Wednesday, December 31, 2008

100th Post!!!

Wow, who would have thought when all of this began that I would have 10 posts let alone 100! So technically this is post 102 because I have a couple of extra ones that I did not expect to have yesterday! Blogging is my therapy! OK, for those of you who know me, you're thinking I need something a little more along the lines of professional help but this really does work (for me)!

My top reasons for blogging:

1. I get to vent!

2. I meet lots of great people!

3. I get to share my photos!

4. I get to be me!

5. Did I mention that I get to vent!

Now on to the fun stuff! Sadie is a clown (like Daddy) and I never know what she is going to say next. She has been saying "merry Christmas" and "happy holidays" so we thought we would work on "Happy New Year". We have said it to her many times in the hope that she would catch on quickly! So far it comes out "Happy Noodle". We will keep trying!

The picture above was again done at the lake. I just loved the shot from the point across the lake! It was so peaceful.

Happy Noodle to you and yours from me and mine!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Another Award!

Here is another award from my friend Petula at If you have not checked her out please do so, she is wonderful!

I am going to pass this on to some cool new friends:

1. Diana
2. Harriet
3. Lin
4. Jenera
5. Michelle
6. Veronica
7. Hailey
and an old friend
8. Christy

Click on the names and pay them a visit! I think you will be happy that you did!

I Won!

I cannot believe that I won a blog makeover!!! I am sooooooo excited that I cannot sit still! Harriet over at was doing this give away in conjunction with Diana at ! I cannot wait to see what AWESOME design Diana comes up with! Keep checking back for the finished product!

Tip Tuesday #1

By popular request, I am starting a new weekly post called Tip Tuesday. The purpose is to help us all become better photographers even if it's only for personal use! I hope these are helpful and if you have a question or something you would like to see covered on Tip Tuesday just submit a comment and I will do my best to help!

Tip #1

This may be a very basic tip but I feel it is the MOST important!!!! GET TO KNOW YOUR CAMERA! You don't have to take it on a date or buy it expensive wine but you do have to read the manual that comes in the box!! Don't panic if you don't know where your manual is because most manufacturers also have them available on line for you to view! All you need is your cameras make and model.

Even point and shoot cameras can be made to do some wonderful things if you just read the manual and get to know all the menus and buttons and each function. Reading the manual and then playing with the settings can teach you a lot about not only your camera but also what you prefer. You know the old saying "beauty is in the eye of the beholder", it holds true to photography also! I don't like every photograph I see, nor does everyone like my photographs and that is OK!

The photographs today were all taken with my sons new Nikon Coolpix (a point and shoot) during the Christmas day shoot at the lake! I am sharing these with you so you know that a good point and shoot can do what you want it to do! The top one is what my son calls a "My Space" self portrait and yes I have a new, funky doo! The second photo is me taking a photo of Zach while he takes a photo of me! Just another fun shot! Third, are bubbles trapped under the ice and the final shot is the tree tops from the ground! No really, I was laying on the ground but that is a tip for another day.

My charge to you is to get out and take lots of photos with your new found knowledge of your camera! By the way, in case you are wondering where Sadie was in all this photo fun, she was in the house, by the fire with Daddy!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Manic Monday

Why is it that Monday is always a crazy day? Isn't it just another day? Do we get so used to the relaxed pace of the weekend (ha ha) that Monday sneaks up on us? Monday is the day that I use to catch up on everything that I should have done over the weekend but was too lazy to do! I'm just being honest because I know how I am!

The pictures above are more of my Christmas day shoot at the lake! The top photo is ice near the shallow end of the cove where the top layer is frozen leaving the bubbles trapped underneath. The bottom photo is the beach where the waves have frozen as they came to shore leaving this tiered look and the color variation between the sand and water. I thought both were pretty cool!

And now on to an award that I would like to hand out to some blogger sisters. You can click on their names to pay a visit the their wonderful sites.


3. Lin

Thanks to you all for being my friend and sister blogger! Thanks Diana for making such a cool award!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Tips, Tricks, Books & Software

People are always asking what books I am reading that deal with photography and what software to use for personal photo editing so that is what I will deal with today. Please note that these are just recommendations of what I find useful but there are literally tons of books and platforms out there that are just as good, if not better.

Here we go! The books that I am currently studying are as follows:

1. The Digital Photography Book Volume 1 & 2 by Scott Kelby. I like his books because he talks to you as if you are right there shooting with him! He gives great formulas that the pros use to get the perfect shot and he is not overly technical in his presentation of the material! I also like Scott Kelby because he is a photographer who has been there in the trenches trying to get that perfect shot and he is honest in his approach to writing about his passion.

2. Understanding Exposure: How To Shoot Great Photographs with a Film or Digital Camera by Bryan Peterson. This book is a bit more technical and difficult to read but is a great companion book to the two Kelby books mentioned above. This book is a bit dry in the presentation but is great to help understand all the technical terminology involved with exposure. Like Kelby, Peterson is a seasoned photographer who really knows his stuff.

There are wonderful, full color photos in all three books that help to illustrate the points being made. If you were to run out and buy these three books today you would shell out about $75! Trust me when I say this is a good investment for anyone who wants to better understand photography. These books are a big thumbs up!

As for photo editing software, this is an area where you need to weigh the cost to what your intention is for the end product. All I'm saying is: are you going to sell your photography or are you just wanting to spruce things up for your own personal use?

1. Adobe Photoshop CS3 from $75

2. CS 4 $699. If you have a previous version the upgrade is only $199.

These first two are designed for the serious designer or photographer who is most like going to make money using the software. There are a couple of other options that give you all the creative control you want for your personal photos without the big price tag and they both come with some serious bells and whistles.

3. Photoshop Elements 7 $139.

4. Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo $79.99.

I started out with the Corel Paint Shop Pro because it gave me the creative control I needed to crop, color correct, re size, add text and so much more that I desired. The program is so easy to use. I downloaded the free trial just to see what it was all about and was pleasantly surprised at the ease and the actions that it offered. In my opinion it is comparable to Photoshop Elements. I recommend downloading the free trials and check out the software to make sure it will do what you need or want it to do. You also need to weigh to cost. I started small and as I have made more money with my photography, I upgraded. Only you know what you need so you decide.

Now for the photos above. The top photo looks like tar but is actually ice on the lake. The angle of the camera and the position of the sun gave it the black coloring. Photo number two is another shot of the frozen lake. This shot was taken in a cove where there was less wind so the ice had a much smoother appearance. Sorry for all the icy shots but this is the time of year for that kind of photography. I am waiting for a good snow or spring which ever gets her first for something different. I am actually keeping an eye on the sky today because we have a warm front colliding with a cold front that is bringing some ominous weather our way and maybe a good shot or two provided I don't get blown away! I guess that would give a whole new meaning to "Gone With The Wind", which incidentally, is one of my favorite movies of all time.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Learning Everyday!

I have decided that 2009 will be the year of learning for me! I am studying photography instead of just shooting it with no real purpose other than making money doing portraits! I have researched and bought several good books on everything from exposure to equipment and I have to say that I am learning a lot already.

So in addition to the "I'm going to get in shape" New Years resolution I want to make it known (to be held accountable) that I am going to take the time to learn the art that I am so passionate about! I want to know everything there is about taking the perfect picture from still life to you name it! My goal is to post a new picture each day and tell you a little about the shot. I hope it works and I do not fall flat on my face!

I will still be intermingling the photos with stories of the family and pictures of them in keeping with my goals! I think that my goals are reasonable and I will be able to accomplish quite a bit on this journey and perhaps learn a thing or two about myself along the road.

The top two photos were taken on Christmas day at a lake house belonging to our friends, Bill and Ruth! The lake was frozen so I walked around looking for cool shots to take and found these leaves, they are titled, appropriately, Frozen in Time 1 & 2. I just loved the way all of the leaves, but one, were frozen just under the surface of the ice and the one lone leaf is just laying there as if waiting for a thaw so it can rejoin the rest of the leaves in the lake.

The bottom photo is just a silly self-portrait of how my family sees me most of the time! I am either taking photos, editing photos, reading about photos or planning the next cool shot that I am dying to capture. I am consumed by this passion and happily so! Right now I am working on my sister-in-laws wedding photos that needed to be corrected in order to be usable. Unfortunately for her, the photographer was not very good and as a result her photos looked like someone used a point and shoot to take them! Now, don't going saying that I am knocking point and shoot cameras because I am not! In fact we own two in this house! All I am saying is you get what you pay for, just remember this the next time you need to hire a photographer!

Sorry, I did not mean to go off on a tirade about bad photographers! I just get upset when someone who does not know what they are doing gets paid to do it wrong! Enjoy the photos and please let me know what you think!

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Perfect End to the Perfect Day!

Yesterday was wonderful! We opened presents in the morning with the kids and, while they did not have a ton of gifts to open, both were very happy with what they received. Sadie got her kitchen complete with pots, pans, dishes and food, a digital camera and some wooden puzzels. Zach got a three story cage for his rats, pajama pants, ear phones for the computer and a Nikon Coolpix digital camera!

After opening presents we went to visit our friends for lunch. It was a nice meal with great friends! They live on the lake so following lunch I made my way outside with the camera in search of the "next great shot" and was pleased to find many shots that would make the cut. The lake was frozen so there are plenty of cool ice shots that you will get to see in the near future but the photos I chose for today were taken at the end of the day after we were already home!

I was uploading the days nature shots when I looked out of one of the windows next to the fireplace and was amazed to see the most beautiful sky. I rushed out with my camera and my breath was instantly taken away by the beauty that met my eye! They sky was the perfect ending to a perfect day and I could not help but be thankful for all the blessings in my life!

I hope you enjoy the photos! Please visit again and I will share some other amazing shots that I captured today!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Blog Award for Me.

My friend Harriet just gave me this award! I feel blessed because I have met so many wonderful people. Thanks Harriet, you rock!

Merry Christmas!

Just thought I would share some random winter and ice scenes from this past Tuesday's storm that passed through Illinois!

May you all have a very Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas to all!

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Butter Knife vs. Cordless Drill

This is a sad, but true, story that began 15 years ago today. It was Christmas Eve 1993 and Zachery was all snug in his bed dreaming of the wonderful toys that Santa would bring him. Spencer and I were attempting to put his Fisher Price Mountain Trike together at approximately 10 PM only to realize that we did not have one screw driver in the house!! We searched high and low but in those early years Spencer had no tools of his own, at our new house, and at that late hour we could not call anyone to borrow one so we did the next best thing.........used a butter knife. It took about 1 1/2 hours to put the trike together! We still laugh about it today!

Fast forward to Christmas Eve 2008 where you find Spencer putting together Sadie's new kitchen, well ahead of schedule and using a cordless drill instead of a butter knife! His tool collection has come along way in 15 years! In fact, he has a garage full of tools that would make any man drool with envy!

Isn't it funny the things that we remember! These will be fun memories that we will be able to share with the kids when they are older and have kids of their own! I can't wait to see what new adventures the new year holds!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Blog Awards are Fun!

My blog pal Petula was given awards which she so graciously passed on to several of her top commentors! I think it is so cool that we can boost each others confidence and spirits at this time of year! Merry Christmas to all!

And The Greatest of These is Love......

Today I just needed to step back and remember why we celebrate this season, especially Thursday! I have been so wrapped up in the lack of money and now the new issues with Spencer and getting lawyers involved who know how to help the situation which leads back to a lack of money! Life can be a vicious circle and the cycle can be tough to break on our own but there is ONE who can break it for us if we trust Him.

This is the one time of year that I have a love-hate relationship with. I have loved it since I was a kid because Mom always made sure Christmas was the best time of year with lots of food, family, friends and presents under the tree. I hate this time of year because my Mom is no longer here to make it perfect and with no parents of my own, I feel like an orphan who has no place to spend the holidays. I love this time of year because of the wonder of my own kids but I hate that everything is so commercial.

I could go on but that is not the point of what I am trying to say! What I mean to say is, step back, take a look and remember that Christmas is not about who can bake the most, buy the most or get the most! It is about our Heavenly Father who loved us so much that He sent His only Son to be our PERFECT gift! Remember this as you spend time with your family and friends this season!

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Sleeping Angel & The Angry Angel

Yesterday was our Christmas program at church. I sang and Sadie was an angel, she was not happy about being there! The day started out great! When she got up I asked her if she wanted to be an angel at church and her reply was "Yes, I want to bite an angel." I gently reminded her that there is a difference between "be" and "bite" but we got a big kick out of that all day.

Yesterday was also the coldest day of the year and the first day of winter and we were travelling between houses for Christmas. Brrrrrrrrrr. I hate to be cold! Anyway it was fun and when we got home all I could think about was posting new pics from the program so I guess that is the purpose of this post!

The baby in most of the photos is Jonathon (1 month, 1 day) and he played the Baby Jesus for both services and never made a peep! He was a complete angel! Unlike my angry angel! I hope you enjoy the photos! I have to tell you that I am totally in love with these pictures and I really think that they are my favorite to date! There is just something about the innocence of this little being that captured my heart and I know he will capture yours also!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sadie and Santa.

Waiting to see Santa.
Hello? Santa? Can you hear me now?

Well we made the trek to the mall to see the big man in red. It was a crazy scene! Keep in mind that I don't consider our mall a real mall because there are very few stores. The only time this place is busy is during the holiday season when all the vendors set up in the center of the mall to peddle their wares.

We left the house at 1:30 because Santa was supposed to be there at 2:00. When we got there we were fourth or fifth in line and, of course, the photographer was late. Finally, it was our turn and all Sadie could think about was the candy cane she would get when she was done. Not mention the fact that she would not put the Ipod or the cell phone down long enough for me to get a good picture but at least she wasn't screaming.

The other issue is that she that she filled her pants right before her it was her turn to sit on his lap and there was NO way I was getting out of line because it was now half a mile long! I couldn't smell her but Spencer could so I am not sure if Santa could smell her or not! He never let on that he smelled her so right after she was done we made our way to the bathroom to change her and finish our walk around the "mall".

Spencer was ready to go since he has not been in the best of moods since the whole IRR call back to active duty came the other day! In fact, he has been so depressed that he cries every time he looks at Sadie and it is heartbreaking.

Today is our busy day because we have our Christmas program at church. I am singing and Sadie is going to be an angel in the program. Immediately following church we are off to Spencer's Dad's house for Christmas and then to Spencer's Mom later in the afternoon. By the time we get home we will all exhausted.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sadie's New Do!

Yesterday was Sadie's very first haircut and I really did not know what to expect. I scheduled her appointment right after mine so she could watch the process! She has been to the beauty shop with me a million times so this was nothing new for her and she knows all the stylists so it was not a big traumatic event!

She did great sitting on the booster seat all by herself, holding a clip and looking at her reflection in the mirror which, incidentally, is how I was able to get the majority of the shots of her. Amber didn't take off too much, just enough to get rid of the frizzies in the back and clean it up a little! We save the hair in an envelope to put in her baby book! What little hair there was anyway.

When she was all done, Amber gave her a coupon for a free ice cream cone at the DQ next door so she was pretty happy about that.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Photographer Faux Pas

In the past couple of days I have talked to several people who have made some small, but critical, mistakes when hiring a photographer and I hope to give some pointers that may keep you out of the same situation.

First a little background (without naming names): I get an email telling me that a friend had paid $3500 to a photography company (mistake number 1) to do her daughter's engagement and wedding photos and they paid the entire amount upfront! Mistake number two. Usually a photographer will require a nonrefundable deposit with the rest to be paid before the big day. So the company sent a photographer to take the engagement photos and bad mouthed the company she worked for throughout the shoot and worse yet, the bride to be had a stray strand of hair that the girl did not even bother to tell her about! They are horribly disappointed by the photos and upset that the company is going to do the wedding photos (or are they).

Here are some pointers that I would give this family! All is not lost! Call the company explain what happened during the shoot and how you would not recommend their company to anyone. They may offer a re shoot or a partial refund. In this case, remember that the squeaky wheel gets the grease! Bother them a million times a day if you need to! I would also recommend that the contract be looked over to see what you would lose is you tried to cancel the remaining contract because chances are it is not that much! I would also request a portfolio from each of the staff photographers and request the one that you want for the big day.

Case number two: I get a call from a family member who recently got married and got the CD of photos back from the photographer only to find out that they are not good. The lighting was bad, the positioning of people was bad and there was no color correction done so out of 60 some photos only about 8 are decent. Notice I said decent, not good. In this case there is no redo but I would still call and complain because maybe she can at least get a partial refund.

Here is what you can do to avoid these kinds of problems:

1. Research, research, research. I cannot emphasize enough that you need to look at the photographers work and history before decide to use his or her services.

2. Hire a PERSON not a COMPANY. There is a huge difference! With a company you get a staff photographer who is just there for the paycheck but when you hire a person who owns their own business, their name and reputation are on the line and they will do whatever is takes to do the best job possible.

3. If you have a situation like one of the ones above do not hesitate to complain! You are the client and you have a right to be happy with your purchase. These special days are once in a lifetime moments that cannot be recaptured at a later date and if you do not get what you think you are getting at least ask for a partial refund!
I hope this helps!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Future Photographer!

Sunday, during Zach's concert, Sadie decided that she was going to get Grandma's camera out of her purse and attempt to take some pictures of her big brother! It was so cute that I had to capture the moment! Grandma helped her get some good shots, but when Grandma decided to take the camera away, my little angel threw a temper tantrum that would rival any two year old's!

Perhaps she is going to be a photographer like Mommy! She watches me very closely so she "knows" what to do! I am thinking that for her birthday in February, we will get her the Fisher-Price digital camera for kids! I can't wait to see what she can do with a camera!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Love of A Father for His Son!

I am posting this because it is way to powerful not to share with you all! This video shows just how much a father can love his son. In this case he loved him enough to say yes when asked if he would run the Ironman with his son! I am warning you right now to have a box of tissues ready because you are going to need it!

The following post came from Jo at Check out her blog it is wonderful and uplifting!

A son asked his father, 'Dad, will you take part in a marathon with me?'

The father who, despite having a heart condition, says 'Yes'. They went on to complete the marathon together.

Father and son went on to join other marathons, the father always saying 'Yes' to his son's request of going through the race together.

One day, the son asked his father, 'Dad, let's join the Ironman together.' To which, his father said 'Yes' to.

For those who don't know, Ironman is the toughest triathlon ever. The race encompasses three endurance events of a 2.4 mile (3.86 kilometer) ocean swim, followed by a 112 mile (180.2 kilometer) bike ride, and ending with a 26.2 mile (42.195 kilometer) marathon along the coast of the Big Island Father and son went on to complete the race together.

Goodbye Old Friend.

Have you ever had a friend so loyal that when it was their time to go it hurt your very soul to let them go? Duke was that kind of friend! He was always there no matter what time it was, ready with a wagging tail and a big wet kiss! He never questioned your motive and he never judged! His big brown eyes were so full of love for his family and friends.

By any standard, Duke was a mutt! He didn't care! He was loved and cared for and that is all that really mattered to him! The photo above is Duke with one of his favorite boys, my son, Zach (age 4). When they were together, they were the terrible two! I swear they could talk to each other and actually understand what the other was trying to communicate! They played ball, wrestled on the floor, snuggled on the couch and even played in the snow together!

The way I am going on about Duke would make you think that he was my dog (I wish) but he was my friend Maggie's dog. She got him when he was puppy and nursed him back from the brink when he had parvo. She trained him to be a a GREAT dog! Duke was the kind of dog that everyone hopes to have! Really, I am not kidding, he was perfect. Everyone loved Duke and wanted to steal him!

We lost Duke on Saturday. He was almost 17 years (human) old and had been in declining health for some time now. Maggie had even talked of putting him down after the holidays but Duke went in his own time!

Rest in peace my friend! You will be missed by all who had the pleasure to meet you! There will never be another you!


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