Chicago Photo Shoot

Last post on Chicago, I promise!

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that in lieu of any shopping, Aaron and I decided to take professional photos while we were in Chicago.  I actually got the idea from the blog of a couple who hired a photographer to document their Paris vacation, and I thought wow how cool to have vacation photos that are actually not terrible! I mean, usually we have to find a nice stranger who doesn’t look like they’ll run away with the camera, and then you never know what you’re going to get (and I feel bad asking for a “do-over” when our heads are cut off).

I googled “Chicago wedding photographers”  and contacted my favorite one.  Well, they were way out of our “vacation photo” price range, but they went out of their way to find someone within our budget (gotta love Midwest hospitality!).  This brought us to Lane Christiansen of Willow Lane Photography.

She was so adorable and super sweet (bonus…she emailed me a few days later and said she had decided to sign up for her first marathon!) and is actually getting married herself this upcoming weekend.  I can’t recommend her enough if you are looking for a photographer in the Chicago area.

We met up with Lane after the marathon expo on Friday (it was FREEZING), and I asked her to go crazy, be creative, and basically take the reigns and show off her city’s architecture during our session.  This craziness included standing in the middle of State Street and taking a water taxi down the Chicago River and crashing a shoot of a bride so we could get the pictures Lane wanted (it was a post-wedding shoot, so it’s not like we ruined her wedding day or anything).

We are really awkward models.  I forgot how weird it is to stand there while someone shoots continuously.

We also got yells of congratulations presumably because people thought we were taking our engagement photos.  I won’t pretend that it wasn’t fun to get all the attention, but now I want another wedding…3 year vow renewal maybe??? Daddy?….

After weeks of anticipation, our picture disc came in the mail yesterday!

We got well over 500 photos, but here are my favorites:

Lots and Lots (and Lots) of Durango Pictures

So, I know everyone knows we went to Durango (and everyone is thinking, seriously, it’s not Paris, stop talking about it), but for such a small vacation, we took an insane amount of pictures that will sit forever in my computer, unloved and neglected.  I hate making anything feel unloved and neglected.

I love our camera (and Aaron LOVES our camera), so between us we take a lot of pictures with lots of different settings, often of the same thing over and over.

So, if you are interested in looking at a ton of pictures of water and trains (and a few other things), here is our Durango weekend in 87 pictures.

And then we will move on!

Drinking Wine, Playing with the Camera, and Pot Shopping

Saturday was National Drink Wine Day!

I honestly don’t know how such an important holiday went under my radar for this long (though it is quite possible that this was the first ever National Drink Wine Day), but luckily I was informed with enough time to celebrate adequately. 

Would I have drunk some wine on Saturday anyway?  Most likely.  Is drinking wine more fun when you are obligated by decree of a national holiday? I think yes.

Saturday was one of the nicest days Albuquerque has seen since fall.  We had blue skies, perfect springtime temperatures, and no wind (unlike today). 

We started out the day with a 6 mile kick-off run. After a month-long break, we have a 10 miler in March and a half-marathon in April to start getting ready for.

Then we headed to our favorite winery hangout, Casa Rondena (where we did our grape harvest and stomp last September), did a quick tasting, then shared a bottle of Meritage in the vineyard. 

The property is beautiful (well, right now the vines themselves aren’t so fabulous). Almost like having a little bit of Napa here in the desert. A friend is thinking about doing her wedding here which will be quite lovely.

I sat back and enjoyed the afternoon while Aaron fiddled with our camera, experimenting with different colors, soft focus, and who knows what (two months after getting the camera, I’m still using auto setting).  I asked him to figure out how to make retro looking pictures.  I think we’re getting closer. At least we’re more aware of the possibilities. Someday, we will understand what all those little icons mean.

{Auto -Setting Aaron}

{Soft-Focus Amy}

{Warm-Toned Amy}

{High-Contrast Amy}

{High Speed Wine Pouring}

{Playing with shadows}

This morning when we were downloading the pictures onto the computer, we noticed that there was a smudge on our lense.  So almost every picture has a little blurry spot. Either that, or we had a little winery ghost following us around. In any case, picture-taking fail.

{HUGE left hand side smudge}

After visiting the winery, Aaron was in a good mood.  I was happily surprised when he pulled into the Jackalope parking lot and offered to buy me a pot for our living room.

A couple of January’s ago, in order to fill the Christmas Tree void, we bought a palm tree type plant, but it has been living in an uninspired, plastic, planter. I’ve been talking about getting a prettier one for a while.

Jackalope is the perfect place to go pot shopping because they have a huge selection.  Plus, you can pretend to be a cultured tourist browsing in a foreign Mercado (they have “global” music blaring in the background) but without the ability to bargain over the price. 

I’m in love with our new pot.  It has just the right amount of imperfections to make it charmingly authentic, and I think it fits well in our living room.

So this weekend has me excited for Springtime.  Being able to hang out outside on a Saturday afternoon and enjoying the New Mexico landscape only made me more anxious for warmer weather.  But first, we’ll have to deal with a few more months of unpredictable storm systems and lots of wind.

Road Trip Through the Painted Desert

The End of a Journey

I had the rest of this post written out last night, but how much can change in a few hours! Etta James’ death was unfortunately not the first one I heard about today.  Etta passed away his morning at the age of 73 after battling several health problems.  Even though it sounds like she was kind of the Lindsey Lohan of her day, I believe that At Last is one of the most beautifully sung and most  iconic American standards ever recorded.  That one song alone kept Etta relevant across generations, and based on my facebook feed, her death has affected many people.  So, before anything else, RIP Etta James, and thank you for your contribution to American Music.

 

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The trip from Albuquerque to Phoenix is 6 hours. It is a relatively short distance, but the terrain is so varied along the way.   

To pass the time during the trip, I pulled out the Canon and started snapping away. I still don’t really know how to use my camera, but I did learn that the little runner dude icon is “sports mode” which means I can capture stuff moving fast without it being blurry.  This came in handy when trying to take pictures at 75 mph.  Meanwhile, Aaron was embarrassed about how dirty the windows were. 

I prefer an ocean sunset, but I would be lying if I said that New Mexico sunsets aren’t some of the most amazing.  I only wish I was a good enough photographer to capture them with any sense of justice.

So, here is rural New Mexico and Arizona: desert, mountains, forest, cliffs, Route 66 towns, roadside attractions, Navajo Reservations, and open road.

And Then it Snowed

Sometimes (but not very often), it snows and sticks in Albuquerque.  This weekend it actually snowed twice which is a Christmas miracle! While I’ve made no attempt to hide my discontent over cold weather, I am amazed how even just small amounts of snow can make an ugly, dirty world look magical.

For a few days, the weatherman had been warning us about massive amounts of snowfall…I would say we got less than a quarter inch at our house and it melted before 10 on both mornings, but on our Saturday and Sunday runs we were able to run through a sparkly, frosty wonderland.  And all reports point to another snowstorm tonight into tomorrow.

We’ve also spent hours taking pictures of it.

What?

I was outside in my robe and flip flops on Friday night experimenting with the camera.  Saturday morning we tried to get Giuseppe to pose cutely.  He was more interested in snow digging.  We repeated the whole thing last night and this morning.  These are some of the 100 pictures we took.  (Really, we are pretty snow deprived).   My favorite are the long exposure pictures like the one above taken at about 10 p.m.