Shadow Play

Sometimes capturing shadows is just a happy accident, sometimes the photographer chooses to include them as an element of the composition, and sometimes our subject has chosen to make the shadow  more of the focal point than they themselves are.

shadow girls


Dunham Lifestyle Session |Cedar Falls Family Photography


It was so great to get to meet this fun family to do an in-home session with their new little one!  I started off with the little guy in his space while the rest of the family finished up getting ready.  We thought he’d conk out for most of the session, but he stayed awake the whole time.



He seemed content to be the center of attention and enjoyed the snuggle time!  Big sister took a little time (and a couple of bribes) to get comfortable with me and my big camera, but we worked together and were able to capture some super fun images.


Dad came home and got some downtime with her while I got some images of just Mom and baby…


…then we got the whole family together for some silliness and cuddles.


I’m always amazed after a session how a family you have met for only a short time stays on your mind.  I always enjoy working on the galleries and hearing updates on how their families are doing a few weeks later!

Bugs | Waterloo, IA Nature Photography

blue dragonfly with green eyes perched on rock

I’ve lost count of how many times this summer I have heard, “Mom, you’ve got to come see this!”, “Come check this out!”, or “You have to get a picture of this!”  Usually it involves creepy-crawlies of some sort and while I’m usually willing to at least see what it is, I am not necessarily getting close enough to photograph it…

blue dragonfly with green eyes perched on rock
Eastern Pondhawk – Erythemis simplicicollis

If said “cool” species isn’t going to jump up at me, squiggle across my foot, or fly right at my lens; then I’ll pull out my camera and try to capture them.  When I have a picture, I can convince them to leave the living creature outside where it belongs!

Katydid – family Tettigoniidae

This guy below was borderline on my squeamish scale, but he was fairly slow moving and was kind-of fascinating to watch climb.  We don’t see many large beetles around our place (thank goodness), so maybe that was part of the attraction!

large black beetle climbing stick
Hermit Flower Beetle – Osmoderma eremicola

Occasionally, I even scope out bugs on my own.  For the sake of practicing the art of photography, of course!  Someday I will have  a true macro lens for this type of shot, but until then I work with what I have and enjoy the experimenting.

Bumble bee on Kale blossom
Bumble bee – genus Bombus

Of course after the photos are captured, I often have to head inside to research and try to identify just exactly what the subject is.  There are so many similar species that are often generalized, but it’s fun to puzzle out which ones actually live in our area and observe the little details that set them apart (i.e. Monarch vs. Viceroy).  Maybe I’m raising biologists?!

side view of monarch on phlox
Monarch – Danaus plexippus

6 month Portraits | Waterloo, IA Child Photography

baby girl doing superman

baby girl portrait on vintage trunk in field

I did a quick shoot with this little cutie just after she hit the big 6 month milestone.  I love when they can sit unassisted for short amounts of time…it lets you switch things up a little with posing, and really celebrates their new achievements and abilities.  (Like flashing their bloomers and chewing on their clothes!)little girl in flower field

Plop them on a blanket and see what they can do…you’re sure to capture some adorableness, even after they get tired and tip over =)

6 month old sitting up portraits baby girl doing superman

Just don’t count on them being happy on their backs for long!  They think they are big stuff now and want to be watching the world around them, not above girl laying on blanket

And here’s my favorite from the session, she just looks so chill!


Color Study | Violet Jelly Experiment

violet blossoms in glass bowl

violet blossoms in glass bowl

Early this summer (well, when the violets were blooming) I sent my kids out to pick a bowlful of blooms with the goal in mind to make a batch of jelly. I ended up picking the last 2-3 cups, and the jelly turned out more like a thick syrup, but check out these awesome colors.

violet blossoms and water have turned blue after steeping
Steeping in Boiling Water

Who knew boiling water and then lemon juice would create these changes?!

liquid has turned a deep violet color after adding lemon juice
After adding Sugar and Lemon Juice

The recipe I used is from Taste of Home and can be found here.

jelly in the jars after water bath is bright magenta
Finished Violet Jelly

P.S. As for the texture issue, I’m guessing my pectin was old, or I boiled for too long or short a time.  Cooking and canning is NOT my area of expertise!


Summertime Toddler Portraits

girl in the prairieHow sweet is this girl with her soulful look?  Those blue eyes and dark lashes just draw you in don’t they…toddler portrait in meadowtoddler girl meadow collageIt was hot, hot, hot that evening with crazy high humidity to boot, but she was a good sport through it all, running to Dad, laughing at brother, giving smiles for Mom, and even attempting a twirl or two.lake girl collageWe waited ’til the end of the session to go down by the water, and of course she was happiest of all here, especially after she realized how good that cool water felt!splashing and stompingtoddler-portrait-mermaid-sunset-lakeWhat a beautiful evening with this little one and her family!

Pollinator Planting – 1st Mowing

Allis Chalmers mowing prairieThe pollinator planting behind my house was mowed down for the first time the other day.  (Mowing is a management technique to avoid the establishment of unwanted species.)  It almost seemed a shame to be cutting down these blooms, but it will make for a stronger planting in the long run.

Hyssop Blooms in planting
Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)

And look, there were even pollinators out and about on the Bergamot and Coneflower.

Bumble Bee on Wild Bergamot bloom
Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)
American Bumble Bee on Grayhead Coneflower
American Bumble Bee on Grayhead Coneflower (Ratibida pinnata)

A plant new to me was the Partridge Pea, which, according to Wikipedia “is considered an excellent choice for planting in disturbed areas, as it will quickly cover an area, preventing erosion, while still allowing other plants to become established”.

Partridge Pea bloom and foliage
Partridge Pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata)

And I couldn’t resist a shot of the classic Black Eyed Susan or the non-native and technically invasive Queen Anne’s Lace that is growing around the perimeter of the planting.

Black Eyed Susan

non-native wild carrot
Wild Carrot (Daucus carota)

I’ll be back out there before the next mowing to see what else is new, and maybe even shoot some portraits out there =)