December 2011

Happy 2012 to all of you!

by DaniGirl on December 31, 2011 · 8 comments

in Ah, me boys

I‘ve been having too much fun with the boys to be blogging much through the holidays, but I’ve been missing all of you. I didn’t have anything particularly interesting to say, until I overheard this snippet of conversation just a few minutes ago and thought it was the perfect note on which to end 2011, as we settle in to watch a movie with the boys. (Either the second instalment of Harry Potter, but I don’t want to usurp the book we haven’t read, or the second movie in the LOTR trilogy. I’m leaning toward LOTR, as Tristan is quite concerned about Gandalf’s fate after having just finished Fellowship of the Rings a few nights ago.)

So, the conversation I overheard. Ahem, yes.

Boy, to his brother: “Did you know that when you get married, your testicles turn into babies?”
Brother: “Well that’s another reason I’ll never get married. I want to keep my balls!”

And with that, a happy new year to all of you. Let’s hope 2012 bring all of us more than our share of joy, laughter and moments filled with wonder.

xo Dani

Snowman sledding


Yay, I did it! Another 365 project under my belt. Because I finished on Christmas Eve, there wasn’t a lot of time to post a long-winded look back at the year in pictures, but you must have known it was coming!

Here’s all 365 of them, in the order they were posted:

2011 x 365

(Lots of greens and golds and deeply saturated colours, eh?)

As I’ve mentioned in a few recent posts, I was playing pretty fast and loose with the rules on this version of Project 365. While I was pretty rigid about following them for the first 365 project, I think it was more important to me this time around to be stretching my limits rather than following rules. It seemed more valuable to me to be thinking about photography in some way every day, whether it be learning a new photoshop technique or studying the work of someone I admire or reading a book on photography, than actually taking a photo every 24 hours.

The first 365 project back in 2009 certainly rekindled my love for photography, but I think it’s safe to say that this has been the year when photography became not just a passion but a lucrative endeavour. Here are some of the wonderful things that have happened during the course of this 365 project:

  • I acquired my darling D7000, a Lensbaby Composer and a 50mm f1.4 lens. (It’s not *all* about the gear, but good kit certainly helps!)
  • I launched Mothership Photography and established my signature porch portraits. Since the first mini-session in July I did five porch mini-sessions, seven family portrait sessions and a wedding. (And it occurs to me that I haven’t blogged about half of them. Good fodder for the long cold winter, yes?) Considering I was aiming for a session a month, I more than doubled my projection for the first year and had to turn people down in October and November because I simply didn’t have any room in my calendar. (It seems like a hundred years ago I put up the website and some posters around Manotick and feared that I’d never get a single client — and that was only March of this year!)
  • I had my first print credit, a collage of Manotick pictures used in an ad by our city councillor in the Manotick Messenger.
  • I was invited to be a contributor to Getty Images and had my first sales.
  • I sold my first photo to a print publication, pending in the January issue of Ottawa Magazine.

To look back to the launch of the first 365 project in early 2009 gives me a sense of vertigo — wow! We sure have come a long way, haven’t we? I learned so much this year I don’t even know where to start: portraiture techniques, post-processing in Lightroom and Photoshop, posing and lighting, to name a few. As a matter of fact, learning to use my flash properly is one of my big projects for the next year.

Here’s a few more favourites from the last year:

360:365 A Christmas Story (3 of 4)

241:365 My crazy family

98:365 My menfolk

177:365 Hello kitty

264:365 Traveling Man

149:365 One morning in Manotick

187:365 Fun in the grass

Thank you all for your ongoing support. Sharing what I’ve learned, what I’m trying and the pictures themselves with you makes this whole experience even more delightful for me. You inspire me to keep going, try harder and do better — thank you for that!

I can hardly wait to see what the next year brings!

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Project 365: It’s a wrap!

by DaniGirl on December 25, 2011 · 2 comments

in Photo of the Day

I did it! We’ve reached the end, 367 days later, of my second 365 project. Maybe when you do more than one you get extra days snuck in? I never did figure out where I dropped a couple of days, but regardless, we’re here at #365 again. Here’s the last week in photographs.

Looking back over the week, it looks like I was subconsciously trying to cram in a whole bunch of my favourite techniques: Lensbaby, textures, B&W, long exposure — and plain old cuteness, too. I had fun playing with textures with these ornaments:

363:365 Christmas music

And I torqued these colourful ribbons a bit with my Lensbaby lens:

358:365 Lensbaby ribbons

This was a picture I took over a year ago, from a boat cruise on the Ottawa River, and I stumbled across it in my archives. I was thinking about how timeless the view of the Chateau Laurier on the bluff is, and how this particular view gives to clue to the era when it was taken, so I played with textures in Photoshop to make it look like a reaaaaaally old picture, instead of just a moderately old one.

360:365 Chateau on the Hill

This picture doesn’t do the craziness of the light show on this house justice. Even with a wide-angle zoom, I couldn’t get it all in — and apparently they run the lights all night long. Yeesh, so much for energy conservation!

359:365 Crazy Christmas lights

I took a picture similar to this a few weeks ago, but I wasn’t thrilled with it. This is much closer to what I wanted to capture. Oh my but he’s growing up SO quickly!

361:365 Guitar player redux

This was my favourite of the Creeping Mischief Monster series. It’s the zillionth example of a set of pictures I absolutely adore that would have never happened if I didn’t have the camera out because I needed a shot of the day.

360:365 A Christmas Story (3 of 4)

I’m not entirely why I love this one, but I really do! I took it on the last day before the holidays, when I had Lucas with me at work for the annual kids’ Christmas party. I called it “Executive VP in Charge of Cuteness.”

364:365 Executive VP in charge of cuteness

And finally, for the sake of completeness and also because it is still, after all, Christmas Day: the final picture in this second iteration of Project 365.

365:365 That's a wrap!

That was a hell of a lot of fun!

Now what?????


Yay! This is it, the final shot in my 365 project this year, and also, my Christmas wish for all of you:

365:365 That's a wrap!

May all your Christmas wishes come true!

Much love from DaniGirl & Beloved, Lucas, Simon and Tristan


An open letter to Tim Hortons

by DaniGirl on December 23, 2011 · 8 comments

in Canadianisms

Dear Tim Hortons,

You know I love you. I’m pretty sure I single-handedly keep you in hockey pucks with my 2XL a day habit. In the battle for coffee drinkers that divides Canada into tribes like the Hatfields and McCoys, I have long sworn allegiance to you. I have been known to say that Starbucks coffee is overpriced and way too strong and just a smidge on the pretentious side, and I can never remember what I’m supposed to call an extra-large. Any coffee shop that requires a lexicon to order is probably not for me.


I have a confession to make. Much as it hurts my patriotic soul to say this, I think maybe Starbucks has won a space in my heart. It started many years ago when I needed a drive-thru on a Christmas Day in 2006, and Starbucks was there for me. I’ve started popping in to Starbucks more and more through the years. Granted, their coffee is still not my cup of, erm, coffee, but I do have a fondness for a venti green tea in the afternoon. And when a Starbucks barista found my wayward iPhone and kept it safe for me at the counter earlier this month, I felt my allegiance sway.

You know what finally sealed the deal for me, though? You just don’t mess with my Christmas traditions. Tim Hortons, where is the holiday coffee cup? Yes, you now sell ornaments and double-double chocolates and the ubiquitous $2 latté — but when you dumped the annual blue holiday cup to instead advertise said new lattés? You lost me.

I’ll stick with my morning XL from Timmies, but not with the same deep affection I’ve always felt. It’s a matter of convenience rather than loyalty now. There’s a new spot in my heart for coffee, and it’s got Starbucks written all over it.



A Christmas Story

by DaniGirl on December 20, 2011 · 7 comments

in Happy holidays, Photography

There I was, minding my own business, playing with the Charlie Brown Christmas tree and taking pictures of the reflections in the shiny red ball …

A Christmas Story (1 of 4)

… when all of a sudden — dun dun DUN — I saw him: the Creeping Mischief Monster!

A Christmas Story (2 of 4)

And even more terrifyingly, at that exact moment, he noticed it. The shiny red ball!!

360:365 A Christmas Story (3 of 4)

After that, you knew this was inevitable.

A Christmas Story (4 of 4)

This is why we can’t have nice things.



Project 365: The penultimate post!

17 December 2011 Photo of the Day

Only one week left in this iteration of the 365 project! Of course, the big question now is what comes next. I’m still not sure of the answer to that one myself – stand by and I’ll let you know when I know! I had a great time with fakery and rule-breaking this week! The […]

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The annual reindeer rant – New and Improved! With Visual Aids!

15 December 2011 Happy holidays

Seriously? You thought you might get through one Christmas season without the annual Donder reindeer rant? Sorry to disappoint you. As long as I have pixels to purvey my message, the reindeer rant will play out at some time in the month of December. New around here? Darling, this one is for you! “You know […]

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Pining for daylight

14 December 2011 Life in Ottawa

The kids may be counting down the sleeps until Christmas, but I’ve got my eye on the calendar for another reason, too. Only one more week until the solstice, the shortest day of the year, and then the days finally start to get a wee bit longer. Despite the lack of snow, it seems like […]

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Fisher-Price Holiday Gift Guide: Ages 2 to 5

12 December 2011 Reviews, promotions and giveaways

A while back, I posted my thoughts on some great gift ideas for the six-years-and-older demographic based on my experiences this year with Fisher-Price Canada. I’m a little later than I wanted to be with this follow-up, but I hope it’s helpful for your holiday buying! If I were to choose any one demographic that […]

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