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What is “location scouting” | Gilroy Family Portrait Photographer

Location scouting in Gilroy.

Today, I’d like to chat a little about one very important part of photographer’s life. And that’s locations scouting. I think most people know what that is, but not many people, especially those not related to the photography business don’t realize how important this one part of photographer’s work is. For both,  client and photographer.

location scouting gilroy

You might think, the photographer is that person who comes to your session, clicks the shutter nine hundred times, go home and give you the pictures he/she has taken. And yes, that’s one part of the entire process. However there is a lot of “behind the scene” happening that you might not be aware of.

At the very beginning of my career I’ve driven hundred of miles around San Jose and the surrounding cities in search of interesting places. I didn’t want the regular play grounds, busy with people and unwanted distracting structures in the background. Instead of going to playdates with other moms and kids, I would take my kids for an “adventurous” hikes, and long drives in between, with a camera hung over one  my shoulder and a diaper bag over another.

Week by week, month by month, I’ve built quite the list. Hills, hiking trails, creeks, gardens, fields of flowers, beaches. Sometimes I get an email or Facebook message from friends or my clients with addresses and places “to check out”. I love when that happens.

Whenever a client mentions a place I’ve never been before, for their session, I don’t say YES or NO until I go there and see it myself. I personally don’t like shooting in places I don’t know anything about. Getting to know a location, by visiting it at least once before the session is a tremendous help. It allows me to think ahead about the session, and about how to use the location for interesting poses and angles.

I love taking my kids to new places. They are always my first models. They’ve grown so accustomed to going with me for “location scouting” and for their new adventurous trips. I often scroll through google maps looking for something interesting. Even more often I make notes of intersections next to something that caught my eye. My notes on my phone are full of those addresses. 🙂

These days, I’m scouting for new locations around Morgan Hill and Gilroy. We recently found a beautiful garden close to us.

I invite you to look through the gallery.

Maybe you’ll choose this place for your next session with me. Who knows… Or maybe, you’ll let me know about an interesting place you visited that would be great for a session. If you’d like, we can get together for my next locations scouting and make it a playdate.

Speaking of playdates. Feel free to stop by at our Portrait Playdate.

Portrait Playdate

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Family Portrait Photographer | The importance to be authentic during a photo session

This gallery contains 1 photo.

Family Portrait Photographer

FAMILY PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHER SAN JOSE

As a family portrait photographer, maybe not a strictly documentary one, but someone who wants to “catch” the real personality of the person in front of the camera, to those who ask: “what should we do during the session”, I always say: “be yourself”. But to be just that it’s good to engage in something that you or your family enjoy doing. The fake smiles are not what I aim for. I want to see your and your kids’ “authentic self”. However, I know how hard that is. And as Amy Cuddy says: “The wish to feel and be seen as “authentic” seems like a basic human need, and maybe that’s why the term “authentic self” is so popular these days. Actually, sometimes I feel it gets thrown around like confetti on New Year’s Eve.” What is your authentic self is probably something you have to answer to yourself. What is it that you need the photographer that you want hire for? I think the answer is more personal, but it’s important to know it before you start looking for a photographer for you and your family.

PORTRAITS AS INDIVIDUAL  AS YOU

One of the books I’m in the mid of reading is, by mentioned before, Amy Cuddy. She talks about what being present means, and how that can help us to overcome the biggest challenges while being our boldest selves, and while staying true to our authentic selves. I know, so many of my clients can totally relate to what she says about being so stressed in certain situation that we loose ourselves completely; we don’t know what to say, and how to act – we “simultaneously analyzing what we think others think of us, what we said a minute earlier, and what we think they will think of us after we leave, all while frantically trying to adjust what we’re saying and doing to create the impression we think they want to see.” After that we spent days and days rewinding that situation and beating ourselves for not doing this or not saying that, because we were paralyzed with fear, stress, judgmental thoughts.

Where do I go with this, you might ask. Well, I know how it feels to have a camera pointed at you, when you don’t have much of the experience with that. Not only you put yourself under the pressure to look your best, but also, for you think your whole family have to behave “properly”. You think, everybody needs to be happy, and smiling, and it a good mood, and ready to enjoy this time in front of the camera. Which in my opinion is not the point. Really. If you’re working with a photographer you’ve never met before, it adds another level of stress. She/he is a stranger to you and your family, and you want to make the best impression, while not really knowing what she or he might think about your ideas, or the way you or your kids (which is often the case!), act.

I DON’T CARE ABOUT THAT! Really. I have two kids, two dogs, and husband who does whatever he wants (well, he gets his share of my thoughts about that later, but he doesn’t even care about that). Well, behaving is last thing I expect to see during my sessions. I see my clients as individuals who are all different, and who have their own personalities and style and ideas, and thoughts, and who not necessarily enjoy having to put the fake smiles on. In my opinion when I (and the parents) stop preaching, conducting, interrupting and start observing and being present in what’s happening during the session, the MAGIC HAPPENS.

I think, the best example of it all are children. They are present in any given moment to the fullest. They don’t care about judgment, and they don’t fear it.

All of that came to me while watching the sun setting. I asked my daughter to dance for me. And she did, here is her sunset dance.

For those 5 minutes she was totally present in her task. She heard her own music, and you could see how much she enjoyed the wind in her hair and on her face.

And while sometimes I don’t have the words to describe what I feel, the one thing is certain: when I hold a camera there is nothing else in the world – just me and my subject. There is no judgment, nothing else matters but the person (or the family) in front of the camera, and their story.

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if you’d like to chat about your session, feel free to email me: ewasamples(at)gmail.com  also, to stay on top of all kinds of specials as well as photography tips subscribe to my newsletter :

 

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Earth Day on the Bay at the Marine Science Institute in Redwood City

Today, we went to “Earth Day on the Bay” at the Marine Science Institute. There were many activities and things to see, but we anchored our butts at a lovely small beach next to the Institute. The beach is full of broken shells, and it hurts to walk on it bearfoot. However that didn’t stop the kids. They got wet and muddy, and all what they were talking about it how they wished they knew where we’re going, because they would had taken their swimming suits with them. Well, it looks like I know where to take them tomorrow. Beach it is 😉

It started from dipping they feet. Just a little bit. Then it went to going down to about their knees. The kids on the beach had a really great time. We should have visit more what was available inside the Marine Science Institute, but at the end the kids we just happy with where they were, and with finding clam shells (the beach was full of them).

At the end they were all dripping wet from toes to top of their heads. Still, we had to finish the day with a huge scoop of ice cream for everybody.

How was your day?

Earth Day Marine Science Institute-1

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if you’d like to chat about your session, feel free to email me: ewasamples(at)gmail.com  also, to stay on top of all kinds of specials as well as photography tips subscribe to my newsletter :

 

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Mommy A to Z Manic Mondays Blog Hop

{San Jose Kids Photographer } Fun Kids Pictures Rain

Yesterday I was able to get some fun kids pictures in the rain. It looks like we are going to do the same today. Kids are already poking me and asking when are we going out… Some people might think that words like “fun kids pictures rain” do not go well together. Like my husband, who thinks he’s made out of sugar, and going out in the rain is deadly for him.

I think quite the opposite.

The rain wasn’t that heavy for most of the time, and there were moments when it didn’t rain at all. The kids had way more fun then in any given sunny day we’ve had so far.

We came home soaked… Well, not me, but those two little adventurers. They were dripping from all the rain, but mostly from all the puddles they decided to jump into and splash. After we came home, we had hot milk with honey and cupcakes for dinner, because why not. It all was followed by a warm bath with bubbles. Like literally plenty of them!!! 🙂 Fun! Fun! Fun!

So, off we go to have fun again again. We’ve got plenty of milk in the fridge and the bathroom is already supplied with bubbles soap.

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I also recently fell in love with double exposure pictures, so there are only few out of many I took yesterday. You can see some examples in the gallery displayed below.

So YES, “fun kids pictures rain” definitely go together in this household.

How about yours!?

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if you’d like to chat about your session in the rain, or in the full blast sun feel free to email me: ewasamples(at)gmail.com  also, to stay on top of all kinds of specials as well as photography tips subscribe to my newsletter :

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Annie Leibovitz San Francisco, Women: New Portraits

Today my 4 year old and I drove to San Francisco to see Annie’s Leibovitz free exhibition, “Women: New Portraits”. After that we sat on the beach and had lunch. We also stopped by Palace of Fine Arts that’s right next to it. The weather was gorgeous, and the only thing that was missing was my 6 year old daughter. She would love it!

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If you haven’t visited the exhibit yet, I highly recommend going. The walk-ins are welcome, and it’s totally free (beside the parking, of course). I wish I had more time to sit there comfortably and flip and read through all the books available inside.

But I had to deal with a serious case of very loud yawning every now and then, and even louder and more dramatic question “are we going now?” every 5 minutes.

Anyway, at least I was able to go through the huge book filled with Annie’s photographs. The experience of being able to touch it and be so close to her art was humbling.

Annie Leibovitz in San Francisco, Women: New Portraits

Annie Leibovitz in San Francisco, Women: New Portraits

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Palace of Fine Arts San Franscisco

How was your Monday?

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if you’d like to chat about your session, feel free to email to ewasamples(at)gmail.com  also, to stay on top of all kinds of specials as well as photography tips subscribe to my newsletter :

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Midpines Yosemite Falls Family Camping Trip

Before I go into any further details of our Midpines Family Camping Trip (second camping trip this year), I have to admit, the further away from tourists, the better. Period. You want to know why… Take this for example…

In this one hour of sitting in the Yosemite Falls traffic I had witnessed so much of human nastiness, I was shocked.

I’m not antisocial, I just like to enjoy my space and my peace when I want it, and Yosemite Falls are the last place to get it. Well, probably if you go there in December you’ll get it. But you’ll also freeze your butt off.

I know you can get it in Yosemite. Long time ago, I had visited this place with friends and we even went skinny dipping in a freezing cold lake with not a soul around. There are places out there that you can get some privacy and enjoy the beauty of this place in peace.

Our camping trailer is one of these that needs to be set up first before we can use it, and by “set up” I mean “a lot of arguing about what to put where and why, and even more whispered cursing, everybody around you hear, anyway”. This kind of setting up where at some point you comfortably sit at a safe distance and just watch while the other half work in peace. We were the ones that arrive to a camping site at 11pm and spent an hour or so making all kinds of noises, and shushing each other. Fun stuff. 😉

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The camp site was super kid friendly. We woke up to a view of a playground, which we didn’t see the night before.

Our girls just loved it. They made all kinds of friends and cried a river when it came to packing and leaving because of the new friendships they’d made.

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mariposa california

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After we got dirty and muddy first thing in the morning, we headed to Mariposa to meet with grandparents, and from there take a short road trip to Yosemite Falls. We walked around a little the “downtown”, which seemed very cute and interesting. I wish we had more time to spend there and to visit all the old style buildings and antique stores.

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visiting mariposa california

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This place was empty and peaceful compared to Yosemite! But we had other things planned, so we couldn’t really stay any longer than we already did.

At the end we also witnessed some police work, 3 cars pulled up to a museum we were at to a call to someone locking themselves out. Looked like busy day in Mariposa. 🙂

Living for a while in Fresno, well, seeing three sheriff’s department cars pulling to the parking I was expecting something totally different.

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On the way to Yosemite Falls we even spotted the famous Mystery Spot sticker. I think, it’s pretty funny. Those are all over the Bay Area, and now I saw one in Yosemite!

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The scenery along the way was amazing. At this time of the year, the hills bloom with orange poppies, and along the road there are beautiful purple trees. If we were not following the grandparents I would definitely had requested more stops to enjoy them, as well as to try shove my kids into them somehow. 🙂

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Also, right now the water flows there like crazy. You can spot a waterfall almost on every mountain. The mountains glow in the sun with the reflecting water that flows down. Kids were also excited to see the snow. It was high on the mountains, so they didn’t get to touch it.

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The route to get to Yosemite Falls is very scenic. Well worth the drive, and the car sickness. Although I would think twice about the Yosemite Falls itself. The place is more crowded then Campbell’s Farmers Market on Saturday. We had spent more then an hour in traffic and we got nowhere close to the parking spots. It is something worth doing once in your life, but in my opinion after that there is no point of coming back

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Seeing waterfall for the first time:

Midpines Yosemite Falls Family Camping Trip

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I would recommend to take as many pictures as you can during your first visit there, and from there run as fast and as far as you can.

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Midpines Yosemite Falls Family Camping Trip

This is exactly what we did. As soon as we were able, we came back to our camping site, and spent the rest of the day hanging out there.

The next morning, we had roasted marshmallows smothered in chocolate pudding for breakfast. You’ve never tried it? Well, you don’t know what you’re missing. 😉

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camping at yosemite

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I added an extra twist of roosting the marshmallows with grapes. Delicious.

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and some randomness:

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camping at yosemite

camping at yosemite

camping at yosemite

For all interested, we camped at Yosemite West / Mariposa KOA – great place for families with kids, and very close to Mariposa downtown. Both the camp and the town seems very friendly and helpful.

Husband accidentally locked us out of the camping trailer by loosing the key, and the people that run this place were really helpful. They seemed very concerned about us and helped us made all the necessary calls to get some people to our camp site to open our trailer. Luckily, after more then half of the day, we found the darn keys. We found them where they were left in the first place.

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We’re already planning our next trip. Probably somewhere close to Redding. Will see.

Have a wonderful week!!! And feel free to share your family adventures with me. I’d love to hear them.

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Portraits inspired by Francesco Scavullo {San Jose Portrait Photographer}

In the recent workshop I’m taking with Donald Giannatti, up to this point, I have been inspired by (and we have studied) work of David Bailey, Gregory Heisler, Mary Ellen Mark, Francesco Scavullo, Albert Watson, Mark Seliger and Frank Ockenfels. Those names are some of the most influential portrait photographers of the last 50 years.

My head had been spinning, well, it still is, with ideas, inspirations, as well as frustrations and second guessing myself. All because this workshop has pushed me outside of my comfort zone on many occasions. Not to mention, I’d never been exposed to so much of studio work in my life as I’ve been for the past 7 weeks. And it’s a humbling experience.

Portraits inspired by Francesco Scavullo

Portraits inspired by Francesco Scavullo

When it comes to Francesco Scavullo, best known for his work on the covers of Cosmopolitan, I simply did not want to do any glamour/fashion shots. I ended up trying something he was very known for, and what’s called these days a clamshell lighting.

I used one soft box and a small reflector, which for the self portraits I was holding on my lap, or struggling to support it with my free hand.

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Someday, I’ll look back very fondly on those moments in my garage when I had to be my own model, photographer and an assistant. And at the end, I had produced nothing close to a clam shell lighting kind of portraiture. It wasn’t funny on that day, but even today, I have a smirk on my face writing about it.

Before I got in front of the camera, I had this awesome plan to use my kids (as in most of the assignments for this workshop). Well, you know how that goes when you want your kids to do something (or not to do). They do exact the opposite. In a time when I needed them to be still they decided to make it a dance, and a hugging party.

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And because this is such a rare thing between them these days, as they are more preoccupied with fighting over their toys and crayons, I started to “dance” around with them. Yeah, you might call it a dance…  However my dance was to somehow keep the reflector underneath their faces and take photos at the same time while they wiggled. Well, now my smirk is even bigger!!!

HA! Speaking about skilled photographer…. 😉

Portraits inspired by Francesco Scavullo
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And some behind the scene 😉

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Portraits inspired by Francesco Scavullo

Do you get frustrated when you have an idea in your head, have the tools to re-create / create the idea, but then things are not working for you.

Have you ever let it go then, and start being in the moment instead.

And then somehow you end up with things even better then your initial idea.

Because as David duChemin said today in his article, “we’ll all make much better photographs if we love our photographs more then we love our tools”.

Happy Monday!

Now off I go to think about our last assignment for this workshop: Greg Gorman

What do you have planned for this week?

 

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if you’d like to chat about your session, feel free to email to ewasamples(at)gmail.com  also, to stay on top of all kinds of specials as well as photography tips subscribe to my newsletter :

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Strawberry Filled Cinnamon Rolls – Picky Eater Approved

Strawberry Filled Cinnamon Rolls – Picky Eater Approved

This is my second jump into the journey of “Our quest for the best cinnamon rolls”. As some of you might already know, sometime ago I committed myself to make, and my kids to taste many different cinnamon rolls recipes, until I get bored with this project, essentially. I also decided to rate them  for the picky eaters, and not so picky, as I have one of each in this household. I’m saying this recipe was approved by my picky eater because she was the one who was more interested in the warm version more (she ate a few of them), then the not very picky eater (who stopped eating them after one bite of the first roll). Overall, those cinnamon rolls where not a big hit, comparing to the previous ones.

Our first try was Apple Filled Cinnamon Rolls with home made Apple Cider Caramel sauce. Beside the apple cider caramel sauce and few pieces of apple as the filling, this recipe wasn’t that different from the regular cinnamon rolls I make. I even use my old dough recipe, which was kind of cheating.

This time, I decided to follow as much of the recipe we are testing as my heart allows me. For examples, I can’t find a peace with the idea of buying a strawberry sauce or strawberry pie filling. I like to make it myself, if I can. So for this recipe I made my own. And it was delicious, although the color was not so vibrant as if you got it from the store. You know, it didn’t have all the artificial food coloring, that’s required in order to keep this super bright red color even after being cooked to death 😉

I cooked my strawberries with a small piece of peeled beet, for more vibrant color. I think it helped a little. I helped myself with this recipe from All Recipes.

Homemade Strawberry sauce

Homemade Strawberry Sauce

All the pictures included in this post are taken with iPhone 4. Having my “big girl’s” camera in this messy and sticky kitchen seemed to me like a not the best idea.

strawberry filled cinnamon rolls

Strawberry Filled Cinnamon Rolls - Picky Eater Approved

Strawberry Filled Cinnamon Rolls - Picky Eater Approved

Strawberry Filled Cinnamon Rolls - Picky Eater Approved

Here is the original recipe for the strawberry filled cinnamon rolls. The only changes in the recipe were:

  • instead of white sugar I used turbinado
  • instead of all purpose flower I used mix of all purpose flower and whole wheat flour (ratio: 2 cups of APF, and 1 1/4 WWF)

For the cream cheese glaze:

  • I skipped the butter completely,
  • used mix of honey and turbinado sugar in place of the powdered sugar to my taste

 

Overall, as much as I liked the taste of those cinnamon rolls, they got soggy very quickly, and my kids ate them only on the first day, and right after they were baked, and still warm. They were not interested in them after that. My kids have started asking me to make more cinnamon rolls, but using their words “no those with strawberries in them”. Even the not very picky eater moves her head in agreement.

I would say 2 stars out of 5 in our cookbook.

After my first post I got two recipes from my readers and I’m going to try them next. One is not really a recipe for cinnamon rolls but Cinnamon Swirl Bread from Smitten Kitchen. I’m already feeling challenged. We will definitely omit the raising or currants, but I’m planning to stick to the whole wheat thing…

What’s baking in your kitchen today? If it’s a pan of cinnamon rolls don’t forget to share the recipe with me!!! ????

 

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February Family Camping, Porterville

I left for the camping trip not really in a mood for much more then to throw my own computer into a wall, and then do the same thing with my phone, and after that a few more things could follow. The technology is good, but sometimes I can’t deal with it, especially in moments when all the gadgets stop working, AT THE SAME TIME.

Anyway, we left, and we got to the camping ground in Porterville, around 3am. In the deep darkness we set up the trailer and went to sleep. Got very cold that night, but we survived, well, barely.

Got up to the sound of singing birds and people taking. It was 7am. When I opened one side of our “bed” I couldn’t believe my eyes. The view was spectacular, especially after not really knowing at 3am how the surrounding looks like.

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We all got up and went to get breakfast and do some basic shopping for food and other supplies we didn’t have and couldn’t get through without, like a heater. Yeah, that’s right. We didn’t have one.

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For the whole two days I did not hear once about adults or kids being bored. We explored, got stuck in mud and danced in fields of mustard flowers. However the most funny thing was, while being in a place that’s a “dream come true” to a photographer, I was not able to incorporate or make my kids interested in doing much in those fields.

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The mud and mountains made out of rocks was something they couldn’t stop playing with. Flowers were out of question. They were ok for one quick picture, and then it was “mission mud”. “mission get dirty”, “mission fall down”, “mission climb up”, etc. All my tricks to make them cooperate failed, and I simply let it go after a while. There was a small heart ache while doing so, but sometimes it’s just better to let it go. I can feel, there will be more mustard fields in my future, and for those moments I’ll be prepared better.

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I think, I never before had photographed a kettle so many times in one day. I took tens and tens of pictures of this darn thing. It was looking so pretty. And the light was so playful on it. It was like a magnet to my eyes, and to my camera. I won’t post all of them here, but just a few.

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We also attended a field trial, and I was able to take some great photographs for their community. I think that was pretty neat.

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Our dinner was pretty simple, yet delicious!

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Yeah, you got me, I like mustard!

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The kids’ and mine fist roasted marshmallow

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February Family Camping, Porterville

February Family Camping, Porterville

February Family Camping in Porterville

February Family Camping in Porterville

During this trip the kids, as well as myself had our first ever roasted marshmallows. And as much as I don’t want to admit, they were pretty darn delicious!

 

Did you have any interesting adventures this past weekend, or maybe planning something for the upcoming one? Feel free to share. 

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Don’t be a copycat! BE YOU!

I’m so excited for February. Starting tomorrow, my website as well as Facebook page will be filled up with YELLOW. Well, I’ll try to  mix it up with new recipes for Cinnamon Rolls, just to add some variety 😉

Yesterday, my older daughter had Day off school so we went around the corner to our local orchards to play, dance, catch ladybugs and what’s most important for this mama, test and practice shooting with my new lens.

This vintage, Russian beauty was made in 70ties, and it’s quite the weight. I’m still deciding if I like it better then the 58mm. There are pros and cons to both.

Both lenses are the same brand, and are not in production anymore. Also, they are strictly manual. To make them work on my DSLR I have to work with adapters. The 58mm looses its ability to focus on infinity when the adapter is used, so I have to use a different adapter to be able to take pictures of a subject that’s more then 6 or 7 feet away from me. While I do so, the lens stops producing the amazing bokeh I love it for, essentially. So, the only option for me is to work it with the first adapter and take close up portraits only (here is a session I did using that lens). Which is fine with me, because right now I have the 85mm and this beauty can work from far away. The downsize of it, well, it’s pretty heavy, and while trying to manually focus on dancing kids, and at the same time having to hold the weight of my camera + this lens, ugh… As they say, YOU CAN’T HAVE IT ALL.

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For me those lenses are one of the most amazing lenses ever produced. I’m on a hunt for 2 more, different brands, but they can wait. These days I’m patiently waiting for a package containing something “oh and ah”, also from Ukraine.

Most of the photographs presented in this post are barely edited. I’m not kidding. A few are straight from the camera, with the watermark added on them, only.

They were shot at 1.5 or 2 aperture, so pretty wide open, in full blast sun. I think, this lens is a piece of art, and I can honestly admit, that Russians knew what they are doing while creating those lenses.

Mustard Fields in San Jose

Mustard Fields in San Jose

Mustard Fields in San Jose

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While I’m pretty comfortable with shooting the 58mm, I still need to figure out the 85mm. I’m also not thrilled with the lens flare this lens produces. The 58mm is magical: when you turn it into the sun, it make the most beautiful and magical flare. The picture below is an example. The flare here is small, but still, beautiful.

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The 85mm takes more adjusting to make the flare nice, and require more gymnastics from the person behind the camera. And still, most of the time, the picture is not usable without a major PS editing skills. Which in my dictionary means “you are going to the trash, bye bye”.

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Most of the time it makes a big orange/red spot on the picture, pretty hard not to notice. Especially if it’s in the middle of the subject’s head.

shooting with helios

Anyway, my message to everybody is to do what their little hearts desire instead doing what everybody else is doing. While other people run for their dear life to produce the most sharp and clear pictures using the most newer cameras and lenses, I simply go the other way. I went back to year 2000, and connected with a lens that I loved dearly when I was in high school and college. Discovering that I can use it on my DSLR was like a rebirth of Pheonix. Just watch my rise! 😉 LOL

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Don't be a copycat! BE YOU!

Don't be a copycat! BE YOU!

There is no right or wrong way to do things. Especially in photography. So many people simply forget that photography could (SHOULD) be an art. While there is so much anger and competition, and frustration among photographers, we can make a conscious decision to not be a part of it.

Photography used to be about HOW THE PHOTOGRAPHER SEE the world. Today, it has change into, HOW ONE PHOTOGRAPHER SEE THE WORLD, and the rest follow, with the same style of editing, the same equipment, the same ideas for clients wardrobe and posing…

Don’t be a Copycat. Be YOU!

Ewa

P.S Do you have any unique things you like to do or use in life?

Leave a comment or like my page on Facebook. 

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Quest for the Best Cinnamon Rolls (my kind of photography challenge)

Whatever circles you’re in, I bet you see all kinds of new year resolutions, or new year challenges that people are taking on. In photographers circles 365 Projects or 52 Projects are very popular. It means that some people are challenging themselves to take ONE PICTURE A DAY for a year (365 Project), or ONE PICTURE A WEEK for a year (52 Project). I’ve done it, and since the year started I’ve thought about doing some of those projects again. However, I’m not good at following things (rules) other people set as goals. For example, many of the challenges out there have weekly or daily “themes” that you should follow. Like for example My_365 account on Instagram. Every week they release a list of themes for each day for the upcoming week. While it’s good for some people who might struggle with creativity and with coming up with the ideas of what to shoot for 365 days straight, this isn’t really working for me.

So, when I saw this post about cinnamon rolls on Kids Activities Blog, I immediately knew this is my kind of challenge, and I want to take it. This household is big on cinnamon rolls. But hey, which isn’t. Right? If you don’t like cinnamon rolls, I want to know your name, I want to study you to understand what kind of human being is not in love with cinnamon rolls 😉

The Best Cinnamon Rolls

Over the last few years I’ve mastered to create my own recipe for the BEST CINNAMON ROLLS, and wasn’t really planning on experimenting with the it ever again. But after seeing “25 amazing cinnamon roll recipes” I’ve decided that if I want to challenge myself in anything this year (and by “challenge” I mean something for my personal life, not business), trying as many cinnamon rolls recipes as I can is a great way to do it.

If you have your own favorite recipe, let me know, I would love to test it, and write about it!!!

Just so you know, I am not a blind follower of any recipes, also. So, I’m going to try to make as many of them as I can, but at the same time, I’m giving myself the freedom to change the recipe to my own taste.

My first recipe for this challenge was from “Little Spice Jar” – “CARAMEL APPLE CINNAMON ROLLS

I’d made her Apple Cider Caramel Sauce the day before, and I’m telling you to get up and make it right now!!! It’s sooo freaking delicious, and easy to make.
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I made the dough from my own recipe:

2 cups milk (it should be pretty warm, not hot though)

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 Tbsp. salt

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/3 cup turbinaro sugar

1 packet (2 1/4 tsp.) active dry yeast

1/3 cup flax seed meal

(you can add 1/4 cup chia seeds)

Filling:

softened butter,

turbinado sugar,

cinnamon,

1 grany smith apple, cut into small pieces (I didn’t peel the apple, and my kids “kind of” complained about it)

apple cider caramel sauce,

 

I add all the dough ingredients to the bread machine in the order they are listed above. Set it to the “dough” and wait until the process is done. About 1.5 h.

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After the dough is ready, I split it in half and work each half separately into a big rectangle. Spread softened butter on it, sprinkle turbinado sugar, cinnamon and the caramel. I don’t use any measurements for the filling ingredients. I just do what feels right 😉 So, I did the same this time.

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I don’t like the cinnamon rolls to be overly sweet, so I never really add a lot of sugar. In this case knowing that I’ll be adding the caramel sauce I added even less sugar then normally.

the best cinnamon rolls

After all the filling ingredients were on the dough, I rolled it and cut into two inches slices:

the best cinnamon rolls

I alway bake mine in round baking pans.

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8 rolls per one pan, with some space between then to rise. Before baking, let them rise for about 30 minutes under the cover.

Bake in 375F for 18 – 20 minutes.

the best cinnamon rolls

Done and Done! If they are not sweet enough you can add more caramel on top.

Overall, since I haven’t changed much from my regular recipe, I can say, these were pretty good. I LOVE the caramel, and the kids couldn’t stop talking about it, they were so excited. Next time I would probably peel the apples, though. 

We have already picked our next test: Strawberry Cinnamon Rolls.

Can’t wait!!!

What’s baking in your kitchen today? If it’s a pan of cinnamon rolls don’t forget to share the recipe with me!!! 😉
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David Bailey Inspired San Jose Kids and Pets Photography

I’ve been Natural Light Family Photographer for over 3 years now. For two years I’ve own a tiny set up for portable studio, and used it mostly for Smash Cake sessions in my clients’ homes. However, I’ve always felt like there are other ways to use the equipment I have, and I’m limiting myself by not learning about it. Whenever I tried something new, I did not know where to start from. I lacked inspiration and had great amount of excuses not do dig deeper.

And here I am, digging David Bailey and Gregory Heisler.

How did that happen?

Well, thanks to a friend I recently learned about a portrait workshop, and I instantly knew it’s something I’d love to do, but again, I was looking for excuses not to take it.

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For a long time I’ve tried to convince myself that blasting a great amount of light on my subject to make it look flawless, is to know it all for my business, and I should be happy with knowing at least that much. However deep inside I knew it’s not how I want to do it, and that I want to do something more creative.

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One of the excuses was that my equipment is not enough, and I should wait until I get something bigger and better. But the truth is, I didn’t even know what I need, because I’ve never practiced anything beyond my comfort zone which is required to know the limit of my equipment.

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And here I am today. Taking the workshop and working on my second assignment. My equipment works just fine. Of course, I could have better and bigger stuff, but seriously, I don’t really need it for now.

In the workshop we have 2 weeks to study one great photographer and then be inspired by that person, and create work based on what we’ve learned about this photographer. It is awesome. Two weeks and I feel like I’ve learned a tone already.

Pictures for this post are inspired by David Bailey work, my first assignment for this workshop.

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Each week we are inspired to create something. We’re pushed to get out there and work whatever we have and just learn. I’m loving it.

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I’m not sure if my pups is loving it as much as I am, though 😉

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Today, I’m working on the assignment for Gregory Heisler and I don’t remember the last time I was so frustrated with photography. I don’t remember when I was thinking so much about a concept for ONE portrait. Where to put what, and where bounce what to get the vision I have in my head. It’s a good frustration, though. It pushes me out of my comfort zone.

Can’t wait to see what’s ahead.

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if you’d like to chat about your session, feel free to email to ewasamples(at)gmail.com  also, to stay on top of all kinds of specials as well as photography tips subscribe to my newsletter :

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