Saturday, December 21, 2013

{ialsolovechocolate} Saturday Sing Along Songs- Christmas Favorites!

Thanks to this year's Camp Christmas Shoots, I've been in the mood for Christmas since October!
 And finally it's here!


I have my favorite Christmas songs, from years gone-by 
{Sing Along Songs of Christmas' Past can be found here!}
but I'm always on the hunt for new ones to add to the mix.

Here are a few of this year's favorite discoveries.

Ahhh... The Piano Guys!  Carol of the Bells.

Jason Mraz- Winter Wonderland

Lindsey Stirling- Celtic Carol

Naturally, we have to have an Eric Whitacre masterpiece!

Light and Gold

Light, light
Light, light
Light, light
And heavy
And heavy
And heavy
Pure like gold
They sing and sing and sing
To the newborn babe.


And Scala & Kolacny Brothers!  
In my next life, I will be born in Belgium and perform with Scala & Kolacny Brothers when my schedule permits.  :)

Christmas Lights {by Coldplay}

River {by Sarah McLachlan}


What new Christmas favorites have you discovered?  Please share!  Please share!!

Oh and if anyone has heard the new Jewel Christmas CD, 
I'd love to hear your thoughts on it!  I have yet to listen to it!

Merry Christmas and happy singing, everyone!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Photography Equipment Recommendations!

Hull's Spring Hills Farm, Christmas Tree Season, 2013

It's that time of year when I receive many questions about photography equipment recommendations, for Christmas gifts.


Some people are going to be EXTRA happy, this year!!

Here is a list of the items that I recommend most, based on my personal experience (for the most part): (prices listed are as of today, December 9, 2013, based on Amazon pricing)  There are many more GREAT choices available, but I try to recommend products that I have used myself.

For a basic DSLR starter camera- the Canon Rebel t3i is the most affordable. ($437)

With an upgrade in ISO, the Canon Rebel t4i is a better choice, but has a higher price tag (worth it, in my opinion). ($679)

*The Canon Rebel t5i doesn't appear to be worth the added cost.  Do some review searches and comparisons, if you are on the fence.

New to me is the Canon 70d.  I haven't used one, but it has gotten some nice reviews! ($1,199)

I really loved my Canon 7d.  ($1,449)  But comparing the two (70d & 7d, I might opt for the 70d, now?  Hard to say, without having used a 70d).

A GREAT starter lens (excellent for low light) is the Canon 50mm, 1.8.  I LOVED this lens!!!  ($108.31)  It is the best value out there!  Be aware- this lens is a prime lens, it does not zoom.  You need to move your body to get a wider or closer shot.

I also really enjoyed the Canon 17-55mm, 2.8 lens with my 7d.  ($779- considerably less than when I purchased mine!)


Moving into the full frame cameras & better lenses, I highly recommend the following. 

The Canon 5d mk II is excellent!  ($2,749- body only)  You can find these used for even better prices!

And my favorite, at the moment is the Canon 5d mk III!  ($2,899- body only)

*Of course, there are more costly cameras available, but my personal experience is with those listed above.

My go-to lens is the Canon EF 24-70mm 2.8.  ($1,850)

For weddings and sports, I use a Canon EF 70-200mm 2.8.  ($2,075)  There is a new version as well.

I also have a Canon 85mm1.8, which stays on my back up camera, for the most part. ($319) This is a fantastic lens for portraits and detail photos.  It can handle low light like a champ!

As for external flashes, I would recommend a Canon 600 EX-RT Speedlite. ($499)


For editing, I 100% recommend Lightroom 5.  (on sale till January 11th for $119!)


For an easy to understand starter book, I recommend How to Photography Your Baby, by Nick Kelsh. 


And for instructions on how to shoot in manual, I recommend Kim Winey's Bootcamp {Manual Settings Simplified}.  ;) 

Happy photography gift giving!