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The Story of Two Little White Boxes

Monday morning I kept the boys so Joy could go for a visit. When she returned home, she brought me two boxes. Inside the bottom box there were two white Chocolate covered strawberries. In the top one, the same, except with sprinkles. She then explained, “the strawberries in the bottom box represent the two beautiful little boys you’ve already given me. The top represents our next little baby we will have in August!!”

That’s right friends. Apparently, the Lord is blessing us with another little Finch. We will officially transition from man-to-man defense to zone coverage. What can I say? There’s always room for one more! Now… ya’ll go ahead & let us know when you’ll babysit!

  1. Jared Wilson Photography / CONGRATS!! I can say, from experience, 3 is a little crazy! Hopefully you can get your oldest to lend a hand! :)1.26.11 / 2:48 pm
  2. Kristine Neeley / AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! :) So happy for you!!! :)1.26.11 / 4:52 pm
  3. Donna / Congrats to you both!!! We are expecting our new arrival in about 6 1/2 weeks - I will let you know how that "zone" coverage works out, ha!1.28.11 / 7:56 am
  4. Josh Simmons / Congratulations Ben and Joy!! Just read the news on the blog post. Meggie and I are so excited for you! Hope the Finch family is doing well!1.30.11 / 9:45 am
  5. Drew Simmons / Yes!!!! The world needs more Finches!2.07.11 / 12:18 pm
  6. Andrea Humbert / Hey Ben & Joy; I am so happy for you guys. If it's a girl, I'll be able to give her some pointers on being the "little sister" of brothers; I have 2 brothers, 2 & 4 years older. :^D Love & miss ya'll!2.07.11 / 12:26 pm
  7. Vickie Ford / 3 little ones and counting! What blessings the Lord has in store for you! Congratulations! and much love sent your way. I would love to babysit. Are you close to me in Athens AL? Bring on the children. Mr Mike and I are transitional empty nesters. My brother lives temporarily with us. His 7 year old son comes on visitation 3 or 4 days a week depending on what week visit it is. Blessing! We have not had such activity since the last of the Ford boys moved away 4 years ago! Activities in the house again! Love it!2.07.11 / 12:55 pm
  8. april taylor / Hey like I've said from the 2nd one...you've got 2 whats one more...well I stopped saying that after #5 :) Children are a BLESSING from God, I wouldnt trade a moment, the easy ones or hard ones. Enjoy EVERY moment! congrats and we'll babysit anytime I am serious...we have 5 whats 3 more LOL2.07.11 / 2:22 pm
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Brandon & Christie Engagement {Sweetwater, TN}

If you’ve ever found yourself in route on I-75 between Knoxville & Chattanooga, you’ve passed by the somewhat quiet town of Sweetwater, TN. Downtown Sweetwater is a welcome surprise to those who venture just a few short miles off the Interstate. There’s a plethora of antique shops, among my personal favorites, Bobby Todd {of which, I recently photographed their home for At Home TN Magazine… can’t wait to show you… coming up in the February issue}.  And there’s food. You’d find it hard to beat Hunter’s Bakery & Cafe located on Main St. I love the feeling as you stroll through the shops on Main, as though you’ve found yourself in a much simpler life.

It’s no wonder then that Brandon & Christie wanted to do their engagement shoot here. Plus, they are both from Sweetwater. Brandon keeps the streets under control as a police officer & Christie is a Pharmacy Tech in this cozy town. On Friday afternoon I met up with the couple & we spent time enjoying the sunny, yet frigid weather. We visited an antique store, stopped for coffee, chatted with locals & more. It was perfect; they were perfect! I’m still smiling about it!

I arrived with a few minutes to spare so I took a short walk around the block to capture some details. I recall reading the story of a train conductor, when asked how many people live in Sweetwater, he responded, “Just raise your window and count them! They all gather at the station to see if any strangers come to town or if anyone leaves town when the train arrives!”
My favorite part! I loved seeing Christie & Brandon interact. I can’t wait to shoot their wedding in April.
We paused for a coffee break at Hunter’s.
Love the feel of these!
As far as I’m concerned, they are the “Best in Town.”
This next set really makes me smile. I love how Christie really starts laughing.
Yep… that’s what I love!
Once we started laughing, we didn’t stop. I’m sure I said something rather entertaining & endearing… okay, maybe not, but anyways.
I’ve always loved this cozy cottage just steps from downtown. I couldn’t resist. Apparently, someone currently lives there. Whoops.

Brandon & Christie… I think you guys are made for one another. I’m so excited to be your photographer. Thank you!!

  1. joy / Christie you look great..i wish i knew you better! you look precious1.24.11 / 8:25 pm
  2. LAURA / CHRISTIE: PHOTOS ARE GREAT! DOWNTOWN SWEETWATER IS AN AWESOME PLACE! I JUST FOUND OUT YOU ARE KIN TO BILL BURRIS SO SORRY FOR YOU! JUST KIDDING I WISH YOU THE BEST!1.27.11 / 9:51 am
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Aperture in Photography {Tips}

As promised, I thought I would start writing & organizing some content to provide insight on photography, how-to’s, business, resources, etc. Today’s post is in response to a question asked on Facebook concerning depth of field, aka aperture. Chris sent the following:

“I have been trying to get some new pictures of our staff here at NHBC. I have in mind that we use a brick wall or some outdoor shot. I really like the effect of the background being out of focus and the person in the foreground being sharply in focus, giving a bit of depth to the picture. The…re’s a guy in the church that does a lot of photography and has been trying to get me what I want, but it isn’t working out. He keeps trying to take pics of us, cut us out, and place us in another pic that he took as a background and has blurred. He does this in Photoshop, but it really doesn’t look good. I’ve seen this effect on many of your photos (i.e. – “The Roberts” pics on your blog) and it looks incredible. Is there anything I can do to get this effect with my Canon digital SLR? I only have the one lens that can with it (18-55, I think). Any tips would be much appreciated!”

On a side note, you should’ve seen me trying to make this movie to explain the contents of this post. Tragic! This is much more challenging than I thought. As a lesson in humility I thought I would leave it up & let you watch (the picture below links to my YouTube video). A bit of a glitch in the first 2-3 seconds but it clears up afterward.

What is an Aperture? Depending on what you are wanting to capture affects what aperture you choose. Simply put, aperture is a term that describes how wide or narrow the lens opens. This affects what part of the image stays in focus. It almost deals exclusively with your lens not your camera body. Many people, when referring to aperture, use the term depth-of-field.  In short, if you want very little to be in focus, with the exception of the subject, you want a big aperture (low number… f/1.2, 2.0, etc.). In contrast, if you want everything to be equally in focus, you are looking for a small aperture (high number… f/16, 20, etc.). You will be limited to how wide & narrow of an aperture you can shoot by your lens. I made the statement in the video, “Generally speaking, the wider the aperture, the more expensive the lens will be.” That’s not necessarily the case; I clarify. Yet, the wider the aperture, the more flexibility you have over your images. I’ll show a few select images for further clarification.

Consider these images of Isabelle, you’ll see the focus is on her eyes & the rest of the focus falls apart, blurring as it moves away from her eyes. That blur is called “Bokeh.” This was shot at the widest aperture my lens allows, f/1.2. {ISO 500, 50mm, f/1.2, 1/250sec}

Same here in this pic of my son, Brennan. Specs {ISO 1500, 50mm, f/1.2, 1/250sec}

In shots with more than one person, I generally try to get everyone on the same plane & shoot with as wide an aperture as possible. Yet, you must be careful as you want everyone to be in focus. Specs {ISO 800, 50mm, f/1.8, 1/500 sec}.

Another example from the same wedding. Specs {ISO 400, 50mm, f/1.8, 1/640 sec}

In contrast, in this picture I was shooting an interior for a magazine. For these types of shots, I want everything to be in focus… as clean & sharp as possible. My aperture, therefore, is as narrow as I could achieve. Specs {ISO 200, 24mm, f/22, 5.0 sec}

Is this starting to make sense? The more narrow the aperture, the more things will be in focus in the image. If you want to achieve a “bokeh” effect, you may want to invest in a lens that allows a wider aperture (lower number).

A few links explaining aperture in further detail:

A few lens resources I mentioned in my video:

Hope that helps friends… let me know what you think. Comment like you mean it!! If you have further questions, I’ll try to answer as soon as I can. Thanks!

  1. Braska / EXCELLENT, Ben! Best and easiest explanation I've ever read or heard! I'm going to share your post link with some friends of mine who've been asking me photography questions because yours is more in "laymans" terms! :) Keep em' coming!1.21.11 / 11:54 am
  2. Donna / Thanks for the tips Ben...I am trying to learn more of these techniques!!! I was gifted a digital about a year ago and I'm still learning all the in and outs!!! Happy Friday!1.21.11 / 12:07 pm
  3. Chris Darden / Thanks a lot Ben! I took a photography class at UM and remember some of these terms but could never seem to remember what was what or how to use any of that knowledge on a real camera. Your explanation was simple and helpful (a lot less confusing than the class, and less expensive!). I now need to simply try to put your tips into practice, figuring it all out on my camera (I might go read up on my owners manual as you suggested). I will also try to read up on some of the other links you provided. Of course, I might need to go shopping for a new lens now (Erin's excited about that!!!). Thanks again for your help. If I can start to get this figured out I might send you some pics to see what you think.1.21.11 / 4:39 pm
  4. Heather / Ben, this is awesome. One thing I hear a lot of different opinions about is ISO. Maybe you could comment on that sometime? I've heard some people say that an ISO > 400 is never ideal b/c of "noise" in the background, but if you want an indoor pic sans flash sometimes that's the only option. Is it possible to use a higher ISO and still get a good quality photo that is able to be enlarged?1.25.11 / 11:15 pm
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My Favorite

Our oldest son, Brennan, has a phrase he uses all the time… I mean, all the time. “Mommy, that’s my favorite _______ in the whole wide world!” Or, “Daddy, that’s not my favorite.” Tonight I was getting his pajamas on, he said, “Daddy is the funniest person in the whole wide world. He’s so silly… he’s my favorite.” A huge grin came upon my face; I love words of affirmation… especially from my family.

Almost 2 years ago, I quit my steady well-paying job in order to pursue my dreams & go full-time with both of my businesses. In choice words similar to Brennan, it’s been one of my favorite decisions. I love it. Better than that, I have a family who I adore like crazy. They’re my most favorite. And, I’ve been so deeply blessed with wonderfully supportive & loyal friends & clients. They’re my favorites too. Yet, every now & again I have one (or two or three) of those days when things don’t seem to go the way I had hoped. I end up disappointed, sometimes hurt, & occasionally question myself. That’s not my favorite.

But at the end of the day, I’m reminded at how thankful I am. I turn around & see one of my favorite people in the world standing at the door waiting for his daddy. He’s patiently ready for my love & attention. I push aside the unending tasks & get ready for my “real” job. After all, it’s my favorite!

And, if you’re curious about what happened shortly after letting Knox into my office, check out this video: Knox… jumping off the ledge.

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Snowy Mornings & Art Exhibits

This morning we awoke to a beautiful snow. We were staying with my mom in Sevierville, TN. When we visit, I’ve always loved driving the back roads in search of new sites to see & explore. I’ve been intrigued for years by this old schoolhouse on Bull’s Gap Road. Today I took the opportunity to photograph it, waiting for the perfect timing. I’m really pleased with the outcome; I was completely torn when choosing which image to feature, the color or B&W. I’m thinking the B&W version may end up on a large canvas in my home. Thankfully, a gentleman pulled over & offered some insight into the old building. I look forward to connecting with him in the near future to provide some history.

Last night I had the opportunity to attend the reception for a National Juried Exhibit at the Knoxville Emporium. It was an honor & a pleasure to have two of my works featured in the exhibit put on by the Arts & Culture Alliance. You can view all the entries here. Below L (top) is “307 Tree”, a photograph on canvas 16″x24″. Below R, being viewed at the time of the picture, is “Feels Like I’m Going Nowhere,” a photograph on canvas 24″x36″.

Taking “The Best of Show” was “Camel (aka The Golden Calf)” by Rob Dellenback. It is made of steel, burlap, and thousands of smoked cotton filters from inside Camel brand cigarette butts. It was very impressive.
And the following two pieces received Jurors Citations. (L) Kathleen Girdler Engler’s “Man of the Sea,” made of cast paper pulp, recycled found objects, natural elements, gesso, pigment. (R) Roy McCullough’s “Bookends,” oil on canvas. Congratulations to the winners & thanks to the Arts & Culture Alliance; it was such a pleasure to be featured among such talented artists.

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