Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Making of a Fairyland

The last month or so has been filled with all kinds of fun things!

We've had an engagement party for which there is only one photo (of a cupcake!) because 60 people stuffed into our little dollhouse kept me hopping, and prevented me from lifting my arms high enough to take any photos, it was that crowded. (People ate soup in the hallways because all the rooms were full.)

Henry's mom celebrated her 80th birthday surrounded by family, a really blessing after her cancer diagnoses. Thankfully, it's treatable and we are all praying those treatments go well.

I attended a delightful bridal shower for my niece Rachelle who was in town for Grandma's birthday. Wait until you see the pictures! My sister-in-law Evelyn put on an amazing tea. . .

I photographed Brad and Amanda's wedding.

Had a sweet little girl in the studio for her first birthday.

Enjoyed spending time with Doug and Val for a couple's session in their own (fabulous) back yard. ( I even managed to persuade Doug to play with bubbles! ;D )

I also had a couple of sweet kids in to play dress-up and captured some wonderful photos of them to use in my ongoing Photoshop Artistry course.

You would not believe the amazing art my fellow classmates have been making! It's quite astounding.

You can check it out in the second edition of Awake magazine.

Awake.  (*Please note. This is an art course, so you may find some of the content to be risque.)

My own work leans towards fantasy and fairytale. I love an imaginary world . . .

As you know, fairies are notoriously shy, and it took some sneaky maneuvering in the forest to capture this one.

It's not often I manage to have a camera at the same time a fairy portal opens.

And if the fairy had seen me?

Poof! That portal would have been gone before I could blink. . .

How adorable is this one?! But shhhh! if you've ever seen her, or even think you might know her, keep the fact that she's been spotted to yourself. She's the shyest of shy fairies and would be mortified to know she'd be seen. ;D

Now I'm off to do more work to get ready for my Grand Adventure next week.

Have an amazing week! :D

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Monday, March 30, 2015

Life without Friendship is like the Dawn without the Sun.

So begins a poem on friendship by Marsa

I don't know about you, but I've found that making time for friends is something that's the first to go when life gets busy.

And these days, when isn't life busy??

I have several wonderful friends, all of them the kind you can go for months without seeing and then pick up right where you left off.

It's a precious gift.

However . . . there's nothing better than regularly spending time with the people you love , so a couple of months ago I made a commitment to myself to visit with a friend at least once a week. And the visit has to be a face to face visit. Virtual visits don't count here. (I'm not knocking a virtual visit mind you, that's the only way I get to hang out with my sisters most of the year.)

So far I'm doing quite well. I missed this week but it was a week filled with new people, which I thoroughly enjoyed, so that was nice too.

I'm still hard at work on my Photo Artistry course and as a way to practice some of my Photoshop skills, I tried out a tutorial on making a beautiful thank you card.

I made mine for all my dear friends.

Life wouldn't be the same without you . . .

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Friday, March 13, 2015

Fairytale Friday. 'Fiona and the Snails'

You would not believe the trouble Fiona Fairy got into last week!  She snuck up into the attic while her mother was out choosing the prettiest pansy petals for Fiona's summer dress and discovered this . .  .

The things her mother said when she came home and discovered the smartie jar nearly empty and Fiona and the flying snails piled together in a moaning heap. Green faces and big bellies told the the whole, sad, sorry tale . . .


I decided to take yesterday afternoon and evening off from my regular work and catch up on my Artistry course. Several classmates had found a tutorial on a new technique and were each putting their own spin on it and I decided to join in .

 If any of you bought my calendar this year you might remember my 'Smarties in a Jar' photo (February). I used that image as my starting point.

And then I really had some fun. Last week I found an amazing site filled with the sweetest painted fairies and I couldn't resist getting a few and telling the story of Fiona and the snails.

I love Fairytale Fridays!

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Monday, March 9, 2015

Brad and Amanda. An engagement Session

"Excuse me . . ."

I turned around and looked at the woman.

"Are you a professional photographer? Is this an engagement session?"

"Yes I am and it is." I smiled.

"Did you book ahead and pay the $75 fee?"

I was confused. "No, when I phoned a few weeks ago I was told there was no fee and no need to book ahead."

"Well I don't know who you talked to, but I'm the garden center's manager and there is a fee and you must book ahead."

And that is how Brad and Amanda's engagement session began.

Luckily for me, Brad's known me most of his life and believed me when I said I had phoned ahead and asked. The manager did not. Although, she did offer to let us pay the fee and continue even though we hadn't booked ahead.

We declined and headed back into the city while I racked my brain for another indoor venue we could use. The problem was, all the places I had checked out ahead of time required prebooking and some rather steep fees.

Time for plan B. We headed to the Museum and did the remainder of our session outside. Thankfully, it was only rather chilly as opposed to spectacularly cold. (although I do wish I had remembered to pack my hand warming packets)

I so enjoyed the chance to take their engagements photos. Brad and Morgan (my oldest son) have been friends since the day they started kindergarten so this was special to me.

 He's family.

After playing outside at the museum we headed to Joey's restaurant to warm up and have supper while we waited for the sun to go down. Amanda wanted to try for a photo of the two of them under a street lamp in the dark. She also thought it would be great if it was snowing while we did it.

I told her it wasn't something I'd done before, but I was always game to try something new as long as they understood that this was experimental and there were no garuntees.

I was pretty sure I was going to need to have a flash off the camera to make it work but my external flash couldn't be triggered if it wasn't mounted on my camera. I figured it was worth a try without a flash anyway.

I had scoped out a nearby neighborhood for good spots to try this and we headed over there after we'd eaten. It wasn't snowing and the first lamppost we tried didn't even give off enough light for my camera to focus. The next one was better but I was sure glad I'd been learning how to do more in Photoshop. This photo was definitely  going to need some work . . .

Here's the result of our day together (and several hours in Photoshop for the street lamp photo. ;D )

I can't wait for the wedding!

And, because I love a good slideshow video:

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Friday, February 27, 2015

FairyTale Fridays

As most of you know, I love to read. As a kid, nothing was more enjoyable than a long, leisurely visit to the library on a Saturday morning.

One of my favorite spots in the library was the fairytale section. I read every. single. Brothers Grimm book they had, and a wide assortment of fantasy novels began to stack up beside my bed, ready for midnight sessions with my flashlight under the covers.

I still love a great fantasy/fairytale story.

About a year and a half ago I bought an online Photoshop Artistry course with the idea of creating visual Fairy Tale stories. It was pretty complicated and intense though, so I kept avoiding even getting started. In January, Sebastian, who teaches the Artistry course, launched a year long course designed to help you think, live and create like an artist, with the idea that over the year you would work through the original course and the new one together, getting assignments and inspiration every two weeks.

I couldn't resist it and managed to be one of a limited number of people accepted into the course. (The number of people accepted was limited so he could give us all individual help when we needed it and I definitely need it!) I made it into the course by setting my alarm for six o'clock in the morning while on a romantic get away with Henry on New Years Eve . . .

Not particularly romantic I know, But what's a girl to do? ;D

And I was as quiet as a mouse while I was doing the happy dance after I got in. Henry didn't hear a thing.

Since then I've been working on some  images I took last fall of my niece and nephew Clara and Andrew. They did an awesome job of dressing up and playing pretend with me. That gave me the first image in the story running through my head. I posted it on Facebook.

A few weeks ago I decided to step it up a bit and really start learning new techniques and began to search for a variety of images I could combine into one Fairy Tale 'story'.

I decided to continue the story I started with Andrew. First there was a gorgeous landscape image by Vladim that came in one of my Design Cuts deals, a lovely Elf from Faestock on Deviant Art, and the owl and wolf that appeared in my first fairytale image. Then came the hard work of making it all into a believable story. I'm a rank beginner but I'm having too much fun to care that it's far from perfect. Time and practice will help with that. (Not that anything's ever perfect of course . . . ;D)

I've been working on this off and on for the last few weeks so I'm hoping no one drops by unannounced over the week end.

My house is not fit to be seen and my cupboards are bare.

Good thing Henry and the kids are old enough to fend for themselves . . . . 

Here's the newest installment in my FairyTale Friday series:

And, in case you missed it, here's the first part of the 'story' . . .

Aren't stories awesome?!

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Celebrating Special Occasions

 I love celebrating special occasions.

Often I'm 'too busy' with day to day stuff that just has to be done right now to take the time to make these occasions extra special.

 Well, last week I made the time. It was my dear friend Nicole's birthday and it deserved to be celebrated with style.

The first thing to decide was the menu. Nicole loves homemade soups and salads so I started there. Potato soup is always welcome on a chilly winter day so out came the carrots, celery and onion, along with garlic, potatoes, chicken stock and seasonings. Lots of chopping , a bit of sauteing, a long simmer, then a quick whiz with the immersion blender and . . . voila! Delicious homemade potato soup!

My plans for a homemade dessert were scrapped when I started to run late, but I found the perfect substitute at the grocery store.

Out came the prettiest table cloth I could find, my china got a quick rinse to get the dust off and the kettle was put on to boil for some fragrant green tea.

A bit more chopping to add veggies to my baby greens, a good oil and balsamic vinegar and I was pretty much ready to go.

We had the loveliest time.

It was such a pleasure to slow down and make a delicious lunch for the two of us. I could have just put the soup pan on the table and grabbed a couple of everyday bowls from the cupboard and we still would have had a lovely time.

Adding in the pretty little details just kicked it up a notch and allowed me to express how much our friendship means to me . . . .

Happy Birthday Nicole!

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Friday, February 13, 2015

A Visit to Greenland Garden Center

I went to Greenland garden center last week to see if it would be a good place to take engagement photos.

I, of course, figured I might as well make it a bit of an adventure and asked my sister-in-law Evelyn to come with me. She's an avid gardener too.

There are days I really miss having my sisters close by and I really appreciate having sisters-in-law to go on little winter outings with me.

We pulled up into the parking lot after we'd finally managed to navigate all the crazy road work, talking about everything under the sun. It was the perfect start to the perfect day.

I hadn't been to the garden center for a few years and I was blown away when we walked in. It was such a lovely place to spend a chilly winter day, eating lunch, and getting inspired for the up coming garden season. It turns out it's going to be great for engagement photos as well! Whoo Hoo!

Rather than ramble on about our visit I'm just going to let you enjoy it in pictures . . .

Spring will come again! 

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