Iowa City library.

I’m sure this is the longest I’ve ever gone since I started blogging six years ago! I’ll never get caught up here with my sessions but I’m very anxious to share a few recent ones with you. First, there’s Brynlee in her six-month session. My fellow photographers know that six-month old babies are the best! They just smile and smile AND they stay where you put them. I actually prefer to wait until they’re sitting but Brynlee is here at six months and just one week and is a spectacular little sitter. Her mommy always brings such beautiful props, too – what a fabulous combination. Brynlee just gets Cuter and Cuter Every single Day!

I also took a series of family photos in my backyard aka Park Hills golf course and wanted to share the before and after steps:

    Recover any blown highlights in Lightroom.
    Adjust the white balance from my callibration target image.
    Open in CS5.
    Run Portraiture to soften skin and then Fade it.
    Reduce image to 8-bit from 16-bit.
    Do a Levels adjustment layer and a Curves adjustment layer.
    Flatten and then duplicate the layer.
    Use a Radial blur filter, reduce to about 20% opacity and on the mask layer, brush back in the family. This step really separates them from the background.
    I also cloned over a house in the back, left side a little and cloned over a few bare patches of ground with grass.

    Before Editing –

After Editing – just love her little toes in the foreground of the photo!

Since 2002, Jim and I have visited Disney a total of four times! We were not financially able to do it when our children were young but now our trips include both children and grandchildren for an even sweeter experience. Usually, my children are the tour guides and I just wander along after them; happy to relinquish the decision-making responsibility.

However, this time I decided to be informed and to “tech my trip” (a term coined by one of my IT friends). I started my research as soon as my daughter made our flight reservations on January 3rd. Through the advice of other Disney addicts at my work place, I started a paid subscription to the Touring Plans site. Touring Plans lays out a step-by-step day at each theme park so that you maximize your time and don’t get shut out of any of the rides or attractions. The plan is based on the age of people in your group and you can even customize it based on the day you have planned for each park. The Touring Plans website includes a printable calendar for each month with a key for crowd size, average temperature and recommended park based on a number of factors.

The first week we chose for our Disney trip was going to be either the week before or after Easter. After consulting the crowd calendar and learning it was rated a 10 out of 10, we switched weeks to April 30 to May 7th. A friend had visited Disney during Christmas week when the crowd level was a 10 and had waits of more than an hour and could not even ride one of the top attractions at Disney; Soarin’. In comparison, we were able to ride Soarin’ twice in one day just by following the touring plan’s advice and going there immediately upon arrival. We practically walked right on and them got our FASTPASS to return later. It’s difficult to walk right by character’s waiting for hugs but it must be done! You WIll see them on your way out. You quickly learn that most of the top attractions are located far away from the entrance!

The other key piece of technology information for us was acquired from the iPhone app of the Touring Plans website called LINES. Many people don’t realize that wireless internet access just isn’t readily available at Disney resorts or parks. My son-in-law was sure that his shiny new, iPad2 would be instrumental in helping us “do Disney but instead we depended on the LINES app on my phone to tell us the waiting times for each ride, the park hours, show times and more.

The best way to beat the post-Disney depression is to begin planning your next trip. The first step in that process should be to consult the crowd calendar from the Touring Plans website. Once you have decided on the week, you will be able to make your advanced reservations at Disney resort restaurants like Chef Mickey at the Contemporary. These reservations open up six-months prior to your arrival and fill up quickly!

Character Breakfast at Chef Mickey's

By using the Touring Plans blog and iPhone app, I learned about attractions that I never even knew existed after visiting Disney previously on three different occasions. So, right now – my app tells me if you’re at Hollywood Studios the return time for a FASTPASS to the Tower of Terror is 5:25 and they are all gone for Toy Story Mania! You should have gone there first!

These outfits just shout spring, don’t they? And today actually feels like it’s right around the corner. The birds are singing and the snow’s melting. I also like turquoise and brown together which also works great for this time of year. I usually recommend accessories for Mom like the multi-strand necklace shown here. They’re a fun addition to the outfit.

What to Wear March