Category: Family Happenings

Family Friday Fun – Palomar Observatory

What if you could educate your kids, inspire their curiosity and entertain them with a weekend of outdoor fun all on the same trip? Well, you can by visiting Palomar Observatory and spending time at Palomar Mountain State Park.

Orange County Portraiture - Palomar Mountain State Park

The Palomar Observatory and nearby State Park are located in north San Diego County. The observatory is a world-class center of astronomical research owned and operated by the California Institute of Technology.  The observatory is home to five telescopes that are used for a wide variety of astronomical research conducted by Caltech’s faculty and students.

Environmental Portraits - Orange County - Palomar Observatory

The Palomar Observatory is open to the public for daytime visits daily (except December 24 and 25). Here are driving directions and information on any possible road closures. Check first if there’s been any recent weather events.

Family Portraits - Hale Telescope

You can walk right inside the 200-inch Hale telescope building. This massive telescope was the world’s largest effective telescope for 45 years (1948 – 1993).  It is still a workhorse of modern astronomy – used nightly for a wide range of astronomical studies.  On average the awesome So CA weather allows some data collection about 290 nights a year. Just another day in paradise here in So CA.

Orange County Baby Portraits - Palomar Observatory

The Visitor Center includes interesting and fun displays for the kids. Be sure to bring some coins and the kids will be mesmerized by this exhibit.

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We were “coinless” but the curator provided us with the silver needed to capture this fun. Gotta love those reflections and expressions.

The campground is, like other local sites, chock full of fun, outdoor activities. The sites are well equipped with potable water and fire rings. I let Benjamin take a turn at chopping wood. Of course Rebecca was providing plenty of scrutiny while that was going on.

Family Portraits - Orange County Palomar State Park

Jeremiah got in on the action scrounging up kindling for the fire. The boys took a well deserved break once the firewood was prepared.

Family portraits - Palomar State Park

Being family portrait photographers we never miss the opportunity to pose the grandkids. Of course, that doesn’t mean they are always in the mood. Rebecca quickly consoled the unwilling subject.

Unwilling child portraiture

There was a great spot for climbing at the Palomar Observatory (free) parking area. Ben & Destiny did some rock scrambling …

Environmental portrait at Palomar Observatory

as well as tree climbing. We were able to get a couple of family portrait photos and they had their fill of outdoor fun.

Laguna Niguel Family Portraits at Palomar State Park

So – family fun and facts at one local location – it can’t get any better than that, right?

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Laguna Niguel Portraits – Family Event – Yahir Birthday

Time for another birthday – didn’t we just celebrate Yahir’s 9th? It seems that way but, time flies when you’re having fun and we certainly have fun with birthdays.

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Last year’s cake was more than adequate. Benjamin, Destiny and Yahir watched intently as Rebecca lit the candles. Yahir is clearly focused on his piece of cake.

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This year’s cake had a special adornment. Yahir’s mother had made Lego shaped marshmallow treats. Yahir is a big fan of Legos and has built up quite a collection. Could it be that he will become a Civil Engineer? That would be a challenging career but he’s up to the task; his grades are exemplary and he enjoys Math.

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Of course he’s still only 10 years old. Both he and Destiny are committed to their iPhone/iPad games despite the presence of cake & ice cream. Kids will be kids – let’s keep it that way for quite a bit longer.

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We decided to make a second go at a hike of Upper Newport Bay. You may recall we attempted the same a few weeks ago but our plans were thwarted by rain. This time the weather cooperated.

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The telescope overlooking the bay was, once again, a favorite with Benjamin. But there were more than a few sights to see including a small lizard that captured their attention.

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I saw a great portrait opportunity and captured it. The kids would have no patience for an off camera light set up; but, I think this photo shows that on camera flash works OK if you know how to tame it. Check our Tuesday Photo Tips for posts that address how to use your on camera flash.

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The kids enjoyed the hike and Yahir is now ten?!? Wow – in three years time he’ll be a (dreaded) teenager : (…. Oh well, we’ll be there to help him navigate the troubled teen years. After all, we’ve raised more than a few and they all survived.

Stay tuned for our next Family Happenings post. In the meantime, check back for our weekly Tuesday Photo Tips. Better yet – be updated automatically when we post Photo Excursions, Road Trips, Family Happenings or Photo Tips by “friending” our Facebook site. We also post favorite photos, along with an explanation of how it was captured, on our Pinterest page – follow us there and join in the fun.

You may also want to browse the resource articles on our site covering basic and more advanced photography topics. There are also tips covering topics such as preparing for family or infant/child portrait sessions. If you would like a topic covered just jot it down in a comment or send us a note. Also, if  you think your friends or family members would enjoy these photo excursions please pass them on by using any of the share buttons below.

Laguna Niguel Baby Portraits – Family – Gender Reveal Party

A Gender Reveal party is a fairly new concept to Rebecca and I. Younger folks may consider this standard practice – kind of like texting which, you may have guessed, wasn’t an option for us when we were teens. Of course, we did have (pay) phones!! But they weren’t portable and didn’t have web access.

There are an unlimited number of options for a Gender Reveal party. My daughter, Shannon, had one a few months ago. A cake was ordered with an “inner color” that revealed the gender. Shannon & Dan cut into the cake and learned the gender of their (second) baby.

The cake was pink. Nathan will have a baby sister in April. He doesn’t seem too excited in the photo above – maybe it’s Rebecca’s reaction that has him stymied. His sister’s name is still being “negotiated”. Nathan’s name was chosen hours after his birth so we’re not even asking at this point.

Rebecca’s nephew, Nick, was just blessed with the news that he’s going to be a (first time) pappa soon. We’re all hoping the baby is lucky and inherits mom’s good looks.

His sister arranged a gender reveal party with a (tongue) twist. Instead of cake, she stuffed some colored balloons inside a toy drum.

Nick is a talented drummer (“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”) so this approach was appropriate. Nick’s father, Luis, is an accomplished drummer. He made quite a splash in the “glam” years of rock and roll. Now he’s going to be Grandpa … more rewarding than fame as a rock and roll star! And Rebecca’s sister, Angela, is on cloud nine.

So, the party was on. Mom & Dad (to be) were cool and collected. Nick took time out before the reveal to relax shooting some pool.  The video monitor was displaying a sonogram of the baby (girl/boy). Daleena – she just radiated happiness.

At this point only Nick’s sister knew the gender. The moment of truth was nearing. Rebecca took photos, including the lovely outdoor portraits shown earlier. Nick and Daleena posed near the “gender voting” table. I don’t recall what the final tally was – but I do know that I guessed right.

The time to reveal had arrived. Nick and Daleena beat the drum and out popped pink balloons. Aubriella is due in April. Given the love in (and size of) this family, Aubriella will be a much-loved and pampered grandaughter, niece, ….etc.

There are three generations in the photo above. Nick’s parents (and first time grandparents) were joined by his paternal grandmother.

Daleena posed with her sister and her new sister-in-law (who had also filled the role as her BFF).

The party was well attended. I can’t imagine how the hospital will handle all the visitors. But, I know Rebecca and I will be there with cameras to capture every moment.

Stay tuned for our next family event.  In the meantime, check back for our weekly Tuesday Photo Tips. Better yet – be updated automatically when we post Photo Excursions, Road Trips, Family Happenings or Photo Tips by “friending” our Facebook site. We also post favorite photos, along with an explanation of how it was captured, on our Pinterest page – follow us there and join in the fun.

You may also want to browse the resource articles on our site covering basic and more advanced photography topics. There are also tips covering topics such as preparing for family or infant/child portrait sessions. If you would like a topic covered just jot it down in a comment or send us a note. Also, if  you think your friends or family members would enjoy these photo excursions please pass them on by using any of the share buttons below.

Laguna Niguel Portraiture – Family – Holiday Portraits 2012

It is often joked that a painters house is always in need of paint and plumbers have leaky faucets. When you have a job that keeps you busy 40+ hours per week the last thing you want to do is the same tasks on your days off.

Rebecca and I love being photographers. We manufacture opportunities to practice our craft on our days off. Just ask the grandkids – they are, more often than not, the subjects of our “off hours” photos.

With the holiday season upon us we have no need to “manufacture” photo opportunities. It’s that time of year. Time for the yearly XMAS portraits. It’s also a good time to look back a year (or more) and see how children have grown.

The photos above are a couple of our favorites from last year’s holiday portraits. This year we took to the backyard for our photos.

It’s a very convenient location and can yield superb photos without the need for strobes or elaborate backgrounds.

We thought we’d have Jeremiah serve as our “assistant” while Ben & Destiny dressed for the occasion and while we waited for the “golden hour” light. Obviously he wasn’t interested in obliging.

We abandoned that approach and focused (pun intended) on his older siblings for a while.

Benjamin and Destiny work well together – they’ve been through this routine many times. We took photos with both of them and with each solo. I used a bit of Photoshop on Ben’s solo photo to give it a bit of edge. We like the result, shown below.

After Jeremiah was dressed we were able to get a few photos of all three. One could say Jeremiah was “in a mood” but we were able to snap a few frames with reasonable expressions as shown in the photos below.

So – we’ve bagged some of this year’s holiday photos. We’ll hope to get a new batch with Nathan and the older grandkids before XMAS comes and goes. Either way, we’re sure to have another great year of family/holiday festivities and we’ll have our cameras loaded and ready to capture precious moments.

Stay tuned for our next family photo event.  In the meantime, check back for our weekly Tuesday Photo Tips. Better yet – be updated automatically when we post Photo Excursions, Road Trips, Family Happenings or Photo Tips by “friending” our Facebook site. We also post favorite photos, along with an explanation of how it was captured, on our Pinterest page – follow us there and join in the fun.

You may also want to browse the resource articles on our site covering basic and more advanced photography topics. There are also tips covering topics such as preparing for family or infant/child portrait sessions. If you would like a topic covered just jot it down in a comment or send us a note. Also, if  you think your friends or family members would enjoy these photo excursions please pass them on by using any of the share buttons below.

Laguna Niguel Portraits – Family – Orange County Great Park

The transformation of the Marine Corps Air Station El Toro into a Great Park is underway albeit progress is slow. The promise of the “first great metropolitan park of the 21st Century” is, at this point in time, nothing more than a promise.

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Plans for the Orange County Great Park span more than 1,300 acres -  nearly twice the size of New York’s Central Park. The ”award-winning master plan embraces environmental sustainability ….” If and when it is completed, the OC Great Park “will join America’s inventory of national treasures ….”

We’ve read a few articles in the LA Times recently that describe the glacial progress and some of the problems that have been encountered. We’re skeptical about the near future.

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However, we did enjoy our time in the Western Sector, a $6.5M effort covering 200 acres featuring the balloon ride, a carousel, art exhibits and plenty of soccer fields. Let’s hope progress is made and funds are appropriated and used to fulfill the promise and potential of this mega park which is “easily accessible to more than 10,000,000 Southern California residents via freeway or railway.”

The star attraction is the balloon ride. Unfortunately, when we arrived spaces were completely booked for the afternoon so we missed that thrill. We’ll be back, though. Maybe right after the next storm passes through revealing a great cityscape view from the lofty perch provided by the balloon.

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So we made the short trek to the next attraction, the carousel. Jeremiah and Ben had fun.

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But Destiny and I stayed on for multiple spins while the others headed to the Kids Rock play area.

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Like everything at the park this is a small, well designed area that gives kids plenty of opportunity for fun.

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Both Ben & Destiny love to climb ….

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…and both enjoy jumping.

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I’m sure that by the time Destiny reaches 9 years old she’ll have perfected her form a bit.

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There were other, more cerebral activities going on at the park. I spent a few minutes photographing a grammar school chess tournament. I recall enjoying chess when I was that age. It’s been a long time – I”m guessing some of these fifth graders could clean me up pretty quickly.

Artist-in-Residence Andre Woodward, a  sculptor from Costa Mesa, had an interesting art exhibit. “His carefully-composed objects highlight the urban environment in relation to the natural world.”

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We had spent a few hours and it was time to head back. It’s clear from the photo above that Jeremiah was ready to head home.

There are other regular activities that we will check out in the near future including a Farmers Market open every Sunday (rain or shine) at 10AM. There’s also The Groves Antique Market showcasing fine art and collectibles on the first Sunday of every month.

So, if you can get past the Great Park oxymoron and visit what is available we’re sure you’ll enjoy a day at the OC (not-yet) Great Park.

Stay tuned for our next Photo Excursion. In the meantime, check back for our weekly Tuesday Photo Tips. Better yet – be updated automatically when we post Photo Excursions, Road Trips, Family Happenings or Photo Tips by “friending” our Facebook site.

You may also want to browse the resource articles on our site covering basic and more advanced photography topics. There are also tips covering topics such as preparing for family or infant/child portrait sessions. If you would like a topic covered just jot it down in a comment or send us a note. Also, if  you think your friends or family members would enjoy these photo excursions please pass them on by using any of the share buttons below.

Family – Destiny Birthday

It was time to celebrate another birthday so we resorted to a convenient and kid-popular choice, Chuck e Cheese. That certainly wasn’t our first pick but – the birthday girl selected it so we acquiesced and headed to the pizza/fun zone.

This wasn’t my first birthday at Chuck e Cheese – twenty years ago we celebrated Kyle’s birthday there. With any luck this will be our last but ….. fun can be had if you go in with the right attitude and capture some photos/memories.

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Prior to the weekend evening at Chuck e Cheese we had a small birthday celebration at the house. The festivities started with some hula  hoop practice in the front yard. I had borrowed a friends long focal length (300 mm), fast (f/2.8) lens and used this opportunity to play. No one would routinely use such a lens for portraits but I love these photos and will forever remember the few minutes of fun the two of us enjoyed capturing her hula hoop skills.

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It was work for both of us – clearly Destiny had run out of gas and was ready for some food. Plus she knew that presents would follow shortly after dinner.

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Opening the presents was only the beginning. Assembling them took us into the evening. The tent was popular with both Destiny and her little brother – Jeremiah.

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But the favorite of the night had to be the Barbie doll house. I’ve got to tell you, it’s quite a clever set up. Once you learn the assembly and see the finished result future efforts won’t take you into dusk.

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That weekend we headed to Chuck’s house of fun to complete the annual celebration. While we waited for the pizza the kids scurried about playing on all the games (some electronic, several not). The car racing simulator was a big hit with Jeremiah. Roman and Violet were having fun as well. However, it’s clear Jeremiah wasn’t a big fan of the talking Chuck doll.

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Once the pizza (OK with the kids but not on my #100 list) was finished we had another birthday cake celebration complete with candles (six) and a walking/talking/clapping Chuck character.

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The celebration at Chuck e Chess culminated with a 3 minute coupon grab in the Ticket Blaster. Destiny was allowed to bring some help. Benjamin was more than happy to chip in. Ben & Destiny joined Troy for a photo with Chuck just before the highlight (NOT) of the event – counting & redeeming their coupons.

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If you’re in a pinch when planning a birthday party you may want to reconsider asking the birthday girl/boy otherwise you, too, may end  up at Chuck e Cheese. Of course, if you bring your camera you can keep busy taking photos of the fun times and provide memories for everyone involved.

Stay tuned for our next Family Adventure. In the meantime, check back for our weekly Tuesday Photo Tips. Better yet – be updated automatically when we post Photo Excursions, Road Trips, Family Happenings or Photo Tips by “friending” our Facebook site.

You may also want to browse the resource articles on our site covering basic and more advanced photography topics. There are also tips covering topics such as preparing for family or infant/child portrait sessions. If you would like a topic covered just jot it down in a comment or send us a note. Also, if  you think your friends or family members would enjoy these photo excursions please pass them on by using any of the share buttons below.