Friday Fives

Friday Fives | My Five Lenses

1) Nikon 50mm f1.4 prime — I probably use this lens most, and it’s the lens I took with me on vacation to Disney. It’s on my camera I’d say about 60% of a wedding day. It’s a great versatile lens that has that soft bokeh I love, it gets me close enough to the action for portraits, but I can also back up and get wider if needed (in most cases).


2) Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 zoom — This wider angle lens comes in more handy for my business and commercial shoots — real estate, fitting into tight spaces, food, overhead flatlays, landscapes, etc.


3) Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 II zoom — This lens is my go-to for sports, wedding ceremonies, and sometimes portraits! I also have a teleconverter that I use on it for football that doubles my zoom (but I lose a few stops of light too so I can only use it outside when it’s bright and sunny).


4) Sigma 85mm f1.4 prime — This lens is a sweet portrait lens, but works best outside or in larger indoor spaces when I have room to get further away from my subject. The wide aperture gives me that beautiful bokeh and shallow depth of field that many photographers aim for, plus the compression of using a tighter crop. I love me some compression!! ;)


5) Nikon 60mm f2.8 macro — I use my macro lens for ring shots, and sometimes closeups of food. There is a rare instance when I’ll use it for other things and if say I have it on my camera for some ring photos and I need to snap a quick portrait or candid, it will still do the job. And even though it stops down to 2.8, typically I shoot rings at a higher aperture around 4-5.6 so that you can see the full depth of the diamond or gemstone. Since it’s macro, you still get that bokeh-y closeup feel, but closing down the aperture still gives me the depth I want.


So that’s it! I’ve had these lenses now for several years and am pretty happy with my arsenal. I don’t plan to change it unless I end up adding another lens or two for a tax write-off or just frivolity. :D If I were to add other lenses, my next choice would be a 35mm (maybe the Sigma art version?) and then possibly upgrade my 60mm macro to the Nikon 105mm (or an off-brand equivalent). With as little as I use the macro though, I don’t really see the need at this point!

Do you have any questions about any of the lenses or terminology I talked about in this post? Feel free to comment below to ask! I’m happy to answer questions about my equipment. Thanks for reading!

Friday Fives | Favorite Summer Activities

Every summer our family makes a Summer Bucket List of all the things we want to accomplish before the end of summer. Some things are recurring events every year and multiple times throughout the vacation months, but some are new things that we’ve never done. Here are some of our favorite things to do as a family during the summer break!

1) Free movies at GQT Savoy 16! That’s right — FREE! If you have a GQT Rewards card, you and up to 5 people can see a free movie every Monday-Friday at 10am during the summer. They post the schedule ahead of time, and there’s a new kids or family-friendly movie every week. We LOVE it, and typically are able to get a few snacks since the movie is free. :D


2) Kids Bowl Free! Ding ding ding! FREE again! (Are you sensing a theme here?) Bowling alleys all over the country partner with this program to provide 2 free bowling games each day to kids. All you have to pay for is shoe rental. And there is also a family program where you can add adults for a nominal fee and they then get 2 games each day for the summer also. We’ll utilize this one more too as our kids get older!


3) Frozen Yogurt/Ice Cream/Custard! I’m not ashamed to say that nearly every local froyo or ice cream place is on our bucket list and we’ll try to hit all of them before the summer is over.


4) Visit the library! It goes without saying that the library is free (I mean, outside of taxes LOL), and my kids love to play and search for their own books at our library. There are also computers and headphones where they can play online games or watch YouTube, and we use it to search for my son’s favorite keywords and authors too. They also have a train table, a lightbox, and magna tiles, which usually keep them pretty busy. There are also scheduled activities on certain days — book readings, lego classes, art classes, music, and more.


5) Boating with Grandpa Mark & Uncle Nathan! Grandpa Mark has a pontoon boat on Lake Decatur, and Uncle Nathan has a speedboat on Lake Michigan. One of our favorite things to do is take the boat out on Lake Michigan, maybe swim for a bit, and then go through the lock system to enter the Chicago River. On Lake Decatur we usually grill some hot dogs, swim, and one year on 4th of July we stayed out and watched fireworks!


Honorable mention: berry picking, free Thursdays at Scovill Zoo, swimming at Grandpa Mark’s or Papa’s houses, swimming at a local public pool, playing in the sprinkler, picnic in the park

Friday Fives | Favorite Ring Shots

This post was HARD to do!! I’m sure I missed a couple of all-time favorite ring shots, but when I have hundreds of weddings to recollect, it’s easy to miss a few!! A couple of easy favorites came to mind first, and if you’ve followed me for very long, you know that color is my jam! So most of these images are boosted by loads of deep toned hues to really make the rings POP!

In my opinion, the key to a killer ring photo is GOOD LIGHT! Direct sunlight does not work as the flat top part of the diamond or gemstone will reflect and just look solid white. It’s better to have diffused natural light like through a window, doorway, or overhang. In fact, 4 of these 5 (if I’m remembering correctly), were all taken in one of those 3 scenarios. I also like to pull in key colors or elements of the wedding using the flowers, a bridesmaid’s dress, reception decor, or something along those lines. In the last photo you’ll see colorful fall leaves which I just grabbed from outside the church door. The extra little touch lent itself perfectly to that couple’s October wedding.

It’s also fun when the couple brings something specific for me to use for their ring photos, as was the case for the cover photo for this post — Casey and David got married at the courthouse and brought this special turtle sculpture that they had picked up on one of their travels. Colorful + meaningful = the perfect combo!!

1) Purple wedding flowers with baby’s breath creates depth in the image itself and especially the diamond! (window light)

purple baby's breath ring photo

2) The venue had these amazing logo plates that was just the right size to pair with the rings. (window light)

Odyssey Country Club wedding ring with monogrammed china

3) This couple had Lemondheads on each table for the guests and for a pop of color. I knew the vivid yellow would be an interesting background with the rings! (overhang light)

Lemonheads yellow ring photo in Mason jar

4) The bridesmaids wore this nice coral color, and one of them happened to be carrying a purse of the same color. I asked to borrow it, and propped the rings up on it out in the open on top of a concrete post. (overcast open light)

coral background standing ring photo

5) This fall wedding definitely called for some fall color so these fallen leaves were just the ticket. (overcast light near a slight overhang)

Ring photo with colorful fall leaves