Monday, February 28, 2011

crafty sunday

I hardly ever see movies and I don't currently have a way of watching TV that isn't Hulu after the fact, so here's a Monday-morning blog that's not about the Oscars. Instead, I spent yesterday being fairly productive, though I suppose I should have spent a bit more time working on my thesis. I only gave that a whirl early in the day, and then abandoned it.

Lately, I've been wanting to be creative. I think this is partly inspired by my friend Lori-Anne Jackson, who is working hard to get her brand-new accessory line, Sara Laurence, ready for its launch. She's been posting sneak peeks of some of the pieces on Facebook in preparation for her pro photoshoot, which is coming up soon. I haven't made anything that I've wanted to wear since a poorly-thought-out foray into painted beads in the fourth grade, but I do get paper crafty, on occasion. Though it's been a long time since I've been inspired for those occasions.

Jules and I made an 8x8 photo scrapbook together to give to some friends of ours last fall, but besides that, I'm 7 years behind in my scrapping. And I like to scrap chronologically (I like to do most everything chronologically), so I'm determined to finish up the years I can barely remember before I can't remember them at all. Over the weekend, I started digging through all my tubs and boxes of materials and started to get organized. I currently have an empty bedroom in my apartment, so this has proven to be quite useful for the process.

In 2006-2007, I worked at a scrapbook store for 50 weeks (that's a story for another blog...), and one of the things I picked up there is that it's easy to fall into the organizational trap and never get anything done. So yesterday, I determined that I had unearthed more than enough to scrapbook my March 2004 weekend in Michigan, and I did it!

SOI 2004 Layout
It took me a long time to pick the paper from my stash. It was for a skating show, but that was before I was a real photographer, so my pictures of the actual skating were worth forgetting and I wanted to highlight the good times of the weekend with paper that was fun, a little springy, and not too girly. This super old paper (all of my paper is super old, since I bought it in stacks in 2006-2008 and never got caught up) by Junkitz did the trick! Sidebar, but the striped paper is reminiscent of Seb's pants, right? I didn't have any specific embellishments to use, so I layered papers, used Distress Ink in a couple of places, and added some Prima flowers and a painted chipboard square with a sticker to the bottom right corner. The brads on the journal box are glittered, so I thought that was appropriate for Stars on Ice.

I actually didn't plan for the paper to coordinate with the tickets, but that was a nice perk, once I decided where to put them! They're actually stuffed into a makeshift pocket behind the patterned paper. I have this weird thing where I don't like to stick things down if I can't see them completely, but I didn't want to take up all of that space of laying out all 4 tickets, side by side. So I put them in a bunch in this pocket and if I ever need to take the tickets out to see exactly where I was sitting in each arena, I can. You know, just in case.

I hate throwing away scraps, so instead of saving all of these tiny pieces of paper, I have taken to making cards out of the leftovers. These are all small (4.25"x3.5") and very simple, but they're cute and will be useful. I'm actually planning on sending the two non-thank you cards out in a package that I'm planning on mailing today, if I can get the rest of the photos for it edited.

Easter 2004 Layout
I thought I was done after that, but my creativity was still looking for something else to do, so I ended up making another page. I only had two photos from Easter '04 and couldn't find backups of any other photos to print. It's actually tougher for me to come up with an interesting layout with only two photos, since I'm so used to having to cram 10+ onto a two-page spread. I picked remnants of a paper pack that I bought circa 2004, used some vellum and some flower brads and some Prima flowers, and hoped for the best. I don't like this one as much as the other one that I did yesterday, but it's better than the awful layout I did the one time that I scrapped last year! I only had enough leftover paper from this page to make one card.

I should apologize for the quality of the photos, taken on my phone. I was feeling a little lazy about photography last night. I'm not sure I'm going to keep posting photos of craftiness, but if I do, I'll get motivated to post better photos.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

2010, i'd do it again! (pt 3)

And, finally, here's the last part of my 2010 recap. You might think that the end of February is kind of late for a year-in-review, but I posted part 3 of my 2009 recap in March 2010, so I am actually ahead of schedule!

September was a little crazy. I started semester #5 of my grad degree, which included the overwhelming task of starting thesis hours and beginning to synthesize everything that happened on my summer road trip. Not a super easy task, and I probably should have taken the trip in 2009 to make thesis-ing a bit easier, but I didn't have any money at all saved up a year earlier. So I just had to make it work.

Me and Lauren
First up: Lauren's wedding in Saugatuck, MI. Lauren is a friend from my writing program, and I went with two of our other MFA-ers, Adam and Marynia. The wedding was in an old mansion—so gorgeous, and with unique "Lauren" touches all over it. Unfortunately, I overestimated the power of my flash, and therefore, most of my photos from the lovely event are kind of bad. We stayed overnight in Holland and then before we headed back to Chicago, we explored both Holland and Saugatuck. Amber and Jules even drove over to the west coast and met me for lunch, gelato, and a bit of wandering in Saugatuck.

The second weekend of September, I drove to Toronto to present at the PMA (Photo Marketing Association) show there! I was just filling in for Phil Culhane, who had to back out due to his day job, but it was a great experience. I was so nervous and know that I sounded like a moron at the beginning, but once I relaxed, I had a lot of fun. I spoke about shooting figure skating, which is obviously something that I know a lot about, but I still see myself as a novice in the skating world. Being viewed as the expert and having people ask me questions isn't a position I often find myself in. But once I realized that, while I might not be the most experienced skating photographer in the world, I was a lot more experienced than everyone sitting in front of me, things went well!

Next up was driving eastward to Ottawa to shoot Autumn Skate with Phil. It was cool to shoot an event in the arena where I'd sat and watched practices during Canadians in 2006. A lot has changed since then! Like, my camera is 8x heavier.

Skater and coach
The arena had taken down a big section of the hockey glass, so it was fun to stand on the "back" of the rink for some of the events (not dance) and get shots of the skaters with their coaches.

Elladj Baldé
I also jumped for joy when I got this great jump shot of Elladj Baldé!

Jeremy Ten
And I loved the sneak peek into Jeremy Ten's new short program.

Andréanne & Marc-André
And I totally fell in love with Andréanne Poulin & Marc-André Servant's short dance to theGlee version of "Keep Holding On." So perfect for them.

Laurence & Yoan
On Sunday, there was only one rink, so Phil took main photographer duties, and I got to stand at the back of the rink for some different angles on the free dances. I still haven't gone through most of those photos, but this one of Laurence Fournier-Beaudry & Yoan Breton caught my eye. I think it's awesome that they hug before they skate, every time.

Carolane & Benjamin
Carolane Soucisse & Benjamin Smyth, waiting to take the ice.

I don't have photos from it because, well, Symphony Center says no, but the last weekend of September, Mom and I went to our first Chicago Symphony concert of the season, where new music director Riccardo Muti directed "Symphonie Fantastique" by Berlioz, one of my favourite pieces of music! I'd heard it once before, but it was even more incredible this time around.

Much like October 2009, the beginning of October 2010 revolved around going to Toronto for Battle of the Blades. Such a fun experience! Even without MF to power-vote for, we had a great time at the premiere. The skating in the opening show was a LOT better than last year. The initial season was fun, but the guys in season two knew what to expect and came ready for a showdown.

We had a few teams to cheer for, including Shae-Lynn Bourne & Patrice Brisebois.

With Deej!
One of the best parts of the premiere? Meeting DJ TANNER, aka Candace Cameron-Bure, whose husband Valeri Bure was one of the competitors. She was very sweet and even volunteered her oldest daughter to take the photo so Jules could hop in. Jules kept her feelings about Full House to herself at that moment and hopped in.

The next weekend, we were at it again!

Rockin Fierce Hair
First, Christina and I both went to Jules' for a fun weekend o' shopping and celebrating for her new job. We also rocked some fierce hair.

With MF&P
And then we caravanned to Toronto on Sunday to catch Battle, where MF was the guest judge and we caught up with MF&P after the show.

After the first two weeks of Battle, I managed to stay home for a couple of weeks (only because my mom and I had opera tickets, I believe) and get my hair cut (which I desperately needed, as you can see from the past couple of photos). Next up was Skate Canada in Kingston, ON, at the end of the month. I almost didn't go, but I'm so glad I did, because it turned out to be a really great event for me, professionally-speaking.

Since I got my start in skating photography by learning from one of the best, I am always eager for opportunities to observe photographers more experienced than I am. In Kingston, I got to shoot with quite a few experienced photographers, and since my friends weren't there, I found myself having more time to chat with the other photogs. I even ended up picking up a writing gig for IFS, which is a goal I've had for years! I feel bad taking any credit at all for it, since it literally just fell into my lap—it was just a matter of being in the right place at the right time. And the right place was Kingston during Skate Canada, in the photographer row, so I'm really glad that I went!

I also got some great shots, like this one of Patrick Chan.

Alex & Mitch
Of course I went to as many dance practices as possible, and I was so glad that I sat on the wrong side of the arena for the Sunday morning free dance practice, or I couldn't have nabbed this shot of Alexandra Paul & Mitch Islam.

And it was wonderful to be in the arena for CroPo's first Grand Prix title. Like I said a couple of posts ago, I feel like I've been "with" them for a long time.

I'd taken a plane and a train to Kingston, but when it was time to leave, I hopped in a car with the Culhanes, who had made the trip to watch/photograph the event, too. I stayed with them for the week, then we went to Napanee for the weekend to shoot Sectionals.

Anoushka & Philippe
The arena in Napanee has hosted Sectionals two years in a row and I'm selfishly hoping that they don't get it next year, because it's poorly lit and the ads suck the life out of my photos! But at least they don't have ads in the centre of the boards, where Anoushka Ritchie-Hervieux & Philippe Massé (above) busted a move in their "Empire State of Mind" free dance.

Cate stayed in Ottawa over the weekend, so it was just Phil, Rhonda, and me at Sectionals. I had a good time, especially at the officials' party on the Saturday night, where Rhonda, Phil, Kristy, this guy whose name I can't remember, and I stayed for an hour after everyone else left and had to be asked by hotel staff to please be quiet...this was when it was just the 5 of us, apparently the noise was not a problem when 30 people were crammed into the tiny room. Oups! Anyway, when we headed back to Ottawa, I was glad to have one last night of homework partying with my Cate before I went home.

For Thanksgiving, my aunt & uncle & cousins went to their grandparents' in Wisconsin and my stepdad went to his son's house in Indiana, so my mom and I went to a nearby hotel that had a ginormous Thanksgiving buffet. The food was great and it involved no cooking or cleanup, which is just what we were after, but it still felt like such a weird holiday!

And a few days later, I was off to Challenge! I'm sure I've written about it before, but Challenge is one of my favourite events because I get to see almost all of the dancers in Canada from pre-novice up through senior, with plenty of time to catch up with kids & families & coaches between taking, like, a hundred thousand photos. This year felt a little weird because I was alone for most of it and because I missed the first day, but it was still full of good times.

On Thursday, I shot the novice free dance, junior short dance, and senior short dance. Long day, but so much fun. This shot is of Nicole Orford & Thomas Williams in their second-place junior short dance. Since I went to the Michelle Wojdyla School of Photography (TM), I've been well-trained to look for and appreciate great skirt movement. Nicole's skirt has great movement.

I rented a Canon 7D body to try at this event, since I've been contemplating an upgrade. I thought about holding off and renting it for Canadians and having it my big event of the season, but I wanted to see what the 7D could do with low light in the Hershey Centre. I'm really glad I tried it, because I was not happy at all with its low light performance. The focusing was wonderful, a huge upgrade from my 50D, but since I do so much of my work in tragically-lit community rinks, it isn't the right body for me. The 50D has much less noise at ISO 1000-2000, so I'm sticking with it until I can afford a real upgrade. Anyone have a great deal for me on a 1D Mark IIN or Mark IV? ;-)

All of that said, I wish I could afford a 7D just to use in big arena settings, because it made getting shots like this one of Tarrah Harvey & Keith Gagnon a breeze! I think this is one of my favourite shots of T&K ever, which is really saying something, because I think I might have photos of them than their mothers do.

Friday, I had another long day, starting super early with pre-novice compulsory dances were up first. 33 teams, 2 dances each. At least one was a tango! With just over an hour between events, I was sitting on the ground in the concourse when Jules showed up with special Starbiz! That's what friends are for! We then settled in for an evening of junior and senior free dances.

Lauren & Dave
I have to post a photo of Lauren Sears & Dave Mackay-Perry, because it ended up being Lauren's last competition. The Sears family has been fabulous to me over the past few years, including letting me & two of my friends (that they'd never met) stay at their home in Halifax when we passed through on the road trip last summer. Lauren's dad was the only one at home that night, and he was a fabulous host, demanding stories about our travels thus far and making some of the best chocolate chip cookies ever.

Saturday was my last day at the arena, which was perhaps why it felt so weird this year. I usually go back for something on Sunday. And Saturday was an earlier day, since all I had was the pre-novice free dance, which was over by early afternoon.

Jessica & Nik
The pre-novice competitors don't go on to Junior Nationals anymore, so Challenge is the national championship for them. Jessica Jiang & Nikolas Wamsteeker took the title fairly easily with strong, confident skating and excellent unison.

Exhausted with the girls
After I was done, I zoomed back to Toronto, sat in traffic for an hour when my GPS told me to exit by Yorktown (my GPS doesn't not make exceptions for mall areas on Saturdays in December), and then met Christina and Jules where they were shopping downtown. We then went to a fun brewery across from the Eaton Centre for dinner and I managed to keep my eyes open (but just barely, as pictured above) before going back to C's to take in a seasonal viewing of Love Actually.

Sunday, we actually started heading home at a reasonable time, after a super early dinner (or super late lunch?) with Megan & Aaron in the 'sauga, but by the time we got to London, we were in the middle of a blizzard that had closed the highway. Since we were in two separate cars, it was especially terrifying. Then once we got a little past London, the snow was basically gone. It was bizarre, but that's London for us. Typical.

After such a weird Thanksgiving, I was so excited to celebrate Christmas with my family! So excited that Christmas happened in two parts.

Zoo Lights
A couple of days before Christmas, when I had a day off, I planned a Chicago Christmas-themed day that included a visit to the Field Museum and the Christmas Trees of the World exhibit, a super cold trip through Lincoln Park Zoo to see the lights, and then I finally get to take my cousins to Molly's Cupcakes!

Danielle and her camera
And then on Christmas Eve, my mom and I went to Rockford to spend the holiday with them, where Danielle was thrilled to get her very own camera!

Overall: two thumbs up for 2010. If I had three thumbs, I'd put them all up.

Friday, February 25, 2011

2010, i'd do it again! (pt 2)

Warning: this part of the recap will probably be really long. This is only the second sentence, but I expect many more sentences, because a lot happened.

Life Dream #2 of the year began in June when I embarked on a 30-day, 10-province, cross-Canadian drive. What an experience! You probably know that I created a separate blog dedicated to that trip, so please peruse that if you want more details. It's pretty well organized, though still not completely done! I'm trucking along, though. For this recap, I'll try to stick to 1 photo per day!

British Columbia, province #1
My flight was into Seattle, where I rented a Toyota Matrix from the awesome guy at Hertz who gave Jules, Chele, and me a free upgrade a year and a half earlier, for 2009 Four Continents. Hilarious! No upgrade this time around, probably since I wanted to take one of their cars for 30 days and return it on the other side of the country.

June 9, Day 1: I drove into Vancouver, had sushi with Meg downtown, drove out to Port Moody to the Edwards' house, heard the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup on the radio as I missed the turn for their street 3x, and celebrated my 26th birthday with the Edwards family, who were also celebrating Mark's birthday. Quelle coincidence! I was off to a great start and actually didn't take a single photo that day. Whoops!

June 10, Day 2: I took the ferry to Victoria! Such a lovely city. I fell in love with the city, the food at Rebar, and Munro's Books. I did not fall in love with hostels.
Inside Munro's Books

June 11, Day 3: Drove up the Malahat, ferry from Nanaimo to West Vancouver, Lighthouse Park in West Van, Lynn Canyon Park in North Van, coffee with Raul, and being the token girl out for drinks with Aaron and his friends.
View from Malahat
Incredible view from the Malahat on Vancouver Island

June 12, Day 4: Relaxing morning at the Edwards', sightseeing Kitsilano Beach, re-sightseeing Stanley Park, and an awesome dinner Chez Edwards w/legit cedar plank salmon.
Kits Beach
Kits Beach is just across the water from downtown Vancouver, so the photo ops are terrific!

June 13, Day 5: Met up with Jenny & Sam & fam in Stanley Park, a farewell to Vancouver and Vancouver friends, and a nighttime, fairly intimidating drive through the Coquihalla Pass to Kelowna.
Me & the Echo
Ready to hit the road!

June 14, Day 6: Hosts Tori & Cam (and their son Austin) were wonderful! Cam took me on a tour of the Okanagan region, including scenic wineries and the Okanagan Lake Park. Then Tori called—an ambulance was on its way to take her away. So we headed back to the house, he took Austin and went to the hospital, and I took in scenic Kalamalka and Wood Lakes. They were all mostly fine—just a case of vertigo from their cruise for Tori and croup for Austin—so Cam took me downtown after dinner. Eventful day, but wow, that is a gorgeous part of the country!
Kalamalka Lake
Kalamalka Lake

June 15, Day 7: First long day of driving, from Kelowna to Calgary. Gorgeous drive through the BC Rockies!
Three Valley Gap
Ghost Town at Three Valley Gap, now a tourist trap, but it sure is picturesque from afar!

Alberta, province #2
June 15, Day 7: Rain started as soon as I crossed the border into Alberta, so the drive through the Alberta Rockies wasn't quite as lovely. After a downpour when I arrived in Calgary at Erin & Kyle's apartment, it let up enough for me to explore downtown Calgary for an hour. Two thumbs up for Calgary!
I got this shot up on a hill north of downtown...lucky to find this spot!

June 16, Day 8: First day where the weather derailed plans. Visited Canmore and Banff, but skipped Lake Louise due to rain. Canmore & Banff were both nice, but I'd love to see them again when I can get better photos and when my feet aren't soggy. Back to Calgary for the night.
Lake Minnewanka
Lake Minnewanka, mysterious in the crummy weather

June 17, Day 9: Left Calgary via the Stampede grounds, where I got a little teary-eyed at the sight of the Saddledome! Drove north to Edmonton via the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame (it's in a rest area in Red Deer, no joke). Edmonton was kind of unattractive and disappointing, overall. The Legislature Building was nice. West Edmonton Mall was like a ghost town; it was creepy.
The Leg
"The Leg" is the only pretty building that I saw in Edmonton.

Saskatchewan, province #3
June 18, Day 10: Mostly driving, from Edmonton to Regina. Some really nice scenic stops NW of Saskatoon, with a view of the river, and NW of Moose Jaw at Buffalo Pound Lake. I acquired 3 ticks. Chele's flight was delayed 6 hours, but I finally picked her up at the Regina airport just after midnight. Yay for having a road trip buddy!
Saskatchewan Train
Train crossing the North Saskatchewan River Valley

Manitoba, province #4
June 19, Day 11: After walking around Regina in the morning (nice little city!), Chele and I hit the road for Winnipeg. Lots and lots of driving over very, very flat land. Enjoyed our time at The Forks in downtown Winnipeg and across the river in Saint-Boniface, the country's largest French neighbourhood west of Montréal, but the mosquitoes were horrendous.
Union Station
Union Station, downtown Winnipeg

Ontario, province #5
June 20, Day 12: Stopped in Kenora (Erin's hometown!) en route to Thunder Bay, where we stopped in a park and saw the Sleeping Giant rock formation in the distance before checking into a slightly sketchy hostel.
Thunder Bay
Park in Thunder Bay with view of Lake Superior!

June 21, Day 13: You know it's going to be a good day when it starts off with super-awesome, super-cheap Finnish pancakes. Beautiful day of driving from Thunder Bay to St. Joseph Island, just east of Sault Ste. Marie. First stop was at the Terry Fox Memorial, then onward around Lake Superior, through the provincial park. Arrived on St. Joseph Island at the Sunset Bay B&B, also beautiful, in time to take in the sunset behind the house.
Me at Old Woman Bay
At Old Woman Bay, Lake Superior Provincial Park

June 22, Day 14: Still more driving: St. Joseph Island to Parry Sound. Stopped on Manitoulin Island, mostly to say we'd been, because the weather wasn't great for sightseeing. Great ice cream, though! Nice night staying at The Carson House B&B in downtown Parry Sound.

June 23, Day 15: Better weather, so we did our Parry Sound sightseeing before we left for Ottawa. Had to detour around Huntsville because of the G8, so we ended up seeing the world's largest photomosaic in Port Carling, where I also had the world's greatest banana-almond smoothie. Somewhere between Port Carling and getting back on the highway east of Huntsville, an earthquake shook Ontario and western Québec...we failed to feel it, probably because my GPS was routing us on gravel back roads! Arrived in Ottawa early evening, where we stayed with the Culhanes, of course—my Ottawa family!
Georgian Bay
Beautiful Georgian Bay in Parry Sound

June 24, Day 16: Fab day in the Capital City! I was a trooper and got up before the sun so I could go photograph Cate and the other Minto dancers at their morning session, then went back to the Culhanes' and got ready for a super day o' sightseeing with Chele. We photographed Parliament, wandered through the ByWard Market area, and visited the Museum of Civilization across the river in Gatineau.
If you thought I could make it across Canada without shooting skating, you were wrong. Here's li'l sis Cate with Sam and Hélène.
The Rideau Canal—in the winter, it's the world's longest ice rink.

June 25, Day 17: Backtracked a bit, driving back west towards Toronto. Stayed in Pickering, east of Toronto, with Sarah, who played a lovely host and took us out for some scenic photos after dinner. We ended up wandering by the Pickering waterfront, where I made geese friends that left me. It was a little traumatic, but I recovered.
Sunset in Pickering
Sunset at the boat dock

June 26, Day 18: Chele I kept driving west, through Toronto to London, where Amber was dropping off Jules with us. Brunch at Cora's, of course, and then back east to Toronto and Christina! All plans of doing nerdy tourist things in Toronto were cancelled, because mobs were presently smashing windows and looting in downtown Toronto during the G20 summit. Fun? So we picked up Jen and the five of us went out for birthday dinner in The Beaches. Yay! All of five us, together for traditional birthday weekend, although it was a bit truncated this year.

Québec, province #6
June 27, Day 19: We said farewell to Christina and Chele (for the time being), and Jules and I headed to Montréal, La Belle Province. Feels a little like coming home, though I have never lived there. Spent a whole afternoon and evening wandering around the Vieux-Port. Beautiful day that ended with coconut ice cream...what more could a couple of girls want?
The Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Bonsecours is one of my favourite things in the whole world to photograph.

June 28, Day 20: Visit to the Oratoire St-Joseph before leaving Montréal, and also to lunch at a café near McGill where one of the customers had a real, live snake wrapped around him. Then off to Québec City! Wonderful town...more wonderful when we don't waste over an hour sitting in traffic and when it doesn't downpour all over us, but enjoyable even with the setbacks, except for the FLQ graffiti! We really enjoyed our night staying at the Frontenac.*
The Château Frontenac is a UNESCO World Heritage Site! Swanky and historic.

June 29, Day 21: Long drive from Québec City to Bathurst, NB, but with lots of stops! Montmorency Falls first, which were impressive but had muddy grounds, then a random stop in La Pocatière because we saw a pretty building on a big hill from the highway, a stop in Notre-Dame-du-Portage for photos, and a stop in Cabano to search for ginger ale (for Jules) and to pick up some road trip snacks, like a wheel of Brie (this is for me). Then crossed into New Brunswick, saw the falls in Grand Falls, and encountered two moose driving across the foggy interior of the province late at night (not recommended). So thrilled to finally get to Crystal's in Bathurst!
LaPo school
The pretty building in La Pocatière ended up being their school!

New Brunswick, province #7
June 30, Day 22: This was a great day of food. Crystal sent us off with a fabulous breakfast as we headed for the Acadian coastal tour. Highlights were scenic stops at Pokeshaw and Grand-Anse and the best freaking soupe de la mer I've ever had in my life at Phare Café in Caraquet, where Jules may have concussed herself a little on an iron coat hook. Then down the coast and off to PEI, where I had to drive the scary bridge because Jules had driven the moosey fog the night before. Blown away by the PEI countryside, picked up Christina at the Charlottetown airport, and feasted on Lobster at the Wharf.

Prince Edward Island, province #8
July 1, Day 23: We began Canada Day in Charlottetown, the birthplace of confederation! How appropriate! But Day 23 was spent driving around the western part of the island, including a visit to Green Gables, PEI National Park, North Cape lighthouse, West Point lighthouse. We had dinner in Summerside while an awkward cover band serenaded us with "I Gotta Feeling" and followed a double rainbow to Cow's Ice Cream. Best Canada Day ever!
PEI beach
Prettiest beach in the world? Probably.

Nova Scotia, province #9
July 2, Day 24: Sad to leave PEI, but we had another incredible day ahead! Drove to Cape Breton, where C and I feasted on 2-for-1 lobster dinners and then we drove the Cabot Trail. Just gorgeous.
Cabot Trail
View from the western end of the Cabot Trail
Girls on the Cabot Trail
Road tripping with Jules and Christina makes the great stuff even better!

Newfoundland, province #10
July 3, Day 25: Long, long ferry ride to Newfoundland. 15 hours without sheets, sometimes freezing, sometimes gross, sometimes irritating, but we made it! My mom met us in NL to spend that part of the trip with us. St. John's turned out to be a great city and we had gorgeous weather for our first night there.
Downtown St. John's
Downtown St. John's, throwback style

July 4, Day 26: Happy American Independence Day, let's go to France! Took a very rough ferry to St-Pierre, where everything was closed when we arrived. Everything. I loved how cute it was and how the houses were practically neon colours, but I did not love that we literally could not buy anything to eat until 8pm. At least the food was awesome, when the restaurant finally opened!
Les Salines
Les Salines, the fishing sheds near the St-Pierre lighthouse

July 5, Day 27: Spent the morning in St-Pierre, where a few places were open, but still not many. Nowhere to buy chocolate or cheese. Ferry back to Newfoundland wasn't so bad, and we drove straight to Cape Spear, hoping to get there before dark. We made it, but just barely! 27 days into my trip, I stood on the easternmost point in North America. Very cool.
Girls at Cape Spear
Thanks for going all the way east with me, friends!

July 6, Day 28: Woke up early to take my mom out for breakfast at Cora's, a must for her Canadian vacation experience. The two of us then went to Bay Bulls for O'Brien's boat tour, where we saw a few whales and a ton of puffins and other sea birds and where I got pooped on twice (no one else was hit, just me). Meanwhile, Jules and Christina slept in and explored St. John's a little more, then we met up with them for vegetarian lunch, finding the mile zero sign, and driving up Signal Hill, where it was so foggy that we couldn't even see the bottom of the tower. Last stop in St. John's before the ferry: Wal-Mart to buy cheap sheets! I don't usually shop at Wal-Mart, but this was an emergency.
Puffins are cute!
Mom and Me
Mom and me at the Mile Zero sign: Canada Starts Right Here!

Nova Scotia, province #9, again
July 7, Day 29: The ferry ride back was more overnight, more comfortable with sheets, and better overall. After getting the boot removed from my car, we headed for Hali, which I loved. I definitely need more time here.
Old Town Clock
Old Town Clock, on Citadel Hill in Halifax

New Brunswick, province #8, again
July 8, Day 30: Fun at Fundy! We drove back up into New Brunswick, where we hit the Hopewell Rocks at the Bay of Fundy, which has the highest tides in the world. We timed our visit at low tide so we could walk around on the ocean floor, no big deal. After a seaweed appetizer, we had dinner at a veggie place in Moncton (cuter than I expected) and then went on to Fredericton, where it smelled like "poop and rednecks" (according to Jules), and where we stayed for our last night.
Hopewell Rocks
Pretty day at the Hopewell Rocks, as long as you didn't look at the muddy water!

Back in the States!
July 9, Day 31: Crossed back over the border into upper Maine, which was deserted and a little creepy, not gonna lie! But then we had lunch with Daphne in Portland, checked out the Atlantic in SW Maine, mysteriously and simultaneously acquired southern accents, and returned my beloved little rental car at the airport in Manchester, NH, where Chele picked us up and our relentless southern accents practically had her in tears, but she took us to Rhode Island anyway, so we could all cross that off our list of states to visit.

July 10, Day 32: Official last day of the trip was spent in Boston, which is a city that I just love. We sightsaw a little on the way to a pub for lunch, where of course I had some chowda, then ran through a monsoon and spent the rest of the afternoon drying out, wandering around the city, and continuing to speak in southern accents. And I finally got my photo with the ducks!!!
Me and the ducks

Overall...what a trip! We all flew home on the 11th and it took me a good week to recover and get back into reality. By the time I did that, I had to work overnights for a week, doing a reset at work, and then the week after that, it was time to pack up my camera and travel again for the second annual Minto-Lake Placid trip!

As always, I had a great time shooting Minto, but I'd injured my back a few days before the trip, and four straight days of shooting was a bit more than I can take. I ended the last day in a ton of pain, passing out on the floor under the photo table, and I still had another event to shoot. Oups!


Maddie & Zhao Kai
Here's Maddie with her partner, Zhao Kai. Maddie & her family hosted me at the start of my road trip in Vancouver, so it was great to see her and her mom again. Of course, it was also wonderful to spend time with the Culhanes.

The day after Minto, the Culhanes drove me to Lake Placid once again. The rest of my group wasn't getting there until later in the day, so I had some time to wander around town, for a change! Since we had a ton of photographers, I didn't have to kill myself shooting during the week, but I was in some serious pain every day. Not fun!

On Tuesday, I did a photoshoot with Hannah & Scott, then shot the three teams who showed up senior free dance practice and a few of the junior free dance practices, too. This shot is Tarrah Harvey & Keith Gagnon, always a fun team to shoot.

Maddie & Nathan
On Wednesday, I did a shoot with Maddie & Nathan (above), then only shot a few junior teams in their short dance practice so I could rest my back.

Lynn & Logan
Thursday was a big day! I shot Intermediate compulsories, one of the Novice compulsories (Blues, my fave), half of the junior free dances and the senior free dance. Whew! Pictured above are Lynn Kriengkrairut & Logan Giulietti-Schmitt, who were fairly mesmerizing in the senior free dance.

Stasia & Colin
Friday, my only assignment was Junior Short Dance, Group A, and this photo of Anastasia Cannuscio & Colin McManus was a fan favourite. Well, maybe not a fan favourite, but Colin and Stasia and their moms all loved it. Unfortunately, it's too small to do much with besides flaunt it on the web.

Saturday is always a bittersweet day in Placid because it's the last one. People leave, we get ready to leave, and it's sad knowing that another Placid week has flown by. But it always starts well, because for 3 years in a row, I've begun Saturday with a photoshoot with Danielle & Alex Gamelin (above), twin ice dance team extraordinaire. They are just so much fun and easy to work with. Michelle joined me this year, which was a great help, because I worried about getting stuck in a rut and taking all of the same shots again. Once I got back to the arena, I shot some opens and then the juvenile free dance, which is also one of my favourite things to shoot. The little kids are so much fun!

Mirror Lake
Thanks for the memories, Lake Placid! (This is actually Mirror Lake, which is the one that you can see from's tricky.)

Once I got home from Placid, there was a lot of trying to recover from the back injury. I stayed home and rested, and when it didn't get any better, I finally went to my stepdad's chiropractor, who discovered that it was actually my hip joint that was misaligned, and rest was bad for it. Oups! So he popped it back into place, just in time for my mom and I to head to Cowden for the weekend.

I was born in central Illinois and we lived for my first three years in a tiny town called Cowden. Some of the people there are still as close as family, so we try to go back and visit a couple of times a year. Lately, I've only been making the trip about once a year, and in 2010, my Cowden trip was the last weekend of August, coinciding with Pioneer Days, their annual summer festival.

My mom and I usually go to great lengths to avoid Pioneer Days. We're not really into carnivals or being outside when it's hot and sweaty or sticky carnival food or anything like that. But we were good sports and went with a legion of children to the carnival. My mom even sprung for some all-day passes for some of the kids. I took a lot of photos, most of which came out badly, and most of which I haven't remembered to edit yet. But I did have a good time, especially because...

Cowden Rodeo
...I can now officially say, "This ain't my first rodeo."

*We didn't stay at the Frontenac, we just took a lot of photos of it.