Instagram Hop

Hello, beautiful friends!  I’ve teamed up with some other fine lady bloggers this week for a fun Instagram hop.  Been looking to expand your horizons and make new IG friends?  Well here’s your chance!  Follow the simple steps below and have fun!



Please read carefully over the rules for the hop! And don’t forget to link up your Instagram web profile below!! 


1.) Follow your host and co-hosts
Liz - Instagram @lizmariegalvan
Emily - Instagram @everythingemilyblog
Chelsea – Instagram @twotwentyone

 Chelsea – Instagram @makinghomebase
Blog - FacebookTwitterPinterest

2.) Link up your Instagram webprofile 

You can link up your instagram profile using
With this option you will have to upload a photo from your computer:

Or.. you can use which will allow you to use a photo directly from your instagram.
This option is easier! Simply go to click “login” then click “my photos” & copy and paste
that url like shown & choose a photo and you are done…



3.) Hop around! Browse other Instagram profiles and meet some new friends! 
4.) Spread the word! Feel free to share the hop on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, ect!


Stalk away!

I Have A DSLR Camera, Now What?

Congratulations on your new digital SLR camera!  It’s such an exciting grownup toy!   But where do you start?  By reading this post, of course.  I’ve been practicing photography off and on for 15+ years, and while I’m far from a professional, I compiled my biggest tips for what to do once you have your paws on a shiny, new DSLR camera.  But don’t run away if you’ve had your DSLR for some time– many of these tips are beneficial to you too!

I Have a DSLR Camera Now What?


Insure your camera and equipment.I don’t know about you, but it makes sense to me to insure a $500+ piece of equipment that can be easily dropped or stolen.  Add your camera and all your equipment to your homeowner’s or renter’s policy.  To give you an idea of the cost, it’s $27 per year for me to insure $1,800 worth of equipment.  And that’s with no deductible.  Completely unrelated: another item you should insure?  Your engagement and wedding rings.  Now give your insurance agent a call.


Get a UV protection filter for your camera.I cringe when I see people using their DSLRs without UV protection filters, especially those who tout themselves as photography and camera savvy.  It takes everything in me to keep my mouth shut when I see this.  Why do you want a filter for EACH of your lenses?  Because if you happen to drop your camera or a lens, the filter will break and not the lens glass.  It also protects the lens glass from scratches, fingerprints, dust, dirt, sand, etc.  There are different grades of UV protection filters, ranging in price from $5 to $130+.  I have $7 Tiffen filters on all of my lenses.  I may upgrade one day, but for now I’m good to go with my inexpensive filters.


Read your DSLR camera manual. Like with any sport or hobby, practice makes perfect.  Sorry to break it to you, but just because you have a fancy schmancy DSLR doesn’t mean you’re going to be an amazing photographer over night.  Just because Joe Schmoe buys an expensive guitar doesn’t mean he’s instantly going to be the next Jimi Hendricks.  Pickin’ up what I’m puttin’ down?  Want to learn how to take awesome photos?  Read your manual.  Learn about your camera and its capabilities.  Yeah, it can be boring, but have your camera with you while you read and play with the settings and practice as you read the manual.


Play around with your DSLR camera. This goes along with reading the manual– play around with your camera.  You’re never going to get better at photography, especially shooting in manual, if you don’t put your camera to use.


Read online photography tutorials. There are so many free photography tutorials out there.  Start a photography Pinterest board (here’s mine) to organize all the tutorials you’d like to read and try out with your camera.  Just with reading the manual, have your camera with you while you read tutorials so you can try out the settings mentioned in the tutorial you’re reading.


Invest in extra DSLR camera equipment. Yeah, your camera is great, but add some extra equipment and your photos can be even better.   Here are my top 4 additional pieces of equipment: tripod, remote shutter release, 50 mm lens, and Photoshop.  Why buy a tripod?  Because when you’re shooting in manual you’ll need a longer shutter speed for some shots.  If you’re holding your camera the photo will come out blurry, if it’s on a tripod it’s less likely to be blurry.  Tripods range in price from $30 to $200+.  Why buy a remote shutter release?   Well, you don’t absolutely need one of these because you could use the 2 second timer on your camera, but I’m impatient.  You want a remote shutter release because when you snap a photo using your finger you can vibrate the camera, causing the photo to come out blurry.  You’ll use your remote shutter release with your tripod.  Remote shutter releases range in price from $2 to $100.  Mine was $15.  Why buy a 50 mm lens?  Because it’s a great lens for under $125, and it’s the favorite lens of many photographers.  Why invest in Photoshop?  Because SOOC (straight out of camera) shots will only take you so far.  Can’t afford the $550+ price tag?  Check out Photoshop Elements ($70) or Photoshop Lightroom ($120).


Write off your DSLR camera on your taxes.Are you a blogger?  Will your camera primarily be used to take photographs for your blog?  Do you make money off your blog and file taxes as a small business?  Then write your camera and additional equipment off as a business expense.


Disclaimer: Unfortunately, I’m neither a CPA nor an insurance agent.  Disappointing, right?  If you have specific questions please consult your accountant or insurance agent.

I hope you found these tips to be helpful.  As with purchasing anything, please read reviews and do your research before buying specific photography equipment.  I can only speak for the items I’ve purchased for my specific DSLR cameras (Canon Rebel XT and Canon 7D).  Best of luck with your DSLR!

Were these tips helpful to you?
Do you have a tip you’d like to share?



Stalk away!

A Trip to the Orchard

Hey, friends!  Hope you had a marvelous weekend!

Brad and I took our annual trip to Anderson Orchard yesterday.  We went earlier this year than when we went last year so we didn’t get to see all the pretty fall leaves.  Bummer.  But I was able to stock up on gourds, little pumpkins, apples, and I even snagged a mum.  Tomorrow, I’ll show how I used my purchases for our fall front porch display.

I’m lucky to have an awesome husband who supports my love affair with my camera.  He was very patient while I snapped photos at the orchard.  It probably helped that the Colts game was on the radio, so he was able to hang out in the car while I took 500 photos of apples.

This post is pretty picture-dominant.  I figure you don’t need much narration, so sit back, relax, and scroll away.

And last, but not least, my apple cider slushie.  Seriously, these are amazing.  You haven’t lived until you’ve had one.

How was your weekend?
Do you take a yearly trip to a local orchard?
Have you ever had an apple cider slushie?

Introducing: Photo Editing Service by two twenty one

Hey, friends!  Happy Labor Day!

I have a special announcement to make today:  I’m starting a photo editing service!  It’s something I’ve been contemplating for a while, and I’ve finally decided to pull the trigger.  Why photo editing, you ask?  Because I’m a nerd, and I like it.  Don’t get me wrong, I love photography, but I love editing photos just as much, if not more.

So here’s my schtick.

Ever take a great photo but wish it came out brighter or sharper?  Maybe you wanted it to have a certain “look” to it, or you wanted your baby’s eyes to “pop”.  Well, it’s possible without shelling out a boatload of money for a photo editing program– let me do the editing for you!

Email me your high-resolution image, and let me know what you’d like to accomplish with editing.  I’ll look at the image, see if I can execute your requests, and email you back.  If I can edit your photo, I’ll attach the color and black & white proofs to the email within 48 hours.  After you approve, I’ll email you the payment link.  Once payment is made, I’ll email you your fully edited photos within 36-48 hours.

Send your email to
Please use “PHOTO EDITING” in the subject.

Need multiple photos edited?  Great!  Send me the photos you’d like edited, and I’ll see if I’m able to work with them.  The bulk editing packages are 10 for $90, 15 for $135, and 20 for $180.  If you need more than 20 photos edited, let me know and I’ll work out a price for you.

photo courtesy of decor and the dog
photo courtesy of maybe matilda
photo courtesy of newly woodwards

In other news, I’m one of the thirty bloggers selected by Shaw Flooring to share a DIY project (my ghetto dresser turned TV stand) during the 30 days in September.  I have a chance to win Shaw flooring for one room in our house and an area rug to giveaway on the blog.  I win, you win!  Yay!  I’d truly appreciate your vote.  You can vote once per day.

Click here to cast your vote!  
Thank you!  I love you!

How are you celebrating Labor Day?
Do anything fun this weekend?
Need any photos edited (wink)?

The Importance of Watermarking

OK, so how would you feel if someone took photos from your blog and posted them on their blog or website and claimed that they did the work in the photos and they took the photos?  I don’t know about you, but I’d be livid.  Someone else taking credit for my hard work?  Not cool.  Not cool at all.

Seriously, I don’t know how many times I’ve heard about people taking other people’s photos and saying that either the child in the photo was their own (uh, super creepy, no?) or the work in the photo was their own.

And with the immense growth of Pinterest, I think it’s more important than ever to watermark your photos.

Don’t know how to watermark?  Don’t worry, it’s a cinch.  I use Photoshop to watermark mine, but If you don’t have Photoshop you can watermark your photos in Paint.  I mean, everyone has Paint on their computer.  Right?  Just open your photo in Paint and use the text tool to create your watermark.  Paint allows you to choose the color and placement of the watermark, which is nice.  There are also some websites that offer free watermarking. PicMarkr and Watermark are two of them.  You can watermark in Picnik, but since that will be leaving us in April you may not want to get attached.

How do you watermark your photos?
Has anyone taken your photos and said that they were their own?
Did you grab your DIY brass knuckles and beat them up?

EDIT: You can also use Picasa to edit and watermark your photos.  It’s free, and I don’t think it will be leaving the Internets in April.

Photography: You Asked, I’m Answering {Part 2}

Time for me to answer the rest of your photography questions!  I hope you found my answers to Part 1 helpful.  If you didn’t, I’m sorry, but you can’t say that I didn’t warn ya!

Question #6
How do you take a photo with a clear subject and blurry background?
That has to do with depth of field and aperture.  A large depth of field means that most of your image will be in focus, while a small depth of field means that part of the image will be in focus and the rest will be blurry.  A large aperture (small number) will decrease your depth of field.  A small aperture (large number) will increase your depth of field.  Aperture is the size of the opening in the lens when a photo is taken.  Aperture is measured in f-stops (f/16, f/8, f/4, etc.).  This is a great post on aperture.  I’ll admit that I don’t take advantage of aperture as much as I should (maybe that will be my New Year’s resolution).  A lot of the time I’ll create the clear subject, blurry background shots by using auto-focus or manual focus on my DSLR.
Question #7
What’s your lighting source?  What time of day do you take your shots? 
Many of my photos are taken on my entryway table in the afternoon because that’s where the best light is in our house (here, here, here, here, here).  If I want to get a shot done in the morning I usually take the photo by our back door.  I usually take “before” shots by our back door.  (Our front door faces west and our back door faces east.)  Sometimes I’ll take photos in our dining area (here and here).  Wherever I’m shooting, I open all of the blinds and turn on all of the lights.

Question #8
How do you set up a shot?
Depends on what kind of shot it is.  I shoot most of my food shots on our entryway table.   Typically, I put a white poster board against the wall on the entryway table so you can’t see our beige, textured wall.  Sometimes I’ll use a piece of fabric or scarf to add color to the shot.  You can kind of see how I set up my pumpkin chocolate chip whoopie pie photo below.  I used painters tape to secure the scarf to the wall.

Question #9
Any easy editing tips?
I use Photoshop CS 5 for editing my photos so I can’t really delve into other editing programs.  My usual editing involves decreasing shadows, sharpening the image, increasing vibrance and saturation, and using one (or more) of Pioneer Woman’s Photoshop actions and adjusting the action(s) accordingly.  There are tons of Photoshop editing tutorials out there.  You can find some tutorials on my Pinterest photography board.


Question #10
What is a great method for quickly editing a lot of photos?
Honestly, I have no idea.  I edit my photos individually.  I’m sure there are programs out there to that do this, but I can’t give any advice on it because I don’t do it.

Question #11
How do you give photos a warm glow without making them look blurry?
I’m kind of stumped on this.  I could probably give a better answer if I had a photo example; preferably a photo taken by me so I can see what I did to the photo.

Thank you for all of your questions!  I hope my answers were useful to you.  Feel free to ask any other photography and/or editing questions in the future!