Wednesday, February 29, 2012


It's self-portrait time!  Maybe I'll even leap into March with a series of self-portraits.  This is a very challenging thing for most photographers because we tend to feel much more comfortable behind the lens (sober anyway).  Just like any meal I cook--I criticize myself to death...the bags under my eyes, the new wrinkes, my hair style, my gazillion freckles...blah blah blah.  I go nuts when I hear my girlfriends do it and then I'm a big hypocrite.  So, here's my first self-portrait for an assignment I'm doing in my portraiture class.  I know it needs work but I do want to incorporate mirrors and this was NOT easy to get into focus.  I took hundreds before I stopped at this one.  Plus, my bathroom (the whole darn house) is this awful off-yellow color that gives every image an ugly color cast that must be fixed in PS no matter what my white balance setting.  So, black and white at least gives it an even tone without that nasty color cast.  It makes it harder to see the ugly bags under my eyes  It is now past my's after 10pm.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Tomato in February

Isn't this tomato a thing of beauty?  I was giddy when I saw it in the grocery store and almost sliced it before I could capture it and share it with you.  It taste like a mouthful of the winter.  Hmmm, it's winter, right?  Where did this fabulous tomato come from anyway?  I forgot to check but the bummer is that it didn't come from my garden or any other garden within 100 miles.  I think we are all so confused by what grows when because our stores fill the produce section with everything...all the time!  When I read "French Women Don't Get Fat" she kept stressing the importance of eating only what is in season and I found myself asking, isn't everything in season?  It's at my grocery store.  I found myself going to the farmers market (everything is brought in from California because so few farmers exist in the greater Las Vegas area) being disappointed that they didn't have more variety--silly girl.  I still shop (and eat) with my eyes but I will tell you that this lovely heirloom was delicious, and I will likely enjoy another one tomorrow...winter or not.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Color and Form

My friend Jill taught me that color is not what you see but how it makes you feel.  How does red make you feel?  Jill says that red makes you hungry so it is a great color in the dining room.  I don't know what it is about this red glass pendant I love so much but I do.  It makes me smile as it hangs over my kitchen table.  It reminds me of the pendant light at Starbucks and I guess I associate that with joy in some silly way.  As for the design, I love the curvy, flowing movement in it's shape.  It feels like water to me and the shapes between the lines make me think of fish swimming up toward the top like salmon.  The salmon make me think of Alaska, a place I once lived and enjoyed, and Alaska makes me think of my friend Jill, and the color red.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Back on the Couch

I thought this would be a perfect ending shot to a fabulous mini-vacation.  It's a bit of a sad juxtaposition to look at the image of my skis and then compare that to the view of my slippers...but that's life.  I can't always be on a lift over a mountain but I can always take myself back there when I look at my photos! It's another Sunday night...back to the grind tomorrow but for tonight, I'm just chilling out on the couch.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Point 'Em Down!

Ah, the view of Lake Tahoe over my ski's, how fabulous.  I didn't even notice that parking lot below when I shot this!  I was too busy staring at the lake, the mountains and the moguls below.  I guess that makes me more of an optimistic tourist than a professional photog, eh?  Ah, my heart was so happy when I shot this from my iPhone.  I was sitting next to my sweet friend, Rachel, I knew my daughter was digging her ski lessons and the hub was doing his snowboard thing and we were having fun girl time on the greens!  :D  This picture reminds me of my grandfather's photos growing it!  As my Uncle Jimmy says, "Point 'em down!"

Friday, February 24, 2012

3 Boxers and a Starbucks

So, there we were, we turned in our skis for the day and my girlfriend and I were waiting for the kids and hubs to finish up so...we shopped.  We headed to a Patagonia store to check out their t-shirts when we saw these beauties.  They were the sweetest things, just waiting so patiently in front of the store, with their Starbucks.  The chunky monkey on the right made me smile, she was so calm and just watched me the whole time with those deep, brown eyes.  What a doll.  The other two turned their heads when they heard a person walking out of the store--in hopes it was their person.  This shot looked great in black and white but I just couldn't because I wanted to share their warm, brown tones--so gorgeous.  Must love dogs!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Holy Pinecone

Check out this awesome pinecone!  We just arrived in Lake Tahoe and while we were walking into the condo Siena found this massive pinecone.  I was more concerned about getting the luggage in the room and she was already embracing the funky nature around us, how cool!  It's going to be a very fun, long weekend!  :D 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Extrusive Time

For my masters thesis project I am creating a series call Daydream that shows different people in different professions enjoying a mental escape in their busy day.  I'm having each person standing perfectly still in a yoga pose of their choice while the world around them continues.  This is something I think we can all benefit from (a quiet moment of meditation) and can also be contagious to those in your presence.  When we are calm, that can positively effect people around us, just as our negativity can affect them (this is true with children and dogs too, by the way).  The effect I'm using here is called "extrusive time" to show the movement over a short burst of time.  Dig it.  :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Art Emergency

How clever is this?  It's an old hospital that's been converted into an art haven full of private studios and work spaces.  It's fantastic!  What a gem!  I lived here for nearly 5 years before I found it (and that was only because someone mentioned it).  It's on the "dodgy end" of town so I can't say that I passed it a million times but when I finally went in, I was giddy.  You enter in through a beatnik style coffee shop full of vinyl records and vintage postcards (all for sale) and work your way through the maze of corridors and small rooms.  It still looks very much like a hospital so that adds to the creepiness of the place--if the walls could talk! Some artists had studios that were formerly hospital rooms, some were surgical rooms, some offices, I guess it just depends on what's available when you go shopping for a space.  There are artists of all kinds, painters, photographers, graphic art, sculptors, and more...the eclectic nature of the space makes it even more of an adventure because you really don't know what's around each corner.  It's fun to get out and find a new treasure in an old town.  Just do it! 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Penguin Hats Rock

How can you not smile?  "Dad, I want to wear my penguin hat while I play a game on your computer."  "Why not?"  She is not just my alter ego, she is crazy is that?  One time I caught her coloring in front of the fireplace wearing her swimming goggles.  I just cracked up but she told me it was because her eyes were getting hot and the goggles protected them.  Of course!  Silly me.  I'm sure if I asked about the penguin hat she would have told me something equally as sensible, but this time I didn't ask, I just clicked!  Penguin hats rock (so do little kids)!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sunflower Girl

Isn't it amazing how a "thing" that really means nothing to most people can trigger so many powerful memories and mean so much to you?  I look at this lovely, little Sunflower Girl statue in my garden every day (many times a day) and she always makes me happy.  My affection for sunflowers started when I was small and my mom grew them in the garden.  My memories are fuzzy but I do remember looking up at them and loving watching the birds eat the seeds.  Fast forward nearly 25 years later and a dear friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer.  In an effort to cheer her up I would bring sunflowers to her house because, for some reason, they made me think of her.  She later would call me her "sunflower friend." When she was in remission for one summer, her husband took her to Italy where she photographed and framed a beautiful, sunlit sunflower and gave it to me upon her return.  I still look at that picture every day because I keep it in my bathroom and it comforts me.  Even though my friend lost her battle to cancer, I still smile when I see that photograph because she was full of hope and joy when she took it.  I don't feel heavy and sad forgetting her...I feel happy remembering!  I know I sound like a sentimental girl, but I'm really not.  There are very few "things" that are important to me...a flower vase my great grandmother gave me, a picture of my mom holding me when I was a baby, a picture of my dad and me in our underwear (when I was a toddler), another picture of my brother and sister and I as kids while we were on a trip to Mt. Rushmore...and this statue.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Childhood Memories

Wasn't life simple when you were 5 years old?  I hope it was, that's what it should be.  It should be about uncontrollable giggles, thinking about cookies and candy constantly, running and twirling and jumping until you fall over and sleep overs with your best friend.  This image is designed specifically to give that retro feel using high contrast and increased noise, it makes me think of when I was a kid and my sister and I used to take bubble baths together and laugh and splash until we got in trouble.  These simple things just make life so sweet, and they cost nothing.  Isn't that great?!

Friday, February 17, 2012


What is it about a fire that is so cozy?  It's such a powerful force yet we love to stare at it, to sit around it and feel its warmth on our skin.  Maybe it is the illusion of control or our symbiotic relationship with nature--we need that fire just as much as it depends on us to keep it going.  I love the ease of flipping a switch and my gas fireplace "magically" ignites but nothing tops the real thing...sitting around a campfire or a fire pit and enjoying a cool evening with people you enjoy.  I think I'll do that this weekend...the real thing.  It's so cozy!

post script, my original plan for tonights image was that of my husband waving his arms slowly as I shot him at a very low shutter speed to make the image appear as if he had no arms.  It was rather amusing to shoot...we shot several of each other and laughed through most of it.  Then we got quite artsy and twirled and changed f-stop and ISO and then lowered the shutter speed some more as we leaned against the wall in lieu of using the million dollar tripod we bought (too lazy to walk upstairs to get it).  How ridiculous.  I just couldn't post a blurry shot so I went with the more sobering and serene fireplace shot.  Now, it doesn't seem so lame, does it?  :p

Thursday, February 16, 2012

My Weakness

I have been working on my techniques this week because I want to capture someone in still time with the world revolving around them for my thesis project.  So, I'm using my daughter as my subject (a lot) so I can practice in different lights.  I usually make her twirl around or run around so I can work on my exposure settings (my weak point) with slow shutter speed but today, she was just not having it.  I kept trying to capture her both this morning and then after school in the playground, "Just twirl around for a second." "MOM! I'm getting dizzy!" "Just one more time." "MOM! Stop picturing me!"  I gave her a break but she didn't trust me (that's fair) and when I put my lens cap on and looked around, I saw her "hiding" from me (really hiding from my camera) but how could I resist this shot?  Cute kid things like this are really my weakness!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


I never saw the day coming, but it's here...I am a "Cookie Mom."  It's official, I aggressively sell little, fatty, addictive snacks to my reluctant friends and neighbors.  I put my cute kid out in public to peddle this sugar to strangers so her troop can do fun things like go to Sea World, have spa parties and "build-a-bear" with the loot they make on the streets.  I have no shame and I am ruthless, I am a Cookie Mom.

P.S. If you want to buy any, just let me know, I will pay the postage if you buy more than 5 boxes.  If cookies don't fit in your weight watchers points, just send money--we'll make sure it goes to the troop and the cookies will go to the deployed Troops!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Flowers and Candy and Cards, Oh My!

Happy Valentines Day!  I think we should really make Valentines Day on a Saturday (permanently) because, seriously, who can be bothered to "do it up" on a Tuesday night?  I am sure the people who own/operate restaurants are THRILLED because they finally have people dining in on a super-slow night...but I just couldn't be bothered to go out...and who would babysit?  Speaking of which, I better run before my Valentine falls asleep after a long day and miss out on some kisses!  Happy dreams and Happy Tuesday!

Monday, February 13, 2012


As kids we learn songs like “rain, rain go away, come again some other day…” but as an adult, living in the desert, I’m so happy when it rains.  It’s the coziest feeling when it’s chilly and rainy, as long as I can stay inside!  I was glued to my computer all day doing the homework I couldn’t do in Barstow but the rain made it easy to keep my butt in the seat.  I flipped on the fireplace, drank some coffee, ate a few nibbles of the evil cookies we made last night and got most of my homework done.  Then my friend called, went into labor, I watched 3 crazy kids, made dinner, and when I got back to my homework the online class system went down and I couldn’t turn in any of my homework…awesome.  I hate rainy days!  Just kidding…

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Welcome Home

Welcome home, I missed you!  I've spent the last 2 weeks stuffed away in a closet, forgotten about and really sucked.  You are the only one who loves me, who touches me, who appreciates all that I am and all that I have to offer.  I am so happy you are back, thank you for showing me the attention I longed for and that I deserve!  You are the best.  Love, Dyson

Saturday, February 11, 2012


Today was my last day in Barstow and I'm ready to go home once again.  It's been a good visit but not only am I terribly behind in my homework and email but I miss my little family (and my bed).  Going away always makes us appreciate all the blessings we forget to appreciate when we are home.  Here are a few things I'm thankful for:  the fact that I don't have to wake up at 0400 every morning; I'm thankful that I sleep in a cozy bed each night and not a tent somewhere far from home; I'm grateful that I don't have to do PT at 0630 every day--even if it's cold, dark and windy; I am so happy I live near a Trader Joes and Whole Foods; I am blessed with having my husband close and my daughter healthy; I'm glad I don't have to worry about coyotes in my back-yard every day; I'm blessed that I live in a country that is free and for all this and more, I tank-you!

Friday, February 10, 2012

White Cross Reminders

When you drive down the remote roads in the Mojave Desert your eyes are pulled from the moon-like landscape to the scattering of white crosses along side the road.  Sadly, they are plentiful and visceral reminders of not only the people who lost their lives along this road but the ones left behind.  It's especially heartbreaking to see posts like this one, which obviously represents the loss of a child.  I think we go through stages in life of feeling very immortal (in our 20s) and then feeling completely and utterly mortal and we hold those we love even closer...especially our children.  My heart aches when I see white crosses on the side of the road because I wonder who is missing the person they represent but my heart breaks when I see one with beloved stuffed friends embracing them.  I am not going to miss seeing these reminders when I leave (the news is sad enough) but I sure will squeeze my family tight when I return.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Main Street

This, my friends, is a little glimpse of Main Street, Barstow, CA.  It's oozing with kitschy charm--it's like someone set up a whole town just for someone like me to photograph!  I am sooo loving the details here like a store called "Discoteca" with a graffiti Mary and Jesus on the door which is next to a Barber Shop with a neon sign that reads "Floyd's Barber Shop, Mayberry, NC" (sorry you can't read it).  The juxtapositions of everything in this town is what I really enjoy--the old and new and culture clashes are everywhere.  It's a feast for the eyes--just keep your windows up and doors locked!  :o

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Army Rocks

Army rocks.  Lots and lots and lots of rocks...everywhere.  Military traditions don't often make sense to outsiders and I'm sure many civilians drive past sites like this and either laugh or scratch their heads wondering how bored people must have been to paint a rock in the desert.  Others might wish they knew who painted these rocks and wished they could shake the hands of the people who did simply because they served.  As I walked among these rocks I thought about all the units who came out to a place I have been referring to as "the moon"and played war-games and later deployed with their fresh knowledge of battle tactics.  I looked at these rocks and imagined the hundreds and thousands of men and women who wore the colors of the patches painted on each rock.  They are steeped in history and their lineage often goes back hundreds of years, thousands of battles and millions of soldiers.  There were many rocks painted by our ally's who came here to train with the US Army, I saw one rock painted with the Swedish flag and the crest of an infantry unit and I smiled thinking of my Great Grandfather (Ollie) who served in the Swedish Army.  I enjoyed my visit to this site today, a site you can only see if you drive 34 miles from the nearest town, into the Mojave Desert.  What a trip--Army ROCKS!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


It's just one of those weeks...I'm exhausted, can you tell?  Every day I pack my gym bag, carry it to my temporary office and every day I carry it back to the hotel, unopened.  Argh.  I think if I was home I'd have a LOT more energy...what is it about being away from home (for work--not vacation) that wears us out so much?  My body feels so heavy as it sinks into this soft, pillow covered bed, as if I'm laying in sand that I am barely able to lift myself up again.  I still have so much to do, homework for 3 classes and my blog image to post, and 12 hours of work to log...but all that can wait for now...just 5 more minutes, please.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Little Pink House

This little pink house was the object of my affection tonight.  I love the shell of the house that someone painted pale pink against the brown desert background.  It must have been so beautiful once and probably made someone very happy when they first built it.  Like much of this old town, it's been neglected, unloved and ultimately deserted.  It's a bit depressing, really.  I hoped that capturing this little gem would be like giving it a little symbolic hug, some immortality and appreciation.  Her windows are now boards, her doors are removed and roof long gone but the soul of this home remains and I'm sure if the walls could talk they would tell me they made someone smile once and were happy to do it again.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sunset Behind Port-a-Potty

There's just something about a sunset that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy...especially when the foreground is a row of tanks and an Army-issue port-a-potty!  How could I resist this shot?  Thanks goes to my friend, Val, for guiding me to this one.  I just can't add to much narrative to this shot, plus I'm dog tired after a very long day.  I hope your sunset was equally fabulous!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Who Knew?

Well, I'm learning more and more about Barstow.  Today, I took a self-guided tour of the railroad museum (love those old Union Pacific beasts) and then took a shot of this mural of The Southern Route of the Mormon Trail.  Apparently, the Southern route went from the Pacific Ocean (Los Angeles) to Salt Lake City via Barstow!  There are similar murals around town that depict the city's history, it's quite fascinating.  As for this shot, I really wanted to capture the mural, the history and the present by desaturating the color of the image to reflect its historical feel but also to include the homeless man walking past the "trail of tears" to reflect the difficulties that remain today.  Just around the corner from this building is a homeless shelter and it appeared full last night and today.  I'm looking forward to learning more tomorrow but I'm admittedly aching to shoot the plethora of liquor stores that line Main Street.  It's a bit shocking--they are the equivalent to Starbucks in any urban setting.  Who knew?!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Route 66

I'm on the road again, this time I'm on the West Coast and specifically, I'm actually staying at a hotel right on the infamous Route 66.  I'm giddy!  I was honestly dreading staying here for a week because I didn't think about where I was staying, what would be here, or all of the fantastic photographic opportunities.  It's amazing what you see when you open not just your eyes but your imagination, your heart, and your spirit.  No matter where you are, I guarantee there is something to shoot.  It's all about how you look at the things around you, right?  I'm looking forward to sharing a little of this little piece of history with you this week, Americana at it's best...on Route 66.  (I spared you the song, you know you have it in your head now.)

With Love

Enjoy something wholesome today, a gift from nature to nourish your body.  Today I started reading a book called "If The Buddha Came To Dinner" and after a few short pages I am hooked.  The whole premise of the book is to treat the divine within you as you would if you met (and hosted) the divine in your home.  Your body, mind and spirit deserve to be treated with gentleness, kindness and love and this must start with YOU.  One of the ways I show love to my family is through feeding them healthy meals.  I feel responsible for the food my daughter eats and I feel love for meals I offer my husband and friends.  It is reasonable to treat myself with the same responsibility and love, but so often I turn to what is quick and easy instead and forget to honor my own needs.  This is something I've worked on changing over the past few years and I can feel the difference in many ways.  I feel better, look better and my spirit is truly healthier because of this shift in thinking.  We are only able to love others completely when we love ourselves first.  If the Buddha came to my house for dinner tonight, I would happily offer these blueberries I bought for my family and share them.  I will keep the wine in the wine fridge for another visitor...wink wink.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Home Sweet Slot Machine

Ah, home once again...I was welcomed back to Vegas by the boisterous spinning of the Vegas icon, the slot machine (ok, there are several icons here--I guess this one is the most commonly seen, aside from Elvis).  I saturated the colors just a bit more for effect because the Vegas airport really is an over stimulating place full of color, funny looking people, flashing signs everywhere you turn and more limo drivers than you can shake a stick at.  As tacky as it is, it's home now and it made me happy to see these gaudy metal boxes and slightly unctuous vinyl chairs.  They beacon the hopeful visitor and almost wink at the old friend's good to be back.