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Fall colors in Baraboo, Wisconsin

Long time since I was able to post something for you all! My apologies. Sometimes life just gets a little crazy and I can’t post as frequently as I would like. I had several wedding this year that I was either a bridesmaid in or traveled to be a part of. That didn’t leave much time for photo shoots, though I did get lots of beautiful images at the weddings. :)

That being said, I did get an opportunity to head south with my co-worker Angela (CHECK OUT HER BRAND NEW BLOG HERE!! She’s a great photographer!!) to photograph the beautiful fall colors and landscapes. Angela and I always like to make the most of our photo excursions, so we try to hit up a bunch of places when we go. For this trip we traveled to Baraboo, Wisconsin. Here we photographed several places including Devil’s Lake State Park, Pewit’s Nest State Natural Area, Hyde’s Mill, Natural Bridge State Park, and Baxter’s Hollow. The beauty of all these areas is that they are only about a 15 min drive in any direction to get to.

We headed out straight after work in hopes to capture some beautiful fall color illuminated by the last hour of sunlight. We stopped at Devil’s Lake State Park first, photographing around the lake and beach areas, and a bit on the trail. Admittedly, I spent a lot of time at first clicking away in the parking lot of all places. Angela had to remind me that there was SO much more to see. I guess I got distracted by all the color, I didn’t even care where it was located.

Devil’s Lake was beautiful. So much color, and of course there were lots of gorgeous rock formations, often covered in a thin layer of moss or lichen. The colors were astounding. Drives covered in a canopy of buttery yellow leaves, trails dotted with intensely bright red maple leaves beneath a layer of crunchy leaves past their prime. We stayed photographing until the sun was about shot, then we drove to the south part of the park. Here we stayed photographing the last bit of sun fading behind the bluffs. We decided that the south park would be a great place to head back to later, as we wanted to try photographing star trails and light painting.

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From there we drove back to our hotel, the Campus Inn Motel. Angela and I have now agreed that on any future trips we are willing to pay a bit more for a hotel. The motel was shabby, to say the least. The man who I assumed owned it was a very kind man, but his kindness did not make up for the poor condition of the room we stayed in. Most of the time I’m a pretty easy to please person when it comes to travel. So long as I have a bed, I’m good. However, this room had a door that would jam so that neither inside or outside could the door be opened without a significant amount of fumbling. In addition to this, the only way the room was heated with a space heater…can anyone say FIRETRAP?? The tiling in the bathroom shower had black mold on it, and throughout the room were “jerry rigged” repairs in almost every direction you could look. Luckily we spent most of our time out photographing, so sleep was the only time we were there. It makes for a funny story now, but has definitely convinced me to upgrade for the next time around. :)

Once the stars were out we headed back to  Devil’s Lake. I spent some time photographing star trails, while Angela began working on light painting an image of boats stacked up against the shoreline. A few shots in I joined Angela. I haven’t worked much with light painting, so this was new territory for me. Angela has worked with it in the past, so it was nice to have her expertise to draw from.

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We got back to our hotel a little bit before midnight and went straight to bed as the next morning would be an early one. We were headed to Pewit’s Nest State Natural Area to capture early morning photos. Pewit’s Nest is a pretty fantastic place to visit, photography or not. Pewit’s Nest is a 30- to 40-foot deep gorge formed during the retreat of the last glacier. According to the DNR, when Glacial Lake Baraboo drained, Skillet Creek cut a narrow canyon through the Cambrian sandstone, forming a series of potholes and waterfalls. A variety of trees dotted the landscape providing a range of color from red, yellow, and orange. Apparently this area once was the location for a waterwheel. It was rumored that before the watermill was built, an individual lived in the solid sand stone like a gnome in a cavern. It is no wonder this place resonated with me…it has a history that is close to my heart! :) This was probably my favorite of all the places we visited during this trip. However, it was plagued with photographers. This was at one point a closely held secret, but it is clear that secret has gotten out as we were working around 5 other photographers. Everyone was courteous, or at least for a time courteous. It can be frustrating having to work so closely to other photographers, but I try to keep awareness with me that they are just trying to find that magic shot for themselves…and that it is here for everyone to enjoy. It is not exclusively my natural area. :)  Angela had the fore thought to bring waders with so we could climb down the sandstone cliffs and into the water to get close and more interesting shots of the waterfalls and surrounding areas.

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After we were finished at Pewit’s Nest we headed back to the hotel to grab our free breakfast and to come up with a game plan for the rest of the day. Somewhere in between eating breakfast and getting back to the hotel I felt really sick. I kept feeling like I was going to throw up. I couldn’t seem to shake the feeling so we decided to stay in the hotel room for a little bit and edit images while I rested up. Once I felt better we headed off towards Baxter’s Hollow. Once we were there we walked on a trail for a bit. There wasn’t much around to photograph and I began to get a feeling that we weren’t going to see much. We had been on the trail for  about 45 minutes and we decided to head out so we could move on to other photo opportunities. Along the trail we ran into an older gentleman who we dubbed “gramps” who told us about a few other areas nearby that would be good photographic opportunities. We headed to Natural Bridge State Park, which was quite busy with other hikers and photographers. We weren’t terribly impressed with the trail, though the natural bridge was neat to see. I took a few pictures here, and then we made our way back to the car.

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We drove to a few other places, all of which turned out to be nothing terribly special. We decided to cut our losses and make our way to Hyde’s Mill which was about an hour’s drive southwest of where we were. This was a place Angela was really wanting to get to, and with good reason! Hyde’s Mill is a stone dam and wooden watermill that was built in 1850. This was another frequently visited stop, though most of the other photographers were just using their cell phones and didn’t stop for very long. Angela and I waited until the golden hour so we could photograph less interrupted. I got some really nice shots of the sunset hitting the watermill and falls. After the sun went down we drove into town to grab dinner, then headed back to try our luck at light painting.

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After the light painting we drove back to our motel and spent way too much time editing through our shots, until we realized it was WAY past our bedtimes. We hit the sack and woke up the next morning, fully intending to go back out for more sunrise photos. We quickly realized sleep was more precious and chose to sleep in. We headed back eventually to Devil’s Lake to photograph more of the park. I tried to focus more on macro shots, or different perspectives as most of my shots consisted of wide angle viewpoints. We also drove around some of the bluffs and got some nice shots of iconic fall rural Wisconsin scenes.

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We had packed up all our gear before we headed out for the day, so once we were happy with everything we photographed we decided to head back home. The Packer game was on the radio and we listened to that on the way home. The last quarter I felt like I was constantly on the edge of my seat. At one point I had my head in my lap because I was so nervous about trying to get that last touchdown. Luck was in the air and the Pack pulled through, in the last three seconds scoring a game winning touchdown!! How fun to listen while we drove back home from an amazing weekend.

I had a blast on this trip and I think I came away with several beautiful images. I hope you enjoy them! Be sure to check out Angela’s blog too! It always amazes me the different perspectives two people can come away with, even if they are standing just feet apart from one another. Below are a few more fall scenes that I shot around in Appleton and also down by our family cabin in Boscobel, WI.

 

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Watermelon and Microgreens Salad

This weekend Chet and I bought probably the best watermelon I’ve had all summer maybe even in the past few summers. Watermelon is my favorite summertime food. There is nothing better to me than sitting on my porch slurping down some juicy, sweet watermelon to take the edge of the heat and humidity of a Wisconsin summer. This particular melon was huge and while I knew it wouldn’t spoil I figured I better think of multiple uses for the melon to be sure we could enjoy it to the last bite. Chet made some watermelon lemonade which was quite good. I ate probably half of the watermelon just cut up, snacking on it all weekend when I had a pang of hunger. We visited the farmers market and came away with a great haul. I love summer so much, there is always something growing and blooming and producing bounty for me to enjoy. I’m so grateful to live in a world where I get to enjoy these things. If I had my way I would quit my job and find myself a piece of land that I could work to provide for myself and live out the rest of my days in the beauty of it, carefree and always with a bit of dirt underneath my fingernails. For now I can only lean into that fantasy in the small moments of visiting the market and coming home with delicious produce. I was excited to bring home amongst the goodies a bag of micro-greens from Sun Brothers Naturals consisting of Broccoli, rose radish, mizuna, and scarlet mustard. Micro-greens are said to hold much more nutrients than their more developed selves. For more information about the emerging health benefits check out this article from NPR. I couldn’t wait to come home and make a tasty micro-green salad with watermelon. I decided to add a few sliced hydroponic tomatoes from the market as well as some feta cheese. I topped it off with a homemade balsamic vinegar and honey dressing. Essentially I added about a tablespoon and a half of honey to 2 tsp of quality balsamic vinegar. Soooooo good!!! Enjoy the images and next time you are at your farmer’s market keep an eye out for them so you can try to make your own micro-greens salad!

 

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2014 4th of July

Happy late 4th to you all! We celebrated the 4th of July at our cabin this year which does not have any access to the internet, so I apologize for the late post. We are fortunate and are able to view Appleton’s firework show from our own backyard. It is so nice to beat the crowds and noise and just enjoy the beautiful fireworks while relaxing in our yard. I think the treeline grew a bit taller this year as many of the fireworks didn’t seem as high as they were in years past. Maybe eventually I will have to brave the crowds and make my way down to the park, but until then I’m happy not to. Enjoy the shots!

 

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Strawberry Milkshake Cake

 

 

Chet and I went for our annual strawberry pick at Porter’s Patch this past weekend. I think the late spring yielded a smaller berry than in past years, but their flavor was still delicious! Normally we turn our picked strawberries into jam, but we have so much left over from last season that we decided to pick a lot less this year and just use them for baking and desserts. Last year I think we picked around 30 or 40 lbs. This year we only did about 12. Twelve pounds of strawberries is still a lot, especially when you have to hull all of them out so you can freeze them properly. :)

I found a recipe on pinterest for a strawberry banana milkshake cake many moons ago. I think anyone who uses pinterest can relate that so many times you pin first, then read later…well…you intend to read later but soon you have boards upon boards of things that you forgot you even saw. This cake is one of those. I have a strawberry galore board where I find recipes and other strawberry related material. Since we didn’t do our normal jam fest I decided to poke through the board and decided to finally give this cake a try. The recipe was developed by Hungry Rabbit NYC  as a strawberry banana milkshake cake, but upon reading the recipe I decided to leave out the banana layer as I had suspicion that it would taste more like a banana bread (and let’s be honest I really didn’t feel like making a four layer cake) . My husband loves cakes that have a jam or custard center versus frosting, so I decided to use our homemade strawberry jam as the filling for this cake. I wasn’t thinking when I made the frosting for the cake and forgot that the frosting recipe is intended for a four layer cake, not just a two layer cake. I ended up having tons of frosting left over which now I don’t know what to do with. I hate to throw it out but with this cake in the house I really don’t have a need to make cupcakes or something to use it up with. I also don’t need the temptation to just start eating the frosting alone…or with graham crackers or something ridiculous like that.

The cake was spectacular!! The batter requires malt powder which I think makes this cake. I had no clue where to find malt powder and had almost given up on making this cake until my husband had the brilliant idea to try the ice cream topping aisle. I took a quick sample of batter off my kitchenaid mixer blade and quickly called Chet in to sample. His eyes opened wide and he didn’t hesitate to ask if he could have the beater if I was done with it. :) The frosting was good, though I think heavy on the cream cheese. If I were to make this again I might lessen the cream cheese or use my whipped cream cheese frosting recipe which is much lighter. I’m also curious to see what it would taste like if I added more malt powder to the frosting. The cake has a texture similar to pound cake–dense but moist and the strawberry flavor accents it very well. I would love to try this cake with some cut up strawberries and just a bit of whipped cream. yummmm. Overall, not a difficult recipe to make and a lovely way to use up some fresh from the field strawberries!  Check out Hungry Rabbit NYC’s blog for the recipe!

 

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Strawberry Rhubarb Drop Scones

My favorite time of the year is just ahead and I cannot wait to start doing some food shoots to reflect the awesomeness that is summer produce! My neighbors have this beautiful rhubarb plant which they generously offered up to me whenever I want. Rhubarb is one of those fickle foods which can be argued as a fruit given its contextual use in cooking, but is technically considered a vegetable.  I finally got around to picking a recipe to use the rhubarb with; strawberry rhubarb drop scones. To give it a try please visit http://www.yankeekitchenninja.com/2012/05/strawberry-rhubarb-drop-scones-recipe.html. I really like this recipe because it is low key. Scones can be a complicated affair, but these are quick and easy for those of you who are like me and have little energy after work to put together a meal that doesn’t come from a box.

It wasn’t quite time for strawberry picking, so I’m sure had I used fresh from the field strawberries these scones would have been even more amazing. Instead, I found some nice organic strawberries that looked plump and flavorful. Part of food photography which I love and think is essential for telling a story are ingredient shots. What would a good recipe be without quality ingredients that make your mouth water and your heart reflect on long standing memories? I wanted to photograph the rhubarb individually since it is such a unique plant. The particular plant that my neighbors have is pretty massive, in fact it is so large that it has sort of mutated into two plants. Some of the leaves are probably about the size of my mini schnauzer, which I think is amazing considering the small st        alky base that supports them. I noticed how thick the veins in these leaves were and felt photographing this would shed light on the amount of power and energy that is needed to keep such a plant thriving. While the leaves are interesting this is not part of the plant that is used in cooking. In fact, rhubarb leaves are poisonous. They contain oxalic acid which can be harmful to humans if the correct amount is ingested. Granted you’d have to eat rhubarb leaf salads for days to build up enough of the oxalic acid, it is important to remember to just stay away and eat the stalks.

The recipe (as linked above) was pretty straight forward. I made just a few slight adjustments based on my personal taste. I like rhubarb, but it can be a bit sour if not balanced correctly. The recipe called for two cups mixed of chopped strawberries and rhubarb. I decided to add in an extra cup of strawberries since my particular palate doesn’t handle sour well. For those of you who like a bit of that zing, I suggest following the recipe. I also added a 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla because I absolutely love vanilla in baking. The buttermilk is a wonderful touch to these scones. I couldn’t help but feel like they were a heartier version of a fruit pancake. I would recommend eating them up quickly as I had a few left over in my container that ended up moldy. I wish I would have been a bit more conservative with the size that I dropped the scones out on the tray, as they were quite large and I ended up having to cook them for longer than stated in the recipe to be sure they were done all the way. These scones are wonderful paired with breakfast tea, especially if you have a nice berry tea. You can even put jam and butter on them if you find the rhubarb too sour.

Enjoy!

 

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Mitchell Park Conservatory (The Domes)

More updates for you all! At the end of April my co-worker and I decided to go to Mitchell Park Conservatory aka the Domes in Milwaukee for a little photo excursion. The domes are amazing to visit, especially with a camera! There are three domes each with a different theme. Two of the domes have permanent showcases, a desert oasis with collections of cacti, succulents, shrubs, and arid-land plants, and a tropical jungle containing a rich diversity of plants from the rainforests of five continents. The third dome is considered a show dome which showcases a variety of themes throughout the year. When we went the show dome had lots of spring plants like tulips, primroses, and mums.

Enjoy all the images and if you are looking for a quick weekend activity considering visiting the domes yourself! For more information visit the domes website at http://county.milwaukee.gov/MitchellParkConserva10116.htm

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Travels and Update

Hey All!

It has been a bit since I’ve posted, but I assure it is not for lack of photographing. I have been busy traveling for work and my personal life so I haven’t had a lot of time to sit down to update you all. The first update I wanted to give you is of a few fun images I took on my off time while I was in Atlanta Georgia for a business trip.

I was sent to one of our facilities in Roswell Georgia to photograph some executive portraits both in the studio and on location. It was a good time, their campus is beautiful and has a nice open walking trail in between campus buildings. We did a lot of shooting outdoors to take advantage of the beautiful landscaping. I was there for three days. I wanted to take the opportunity to drive downtown to the aquarium and get some imagery. The aquarium itself was relatively large with lots of different sights to take in, a great place for a family to go on vacation. I was exhausted from my long day so I didn’t linger. I made my way through everything I wanted to see and photograph in about an hour. One thing I will say is that I was impressed with how easy Atlanta and Georgia was to navigate. I am usually pretty timid when driving in new cities, but found my way around easily. It isn’t to say that the drivers were any safer in Georgia, in fact just the opposite.

Anyways, enjoy the images from the aquarium and a few things around!

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wisteriat that grew on campus, though I believe this is an invasive species it still was beautiful

wisteria that grew on campus, though I believe this is an invasive species it still was beautiful

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schools of fish

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Beluga Whale

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