Thursday, January 31, 2013


This week Rebecca of Bumbles & Light and Kristi of Live and Love Outloud kick off their Nurture Photography Winter Challenge. As they have so nicely defined it, "Nurture Photography is a seasonal photo challenge series that encourages participants to capture beautiful images through tips and tutorials, inspiring weekly prompts and personal feedback – all designed to nurture one’s creative vision and technical know-how."

This week's prompt is Black/Shadows. I decided to use this prompt to challenge myself by shooting in low-light. I had recently done some reading on this very subject in an article by Megan Dill on the Clickin Moms blog. Here are a few of the main points she lists for shooting in low light:

  • Shoot at the widest aperture that makes sense for the scene.
  • My go-to lenses for low-light work indoors are my 35mm 1.4L and 50mm 1.4.  A fast lens affords much more latitude, allowing more light to hit the sensor at the widest apertures.  It’s like having a head start in a race.
  • Choose the aperture that is appropriate for the scene—do you want a shallow or large depth of field?  Let the ISO speed fall into place after choosing your aperture and shutter speed.

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    ISO 3200, f/2.0, 1/40

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ISO 3200, f/2.0, 1/40

I am not sure how I feel (techically) about the photo above. I don't think I like how her one eye is completely blacked out. I guess you could say it adds an element of drama or moodiness... but hey, it leaves room for improvement, right? 

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ISO 3200, f/2.0, 1/40

I have both a 50mm and a 35mm, however, they are both f/1.8, both relatively fast lenses, but not near as fast or have apertures as wide as a 1.4. I used my 35mm for these photos. I kept my ISO to 3200, as I didn't want to introduce a lot of graininess to the photos.  I also focused manually - it's easier to focus manually in low light, as its hard for the autofocus sensor to work in low-light conditions.  

There's definitely room for improvement, but I was relatively pleased at how they turned out for my first real shot at it. I should have used my tripod as they all aren't exactly tack sharp, but, it was broken and I was still waiting on my new one to be delivered. 

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ISO 160, f/2.2, 1/800

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In this last photo, I loved the shadows that were created by the light streaming through the railing. I caught our kitty sitting in the sun, which is quite rare this winter. She sat still enough for me to capture her and the shadows. I love how the light falls, lighting up the side of her and the other side is lost in the blackness. 

Be inspired and linkup ... or just stop by to enjoy all the beautiful winter images posted by so many talented photographers. 

Kristi and Rebecca, thanks for hosting this challenge. Hopefully this will help pull me out of this winter slump I'm in! 

I'm also linking up with Melissa at Serendipity is Sweet for Friday Photo Journal, Lisa at The Long Road to China for Favorite Photo Friday and Photo Story Friday with Cecily and Lolli. Pop on over to their sites to see what everyone was up to this week.  

Hope you all had a great week! I'm happy to be heading into another weekend!!


PS - I redid my site this week! I am so happy with the changes! I bought a template and worked with Angie of Angie Makes to customize it. She was very easy to work with and was patient with my many questions. She also has an Etsy shop. You can find it  here.
Nurture Photography - Winter 2013 Photo Challenge Friday Photo Journalthe long roadGive me your best shot at Better in BulkPhotoStory Friday

Friday, January 25, 2013

Our First Ski Trip of the Season

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(Collage template compliments of Project Alicia. You can find this freebie here.) 

A few years back, we decided to take the girls skiing. My husband and I both dislike winter very much and would be content to stay indoors until spring. We used to ski - I actually grew up skiing with my family and, my husband, he went skiing a lot through high school and college. We actually went a few times before we got married, but hadn't hit the slopes since that time. We decided it was time to introduce the girls to the sport, plus it would give us a little fun to get us through the winter.

The girls took to it quickly. We had a great time and have been skiing a few times since. Until this point, we only managed to ski once a season due to the craziness of the girls' gymnastics schedule. Since the girls changed sports this year, we are hoping to get out there more.

Sunday, we packed up our gear and drove a couple hours to a slope. We enjoyed ourselves so much! The girls even conquered their first intermediate slope! We're hoping to make it out a few more times before the season comes to an end.

More snow is on the way today. (blek.) We seem to average a couple of dry sunny days in between snow storms. The weather has been frigid here this week, we've been seeing a lot of single-digit temperatures. We are looking forward to mid-week next week where the temperatures are supposed to hit the mid 40s-50s! It will be a welcome relief.

Enjoy your weekend!


the long roadFriday Photo JournalGive me your best shot at Better in BulkPhotoStory Friday

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes

Hungry for a cupcake, but looking for something a little different than the ordinary chocolate or vanilla cupcake? Well, this Snickerdoodle Cupcake is sure to do the trick! My girls wanted some cupcakes, I, however, wanted to be a bit more adventurous in my baking. I found this recipe from Martha Stewart and let me tell you ... the cupcakes were outstanding! 

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I wasn't sure if I'd be able to make the icing fancy, but Martha gives clear, easy directions on how to do it and really, it couldn't have been any simpler. If you don't have a pastry bag, you can use a ziplock bag. Cut the corner off the bag and slip your large plain icing tip through the hole. Fill the bag 3/4 full of icing, get the air out of the bag and roll the top down tight. Then, just squeeze to create the little dome and pull up to make the little peak. Easy, peasy. 

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Just dust your cinnamon sugar on top and they're done! 

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The cupcakes were actually even better than I thought they would be. The recipe makes a lot, which is nice. We had plenty to satisfy everyone here at home and we even had some to share. The cake was moist and flavorful and the icing was the perfect addition. It's light - a mix between a meringue and a marshmallow, a little crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside. For a brief minute, I thought about using a traditional frosting, but I am so happy I did not. After tasting them, I don't feel that any other type frosting would compliment the cupcake quite as well. 

I've included the recipe below as well as a link to download it as a jpeg to your computer here. You can then print it out on cardstock, if you choose, and store it with your other favorite dessert recipes. 

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Be sure to come back and let me know if you decide to make them and how you liked them! 

I know this is Wordless Wednesday, but I always seem to have something to say. ha ha Hope your week is going well! 


Live and Love...Out LoudThe Paper Mama

Friday, January 18, 2013

Invitation Making ...

I announced several months ago that my sister is engaged! Wahoo!! (If you missed it, you can view some of the photos from their engagement session here.)  I'm so looking forward to her wedding and the time is drawing closer with every passing day. We are starting to plan her bridal shower now and I'm so excited about it! I can't give away any specifics yet - since I just mailed the invitations today - but here is a peek before they were fully assembled. 
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I'm not the craftiest person around, but I'm pretty pleased with how they turned out. I used Photoshop and some of my favorite fonts to make the invitation itself. I'm a simple girl, I like simple colors and clean lines, so its nothing too fancy.  I did add a piece of Washi tape to each one to give it a little extra pop. 

My oldest daughter has been furiously studying all week for her finals, which she is finishing today. I wasn't even the one studying and I'm glad they are over! ha ha. We are so ready for a relaxing three-day weekend. 

Enjoy your weekend!


the long roadFriday Photo JournalGive me your best shot at Better in BulkPhotoStory Friday

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Wordless Wednesday | The Past Week via Instagram


My photos are not in the order in which they occurred this week, but nonetheless, here is my week via Instagram photos.

1.  I received my second edition of Click magazine ... I was a little excited (ok, a lot excited) and settled down in front of the fire for a good read. 
2.  On the same day, my order from Black River Imaging came - my new iPhone case! It made for quite an exciting mail day!!  The photo was one of my favorites from our Christmas Card photo shoot
3.  This past summer, my husband and discovered that we love cooking together, finding new recipes and trying them out. This night we butterflied chicken breasts, breaded them and browned them in a skillet. We then topped them with a tomato/basil salsa and finished them off with some fresh mozzarella cheese. We popped them in the oven for a few minutes to melt the cheese and cook through. The verdict ... AMAZING!
4.  We finally had a day with sunshine and blue skies! 
5.  We had a few frosty mornings this past week. I captured some frost on our Cleveland Pear. 
6.  We took a road trip this weekend to my daughter's first track meet. It was very foggy and gray. She did really well for her first meet ever, by the way. We were so proud. 
7.  Took a walk to a local park. The snow was still piled up! It's taken a couple weeks to melt, but its pretty much gone as of today - just in time for the snow tonight. Blek! Two-to-three inches are on their way, says the weatherman. 
8.  Woke up Sunday morning and wished all my Insta-Friends a good morning. 
9.  Another frosty pic. On this particular morning, I decided to try out my Olloclip I got for Christmas. I used the macro lens. It's a pretty cool toy!!! 

I hope you are also having a good week!! 
Happy WW!

Live and Love...Out LoudThe Paper Mama
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