Welcoming Spring

Jen Boutet Photography spring flowers around CharlottesvilleThese beautiful flowers are just a sampling of images I captured on a walk through the west gardens at the University of Virginia. The cherry blossoms were already dropping their pale pink confetti on the paths, but many fluffy blooms still clung to the trees for me to photograph. After a nice visit with Noble, a canine resident of one of the gardens I photographed an amazing Wisteria bloom that was dangling from a thick and ancient vine. I believe the other flower photographed is a wisteria bloom, with the sun peeking through from behind.

Whatever time of year, I think the gardens on UVA’s campus are a must see for visitors and residents alike.

Some tips for photographing flowers:

  • Go when the sun is near the horizon, early in the morning or in the evening. The light at dawn and dusk is most beautiful.
  • Get as close to the flowers as you can, and fill your frame with your subject.
  • Simplify. Instead of trying to photograph an entire bed of flowers, get close and focus on just one flower in the group.
  • Try unique angles. Try getting level with the blooms, or photographing straight down on them.
  • Play with your aperture. The wider you set the aperture, the more the background blurs. This keeps the focus on just the bloom you want to capture.



Lego Kidsfest: Not just for kids

Thanks to a bit of luck, and a ticket giveaway at Charlottesville Family Magazine, we had the opportunity to go to the Lego Kidsfest in Richmond, Va. My three boys, ages 2, 9, and 14, all found something they enjoyed (my hubby and I had a great time too, so lets say it’s fun for “kids” of all ages.)


  • Duplos – Jake was a bit intimidated by the giant mountain of duplos, but he LOVED the playstations surrounding it.jlboutet-legostory1
  • The Brick Pile – literally a mountain of legos.  My 9 year old was in heaven, but the rest of us soon tired of the discomfort of sitting on top of hard pointy legos. On the plus side this was an incredibly fun photo op.jlboutet-legostory3
  • Creation Nation – We added a submarine, the Washington Monument, and the St. Louis Arch to the giant outline of the United States.jlboutet-legostory2
  • Monochromatic Builds – this activity allowed you to explore your creativity with a single color of lego, emphasizing overall shapes. For whatever reason, my little guy loved this activity! His imagination turned the legos into weapons, buildings, creatures, and a microphone he sang into (my favorite!)jlboutet-legostory4
  • Lego Racers – Build your car, and race it down the ramp. Our gang spent more time at this activity than any other. I didn’t really get many photos. Why? I was playing with the Racers too!
  • Chima – Something new for us, these were lego characters that use a ripcord to make them race along. It was fun to try them out, but time with them was extremely limited and quickly over.jlboutet-legostory5
  • Lego model museum – I was completely impressed with the large lego statues. The detail in them was amazing.
  • Master Builder Academy –  The two older boys signed up for this first thing, but ended up in one of the last classes. The boys learned some of the “secrets” from a master builder, and got a chance to do some building of their own.
  • Other activities we didn’t spend much time on were the LEGO Challenge Zone, LEGO Games, Life of George, LEGO Technic, and the LEGO Art Gallery. All of them looked like fun, but lines discouraged us and time didn’t permit.jlboutet-legostory6

It looks like the Lego Kidsfest visits different cities each year, but if it comes to our area again, we’d definitely go again.