Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Photographer’s Comparison

I love my Nikon D40x, the camera that has gotten me through the last 3 years of this blog. I know the in’s and out’s of that camera, the effect of each setting, and, of course, its limitations. Seeing (and quite often hearing about) my frustrations with my beloved D40x led my sweet husband to gift me Nikon’s new DX camera, the D7000, as my 9th anniversary gift. I’ve been waiting two months to get my hands on this camera and I couldn’t be more excited about its recent arrival. However, I by no means have mastered my new camera yet (the color seems a little off, don’t have the focusing quite down, and there are about 100 settings I still need to research), but bear with me while I work through it all. First order of business, take a closer look at my #1 complaint with the D40x—noise at low ISOs and worthless pictures at high ISO’s. Here are some straight out of the camera (SOOC) shots at the same settings (note that the D40x’s ISO of Hi 1 seems to be the equivalent of the D7000’s ISO of 6400 because the ap and s/s metered the same), same lens (35mm 1.8), same light, same tripod set-up from the D40x and D7000. (Please pardon my under a minute set up of this shot. This odd little German smoker Santa—he burns incense out of his mouth—reminds me of the four Christmas’s I spent in Germany.)

D40x: SOOC, 1.8, 1/500, ISO Hi 1                                 D7000: SOOC, 1.8, 1/500, ISO 6400

The difference in, obviously, noise but also light, blacks, and color is remarkable to me. It may not mean much here for a wooden Santa, but for a kid’s face, well you can imagine.

Three things this exercise taught me: 1) the D7000 has about 20 ISO levels compared to the D40x’s 6, which means I have a lot more room to tweak; 2) the focal point in shots from the D7000 stay pretty sharp way up into the high ISO’s (the Santa in the shot above at 6400 is still clearly focused, the D40x loses this at around ISO 800 and definitely by 1600); and, 3) I couldn’t even focus the Santa smoker properly with the D40x on the tripod because he’s off center and the D40x only has 3 focus points (compared to the D7000’s option to go up to 39) straight down the middle.

Definitely way more than most of you want/need to know, but just know that I’m very excited about my new toy. Thanks, Jonathan! I hope you feel like you’re reaping the benefits, too.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thankful

As Thanksgiving weekend came to a close, we met our good friends the Browns and the Hulls at Anne Springs Close Greenway—a beautiful park just south of us near Fort Mill, SC—to help shoot each other’s Christmas card photos. Brooke launched her photography business (Brooke Brown Photography) this year—she’s amazing—and I know I speak for the Hulls, too, when I say we couldn’t be luckier than to have Brooke capture our family pictures (you’ll see the incredible results on our Christmas cards—and probably on our walls soon, too!). This evening we had such a fun time, too. The kids would run around together between shoots or stand behind the photographer to make the family who was being photographed laugh (well, not just the kids—Tom Hull was pretty good at this, too). It was a perfect set up. Below are some shots from my camera before and in between our Christmas card “mini sessions”. See Brooke’s post about it for some more sweet pictures of the kids.

{We got to Ann Springs a little early, so I practiced with my new camera and we goofed around a bit.}

{We get this look a lot. We probably told her she was cute.}

{Such good friends. See Brooke’s post for a beautiful shot of the kids.}

{I brought my tripod and a remote I have for my new camera. I could just stand there and push the button. Two-second delay and the picture was taken. It was awesome—can’t believe all 13 people were looking at the camera and smiling! Next large family gathering, we’re doing this!}

{And this, too—what fun!}

After our photo shoot and outdoor fun we all headed out for dinner together. Good times! We’re very thankful for such amazing friends—and for the incredible photos we received out of this fun night (thank you, Brooke)!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving at Home

We had a quiet Thanksgiving at home this year, just the four of us. There was turkey and most of the fixin’s (Jonathan’s not a fan of stuffing and cranberries) and sweet potato pie (Paula Deen’s version topped with marshmallow fluff meringue—yum!). There was Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and football watching. There was daddy entertaining the kids whiled mommy cooked. And there was lots of giving thanks. It was a quiet, but definitely complete Thanksgiving.

…there was also a new camera that arrived about 15 minutes after we pulled in from the 10-hour drive home from Florida on Tuesday. I haven’t quite mastered it yet, so there’ll have to be more on that later. :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

My Sister’s Beautiful Family

Don’t want to spoil the Crosson family Christmas card for you this year, but I did have to post a few pictures of my sister and all of her boys. It’s amazing to me how much quality time we fit in during our 42-hour visit at my parents’ house. We loved spending time with you guys and hope we can have some more q.t. soon!

{Sweet, sweet 3-year old Drew. It’s like watching the Gerber baby grow up.}

{Jake, once the adorable babe who made me want a cutie of my own, is now a big 8-year-old with braces.}

{Zane is a hilarious, clever 5-year-old..}

LOVE this family.

A Thanksgiving Vacation

Our trip to Florida to visit Jonathan’s family in Gainesville also coincided with my sister’s family’s visit to Florida for an early Thanksgiving with my parents. So, we decided to join them for what honestly felt more like a vacation than Thanksgiving (well, a vacation with a very yummy Thanksgiving dinner—thanks, Mom!).

{Nonni and Papa set up a project for the kids to decorate their new rain barrel. Each of the 5 grandkids painted flowers, birds, butterflies, and trees over Nonni’s grass on the rain barrel. With the 85-degree weather and glorious heated pool, though, of course the kids spent most of the day swimming. They would take little breaks to hit some golf balls, eat a snack, throw the football, play Apples to Apples, and paint the rain barrel. So that’s Thanksgiving in Florida!}

{….while Jonathan relaxed in the zero-gravity chair…}

{Once Ella started in on her section of the barrel, there was nothing that could distract her from her art. She went to town.}

{Papa thought Nonni should have a plumeria flower in her hair, too…}

{All of the boys (here Jake and Papa) played lots of football, golf, and then later ladderball…}

{…while Ella painted and painted and…}

{…while Jonathan relaxed in the pool… Glad to see him enjoy his vacation—he definitely deserved it!}

And then, at the end of all that, we had a delicious Thanksgiving dinner—not sure where my mom found the time to get it all together (especially with the 1-hour interlude to find Gator who had wandered off…but we won’t go in to that…needless to say, I was a little too flustered at dinnertime to actually take any true Thanksgiving pictures).

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Another College Town

This weekend we headed down to visit my alma mater, the University of Florida. Jonathan actually grew up in Gainesville and comes from quite the family of Gator fans. Today was Jonathan’s birthday and spending time with his family and taking in a victorious Gator game seemed like a great way to celebrate it. Today’s Gator football game was such an enjoyable game—we were in the shade, the weather was nice and cool, we had seat backs, we were on the alumni side where they sit most of the game, Jonathan’s sister Jacqui (a former UF athlete) took us in to the exclusive ‘F’ club for clean bathrooms and free food and soda, and we had our own personal taxi (Jonathan’s dad) drop us off and pick us up at the stadium…not to mention the Gators actually won… Not exactly the football experience of my college days, but I did love watching my first home Florida game without a drop of sweat.

After the game, Jonathan’s mom invited over several of his friends (and of course his family was already there) to celebrate his birthday. I know Jonathan shares my sentiment when I say it was a really special birthday and he’s thankful to his mom and dad for throwing him a party. And thanks to Chris, Chrissy, Jacqui, and Randy for planning the trip up to Gville and going to the game with us. We had a great time!

{Jonathan’s brother Chris and his wife Chrissy (they’re expecting a girl!), husband Randy to Jonathan’s sister Jacqui, and me and Jonathan}

{The birthday boy enjoying a beer after the game…as it should be.}

{While we were all at the football game, the kids (Ella and Jack and cousins Jacob and Noah) had an awesome day with Nana and PopPop at a zoo, the playground, and frozen yogurt shop. Thanks, Nana and PopPop!}

{Doing the Gator Chomp!}

{Singing daddy ‘Happy Birthday to You’. There’s a candle for every 5 years (7 of them).}

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Daisies at the Farm

Ella’s Girl Scouts Daisy troop took its first “field trip” today to Hunter Farm for a hayride, petting zoo, and pumpkin picking. It was fun, loud, and dirty, and also a nice way to round out Fall.

{Thank goodness for iron-on patches! I had to do each one of those petals individually.}

{Petting this baby goat was Ella’s and Jack’s favorite part of our evening.}

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Davidson College

We enjoyed our Fall visit to Jonathan’s alma mater last year, wandering around the beautiful campus and catching a football game, so much that we decided to make it a tradition. It’s also now a tradition, I suppose, for me to post a boat-load of pictures from the day because Davidson is just so darn gorgeous this time of year…

{For the kids it’s all about the snacks at a sporting event.}

{Pictures taken by Jonathan. At the end of halftime he took the kids down to give the Davidson players high five’s on their way out back onto the field. Just love Jack’s hand on Ella’s lower back.}

We used the restroom in Ben & Jerry’s at the end of our time in Davidson. Ella came out of the shop telling Jonathan, “It smells, like, awesome in there.” She was right, and since all of that climbing, jumping, throwing leaves, swinging, and walking the kids had worked up an appetite, we decided to have an ice cream treat. I guess Jack’s face proves that, contrary to my belief, cups really aren’t any less messy than ice cream cones—especially if you feel the need to lick the cup clean!