52 Photo Challenge: Week Four

“Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it. Make your mistakes, next year and forever.” -Neil Gaiman

Welcome back to the 52-week photo challenge. This week our assignment was to photograph motion blur, which was something I’d never attempted before. I was required to get more comfortable with using my camera in manual mode and to use a slow shutter speed. Mistakes were made. Lots of them.

While most of my photos were an epic failure, I did learn a lot. Next time I’ll need to buy or borrow a tripod and perhaps a flash. So many of these images are so close to being good but are blurred in places I don’t want them to be. Not quite there. I went out twice (once during the day and once at night) and these are the best images I was able to capture. While I love the one with my daughter, I think the one with the fire is the best example of motion blur. Let me know what you think.

Thanks as always for cheering me on and have a wonderful day!



Here are some bonus photos not using motion blur also taken this week:

  • Photos were taken with an Olympus OM-D and edited with ON1 Photo RAW
  • If you want to join the 52 Photo Challenge, you can find all the information at nicolesy.com.

52 Photo Challenge: Week Two

“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.” —Michel Legrand

A dear friend of mine invited me to participate in a 52-week photo challenge and I happily agreed. Each week a different aspect of photography will be explored. I’m excited to play along and hopefully learn as I do.

This week we were asked to feature a silhouette. As it’s been raining and stormy outside, I did my best to use a sliver of sunlight to backlight some trees and birds. I’m not sure these are successful, but I had fun trying. As I can only submit one photo to the challenge, I’d love to know which of these is your favorite.

Thanks as always for cheering me on and have a wonderful day!


  • Photos were taken with an Olympus OM-D and edited with ON1 Photo RAW

Week One’s assignment was to create an image that shows bokeh or shallow depth of field. I used the freeway image from Stormy Downtown Sacramento as my first submission. It wasn’t my best bokeh shot ever, but I’m trying to stick to photos taken within the week of the challenge.

Finally, my camellia has its first baby bloom and it’s too adorable not to share.

  • If you want to join the 52 Photo Challenge, you can find all the information at nicolesy.com.

Photography: Feijoa Jam

We lived in our house for many years before discovering the fruit of the feijoa tree in the far right corner. I always appreciated its interesting pink and red flowers, but it wasn’t until my young son picked one of the fruits off the ground and took a bite I got really interested.

It’s a South American fruit, also known as a guavasteen or pineapple guava, and it’s got a mild and interesting flavor. The last few years I’ve harvested them and made them into muffins, but this year I decided to make jam to give away as Christmas presents.

If you are interested, the recipe I used is from a wonderful blog called The Fabulous Feijoa. You can also learn more about the history of the fruit in California and the world.


  • Photos were taken with an Olympus OM-D and edited with ON1 Photo RAW

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Photography: Fall Decor

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” -Anne of Green Gables

I happen to agree with Anne, there’s something magical about Octobers. While our family is experiencing a bit of a rough patch, we still made time this week to put up our fall decorations and notice the changes in our yard. All the trees are dropping their leaves, my pineapple guava plant is almost ready to harvest, there’s a large mushroom bloom growing along one of the garden boxes and everything feels just a bit more relaxed in the golden light.

For my photos this week, I’ve tried to capture a bit of the feel around our house. I hope you enjoy this selection of images and have a wonderful week.


  • Photos were taken with an Olympus OM-D and edited with ON1 Photo RAW

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Photography: Aftershock to Elton John

“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” -Bob Marley

My last week was entirely about music. It pressed my body to its limits and although I’m exhausted, I am also inspired and grateful.

My nephew, kids and I attended the Aftershock Music Festival on Thursday. If you are unfamiliar, it is a four-day outdoor concert featuring some huge metal and rock bands. This was my first time attending and it was a graduation present for my nephew. We saw some incredible performances including Stone Temple Pilots, Ghostmane, Ice Nine Kills, Evanescence, Slipknot, and Rob Zombie. It was hot, crowded, and smoky, but when the bands were performing none of that mattered. I suppose that’s the power of music.

Then, in total contrast, last night my daughter and I saw Elton John in the Bay Area. My mother gifted us the tickets last minute and when we got there a staff member gave us a complimentary upgrade to really wonderful seats. Although we didn’t get home until 2 a.m., seeing this legendary performer sing some of my favorite songs made me far more emotional than I expected.

Neither of the venues allowed my big camera, so all the photos this week are taken with my iPhone 13. I’ve got a lot to learn about photographing big events, but I do think there’s something interesting in each of the images below. Let me know what you think and have a wonderful week.



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Photography: Small Town Faire

One of my dear friends sold handmade hair bows at the Rio Linda/Elverta Country Faire on Saturday and I decided it was a good excuse to visit the small town where I went to high school. It felt nostalgic to drive by my old stomping grounds and I ended up running into several people I knew.

While it’s a town of about 15,000, it’s kept a close connection to its rural roots and many parts of the city remain unchanged. Chances are if you’ve heard of Rio Linda it’s probably because of its frequent flooding or because conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh likes to poke fun at the intelligence of the town by saying “for those of you in Rio Linda.”

While I’m not great at taking photos of crowds, I wanted to challenge myself to capture the feeling of the event through my photography. Nearly all the crowd shots, unfortunately, didn’t turn out as I’d have liked. I found myself once again drawn upward to the sky and the trees. Nonetheless, I hope you enjoy these selections and have a great week.



Bonus photos: The heatwave finally broke and we got some much-needed rain. I couldn’t resist taking a few photos of raindrops in my yard this morning.

  • Photos were taken with an Olympus OM-D and edited with ON1 Photo RAW

Here’s a photo of me and my husband when we were in high school. I’m wearing my Rio Linda marching band uniform. Aren’t we the cutest?


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Photography: Neighborhood Sunrise

“The morning steals upon the night, Melting the darkness.” -William Shakespeare

A gorgeous friend of mine writes and talks a lot about joy—seeking it out, the importance of recognizing it, and fighting for it even when it feels ridiculous. She inspires me all the time and this morning I did something purely for the joy of it. I hiked to a park by my house with my camera to capture the sunrise. It felt luxurious and I basked in the beauty of the world for an entire hour alone.

My mother-in-law has entered hospice care within the home of my kind, caring, and incredibly giving sister-in-law. This time in our lives is hard. Watching a woman of immeasurable strength and love fade before all our eyes is beyond difficult. While I don’t know what this next part looks like, I do know that even within these hard moments we can find gratitude and even joy.

All the photos above were taken with my Olympus OM-D and edited with ON1 Photo RAW.

Here’s a bonus iPhone self-portrait:


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Photography: Little Whale Cove

She closed her eyes. She drew her shoulders back. She took a slow and steady breath.
There was tension in the air. A weight. A wait. There was no wind. She did not speak. The world grew and stretched tight.

-Patrick Rothfuss, The Slow Regard of Silent Things

There’s nothing quite like standing on the beach at sunset and watching the sky and water play together with a dance of reflection and light. On our recent trip to Oregon my daughter and I sat apart from each other in complete silence watching the sun slowly descend into a bank of clouds. It was slow and sudden—a beautiful, fleeting moment of peace.

Today’s photo selections are of the place my father lives in Oregon called Little Whale Cove. It’s a hidden and magical gem we feel incredibly grateful to visit each summer. I hope you enjoy them!


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Stay tuned: Next week I’ll be sharing photos of our visit to the West Coast Game Park Safari.


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Exposed by my children for what I really look like

Flipping through the pictures on my phone, I see it.

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My first reaction is shock. Who took this hideous picture of me?

Self-loathing and disgust swell up and threaten to bring me to tears.

Just as I am about to hit delete, my boy walks in the room.

“Do you know anything about this picture?” I ask him.

I turn the screen so he can see it. He smiles huge.

“I took that of you in Tahoe,” he says. “You looked so beautiful laying there. I couldn’t help it mom.”

“You need to ask me before using my phone to take pictures,” I say.

“I know,” he says. “But mom, seriously, look how pretty you look?”

I look at the picture again and try to see what he sees.

My daughter walks over and takes a look.

“That could be a postcard mom,” she says smiling. “You’re so beautiful. I love it.”

I take a deep breath.

This is exactly what I needed.

My default mode is to see and focus on the flaws and imperfections. I’m starting to see a bit more.

I still see my dimply, fat thighs.

I also see a mom collapsed on the shore that just explored the lake for hours with her children.

I still see chubby arms.

I also see the arms of a mom that just helped her kids across the rocks and hot sand so their feet wouldn’t hurt.

I still see a fat woman wearing a black dress bathing suit to try to hide her weight issue.

I also see an adventurous mom that loves her children something fierce.

Like many women, I have struggled with my weight most of my life. It’s not something that will ever go away for me. I don’t have a naturally slim body. Never have.

Right now I’m the heaviest I’ve been in 10 years. Yet…

I have not let my weight stop me this time. I am wearing tank tops, sundresses and bathing suits in public. I’m running around playing with my kids this summer and I sometimes even feel attractive.

Yes. You heard me.

“I feel pretty. Oh so pretty. I feel pretty, and witty and bright.”

Well…not exactly. But something like that.

Is it because I’m getting older? Is it that I have more to worry about than just how I look? Or maybe it’s because my kids look at me with such adoring eyes.

Really, it doesn’t matter.

I don’t hate my body anymore.

That’s huge for me to admit and hard to even wrap my mind around.

I’m not giving up on exercising and getting healthy. Those are things I will continue to strive for because I want to be around awhile.

Right now though, I just want to love my body where it is. I want it to be OK to see myself the way my kids do.

Thank you kids.

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* Here is another “secret” picture the kids took of me on our day trip to the beach.