Monday, November 18, 2013

Butterfly Watch

One day as we were getting ready to leave the house, my husband made the mistake of telling me there were butterflies outside.  He then rolled his eyes as I grabbed my camera and yelled "just give me five minutes" as the door slammed behind me. 

Passion Butterfly
ISO 250 ~ 60mm ~ f/5.0 ~ 1/500 sec
© Corrie M Avila

Here are some tips for shooting butterflies:

Create a tempting environment.  You know the quote from Field of Dreams, "If you build it, they will come."  Well, that rings true here too... "If you plant it, they will come."  There is an abundance of information online that will walk you through how to create a butterfly garden.  I don't have anything elaborate, just a few plants that the butterflies prefer.

Make sure your shutter speed is fast enough.  They are quick and if your shutter is too slow, your photos will be blurry.  I took this shot midday but still needed to raise my ISO a bit so that my Shutter Speed would be fast enough.

Be patient.  If you see butterflies attracted and fluttering around a certain plant... make sure your camera settings are ready to go, sit down near the plant, and be still.  The butterflies will probably fly away when you approach, but if you are still enough, they will usually return.

Focus needs to be on point.  I almost always have to use manual focus to make sure what I want is in focus.  The spots on the butterfly confuse the camera's autofocus feature making it difficult to get a clear and in focus shot.

Think of the background.  Try to arrange the shot so there is pleasing/complementary color in the background as opposed to something like the side of a house or a weed.


Capturing the Moment,

Corrie <3

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A Few of my Favorite Things

This photograph compiles three of my favorite tools to use in photography.  

ISO 320 ~ 135mm ~ f/5.6 ~ 1/1250 sec
© Corrie M Avila

                        1.  Rain drops (create interest and mood to any photograph)  
                           2.  Reflection (captured the clouds in the sky perfectly)
                               3.  A Part of a Whole (can you tell what this is?)

This is something I love to do.  I know it is not everyone's cup of tea, and that is okay... but I love making the viewer stop... even for a few seconds... to evaluate the photograph, to look at the details, to figure out the subject.  

What are some of your favorite tools to use in photography?

Capturing the Moment,


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Staying Sane is Overrated

I now have a bit of time to go and shoot (with my camera of course), but I can't seem to find my internal motivation.  If I do go out, the weather doesn't cooperate, the mosquitos are biting me, my flip flops are getting muddy, my camera bag is too heavy, or I just can't seem to tune into my creative side.  I know these are all excuses, but at the bottom of it all, I am just frustrated.  My brain is going a  million miles a minute, trying to juggle and balance my life, which currently feels like a pile of thirty plates, stacked precariously one on top of the other.  Just today I went to my son's school to ask for another copy of the field trip form, because I had lost the first one.  Come to find out, there was never a first one, so essentially I lost a field trip form that I never got.  I'm not sure if that should make me relieved that I really didn't misplace something or worried that I am creating imaginary things to lose.

© Corrie M Avila

© Corrie M Avila

Today is a rainy and windy day here in Northern Florida, so shooting was not a possibility.  Instead, I packed up my computer, my books, and went to Starbucks to study.  I have a licensing exam that I need to prepare for and I have gotten very good at coming up with alternate things to fill my time.  Instead of studying right now, I am people watching, blogging, and drinking coffee.  I also wanted to share a blog I follow that spoke to me today.  I've talked about her blog before, but it is one of my favorites.  Read it, it's a good one.

So on that note, I will continue losing forms I never got, forgetting to go to activities that weren't real, and pretending to study for things that I really should be studying for.  But when all things seem overwhelming and out of control, remember that the sun always rises... and the sun always sets... and each new dawn brings a new day. 

Capturing the Moment,

Corrie <3

Monday, October 28, 2013

{FILM} 35mm Style

Shooting in film is raw, creative, and gritty.

Each photograph is taken with precision, care, and intense focus.  There is no way to know that your photograph is exactly how you want it other than making sure you took correctly.  Are your lines straight?  Is your white balance correct?  Is your shutter speed fast enough?  Is your focal point on target?

There are no redo's and there is no immediate gratification.

I firmly believe every photographer must occasionally shoot in film to keep their skills sharp and to venture back into the creative arena of making every shot count.

About a month ago I wrote about a photo excursion I took where I shot in both film and digital.  Here are the film shots I took....  They are completely unedited except for my watermark.

The digital shots have much more clarity and are a better quality overall, however there is just something about the film shots... they have so much raw emotion.  I feel they capture the mood so much better... What are your thoughts?  Which do you like better?  The film shots or the digital ones. If you missed the link above, here is the link to the digital shots.

Capturing the Moment.

Corrie <3

Monday, October 21, 2013

Around Town: Felix the Peanut Man

Felix is somewhat of a local hero on Amelia Island, FL.  He can be seen selling peanuts, pineapples, and other items on his three wheeled bicycle down the cobblestone sidewalk of Downtown Fernandina Beach.  He has been a local favorite for over 20 years.  

Back in April of 2009, there was a City Commission meeting that had Felix on the agenda.  An out of towner was upset he couldn't open a hot dog stand and named Felix as an example of someone who was not following the law.  The city banded together in traditional small town fashion, all supporting their local favorite street peddler.  There were t-shirts made, signs, pickets, and even cookies made by Felix's mom.  This was truly an epic moment.  When Felix was offered the podium at the City Commission meeting, he pulled out his harmonica and played "My Country, Tis of Thee" according to an article in the Florida Times Union.  They all agreed that hot dog man had to go, but Felix could stay and continue doing what he had been doing for over two decades.  The Mayor even proclaimed April 29 as Felix Jones Day.

"Felix the Peanut Man"
ISO 320 ~ 28mm ~ f/4.5 ~ 1/200 sec
© Corrie M Avila

When I ran into Felix, I was spending the day with my family in Downtown Fernandina.  My son and cousin had just walked into the ice cream shop on the corner, when I heard someone playing the harmonica down the sidewalk.  I looked up and saw Felix with a harmonica cradled in his weathered hands and a radiant smile on his face.

Felix is an inspiration.  He has a diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy, but does not let that define who he is.  He has spent the last 20 years selling peanuts he boils himself and other fruits.  He then takes the money he earns and donates it to schools and local charities.  Completely inspiring.

So play on Felix.  Play your music.  Tell your story through your song.  We are behind you and we support you.

Capturing the Moment,

Corrie <3

Some Links for your Reading Pleasure:

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Missing Fall

Northern Florida has some amazing qualities... such as the beach, some amazing sunrises, warm weather, and theme parks just a few hours away.  But what it doesn't have, is a real Fall.  I am desperately missing the change of the season, the crispness to the air, and leaves... in all different hues silently falling one by one as the wind blows...

Last fall in Northern Virginia
ISO 100 ~ 41mm ~ f/4.0 ~ 1/800 sec
© Corrie M. Avila

So you will have to excuse me as I have my personal pity party over here.  I wish I were apple picking, going to the pumpkin patch, and watching my son play Fall Soccer.  After having distinguishable seasons for the past 6 years, it just seems like this October is missing something.  

Capturing the Moment,

Corrie <3

Monday, September 23, 2013

Rainy Fall Morning

I've been itching to get out and shoot with my camera for weeks, but learning my new job has been all encompassing.  I've been using my days off to run errands rather than spend some one on one time with my camera.  

Today I decided I was going to ignore my "to-do" list and go exploring camera in hand.  Wouldn't you know, I woke up to the pitter patter of rain drops on my window.  Apparently Fall in Northern Florida means it is just going to rain... all the time... 

I brought my camera with me while dropping off the boys at school in case it let up.  It eased to a light drizzle so I decided I would go explore a trail I've been wanting to check out.  I didn't go very far, but was out there about an hour just poking around in nature...  I've missed it so much <3

After watching a few wild bunnies scamper across the trail, I found these little bean pods.  I'm not sure exactly what they are, but the bright green against the contrast of the gray sky was too much to pass up.

ISO 250 ~ 60mm ~ f/2.8 ~ 1/640 sec
© Corrie M Avila

ISO 500 ~ 60mm ~ f/2.8 ~ 1/160 sec
© Corrie M Avila

I had my DSLR, but I also took my film camera with me.  I actually shot more with film than I did digitally, which surprised me.  I've got about 9 exposures left on that roll, so I have to wait to see how they came out (torturous!!)

Shooting in Film
(Isn't the camera strap CUTE?!?  I just ordered it from ETSY and am in Love <3  The shop owner was fabulous and helped me design a custom strap.  She is also a fellow military spouse.  Check out her store HERE.)

I am amazed at the wildlife here.  They are almost oblivious to the goings and comings around them and just continue on in their own little world.  I didn't run into any alligators though and for that I am grateful!

ISO 500 ~ 300mm ~ f/5.6 ~ 1/800 sec
© Corrie M Avila

ISO 500 ~ 300mm ~ f/5.6 ~ 1/80 sec
© Corrie M Avila

ISO 640 ~ 140mm ~ f/4.5 ~ 1/320 sec
© Corrie M Avila

Capturing the Moment,

Corrie <3

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Behind the Facade

We all judge books by their covers whether we want to admit it or not.

I am a bookworm, a bibliophile, and a lover of libraries.  I could spent hours (okay who am I kidding, days) walking up and down the aisles and running my hands across the spines of countless rows of books.  Sometimes I am there with a purpose, but most of the time I just look around and see what I find.  What is it about a book cover that draws you to a book or turns you away?  I am sure there are many good books that I've bypassed just because the front cover didn't peak my interest.

Column of Books
© Corrie M Avila

I think we do this with people as well.  We look at someone and already come to predetermined ideas of who they are or what they are like.  Sometimes when we have forced continued contact with them, we find out they are not like that first impression at all.  Or...... their personality may just be confirmation of our original perception.

My job is to read, analyze, and interpret people and what is going on inside of them.  I do this in the counseling office, I do this when I am on a photography shoot, and I also do this at home with my family (although, I don't think they are too crazy about it :).  But I am never 100% right.  There are also usually layers to go through on the journey to the heart of the matter.

Today I began a restoration of a hand me down desk my mom gave to my son.  It is in relatively good shape, but needs to be stripped down, some minor repair work, and then painted.  As I was using the sander and going through the layers of paint, it had me thinking about this.  If I had looked at this desk for what it was, I wouldn't of given it a second look.  However, I looked at the desk and saw potential.  I saw what it could be.  And sanding down through the layers brought it all into perspective for me.

© Corrie M Avila

Just as we shouldn't judge a book by its cover, we also shouldn't judge people by their exterior.  We never know what is going on inside them to give off that initial impression.

Be patient, be loving, and be willing... and go ahead and give that book a try...

Capturing the Moment,

Corrie <3

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Take a step back

Last month I wrote a post titled, "Are you a Man or a Muppet?"  In it, I spoke about my internal struggle between two fields, photography and social work.  After writing this, I had a counseling position literally FALL IN MY LAP.  If I was looking for an open door, this was that door.

I've been doing all the "fun" training and computer stuff over the past few weeks, but tomorrow will be my first day seeing clients.  It is a bittersweet day as it is also the 12th anniversary of 9/11.  Reflecting back to September 11, 2001, brings me to my first week of Social Work classes at FSU.  I can remember sitting in my morning class and listening to the chatter about an explosion at the World Trade Center.  We didn't have a television in class and it was too early for anyone to really know what was going on.  Fast forward to later in the day as I stared at my television and watched LIVE with HORROR as the second plane flew into the second WTC Tower.

When I decided to pursue social work, it was to help people.  I know it sounds "cliche-ish" but it's true. I wanted nothing more to hop on a place and go to NYC and do whatever I could to provide support, trauma relief, and counseling.  The only problem was I was not educated, not trained, and not licensed. That was a call I could not answer.

I grieve deeply for the tragedy that befell our nation twelve years ago.  We are still picking up the pieces.  There are some who will never fully be put back together and my heart breaks for them... Tomorrow starts my post graduate road to finally working on my license.  I can only hope and pray that I can answer the next call.

I had the honor of visiting the 9-11 Memorial in NYC last December and it is something every American should experience.

One of the Two Reflecting Pools
ISO 400 ~ 11mm ~ f/6.3 ~ 1/80 sec
© Corrie M Avila

Capturing the Moment,

Corrie <3

(and don't worry ~ the photographer in me isn't going anywhere ;)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Black Wednesday

Shortly after moving into our new home we purchased several plants to make up a tiny butterfly garden.  While the butterflies were attracted to the garden, I never saw any caterpillars on our milkweed plant.  Then one day I looked and saw babies!!  So many babies.  I counted around ten of them ~ they were teeny tiny and adorable.  I started photographing them, but as time went on there were fewer and fewer.  I figured it was bound to happen that not all of them would make it to the chrysalis stage, but I was pretty certain at least a few would, right?  I had about 3 or 4 healthy, strong, and big caterpillars up until two days ago.  
Monarch Caterpillar
ISO 100 ~ 60mm ~ f/5.6 ~ 1/125 sec
© Corrie M Avila

Last night I only could find one (the biggest).  I started wondering if maybe the small garden lizards were eating them.  When I researched it, basically the consensus was that it was possible the lizards were eating them, but not likely.  I was stumped.  I looked around to see if maybe a few had already pupated, but didn't see anything.

This morning I went out and said hello to my hungry hungry caterpillar.  M and I watched him as he was eating breakfast.  

"M" watching Caterpillar
ISO 200 ~ 28mm ~ f/5.6 ~ 1/800 sec
© Corrie M Avila

When I came home from running errands, I was HORRIFIED to see a red wasp EATING my caterpillar.  The poor guy didn't have a chance...  This was the last photo I was able to take of him before his death.

Hungry Caterpillar
ISO 500 ~ 60mm ~ f/5.6 ~ 1/60 sec
© Corrie M Avila

M ran into the house and and brought back a fly swatter.  All I could do was stand there horrified that my little leaf muncher was gone.

If this wasn't bad enough, when I was leaving to go pick up G from school, I stepped on (and killed) a baby lizard.

It is a very sad day here.  We are grieving on this Black Wednesday.  RIP little guy <3

Capturing the Moment,

Corrie <3

Monday, August 12, 2013

Look a Little Closer

One of the most fabulous things about photography is that your photographs are a reflection of who you are as an artist.  The camera is a tool that you can use and manipulate to show others your perspective.

ISO 500 ~ 300mm ~ f/5.6 ~ 1/320 sec
© Corrie M Avila

Upon first glance, this may look like a bubble.  But when I look at it I see a reflection of myself taking a photo.  I also see some magnificent and wondrous clouds behind me as the sun was setting.  And then there is a weed next to me that looks as tall as a tree.  

I also can close my eyes and remember my son blowing the bubbles and the elation pouring out of him as the bubbles stayed in form for so long.  I can feel the wind blowing across my face and remembering how I had to keep brushing my hair out of the way of the camera.  If I close my eyes I can be transported back to this exact moment.  

This is why I take photos.

Capturing the Moment,

Corrie <3

Thursday, July 25, 2013

My First Gallery Photograph and a Chance to Snag a FREE 5x7

Back in May, you may remember I spoke about one of my photographs being chosen as part of an Underground Gallery in Washington, DC.  If you missed it, you can check out the posting here.

I was completely FLOORED when I got the email that my photograph was chosen.  It is the first time I've had any photo requested for a gallery.  I went to see it on Mothers Day, but they did not have the gallery up yet.  Due to all the craziness of preparations for our move, we did not make it back until Fathers Day in June.

I honestly can't put into words how it felt to be walking down a corridor filled with beautiful captures of the Cherry Blossoms in our Nation's City, and to come across my very own perspective, my very own photograph.

My Photo and I <3
ISO 3200 ~ 28mm ~ f/5.0 ~ 1/30 sec
© Corrie M Avila

The lighting was awful, I forgot to bring my tripod, the ISO had to be jacked all the way up, my hair was a mess, it was a very long day... just days before our move... but I couldn't have been happier <3

My Name!! In Print!!
ISO 3200 ~ 53mm ~ f/5.0 ~ 1/50 sec
© Corrie M Avila

If you are in the Washington DC/ Northern VA area, you must check out the Underground Gallery.  There are some beautiful and amazing photographs.  You can get there by metro (probably the easiest way) or you can drive and park in one of the parking garages (they are free on the weekends and after 4pm on weekdays).

ISO 3200 ~ 38mm ~ f/5.0 ~ 1/30 sec
© Corrie M Avila

Here is a map of the area that has the Gallery.  The red arrow is pointing to where my photograph is.  There is a really cool funky striped wall just opposite my photo.  The website of Fotowalk Underground is here.

My Photo is Featured near the Bottom Left

The Gallery will be on display until November 4th, 2013.  So even though I am no longer in Washington DC, a little piece of me is <3  

Sharing the Love

As a thank you to those who venture out to see all 150 of the beautiful photographs displayed, I will give the first FIVE people a free 5x7 of your choice (shipping included).  All you have to do is post a photograph of yourself with my Cherry Blossom Photo.  You can reply with a link to your photo below in the comments or you can post it directly onto Traveling Hearts Photography's Facebook Page.

The Chosen Photograph
ISO 100 ~ 50mm ~ f/11 ~ 1/200 sec
© Corrie M Avila

Capturing the Moment,

Corrie <3

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Sticky Situation

I am always on the lookout for photo frames either on sale or at thrift stores.  I can often find cute and whimsical frames decently priced at Ross or Kohls.  I purchased a frame earlier in the week for my husband's new office and was annoyed to find the sticker placed right on the glass.

ISO 100 ~ 60mm ~ f/5.6 ~ 1/80 sec
© Corrie M Avila

I knew I would be able to remove it, but it still didn't change my annoyance about the placement of the sticker.  They could have easily placed it on the back of the frame.  I have a little trick I use to remove sticky things and thought I'd share it with you.  Let me introduce you to an embosser.  I had originally purchased it for stamping (which I don't do very much of anymore).  But I've held onto it for it's dual purpose as a fantastic sticker remover.  I've used it to remove the little registration stickers on my license plate, vinyl stickers from glass, as well as a multitude of stickers from objects like the one pictured above.  If you don't have an embosser, you can also use a hair dryer (which blows air so it is a little more difficult to work with).  

ISO 200 ~ 60mm ~ f/5.6 ~ 1/60 sec
© Corrie M Avila

To remove the sticker, direct the embosser onto it and carefully start peeling away the sticker from the glass.  It does get hot so sometimes I will use tweezers to gently pull the sticker away.  If there is any residue leftover, you can use goo-gone or also I've heard peanut butter does the trick.

ISO 200 ~ 60mm ~ f/5.6 ~ 1/160 sec
© Corrie M Avila

So here you have it!  A beautifully clean removal of an obtrusively placed pricing sticker.  

Capturing the Moment,

Corrie <3

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Am I a man or a muppet?

Have you seen The Muppets?  It's a favorite in our home... (If you are on a mobile device, the video clip won't show up.... just google "Man or a Muppet"or look at the blog post on a desktop and the video clip should be there)

Lately I've been going through a lot of personal things.  Something I don't talk about very often is that I went to school for social work.  While I have worked in the field, I have not been able to attain my license due to our family relocating every few years with the military.  Our last tour I was working part-time and eventually had to leave my job completely because of our family situation.  My family always comes first and I needed to step away from my career and give my family 200%.

This was quite the blessing in disguise.  I needed something to keep me busy and that is when I picked up my camera and started to get serious about photography.  I was able to be with my family, give my youngest the special attention he needed, make all the additional appointments and yet still have a creative and fun outlet for myself.

Now it seems I am at a crossroad.  The boys are older, the previous pressing issues aren't there anymore, and we will be in one place for three years (translation ~ long enough to get licensed).

My heart is torn.  I want to do both.  I want to continue to pursue photography and get established in the area.... but I still have the heart of a social worker.  Is it possible to do both?  Yes, of course... but the way I handle tasks is to give my all.  I won't be able to divide my all three ways (photography, social work & family).  Something will have to give... something will sacrifice...

So am I a man (ahem ~ woman) or a muppet... I'm still not sure... but time will tell

Capturing the Moment,

Corrie <3

Monday, July 15, 2013

Instagram {Printing and Saving Photos}

Instagram has been one of my favorite creative tools to use while on the go with my phone.  I've gone into a more detailed description and explanation here and here if you are interested.

While I love taking and editing 1x1 {square} photos on my phone, the big question has been how to print them.  I personally use my professional printing lab, but there are all sorts of companies now that offer direct access to your Instagram photos for easy printing.  You can print anything from regular prints and canvases to sticker books, mini books, and even calendars.  One of the companies I found with the most options is Prinstagram.  But there are also printing options with InstacanvasOrigrami, Canvaspop, or Persnickity Prints.  I've never personally used any of these companies, but I do plan on ordering some stickers soon from Canvaspop.

There is an option on your Instagram account that allows you to save the full resolution photo to your device.  This is previously how I was saving and using my photos.  If you don't save your photo when you initially post it, you can email it to yourself straight from Instagram.  The downfall with this is the size of your photo ends up being about 8 KB.  Basically too small to print at all.  

This is what your Settings Screen looks like
Just make sure that the "Save Original Photos" is "on"

When you post a photo through Instagram, the resolution is already low.  I imagine this is because they are housing millions and millions of photos on a server somewhere and try to keep the photo to a minimum file size.  What does this mean?  Well, basically that the quality of your photo is good enough to print, but the print will have to be on the small side.  The Instagram printing companies seem to print as large as 20x20, but I wouldn't go larger than 12x12 (my opinion).

Now what happens if say, you have 5000 photos on your cell phone and it crashes... and the Instagram photos never got backed up?  Well, that happened to me and after my mild panic attack, I figured I would google it.  And like magic, the answer appeared (what did we do before google??).  There is a website called Instaport.  You can access your Instagram photos through this website and it will download whichever photos you choose (I chose the last 200 photos) into a pretty little file.  And the best part?  They are all the high resolution photos. :)  Phew....

Now I can print my favorite NYC Instagram photo to complete my New York City shelf.

Capturing the Moment,

Corrie <3

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sunday Morning

I woke up this morning with my 5 year old millimeters from my face.  He proceeded to tell me he woke up because his brain told him it was time.  (Yes mom, I know this is payback from all the times I woke you up)

I had to PRY my eyes open... As I am grumbling to myself about how my children must have not gotten the "sleeping in" gene, I stumbled to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee.  I looked out my back window and saw a white and black bird practically in my backyard.  I grabbed my camera (knowing it probably wouldn't be there anymore) and went outside.  He had meandered down a ways, but was still there.  I wasn't sure what type of bird this was ~ first time I was seeing it.  He was skittish so I was glad I had thought to change my lens to the big daddy (my 300mm lens).  I sat down in the grass and just enjoyed watching him scooping through the water looking for breakfast.

Wood Stork Profile
ISO 400 ~ 300mm ~ f/5.6 ~ 1/640 sec
© Corrie M Avila

Wood Stork Flying
ISO 400 ~ 300mm ~ f/5.6 ~ 1/640 sec
© Corrie M Avila

After coming back inside I looked him up and discovered he is a Wood Stork.  Apparently these guys are quite skittish and are more often in secluded areas.  They are on the an endangered species list and more commonly in South America.  So with all this information, I was quite surprised that he was in the lake behind my house.  I do hope I get to see him some more and will take extra effort to keep my distance should I see him again.
Wood Stork and his Reflection
ISO 400 ~ 260mm ~ f/5.6 ~ 1/250 sec
© Corrie M Avila

Wishing you a pleasant and relaxing weekend.

Capturing the Moment,

Corrie <3

Saturday, July 6, 2013


This past fourth of July, we celebrated the freedom of our country in the good ol' United States of America.  This was also the first time I set out to photograph fireworks which can be a little tricky because there aren't many opportunities to practice.  Even after reading up on it and learning the basics, I still went into it blindly.  I put together some tips for you based on my experience and hope to help you out at the next fireworks worthy occasion.

Fernandina Beach, FL
ISO 100 ~ 95mm ~ f/20 ~ 7.0 sec
© Corrie M Avila

Tip #1

Allow plenty of time to arrive to the location and to get set up.

Reality ~ we arrived just as the fireworks were starting and ended up getting diverted to a dead end alley (where the view was pretty good), but it left me flustered trying to set up my camera, tripod, and remote while the fireworks were already going off.

Tip #2

Make sure you have a high f/stop # (small aperture).  Not sure what this is? Read up here.

Reality ~ I forget to raise my f/stop # and ended up shooting at f/5.6 for most of the fireworks.  This left me with many images I could not use because they were not crisp and the depth of field was too small.  By the time I realized this mistake the show was 95% done.  It is recommended to shoot with f/18 or higher for fireworks.

Tip #3

Even though you cannot practice shooting fireworks beforehand, you can practice with some night shooting to experiment with the bulb setting on your shutter.

Reality ~ I'm ashamed to admit I've never once used the bulb setting on my shutter before and that left me fumbling around trying to get the hang of it in the middle of the fireworks show.

Tip #4

You MUST have a tripod and a remote.  Imperative.  If you don't have a tripod or a remote, you can improvise, but it will make it much more challenging and more of a chance your photos will be blurry with camera shake.

Reality ~ I actually remembered both :)

Tip #5

Focus.  I'm sure there are several ways to do this, but this is what I ended up doing and it worked pretty well.  I used auto focus while a firework was exploding and then flipped my lens onto manual.  That way the camera was not looking for a focal point each time.  For the most part, fireworks are set off at the same spot, so your focal distance should not change.

Reality ~ I tried to straight up manually focus and couldn't do it.  The way I just described is what worked best for me.

Fernandina Beach, FL
ISO 100 ~ 85mm ~ f/5.6 ~ 5.0 sec
© Corrie M Avila


Have fun!! Be creative!!  There is no "right" or "wrong" way to photograph fireworks.  By the end of the display I got the hang of what my results looked like when I did different things and began to plan when I would open and close the shutter.  This photograph is by far my favorite of the evening creatively speaking.

Fernandina Beach, FL
ISO 100 ~ 100mm ~ f.20 ~ 6.0 sec
© Corrie M Avila

Look in your local paper and local "happenings" because there are often fireworks during other times too.  I read that there is a local shrimp festival here in Fernandina Beach that also hosts fireworks.  Next time I'd like to try out these methods by Photographer David Johnson.  The results are creative and resemble Chihuly blown glass (to me at least :)

Capturing the Moment,

Corrie <3

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Manual Tutorial #7 {Wrapping Up}

If you have just stumbled across this Tutorial for the first time, it would be a good idea to start at the beginning here.

Manual Photography {Wrapping Up}

Now that we have covered all the different components of exposure and how to shoot in manual ~ it is time for you to use what you have learned.

I wanted to share with you a great tool to print or copy.  Photography Field Guide ~ This is super helpful and a cheat sheet of sorts to use while you are out with your camera (and not near books, wifi, or internet)

General Walkthrough of How I Typically Shoot

#1) First I think about my ISO...

  • is it cloudy? (higher ISO)  
  • is it sunny? (lower ISO)  
  • am I shooting indoors? (much higher ISO)  
  • will I need a tripod? (lower ISO but will cause a slower shutter as well)  
  • do I care about grain (higher ISO)?

#2) Next I ask myself what is most important to my photograph?  Shutter Speed or Aperture?  Whichever is most important to your photograph, adjust that one first.

  • If Shutter Speed
    • Freezing Movement?  -> Fast shutter speed
    • Blurring Movement?  -> Slow shutter speed
  • If Aperture
    • Blurred Background -> Large Aperture -> Small f/stop # (ex f/2.8)
    • Crisp and Detailed Background -> Small Aperture -> Large f/stop # (ex f/16)

I took this photo while I was having my morning coffee on my balcony.  This was the last morning I had in my Virginia home before the packers came and our move to Florida started.  The sun was rising behind the trees and I knew that if I used a small f/stop number (larger aperture) I would be able to create bokeh with the sunlight (blurred out of focus orbs of light that occur with a small f/stop number).  

It was still on the dark side, so I set my ISO to 200.  I then set my f/stop as low as it would go with the lens I was using (happened to be f/5.6).  From there I just adjusted my shutter speed until my cursor was at the "0" hash mark.  (Remember the light meter?)  

I especially like this photo because it captures the emotion of my last morning coffee.  I also loved that the bokeh looks like little sparkles coming out of my cup <3

ISO 200 ~ 53mm ~ f/5.6 ~ 1/400 sec
© Corrie M Avila

Can you understand the settings below my photo now?  Does it make sense?  The only thing we haven't gone over is the second number and that is your focal length.  Basically just the distance your lens is set to.  On a telephoto lens it will change, on a fixed lens, it will remain the same.  This is more of just documentation and does not have anything to do with shooting in manual.  Knowing that the lens was at 53mm, you would know that I was standing pretty close to the mug.

Some Final Tips and Reminders

* Don't forget that all three components (ISO, aperture, shutter speed) interact with each other.  When you adjust one, it affects the rest.  Remember the graph from early on in the tutorials?

* If you are having trouble knowing where to start, put your camera in "P" mode and see what the camera says the settings should be.  That is a good starting place until you get more comfortable finding your settings from scratch.  But don't forget to switch back over to Manual so that you have the control!

* When learning Manual Photography, go easy on yourself and practice on something that does not move ~ you will have a much easier time shooting and can just focus on the camera rather than the subject running away :)

* Finally, to avoid photos that are blurry from your hand shaking, do not go slower than 1/60 sec on your shutter speed without a tripod.  If your settings are telling you that you are slower than that, it is time to bump up your ISO a bit or lower your f/stop number (aperture).

I've already gotten some great feedback from this tutorial series and I'm excited to hear from you!!  Has this helped you?  Do you still have questions?  Please reply to this blog post with your questions/comments and I will put together a follow-up blog post answering them.  I know this is a hard concept to get and to wrap your head around, but I promise, keep working at it and you WILL begin to understand!

Capturing the Moment,

Corrie <3

Monday, July 1, 2013

moving, loving, and cherishing

Military transfers are hard in many ways.  I've talked about some of that in my previous blogs here and here anddddd here....

But I wanted to change it up and talk about one of the positive aspects of a military move.

Fernandina Beach, FL
(iPhone photo)
© Corrie M Avila

A typical military family endures many separations due to deployments, duty shifts, or just the regular demands of the job.  But during a military move (PCS) there is often the ability to take some time off in between jobs.  It sort of recharges the military member as well as the family.

my two littles
Instagram Photo
© Corrie M Avila

Yes there is the normal moving stuff that goes on.. unpacking, reorganizing, traveling, ect.... but there is also time just spent with the family.  Sort of like hitting the pause button on life for a bit.

one of our "waiting days" in the new house
ISO 800 ~ 33mm ~ f/5.0 ~ 1/40 sec
© Corrie M Avila

We are settling in nicely to our home... watching for lizards, listening to the rain, walking on the beach, searching for shark teeth and most importantly just being together.

magnolia bloom from my front yard
Instagram Photo
© Corrie M Avila

Capturing the Moment,

Corrie <3

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


This move from the Washington DC area to Northern Florida has been a very emotional one.  It was filled with so many goodbyes to people that I had grown to care deeply for.  The last few days in our home were both tearful and sad.  It also didn't help that the packers finished on Tuesday of last week but the movers were unable to come until Saturday to load up the truck.  So there was delay after delay after delay.  This will most likely be the most scattered blog post written to date, but I wanted to share a bit about our journey.  These photos are raw, unedited (except the instagram ones), and most definitely not showcase worthy, but they are our journey <3

My last morning in our house I woke up before everyone else and had a cup of coffee in my favorite place --> out on the deck... overlooking the trees and the Potomac River.

© Corrie M Avila

Later that day, the packers started to box up our stuff.  It was rainy and dreary and seemed to fit the mood.

© Corrie M Avila

After the packers left, we checked into the hotel locally that would be our intermediate home for the next few days.  We had to wait for the moving truck as well as finish up the painting and other minor house repairs getting it ready to rent.  Thankfully my father in law had come the previous week and helped us get the majority of the painting and house repairs done.

G and his Doggy sacked out
© Corrie M Avila

On our way out of the state, I stopped by the house for a final farewell.  The boys ran around the yard one last time while I took some last minute photos.  (Those will be another blog post once my computer is up and running).  G also wanted to take some photos of his favorite things <3

© Corrie M Avila

Traffic leaving Virginia was AWFUL... the worst I have been in the entire time we've lived here.  I'm just thankful I had my mother in law with us to help with the boys (and my sanity!!).  After enduring an additional 2+ hours of TRAFFIC alone, we were happy to have made it to North Carolina!

© Corrie M Avila

We finally made it to Florida on Saturday, but the moving truck did not arrive until today.  In the meantime, we went and visited the beach and played a round of mini golf.

© Corrie M Avila

© Corrie M Avila

G rocking his Golf Pose
© Corrie M Avila

Do I really need to add a caption here?!?
© Corrie M Avila

The moving truck FINALLY arrived and we had to give it the grand escort... We heard several different stories... some involved chicken sandwiches and the others involved a trip to the ER.  We never got the full story on the trip our furniture took... however we did decide our next move, we are hiding a GPS with our stuff.  We have a feeling our boxes had a bit more excitement on the drive down than we did.

This one is hard to see... but our moving truck is out there driving behind us.
© Corrie M Avila

© Corrie M Avila

Now the fun begins with the unpacking.  Moving to a new home is like trying to fit a square shaped block into a round hole.  Your furniture never fits quite the same and it takes some adjusting to make it all work.  Here is a photo of the boys' room.  Since we are down a room from our old house and this room is on the large size, they will be sharing.

I've still got some work to do here :)
© Corrie M Avila

Somehow I got the job of checking in all the boxes (trust me, I didn't volunteer for that one).  But I'm looking at the paper and what the heck does all this mean?? I mean really.... Is it really necessary to mark every possible number and letter combination on here.  If something were damaged, I'd never be able to prove it.... and that must be the point.

© Corrie M Avila

My emotions are still too raw to talk about my friends back home...  The hugs, thoughts, time, gifts, sentiments, cups of tea and coffee are all stored deeply in my heart...

© Corrie M Avila

And one final photo I took this evening.

© Corrie M Avila

Capturing the Moment,

Corrie <3