Hello!

Welcome to my little corner of the Internet.  I love photography, music, travel, and food(to name a few) and I have the urge to share it all with you!  This blog is the place I go to share what I’m learning, thinking, photographing, and experiencing.  You can find out more about me here.

I have a few projects on the go at the moment, should you want to check them out:

100 strangers (6 of 6) blog   gofundme

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5 Tips for Better Smartphone Photography

Do you find it challenging to take good photos with your smartphone? If so, this post is for you.

This week I heard about Aura Frames, a company that makes next-generation smart digital picture frames that automatically show you the best photos of the people you love.

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They are working to start a conversation about tips to take good photos with your phone(or in my case, iPod). I love taking photos with my iPod because it’s so easy to whip out of my pocket and snap away. I tend to use it around the house to take a quick pic of the kids, or when I’m going out in public. Especially here in Brazil, I am more careful about taking my Nikon DSLR camera out of the house.

So here are my 5 tips and some of my favourite photos that I’ve taken with my iPod.

  1. Light

Light is absolutely the most important thing whether you are taking photos with a DSLR, film camera or your phone. If you are taking a nature/landscape type of photo, morning/evening light is soft and lovely. I took this photo in the morning:

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This one was in the afternoon, which created lovely contrast and shadows:

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When taking selfies, I always face a window or other light source. This one is in my bedroom, facing a window(and don’t you love the blue wall? I do.):

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And this one is in my garage, which is my go-to place for good light(you can read more about that in this post).

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2. Make it interesting.

The photo quality on my iPod isn’t nearly as good as what my camera produces, so I try to compensate by making the photos interesting. Reflections in water and windows are a good place to start:

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I liked the “You are Beautiful” sign in this window. I could have taken a shot of just the card, but I knew that including my reflection would make it a more interesting photo.

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3. Tap on the screen

I’m not sure if this works for all phones, but on my iPod, I can open up the camera and tap on different parts of the screen to make it lighter/darker. For example, if I’m taking a picture of the sunset, I’ll tap on the brightest part of the sky and that will set the exposure correctly(make sure it’s not too bright or dark).

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4. Real emotion

Obviously this is just for people photos… but you just can’t beat a photo with some real emotion there. That’s why photographing kids is so fun. They express themselves so freely and aren’t afraid of looking silly.

Whether it’s being happy…

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Or grumpy…

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Do you know why this photo is so great? Real emotion + awesome light. Yes, it was right in front of a window.

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5. Keep it simple

Some of my favourite iPod photos are ones with a lot of negative space:

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Simple yet lovely:

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That’s it for my tips!

Aura Frames put together this nice infographic that I found helpful:

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Do you take photos on your phone/iPod/device? What’s your best tip?

Learn more about Aura Frames here, or order one here!

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[PHOTOGRAPHY] THE 100 STRANGERS PROJECT: #12 Lucas & #13 Michelle

#12: Lucas

I sat beside Lucas on a plane from Newark, New Jersey to São Paulo, Brazil.  I said hello as I sat down, and noticed he was watching a movie.  About ten minutes in, he asked me if I was Brazilian(must have been my flawless accent) and we started a conversation. We discovered we had many things in common.  I am a Canadian living in Brazil; he is a Brazilian living in Canada.  We are both married with two small children.  Both portrait photographers.  We had so much in common it was almost weird.  But it made me think – we probably have a lot in common with most, if not every stranger we come across.  We are all human beings, with joys and struggles and experiences worth sharing.  We just need to be brave enough to ask, and to tell.  I had made a friend by the end of my flight, and it filled me with such happiness to have connected with another stranger.  I can feel this project evolving.  At the beginning, it was about seeing a stranger I want to photograph and asking them for a picture.  Now, it is about having sincere interactions with strangers and then taking a picture to document the exchange.  It makes me even more excited to continue with this project.
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 #13: Michelle

I met Michelle at a bus stop about a month or two ago. I had walked behind her for about 20 minutes, and when we arrived at the same destination, I thought of some way to engage in conversation. I noticed her shirt and complimented her on it, in Portuguese. She thanked me and then asked where I was from. When I told her I was from Canada, she switched to English, and told me she was from Peru. We shared our stories of how we’d ended up in Florianópolis. We talked non stop until we arrived at the bus station and had to go our separate ways, which was a good half hour. I was sad to say goodbye to her at the bus stop, but happy to know she lived on the next street over from mine. I was delighted to meet someone so lovely that lived so close to me.
Since then we have gotten together several times, and I am so enjoying getting to know her. I took this portrait of her yesterday, and although the idea for this project is to take a photo of a stranger at the time of meeting, I didn’t have my camera on me when we met. Thank you Michelle for being a part of my project; for being open to a conversation with a stranger.
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[Photography] My Favourite Place To Shoot

A few weeks ago I heard about Light, a new camera technology company.  They have recently developed a SmartPhone-sized camera which claims to give you “DSLR quality in the palm of your hand”.  It was the first time I’d heard of such a thing, and I was intrigued.  I absolutely love my Nikon D300S, but it’s difficult to bring with me everywhere I go, for practical and safety reasons.  My iPod, on the other hand, fits in my pocket, so I find myself shooting with it much more frequently.  I would absolutely LOVE to try out this new camera to see how it compares.  Screen Shot 2016-12-17 at 11.08.16 PM.png

Light asked me to be a part of their #VantagePoint project in which bloggers talk about their favourite place to shoot and share a photo from the location.  It was hard to pick one place, especially given all of the beauty that surrounds me here in Florianópolis, Brazil.  I love the beaches, the forests, and the Portuguese architecture.  But my favourite place to shoot right now is actually at home, in my own garage.

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Photo taken by Garett from As We Go

During the past year, I’ve studied the light that comes into this covered space and have realised it makes an ideal situation for portraits.  Except at sunset, the light is always indirect, making it comfortable for subjects to look into.  If the subject is looking outwards into the yard, their entire face is evenly lit.  I’ve taken great posed portraits as well as cute candid shots of the kids.  I couldn’t pick just one photo, so here’s four of my favourites.

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My son, Shasta, looking extremely hip: 1/500s, f2.8, ISO 200

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My younger son, Sebastian: 1/125s, f 1.4, ISO 200

For each of these photos I used my Nikon D300S camera with a Nikkor 50mm/1.4 lens.

I chose my garage over the beach as my favourite place to shoot because I’m so familiar with it.  I know that if it’s cloudy, sunny, or raining, I can still get a well-lit shot.  I love the colours of my garage and it’s a place where people feel comfortable, so it’s easy to capture them naturally.  I love doing clean, simple portraits, so having a place with predictable lighting is a wonderful thing.  It’s almost like a studio.

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At sunset, the light is a bit harsh, but still lovely for candid shots like this one of me and friends Adriano and Pedro on my 31st birthday this past June.

Suggestions for budding photographers: In portrait photography, if not all photography, lighting is always the most important thing!  Spend some time observing the light around you – in and around your house, in your neighbourhood, etc.  See how it changes during the day.  Study your subjects.  Are faces fully lit, or are there shadows?  Is the light too bright/harsh?  My go-to conditions/locations for good lighting are in the shade, by a window, golden hour(at sunrise/sunset), or an overcast day.

Thoughts or questions?  Shoot me a message and I’ll be happy to help.

Find out more about Light.co and their exciting new technology on their website, on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

If you liked this post, check out my Photography page for more tips and tutorials.

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[Living Abroad] Christmas On The Other Side Of The World

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How is it December 2017?  O tempo está VOANDO! (Time is flying!)  This will be my fourth Christmas in Brazil.  And while I enjoy spending the holidays by the beach, it always feels a bit weird.  Being Canadian, I associate Christmas with cold, snow, family gatherings, and a full schedule of potlucks, parades and parties.  Being far away from loved ones it can be lonely(my first Christmas here there were a lot of tears) and I find it tricky to get into the “Christmas Spirit”.  I’ve polled a few experienced expat friends on the matter: Sarah Reimer, a Canadian living in Thailand, Kathryn Cross, a Canadian living in Australia, and Kristen Wruck Hammer, an American living in Brazil.  These are some things we do to make it feel more Christmasy even when we’re sweating.

  • Crank the Christmas tunes.  In Canada you can’t escape the bad Christmas music – the same annoying songs(although some good ones) are played on the radio and at the supermarket for at least a month.  Here in Brazil I have yet to experience this, which is kind of nice, as not to get sick of the songs, but also not nice because it can be easy to forget that Christmas is coming and it’s up to YOU to put on the tunes at home!  Now you can skip all the crap and just listen to the good stuff. I always start with the Good Lovelies, Nat King Cole and Ella Fitzgerald.  I also have a Christmas playlist on YouTube: (click image below to open)

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  • Canadians, four words: Vinyl Café Christmas Tour.  Go, right now, subscribe to the Vinyl Cafe podcast so that the Christmas ones will appear in a couple of weeks.  If that doesn’t get you in the spirit, nothing else will.  Take care though, you may end up feeling nostalgic and homesick!  For Stuart McLean newbies, he’s a fabulous storyteller and every year he does a Christmas tour around Canada with a band, so it’s a great combination of tunes and heart warming stories.  I recommend this podcast to everyone, Canadian or not.
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Stuart is great any time of year…

  • Watch at least one Christmas film.  I’m sure we all have a favourite.  It’s not Christmas time for me until I’ve watched Love Actually.  It’s not just my favourite Christmas movie, it’s my all time favourite movie.  Just in case you wanted to know.

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  • Throw or partake in some Christmas parties.  Last year the kids and I threw a birthday party for Jesus – we had cake, cookies, and other goodies, colouring sheets and snowflakes, and we read the story of Jesus’ birth in the Jesus Storybook Bible.  It was a big hit.  You could also host or attend a potluck for other expats, especially if you’re far away from family and friends!
  • Make your house smell delightful.  Every year, Kristen makes an aromatic pine spray, and also diffuses an essential oil blend of clove, cinnamon, orange, and nutmeg.  Last year Sarah’s expat friend gave her a ziplock bag with cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and cardamom, with instructions to simmer it on the stove if she missed that “Christmas-y” feeling.  
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Sarah’s spice mix

  • Coooookiiiiiieeeees!  Kristen makes gingerbread cookies every year and this year she and I are planning a cookie exchange where each person brings a plate of cookies and everyone goes home with different kinds.

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  • Books and Activities for Kids.  Being involved with children can help a lot with getting into the Christmas spirit.  Last year I read the Christmas stories in the Jesus Storybook Bible for my boys(aged 1 and 3) every morning at breakfast.  Get your hands on a Christmas story you like(or ten!!) and read the heck out of them!

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Some more thoughts:

Sarah:

Though I truly love living abroad, I find one of the major challenges is being away from home/family during holiday times.  Being in Thailand, I have felt especially removed from bustle of the Christmas season that I’ve known for so many years.  As Christmas music has begun already in early November at home in Canada, I am over here lathering on sunscreen and heading out the door in flip flops.  When I don’t own anything warmer than a jean jacket, I definitely have to use my imagination to get in the Christmas spirit!  Aside from listening to Christmas music at home, and watching “Home Alone” (one of my faves), here’s a couple things that really help bring back that Christmas-y feeling:

I always look forward to Christmas Skype calls with family at home.  Last year I skyped them from a beach in the south of Thailand!  My husband and I also made sure to whip out our Santa Hats and wish others that we saw on the beach a Merry Christmas 🙂

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Sarah and her husband Zack spending Christmas in Koh Lanta, Thailand

Kathryn:

I get out the Christmas stuff/music earlier than I would if I was in Canada…having it around and set up longer helps.  

Keeping some traditions I grew up with helps it feel “real,” like opening Christmas jammies on Christmas eve, and having a large fake Christmas tree.

Planning to celebrate a meal with friends so you get that “family feel”

Don’t try and cook a traditional Christmas meal… it’s too much effort, and at least for me I don’t feel like eating heavy food when it’s 40 degrees out or having the stove on for hours…

Try and embrace some local traditions (going to the beach, eating salads and bbq seafood, playing cricket – or not….etc)

Doing some kind of Advent Calendar if you have kids helps build the anticipation!  We like “Truth in the Tinsel” 

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Kathryn and her family keeping cool in Perth, Australia

Kristen: 

My husband comes from a family where Christmas was not celebrated, and so it can be a lonely time of the year for me as it lacks all of the things that make it “Christmas”! So one thing I do is buy little presents from the States during the year and hide them. Then when Christmas rolls around, I’ve forgotten about them, and it makes it feel more normal to open things on Christmas Day. Sometimes you have to get creative!
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View from Kristen’s home in Florianopolis, Brazil

Here’s a fun Christmas diddy to get you started!

Have you spent Christmas abroad?  What did you think?

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Expat friends, Christmas 2015

New ETSY Shop Listings

I recently listed six photos for sale in my Etsy shop as digital downloads.  They are $7.00 CAD each and the file comes to you straight away.  They print very well in all sizes.  Here are the photos I am selling(clicking on a photo will take you to the item in my Etsy Shop):

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Lower Post, British Columbia, Canada

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Tombstone Territorial Park, Yukon, Canada

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Haliburton, Ontario, Canada

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Lucky Lake, Yukon, Canada

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Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada

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Haines Junction, Yukon, Canada

Click here to go to my Etsy Shop.  I also have notecard sets for sale.  If you want to buy a photo of mine you’ve seen before not shown here, please send me a message and I’ll see what I can do!

 

Spiced Lentils

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“Spiced Lentils” is a recipe I created sometime in the last two years since moving to Brazil.  You don’t have to follow the spices exactly – you can omit any, add more of or less of – it all depends on your taste.  But these are the measurements that I use when making lentils and for me and my family, it’s the perfect blend – flavourful without burning your mouth.

You can eat them as a side dish or a main dish.  Serve with rice or couscous, or you can be more elaborate with ideas and recipes I’ve listed below.

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Ingredients:

1 cup green(or brown) dry lentils, rinsed

1 tsp salt

1 tsp curry  

1 tsp turmeric

1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice (a mixture of cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon)

1/2 tsp pepper

Few shakes of cumin

4 cups of water

Mix everything together in a pot on high and cover with lid. Bring to a boil.

Turn down the heat to low.  You can simmer lentils for about 40 minutes or until the water has been absorbed,

OR,

Boil for 5-10 minutes, turn off the heat and let them sit with the lid on for at least an hour and a half. This is definitely the most economical and environmental option and the one I use if I have time.

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Here are a few different ways my family eats spiced lentils:

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Enjoy, and if you have any questions do not hesitate to ask in the comments below.