Are You Driving Your Family Photo Crazy? Do This Instead.

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” ~Romans 12:8

My family went to the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta, GA not long ago. My family is well aware that my camera pretty much comes with me everywhere we go. So my tendency to irritate, annoy, and aggravate them all on our family trips knows few bounds. I have had to learn a few things, and I am ready to share my tips with you!

Moments like these can seem like an opportunity for our loved ones to learn the drastic significance of preserving these beloved memories…or not. More often, I have come to believe, they are opportunities for me to learn some self-control without abandoning my passion.

Carefully Choose Your Timing

For starters, my timing was not always the best. I’m not talking about light or composition. I am talking about realizing that this bustling tourist attraction is not made for perfect art shots. Strangers were constantly in the way, strolling in and out of my frame, utterly oblivious to my or my family’s existence. This really cramped my “artistic style”. I should have remembered that this was not the time for perfection, but rather about memory making.

Know That Candid Isn’t Always Possible

I rarely want my family looking right at the camera and smiling, but instead prefer candids of them enjoying the moment. This also does not always pan out as the natural reaction for some members of my family is to turn toward me straight on with striking a cheesy pose. Rather than correcting them and telling them to look away, which only results in a distinctively unnatural “candid” pose, I have them make a silly face which Bill is really amazing at.

It’s Okay to Give Up

At some point in our visit, I was definitely getting on everyone’s nerves and resorted to a mini photowalk. I didn’t wander off, but I did back off and focus on the sights, of which I found plenty of subjects. It also gave me a bit of time to play around with settings and composition.

Don’t Forget to Enjoy Yourself!

Ultimately I was able to enjoy our trip to the World of Coca-Cola, where I may have just ruined the trip for everyone involved. I won’t lie. It came kinda close at one point. In the end, our family survived the day in tact.

I hope my slightly hard learned lessons have helped you. If you have any suggestions on how you avoid driving your family crazy with your photography, I would love to hear about it, and I’m sure the other readers would appreciate it, too!

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Silver Comet Trail

The Silver Comet Trail runs about 60 miles in Georgia. The other day, I spent my lunch break on the stretch in Dallas, GA. It was a beautiful day and I wanted to get some sunshine and steps on my Garmin. If you want to connect, I’m SharonB22 on Garmin connect.

All You Need To Know About Finding Your Photographic Style

Discovering personal style for artists everywhere takes a lot of time and practice and it is something that will evolve over time. I started this whole blog around the desire to find my style. You can read about it here. When I first started, I thought I knew exactly what my style was.
I wanted every photo I took to be light, bright airy romantic. That’s what I saw all over Pinterest and my favorite photographers seemed to all shoot this way. It was so beautiful and I just knew that was exactly what I wanted all of my photos to looks like. It wasn’t long before I noticed that my photos didn’t look like theirs and I really didn’t know why. Then I discovered that my technique was wrong. I had no composition. I had no understanding of what draws the viewers eye into my photos. My “art” was so full of distracting clutter, and my white balance was always just a little bit off.
Today, I am a little wiser and am ready to share some of the things I am learning along the way. I have a few tips that have my journey to acquire my photographic style. I hope these tips will help you, too.
Never Stop Learning Bad technique is not a style. Learn everything you can about art composition. Learn how to master your camera settings. I’m not saying you have to shoot manual. But if you will learn how to do tell your camera what to do, you will have the best success at capturing the composition you envision in your mind.

Your style will fall into a specific category. Chances are good that you prefer one style over another. Maybe you love portraits more than food photography or street photography more than landscapes. Find what you like and practice that. Shoot. A LOT! Shoot at home. Go outside. Explore your local area. Shoot from all angles. Shoot from all perspectives, shoot through, above and below. If possible move around your subject and move your subject around. Photography is better when it is not a stationary activity.  Apply what composition and technical techniques you learned before. 
Go home and critique your work. Consider what you have learned and cull the photos that do not align with your newly refined standards based on what you now understand how to communicate to the world artistically. Reduce your images to the best of the best. 
“I’ve always been drawn to photography and have fallen in and out of love with it many times over the years. Lots of things we see look pretty, however truly capturing the scene that paints a story for the viewer is no easy thing to do. More times than I can count, I have filled my SD card with images I thought were breathtaking in the moment, only to get home and dump 99% to the trash bin because they were snapshots that didn’t inspire the viewer. Beauty doesn’t always translate. It’s up to the photographer to create that story, and it’s that challenge that I keep chasing…” ~ Mike East Northern Colorado Photographer (@meastt09 on instagram)
Pick a style and stick with only shooting that for a while. I love so many different styles of photography that I find this part really tough. Plus I am ADHD, so that doesn’t make it easier. The problem is that I have become a sort of jack-of-all-trades and a master of none. When I took a few months to focus only on portraits and really refined my skills in that area and I know I am becoming a master at portraits. Mind you, I’m not a master, yet, but I am definitely light years ahead of where I was!
Respect your own work. While you may not think your photography is where you would like it. You may wish that your color was better, composition was clearer, or that it just looked cooler. But remember that wherever you are now is exactly where you should be and is way ahead of the next person that just started while you read this post. When you get a shot you like, share it! Accept the complements graciously. Be proud of yourself. You and I and every other photographer know just how much training and effort went into that photo. You should be proud!
No matter where you are in your photography journey, in all liklihood have not completely found your style. But remember that you will. The fact that you are still reading this means that you are seriously committed to evolving and growing.
There are tons more tips around the internet about how to find your style. But I really think it all comes with practice. Have you already made some personal discoveries in your photographic style? Please share the wealth! I really would love to hear it!
PS: By the way, this blog contains affiliate links and as an Amazon Associate I do earn from qualifying purchases. I also really appreciate your support of this blog.

4 Simple Ways to Rest and Recharge Your Creativity

Everyone needs rest every once in a while. We need rest from our work, responsibilities, stress, or illness. Artists are no different. Sometimes we need a chance to recharge our

creative energies and that can happen by simply resting from our normal creative outlet and doing something else.

There are lots of ways people like to rest. Taking time for yourself and doing something unproductive for a day is not only really enjoyable, it is necessary for us to be able to give our best during the busy times. Bubble baths, reading good books, and solving crossword puzzles are popular choices and I certainly endorse them all. But here are some of my favorite ways to rest, relax and recharge.

1. Binge Watching

When I really want to be inspired creatively, I love certain photographers on Youtube, such as Peter McKinnon, Sean Tucker, and Ted Forbes at The Art of Photography and his artist series. Really any artist that inspires you will work.

If just an escape is all I want then I love watching uplifting Netfix or free on demand movies. When my mood is lifted, I feel more energized and inspired. I love christian movies like God’s Not Dead, I Can Only Imagine, and War Room. They are excellent mood lifters.

2. Bible Study and Journaling

I love studying my bible. I am continually amazed at the revelations I receive each time I read it. I also find bible study very relaxing. It calms my mind and helps me to understand the world around me when life gets overwhelming. Plus, as an art lover, my interests are not limited to photography. God’s word has been the inspiration to countless works of the greatest art ever created and can really inspire me to create tiny works of art on the pages of my journaling bible. I use a variety of art supplies, but my favorites are watercolor paints and colored pencils.

3. A Cozy Blanket

Any true day of rest for me includes my favorite snuggly blanket. A good friend made it for me as a Christmas gift many years ago and no other blanket is anywhere near as cozy.

4. Sheldon’s Right:

A Warm beverage is perfect to calm the nerves and unwind. I love all of them. Coffee, tea, hot cocoa, Apple cider, you name it! As I write this I’m battling a little cold and sore throat and my favorite tea is Traditional Medicinals Teas Throat Coat.

So there it is. My favorite ways to relax. What do you like to do when you are relaxing? I would love to hear from you! Have a great week.

Return to Pine Mountain

I did it! I made it to the summit and I didn’t die of heat stroke! In July, I hiked a portion of the west loop trail of Pine Mountain. 
View from Archer’s Overlook
This time, I paced myself and planned my hike for a slightly cooler time of day. I felt really discouraged that I had gotten so badly out of shape, that I vowed I would go back and make it to the top next time.
The incredible view was a sight for sore eyes. And legs, and back…
From the summit, the view of Plant Bowen. Very close to where I live.
View of Lake Allatoona
My triumphant selfie!
I would love to return in the fall for some beautiful fall colors photos!  Part of the reason I started this blog was because i wanted to share my photos and see your photos, too. I would love to see your summer hike photos! You can share any style of photography: landscapes, macro, family pics, anything! Please share!

I nearly Died for this shot!

I actually did push myself harder than I should have that day, and I do believe that I did have heat exhaustion. But I still think it was worth it for one great shot.
Pine Mountain West Loop Trail is a relatively easy 1.5 mile hike up to Archer’s Summit. Longleaf Pines, magnolias, deer, birds and squirrels make this hike a popular trail for avid hikers and families alike. A few weeks ago I decided to return to an old passion of mine: hiking the local trails of north Georgia. I decided to turn all of the local trails in my area into a big photo project. Pine Mountain West Loop trail is only about 30 minutes from my home, and as such, a logical first choice to kick off my new project. I had also hiked this trail before, though it has been a few years. The hike proved to be really strenuous compared to what I remembered. Apparently, I am sorely out of shape. Maybe hiking more regularly isn’t a bad idea. But I digress. Between my lousy fitness level and the insane mid-summer Georgia heat (97 degrees!), I nearly gave myself heat stroke. I became dizzy, my vision became splotchy, and I feared I was going to pass out or vomit. Or maybe both. “Man, If I don’t die right here on this trail, I need to get back into shape!”, I thought to myself. But after a good, long rest situated on a conveniently located boulder (and a snack and some water, of course). Friendly passers by soon had me feeling reassured that if I did in fact pass out, someone would probably be able to get me help. After my hypochondria subsided, my pulse settled back down, and my vision cleared I looked around and noticed this beautiful scene right in front of me. The sun, high in the early afternoon sky, filtered so beautifully through the trees casting dappled light everywhere. I shot several compositions that day, but this one is my favorite. I didn’t make it to Archer’s Summit that day. Had I attempted it, I may have died on that mountain. But I will go back and when I do make it to the view up there, I promise to very proudly share it with you!
Equipment: Nikon D5500, Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR, a flexible tripod.
Location: Pine Mountain West Loop Trail, Cartersville, Georgia

My Favorite Things (Photography Edition)

As I introduce myself (check out “Who Am I?” if you haven’t already), I wanted to show you some of my favorite tools and equipment whether I am outdoors on a photo-hike or slumming at home. My DSLR camera is the most obvious, so I wont be starting with that, but you can check out the link above if you are interested. There are links to products on this post and as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. I just have to let you know.

Traveling light is a pretty big priority for me, so this list should be short, but somehow it is kind of long. Sorry about that. Ok here it is. Drumroll, please….

Cell Phone- Whether I am at home or out and about, I love how handy my cell phone camera is! It’s small and light, its always on hand, and I think it takes really nice pictures. I use the Lightroom App sometimes for those shots where I really want more manual control. It lets me choose ISO, aperture, and shutter speed! I also do almost all of my editing in LR.

Another nice thing about my cell phone is the huge array of apps to edit my photos. I can adjust brightness, contrast, and color. I can add filters, and lens flare and all sorts of cool effects just for fun. In addition to LR, I also love Lens Distortion, Snapseed, and Pixaloop.

I also love the Nikon app WMU for importing my photos directly from my camera to my phone. If you camera has this feature, definitely take advantage of it. I love editing on my laptop in Photoshop and Lightroom, but often the apps on my phone suffice just fine and I can share them immediately!

It’s always nice to listen to podcasts or music on Pandora while I am hiking in Pine Mountain or walking around town in Cartersville. Something about the energy of the music I listen to or the tone of a podcast inspires me to see the world in a new perspective.

When at a loss for good hiking locations, Hiking Pro app is really handy. It pulls up all the hiking trails in my area as well as reviews, maps, and wildlife information.

Lowepro is kind of known for pretty good quality in camera bag backpacks. They are fairly discrete, lightweight, and well organized inside. I also love that there is room for non-camera stuff, too, like the laptop sleeve. While smaller purse/messenger style bags are more minimalist, I always seem to need more space, so this fits the bill perfectly without being a huge mountaineer camera bag.

Tripods. I have two. One is a 6 foot tripod and mono-pod in one. The monopod is great for photographing local plays and high school sporting events. The normal tripod is really handy for self-portraits and night photography and long exposures. It has a handle and is fairly lightweight so it travels pretty well and it didn’t cost me an arm and a leg.

I also love my flexible tripod. I got mine at Walmart a long time a go and I don’t remember the name brand, but it was about $15 and you can probably still get it there. Basically you can get it almost anywhere, use it in the weirdest configurations because it’s incredibly bendy and its great for self portraits, when I’m on a hike. The last thing I am wanting to haul around the north Georgia mountains is my 6 foot tripod, ya know?

Taken at Pine Mountain on my cell phone using my flexible tripod.

When I travel locally or on vacation, I always bring my DSLR. I can’t help it. Somehow doing without it will drive me totally crazy. So I bring it. But one lens is perfect for everything I will want to photograph, and that is my 18-55mm. It is the kit lens and does everything I want. Wide angles, portraits, night shots, macro, you name it! I also have a 70-300mm kit lens, and it is terrific for landscapes and portraits, but when traveling light, the 18-55 is everything I need it to be.

Taken on the river walk in Savannah, GA at sunset
ISO 6400 F4.5 1/60