The Basics of Exposure {Photography Tips From a Pro}

The Basics of Exposure {Photography Tips From a Pro}
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As a Mom, traveler, and blogger;  I am constantly trying to learn the art of photography.  One thing I’ve learned over the years is that shooting on manual will create the best images, but requires a bit of skill to get that perfect shot.  I worked with Jennifer Carr to help take my photography to the next level.    She was patient with my extreme lack of knowledge and when my camera battery died just as we started the lesson *blush*.  She taught me a ton of tips that I put to use during our summer trip to France.   My husband even commented on how much better my photo’s looked! 

I asked Jennifer to share some basic tips to help you get off auto and start taking control of your camera.

The Basics of Exposure

Exposure is the single most important aspect of photography. It is defined as the amount of light that falls onto your digital camera’s sensor when capturing an image. Too much light and your image looks white. Too little light and your image looks dark. The goal of learning exposure is like to get just the right amount of light into your camera.

There are three factors that determine how much light enters your camera. ISO (pronounced I-S-O, not eye-so), Shutter Speed, and Aperture.


explaining ISO

ISO determines your camera’s sensitivity to light. If your scene has a lot of light (think at the beach at noon on a sunny day), you will use a low ISO number. If you are shooting indoors or in darker settings, you will use a high ISO. The downside of using a high ISO is that the picture quality decreases. The higher the ISO, the more noise or grain the image contains. In the above images, the image of the beach is crystal clear, the only grain is in the sand. The image of the right has lots of grain and demonstrates that noise doesn’t have to be a bad thing, if you use it properly.

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$500 Cash Giveaway

Fall Giveaway

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Free Printable Travel Budget Worksheet

Travel Budget Worksheet
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Sometimes the cost of travel can get away from us if we’re not prepared.  That’s why I prefer to do a quick travel budget worksheet before each trip just to help keep our spending in check.

It also helps me to know what we actually spent while on vacation.  Maybe I notice I over estimated the cost of food,  but under estimated the cost of entertainment.  Knowing the estimated and actual cost of travel can help you plan accordingly for future vacations as well.

Save the travel budget worksheet after each trip, so you can reference the cost of previous trips while planing your next adventure.  You never know, you might be able to afford more vacations that you think!

Download the Travel Budget Worksheet PDF here.   Once you download the PDF, you can either print it off or edit the document with all your budget right on the form!

What other tips can you share for creating a travel budget worksheet?

3 Printable Travel Games for Kids

Printable Travel Games for Kids
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Take a peak at these 3 new printable travel games for kids.  They can be easily printed from home and taken on a road trip.  You can even use these games when the kids get bored on short car ride to Grandma’s house.

Printable Travel Games for Kids:


I Can Find… – Let kids find each of these items on the road.  Print the PDF version here.



Word Search – Kids can find simple travel words with this word search game.  It’s even shaped like car for more fun!  Print the PDF version here.



Complete the Pattern – Get kids thinking and playing by completing the patterns. Can they find all the patterns before the end of your journey?  Print the PDF version here.


Print and laminate the printable travel games for kids (preferably on card stock.) Use dry erase markers to reuse them!  If you just want to use them once, print on regular printer paper and use a pen, marker, or crayons.

You might also like these Kids Printable Travel Games for more FREE travel fun or these 10 Kid Travel Games!

Storms in NYC = Flight Cancellation in Norfolk

Trip to Paris France

Day 1:

The day has FINALLY arrived!  We are ready to fly to France!

Everything is looking good.  We arrive to the airport with plenty of time to get through security, find our gate and get the kids settled in while we wait for the flight to board.

Things are still right on track as we all board the plane and take our seats.  The doors close and the captain comes on telling us we will be taking off in 10 minutes.  The excitement builds as we are about to start the first leg of our journey.  Off to New York then a connecting flight into Paris.

“Ladies and gentlemen, there are storms in New York.  The flight has been cancelled.  Please exit the plane.”

WHAT?!  10 minutes ago we are about to take off!

We exit the plane and make our way back up the stairs (we were on a little commuter plane that didn’t have a gangway).  We’re handed a card with an 800 number and told to reschedule our flight.  The line at the counter is already super long, so I get on my cell phone to call the airline while Derrick gets on his phone to call his parents.  They had dropped us off at the airport and were just sitting down in a restaurant to eat dinner.

We’re both on our phones while the children thankfully sit on the luggage and talk quietly.

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7 Money Saving Summer Vacation Tips

Money Saving Summer Vacation Tips
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Do you want to travel this summer without breaking the bank? I’ve put together these money saving summer vacation tips to help stretch your budget.  With some planning, deal hunting and flexibility, you can save enough money to potentially take two trips instead of just one!!

Money Saving Summer Vacation Tips:

1. Pack light – airlines are charging fees for everything nowadays. Most carries charge for checked bags and overweight bags. If you can, try to pack in a single carry on (within the size/weight restrictions) or limit everyone to a single bag.   When choosing flights consider checked bag fees into your purchase. Carriers such as Southwest offer 1 checked bag at no additional cost.

Make sure to factor in the extra space and weight of purchases you may make during your travels as well.  We like to keep a tiny reusable shopping bag with us in case we need to lighten our baggage with an extra carry on.

2. Round trip tickets – a must in travel to save money is booking round trip tickets. Booking a one- way ticket is extremely expensive, more than a round-trip ticket in a lot of cases! Don’t forget that you can book round-trip tickets arriving and departing from different airports.  Our recent trip we flew into Paris and out of Nice. I wouldn’t recommend this if you’ll be in the same area since you’d have to factor in car rentals as well.

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5 Tips for Selecting Cruise Shore Excursions

Selecting Cruise Shore Excursions
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You’ve booked your cruise and are ready to set sail but there’s one thing left to decide – shore excursions. When you stop in port you have a few options about what to do. You aren’t required to get off of the ship, but chances are you’ll want to.  You can opt not to book anything and simply explore the area on your own or book an independent experience.  Or, you can plan ahead of time and book a ship sponsored shore excursion. H aving a great day at port is important and so is getting the most for your money.

5 Tips for Selecting Cruise Shore Excursions:

Ship Sponsored vs. Independently Booked Excursions

This is often the biggest question people ask. If you book an independent excursion you’re taking a big risk. If you don’t make it back to the ship in time the ship will leave without you. If you’re on a ship sponsored excursion that runs behind they will wait for you to get back. However you also will pay more for the ship sponsored shore excursion. It’s really a risk to weigh taking. If you do some research and discover there’s something in port that you’d like to do but the cruise line doesn’t offer the experience it may be a risk worth taking – just be sure to leave enough time to get back to the ship!

We tend to book with ship sponsored excursions since the companies are working with the cruise line and strive to keep up a level of service to continue that relationship.  If you want to book an independent excursion, research the company and read reviews from other travelers.   We have found some independent excursions to be just as popular as ship sponsored that go to the same area, for less money.

Age and Activity Level

Not all shore excursions are well suited for everyone. If you’re traveling with little children you may find your options are even more limited. Excursions with a lot of physical activity or walking may not be a good choice for those who have a stroller to push or who have mobility issues. Take this into consideration when you’re choosing what to do.

We wanted to plan a snorkeling adventure during one of our cruises.  We had a difficult time finding companies that would allow children, even though my kids are experienced swimmers and snorkelers.  We finally found a reputable company and my kids ended up spending more time in the water than 50% of the other adults on the excursion!


For many people what to do boils down to how much it’s going to cost. You may not want to pay hundreds of dollars per person to do a shore excursion one day after you’ve paid for the cruise. You may also discover that there’s one activity during one port day that’s a higher cost but something you really want to do. This means the other port days you go for a less expensive option or just explore the port on your own.

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