••• tiff firth photography •••

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Los Angeles 31.1.12

Up with the alarm clock again this morning. 2 classes and 1 seminar on today.

I had an 8 o'clock class to which I was about 10 mins late for  :(.   I had a lovely lady from Canada sitting next to me that fast tracked me up to speed. This was a stamping class with products from Spirit Stamps and Ranger. We made 5 cards to try different stamping techniques. This class finished at just before 10 o'clock, which gave me time to head up the stairs to get a shot of the crowd waiting for the 10am opening of the doors onto the exhibition floor.

 I had to laugh to myself a bit. I had noticed a lady that had put herself first in line when I headed upstairs at 8.10am. When I took the shot at 9.50ish she was still at the head of the line. By the time 10.10am came round everyone was in and there was no queue at all and I walked straight in. Silly woman :-/

I wandered past the Northridge Publishing booth and had a yarn to the people there. (they publish Scrapbook Trends). I noticed a special edition of Scrapbook Trends with Teresa Collins on the front. They kindly said I could keep it, so I strolled around to Teresa's booth. What a pleasure it was to talk to her. Not at all like I expected. She, her staff, and I talked about how American's say a-sum and we say awesome and by the time I left, they had our way of saying it down pat. We talked about her time at the Grand Canyon, her time in Australia, her scrapbooking, my scrapbooking, our kids and just chit chatted. She signed my magazine and had a photo with my iphone. It's a crap shot, so I'll think I'll head back there tomorrow with the Canon and ask again. As it turned out the Sharpie pen etched off the magazine which is unfortunate so I'll ask nicely with a packet of Tim Tams if she'd mind signing it again.

12pm was a class with Little Yellow Bicycle in which we made a 12x12 LO and a book. Nice product lines, but not one I would run out for. I was a bit disappointed with this class. There wasn't actually any techniques to learn other than speed scrapping. In their kits was the precut and scored paper to make the rosette flowers, but  that as a possible new technique was ignored. I had to ask someone at the end how to make them so I could finish the book.

That class finished at 2pm and I had an hour before my seminar on Blog Management - tips and tools to streamline and maximise, so I wandered around to the October Afternoon booth for a make and take. Got talking there to two of the staff (guy and girl) about their times in Australia.

Met the lovely Dyan Reaverey who has her own line with Ranger. She's a very freestyle user of mists, stamps and embellies. Her style is whimsy spooky, not dark spooky, if that makes sense. She kindly signed a tag and I had a shot with her.

I also found the Creating Keepsake's booth and had an 'a-sum' yarn with Megan Hoeppner. She totally flattered me by saying she knew my name from my Layouts in the Aussie Section. (she seemed really genuine about that) and how 'a-sum' it is to put a name together with a face. She further amazed me by asking to take a pic of us on her phone after having a pic done on mine. How cool is that.

It seems that being Australian is still the flavour of the month. And saying the word "g'day" is a passport that opens up a conversation so easily. It seemed like so many Americans have been, about to go, or want to go to Australia. It's the desirable destination of choice.

Another thing that really surprised me is how many men are in the booths, either as demonstrating the make and takes, or as the sales personal. Some in suits, some in jeans. And the women loved them. They flock around Tim Holtz like seagulls around a chip. (Yes, I'm just as guilty, but I didn't hang watching him for hours or go back to visit his booth.)

After the Blog Seminar I had 2 hours to fill in so I wandered around taking photos of differnet products that attracted me, different LO's that I liked and dropped a business card into different product draws here and there. I was back at the Cricut booth in time for their 5.30pm draw and was lucky enough to have my name drawn out the barrel for a Cricut Cartridge.

Just as I was about to wander out the hall, when Lou snuck up on me. We got chatting away as we headed out to find her people and me to find mine. From all of the people pouring out of the hall at 6pm we found Danny and Lee-anne and Louise found her contact. Introductions were done all round. I've mentioned Lou's name  to Danny and Lee-Anne enough times over the last year or so that I've known them, so it was nice to be able to introduce them irl.

Lee-Anne managed to snag the entire team of G45 for a shot. Scrap Therapy will be importing direct from them as of this year and everyone seems pretty happy about that.

Us three (D,L and me) wandered up the road in search of tea. It's dark by 6pm to people tend to eat earlier than we do. We made our way into Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. What an amazing concept. Based on the movie of Forrest Gump, its full of memorabilia, nostalgia and top food. It was delish. The staff are so upbeat and the place was packed out and rocking. There's even a Souvenir shop attached that was doing a roaring trade. I'm really keen to watch that movie again.  :O)

Discovered that Yank beer is crap. Tastes watery and its flat. Not a bubble to be seen. Same with their soft drinks. No bubbles at all. But their lemonade is delish. Tastes like fresh squeezed lemons in cold water, (too much sugar tho).

We walked back the 1km or so back to the Ramada, spread out the products from the day and talked about stuff for their shop, what's hot down our way, what's not and what seemed to be the in things at the CHA.

Tried for about 10 mins to Skype home. I've got it set up at home to answer my video call automatically so the kids /Kym don't need to do anything to have a conversation. This also means I can call and I see the office chair when no one is there. I can hear them in the kitchen, and in other rooms of the house. It seems a bit voyeuristic listening in to the sounds of the kids and Kym without their knowing. I call out their name until one of them hears me and rushes in front of the computer. Sean tends to jump around and be a bit of a pain when Annie's wanting to talk. The Wifi here is really crap so often the video feed jams and the conversation is delayed. But I can see them and them me and that's so cool.

Time to get to bed.

nite nite.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Los Angeles 30.1.12

Had to set the alarm clock this morning for a rather rude 6.45am. Lee-Anne and I both had the same class at 8am. With a 15 minute walk there and time to get breakfast down without rushing it too much it called for an earlier rising than the last few days.

The class was Mixed Media Album with May Arts and more! which proved to be a mostly 7Gypsies class with  a token May Arts Ribbon. The thing I've learnt the most from doing all these classes is to scrap with speed. If you are a scrapper that like precise placement and time to do so, then these fast paced classes are not for you.
This class lasted 2 hours and we finished on time with a book all but done.
Pics to come later.

My next class was at 12p so that gave me time to walk back to the Ramada and do a load of washing and hang it on the ironing board by the window to dry. It also gave me time for a rather quick 10 minute power nap. Sure needed it.

12pm. Wescott Tools Tester. This company was most generous in their products. I've a 13inch trimmer/scorer to bring home as well as a pair of nifty scissors and a craft knife. We made a little book to take home with us.

That class finished at 2pm and I had a mission that I wanted to complete.

Gina told enquired asked me ages ago to get a photo of us with Liz Kratchner if at all possible, while I was here. So I did. Liz was very tickled with the idea of Gina on my phone to be in the photograph. She gave us a gift each to say thank you. 

And I loved her kicks. Without her heels she would nearly be the same height as me. 
Pic to come.

After farewelling Liz I wandered around to some make and take tables. October Afternoon, Martha Stewart

Cosmo Cricket, Marvy, and a few others.

The main reason why I'm here is as a fresh set of eyes for Danny and Lee-Anne for product searching, to bounce ideas from and while they are occuppied selecting/ordering products for Scrap Therapy, I can do the make and takes to show them some of what's new season.

Lots of yellow, mint, orange, plank/timber, heaps of washi like tape, banners everywhere. Two products that stood out for me where both similar. One is the Little Yellow Bicycle Confetti and Liz Kratchner's Dear Lizzy Banners. Both are presewn to make them so quick to use.  ( the internet is soooo slow here that I can't  have more than one page open and it drops out very regularly, so I can't open a secondry page to link the products atm.... sorry. Try google images for them)

I saw Mel Forbes's LO's at the Graphic 45 booth. They had the best booth by far!!!! All the staff dressed to suit the black them. The whole effect was dramatic.

pic to come.

I tagged Mel on FB and she asked me to take a pic of them. So I asked a couple of the G45's to help me out    :O)

By the time 6pm came round all 3 of us were foot sore. But that didn't stop us from walking back to the Ramada to drop off all the gear, and walk a km or so (probably longer as we inadvertently went round the block) to a Mall to have dinner at the Cheesecake Restaurant.  I was hankering for something with meat and three veg.  I ended up with a very nice Sheppards pie for tea. We all selected a piece of cheese cake to go in a doggy bag (a normal custom in the USA and frowned upon at home). After walking the 1km back to the room we tucked into the cheesecakes. 
pic to come

Nom. Nom. Nom.

I spent some time trying to Skype the kids but the internet was not being very user friendly at the time. But they did see me (on occasion) and me them (on occasion)

Bless you Paige for being there after school for them while I'm not home. You are so very thoughtful to offer. 

nitey nite

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Los Angeles 29.1.12

Up by 8am for the day. Plan A was to head to CHA by walking the 15 mins to get there. At the last minute Danny and Lee-Anne went ahead, and I went with their friends to a Disney Warehouse where they keep excess stock and merchandise that's for sale at least 50% off. You need to be a guest of a 'cast member' to have access to get in. 5 of us girls perused the warehouse for an hour or so. I found a few things for the kids, and Captain Jack Sparrows dreadlocks and bandanna for me. Love that man!!!!

Off to CHA. Because we got there at 10.30 (opens at10am), we didn't have to queue to get in. What a massive set up. Inside looks to be about 800m long by about 500m wide (at least) and that's just the part the CHA setup is in. The actual building is longer and wider than that.

There's several different craft groups there, Scrapbooking being the largest by far. Other areas are Fabric, Quilting, Needlecrafts. General Crafts. Art Materials and Framing. International Pavilion New Exhibitors. I located Danny and Lee-Anne inside via a phone call to let them know I was inside, and then I wandered around, taking in the atmosphere and getting an idea of where everything is.

I took my camera with me and a pack of Tim Tams to visit Tim Holtz. I wanted to say hello to Heidi Swapp and Teresa Collins. I wanted to see the new MME range that looks so good on the internet. I was keen to get to OA, Cosmo Cricket, Tattered Angels, EK Success, Prima, and the Ranger booths. Using the map of the booths I managed to find everyone so far.

Tim Holtz 

Tim doing 'The Huff' for me.

Shot taken by Mr Swapp after he took my camera off a woman who had no idea how to focus. Bless him. Not the best one of me as I was starting to feel embarrassed that I was taking up Heidi's time.

With Jen Starr at the Tattered Angels booth. She's a dag!!!!

I went around and photographed different products or ways of using products that caught my eye. I photographed LO's, booths and ornaments within those booths. Will post pics of all later.

6pm is closing time. The PA announced at 5.50pm that the day was closing at 6pm, and half the lights went out dead on 6. Classes start promptly on time and finish on time.

Lee-Anne and I had a Sizzix class last night that started at 6 and finished at 8pm. Danny made his way back to the hotel. By the time we got back it was late and we nearly beyond the point of needing something to eat for tea.

By the time she and I got back from the takeaway next door, all I wanted to do was dump the photos, charge up the phone and head to bed. But my mind was whizzing around a bit, so it took me a while to go to sleep. I think I did drop off somewhere around 1am.

nite nite.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Los Angeles 28.1.12

First day of Winter CHA 2012. And we nearly all overslept. lol. We all woke around 6.30am and all fell back to sleep until 9am. Jeepers Creepers. It opened for Registrations by 10am and Lee-Anne had her first class at 10am. So it was a quick-get-dressed, brush the teeth, slap on the sunscreen (they have such warm mild winters here at CHA), drag a comb thru the mop and out the door.

The Anaheim Convention Centre is only a 15 minute walk away so off with a brisk pace we went. Lee-Anne had us all registered online so checking in, getting the passes, the CHA book and map didn't take long at all.

While Lee-Anne was in class for the next two hours and my first of 3 seminars didn't start until 12pm, Danny and I headed to the local Target for a fresh fruit salad (its like a combination of Woolies, Coles and Target at home) and to sort out my bloody phone. With time restraints on walking the extra 2 miles round trip just for a SIM card, I ended up buying a disposable phone that only operates for a month, with a bit of extra credit for international calls.

By the time we made it back to the motel, plugged in the phone, grabbed what I needed for the seminars, it was time to head back to CHA to start getting in the line.  The first one I went to was 'Lights Camera Action... Projects that Sell Products. That was basically about how to set up a 'stage' for video taping demonstration of product and how to manipulate that video for interest, ie music, take outs, fast forward, captions etc.  It was interesting.

Something I really noticed in this seminar was just how many people had ipads and were using them with an apple wireless keyboard to take notes. Nearly every 3rd person was quietly tapping away.

Second seminar straight after the first one was very informative. Build Community and Brand Distinction with your Blog.  Lots of notes written on this one.

Third seminar was Protecting your Creativity in the Digital Age. I was really keen to get to this one as this covers both the scrapbooking side and the photography side of me. Much of it was based on the American Law System, but is still relevant taken in context with Australian Law. Lots of food for thought there!!!!!

By the end of the third seminar, I was brain fogged. The exhibiton wasnt due to open until tomorrow and Lee-Anne and Danny were back at the hotel after her class. She spent the time making her Prima Crazy hat and Danny was setting up her phone that he bought for her to use here for the week instead of them using the one phone. Getting it set up proved to be a frustrating time for him.

By this time Danny and Lee-Anne's friends from Utah had arrived and off to Disney LA Adventure Tour. One of the ladies was a 'cast' member so she had wonderful local knowledge and how to navigate the parking, how to 'fast track' the rides, or go as 'single rider'.

First stop was the 'Soarin over California' . We sat in a row of seats that was lifted off the round and suspened high in the air before a curved 180 big screen and we 'flew' over California. The seats moved to the right and left as the plane banked and turned, there was the scent of the orange groves as we flew over them, and the really great sound.  Recommend this one for sure.

Next was the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. If you don't like heights or the sudden dropping motion, dont do this one. You go up in a lift, seated and belted and the door opens to the big wide world before it suddenly drops a few floors. and then you zoom up, down, up, shake, down, up a bit and then down.  Scary. I had my hand over my mouth to stifle my screaming.

While on a high we took on the 'Screamer' RollerCoaster. Yep. I screamed. We had made a dinner reservation at one of the resturants there which also gave us front row best view in the house of the new 'World in colour, light and Water show.' That is a masterpiece of how to manipulate water, watching amination on a 'screen' of water, and awesome displays of water ballet.  A must see. Doing the resturant thing was $30US which included the food, a drink and the boardwalk.  Better than cuing up with the other 600 odd people for a spot. Especially for kids.

Once that was done, the California Park closes, and since its Saturday night, DisneyLand which is right there as well, is open until Midnight.  We Fast Tracked the Indina Jones ride and while waiting for our time slot, we went to the Pirates of the Carriebian. So much detail into all of these things.  Love Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow!!!!!

We also visited Disney City Hall to get my, Danny's and Lee-anne's first timer badge, and went to the Haunted Mansion.  Creepy.

Back  to the Indiana Jones ride. It's like a tamish small rollercoaster in jeeps, but its all underground.  Defienly fast track this ride. It's quite a walk down there, and it was still warm even tho is was nearly midnight. I'd hate to be in the normal queue during daylight hours. Its a very popular ride and wait times for up to an hour and a half are not uncommon.

Points to take note.

  • Buy a 2 day pass to see the fireworks over the castle on another night.
  •  Go on a Saturday night. Once one is closed most of the crowd goes home. Go over to Disney Land. Most of them are going home after the fire works. Very little wait time in the queues this hour of night.
  • Night time is much cooler. The winters are warmer than ours and the summers are bloody hot. But still bring the jacket.
  • fast track the popular ride and then come back to it in the alloted time frame.
  • single pass allows your party to go individually as filler for spare seats. (obviously not for families with children)
  • comfortable shoes. there's a lot of walking.
  • be a kid and enjoy it.
  • swap pins/badges
  • park in the carpark near the esculater. (6 story carpark was massive)
  • keep a head count. we had a party of 7 adults and that was hard enough let alone involving kids.
  • cast (staff) always smile and are very courteous.  After all it is the happiest place on earth.
By the time we got back to the hotel it was about 1am. It was then I made a fatal error. I had the last three swallows of my Starbuck Frappacino - forgetting that's caffine unlike the Farmer's union Feel Good at home. I think my eyes eventually closed around 4.30am.... until then I read my book on Photographing the South West.  Won't be making that mistake again.  

nite nite.

Friday, January 27, 2012

los angeles 27.1.12

Friday LA time.

Pls excuse the lack of images. The days are so crammed full, that I'm just finding time to blog the details on occasion, let alone process the images. And the wifi internet signal is really crappy slow.  :(  So for now its just the details.

Woke up to find a smoggy LA.  The sky did clear as the day wore on, thank goodness.

Danni, Lee-Anne and I headed down to the Prima warehouse in Chino, California. I thought it would be a bit ritzy, glossy and appealing as a building and with the whole demeanour of the place. Instead its a tiny reception, a tiny workshop room, narrow corridors and a rabbit warren. They had advertised a wholesale sale which was part of the reason for us going. Apparently last time they had a sale it was a carpark sale and it was massive. This was part of the reason for us going there. Instead it was a trestle and a couple of display boards of very old stock. Disappointing to say the least.  The warehouse itself is chock a block full of boxes on pallets from floor to the high ceiling. To the point of being overstocked. This is where all the Prima products are shipped from world wide.

Pics posted later.

I met the business owner and the staff. All very nice people.

While we were there, we were encouraged to alter/decorate a very large floppy brim hat to be a 'crazy hat' which it is to be worn at CHA. If the Prima Patrol select your hat there's a $500 winning voucher.

We had thought we were going to be there all day and so asked our driver to return to pick us up at 5pm. As it turned out we were there only for about 30mins by the time Lee-Anne rang the driver and asked him to come back. This was no small trip. It was about 40 mins to get out there and he had just got to LA when we rang him. I'm surprised that he was still smiling and happy to see us.

By the time we got back to the Ramada we had half a day up our sleeves. So we walked around our area to see the sights, to find the 2 heavy weight jumpers I was looking for (found em) and strolled our way thru other shops.

On the spur of the moment we decided to head to Newport Beach. So on the two connecting buses we got. And it was a bit further than we thought. It was about half an hour after sunset by the time we got there. I"m amazed at how long the last light of the day lingers for here. It was still reasonably orange on the horizon which reflected so nicely in the sea. And what lovely clean beaches Newport have. Long clean white sand with gentle slope into the sea.

We had tea at a Mexican bar


and took the buses back home. By the time we got back into the room it would have been past 10 oclock. And from all the walking of the day, much of it in the sun, we were all stuffed.

I haven't mentioned how warm there winter is here. It's like our spring at home and the nights cool off just as quickly as ours. It's very pleasant to be here this time of year and that's why now is the peak season. Apparently this is the place to come to get away from the cold snowy winters elsewhere.

I also haven't mentioned the hassles I've had with the SIM card that I bought at home for this trip. From not letting me make any calls at all, to being able to connect to some numbers and not others (Kym's mobile) to only occasionally let me get online. It's pissed me off to the max. With all the stuffing around with it, trying to ring home and still being charged for it, its chewed up $75. So I'm taking the SIM back when I get back home and I'll be making complaint about it. I've not spoken to the kids or Kym yet, and that really hurts. So I am investing either in a SIM card from here or a disposable phone that is only good for one month. That's on tomorrows agenda.

So its good night from me

Thursday, January 26, 2012

los angeles - LA time - 26.1.12

26th Jan 2012  aussie time

Had a very pleasant trip from Adelaide to Auckland.  4 hour flight. In economy during this stretch and that ended up being really lovely with a spare seat between me and the lady by the window.  Was able to plug in my iphone to charge in the usb slot.

The ‘ditch’ was very blue today.  (pic)
In flight reading  (pic)
We had a very French and very gay flight attendant. He even pursed his lips and looked so down his nose. 

Connected to the next flight from Auckland to LA inside 30mins.

I'm travelling on a brand spanking new plane only 1 week old. Very flash shiny paint job.   (pic)


I’m sitting in Premium Economy. If you have the chance to fly PE I would very thoroughly recommend it.  The seats are very very comfortable, private with oodles of leg, elbow and shoulder room.  There’s a USB hub to charge the iphone and listen to your own playlists, a universal power point for the laptops, ipads etc.

Hot towels, chandelier painted on the toilet wall,
Linen napkins and the best service I’ve ever experienced during flight.
The entertainment system is impressive. Touch screen everything with a very large assortment of Utube selections, music, movies, games, news.
Comfort packs (eye cover, eye cream, lip balm, moisturiser, toothbrush, toothpaste, ear plugs, socks, and a pen) and large warm blankets are provided along with bottled water, and as much wine as you’d like. I really can’t recommend Premium Economy enough. I’ve heard it described as the 90’s standard of business class.

As we boarded the plane, Business and Premium Economy get to load before the Economy class. Those in Economy walk through our area to get to theirs and I heard a lot of ooohhhhhs and ahhhhhhhs and wishful thoughts outloud about our seats.

Did I mention the service? Now that is first class.  And I’m impressed with the airline meals.
(pic menu)

I watched the evening colours rise even tho we are heading east. Lovely clouds.

I’ve been up since 5.20am local time and I’m not sure which time zone I’m in atm, but suffice to say I hope to sleep well. I am weary, comfortable and warm.

Nite nite.

Ps. In-flight tip for return trip – pack spare hankies and anti histamines.  L

26th Jan   LA time.

There was a double space seat spare in the centre of the plane that was empty. These are designed for the couples in flight. I stretched out on them to sleep without much luck. Despite the eye mask and ear plugs I didn't sleep much. About 2 hours I reckon, and only lightly as that. I think I am just too excited and my mind just won't switch off.

So I got up, got the laptop out, plugged it in (yes, there's a universal power point in the Space Seats, and worked on some images for awhile. While in flight I didn't have any internet service, so I put my blog notes in Word to copy paste later on.

Before the rush of others waking up and going to the loos, I decided to have a wash, teeth, hair. Afer sitting back down and working on a few more images, others were beginning to stir. My eyes were beginning to feel a bit gritty and I was starting to feel a bit tired so I thought I'd have another go at sleep. I think I managed an hours power nap, which is better than none.   So for the total flying time of of the LA leg where I hoped to get to sleep, I really only managed 3 hours out of the 13 hour flight.

I can very thoroughly recommend anyone to fly Air New Zealand. Service is spot on and the flight really was so pleasant. I would really really really encourage to fly Premium Economy. It was just the best way, not cattle class and without the expense of flying business class.

Glimpsed the Hollywood sign upon descent.

Customs/Border Security was a bit tedious. It was very warm in the aged airless room where we shuffled through. Very antiquated building with non smiling staff. All dressed in black and intimidating as hell. Especially the Negro ladies. They looked so stern. I think watching the odd snippet of Border Security on TV put the wind up me. The actual process didn't take long at all.

Once thru there, picking up my suitcase and tripod bags (very glad to see they both made it all the way thru from Lincoln without me seeing them at all) I headed outside to catch the shuttle bus to the Ramanda Hotel, Anaheim.  (so close to Disney Land).  It was all very noisy outside waiting for the bus pickup and the cars travel so fast. I must admit to feeling a little bit intimated by the thought of just me by myself mostly because I discovered that my Travel Sim Card that I bought at home and set up wasn't working. Up until Auckland I was working on WiFi wherever I could find it, but now I couldn't even find that.

I was a bit concerned as I wasn't able to contact Lee-Anne and Danni, couldnt txt, skype or ring home. Couldn't Facebook msg. It was useless as a house brick in my hand. I was fairly pissed off with it as it was all set to just work when I landed!!!!!! Despite much fiddling and playing with a few settings that I could think of (instruction booklet that came with the SIM was in my suitcase and I didn't really get the chance to unlock the strap and padlocks to open that up. So I just shoved it in my pocket and thought dark thoughts about it.

It was with the greatest of relief to see them in the carpark outside reception when the bus pulled up. Lee-anne guessed I must have been having phone issues and had rung the shuttle bus company to find out the drop off time so she and Danni could be there to meet me.. Bless her for her thoughtfulness.

I was tired, wilted and my eyes felt like sandpaper. But I was also so damn excited to meet Lee-Anne and Danni in real life, to be on the other side of the world and just to think that I did it on my own. When they suggested a late afternoon exploring and seeing the sights of Hollywood with our personal driver, well hey, sleep could wait. I could do that later!!!! After dumping off the bags, rearranging the gear back into the camera back pack and a much enjoyed shower, we were off.

The cars whizz along so fast. 140km on the freeways and you take off so quick and rev the engine heaps to get up to speed fast when merging or moving into lanes. Mind you if you need to change lanes the car behind seems to always allow room to do that. More so than they do at home.  And it felt just damn wrong to be on the right side of the road. And when it was my turn to sit in the front of the car, I went to get in on the wrong side. whoops.

Lots of ribbons of concrete for all the exits of the freeways. I'll try to get a pick of them tomorrow to explain what I mean.

First stop. Photographing the Hollywood sign and the vista of LA. There apparently was very little smog today so it was the best day to see across the valley to the sign.  On some days you can't see it at all. Blrrrrgh.

We headed into Hollywood Boulevard to see the sights. Near the Chinese Temple I jumped out of the car that was held up in traffic to photograph it. The car was next to the curb and the driver was looking for a place to park. I said to Danni and Lee-Anne that Id stay by the temple to find me when they had found a park round the corner. They agreed as I was moving out of the car. After I got out, and the car moved on, and I took the shots I wanted. I then thought, oh dear, that was a bit stupid. My phone is still out of action and I had no way of contacting them, or them me.

And then of all things, I had some Negro fella try to flog me a Sony Digi Cam. He asked do you speak English. And I replied Nup, He said where you from, I replied Australia. He laughed and said, ahhhh you do speak English. I just smiled and moved on.  I just about shat myself thinking about it after. 

After waiting and looking around where I was for about 10 mins Lee-Anne found me. Phew. We walked the Star of Fame pavements, I had photos with the Transformers and Jack Sparrow (he was a bit yummy too) and came across the place that had Michael Jackson's family do his shoe impressions in the concrete only that day. It had been all roped off, with carpet on the ground and seating and all the cabling and equipment you could think of. The whole block had been shut off to traffic. When we got there it was all being packed up. The event had been at 11am that morning.

We got back into the car and drove along Sunset Boulevard, stopped at the Beverly Hill sign post so I could climb it for a photo, past the Bel Air entrance to the Estate, and high tailed it down to Santa Monica Beach to catch the sunset.

We got to Santa Monica Pier just in time to catch the colours of the clouds and the tide was out which gave fantastic wet sand to reflect the hues. I got my Rossi boots wet in the ripples to catch the photo I wanted.  (Nailed it!!!!!)

I took long exposure pics of the Cirque Tent and the Ferris Wheel on the Pier.  

I do believe we might head back to the Pier another night to enjoy it and have tea there. As it was, the driver was asked to have us for 5 hours and we were near the end of our booking time. He does drive a shuttle bus of his, so Lee-Anne had the thought of gathering a few of her contacts and having an evening there while we are here. Shit hot idea.

On the 2 hour trip back to the Ramanda (traffic was snailpace for most of it) I was just soooo tired. I was feeling lightheaded, and my head was nodding around a fair bit. I hadn't expected that it would take 2 hours to get back and I didn't go to the loo before leaving the Pier. There is no way you can stop on the Freeway and even thou I was getting a bit desperate I just had to wait until we cleared the snail pace freeways and got onto the road back to Anaheim. We did stop eventually at a Starbucks and I just ran in, and went straight into the empty mens loo as the ladies was being used. Ohhhh the relief. 

I had my first Java chip Frappcino while I was there. I think that's my ice coffee substitute. By the time we got back to the Ramanda, the caffeine had hit, and I was awake enough to download the photos off both cameras, sync the clocks on both cameras for ease of working images later, ring Backchat in Australia to sort out the phone (yahhhhoooooooo buckaroo) and have a bit of a yarn with Lee-Anne about things.

and then bed. Blissful bed.

sidenote- I probably wont be loading up a lot of images at this point. The wifi is dreadfully slow and as I shoot every shot in RAW it needs to be processed before I can load it up. For now, I am blogging when I can.  (all the above was done on the 27th in the morning while waiting for the other two to rise and shine)
I am taking pics with my phone and will be uploaded them onto Facebook when I can, into the Los Angeles Album.

los angeles 26.1.12

Happy Australia Day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Stayed at my Grandpa's last night to get to the airport before dawn this morning without an excessilvely early start for everyone.
up at 5.15a to gather gear and catch the booked taxi at 5.40a at the gate.

Lincoln Airport by 6am. Boarded the first flight of the day at 6.30am.

Dawn on the first day of the trip.

Landed Adelaide Airport and had breakfast with Pete Dobre. Always fun when he's around.

Just about to head thru customs in a tick. Auckland next stop in 4.5hrs time on this aircraft.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

los angeles 25.1.12

 Crunch time today. Pack the bag day.

Managed to prune the camera backpack down to 8 kilos. 2 bodies, 3 lenses, filters, timer, 4 x batteries.  In the little shoulder day bag I have the 2 different battery charges, the USA adapter, the cleaning kit, another lens, the speedlight, the Alphine butterfly brush and loupe for the delicate sensor clean. That bag is in the luggage.

Shoes. I'm not a shoe person. I like my footwear to be functional hence the boots. Rossi's, Dress boots, Hiking Boots. I don't intend to buy any shoes over there.

 Cash for tips, bus/train/taxi fares. And a Starbucks Espresso Frappuccino. Play money really.


  • Tripod bag =7.5kgs. Tripod, umbrella, Rossi boots, 4xsocks. Thick lambswool lined heavy weight waterproof jacket that comes to my knees.
  • Camera Backpack - as above with empty waterbottle to fill on flight.
  • Laptop bag. 7kgs. Using it as my little overnight bag as such besides the laptop. Has the plastic ziplock bag of 100ml containers. ie toothpaste, cleanser, moisteruiser, eyecream, lipbalm. foundation. toothbrush. puffer. Contains my documents needed for boarding and customs. Powercords for laptop, USB lead for iphone, (will be charging during flight in the fangdangle chair I'll be in), my reading for the flight with associated maps and info. other bits and pieces.
  • suitcase. clothing for up to -6.0C. I did find it a bit hard to think of cold weather clothes when the last few days have been over 35C. I damn near forgot to pack the 2 jumpers I own. I'm going to find a couple more over there as there is nothing here in a winter weight fabric in the middle of summer. 

I did manage to squeeze in 8 packets of Tim Tams on Lee-Anne's request. Tim Tam are akin to bribery offers over there ;op

Staying in Lincoln tonight with my Grandfather as the airport to leave in the morning at 6.40am is sooooo much closer to him than to us at home. We (us 4 Firths) had tea with my Grandfather and a couple of mutual friends before the kids and Kym bade me goodbye.  I had a lump in my throat as watched them leave and a pretty exciting feeling inside as well.

All I can say is thank goodness for Skype. Can't Viber as Kym doesn't have an Iphone, can't Facebook with him and the kids as he doesn't Facebook, so it's good ol ringing up the phone or seeing if he remembers what I showed him about Skype. I did show the kids too, so I think Sean will remind him of what to do.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

grand canyon weather

Winter Weather & Temperatures.

Winter weather conditions on the South Rim can be harsh. The North Rim can be worse. Keep in mind that visitor services and facilities inside the park on the North Rim are closed from mid-October until mid-May and although visitors can still visit the North Rim, the road from Jacob Lake to the North Rim (Highway 67) is subject to closure due to snow.
Services and some facilities at the South Rim are open all year, but be prepared for cold temperatures, snow, icy roads and possible road closures. However, the Ground Canyon is beautiful covered with winter snow.

Upper South Rim Averages

High (F)
Low (F)
High (C)
Low (C)

Lower Inner Canyon Averages

High (F)
Low (F)
High (C)
Low (C)

to sum up its going to be cold. Bloody cold. It could be as 'warm' as 7 degrees C or as cold as -6 degrees C. with the monthly rainfall/snow around 1.5 inches. At the time of blogging this its currently -3.2c.....

I'm flying from LA to Phonex then onto Flagstaff, where I pick up the hire car and drive on the wrong side of the potentially icy roads up to Grand Canyon Village. 

I'm staying at the Grand Plaza Resort as of the 1st of Feb for 5 nights.

Am I excited. ???Hell yes.

 Am I nervous about going on my own. No. Meeting Lee-Anne and Danni in LA will be wonderful and by the time CHA is over I'll be needing some 'quiet time'. I've heard a whisper that a night at Disney Land is on the cards and a day touring Hollywood is defiently on.

Am I uncertain about driving over there. YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  But I'll take it steady and I've all the time in the world to get there. And it looks so straight forward to get there. Left turn at Flagstaff, Right turn at Williams and drive straight ahead till the road stops at the village.  About 90 miles all up. I drive more than that on some days as it is.

directions for my reference

To South Rim From Flagstaff, Arizona.

1. Take I 40 West about 30 miles to Highway 64 (Exit 165) as you near Williams. Go North on Highway 64 for about 60 miles directly to the South Rim.

2. In downtown Flagstaff, travel North on Humphreys Street to Columbus Avenue which becomes Highway 180. Take Highway 180 West about 55 miles to Highway 64. Head North on Highway 64 directly to Tusayan and the South Rim.

3. Take Route 66 Northeast which will turn into Highway 89. Take Highway 89 North about 65 miles, then turn left (west) onto Highway 64 and continue directly to the East Entrance on the South Rim. The East Entrance is referred to as "Desert View". Desert View is on Desert View Drive which hugs the edge of the canyon for about 26 scenic miles to Grand Canyon Village at the South Rim.
From Williams. Take I 40 to towards Williams, Arizona which is about 33 miles east of Flagstaff. Take Highway 64 (Exit 165) North for about 60 miles directly to the South Rim. A great way to see the Grand Canyon is catching the Grand Canyon Railway in Williams.

I'm packing the suitcase when I paused to check the GC weather to pack my warm things for that part of the trip.  Hence the weather details here, just to give you an idea of what I'm to expect.

Might even have to make the real deal s'mores!!!!!!!!

more info on the South Rim for my reference here. and images here

Monday, January 23, 2012

LA leadup

I can't sleep. I'm just too wound up thinking about the next few days, especially flying on a long haul flight.

I've not been further than New Zealand (for our honeymoon) and certainly not really anywhere on my own. That in itself is a tiny bit scary but a lot exciting.

After duplicating all the documents today, setting up Skype on all devices and tying up small details, I just cant sleep.

All of a sudden this pipe dream that I've been having is suddenly very real.

I've been checking out the weather, the accommodation while at CHA, the flight details, reserving my seat on each flight, thinking of locations to visit while in LA  (Hollywood, Walk of fame, Hollywood sign, Rodeo Drive, Hollywood Boulevard, Beverly Hills etc) and hoping like hell I can fit all that in.

As well as 2 days at Prima Headquarters with hands on product workshops and 4 days of CHA. My first day at CHA is my busiest as I'm booked into 4 business conferences. The next 3 days have one or two workshops, as well as working my way from booth to booth doing Make and Takes.

I'm really hoping to meet Tim Holtz, Heidi Swapp, Liz Kartchner and the likes. They are all having product releases at CHA so they should be very visible.

And the most of all is to finally meet Lee-Anne irl. Lee-Anne and Danni own Scrap Therapy and I've been on the Design Team for nearly a year. We formed a strong friendship on line and on the invitation from Lee-Anne has been my opportunity to go.

I'm hoping to blog each night but I may not be able to post a lot of images. I need to sleep at some stage  ;o)

So I'm on count down with very few sleeps to go.

whoooo hoooooo.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

tea with Pete and Laura

Laura and her family and Pete came over for roast tea last night. Pete's been to the Grand Canyon before so I was really keen for him to point me the right way for the best spots for the best shots. He put me onto a book a while ago, which I purchased,  to really get great info on the place.

Lovely tea, good wine, great company.
And a late night.

today's been getting Skype onto all devices and checking they all work. (thanks Janice for your patience), duplicating travel documents and really starting to think about packing.... I've only 3 sleeps left at home, 1 in Lincoln and then I'm gone for 2 weeks.

just getting a little bit excited now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  (well, more than a bit lol

4 sleeps to go!!

Friday, January 20, 2012

tumby bay 2012 - day 20

It was grey, overcast and a good setting to go home. If it was bright sunshine and a day on the beach feel to the morning, it would have made it so much harder to leave.

As it was, I still wasn't really ready to come home after 3 weeks at the beach, but both Kym and I both have things that we need to get on with, so home we came.

Funny how it takes forever to pack to go the beach and next to no time to pack to bring it all home. lol. (Gotta love the canopy on my Hilux. Fits in soooooooooooo much stuff with oodles of room to spare.)

Once home, unpacked, washed and visited some friends I started to think about packing the suitcase with winter gear for the trip. And thinking is about as far as it got. I was stuffed and an early night was on the cards.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

tumby bay 2012 - day 19

With Kym being on farm overnight, that meant no 6.30am boiling of the kettle for his first cup of coffee for the day. And with the style of apartment we have each summer, that kettle is damn noisy at that hour of the day.  :-/

(PS the images in the galleries of each type of unit that have the white keyline on them are ones I shot for the Modra Apartments last summer  :O)   )

So after a leisurely beginning to the day, I took the kids out to Thurana for a quick Australia Day photoshoot. I'm feeling very nostalgic for this day this year as I'm leaving for a 2 week trip to the States on that day.  So I want to have a bit of Aussie with me on the flight. :O)

Annie had a cracker idea for a shot, and it worked ever so nicely.

I upgraded her usual Paddle Pop fee to a Magnum icecream to reward her initiative.  Sean earnt his upgrade as well by planting his feet wide in this shot to give it a bit of extra character.  (lol had find some excuse for him wink wink)

 We had fun with bubbles too, and with the sea breeze they were really zooming along!!

Kym was back at the cabin when we got back for late lunch. I started packing up all our gear as were we scheduled to leave the next morning.

I had a phone call mid afternoon from Brigette S to see if I'd like a lift to Lincoln for scrapping. Hell yes. Of course.  I was packed and ready to go in 5 minutes flat.  (laptop doesn't take much to pack lol)

While Brigette was at an appointment I took her 4wd thru the carwash

Pizza for tea with her daughter on the foreshore and then round to scrapping. Seeing that I wasn't driving (a very rare event indeed) I splurged out a little bit.

Lots of laughs with the girls. And a late night back in Tumby. Thanks so much Brigette for ringing me!!!! mwah

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

women in business - tiff firth photography

The Port Lincoln Times had a feature on Women In Business in yesterday's edition.  17.1.2012

I was very flattered to be asked to part of it. In fact I recall laughing saying what I do is not serious enough to be called a business as I'm having way too much fun with it.

I was chuffed to see my fave colour associated with the write up.  :O).

I'm really pleased with how the interview was written up. It seems to read well to me.

tumby bay 2012 - day 18

A bit of an easterly breeze canned the idea of going out on the biscuit this morning :O(  so Kym gathered up some of the larger bits and pieces, together with Max the guinea pig and his hutch to take back home and start on the summer spraying late this arvo.

The kids and I headed to the playground to burn up some energy for a while. While there we decided to go to the movies in Lincoln in the late arvo.

That gave us time for me to pick up my travel documents, pick up a few last minute things and for Sean to have a hair cut.

 We also had a cup of coffee with Ann at Cafe Chino.

The deal between me and the kids was for them to watch a movie and I shoot a ruin on the way back to Tumby. They were happy with that. But when we got there the sky was just plain boring blue  :(  I'll be going past tomorrow night when I head down for scrapping so I'll revisit the ruin then and hopefully the sky is rocking.

While we've been on holidays its been a chance for the kids to do their own washing up. We've a dishwasher at home and its their job to unload each morning, so actually washing dishes is a bit of a novelty.

Kym's staying on farm tonight to be up at dawn to spray the summer weeds, so the kids snuggled into my bed to watch a DVD and seeing that they looked so comfy, I'll let them stay there for the night, and I'll sleep in Annie's bed. LOL, the things a Mum does for her kids. ;O)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

tumby bay 2012 - day 17

Dawn was a cracker this morning...... there was a bank of cloud in the right place at the right time and it fired up.  Sweet stuff!!!!!

Blue hour.


Pylon sunburst

 5.30am alarm clock tends to knock me around a bit so I usually head back to bed for a quick hour catchup if I can. This morning I waited for Sean and Kym to head out fishing while Annie devoured a book in bed.

After the promising start to the day, it turned grey, cool, breezy and occasionally damp. :O(

Laura and her son came over the hill for a visit and we originally intended to have a day on a pristine beach not far from here with the kids, picking Sean up from fishing on the way. According to the weather map yesterday, it was to be fairly warm and not a lot of breeze. Well, we had the opposite, so we scouted that particular beach for a possible photo shoot later on and high tailed back to the Bakery in Tumby.

After lunch and browsing the shops we all came back here for a while. Great to catch up.

By the time Laura left, it was starting to rain. So the kids had a bit of a vegie arvo while I worked on yesterday's photos.

Late afternoon saw the western horizon start to open up at last. Kym was back from fishing early arvo and had been smoking the Tommies since. He came round to drop off the left over bits from filleting the garfish for Sean to feed the pelicans. Annie headed back with Kym to finish smoking the fish.

While Sean was feeding the pelicans,

I noticed how calm and still the waters were and was thinking just how pleasant a paddle in a kayak would be, when Christina came down the beach and asked if I wanted to go Kayaking for a cup of coffee at the Ritz. (Ice Coffee for me lol)

I trotted back to the cabin, parked the camera and picked up Sean's life jacket. He sat up on the nose of the Kayak while I paddled. About half way to the Ritz a rain scud blew through and we were drenched. But hell it was fun to be in it. Exhilarating really and I was laughing a fair bit, and fairly loudly. We also saw a 180 degree rainbow over the bay..... oh to have the camera on hand, even the phone would have sufficed.

The breeze had picked up which made the thought of kayaking against it just a bit too much to consider. Fortunately a friend of Christina's was at the jetty so we could borrow their car to get back to Christina's shack. And the hubby and his mate paddled the kayaks back (I think, well that was plan A. Plan B was for the fellas to put the kayaks in the trailer to bring back. They were laughing and saw the funny side of it.

Sean and Kym caught a mess of squid during the morning so it was fresh calamari for tea cooked up by Kym. Seafood is his thing, so he's cooks it.

I headed out for sunset after tea.