May 2012

I have been eying the weather forecast with suspicion all week. Not only do I have a portrait shoot scheduled this Saturday, but there are a LOT of fun family things to do that involve a lot of outdooryness, which is really not going to be as much fun in the pouring rain. So forecast, smarten up, okay?

Last year was our first “Dickinson Days” in Manotick. We knew there would be a little parade, and a few vendors in Dickinson Square. We did not know that it was an all-out amazing summer festival! I still remember laughing as we walked from our house toward Manotick Main Street and joined throngs (no, really!) of people streaming out of their houses doing the same thing. It’s not exactly Wellington Street on Canada Day, but it’s definitely the scale model.

Here’s what the Dickinson Days parade looked like last year:

162:365 Dickinson Days Parade

Aside from the parade (6:30 pm on Friday June 1) there will be a crafter’s market, live entertainment, a pancake breakfast, a kids’ fishing derby, horse drawn wagon rides, and much more.

This weekend is also Doors Open Ottawa, and Watson’s Mill, Dickinson House, St James Anglican Church and the Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind training ground in Manotick are some of the featured locations.

I think I’m going to run out of weekend before I run out of fun things to do this weekend!


I may have mentioned I have a special affinity for families of five. The lovely C family of five came for portraits on the porch on the holiday weekend, and we had originally scheduled the shoot for late afternoon. I think we were all glad to have had the (accidental) foresight to reschedule for mid-morning, because the day turned out to be a scorcher by late afternoon. In the mid-morning, though, the day was summery and perfect. Here’s the storyboard I used for my “photo of the day” in case you missed it:

Porch portrait sneak peek - C family

Their mom had said the kids might be shy, but I found them sweet and agreeable. Don’t you love those deep brown eyes?

C family kids

I promised the kids if they sat patiently through just a *few* more group portraits, I’d let them have a little play on the tire swing in the back yard. And then stole a few more shots of that!

C family

C family-2

C family-3

Then we “forced” them to endure just one more portrait, and it ended up being the keeper of the day.

C family tree

Thank you, sweet C family, for coming out for portraits on the porch. It was great fun playing with you!

There’s only a few weekend spots left for portraits this summer, so if you’re interested in custom photography for your family, please do get in touch soon!


I like to sit down on the weekend and write these posts, looking for the common thread in the week’s picture and coming up with themes and descriptions. Some weeks, though, the photos defy easy homogenization — they’re just all over the place. This is one of those weeks. Flowers, portraits, strangers and skateboards. Interestingly, and perhaps not coincidentally, my own brain has been kind of all over the place this week, too.

If I had the time to blog properly, I’d have blogged the resolution to my skateboard question a few weeks back. After getting some great advice from a friend who was a skateboarder back in the day, we took Tristan out to fulfill his 10-year-old heart’s desire:


“You realize,” I told him, “that I’m only doing this so I can take pictures of you?”

“Sure Mom!”


This sweet family of five came out for porch portraits on the holiday Monday. I’ll have more pictures from their session to share soon!

Porch portrait sneak peek - C family

Dandelions continue to fascinate me. People hate them, I know, but I kinda like them. They are lovely when they’re yellow, and interesting when they’ve gone to seed. I’m going to start a new movement – embrace the dandelion! I mean, sure, I could tend my lawn, but then I wouldn’t be able to take photographs like these!

Oh sure, I could tend my overgrown lawn, but then my photographs would be boring...

I keep looking at this photo and wondering when Lucas got to be so grown up. I take 30 pictures of the child each week, but this one makes me nostalgic for a time that hasn’t even passed yet.


Speaking of old (I know, I stretched on that segue), I love the fact that 180 years after the Rideau Canal was built, they still use these mechanisms to open and close the locks by hand. (I’ve been thinking of writing a few blog posts about the history of Manotick and the Rideau Canal. Would that be of interest to you?)

Lock gear

We’re in our second summer in Manotick, and I still haven’t gotten used to the (wildly overgrown) garden. Every morning this week I’ve woken up to find something new blooming, including these lovely irises. I still can’t look at an iris without thinking of Georgia O’Keefe. Aside from turning irises into erotica, she said, “When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else. Most people in the city rush around so, they have no time to look at a flower. I want them to see it whether they want to or not.”


And last but not least, this is Charlie. Charlie was fishing off the weir at Watson’s Mill while I was taking photographs of a great blue heron in the water below and we struck up a conversation. I was charmed by the hat and the pipe, and managed to work up the courage to not only ask him if I could take his picture but to ask him if he would sign a model release for me so I might license the picture. I was so surprised and pleased when he said yes that I was almost too nervous to take the picture.

Charlie the fisherman

When I asked him if he would like me to e-mail him a copy of the photograph, he laughed and said, “Oy, no. My wife would kill me if she saw the pipe.” Ha! If you’re reading, Charlie’s wife, please don’t give him hell. He was a treat to chat with.


I would not ordinarily lift content wholesale from another site. However, I think (I hope?) the Lanark Animal Welfare Society (LAWS) will forgive me. This is a story that needs a larger audience.

I might have been flipping idly through LAWS’ website, thinking about dogs. My sweet Katie dog turned 13 years old yesterday. Those two facts are mutually exclusive, I will insist. Loudly. We already love LAWS, because it was at LAWS that we found our darling, mischievous and endearingly photogenic Willie, just about a year ago.

So I was looking at dogs on the LAWS website, in a non-committal sort of way, which is, by the way, the exact way in which we ended up with the aforementioned Willie. Before we go any further, let me spoil the ending thusly: this story does not end with another trek out to Smiths Falls to adopt a new family member. (Yet.) But when I read the story of Sassy and Boon, not only was I moved to tears, I was also moved to immediately make a donation to LAWS, because they are so wonderful. And I want to share the story with you, because it is a lovely story well told, and it deserves to be shared. This is what I read:

Inspiration can be found in the most unlikely places. Have you ever been in love? Not the kind of fleeting infatuation that burns devastatingly hot for the blink of an eye and is then gone as if never there at all; but rather the faith that your bond keeps you safe, that no matter where you may end up – if you’re together, you’re home. Sound hokey? Get a load of this.

Boon is a big, lanky, slobbery hound. He betrays in his gaze the wisdom of the ages. He carries himself with calm dignity and humility. He lumbers around barely aware of the vast number of lipomas (harmless cysts) that capture the attention of all those who meet him – even the udder-like one that swings below him. He’s not a young hound and consequently struggles at times to hear, but a clap will usually get his attention. He doesn’t need much, a warm bed, grub and the love of his life – Sassy.

Sassy is a Maltese mix. She’s twice the size of Boon’s biggest lump. She’s quiet and prefers to exist in the shadow of her giant companion. She’s not a young lady, and as such doesn’t see so well, but she can identify through sense, smell and what little vision she has her partner and protector – Boon.

Boon and Sassy grew old with their loving owner. Never having met their owner I can say with certainty they were loved. They are gentle and affectionate in a way that is fostered by a thoughtful caretaker. Divided by age, this unlikely team came to L.A.W.S.

A typical day for the pair is a run in the yard once everybody else is out. The door to their crate, where they’ve spent the night curled together – not for warmth, but for comfort, is opened, and Boon slowly rises. Watching him get up is like watching the sun rise. First his head, then the longest of front legs extended fully – the mandatory stretch – and he’s up. He exits slowly as Sassy prepares for movement.

They move slowly, without a care around the yard full of barking. They are connected by what appears to be an invisible tether. There is a precise distance that can develop between them at which point Sassy instinctively abandons what she’s doing and catches up.

Back inside the Med room, where they are free to move about, but choose most often to cuddle, Boon is given a Milkbone. He cracks it to slobbery dust and wears a representative amount on his jowls. Sassy is also given a treat, but isn’t clear-sighted enough to see exactly where it landed. Just as you might expect Boon’s giant head finds its way to the bone and slowly, with determination he plucks up the bone in his mouth…turns to his love and unceremoniously drops it between her paws.

Ladies and Gentlemen – Love is blind.

Is that not the best story you’ve read all week? There’s currently a picture of Sassy and Boon here, if you’d like to look. It’s worth the click. If I did not already have a 13 year old mostly deaf, largely blind, creaky, attitudinal, amazing and deeply loved dog in my house already, who has patiently endured the arrival of not only three boisterous boys but also a feisty cat (with an unimaginable amount of grace and patience) I would be on my way to give Sassy and Boon the home they deserve for their twilight years.

LAWS, you are good peeps.


So far I’ve had the great pleasure of photographing not one, not two but three sets of twins for family portraits — but I have to tell you, I was particularly excited to meet this family when I heard they had five-year-old TRIPLETS. How fun is that?

Funny, though I was expecting a bit (okay, quite a bit) of chaos, these guys — and a girl! — were great! And did I mention adorable? Lookit those eyelashes!

MC kids

While we spend a lot of time focusing on (pardon the pun!) the kids during a family session, it’s always nice to get a picture of just mom and dad, too. (Also, it’s much easier to focus on someone who stands still for more than three seconds.)


We tried to get a picture with the whole family and Monty, their 13 year old dog. Oh, so THIS is where that old adage comes from, “never work with dogs AND kids.” The kids were great, but the dog really was a challenge! This one never quite worked out, so it’s not exactly frameworthy — but it is a good example of why you should schedule shots like this at the beginning of a session instead of at the end. And I think it’s a very, um, real portrait.

MG family

This, on the other hand, worked out much better. See that lovely purple flowered dress that daughter C is wearing? Her mom MADE that. Mom to preschool triplets (and a dog) and she makes clothes like that. Aren’t you impressed? I am!

MG family collage

Thank you, M-C family, for coming out for porch portraits on a lovely day in early spring. The kids were adorable and it was lovely to work with all of you!

My openings for porch portraits this summer are already more than half full now (!!) so if you’re thinking about booking a porch portrait for your family, please contact me soon!

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I realized just the other day that every single one of my pictures last week featured flowers somehow. This week, I very nearly did it again. Hungry for colour much? The colour of the week seems to be pink, inspired largely by the lilacs and apple blossoms that my camera (and my nose!) simply can’t resist.

And of course, these two lovely girls who came for porch portraits last weekend are also pretty in pink.

G girls

I bought myself a Mother’s Day present with some of my Getty earnings and it finally arrived this week even though I’d bought it on eBay weeks before. (Argh, now I know why I don’t buy stuff from eBay more often. What a convoluted, annoying process!) I have a few favourite prime lenses, notably a 50mm f1.4 that I use almost all the time. As I found myself occasionally tripping over branches or running out of space in a room trying to “zoom with my feet”, I began to covet a decent zoom lens to upgrade the 18-55mm kit lens that came with my Nikon D40 back in the day.

Everyone seems to love and recommend the 24-70 mm f2.8 lens, but the price tag near $2K put it way out of my reach. Way. After quite a bit of searching and researching, I found a used 35-70 mm f2.8 for sale on eBay. Nikon stopped making these back in 2007 or 2008, but all the reviews I read said it was nearly equivalent to the 24-70 mm at about 1/5 the price (and it weighs less, too.) I was very leery of buying camera gear via eBay, but I lucked out. The lens arrived in perfect condition, and I love it. It’s a beast compared to my tiny little nifty fifty, but it’s a sweet lens and it has something I’ve never had before – a macro feature. So now I can get up close and personal with my lilacs!

Lilacs, meet new lens! ;)

I liked that one so much, I went back for more later in the week, and stacked on a texture, too.

lilacs with flair (erm, flare)

(You wish Flickr had smell-o-vision for these ones. Heavenly!)

Speaking of Mother’s Day, this is how our Mother’s Day adventure in Almonte looked. (There is a blog post to be written with much more detail. Consider this a teaser.)

Mother's Day in Almonte

This is me in the grass. I spent a while thinking about how to do this one, but I’m still not sure about the self-portraits.


The caption on Flickr says it all for this one. I called it “happy”. Because I am. (And that’s a good place to be.)


Tristan is taking a few extra guitar lessons to make up for ones that had been cancelled earlier, so last night I walked him over to the music school after dinner. On the way home, I put the new lens through its paces, and came up with this – “an evening walk in Manotick.” It’s a kind of a companion piece to the collage I made almost exactly a year ago.

Manotick evening walk

Here’s to wishing you a picture-perfect long weekend to launch the summer season! 🙂


A Capital Walk

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Sneak Peek: Porch portraits with the G girls

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This week in pictures – spectacular spring

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Get your 2012 BOLO on!

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If you’ve been reading for a while, you know one of my favourite events of the summer is the annual Blog Out Loud Ottawa event organized by the irrepressible Lynn. She has managed to make this event better every single year since its inception in 2009, and I can’t wait until this year’s edition. We […]

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