Make sure you sign up on my mailing list (just below on the right) before you leave! Your address is SUPER safe with me.

Friday, January 30, 2015

A Light Went Out

Summarizing today's post: A tribute to Penelope, our beloved cat.

Penelope, pet, photography
shot at 55mm, ISO 800, 1/250 sec, f/4.8, on camera flash 1/32 power
A light went out this week. Our beloved cat, Penelope, went home last Monday, January the 26th, 2015. She was 19 years old.

Life can be rough sometimes. The little joys that make things bearable--like our pets--we can easily take for granted. I took Penelope for granted. I always thought she would be here. 

The thing is, she was older than we about 5 years. Until we talked this week to her original owner, we had thought that she was about 14 years old. And since she was in great health (we thought), I just assumed that we had many, many years left to enjoy her.

Not so unfortunately. She got sick very suddenly last weekend. It was such a shock to lose her.

I think back on how many times I walked right past her as she was sitting on the couch...and paid her no mind. How many times I forgot to say goodbye to her before I left for the day. How many times did I not give her enough treats when she was asking... the list goes on and on.

It is like a lamp that is always burning nice and bright, you never go over to it and thank it for light up the room for you. You just always assume it will be there, doing it's job, making the room liveable. It's not until the light goes out that you realize what was there. Funny how that works (actually it's not that funny at all).

We loved Peaches so much. I really don't know how we will ever fill the void that she has left. She gave us so much joy, so much love. We can't hardly wait to see her again one day. 

Is there a lesson to be learned here? I think so. Cherish your loved ones, your family. Whether we are talking about humans or pets, it doesn't matter. Don't take any day that you have with them for granted. Thank God for them everyday. 

Put things into perspective. All the things that you think are really important in your life--all the small stuff we sweat about every single day--really isn't all that important at all.

The photograph above, Penelope is relaxing on the bed, as she loved to do so often. I took this picture exactly one year before she left us. January 26th, 2014. I thought I'd share today. We have tons of photos of her, and I am so glad.

Thanks for reading and have a nice weekend.




Friday, January 23, 2015

Finding Your Relaxation Point

Summarizing today's post: Finding your relaxation point, appreciating the little things, & doing what you love.

photograhy, sky, outdoors
shot at 18mm, ISO 200, f/11, 1/320th of a second
Sometimes you have to get away from all the stress in life and simply find your happy place for a while. I call it your relaxation point. Its the place you go to deliberately cancel out all of the negativity that tries to swallow you up day after day, hour after hour.

I have several relaxation points that I rely on. Primarily, being with my family. I can always recharge my batteries after a couple of hours of relaxing at home with my wife for example. But sometimes our schedules can be so hectic that we don't get to spend the time together we want. So I rely on other simple things to bridge the gaps.

You must learn to appreciate the little things all around you to achieve contentment. At least I think so. I love nature, and I especially I love taking photographs of the sky. It can be so relaxing. 

photography, sky, outdoors
shot at 20mm, ISO 200, f/11, 1/800th of a second
I have posted photos of the sky and clouds before (see here for a nice one of the sunrise) so this idea is nothing new. It's such a simple thing that brings me a lot of joy to capture.

You ought to take notice the next time you see a nice sunset, or a neat little cluster of clouds on the horizon. You can at least enjoy it for a moment. Or better yet snap a photo of it, you don't have to be a professional photographer. Your smartphone camera is more that capable of taking a nice shot for you to enjoy later.

Your relaxation point is probably not the same as mine (and probably is not...we are all different). The point is to find something you love to do and do it more often. To identify what gives you peace, so that when life gets a little rough, you know instantly what you can do to get to a place of quick as possible. 

With all the things that can bring you down in the course of a day, its important to have little things you can rely on to help you get thru those not-so-good times. If nothing else, you can simply think about those little things until you can experience them again. I keep photos I have taken (of simple things like the sky in these examples) handy that I can view quickly when I need a quick shot of contentment. 

Have a nice Friday and thank for reading.


Wow, look at made it all the way thru my post! I really appreciate you as a reader. Don't forget to register your email for automatic updates up at the top. Please pass this blog post on to your friends using the Tweet, Facebook, and Google+ buttons. That would be awesome.


Friday, January 16, 2015

In Your Element

Summarizing today's post: Being in your "element", doing what makes you happy, and going back to basics.

photography, family, park
shot at 36mm, ISO 200, f/5.6, 1/100th of a sec, ambient light only
One way contentment can be defined: Being in your "element". Ever heard that phrase? It simply means to be somewhere, and to do something that comes natural to you. Some place, some thing, some task that naturally brings you to a happier state of mind.

Like a fish in water. A dog curled up at the feet of his master. A painter at her canvas. The list goes on.

I just love being with my family. They are my world, my reason for getting up in the morning. I love spending time with them, and I feel like I am in my element when we are together. In the photo above, Pinky is about to 'release' Little Bud to go play on the playground at a local park. I told him I needed a smile first before he went :)

These little trips to the park (or simple walks together around the neighborhood, etc.) are extremely special because of several reasons. Namely, it increases our bond together and puts us all in a happier place. I wonder why that is?

The reason is this: we are all in "our element" at the same time. Gavin is in his element, playing on the playground, hollering at us to join him. Pinky is in her element, laughing at Gavin running around and chasing him. And I am in my element, for sure. Watching them play and snapping photos of them. (It's a double-whammy for me actually...I'm combining my two passions, my family and photography.)

It's important that you catch the fact that we are all in our element--our natural state of contentment--at the same time. This is how bonds are formed between people.

I challenge you to do something with your family this weekend that you all enjoy doing at the same time. It could be something as simple as watching a movie, playing cards or a board game, or going for a walk. Get back to basics. Get into your element together and let the sense of happiness that comes over you wash away all the troubles of the workweek. 

Don't forget the camera...take a moment to capture your happy times while you are at it (more on that here).

[Sidenote: Everyone's family is different. Your family might just be a special friend or two. That's okay, the point is to spend time with the people who are important to you.]

Thanks for reading and enjoy your Friday!


Wow, look at made it all the way thru my post! I really appreciate you as a reader. Don't forget to register your email for automatic updates up at the top. Please pass this blog post on to your friends using the Tweet, Facebook, and Google+ buttons. That would be awesome.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Our Loyal Companions

Summarizing today's post: Overhead, off-camera lighting using our loyal companions (the pussycats) as models.

Photography, off camera lighting, pussycat
46mm, ISO 200, f/5.6, 1/125th of a sec, off-camera lighting using softbox overhead
Who are your companions...your true everyday loyal followers? I say followers in the literal sense because I'm referring to the pets that most of you have. And, yes...they are followers, especially puppy dogs and pussycats. If you are home right now as you read this, look beside you: You probably have a pair eyes looking at you. 

Right now our sweet ole pussycat is sitting beside me watching me work, completely satisfied with just a simple scratch on the noggin every few minutes. "Kitty", as she is known by, is shown above in one of her traditional positions. She's almost 18 years old and been with me since she was a kitten. She is a true companion, we love her dearly.

I love to take photographs of our kitty cats in there natural state. They make such good models because, for the most part, they don't move! If you ever wanted to play around and develop your photography skills, I highly recommend using a pet as your subject when they are just lying around. It's just hard to mess up, and you can shoot and shoot a hundred times until you get your lighting right. 

It's all about lighting you know. Photography is basically painting with real time. I have spoken plenty of times about off-camera lighting and you get can get the basics by scanning my past posts (start here). If you want to let your creativity shine, you need to move your lighting source off-axis (away from your camera). It's a wonderful way to turn a snapshot into a photograph.

In the photo above, I moved my strobe (I call my flash a strobe when detached from my camera) directly above Kitty. Moving your light source from side to side, over and above, behind or in front, all effects the mood of your image. One of my favorite positions is directly overhead. It really creates a dramatic effect.

cat, photography, off camera lighting
48mm, ISO 200, f/5.6, 1/125th of a sec, off-camera lighting using softbox overhead
Off-camera lighting truly does add a different perspective to your photographs. It adds a 3 dimensional aspect that's hard to manufacture any other way. The positions of your light source is infinite, and is limited only by your imagination. 

Here's another shot of Penelope, our other loyal pussycat, all curled up in her bed. This is where she spends a lot of her time. She blends right in with the bedding, and its hard to get a good photograph. I captured this image using the same off-camera lighting technique, but my strobe was off to one side slightly. The lighting setup gave dimension to an otherwise flat image. Try it.

What to do if you don't have a "fancy" camera and equipment? That's no excuse, you can still play around with off-camera lighting using your point-and-shoot camera or cell phone. Here's how:

First turn off your flash. Find your subject (a worthless pussycat will do just fine). Have an assistant shine a flashlight over your subject, but filter the light by shining it thru a piece of copy paper. This will change the color to a nice white and also soften the light. Then back up a few feet and shoot away and see what you get. I bet you'll be surprised.

You hear me talk about how happiness is linked to photography all the time (see here). When you look at your results, I bet you can't NOT smile. It's so fun to play with lighting.  Put your pets to work and go try this, you can't mess anything up...except maybe naptime.

Have a nice Friday and thanks for reading!


Wow, look at made it all the way thru my post! I really appreciate you as a reader. Don't forget to register your email for automatic updates up at the top. Please pass this blog post on to your friends using the Tweet, Facebook, and Google+ buttons. That would be awesome.

Friday, January 2, 2015

The New Year Is Here! Any Goals for 2015?

Summarizing today's post: Making a plan for 2015, a quick resource guide for you, & developing your photography skills.

2015, happy new year
graphic courtesy of (artist info)
Today is the second day of 2015, hard to believe the new year is here! I hope you didn't make any "new year's resolutions" this year, but instead made a goal or two for yourself. Resolutions (95% of them anyway) dissolve by February. Goals are real. So don't jinx your plans by calling them by the wrong title.

What's the difference? A resolution is something made on a whim without much thought. It's just something you say. A goal is something you write down. Then make small, measurable steps towards achieving it. It's not a pie-in-the-sky dream, it's something that can really happen.

Don't know what to shoot for in the form of a goal?

Here's the quickest and easiest thing to get you started: Start reading something in an area that excites you. Search out resources that line up with your interests. Join online communities that talk about things you are interested in. You don't have to set the world on fire (as I said here), just start doing something a little different.

With that in mind, I wanted to give you a few links to some resources that you may find interesting. These are some of my personal favorites that I refer to constantly to help better my own life.

  1. Joe McNally's blog, found here. One the best resources for developing your photography skills, written by a professional photographer.
  2. David Hobby's blog, found here. One of the best sources of free information about off-camera lighting in photography.
  3. Seth Godin's blog, found here. He is a marketing guru that gives practical advice on achieving your entrepreneurial dreams.
  4. Michael Hyatt's website, found here. He talks about this very idea of developing goals for yourself, and also building a platform for you to speak from.
  5. Dan Miller's "48 Days" website, found here. Huge inspiration on generating ideas and developing plans to better your professional life. He also offers a podcast as well.
  6. Lastly, Dave Ramsey's website, found here. I can't leave him out. He has truly been a life changer for me in the way I view finances. He's a Godly man who gives practical instruction on how to get out of debt and win with money. He offers a multitude of free information via his radio show and podcast. 

I will stop with these six for right now, but there are many more I could list. My resource list go beyond the heading of photography, but I list them because they help me in other areas my everyday life. I thought you'd benefit, so I wanted to pass it along.

The important thing I want to get across to you is that you need to rely upon some good quality resources in order to help you achieve your goals in 2015. Don't try to do it alone. We all need help. Make a plan to do something this year.

I truly do wish you a happy new year. It's going to be a good year, I can feel it. Can't you?

Have a nice Friday and thanks for reading!


Wow, look at made it all the way thru my post! I really appreciate you as a reader. Don't forget to register your email for automatic updates up at the top. Please pass this blog post on to your friends using the Tweet, Facebook, and Google+ buttons. That would be awesome.