February 2011

Project 365: Vintage week

by DaniGirl on February 27, 2011 · 3 comments

in Photo of the Day

The good thing is: I’m really not stressing over the 365 project this time around. The bad things is: I’m “settling” for a picture of the day a lot more.

Like this shot of the boys. It was 6:25 am when I shot it, and I was just on my way out the door to go to work when I noticed they were cuddled up together on the love seat watching TV. Lucas and Simon are like oil and water more often than not, so I grabbed my camera and clicked off one shot. It was adorable when I looked in the LED, and I didn’t take another picture all day, safe in the knowledge that I had a worthy picture of the day.

Then at the very end of the day I pulled the memory card out of my camera and got a good look at the picture in Lightroom and realized it’s horribly noisy because I was shooting at 1600 ISO to compensate for the fact that the sun hadn’t come up yet, and Lucas is just in front of the plane of focus, and the highlights on his hair are completely blown out. Oh well. It still makes me happy when I look at it.

63:365 Brothers

From a technical standpoint, this is a much better picture. It also makes me happy! This is Family Day, in the driveway.

60:365 Family Day winter fun

More Family Day fun – Lucas thinks he’s a zamboni on his tricycle!

60b:365 Zamboni trike rider

And Simon the future NHL star:

60d:365 He shoots, he -- covers the photographer in a spray of snow!

I kept hearing people rave about the iPhone camera app Hipstamatic, so I ponied up $1.99 to try it out. The lenses and effects are alright, similar to what I have in my other apps, but for this one you have to set your lens and film before you take the shot rather than in post-processing. And the viewfinder makes me a little crazy because it’s not like an SLR where you get an accurate picture, it’s like a point and shoot and they really exaggerate the effect. Meh, I’m not sure about this one. I tested it out on my old favourite, the Underwood typewriter.

61:365 Hipstamatic Underwood

Speaking of vintage and cameras, Lara and Angela have inspired me to take a few more self-portraits. Here’s vintage me with my Duaflex:

62:365 Duaflex selfie

This was a TtV self-portrait, but I almost deleted it. I really didn’t like the original composition, but with TtV you’re very much bound by what’s inside the viewfinder frame (unless you’re much better with photoshop than I am!) I cropped out the viewfinder and the right half of the frame and ended up loving how this one came out with a bit of a vintage vibe and those crazy roses that are now two weeks old and holding! (Note to self: time to clean the dust off the viewfinder. I know some people like their TtV gritty, but I prefer it clean.)

59:365 Roses and me TtV

And more vintage: this is one of the beauties from my camera collection. It’s a Kodak Brownie Starflex, and was manufactured some time between 1957 and 1964. I’d bought it for $20, hoping to use it for TtV, but I’m more partial to the Duaflex viewfinder. It’s still a lovely little camera, though! I ended up using this shot in the banner for my new photography site on a whim, and I think it works well with the typewriter font.

58:365 Brownie Starflex

See, even my photography is fixated on photography this week. I am truly an obsessive creature.


Each time I even think about writing a new blog post, a voice in my head says, “You’ve really got to blog about something other than photography. You may be obsessed, but you’re going to bore them to tears. For the love of all things holy, is there nothing else in your head except photo apps and web galleries and f-stops?”


Okay, so that’s not entirely true. There’s this really wicked cool thing happening next weekend — but I can’t talk to you about that yet. And there’s all sorts of another kind of crazy with my work, but I can never really blog about that. And — that’s about it. That’s all my brain has room for these days.

No wait, there is one other thing: we’re getting a new dishwasher today! That’s kind of exciting, in a mundanely domestic sort of way. You may remember that when we took possession of the house, the very first time we tried to use the dishwasher it stuttered to a stop about three minutes in to the first cycle. $150 and three days later, we had a switch replaced, but the thing has been dying a slow death ever since. It doesn’t clean very well, the door gets stuck on the countertop when you close it, and it sounds like a jumbo jet is taking off every time we run the damn thing.

So, a new dishwasher. We comparison-shopped for a while, waffling over name brands and features like a stainless steel interior (apparently not worth the money, even though it helps speed the drying when you refuse to use heat dry like I do) and water use (a huge issue with an aging septic system) and noise (an even bigger issue.) Everybody we spoke to recommended Bosch, but their tubs are smaller than industry standard and with a busy family of five, size matters.

We got a good deal on this one from GE and it seems to get above-average reviews. (Side note: I spent hours one Saturday trying to cross-reference model numbers from Corbeil and Sears to the last two Consumer Reports Buying Guides, and ended up with nothing but crossed eyes for my efforts. Once again, living in the shadow of the US adds a layer of complexity to life!)

The model we choise was on sale at both Sears and Corbeil but Corbeil has free delivery, so I went in and asked them to match the price. They started to argue that their price matching includes the delivery free so really was a better deal, but when I shrugged and said, “Well, if you want to lose the sale over $25, okay, I’ll go next door to Sears” they dropped the price to match. I’m getting good at this haggling thing!!

So we can now add to the ever-growing list of household investments and upgrades a new dishwasher. Let’s hope we can cross this one off the list of things to worry about for another five to ten years!


I‘ve been really shy about unveiling my Motherhip Photography site, and even more shy about taking on the label of “pro” photographer. I’ve got a huge insecurity complex and am so grateful that if any of you snorted with surprise and derision at the idea of me going pro then at least you had the decency to keep it to yourself. (Yeesh, needy much?)

Some of the things that make me hesitate to assume the mantle of “pro” photographer (see, I can’t even discuss it without the air quotes around the word “pro”) include the fact that I don’t have a huge amount of expensive gear, have very little interest in doing studio work, and don’t have any real plans to drop my day job for a career as a photographer. For those reasons, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to lose the self-conscious shrug and apologetic quotes every time I call myself a “pro”.

Technically, though, since I’ve received commissions and compensation for my work, I suppose I should just get over myself and own the word “pro”. It’s just a word!

The main reason I decided to put up a website and make things more official is simply because I love — really and truly love — photography and the idea of finding reasons to do it more often simply makes my heart soar with excitement. I love the idea of meeting new people and having the honour of capturing the things they value in life, preserving moments in imagery that they will hopefully treasure for years to come. It’s a very romantic notion, I know. It’s a damn good thing I’m not in this for the money!

And so when some casual conversations turned into queries about rates and packages, it seemed like a good idea to get it all out there in the open. But the more I looked into it, the more I realized that there is so much more to a photography business than I ever imagined. Contracts, packages, insurance, overhead, marketing, accounting… yikes! On the weekend I read a really excellent article that talks about the money side of professional wedding and portrait photography. My jaw dropped when I realized that on a $200 session fee, a photographer is really only pocketing $60 after taxes, equipment, overhead and other costs. When you figure there’s an hour or two for a shoot, not to mention travel time, another four to six obsessive hours to select, edit and process images, and who knows how long in meeting with clients, prepping and processing print orders and other tasks, it all breaks down to less than $10 an hour. It was a real eye-opener, and confirmed for me that I really am doing this for love and not money!

I’m lucky enough that I don’t need to do this, I want to do this, and that’s making a huge difference in how I’m valuing myself and my work. I don’t want to be popular, I want to be good. I don’t want to be rich, I want to be happy. And so I’ve decided that if I am going to do this, I will do it right: professional printing and packages, professional rates, professional contracts, professional behaviour, professional expectations, professional results. And I’ll consider the whole thing a huge success if I can book five or ten sessions this year.

In a roundabout way, this venture has reminded me how lucky I am. I’ve always been selective and particular about how I market and monetize the blog, and I’m choosing to approach the photography business in the same way. I’m just so incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to have so many things in my life that make me happy AND give me a few extra dollars for the boys’ future bail college funds on the side.



Project 365: Week of the Roses

by DaniGirl on February 19, 2011 · 9 comments

in Photo of the Day

This has been a really challenging week for my 365 project, mostly because I was embroiled with two sick kids, a sick caregiver, and a secret project that sucked up ALL my spare time (and more than a bit of my not-so-spare time as well!). More about the secret project later.

So here’s what caught my fancy this week!

Here’s your weekly dose of cuteness. He’s reading If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, one of our new favourite books.

56:365 If you give a mouse a cookie...

We’ve spent a lot of time haunting the Manotick branch of the public library lately. Conveniently, we moved into a house just around the corner from the library just about the same time as my mother, otherwise known as my main paperback supplier, bought herself a Kindle — and my stream of free paperbacks dried up overnight. This is the centre of the kids’ section of the Manotick library, where Lucas is “reading” a book about potty training to Tristan. The funky frame is courtesy of the Camera+ app on my iPhone. (I don’t know what I love more, the giant colourful sunburst, Lucas reading to Tristan, or the fact that the page he is reading is covered in underwear!)

51:365 At the library

From warm and fuzzy to cold and wet — I took this one from the narrow bridge on Jockvale near Stonebridge, but no matter how much I played with it, I couldn’t quite make it what I wanted of it. It’s one of those “good enough, and I’ve got nothing else for today” shots, I suppose.

50:365 Frozen Jock River

Speaking of good enough, this one is really a bit of a mulligan. I spent hours glued to my computer on Sunday working on that secret project I mentioned, and by the end of the day had nothing really to show for it — and no picture for the day, either. So I took this with my iPhone and called it “Time Sink” because that’s what the computer can be sometimes. Um, often.

52:365 Time sink

On Valentine’s Day, although Beloved and I had agreed not to get each other any gifts, I came home from work to a dozen of the most beautiful fresh red roses I’ve ever seen. (Good thing I’d picked some chocolates up for him, too!) And I’ve been loving those roses all week!

First, Valentine TtV roses:

53:365 Valentine rose TtV

Then, roses with a hint of cross-processing:

54:365 Rose again

Roses desaturated in black and white:

55:365 Rose revisited

And finally (for this week, at least, as they’re still going strong!!) roses with a hint of sunshine:

57:365 I am really digging these roses

I think they got better as the week progressed — that last one is definitely my favourite. 🙂

Oh, and did I mention my secret project? Yeah, it’s really not so secret since I outed myself last night on Twitter, and I’ve actually been screwing up my courage to tell you about it here all week.

A couple of weeks ago, I was at the schoolyard fence waiting for the boys and got to talking with some of the moms and dads, and one mentioned going to Sears to get portraits done and how she wasn’t really thrilled with the results. I mentioned that I really like to take family pictures, and we got to chatting. She asked me for my website, and I gave her this URL. A couple of days later, she came back and asked me where the information about my photography business was, and I hemmed and hawed a bit and said, “Well, that’s pretty much it.”

It got me thinking, though. I’ve been toying with the idea of putting up a separate photography blog ever since I started my first 365 back in January of 2009, and even toyed with a few themes and galleries, but nothing ever worked for me. I tried building a gallery with Lightroom, but the results were underwhelming.

Last week, with the help of a few friends on Twitter, I finally found a workable (and free!) WordPress theme and installed it. I spent WAY too much time sorting through some of my favourite pictures, and came up with a result that is not quite perfect, but at least worth sharing at this point.

With butterflies in my tummy, and wondering what the hell I am thinking, I am thrilled and terrified to pull back the curtain and show you my latest cockamamie scheme, Mothership Photography.



Here’s three great links for people who love Ottawa as much as I love Ottawa. (And for the record? I love Ottawa A LOT!)

First, mad props to the Ottawa Public Library. I love the library and I really love their website and new interactive features. I love the ease of popping over whenever the mood strikes me or a bit of information catches my attention and requesting a book online. If there’s no other requests, the book gets shipped to my local branch in Manotick within a couple of days, and I get an e-mail notification when it’s ready for pick-up. Even better, I get another e-mail two days before it’s due. This is a smashing good system.

You know what just made it even better? I can now do all this on my iPhone, thanks to a new Ottawa Public Library iPhone App. How awesome is that? And best of all? Totally free. I love this!!

Second, mad props to Ottawa Start and two excellent new resources they’ve published in the last couple of weeks. First, check out their wicked-cool Ultimate Guide to Tobogganing in Ottawa and Gatineau. Not only is it a map of all the best sledding hills in the city, but if you click on one it gives you information about the kind of hill, special features and any potential perils. Really, this is outstanding.

Shiverfest mascot sledding

Last but not least, also from Ottawa Start, here’s an update to their 2009 list of essential blogs in Ottawa. This year, they’ve listed 26 essential Ottawa blogs, and I’m very proud to see I’ve been included. (Thanks Glen!) Some of my favourite blogs are here, and a few I must now check out, but I really like this list because of its diversity — it has a little bit of blog for everyone who lives in or loves Ottawa.

Ottawa rocks! 🙂


I dashed off this post on the weekend, and then I thought it was rather pointless and whiny and took it back down again, but apparently feedburner launched it into your feed-readers because a few of you took the time to e-mail me and commiserate and offer basement renovation advice and support — so I’ve reworked it to mitigate the whininess. A bit. Here’s the revised version!

I tell you, I’ve learned more about houses, structural issues, home repair and contractors in the last six months than I learned in the previous forty-one years! And this post has gotten so ridiculously long that I’ve tucked it beneath the fold. Settle in and grab a coffee if you want to stick around for the whole saga to date! [click to continue…]


Project 365: STOP winter now!

12 February 2011 Photo of the Day

Gah, I am so. sick. of. winter. So sick of snow, cold, wind — and the forecast is calling for three dumps of snow in the next three days. That’s what I had in mind when I took this picture — STOP winter NOW! (I like this because it’s selective colouring but without the post-processing. […]

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This is how they grow up, quietly and quickly and right under your watchful eye

10 February 2011 Mothering without a licence

I am standing at the fence as I do every day, waiting for the bell to ring and the tsunami of energetic children to come spilling out of the school. I brace myself, as I do every day, for Simon’s enthusiastic hug that will one day knock me clear off my feet. Tristan too still […]

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Four food-group meatloaf recipe

10 February 2011 Eating and thinking and thinking about eating

My friend Nancy sent me this recipe years ago, and I love it. LOVE it! It’s easy, it’s tasty, and it’s got all four food groups in it. What more could you ask of a humble meatloaf? (I’ve become a bit of a snob about my ground beef lately, and have found that this dish […]

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A love letter to Lucas, Age 3

7 February 2011 Lucas

My sweet and silly Lucas, happy birthday to you! No longer the toddler tyrant my son, now you are a precocious and precious preschooler. Three years old! I can hardly believe it! You, my littlest one, are relentlessly curious and in that aggravating endearing phase of questioning everything. Everything. EV-ERY-THING. Who knew “why” could be […]

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