Vanessa's Birthday Photo Shoot

Last week was Vanessa's second birthday. We managed to take a few photos during the party, but we're always so busy it's tough to get more than a few quick snaps. Maybe Vanessa will post those photos to her blog soon (she's been slacking lately). Later in the evening, when we had more time, Vanessa sat down with Mama for as long as a two-year old surrounded by new toys can be expected to sit still.

This was just a light test when I was setting things up, but it ended up being one of her best poses.

Mama jumps in for a few photos.

The two girls ham things up.

Between periods of goofiness, Vanessa can be full of love.

So much love.

Singing songs was the only way to hold Vanessa's attention.

Vanessa was done with photos and acting fussy so we used the oldest trick in the parent book and just started shooting without her. Soon, she wanted to be part of the action again.

Come on Vanessa, show us your teeth. Well, you didn't have to point to them, but that's OK.

Too cute.

Vanessa is ready for her closeup.

Vanessa poses with her awesome new super-soft gorilla from Aunt Christine.

Counting to ten never looked so fun.

Things were easier with Mama behind me holding her attention.

Happy Birthday Vanessa! It's amazing to think about all that's happened in the last two years. In case anyone wants to be reminded of what was going on exactly two years ago, you can read all about it here:

North Carolina Mountain Foliage

We recently took a trip up to the mountains in North Carolina to get a taste of fall. I still believe that Florida has seasons, but there is no comparison when it comes to the fall foliage displays of the northern states. We rented a house for a week and we tried to soak up as much mountain and foliage scenery as we could. I didn't take as many photos as usual thanks to a few days of rain and a few days of being sick.

Here is the long view from the deck. It's quite a sight to see these large swaths of forest all changing color. The area around the house was at peak color, or very close to it.

One morning I got up before sunrise to make a few photos since the forecast called for heavy fog. Up in the mountains, the weather never really followed the forecast and it ended up being rather clear. On other "clear" days the area around the house ended up being completely fogged in. Gotta love that mountain weather. Anyway, this waterfall was just a short walk down the gravel road from the house.

While walking back to the house, the sun came up over the mountain and starting streaming through the foggy forest. I made several photos of the light shining on to the forest floor, mainly ferns, but this one was my favorite.

Back at the house, the early morning light combined with the wet leaves of the past two days of rain made the colors really pop.

The opening in the forest in front of the deck acted as a funnel. The fog and clouds would come floating up the mountain and push right over the house.

I couldn't resist a handheld self portrait in front of the blazing colors.

That same day we did some hiking around Mount Mitchell, the highest point east of the Mississippi. The foliage was already done at these elevations, but the summit of Mitchell is mostly weather beaten pines anyway. It was very interesting to walk through such a unique high elevation ecosystem.

Karen took the camera and got a few shots of me with Vanessa.

Here is Karen taking in the view.

Back at the house, a setting sun backlights the forest and makes the leaves glow.

I managed to capture a few portraits of Vanessa in front of some nice foliage.

During a family hike around the house, we encountered these amazing leaves.

Finally, another view from the deck. The sun had already gone down and it was getting dark. Balancing the camera on the deck rail and using a long shutter speed really brought out the yellows.

Well, that's it for our trip. Karen and briefly lived in Asheville so we really enjoy going back to that area. I wish Asheville had an ocean, or Florida had a mountain range. Oh well.