All the Answers: Notes on Choosing a Camera.

In my recent round of Ask Me Anything, Sheri asked what kind of camera I use. Since I was planning on blogging about this soon anyway, I decided to give this question its own post.

So you remember a couple of months ago at the beach, I broke my camera. Or rather, the most evil humidity broke my camera.

And since I run a ministry based on my photography, I had to replace said camera as soon as possible.

I spent several days angsting over what camera to buy, and how much it was going to cost, and the fact that I’d need all new lenses if I bought certain cameras, and HOW MUCH IT WAS GOING TO COST.

But. It had to be done. And I’d been wanting an upgrade anyway, and now was clearly the time to swat the Accountant Conscience off of my shoulder and just do it.

So then it was down to which one. I’m a Canon girl, so that narrowed it down. I wanted to move to the professional line and I didn’t want a used camera, so that narrowed it down to three. The 7D Mark ii, the 6D, or the 5D Mark iii (In cost order from least to most expensive.)

I then marked the 7D Mark ii off the list because it wasn’t full frame, and if I’m moving up I might as well do it right. Even though that meant (whimper) buying all new lenses (slowly. Over time.)

So then it was between the 6D and the 5D Mark iii, of which there was a $1,000 price difference. I didn’t want to pay more, but at the same time, again, if I was buying, I wanted to buy what I needed. The deciding factor came down to actually holding the cameras. Thankfully, that made it really easy: the 5D Mark iii was FREAKISHLY heavy and so wide that it was very uncomfortable to grip in my dainty lady hands. I did not need a camera that would knock me off the hill I was shooting from.

This was quite relieving, because it saved me $1,000.

So ultimately, I went with the 6D with an L lens – my first in Canon’s upper echelon series of lenses. I also used some credit card points and a buyback of my broken camera to also get a wide angle L lens, which is the most necessary extra lens for the kind of shooting I do.

(For reference, my old camera was the Canon T4i, which was in the upper end of their consumer DSLR line.)

I was pretty excited to try out my new camera, but also very, very scared.

Because you know what all the people say…`

“It’s not about the camera – it’s about the photographer. A good photographer can take great pictures with any camera.”

What if I’d just paid a ridiculous sum of money to take the same quality of photos that I’ve always taken? It was a fear worth fearing.

I put it up to my face with much fear and trembling. I shot. And shot some more. And realized that I was going to have to relearn all my normal settings for this new full frame deal. And I shot some more.

And from the second I zoomed in on my first picture, I knew.

All those people who say “The camera doesn’t matter”? THEY ARE LYING.



My old test of “is this picture clear or not” was “can I read Wells Fargo?”. With the new camera, not only could I read Wells Fargo, but now I could see the individual panes of glass behind Wells Fargo, which stunned me, considering how greatly I had to zoom in to see it.

For perspective, here’s a shot from my normal perch,

And here’s the Wells Fargo building zoomed all the way in:


And the new photos print crisp and gorgeously.

I was now able to get night shots like I’d never dreamed of getting (without a tripod),




I also managed to grab my first ever lightning picture on the first attempt (I have taken thousands of pictures in the past trying to capture lightning),


And the level of detail I could get was just thrilling.


Everything about the new camera has made me very, very happy.


And of course I love how I can capture the children with it, as well (whether they love it or not is not important.)





The best new feature of the 6D, though, was a feature that was a complete surprise to me, as it wasn’t explained very well in the specs. The 6D can create its own wi-fi network, meaning that I can easily download pictures from my camera to my phone. This is game-changing for me, since I’m usually taking sunset pictures and sharing them immediately. My previous strategy had been to share my iPhone pictures immediately, then edit my real pictures and post them later on my website. Now I can post my real pictures immediately, and I’ve found myself not even taking iPhone pictures when I’m shooting for Picture Birmingham.

Also cool, the app that connects the camera with my phone allows me to see the screen of my camera, adjust all the settings, and remote shoot from my camera using my phone.


In this family shot, I’m holding my phone behind Ali’s head to remote adjust and shoot the photo with my 6D.


If I had realized the 6D had this feature, it would have been hands down the obvious choice for me (the 5D mark iii does not have it, as it is an older model of camera). The ability to download instantaneously from my camera to my phone is infinitely valuable, besides the remote shooting capabilities (which is just added fun.)

Needless to say, I am beyond thrilled with the 6D, and I’m excited to see what all I can do with it through Picture Birmingham to further support The WellHouse.


More answers coming tomorrow…feel free to ask follow-up or completely random questions!

All The Answers: Part One.

My eyes have finally recovered! They got worse before they got better, and then I went to the beach and exposed them to the Florida sun for four days straight. So yeah. I take care of myself like that.


But your questions.

THANK YOU for your questions.


They’ve been extremely therapeutic for me to ponder, because one of the reasons I’ve been blogging less lately is that I’m overthinking everything – I feel like all of my posts should be creative, yet I also feel like I’m significantly less creative than I used to be (or I am out of ideas after over 2,000 posts.) So I end up finding a reason why nearly every post idea I have would be boring or offensive or both.

Guys, you have NO IDEA how much angst I put myself through on a daily basis. Just ask my friends and husband. I’m The Worst in my head.

But your questions have reminded me that non-creative topics can be interesting, too – I usually talk myself out of writing about many of these things because I wonder why you would care what I think about everyday stuff. I’m still not really sure why you do, but the fact that you care enough to ask is strangely relieving…I can just talk about normal things sometimes and at least one person won’t be bored. I don’t have to wait until we get overrun by bats or I’m inspired to write about Uranus to blog.

So. I’ll be answering your questions all week in the order in which they were received (just like my Gynecologist’s nurse’s voice mail message states), and feel free to add any new or follow-up questions in the comments.

Without further ado, you guys.

Kim asked,

Have you read any good books lately? (Or listened to?)

Not super lately, but I went through a phase last year where I seemed to find more time to read. My favorite during that time was The Rosie Project – it was a delightful book about a character very akin to Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory. However – the sequel, The Rosie Effect, was a total train wreck that I couldn’t even finish. I kept hoping it’d get better but then I heard from others that it didn’t so I quit reading it because I was getting seriously stressed out. But the first one is my favorite book in quite a while.

Also fun was Where’d You Go, Bernadette? It was exquisitely crafted in a creative format, and was highly enjoyable with the exception of one glaring continuity issue toward the end of the book. I don’t understand how you can end up with such a gaping plot hole in a published work. But it was still lovely to read, and fun to get all indignant about at the end.

Chris and I have been listening to the audiobook Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil on and off starting on the way home from our anniversary trip to Savannah. We have watched the movie a couple of times (as should anyone before visiting Savannah), and are enjoying the longer, more meandering format of the book.

(All three of the above books come with a language warning.)

On my nightstand currently is Andrew Peterson’s series, The Wingfeather Saga. I’ve heard fantastic ravings about it and can’t decide whether I want to read them to myself first or read them aloud to the kids. Based on the minimal amount of time I currently have for reading, I’ll probably read them to the kids.

As for what I’ve read aloud to the kids in the past year, we finished the Narnia series (which should be every kid’s first read-aloud series) (but they must be read in the PROPER order as C.S. Lewis intended, not the horrible no-good oh-so-wrong order they now package them in. The ONLY correct order is The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe, Prince Caspian, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Silver Chair, The Horse and His Boy, The Magician’s Nephew, The Last Battle. If you read The Magician’s Nephew first, I’m likely to yell and scream at you repeatedly, as I regularly do (in my head) to the publishers.) After that, we read my favorite childhood book, The Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler – which was completely magical for me and a tiny bit magical for Ali. We have also been reading James Herriot stories, Aesop’s Fables, and I have tried to start reading them some poetry for the first time ever. And, of course, I’m still reading Ali my blog from the beginning – she calls it her personal history book.

And, to address the Most Important Alabama Literary Question of the Year, I have not read Go Set a Watchman yet, but did start the other highly controversial Harper-Lee-Related book, The Mockingbird Next Door. I might at some point read Go Set a Watchman, but I’ve read enough about it not to be excited about the prospect.

How’s homeschooling going?

I’ve got an entire post in the works about this, but needless to say, Noah is not quite the delightful, attentive, eager-to-learn student that his sister has always been. That’s why God made him so adorably cute. So that he can get by in life on his looks.


I jest, I jest. He’s a very smart kid. (Noah, when I read you this post one day, I promise you’re brilliant.) (And also brilliantly contrary.)

More on school later – I promise.

Any fashion tips? What about kid’s fashions?

So, this is the first question I will answer with a question. This is one of the many subjects I get hung up on regularly. I enjoy fashion and experimenting with it, and I have highly formed opinions on many things fashion-related. However, I’m continuously sorely afraid of posting about fashion because,

a) I’m not guaranteeing my advice/opinions are any more valuable than the common fire ant’s opinion of fashion,

b) I never post selfies because I live in paranoia of being accused of being narcissistic, and

c) I’m lazy. Oh and,

d) In the past, I’ve only posted about fashion if it could also be amusing – not just straight-up fashion tips.

My jeans posts were different because they were highly self-deprecating (so I didn’t feel narcissistic), I was fairly confident in my opinions, I was going through a non-lazy streak, and they were hopefully somewhat entertaining.

So. Would y’all find semi-regular possibly-not-amusing fashion posts a highly annoying addition to my extremely random repertoire or an appreciated relief from my normal useless bluster?

While I wait for your answers, as a gift, from the post that I never posted at the beginning of the summer regarding the dos and don’ts of shorts, here is a picture of me…in Doilies as Shorts.


In case you didn’t guess, this is a huge, giant, gargantuan, ruffle-bottomed don’t.

Terra asked,

What your thoughts on leggings for adults? Cute or just “leggings as pants”? Do you wear them and do you have a favorite brand? Hope your eyes heal soon!!

I’m still extremely reluctant to wear leggings as pants unless they’re running leggings and I’m about to or have recently run. I do love the feel of my running leggings, though, so I sometimes stretch my acceptability window to stay comfortable.

However, I did order the most fantastic pair of leggings last week, both in design and luxuriousness in fabric (they’re like wearing butter – without the grease) because I thought they were running leggings but when they arrived they were clearly yoga leggings because the inside seam is not reinforced meaning that my thighs would destroy them in the first mile on the first run, and so now I’m trying to decide how I can still wear the fabulous leggings of my life – should I take up yoga just so I can wear them? Should I wear leggings as pants? Do I have a long sweater that would match them? Perhaps wear them under a short skirt?

Screen Shot 2015-09-27 at 9.31.35 PM

Clearly the problem here is that the model shouldn’t have been wearing running shoes. Then again she has thigh gap so she actually could run in them. DANG HER AND HER LACK OF THIGHS.

More answers tomorrow, starting with the question about my new camera. Which could turn into an entire post on its own…feel free to ask more!

The Fabric of America.

Ali asked me to play with her the other day.

I agreed, as I was feeling a moment of Mommy Guilt over the fact that I am not the best playing-Mommy that ever was (actually I’m terrible at just sitting down and playing with my kids – I much prefer cuddling or reading or hiking or exploring.) So I vowed to play whatever she wanted.

She ran off to get set up, and when I entered the room, she announced that we would be playing crafts.

Crafts I can do. How did I know playing could be a potentially therapeutic type of activity? I expected us to be battling through another epically soul-sucking game of Chutes and Ladders. I should play more often!


Ali is overrun with craft supplies in need of using, as she discovered a few weeks ago that one of the art galleries I have Picture Birmingham products in, Naked Art Gallery, has a bin of “free art supplies” for the taking. She and Noah have since become that bin’s biggest customers. We had dropped by the day before and they had picked out a load of fabric scraps and other miscellaneous items, such as the ziploc bag full of beer bottle caps and wine corks that I didn’t know they’d snagged until after they had thoroughly handled and sorted each one without washing them first.

(Although now that I’m pondering it, I suppose beer bottle caps aren’t that germy.)

(Except for the ones opened with the consumer’s teeth.)



We started out making a mosaic – I cut the fabric into random chunks, then she glued them onto a piece of paper.

IMG_1564 copy

But then – I realized. We could really take this craft up a notch.

Because we do love a good geography game in our house.

One of our favorite things to do at Mexican restaurants is create the United States out of tortilla chips (did you know that tortilla chips almost always break in the shape of one of the fifty states? It’s a true fact), so why couldn’t we do it with fabric swatches?


But then I remembered that I had a fantastic pad of blank United States maps (one of the most useful homeschooling extras I’ve ever bought), and realized they’d make a perfect template for my cutting – in case creating random swatches of fabric isn’t quite as serendipitous as breaking tortilla chips.


And so I began butchering the nation, one region at a time, and using each state as a pattern to then cut it out of the fabric I had been given.


I cut,


and Ali glued.


It was perfect for both of us – I find cutting out detailed patterns highly therapeutic, and what kid doesn’t find glue just as pleasurable? Plus, planning out the pattern to not let the same color touch each other too often as well as changing up the direction of the fabric was quite enjoyable for both of us.

We started at Florida, worked our way west, then headed to the midwest, and saved the worst for last – the northeast.


WHY do you guys have to have such ridiculously tiny states??


But, after two sessions of cutting and gluing and covering my living room floor with shards of fabric that will be present for at least nine days, we finished our precious map.


Ali wanted to make Alabama look special, so it was the only state we did in the floral print. Unfortunately, it looks a bit bloody. But it’ll do.


Later, because every craft is just an excuse to use Mod Podge, I brushed over it to give it a nice sheen, and to make sure no states escaped (although New Jersey made a valiant effort.)

United States Map Fabric Craft

So. If you need a fun craft to discuss geography while getting some therapy in the form of cutting or gluing, this project is for you. And it is five stays in hell less painful than a game of Chutes and Ladders.