My favorite photos of 2011

I’m still learning to use my new camera, but I sure got a lot of practice with all our adventure this year. Here are some of my favorite photos.


We learned that bears like to eat dandelions



My daughter discovered the most fascinating animal at the zoo



I spent a little time in our back yard capturing ducks and lily pads



my daughter showed off her fashion sense



I trespassed in a beaver family’s back yard



I listed my 10 favorite places to be 



I got up close with some Poppies – I had no idea they were so hairy



I tried out the macro lens chasing down raindrops



My daughter and I explored Turnagain Pass in Alaska



I went tourist at Pike Place Market



I got all deep and philosophical about a Foggy Day



and I can’t finish this post without including another picture of the sweetest little girl in the world


The camera bag – and an epiphany

The camera bag – and an epiphany

Thoughts on Being in the Picture

I like to joke that no one really knows what I look like without a camera in front of my face. I’m THAT girl at parties: the one who hides behind the camera, capturing moments more than participating. The one who rarely actually appears in photographs…

Put Mom in the Picture

When I was first diagnosed with cancer, this really bothered me. For the first time ever, it was REALLY important to me that I have photos of myself, and photos of myself with my husband and daughter.

I wanted my family to have them – not just in case I died, but also to mark who I am right now, because I’m evolving. My looks are changing daily as my hair grows back. My outlook is changing daily as well; each new day brings a new challenge, and something else at which to marvel.

I’m trying to teach myself photography, and in that process, I spend a lot of time studying the work of some of my favorite photographers. Each has their own unique and identifiable style. What I’m learning is that a picture doesn’t just tell you about the subject matter in the frame, it tells you a whole lot about the photographer. You can see moods, attitude, approach… you can see respect, affection, and love.

The photograph is a record of the world as I see it

That realization eased my mind a bit about my absence from the photographs. I understand now, that I am in all those photographs that I have taken.

The photograph is a record of the world as I see it. It’s an opportunity to look at life through my eyes, to see what I see.

My hope is that someday in the future – when my daughter is 13/16/18/whatever, and mad at me because I wouldn’t let her stay up late/take the car/have my credit card/whatever – that she will, every once in a while, glance at one of the millions of photos I’ve taken of her, and see that the person behind the camera loves her with everything she has to give.

I can see my attitudes in the photos I’ve taken. I can see the difference between the photos taken to simply to document a place, thing, or an occasion, and those that seek out the magic of the moment. Mood, attitude, and approach do make a difference.

The camera bag of my dreams

Long before I had a real DSLR camera, I had my eye on a camera bag.  Not just any camera bag, a beautiful camera bag from Epiphanie Bags.  

After I was finally able to get my good camera this summer (with some help from my mom – THANKS MOM!), I bookmarked my dream bag, and revisited regularly. But purchasing the bag was out of the question. The price was prohibitive.

Not to long ago, I even posted the link on Facebook with the words, “sigh… someday.”


A couple weeks later that bag appeared at my door.

But here’s the thing: I didn’t order it.  

I don’t know who sent it to me.  It was delivered by the UPS guy with no note attached.

I laughed, I cried, I jumped up and down and squealed, even scaring my baby a bit till I convinced her it was a happy dance. I am completely in awe of this bag, and the kind, anonymous, generosity that caused it to become mine.


A Sense of Gratitude and Magic

I tear up every time I look at the bag, I also stand a little taller with that beautiful braided strap over my shoulder. That kindness now travels with me everywhere. Each time I reach for my camera, I am reminded of this generosity, and as I look through my lens at the world, I do so with a sense of gratitude and magic, and I hope that will show in my photographs.

camera bag

Thank you my friend, whoever you are. You have given me so much more than a gorgeous bag to cradle my camera. Bless you.

This is not a sponsored post.

Posh digs for a beaver

This is where the wealthy, well-to-do beavers live.



On our drive through Canada, we’ve encountered countless beaver dams and lodges, but this area covered acres of stepped dams with lodges back farther away from the road.


These little lakes created by the beavers were surrounded by babbling brooks, mosses, and wildflowers.


As it was, I spent quite a while traipsing around their back yard, and invading their privacy



I would have stayed longer, but mom and the baby were waiting (besides, I was wearing flip-flops and shorts – and walking through an area where all the little trees and bushes were sawed off by the beavers at ankle height)



After taking these photos while I was at a retreat in Union, I checked facebook and saw that a friend on holiday 35 miles away took the same picture at the same time. 🙂


Trillium are perennials, and picking the flower can damage the plant so much that it takes a few years to recover. In fact, it’s actually illegal to pick them from public lands in Michigan and Minnesota. So, just take pictures, friends.




yes, more pictures of my little adventure are on their way, but first: homework. The semester ends in two weeks, so all my procrastination is catching up with me.

What They Do: Discovering

I’m participating in Willette’s Joy of Love photography challenge this month because, ahem, I don’t have enough on my plate right now.

Today’s focus was photographing a loved one doing ‘what they do’ – in my case, that was Gem completely in awe of everything she discovers.


Today’s challenge was using natural light, and capturing the catchlights (the little bits of reflected light) in your subject’s eyes.  Of course, my challenge was the same challenge I have every day – keeping up with Gem enough to capture her face. I’ve got hard drives full of photos of the sides and back of her head. The girl does not have time sit for portraits, she’s got some exploring to do.




Oooh! There’s her face. Of course it’s backlit…


Then she was done. Just like that. No more discovering, she wanted a hug. I held the camera out at arms length to grab a shot of that hug, and finally caught the ever-so-faint catchlights in her eyes.

Reasons I Love Seattle: #1 Sunset Over Lake Union

Reasons I Love Seattle: #1 Sunset Over Lake Union

I was running late for a meeting, but I just had to stop and capture a couple shots of this sunset. I pulled over alongside the lake, rolled down the passenger-side window, and clicked away.




As I continued on my way to the meeting, the sunset intensified. Each time I pulled through an intersection, the break between buildings revealed a different sky, full of different colors. It was changing by the second.  This was during rush hour traffic. I was looking around for a place to pull over so I could catch some more shots when I pulled off on a side street – and in to gridlock.  The sunset, of course, completely blocked by the concrete monstrosity of a building where the road curved in front of me.  Now, not only was I late for the meeting, I didn’t get that additional shot I was looking for, and I was trapped in place by traffic. Crap.

It occurred to me at this point that the sunset was not there to stress me out, or even for me to “capture” on film; it was there to bless my day. At that moment, a spot opened up for me to pull a U-turn and get back on my way, and the next break between buildings revealed the Space Needle, backlit by a fully fuchsia sky. Breathtaking. And just for me. I did not capture that shot of the sunset, but it did bless my day.


This has been an amazing week, full of wonderful news and new opportunities.  Much of it I can’t discuss just yet.  As if full-time school, cancer treatment, and motherhood were not enough, I’ve had a few writing gigs come my way as well.  I’m stealing this idea from The Bloggess and creating a regular post that will link to some of my other writing on a (hopefully) regular basis, as well as drawing your attention to other creators of awesomeness on the web.

Me: As seen on…

Goodies: Five Fabulous (and Inspirational) Bloggers – I was asked to highlight 5 amazing bloggers, and when I did, I used the opportunity to describe one of the coolest literary events I have ever experienced.

Awesome people who mentioned me (or linked to me) in their posts this week

Chookooloonks: seattle jazz trip: on the jason parker quartet, and what became one of the most beautifully different nights of my life – the amazing literary event I described above, from the perspective of the headlining author, the beautiful Karen Walrond.

My favorite reads from this week

THXTHXTHX: Dear Instances Where I Don’t Have My Camera – I came across this post when I got home last night, after my experience with the sunset.  Amazing. You see how that works? 😉

Seattlest: An Interview with Nancy Pearl, Seattle’s Celebrity Librarian – Our libraries and librarians are so needed right now, and so underappreciated for the services they provide to our communities – and Nancy Pearl is a Seattle treasure.

The Pioneer Woman: Daisy the Dog – I love the Pioneer Woman, but I usually don’t highlight her because she already gets more hits than Google. However, this post reminded me of the cow I had when I was a kid. The one with the oh-so-clever name of Milky, who then calved, and I assigned the even-less-original moniker of Calfy for her offspring.  Yeah, my naming skills have improved since then. No, Milky and Calfy did not have this much access to the house.

Chatting at the Sky: 3 things to do when they don’t like your art – Another timely piece.  It’s hard to think of putting your work out there without thinking you’re putting yourself out there, but rejection comes with the territory. Here’s how to deal with it.