What A Difference A Day Makes

I realize I have a thing for sunbursts, seeing that the majority of my nature photos have a sunburst of some kind peeking through in the frame. Maybe it’s because that’s one of the things I’m most proud of accomplishing along this photography journey of mine.

Whatever the case, this was taken Saturday along one of Joey’s favorite mountain bike trails where we’d all gone to spend a freakishly warm afternoon riding (The Boys) and hiking and taking pictures (me). It was 72 degrees with beautiful blue skies, birds were singing in the tree branches, mountain bikers and hikers with dogs and kids were everywhere. . . .

Sunday the wind kicked in from the northwest at a brisk clip chasing the sun away and tanking the temperatures by 32 degrees by sunset. We woke up today with wind chills in the single digits. Welcome back, Old Man Winter.

 
 
 


Lately

A model shoot and a family session.

Trying out different ideas.

Wandering in the woods and along the trails.

Slowly mastering the art of home made pie crust (who knew it was that hard?).

Most of all, reveling in the beauty of an Arkansas fall.

As we grow closer and closer to the merry chaos that often comes at this time of year, I wish you all moments of quiet and beauty and a chance to stop and look around you and say to yourself, “I am so happy to be in this life.”


over the weekend

The heat returned with a vengeance, the humidity creating a haze across the area. A sweaty, sweaty run before visiting a local bike park with a friend to practice on boys young and old(er) working on their jumps and whips over the small hills of dirt dotting the park's landscape. I can never get tired of photographing mountain bikers and their tricks.

Lunch out with David before hitting new bike trails 45 minutes west of town for biking and hiking and photo ops. We hit them at the prettiest time of day (and later I had the best shower of my life!).

I attempted and succeeded in making my very first home made Boston Cream Pie, complete with home made pudding sandwiched between the cake layers. It took me five hours, two attempts at the pudding and three separate washing ups, but I think David and Joe like it, seeing that there is only a quarter of the cake (pie? which is it?) left.

This week is shaping up to be pretty busy, but a fun kind of busy. I have a headshot session tomorrow morning, a hands on demonstration at our local camera store of the new Nikon mirrorless cameras that were announced last week that look pretty amazing. Thursday I may be shooting a practice portrait session with my friend, the house mother of the AOPii sorority that I often shoot with, before shooting my first sports portrait session next Sunday at a mountain bike trail north of here. I'm really excited about this one, the subject being a local kid who has raced in all the previous Enduro races that David and I have shot so far this summer. I think it's going to be a lot of fun.

 I hope you all have a terrific week!

pictures of my life

Lunch with my best friend, the type of friend that will ask you if she has guacamole smeared on her forehead as you're trying to politely eat a really messy and a really drippy grilled cheese sandwich and not having much success, cheese smeared all over your hands and arms. You look at her and you both burst into laughter because she gets you and you get her and you both love each other for all your quirks and weirdness.

Playing with new lighting modifiers and losing track of time. Always a wonderful thing to happen, knowing that you're so immersed in learning new things that time stops and stands still.

Mountain biking and daisies blooming and locals cleaning out ponds and hanging out on street corners. A found feather, milk and cookies and a food shoot that went well, my first one.  

And decisions rolling around in my head as to where to take my photography next, as well as this space. 

 
 
 

a morning walk

We could hear the red tailed hawk calling out from the top of the sycamore tree, but never spotted him. I thought I caught a glimpse of his red-brown-white chest, but wasn't sure if it was him or dead leaves clustered on the branch. I love hearing him call out, such a lonely, yet imperious, call.

The cicadas were singing their hearts out, hiding as they do deep in the underbrush and bushes. I love their song, but the kids never did so they re-named the insects "Momma Bugs" when they were small in honor of me. Fireflies and Momma Bugs are my favorite summer time creepy crawlies. They make me think back to eating watermelon on the back porch after suppers and spitting the seeds as far as I could, trying to out spit Dad and Stephen. Sometimes I could, most times I couldn't. And then I'd watch the lightning bugs flicker their lanterns on and off accompanied by the peaceful drone of cicadas. If I could capture the sound of summer in a jar, it would be that sound.

The trail was alive with sound this morning. The incessant hammering of a Downy Woodpecker jackhammering away on the dead tree trunk next to the creek, the multi-lingual mockingbirds welcoming the morning light, the cheerful (yet bossy) chirps of the robins as they strutted about alongside the trail, the "whit-cheer! whit-cheer!" of the cardinals as they flew from bush to bush, always just a step ahead of me and the beautiful song of the little Carolina Wren.

I listend to all the songs in the woods and my mind was filled with quiet.

 
 
 

nwa pride parade 2018

Yesterday, I attended my first ever Northwest Arkansas Pride Parade held in downtown Fayetteville. I was part of over 12,000 people from all over the area joining together to celebrate life and love and people. It was beastly hot, but the colors, the sense of community, the support, the friendship, the hugs, the spending time with Meghan, her boyfriend and my best friend and her family, the joining together for a cause . . . . all that and more made up for the 90+ temperatures. I was hunkered down on a street corner taking pictures, the whole time grinning from ear to ear, sometimes choking back the lump in my throat that I usually get during such inspiring events. You could practically reach out and touch the joy that was in the air. Just so much joy and laughter and love.

After living in the bustling Washington, DC Metro area for most of my adult life, the relaxed atmosphere of a small(-ish) town such as Fayetteville really makes me feel as though I'm a part of the community, not just another commuter/shopper/fill-in-the-blank that I felt in DC. It's the Farmer's Market and the street festivals and and events that are held on a weekly and monthly basis here in this little area nestled in the quiet Ozark Mountains that make me feel like I count. I run into neighbors and friends whenever I go to the grocery store. I can run along the trails and get friendly hellos and waves from other runners and walkers that I pass. I can strike up conversations with strangers while waiting in line at the bank or the DMV. This feeling of acceptance and friendship is so welcomed after living in northern Virginia where you never really quite got to know anyone.

And yesterday along Dickson Street in the heart of Fayetteville that feeling was never more represented than in the colorful parade that marched down the center of the avenue. What an amazing day!

******

To see more of yesterday's parade, just click on the link here. 

i'm still here

Maybe I'm on summer/lake/vacation time, but I just haven't felt the need to sit down and chronicle my days as much as I did during the school year. Time lately has been lazy and full and busy and quiet all at once, much like summer tends to be. The cicadas haven't hit full chorus yet, but I expect them to any evening now. Our magnolia tree has exploded in beautiful white blossoms and I like to cut off a few and bring them inside, filling jelly jars and mason jars with the flowers, the house smelling like a perfumery. 

We had a fun filled few days down on Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs. We filled it with morning chats over coffee with my father-in-law on our condo's balcony overlooking the cove below us, listening to the lake wake up with the sounds of geese and early morning fishermen in their bass boats. Later, we'd jet about the lake on my FIL's jet ski or laze around on our paddle boards, exploring near by coves, jumping into the water when we got hot.

Or getting caught by a rogue wave and, ahem, falling off your board and getting caught on camera by your wonderfully sweet husband. 

Really, a wave did get me (and that's my story and I'm sticking to it)!

David and I did shoot an enduro mountain bike race, sweating it out on a Sunday morning at Big Brushy Recreation Area in the heart of the Ouachita Mountains, about an hour's drive from Hot Springs. It was itchy and hot and a bit exhausting and I never had more fun. I made some connections and new friends, and David and I both can't wait to shoot the next race.

Hot Springs and Lake Hamilton, the two places that are my home away from home. David and I have been going to Hot Springs (and the lake) for 24 years and three months. I add the three months because I had just entered my third trimester with Meghan when we made our first visit in 1993. David's parents chose Hot Springs to retire after working in the government. It's a beautiful town, nestled in the heart of the Ouachita Mountains, but it's really the lake that we spend the most time on. It always makes me sad to have to say good bye to it whenever it's time for us to leave and come home, but it is nice to know that it's just 4 hours away and easy to get to. In fact, Meghan and I are planning a Girls Weekend next month, bringing my paddle board and my little underwater camera that is absolutely amazing and fun to shoot with. Really, the boys and I couldn't get over the quality of the pictures from just a little point-and-shoot. And I don't have to worry about using my second camera body in the water anymore, saving me quite a bit of anxiety, even with the waterproof housing on it.

So yes, I'm still here, trying to find the discipline to sit at my desk and peck out a few words to describe my days. I'm still busy taking pictures, of that I will never tire of, it's just the time sitting at my desk, culling and processing, uploading and sharing that I find a bit draining lately. There's just so much Out There to see and experience that I'd rather be doing instead. 

The freedom of summer time . . . .

down a dirt road

I grew restless and bored Tuesday afternoon, so I grabbed my camera, got in my car, hit Highway 16 and headed west towards Oklahoma.

I drove past Lake Wedington and spotted a man stand up paddle boarding on the quiet water. 

I passed cows in pastures with their new calves, all huddled in the shade avoiding the heat, tails swishing in each other's faces in an attempt to keep the flies away.

The clouds billowed like towers over the hills as I drove along the winding road.

The radio played in the background of my thoughts, me not really thinking much, just watching the scenery going past my windows.

I find the dirt road I want, but drive past it because ahead there is a bridge I've always been curious to drive across to see what's on the other side. I continue to drive west until Highway 16 intersected with Highway 59 and I decide that I didn't want to go north or south, so I turn around and head back east to my dirt road I picked out and turn on to it.

Clouds of dust and dirt fog up behind me, and I tell myself that I'll need a carwash later this week. I stop periodically to take pictures, but none of them really do justice to the beauty of an Arkansas afternoon in the country.

I glance at the dashboard clock and see that I need to head back home. I had told Meghan that I would come over and help her begin packing up her apartment in preparation for her move this coming weekend to a cute new apartment off the Square downtown. 

I get to her place and am greeted with hugs and smiles from her. We always seem to pick up right where we left off the last time we were together. I'm so happy she is a just stone's throw away from home.

Her cat wraps himself around my legs, purring and incessantly meowing. He complains a lot, but he's a good boy for the most part.

He's also quite a ham, sticking his tongue out when he sees my camera pointed down at him.

Meghan and I sort her clothes, dividing and conquering her closet, then we sit and talk about everything and nothing at all, as we usually do, until almost seven in the evening. I give her a final hug, pet Sam, telling him to be a good boy, and walk down the stairs to my car.

It was a good day for a drive down a dirt road.