I think… I’m coming back up to the surface! *gasps and pants for air*
I’m not sure, but I think I am back.
I’m sorry for disappearing on you all like that. It’s been a busy, BUSY past 2 weeks, and I’ve been lost in work!

I’ve been hither, thither and yon within the last few weeks. (Well, not quite, but close. :P)

Just got back from Kentucky, and am processing a ton more pics. Will be posting some soon, just wanted to let you know I’m not purposefully ignoring you! ;)

Have a GREAT day ya’ll!

Okay, not going to admit that I’m an expert at this. Just showing some of my first steps with my new “baby”.
I don’t have my rechargeable batteries or my wireless triggers and receivers yet, so the things I REALLY want to shoot with flash I can’t do quite yet. :P
Should arrive early this week. (YAY!)

Anyway, today I was testing out my new Macro Filters!

Macro Filters
(My new Macro filters!)

I walked around the house testing my new babies on just about anything that caught my eye with a “OoOoo! I should capture that!” (Only other photogs would know what I mean. I’m not crazy, I promise, it’s normal.)
I found this gorgeous little baby and put her in front of the window to catch the late-evening sunlight through her petals.

(SOOC – Exposure: 1/100th, Aperture: f/2.8, Focal: 35mm, ISO: 200)

One serious problem with this, the background lighting is pretty, and it lights up the back of the petals well, but the front of the flower is too dark.
Well what do you know?! I did just get a new flash you know! :D

I grabbed my new “baby” (LumoPro LP160) and mounted it onto my camera. I cranked it down to the lowest setting 1/64th, angled it to about a 60-degree angle and bounced the light off the white window frame.

(SOOC – Exposure: 1/100th, Aperture: f/2.8, Focal: 35mm, ISO: 200)
I didn’t change any settings to just test it.
It’s too bright here. Way too bright. I start playing with the settings, I bring up the aperture quite a bit (to bring out farther detail in the flower) and the exposure (to make it ever so slightly darker).

It brings out this image.

(SOOC – Exposure: 1/125, Aperture: f/3.5, Focal: 35 mm, ISO: 200)
This is a lot closer to what I had wanted in the first place. A very soft brightened flower, and a lighter background. Blowing nothing out and soft lighting all around.

I threw it into Lightroom and brought out the colors a bit, fixed the white balance to a warmer tone, and lightened the exposure just a smidgen. ;)

To a full image of…

Anyway, the whole reason of my putting that up is… “A quick pop truly does wonders” :)
I’m encouraged a bit, will be shooting a lot more with the flash as soon as I get my trigger and receiver! :D OCF all the way! It’s the beginning of my whole journey as a strobist! :)

Blessings all!

Northern Indiana, where I live, is such a beautifully historic area. Just about everywhere you go you find buildings, houses, and figures that have History just bubbling out of them!

The Ruthmere Mansion in Elkhart Indiana is no exception to that.
Ruthmere Gate
(Front Gate from the outside looking up to the house)

I shot a wedding at the Ruthmere with a friend a while back, and was absolutely floored at how gorgeous this place was. They keep the outside in pristine shape, and everywhere you look takes your breath away with yet another lovely picturesque view.

Front Gate
(Front-Side gate from inside the grounds)

Sadly we were not able to capture any pictures inside, they do not allow photography of the inside of the mansion, but you can view some of it here – http://www.ruthmere.org/

(One side of the Mansion and part of the porch)

If you’re wanting a gorgeous place to have your wedding, or a party in the Elkhart area… I’d highly recommend this gorgeous place!
They are very reasonably priced, the staff is amazingly friendly, and the view is incomparable!

(Front porch patio)

Just a quick disclaimer:
I’m not associated or affiliated with them in any way. However, I wouldn’t mind doing another wedding there. ;) *hinthint*

Even if you’re just in the Elkhart area from April through December, go for a tour! The place is just too beautiful to pass up! :)

Enjoy the pics!

Today’s Frivolous Fact Friday is on… Flowers!!!

I am a royal sucker for flowers. Truly, I am.
There’s dozens and dozens of different kinds of flowers, and to be honest I pretty much like them all!
Lilies, Daisies, Lilacs, Forsythia, Irises, Chrysanthemums, Asters, Roses, Tulips, Orchids, Peonies, Carnations, Forget-me-nots, Mums, Marigolds, Freesia, Gerbera… I could go on forever. ;)

(Table setting at Liz and Phil’s wedding – September 2010)

(Wild Purple Thistle)

(Resurrection Lily – From my back yard!)

(The Bouquet from Melissa and Tim’s wedding -October 2010)

(White daisies from my local park in the gorgeous autumn sunset light)

(Table setting at Liz and Phil’s wedding reception – September 2010)

(Bolero Bee Marigold from my back garden)

(Small daisy with leaves and a tree branch)

(Poinsettia growing in Sunny California)

(Bouquet from Chris and Elbia’s wedding – October 2010)

(Red Rose on the snow -That my father bought for my mum for their anniversary)

(Red Rose and snow – That my father bought for my mum for their anniversary)

*sighs happily* Whenever I see a gorgeous flower, I can’t help but take pictures of it!
As it’s March 4th, and I’m watching our ground slowly thaw out, I am hoping (and praying) that my Spring flowers come soon! :))

Some quick tips for shooting flowers for any photographer!

-Shoot from a new angle. Everyone shoots flowers down, but try shooting up or to the side, or at a strange angle. Walk around the flower to capture some better views.

(Most people shoot flowers from the top, I captured these Magnolias from the bottom. To me, it made the image more dramatic. The dark colors of the branches contrasted well with the light and bright flowers)

- Don’t shoot in direct sunlight!!! Direct sunlight is harsh and casts harsh shadows on your flower, you want delicate soft light. Shadows, and diffused light work best! If you can do nothing else take a white sheet and have someone hold it in front of the sunlight to diffuse your own lighting.

(I had to hold the sheet over my subject to capture this image, the bright sun just washed everything out. This way I had beautiful diffused light at high noon.)

- On some occasions you can use the high bright light to shoot through a softer flower’s petals to bring out a glowing effect. Just a side note: You’ll want to be careful with this, don’t shoot into the light you could harm your camera equipment and/or harm your eye sight if you don’t do this properly.

(Shooting through the flowers brought out the beauty of these bleeding hearts. The lightflares don’t harm the look of the image either. ;) :P)

-A lesson I learned from Scott Kelby’s “The Digital Photography Book”, is you don’t have to wait until it rains to get beautiful ‘rain drop’ shots. Take a cheap spray bottle, fill it with some water, and create your own rain!!!

(I had to add my own water drops to this beautiful burgundy Victorian Rose, that is original to my century-old house!)

- Shoot your flowers with same or similar colors in the background. It gives a beautiful soft feel to your pictures!

(This white cherry blossom bunch looks beautiful and natural against the white background, anything else would have been too heavy or too dark and wouldn’t have the soft look I was going for.)

- Shoot your flowers on completely contrasting background for a very dramatic picture!

(A random attempt at mimicking Stephanie Meyer’s “New Moon” book cover. ;) I found this tulip in our yard. The black background brings out the beautiful colors and details of the flowers.)

- Don’t be afraid to get up close and personal. Details of flowers are truly awe-inspiring. Don’t hesitate to get a close up and capture as much details as possible!

(The soft stigma of this purple iris was more beautiful than capturing the image as a whole)

- Flowers don’t always have to be fresh and alive. Sometimes flowers are just as pretty when they are dead or dying.

(This flower wouldn’t look as beautiful alive as it does when it’s dying. The image is more dramatic with it’s drooping stem.)

*takes a breath*
Well, that is my random thoughts on flowers and flower photography for today. :)
Now… go buy some fresh flowers and start practicing, so you can be taking pictures of flowers like a pro when Spring comes here and we’re surrounded by hundreds of flowers!

Happy Weekend everyone!
Many blessings,

(Don’t worry! Part II of “What Makes a Good Photographer Great?” will be coming shortly! I haven’t forgotten about you all.) :)

A little over a Year ago I acquired my first DSLR and thought it would be the thing to take me that leap from being a good photographer (who has a wonderful time taking pictures) to a great photographer (who can take wonderful pictures at any time).

We’d all be shooting like the pros if we had expensive equipment, right?! Anyone can be a good photographer when they have a $2500 camera hanging around their neck with a $1200 lens attached to it, right?

Oh, little did I know…
After just a short year of hard work, amazing encouragement and help from other photographers, constructive criticism, and lots of studying, I now understand what it takes to be truly great.

I’m hoping that someday soon, with even more hard work, encouragement, help and criticism from some of the most amazing photographers I know, and even more study, I hope that I too can become what it takes to be a truly great photographer.

So, what makes a good photographer great?
In my opinion it’s a combination of these factors:
It sounds simple enough, but wow, does a photographer have to be on their toes and constantly exercising their creativity in creating good images as well as capturing them.
A Skilled Eye.
It’s something you can learn and it takes a lot of training to truly be attentive to the mundane.
Every photo reflects the character of the photographer, how a picture looks says a lot about that photographer. To have truly great pictures takes good character.
- Personality.
Let’s be honest, who wants to hire a photographer for their family portraitss who is like the Walmart Studio guy? A truly good photographer has enough personality and is engaging enough to help anyone feel comfortable in front of the lens. Having your portraits done shouldn’t be as bad as going to the dentist. ;)
The great photographers are ones who are constantly investing in their skill and knowledge about their profession. One who is always growing and learning will never be disappointed in their abilities.
(Yes, it’s a word.) The willingness to deal with the unknown and work well in/with it is truly admirable in any photographer. That is when some of your best pictures will be captured.
Even the crème de la crème must be humble. It takes great courage to be humble in front of other photographers and know when to take criticism well. Humility is key in taking that step from being good to great.

No, I did not include “Thousands of Dollars Worth of Equipment”, or “Being Brave Enough to Stand in Front of an On-coming Bus” or “Amazing Business Sense”, or “Know All the Right People”, or “Work with Movie Stars!” Though all of those are fun and are sometimes helpful… they are not necessarily key to being great.

I have to admit, these are things I have learned from working with some truly great photographers.
I have been so wonderfully blessed by so many other photographers across the world who have taken the time to invest in my learning experience as a photographer.
I want to be half as much as an encouragement to someone else as they have been to me, and I also want to honor their investment in me by aspiring to be a truly great photographer.

On the road… not quite getting there, but hope to someday soon. ;)

Up next is Part II! If you’re an aspiring photographer, you probably don’t want to miss it. I will be putting up my encouragement and thoughts on what specifically do to take those first steps of becoming a great photographer!!! :D

Many blessings on each and every one of you!
Until next time,

Me in the Mirror
In Schaumberg last November for Bible Bee Nationals. Taking pics of our hotel room, and capturing myself in the ever-cliched mirror shot. ;)