Off to San Francisco!

Hello friends!

I’m off to San Francisco today with my family . . . we have a fun week planned!

Paris is off to a doggie hotel (AKA, a dog Kennel) where I’m sure she’ll be pampered and spoiled!  (Okay, I just hope she doesn’t freak out that we left her at a kennel!)

Life does not seem to slow down, so I hope to share more of my life on this blog when I have a second or two!

Over the weekend, I attended another lighting class from Nikon.  It really was just a review for me on how to utilize my Nikon speed lights.  The past four or five months, I’ve been shooting exclusively with strobes (strobes and speed lights are white balanced the same, but they are very different in wattage power) so it was nice to get re aquainted with my speed lights.  They are super portable, light weight, and as long as I have a wagon to tote my light stands, umbrellas and other hud around, I’m all set to take everything on the go!  Here are some shots with my speed lights:

this one was taken with an umbrella which wraps the light around the subject.

This was taken with a small soft box (1 foot by 2 feet) which creates more directional light.

This was shot with a speed light in a soft box and BRIGHT DAYLIGHT!  This was an interesting technique to learn!  I’ll post how to duplicate this shot on my photo blog when I get back from vacation.

This was shot in the shade with specular light.  The idea is to light up the face and evenly expose for the sun.  Unfortunately, when you do that, the sky blows out.  I would need to take another exposure to meter for the sky and blend the two images together in Photoshop to get the best of both worlds, but hey, what can I say . . . I just didn’t do it.

Hope you all have a lovely day!

As Told By My iPhone

I came across some pics on my phone that share some of the fun things I experienced on my trip to DC.   I must share some of these nuggets!  This is what my iPhone would tell you about my trip:

My poor, poor feet.  Walking 10 miles in flip flops is not the best idea . . .

This is a million dollar violin from the 1700’s.  I was sort of star struck when I saw it . . . kind of like I just met a celebrity.

This is the hat Abraham Lincoln wore the night he was assassinated.

This is the hope diamond which is worth a bajillion dollars.  It says it belongs to the “American People” which got me thinking . . . if I were to take it . . . would it really be a crime?  I mean, 1/312 million belongs to me!

This is the United Stated Capital Building with an extremely yellow color cast to it.  (What the heck was my phone thinking?  Doesn’t it know I expect perfect accuracy out of my cameras!)

And here it is again.

The capital up close

Self portrait on the gounds

Double self portraits!

The Library of Congress

The metro which was our preferred transportation everyday.

Truffle’s that look a lot like super expensive dog poop.  Did you read the sign?  $1,000 a pound!?  What the heck?  Do they think Donald Trunp shops at this grocery store?!

Oh my favorite sister!

Fabulous trip.

Yep.  It was F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S.

Jenn moves back to southern California this summer, and we already have plans to visit her and her family after they get settled back into their house.

Can we say: Disneyland and the beach here we come!  🙂


Mt. Vernon

Oh, Mt. Vernon.  500 acres of peace.

What a beautiful estate!  I can see why Washington loved his mansion so much!

This is the front of his estate.  Beautiful.

This is the view from the back of his mansion.  The Potomac river is just a stones throw away to the right.

Oh, see, there it is, the Potomac.   What a great view from his back yard.  It’s almost as beautiful as my view my patio in the Caribbean!

This is Jenn, and her husband Scott, and two of her kids, Zack (the shorter one) and Ike (the taller one).

He had a farm on his land, (I mean, what else are you going to do with 500 acres?!) and several other buildings.  Really, he had a little village behind his mansion!

Jenn and Scott . . . what are you two lovebirds talking about?

The gardens were precisely manicured.

The building on the right was part of the slave quarters.  It is now a gift shop, but as you can see by the length of the building, he had a lot of slaves.

George Washington’s original grave site.

This is where Washington is buried now.  He has an above ground tomb next to his wife on  his property.  30 + family members are also buried here.

I have no idea what this building was used for, but it was on his property.

This is the view from his back patio of the Potomac.

Oh, look at this darling Cardinal!

This building is the green house and the slave quarters are to the left.

Pretty amazing place, no?

Washington DC Trip Part 2

Note to all of you: If you plan to visit Washington DC and have high hopes of photographing really cool things in the Smithsonian, FORGET IT.  Anything really worth photographing (like the constitution and Jefferson’s book collection) CANNOT BE PHOTOGRAPHED.

Friends, that meant I lugged around a lot of camera gear for NOTHING.  To top it off, security at certain buildings, like the Capital Building, rivals airport security.

Here we have the beautiful White House.

It has LOTS of security.  I was sort of nervous taking pictures of it . . . check out those binoculars!  They probably know what make and model my lens was after looking through those!

This is also at the White House.  The detailing on the building is really beautiful.

I heard these townhouses across the street from the White House are reserved for dignitaries and other leaders of foreign countries.

The Library of congress was BEAUTIFUL.

Oh.  My.  Gosh.  STUNNING.

Look at the ceiling!  Look at the woodwork!

Look at the columns!  The murals!  The arches!  The statues!

Look at the architecture!  Really, do I need to say more?!  IT WAS GORGEOUS!

This trip really got me excited to take my kids to see our nations capital when they get a little older.  And by older, I mean like 12+ .  🙂

Washington DC Trip Part 1

See? I went to DC! I really did!

This was my first trip ALONE since I’ve had kids. That meant I had no needs to look after, no diaper changes (Dallin REFUSES to even LOOK at the toilet, let alone use it!) no little people hanging on my legs, no meals to cook, no cleaning, and no games called, “Let’s ask mom 1000 questions.”

It was a bit eerie at first, but I adjusted quickly!

Jenn and I walked the Mall (the national mall that is) on my first day. We walked 10 miles that day and let me tell you . . . MY DOGS WERE BARKING. I pulled out an ice pack from my backpack (See? I had an ice pack in my back pack. One of the many pounds added to my already overweight bag that exacerbated the “barking dogs” problem.) to ice my poor feet down toward the end of our day. OUCH.

Jenn took this picture of me in front of the Lincoln Memorial after like 14 attempts. (It’s OK Jenn, I know my camera is complicated and heavy.)

See this here? Jenn carried my backpack for like 15 minutes and she was DYING. Honestly, I don’t blame her. I was ready to get rid of it after wearing it for 15 minutes as well! If it wasn’t holding 11 pounds in camera gear, four pounds of water, extra clothes, my purse, our lunches AND ICE PACKS, then maybe it wouldn’t have been such a beast to carry.

Oh. My shoulders still hurt just thinking about toting that bag around for 8 hours.

Isn’t Jenn pretty?

Unfortunately, the reflection pond was under construction, so we just got to look at a big dirt pit. Beautiful.

This is the Lincoln Memorial.

This is the Jefferson Memorial which is right on the Tidal Basin. The Jefferson Memorial faces the White House and there is NOTHING obstructing the view between the memorial and the White House. All the trees have been cleared out and trimmed to allow Jefferson to always keep an eye on the White house.

These are some of the massive pillars at the Jefferson Memorial.

Here is Jefferson keeping an eye on the White house from his perch.

OK, I shot this to give you all a perspective. I was standing in front of the White House when I took this picture. Can you see how Jefferson has a clear view of the White House? I shot this image zoomed in to 200 mm. (That is far people, check out the image below.)

This is what the view really looks like from in front of the White House. The Jefferson Memorial is just a tiny dot at the end between all the trees. I shot this at 18 mm.

There is much more to come from my trip . . . stay tuned!

The Blossoms Are Here!

In case you were wondering . . .

I’m having a FABULOUS TIME!

(This flowering tree is just in front of my sister’s house.  I affectionately refer to her condo as “Hettle’s Cottage.”)

I miss David and the kids terribly though.  I’ll be home soon enough.  🙂

When Hannah found out she was’t going on this trip with me, she asked me to bring her back something very special.  When I asked her what that very special something could be she replied:  (Brace yourselves people!)


Yes.  I did not make that up.

So, I can proudly say my daughter was bought off for a free pair of chopsticks!  She also asked for some “dangling” earrings.

Well . . . DONE and DONE.

We have a full day planned today and part of tomorrow (then I fly home which seems to take all day).

See  you all soon!  I’m excited to share my pictures with all of you!

Washington DC Here I Come!

Today I’m cashing in on my belated birthday present (remember how my birthday was in January?) and I’m flying out to visit my sister in Washington DC.

By myself.

No kids.  No husband.  No dog.

For the next seven days, I will be completely unfettered from most of my responsibilities.

The dishses?  Hannah can load the dishwasher.

Landry?  David is talented in many areas, this includes laundry.

Meals?  Everyone can fend for themselves.  Just like every other day I’m here.  🙂

Bedtime routine?  David is the only one Dallin will listen to when going to sleep, so really, they won’t even know I’m gone!

I’m very excited to see the Cherry Blossoms in DC, and I planned my trip so I could see them at their peak.  (A much better time of year than yucky, cold January!)  My sister, Jenn, and I have lots of talking, shopping, and sight seeing to do!  She and her family will move back to California this summer, so this is my last chance to see the Capital with her!

I’m not sure I’ll know what to do with all my free time . . . I won’t have any needs to worry about but my own!  This will be my first trip away from my kids (OK, last year we went to Wichita for two days, but that was only about 72 hours) and I’m going to miss them!  I used to travel extensively before we had kids, so leaving on a trip was old hat to me, but now, it’s been almost five years since I have traveled alone. Meaning, without a little person hanging on my leg.  I’m pretty sure I’m going to feel like I left something somewhere . . .

I will try to keep my blog updated with my adventures, but no promises.  My laptop crapped out last week (last week was a doosey . . . the kids got shots which was not really a pleasant experience for anyone, I went to my aunt’s funeral, and Hannah got the flu which including vomiting 725 times.  That was all by Wednesday!) but we ordered a new one just in time for me to take on this trip.  (Remember how I’m school at AAU and I take classes online?  It wasn’t really an option to be computer-less for a week!  Plus, let’s admit it, I WOULD DIE.  Hello?  Not having access to my personal computer while on vacation?  Please, pause for a moment while I GASP!)

I hope to show you all the beautiful Cherry Blossoms on Capital Hill, but here’s the thing . . . even though my new laptop has Photoshop on it, the color on my laptop has not been calibrated.  I just can’t see myself posting images from a program without a calibrated color profile.

See what school has done to me?

The Palazzo in Las Vegas

Las Vegas is about the half way point between Los Angeles and American Fork, so we broke up our 10 hour drive by staying in Las Vegas one night on our way home.

David found The Palazzo for us and our hotel expectations will never be the same.

Goodbye Motel 6.  We never liked you anyway.

Hello Palazzo.  You are the long lost best friend we never knew, until a couple of weeks ago, and now we wonder how we ever lived without you.

The Palazzo opened in December 2007, and is part of the Venetian Hotel.  It is beautiful, and clean, and new . . . you can just smell the new-ness of the place.

Our view from the 37th floor was perfect for watching the pirate show, and fireworks from Treasure Island.

Our room had a step down lounge area and three (count them, THREE!) HD TV’s.

Dallin spent a lot of time with his cars on this marble ledge.

Yes.  we could get used to a place like this.

I convinced the kids that the bathtub was just like a pool . . . possibly more fun!  (OK, so the pool was closed after we checked in and it opened after we checked out, I had to convince them!)

What a novelty to all of us . . . watching TV in the bathroom!

This beautiful butterfly in the lobby of the hotel was made out of flowers.  Um . . . I’m totally borrowing this idea!

Bottom line:  We gave the Palazzo 5 stars!