Blog, Places

A Hike at Petroglyphs Provincial Park

A few weeks ago we made plans to meet up with a great friend. I really love Petroglyphs Provincial Park this time of year, but to be honest, my favourite is during winter.

Petroglyphs Provincial Park

Unfortunately, the building in which the petroglyphs are located is only open seasonally so we couldn’t visit them, but just being in the park makes up for missing the open season. There’s a feeling to this place.

Hiking with baby in park,

We followed the road into the park and enjoyed the wonderful warm colours of autumn along our walk.

Maple trees get a lot of buzz during autumn, but for me the magic happens after their leaves fall and what is left are rusty oaks and golden tamaracks.

We walked to McGuiness Lake, a dead lake in the park that has a beautiful greenish colour to it.

And then we had to turn around and walk back out.

I always enjoy visiting the park when we’re back visiting family. It was really nice to get out and take Severn there. I’m excited for when she can explore it herself.

The Tree Museum, Gravenhurst
Blog, People, Places

Tree Museum, Gravenhurst – Severn’s First Hike

It felt SO GOOD to take my camera out today! Since I graduated my 2-year photography program in June, gave birth to Severn in July and have been busy being a new mom, I haven’t really had a chance to use my camera.

We took Severn Fawn on her first official hike today at The Tree Museum in Gravenhurst, Muskoka. It’s a really neat place with outdoor art installations and sculptures scattered throughout the trail. Continue reading “Tree Museum, Gravenhurst – Severn’s First Hike”

Blog

My Beautiful Belly Birth

It’s not what I had planned. To be honest, it was the last thing I wanted was to have a c-section. I had read so many powerful stories of women having natural births, and within their own homes. I felt so much empowerment to be able to make such a personal decision to have my baby at home.

A couple of weeks before my baby’s due date I was sent home with a home birth kit and birthing pool, and I pictured myself and the day giving birth in my own home. Dim lights, I would be surrounded by my lively plants and the comfort of my own bed to labour in.

Week 37 of my pregnancy an ultrasound showed that my baby was in a breech position. My midwife and I had to talk about options. I could try to get baby to move using natural methods and also set up an appointment to have an External Cephalic Version (ECV) in which an OB would manually try to move my baby in the head-down position. So, I tried bouncing on an exercise ball, walking, putting frozen peas on babe’s head and I even shone a flashlight across my skin and into my uterus to try and get baby to move. I didn’t go through with the ECV.

Another ultrasound week 39 also showed that baby hadn’t moved despite my efforts. I had to book an appointment with a general surgeon to discuss my options for a c-section. I really wanted to go into spontaneous labour before the birth of my baby to make sure she/he was good and ready to enter into this world. After much discussion, it was advised that I schedule a c-section for the date before my baby’s due date which was pushing it really close.

I struggled with the thought that my baby was scheduled in someone’s calendar to enter into this world and I cried and I cried. The appointment was less than a week away and I felt so unprepared.

I had to get blood work done the Friday before baby’s birth. I felt really good that day. I felt like maybe I was ready for this to happen. After my blood work and a nice afternoon at home, I received a call from my midwife saying that my platelets came in at 57 and that my pregnancy was considered high risk. I didn’t know what to say or do but cry. All along my platelets have been in the high 200’s. I had to drive down to the Orillia hospital within the hour to get more blood work done so that they could order an exact blood match from the blood bank in Toronto if I needed a blood transfusion. I also had to speak with the surgeon who would perform an emergency c-section the next morning. I didn’t really understand the gravity of the situation.

When we arrived, I was met by my midwife and the surgeon who went through all of the risk factors to my delivery. Because my platelets were so low, I was unable to get an epidural or spinal in my back because of the risk of bleeding out and becoming paralyzed. That meant that I had to be put under and there were risks involved in not having enough oxygen because of pregnancy and that could affect me and baby. Because of my low platelets my blood might not clot. So if the first 4 medications they would give me don’t work, they would have to tie off veins and arteries and worst-case scenario, give me a hysterectomy and remove my uterus if I hemorrhaged. I could also need a blood transfusion and there are risks involved in that with picking up diseases.

I just sat there in disbelief. I had a pretty uneventful pregnancy, why all of a sudden am I having all of these issues. I was terrified. There were so many risks stacked upon risks. What was I supposed to do? I couldn’t put the brakes on, but go through with everything and hope that the “likelihood would be that everything will be fine.”

The surgeon and my midwife left to go check my blood work platelet count again from my draw that evening. They left my husband and I together to talk about what this all meant and how we were feeling. Some time later I heard my midwife down the hall say, “I wonder what her reaction’s going to be. Who’s going to tell her?” When they walked back in the room, my midwife told me that my platelet count came in at 276 and there was an error at the Huntsville hospital where they drew my official blood. My reaction?

“You’re f*cking kidding me.”

A full investigation was going to happen into why my work came back with an error. Thousands of dollars worth of blood from the blood bank had been ordered and sent to Orillia in case I needed a blood transfusion, not to mention the toll all of this had on my mental health while being pregnant. I burst into tears and cried my heart out in disbelief.

I was advised to draw blood one more time on Sunday the day before my baby’s scheduled c-section just to triple check that the right data on my blood platelets were correct before proceeding. I spent Saturday having high hopes that everything was going to be okay. Sunday, after going out for breakfast with just my husband and I, we met with my midwife to draw blood again. We waited an hour and my results came back at 299! My blood is clot-able and really good at it! So now I was back having a low-risk pregnancy.

The result of having my blood drawn 7 times in 3 days.

We spent the rest of the day enjoying each other’s company and getting our life ready for a new addition to our family.

I went to bed on Sunday night feeling pretty tired, but woke up at 3am unable to sleep while fighting thoughts of fear and excitement before the surgery to have my baby. We had to be at the hospital for 7am to prep me for the biggest moment of my life.

I tried to remain calm as the IV went into my arm, I undressed into nothing but a hospital gown and was wheeled away from my husband into the OR room. I kept repeating “I am strong, I am calm, I am able.” Getting a spinal was my first fear. I was in an operating room full of technical equipment for operating on patients. It wasn’t the calm space I dreamed about to labour and birth my baby in. Everyone was in scrubs and masks and I could only recognize my midwife by her eyes who helped me through getting a needle in my back.

First my toes went numb and then my legs. I hated the sensation but was so thankful for it. Everyone in the OR room were very friendly and nice and explained things to me as they were happening. Before long, my husband was rushed into the room after a curtain was draped across me. He caught my focus and attention by verbally replaying our canoe trip in Quetico to take my mind off of being poked, prodded and cut open. I heard the surgeon say that the baby’s bum was out and they were just working on bringing the head out, and then I heard the most incredible sound of my life. The first cry of my baby.

One of the most beautiful moments of my life. Hearing my baby cry for the first time without being able to see her/him.

My husband and I didn’t know the sex of the baby so my midwife had to keep telling the surgeons to not say what the sex was when they delivered my baby. After much anticipation of waiting for the delay of cord clamping, my baby was brought around so that we could find out whether babe was a boy or a girl.

Then baby was rushed away to have vitals checked and quickly wiped off a little.

My husband was called over to cut baby’s cord.

And then finally my baby was brought over to me to have skin-to-skin contact.

At 9:01am on July 9th, 2018 (a day before baby’s due date), I had the most beautiful belly birth to a girl named Severn Fawn Sharpe (named after a river in northern Ontario that flows into Hudson Bay). She was 20 1/4 inches long and perfect.

So THIS is what bliss feels like.

We spent 48 hours in the hospital getting to know our baby, breastfeeding and becoming a family.

I’m so thankful that my mother was there to share in the experience with us. She waited so patiently until we came out of the OR and recovery room to meet her grand daughter. We spent some amazing time together bonding and receiving her love and support. Thanks, Mama Bear! xo

My husband was so wonderful and amazing and supportive during all of this. He was so strong even though I know he was probably scared too. I’m so thankful for him. Our daughter is so lucky to have him as a father.

I am so thankful that the birth of our baby went so well despite the emotional rollercoaster of emotions from the days leading up to her perfect birth. I wouldn’t change anything. She’s so wonderful and I’m in love with being a mama and watching my husband be the father of our daughter.

Blog, Places, Things

Garden Photography

Last Sunday my husband took me down to the Toronto Cactus and Succulent Show at Allan Gardens Conservatory. Unfortunately, the lineup to get into the sale part of the show was too long for this 8.5 month pregnant woman, so we just wandered around inside the conservatory and surprisingly I didn’t buy any plants!

I haven’t really picked my camera up since I finished my two-year photography program at the end of April. To be honest, I’ve been overwhelmed with getting ready to have a baby. It felt good to snap a few photographs though. There’s something about the clicking of the shutter that makes me happy.

Being surrounded by plants makes my heart sing, so naturally being around a botanical garden was just what my soul needed. If I could do it all over again, I’d think about a career in horticulture. Maybe dream of being a master gardener!

I love the natural and intricate patterns of nature, plants especially.

Nature’s design. This plant has it’s own way of surviving with a bowl in the middle that catches water, and insects will drown in there. Mind blown.

This was a cluster of flowers hanging from a tree that I couldn’t identify. Look at the colour! Nature is so awesome.

We finally found the cactus and succulent section of the conservatory. I could have stayed in there for HOURS. If I had a crazy amount of money, the first thing I’d do is build my own cactus and succulent oasis.

After our little visit to the conservatory we traveled down to Niagara Falls. We had a mini baby moon while my husband was attending a conference for work. I had grand intentions of taking lots of photos, at least of the falls, but swollen feet and ankles prevented me from doing that.

We did stop at the Botanical Gardens on our way to Niagara-on-the-Lake for dinner.

I just LOVED these Chinese purple poppies. I wish I had the exact name.

Blog, Portrait Photography, School Project

The Last Child in the Woods

This project is about The Last Child in the Woods. The kind of childhood where a kid can play outside unsupervised to build forts, hunt squirrels, split wood and make maple syrup is slowly disappearing with the rise of “helicopter parenting.” Not having a parent pay extremely close attention to a child’s experiences allows a kid to have the freedom and independence to explore.

This kid just turned ten years old and built himself a cabin, complete with a woodstove. I knew as soon as I had seen the cabin that I had to do a photographic story on him. I’m super proud of the portrait I made  at dusk with a 4-light set-up.

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A behind-the-scenes shot of my set up. There’s a light behind the cabin, one inside and the two you see in the photograph.

Warning: Some images in this blog post might be disturbing. Consider yourself warned.

Last child in the woods.

I got to follow this last child in the woods around for the day. We collected sap and had a boil down in the afternoon.

We even spent some time squirrel hunting. This kid cleans, butchers and cooks squirrel to eat. He also skins and tans their hides.

He was unsuccessful while I was around, but did have two squirrels he hunted from earlier in the day.

In the afternoon, he did some repairs to his cabin and split wood for a fire we was going to put on in the evening when I had plans to shoot his portrait.

This even happened.

It’s so nice to see a kid play independently outside and have the freedom to be creative (like build his own cabin), to learn how to work hard (like make maple syrup) and what it means to hunt (and use the whole animal). This kid is pretty awesome.

 

Blog, People, Portrait Photography, School Project

Mars & Venus Project

I created two thought-provoking images that challenge gender stereotypes in media and society in the form of product (for Mars) and portrait (for Venus).

I think it so important to teach children about gender equality at a young age so that they grow up to be accepting and compassionate. Not only would they be sensitive to gender stereotypes, but they might also have a little fire burning inside them to help challenge the status quo.

There are two young people in my life that are rocking the challenge of gender stereotypes. I know it comes from their wonderful parents who make an effort to teach their kids to be accepting and that there’s no right or wrong, or that we don’t all have to fit into these boxes that society has created for us.

The first portrait is of a brother and his little sister. Big brother is nurturing and caring toward his sister. Boys and men are often told not to show emotion and to act strong. I see so much strength in this image of a young boy who is confident and encouraged to be helpful, stereotypes aside. Being in the kitchen which has long been though of as a “women’s place” is another aspect of challenging gender stereotypes.

The second image is of a young girl who enjoys hunting and target practice. Hunting has long been thought of as a man’s sport, but this girl loves shooting her bow and being just like her big brother. She plays with dolls and bows. She is allowed to play with any toys that she wants, they don’t have to be dressed in pink and girly. I think this type of open play teaches her to be strong and confident in anything she does. There’s no ‘his’ or ‘hers’ when it comes to entertaining herself, just the enjoyment of playing.

 

Outtakes

Blog, School Project

Video Killed the Radio Star Project

Another awesome school project! I had to create new album artwork for an assigned album by my instructor. I had to reflect on the genre of music, the decade it was made and the tone of the album.

I had to include: album name, artist name, track list, label, applicable logos, any credits, musician list and copyrights.

The album is completely instrumental so I really had to listen to the music to come up with an idea for new album artwork. There were moments during some of the tracks where the off notes of the music made me cringe a little, and that’s where I came up with the idea of nail scratching on a chalkboard. There are also a lot of instruments on the album and with the intensity of the music, I really wanted my images to show a lot of noise, so I shot them at ISO 6400 and brought up the detail and noise when editing.

Outtakes

 

Blog, School Project

‘What’s on the Cover?’ Photography Project

Another fun school project! I had to create my own magazine cover including all necessary text including:

  • Masthead
  • Selling line
  • Dateline
  • Main image
  • Main cover line
  • Cover lines (3)
  • Left third
  • Bar code

The theme for my magazine is ‘The Canadian Outdoors’, which is also the title. What is more Canadian than having a winter campfire at night surrounded by cedar trees? Shooting at night can be tricky if you aren’t using a flash and have moving subjects, so I had to make sure my models kept still for the duration of my exposure. I love the effect of the sparks from the fire going up the middle of the magazine cover, and the glow from the fire adds warmth to a cold season.

I have a few outtakes from the photo shoot as well. There’s some blurred motion and fire blocking heads, by the time I figured out how to position everyone, I got the shot on the cover.

Blog, School Project

Monochromatic Photography Project

This was such a fun project! When I found out that I had to put together a monochromatic image, I knew exactly what I was going to do. Isn’t there a saying about a dog and it’s owner looking alike?

I have taken photographs of my husband and dog, Banjo, before and knew that the tones of brown would work really well for both of them. It was so fun to have Banjo in the studio as well. She was super well behaved and has had her photograph taken many times, so she’s good at posing.

Here are some outtakes from the session which I like the most!