I wait for the poppies all year.  They are in my yard and they are along the road where I walk.  poppies-3036

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I keep an eye out for them and when they start, it is an early morning, dressed and out the door before 6:30 so I can capture them down the road.  Morning light is best down there because of the angle of the sun.

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Shooting poppies is hard – the color blows out so easily.  So it takes a bit of work in post to bring them to where I want.  bozeman senior photo-3012bozeman senior photo-3010

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Poppies lend themself well to artistic interpretation in lightroom,bozeman senior photo-3027

but today I was inclined towards as clean as the lighting conditions would allow.

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bozeman senior photo-2980Hope you enjoy poppies as much as I do as they don’t last long.bozeman senior photo-3006



Spending the day at The Coffee Pot Bakery and Cafe was fun, but also a huge temptation.  Not only do they make fantastic treats for all (they have a huge selection of gluten-free items for people like me!), but they use the pottery that is made on site as they make all those treats!

Look at those Easter Cookies, they make my mouth water!  And it only gets better from there!IMG_2288bw_small

Pies get whipped cream – fresh made whipped cream!



Topped with chocolate shavings!

small-2481All the while Rocky Road Bars fill the room with delicious smells as the marshmallows puff up and soften on the bars only to be smothered in creamy chocolate icing.



small-2710And then there are the chocolate cookies!

small-2549Just in case you think they only make sweets, lets take a look at the Chicken Pot Pie – absolutely inspiring.  After watching this I went home and made my own, but you could just call them up and order one (hint:  it is a lot less work that way).

small-2535It starts with hand-made crust, carefully rolled out to just the right shape and thickness.



small-2849Then scoop in an overflowing amount of delicious chicken and veggie filling!  Yum!

small-2861I believe it was two big scoops of that filling, making a mountain in the pie plate.

small-2864Then roll the top crust and cut it for extra beauty.

small-2857Carefully lay it on the top of your mountain of deliciousness and carefully pinch the edges together.




small-2926Bake, cut pieces and serve.  Or just go on down to The Coffee Pot and order a slice.  Believe me, it is better than you can imagine.


small-2709Pair that pot pie with a fresh made dinner roll and you’ll think you are in heaven!





Now back to those sweets:  let’s try some fruit tarts.

small-3016Of course there is more crust to roll, just not quite so big.


small-3037Add a generous helping of fruit filling – here it is blackberry!

small-2990Fold the dough over, and seal with care!


Aren’t they beautiful!



small-3015How about frosting some cinnamon rolls?  Pretty good, huh?


small-2934Okay, enough!  I’m going to gain 10 pounds just thinking about all this deliciousness.  Between Mountain Arts Pottery and The Coffee Pot Bakery and Cafe, these Montana Producers will blow you away with goodness and beauty.

Thank you to Dave and Jennie Lockie for letting me photograph the goings on of their businesses!  It really was a lot of fun!



Two months ago already, I had a chance to spend time in the pottery at Mountain Arts. It was a beautiful morning and I loved the experience!  What photographer wouldn’t want the chance to take photos of a pottery at work?  IMG_0627bw_sm

Even the tools used to create are interesting to photograph.small-0340IMG_0604bw_sm small-0623

IMG_0856bw_smThe whole room is full of so many samples and equipment, with light and shadow playing among the pieces.

The clay is carefully prepared and managed.small-0408


small-0671Each of the potters customize the workspace to meet their needs.


small-1075Watching the wheel spin and a formless lump become a beautiful piece of pottery any  of us would be proud to own and use is amazing!






small-1123Once spun into its proper shape, each item is dried for a time, and inspected for proper form.


small-0402After that each piece is off to another wheel to be trimmed to perfection.


IMG_1512bw_smFollowed by bisque firing before it can be dipped into the glaze.


small-1425Not all the pottery is thrown on a wheel.  Many of the pieces are formed by hand and knife.


small-0506Have you ever seen the Mountain Arts finished pottery with so many mixtures of color?  It is an art how they put those glazes together.  


small-1444Even before the are applied to the pottery there are interesting and fun processes to observe (at least to a geek like me who loves to know how things are made).


small-0541A drill with a whisk attachment (a very long whisk attachment) and a very large bucket go a long way towards getting the glazes just right.  And the glazes are carefully planned and selected – notes on the walls and windows to be sure all know which to use and when.

small-0372The application of the glazes is a specialized skill.IMG_0344bw_smWax is applied to protect the parts that are not to absorb the color.  Then the layers of glaze begin, with the glazer knowing just how much of each piece is dipped in each glaze.IMG_0411bw_sm



Then the wax is removed and any necessary clean-up is performed.



IMG_0986bw_smThere are so many different shapes, with medallions attached to some, and designs etched into others.



small-0638The one thing that did not happen while I was there was actual firing in the kiln.  But that didn’t keep me from poking around in the kiln area – probably better to be doing that when it isn’t hot anyways!





When the pieces are all finished many are shipped out across the region and even the nation.  Many pieces stay right on the property to be sold at the Coffee Pot Bakery and Cafe and store, which will be the subject of the next post, later this week.  As many of you know, the food made at the Coffee Pot Bakery and Cafe is A-Maz-ing!  Really!



Lee and Maddie, what a fun evening!  You two were such good sports and so relaxed in front of the camera!  Amazing!


Can’t wait for those little girls to show their beautiful faces to the world!



It is so clear your family is built on love!



For a woman carrying two babies Maddie was brave to get down on the ground – not sure in her condition most of us could get back up, but she did it so gracefully!


And with a smile on her face!





This is going to be one very beautiful family!




It has been a real joy to work with the VanOmmen family on this “Day in the Life” project.  We started bright and early, documenting their morning routines and worked our way through a full day of homeschooling and family love!



This family of four boys has passed the responsibility of feeding and watering the neighbor’s chickens from oldest down to the next – a great way to teach responsibility and let a guy earn a bit of pocket change.  So each morning this guy is out first thing, rain, snow, freeze or sunshine.


The joy of brotherhood abounds – who can resist those bright eyes and toothy smiles?



Each morning starts with reading from the Bible and prayer – a beautiful sight to behold!



But before long it is time to get focused and hit the books – so much to learn!  small-7352


small-7017Even Garrett has the opportunity to help out before he heads out the door to work.


There was a science fair project to complete:small--31 small-7292

But believe me, it isn’t all work and no play.  

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This little guy found a long-lost hat while roaming around outside.  The hat was well frozen into the snow, but no fear, he microwaved it to defrost it, then ran it through the dryer, and voila!  It is ready to rejoin the useful pieces of clothing.



As with all families, much of the life revolves around meals – and snacks!  Tracy is a wonderful cook, with a history of catering beautiful meals.  So her boys do not lack for yummy meals.  As I was there I watched her make homemade chicken soup – perfect for lunch on a cold snowy day – and chicken pot pie, including heading out into the cold to bar-b-que those chicken breasts for the pot pies.  And by the way, with a family of six there is much to make, but Tracy was also making pot pies for her friends as a thank you for their effort in a project they were doing together.  Amazing heart for others!




And we topped the day off with cooking class – the boys made doughnuts!  Delicious!



And that was the perfect activity to end our day!  What joy!

If you think you would like a “Day in the Life” photo session for your family – or your business – send me a message at elementsoflightphotography@gmail.com and we’ll get together to make a plan.



In the next couple of weeks Maddie and Lee’s twins will be born, but I have to admit, I think they are so cute right where they are!


Despite the impending big event, these two were so calm and took such a “roll with it” attitude.  I think that bodes well for how they will handle the beautiful little girls once they are out of their cramped housing.


Thank you Lee and Maddie for some fun time together last night!  More photos to come – it’s a race to see if you have those babies before we get more photos posted.



We had a sneak peek at the bull haircuts sometime back.  These haircuts are just part of the process of preparing the bulls for sale – want them to look at their very best so they can fetch the best price!

The process of giving them haircuts by fire continues to amaze me.  Although the bulls don’t like being pinned into the shoot, they didn’t seem to react at all to the fire being lit in their fur.small-8525In case you were wondering, the fire is put out by the barbers brushing through it with a wire brush.  They watch carefully to keep the flames going for only a short time – just enough to get the deep fur brought down to a reasonable level.


Besides the fire, there is also a lot of shaving that goes on.  Not sure I’d be all that excited to be shaving the face, but I’m full of fear of such large animals.small-8575small-8038Piles and piles of fur are made – usually to be scattered in the breeze over time.
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These two guys go from ranch to ranch shaving bulls – what a job!  The biggest downfall?  The poop flies at times and everything (including the photographer’s pants) is fair game for a landing spot.small-8247

But when it is done those boys look so nice!  Ready to be sold!small-8302

When the time comes for the sale, the people come from all around!  

First job is to check out those bulls and take notes – gotta go into the barn knowing exactly which one or ones you want to buy!IMG_6240_bw_sm



Sometimes it is decision by committee – as well as a chance to check in with friends you don’t see everyday.small-6276 small-6286Lunch is provided by the family and friends – even the little ones get involved.  And these french dip beef sandwiches were very good (and so were the desserts!)

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People take a little time to eat and chat and ponder their upcoming purchases.small-6354bw


And then it is time to get on with the sale.  Cody takes his place in the ring where he can guide the bulls through the “runway” – don’t want any one of those big guys hogging all the limelight!



Above him sits Darin (his dad), the auctioneer, and the accountant – they are ready for business!small-6371And the auction gets going.  Bulls enter the arena one at a time and maybe a little star struck by all the folks watching them?

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The spotters are busy watching for bids
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Some of the bulls were pretty excited for their moment in the spotlight.


In case you were wondering where these bulls come from, here is a look at the yard behind the arena.  That would be the oldest Veltkamp girl opening and closing shoots as they bring the bulls in one at a time.small-6588

This takes a bit of coordination as the bulls are numbered and need to go into the arena in a particular order – to match the sales book that bidders have in hand.small-6589

Darin’s brother and a whole crew of friends are out there assuring the bulls are in the right order and coming through at a safe and reasonable pace.
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small-6729Sometimes it might feel a bit like tight quarters, but usually it works out okay.

small-6771There is always the over the rails escape hatch!

small-6657The bulls . . . well, they really have no idea what is going on.  Just another maze to go through with their friends.  They don’t realize this is the beginning of the end of their community.  Soon they will all reside elsewhere.small-6810And after the parade of bulls and whirlwind of auction calling, there comes the bill paying and arranging for delivery.


All in all, a successful venture.  Good bulls produced right here in the Gallatin Valley by a family with integrity, a value for hard work, faith to make it through the unknown, and friends everywhere they turn.




One of the classic commodities produced here in Montana is beef.  No surprise, right?  


So when my friend Gloria Veltkamp mentioned in a comment that it was calving season I was inspired that this was a great activity to document for the Producers series I challenged myself with this year.  


Calving season began way back in January, which is when these photos were taken.  But I knew that wasn’t all there is to producing cattle.  So, this installment of the Producers is going to take two parts – part one is related to calving and all those “cute” little babies.  Part two, which should post tomorrow, will include photos of getting bulls to market – preparation and auction.

As a side note, these particular animals that I’m highlighting are bred to sell the bulls to other producers.  So these are not animals that are going to be sold for slaughter, but instead, sold for stud.   

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The whole operation is a family affair.  Gloria’s husband, Darin, is the rancher at the top of the heap, but all four of their kids get involved – and Gloria too.  As we were driving around checking calves, Darin told me he doesn’t want to ever be so big that his family can’t do the ranching themselves.  So, while they have a lot of animals, they keep it very manageable.


These little calves are born during one of Montana’s coldest months.  A lot of hours goes into driving to the fields and walking around to check on the babes to be sure they are healthy and getting their needs met.

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Calves that are up and around when Darin arrives are pretty sure to be okay.  The ones curled up on the ground are probably okay too, but Darin has to connect with them and make sure they are able to get up and walk around.  If one is not able to get up that is a sign that perhaps some illness has set in or the calf is in need of some help.

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While I was there all the calves got up and were deemed healthy.


Although it is not a giant factory farm by any stretch of the imagination, getting around from field to field requires a bit of time, and a lot of fence opening and closing.

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As I was there early in the calving season, there were new calves to check on from the night before.  They have to be recorded, tagged and vaccinated as they are “certified.”


This is one of the “paper work” portions of the operation.


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Look, twins!


Time for your shots little ones!

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I am not sure I would be all that excited to approach the new babies of some of these huge momma cows – a little tricky if momma gets protective!


It is the kind of thing you have to make a strategy for, I guess.


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And have an escape plan if you need it!
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By the way, the Veltkamp’s oldest daughter is the one featured here – she’s in my son’s class and is known for your hard work on the ranch.

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Even the dogs get in on the work, helping to move animals from one pen to the other.

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But sometimes it is really just Darin who finds what it takes to inspire new momma and her babe to head in the right direction.


After all the checking and feeding and vetting, there are still more chores to do.  Feed has to be stored properly where it can be used.  This bright yellow feed is a supplement that is quite costly, so it is managed with care!


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I do think it is the most beautiful saffron like color!


Producing cattle is a long held tradition here in the west, and I am so impressed that in just the one day when I took these photos I saw so much variety in what needs to get done.


Thank you Darin and the whole Veltkamp family – this was more fun than I could ever have imagined, and I learned a lot too!  Can’t wait to show the photos from the other days I was there – less focus on these little guys, more on the big bulls!





Last month one of my best days was the Sunday I spent with Brenda of Iron Maiden Welding.  As I said in my “sneak peek” of this photo shoot, it was full of joy and beauty.



Brenda’s workshop is on the property of her home north-west of Bozeman, next to the garage where her husband and sons work on cars and motorcycles.  Somehow the neat house and yard incorporate all the scraps of rusted metal that Brenda keeps on hand for her art.  Her workshop yard is like a garden of rusted and colorful metal.


As beautiful as the art and the artist are, the process of producing the art is even more fascinating.  Hard work, immense skill and hours of time go into the creation of each piece – as well as inspiration and imagination to envision the outcome when looking down at a random collection of what many would term “junk metal.”


Brenda didn’t just  fall into this career by accident.  She began welding in high school, and has put a great deal of time and effort into her training and skill development.  Although her work often appears spontaneous and carefree, you can be assured that purposeful and carefully made choices lead to her business success.


While I was there, a kind gentleman came by with a truck full of odds and ends of metal objects – things he salvaged from other people’s garbage heaps I imagine.  He knew Brenda well – pulling out items she was more than happy to pay him for before he took the rest of his “wares” to the scrap metal recycler.




Brenda takes those items (barrels, tractor parts, fenders from old cars, whatever) and cuts them up – sometimes into random rectangles that will later be pieced into a whole new shape, sometimes into flower petals or butterfly wings.  There were even some trout shaped metals lying around the workshop.





Did you know there are chains just like you have on your bike only ten to 20 times bigger?  Links that are a full inch and a half thick and more than several inches long?  I’m not sure what they come from, but Brenda’s got them, and it is a tease to the imagination to guess what she will do with them someday.  Perhaps coiled for the center of a flower . . . or standing tall as the stem.



Even in this modern age, welding is an unexpected occupation for a woman.  And when Brenda lifts up that welding hood, it is profoundly impactful to see a woman who could easily be a fashion model staring back at you.  Everything about her says grace and beauty, but the process of her work says brute strength and hard work.  That juxtaposition intrigues me to no end.



Set off by the back door to the workshop is this guy – a work in progress just for the heck of it.  Did you spot one of those super sized chains?  And another more like what you have on your bike?



He’s so different from the flowers and the butterflies and the maps of Montana.  But there is a vision for him, someday to have a hat and character.


And on the low shelf of the center table, a heart nestled in with the well worn leather gloves.



Sparks fly – when grinding, when cutting, and when welding.  It’s fireworks all the time!


While I was there, Brenda was working on a large Montana shaped piece, with colorful bits pieced together to create the landscape.  I’ve seen her maps and flowers in Cello, one of my favorite stores in  Downtown Bozeman.



We have one of her rusty lizzards gracing the island in our kitchen – a gift to Andy two Christmases ago.  And Andy has asked for a special custom piece that you can be sure will be shared here when we get it.


The diversity of personality reflected in the products Brenda produces is amazing!


Watching this wife, mother and welder work was an absolute gift to me!  


If you are interested in purchasing any of Brenda’s work, you’ll find it at Cello and soon to be at Salon Elsewhere.  And of course you can always see what she is upto on here facebook page.