Life from this Lens {September}

A Day in the Life


I thought this month’s theme would be fairly easy, so I sort of put it off. Days passed, and all of a sudden the month was basically over, and while I had take a few “daily life” photos, I’d not spent an entire day with my camera at hand. Our life is so strange because each day looks so drastically different from the next depending on if I work or not.

But … I decided to try and salvage the month’s project and shoot a full day. It was simultaneously way harder and way more fun than I anticipated.

On one hand, time goes by REALLY fast when you are trying to photograph it. On the other hand, a lot of normal, mundane things are actually really beautiful if you take the time to compose them.

Here is my “Day in the life of the Little Jordan Family in Fall ‘18.”

It could have looked way different had I chosen a different day … but that is the beautiful complexity of this project. Full disclosure that this is very “Hadley Heavy” because she was the one with me while the boys were in school.

I actually pictured more of these photos being in B&W. Much of our life is not pretty, and B&W helps with that, so I did convert a few, but for the most part, I decided to show us as we are. So … let’s get to it, but when you are done seeing my day, make sure you head over to see what Tracy filled her day with for her project.



Good Morning!!

I typically get up between 4 and 5 am. This is my time to have my coffee, prep last minute details for the day, and either workout or get some housework done. I try to also start off the day with a few minutes of time listening to a sermon podcast or praying with intention.

I struggle because I really enjoy my time alone in the morning, but when a kiddo wakes up early, I feel compelled to pour into them instead … I think this is the endless plight of motherhood. This particular morning, Hadley woke up first, which means she was the kid who had to put cold toes into the garage to feed the cat (Mr. Peabody).

At least there is coffee, which brings me to the next photo-op. Our single-pod coffee maker broke last spring. We decided to install an instant hot water dispenser so that we could easily make a pour-over cup of coffee.




By 6 AM, the day starts. Hadley is up and ready for living her best day. Our cat Mr. Peabody is not sure if he’s thrilled that a small person is awake, but he accepts the attention anyhow.

The boys are much less enthusiastic about their wake-up at 6:40 am.


If we can go to bed with backpacks by the door and lunches made, it’s a win. The kids typically work on weekly homework at breakfast (especially spelling).





I had so much fun snapping some shots of these goofballs “doing Chompers” … aka brushing their teeth … aka messing around.



Off to School

I really enjoy driving the boys to school. We always start the drive off with each person saying a prayer for our day, and I like being able to model the practice of starting your day by thanking God. They always start with, “Dear Jesus, thank you for this day. Thank you for …” and then they list a few things they are grateful for followed by praying for some things coming up in their days or weeks, which helps me know what’s on their mind. We also pray for others who are hurting or struggling. It’s a quick practice, but I love that it is woven into our routine.



After we drop “the boys-es” off, I get to spend some time with this little ray of sunshine. Three days a week she heads to preschool at 9:00, but this was not a preschool day. We were meeting a friend for a class at the gym, so we decided to go surprise daddy at work.



Hitting the gym

I am so grateful for our athletic club. It is pricey, but it includes so many services that we really love. I had fun bringing my camera there for my “day in the life” project. I walk by this stuff every day, but it brought some new perspective when I was looking for interesting compositions. They ended up being some of my favorite shots from the day.





After the gym, we needed to run a couple of errands, as did my friend and her daughter. We decided to join forces for some lunch at Whole Foods. I don’t shop there that often because it is definitely pricey, but boy do they make you want to buy vegetables! Seriously, the art of their product display is so enticing! They are super smart in their marketing, and it definitely helps make them some money.

PS Hadley’s friend P has some major fashion sense … this was her “Christmas Unicorn Ballerina Kitten” outfit (my apologies to P if I worded that incorrectly).



After lunch and grabbing some groceries, we needed to pick up a new sleeping bag for Gavin for Father/Son Adventure Camp. The zipper broke on his old one, and so after lunch, we headed to REI. Hadley was a great help … hahaha. I only lost her in the sleeping bags a few times.



Impromptu Park Stop

On the way home from our errands, we stopped at this tiny park right by our house. It’s barely a park … it’s just a little patch of land that the city laid some bark on and put in 2 swings and a climbing structure. I think it was for the purpose of fulfilling a park-per-person square foot quota, but we were very happy none-the-less when they installed it a couple of years ago.



Change in gears {and outifts}


Hadley had spilled quite a bit of lunch on her clothes (pretty much a daily occurrence). So, we did a quick change of clothes. She played for a few minutes while I unloaded our groceries and the sleeping bag, but soon after we got back in the car to go pick up the boys.


Sometimes Hadley falls asleep picking the boys up. If she doesn't and if it’s not pouring down rain, we park at a lot adjacent to school and walk up instead of waiting in carpool line. I love doing this because we get to chat with friends, say hello to teachers, and give hugs to some favorite “big kids” that we know.




At least one of the boys have gymnastics every day right after school. We spend a lot of time in this driveway dropping off and picking up kids. On this actual day, Tyler didn’t have practice so he stayed at school for Ultimate Frisbee club (so fun). He hadn’t come outside yet so I wasn’t able to get a picture of him. This snapshot of him is just a phone pic from this summer, but I thought the sign alone was boring, and I thought my post needed a little more Tyler.


One fun thing about this project was that I took more time to pause and observe the beauty or interest around me. Normally, I’m racing to and from places without a lot of margin to stop off at the park or play in the leaves.



Craft Store

It’s that time of year where you need to run to the craft store multiple times for finishing touches on costumes. There is a Michael’s right by gymnastics, so often times we go in there to just wander when the weather is bad and we have a few minutes to wait for a drop off or pick up.


To be continued … I will finish this post after I finish my work shifts. I did my best and got some photos up before bed for now, and I’ll get some thing else up in the next day or so.

Life from this Lens {August}

Long Lens: 85mm+


From a distance


Back in June, I talked about the importance of zooming out.  It was so fitting for the end of the school year when the details were so overwhelming that all I could do was take a step back and find some perspective.  Fast forward 3 months, and we have already entered September.  It has been truly an EPIC summer.  

We have done so much!  A lot of it entailed gymnastics for the boys (Tyler was every weekday 9-12:30 and Gavin was 4 weekdays from 3:30-6).  At first, I was dreading the summer practice schedule, but it actually forced us to stay close to home and not over-plan our days.  We ended up spending many summer days just home playing games, doing chores, playing with neighbors, etc.  It was actually lovely.

Here was our annual outdoor movie night.  We watched the Greatest Showman.  Such a fun tradition.


We travelled as a family.  Florida was incredible.  I'm still sorting through those photos, but I posted several back in July.  Our Black Butte trip was ever faithful (it's our favorite place) ... but also we got to put a new spin on our trip and pour some sweat equity into the home we love there.  

I got to travel with my girlfriends ... we OWNED Vegas! This isn't photography related ... but seriously, so fun:


On a personal level, I have pushed my body in really intimidating yet fun ways as I've delved into an intense workout regimen with friends.   

My oldest Tyler took this photo for me because I needed something for the social media share of my podcast ... ugh I so hate being the subject haha, but he did a great job for his first time using my camera.

My oldest Tyler took this photo for me because I needed something for the social media share of my podcast ... ugh I so hate being the subject haha, but he did a great job for his first time using my camera.

As I mentioned last month, this summer on a professional level, I did things I NEVER thought I would get a chance to do.  After my trip to DC, I was so honored to be featured on a the weekly OHSU Podcast.  It's just been a wild past few months, and my camera has sat in the bag more than some summers.

I did pull it out a few times, so I can share a handful of favorites.  I am welcoming Fall and all of it's routine, beautiful PNW weather, and festive decor.  Happy Fall Y'all!  



I don't own a macro lens.  I'd wanted to borrow or rent one for this blog, but I never did.  Still, with a long lens, you can often capture really beautiful details even from quite a distance.  My favorite two things about this shot are the eye lashes and also the sunrise in the reflection of the horse's eye.


Outside In

Hands down, my very favorite thing about a long lens is that it lets you into sacred moments without being intrusive.  You've likely never thought about it, but when you've glanced at a sports photo zoomed way in from our normal "fan viewpoint" and seen an olympian pushing their body to the utmost, you have actually been let into a private moment.  In reality, the athlete is often alone in the frame.  There may be people in the background, but usually the subject of the photo is a single athlete with a grimace that speaks grit and power.  

I love this shot below of one of the judges for USGA Men's Region 2 Gymnastics, not from a photography mindset, but just because it captures such a genuine moment.  I've never met her personally, but when she watches the boys compete, you can feel the genuine joy emote from her when she sees them succeed.  Her face just lights up.  I was probably 25 feet away but with my trusty 70-200 was still able to sneak a shot of her beaming as Tyler held his lever.


My 70-200 sits in the camera bag a lot now that I am not doing any professional photo sessions.  I used it a ton for client work.  Now, I use it at every gymnastics event for sure, but otherwise, it's just so heavy and cumbersome that it takes special circumstance to motivate me to haul it out.  When I do though, it is fun to see what real moments I can capture when people don't have a camera up in their face.

I wish I had more time to chat about the ins and outs of long lens shooting, but instead, I’ll just share my favorites from the month. I have some very cute subjects this month!


 Thanks for following along! This month I get to lead you over to Tracy’s beautiful site to see what she did with her long lens. I think she has an 85mm which I’ve only tried a couple of times but really loved using.

Life from this Lens {July}

Capturing Motion


Funny Story

Ok ... so ... funny story ...

Spoiler alert: I shot the wrong theme.  #oops

July was absolutely INSANE.  We flew back from Florida just barely in time to celebratethe 4th (our neighborhood does an amazing dinner in the street and this year it included a bike parade, which the photo above is from).  In the following days, I went to work and then flew back across the country to Washington D.C. to participate in a super cool experience ... that is a whole other conversation in itself!  Needless to say, I've been busy helping influence national policy in regards to early childhood health, education, and wellness.  SO COOL! 


I flew back home late on my son Gavin's 8th birthday, so we did a lot of celebrating to make up for my absence.  Thankfully, I had taken his annual 7-11 photo (because his birthday is July 11 ... 7/11) before I left for my trip, so we didn't have to miss that tradition.  

Once home, I worked a fair amount so that I could play catch up from being gone, and then we left again for our favorite week of the year in Central Oregon.  This year is a little different though because we decided to make it a work-cation.  We devoted some time to a few maintenance projects around the cabin where we always stay (it belongs to some long time family friends, and we are so blessed to use it often, so we wanted to do some upkeep).  We've stripped and stained the deck, trimmed a ton of trees, and created a new rock pathway around the cabin.  It's been a ton of work, but it looks fantastic!

And so, it's been such a great week!  This place is just our favorite, and it's been really fun to pour into it.  All of that being said, my photography project has really fallen to the wayside this month.  

Here comes the funny part ... all month I thought that I was supposed to be shooting with a long lens.  LOL, turns out that I was supposed to be capturing motion.  OOOOOOPS!!! HAHAHAHA #thatmonthyoushotthewrongtheme

WELL, thankfully my kids are usually moving pretty fast, so I can fill in a few motion photos.  

HAHA!  Here are a few motion {ish} shots that I just happened to take.  They aren't amazing.  Oh well.  I'll do better with our theme in August.  

To look to a photographer who DID know this month's theme, check out Kelly's post.

Kids are always moving

I mean, if you are a parent to young children, you know that they just always move.  It was the thing that first caused me to buy a DSLR when Tyler was 3 weeks old.  My point & shoot just couldn't capture his cuteness in time.

Phone cameras are amazing these days.  However, if you have children, you won't regret buying a DSLR camera that will give you the shutter speed that an average phone camera can't yet compete with.  With some basic knowledge, you will be able to capture some priceless, real-life expressions that you'd likely miss with a phone alone.

Or, step back and capture the beauty of their surroundings.  Forget perfect and just capture them moving!


Shutter Speed


Let's touch on a few photography basics.  Common sense would say that if you increase your shutter speed (so that it snaps photos faster), you will automatically be able to capture motion pictures.  That is a great idea ... if you take into account LIGHT.  Speed is only as good as the light that backs it.  You can snap that shutter as fast as it will move, but if there is not enough of a light source to illuminate your subject, your photo will be underexposed.  For this face painting shot, I could shoot at 1/400 shutter speed as long as I widened my aperture to f/2.8.  I had to compromise focal depth a little bit, but the subject in motion (her hand and paintbrush) are in focus because they are in one plane and my shutter snapped faster than they were moving.  


The slower that you shoot, the longer the sensor is exposed to light.  While more light can enter your lens, you need to make sure that you have enough light in the area to take your photo.  If a subject is moving, you need to have a fast enough shutter speed to keep up with it while also allowing in enough light to illuminate your image.

It becomes a tricky game.  The image below was shot at extremely low light.  I wanted to capture the motion of the firework, but I knew I had to sacrifice something in order to expose the photo correctly.  Aperture had to give, so I had to let the blur speak for itself and use a slower shutter speed to capture our neighbor Henry in focus while he watched the show.



It's tempting to holler at them to look and smile.  Believe me, I do it ALL THE TIME.  But my favorite photos are often the ones where I resisted the temptation and just let them move and play freely.


Motion Doesn't Have to be Fast

We tend to think of motion as quick moving subjects.  However, sometimes the best way to shoot motion is to capture the moment right before the actual movement.  The viewer still knows that movement was about to occur.  There is still a feeling of motion even though the subject is temporarily still enough to take the photo.


Throw back

Since we are talking about motion, I can't help but toss in one sports shot.  The sport we do in our family is Gymnastics.  I love this one from February at a meet.  If the motion theme would have been during the winter months, you would have seen this type of photo throughout my entire post!  


In the spirit of PLAY, I'm cutting this post very short because we are busy playing with friends.  Happy Summer everybody! 


Life from this Lens {June}

Wide Angle


Perspective: Take a step Back


As I shared a bit in my May post, I was desperately needing to pull back from the busyness of life a little bit.  Details and "to do's" had started to overtake my sanity.  "Jazzy June" was everything I needed it to be.  We breezed through some things that could have been stressful, but I didn't allow them to be.  

I have found that when it feels like the walls are closing in, pausing to seeing the big picture provides very much needed context.  It can be a game changer.  When I am feeling the push and pull of everyday life, often I mistakenly allow minor inconveniences more mental space than they actually deserve.  This results in stress, exhaustion, and frustration.  We were not meant to be slaves to deadlines, ideals, and achievements.  When those falsities begin to overstep their bounds, stepping back to re-allign priorities becomes crucial for navigating a balanced life.

What I LOVE about photography is that the same is true ... when you step back and provide context, it gives your audience some breathing room.  They can experience all that you did when you took the picture.  Sometimes that includes some imperfections, and that is ok!  Those are part of the story.  

Of note, we are living in the technology age where Photoshop can be our friend to remove some of those distractions if they genuinely detract from the quality of the composition. But that is for another post ;).   

It took me a while in my photography journey to realize the value of stepping back and showing a wider view.  Now, it is one of my favorite things.


Wide open vs wide angle

I just wanted to take a brief moment to clarify some terminology.  If you have been following along, you know that I love to shoot super wide open.  In case you have forgotten, that means that you set your camera at a shallow depth of focus to allow in extra light.  See my blog post from January.  As you know from that post, photography is all about manipulating how much light enters the camera.  One way to manage this is by adjusting your depth of focus.

Another way to capture more light as you shoot is to widen the area that you are framing.  The best analogy is to think about a window.  A window measuring 1'x1' lets only a small amount of light to a room.  A window that is 5-foot-square lets significantly more light.  Photographers typically refer to 35mm and under as "wide angle."  

Here is an example of an image where I used a wide angle but with a very shallow depth (f/2.8).  The background is that beautiful blurred bokeh, you can still clearly see that that the context was a beautiful Pacific NW field on a cloudy day.  Shout out to Unger Farms which is our favorite Strawberry picking spot.

Wide does not mean far


Typically when I think of wide angle, I think of everything I have mentioned above in regards to showing more of the frame.  For me, that is the fun of a wide lens.  Our eyes are incredibly wide and can capture more than most photography lenses, so it is fun when you put a wide lens to work to try and rival our own eyes' perspective.

However, I can't do a wide angle post without mentioning that when it comes down to it, the main thing that really determines what in the frame is YOU.  Even with a wide lens, if you step super close to your subject, your image will appear close up.

This quick snapshot of the boys on the last day of school was shot at 24 mm.  It looks more like a 50 mm shot because I got super close up to them.  Similarly, the images below were also at 24 mm but just taken close up which proves a fun perspective.



I have been SO excited to talk about this lens!  When I went to ClickAway in 2016, several photographers talked about how owning a very wide angle (Fish Eye) lens changed their photography.  A couple recommended the relatively inexpensive Sigma 15 mm.  I found one on E-Bay for $400.  They weren't kidding! It added a really fun spice to my toolkit.  I'll not say that I've mastered it, but I have played with it a fair amount and have learned that I get the best results when I am shooting very close up to my subject.  


Of note, when you are shooting in bright sun and want to capture a sun flare, hike your aperture WAY on up to 9+.  That is where you will find your flares.


I also want to mention that if you use Lightroom presets and you are working on a lens shot with a Fish Eye, some of the presets will automatically go in and make a lens correction to flatten and stretch your image.  I actually almost always prefer the photo from original 15 mm perspective.  Here is the same image but with the lens profile correction enabled.  I HANDS DOWN prefer the uncorrected version, so I always go in and uncheck that box if my preset has selected it.

However, for the shot below, I actually liked the stretched effect provided by the lens correction, so it's always worth taking a look at both options.


challenging or Uneven Light

As in the photo above, wide angles can be really beneficial in bright sun because they forgive the shadows and uneven light patches that would otherwise detract from a closer up shot.  

In contrast, uneven light can actually augment your wide angle photos when you can isolate or frame your light source properly.  This shot of my niece is a perfect example.  I was prepping a meal in our rented vacation home when I saw my adorable little niece (seriously you guys, she is the sweetest) sitting in her high chair with the window light illuminating her face.  The rest of the dining room was relatively dark given the time of day.  My camera happened to be on the counter with my 24-70 mm on it. I opened it up to 24 mm and stopped it down to f/2.8.  She was sitting still, mesmerized by her crazy cousins playing right outside, so I could shoot at 1/160 and still have plenty of focus.  I had to set my ISO at 2500 because the rest of the room was so dark. 

I absolutely love the result.  The dark decor is softened by her blonde locks and illuminated baby skin ... it just pulls me in.  


In the next image, the white balance was extremely tricky.  However, because the background is so interesting, your eye doesn't care as much about perfect skin tones or color management.  



My boys' gymnastics gym has a big showcase every June.  This year's theme was Rock-N-Rollympics.  I was wandering around doing some photos and at first was shooting these flowers up close.  I was trying to angle myself so as not get the receptionist in the background.  However, the shot I ended up liking the best was one with her in it.  It felt the most real ... it was a very busy afternoon and the gym was buzzing with staff and volunteers working hard to be ready for the showcase.  I ended up using it a collage that I made for the OMEGA Facebook page.  

Below is the second collage I made.  As I have mentioned in prior posts, sometimes the best way to show your images is to group them. I like the variety of angles.  It is fun to pair some close up shots with some wider ones.  It definitely helps tell the story.


Tell your story

I really wish I had more time to devote to this subject, but since I don't I will just encourage you to pull back just a bit and let your surroundings tell more of the story you are trying to capture.  Don't be afraid of the less "pretty" elements in your frame ... let them help you set your scene.  I think it will surprise you how much life it brings to your photos. 


And I'll leave you with a fun one below :).  

So yes, thanks for visiting!  Now head on over and see what Kelly worked on with her wide lenses this month.  I am sure her work is stunning as always!