Friday, July 31, 2015

11 Years Married

The kids, grandma, and I just came back two days ago from a 9 day trip to Deerfield Beach, FL. So, just watch out for pictures and a post about that in the next day or two. Or, if you are on Instagram, then I apologize for my "overgramming" the other day :P You've already seen my trip through my camera phone!

I wanted to be home before July 31st because today is our 11 year anniversary.

We met in 2001.

Got engaged in 2003.

Got married in 2004.

Were parents of two small children by 2005.

I went through many bad hair style decisions the next few years.

Finally wised up and started getting our family portraits together in 2010. I got better at styling my hair and Brian grew facial hair :)

I think, in terms of aging, Brian has gotten the better end of the deal. Then again, he has been working out in a gym or running 5 miles after work for the last 17 years. I've been staying home with kids and eating leftover macaroni and cheese and gold fish :P

I can't believe its been 11 years of marriage. We've been through so much.

Three kids.
One new house.
A brain aneurysm.

But so much has remained constant.

Brian still has the same job (17 years!).
I've been a stay at home mom this entire time.
We still eat dinner at 7:00 PM on the dot.
Cleaning Saturdays still happen every other weekend.
We eat tacos on Wednesdays.

Although it's certainly not required, it is nice to do this parenting thing with a partner.

Brian and I have a unique relationship that is hard to explain. I wouldn't call him my soul mate or best friend. But we manage to make things work anyway.

We'll be heading off to Lake Lure, NC for 24 hours away this weekend. I'm looking forward to hanging out with this guy without parenting for a bit. Okay, so I'm looking forward to sleeping in. I'm not going to lie :P

But if I had to pick someone to sleep next to for the rest of my life, I guess Brian would be a good pick :) As long as he doesn't try to steal my pillow :)

Love you, goof.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Does anyone have $2,500 I can have??

When I first became interested in photography, concert photography to be exact, I was a college student wanting good pictures of my favorite band Jump, Little Children. My dad thought giving me a DSLR would be a great graduation present. I didn't feel comfortable going digital since it had just come on the scene, so I opted for the Canon Rebel 2000 35mm film camera. Wow, typing that out makes me feel old. That camera is now 15 years old. Wasn't I just in college yesterday?

Oh well, now I know where all this gray hair is coming from.

I didn't actually get to take my new camera to many concerts. A college grad with a full time job (and a baby on the way!) doesn't get to travel through the South with the freedom of a college student.

But when that baby Jaina came? I am so glad I had a nice camera to capture her with.

I quickly learned that its not the camera, its the photographer behind it. And I sucked.

I realized I was scrapbooking several "okay" or even downright "crappy" pictures of Jaina while other scrapbookers would center their layout around one amazing picture of their little one. I was determined to learn my camera and learn some basics about photography (composition for the most part) in order to improve my photography of my daughter.

Baby Jayce came 3 years later and I loved having a baby to practice on :)

I finally upgraded to a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) when Jaina was 5 and Jayce was 2. Its funny to look on my computer now at my files. It's like our world did not exist before 2007. Or, if it did, we didn't have any digital files to document it.

I was shooting with an entry level Canon Rebel XTi and a kit lens in the beginning. It didn't take me long to outgrow that camera. I started becoming frustrated with its lack of focal points and inability to handle any kind of low light situation without grain.

Yes, its true that composition, finding light, and capturing the moment can happen on any camera. I've seen amazing shots from a disposable film camera and now on camera phones! But equipment can start to limit you in ways beyond your control.

I had an opportunity to purchase a Canon 50 D used from a friend of a friend. This was a nice upgrade and has served me well while starting my photography business. The majority of the pictures I post on my blog  come from this camera. Unless I'm lazy. Then you're getting nothing but phone shots :P

I have been wanting to upgrade my camera body for the last year. I'm looking to get a Canon 6D which is a full frame sensor camera. It also has more focus points and performs better than my Canon 50D in low light. I've also wondered for a while now if its my current camera body that is responsible for so many "soft" shots. I thought it might be my Sigma 50mm f/1.4 lens that was the problem. I tried micro adjusting to no avail. If I took a series of 10 pictures, maybe 1/2 would have tack sharp focus while the other ones would just be a little off. And it was driving me crazy. I felt like I couldn't trust my camera.

Recently, I had the opportunity to second shoot for a wedding photographer friend of mine. She uses a Canon EOS Mark iii camera body to shoot for her business. I picked it up to try it out during the wedding I was helping with and was unfamiliar with how it was set to focus. I couldn't wait to get my hands on it and learn how to use it!

Since I'm shooting another wedding tomorrow, my friend let me take the Mark iii home with me this week to practice.

And I'm in love.

Just to give you perspective, the image below was taken with the Mark iii. Same settings and position as the 50 D. Same lens (sigma 50 1.4

The 50 D:

The colors are different and the mark iii responds to light so much better. And the focus looks soft on this one.
Jocelyn became rather bored with me taking her picture so I moved on to less exciting items.

My cell phone:


A different day was better.

And if you are wondering why I have so many pictures of Jocelyn in a swing, well, let's just say it's easier to read the camera manual if the toddler is confined to one space :)

Even though both 50 D and Mark iii models have an Al Servo Mode for focusing, I can tell you that the mark iii outperforms the 50 D on tracking movement.

And that shutter response? Super fast.

Jaina is a goof. Typical teen :)

Once I figured out how to enable back button focusing, using it to "lock" my focus was simple.

Even Shaggy couldn't escape posing as my subject :)

Then I took it inside to test out its performance in low light.

Oh. My. Goodness.

These next two images would have been extremely grainy in this lighting condition. Jayce had his blinds closed and it was evening time with hardly any natural light outside.

And, the window is to their backs anyway. As you can see, Jayce is much less grainy due to the ambient light from his DSi. I could have run a program post editing to remove more of the grain from Jocelyn but I typically don't edit my own personal pics. I'm lazy.

The next day, I used some of Jocelyn's toys as subjects, too. The camera actually uses the center focus point like I told it to! This is really important when shooting eyes in portraits.

After popsicles, I took Jocelyn outside. The sun was definitely setting and it was around 8 PM during these images.

My 50 D would have had a hard time focusing on that shot above.

I told Brian to hold still and smile. This is what he gives me.

To get him back, I am now showing my internet readers all the gray hair he has in his beard :)

My 50 D has always had a hard time figuring out how to focus on Shaggy. With big patches of white and black on him, combined with the fact that he is always moving, just confuses the heck out of my camera.

Our goal was to stay outside past sunset to look for lightning bugs (that's fireflies to you northerners. Again, I'm amazed at how the mark iii handles in low natural light. You can see the bokeh behind the jar is the last little bit of sun before it goes out of sight.

I finally put down this camera by 9:00 PM. I cannot believe I could still focus and get a shot with hardly any light out at all.  Here's my attempt at a silhouette picture:

So, I'm most definitely in love. I'm going to cry hard when I have to hand this camera body back tomorrow to its rightful owner.

Which brings me to my blog title...

Anyone willing to part with $2,500? I can promise you its for a good cause!




Seriously, though, my photography goals this Fall is to upgrade my body to a 6D so I can improve the service and quality I give to my clients. I will be opening up my Fall calendar on August 1st, so if you are local and are interested in Fall Family portraits, let me know!