DIY photography filters

inspiration, jewelry, photography By January 11, 2020 3 Comments

I love taking pictures–I’m an amateur with a lot to learn and that’s okay. Maybe that’s what makes it fun. I love to experiment and try new things. I use a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV and I’m not sure if that camera can take a bad picture. Because my husband and I have a business creating handmade jewelry and accessories, I take a lot of pictures of my jewelry {and other things too!}. I want to create that magical shot that captures the heartfelt meaning behind every handmade design.

Today I tried partially covering my lens in 3 ways to see what kind of results I would get. I used a hair band to attach the object to my lens. I tried an olive branch, tissue paper and twinkle lights. The images are straight from my camera and unedited.

Check this out!

To start I cut a twig of olive branch leaves and attached it to my 50mm fixed lens with a hair band. This is high tech, folks!

It created some natural streaks in the foreground. I think it adds interest to the image–especially with the olive branch next to the jewelry box.

This is the sunburst necklace. Do you know that feeling; when you’re walking through a dark time and you’re wondering if hope or joy are even possible? Your heart is grieving. and then you feel it–just a hint of light. The smallest ray of hope and you hold onto it as tightly as you can. The sunburst necklace captures that glimmer of hope

The sunburst necklace has powerful meaning–you can see why I want the photography to tell that story! Find the sunburst necklace here.

The second filter I used what tissue paper, torn in the. center and the attached to my 50mm fixed lens with a hair band. {I still haven’t put away all our Christmas wrapping paper–so it was right there, available for me! Sometimes it pays to procrastinate!}

Oh my gosh aren’t these results magical? The tissue paper creates soft, blurry edges and with the center of the lens unblocked we get a clear image of one of my favorite necklaces–the Open Circle necklace.

A circle complete and whole. Each of us is part of the whole—together we are stronger and better. Every person is unique and precious. Every soul matters. This is the meaning behind the Open Circle necklace. Find the Open Circle necklace here.

I pulled the tissue back a bit more and got this shot of the Sunburst Necklace. It created softer bits of blurriness–so pretty.

I really went on a limb here and tied some twinkle bubble lights around my 50mm fixed lens. I was laughing as I did it–and also super curious to see what kind of results I would get. Check out this pic of my Artisan Pearl earrings. The lights created some bokeh around the edges of the photo. This image isn’t edited! So magical and fun.

These earrings are forged by hand to create an extra long, gold-filled stem and finished with a freshwater pearl. The result is clean and absolutely stunning. The pearl represents grace and beauty. Perfect with jeans and white tee or your favorite black dress. Find the artisan pearl earrings here.

Louis allowed me to photograph him with twinkle bubble lights tied to my camera lens in exchange for some dog treats. He’s such a cutie. He’ll pretty much do anything for a treat–even give me a head tilt!

I decided to try these same techniques with my iPhone.

The first image above left is with a small olive branch partially blocking the lens. I could have taped it to my iPhone case but I just held it with my other hand. I think it’s fun–like I’m looking through leaves to take the pic.

The second image I used some tissue paper with the center torn out. The blur isn’t quite as soft but it does create some foreground noise that’s kind of fun.

The last image is using bubble twinkle lights. This one was a lot trickier and I didn’t love the results. It’s just some round orbs in the foreground without that magical bokeh.

Which one is your favorite? Have you tried playing with real life filters? Hmm, I wonder what other things I could use for filters?

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Our new backyard {progress!}

decorating, found here & there, inspiration By June 17, 2019 6 Comments

We have been working on getting out backyard up to speed so we can enjoy it with friends this summer. For those of you catching up on Leonard news, we moved into a new home about three months ago. It has been a crazy season for us! We launched my new book, Brave Love, moved into a new house, Matthias got really sick and missed three weeks of school and then David caught the same bug and ended up being airlifted to UCLA where we spent a week getting him stable. I feel like I’m still trying to get back into my rhythm! It’s been hard with lots of sweet moments and I’m ready for things to mellow out a bit.

So anyway, we have been working on our backyard–and it’s starting to come together. I wanted to show you progress pics. It’s not perfect {is anything perfect?!}, it’s not finished, but it’s ready to be enjoyed. Below are some BEFORE pics of the backyard when we bought the house.

BEFORE

These pics above are from the listing. This is how it looked when we bought the house. There was a huge BBQ, a built in heater that didn’t work, a hot tub that didn’t work and a lot of tile. It’s kind of a strange backyard. There is one small area where we put two couches and a fire pit. There’s a raised area where there’s a hot tub and seating and there’s a long walkway in between the two spots. It’s a small backyard and we wanted to maximize the space.

Louis would like you to know he approves of the new seating near the hot tub. He’s so funny. These black chairs are from Target and they’re super comfortable. Find them here. The black and white pillows are from Target, too. Find them here.

It’s starting to look cozy!

My philosophy for outdoor living is to make it as comfortable as possible–that way we’ll actually use it! I like to decorate just as I would indoors with seating, side tables, plants, baskets, even art or decor hung to make it feel home-y. The problem is everything gets more wear outside. For furniture I either buy pieces made specifically for outdoor or I thrift wood and wicker so I’m not devastated when they fall apart after a year or two. I also try to keep the furniture wiped down so it’s ready when we are. If we decide to eat dinner outdoors it’s easy! Everything is clean and ready to go.

I found this weathered bench a local thrift/vintage shop and fell in love with the texture. I like to mix clean and rustic, wood and white. That wicker egg-shaped chair in the background was a $15 thrifted store find. I had it David’s bedroom but he never used it so I put it outside.

These teak candlesticks were $6 each at a local thrift store. I freaked out when I found them. They are super cool. Now I just need candles to go on top! 😂

Okay, we are super excited about this 14 foot outdoor bar our friends from Emily Ryan Homes built for us. Guess what? They found old planks from the Pismo Beach pier {the pier needed some TLC and these planks were replaced} and cleaned them up to create the rustic bar. The black barstools are from Target. Find them here. I loooove the way the whole thing came together. It’s a perfect spot for teenagers {and adults!} to hang out. Also it puts the strange walkway to work. Instead of feeling awkward it feels purposeful!

I can’t wait to have pizza parties and BBQs in this space!

These teak couches are low and super comfortable. I found them at Joss and Main. Find them here. The fire pit is from Amazon and not hooked up yet. We still need to get a propane tank. We’ve already BBQd at least 20 times in our new backyard. I love it! Now it’s time for s’mores–don’t you think?

Do you use your backyard in the summertime? What are your favorite things to do out there? I need your help! I want to make this space as amazing as possible. What are we missing in our backyard?

PS friends, there’s a big summer sale happening in my shop right now. Don’t miss it! Click here to shop.

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my brave love journey

inspiration By September 20, 2018 Tags: 115 Comments

I haven’t shared much about this, but a couple years ago my husband Steve and I went through a marriage crisis. It was one of the scariest, darkest times of my life. I told him I wanted to separate. I needed space, time, I needed to be alone so I could think. It was surreal to say those words to him. It was like someone else was saying them. But I was desperate and something had to change, I had to change.

For a long time I believed that to be loved I had to be less.
Steve didn’t tell me these things. I brought this deeply held belief into our marriage.
I had to make myself smaller so he could grow and shine.
I had to give up what I wanted so he could have what he wanted.
I had to sacrifice myself to make him love me.
If Steve was happy he would love me.
If my kids were thriving they would love me.
I believed there wasn’t enough for all us—I would have to take less so they could have more.
I thought this was love—give everything and ask for nothing in return.
It didn’t work. At all.
I tried so hard for so long to make everyone happy. I went from tired to frustrated to bitter and exhausted. But I kept trying and trying. Giving and giving, sacrificing and making myself smaller—until I was desperate.
I was done trying, done with my marriage, done with feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. I was done with feeling like a failure.
I needed space–time to be quiet, to rest, to figure out what I needed to change so I could thrive.

my brave love birthstone ring–inspired by my journey

Steve was devastated when I told him I wanted to separate but he graciously made space for me. That evening, after I told him I needed time, he packed an overnight bag and went to stay with a friend. The next day he came home to stay with our boys and I went away for a little over a week. I spent time grieving, walking, journaling and praying. It’s hard to describe how hard those days were–the depth of my sadness, the fear that I was losing my family. I don’t know if I’ve ever cried that much in my entire life. It was like all these feelings I held inside me–all the feelings I tried to ignore while I took care of everyone else–came flooding up to the surface. Those feelings were there and they had to be felt. I knew things had to change and I knew the change was going to be brutal. I wasn’t sure if our marriage could survive–but I knew I had to change me, my wrong beliefs, my habits that were hurting me and my family.

During those dark days I had a lightbulb moment. I am a person–a whole person with my own thoughts, feelings, needs and preferences. For so long I saw myself as less–just a vehicle to take care of the other people in my family. I didn’t count. My feelings didn’t matter. But in that lightbulb moment I realized I DO COUNT. I matter. I matter just as much as my husband and children. I have thoughts and feelings and needs and preferences just like they do–and they matter. There are four people in our family and I am one of them.

my brave love spinner ring–inspired by my journey

So I started saying what I thought.

I started saying what I needed.

I started speaking my mind and sharing my feelings.

I started making time for naps, walks, time with friends, alone time and so many more things my heart needed.

I started being a whole person with my own thoughts, feelings, needs and preferences.

My voice would shake as I began to represent myself. I felt sick to my stomach. I wanted to put up walls and run away but I stayed and tried to engage honestly. It was terrifying. Steve and I fought more. Things got messier. I worried about the boys. I disrupted our rhythm. Change is hard. There were times I didn’t think we would make it. There were many tears and I so much fear as I started living honestly and without apology. I had to be me, even if it meant our marriage ended.

Slowly but surely things started to take shape. I was getting stronger and braver. I was becoming whole–becoming ME. Becoming who I was always meant to be.

Friends, life is crazy hard sometimes. While I long for peace and beauty, sometimes the only way to get there is through conflict and darkness. My journey has been up and down, forward and back and I still don’t have it figured out–but I’m learning.

Steve and I are married and our relationship is stronger than ever. We are having more fun. We are learning to let each other be who we are without fear. It could have ended differently and even with a different ending it could have been beautiful. There isn’t one right journey or one right path. There is simply the journey each of us are on, the path each of us are walking.

When we walk in honesty and vulnerability we are living out of our truest selves.

This is love.

This is brave.

This is brave love.

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