Celebrating 90 Years Young

How do you celebrate a woman who is turning 90 years young? My grandmother is an amazing woman. She has been through a lot of turmoil in her life. She has lost 2 husbands, 2 brothers, a sister, and a daughter, not to mention her parents and a host of friends. I guess that is what happens when you live to be 90. Her focus in her life has always been on God and her family. She has been a great example to those of us around her. She is always there when you need her, and she has done so much for the people in her life.

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There was no better way to celebrate her than a party with all of her family. We have a huge family, and it is hard to get everyone together at one time. There were a few who could not make it, but there was still a big group of people there to celebrate with her. I can’t say thank you enough to my Aunt Cheryl and Uncle Terry for throwing this party for her.  From the use of their facility to the pretty decorations and the wonderful food they prepared for us all, it was perfect.

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Grandma loves nothing more than having her family around her, and if she can’t have them physically around her, she loves to have a picture of them.  Truth be told, it is probably because of her (and my dad) that I love to take pictures.  She has always had pictures galore in her house. Her walls are filled with pictures of all of her family. It is funny to just walk around her house and see all the family members in different stages of life.  She has albums full of pictures of all of her children, grand children, and now great-grand children too. When my mom and I were at her house recently, she told us that she had an entire chest of drawers full of photo albums, and she does! She loves getting pictures for presents too.

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It was so nice to be able to get together and celebrate this wonderful woman. She still lives in her own home by herself and still drives her own car too. She may not be able to do everything she would like to physically these days, but she still runs circles around most people her age.  Her family is everything to her, and I am so glad that we had so many there to celebrate with her.

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Thanks, Grandma, for being such a wonderful example to our whole family. We love you so much and are so thankful for you. Happy 90th birthday, and we hope to help you celebrate many more!

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For the Love of a Mouse

I am a self proclaimed Disney addict. I usually have some kind of Mickey Mouse apparel on or a Disney accessory with me every day of my life. Not only do I love Mickey Mouse, but I love the ideals of the dreamer who created him, Walt Disney himself. “What does that have to do with photography?” you might ask. Well I have always liked photography. I started taking pictures back in the days of film. I know, I am telling my age a little here. I always took pictures on vacations, but I kind of got away from it for a while. When digital cameras became the “norm,” my husband bought me a Nikon D50 and I was in love again! Now I could take all the pictures I wanted, and it didn’t cost me a fortune to buy film and get it developed. On one trip to Disney World, I came home with over 2,000 pictures. They weren’t all good pictures, but I was thrilled.

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Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World

Fast forward a few years, and I found a website called Flickr. I was looking at pictures one night on my computer, and I decided to do a search for pictures of Walt Disney World. Up came some amazing pictures of the parks from people like Tom Bricker, Cory Disbrow, Don Sullivan and more.  If you haven’t seen their work, find them. You will be amazed. I thought to myself, “I want to take pictures like that!” I am not at the same level of these guys, but I am working my way there. You don’t become a great photographer overnight.

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Cinderella Castle, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World

I began to study their pictures and their settings. Then I stumbled on to Tom Bricker’s website, Disney Tourist Blog. He has great Disney information there, as well as some really great pictures. I began to look at his recommendations for photography books and equipment and started making my wish lists for future birthday and Christmas presents.

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Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, Walt Disney World

Then I also found a website called Disney Photography Blog. It had great tips about how to take better pictures in the parks, and I tried to soak up as much information as I could. They recently had a problem with the site and lost a lot of their content. They are rebuilding it and trying to add new content, so check them out. Some of the members of the site planned a big get together at Disney World called Photo Magic 2013. I was lucky enough to attend, and I got to meet several really great photographers and great people like Mark Willard, Joanie Eddis-Koch, Alan Rappaport, and Mike Christoferson and many others. This event only made me want to better my skills even more.

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Imagination Pavilion, EPCOT, Walt Disney World

When I got home, I began to take some photography classes at my local Museum of Contemporary Art and I joined Kelby One online. I also meet on a regular basis with a small local group of photographers who are constantly pushing and challenging me to better my photographic skills. I have a lot of things that I want to do with my photography, so I hope you come along for the ride. Just a word of caution though. You might fall in love with a mouse!

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Ellen’s Energy Adventure, EPCOT, Walt Disney World
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Flower and Garden Festival 2016, EPCOT, Walt Disney World
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Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World
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The Dapper Dans, Main Street, USA., Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World
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Haunted Mansion, Liberty Square, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World
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Celebrate the Magic, Cinderella Castle, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World



Disney World is Photography Boot Camp

I had a great time in Disney World, even if it was just for a few days. I was actually able to meet up with a Disney Photographer that I have been following online for a while. While we were discussing photography, I mentioned that Disney World gives you the opportunity to try different kinds of photography all at once. He replied, “Disney World is photography boot camp!” It is so true.

Every time I go to Disney World, I feel like I try new things with my photography. I am constantly practicing shooting in low light situations when I ride “dark” rides. If you photograph shows or parades, you get practice shooting action shots. You can shoot great street photography in certain areas of the parks. EPCOT is great for landscape pictures, especially during the Flower and Garden Festival. You can even get some great flower and butterfly macro shots there at this time of the year too. By the way, if you have never been to Disney World while this is going on, you must try it. The park is so colorful and fragrant.

You can do portraits of your family members in the parks too and get some really great backgrounds in your portraits.  There are certainly plenty of opportunities to do food photography as well.  Disney is great at doing details, so there are tons of little things that can be captured throughout the parks besides those big icons, if you look for them. Let’s not forgot fireworks. Disney World is the holy grail for fireworks photographs. There are also plenty of opportunities to do some long exposure shots in several locations at night and even some in the daytime too.

I don’t think a lot of people plan a Disney World trip by themselves. As a photographer, I love going into the parks by myself. It gives me a great opportunity to take as many pictures as I want. My husband is pretty tolerant of letting me stop & take pictures while we are in the parks together. We don’t have kids, so it makes it a little easier for me to take pictures without anyone being impatient to get to the rides.

Here are just a few examples of the shots I got on this trip. I tried shooting into the sun on this shot.  I don’t do it often, because I feel like I don’t know what I am doing. However, I have gotten some pretty interesting shots when I have tried it. I really like the way this one turned out and I liked the lens flare in it. Maybe I need to try it more often.

I love the fountain in EPCOT that actually sprays upward.  It always look great as the sun sets and in the blue hour.

My husband and I love to ride Ellen’s Energy Adventure. This ride is really dark, and I have a hard time getting a decent picture on it. I think upgrading my camera body really helped to get a better picture. Sometimes gear does matter, and I think it made a difference here.

I love the details that Disney is famous for, and one of the best places to see these details in my opinion is in the Morocco Pavilion in World Showcase in EPCOT.  We love to eat at the Restaurant Marrakesh and this little lamp was just sitting on a shelf near the register.  I was just waiting for Robin Williams to pop out of it!

There is a great show that they do with projections on the castle at night before the fireworks. I have never really tried taking pictures of this show, but I did try some on this trip and I liked the way they turned out.

Some “dark” rides are harder to shoot than others.  The Three Caballeros has some sections that have a little more light in them. I really liked these skeletons and the pops of color all around them.

I love the Flower & Garden Festival at EPCOT. Every year they have great topiaries spread throughout the park. Although I am not a huge Frozen fan, I do think this one of Elsa is one of the most realistic ones they have ever made.

I just loved these sunflowers they had in the middle of one of the flower displays for the Flower & Garden Festival too! Who can’t be happy when you are looking at and smelling sunflowers?

I love spending time in the Morocco Pavilion of World Showcase in EPCOT. The King actually sent some of his own artisans over to create the mosaics in this pavilion. My husband and I love to spend as much time here as we can, and one of the things we love to do the most here is eat at the Restaurant Marrakesh. I love these non-alcoholic juice drinks they have here. This one is pineapple juice, strawberries & orange water. I could drink them all day!

I actually feel like I came away with more good photos from this trip than previous trips. That is actually quite amazing, since we were only in the parks for a few hours a day and for only three days and we actually only visited two parks.

Disney World is a photography boot camp for me, and I do feel like I have stepped my photography up a notch on this trip. Hopefully, I can keep it up!