Archive: March 2009  |  View all recent posts

Tue. Mar 31, 2009 by Mary    Pancake Sessions

Pancake Session: Lenses

Oooooh we are mixin' up the batter and TODAY'S batch are these jam filled pancakes from Williams Sonoma. See, we picked these because we are hoping this post is FILLED with good advice! Get it?? wink wink :) Oh who am I's because they look DELICIOUS and I really want one of these pans! Anybody out there want to buy me one?! AND make me pancakes while you're at it? Anybody, anybody....Bueller?

Alright...down to business: Lenses.

What kind? How to shoot em? What's important?

Let me first start off by saying that Justin & I prefer to shoot only with all prime lenses (aka fixed lenses like an 85, as opposed to a zoom). As of now, we only work with one zoom lens and that's our 70-200mm 2.8. The reason that we prefer all prime lenses is because we've just found them to be sharper and produce those crispy-creme images that we all love to get. They also tend to be faster (open up to a wider aperture, ie. 1.4, 1.8 ), and Justin & I like to shoot wide open 99.9% of the time. Those two things, the crispness and the low depth of field from shooting wide-open, are a HUGE part of the look of our images. We're going to do another pancake session soon on post-processing, but really a lot of what those questions are asking about starts in camera with some good lenses. So let's start there!

NAVY SOU: Jimminy freakin' Christmas!!! How in the world do you get such creamy complected skin??? Inquiring minds wants to know!!!

The answer to this question really has three parts: sharpness/shallow depth of field, lighting/exposure, and post-processing. So I'll come back to it in those pancake sessions too. But for now, the first step for us is shooting wide open and using single point focus on the eye. Because of the quick fall off with the fast lenses, the eye is really sharp and the rest of the face & body just naturally smoothes out a bit with the shallow depth of field. The other two steps of lighting/exposure & post-processing are probably more important, but this is the base we always start with so i just wanted to touch on it here!

KIM: Ok...lets say you were going to a shoot and you could only take one lens..which one would it be? And why?

Ooooh HANDS DOWN it would have to be the 85mm 1.4. We are both IN LOVE with this lens and fight over it often. It did take me a while to get used to how spot on you have to be with your focusing, but once I did it was so worth it. It produces the creamiest, dreamiest shots ever. Seriously. One more one sort of rule we always like to put out there to people: if you are going to invest in a fast lens like a 1.4 or 1.2, spend the time learning how to nail your focus so you actually shoot it that wide open when it counts. I've seen so many people drop a ton of money on a 1.2 lens and then shoot it all the time at 2.8 or higher because they're scared of the focus. That's no fun at all!

ANA REBECA: I have a quick question...I want to buy a wide angle lens (not a fisheye) but have no idea what to get :(
Any suggestions??

BETSY JO: The veil - oh. my. Was that one with the new Zeiss lens? I am amazed by that shot- gor. GEOUS. I literally said, "Wow." out loud. (And I rarely talk to my computer screen, so that's saying something!)

Well as you guys know, we've been LOVIN our 25 2.8 Carl Zeiss lens. That lil' guy is TACK SHARP. And it has the focusing capabilities of a macro, so it's really a duel-threat lens. The only hitch is that it is a manual focus lens, but we actually like that because who among us HASN'T been trying to shoot something with an auto-focus macro and it just keeps making that dreaded "zzhhhhhht zzhhhhhht" sound (that's my impression of the focusing sound....can you hear it? :) And everybody in the room is looking at you and you're like "I swear, I'm a professional!" Yea....we've all been there. For more info on the 25mm 2.8 we did a post HERE and it was also responsible for most of the shots you see HERE.

Other than that, for Nikon we also love the 14mm 2.8 which has very little distortion for a super-wide and the 24mm 1.4 for Canon which is just a SWEET fast lens!

Happy Pancake Day!!!

PS: Don't forget, if you have any pancake questions you can leave them in the comment box or email us at

Sun. Mar 29, 2009 by Mary    Life with J&M

Be Careful What You Ask For...

Today we are scheduled to do some more walk-throughs of houses. So yesterday my best friend Joey & I had recon duty to do all the drive-by's and see if any were definite no's so we wouldn't waste any time today. Well, I've been saying all along that what I'm looking for in a house is something that brings a little bit of West Virginia (where I grew up) to Connecticut. Something with land and woods and friendly people that wave hello. careful what you ask for.

Yesterday as we were driving between houses, we were using our trusty GPS to get us there. And on the way to one of the more "West Virginia-ey" houses....THIS is the road it took us down! Yes those are gigantic boulders you see in the middle of the road. And we were driving Joey's HHR which pretty much has a six inch clearance.

It was your basic glorified hiking trail and it had us going on this thing for about three milles. And the further along we went, the worse the "road" got. I swear to you at one point I heard dueling banjos and we were pretty certain that cannibals were going to jump out and get us at any second (has anyone else SEEN Wrong Turn? This will make no sense unless you have!).

So yea....we were pretty scared. And just thankful to make it out alive.

Ahh the adventures of house hunting!

Fri. Mar 27, 2009 by Mary    Life with J&M

Happy Friday!!

Tonight a bunch of us are getting together to go see the opening of "The Haunting in CT"...I'm so pumped!!! Now that's MY way to kick off a weekend!

And for your viewing pleasure, check out these fun shots Matt Grazier grabbed of us at the ski retreat! Super fun!

And if you really need a good laugh to get you through the rest of the workday, check out the shenanigans the boys got up to at the retreat (**note Justin is filming...not racing! :)

Thu. Mar 26, 2009 by Justin    Life with J&M

Full Life

It's 4am and my eyes fly open. Wide open. As wide awake as if it's the middle of the day. And I've just had my afternoon coffee.

And once mind is racing.

I toss. I turn. I flip the pillow.

And each time I do I imagine my soundly sleeping husband lying beside me, winking and giving me his signature one liner:

"Baby, you're as cool as the other side of the pillow."

I resist the urge to pop him one, pillow fight style. And his gentle breathing continues.

A steady meter to my racing thoughts.

I always get like this in the waiting times of our lives. In the "it takes patience" times. When we're right on the verge of something bigger, of something better. But not quite there yet. On the very edge of what we want. We can see it out there in the distance. But always, as always...just beyond our reach.

The quiet before the storm.

Because here's the thing....I'm a storm kind of girl. I thrive on it. Live for it really. Crazy & chaos and life moving at the speed of light. Bring it. Kirsten Dunst style.

It's the quiet I can't handle.

And at 4 o'clock in the morning...there's an abundance of quiet.

And my mind races on.

Hours later after a fitful night of tossing & turning, we head to Atticus for some comfort food. A feast of hot chocolate and cranberry bread with marmalade. And the best striata you've ever had in your life. I eat ferociously as if it's my last meal on this earth until I am certain that we've consumed no less than 10,000 calories between us. And it was worth every one. I talk and he listens. And his gentle breathing continues.

A steady meter to my racing thoughts.

When we're so full that we can't take another bite, we walk outside to the sounds of the "harmonica man" floating on the breeze. He strums his guitar and the notes of Bryan Adams or Tom Petty maybe... I can't tell which... fill the air. I pull my plaid coat close around me and somewhere in the space between, my hand finds Justin's.

And the gentle breathing continues.

We get in the mini and drive and drive until life starts to feel full again. So full it just might pop.

And as we wind around the curves that hug the water stretching out before us, suddenly these moments of waiting... and of quiet... don't seem so bad after all.

And speaking of living a full life, here's a sneak peak from a shoot we did yesterday of our good friend Cheryl...who makes our lives so full they just might pop :)

Wed. Mar 25, 2009 by Mary    Life with J&M

Just want to say Thank YOU!!!

I've been thinking a lot about you guys lately. How you take time out of your crazy busy lives to drop by and bring a lil' love into ours. Whether it's a comment or an email or just sending out good vibes, our lives are so much better because we have you to share it with. To laugh with and cry with. Without you, it would just be us and a computer screen...talking to ourselves! And believe me, we've been there! So we just want you to know that what you do counts. It matters. We read every word you write....and honestly, it makes our whole day. So thank you for that. Truly. We get to do what we love because of you.

And we just want you to know....we love you guys Thiiiiiiiiiiis Much!!

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