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Unwinding at Robert Moses Beach

Long Island had a rough Spring.  I believe it rained 23 days in a row.  Our family could barely hold on and wait for summer but thankfully our wait is over.  This past holiday weekend we had an amazing time, and we spent it with one another which was equally as awesome. 

Involved in our weekend we had carnivals, BBQ's, a trip to the Hampton's, a couple of melt downs here and there (from kids AND Mom & Dad) but overall it was one amazing weekend.  

After dinner was made Sunday night, my husband and I decided to unwind one last time before getting back into the mindset of going back to work on Monday.  We decided to pack the kids in the car jump and headed to Robert Moses Beach at dusk.

The boys had a great time running off the last bit of energy they had, and I got to take some pictures.. WIN WIN for all of us.

All photos were taken with my 70-300 at either a 4.5 or a 5.6 in AV mode with an ISO at 400.  All the photos are straight out of the camera, sharpened for web except the last one where I ran Pioneer Woman's Fresh Color action.

And my favorite shot for the day.. 


Weekly Winners - Carnivals in Town

Weekly Winners
I am excited to participate in the weekly meme called Weekly Winners hosted by the one and onlyLotus.

Each photo is straight out of camera with a web sharpening action applied to them except the Carousal Horse Photo where I used Pioneer Women 70's Action and then I applied a leather texture.

Before we left he gave me a big smile!

The next two photos were taken by Daddy.. but they are definitely weekly winners because my boys were so happy at this Festival. 


What the heck? Friday - I want that, that, that AND that.

The problem first started back in 2006 when my husband gave me my first SLR camera as a Christmas present.. you see the problem was that I had no idea what SLR even meant. I left it on auto and that was about it.

The second problem started when I decided to take some photography lessons to understand what the little letters on the top of the dial meant. One on one photography classes were not cheap, and the more I was learning the more I needed/wanted to learn.

Here I am with a newly found hobby that I loved, except with my new hobby came lots and lots of investments. Some of these investments were really, really dumb. And that is the basis of today's What the Heck? Friday..

First, You don't need everything all at once.
Second, Research every decision before committing to a purchase.

Okay, so I couldn't afford to keep taking private lessons, so since I am pretty savvy (aka dorky) with my way around online forums, I would try to find a community dedicated to photography. I found many. LOTS AND LOTS of them. I joined the popular ones as a free member and some as a paid member and poked around.  (another investment that was not wise on my part because $5 here a month, $5 there a month adds up quickly!!)

The two I frequent all the time are, Clickin Moms and I Love Photography. The reason I frequent these two instead of all the others is because I get the most of them personally. It is personal preference, but both the forums are incredible. They offer great tutorials, give critiques, and you can take your time to really dig through all the materials. You can also find cool free stuff like digital papers for digital scrapbooking, free actions for Photoshop, free templates for cards, etc.

Clickin Moms also has a small fee but if you use the code FRIEND at checkout, they will get 10% off any subscription. This coupon is only good for new member

I touched base on actions for Photoshop when talking about the forums. With an action you can press a button and PRESTO ... a total look and feel to your photos. When I first started using Photoshop I was purchasing actions from everyplace I could find them.  Trust me when I say, I purchased a TON.  The trick is though, actions are only great if you know how to use them.  8 out of 10 times you will use an action and it will make your photo look funky so you think it is the action, and you purchase more actions, never realizing it is the inexperience of how to use an action that is the real problem.  So proceed with caution with actions, because actions are only really great if you know how to use them.  **And remember to go to photography forums where you can find free actions to play around with or email a vendor to see if they can send you a sample of their actions (most actions online offer free ones for you to try them out).

Also, don't get into the mindset that "Oh, I can fix that in Photoshop".  Learn how to get the correct exposure, the correct depth of field, etc straight out of the camera.  I was definitely guilty of using Photoshop to fix photos I butchered because I did not know how to control my camera's settings.  But once you start submitting your work for critque you quickly realize you are fooling NO ONE but yourself.  

My advice to you, take time to learn your camera and then how Photoshop can help give your photos some flare.  Really get to understand how the program works and effects the picture.  Heck, I just bought another book to help me out (Scott Kelby's newest book on CS4).  There are also two blogs that I follow that I find to be experts in Photoshop.. MCPActions and Pioneer Women.  Both offer free tutorials that are easy to understand.  

Another investment I made that was extremely costly was purchasing new lenses before I knew what I really needed or liked.  I walked into a local camera shop and let them talk me into crap lenses that I have since turned around and sold.  That is why I strongly urge you to do your research first.  If you walk into a camera shop that is shady (like I did, but I had NO idea they were shady until I did my homework) they will most likely steer you in the direction that suits them, not you.  You can even rent lenses online before you decide on your purchase.  (I have never done that before, but I hear it is extremely easy and worthwhile). 

Investing in great lenses AKA great glass is something I cannot stress enough in helping the quality of your pictures.  But you need to know the difference between a prime or zoom lens or what the difference is between lenses that are wide angle and macro.

For example, you just received an SLR camera and it came with a kit lens.  Now what?  Study.  Research.  And get to know your camera body before you even think about buying anything for your camera.  The kit lens will get you by for most every shot until you decide if photography is something you want to pursue more seriously.  That is my biggest piece of advice.  Get to know what you have before committing to another purchase.

I wish I would have followed my own advice before I jumped into the very dumb choices I have made over the past two years.  And boy or boy did I make some bad choices.  Wait until you can clearly see what is limiting your photos.  Just recently I upgraded to a new camera body (well hubby surprised me with it but he knew it was time from all my complaining).  I was shooting with the Sony A100 but I was getting noise at 400 ISO, which means that I was unable to shoot in low light situations.  That was completely limiting me on the quality of my photos.  I upgraded to the Sony A700, which was a huge investment, but has improved my photos 100%.  

Now don't get me wrong, I still want, want, want.  I am currently drooling over the 24-70 mm/2.8 Carl Zeiss lens.  But I won't purchase it until I have made enough profits in my portrait business to afford it.   

Bottom line, research, study and keep shooting.  

Happy Birthday America!  I hope you all enjoy the holiday.  For some great tips on how to shoot fireworks, head on over to Long Island Photo Gallery.

**Remember, this is only my opinion, take what you want from it, challenge me on it, etc.  I just hate to see anyone else waste money on silly purchases that could have been avoided if I just took some time to research 


Wordless & Wordful Wednesday - Meet Dexter

Two weeks ago we decided to adopt a new family member.  It took us no time to find the sweetest face in the entire puppy store.  

We even named him before we agreed to purchase him.  It was love.  They cleaned him up and sent us on our way.  The boys were beyond excited.  

But by morning the love turned into itchy eyes, sneezing, coughing, and itching.  Lots and lots of itching.  My heart broke for my four year old.  His newest, bestest buddy was causing him to have an allergic reaction.

I freaked.  I have seen my son have an allergic reaction to cats (once took his eyes three days to go down after being around a cat), but he was never allergic to dogs.  I even contemplated bringing the puppy back because of how bad my little guy was around the dog (I completely had a melt down on Twitter).  Each time he would touch the dog his body would scream.

After conversations with my hubby (who said I needed to chill and see what happens), doctors and friends,  it was decided to see if his body adjusts to the dog.  I was driving my husband insane.  Crying, wondering if we made the right decision.  I hated watching my little guy suffer.

A few doses of benadryl, a blood test, and a very nervous Mom (yes, still), we seem to be in a better place.  We are waiting for the blood work to come back to see what his tolerance marker levels are, but I can tell you that we have had our puppy for two weeks and my sons only reactions over the last few days have been red eyes and mild itchy skin. All the other symptoms have started to subside (**I stopped the benadryl about a week ago).

Huge lessoned learned through all this...  Overreact.  Go to the Doctors.  Then Stop overreacting.  And maybe admit to your hubby that every once in a while you are wrong.  

Please allow me to introduce our newest family member.. DEXTER

(named after a cartoon called Dexter's Labortory, not the crazy show on Showtime that I had no idea about)

Dexter is an English Male Mastiff.. He is expected to be about 120-150 pounds fully grown.  His birthday is 3/19/2009.. and since taking him home he has already gained five pounds.  This little guy is gonna be huge.. 

Look at that face though.. HOW adorable is that face? 

And he is the best puppy ever. Seriously, he is almost potty trained & is sleeping through the night now!!

For more Wordless Wednesday go toWordless Wednesday,Five Minutes for MomandSeven Clown Circus


Precious Baby Boy CTB - Long Island Newborn Photography

Recently I had the opportunity to take photos of my beautiful friend Jessica's newborn son.  Little CTB was my first newborn photo session.  I was anxious, excited and very, VERY nervous.  

Now, don't get me wrong, I read a ton.. studied a lot..practiced on my focus..but I was still a bundle of nerves and truthfully you never know what to expect with a newborn.

When I got to her home Little CTB was WIDE awake which was fine because it took about 20 minutes to set up. Here is what I brought:

A mini heater
Backdrop holder
Bean Bag

Little CTB was not happy getting undressed, and for about 15 minutes he was fussy but we soon realized the little man was a little hungry.  Jessica nursed to him to sleep and he was AMAZING the rest of the photo session.

We were even lucky that his sweet, beautiful little cousin stopped by for the photo session.  She joined Little CTB for a few shots.

Here are a few of my favorite from the session:

Two collages I made of the photos (the backgrounds are not pink, just how it uploaded):


This little bear hat photo is my favorite from the entire day (look at those little lips!!)

Thanks again Jessica and Charlie for allowing me to spend some one on one time with Little CTB.  He is a perfect little angel. 


Please excuse Kim as she has been busy..

I know, I know, this is week two that I have missed posting What the Heck? Friday.  It appears that life is moving quicker than me and I am trying hard to find time to do anything.

Between a working F/T job, editing photo sessions, all while trying to be a Mom, Wife, Friend, etc.. has left me with very little time.

I have tons to share..lots of lessons that I have learned recently.. and of course photos.  Lots and Lots of photos!!

So please excuse me for my lack of posting.  I will return next week with lots of big announements and photos!!

Happy Weekend All!!


Wordless Wednesday - Random Pics that I love

These are some random pictures I have taken over the last few months that I just love.. 

For more Wordless Wednesday go toWordless Wednesday,Five Minutes for MomandSeven Clown Circus


Shaping our boys to be men..

Recently I was asked to write a short paragraph on why my husband makes a great dad.. "three or four sentences was the requirements".. It was hard to keep it short and get across everything my husband means to me as the father to our boys.. 

I should preface that the older my boys get, the more I see how important it is to build those blocks they will use as men in the future.  I want to tell my husband how important he is to me and our boys.  I love you more than you even see and our boys are blessed to have such and amazing Dad.

Below is the paragraph that I wrote for with what makes my husband a great Dad.. 

What I admire most about my husband is his commitment and dedication to his boys. He encourages our boys to take risks but is always an arms distance away. He will pick them up when they fall, wipe their little noses when they are sick and embarrass himself for the sake of a belly laugh. There is nothing he would not sacrifice for our kids and he is never to shy to tell them he loves them. My husband is my best friend, the missing piece of me, our family would not work without him in it. We are very lucky to have him in our life.

Happy Father's Day to you all (Dads & Moms!!)


Wordless & Wordful Wednesday - Strawberry Fields Forever


Over the weekend my husband and I took our boys strawberry picking for the first time (for me too!!). I cannot even begin to tell you how wonderful it was to see the quiet side of Long Island. We drove East and North and ended up on a part of the island I had never been too. There was land, land, and more land.

No buildings.
No houses on top of one another.
No McDonalds.

It was serene.
We got to drive past horses, cows, bison.. oh my!

It was great to see the boys run around the strawberry field finding the yummiest, most perfect strawberries ever.

I am a very lucky girl.

And now for my favorite picture from the day....(this is SOOC with a slight curve adjustment)

For more Wordless Wednesday go to Wordless Wednesday, Five Minutes for Mom and Seven Clown Circus


Weekly Winners - NYC Round Two

Weekly Winners
I am excited to participate in the weekly meme called Weekly Winners hosted by the one and only Lotus.

Last Sunday I took my boys to NYC.  After we made a trip to the museum we decided to stroll through Central Park.  I love Central Park because you just never know what kind of activities you will be able to capture.  Below are some of  my favorite shots of the day. 

The Painted Ballerina - **sooc
Goldman - he kinda reminded me of Michael Jackson

The next two pictures were take of a band playing in the park. Their music was incredible!
**Fresh and colorful


Another muscian with an amazing voice **seventies action

A woman playing harp - her face reflects how peaceful and beautiful the music that she was playing..**sooc

And what would Central Park be without Brides!(*sooc)

**Fresh and colorful

**All photos were shot in aperture priority. Some photos are straight out of the camera, others are edited with photoshop actions that were created by Pioneer Women (name of action next to photo)