Photo of the day: Autumn tableau

by DaniGirl on October 9, 2015 · 0 comments

in Photo of the Day

I picked up these sunflowers for my porch portraits earlier this week, and when I was cleaning up afterward I started playing with the placement of the sunflowers, a couple of pumpkins I also picked up for for porch decorations, and my little vintage step ladder. There’s nothing more fun than having a few minutes to play and work a scene.

Autumn tableau :)

It’s a lovely little Thanksgiving still life, isn’t it? I’m very thankful for pretty colours and fresh vegetables and happy sunflowers!


One thing I really, really love about having had the blog all these years is finding these little morsels of joy. I wrote this for me six years ago, and I was right — I had forgotten almost all of these things, and each one of them is exquisite and worth remembering. For #TBT (throwback Thursday), here’s a treat from the archives – October 2009.

Lucas in the land of chalk drawings

These are the things I want to remember about life with 20-month old Lucas. I write them here because they are ephermal, because they’ll disappear in the blink of an eye or the beat of a heart and I won’t even notice they’re gone, and someday I’ll be sad that I didn’t capture them a little bit better.

I want to remember how he says “Yeah!” with such enthusiasm when you ask him a question, like “Do you want to wear your Bob the Builder jammies tonight?” and he says it so that you cannot mistake the exclamation mark at the end.

I want to remember how he grabs me around the neck and squeezes hard when I pick him up, often crushing his face into mine in a sweetly aggressive sort of mashed-up kiss, as if he has just a little bit too much love for an ordinary hug and kiss to express.

I want to remember how even though he is perfectly capable of saying “Nimon” he calls both of his brothers “Tittan”. He started out calling them “Ninon” and “Ninnan”; now, they are the two-headed brother monster with one name.

I want to remember how he begs for whatever bit of tasty treat you’ve got not unlike a labrador puppy might, by standing as close to you as he can making obvious eye contact with you, all the while encouraging you to share with a musical “Mmm hmmm! Mmm hmmm!”

I want to remember how he must be just like his big brothers in all things, and how he loves to draw when they draw and play with lego when they play with lego. I really don’t think it’s occured to him that they are any older or any different than he is.

I want to remember how he loves certain videos and how he asks for them by ‘name’. Bob the Builder is of course “Bob!” (always with the audible exclamation mark) and Blues Clues is “Puppy!” The Muppets episode with Mark Hamill is less easy to convey; he gargles in the fashion of Angus McGonagle, the Argyle Gargoyle who gargles Gershwin. I’ll need to get the new Flip video camera out for that one, I think.

I want to remember how he loves for us to sing “Old Macdonald” in the car, and how when we pause to allow him to name an animal, he says “Cow!” each and every time, over and over again. (And yes, the exclamation mark is audible on that one, too. I think like any new skill that gets acquired by a toddler, he’s busy incorporating the exclamation into his repetoire through fierce and constant repetition.)

I want to remember how hard it is not to laugh when he is vexed and falls to the floor in a disappointed heap, not exactly throwing a tantrum but utterly exasperated by being denied the whimsy of his desire.

I want to remember his good ear for mimicry, and how he can repeat several words in a sing-song of sounds even though he’s only stringing together a word or two at a time. He will stack up a couple of blocks and then look at me and say, “Don’t you do it!” daring me not to knock over his tower the way he knocks down the ones I build for him. And he is pitch-perfect in capturing my tone as he climbs up onto the table and then scolds himself: “Git DOWN!”

I want to remember the way he chortles with glee and relief when we say it’s time for “Blankey and Soo” the bedtime duo. “Banky Sooooooo” he repeats.

I want to remember the way he looks solemnly into my eyes each night as I tell him the story of his day, agreeing with “Mmm hmm” to the key points, around his mouthful of soother.

I want to remember how utterly beautiful, and exasperating, and exhausting, and fulfilling it can be to parent the ball of curious and relentless and lovingly adorable energy that is Lucas at 20 months. It’s so hard to believe some days that it won’t be like this forever, that it might not be like this next month…

I cried when I read this again. Wasn’t this just yesterday? And how, how, HOW had I ever forgotten how he called both brothers by the same name? Even now, he refers to them as “the brudders.” And how he used to gargle when he wanted that Muppets movie – priceless.

I think maybe I’d better get to work writing a post that captures the boys at 7, 11 and 13, before the wonder of now is lost to the rushing sea of time.

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Most of the time when people come to the porch for portraits, there are little monkeys that I have to chase, cajole, and wrangle. You can imagine how lovely it was, then, to work with this pretty lady on some headshots for her website. Not once did I have to wipe her nose, make a raspberry noise to get her attention, or ask her who has the stinkiest feet in her family to make her laugh – but I did haul out one of my stinkier knock-knock jokes, because the session just felt incomplete without it.

headshots on the porch-2

The funny thing about the photo above, which is my favourite of the day, is the brick wall. When we were talking about the look she wanted to achieve, she’d said how much she liked the feel of the porch from my portfolio photos, and we joked that what she didn’t want was something “in front of some brick wall in retro black and white.” Well, it IS in colour, a least! đŸ˜‰

The vibe we were going for was cozy and comfortable – I think we nailed it here.

headshots on the porch-3

And sometimes it’s just nice to have a simple photo of a pretty lady.

headshots on the porch-1

It still surprises me sometimes that people actually pay me to come to the porch, hang out and chat for a while, share a few laughs, and let me take pictures of them. Is that not an awesome job or what? And let me tell you, when there are no toddlers in the picture, pardon the pun, it hardly even feels like work at all! :)

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It was such a lovely, lingering summer, wasn’t it? Not everyone loves a warm autumn, though, and just a week or so ago, I was looking at the trees and wondering if our fall foliage season would be a bust. Now that we’ve had a few cool nights, though, and a soaking rain or two, the trees are beginning to shine in their lovely autumn reds, oranges and yellows.

306:365 Autumn leafy goodness

Families love portraits taken against that warm, colourful fall backdrop, and I’m also a bit of a weather geek, so I’ve been collecting resources for tracking the fall colours across Ontario and Quebec. I thought I’d share them, in case anyone wants to chase the brilliant autumn foliage this long Thanksgiving weekend. Here’s five sites you might find useful, skewed to those who live around Ottawa in Ontario, Quebec and the nearby United States.

Autumn spiral

400Eleven Colour Progression Report
: This neat site shows the percentage colour change, predominant leaf colour and suggestions for best locations for viewing fall colours throughout Ontario, broken down by region.

537:1000 Shiny tree

Ontario Parks interactive fall colour map: Ontario Parks has put together a neat interactive map that shows the dominant colour in each provincial park, and then gives a text description below of the dominant colour, colour change percentage and best viewing locations. I like the fact that it also states when the information was most recently updated, so you know how recently the information was posted.


Quebec Original fall colour map: Tourism Quebec offers a similar if not simplified map of the colour progression across southern Quebec. It only provides an assessment of whether a region is early in the fall colour season, nearing peak, mid-peak or post-peak.

leafy bokeh

Gatineau Park Fall Rhapsody: For those of us in the capital region, the National Capital Commission is hosting a series of events (this is the last of three weekends) to celebrate autumn, including a list of the 12 best places in the park to enjoy the fall colours. (Some of you may also read this as 12 places to avoid this weekend!)

Autumn leaves

US Fall Foliage Prediction Map
: This is actually the tool that set me off looking for a Canadian equivalent. I sort of expected Parks Canada might have put together something similar. Those of us relatively near the northern border can play with the slider under the map to guesstimate our peak foliage viewing times. Hint: it’s RIGHT NOW! This map begs the question, though – do they even have fall foliage in Florida?

Leafy canopy

If I were to road trip to chase the fall colours this year, Maine, Vermont and the Eastern Townships would be at the top of my list, but there’s no shortage of beautiful spots right here in Ottawa for a lovely autumnal hike after a big turkey dinner! Five years (!) ago, I wrote this post about lovely places to take fall photos in Ottawa.

I’ve shared my secrets, now you share yours! For those of us who will be actively avoiding those 12 best spots to view fall colours, where ELSE should we go?


I have been thinking about upgrading my iPhone 4S for almost a year now. The battery is dying and the phone randomly shuts itself down if it gets below 30% charge or the ambient temperature falls below 10C, and I have been afraid to update the last two or three iOS upgrades because the phone is so wonky, so all my apps are out of date, too.

Upgrades are scary though. Change is scary. I don’t need the newest, shiniest iPhone, but I do need one that’s reliable. I came close to jumping up to the 5S this summer when I heard that the 6S was coming out this autumn. I like to stay in the middle of the pack with technology and scoop up the deals on slightly out of date tech rather than get the latest and greatest devices but I have to tell you that when I started reading about the new camera on the iPhone 6S, I was tempted.

Both Rogers (with whom I have my current wireless plan) and Telus (with whom I have a plan for Beloved’s and Tristan’s phones) were offering nearly identical plans and prices: approximately $400 out of pocket for an iPhone 6S, with a commitment to a $70/mos plan for two years. Since I’m paying nearly that anyway for my 4S data plan, I thought maybe I could save a few bucks if I could lump my new iPhone in with Beloved and Tristan’s data-sharing plan and ditch the Rogers plan entirely.

The people at Telus were AWESOME. The first person I spoke to looked at my account and said based on usage, Beloved and Tristan were paying too much, so she dropped them down to a plan with fewer calling minutes that they never use anyway and saved me $20 a month. Then she found me a plan that was almost $20 less than what I was paying with Rogers, so the new iPhone basically paid for itself in a year.


And then, I got transferred to the sales department, and completely unprovoked, the agent said that since I’ve been a Telus customer for more than five years, they would drop the price of the iPhone itself by $100. I was so pleased and excited about the deal that I tweeted about it, and in return Telus tweeted this back to me.

Then they direct messaged me and said for my praise and positive attitude they were happy to DOUBLE the data on my plan from 1GB to 2GB.

Is that not awesome? So in the end, I ended up paying only $300 out of pocket for the device, and will save almost $40 per month on cellphone bills with four times the data that I had with Rogers.

The new iPhone arrived Friday night and it took about 15 minutes for me to fall in love with everything about it. Unexpectedly, I love the fingerprint recognition TouchID feature – no need for a numeric swipe lock screen, as the home button recognizes my thumb print. It gave me the opportunity to clean house, so I have a lot fewer apps, and some of my photos were mysteriously ported over from my 4S. Speaking of porting, it took one easy phone call and about 15 minutes to have my old Rogers telephone number ported over to the new Telus phone.

And the camera. Sigh. Love, love, LOVE the 12 megapixel camera on the 6S. Here’s the first photo I took, of a rainbow ring around the sun Saturday morning.

What an awesome first capture for my new iPhone 6S – rainbow ring around the sun! Happy weekend!

A photo posted by Danielle Donders (@dani_girl) on

I’ve been so incredibly impressed with Telus this week. I only wish I could get more utilities through them – I’d switch everything over in a heartbeat. And no, this is not a paid post. I have just been so badly exasperated with Bell and Rogers over the years that this experience has been worth praising at every stage of the process. I genuinely felt that the Telus staff were trying to ensure I had the very best possible deal for me. Kudos for excellent and praise-worthy customer service, Telus.


I so enjoyed working with this sweet family of three that I told them they should give lessons on how to be great subjects. They were easy-going and friendly, followed my directions and even anticipated what I was thinking, were open to my suggestions and came with a few of their own. And on top of all that, they were all three as adorable as the day is long.


happy family on the porch

And isn’t he just the sweetest, chubby-cheeked, dreamy-eyed little fellow? He did not stop smiling genially the whole time they were on the porch. Here’s an extra peek, just because they’re so cute:

happy family on the grass

Sometimes I wonder why people love autumn above all seasons for family portraits, but on a chilly but sunny October morning like this, it’s easy to see why!

If you’re looking for your own family’s autumn portraits, there are still a few weekend slots left, but you’ll need to get in touch soon! :)


Fit and fabulous (if not a little hard of hearing) at 46

30 September 2015 It IS all about me

The idea that I’m forty-six years old still sort of freaks me out. In my head, my mom is still 46, and I stopped aging somewhere in my early 30s. Neither one of those compute from a biological let alone mathematical standpoint, but I suppose it’s better to be feeling a decade younger than I […]

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A rambly ode to Hoover’s 360 Reachâ„¢ Bagless Stick Vacuum

25 September 2015 Reviews, promotions and giveaways

When you have two shedding pets, three messy kids, and two adults with questionable attention spans for domestic activities, you get pretty excited at the idea of a simple tool to help stay on top of everyday tidying. That’s why I was more than a little excited when the fine folks at Hoover offered to […]

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Photo of the day: Portrait of a fall family walk

23 September 2015 Mothership Photography

This photo was taken at the tail end of summer, but doesn’t it have a lovely fall feel to it? Perfect to celebrate the first day of autumn! I had a great time working with this fun family on a portrait session in the park. They wanted a mix of candid action shots and informal […]

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Photos of the day: 18 months of adorable

20 September 2015 Mothership Photography

There’s no greater honour than a repeat customer. This fellow came to visit the porch last year when we was barely old enough to sit up on his own. A year later, he can sit up, walk, and run away like this every time he saw the photographer coming to pester him again! That may […]

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