I'm happy to report that I am well again. I've been under the weather for the last week and have so many exciting happenings to blog. But for tonight I just want to post something fun, a family tradition we have where we put our newest addition inside their pumpkin! They NEVER like it at first, I have images of all three boys being lowered down inside and screaming like banshees. But they warm to the idea, they do a little teething, and I never grow tired of snapping away, capturing each unique glance.

And just for fun, because my mother loves to do this, I put them all side by side. From left to right: My first born in 2006, my middle blond baby in 2008, and to the right is The Bundle, born in March of this year.

My beautiful baby. He's 7 months old now, and though he sleeps quite well at home, the excitement of our camping adventure turned his little inner clock Topsy-turvey. Or maybe he just knows snuggling between mommy and daddy and warm flannel sheets, through the cool mountain air filled nights, is the best way to go. Either way, he had me up EARLY. And you can't have one baby awake in a two room cabin without quickly having a whole family awake. So off we went, camera in hand, on a partly cloudy morning at dawn. And His precious gift to me that day - was a sunrise like no other. Theses are SOOC images:

Over one hundred years ago, this family had the grand idea to plant Angle Orchard in the shadow of Mount Graham in South Eastern Arizona. After spending four days at Lake Roper State Park, watching the clouds hang over the mountain range, the rain coming and going over the foothills but hardly touching our cabin hideaway, it seems to be the best place in all of Arizona to plant fruit trees. It was completely by accident that we stumbled onto the orchard. The day was going to be hot and windless and we headed up the mountain for some cooler temps, a change in scenery, and a picnic. Not 30 minutes away from our campground we saw the tiny sign for Angle Orchard, leading us down a single track dirt road, deep into what I'd call.... a valley? a ravine? I'm not sure what to call it, let's call it "heaven for apples". The trees grew abundant everywhere. My only regrets of the day was that we arrived when the sun was high, not great for picture taking. And it doesn't take but ten minutes to fill a bucket of apples when you have two enthusiastic helpers and a baby strapped in the bjorn. I would have liked to linger among the trees, I could have stayed for an hour with the kittens in the barn. The host was quite gracious, letting the boys explore to discover the apple polishing machinery, the kittens hidden away in the loft, the tractors, and samples of all the apples they could pick. The golden delicious are my favorite from the day, so crisp and sweet, easily the best and freshest apple I've ever tasted. A lovely unexpected adventure, the best kind.

(Im toting my new Canon 5D Mark II, with the 24-70mm 2.8, and aside from sharpening for the web, these are straight out of the camera. Even the apple picture two down, I'm still trying to figure out what happened there...)

(Note: Clicking on the individual image to open in it's own window should provide a very clear image. For some reason unknown to me, my blog will sometimes pixelate images.)

I came home from tonight's shoot needing to watch an hour of 70's television... I think it was the hair, which is all the rage right now in Arizona. The neighborhood is fraught with long curly side swept dos that drive the mothers nuts. In steps Matthew, with an easy smile and the most playful blue eyes you've ever had the pleasure to gaze upon. I was so busy giggling over his antics, trying to coach him into a semi-serious "I'm leaving the nest and heading out on my own" look, it wasn't until I got home that I truly studied the curls. One thing was for sure tonight. The moment we started in on the bike, a relaxed, composed, confident Matthew took center stage. I've never seen him in action but any fool could tell he knows his stuff and feels good on his ride. My hope is that I managed to capture the joy, the fun, the charm of this young man, before he heads off to bigger, more challenging roads. My best wishes to you Matthew! Never stop laughing, it makes everyone around you melt!

A few sessions back I had a great evening with this goofy group of gals. Having a long history of team sports back in the day myself, I thoroughly enjoyed hearing their bleacher talk, and observing their team spirit, which quite obviously there was plenty of!

One week old. I LOVE these sessions. It's part skill, part luck, all timing, and a lot of patience. I don't have to worry about getting the baby to smile at this point, I just have to be ready for whatever she's going to give me. I've been waiting to photograph this precious little princess for a very long time. I've had the joy of watching her mother grow, and grow, and grow. I had the joy of fetching the big sister for an overnight when we finally got The Call. I got to hold her in the hospital nursery shortly after she was born. And in just one week she has changed so much! Perhaps the best part about working with friends is the lack of pressure to perform. Of course I want to deliver the most stunning images I can muster, but there is also a little extra room for creativity because I will ask my friends to do crazy things, like wedge their one week old newborn onto the fender of their Harley, just because it might look neat. When the Harley was offered as a prop my mind spun with excitement and I spent most of my vacation last week thinking up ways to capture the essence of the bike while keeping the focus on the babe. In the end, our gorgeous tiny subject broke every newborn photography rule and was wide awake for most of the session. Most of those sleeping shots? She blinked. But when it came to the fender, she nestled right down and we nearly had to wipe drool off the bike she was snoozing so hard. I'd say 16 years from now, we're going to have a serious biker chick in the family, but watch out boys, Daddy is a Harley riding Marine!

On Saturday I led a three hour Photo Walk in Bisbee as one of my classes offered to military dependents at Fort Huachuca's MWR Arts and Crafts Center. A "Photo Walk" is just that; a walk for the purpose of taking photographs. We meandered the narrow streets in search of architecture, flora, anything cool that struck our fancy, all the while talking about camera settings, composition, and lighting. One of the highlights of our journey was the chance to shoot willing models. Taylor, the blond bombshell above, is my favorite go-to gal who will try everything I ask of her. A huge Thank You and a very special Happy Sweet Sixteen Birthday wish to you from our whole family! And one of our photographers happily set her camera aside to pose with her beautiful growing tummy! Baby number four is arriving this December. Talk about natural beauty, she couldn't stop smiling and we can all see why! Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to practice our skills on your stunning silhouette!

I've got a whole folder of favorites from the weekend, alas, I am now officially on vacation for the next week! Just me and my boys and hopefully the soothing sounds of an owl or coyote while enjoying a crackling campfire with my loves!