Friday, March 21, 2014

In My Neighborhood - Part 2

We've lived in this neighborhood over 4 years, and today was the first day I ever walked down this little gravel road.  It's a inconspicuous little access road nestled between two houses.  Driving down the street, most people would probably miss it.  I've passed by it so many times on our walks around the neighborhood, but I had never before ventured down it to see where it led.  Today, I am so glad I did!

Although most everything is dead and brown, I bet this little walk will be amazing this summer.  I can see where lots of wild flowers, grasses, and lush fields will likely be in a few more months.  I see the makings of a great photo shoot location!

One side of the road is lined with trees and the other side is a big field with brush up near the road.  I'm not really sure if the brush is all weeds or flowers, but I'll find out later this spring and summer once everything starts growing again.

I bet this will be a great spot for bird watching and butterflies as well.  I saw a male and female cardinal, our state bird, darting around the trees lining the gravel road.  They were too far for a picture with my 50 mm, so I'll definitely need to take a telephoto lens out next time.

Today was a gorgeous spring day.  Temps were perfect for spring.  The sun was shining beautifully with very few clouds in a bright blue sky.  I couldn't have asked for nicer weather or a nicer walk!

It was a fun time to play around with real sun flare too!

At the end of the gravel road was a section of pine trees, fences, and the actual purpose of this little access road, some equipment for the gas company.  Now I know why this road is there!

Basically this entire road just a few minutes away from house is filled with perfect backdrops for photo shoots.  I can't believe it's taken so long for me to figure this out!  Now for everything to turn green again and we'll be all set!

Keep checking back for the next part of this photo story:  In My Neighborhood.  I can't wait to see what we find next!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Star Wars Print Camera Strap Cover Giveaway

Since upgrading to a full frame camera, I noticed right away the difference in weight from my old DSLR.  I decided I was definitely in need of just a little extra padding on that neck strap so I set to work making a strap cover.  It was so easy, I can't believe I'd never made one before.  And then I made another one, and then somehow I ended up with a half dozen of them!  I just couldn't stop.  My sewing machine has had more use in the past few days than it has in over a year!  And I'm rediscovering all these fun fabrics I have that would make excellent strap covers!  I think there will be many more of these to come!

Anyone who knows me personally knows that I'm a big fan of science fiction, mainly Doctor Who.  But since I can't find any licensed Doctor Who fabric this side of the pond, one of the strap covers I made was from another fandom favorite, a licensed Star Wars fabric.  Also, I've decided I can't use all these strap covers because after all you can only have one on your camera strap at a time.  So I'm going to give one away!  Being the total nerd that I am, I picked the Star Wars print one as the prize for this giveaway.  I'm also aware that not everyone out there is into Star Wars or science fiction (although I have no clue why!), and I don't want to exclude those strange people from this giveaway, so I'm going to give the winner their choice of either the Star Wars strap cover or the solid blueish gray strap cover pictured below.  We all know which one you should choose though!

The strap covers measure approximately 24 inches long by 2 inches wide.  They should easily slip onto most camera straps for that little extra cushion and style!  After the giveaway, I'll be listing these straps along with many others for sale in my Etsy shop.

Details:  The prize is the winner's choice of either the Star Wars strap cover or the solid bluish gray strap cover pictured on this page.  Camera, camera strap, and any other accessories pictured here are NOT included.  Giveaway begins on Friday, March 14th at 12:00 AM EST and ends Friday, March 21st at 12:00 AM EST.  Please use the Rafflecopter form below to enter.  Winner will be posted here on Saturday, March 22nd.  Open to US residents only (Prize will only ship to US addresses and excludes PO Boxes).  This giveaway is sponsored by Captured by CJ Photography.

Monday, March 10, 2014

In My Neighborhood - The Beginning of a Photo Story

Now that the weather is beginning to improve around here, I foresee the prompt return of our afternoon walks and many trips to the park.  Beginning today to be exact.  Upper forties and sunshine feels amazing compared to the icy snow freezing temps we've been faced with for so long.  And it was great to get outside and explore the neighborhood for the first time since we were forced inside by the cold late last fall!  Don't get me wrong, it's not like we haven't left the house all just feels that way!

Before heading out the door I made sure to grab my camera.  I plan on documenting these little excursions as a photo story.  I am also using the opportunity to get the kids to look around more when we go on these walks.  I told them to look up, look down, look everywhere for something that they'd like me to take a picture of.  It gets them excited about the world around them and gets me some great pictures in return!  I also love that we don't have to go far for a great adventure!

Our neighborhood is equipped with some great paved walking paths, a trail through a wooded area, several ponds, and a small park with a playground!  It's like the jackpot of getting to do so much so close to home (too bad there isn't a pool though, we could really use that in the summertime!).  We started our trek around the neighborhood with the trail through the woods.  I always have to make sure the park is last or else we'd never get to see anything else.

Baby girl was adamant she wanted to carry a purse and her fluffy bunny along with her today.  The purse was packed with her own camera (I wonder where she gets that from!), and I'm fairly certain the bunny was because we just read a book and watched a DVD about Mo Willem's "Knuffle Bunny."  I tried to convince her to leave them both.  I knew she wouldn't want to carry them the entire time.  I knew I would end up carrying them if she brought them.  She disagreed.  Guess who was right?  Exactly, not her!

It felt great to be outdoors, in the sun and fresh air!  On our walk adventure, we ran into some school friends out riding bikes, saw many bird's nests, counted pine cones, scared a dog, and played on the swings.  I also discovered that part of our neighborhood is apparently patrolled by a Shih Tzu!  You learn something new everyday.

We saw many really pretty things on our walk, although the overwhelming color of the afternoon was brown thanks to the long winter.  But the promise of spring was out there.  A few spots of green were peaking through the old leaves on the ground in the woods and buds are popping out on the tips of branches and stems everywhere.  I look forward to seeing the countless colors I'll be able to capture on future walks.

Even though there is still some ice remaining and a little snow patch here and there, spring is truly on its way.

We'll see temperatures in the sixties this week even!  I can't wait for that. This is just the very beginning of my photo story and our many adventures through the neighborhood.

Come back regularly to find out what else we have seen and discovered as our photo story continues!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Brickworld and My New D800

So I finally made the switch to a full frame camera!  It is AH-mazing!!  I still need to curl up with the manual for a while to learn all the ins and outs and differences from my old crop sensor, but I couldn't resist taking it along for our adventure at Brickworld Indy today.  A few hours of walking around with the D800 hanging from my neck made me realize I'm probably going to need a padded camera strap.  It's definitely heavier than my old camera!

We saw the LEGO movie in theaters earlier this week, and there were some pretty impressive displays of the locations from the movie.  The double-decker couch makes an appearance, and there's also a giant Unikitty!  LEGO Star Wars has a huge presence at the expo including several large displays and custom vendors.  There were tables for the kids to play with LEGOs and even a LEGO Duplo section for the little ones.

All in all my first trip to Brickworld was a blast, especially with my new camera.  Below is a selection of photos from some of our favorite displays.

Brickworld Indy runs through tomorrow, March 9th, so you still have a time to check it out if you are interested!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Apple Bapple

Last week we had a little fun outside when we woke up to a light dusting of snow.  I captured a new favorite of my daughter as well as a new favorite photo of our little dapple dachshund named Apple Bapple.

Isn't she just beautiful?  I'm not at all biased here!!  She just really is the cutest!

On a whim I decided to share the photo of our dog on a Facebook page dedicated to this adorable breed.  I love seeing all the cute doxies in my news feed every day, and it was high time I shared my own!  Yesterday, they chose Apple as the Dog of the Day and shared my photo on their timeline!

Now Apple is famous!  Just kidding, but it is incredibly neat to see so many likes and shares of my Apple's photo.

This morning we woke up to more snow.  It's still coming down, and we're expecting much more than a "dusting" this time!  After 50 degree temperatures yesterday and now this, I think Mother Nature is really confused about what season it is!  I took this photo last week as we were coming back in from our little morning walk.  The fall leaves, white snow, and green grass really show you just how confusing it is.  Who knows what season it is anymore!  All I know is that I'm really looking forward to summer!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Moody Winter

Finally we had a nice clear sunny day with temperatures above freezing.  Finally!  This never-ending winter with its record breaking snowfalls has taken cabin fever to a whole new level.  I couldn't wait to get out and get some photos!  Too bad, my subject didn't feel the same!  She wanted no part of having her picture taken or even enjoying our walk through the park.

SPARTA!!!  Or at least that's what it looks like she was screaming.  It was actually something more along the lines of, "Lets go to the!"  Next time, we'll have to hit up the playground first and head for the trails afterwards.  Lesson learned.

And after that, there was absolutely no more getting her to even look in the direction of the camera.  Good thing she doesn't realize she's just as cute walking away!  I would have probably had even more pictures of moody looks instead!

This little guy had no problems posing for the camera though.  He didn't stop munching on his lunch, but he did hang out and let us get pretty darn close.  

This might be my favorite shot of the day.  I love the simplicity of it and the color.  I also love that it looks like it was taken much closer to sunset than at noon when it was actually shot.  

 This particular park has quite a few Sycamore trees and this view in the winter is pretty neat.  These seed balls hang like ornaments on the branches.  As much as I appreciate the view, I wish it was spring and these things would be dropping and spreading all over the woods.

The views at this park are gorgeous year round.  This was my first trip to this particular park in the winter though.  The snow on the banks of the creek and the reflection of the tree trunks in the water makes me wish we could have stayed out there all day to look at it!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Celebrating the Blue and Gold

Did you know that it's National FFA Week?  Every year during the week of George Washington's birthday, FFA chapters across the country celebrate this wonderful organization.  Back when I was in school, that meant a row of tractors in the parking lot, wearing official dress to school, and mostly just spreading the word about the awesomeness that is FFA!

A friend of mine (that I met through FFA!) shared a blog on Facebook yesterday from The Pinke Post.  The post titled "Why is FFA Relevant For Our Future" is a fantastic read and sent me running down memory lane back to my days of blue and gold.  This morning I decided to check on the status of my former corduroy jackets tucked in an old garment bag in the back of a closet.  

A tiny mustard seed pin was still attached to the collar of one jacket.  I'm not sure why I put it on there so long ago, but I can see its relevance now.  Like the parable of the mustard seed, FFA and the knowledge and skills gained through it, may last only a short time and seem such a small part of your life, but they grow into something magnificent over the years.  I still use skills I learned in FFA even on something so trivial as going to the grocery store (Meat and Poultry judging anyone?).  I would not be who I am today if it were not for FFA, the people I met through FFA, and the opportunities and experiences I gained through FFA activities. 

As I was looking over the jackets, I noticed there were some things in the pockets.  In the pocket of one jacket was the FFA scarf the ladies wear with official dress.  It was the safest place to keep it so you weren't hunting it down whenever it was time to put on your official dress!  And in the pocket of the other jacket was this tiny wooden gavel!  I can't remember where I got it, but I imagine it was from my time serving as chapter and district President.

So Happy FFA Week!  If you are or were a former FFA member, I'm sure you have your own reasons why FFA is important!  And if you weren't in FFA, I hope you can still appreciate the lasting affect it has on those of us who were!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Art Actually

Despite the 5 inches of snow that was dumped on the Indianapolis area on Valentine's Day there was still a great turnout for the Art Actually Gallery Exhibition presented by Kevin West at the Mavris Arts and Events Center in downtown Indianapolis.

Mavris was a great location was for this particular event.  The room was a wide space with plenty of seating and room to move around.  The building had both an industrial and eccentric feel thanks to the open ceiling and brick walls, as well as a grand piano and chandeliers.  I loved everything about this place!

And as if the venue itself didn't provide enough to look at, six very talented artists had their incredible work on display on every wall in the room.  The artists included:

Kevin West
Amy Ward
Will Watson
Latoya Marlin
Gabriel Lehman
Wendi Hall

Live music for the event was provided by the very lovely and talented singer/songwriter Sukie Conley.  She played a great mix of her own music and also some well known covers on her guitar while singing and engaging the crowd.  Despite her claims to be camera shy, she was anything but!  To listen to more from Sukie or see where she's performing next check out her website at

To see the full collection of photos from Friday night's exhibition click here: