Our sweet host girl will not be here for another 43 days (not that I’m counting), but we have so much to do to prepare for her arrival.

Of course, at the top of the list is fundraising. We have $1120 left, plus the additional cost of her flight to our airport.

Two quick FYIs:

  1. Our auction ends tomorrow at 10am PST. Please go check it out and bid!
  2. I added some new photos this week AND I’ll be sending print orders to the lab tomorrow as well. If you’ve been thinking about ordering, now is a great time! Here’s the link to Moose Prints. 

If you’d just like to donate, here’s a link for that as well.

So, what else do we have to do?

Well, hosting involves a bit of paperwork. Not too bad compared to a Russian adoption, but a bit. There’s also a lot of training that goes along with it. There is much required and recommended reading, and then we’ll also have a full day of training in June.

We also have to prepare her room. We are fortunate to have a guest bedroom, but it is set up for an adult guest. We’d like to do a few things to make it better suited for a pre-teen. And shopping– wow. She will very likely come with only the clothes on her back, so we need to get some clothes for her, as well as a toy or two. We may try to get her a bicycle as well, as bikes are a common summer activity here. Of course, the challenge is that she’ll have to learn how to ride it, too!

Lastly, we’re just prepping ourselves. We recently started a new devotional with the kids, a routine that we know will be an important routine to include her in when she is here. And praying, praying that we will be prepared to welcome her here and that she will be prepared to let us into her life.

Any great advice from previous host families on how to prepare?

Afternoon Shadows (photography tip)

I am really shy to give photography advice, because I still feel like I have a ton to learn myself.

That being said, I’ve had a few people ask from time to time. While I’m still just learning, I want to help how I can.  I was flipping through my photos from playing in the sprinkler, and I knew I needed to share this. It’s one tip that anyone can use.

The other day, I shared photos of my kids playing in the sprinkler. They were taken about 4 hours before sunset. The sun was still high in the sky and they were not in the shade. This is a challenging time to take photos, because of the harsh shadows that the high sun causes.

Case in point:

Um, no. Sorry. I would have just deleted that photo if I wasn’t using it for this post. Not just because Gus looks unhappy, but also because those shadows on his face– around his eyes and below his cheeks are intense. Even if he was smiling, it would look awful.

I used to think that there was really no point in pulling out my camera in the middle of the day at all. All of my photos looked like that one.

But. Silly, because all I needed to do was move 180 degrees around my subject. So, instead of shooting from where I was, I went to the other side of the action.

Voila. Do you see how the shadows on his face are totally gone?

I simply moved across from where I was. Do you see the white, green and orange cups? That’s where I had been sitting. Now the sun is behind my kids and they won’t have the harsh shadows on their faces. Super easy. Because the lightening is behind them, they are “backlit”.

The only issue that you may have with this is that your subject may be underexposed, especially if you have a very bright background. For example, someone standing in front of a bright window.

(I shot this in manual, but I asked my computer to tell me what proper exposure was. The left photo is what it thinks is proper exposure for the overall image. The right is the exposure that I set, wanting it to be exposed for Lena’s face, not even overall.)

This is one of the troubles of shooting in auto mode. However, many cameras offer something called “exposure compensation” which allows you to tell the camera that you actually want the photo brighter (or darker) than it thinks that the photo should be. The icon for it is a little plus and minus box. Play around with it, but if you want more detailed information, google “exposure compensation”. Of course, you can also always lighten your photo up with photo editing software, but there are some limitations there.

Thoughts? Do you hate that mid-day sun, too?

Moose Print Session: Oliver (and Buford!)

I was super excited to be contacted by some old friends for a Moose Prints session. It had been way too long since we had seen each other– so long, in fact, that I hadn’t even met their son, Oliver!

This kid is just adorable. Spunky, all over the place and adorable.

The outfit. That nearly-white hair.

How can you stand the cuteness?

And of course, I can’t leave out Buford. Oliver’s parents kept mentioning “the bison” and then, he made his appearance.
Buford the Bison.

Seriously, those eyes?


This kid is one handsome dude.

Thanks for letting me photograph him, Jacob and Becca!


Sprinkler Time!

Summer is here. We skipped spring and jumped straight into the heat of summer.

We had a couple of incredibly hot days, and while we had plans to go to the playground on one of them, we decided that the sprinkler would be a better option. My kids were SO excited.

Don’t let Gus’s face fool you.


This is how he really feels.

And Reed?

And Lena?

Much fun was had! We also had some friends come over for a bit.
It was her first time in the sprinkler.

Here’s my big boy looking moody. He was really just trying to make a body print on the concrete.

And Gus decided he wanted a nap. (His words, not mine!)

Telling me about what’s going on in the sky. The clouds and a plane overhead.
That’s what’s going on here. Anyone else getting in some early summer action?

One Photo, Six Ways

Any photographer will tell you that editing is a huge part of their photography. I thought it would be fun to show you the same photo edited a few different ways. Obviously, this is more geared to my friends reading this who love photography.

First, the technical. The settings were: ISO 320, F/3.2, 1/250 sec. Shot in raw, edited in Lightroom. For those photography nerds out there.

Here’s the unedited photo, just converted exported from the raw file to show you how it looks. It still looks okay, but a bit flat.

The being said, I really like the way that the light is hitting his eyes.

This next edit is a pretty light edit. This is how I’d edit a picture of my kids playing in the grass on a beautiful day. Just simple and bright. It’s okay, but it’s not what I was going for with this portrait of Reed. Too peachy and smooth. It barely looks different.

If we’re going for Goldilocks here, this is the opposite of the one above. It’s way too contrasty and dark. I have a matte edit which I was a huge fan of for awhile, but it really looks too heavy-handed on most portraits of my kids. The beautiful light in his eyes is practically gone which how much contrast was added here. And there’s also a ton of “clarity”, which adds that roughness to his skin. It’s the kind of thing you see in a portrait where they are trying to emphasize grit, but I’m not a fan of it here.

This was my favorite color edit while I was playing around with the processing. Now, it looks bright to me, but it’s a pretty straightforward edit. Just contrast and sharpening added. I think it would be fine if I made it a bit darker still on his skin.

So, into the world of black and white.

Here’s a matte black and white. It’s okay. I’m good with it. Love? Eh.

But, this photo is my favorite of all of them. I love the simplicity and intensity of it.

There you go. One photo, six ways. Which is your favorite?