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Friday, June 30, 2017

bring on the holiday weekend!

wahoooooo, it's friday and it's fourth of july weekend!!!  i absolutely cannot wait to have a few days off in a row over this long weekend and to actually spend quality time with ryan!  bring on the holiday weekend!

have a great one!
love, laurie

Thursday, June 29, 2017

how to photograph fireworks

i absolutely love playing around photographing fireworks whenever i get the chance, and over the last few years i've come up with a good method for capturing them.  this is a post i have been wanting to write for awhile and i thought it would be perfect now since the 4th of july holiday is coming right up!  

today i'm sharing my tips for a simple set up in order to successfully photograph fireworks.  once you have these basic settings you'll be ready to go and you can play around with them to see what works best for you!


first thing first, you will need a dslr camera with a lens.  i've mentioned before that my digital slr camera is a canon eos rebel t2i, and i alternate between three lenses depending where i am (50mm f/1.8 lens, 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom lens, and 55-250mm f/4-5.6 telephoto zoom lens).

i also have a tripod for my camera.  when photographing fireworks, you need to be as stable as possible.  i highly recommend using a tripod since you will be photographing with a very slow shutter speed and you want to avoid any movement.  i consider myself to be someone who has a very stable hand, so i sometimes leave the tripod at home if i don't want to lug it around with me, but i really would recommend it if you are even a slight bit shaky.  if you don't have a tripod, find something nearby to prop your camera up on, or lean your shooting arm on something solid in order to stabilize yourself.


before you photograph anything, you need to set up your shot.  situate yourself in a good place to capture those fireworks.  scout out locations in order to get the best vantage point.  i typically reach for a long zoom lens when photographing fireworks because as a spectator you tend to sit far away from the fireworks and most times i want to see just the fireworks and nothing else in my image.  however, sometimes i want to show my surroundings (like seeing cinderella's castle in front of the fireworks at walt disney world).

camera settings:

> be sure to shoot in manual mode so that you can control all of your settings.

> set your shutter speed between 3 to 5 seconds.  shooting with a slow shutter speed produces the best fireworks pictures.  i like to leave my shutter open for 3 to 5 seconds depending on the other light around me when i am shooting.

> set your aperture between F8 and F16.  the reason i set the aperture so high is twofold: it helps to prevent overexposing the photo (since fireworks are super bright) and helps to keep those fireworks nice and sharp.

> set your ISO at 200.  i keep the ISO low in order to avoid the photos looking grainy or noisy.

> manually focus each shot in order to assure everything is in focus.

other tips:

i recommend to shoot during the start of the show to avoid the smoke that builds up as the fireworks go on.  you will have cleaner photos this way with less in the background.

play around with it to time your shots perfectly to capture the fireworks as they burst.  once a firework leaves the ground i follow it with my eye and anticipate its burst.  i shoot just a moment before i think the firework will burst in order to get the whole firework in the picture.  if i wait to shoot until after it bursts, i'm typically too late and end up with a picture of it bursting and falling.

happy photographing!
love, laurie

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

snapshots of life lately, according to my iphone pictures

. . . and ryan's iphone too.

a few photos of . . . the first five-leaf clover that we have ever seen (which ryan found in our back yard), leko's early morning bird "hunting" out our bedroom window at 5am, stealing ryan's pillow in order to enjoy the breeze blowing in the window, the orchid in my office finally in bloom for the first time in a year, my first ever pair of toms (which are vegan!), cooling off in front of the fan with kitten on a very hot day, and a few snapshots that my dance studio director took on her phone of our senior ballet class outside the studio the week before our recital.

love, laurie

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

short hair for summer!

i got a much-needed haircut on friday to kick off the weekend and to welcome summer.  somehow it's been 8 months since i last cut my hair, yikes!  my hair was pretty beat up, especially from my dance recital, so it was really in need of some tlc.  i always love how healthy my hair feels when i leave the hairdresser.  it feels so light and refreshed now, perfect for summer!

love, laurie

Monday, June 26, 2017

take me out to the ball game

yesterday, we spent the afternoon enjoying our sunday at the scranton/wilkes-barre railriders baseball game.  even though we're not sports fans, we couldn't pass up the discounted tickets that were being offered to the staff at the university where i work.  we made a date of it and had a great time.  even though we had downpours in the morning, the skies were blue and the sun was shining by the time the game started.  the weather was gorgeous for the entire game.  we sat out on the bleachers soaking up the warm sun and watching the game.

one of my former students has a great position as the director of all the video that happens at the stadium.  we saw her while we were there and she took us inside the control room which was really cool.  since she knew where we were sitting, she sent a camera over to us in the middle of the 6th inning to show us on the "kiss cam" during the game.  it was cute!

we had a great sunday date at the baseball game and our home team won too!  here are a few pictures i snapped on my phone . . .

love, laurie

Friday, June 23, 2017

our acrobatic squirrel

our yard is filled with all sorts of "woodland creatures" as ryan calls them.  we have a bird feeder right outside our kitchen window which is perfect for watching the birds as we wash dishes at the kitchen sink.  on a typically day, you can see the birds eating at the feeder while the squirrels and chipmunks sit below on the grass anxiously awaiting whatever birdseed falls down to them.

about a year ago, we started noticing one particular acrobatic squirrel who would climb up the tree branch and do cirque du soleil style acts off the branch in order to get to the bird feeder.  on one hand we were annoyed that he was eating the birdseed, but on the other hand we applauded his skills.  this nutty squirrel has been doing this on a regular basis for over a year.  the most amazing thing about his acrobatic act is that he eats while hanging upside down by his tail and his itty-bitty feet!  we figure that if he is willing to go through all of that trouble we might as well let him do it.  the birds don't seem to mind at all either.  they sit there right along side him and go about their day, eating as they please.  i guess they all know that ryan will come by and refill it as soon as it gets low.  (all of ryan's "woodland creatures" really have him well trained if you ask me.)

every time we see this we say that i should grab the camera to get a picture, because otherwise no one would believe these death-defying stunts that this squirrel does.  whenever i run to get the camera, i always miss him.  well, today was my lucky day because i was finally able to get the camera fast enough.  i shot these pictures out my kitchen window this morning while this nutty squirrel was having (or stealing) his breakfast.  see for yourself how insane this stunt is . . .

love, laurie

Thursday, June 22, 2017

dress rehearsal snapshots

i promise these are the last of the recital photos!  i just couldn't resist sharing these two snapshots above which my friend kenny took while standing on stage in the wings during dress rehearsal on friday night.

below are a few screen shots from ryan's video recording of dress rehearsal.  the quality is rough because of the combination of the theatre lights and the moving dancers, but you get the idea . . .

love, laurie

. . .

{more recital photos here and here]

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

recital memories

a few random photos from this year's dance recital . . .

^a quick snapshot in the senior dressing room just moments before katie and i went out on stage to dance our lyrical duet.  we were literally running out the door when we took this.  i was nervous we were going to be late for our number, but we got onstage in time.^
^one of my junior ballet students who i had the pleasure of teaching this year.  her mom snapped this photo right after the recital and posted it on facebook with the caption "the queens" ha!^
^ryan said he looked high and low to find a recital card for me that was somewhat circus themed.  as soon as he saw this one he knew he had to get it because ryan and i spent an evening gluing elephant ear headpieces together for the younger dancers and because the dance i choreographed was tightrope themed.  i loved the card and the incredibly sweet message he wrote inside which made me cry.  i just had to take a picture of it.^
^one of my younger students gave me this little note along with some chocolate after the recital.  it was a sweet gift (literally) and her message made me laugh: "thanks for teaching me the moves" . . . so cute!^

love, laurie

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

dance recital 2017

on saturday, my dance studio had its annual recital and i was thrilled to be a part of it for the third year in a row.  this year's recital was called "circus fantasy" and all of the dances depicted classic circus acts.  i had the opportunity to have my hands in so many different parts of the recital again this year.  i performed in 6 numbers (actually it was 8 if you count the fact that 2 of the numbers were each made up of 2 songs).  in addition, i created the programs, managed ticket sales, helped with props, and did the advertising/publicity for the show.  it was exhausting, but i really enjoyed doing it.  of course it was fun to be able to work on another show with ryan, who always helps out in any why he can.

ryan and i continued our annual tradition of taking photos of my costumes at home after the show.  i like doing this to remember the costumes.  i loved all of the costumes and accessories and i'm glad to have these pictures . . .

^this costume was my "circus ringmaster" getup for the opening curtain announcement at the top of the show.  everyone thought it was cute to do the announcement in character and it fit the theme of the show perfectly.  "ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages . . . "  (i pieced together this costume from things i had in my closet from my senior show from college which was a million years ago.)^
^i wore this costume for a lyrical duet with my friend katie to the song "once upon a december" to depict circus ghosts.  it was fun to co-choreograph and dance this number with her.  (this costume is actually from last year's recital.  it worked great for the theme of the number and we were happy to not have to buy anything new.)^
^act two opened with our senior ballet pointe number as burlesque dancers to a combination of two different songs: "enter the circus" and "vampire masquerade."  i loved the costume because the skirt made a great effect when we turned.  we danced the whole number with these humongous fans too.  (i'm thinking this costume will make a great can-can dancer outfit for halloween!)^
^i had two pointe numbers back-to-back in act two.  this costume was for the junior ballet class that i teach.  i wasn't supposed to originally perform in this number, but i stepped in when one of the girls dropped out.  i'm actually really glad i had the chance to perform this dance because i loved it so much.  teaching this class meant i picked the music, choreographed the dance, and picked the costume all myself.  i was so proud of the choreography and really pleased with how it all turned out.  we were circus tightrope walkers for this number, so we danced with dainty lace parasols.  it was my students' first time dancing in a platter tutu, which was fun too.^
^our senior jazz class danced to a combination of two different songs: "into the spin" and "ramma lamma bang bang."  these costumes were awesome because they glowed under black lights.  we danced the first half of the number in regular lighting and then changed over to black lights for the second half.  it was a cool effect and the audience loved it.  we had matching black and green hula hoops which perfectly matched our costumes too.^
^this year i was the class leader/demonstrator for our youngest dancers who are just 3-4 years old.  they did a tap dance to "let me be your teddy bear."  they all had adorable costumes with teddy bears wearing matching outfits.  i wore an old leotard and a skirt that i already had to match their purple and yellow theme.  (my teddy bear was a gift from my parents several years ago for valentine's day.  his purple accents matched me perfectly!)^
^the recital ended with a finale number to "the entertainer" and we were the circus clean up crew.  we danced with push brooms and garbage cans.  it was a cute way to end the show and to tie the theme together.  after bows the teachers received flowers from our studio director.^

below are a few photos from the recital which were taken during the show by the studio director's son who is a professional photographer.  i absolutely love these shots!  you can see the rest of his recital photos here . . . 

(i have more behind the scenes photos and dress rehearsal photos which i'll share this week too!)

love, laurie

previous dance recitals: 2015 and 2016

Monday, June 19, 2017

father's day and birthday celebrations

yesterday we got together with our families to celebrate father's day as well as ryan's dad's birthday and ryan's parents' anniversary.  we all went out to eat at a seafood restaurant for lunch and then went back to ryan's parents' house to lounge on the deck.  ryan's mom made strawberry shortcake for dessert and our dads opened presents.  we enjoyed celebrating with our families and we're so grateful for our dads!

love, laurie