Category Archives: Family

In Camera Camera Tricks

Photography is my job and sometimes I just gotta have a little fun with my work. Having fun is a necessary component to inspire creativity and the interactive playing with these ideas with other creatives inspires new ideas.

Having watched a youtube video about prisms, I bought a few inexpensive items at the local Hobby Lobby and tried a few refracting in-camera tricks. There were several prism suggestions, I thought I’d just try working on two of them. First I tried a home made prism technique using three mirrors. The mirrors I bought were square, so I didn’t get the depth I needed for the lenses I used (but inexpensive rectangle mirrors were not readily available). Amazingly the square mirrors seemed to work even better with the iphone cameras because the lens on the iphone camera is flush on the camera body and angled for wide shots.

My models were having a field day with the contraption and their iphones and thus I got to be in a few shots, too.


BTS, behind the scene

With the benefit of my studio strobes, Angela angled the shot of me with her iphone to present me in a flattering light. This is a great representation of me because I could use an extra hand and if I could I would probably shoot two handed.


refracting light like a kaleidoscope
refracting light like a kaleidoscope

For my second trick, I used some little sticky “gems” at $2.99 for a strip of them, I wanted to sample how those would refract light. This one is a little trickier because I needed to trigger a strobe at the right distance and angle from behind me while I have the gems at the correct distance to be out of focus and blurry bubbles enveloping my subject. The light needs only skip across the beads to hit a facet or two on the gems, it seemed to work best if the light were pointed away and out. It was just off to the side and behind me. It would have been better if I used live view to see where the gems looked best in the image, but I pretty much always forget that I even have live view on my camera.

Angling light to add boka in camera

Experiment with how close the beads should be to the lens.

in camera boka,
Voila! In Camera Boka!


Pretty fun, huh?  Try it yourself. It’s easy, it’s fun and it’s under $10!




Christmas Portraits 2017

Making a family portrait is fun and special. You might think it’s not organic because you had to make an appointment but the fun is real and that makes the expression real and that makes it intentional family time. It will be a portrait you’ll cherish for generations.

And, if you need one, plan to get a headshot while your here, too!


Give Thanks for the Best Memories

Thanksgiving can be a difficult day for people without family to visit but sometimes the difficulty is especially for people WITH family to visit. Family that we love dearly but want to keep at arms length, or maybe the people who are the anchors in our lives but anchors that we feel might hold us back. But what is really holding us back?

Mothers and Fathers know us much more intimately than anyone else in our lives and maybe what is holding us back isn’t their over bearing love for us, maybe it’s that we know what they know about us.

We think we know so much of what others are thinking of us. The truth is, we don’t know. And, not only that, if what we think we know and we think it’s negative, we will suspect those that are closest to us of seeing us for only our faults because maybe that’s all we listen for when we talk with them. We listen for them to hurt us, and we listen intently, sometimes completely missing anything positive.

Stop assuming the negative. Listen, this is not the time to concentrate on GMO’s and fat and calories. Eat the friggin pie, gorge on the potatoes, scarf up the saline injected, genetically modified turkey. Food is the side topic this year, you know it has always been the FOOD that lets you down, like the boyfriend that doesn’t call you back the next day, you are left regretful. Ouch. Don’t take it out on your family this time! This Thanksgiving, the challenge is going Negative Free.

I once heard that it takes 7 positive expressions to offset ONE SINGLE negative. Why is it so hard to erase the negative? Any reprove can and will be hung around a person’s neck like a millstone, be aware of this before speaking because any hint of a reprove is for some reason the only words that will come to mind when those people think of you.  7 times 700 is sometimes not enough to clear it up. Murder is more easily forgiven.

And if you think the parent child relationship is difficult, dare we move on to the spousal relationship that may have gone sideways during the preparation of the meal? Electric knives may have been invented to cut the tension not the turkey.  Husbands listen up, remind your wife that she is fantastic. Tell her the food was terrific, – and this part is important — tell her loudly in front of the family – even as they pour on more gravy to camouflage the overcooked white meat. Assure her that you are proud that she made such a wonderful event for you all. “Here-Here!”

Wives, (moms, cooks, dishwashers) – don’t fret over the food, don’t worry if it’s not the best. DO compliment your family, don’t point out — ANYTHING — just don’t, just tip that wine glass and let it go.

Kids, help your parents in the kitchen, the less mom has to say to you the more likely you won’t hear any words you find “negative” or heaven forbid, “offensive” – so without prompting, be ready to give service.  TIP: Christmas is close at hand and there are tremendous bonus points to be made here. Play your cards right and the redeemable points will be better than Macy’s Star Rewards.

At the table, focus on the blessings of the year. Between chewing, have great conversation, ask positive questions, “what made you laugh hardest this year?” – “What was your favorite story this year that someone shared with you about their life?”  –  “What was the best thing you remember happening this year?” – avoid talking about the negative people in your life. Who lifted you up the most this year? How?

Listen with your heart. Pay attention in an honest way. If you can, record an interview with grandma or grandpa or Aunt Mary or Uncle Joe – discuss one of their favorite memories or how they spent a childhood Thanksgiving – maybe you have heard that story a million times – or maybe you really haven’t because you’d stopped listening? But your children’s children haven’t, they’ll appreciate in 30 years to have a recorded touchstone to their past.  Tangible photographs, written words, author the moment and cherish it in a scrap book. Don’t just prop it up on Facebook for it to dissolve into vapor with 22 likes.

But most importantly, live life right then and there with the people that are in front of you.  Leave your social media undisturbed for a while, treat your family like you would treat an old friend, be in the moment and truly be with whomever you are with this Thanksgiving. We all want to be “liked” because we all want to be listened to and we all want our turn to talk. Talk nice, don’t be guarded but don’t be bitter – laugh alot and listen well with purpose and enthusiasm.

Be REAL and be HONEST, just don’t be REAL HONEST. There does need to be limits. Remember, the Best Memories are THE BEST MEMORIES!

Enjoy the wonderfully confusing bounty of blessings that come of this, America’s First Holiday.


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From December 2013 – a family tree farm trip. I love this pic because I am pretty sure there was a minor disagreement when I popped out from behind a tree with camera at the ready. It has that momentary truce for mom look.
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Discussing the options vs. features of each possible tree. Congratulations to all the first runners up.
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The best memories are the best memories.

Coasting the Oregon Coast

Part of the fun of getting away is planning but sometimes just leaving on a whim is fun. What I find is the best part of the fun is meeting people and sharing the stories.

This trip was not planned. It was a last minute opportunity. Mike and I love the Oregon Coast, we have not been to Cannon Beach for a stay ever, we have gone to Bandon or Newport. I guess we like to drive. When you’re self employed you need to go far from the ever longer reach of the job to be sure it cannot tap you on the shoulder and remind you that you forgot something. We are successful but not successful enough that we can cover all bases when we want to get away from our screen printing shop in Seattle.

First stop was Astoria, it has been years since we’ve driven over that enormous bridge crossing the mouth of the Columbia River. That bridge spans 4 miles across. We took the exit off I-5 at Kelso and headed west on State Route 4 along the Columbia River toward the Pacific Ocean.  Never drove that route before, it was truly gorgeous and the weather was spectacular. We saw a bridge that was not the Astoria bridge that crossed the Columbia in a narrower spot, Mike thought that would be a fun place to cross and we could catch that larger Astoria bridge on the way back. We follow the road to this smaller bridge and see signs for a State Toll Ferry.  I think to myself that the signs must be old, the ferry probably doesn’t run anymore since they put a bridge in.  We get to the bridge, cross over the bridge but there are no “welcome to Oregon” signs and there are still signs to follow to a Toll Ferry ahead.  We’re thinking, isn’t that the oddest thing, a ferry out here?

We found ourselves on an island, looking at the map it was hard to tell it was actually an island, but it’s Puget Island. At the other end of this little island there is a ferry, it runs every hour. It holds about a dozen cars and it looks more like a large stainless steel raft. We get to the dock and have to wait about 20 minutes. There are about two or three other cars also waiting, that was about all – we caught the 10am ferry across. While we were waiting for the ferry we took up face to face chatting with an older couple from Boston, they were also headed to Cannon Beach. They had actually planned to take the ferry. We got to talking of many things not the least of which included their beloved Tom Brady and his broken cell phone and deflated footballs and how that directly related to our t-shirt printing. Then the woman asks me, “do you know Kick Spark Creative?” — Why, yes, yes we do. We have printed for them before. She tells us that this is her niece’s company in Seattle.  That was really fun to have a connection like that.

We got onto that ferry and it floated so quietly and peacefully down this narrow section of the Columbia and I swear if felt like we were somewhere so far away, like cruising down the lazy Mississippi and possibly an alligator might crawl onto the shore. I’m almost certain I heard a banjo off in the distance.  It was about a 10 minute cruise but a real highlight.

Columbia River, Astoria
At the mouth of the Columbia River is an authentic fishing town.
Seaside Resort, Cannon Beach, Oregon Coast, Sunset
The Seaside Resort town on the Oregon Coast just 4 miles north of Cannon Beach. That’s where the real fun is. Cannon Beach is about 5 degrees warmer but a little stiff.

We got to Astoria and found it was a good plan to take the ferry because the bridge was very backed up with construction. Astoria is still the genuine fishing town I remember driving through in 1989. Old but well kept buildings, clean streets, not too many panhandlers that we saw and although most of the fishing hands looked to be road hard and put away wet, they had good manners.  The main fish they were bringing in while we were there was albacore tuna. The temperature was 104 on Thursday and we stood in line outside of a converted gill net fishing boat called the Bowpicker. They make one thing, fish & chips. The catch? It’s TUNA. Fish and chips made with fresh TUNA.  O-M-G.

You'll see a line and you think, is it really that good? An hour? in 104 degrees? Really? Yes. Really
You’ll see a line and you think, is it really that good? An hour? in 104 degrees? Really? Yes. Really

We stood in line with a very nice couple, they were our kids’ age and amazingly didn’t have their faces glued to a cell phone – maybe they wished they had as maybe they tired of our chit chat to pass the hour in the blazing heat as we waited.

friends at the bowpicker
Standing in line in 104 degree heat waiting for the “tuna and chips” at the Bowpicker with Elaina & Steven

While at Cannon Beach, we met some really great families at a pizza joint. The irony of this pizza joint in Cannon Beach is that, like the Bowpicker, the restaurant specialized in one thing (pizza) and there was a crowd of different families waiting for one of 3 tables on the patio. No air conditioning in the restaurant and it was very hot. Because this place is right off the beach it doesn’t have to be good. However, unlike the Bowpicker, their pizza was not that great, and that’s how I met this next family.  We had gotten a table and we were waiting for our pizza. This family of 4 had a table beside our’s on the patio and they had just started eating their pizza. I noticed the dad biting cautiously and looking at the pizza suspiciously. I leaned over and inquired, “how is it?” he said, “it’s okay.” Then his wife quickly turns around and says in this thick UK accent, “It’s horrible, he’s just being nice.” I laughed.  Mike and I were sipping a cab sav and I said to Mike, “Oh geez, maybe you should go cancel.” But he was too late. So we joked with the other table about the horrible pizza for a little bit and come to find out, they moved to Ballard area about a year ago from the UK, the husband’s business is with promoting the game of rugby here in the states. I said, “Oh, we printed a job for Serevi about 2 years ago, something to do with Sevens” He tells us that, yes, that’s who he’s here to work with, but they’ve changed the name of the line now and we talked on about who’s who and what’s what.

Another family came to scout out a table as we were getting ready to leave, a really nice family from Missouri. We had them sit with us while they waited and we finished, I gave their son Jack the rest of our pizza so they could “try before they buy”   I forget how old the boy was, I remember being quite surprised because he seemed like he was older, so well mannered, friendly and well spoken.

We left the pizza place, went back to the beach to take a few sunset pictures.

The next day, I took photographs before 9am from a cliff at Ecola Park. We met there with a great couple from Bozeman, Randy & Gina. We solved the world’s problems as we stood in the sun at the park at our mini summit, the solutions came easily, only took about an hour. I forget now exactly what the problems were, but that’s just as well because the problems have solved.


Sunset Cannon Beach 2015
Sunset Cannon Beach 2015
Ecola State Park overlooking Cannon Beach
Cannon Beach, Ecola State Park








Lights Out!

In an unanticipated turn of events, well, let’s just say that I’ve had better days.

Sunday afternoon, hoping for sun in order to do some beautiful park photos but planning for rain and as it was, it was rain.

So there I was at 3pm, situating my studio for an engagement/family session expecting a group of three.  In preparation, I wanted to test my lighting setup and while my son was here, it gave me an opportunity to go through a short check list for focal distance, V-Flat situating, lighting, shadowing and some good grouping.

I use the Elinchrom Quadra RX with the A heads.  I had the modeling light on (which is a constant “on” before a flash) using the deep throat octobox.

After a few snaps and adjustments, I had it perfect, gorgeous even. The shots I have of my son, I couldn’t be more pleased. I really am thankful that he is a willing accomplice for me.

My clients are prompt, arriving at 4:30 and it’s always just a little nerves at first.  Starting with their daughter, she is adorable and that is always a good ice breaker to get into a rhythm. But then a small catastrophe. Three snaps in and the flash goes dead.  I go over to check the cables and see the LED panel on the power unit is flashing non-stop and not recycling the charge.  This has never happened before. I’ve had this set since July 2011 and only a few hiccups at the beginning of my learning curve, but for the most part this set has been fabulous.

Trying not to panic, yet all of my creative ideas dissipate as my mind changes gear to tech mode, desperately searching for a quick and calm solution as not to lose their momentum.  I assume the unit needs to cool down and possibly we can take a little adventure to the park for some outdoor shots and give the system time to cool.  There was a small break in the rain and they were willing. Phew.

I ran upstairs to get the propers that I’ll need, you know, lenses, cards, strap, bag. A whole new direction. My mind is trying to process some new poses as I try to crush my disappointment about possibly having to send the unit in for repair.

As I am upstairs gathering my gear and my thoughts I hear below me in the living room the sound of a dog in the throes of hurling up his breakfast. I race downstairs and try to grab him up to put in the yard before it gets on the rug but Oh!  Not quite in the nick of time. Why is this happening! I grab the paper towels and clean it the best I can and rush out the door.

As we head for the park, it starts to rain. I do have an umbrella and a place or two that can work. We do get a few good ones yet I am still assuming that I am going to get back to my studio and the unit will have cooled down and I will be able to resume with my original plan as it starts raining pretty hard now.

We get back to the studio, I hold my breath and press the button. Still blinking.  I try swapping cables, changing the bulb head, changing the fuse and the power pack. Nothing. Not going to work.

I put on my 600ex canon flash and put my trusty Westscott Ice Light on the boom stand and try to situate the light the best way I can without taking too long.

Since I didn’t have a larger light source I wasn’t able to do the poses the way I had anticipated earlier.

The following first few images are the last taken with my Elinchrom Ranger Quadra before it died.  I shipped the unit today to Chandler, Arizona, the C.R.I.S. Service department for Manfrotto and I really hope the repair is possible and the cost reasonable.

Thank you Jahna & Arsenio for being so kind and forgiving with the equipment malfunction. What timing. We will meet again, we will do this thing!

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Elinchrom flash with the octobox modifier produces beautiful wrap around lighting.
2015March_studio mikey_100-Edit
Goofing around trying to demonstrate how a group might fit into the frame.
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I never get tired of seeing this one’s smile.

Here are some of my favorites from the shoot after switching gear.

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Ice light in front and onboard flash bounced from the ceiling. Kind of flat lighting, but it was what we had to work with.
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Undercover at Discovery park. Pretty cute.
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In the rain. I love these trees at Golden Gardens. I encourage this shot any chance I get.

Kind of a long post this time. Thanks for dropping by and hangin’ in to the end!

Until next time, Ciao!




We spent our 29th Anniversary weekend at the Lake Qunault Lodge in the Olympic National Forest.  The lodge was built in 1926 and in 1937 President Franklin Delano Roosevelt visited the lodge. The dining room then became known as “The Roosevelt Room” ever since. The menu of what was served that day for dinner is posted outside of “The Roosevelt Room.” There didn’t appear to be choices, it looked like a menu from a traditional supper club with the side dish being a gelatin vegetable ring and cottage cheese.

Although the rooms are not at all luxurious by today’s modern expectations, the lodge itself is beautifully kept.  There is no cell phone service in the area and there are no televisions in the rooms. There are in the rooms the old radiators that creak and rattle all night. The community area is spacious and inviting for what I imagine would have been typically a place to congregate in the evenings or on rainy days to keep dry and socialize by the enormous fireplace that was never without a fire while we were there. Reminiscent of an era that we literally watched evaporate in our lifetime with the advent of social media.  And although there is no television nor cell phone service in any of the rooms nor in any of the community areas, there is wi-fi.  It’s a wonderful place to bring the kids to experience “what was” and the natural beauty of the Olympic National Forest.  Leave the social media devices behind if you dare.

You’re probably thinking by now, what do I mean by “evidence?”

I had listened to a podcast of a business coach talking about documenting evidence of progress, her thought process was that – in business – you set some pretty lofty goals and it’s easy to not reach those goals when you don’t really see any evidence of progressing toward those goals. In effect, make a log of those instances that you can identify as ‘evidence’ that you are actually moving in the right direction.

There is a good bit of time to talk while driving to the Olympic National Forest and on our 29 year anniversary, what would be a good idea to discuss? We do have a business together and we do discuss how to progress with that, but what about our marriage? We are together, we are very content in our relationship and yet we hear about others that divorce well past 35 years. So on our drive back I asked my husband, “what evidence did you find that we would remain married another year?”  He thought it sounded like a silly question, probably because he didn’t listen to the same podcast.  Being me, I prodded for some kind of answer by telling him the small details that I noticed when things were done in for the sake of the other and with gratitude and kindness.

It would be easy to just be stubborn and comfortable by neglecting one another’s needs and desires, just being selfish while still complaining of the same old same old, knowing that it’s cheaper in the long run to stay married and miserable, content without effort. It is complicated to be assertive and aware, facing new challenges together, appreciating old ideas with new gratitude and fresh thoughtfulness. As we get older and wiser we also become forgetful and lazy.

So here’s to another year, 29 in and 29 to go!

Lake Quinault
At the Lodge at Lake Quinault
Olympic National Forest
Lake Quinault lodge in the Olympic National Forest
Rainforest at Olympic National Forest area near Lake Quinault
Rainforest at Olympic National Forest area near Lake Quinault
Lake Quinault as the fog lifts
Lake Quinault as the fog lifts
lots of ash trees
lots of ash trees
olympic national forest Merriman Falls
Merriman Falls near Lake Quinault
Walking in the Rainforest near Lake Quinault
Walking in the Rainforest near Lake Quinault
Cascade falls
Cascade falls
Lake Quinault
Lake Quinault
Rain Forest Lake Quinault
Tree Conchs.
Foggy Morning on Lake Quinault
Lake Quinault in the fog
Olympic National Forest
Cedars in the Olympic National Forest
Olympic National Forest
Into the Woods, the Rainforest at Lake Quinault
Olympic National Forest
Inside the Lodge at Lake Quinault

Christmastime in Leavenworth

There’s something more interesting to me than just the Christmas lights when I see  this series of photos we took in Leavenworth on Tuesday night.  Look at the sky.

The last two, something appears in the sky over the hotel. What is it?

The first image, I’m testing my exposure (and i have to say that I was extremely proud of myself because it looks pretty good). However I didn’t set the auto timer long enough and you can see my arm streaked in the lower right corner.  And the flash didn’t go off either. Notice there is nothing visible in the sky.

In the second shot, I did manage to get into the frame but didn’t stand still the entire 5 seconds.

Third shot, we did really well, but a water drop is on the lens right on top of us.  This is also the frame when the light streaks start to appear in the sky over the hotel.

Last frame, nailed it. (four tries, not too bad) – and the streaks are higher and smaller than in the third frame.  Each frame was 5 seconds and in between were probably 20 or 30 seconds to check the photo and recompose. It was about 10:30pm, December 16, 2014



First Frame, Flash didn't go - notice there are no streaks in the sky over the hotel
First Frame, Flash didn’t go – notice there are no streaks in the sky over the hotel
Night Photography
Second Frame, exposure is pretty good but we didn’t realize how still we needed to be.
Looks pretty Good, but a couple rain drops are on the lens. I wipe them off. Notice the streaks in the sky behind us over the hotel?
Looks pretty Good, but a couple rain drops are on the lens. I wipe them off. Notice the streaks in the sky behind us over the hotel?
Best and final shot, lighting is great, we didn't move. It's not raining. And the streaks over the hotel are diminishing.
Best and final shot, lighting is great, we didn’t move. It’s not raining. And the streaks over the hotel look like they’ve floated up higher.