“The Cove”

Driving to exit 299 off I-65 and down a few “God’s Country” Cullman County Roads, you’ll arrive in an area known as Bremen, where you’ll find a cozy little place known as “The Cove”. Thanks to my Grandmother, this place has been a recreational hotspot for hosts of friends and family for a decade! It’s Summer, Hot, Humid, full of flying insects, but there is no better place to enjoy time on the lake in Alabama. Lewis Smith Lake, better known as simply Smith Lake is Alabama’s deepest and one of the most beautiful lakes in America. If you’re visiting Alabama and want to wake to a symphony of Woodpeckers, Chickadees, and Owls with the background of rustling leaves blowing in the breeze, Smith lake is the place to be at 6am with a warm cup of coffee sitting on a wood swing with your special someone.

Got a chance to do some HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography this morning. Here is a couple I liked! If you wondered what HDR on your iPhone’s camera was, it’s the phone combining multiple exposures to better display area’s of the image that are dark and light. These two are a combination of 20 images.



Huntsville Alabama visit

I got to spend the most time I’ve ever spent in Huntsville, Alabama this week, and I found several unique places that will keep you entertained on the cheap if you ever find yourself in the fourth largest city in Alabama for any length of time.

The first place Easton and I went was the North Alabama Locomotive Museum. The place is “Open” seven days a week 9-5, but you wont find many people there, not even employees. When Easton and I arrived, the gate was closed and locked to prevent any vehicles from parking in the main lot. Fortunately, they have a small lot accessible from the road with a large tree providing shade from the Alabama hot sun. We were the only people in the park, and got to give ourselves a self guided exploratory tour. This place used to be a botanical nursery and train stop years ago, but has since fallen in disrepair. Now days, it provides a unique place to take pictures, and centerpiece to the few trains that are on display. Although trains are fascinating to view and explore, after checking out what this Museum has to offer, I would say that it being free was the best part!

After the train museum, we made our way to Monte Sano State Park. Because of the gate guard being unattended, we got more free sight seeing! We just arrived when DeeAnn called wanting to meet for lunch, so we didn’t get to explore. To journal our short trip there, we took a couple pictures, and headed out! I saw a nice playground and the Von Braun Astronomical Society building that I wished we had more time to explore. Maybe one day, we’ll be back.

The next place on our tour was Redstone Arsenal. I had hoped to find a special spot to photograph the Tennessee River that you’d only be able to get with a military ID access card. We traveled on base to the Col. Carroll D. Hudson Recreational Complex, and were disappointed. Huge dragonflies and bees had made the kids playground home, preventing Easton from playing, and the river had a concrete wall built all along the access from the complex, which took away the natural beauty of the area. I hope I’ll be able to get a good shot of the river before I leave. The most interesting thing I saw on base was the nuclear fall out shelters everywhere. It was obviously something out of the cold war era that is rusting away. 

The last place we went was the Huntsville Botanical Gardens. This place was the best place on our trip to Huntsville! It was Military appreciation week, and again, got in free! It was what they call “Wacky Wednesday” at the gardens, and there were lots of kids! They have the countries largest live butterfly exhibit, and you are allowed to pour nectar on your hands to attract them to hold. It was pretty amazing to see hundreds of butterflies flying about all around while you walk through the arboretum. In addition to the butterfly exhibit, they have a kids water park play area, a pirate ship tree house, and 1/10 scale train that Easton loved watching it go around the bonsai trees and model houses that had been placed around to resemble a small town. Wished we had found this place first, but I guess having the best come last is fitting.


Here are a few pics of our adventures



Gunnells Sweet Tea


Growing up in Alabama, Sweet Tea is taken for granted like buying bread at the grocery store. Could you Imaging going grocery store to grocery store not being able to find bread? Knowing about the invisible line through Texas that keeps Sweet Tea trapped from going west, it dawned on me that I would have to learn to make my own Sweet Tea if I were going to survive in San Diego! Lucky for me, my Dad has had the responsibility of supplying the Gunnells’ home with its daily supply of this sweet nectar, so I didn’t have to go far to learn the ways of Sweet Tea making! If you live in San Diego, or anywhere outside of the Southeast of America, Follow the instructions below to get your own taste of refreshing bliss!

Things you’ll need:

1)   15 minutes of time

2)   1 Gallon (3.8 Liters) pitcher

3)   2 Lipton Iced Black Tea Pitcher Size tea bags

4)   2 Celestial Seasonings Mandarin Orange Spice tea bags

5)   2 Cups of Sugar (Splenda or other artificial sweeteners can be used)

6)   Ice

7)   Pinch of baking soda

To begin, take your pitcher, and fill with 20 Ounces or .5 liter of filtered cold water. Remove any tea bag strings, and then drop all four tea bags into the pitcher to sit in the water for 10 minutes.


While you wait, Boil 57 Ounces or 1.7 liters of water, and prepare your sweetener in a measuring cup.


Once your water has come to a boil, you should by now have let the tea bags brew in the cold water.


Pour the boiling water into the pitcher trying not to pour directly onto the tea bags, letting the tea brew for 5-6 minutes, and then remove the tea bags with a large slotted spoon.


Add the 2 cups of sweetener and stir, making sure all the granules are dissolved.


Add the pinch of baking soda

Add Ice to the hot tea to bring tea level to the top of pitcher and stir while it melts and dilutes the tea and sweetener to the perfect level.


At this point, your tea should still be slightly warm, and ready to pour into a glass of ice for refreshment.




Lina & Ben

It’s not often you get to meet a whole family at once, and even less often is that whole family as warm and inviting! Here are a couple Sneak Peek shots from today’s shoot. Lina and Ben met through an online dating service, and kicked things off at Starbucks! Really a great couple, and were very nice. I couldn’t have asked for a better couple or family to work with! Thank you Lina and Ben! Hope you enjoy that Phill’s BBQ!