Wednesday, August 31, 2011

photography 101

I've had a couple of people ask me in the past to give them a few general tips about photography with a DSLR, so I decided to share a few things today.  I am by NO MEANS a professional photographer - I am very, very amateur.  I've never taken any classes, didn't study it in college, etc.  So please understand that alot of this is like a foreign language to me too!  I've learned most of what I know from reading tutorials on the internet, reading other blogs, talking to other photographers and just playing around with my camera.  I quickly found that photography is something I really love.  I started a little photography business on the side (it's barely a business - more like a hobby) and really enjoy taking people's pictures. I still have tons to learn, but I thought I'd share a few tips I've picked up because I'm always dying for people to share tips with me!

I was asked today about ISO settings.  I do not know all the fancy photography lingo and I'm not going to pretend I do.  So I'm going to talk to you in basic terms (because that's what I know -ha!). 

I typically (not all the time) shoot with my ISO in the automatic setting. The reason for this is because I typically take 900-1200 photos in one session and don't want to forget to change the setting between shots because I am go, go, go.  The camera does pretty good for adjusting from indoor to outdoor, etc.

Shooting with a high ISO is best for really low lighting situations (blowing out candles on a cake with dim lights is a good example).  This is because the higher the ISO the more sensitive to light the camera will be - hence being able to pick up more light in a really low-lit situation. (Of course, all this is assuming you do NOT use the pop-up flash that comes with the camera. I never use the flash on the camera because it is so harsh and unnatural.)

Keep in mind that the higher the ISO the more grainy the photo will look. Grainy = noise (lots of noticeable, tiny pixels). Although your photo will have more noise it will not have the blurry, shaken look. 

When shooting in low lighting situations, your shutter speed will slow down.  Unless using a tripod, the slightest movement when taking photos causes severe blurry-ness.  This is why increasing ISO in these situations will help.
Here are some examples of photos with noise versus photos with minimal noise to show you the difference.

Notice the grainy quality to this photo (you might have to click on it to see better).
I utilized the noise reduction tool in Photoshop for the photo below. Much smoother, less grainy.

Another example. The first photo has lots of noise (especially the cheek and neck) - you may not notice by just looking at it, but when printed in large sizes it will definitely be noticeable. You can also click on the photo to zoom in a little and you will see it better.
The photo below is after noise reduction.  

So that was my quick run-through of ISO. Very brief. If you have any questions, leave me a comment and I'll answer to the best of my knowledge!  Happy shooting!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

my favorite posts

My friend Sarah Denley tagged me for this fun little link-up! Here are the rules:

1) Blogger is nominated to take part

2) Blogger publishes his/her 7 links on his/her blog – 1 link for each category

– Your most beautiful post

– Your most popular post

– Your most controversial post

– Your most helpful post

– A post whose success surprised you

– A post you feel didn’t get the attention it deserved

– The post that you are most proud of

3) Blogger nominates up to 5 more bloggers to take part.

4) These bloggers publish their 7 links and nominate another 5 more bloggers

5) And so it goes on!

I feel funny saying any of my posts are beautiful but I do find the letter to my husband to be the most sentimental.

My most popular post was the show-us-your-life tour of my living room. Link-ups to Kelly's blog always get more visitors because her site is so popular - I love her blog!

I don't write controversial posts on my blog. That's not to say I'm not opinionated on political/cultural issues (my friends would LAUGH at that statement...I'm very outspoken IRL) but I just choose not to talk about those things on my blog. Given that, I guest this post about Caylee Anthony would be a sorta, kinda, controversial post?

My most helpful post is probably this one. It was written over a year and a half ago, when we were still newlyweds :)

I was surprised by the success of this post (christmas tour of my home). This was another link-up to the nester which is probably why it got more visits. I understand because I love reading decorating blogs (especially before-and-after pictures!).

This is a post I feel didn't get the attention it deserved (just because I love Mississippi so much -ha!).

This post isn't groundbreaking by any means, but I'm proud of it because it is really thorough and I took the time to write the whole thing out!

Yay! That was super fun and got me out of my blogging funk! Thanks for tagging me Sarah Denley! I want to tag:

Monday, August 15, 2011

chicken carbonara

I've been on a little cooking kick lately, and we had this last week and it was SO good! I got this recipe from my dad - he used to cook it all the time when I was growing up. It's super easy!

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 green bell pepper (diced)
  • 8 oz thin spaghetti
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • half package turkey bacon (cooked and crumbled)
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • thyme leaves (to taste)
  • parsley (to taste)
  • salt & pepper
Slice chicken breasts into 1/2 inch strips. Boil water and begin cooking spaghetti. Cook chicken and green bell pepper in skillet for 8-10 minutes (stirring frequently).  To chicken in skillet add cream, parmesan, bacon bits, thyme, salt & pepper. Reduce heat to low. Cook 1-2 minutes until heated through. Remove from heat and pour chicken mixture over spaghetti in saucepan, toss. Sprinkle with parmesan and enjoy!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Danny and I participate in a young adult life group with some of our close friends.  We meet on Sunday evenings and we rotate between each other's houses. There are probably 8 couples that participate - so around 16 people each week. We always have small appetizers, etc, and we mingle for 15-20 minutes before we start our study. We are currently working our way through Rob Bell's nooma series.

Trying to put into words how this group has changed me is nearly impossible. God used this life group and Rob Bell to bring me back to Him, to refocus my life on Him.
There have been so many Sundays over the last few months where I felt the message was intended specifically for me.  On the way to one life group session, Danny and I were talking in the car about the past. We were talking about how much fun it was in our early twenties, while we were dating, and how care-free our lives were. We talked about how he misses Costa Rica and his family.

When we arrived to lifegroup ten minutes later, we noticed the lesson for that night was titled "Today: how much time and energy do we spend wishing things were how they used to be?"........I was shocked.  Literally, we were both speechless. We were just talking about this in the car, and it was weighing on both our souls!  God is so perfect - He know exactly what we need and when we need it.

Here is the message from that night:

How much time and energy do we spend wishing things were how they used to be? We often think about times in our past when things were different and want our lives to be like that again. Some of us have even come to believe that our best days may actually be behind us. But if we're in some way hung up on the past, what does that mean for our lives now? How are we and those around us affected if we're not fully present? If we're longing for the way things used to be, what does that really say about our understanding and appreciation of our lives today? Maybe we need to learn to embrace our past for what it is, in order to live our lives to the fullest, right here, right now.

That was three weeks ago, and it really changed things alot for me.  I appreciate Danny SO much more.  I'm so thankful for our lives together and everything our He has given us.  I love Danny so much and never want to spend one second without him.  And I never want to yearn for the past or dwell on it, but remember it fondly and move forward.  I need to really be present and live each day to the fullest.

So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. -Psalm 90:12

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

meals this week

Danny started a new job this week, we finally bought him a car, and it just felt like we've been starting several new things lately. On the same note, I wanted to make it a point to cook at home every night this week (something we rarely do anymore).
I have to be intentional about it - as in go to the grocery store on Sunday and stock up. We don't have ingredients lying around the house so we can't just throw something together. Before we went to the store yesterday, all our refridgerator had in it was ketchup. Sunday night started the week off with grilling burgers. Danny uses Tony's seasoning on almost everything he grills.
I looove grilling out during the summer!
Danny prepared the burgers for the grill with Worscheshire, garlic and onion.
We baked some fries in the oven...
....and had a yummy meal in less than 30 minutes!
On Monday night we made homemade pizza! Pizza is literally my favorite food - I LOVE it! Last night I cooked jambalaya casserole.
 I got the recipe online and it was delicious, but took me an hour to prepare everything (I'm so slow at chopping), then 45 minutes in the oven. But it was so worth it! Here is the recipe:

Jambalaya Casserole

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 celery ribs, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, diced and cooked
  • 1 link fully cooked turkey sausage, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 3 cups uncooked long grain rice
  • 1 can Rotel, drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a large skillet, saute the onions, green peppers, celery and garlic in EVOO until crisp-tender. Remove veggies and place in a very large bowl. Cook sausage in same skillet. Transfer sausage to bowl and stir in the remaining ingredients.
  2. Transfer to greased baking dish. Cover and bake at 375 for 45-50 minutes or until rice is tender, stirring twice. Delicious! You will have plenty of food - lots of leftovers!