Life From this Lens Blog Circle — Long focal length

So I am a little late posting for August, but I will just chalk that up to having a fantastic summer that we didn’t want to have end. Long focal length means that I am shooting with a 70mm or longer lens — likely my 24-70mm or 70-200mm, both beautiful zoom lenses. Or my 85 prime lens, which I need to use more often! Here are a few images from our summer shot at this length.

——- One of my favorite things is following a good Blog Circle to see what different photographers do with the same theme or idea. Ours is called Life From This Lens and the theme for August is “Long Focal Length” so you will see images that feel like close ups that were actually shot from quite a distance, or you will see images that cover a lot of distance  — and everything in between!  I hope you will follow to the next person in our circle Jessica to see some more interpretations of this fun theme. Enjoy the work of the other artists in our blog circle.———

We finally went north to check out San Simeon campground near Paso Robles this summer. We are spoiled by our usual being El Capitan in Gaviota, but for my little ones any beach is a wonder and a joy, so we explored and played at the foggy shore there.


I really enjoyed shooting at this beach because of all the colorful rocks and seaweed giving the images texture, plus the fog makes everything pop.




This image was shot at 70mm as wide open as the lens would allow (f/2.8); I was trying to get just a small sliver of sand in focus for this more moody black and white. longlens-1


I was much closer to my kids when I shot the following image, but still at 70mm; it brings them into play as the main subjects instead of the environment.

They do love one other but boy do they go after each other sometimes! 😉



Since the Thomas Fire, we have been staying at a rental down by the beach — believe it or not, this was my view of the Ventura County Fair each night they did fireworks. I shot this at 200mm, and it is roughly a mile away.


And since we are living near the beach, we have had a lot of fun with friends, especially on summer evenings, with LOTS of pics snapped; this one stood out (70mm).longlens-10


I also wanted to share some of my documentary style work for clients. Often, that style works best with the shorter focal lengths, but sometimes you want 70mm or longer to really capture the scene. These were all shot at 70mm or higher.



Here’s a fun series shot with my 70-200. I love that I can basically just sit in my lawn chair under an umbrella and catch all this action as if I were standing right next to them. longlens-26longlens200-29longlens200-30


This boy of mine… he is such a character. After the kayaking he told my husband he wanted to surf, but he needed to stretch first! So funny!


Life from this Lens blog circle for May — Get in the Frame

My second month in our Life From This Lens blog circle, and boy was it a tough one.  The theme is “Get in the Frame,” in other words, self portraits — which I pretty much hate doing 🙂  I gave it a shot at least.  I hope you will follow to the next person in our circle Alisa to see some more interpretations of this theme.


Self portraits are a real challenge for me because I have struggled with the loss of my hair since my cancer treatment in 2015. I know it’s crazy, because I should just be grateful that we were able to take care of the cancer and I am more or less back to normal, but losing my hair was almost as traumatic as having cancer. My eyebrows were completely gone. I was bald as can be. My eyelashes all fell out over two days of the worst itching, irritated eyes of my entire life (except maybe that one time I accidentally got peppermint oil in my eye — Awful!! You can’t flush that stuff out!)

Anyway, my hair has grown back (mostly) and my eyebrows and eyelashes are coming along (thank you, Lash Boost).  Still.  I have never had short hair in my life, and every day as I try to cover the still-bald spots with wispy thin hair from the other side of my head I am reminded of what I lost. I’m no fashionista, preferring instead a pretty casual, laid back style of clothes and makeup, but my long, loose curls were part of my “beauty.” This is all hard to say, but I think you get the idea. I’m crippled by my desire to look the way I used to, but I’m fairly certain I never will. The chemo took my hair, and it took the peace and joy from my face. It took my healthy glow. It took my eyebrows that I never even plucked. But it didn’t take my gumption. I can still be brave. I’m going to go through with this self-portrait stuff because I need to. I need to start seeing myself again.

This is a phone shot of me the morning before I had the hairdresser cut my hair short in anticipation of it all falling out. I can see how clear and healthy my skin looked too. Chemo really does do a number on your looks! And another with my husband on the day it started to fall out. I like that I still look happy.


Three years later, I have most of a head of hair. And I’m doing my best to move on. So here’s my first full-on self portrait. I have tried hard not to be self-indulgent or dwell on my loss, but to pretend it doesn’t affect me on a daily basis would be lying.


So I took a few more in some nice window light — played around with the editing, just for fun.


And that is about all I could stomach of self-portraits for now. But I did grab some “action” shots at the Moxi Museum in Santa Barbara. One of the activities is to jump as high as you can and then you can see a video of yourself afterwards. So I took a picture of that. And some other fun things. I’m like a kid at that place — I love kids’ science museums. That’s my little budding photographer jumping with me 😉



My 5 year old took this picture of us on my iPhone a few weeks back. I’m really glad to see I look happy — worn out and still bald-ish, but happy. Thanks for listening.


Hoping you will follow along to the next photographer in the circle, Alisa. Cheers!

Pops of Color — A new blog circle

One of my favorite things is following a good Blog Circle to see what different photographers do with the same theme or idea. I’m so pleased to finally be joining one!  It’s called Life From This Lens, and April’s theme is “Pop of Color” so you will see bold and vibrant color highlighted in the following images. I hope you will follow to the next person in our circle, Jessica, to see some more interpretations of this fun theme. I so wish I had made more time for this, but May is here, so on to the next theme, self portrait — always a challenge, but fun to attempt anyway 😉     Enjoy these pop of color images, and especially the work of the other artists in our blog circle.

Often when I am shooting I am drawn first to the subject — whatever it is that first grabs my attention. But the scene itself — with it’s lines, patterns, shapes, movement, and colors — also has a strong influence on the success of the image. Color is one of the elements that works to my advantage but can also work to my disadvantage — when several colors are clashing for example, or when the color is somehow working to distract the viewer from the meaning or feeling of the image. But when color is really working in a frame, it can become the focus of the narrative, the element that your eyes are most drawn to. In the following frames, I found that color played a significant role (evident, too, in the decision to keep the image color instead of converting to black and white).


A “Pop of color,” then, is just a color element in the frame that is either emphasized by the lack of color in the rest of the frame or that is just so bright and powerful it stands out or really calls attention to itself. In the following images, you can’t keep your eyes from going to the pop of color — it dominates the frame and captures your attention first. When that happens, you can say that the pop either carries or takes on a significant role in the meaning or story the image tells.

color44color-25color-23 color-22

Sometimes the “pop” of color is not so much a bright and colorful small element in the frame but instead the vibrancy and potency of the color element set against darkness, or simply a lack of color in the rest of the frame.


The blue is popping in this next frame, enhanced by the yellow of his shirt. Notice that they are basically the only two real colors in the image, the rest of the frame is essentially neutrals. color-100

And in the following image as well, the neutrals are causing the purple jacket to pop in a relatively dark image taken at dusk. color-9

In this image the dark wheel mimics the other circles, and while there are other colors — the balloon, the circle of yellow lights on the ceiling — the pop of color in the color wheel commands the frame.color-60

Or, the “pop” can be the whole frame, delineated by a darker element. color43

If the “pop” of color is not extreme, sometimes the other elements in the frame — line, movement, shape — can be used to emphasize, or point to the color to enhance it’s influence on the viewer, as in this shot at the water’s edge — the zig-zag design in the sand, the light, the footprints and the bright white surf all work to enhance the color element in the frame.color-10

One last example — here, the pink jacket commands the frame, but because of the movement — her running and the boy clearly talking into the phone — the “pop” of color helps create the tension (in the second image, in contrast, the pink is too much — the viewer’s eye goes directly to it, but without meaning.)color-53color-54


Next up, Jessica!  Check it out!






Markstrum family in Santa Barbara

How lucky to be able to spend the morning in Santa Barbara celebrating the most precious little girl! First in their home, then down to the beach, we captured all the love these three share — the lovely little family I felt so happy to get to know better since Mama just happens to be the woman who taught my kids music when they were little.

A dad and his boys

I had the pleasure of creating portraits of this family last Christmas and now that older brother came to town, we got together again to document their time together. Conejo Creek Park North in Thousand Oaks is such a lovely place to shoot too — my first time; I just loved all the options and the beautiful greenery. These guys were great sports, clowning around together. And Dad was truly pleased to have some great images of his three boys altogether. Here are a few favorites from our session. (click on any image to cycle through them full size)

Family time at Carpinteria Bluffs / Ventura family photographer

This family clearly knows their way around the beach. The forecast was for rain early in the day but we got lucky — it managed to clear up and turn into one of the most beautiful evenings I’ve had the pleasure of photographing a family in. The Bluffs are great for variety any time of year, but after the recent rains, the lush grass and warm tones really made for some beautiful images. They were clearly so at ease with each other, so kind and warm to each other, that we got some pictures the family just love. All the sweeter because they hadn’t had family photos done since before the younger two were born.  A great start to what I hope becomes a yearly tradition!

Fun Family session at Lavender Inn, Ojai / Ventura family photographer

I have a special place in my heart for Lavender Inn in Ojai, so I was so pleased when the owner agreed to let me do a few portrait sessions in the beautiful gardens. This family has so much fun together and so much energy — love being around them! The youngest fell asleep in the car on the drive up to Ojai from Ventura, so we didn’t get much of him, but everyone else enjoyed the day… especially the bolting away from the group part — so funny! 😉

The Rupperts in Seattle / Ventura County Family Photographer

Seattle — what a gorgeous backdrop for this brightly-clad family of 4, who really knew how to rock coordinated but not too matchy-matchy — the perfect fall look for this October shoot at the park with the iconic Space Needle in the background. I love their crisp, together look that’s fun but still neutral. And these girls could not be any cuter! This family clearly has so much fun together too, which gave their session a playful feel.

Olivos Adobe wedding, Ventura Ca.

These two…. after shooting their engagement photos I was so honored and pleased to be asked to photograph their very special wedding. I loved seeing their amazing group of family and friends pull together and, with all that they had to give, bless this couple with the most amazing memories. It was such a lovely outdoor ceremony and reception at Olivas Adobe Park in Ventura — hard to pick just a few to share!  Their wedding party consisted of 42 people, so we had a great time trying to get everyone in — but you can just see the love!

The birth of Baby Bodhi, Ventura California birth photography

This amazing young couple definitely earned the mellowest client ever award in my book! Through 56 hours of labor, a C-section, and an amazing array of visitors the next day, they stayed peaceful, calm, hopeful, and just plain beautiful, inside and out. I had the very special privilege of being the first thing this sweet little guy looked over at when he opened his eyes for the first time. For a moment, after they brought him to the warmer, he did not take a breath and suddenly there was tension, but after a long half minute or so he cried out and all of us in the room let out our breath. Mom was a trooper throughout and it was such a pleasure to capture this life-changing moment in their lives, to document the peaceful atmosphere they have brought little Bodhi into, and to share these images with them. He’s got some pretty special parents and I wish them all the best in this new life together.