It's probably been over 12 years since I've visited Cedarock Park in Burlington, NC; the last time being with my sweet husband when we were dating in high school. Even though this is in the heart of southern Alamance County where we are from, it's a hidden gem that I think can be easily overlooked or forgotten if you're not taking the time to explore your own hometown.
This weekend it was just what we needed. After a month-long move from selling our home we needed a much needed break and time to just play. Avery took full advantage of the freedom to explore that we gave her, and I loved capturing every minute or her adventurous spirit. The weather was beautiful, a cool almost fall day in the 60s, the sunset golden hour light was gorgeous and it was a treat to photograph in.
Avery is prone to collecting things that she finds on the ground, and is also known to maybe taste them and even swallow them (cue eye roll and motherly anxiety). Rocks are perhaps her favorite things when she is outside, she is constantly collecting them, moving them around, stacking them, etc., so much so that she might be a geologist when she grows up. Avery found a bunch of sticks and really large rocks (which of course I liked because I knew she wouldn't be able to swallow them). We really enjoyed watching her run around to see what else she could find. One thing I love about watching her grow is to see how much she just soaks up life, everything is new to her and she just lives in the moment, a true reminder to all of us that we just need to slow down and be present more. Not only does Cedarock Park have all of the great green space to play, they also have a disc golf course, plenty of old buildings and structures which made for beautiful photos, and they had some animals too. Avery absolutely loved the animals, and it's amazing to me how smart she is at such a young age and how fast she learns. As soon as she saw the goats and sheep she immediately started making the same noises they make, just like we've been practicing :) She has an animal noises book that she really loves.
Overall, we had a great time, and really enjoyed the crisp beginnings of fall and soaking up some much needed family rest time. If your looking for a fun family day trip then check it out, it's great for getting out of the house and exploring right in your own backyard.
I also had the opportunity to use a new speedlight that I recently purchased, the Godox V1 which I HIGHLY recommend. I've been eyeing the Profoto A1 for a while, but sheesh is it an investment, and that's an understatement for a flash! Even though it is more than a flash, it's also off camera lighting and is so versatile, but I figured there had to be a cheaper similar alternative, so I did some research and found a blog review of the Godox, a lesser known brand that essentially does the same work at a much lower cost. Of course I snatched one up because I had reached a point in my photography of Avery that I felt it was just necessary. I'm so happy that I've added this tool to my camera bag. For the longest time I've always considered myself solely a natural light shooter, never so much as ever using a flash. That is until Avery reached toddler age and is now ALL OVER THE PLACE. I quickly realized that underexposure was a real issue and something I'd need to resolve because it's difficult to meter a proper exposure and keep the proper exposure when she is a constantly moving subject and moving in and out of different lighting all of the time.
I have some reflectors that generally would do the trick for up close portraits, but good luck trying to bounce a reflector just right onto a toddler. This new speedlight did the trick and gave just the right amount of pop of light on her that I needed to ensure she was properly exposed even in backlit photos. This speedlight can also be used off camera just like the Profoto version and literally has most of the same features down to the magnetic attachable filters and diffusers. It also seems fairly easy to use since I'm very new to any type of flash and was able to jump right in and get results that I was hoping for.
Nikon 85mm f/1.8, ISO 100-200, Aperture 2.5, shutter 1/200 to 1/640