31 January 2014

Friday Finds

Let's start with the good stuff.

food love

The Cookie Dough Lover's Cookbook by Lindsay Landis at Love & Olive Oil (and that is all I have to say...)! 

Call it sad or pathetic, but one of the things I miss the very most when I am pregnant is raw cookie dough. Oh my friends, I feel like this book is heaven sent. 

Not only does she have chocolate chip (and peanut butter, and sugar cookie) dough recipes without eggs, but she also has an amazing recipe collection of every other way you could ever want to eat cookie dough. Chocolate chip cookie dough sandwiched between two chocolate chip cookies!? Yes please.

I love breakfast foods and would probably choose french toast or baked oatmeal over dinner any night. These Homemade English Muffins and Snickerdoodle Waffles from A Beautiful Mess are right up my alley! Hopefully they will be joining our family (table) soon.

photo love

Prisming//Photography Techniques from wedding photographer Sam Hurd. His work art is absolutely stunning and I find this post about using a prism to create artistic images very inspiring (and accessible!). You can buy the prism he uses from Amazon.

Clickin' Moms is hosting the Daily Dream Giveaway where the grand prize is rumored to change your life with a prize package worth over $20,000. You can enter everyday, and after each entry there is a little something to download.


29 January 2014

Experiences instead of Gifts

On Christmas day this last year, Joseph and I sat down and talked about what we enjoyed about the day. Because we are still a fairly new little family unit, we are still deciding what our family traditions will be. As we were talking, we both agreed that our weekend trip to Florida was a much better gift to one another than the things we could have bought last minute and stuck under the tree. 

"What if we never buy our kids any presents?" 

We talked about giving experiences instead of gifts. (The Gift of Not Giving a Thing). Making memories as a family actually doing something instead of each person receiving stacks of stuff to be pushed aside and forgotten. Stacks of stuff that I have to find a place for until it is broken and thrown out.

Because J's second birthday is coming up, we finally had the chance to put our new idea to the test. These boys of mine LOVE airplanes so we decided that a boys' trip to San Diego (for a whole 30 minutes), flying on two airplanes, and sitting in the airport for hours would be J's birthday this year. 

Joseph even scored United Club passes so the boys had comfy seats and so so many treats while they sat and watched airplanes.

(I made sure they took the point and shoot along so they could photograph 
their adventure for me!)

When the pilots heard from the flight attendants that it was J's birthday, they invited him up to sit in the cockpit and push all the buttons (after landing of course)! Joseph said he pushed about every button and all sorts of alarms were going off.

Although I missed them terribly, I loved the smile (and sugar-induced coma) that J greeted me with when I picked them up from the airport that afternoon. This boy is still talking about seeing the ocean with the big ships and sitting in the cockpit with the pilots.

$30 spent on a day of fun for these boys is so much better than more stuff. 
Happy Birthday kiddo!

What would you rather have, an experience or a physical gift? With my birthday in the next few months... I'm kinda leaning towards a something!

27 January 2014

A Day in the Pieper Life

I guess a more appropriate title would be, Half a Day in the Pieper Life, as I only photographed our morning activities. 

Oh well, you will forgive me won't you?

24 January 2014

Photography Bucket List

To be honest, when I finished my 365 project last year I felt a little burned out. This collection of 365 photographs has become one of my most prized possessions BUT when it was all said and done I really wanted a break from my camera.

So here I am, three weeks into the new year and I've only pulled my camera out a handful of times. While it feels liberating, (in a childish sort of way. "Nah nah!" I don't have to use you camera. I'm in charge!") I am also beginning to miss having something to work towards photographically. 

So here is my solution, a Photography Bucket List! 

This list is meant to challenge me to try new things with my camera (and try try again until I get it exactly right). A bucket list is supposed to be the ideal, "If I could go and see anything in the world..." You get the picture. I have taken some of the pictures on this list already but I am aiming for THE sunset photograph and THE b&w white portrait. I'm aiming for photographs that I LOVE and I want to blow up and show to the world.

1. family silhouetted in sunset (preferably my own)
2. lightning strike
3. rainbow
4. star movement
5. raindrops on a flower
6. ferris wheel at night
7. self-portrait
8. smiling newborn
9. four generations
10. car lights on a highway
11. bug on flower macro
12. light painting
13. sunset
14. grand canyon
15. golden gate bridge
16. grizzly bear
17. new york city skyline
18. field of wildflowers
19. hot air balloon
20. eiffel tower
21. snowflake
22. jumping
23. fireworks
24. northern lights
25. under pier
26. puddle jumping
27. pillow fight
28. panning 
29. stack of pancakes
30. raspberries
31. maine lighthouse
32. sunrise
33. denali
34. iceland
35. b&w portrait
36. moon
37. lake with a dock
38. shaped bokeh
39. dahlias
40. reflection
41. multnomah falls, or
42. cherry blossoms
43. underwater
44. engagement
45. open road
46. kiss in the rain
47. confetti
48. temple at night
49. paint fight
50. themed shoot

Here are a few of my favorite Photography Bucket Lists that I used for inspiration:
- Photography Bucket List from Click it Up a Notch
 - The Photographic 100 and 8 Types of Pictures so Amazing That All Photographers Should  Master Them from Photodoto 
- Photography Bucket List from Live Explore Click! (with free printable!)

What's on your photography bucket list? 
Anything essential I should add to mine?

22 January 2014

Photographing Pregnancy Annoucement

Pregnancy announcements have been on my mind lately as we made our announcement to our Facebook friends and family this week! 

I have collected a few of my favorites from around the web and want to walk you through the process so you can photograph your own pregnancy announcement to share your happy news with the world.

First, let me just say that it is such a relief to finally have the word out there and to have an excuse for my growing belly and shrinking wardrobe. (This week I wore my skinny jeans just one more time. Sigh. See you in July favorite pants!)

Alright, now let's get down to business. I'll walk you through the cheats and set ups of four pregnancy announcement photographs (the first one being my own photograph). 

Idea One: child in crib with eviction notice 

When Joseph and I first saw this circulating on Pinterest, I knew it would be a great idea for our announcement. I thought it was funny and clever and I knew J would complete the shot with one of his silly faces. 

Character(s): your adorable first born child

Props: crib, eviction notice, camera

Setting: child's bedroom (preferably with an open window and lots of natural light. You can tell by the shadow that my window is to the right of my camera.)

Camera Setup:  
shutter speed- 1/200 seconds (when photographing kids I always aim for at least 1/200 seconds to be quick enough to "freeze" their motion and all their silly faces)

aperture- f/ 3.2 ( at this aperture I have both his face and the eviction notice in focus while also letting more light enter the camera in his dark room)

ISO- 1600 (I chose a higher ISO because I could handle a little noise as long as my image was sharp and with everything in focus)

Taking the Picture:
Make sure to focus on your child's face (specifically the eyes) because that is the most important. I had my husband stand directly behind me to help keep J looking at the camera and making cute faces. As long as your child is happy (and not crying because they think it is nap time) take plenty of pictures so you have a variety of expressions to choose from.

 Idea two: mom and dad with baby onesie

I found this cute idea from make bake & love on Pinterest and I couldn't get over it's simplicity (or her cute dress).

Characters: mom and dad to-be

Props: baby onesie or any baby outfit (with optional name and date), styled outfits for mom and dad (using intentional patterns, colors, and textures is what gives the photograph personality), camera, tripod, shutter remote (optional)

Setting: anywhere with good lighting! The above location works because they are standing in open shade with a non-distracting background.

Camera Setup:
shutter speed- Because you will be photographing two adults who (hopefully) can handle holding still for more than 30 seconds, your shutter speed doesn't need to be as fast as if you were photographing a child. I would start at 1/100 or 1/60 seconds.

aperture- As long as both parents are standing the same distance from the camera with the baby onesie at about the same distance, you won't need a great depth of field. Depending on how much to want your background to blur, I would start at f/ 3.2 and see what is in focus. 

ISO- This will depend on if you are taking the photograph indoors where you will need a higher ISO or outdoors in sunlight or open shade where it will be lower.

Taking the Picture:
Have your spouse stand in your desired location. Set up your camera on the tripod and either zoom with your lens or with your feet until you see your desired image in the viewfinder. (In the above picture, the couple is cropped at the shoulders). 

Adjust all your camera settings and then ask your spouse to hold the baby onesie in place at his/her side. Focus on the baby onesie. Either press the shutter with a timer, or have your remote ready. Hurry into your position in the photograph and hold the baby outfit (at your side if you want yourself in focus too). Always always take as many as you need to get the perfect shot! (That's why we shoot in digital!)

Idea three: husband passed out on the floor with the positive pregnancy test

Every time I look at this picture it makes me laugh! Obviously the scene was planned but I think every dad to-be can relate to this feeling. 

Characters: mom and dad to-be

Props: pregnancy test (doesn't have to be THE pregnancy test if that weirds you out), camera, shutter remote (optional)

Setting: Indoors, in a long room with great lighting. I think part of why this photograph is so good is because the mom to-be is silhouetted in light so you can see her surprised body language.

Camera Setup:
aperture- this is the key of this photograph! Because the photographer used a narrow depth of field (small f/ stop number, something like f/2.0 or f/2.8) only the pregnancy test is really in sharp focus with all the funny details (the passed out dad and the surprised mom) are blurred in the background.

ISO and shutter speed are less important on this picture. Make aperture your first priority and then set the ISO and shutter speed to achieve correct exposure. 

Taking the Picture:
 From experience I know that for this shot you will be laying on your belly to set up your camera, it just has to be done. Your camera needs to be set up on the floor, angled up just a little bit at the front of the camera. I like to fold my camera strap and slide it under until I get the angle I want. The angle assures that you can see mom's whole figure in the background and not just her floor level feet. Be sure to focus on the pregnancy test.

Either press the shutter with a timer, or have your remote ready. Hurry into your position (probably mom should do this, might be hard for dad to quickly get back into position) in the photograph. Always always take as many as you need to get the perfect shot! (That's why we shoot in digital!)

Idea four: family feet with a pair of baby shoes 

I have seen a lot of this variation floating around Pinterest. This one is my favorite because the personalities of the family members show through even when you only see their shoes. The different styles, colors, and patterns of both the shoes and the pants make this photograph fantastic.

Characters: mom, dad, and any older children

Props: adorable pair of baby shoes, camera, tripod, shutter remote (optional)

Setting: this really can be anywhere with great lighting. I like the example shot on the brick path because it contrasts well with the shoes and really makes them pop.

Camera Setup:
shutter speed- If you have small people in your picture (age not necessarily height), then you will need a fast shutter speed. I happen to know for a fact that kids would rather not stand still while you snap away. Be ready with at least 1/200 seconds.

aperture- Because all members of the family will be standing next to each other (and be on the same focal plane) you will not need a really wide aperture to get everyone in focus. F/3.5 or f/4 would be a safe place to start.

Taking the Picture:
Line up your cute little family according to age, leaving  a spot for yourself. Remember to set out the baby shoes! Set up your camera on a tripod and tilt the camera down just a bit to eliminate distractions in the background and to just focus on the shoes. In this picture they cropped just below the dad's knees.

Focus on the center family member's shoes. Either press the shutter with a timer, or have your remote ready. Hurry into your open position in the photograph. Always always take as many as you need to get the perfect shot! (That's why we shoot in digital!)  

Have a cute announcement idea but can't figure out how to make it happen? 
Write me a comment or an email and I would love to help.

20 January 2014

Year in Review

It was a great year for the Piepers with plenty of adventures (and pictures of said adventures)! Here's a collection of our big moments and favorite pictures from 2013.

After a very stressful recruiting season for Joseph, we were overjoyed (and felt very blessed) when he landed an accounting internship with a Big Four accounting firm. We packed up all our most essential belongings into two cars and drove to our new (temporary) home in Sacramento, California. 

While Joseph was away working his dream job I was busy trying to come up with things to keep me busy. Then my 365 photography project was born! I knew I wanted to improve my photography and so I challenged myself to take a picture everyday for a year. This month J and I also started training to run a 5K. In the beginning it was much more walking than running, but we eventually got the hang of it!

This month J turned one year old!

We celebrated my birthday with a tour of the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield and a day trip to the beautiful Sonoma. For my birthday, I was surprised with enrollment to the New York Institute of Photography professional photography course. (!!)

This month was also the beginning of The Pieper Life blog, with my first post about an awesome deal I got at Target. Month 13 covers all of J's accomplishments as a new one year old.

April meant the end of Joseph's internship (with a much celebrated job offer!) and a move back to our cozy house in Utah. We were excited to be back and it even snowed one day so we could say we played in the snow that winter. 

We loved being with family again for Easter and just in general. It felt so good to be home. J's Month 14 was an exciting one to be sure!

J was especially adorable this month. Eating eyeshadow, emptying cupboards, riding giraffes. Yes, Month 15 was full of laughs and giggles.

Joseph and I celebrated our three year wedding anniversary, with a picnic dinner and a few games of bowling. (Bowling? Yes, after four years of dating and marriage we had never gone bowling together and I thought it was time I showed of my skills.)

I also began shooting and sharing family and newborn sessions to put my NYIP course work to the test. This was an amazing amount of work but I LOVED challenging myself and seeing what was becoming of my style as a photographer.

While celebrating our freedoms on the fourth of July, I was also celebrating the halfway point of my 365.

August was a big hot mess month for our family as we left Utah and headed to our new home in Las Vegas, Nevada. And I say big month because moving is always difficult and stressful. And a hot month because we decided to move into our apartment on the hottest day I had ever experienced.

Although it was a big move, we felt truly blessed when we found the perfect apartment in a great neighborhood within walking distance to several parks and the library. Joseph started graduate school the next week at UNLV and we all fell in love with the complex pool and air-conditioning.

J turned 18 months which meant that he could go to nursery at church instead of pretending to be a lap-child through adult Sunday school. Oh blessed day!

Suddenly J was no longer my baby this month but instead a little boy. We spent our off time exploring the lights of Vegas and cooking up new recipes.

We fell even more in love with Las Vegas this month when we were expecting a chill... that never came. Being from Idaho, we were thrilled with these new "winters".

J was half a cowboy for Halloween. (I saw half because he is missing a hat.) We trick or treated one house, he received two pieces of candy and he thought it was the best thing ever.

Joseph and I started the month of November on a red-eye flight to Florida for an early Christmas present to each other.

For the rest of the month, at least one member of the family was sick in bed with something. After visiting the doctor's office we discovered that bronchitis and a double ear infection were to blame.

In December we were all finally cured from our ailments and ready for the Christmas season. My 365 photography project was finally finished this month and we all enjoyed the blessed break from school, work, and too many things to do.

The day after Christmas we flew home to Idaho to spend two weeks with family and friends. J LOVED the attention (as always) and became very fond of opening presents. 

2014 has already proven to be a fast-paced year, but we are excited for all the new and exciting changes that will be coming to our family this year. 

16 January 2014

Mommy Mistakes

Have you ever done something that you are sure has scarred your child for life?

As I was making breakfast this morning, I heard J start to wake up and move around. Because I love hearing the first thing that comes to his mind in the morning, I pressed my ear to the door for a listen. 

"Mommy, mommy!" he said. (A proud smile comes to my face.) 
"Mommy SPIT OUT!" (I'm so busted!)

You know when your child recalls the traumatic experience very first thing in the morning, you are in trouble. And you know what? I DID spit out. I'm not proud of it but I would do it again.

Here's the story:

Last week on our final day of family freedom (meaning Joseph's CPA study materials hadn't arrived yet), we decided we wanted to spend the warm weather outdoors in nature. Joseph found an easy hike in the Lake Mead area and he assured me it would only be two hours round-trip.

We packed up the car and started driving towards the lake. After singing I Like Trucks on repeat,(click on the link and play a sample of the song to adequately appreciate our torture) we finally arrived at the trail head where I laughed as Joseph pointed out the mountain we could supposedly summit in an hour.

We decided instead to hike a smaller, nearby hill mountain. J was in love with the hiking poles even though he didn't really know how to use them.

We sat down with a snack to enjoy the view. Joseph found a bag of trail mix in his pack from the last time we went hiking and he passed it around. The boys didn't seem to mind the staleness, but after one bite into a piece of pineapple I turned to the side and spit it on the ground.

When I looked up, I saw J watching me with wide eyes. He ran over to where I was sitting and stared at the ground with his mouth open. On his way over to me I put my shoe over the spit out pineapple but he knew it was there. He looked up at me with his mouth still open. "Mommy SPIT OUT!" With a look of shock and almost unbelief. 

J knew that he wasn't supposed to spit out his food and it was absolutely unfathomable that Mommy (HIS MOMMY) was capable of such a thing. I apologized to him of course, saying that it won't happen again and it isn't okay to spit out our food.

A week and a half later and he still hasn't forgotten or forgiven me.

10 January 2014

365: December Favorites

Although I forgot about blogging in December, I did not forget about the final month of my 365 project. (Thank goodness, that would have looked silly!)

I felt like December was one of my easier months to photograph because it was the final stretch of my project and I was so excited to finish strong. I also loved the bits of Christmas I was able to capture (like the above FOUR different pictures with Christmas trees) along with our many outdoor adventures.

We found a new favorite park with a paved trail and lots of ducks and geese to feed. We also ventured out to Lake Las Vegas where we unexpectedly found an abandoned (and almost ghost-town like) resort filled with closed down shops and immaculate and picturesque architecture. I kept repeating to Joseph, "THIS is the perfect place for family pictures!" I'm already working out the details of our next trip.

With my 365 project finished, I have plans to print my pictures in a series of photo books. I was originally just picking out my favorites but then it felt so important to me for each photo (good or bad) to be included. Each was a part of my journey. Each was a special moment/day from the last year.

A look back at my 365 favorites:
December (above!)


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