June 30, 2015

WE'RE HALF WAY THERE

We did it! After two weeks of couch surfing we have finally moved into our new space and it feels so good to be some place permanently, whew. Couch surfing for two weeks was rough. Even though our space is in chaos, it's nice to know that we're not going anywhere else.

This weekend kicked off our move and we started the off morning by taking what little belongings we had to our place. It was a quick trip as we only had one car load, ha! After we had our things moved in we headed to Ikea, grabbing a burger on the way. Tyler and I had been looking at things online that we might like so we were a little prepared when we arrived. We spent the next several hours shopping and trying to find our favorite pieces. This moving experience has been one of my favorites. I have loved being able to pick new items for our home with Tyler. This is the first time we have decorated together from the ground up.
Even though we're in our new home we're not quite done with the moving process. We still have to travel back to Missouri and get our things out of storage. It's been a long moving process and we will still be in transition for a few more weeks. I'm hoping things will start taking shape within this next month. We're doing our best to continue to stay flexible and keep taking it a day at a time. Either way, we're having lots of fun and it's been one grand adventure! xo. Samantha

June 29, 2015

10 INSTAGRAMS THAT INSPIRE

Do you want to know a secret? Social media really isn't my thing. I would be completely happy skipping the social media part of blogging. But one social media that speaks to my heart is instagram and it's all because of photography. Photos inspire me and it's through photography that I get to tell stories and see the stories of others.

I am often inspired and touched when others share their hearts and share with me their every day adventures. They inspire me to challenge myself and to see life differently through the lens.

ADVENTURE & PHOTOGRAPHY
Some of my favorite instagrams are those of adventure seekers. I've come to learn that my favorite adventurers are true blue photographers, taking amazing photos and sharing their journey with us. It's these photographers that inspire me to push myself.
@lillylalaloulou : Lilly takes you with her as she adventures through the country. I feel transported though her imagery as though I'm right there with her.

@forrestmankins  : I love photographers that take you with them and Forrest does. He captures amazing imagery; places I wish I could visit every weekend. From mountains to lakes, he'll take you there.

@tannerwendell : Tanner is by far one of my favorite adventure photographers, for one main reason. Tanner works with A21 Campaign to abolish slavery. He takes breath taking photos and uses his work to help others.

LIFESTYLE
I love following along with others in their everyday lives as the tackle their dreams. From creatives, to bloggers, to moms. They share their lives with us, they share their vulnerabilities, and they share their stories.
@nataliecreates : I'm not sure how I stumbled onto Natalie's instagram, but I noticed over time I was constantly drawn into her stories. She blogs, she farms, and she runs an Etsy shop. She has also just recently adventured around Europe and I've been so swooning over her adventures.

@underthesycamore : Ashley's blog is one of the first blogs I found in blogland I have been reading ever since. I love her instagram just as much as her blog. She was a photographer before a blogger and she is an amazing story teller. I love how beautifully she captures her children in their every day adventures.

@danielleburkleo : Danielle's instagram is another one I stumbled onto. It's not like me to follow a lot of intagrams with kids, but she does a beautiful job telling her life story which includes her little ones.

@oakandoats : Beth does an amazing job sharing her everyday adventures. I always feel like I know what she is up to because she captures her everyday moments beautifully.

@megmcilvaine : Meg has a beautiful adventurous heart and she is always taking you with her on her adventures. From kayaking in Tennessee to climbing Colorado mountains.

@hopeengaged : Oh my gracious, Katie takes the most beautiful and colorful photos. I walk away from her photos searching for color to add to my photos. It's so inspiring how she captures so much color in her travels and everyday life.

@elsielarson : Elsie seems to be a household name in the blog world and for good reason. She's an amazing photographer, blogger, and business bombshell. I'm always inspired at how beautifully she captures her everyday moments, so full of color and life.

Photography will forever have my heart. Finding a place to challenge myself in photography and be inspired my others has been amazing. Who are some of your favorite intsagramers that inspire you? xo. Samantha


June 25, 2015

THE BENEFITS OF MINIMALISM

I’ve always considered myself a bit of a minimalist. I’m sure on a scale from 1 to 10 I fall somewhere in the middle. We still appreciate movies, and books, and other fun things. However, for the most part, I’m not interested in keeping something unless it serves a purpose. I’m also not very sentimental, so I don’t often add any emotional attachment to our belongings.

Moving a lot has also probably inspired my minimalism. I moved a few times as a kid, and a good amount in high school and college. And since graduating from college I’ve moved 4 times and technically we’re now on move 5. Moving can really put into prospect the amount of stuff you have. Tyler has become accustomed to seeing me go through things and create a constant donation pile.
Tyler and I are about to move into our new space and it’s smaller then what we had in Burbank, so my desire for minimalism has increased even more. I’m constantly going through things in my head about what we really need and what is just taking up space. Our stay in corporate housing was another great experience in reinforcing our minimalism. We have lots of fun kitchen gadgets packed up in storage, but corporate housing didn’t offer as much so I had to get creative with what we did have. Talk about making cookie dough in a soup pot, ha!
In my personal experience one of the greatest benefits of minimalism has been decreased stress and simplicity. Tyler and I try to only keep items that we use on a regular bases, of course there are always exceptions, such has camping equipment, but for the most part we don’t have a lot of random items laying around the house. We have less to take care of and less to move.

The second greatest benefit of minimalism has probably been an appreciate for outdoor living. Because we don’t have a lot of stuff we look for enjoyable things to do outside, even if they are simple. We love taking walks, going on drives, and finding new adventures. Not being distracted by a house full of stuff has aided in our outdoor adventures.

The last greatest benefit of minimalism as been creativity. When you have less, you’re forced to be more creative with what you do have. I really enjoy having a minimalised closet. Having a closet busting at the seams makes getting ready overwhelming. I appreciate the opportunity to be creative with the items I do have.
I personally feel like there are too many stressors in today’s society. Focusing on minimalism helps me to remove some of the stressors and has been a great experience in learning how to do things differently. Do you have minimalistic tendency? xo. Samantha

June 23, 2015

LIFE LONG LEARNING

At the end of last year, I spent a lot of time thinking about this year. A lot of bloggers pick a word for the year or outline goals for the whole year. Out of all the things I thought about I knew I wanted this year to be a year of learning. I had a feeling that we would encounter a lot of different changes and I wanted to be able to experience them gracefully. I wanted to experience them with a willingness to learn from them.

Not only did I want to learn from our experiences but I wanted to take time to learn myself. I wanted to really think about what my strengths were and I wanted to determine what crafts I wanted to continue to chase after. I didn't want to hustle simply for the sake of hustle. I wanted to slow down and develop my true passions. Last year I was ready to tackle everything under the sun without giving myself an opportunity to whole hearty learn one thing. A part of me wanted to learn everything. That experience was great as it lead me down a road to really see what I'm passionate about.
Through all the creative roads I've been down the one thing I always come back to is photography. Photography and the process of telling a story through photos is something I am incredibly passionate about. My first few years of photography were spent learning everything I could. However, in these last few years, I had devoted less time to learning and went into auto-pilot with my photography, only using knowledge I had already acquired and I had quite challenging myself.

I wanted to change that this year. I wanted to start challenging myself again in photography and I wanted to start learning more. The great thing about any creative craft is that there is always something new to learn. I decided to get my learning journey started again with Skillshare. Skillshare is an online learning community for creators. You can sign up and watch online classes and do projects on nearly any craft you can thing of.  I took my first class last year and started with a hand-lettering class. This year I dove in and signed up for 5 different photography related classes. I've finished two and I have three to go. With Skillshare, you pay for a monthly membership so as long as you have the time you can take as many classes as you would like.
One of my favorite things about these classes is that the classes aren't too long and they are easy to manage. All of the classes are done through video, so you can log on any time and spend some time learning. One of my favorite classes so far was only an hour and a half and I learned so much. How have you been challenging yourself lately? What are you passionate about that you want to learn more about? xo. Samantha

June 22, 2015

STYLE : PAST & PRESENT

We’ve been doing style photos for a few years now. I remember my very first “style” shoot. Oh goodness, I felt so uncomfortable. It had been a long time since I had been in front of the camera and I had no idea how to stand or pose. My first style shoot was in October of 2013, whew. Looking back at the photos reminds me of how uncomfortable I was. The photo shoot really wasn’t that bad, but Tyler and I both needed practice in figuring out what worked best for us.
The first six months were pretty rocky. We had started to develop a style that worked for us but we were definitely still learning. One thing I’ve noticed over time is that some photo shoots are just better then others. Some days we’ll have a great photo shoot and then a week later it may not be as good. That’s just life.
Something that Tyler and I established very early on was that we were going to try to do all of my style photo shoots during the magic hour. I think deciding this early on helped to create a consistent look for each shoot.
Something else that we decided was that we were going to try to take advantage of style shoots on the go. If we knew we were going to go somewhere that might be a great location for style photos we would plan to snap a few on the go. We’re a bit more relaxed during these photo shoots because we’re just grabbing shots on the move and we are a little bit more relaxed in regards to lighting. We can’t always have magic hour lighting on the go, but because we’ve decided to be open to style shoots on the go we have done some style shoots in some really fun places.
When Tyler and I first starting doing style shoots I had already been shooting for a few years and we were pretty comfortable with the camera. The thing that we really worked on was our rhythm and partnership. I think that is what brings out the best photos, finding a good rhythm together. When we first started I always wanted to check the photos during the photo shoot, so that I could check my poses. It was helpful for me to check the photos as we went along because I had to learn which poses I liked best as we were learning.
We’ve been doing style photo shoots for about a year and a half now and we’ve learned a lot in the processes. It’s encouraging to look back on our work and see how we’ve grown. I hope that I’ll look back a year from now see more changes and more growth. Do you do style photo shoots? How have your shoots changed from when you first got started? xo. Samantha

June 19, 2015

DEAR FRIEND


DEAR FRIEND,

This week has been full of lots of changes and yet quiet at the same time. We ended our stay in corporate housing, packed up what little belongings we had, and headed to a friends house. We're not moving into our place until next Saturday so we're doing our best to be flexible. We have been able to do a lot of exploring in our new neighborhood and it has been so fun. We stopped at a farmer's market this past weekend and we were also able to see at movie at Tyler's work.  We're really enjoying how quaint and charming everything is in our new town.

FAVORITE FINDS

-- So excited to read more of this adventure series.
-- A recipe for adventure, swoon.
-- Summer time peach sorbet, yum.
-- Summer veggies never sounded so good.
-- I've been looking for fun DIYs for our new space, I may have to add this one to the list.


How was your week?

June 18, 2015

THE MEASURE OF SUCCESS

Occasionally I have thoughts about success. What does success mean ... am I successful? Sometimes when I look at myself I compare myself against those who are "successful" in the eyes of the world. And often times I don't feel like I measure up. My ten year high school reunion is this year. I won't be attending, as it's in my home town and I won't be flying back. But I've wondered about what it would be like to attend. Would I be measured against everyone else's ideas of success?

Random class mate (who I haven't spoken to in 10 years) : "So what are you doing these days?"
Me: "I'm a wife... and... I run a blog."
Random class mate (with confused look on face) : "Oh... do you make money doing that?"

Money. Money seems to determine someone's success, at least in the world's eyes. My mom and I had a conversation once about "success." Occasionally, I feel like I should be out conquering the world. But then I look back, I go through the story that Jesus has written for me and I see how He has worked in every aspect of every part of my success. Because my success isn't based on the world's definition of success. My success is based in Jesus.
A long time ago I read a quote and it has forever stuck with me, “Do I look like the Savior? Have I been transformed by His grace to love radically, give generously, suffer willingly, walk humbly, and engage missionally?” That is the measure of success. 

My success isn't based on how much money I make, what job I have, where I live or what I do. My success is in Jesus. "When you and I find our identity in Christ, we can put aside the world’s definition of beauty and worth and remember the beauty and worth He has already created in each of us." (She Reads Truth)
I never know what tomorrow holds, I never know if I'll work outside of the home again. I have hopes and I have dreams, but really, I have no idea. Jim Elliot once said “wherever you are, be all there,” and that's what I can do, I can be all there. I can wake up every morning and walk the day that Jesus has laid before me and ask myself, "Do I look like the Savior? Have I been transformed by His grace to love radically, give generously, suffer willingly, walk humbly, and engage missionally?" What are your thoughts on success? xo. Samantha


June 17, 2015

LETS TALK LENSES

Friends, lenses by themselves are a whole new learning curve for me. I have spent a lot of years understanding the dynamics of photography, without giving a lot of weight to really learning lenses, aside from the ones of I purchased. I decided we would talk lenses today and I would share about the lenses I currently use and have used. I would love to learn about your lenses too. Fill me in on what your shooting with and some of your favorite lenses.

When I first started shooting, I started with the kit lens that came with my camera, which was an 18-55mm. Most starter DSLR's come with a kit lens. It wasn't anything fancy but it was great at just getting started. I spent all my spare time following photographers and learning from them. One day I was scrolling though facebook and I saw someone say to another, "you better not be shooting with a kit lens."  And this point I was still shooting with a kit lens and I sheepishly felt attacked, even though the comment wasn't toward me. I was unaware of any other context of the conversation, but because of how it made me feel I want to say to all of you shooting with a kit lens, you are totally rocking it. Don't stress about what lens you do or don't have, focus on your craft and move along at your own pass. Upgrading lenses is a good thing, but if you're not in the place right now, have fun with what you do have.
The first lens I purchased after my kit lens was the Nikkor 50mm f/1.8. I think most purchase this lens as their "first." I was over the moon when Tyler surprised me with it for Christmas. I finally felt like I was taking the pictures I was hoping for. At the time I was shooting with a Nikon D60, which has been retired for years and years and I started shooting with the 50mm in 2010. While I was over the moon about shooting with the 50mm, my D60 didn't have an internal focus motor, which means when I started shooting with my 50mm I was also focusing manually. It was a great learning experience for me. It was frustrating at times, but it forced me to really be in the camera. And I was lucky to have great friends that were patient with me as I learned.

After my 50mm lens I decided to purchase the Nikkor 55-300mm. Initially I purchased the lens because I knew if I was going to shoot weddings, then I needed a good zoom lens. Out of all my lenses I actually shoot with this one the least. We mostly use this lens if we know we are going to be at an event of some kind and we know we'll want to use the zoom.

Our most recent lens purchase was the Nikkor 35mm f/1.8. We have had so much fun with this lens. Our Nikon D300 isn't full frame, so the 35mm allowed us to shoot wider which was super awesome. Our newest camera the Nikon D700 is full frame, so we actually use the 50mm on the D700 and the 35mm on the Nikon D300.
Out of all the lenses we use the 50mm is a solid portrait lens. The 35mm is also great for portraits, but I've noticed there is a little bit of distortion around the edges, especially if we shoot tight. For the camera's we have and the type of shooting we do, the 50mm and the 35mm are perfect for us. We do a lot of photos on the go and these two lenses are perfect for that. In regards to photography and lenses, I would have to say I'm a stronger portrait photographer then a landscape photographer. There a tons of lenses for landscape and nature photography that I have yet to explore. That may have to be our next adventure. Have any questions about lenses? I would love to hear them! xo. Samantha

June 15, 2015

LIFE ON THE MOVE

I've been keeping a secret from you. A lot has been happening in our world and a lot of changes have been taking place. I wanted to share all the news with you a few weeks ago... but ... long story short I couldn't, so I'm telling you now.

For those who may not know I'll start with a back story. We have recently moved to the New York/Connecticut area.  I say it that way because we live in New York and Tyler works in Connecticut. We moved from sunny SoCal in January and arrived for New England's first big snow. We came here as a project hire, that basically means Tyler would be working temporarily to finish a movie. He just wrapped up work on the new Peanuts movie. When we arrived, our hope was that Tyler would have the opportunity to be brought on full time. There was no promise but it was our prayer and something that we prayed for daily. We knew we would be here for at least 4 to 5 months regardless, so we settled into corporate housing.

In April (I think, the time line is a little foggy) Tyler's temp contract was extended until August. It wasn't full time but we were excited! With the extension we knew we would be here through the summer. In May, while I was visiting family in Missouri, Tyler was offered a FULL TIME job! Wahoo! He called me on a Wednesday evening and I cried. Since that phone call things have been a whirl wind. The week following my return was stressful and overwhelming. I immediately jumped into house hunting mode. We had two week to find something, whew.
I've been taking lots of deep breaths lately. While we are so excited about this next step and have been in awe of how Jesus has been working in our lives, it's still a little overwhelming. My first week back was rough. I had a lot going on in my head. I asked some dear friends for prayer and gave all my jumbled thoughts to Jesus.

So, here we are. We found a new place within a week, but it's not available until June 26th. Our stay in corporate housing ended yesterday, so for two weeks we are couch surfing with some friends. We are so grateful for how Jesus has provided for us. With all these changes and all the couch surfing, things might get a little quiet around here, but don't you worry, I'll be around. I have more updates in store and lots of things I'm really excited to share about it, including our new space. But I'm leaving that one a surprise. Thanks for sticking with me. xo. Samantha

June 12, 2015

DEAR FRIEND


DEAR FRIEND,

It was a fun, yet quiet week. Over the weekend we took in two different movies, which isn't like us, but apparently we went crazy, ha! We saw Tomorrowland and San Andres. Both were good, but I liked San Andres best. It reminded me of when I was a kid and saw Twister for the first time and thought it was the best movie ever. Tomorrowland was a little different then I thought, still good but different. We got in a photo shoot this weekend which is always a plus and we wrapped it up way faster then any other shoot we have done. I tackled a couple photo shoots this week for next weeks posts and spent a few days at the pool. I'm soaking up the sun while I can. ;) I ended this week by baking my famous cookies, ha! At least that is what everyone at Blue Sky calls them.


FAVORITE FINDS

These 10 tips.
For the adventurous heart
Hello avocado and tomato toast.
The cutest pineapple bag, you chance to win. 
6 phrases to incorporate into your marriage.
Whole wheat Greek yogurt pancakes! ... get in my belly...
This video ... all the feels. 

How was your week?  

June 10, 2015

THE IMPORTANCE OF SHOOTING IN MANUAL

I have been having so much fun chatting photography with all of you. I hope I've been providing you with lots of things that are helpful and that you are able to reflect on. Today, I wanted to chat about the important of shooting in manual and how it can benefit your photography. Something that I think people can forget sometimes is that photography is an art form and your camera is you paint brush.

When great artist create amazing paintings they don't do so automatically. They aren't able to push a button and have their painting finished and complete. They are thoughtful and in control of their paint brush. They know exactly how they want their brush stoke to fall on their canvas. They choose each color and apply each stroke to create their master piece.
When we shoot in auto we loose the artistry in our work. The camera is simply a tool which we use to create our painting. Shooting in manual gives you the control back to create you masterpiece.  Often times I'll see something I want to capture. I'll see it in my head or it will take me by surprise as I pass by it during a walk. Once I know that which I want to capture, it's my job, not the camera's to capture it.

Shooting in manual gives me that opportunity. I am able to control all aspects of the lighting, the focus, the composition, and all other aspects of my painting. When shooting in manual I check all my setting before I begin; ISO, F-stop, shutter speed, and white balance. Not everyone checks their white balance, especially if they are shooting in RAW. However, for me it's similar to deciding on what kind of canvas I'm choosing to paint on.
When I first started shooting in manual I felt like I was stumbling around in the dark and my camera manual become my best friend. I practiced a lot and sometimes felt sheepish because when I practiced with friends it took me a minute to get my settings right. I've shot in manual for so long now that I'm not able to shoot any other way. I don't trust my camera to create the picture I want because I'm the one reading the light and my subject. Are you in the process of learning to shoot manually? How has your photography changed since you began? xo. Samantha

June 9, 2015

LOWEPRO PHOTO HATCHBACK

LOCATION:  White Plains, NY
DETAILS:  Under Armour Get Going Shorts (similar)  || Under Armour Fly By Razor Back (similar)   ||  Asics (similar) || LowePro Photo Hatchback (similar)

Last week I shared a few top hiking bags for your camera. After all that research and picking up a new camera we decided we were going to pick up one of our favorite bags; the LowePro Photo Hatchback. We stopped by Best Buy over the weekend and we were able to test out the hatchback. My research was based off of the 22L and the one we ended up testing was the 16L, which was a little smaller.

The smaller size actually worked really well for us. It was just the right size for me to carry. Any larger and it would have been too big for me. It also holds all of our gear, plus extras. During my last trip to Joplin I carried all of my gear in a cross-body Swiss Gear bag. We love Swiss  Gear, but I've learned that carrying that much gear in a cross-body is too heavy. I need a regular pack that distributes the weight evenly.

The LowePro Hatchback can carry both of our camera's; Nikon D300 and Nikon D700 with lenses attached and still have room to spare. If needed we could also include our Nikkor 55-300. That still leaves room for canteens and plenty of snacks. The hatchback has plenty of pockets, room for an ipad and padded straps.
Tyler and I wanted a pack that was a good size for both of us to carry. Most of the hikes we tackle we do together so for the most part we'll both carry a pack. This pack is perfect for our gear and our snacks. We decided that this pack would be a perfect travel common; large enough for all of our needs, but small enough to fit under the seat of an airplane. I'm so excited that we are better prepared for more outdoor adventures and that our equipment will be well protected. What are some of your favorite packs? Which bags are you carry your gear in when going on hikes? xo. Samantha

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