Pine Lake State Park – In Photographs

My family spent last weekend camping at Pine Lake State Park near Eldora, IA.  The park is less than an hour from us and an easy drive…the kids didn’t even request electronic devices until we were almost there.  I love camping trips for the family and outdoors time, but also for the opportunity to practice my craft in a new environment.  When you are camping and hiking, there is no breaking out a reflector, waiting for the perfect light, or posing your subject in a gorgeous outfit!  You just have to work with what you’ve got =)

Wind turbines in central Iowa

We spent most of our time fishing and hiking, with a little park time for the kiddos thrown in.

family fishing beside stream

The fishermen in the family managed to reel in a few small bass and bluegill and we were entertained watching a few fish attempt to jump up the spillway at the upper lake.

We hiked from the campground down and all the way around the lower lake on Saturday and took the trail up along the other side of the upper lake Sunday morning.  The kids did a great job in their new-this-season hiking boots, with very little complaining on even the 3+ mile hike!  My feet, on the other hand, were grumpy in my several-years-old tennies.

Canada Goose hissing Spillway at lower lake

crumbling brige at end of trail on upper lake

We discovered lots of spring wildflowers and talked about edible plants and our rule regarding them (always ask a knowledgeable adult to verify first!)  We discussed littering (again), and we found (and tried to explain) a park boundary benchmark.

First camping trip of the season…success!siblings on lake shoreline Lone Pine Tree

play area at state park


Reverse Lens Macro

closeup photo of zipper

My big camera has been either in transit or at the Canon Service Center for over a week now, and I am really missing it!  I’ve been making do with my older camera body for my everyday pictures, but a couple of shoots I wanted to do are on hold for now.  While I’m waiting, I’ve been playing around a bit with some more creative projects.

This week’s prompt for the P52 photography project I have been following is Macro.  I don’t have a true “macro” lens with 1:1 magnification (another thing for the gear wishlist), but an interesting way to try macro is by turning a lens backwards and holding it up to your camera lens mount and manually focusing on your subject by moving either forward or back.  I would NOT use the un-attached lens method outdoors, as your camera’s sensor is exposed and could get dust spots very easily.  There are adaptors available to make it possible to attach the lens reversed if you want this option.

Grape Hyacinth Flower Macro Macro-Photography-1 Brownie Junior Camera Macro

I would guess that macro is one of the most time intensive genres of photography.  Some people find it relaxing and almost meditative as you can find beauty in the construction of even mundane subjects.  For me the tiny little tweaks to be made in lighting, arranging, and working with such a shallow depth of field were a little frustrating with my improvised set up, but I can see how it could be a fun style to learn with more specialized equipment.

Daffodil Bloom Macro

Here are a few tips in case you decide to try your hand at some macro photography.

– Shoot macro outdoors on a very still day, as even a slight breeze will move your subject in/out of your focal plane. 

– Be conscious of your shooting stance and how you are supporting your camera.  Tuck your elbows against your body or support them on a sturdy surface.  Take a breath in and hold it while you press the shutter.

Indoors, try using a tripod and an additional light source to accommodate the narrow apertures and slower shutter speeds that are often necessary for macro shooting.

– Don’t forget about composition, perspective, and lighting; check the frame for distracting color if any background is visible,  watch where the shadow of your camera/lens is falling, and experiment with subject placement in the frame.

Crackle Glass Vase Macro

And a reminder to myself…choose a time when you will be uninterrupted, take time to set up the area you are working in so that everything is sturdy, and keep a towel nearby because of course you are going to spill at least one vase of water =/.

Monday Morning Exploring

child looking into water from metal culvert

My son and I went for a drive the other day out past Dunkerton toward the Wapsipinicon River.  I’m not sure what my motivation was, location scouting under the guise of outdoor adventure or the other way around, but we threw my boy’s bike in the trunk and went off in search of county parks.

We stopped at Mickey Fox Wildlife Area (I would recommend a vehicle with higher clearance than my car, possibly 4 wheel drive, and rubber boots).  We hiked around a little here, exploring the creeks and riverbanks and looking for animal tracks, while making sure to stay within view of our vehicle since it was an unfamiliar area without marked trails.

From here we ventured just a bit farther down the road to Cutshall Area.  Part of the park road was underwater but easy to get around so we walked down a short river access trail.  We could hear chorus frogs singing like mad, but we never caught sight of them.  We did see lots of deer tracks, beaver stumps, and our first woodland flower of the year!  Anyone have an ID on this one?

One thing that is important to me when we go outdoor exploring is teaching my kids (or whoever is with me) to become familiar with and respect the environment they are in.  There is so much that I have yet to learn, but at least getting them started identifying different bird and tree species, finding animal tracks and signs, and learning basic safety and survival skills piques their interest and encourages them to learn more (I hope)!  Today we talked about having water and snacks with you while hiking, and letting someone know exactly where you will be going.

This was such a fun morning adventure (and successful location scout)…I’m thinking we’ll be doing this more often!

March Lifestyle Newborns

bottom of baby feet

March was a month of lifestyle family/newborn sessions.  Because this was a new genre I wanted to get into, I put out a model call so that I would have a good variety of images for future clients to see and know what to expect from this type of session.  These sessions involve the whole family, and I love that!  While a posed newborn session is all about the baby, these lifestyle sessions capture the physical and emotional environment that baby is being welcomed into, and help to tell the baby’s story.  Here are some of my favorites from the month.