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My Photography Gear

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I’ve done a LOT of purchasing, experimenting, selling, and swapping my gear out since I really started to get serious about photography a few years ago. A huge piece of getting the right gear is figuring how and what you like to shoot. For me, I photograph families, my own included, and a few interior stills here and there. (I’m also a Canon girl from the start, so I’m sorry, I can’t answer many questions about Nikon or other brands!)

Here’s the rundown of my camera gear:

Canon 6D // My very first “real” camera was a Canon Rebel with kit lens (my model is no longer available, but the equivalent is here) and it’s a wonderful camera with which to begin. If you’re just starting out, this dSLR is plenty powerful as you learn the ins and outs of shooting in manual mode. The 6D, my current body, is a full-frame camera (as opposed to the Rebel which has a cropped sensor), which means the sensor is larger and able to “gather” more information from an image. For example, it performs better in lower light (wonderful for me, as I love to shoot without flash when possible). In my mind, the “ultimate” that I’ve never quite been able to justify is the MarkIV, whose most noticeable difference is the ability to shoot images onto two SD cards simultaneously. For photographers who shoot “unrepeatable” events (births, weddings, things you can’t recreate later), this dual-slot feature is a must-have, in the awful instance an SD card malfunctions, the images are backed up on a second card. There are of course other bells, whistles, and improvements in performance, but I’ve found for what I shoot, the 6D is the perfect “mother size” bowl of porridge.

85mm lens // I began with various zoom lenses and quickly learned I’m a prime lens girl. Prime lenses have a fixed focal length, meaning you can’t zoom in and out — you use your feet to get closer or farther away from your subject.  It’s a personal preference and prime doesn’t always fit every need, but they are tack sharp lenses and let in more light (always the ultimate goal!). I LOVE my 85mm for portraits — it creates beautiful background blur and a comfortable shooting distance (not TOO in baby’s face, but not so far away I’m yelling directions at people).

(Honorable mention: the uber-popular “nifty fifty” (50mm) is a FANTASTIC, budget-friendly prime lens with which to start. It’s also nice and compact, ideal for travel. Newborn cutie, above, was shot with this lens!)

28mm lens // This is the best lens for capturing a wide scene (like this family and the cityscape) and it’s ideal for when I need to shoot a group of people in tight spaces. I also think it’s fun for the whimsy of slightly distorted close-ups of children (not as flattering on adults, FYI!). This lens is also great for interior shots, although some prefer to go even wider, I don’t personally care for the shots of interiors that are SO distorted they feel fake and every wall is curved like a fun house. Must-have lens in my book.

200mm lens // I use this the least, but I’m still so glad to have it when I do. I envision using it even more now that Crew is getting into sports and activities where I can’t be quite so close but still want to capture detail. (In the shot above, Page was at the bottom of a pretty big hill, several yards away.) It captures beautiful, crisp detail, and in part because of the length, creates gorgeous background blur. My first telephoto (long) lens was HEAVY and HUGE. I like that I can be more discreet in a crowd, but still photograph from a reasonable distance, with this one.

430 speedlite // Gorgeous light just isn’t always available. I rarely use flash, but this one has been working for me from the beginning. It’s nice to have just in case a room is less well lit than I hoped when I show up to an in-home session, and the ability to bounce the light in other directions (aka NOT right at your subject — hello, deer in headlights!) allows for more flattering final images. (Budget note: If you don’t think you will use flash all that much, I’ve heard from several photogs that they have been very pleased with cheaper, off-brand alternatives like this one.)

Gary Fong diffuser // I’ve had this on my list for a while and after seeing a photographer bust his out recently at an event I attended, I asked for it for Christmas. I had to know if it was all it was cracked up to be as a complement to my speedlite — and it totally is, as I used it on the above interior shot on a VERY gloomy day. To me — it’s a nonnegotiable now, and I love that the images don’t scream “I used my flash in this one!!”. If you’re going to buy a flash, don’t buy it without this counterpart.

wireless remote // A must if you want to get IN some pictures! You can set the timer all you want, but sometimes it’s nice to just know exactly when that camera is clicking. You can easily hold this discreetly in your hand while cuddling up to your favorites and snap away. (Tip: posing yourself without showing the remote takes a little practice — but it’s small, and in the above shot, it’s hidden in my left hand.)

Other Notes:

Camera bag — I don’t have one! I’m that risk-taker who throws a spare lens into the pocket of my vest and goes — for now. (I HAVE tried and discarded a couple options so far. If you have suggestions, please send them my way!)

Editing — I shoot in RAW and edit in Photoshop ACR (although Lightroom is another great option).

Online storage / Business website — For my rather simple needs (ClickSmith is a small part-time gig for me), Zenfolio has been my vendor of choice.

Photography Classes — Online, I loved the 101 and 102 courses at Shoot FLY Shoot when I was first getting started. If you’re in the Des Moines area, I HIGHLY recommend ALL of the classes at Christian Photo in Urbandale.

ETA: Crew does not yet have his own camera (the one pictured came in a happy meal!) — but I’m looking seriously at this one to get him started!

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Our Oversized Modern Floor Mirror

Excuse any gushing that follows (mirror or man related!) but I had no idea how handy the guy I married ten years ago would turn out to be — and more recently, he’s evolved from handy to downright artist.

I mentioned to Page before the holidays that while we were making a few little decor updates in our master, I would love to get rid of the awkward jewelry armoire that stood right inside our bedroom door, and swap it for something more low-profile in the floor space — specifically, a giant floor length mirror.

I had pinned a few inspiration mirrors (West Elm and others), but nothing was quite right. I knew I wanted the clean modern lines, but not too minimal — I still wanted some “chunkiness” and it needed to be large in scale with our high ceilings and not be totally dwarfed by the extra-tall wardrobes on the opposite wall.

This guy can read me like a book. He took my inspo pins, and concocted a design all his own. He even chose the wood — maple — to tie in some of the lighter tones I’ve been using in this room in the form of baskets and jute bins.

I didn’t know or see ANYTHINGΒ until it was 95% done!

I’m in love with the legs on this mirror and I would have never come up with these on my own. I wouldn’t have necessarily thought to add legs, period, and I certainly wouldn’t have thought outside the box to angle them the way he did. They remind me a bit of an art easel, and I love that they’re the only white element, tying it all back into our trim and doors and wardrobes.

(For the handy ones interested, they are 2.25” square legs made from three pieces of wood laminated together. He routed them with a roundover bit to then cut them at 15 degree angles at both ends.)

Because you truly do see the mirror from the side first walking into our room, I love the chunky profile he gave to it. The glass sits halfway back in the frame, so from the front it doesn’t feel as deep, making the side that much more “wow” factor.

Even with its simple lines, the details are still there. To fit the mirror inside, Page routed a groove inside each side, then added the little square filler notch in a contrasting piece of oak to plug the routed grooves so they wouldn’t show from the outside.

Love. Love. Love. Happy birthday to me! (And yes, the builder and his faithful project manager both “signed” it for me!)

Classroom Valentines: Heart Crayons and 3-D Suckers

I have to say, I’ve loved every stage, but three is proving to be particularly fun with all of its enthusiasm. When I started to explain Valentine’s Day to Crew, and that we were going to make valentines to give his friends, he was ON. BOARD. to say the least.

I started with something he could truly make — you’ve seen these all over Pinterest — heart-shaped crayons. I will say, grouping these into like colors is key…they look like a hot mess if you just mix random hues. Also — tip: Soak the crayons in warm water to make the paper wrappers easier to remove. Once bare, break them into pieces and bake for 15 minutes at 250, popping them out once they’ve cooled. We used this silicone mold and it was the perfect size and super easy to remove the hearts.

I thought about making the crayons part of his cards, but instead we focused on the holy grail — suckers. Another idea I can’t take credit for, as it already exists around cyberspace: 3D sucker cards. I put Crew in his VDay shirt and among MANY outtakes, (so much “cheeeeese” and eyes closed lately — coupled with holding his arm the right way!) we finally got a shot we could use.

If you attempt this, definitely ask your kiddo to hold his/her arm out in FRONT of them (so the hand is as large as possible to give you space to poke the sucker through) and also out to the SIDE (so the sucker doesn’t end up in front of their face). Don’t shoot too close, allowing plenty of room on the sides to hold both the weight of the sucker and any message you want to add. I laid my text out in photoshop, sampling the red font color from his shirt. I can’t say enough good things about printing with Mpix — I send all my photo clients there! — and when wallets didn’t seem quite big enough to support the suckers, but 4×6 seemed like overkill, I went with 3.5 x 5 prints.

You might say we’re suckers for a good holiday project. πŸ˜‰

 

Trash Bash Garbage Truck Party

This past weekend, we celebrated this guy. <3

The theme, of course, was “Trash Bash” and featured a lot of garbage trucks and trash — a tall order for making things “cute” and “appetizing” ha! The details had to be rather mobile this year, as we rented some space as opposed to hosting in our home. This definitely limited set-up time, and the chance to get more than some quick snapshots, but it was a TOTAL win to not have to clean our home (before AND after!) and having the indoor playspace all to ourselves was the perfect way for the kiddos to burn off some energy (especially after we’ve had days on end of temps around zero!). It was a team effort (thanks Mom and Dad for all the help!) and of course Page pulled out some tricks to make my hair-brained ideas become a reality, such as whipping up a 2×4 frame to keep my photo prop truck standing.

As always, I save the pics with the kiddos just for our friends rather than share them here on the blog, but know that I DID to my heart’s delight get a shot of three cutie boys smiling at me through the window of this truck painted on — what else — an Amazon box. The road was a cheap black wedding runner and I stuck pieces of yellow duck tape down the center.

I set a kid’s table with reusable plates from Target that went home with each kiddo. I’ll link all supplies below, but these garbage truck cups from Etsy were a huge hit with Crew!

The idea was to keep it “trashy” right? So crumpled newspaper, tissue paper, and balloons made a wonky garland across the table, and silver tablecloths and little metal pails everywhere added to the “trash can” vibe.

I pulled the 3-foot print of Crew and “his” truck off his bedroom wall to add some last-minute backdrop (again — quick setup time so it had to be easy!) and we set up the food…

My favorite part is always naming the food and making the signage πŸ˜‰

(More duck tape…this time ripped and wrapped around the bottled water!)

The babies went home with applesauce pouches (green, of course!) and the big kids got trash cans with candy, silly straws, and jars of slime.

At the last minute, I couldn’t resist adding more candy. Worms and bottles both seemed gross and trashy — and okay, those wax bottle candies actually ARE kind of gross — but both were a big hit with this crowd!

We kept it simple with pizza and after debating having the kids MAKE slime as a party activity, I vetoed in favor of just letting them wear themselves out in the playspace. Mission accomplished!

While he’s ready for both some present and spotlight detox after the Christmas-Birthday one-two punch, Crew truly enjoyed his party and all the fun surrounding his birthday in general, talking about each friend and activity all weekend long.

Happy birthday to our favorite THREE year old!

 

black aisle runner // green reusable plates // garbage truck cups // garbage truck and trash can cutters (cheese) // mini garbage cans (favors) // large white can with lid

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Decorating for Christmas // Our Holiday Home Tour 2017

Welcome to our *home for the holidays*!

We have yet to get any snow, so there isn’t much to share outside (we did the same outdoor lights and potted trees flanking the front door as last year). It IS cold here, though, so come on inside!

We kept it simple in the kitchen this year — a little hot cocoa station, and a gingerbread house that is already mysteriously missing most of its candy…

…and our little felt tree and lots of mercury glass on the table. I love these all lit at night!

I wanted a little more color than last year when we did mostly white, black, silver, and copper. I’m a sucker for red at the holidays but didn’t want traditional green, so I pulled in pieces with a more blue-green hue that feels a little bit vintage.

In the flex room, I didn’t feel like I had to do much, since our emerald green sofa steals focus anyway. I did add a trio of collapsible tinsel trees I’ve had for years (love when decorating takes under a minute!), added a snowflake tray with a favorite read and heirloom snowglobe that a certain someone is OBSESSED with. #pleasebecareful #itsnotawreckingball #twohands!

A separate post on our master is in the works, but for the colder months, I added some cozier textiles. I don’t decorate holiday per se in our room, but I like to change it up with the seasons, since it’s visible off our main floor and is actually seen by visitors from time to time.

Pass under the mistletoe (muah!) and I used some coordinating garland on the stair rails. In the past I’ve used a really full, prelit garland and loved the effect. But it was scratching the stained banisters to death and I just wasn’t up for touchups again this year. So I went with this simplistic felt version to try something new (and softer on the finish).

I love having a second tree upstairs on our landing that can be seen out the back windows. Plus it feels like an unexpected surprise to go upstairs and find a tree off the main level. I also love having this all-kid-stuff tree for all the fun and whimsical ornaments, and Crew loves a tree he can be “hands on” with and rearrange to his heart’s content.

Nothing is breakable, and all of it is fun and has some little significance for us. All of the color just makes my heart happy. Would I do a flocked tree again? Not sure because it does shed, but I LOVE the snowy look.

Naturally, a garbage truck parked on it this year.

Thanks for stopping by!

(And hey Big Guy, we’re ready for you!)

Our Favorite Christmas Books

I have the fondest memories of pulling out favorite Christmas books each year as a kid and it’s been so fun to continue that tradition with Crew. Our stash has grown quite a bit this year, as we’ve moved firmly out of the baby/board book phase, and into the “real” storybooks. It’s fun to pull out old favorites, and discover new works and authors.

WHEN SANTA WAS A BABY. For a little boy who LOVES to talk about how he used to be a baby, and thinks Santa is his bestie, this book hits all the right notes. Love the illustrations in this and the story is so charming.

THE POLAR EXPRESS. Of course. Whether or not you have a train fanatic, this is a classic. And hit home especially hard this year when we were able to ride a “Polar Express” train in a nearby town and Santa handed out bells. The movie has been captivating as well!

OLIVE THE OTHER REINDEER. Crew is drawn to stories with animal main characters, so I knew this one would be a favorite. Love the clever take on the classic song lyric.

WHY CHRISTMAS TREES AREN’T PERFECT. This is one I remember loving as a kid and while it’s still a bit wordy for an almost three-year-old, we paraphrase it to get the message across.

HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS. Another classic and we are big fans of Dr. Seuss in general. Crew is starting to find the silly words and quirky characters funnier as he gets a bit older and understands the oddity of this writing style. Again, we love (both) movie versions of this fun story.

THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS. We have a couple versions of this story but this one is, hands down, the coolest pop-up book I’ve ever seen. It’s truly a work of art, and Crew is fascinated with each page (some of them interactive). For a rather wordy and old fashioned story (who is this St. Nick they speak of?! And why is he smoking?! LOL) the elaborate art keeps him engaged and following along.

OLIVIA HELPS WITH CHRISTMAS. Crew has been an Olivia fan for a while — he gets a kick out of her naughty antics. So of course, this was a natural pick to keep the mischief going.

THE SWEET SMELL OF CHRISTMAS. This was one of the books that really helped Crew to “get” the whole idea of getting ready for Christmas (decorating, baking, etc) but also that Santa just comes on ONE night, not all month long. πŸ™‚ Plus the scratch and sniff stickers are a fun sensory way to experience the season.

(Looking for younger readers? We’ve loved both Little Blue Truck’s Christmas – complete with twinkling lights at the end! – and Dream Snow by Eric Carle — love that you can feel the bumps of snowflakes!)

I’m a sucker for children’s books in general, so I love to hear what others are reading. Which good Christmas reads did I miss??

Decorating for Fall // The Halloween Edition

Decorating for Fall | www.29thanddelight.com

Fall has officially hit our home, and we’ve added a few Halloween items for the month of October.

Decorating for Fall | www.29thanddelight.com

I love to decorate with books — stacked, on display, covers framed — so naturally a couple of our seasonal faves are within reach at all times! (If you haven’t picked up Gilbert the Ghost or The Scariest Book Ever, you have to! Crew is obsessed with both.)

Decorating for Fall | www.29thanddelight.com

I’m not a huge fan of classic Halloween orange, so I kept it to a minimum and went for more corals and pinks and coppers. I made the felt ball garland after ordering a range of colors in berries and corals and black/white/greys.

Decorating for Fall | www.29thanddelight.com Decorating for Fall | www.29thanddelight.com

The truly Halloween stuff gets set up right inside the door to greet our trick-or-treaters!

Decorating for Fall | www.29thanddelight.com

Decorating for Fall | www.29thanddelight.com

I didn’t buy much new this year, but these three skeletons (hello! the glasses!) jumped in my cart and I couldn’t resist.

Decorating for Fall | www.29thanddelight.com

After a trip to the patch a few days ago, we are stocked up and ready to carve later this week! Hope you are enjoying a festive fall! <3

Decorating for Fall | www.29thanddelight.com

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