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Nikon 50mm f1.4 lens

So I recently rented two lenses from Rentglass for a couple of weeks.  This concept of lens rental is so awesome and the pricing is very reasonable.  I have been wanting to buy the Nikon 50mm f1.4 and 35mm f1.8 lenses for some time but since that isn't in the budget now, Rentglass provides a great alternative.  Both lenses take amazing photographs and the only downside is that now I want to own them even more.  I did a photoshoot on Saturday using only the 35mm and I'm super happy with the results.  It is amazing how well the lens performs in low light, easily doing a better job than my current equipment.  It will be hard returning this stuff because I'll have gotten a glimpse of what I could have.  One day!  


I will post the first part of the photoshoot tomorrow but today I am showcasing some pictures I took with just the 50mm in my backyard.

What are these?  Tangelos, kumquats?  A group of us couldn't decide the other day...I think they are kumquats.


And my favorite picture (or series of pictures):

This pomegranate was blowing in the wind, hence the varied focus points.  Despite being cracked open and dried up, I think it was a beautiful find.


I am so glad I rented these lenses.  I've had so much fun exploring with them! 


Celebrating My Mom

I have the best Mom in the world!  Yes, I know that this statement is incredibly biased but for me, my Mom is the best.  She has always been so supportive of me and the things that I want to accomplish.  I cannot thank her enough for standing by me and having faith in everything I do.  Because sometimes I don't even have faith in myself but it is comforting to know that at least my Mom believes in me and what I'm doing. 


David (my brother) and I are so lucky because our Mom has never stiffled our dreams.  She is always excited for us and has encouraged us to pursue whatever makes us happy.  Whenever we have needed her help over the years, she has given it to us, wholeheartedly.  She helps us solve our problems.  She gives us advice.  She has given us enough independence so that we can develop into self-sustaining adults.  She has helped us get over each and every hurdle in our lives.  But most importantly, David and I are lucky because our Mom loves us, unconditionally and with all her heart.  And this is the most important thing. 


Thank you Mom for loving us unconditionally!  You have always put David and me before yourself and I cannot thank you enough for that.  We are the luckiest kids in the world!  Love you!!

The two luckiest kids in the world!!  (Umm, why can't my hair be this blonde and beautiful still?)

Pre-David shots.


Citrus Margarita Inspiration

So my good friend Ashley came into town today (she's the one who is engaged!) and she will be here through the weekend.  A few weeks ago I got the idea into my head that I was going to do a photoshoot with Ashley and style everything myself.  I like the prospect of actually working with a person instead of just inanimate objects and I figured it would be something fun for us to do.  I promised her that I would make her look beautiful and that I would do most of the work.  I also promised her margaritas and I'm sure this was the biggest selling point.  Margaritas are Ashley's favorite and in honor of that and Cinco de Mayo, the theme of the photoshoot is citrus margarita.  The photoshoot will commence Saturday and I'm super excited.  Making the whole experience even better is Elysse, another good friend, who is coming to help/observe/be supportive.  I can't wait! 


Here is what inspired me for this shoot:

Photos: 1st row: DIY project by Posh Paperie & photo by Jackie Wonders via Style Me Pretty

parchment wrapped oranges by Elizabeth Anne Designs & photo by Jessica Claire

2nd row: orange escort cards photo by Dia Rao Photography via Style Me Pretty

lemonade photo via Style Me Pretty

3rd row: couple photo by Jill Thomas Photography via OnceWed (I am obsessed with this image clearly, I've used it before.  I love that she's holding the oranges in her dress)

table decor photo by Linda Chaja Photography via Style Me Pretty


I can't wait for Saturday because I've been working on this photoshoot all week and I can't wait to see how it turns out.  But mainly I'm excited to hang out with my friends!!  I hope you enjoy it Ashley because you are about to look fabulous!


Awesome Engagement Pictures

Lately the wedding blogs have been filled with awesome engagement sessions and I have been pretty blown away by people's creativity.  Couples are including all kinds of interesting props to display in their sessions and I absolutely love this trend.  Obviously the whole point of the session is to get pictures of the couple but a few cool props add more visual interest to the pictures and give the camera some great details to capture.  Wedding and engagement photography are becoming more stylized, with pictures looking like they are straight out of a fashion magazine.  This is such a great thing because who doesn't want to look like they are straight out of a magazine?  I think this trend is a lot of fun for the couples but also for the photographers because it gives them so many photo opportunities.  As a photographer myself (an amateur one), I really enjoy taking detail shots of things that might otherwise go unnoticed.  Seeing the big picture is good too but I like focusing in on the small things in life.  


Below are some of my favorite engagement images that I've seen recently.  

Photo: Caroline Tran via Green Wedding Shoes   

Ok, this shoot took some effort because I'm sure it was not easy to get that bed frame into a field of flowers.  But the idea is very original and the result of them snuggling on the bed is sweet!  I especially love how the white pops against the yellow flowers.


Photo: Caroline Tran via Green Wedding Shoes

The picnic idea is not new but this particular take on the idea is very cute and more personalized.  There are a bunch of props in this shoot so it would take some time to figure out all the items to use.  I would use my own personal things that mean the most to me.


Photo: Clayton Austin via Green Wedding Shoes 

Recently my family had to deal with moving a standup piano and so from experience I can say that this shoot is a logistical nightmare.  This would not be an easy idea to pull off because you would have to get a bunch of people to help move the piano, even one like this is super heavy, and also a truck to move it, etc.  But this idea is super cool and definitely unique.  I like the location choice because the starkness of the field really draws your eye to the couple and the piano.


Photo: Denise Bovee via Green Wedding Shoes 

Balloons are also not a new idea but this shoot was unique because they created a field of floating balloons.  This idea is a lot easier to accomplish then the last few.  But I think the concept, although simple, is still super fun.


Photo: Simply Bloom Photography

Simply Bloom Photography is absolutely stunning so I'm always wowed by everything they do.  This shoot is no exception.  This is a slightly different twist on the picnic because they have added a tent made from vintage lace.  This idea is fun because it evokes childhood.  My brother and I loved making forts when we were younger and we would always pretend to be camping.  Our forts were never quite this lovely though.


Photo: Dreambox Photography via Green Wedding Shoes

I love the 1920s styling and the trains are a great backdrop.  Something about train travel is very sexy and these pictures display that perfectly.


Photo: Kelly Moore via Green Wedding Shoes

I'm digging this vintage newspaper print.  The aged coloring is great and it really makes the white dress pop.


Photo: Stephanie Williams via Green Wedding Shoes

This is a pretty simple take on the travel theme.  I particularly like the garland made of maps.  But my favorite is the mustard yellow skirt...it's the best color!


Photo: Tara Parker via Wedding Chicks

The vintage golf idea is really cute and unique. 

The next few ideas are more simple and would be easier to execute.  But simplicity is a good thing and these ideas are just as fun as the ones above.

Photo: Clayton Austin via Green Wedding Shoes

The kite is super simple but super fun.  In this shoot they used it to add a nice pop of color.  I also like the background with those awesome rock formations.


Photo: Shannen Natasha via Green Wedding Shoes

Bikes are fun and I love the vintage books because any vintage touch makes me happy.  This couple looks like they really enjoyed their engagement session and I think that this is the whole point...to have fun, relax, and enjoy your time together...oh yeah, and get some awesome pictures!


Photo: Simply Bloom via Green Wedding Shoes

This is so easy (just red confetti hearts) but I love how the pictures captures the hearts in mid-air.  Sweet!  This is such a small detail but it yields a big result I think.


Photo: Sarah Yates via Green Wedding Shoes

Um, yellow Eames chairs...awesomeness!  The color is great.


And I saved my favorite for last.

Photo: Jennifer Skog via Wedding Chicks

This engagement shoot doesn't even have props exactly but I think Rome, Italy, the Pantheon, and the Piazza della Rotunda are the perfect backdrop.  I love the bottom photo and how it captures so much movement.  These are perfect. 


So I mainly did this post for my engaged friend Ashley so that she can see some great, creative engagement ideas.  I hope you get inspired Ash! 


What I Want...Friday, April 30th

"Che Voglio..." as the Italians would say.  This is an Italian edition of "What I Want Fridays."  I've been dreaming about my return trip to Italy ever since I left two years ago after studying abroad (I stepped foot on American soil and then wanted to turn right around).  The trip was everything I could imagine and I fondly reminisce about it ALWAYS!  I love the Italian people, their culture, and their way of life.  I could easily see myself fitting in there (once I got passed the whole I-don't-speak-this-language-very-well thing).  I hope that life will afford me to return sooner rather than later.  During the five months that I lived there, I was fortunate enough to see and do some really great things but I'm not satisfied.  I cannot wait to go back and visit old stomping grounds and explore new locations.  Everything about that country seems awesome to me...except Napoli, I didn't like Napoli (but in its defense I saw very little of the city and there was a trash strike going on when I visited...like mounds and mounds of trash were piled everywhere).  So here are my Italian-themed wants and desires:


Where I want to { go } :: Civita di Bagnoregio

I learned of this little town's existence from Rick Steves (love him...he is the ultimate travel guru).  The town is located in Central Italy, close to Rome.  The only way to access the hillside is by this pedestrian bridge.  No cars have access to the town and all of the supplies and food get brought in on scooters.  Apparently, only a few people call Civita home and reside on the hillside.  I would like to see this place for a couple of reasons.  One, the car-free atmosphere and ancient Etruscan architecture is something I would really appreciate.  Visiting Civita is like stepping back in time and getting a glimpse of what an ancient Italian town was like.  Two, the hillside is slowly eroding away and I would not want it to disappear before I got a chance to see it.

Photo: Flickr 


What I want to { do } :: hike along the Cinque Terre towns

Cinque Terre (helpful website here) consists of five small villages that lie along Italy's western edge off the Mediterranean.  The five villages are: Monterosso, Vernazza, Manarola, Corniglia, and Riomaggiore.  The area is known for being absolutely beautiful.  I did not get to experience any seaside cliff towns and I definitely want to because the picture above is just about the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.  The best way to get around Cinque Terre is by foot and that is definitely my preferred means of travel.  A main trail links the five villages that you can walk in about 5 hours.  Sign me up!  Best hiking destination EVER!

Photo: Flickr  


What I want to { eat } :: the BEST pizza in Italy

The best pizza, by far, that I found in Italy was in Como, our hometown.  We were so lucky, we ate at this restaurant once a week at least.  The restaurant is located in Piazza Giuseppe Mazzini and it is called Taverna Messicana Pizzeria (here is a review on it and some pictures).  Don't let the "Messicana" thing fool you because there is no Mexican food here, just awesome pizzas.  The pizzas are huge but they have a super thin crust so a single person can eat one by themselves.  There are a ton of varieties and I was never disappointed with my choices.  My friends and I still reminisce about these pizzas whenever we get together...they were that good...life alteringly good! 

Photo: mine, Lauren Elise Crafted


What I want to { eat } :: stratchiatella gelato

Ok, if I'm going to Italy in this fantasy scenario then I'm getting gelato too.  Italian gelato should be its own food group it's that amazing.  It was a huge part of my diet while living there (thank goodness I walked so much).  Most Americanized versions of gelato don't measure up but that is probably a good thing because I would eat only that.  I think what separates Italian gelato from American ice cream is that gelato is always served fresh but in America our ice cream can sit in freezers forever and then it tastes like freezer burn...YUM!  My favorite flavor, hands down, is stratchiatella which is chocolate chip.  Although all gelato is good, my favorite place was in Rome in the Campo dei Fiori (the north side).  Just thinking about this gelato is evil...I WANT! 

Photo: Flickr


What I want to { buy } :: a Vespa

Vespas are totally sweet!  They really should become more of a thing over here in the U.S.  This little green Vespa is a new model but it is made to look like the ones from the 1960s.  This one is a little over $5,000 but it gets 70-76 mpg.  Wow, think of all the money you would save on gas.  I wish my car was half as fuel efficient as that.  I didn't ride any Vespas when I was in Italy but I think I will try and do that when I go back.  I wouldn't want to ride in a busy city but driving on a quaint Tuscan road would be great...so Italian.  

Photo: Vespa


What I want to { hear } :: Fango by Jovanotti

This song was so popular when we were living in Italy in 2008.  Before school in the morning my roommates and I would turn on Italian MTV to help us get pumped for studio work (it didn't help).  MTV would play a mix of Italian music videos and American ones.  We heard this song everyday.  The music video is really simple, just the guy standing by a waterfall.  But I think the song is really beautiful.  Jovanotti seems to be a pretty big deal over there and Fango isn't even one of his major hits.  But it has stuck with me and whenever I hear it I think of Italy.  Here is the music video and here is an English translation video (yes the guy's Photoshopped head is stupid).

Photo: Soleluna 


What I want to { watch } :: Letters to Juliet

Yes, this movie is such a chick flick but the Italian setting for the story will outweigh the girliness of it.  I have enjoyed Amanda Seyfried in other things so hopefully it will be good.  I don't even think this movie is in theaters yet but it should be soon because I've been seeing ads for it.  I read about this online months ago and I've been slightly excited for its release.  Chick flicks can be so corny but sadly I must admit that I do love some of them.  If all else fails, then the cinematography will be beautiful.  

Photo: All Movie Photo 

Avere un buono fine settimana!! >> Have a good weekend!!