My Friend the Golden Hour


Lately, I feel like my pictures have been really good but then I noticed one thing in common with most of them. They were taken during the golden hour. What is the golden hour? The golden hour is the hour (roughly) after sunrise or before sunset. That hour has been very kind to my ability to get good shots. That is why I have labeled this post “My Friend the Golden Hour”.

Admittedly, I really did not like the golden hour when I first started photographing during it. I was not a fan of the orange color I was getting in my photos but then I started noticing how the sun’s color changes as it gets lower in the sky. Right about at that hour mark, the sun is more of a gold yellow and as it gets lower in the sky it turns more orange or orange red. I think the key for me is to shoot that first twenty or thirty minutes of the hour. That is MY ideal light. Your ideal light may be different. Here are a few photos I have been able to capture. Feel free to post some of your favorite golden hour pictures.


Patriotism: The Wall That Heals


Last month we saw the traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall also known as The Wall That Heals. You can check out the website and find out when it will be in your area.

My goal when I went was not only to acknowledge the sacrifices people have made for our country but also to capture patriotism. I reread one of Bethadilly’s blog posts for photography inspiration and went to the memorial.

19 total people from DeKalb County never came home from the war. They had pictures of those soldiers set up by their name. A flag was set up for every soldier in the country that did not make it. I saw some vets from the war visiting. Some day I will travel to DC again, but until then, I am glad I have this to visit.

Blueberry Picking


Last month, we went blueberry picking at Tammen Treeberry Farm with some friends of ours. I loved it! I kind of want to go back and get more blueberries. We froze a bunch, made blueberry lemonade, blueberry sorbet and canned two batches of jam, one spiced. The recipes were from the You Can Can book. No matter, I captured a couple of pictures of the event. The blueberries were beautiful to photograph but I also love having human interaction in my photos. Here are the photos that I took!


Beauty in Traverse City, Michigan


This past weekend we went camping but this time a bit further away from home. We went to northwest Michigan which is due east of Wisconsin. It was quite wonderful. My aunt Paula and uncle Paul have been camping up there for the past few years so we joined them along with my aunt Tina and my cousin Jenny and her family.

So many things were wonderful about the trip. The kids got to play in the sand and dirt. We would wipe them off and I swear a few seconds later they would be dirty again.

We all got to play in water. Ever since I went to Australia a couple of years ago, I have had a new appreciation for bodies of water. Before I was never much of a beach person because when I thought of the beach I thought of sunbathers in bikinis. I have never felt comfortable in a bathing suit because it makes me feel vulnerable and the thought of sunbathing makes me think of skin cancer. 🙂 Then I went to Australia and discovered two things…my daughter’s love for water and the instant calmness I feel when I am near it. Even thinking about the sound of the ocean waves calms me.  Well, Traverse City, being it is on Traverse Bay which is part of Lake Michigan, has lots of water. No, it was not quite the indigo blue you see in Australia’s oceans and they do not have 3 foot waves but it was still peaceful. The first morning I was there I visited the beach alone. The water was quite calm which made me feel calm. It almost looked like glass in some areas.


Then later on that day I returned to the beach with my family. My daughter discovered she could run in and out of the lake. I showed her how she could bury herself in the sand. We showed her the pretty sea shells and how they were all slightly different from each other. I felt like a kid again. I love that she is now old enough to experience the water more. The last time we were at the beach, she was too tiny to let go of. This time we put a floaty on her, she was able to doggy paddle a bit, and she could stand on her own.


We drove up one of the peninsulas. Most of the peninsula consisted of houses with beautiful views of the lake. It also had a brewery/restaurant called The Jolly Pumpkin, some wineries, and cherry orchards.


We ate at the Jolly Pumpkin Brewery. They had some yummy curry potato chips and cherry beer.

The following day we went to Sleeping Bear Dunes. I did not know that dunes could be so large! There was a sign saying that it takes 2 hours to get back up if you go all the way down. Yikes! The water near the dunes was even more beautiful than in Traverse City. These waters were actually quite blue compared to the gray waters by the campgrounds. The children and adults had a lot of fun running up and down the smaller dunes.

We also enjoyed some wonderful food cooked by family. Food always tastes better when someone else cooks it. 🙂

Best of all we got to spend time with family. I love that my family can go years without seeing each other and when we do see each other again, it is as if no time has passed. This past year we have seen many visits from family and I am loving it! We have had family from Oklahoma, Texas, Australia and Alaska! Any other family want to come and visit? 🙂 Well, I hope you enjoyed the pictures. I know I enjoyed the experience and I look forward to our next adventure.

4th Of July Traditions


Do you remember on my last blog post I said I love capturing the details of an event? Well, we had 4th of July this month and I captured those little details that I think make the holiday so special. The meaning behind the holiday is important but I also think the traditions are important. Traditions repeated from year to year and passed from generation to generation have a special history that is shared among many people.

You will see that I painted with light in the first picture. What a very fun technique! You can do the same if you copy the settings. All of these pictures were taken with my Nikon D3000 and 50mm lens.

365 Projects & Camping

pin16I have stopped doing my prompted 365 projects. Gasp! Truthfully, I became bored with the prompts because I had a lot of repeats. My two goals with the 365 projects were to pick up my camera everyday and to challenge myself to take pictures of things I normally wouldn’t take a picture of. I still pick up my camera everyday and I have new challenges. Right now I am challenging myself to gain experience with other people’s families and about 1x/week I do look at a prompt.

In other news, a few weeks ago we went camping. I love camping and I love capturing the details of an event and what makes it so special. Here are a few camping photos. Let me know if any of these bring a feeling of comfort. Also, if you want me to capture details of a special event for you, let me know.


A New Tool for My Camera

pin1I briefly said in my last post that I bought an attachable macro lens. Well, they are actually called macro filters and I love them. I am having quite fun with them and when the pictures come out sharp, they give me a whole new perspective of an object. I have wanted a macro lens for awhile but never bought one because of the cost. This is a cheap way around that. Here’s the article I read about them.

9 Tips for Using Macro Filters

It does take getting used to them but well worth it. You may notice in a couple of the pictures below that the focus is not quite perfect. From my understanding, using a tripod helps because the depth of field is so shallow it is easy to lose your focus.

I love the crayons because I never really noticed how dirty crayons look from being marked up by other crayons.  I love the picture of the dandelion because it is in focus and I can see so much detail I never noticed before. The paper clip is not so neat but the details of the wooden table below are. The crab apple buds are beautiful and the seedling is not so interesting but the detail of the dirt below is interesting. I love how macro photography shows me details that I look over every day. This is just another way to show you beauty in the everyday mundane life, which is my mission with photography.

I will continue to experiment.

Here are some of the fun photos I have taken so far.




Using Manual and How I Learned

pin2As you know, I am a student of Shultz Photography School. I am in his Grads program but I also purchased his Photo Fix. Photo Fix is where I learned manual so I cannot go into detail as to how he taught it but the program helped give me a visual in my mind when I use manual mode. Eventually the settings became second nature. Now when I see a low number aperture, I think lots of light and bokeh. When I see a slow shutter speed I think lots of light but possible blur. When I see a low ISO I think low light but less grain. It is a bit more complex than that but the more you shoot in manual, the more you will automatically have those associations. Also, the more you shoot in manual, the more you will know which settings will work. For example, I always start off with ISO 400 in my house. If I am outside and it is sunny, I automatically start with ISO 100. If it is cloudy, I will start with ISO 100 or 200. Most of my photos are indoors so usually my camera is on ISO 400. Here are the steps for when I shoot indoors on a sunny day.

  1.       ISO 400 (usually my camera is already on this setting)
  2.       Aperture (usually as low as I can get it because I like bokeh)
  3.       Shutter speed
    1. I start minimally with 1/50 (for my 50 mm lens) because that will at least reduce camera shake
    2. Adjust shutter speed and try and get my meter at ‘0’.

The same process is similar if I am shooting outdoors on a sunny day.

  1. ISO 100
  2. Aperture (as low as I can get it)
  3. Shutter speed
    1. Start with a minimum of 1/50
    2. Adjust shutter speed to get my meter at ‘0’.

In other news…I bought some attachable macro lenses. Here is a picture using my macro x10. I will go into more detail in another blog post.


Also, I apologize for not being around the last month but family has been in town all month and every bit of free time has been dedicated to them.

I hope you get outside and enjoy the beautiful spring. I love all of the flowering trees!

Editing Photos – From a Hobbyist’s Perspective

pin3I have watched a few professional photographers edit photos. Honestly, I do not like editing much. I feel it takes a lot of time and it can be a rabbit hole that you can get lost in. However, being that I still consider myself an intermediate hobbyist photographer, I figure I can probably offer a different view on how I edit photos. Below you will find what I do most of the time. I use Adobe Lightroom to edit photos. Once in a great while I use Adobe Photoshop but I am not including that down below.

  1.       Adjust Exposure
  2.       Adjust White balance (look at skin tones)
  3.       Check Enable Profile Corrections (under Lens Correction)
  4.       Crop and Straighten
  5.       Adjust Shadows or Highlights if I feel there is too much or too little
  6.       Adjust Clarity
  7.       Adjust Vibrance
  8.       Adjust Saturation carefully (you do not want too much typically)
  9.       Possibly use a preset (usually a Shultz Photo School preset)
  10.       Possibly tweak preset by doing numbers 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, & 8 again.

Well, that is what works for me at the moment. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them. Adios!


In a Hobbyist’s Photography Bag

pin4Often when I read about photographers and what they have in their camera bag, it is usually a professional photographer (someone who actually makes money off their photos). Well, I am not making money off my photos so I would not consider myself a professional. My budget is far less and I find it harder to justify spending money on photography. In thinking about this, I realize that my perspective is different. So what does this intermediate hobbyist photographer have in their bag? Well here you go.

  1.       Nikon D3000
  2.       Nikkor 50 mm f/1.8 lens
  3.       Nikon 18 – 55 mm f/3.5-5.6
  4.       Nikon 55 – 200 mm f/4-5.6
  5.       Amazon Wireless remote
  6.       Aperlite Off camera flash
  7.       Tripod (not actually in my bag but I do use it)
  8.       Mini soft box for my flash

My favorite lens of the three I have is the 50 mm. It allows me to have beautiful bokeh, which I love and it allows me to get more light into my photos. Because I enjoy the low aperture on my 50 mm so much, now I want a wider-angle lens and a macro lens with small apertures as well.