South Carolina

Sunday, November 30, 2014

It was luck when I found amazing rates on flights to South Carolina for Thanksgiving a few months ago, and so we headed up for some cooler outdoor experiences with friends who live on a lake.

Highlights of the visit included four little girls bonding again, a Golden Retriever puppy called Max who liked to give wet licks, an amazing menu, a trip to a legal Moonshine Distillery (for the adults), shaded train tracks for an impromptu photo, beautiful sunrises and sunsets on the lake, and cooler-than-we-are-used-to weather. Can't wait to return!

Sunrise, watching the fishermen and steam rising off the lake
Warm Jammies
She mistook the frost on this leaf for snow, can you tell they live in Florida?
The food was divine
Tire Swings
Moonshine Tasting
Butterflies playing with puppies

Halfway through the walk, Max went for a swim.
 Look at how she looks at him!
The epic walk back...puppys make you walk for miles.
I made us stop by the train tracks - the light was perfect and I needed a visual memory of how we rocked the mismatched clothing mandate.

The Mermaids

Sunday, November 23, 2014

This past summer I got to scratch off the bucket list item A.K.A. as “Visit Hawaii”, and it didn’t disappoint. We spent a week soaking up the sun, jumping in and out of the surf, visiting the sights, and spending quality time with family. Last Christmas from Santa, the girls received little mermaid tails (with openings at the bottom), and I made sure to pack them for this trip.

As luck would have it, or was it luck? The 6 hour time difference meant we were all pretty jetlagged, getting up at 4am each morning. The plus side was that we got that lovely light at dawn for photos, and on our second morning on the island we walked down to the beach at dawn and let the girls enjoy being mermaids.

When I took a vacation...

Sunday, November 16, 2014

I like to travel. Enough said!

For my birthday my thoughtful husband surprised me with a trip to Savannah – a place I have always wanted to visit. We also vacationed in Hawaii with our California family, and went discovering Florida, visiting St. Augustine, Fort Myers, Naples and Everglades city. Aside from vacations, a work event, and the night my eldest learned how to ride her bike without training wheels, I took a break from my big camera this summer. I put it away in a box and walked past that box every day with no urge to use it. Looking back, I realize I needed the break from using it nearly daily. No earth shattering reason. I guess I just needed a vacation from my dslr.

My facebook blog has been quiet these past few months for that very reason and then as I finalized this website before posting more shoots. So here is a recap of my favorite vacation images from summer 2014. Just so you know, the big camera is out of the box and back in my purse again. Stay tuned.

Sunrise, Kapalua
Sunset with a cold beer, Kaanapali
Enjoying the surf, Kaanapali
Maui ocean center, with cousins
Before the tropical storm, Maui
Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustine
At the Olde Pink House, Savannah
Hanging out in Savannah

Naples Pier

Ted Smallwood's Store - Chokoloskee

Collecting Shells

and Building Castles - Fort Myers

Photography Tips

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The best thing I ever did to improve my photography was to embark on a 365 day photo challenge in 2013. I look back now and remember how hard it was at the time to keep motivated, but I am also so grateful that I have daily recording of my life for a full year.  It also was a great way for me to share my photography, start blogging through facebook and get a following of people interested in my work. Here are my tips for success for those who are interested in doing a similar long-term project. Happy Snapping!
1.     Equipment isn’t everything - you don’t have to use a DSLR camera, you could do this challenge to improve your iphone/android photography skills and leverage Instagram easily.
2.     Think about when you want to start it. If you start on January 1, you will be finishing the challenge in the middle of winter when the daylight hours are shorter with less opportunity for natural light captures.
3.     Believe you can do it. If you are still not sure, start the challenge off in Beta! I started a Facebook blog for this challenge, but I didn’t share my project with friends until I was a month into posting photos and knew I could finish it.
4.     Post your photos daily if possible (ideally around the same time). Seeing the encouraging comments from friends and followers each day pushed me to take the camera out when sometimes it was the last thing I wanted to do.
5.     Enlist the support of your family and friends. This is a huge time commitment and there is no way I could have completed this challenge without a very understanding husband and kids.
6.     Set goals for yourself and list the different techniques/genres you want to practice and master. I learned how to shoot better in low light, and I tried food photography and long exposures for the very first time.
7.     Invest in a camera bag if you have a DSLR, and bring your camera with you EVERYWHERE!
8.     Ask your friends if you can take a photo of them, or their kids, or their garden, or their house, or their dog. Eventually you will feel like you captured every moment of your own life through a lens until you realize you can start focusing on someone else’s and get fresh images.
9.     Give yourself the benefit of the doubt. There were times I posted photos I didn’t love but I wanted to stay true to the challenge and they were the best photo I took that day. If that’s the case, make sure the photos are SHARP and STRAIGHT. This rule goes for every photo you post.
10.  Get outside at the weekends, take time each day for you, and plan fun activities. I admit, there were times I hauled my family to weird places, just for a photo op (back to tip 5 - thank you to my understanding husband). It also pushed me to take a much needed lunch break at the office many times.
11.  Have one photo up your sleeve. I mean that beautiful close up shot of your 2 year old’s wispy hair blowing in the wind that you can bang out easily if you have a fever (I ended talking that photo when I was sick during my challenge).
12. Try at least four self-portraits, and do one every quarter. If you are like me, you will hate doing it, but will be so glad after you did it. Buying a wireless remote that you can hold in your hand will help.
13. Copyright/watermark your photos, especially if your children appear in them and you are posting them online.
14. Learn from your challenge. What photos do you like to take the most? What are your strengths? Are you a landscape photographer? Or are you into street photography? Or do you get excited thinking about capturing candid images of children? This challenge will help you determine the genre of photography you may want to specialize in going forward.
15. Capture the photos you want to post on your walls. Many of the photos I took last year grace my walls today and I am so glad I focused on capturing family moments I love the most. In fact I feel bad sometimes that I don't have the same amounts of cherished photos of my kids this calendar year - oh well!

Check out my full year in photos on my Facebook blog.
My first long exposure capture! My husband made a heart shape slowly using a flash light that had two light bulbs in it.