Category Archives: photo

Backyard Picture Fun! + Halloween

It’s been a rough couple of weeks as far as weather goes.  It seems like we have had so many rainy and overcast days here in the ‘retta.  We were able to get Nora outside on a few of the days that the sun peeked out and she loved every minute of it.  She loves the outdoors and I can’t wait to take her camping one day soon!

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This girl loves her mama so much, and now she can say “Mama” too!!!

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It’s crazy, she never used to rest her head like this when she was little, but she’s started recently.  Kristen and I think it is the sweetest thing and love that she’s starting to be even sweeter!

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That’s right!  This is the first Father/Daughter tree climbing we participated in.  It went reasonably well, she did try to eat all the branches.

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Because every girl has to perfect her pageant wave!

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She tried to eat the leaves too.  Looking back maybe she was hungry.  Actually she just always wants to eat everything.  Babies…

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Look at my leaf everybody!

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My two favorite girls as happy as can be.

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A little daddy/daughter time.  BTW notice the nicely cut lawn, I thought that would be the last time I mowed it but I think I might need to cut it one more time.

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On second thought, I’ll just let Nora roam around and eat all the grass.  She might be more effective than a goat!  (Full Disclaimer, I was able to stop her from eating the grass.)

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Love it!  Happy babies make everyone happy!

Halloween Bonus Pictures

It’s not enough to make a new post, but Nora dressed up like a Jazzercizer for Halloween (or HalloWayne as I like to call it).

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“I work out!”

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Nora in the Church daycare “Fall dress up” parade!

Overdue Update – Nora & Disney

It’s been over two months since I’ve posted… OOPS!  A lot has happened since then so this post has a bit of everything.  Lots of pictures (mostly of Nora) are here.

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Nora started out by pulling up on EVERYTHING, and now she can walk around tables, chairs, and along walls.  She has a walker that she can walk around with, but she usually runs!  Soon she will be walking with no help.  She can already make it up the stairs all by herself.

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Kristen had a busy camp season (Actually she works in the CIA as you can see by her earpiece).  Nora and I went out to see her two of the weekends she was gone.  Nora had a lot of fun!

Disney World!!!! Nora’s First Trip

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Even though she gave Mickey the stink eye, this girl was a CHAMP!  We did 2 days in the park and we stayed in the parks the whole day.  Nora napped in her stroller (one of our best purchases) and we all had a great time.

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Now that this girl is over 20lbs we have to take turns holding her.  I think we are both getting stronger because of it.

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Nora’s first Live Disney Performance

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Nora will grow up knowing that all of Disney was started by a mouse!  And that Walt guy had a little something to do with it.  Proof that one person really can make a difference.

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Thanks random person for taking our family portrait!

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Our little Snow White at the MK Entrance later in the day.

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Waiting in line for her first Dumbo ride, Nora did not quite know what to do, she was looking all around and couldn’t decide whether to people watch or watch the flying elephants.

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We love this little girl so much and are so thankful we had the opportunity to go to Disney word with her!


Family Photos

There have been quite a few “staged” photos on here of Nora and not many of normal life. This post highlights a few of our family outings and trips!

In June Nora took her first trip to Florida and got to meet a lot of her family.  Her Uncle Jim did a great job playing with her and really capturing her attention!

Jim & Nora

Nora loved when her Cousin Sami held her!

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The Florida Fam!  It was so great to see everyone.

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In preparation for our first beach trip, we took a swim in the pool.  If Nora could spend all day in the pool she would.  She loved it!

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First time at the beach.  Nora was a little confused at that sand stuff but loved the water.  The ocean was as calm as a lake, which really made for a spectacular first beach trip for her.

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After the fun Florida trip, Nora said she wanted to see where her Daddy grew up so we took a trip to Memphis and she got to meet more family including her Great Grandma Lucy and her twin cousins!  This girl is all dressed up for the 4th of July and very happy!

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She had so much fun with her cousins Seth and Tyler and her Aunt Brandi and Uncle Jon.

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And no 4th of July weekend would be complete without a little time in the pool!

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We took Nora hiking to see Amicalola falls and snapped a quick (Super Cheesy High School Prom style) family pic on the way down.  Sorry no pictures of the falls, I was a bit too winded carrying Nora on my back up.

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It’s Football Time in Tennessee!!!!!!!  …and in Georgia  Go Vols!

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I think I found myself a Cheerleader!  Now we just need to get her some Pom Pom’s.

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So happy!

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She loved being outside on this beautiful football Saturday.

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This girl is just too cute!

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That’s all folks!



Nora’s 6 Month Pictures

Yesterday Nora turned 6 months old and today, we got some pictures of her! It’s been a rough week for her, as she has been sick the last week (got Croup), but she was feeling much better today and was playful and happy!

This one is her glamour shot!  Lots of crazy noises and we were able to capture her attention!

Nora at 6 Months
Nora at 6 Months


This baby loves looking up to her mommy!

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6 Months old and getting more and more mobile every day!  Its incredible how well she can get around by scooting backwards and rolling!

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That’s Nora’s Gorilla grip!  She loves stealing her daddy’s glasses and pulling on her mommy’s hair!

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There’s that smile we all love!

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6 Months, it really has gone by so fast!  Everyone was right.  Its been a blast!

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Nora’s 3 Month Pictures

Wow, It’s hard to believe that its already been 3 months that we’ve had Nora Grace!  And two days after her 3 month birthday, Kristen and I celebrated our 6 year anniversary.  It’s also crazy that it’s been 6 years, but like they say, “Time flies when you’re having fun!”  It’s been a fun 6 years and a new kind of fun the last 3 months!

Nora is starting to make some really cute faces, and some heart-melting sad faces too 🙁  Here are a few pictures we got of her at 3 months!

Here she was really content staring at her Mom!

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Looks a little confused here

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It’s great when she gets excited like this!

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So content!

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You have to love that smile!

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Is this not the sweetest!  She is such a cutie!

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Official 3 Month Picture!

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And that’s the face that hurts!  So sad…  🙁

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More Nora Pictures – Black & White

Ok, These are the last of the staged “newborn” pictures I took of Nora.  I’m sure there will be more later, but at least for now these are all the rest of the keepers!

Our little Ninja!  Kristen’s scarf worked so well for this picture and the soft light was incredible!

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Here’s a zoomed out shot, she barely fit in the scarf!

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Her crib seems so big when she’s in it, I think this crate is more her size!

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Yep, there is a baby in there somewhere!

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Had to take the classic ring pic.  Her feet are unbelievably small!

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Sleeping like a baby, this is what she does 80% of the day!

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Thanks for giving these a look!  If you have not checked out her other photos from this “shoot” check them out here.

Making the Shot – Christmas Tree Baby


This is hands down my favorite picture I’ve ever taken.  I’ve gotten quite a few positive remarks, so I’m sharing the details of how I got this shot in case you would like try something similar!

I took this picture with my Canon Rebel T3i, a pretty basic consumer DSLR.  I took this with a nicer 70-200mm f4 lens, but the same could easily be done with the f50mm f1.8 lens (~$125).  If you’ve got a Canon Rebel I would absolutely recommend this lens, its the best value lens out there and will allow you to dramatically expand your creative abilities with your shots.  If you are a Nikon shooter there is also a Nikon 50mm f1.8 lens that is about the same price, and while I have not used it I believe that it is equally a must own lens!

For my birthday this year (Halloween, or as I like to say HalloWayne) I got an external flash.  This is the big flash that you see mounted on top of DSLR cameras.  The flash can also be removed for more possibilities to control the light of your shot.  For Christmas I expanded my collection with getting a flash umbrella and stand.  With these few accessories one can really control the light of their shot, which is what Photography is all about, capturing light!  Here’s a quick picture of the setup!


There are several factors control how in focus the lights of the tree are.  The biggest ones are the f-stop setting of the lens, the distance between the camera and object in focus combined with how much further the tree is past the focus point.  For this shot I tried to get the camera as far away as possible without having to open the front door and go outside!

If you are using a fixed focal length lens like the 50mm, the desired composition or framing of your shot will also dictate where you place your camera, your subject, and your background.  If you have a tree as your background, you likely won’t want to move it as in my case.

Camera Settings

To get the camera settings correctly, first I put my camera in Manual mode.  Any shot where the light isn’t going to be changing and where you want full control should be shot in manual.  Once in manual I adjusted my settings without the flash firing until I got the background exposed how I wanted.

Since I wanted the maximum blur, or out of focus of the background I set my lens on its lowest aperature f-stop setting (f4).  This also results in nice round out of focus lights.  Depending on your lens and how many aperature blades it has, you may not see perfect circles at higher f-stop settings.  For example, if you are using the 50mm f1.8 lens at f4, you won’t get perfect circles, but get pentagons from the 5 blade aperture.

With the aperture set at f4 I went on to set my ISO, I selected ISO 400 for this shot and a shutter speed of 1/100th.  This ISO isn’t too high to make the picture grainy, and the shutter speed is fast enough to prevent motion blur from the subject moving, or from the camera shaking.  Since the camera was on a tripod for most of the shots the movement of the camera would have been minimal.

Flash Settings

With the background setting properly set it was time to adjust the flash settings.  I put my flash on manual and just took some pictures using trial and error to increase and decrease the flash power.  Since my actual subject would have been uncooperative with the test shots I used a stuffed animal.  As I later found stuffed animals and babies reflect light differently so some “game time” adjustments had to be made, but the settings were very close.


My test subject!  As you can see anything that’s not in the frame of the picture is ok, such as laundry baskets, etc.  Here I just used two couch cushions, a Boppy pillow, and some blankets to create a nice “posing” seat for Nora.

The Shot

Next step is to bring the baby down, leave her covered in a blanket and remove for the pictures, try to keep her calm and sleepy, and fine tune the flash power as needed.


I try to always shoot in RAW unless I’m trying to get a lot of photos in succession (RAW slows the camera burst rate down a bit).  RAW gives you a bit more control after you take the shot to make some adjustments in your digital darkroom.  A few minor tweaks later and here is the finished result!


Pictures from Nora’s First Photo shoot – DIY Newborn Photography

January Update – related black and white pictures have been added in this post. 

As I’m writing this, it is December 30th and the last few days have been a wild and fun adventure!  Our daughter, Nora Grace, was born on December 26th at 3:14 AM.  She was 8lbs. 2oz. and 20 inches.  She has stolen my heart and already has me wrapped around her fingers!  I just love her so much, and she is so cute so I decided I needed to capture her before she grows too much!  I’ve posted some pictures below.

We just can’t get enough of this hat! I think it is really cute!  Such pretty eyes!
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Sleeping like… well you see the picture.

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I just can’t get enough of those chubby little cheeks.  Too cute!

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Even the sun won’t wake this girl up when she is sleeping.  She’s the best!

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Love those little hands!  I need to get some more hands and feet pictures before she grows any more!

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Her little pink bow is precious!

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Do babies dream?

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This one needs a good caption!  What do you think she is thinking?

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Her Great Grandmother knit her this beautiful yellow blanket and she snuggles up in it so well!

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Seriously, I just can’t get enough of those hands.

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She did so good sleeping during her photo shoot!

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I love the sunshine on her face in this picture.  She is our little sunshine!!!

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This one was her final picture before she started peeing and having a meltdown!  Figures that she waited until we got her naked!

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Getting Past Automatic with your DSLR

Camera Settting Selection Knob


Being Christmas, there will be lots of people unboxing their shiny new Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) cameras with dreams of instantly taking professional photos with all those megapixels!  There may also be a few less excited individuals dusting off their DSLR cameras they got last year to take some family snapshots, and even a few who just leave that big camera in the closet because their phone takes pictures that are just as good.  Like anything in life, becoming good at something involves more than just having the expensive gear, it means learning how to use it.  As Ansel Adams once said, “The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.”  Let’s take a few minutes to improve the info in that mind of yours!

First I should say I’m not a professional photographer, but over the last few years I have graduated away from my cameras Automatic setting.  I have found that in order to take the picture I want I need to know how to make the camera DO what I want, not what it wants.  In this post I’ll describe two great camera modes that will give you immensely more control over your pictures.  These modes are great because they let you control one parameter and let the camera take care of the rest.  First you need to know a bit about how that camera works and what affects the brightness of your image.

There are three primary controls that will  affect your exposure (how bright or dark your picture is).

First is Aperature, which is an element in the lens that opens bigger and closes smaller.  It is essentially a circular window that changes size.  As you can imagine a larger window lets in more light and makes your picture brighter and a smaller window lets in less light and makes the photo darker.

Second is shutter speed, this is how long the “Film” or sensor is exposed to the light of the picture.  A shutter speed of 1/50th of a second will let in twice as much light as a shutter speed of 1/100th of a second.

Third is ISO which is the sensitivity or digital amplification of the image.  It’s a bit confusing, but know that ISO100 is the base and as you get into the higher ISO’s your image quality gets worse due to digital noise.  A high ISO will typically make your pictures look grainy, but the better your camera, the better it will handle high ISO shots.

Mode #1 – Av or Aperature Priority Mode

Rotate that knob over to Av and let’s get started.  I would recommend experimenting with this setting to see for yourself how changing the Aperature setting affects your picture.  First set your ISO to Auto (it is likely already on Auto), now you can rotate the wheel this is likely where your right index finger is .when holding the camera.  As you rotate this wheel you will adjust the Aperature setting.

Zoom your lens all the way out as this will usually let you adjust the Aperature to the lowest f-stop number (depends on the lens).  Try to adjust the Aperature as low as it will go.  It will probably be around 3.5.  The camera will adjust the ISO and shutter speed to properly expose the photo, but we are forcing the Aperature as low as it will go.  Now find somewhere that you can take a picture of something close that has something else further away in the background.

First focus on the close object with the camera (Put the center point in your viewfinder on the object and half press and hold while the lens focuses) and then fully press your Shutter button to take the picture.

Now rotate that knob again until your Aperature reads f11 or a larger number and repeat what you did above.  Once you have taken both pictures review them on the lcd screen (press play button) and pay special attention to the background and anything that you did not set the focus on.  You should see that the picture you took with the Aperature open (small f number) has a background that is more blurred or out of focus than the picture taken with the closed down Aperature (higher f number).

As you might realize, taking a picture of a landscape or something where you want detail near and far, it’s best to use a high f number setting.  I usually shoot f9 or f11 in these situations, but feel free to experiment and see what looks best.  Alternatively if taking a portrait of someone where you want the background to be out of focus, you can use a lower f number Aperature setting.

This mode gives you a ton of creative control over the automatic setting and I love using it!

Mode #2 – Tv/S or Shutter Speed Control

Rotate that dial to Tv (Canon) or S (Nikon) to experiment with the shutter speed control mode.  This mode will let you choose your shutter speed and adjust the other camera settings (Aperature, and ISO if set to Auto) to properly expose your photo.  A good rule of thumb is that at a minimum when handholding a lens you want to use a shutter speed equal to the inverse of your focal length.  With no image stabilization and shooting with a lens set to 55mm, you want to be shooting at a minimum of ~1/55th of a second.  Since your camera will likely not let you set a shutter speed of 1/50th, round it up to 1/60th of a second at a minimum.

If you have Image Stabilization(IS) or Vibration Reduction(VR) then you can slow your shutter speed down even further.  Try taking some pictures of a stationary object while varying the shutter speed setting.  Then zoom in to the pictures with the LCD to see how decreasing the shutter speed will start to blur the photos.  If shooting a non-stationary subject such as someone playing sports, or running around, the IS/VR won’t help you and you will need to use a faster shutter speed to “freeze” the action.  When taking photos of a moving subject set your camera to control the shutter speed and set the speed high enough to “freeze” the action.  You may need 1/250th of a second or even faster!

Another interesting effect that you can produce with Shutter Speed control is that of blurring lights.  The typical long blurred lines of car headlights that you see in those night city shots is made by taking a photo with the shutter speed open for a long time (seconds instead of fractions of a second.)

Hopefully you can experiment with these two modes and improve your control of your photography.