Creative Shooting - Testing the New Lensbaby Sweet 80

Anyone who knows me knows that I love to shoot creatively and that I love the Lensbaby line of lenses and optics. I felt so lucky to be asked to test a new optic last spring - the Sweet 80. This is an optic that can be mounted on their composer pro lens and then tilted and adjusted to find the "sweet spot" of focus. The rest of the image is dreamy and blurred. The Sweet 80 is a great addition to their other sweet spot optics because it has the beautiful compression of a longer lens- great for portraits. I wanted to share some of my favorite images I took while I tested the Sweet 80. 

I love the way this optic works with the light in the below images - creating this dreamy bokeh.


The focal length compresses the background for a beautiful portrait.


The Sweet 80 is not just for portraits though. I used it here for a surreal environmental image. 


When used with beautiful light there is the signature dreamy bokeh. 


I also love that even when you don't have that dreamy light/bokeh effect, with the Sweet 80, a simple portrait is taken to the next level with the creamy blur around the edges. 


Water + the Sweet 80 - very dreamlike


With the tilting ability of the optic, you can have your sweet spot of focus anywhere you choose. 


As you can tell, I really enjoyed the time I spent with the Sweet 80 and will definitely be adding this to my Lensbaby collection! You can preorder yours here:

A Christmas Tradition

Every year since my daughter has been old enough to help, we've done a gingerbread house. We usually just pick a kit up when we see one. We've done gingerbread trains, gingerbread castles and classic gingerbread houses. We also usually make some type of Christmas cookies. This year we made gingerbread man cookies to go with our house. I'm sure we will make more cookies for our annual Christmas Eve party, but it was fun to get a head start on baking with my little one.


I usually have to do the icing, and have her place the candies. Although it never fails that she will sneak little samples of the candy as she is decorating! But that is part of the fun. 

For this shoot, I used my Lensbaby Velvet 56, as well as my Sigma 35 ART lens, for most of the images. The Velvet definitely gives the images that vintage, painterly feel that I was going for. I had her dressed, probably for the last time, in this adorable Christmas nightgown that we have had for at least 3 years now. I love the timeless look of the red gingham, and she told me she wants to keep it for her daughter.

She really enjoyed rolling out the dough (I got her started). She used this small rolling pin I found at an estate sale. Just the perfect size for her little hands.

Decorating the cookies is really just as much fun as cutting them out! We kept it very simple- just icing and sprinkles.

After all the decorating, we of course had to indulge in some hot cocoa! I found these huge snowflake marshmallows at Anthropologie and knew she would love them. 

a ghostly daddy + daughter halloween shoot

It all started in 2014 when my husband was headed to New Orleans for Halloween, and his costume was to be Baron Samedi. We decided at the last minute to dress my daughter up too, and head out to our favorite abandoned house for a quick "creepy but beautiful" photoshoot. It was so much fun we decided to make an annual event. 

Last year we made a road trip up to Turner Falls, Oklahoma, to the old castle ruins, and they dressed as vampires. Again, we tried to make it spooky, yet beautiful. I can't do anything too grotesque! You can view a sampling of the previous year's shoots here.

This year, I was inspired by a vintage little girl's gown that I found at an estate sale. I thought it would make a wonderful, ghostly costume for my daughter. Then I began looking for ideas for my husband's costume and started a pinterest page for ideas. We ended up with a suit from Thrift City that I ripped up, spray painted with white fabric paint and spread flour on to make it even more white and powdery. We had a great time shooting in a very old, beautiful cemetery. I also practiced using some in camera double exposures as well as some slow shutter fun to capture ghostly images.