The new year is in full swing – at least it is around here. This is often the time many parents and grandparents are fumbling through camera manuals and trying to figure out how their new camera works. Instead of trying to figure it out on your own, I’d love to come alongside you. My photography website, SnapShop, includes an Intro to DSLR class, a phone photography course and a growing collections of other lessons to help you dig deeper in photography after you get a solid foundation. In honor of all those trying to navigate the ins and outs of photography, we are doing a SnapShop promotion this week!

You don’t have to show up for class at a certain time and you won’t only having couple weeks to access content, SnapShop is subscription based. As a subscriber you have access to all the content for as long as you keep your membership. The monthly membership costs less than a fancy latte.

Use the code JANUARY20 for $20 off your registration

Code expires on 1-21-17, midnight US Central time

{below is a sampling of a few of the courses and lesson included}

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Registration includes access to all SnapShop content (used by over 3000 students since 2009), including: 

  • SnapShop DSLR Course (a $200 value)
  • SnapShop Phone Course (a $50 value)
  • Interviews & tips with leading photographers & bloggers
  • Course discussions
  • Additional lessons posted monthly by Ashley Ann and guests!

To register click here and use the code: JANUARY20

Discount code is case sensitive and can be entered at checkout.  Subscriptions will renew for $5.00 monthly to maintain access to existing content and new lessons!  

To see a listing of all the lessons and courses included and a FAQ page answering common questions visit the SnapShop website.

Current students: The latest lesson went live this week. It is a case study on using f/3.5. Be sure to check it out and continue sending us your ideas for future lessons!
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  • Karen - Ashley – I have spent a ton of time learning to use my camera and get portraits with blurry backgrounds. Now I find that I can’t take pictures of landscapes without the background being blurry. We are going to Yellowstone this summer and I want to make sure that I’m prepared to take pictures of all the beautiful sights. A snapshot course on landscapes (with my children in the picture) would be very helpful. You have great pictures from your road trips.

Like many of you, my heart is heavy this week for our country. It has been heavy for months. Division, hate and ugliness take over the headlines. It is tempting to believe that is the truth – that our country is radically divided and each of us must pick a side. I don’t think that is the truth though. I’ve looked into too many eyes to believe that.

If I did have to pick a side, it wouldn’t be a political one, it would be the side of love.

For months I’ve listened to friends and family from both major political parties passionately express their fears, their hopes, and their hurts. It seems like the uglier the words on both sides, the more viral they get. Those that speak out of love seem to be drowned out by those controlled by fear. I have my own hopes and heavy concerns about what the coming years will look like for our country. I lie awake a night wondering what it will look like for my neighbors whose race is different from mine, for my Christian neighbors, my Muslim neighbors, my LBGT neighbors, and my immigrant and refugee neighbors.

I wonder how to communicate to my kids behaviors and words spoken by those in leadership and my fellow citizens that I can’t wrap my mind around. As I teach my kids to be slow to anger, slow to speak and quick to listen, I pray that I can be an adult that sets that example too. I think about the future when I sit with my kids and we talk about this time in American political history – what will I tell them about how I processed and responded to our current national climate and the rhetoric on all sides?

I keep coming back to love.

I will love my neighbor – the one who looks like me and the one who doesn’t, the one born on US soil and the one who wasn’t, the one who holds my views and the one who doesn’t, the one who worships the same God as I do and the one who doesn’t. I will love by showing up in their lives, by listening to their hearts, by owning my own ignorance and indifference, and by extending my hand of friendship because that is the kind of country I want to live in.

I’ll begin this week with my kids watching documentaries about Martin Luther King Jr.. We will end this week together watching the inauguration of the next U.S. president. And in the midst of both we will talk about what love in action looks like.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.

Hate cannot drive out hate only love can do that.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

I’m a big fan of Kid President. So much wisdom in such a young man.  “I believe you should treat everybody like it is their birthday.” You can be sure my kids and I will be talking about that simple thought…treat everybody like it is their birthday!

Update: Because it was brought up in the comments, I want to firmly state this post is not about one candidate, supporters of a particular candidate or about a particular party. This post is about how it feels (to me) like the ugliest words and actions seem to be the loudest and as a result it all feels so heavy to me. I hear the cries and concerns from dear friends in both major political parties. This is not an ‘us’ verses ‘them’ post.  Instead of listening to all the ugly and responding with more ugly – I’m want to be quick to listen (to all), slow to speak and slow to anger. I choose love and I chose to walk in relationship with my neighbors.

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  • Sara Thoele - What a great read to start my week! Thank you!

  • Tiffany Nelson - How can you look/listen to Kid President and not smile and wanna be awesome. Thanks for sharing today!

  • Barbara Janaina - Dear Ashley, don´t you worry! you will notice that there are LOTS and Lots of good people, I know that, Here in Brazil, things are realy hard in politics, but we always find people that belive in love, in helping others , in doing the right thing! even that our politics are horible! Kisses from Brasil and lets pray together!

  • Tammy - It isn’t Trump supporters who are dragging people out of their cars and beating them, or luring handicapped people off to torture them.

    McCain and Romney supporters did not take to the streets to destroy and wreak havoc when their candidate lost, nor did they go around lying about being victimized.

    Love and tolerance needs to come from both sides of the aisle.

    My gay nephew voted for Trump. My Hispanic neighbors voted for Trump. The hijab-wearing Muslim barista at our favorite coffee house carries a picture of George W Bush in her wallet and couldn’t wait to vote for Trump.

    You might need to adjust your opinions of what a Trump voter looks like. And the judgement you hold about them as well.

  • Cynthia - As usual you nailed it. I echo your sentiments wholeheartedly! One thousand AMENS!!! ~HUGZ!!!

  • Tatiana Manessi - https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=2v_Vtjo1kUg

    Zwigniew Preisner’s song about love that your touching words reminded me…

  • AshleyAnn - Tammy – Thank you for you comment. I do want to clarify this post is not about Trump. I did not name any specific individuals because I see it coming from both sides. I have dear, dear friends and loved ones that voted for Trump, Clinton and independent candidates. This post is exactly what you said – a desire to see love come from both sides.

  • Tammy - I need to apologize to Ashley and everyone who read my comment. It didn’t sound that strong in my head. I’m sorry!

  • Christi S. - You so eloquently put into words what is in my head! Thank you for sharing. Love is what matters, and embracing and loving our differences is what will make our world a better place.

  • P Koziol - So well said…and clearly from a place of love. Your kids are going to grow to be great leaders—whether of their own families or their communities or even beyond—because they are being raised in an environment of compassion and justice.

  • susie - Great post like always! Your blog has been one of my favorites for a long time, since about the time you brought your youngest home from china. I comment sometimes but probably not as often as I should, I can imagine you like getting feed back! I was wondering if you have ever heard of the company Life Vantage, its a MLM company I belong too, the have a good product called Protandium. Today I was going through the webpage articles and they had an article on the best 10 mommy bloggers and you are one! I wanted to share it with you, great job! I can imagine it feels funny to be well known on the web because I feel like our lives are similar, moms at home trying our best to raise kids. Life vantage may have told you already, but in case they didn’t, here is the link. You should tell them they owe you some of their Axio drink! its good, but all of their products are. http://www.lifevantage.com/blog/10-mommy-bloggers-who-prove-you-can-do-anything/

  • susie - Its fine if my post does not get published with that link, I don’t care if anyone else sees it but you. I didn’t put it on there so people would look at lifevantage, I am sure you get all kinds of people wanting you to sign up for their MLM.
    I read your blog this morning, hope you didn’t get any bad comments, because I saw your update. I sometimes look at social media and people can be so harsh online, it’s crazy.

  • Melanie - Thank you for your open words. Even as I live in a country far away (Germany) I’m really concerned about what is going on in the US.

  • Carrie Hageman - If I had to guess, you might already be familiar with Ann Voskamp. Thought you might like this :)…http://annvoskamp.com/2016/11/when-you-want-the-messiness-of-things-to-pass-america-meet-america-people-meet-people-1/

  • Rachel - Beautiful post,thank you for writing it. I keep coming back to lines from one of my favorite Cat Stevens’ songs, “Love is better than a song. Love is where all of us belong.” So important to remember.

  • Tiffany Gardner - My thoughts exactly. LOVE.

  • Mindy - Ashley, your words really resonate with me. Could I share this post on Facebook? Even within my “friends” group there is so much hatred for the “other” side. A house divided cannot stand. I am praying for unity in our country in spite of our differences.

  • AshleyAnn - Mindy – Yes, of course, you can share it. I am praying for unity too.

  • AshleyAnn - Thank you Susie for sharing that with me! So odd to see my name on that list 🙂

  • Meaghan - This was exactly what I needed this week! I’ve been so frustrated at all the anger and general meanness – I even stopped looking at Facebook because it was so depressing (on both sides). I love what you said about picking sides – it seems like when someone says or does something we are expected to take a side and we can’t be in the middle. I love choosing the side of love and am going to try my hardest to love and respect everyone.

  • Sushant - Hi Ashley,

    Must have been five years that I follow your blog from Mumbai, India. Reading and seeing your story unfold here is a truly joyful thing and got me through some tough personal times, filled me with hope and brought out a lot more positivity in me.

    I have never commented before, but this post seems to be resonating with what is happening here in India too ! Simple yet powerful words you have and that gives me hope that we can make it better.

    Thanks for sharing! Loads and loads of love to you and your family. Stay Blessed !!!!!! 🙂

  • Jill - Thanks for this Ashley. You always manage to convey your perspective in such an inclusive, loving way.

  • Victoria / Justice Pirate - Wonderfully said. I feel the same.
    I see people fighting and complaining and saying it in Christ’s name on both sides. I’m an Anabaptist and we, for the most part, don’t even vote and are the peacemakers who show love to all and see Christ as our president/king/leader/ruler. It truly is sad to see people so filled with these emotions of anger and hatred instead of showing the fruits of the Spirit. Much love to you.

While I was down and out with my kidney stone, my mom and sister took the girls ice skating. Well, ever since that day, the girls have been asking to go again. I convinced them to wait for a warm day. It is Oklahoma – I knew a warm day would randomly pop up.

The day arrived this week and they ran to their dad’s office, pulled him off his phone and out the door they went with a brother in tow. I followed along with my camera and a few lenses. I’m usually in the middle of things, so I rarely take more than one lens with me. It is fun every now and then to get to stand on the sidelines and watch them through my camera lens.

It has been a while since I shared photo settings. Since I used several lenses, I thought this would be a good post to share those again. I noted which lens I was using for each picture. That 70-200mm lens I bought back in my wedding photography days still comes in handy every now and then!

Lenses used: Canon 50mm, Canon 85mm, Canon 70-200mm

85mm lens, ISO 500, 1/1000, f/2.8

iceskating-0170-200mm lens, ISO 640, 1/250, f/2.8 ~ 70-200mm lens, ISO 500, 1/1000, f/2.8iceskating-02

70-200mm lens, ISO 500, 1/500, f/2.8 ~ 70-200mm lens, ISO 500, 1/800, f/2.8iceskating-0470-200mm lens, ISO 500, 1/320, f/2.8iceskating-0670-200mm lens, ISO 640, 1/320, f/2.8 ~ 70-200mm lens, ISO 640, 1/320, f/2.8iceskating-0770-200mm lens, ISO 500, 1/500, f/2.8iceskating-0950mm lens, ISO 100, 1/320, f/1.4iceskating-1070-200mm lens, ISO 100, 1/320, f/2.8 ~ 50mm lens, ISO 250, 1/125, f/2.0iceskating-1150mm lens, ISO 250, 1/125, f/2.0iceskating-1350mm lens, ISO 250, 1/160, f/2.0iceskating-1450mm lens, ISO 250, 1/200, f/2.0iceskating-15If you are considering a camera or lens purchase, I wrote a post full of my recommendations. It is a good jumping off point before you invest in equipment you may or may not use.

CLICKHEREphototips

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  • Michelle - Tell you son he would make an awesome goalie with that flexibility! 🙂 My oldest daughter plays competitive hockey so I spend a lot of time at the rink, but it’s MUCH colder.