Friday, January 16

coldest vacation on record

Every year after Christmas and New Years we drive up to Snowshoe West Virginia to ski for a few days.  It's our time to celebrate Christmas, the New Year, my birthday and just to spend time alone and enjoy the peace after the holiday craze.  Joe mentioned on the drive up that this is his favorite trip every year.  Besides that it seems so soon after the holidays, we stay at the same condo where we can ski-in and ski-out, we don't go out to eat, we don't have to drive anywhere once we get settled, we are active everyday and we know what to expect while we are there.  In a sense it's stress free.  

We arrived at Snowshoe Resort mid-week during a arctic cold front with a whopping 6 degrees and windy.  Joe insisted on going to the village to go shopping and I wasn't all that interested.  I had to dress in so many layers that I was like the little brother on A Christmas Story.  I couldn't put my arms down.  After a purchase of a new beanie, which has almost become tradition we went back to eat dinner.  I checked the recent temperature and by 8pm the temperature dropped to -9 with the windchill at -34.  Holy crap!  We had planned for this to be a cold trip, but I don't think we realized it was going to be this cold.

Each morning we hit the slopes and never lasted more than 2 hours. We had to take early lunch breaks to warm up before we would head back out.  Who would want to be out much longer than 2 hours when the temperatures were below freezing and the windchill was a measly -5 to -36 degrees.  I mean good greif!  Freezing fingers, freezing toes, freezing face, freezing everything!  The first day out I brought my camelbak and after one swig of water the line froze.  That was an epic fail.  Our neck gators were causing our ski goggles to fog, so Joe headed straight to a shop to purchase new ventilated neck gators.  Not the most comfortable things, but they solved our goggle probably.

We had a mix of sunny and snowy days, but none the less it was no where near warm and everyday we had a negative windchill factored into it.  It was definitely the coldest ski trip on record for us.

On the third night we were woken up by the house phone at the wee hours of the morning.  It was our security company.  Guess who set off the glass break again!?!?  NORMAN I suppose. 3 out of 4 vacations it has been set off.  It's like the cats know and want to cause everyone anxiety including the house sitters.  So needless to say neither of us got much sleep after that call as we had to wait until morning to see what they did.  We thought we had cat proofed the house before we left, so both of us were baffled as to what could have happened.  The first time it was set off Norman knocked over a planter into the kitchen sink, the next time Norman knocked a small glass tree with glass wine charms off the bar and it shattered, this time there was nothing.  The cat sitter didn't find one thing.  We still think Norman is out for vengance or maybe he just likes watching the police walk around our house to make sure there is no burglar or broken windows.  I'm not sure, but they don't set off the alarm when we are in town...

On our last day of skiing we stayed out as long as possible.  After skiing we started to pack up for our morning departure.  Joe walked into the room where I was working on a suitcase and asked if I wanted to pack up and go home now?  I was like wow.  We both hadn't slept well the night before and I think we both knew that it wasn't going to be a good night sleep again.  All we would do is watch TV and pack-up, attempt to sleep and then drive home.  So why not just go home?  By 6pm we were on the road, trecked 6 hours home and made it around 12:30am.  We were both exhausted, but were happy to be home in our own bed.  I was surprised Joe was able to fall right asleep since he had 3 large cups of dark roasted coffee for the drive home.  AND so we will be home for awhile now...

Snow licking count Amanda - 0 vs Joey - 3

Dear hubby.  I've realized that our 6.5 year old little point and shot camera probably needs to be upgraded this year.  hint hint.  

Thursday, January 1

our new years day

Eloquent English | New Year | Stendig Calendar

Eloquent English | New Year | Stendig Calendar

Eloquent English | New Year | Stendig Calendar

Eloquent English | New Year | Stendig Calendar

Eloquent English | New Year | Stendig Calendar

Eloquent English | New Year | Stendig Calendar

New Years is the day that all the Christmas decor inside and out get carefully taken down, put back in boxes and all goes up to the attic.  It also means we will be sweeping up thousands a few pine needles for months weeks.  I guess that's the trees way of reminding me of the Christmas season for a little longer.  I don't mind Christmas being in my heart all year long as it should be...

The new year also means a new calendar.  Oh how I do love that glorious calendar.  Joe really disliked the calendar when I bought the first one.  Each month, upon asking he would take a few photos with my iPhone of me changing the calendar page.  He never seemed that excited about doing it.  This year I mentioned that I could setup a tripod and do it myself.  Joe thought that was unacceptable as he still wanted to be a part of the monthly calendar changing.  So after an entire year he decided he actually likes the calendar.  Only the white pages though...  That's okay because I favor the black pages.

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year!

Monday, December 22

the life...

Lens: 85mm f1/8
Settings: ISO 800, Aperture 4.0, Shutterspeed 1/160

Lens: 85mm f1/8
Settings: ISO 100, Aperture 1.8, Shutterspeed 1/125
* I don't shoot at 1.8, just testing out the sharpness with the change!  Her right eye is a little soft.

Lens: 85mm f1/8
Settings: ISO 100, Aperture 2.8, Shutterspeed 1/500

OH the life of a cat.  Definitely easy test subjects when you need one.  well most of the time...

If you recall I had recently calibrated my lenses (post here).  The Winter months are a quieter season for photography and I haven't been able to go out and shoot much, at least for portraiture.  Last time I tested my lenses I used two rulers and had a jerry-rigged set-up.  This time Joe made me a GhettoCal.  We spent $1.50 on poster board and a free print out of the GhettoCal instead of $65-90 on a real one.  Can't beat that.  

Thursday, December 4

white as snow

Last week we spent Thanksgiving with Joe's family in West Virginia.  The first morning we were both up very early and decided to sit in the kitchen and study God's word with a hot cup of coffee.  Shortly there after we saw through the kitchen window that snow had started to fall.  


Snow falling is so peaceful and serene...  it reminds me of Isaiah 1:18, "Come now, let us settle the matter," says the Lord. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool..."  

Our sinfulness is washed as white as snow through Jesus our redeemer.  It's hard to imagine our slate is continuously wiped clean when we ask for forgiveness.  We are renewed just as spring brings warmth, new life and growth.  a new season... a new beginning that lasts for eternity.

I am His and He is mine...

Monday, December 1


50mm f/1.8 @ ISO 100, f/3.5, ss 1/60
{that is a very slow shutter-speed for me, typically I try to shoot at least at 1/250}

50mm f/1.8 @ ISO 100, f/4, ss 1/1250

50mm f/1.8 @ ISO 400, f/4, ss 1/125

I purchased my camera {D7000 bundle) two years ago on a Black Friday deal.  I used the stock zoom lens one time and knew it wasn't going to work for me so I purchased my first affordable prime lens {35mm f/1.8} a week or so later.  Shortly thereafter I purchased the 50mm f/1.8 and finally the 85mm f1.8.  Once I started using the 85mm I hardly touched the 35mm or the 50mm due to the lack of image sharpness that they would produce.  Once I started digging more into the issue I noticed that my camera lens was focusing just past my selected single focal point (for portraits, the closest eye).  I wasn't having this issue with the 85mm.  I knew that my lens or camera needed to be calibrated but I didn't want to spend the money to get it fixed as these aren't the most expensive lenses.  Little did I know I owned a camera that I could calibrate the camera to each lens myself!  So I read these fancy instructions how to calibrate here and low and behold I fixed my other two lenses back focusing problem.

I also did another test on each lens to identify their sharpest apertures.  I was quite shocked at what I found on the lack of sharpness around the corners and what I would consider acceptable.  You can read how to test for your lens sweet spot here.

Happy Monday!

My portrait photography can be found at: Senior Portrait Photographer - Amanda English Photography