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  • About me

    Hi, my name is Amy. I am a wife to my hard working husband, mommy to three beautiful kids, and I am an artist. I am a pretty simple person, and I am working hard to share God's beauty through photography and art. Thanks for visiting my blog. Here you will find lots of images, and my own daily musings about life. :)
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Merry Christmas, from the Cyphers Family

What a year!  I didn’t get Christmas cards sent… I have a million excuses, but I feel bad.  So today I decided to write a Christmas blog, and hope that everyone that reads it will feel like they got our card.  Hey, at least you don’t have to throw it away later, and we are saving trees right? Hummm.  Anyway!  I love and appreciate you! Family, Friends, clients, blog followers, fellow photographers, church family… whoever you are, we are blessed to know you, and have you in our lives.

Last night after my mom’s birthday meal (She’s a Christmas Eve baby) we went to church to the Christmas candle light service.  My third child, the one who is almost two and living up to the reputation of a typical two year old already, yeah him, well he was being very bad.  I had to take the embarrassing walk of shame to the back of the church and sit in the lobby, where he was equally naughty.  I couldn’t help but wish that he would act a little more like Jesus at 2 years old.  Can you imagine having a perfect child?  One that didn’t sin??? Gosh I would have hated to have been his sister or brother… born with a sinful nature, in need of a savior, and the Savior is your brother, but being his mom would have been pretty awesome in those young years.  As I heard the music beginning to play again, Auggie and I made our way back to our seats.  I prayed the music would drown out his noise.  The rest of the service was still a wrestling match (add holding a candle to that….) but it was still beautiful.  I glanced over at my husband and kids singing “Silent Night” and felt so so so incredibly blessed.  Charlotte carefully held her candle and closed her eyes in worship of our newborn King. Pierson just stared in awe at his candle. (He couldn’t believe his parents were letting him hold fire!)… He did great his first year.  Even my sinful almost two year old looked slightly angelic in the warm candle light at that moment.  After the service it was back to reality of over tired kids.  Have you ever tried to put a coat on a limp noodle?  I have…

Even though we’ve been sick, busy, and overwhelmed, today I am so happy. We didn’t deserve Jesus, and yet he came into our world as a tiny, vulnerable baby.  Born in a dirty stable, and raised by two human parents He came to save us.  (See Luke 2)

So there’s my card, from me to you.  I don’t have a picture perfect shot of our family, it just didn’t happen this year, and if you know me or follow me on facebook, I don’t really have any “new” news, we are just living in the busy world of raising a family.  I am doing my best to really love these little years, and treasure this fleeting time we have to make a big impression in their lives… (A bigger blog post on that soon!) Today I just wanted to soak up their joy and squeals…. next year they will be bigger, and that makes me happy, and yet so sad at the same time.

My prayer is that this year you are blessed to know our Savior too.  What ever season of life you are in, may you know His great love for you.

Here are a few pics from our day…

Pierson didn’t want to take a picture… the boys are trading off being difficult. (and right now they are both taking a Christmas nap! It’s a Christmas miracle.)

Our family.  This picture isn’t perfect, but I am showing it to you anyway, because it is actually as good as we could get today. Do I look tired..?  Well I am! 

Who’s idea was this gift?  Oops.  The spider web silly string lasted about 30 seconds, and took a lot longer then that to clean up.

Their new reading nook from my parents.  Looks cozy huh? 

You should watch this video …Charlotte and I laughed! It might just be the cutest thing I have ever seen.  It totally reminded me of the time my cousins, siblings and I reenacted the Christmas Story.  I wish someone would have video taped it!!

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What Camera should you buy???

It isn’t uncommon to for me to get questions about cameras and advice on what to buy, this year on Black Friday there must have been some good deals because I had several calls!  The lower costs of DSLR’s (digital single lens reflex, aka fancy schmancy cameras with that lens that can come off)  have turned lots of people in to photo enthusiasts.  New moms and old moms, grandpa’s and dog lovers want to learn how to take great photos, so they can capture their memories and preserve them with their children (or pups) forever.  I have absolutely no problem with that, and I encourage you all to learn! Photography is fun, and no one ever regrets capturing memories of their kids …(dogs, cats, birds, lawn chairs..or what ever you shoot!) and a DSLR can capture the split seconds that a “point and shoot” camera misses, plus they are way more awesome.

Cameras are something I am passionate (and maybe a little nerdy) about.  I take pictures of my kids, the sky, my coffee, giraffes at the zoo… OK I’m excessive I admit it….  daily… if you follow me on Instagram (abe2882) you know I am a little obsessed with taking pictures. (or maybe a lot obsessed.)  I love to document our day, and fun times because I know someday I will look back on it and cherish every image… instagram iPhone pic, and DSLR pic.  My camera is an extension of my arm most days and I really do love taking pictures and learning how to take better pictures.

I don’t think a fancy camera should replace your family visiting a professional photographer because you need to be in the pics, and a real professional is going to give you more then just snapshots, they are going to give you memories that involve you! I also don’t think owning one of these fancy cameras or lenses makes you a professional photographer… so don’t let the facebook “likes” get to your head and make you think you should start a business page called “Shutter of Dreams Photography”.  I am a little passionate about that issue, and taking this hobby to the professional level isn’t just as easy as making a website or facebook page… if you are serious about it, I would shadow real professionals and I would take real classes.  Not just photography classes, real business classes, because that is more than half of a photography business… and believe me it isn’t that fun.  Ok, I will step off that soap box now, and I am sorry if I offended you…. I have spent too many years building and perfecting my style and art, and it does make me cringe a little (or a heck of a lot) when I see “professional photographers” popping up around every corner… A CAMERA DOES NOT MAKE YOU A GOOD PHOTOGRAPHER, OR A PROFESSIONAL.  There!  I said it in all caps.  I feel much better now.

Ok, here goes.  Cameras… what should you buy??? There are two main camera brands that I recommend, Canon and Nikon.  The others I am sure are ok, but these two are in constant competition to make the best camera and they do!  Tomato, tomato, potato, potato  …. both manufacturers make excellent cameras. I am a Canon girl, so that will be my recommendation… because that is what I know.  I have absolutely NOTHING against a Nikon…. I just don’t know them personally, and if someone handed me a Nikon it would take me awhile to figure out the settings.  I have always been impressed with Canon’s professional service (SPS) and their speediness when my camera is getting repaired.  They have great customer service, and I do highly recommend their brand when asked.  If you already have a different brand, don’t freak out!  Other companies have great cameras too, and they have all come a very long way.

This blog post is just what I recommend… I do not keep up with all the latest (non professional) camera’s…. you can read the reviews just as well as I can.  This is just information to help you decide what camera and lens best suits your needs.

I would recommend any of the Canon Rebels as a first camera. My first digital camera was a Rebel, and it served me well. (This was NOT my professional camera… it’s just the camera I learned on.)  It was one of the very first digital models and cost a lot more than they do now, and was pretty plain jane… a whole 6 mega pixels! (and that was A LOT!!)  Your camera body can limit you some, but more importantly is the lens you choose.  Another great choice might be the 60D if you are wanting something a little nicer. I would go with a less expensive camera body and get a 5omm lens rather than spending a lot on the camera body and getting the kit lens that may come with it if your budget is limited.  The Canon T3i and T3, and T4 all look like great starter cameras to me from my limited research on them.  I am sure you could get even an older version of these cameras for less.  Nikon has great starter cameras as well.  Like I said I can’t talk much about Nikon because I haven’t ever used one, but their starter cameras are just as great… or as Nikon users would say, “better” than Canon.  (It’s an ongoing and never ending debate… just poking a little fun at it)

                                                 

        Canon 60D                                                            Canon T31                                                Canon EOS Rebel T3i

 

 I wouldn’t forgo the kit lens if this is your first camera.  It is usually a 18- 55mm f4, or something like that.  It would be a good one to own and learn with, and also great for sporting events outdoors.  If you are going for a more natural (how we see) lens and want that pretty blurry background (aka “bokeh”)  that you are so drawn to, I would invest in a Nifty Fifty, otherwise known as a 50mm lens.  It can let in more light, which is nice indoors and out. You can purchase a good 50mm f1.8 for around $100 or so.  This is a prime lens, meaning it doesn’t zoom in or out… you do the zooming with your feet… kind of like exercising.

 Different lenses do different things.  I am a lens collector… I love being able to get close up with an 85mm, or even closer with a 100mm macro lens (perfect for those baby toes or tiny flowers), but I also love my 50mm as an everyday lens.  A 50mm is what the human eye sees, and is my “go-to” lens when I am at home, and professionally… I just like it.  I don’t shoot a lot of wide angle, like a 35mm, but that is the next lens on my list.  I have tested it and love it.  Prime lenses (the ones that don’t zoom) are great.  You can always Google these different lenses to see images taken with them, and to read more about what they do.

The whole point of this post is this though… a nice camera is great!  You should invest in one if you are interested in learning to use it and really want to make your memories shine!  A point and shoot, and an iPhone can’t do what an DSLR  can do.  BUT, while it is great to have a DSLR, it is really the lens that makes an image…. not just the (fancy) camera.

Here are the prime lenses I recommend for beginners…… These are not Canon’s professional L series lenses (that wouldn’t be practical for a hobbyist, or for snap shots of your kids), but these are all great!  In fact, I use the 50mm f1.4 all the time!

                                   

50mm f1.8                                         50mm f1.4                                        85mm f1.8                                 100mm f2.8                                          35mm f2

Zoom lenses….

A good everyday zoom would be something like the one below, a 28-135mm.  When you are purchasing a camera, you might have the option to buy it with a kit lens like this one.  It would definitely be a good one to have in your bag, but it wouldn’t be one that you use all the time.  It would be great for t-ball games, or family gatherings to capture snap shots.

Canon EF 28-135MM f3.5-5.6 IS

 Another zoom to consider if you are wanting to get closer to your subjects with out moving (like at a soccer game, or a bird out your window) would be one the zooms further out like a 70-300mm lens.

Canon 70-300mm f4.5-5.6

I hope this helps…. This isn’t a blog post about apertures and shutter speeds, just the basics of camera’s and lenses.  For all the Canon lenses I mentioned, Nikon has a lens that does the same thing.  This is just basic information about what they can do..

I know a girl (hint hint) that teaches a fun camera class.  I may have some coming up in the future, so if you really want to know your camera, you should come! I am also designing a smaller camera mentoring session that would be you and just a couple of friends. (more info on that later!!)

 

{I designed this adorable camera manual to give to everyone that comes to the Fancy Schmancy Camera Class…. isn’t it sweet?  You should come to my class sometime so you can get one! (insert shameless plug here)}
 

A great book I got as a give away for my camera class “Mammarazzi “by Stacy Wasmuth.  She goes into detail about capturing everyday moments with your kids and has a section on lenses, focal lengths with in depth descriptions and image examples.  There are 100′s of books, and 100′s of tutorials online if you want to learn more…. or you can sign up for my class, well, because it is awesome, and way more fun then learning from YouTube or a book. If the word “aperture” freaks you out, it won’t by the end of our class… plus I teach it with my old roommate Kristy and she is an awesome photography teacher in real life (she teaches it everyday at a high school).  Here’s a pic of us {taken with a bad camera} in college.  We look the same now as we did then, except for the fake sunburns. (it was a date party thing ) Anyway, we have a blast every-time we teach it and it get’s a little better each time too.  All that is required to attend is you and your fancy schmancy camera… it helps if you have one already.  You don’t even need any of those lenses… but you will want one by the end of class I bet.

 

Oh, and here is that book I recommended if you are interested in sharpening your knowledge before our class.

I hope this post was helpful! I would love to hear from you if you though it was, or decided to get a camera!  If you would like to share this information please do!  Pin it, post it, e-mail it… whatever…  I know I am long winded, so thanks for reading it. I appreciate it!!

Anyway, that’s my $.02 worth on camera’s!  Photography is a really fun hobby… and a crazy business. Capturing your memories with a nice camera is something I don’t think you would ever regret.  The DSLR’s I listed are cheaper then most purses that woman carry, and much more useful… well in my opinion… I don’t spend much on purses.:)

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Warning: Cuteness overload

But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” Matthew 19:14

Faith Academy Learning Center is an amazing preschool.  I love it because not only are these kids getting a wonderful education, but they also are hearing Bible stories and praying together.  These little seedlings are growing strong roots, not only in their education, but also in their faith.  I am always amazed at the order Heather keeps too… they line up quietly, they listen, and strive to please her.  I have no idea how she does it, but “Miss Heather” is some kind of kid whisperer and I am jealous of her mad skills.  I could use them at home!

The last couple of years I have done a “Gap Kids”  styled shoot.  This was fun, but I wanted something new, and more my style.  I am trying to keep it simple, so this was great.  Black backdrop, one light, one window, and a lot of smarties. {rewards…. and maybe a little bribing too}

The goal was to capture the child’s real face and personality.  I never said, “say cheese” or “just smile”… if they smiled it was in the middle of a conversation we were having, or after I said something completely ridiculous.  If they were serious, it was because we were just chatting, and I got a serious face too.  I did give instruction, but not much… my focus was their eyes, and I photographed so that was the focus point of the image I tried to also get pictures of laughs and eyelashes and profiles if I could.  These are also edited a little differently.  I wanted them to be soft, and have more of a classic film look to them.  I am so pleased with how they turned out and everyone has great images!  I am still editing these, but had to share a few.  Parents, if you don’t see your child’s photo you will very soon!!  Most parents got to preview these after class, but if you didn’t you won’t have to wait too much longer.

Thanks Faith Academy for having me as your photographer again!  All of these kids are just precious.  Preschool just might be my favorite age.

Oh yeah, a funny story I wanted to share…. I was photographing a little girl I didn’t know and she acted like she knew me and I didn’t want to make her feel bad an ask her what her name was {because I thought I should probably know} so instead I asked her if she would spell her name for me so I could write it down in my notebook… She said “Sure! It’s M-K-U-T-B-O-N”, I wrote it down and asked her to spell it again, and she repeated the letters.  I tried not to giggle, and told her “Thanks”.  In her defense she is i the three year old class, and her name did start with an M. :)

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