Magic Light

Magic Light by Ellingsen Photography

No matter who you are, where you live, or what you do – the golden hour is universal. That late afternoon*, golden, yummy, relaxing, end-of-day light is pure magic. I’ll happily eat that blown-out sun flare for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Magic Light by Ellingsen Photography

And luckily for us here in Southern California, we get to experience it most days of the year thanks to the perpetually sunny weather. It seems that luck also runs in Nevada, where these photos were taken.

Magic Light by Ellingsen Photography


Magic Light by Ellingsen Photography

*Granted, you could experience something similar at the start of the day, but what boys are having this much fun with their uncle at that hour?


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April Desktop Background

I liked the crisp green and white of this photo from my last post so much (shocking, I know, considering my color scheme) that I decided to play with it as a desktop background. And who doesn’t love a little dinosaur lurking in their houseplants?

This quote – oh man, when I read it over on the Nesting Place, it really stuck with me. Not because it’s something you wouldn’t already know, but it just spelled it out so perfectly – and on bad days, it helps for me to keep this in mind.

Ellingsen Photography Desktop Background Dinosaur Quote preview

1280 x 1024  •  1440 x 900  •  1600 x 1200  •  1680 x 1050  •  1920 x 1080  •  1920 x 1200  •  2560 x 1440

Past April desktops: 2014 | 2013 | 2012

I suppose I could stop naming these by the month, since I stopped putting calendars on them years ago, but for me after about a month I start craving a change of scenery anyway!

Hope you guys enjoy!


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Project 365 :: Lessons and Inspiration

Project 365 2015 Tips & Inspiration by Ellingsen Photography

Late last year, I realized I was seriously in need of a big kick in the pants for my personal photography. Honestly, I hardly picked up my camera the whole year. While packing for my new place I came across the book I made the last time I did Project 365 and realized it was the perfect jump start. Three months in, I’m so glad I started back up! I’ve done it in years past and occasionally just for a month at a time. I can hardly believe it’s been so long since the last time.

Being such a visual person, I’ve found that these snapshots of my life help trigger all kinds of memories. Do you guys have that too? It’s amazing the little daily habits or events that you forget about – some changes happen so slowly, over such long periods of time, that this is often the only way I have to look back and see how far I’ve come as a person (which is one of the reasons I started blogging in the first place).

Side note: do you guys visualize when you’re reading a book? I’m terrible at remembering titles and quotes, but I can probably remember the storyline start to finish because I make it into a movie in my head. Just me? Yes? Okay, moving on….

Project 365 2015 Tips & Inspiration by Ellingsen Photography

So, to remind myself, and hopefully inspire others to give it a go, here’s a few tips about photo projects/challenges that I’ve learned over the years:

1) Chill. The. Fudge. Out.

This can be a tough one for me, but really think about it: in the end, it’s a project for no one but you. So cut yourself some slack if you miss a day. If you do it for 6 months and not 12 – HOORAY! You now have 182 more photos than you would have! And not every photo is going to win a contest – what counts more is what it means to you.

For me, this also applies to sharing online. I really don’t worry about posting on the day so much as shooting on the day. Sometimes, I just don’t want to turn my computer on or look at my phone anymore – and that’s okay.

If you find every day is too much, how about once a week? Sarah Cornish of My Four Hens Photography has been doing Project 52 for years and is super supportive of her group. The team over at A Beautiful Mess recently launched Capture Real Life in 52 Weeks, a self-paced e-class that I’ve been thinking about doing myself.

I find myself mentally chanting this every few weeks: it is whatever you want it to be.

project 365 tips

2) Stop the comparison-itis.

I know, it’s really hard to avoid sometimes. Everyone falls prey. But there’s just no comparison because we’re all snowflakes. Don’t make me sing the Frozen song.

3) Get inspired.

Some fantastic photogs that I love to follow are @dabito, @johnstortz, @pobke, @cindyloughridge and my lovely family photographer @tarawhitney.

Project 365 2015 Tips & Inspiration by Ellingsen Photography

4) Accept the doldrums.

You’re going to have days when nothing around you seems interesting, the light isn’t right, you’ve shot it all before. It’s inevitable. On those days I either check my Instagram feed, try Capture Your 365 for a theme or check my friend Melanie’s blog – she’s been doing P365 every year, without fail. Such an inspiration! Her tips are super helpful too. My photog buddy Paul gets super creative with his P365, I love seeing what he comes up with.

I also use those days as motivators to go somewhere I’ve been meaning to, or check a shot off my mental photo wish list (such as with my beauty essentials below). Two weeks ago I finally went and explored the park I drive past every day.

Project 365 2015 Tips & Inspiration by Ellingsen Photography

5) Organize & Back It Up

I’ve been sharing many of them on Instagram and uploading them to a Flickr album, which not only serves as an extra backup of full-res files, but it’s also a way to get my thoughts and memories down before I forget.

To make it easier at the end of your project, I recommend keeping a separate folder on your computer/EHD of those photos. I copy them in maybe once a week (if they’re on my phone I’ll email them to myself) and then rename them with the date (i.e. 02-13), so they’re all in order and ready for me when I go to print.

6) Display!

Don’t just let them sit on your phone or computer! I love doing a soft cover book from Blurb – it turns out to be cheaper than getting 365 5x7s printed and put in an album, and I like having the dates and words to go along with the photos. The quality is fantastic and they’re completely customizable. If you do everything through Instagram, Blurb can pull straight from your feed. Printstagram also does these amazing posters of your photos for a really reasonable price, but I haven’t seen the quality for myself yet.

project 365,book,blurb

blurb,book,project 365

Do you guys like a challenge or does it become more of a burden than inspiration? Any other Instagram stars I should be following?

P.S. I love my dad’s pinkie in that last photo, don’t you?

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Aunt E.March 25, 2015 - 1:20 pm

Perfect – you just became my inspiration to get off my ass and take more photos! Let alone edit, organize, and all that other stuff ;-)
Love you!!!

[…] liked the crisp green and white of this photo from my last post so much (shocking, I know, considering my color scheme) that I decided to play with it as […]

5 Things

Once upon a time I was a regular, good little blogger. Then I changed day jobs and started dating an amazing man and life got a whole lot busier! And you know what one of the best parts about being an adult is? Deciding what your priorities are and what can fall by the wayside (to a degree anyway, amiright? ah, taxes…).

But I’ve come to find that I miss blogging. I love photography, but I love pairing photos + words just as much. I miss the interaction it brings and the people I meet through this form of expression. So I’m finding time wherever I can and whenever I feel inspired, and most of all giving myself the freedom to do so. Does anyone actually read and comment? Who cares, it’s more for me anyhow! And that’s the best part about this being my blog – I get to do what I want!**

So without further ado, I’m returning from a long absence bringing back my old 10 Things series, but making it a little more digestible for all of us by sharing 5 things that are making me happy.

1) Revamping Project 365. More thoughts on this coming soon, but for those of you who haven’t seen it before, it’s a photo-a-day project. It’s been years since I’ve done it and I’m so glad I picked it back up again.

Some favorites thus far~

New desk! In the new place! With giant windows!

Project 365 2015 Jan 14 Ellingsen Photo

Sunday snuggles, binge-watching The Fall.

Project 365 2015 Jan 25 Ellingsen Photo


Project 365 2015 Jan 28 Ellingsen Photo

2) Scribd. If you read on a device, this is awesome. It’s like Netflix for books, and if you read more than one a month it’s completely worth it. My parents gifted me 6 months for Christmas and I’ve been tearing through Kathy Reichs’ Bones series (which inspired the show). They even have cookbooks and graphic novels! And I love that you can save the book to your device, so for a tablet like mine without a data plan, I’m not dependent on wi-fi. I know you can get e-books with a library card, but I’m way too impatient for a waitlist.

3) Day trips. Here in SoCal there’s so many amazing things within driving distance it’s a crime not to take advantage and get out every one in a while. Last month Mr. Handsome and I took the train down to San Juan Capistrano to have lunch and meander around the mission. It was perfect weather (that blue sky was no joke!) and as we thundered past cars going bumper-to-bumper it made the train fare SO worth it. Other places I’d like to get to (again) this year are the LA Natural History Museum, Joshua Tree and Big Bear Lake.

Mission San Juan Capistrano Orange County Day Trips by Ellingsen Photo

The Fountain at Mission San Juan Capistrano, Orange County day trips at

4) Teux Deux. I don’t know what I would do without this to-do list service. I got hooked back when it was free, and have happily paid for it for the last couple years (I think it’s only about $24/year?). You can schedule ahead, set recurring tasks, have category lists, and whatever you don’t do that day automatically rolls over to the next. I also like being able to look back and double-check when I did certain things (ahempaybills). The web version automatically syncs with the app, which is a necessity because I’m one of those people who has to write it down immediately or it’s gone. And now I no longer have 12 slips of paper floating around my purse.

5) CND Vinylux nail polish in Rouge Red. My nail polish addiction is well documented, and I don’t think I’ve ever used a single color so many times in two months. It lasts a few days longer than regular polish, you don’t have to destroy your nails like you do with gel, and it comes off like normal. Sold! I think my only complaint is that the finish can dull a bit, so after a few days I just reapply a quick-dry topcoat while I’m watching TV (I tried the recommended topcoat, didn’t notice a difference).

CND Vinylux Nail Polish Rouge Red Ellingsen Photography

So what are you guys loving right now? I’d love to hear your suggestions of things to see/do/watch/read!


** Sidenote: does anyone else get super bothered by bloggers who constantly apologize for not sticking to the schedule they’ve set for themselves? If anyone is yelling at you for not posting at a certain hour, tell them to shove it while giving thanks for such a rabid audience.

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Melissa RMarch 9, 2015 - 10:10 pm

Yay! Trude is back! I always enjoyed reading you’re posts. Hope you and your other half are doing well! And Ruby says hi :)

TrudeMarch 10, 2015 - 7:46 am

Thanks lady! Give Ruby snuggles from me. :)

Aunt E.March 10, 2015 - 8:42 am

I so enjoy reading and seeing your perspective on life. Love that you can share this with the world. Have a quote for you to perhaps use with an appropriate kitty photo – Andrei Codrescu, from the Poetry Lesson, “cats gracefully alone in their feline depths”, it just spoke to me.
Love you!

Greyhounds CAN SitMarch 24, 2015 - 11:09 pm

Boo, welcome back Trude :) Love your photos here. And now I’m going back to your next post (which I read first!) to check out your links.
Greyhounds CAN Sit recently posted..Wordless Wednesday – Blowin In The WindMy Profile

Rachel and Rocky :: Seal Beach Pet Photography

Rachel & Rocky Seal Beach Dog Photography

When I first met with Rachel to chat about their upcoming session and get to know them, I knew it was going to be an awesome collaboration. Rocky is a sweet, easygoing chub of a pug that people can’t help smiling back at. Rachel works for a major nail polish company based in the area (you might remember I have an addiction?) and loves Star Wars and South Park, so we were obviously meant to be besties.:)Her dad was visiting from the East Coast, so we all got together one gorgeous afternoon on Main Street in Seal Beach. There’s really nothing like that beautiful late afternoon beach light.

These three made my job so easy, it’s hard to take any credit for these images. I’m so lucky to have amazing clients that keep me smiling through the whole session!

Rachel & Rocky Seal Beach Dog Photography

I have no idea how she says no to this face. None.

Rachel & Rocky Seal Beach Dog Photography

If this amount of cuteness came running at you, you have to snuggle it. It’s a universal rule. Kind of like when a tiny child hands you their play phone and says it’s for you, you’re required to hold it to your ear and say hello.

Rachel & Rocky Seal Beach Dog Photography

Rachel & Rocky Seal Beach Dog Photography

Rachel & Rocky Seal Beach Dog Photography

Rachel & Rocky Seal Beach Dog Photography

Rachel & Rocky Seal Beach Dog Photography

Rachel & Rocky Seal Beach Dog Photography

Rachel & Rocky Seal Beach Dog Photography

Rachel & Rocky Seal Beach Dog Photography

I can’t even.

Rachel & Rocky Seal Beach Dog Photography

Rachel & Rocky Seal Beach Dog Photography

Rachel & Rocky Seal Beach Dog Photography

Rachel & Rocky Seal Beach Dog Photography

Rachel & Rocky Seal Beach Dog Photography

Rachel & Rocky Seal Beach Dog Photography

Rachel & Rocky Seal Beach Dog Photography

I also have to say a huge Thank You to Rachel for the giant goodie bag of nail polish she brought for me. I died and went to girly heaven! I change my color pretty much every week and still haven’t tried them all yet.


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sarahMay 8, 2014 - 3:36 pm

I have yet to meet a pug I didn’t like. They are such funny little dogs!

NatalyeJuly 7, 2014 - 2:19 pm

These are such cute pictures!