Blog Every Day in May Challenge | Days 1-3

Since it's already May 8th {yikes!} I decided to compile all of the first seven days' worth of challenges into two posts, and will resume with Day 9 sometime tomorrow.

I first saw this challenge on Mandy's lovely blog, Prettymaking. I tracked it back to the original blogger, Story of My Life, and now I'm participating. :}


This is going to be more than 250 words, just to warn you. Anyway... I was born on a hot August day - my parents always say it was "the hottest day in history" - they're so dramatic, haha. I'll be the big "dirty thirty" this year. I have a brother who is three years younger than me. My parents have been married for 33+ years, and I had a relatively stable and happy childhood, with the usual hiccups along the way that can be attributed simply to "growing up." We lived in a suburb outside of a large metropolitan area, while most of my extended family {aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents} lived about 250 miles away — that was always the hardest part, as our family is extremely close, so I hated leaving them after seeing them over holidays. Cut to post-high school, and I chose to attend college closer to my extended family {though obviously further away from my parents and brother}. I've stayed in the same general vicinity ever since — about 11 years so far. Now my parents have retired and moved in town near me, and my brother just accepted a job as a District Attorney for the county and will be moving here next week! Suffice to say, things are headed in the right direction in regards to my home/family life. On the other side of life is work/school/professional adventures. I have a Bachelor of Arts in English and Political Science, and just recently graduated with my Master's in Business {MBA} emphasizing in Marketing {as of December 2012}. I worked as a Copywriter for about five years before moving into Marketing, where I am now. I'm currently the merchandiser for an online retailer's website, and for the most part I enjoy what I do. :} Beyond that...if you want to know anything else, just ask. I'm enjoying life as much as I can!


I've been trying to think of something simple enough for a blog post, but I'm coming up empty. Most of the things I could teach are a matter of perspective and conceptual thinking, versus concrete themes. Lots of literature topics, politics and business. I do know some things about photography as well, which I've learned from having a father who's a camera pro. With that said, how about I teach you how to take a fantastic picture of a lit Christmas tree using manual camera settings?

This is just basic, and may not apply to every camera out there — but it's more about the settings than anything else. Also, you don't have to own the most expensive equipment to be a great photographer; as I've learned over the years, some people have an "eye" for photography, while others couldn't capture those perfect moments in time with the most expensive camera available. There are plenty of "professional" photographers who lack that creative vision, while plenty of amateurs using point-and-shoots or even iPhones are out taking fantastic photos. And then there's the abuse of programs like Photoshop, iPiccy, etc, and tools like "blur" and "wrinkle eraser" and "shine remover" that make photos look really weird {sometimes terrible} and obviously edited. I think many of the offenders often misjudge their original photos, thinking they look worse than they actually do. Give yourself a little credit!

Step 1: Utilize a tripod. Especially when taking photographs in low light, you'll want your camera to be as steady as possible. As the shutter speed is reduced, there's more time for small movements to be picked up and subsequently ruin your photograph.

Step 2: Turn off all lights in the room, with the exception of the tree lights. Also make sure your flash is turned off. My pictures were all taken late at night, so there wasn't even a subtle light source other than the tree. You may have to adjust some of the settings depending on the lighting situation.

Step 3: For a camera in manual mode, change the ISO to the highest possible number. For me it was 3200.

Step 4: Again in manual mode, slow down the shutter speed to 1/30th.

Step 5: Change the f-stop to 1.8 {this could vary by camera, and you may need to play around with it until it looks good}.

Step 6: Take a few test shots. Often times the display will show an overblown image, but the shots themselves will turn out perfectly. If it doesn't work, play around with the shutter speed as well — you don't lose anything by trying out many different options! Once you find the combination that produces the best photos, start trying out other combinations, just to see how the changes affect the final photo. It's the best way to learn how to use the manual settings - once you understand what a change in any of the settings will do to your picture, you can do just about anything!

That's it! Here's one of mine from 2012 - the only things edited in this photo were the contrast {increased a bit} and the saturation {also increased a bit}. The lights, the glow on the wall - all straight out of the camera.

{Christmas 2012 - ISO 3200 | f/1.8 | ss 1/30th} 


Open bodies of water make me uncomfortable. Borderline terrified. I have a fear of drowning, so being near large lakes or the ocean...yeah. Not a great feeling. It's not a paralyzing fear, just makes me feel really uncomfortable. If I had to go out on the water in a boat, I'd guess it would escalate to fear.

Here's one that has come up many times recently, and is kind of random: being put into a one-on-one situation with someone who you just had a dream about the night before. As in, *that* kind of a dream. Whether I'm attracted to the person or not, it makes for an awkward situation. It's more uncomfortable because it's only uncomfortable for me — the other person is completely oblivious. And yes, as I said, it's happened quite a few times in recent weeks. Haha. So weird.

I can't think of anything else at the moment, so I'll leave it at that.

Thanks for taking the time to read all of my often long-winded responses. If you aren't already, please join the challenge! You don't have to go back and do all of the previous days — just start from today and enjoy giving us all a glimpse of the person behind the blog!

Stay Fabulous!


  1. That's so true what you said about 'professional' photographers. What bugs me sometimes is that people, and they tend to be younger people (mid teens, early 20s) who think that anything you photograph with a DSLR is instant gold. It's maybe my biggest pet photography peeve right up there with people instagramming everything with filters. Oh here's the sidewalk - better add a filter! Here's a photo of my dog - filter that up!

    I wish we actually had an xmas tree here. In a house of men, xmas trees are pretty much forgotten about xD

  2. Great answers!

    I love that photo of your Christmas tree! My new camera is the Canon SX240 HS and it has those settings, so I guess it's kind of a bridge camera. I will need to try out your technique at night/next Christmas!