Fall is quickly approaching. It makes me a little sad. There are those that relish having four distinct seasons – we sure have them in Oklahoma. Then there are those that wish for summer year round. I fall in the second group. Give me shorts and flip flops all year. I’m trying to soak up these final days of hot weather. I’ve grown up going to the lake. Random Oklahoma fact – we have more shoreline than the Atlantic and Gulf shore coasts combined. However, our shorelines are around lakes. I’m not a fan of swimming in lake water. My brother-in-law noodles. I’ve seen what comes out of Oklahoma lakes. No thank you. My kids, well they are all about lakes…like good little Okies:)
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PhotoTips

The kids played for hours – digging, splashing, running, repeat. While they played with water and sand, I played with my camera. I took the three shots below with different settings, giving priority to the aperture. I thought I’d share a very basic tip for those of you learning your camera. Most cameras have an option that says Av or A (it is usually on a dial on the outside of the camera body). This settings lets you pick your aperture and the camera picks the ISO and shutter speed. The aperture, in general terms, determines how blurry your background is. The bigger the number (f/22), the more that is in focus. The smaller the number (f/1.8), the more that is blurry. It is a fun setting for you to experiment with, but keep in mind as you change your aperture the camera must change your shutter speed and ISO, this can lead to blurry and grainy images depending on what you are shooting and the lighting.

Anyway…that is something fun to play with on your camera. The aperture is determined by your lens, so you might not be able to get a really small number (which is actually a big aperture openingĀ  – confusing, I know).

In brief…big number, in focus. Small number, blurry.9.14water-08b9.14water-079.14water-089.14water-09If you are interested in learning more about aperture, shutter speed and ISO – there are a few spots left in my final 2014 DSLR course, which begins on Sunday. The course is for the very beginner student. I cover the foundational elements of composition, storytelling, and shooting in manual from my approach to capturing my days. You can find more information and register by visiting the SnapShop Workshop website.

If you primarily use your phone to capture your days and would like to improve your phone photography skills, I am extending registration for the final 2014 phone course. The course covers my approach to photography (composition, storytelling, apps) from the perspective that your phone is your primary camera. You can find more information and register by visiting the SnapShop Workshop website.

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  • Steph - ((I hope this doesn’t come across as awkward, because it is meant to be completely positive))

    I read a lot of blogs. What can I say, I spend a lot of time on hold at work, and I have a lot of interests!! You know, a lot of bloggers start out as one thing and morph into something different. Something more commercial, less authentic, etc. The change usually occurs when the bloggers starts to attempt to make a living off of their blog, or gain too many fans.

    I am completely in love with the way you are using your blog to contribute to supporting your family. You are taking your God-given talents, putting real honest work into translating them into something useful, and offering them to others at a fair price. And what you’re offering is concrete and rewarding to those who choose to take you up on it. In the meantime, your blog continues to offer so much beauty to those who don’t participate in your workshops. You share how you do (and don’t) balance your life, without becoming one of those blogs where every second of your children’s lives are sold to the highest bidder.

    I just had to tell you how refreshing that all is, and how I’m inspired and impressed by your (for lack of a better term) class and integrity. That probably embarrasses you, because you aren’t an attention-seeker, but darn it, you are deserving of compliments! Anyway, back to my own daily struggle to have it all while fitting my creative side and passions into my work and family life – you’ve given me a mental boost, though, and I thought you should know :)

  • Susie - I agree Steph! Well said!

  • Catherine - What she said. ^^ :)

  • Kimberly | Turning It Home - I find it funny, I was born and raised in Florida and long for actual seasons. I like to say we have two: hot and not-so-hot. However, we can tell when the seasons change based on what’s being sold in Target, and you know it’s REALLY cold (as in, 70 degrees) when people start wearing boots outside. So although you and I both want the opposite of what our geographical location provides, at least we can experience what we have with those we love. :)

  • kimberly oyler - i will trade you places. it is still not fall weather in california. i’m not sure how i’m going to survive.

  • MrsFun - I’m with you on the flip flops and shorts all year. I am entering my second fall and soon it will be my second winter and I am not ready at all.
    Love the first set of photos, so happy and carefree.

  • Alisa Muir - Awesome pics.
    I will say, that pic of Firecracket up the top walking out of the lake. My gosh she is a mini you. Like I did a double take in that pic.

  • AshleyAnn - Steph – thank you…your encouragement means a great deal to me…Thank you for taking the time to write that!

  • Monica - Hi Ashley, beautiful captures like always. One question what lens you use for the pictures above? I am trying to see what lens I should buy next. :) Maybe by Christmas .

  • Katie A - By chance, were you guys at Lake Eufaula? I grew up going to that lake and still visit every summer with my hubby and kids. Love sandy Oklahoma lakes!

  • Samantha - Do you use the back button focusing? When shooting portraits for some reason I always have one eye out of focus. Any tips on how to avoid this besides changing the aperture?

Sometimes Chris and I need to remind each other to take advantage of little opportunities.

I think we just forget. We forget we can choose to just go. Or do. Or be.

This week we decided to do just that…take advantage of the ease of owning a trailer, of homeschooling and working from home. We turned my phone into a mobile hotspot for work, loaded the kids and the school supplies up and headed to the lake for a few days. Our normal routine was much the same, but the view was so much better.

We have no idea how long this season will last. The season of homeschooling, self-employment, owning a trailer – seasons in life change like seasons in weather. We need to take advantage of the perks of this season in our family more often.
9.14campschool-01She dictated a sentence for her copywork…it made me smile. Also, her crazy camping hair makes me smile and fills my heart with gratitude for conditioner.9.14campschool-029.14campschool-039.14campschool-059.14campschool-069.14campschool-08

We still did school. We still did work. But, we did it in a different way.

It was a welcomed change of pace. We all breath a little deeper outside. The state parks will be closing soon for winter. I think we are going to try to take advantage of this season of weather and life a little more often. There really is no good reason not too…

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  • Charity G. - You inspire me. Thank you.

  • Rochelle - I discovered your blog today for the first time and I love everything little and big thing about it…..

  • Amy G - Foe our family,being self employed can be super stressful and it feels like you’re never ‘off’. Homeschooling is very similar because as the teacher, when we’re not teaching, there is always planning and prepping to do. Thank you for the beautiful reminder that with the challenges, there are WAY MORE blessings to take advantage of!

  • Mrs.T - What a fabulous idea! You have the trailer and the flexibility — go for it for the rest of the camping season!

    Love your blog and reading about all that God is doing in your family’s lives. Thank you for being willing to share.

  • susie - Looks like lots of fun! This is the only reason I would home school, if winter did not last so blasted long here in Wyoming!

  • Carrie - No trailer, no work from home, BUT we do homeschool and I am soooo thankful for the flexibility of doing our school in the backyard on these fall days. Amazing how much being out in God’s creation changes my attitude and my kids. Now to just get rid of this smoke so we can go back to enjoying it! Thanks for the grateful reminder!

  • Megan - We bought an airstream with the goal of doing a year of road school after renovating the airstream. I love these photos. It is inspiring and so exciting to see.

  • Melissa - Could you tell me the place you camped at? It looks great!

  • Diana - LOVED this! My family homeschooled many years of my childhood and we used to take our family camping trips in the fall when regular schools were in session. My Mom would give us projects about our destinations – history, geography, plants, animals, culture, etc. and count some of them as school days. It was awesome!

  • Lynn - Oh, I agree! I need to enjoy the special things about our life (like the freedom that comes from homeschooling) more and not feel bad and worry about “what other people will think.”

  • Taylor - What an awesome opportunity! I hope to have the same chances like that when I have my own little ones. I love that you homeschool your kids and I wonder, how much technology you incorporate into your schooling.

    xoxo
    Taylor

  • Laura - LOVE you guys and what you do. :)

  • Shannon - Looks like pure heaven!

  • Kelleyn - Love it!

  • Olivia - This is beautiful and inspiring. I have been reading your blog for years and I feel extremely blessed by you and the love and passion you have for life.

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Such a great point! I have the privilege of being a stay at home mom right now. For so many years, I wasn’t. I reeeallly need to soak this season in!

  • Emily - I LOVE IT! Such a good reminder to mix it up, I feel like our favorite family memories come when we step out of routine just a bit to seize an opportunity. :)

  • brittony - yes! do what you can when you can. love this so much.

  • Mirys - You Inspire Me! Simple like that. Thank you so very much.

    Kisses and blessings. Mirys (from Brazil)

  • Valerie - Ashley, you inspire me and make me feel guilty on a regular basis! Ha ha. But seriously, you make me want to be a better mom. Thanks for sharing. It looks like great fun!

  • elizabeth H - reading almost an entire month late ~ i needed this today!
    thank you friend!
    xoxo

Guest posts seem to come in spurts for me. I really don’t do guest posts often because I try to limit my time on the computer and I like posting here. However, recently two of my friends asked me to share a little bit on their blogs and I was honored to get to do so.

The first guest post is on my friend Erin’s blog. She is doing a series on ‘Balance’ and asked me to share a little bit about how I juggle home, work, schooling and all the other stuff. My post really is more about how I don’t balance it all and how I’ve had to come to grips with how I can’t do it all and do it all well. I choose not to do it all. I choose to say “no”, so I can say “yes”. If you want to read the whole ‘how not to balance it all’ post, you can click here to go to Erin’s blog, Tweet Potato Pie.erin-01

My second post is over at No Hands But Ours, a blog full of resources for adoptive families (with a focus on “special need” adoptions from China). A few of my friends are authors on NHBO and I am thrilled to celebrate a new blog launch with them. I wrote a post about watching my youngest daughter come to life. You can click here to read my guest post.9.14NHBO-019.14NHBO-03

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  • LeeH - Nice guest post. I just want to say.. that your little loved ones FEEL that they are important is a VERY important thing. Take it from one who heard the empty words but never felt any truth behind them, it hurts, and it’s a hurt that never goes away. I remember saying to my Mom when I was in my 20′s that I knew she loved me, but I didn’t feel that she loved ME.
    Anyway. I just want to say GO YOU!, Nothing will ever be as important as your family KNOWING that you love them.

  • Chantel - I just read your post about balance and LOVE it! I love that you have decided to put your family ahead of business and networking and yet your business still thrives. Thanks for being such a great role model to all us other mothers out there!

  • Debbie - What a great post on not balancing everything. I take my hat off to you for figuring this out at a young age. You go girl!!!

  • Paige - Love the aspect of yes, we will disappoint someone. No question about that. But its WHO we decide to disappoint that defines who we love. You need to make a T-shirt. Or get your sis to create a print. I would hang that in a heartbeat. Your littlest makes me want to bawl and shout for joy at the same time. God put her exactly in the right place with the right brothers and sister and Dad and Mama. Keep embracing your seasons, Ashley Campbell. You are conquering where it matters!

  • Sue Symens - You inspire me! Praying for your day. Blessing to your family.

  • Susan - Your post on Erin’s blog is just AWESOME, AWE-INSPIRING, AND HONEST.
    You are years ahead of me and I am years OLDER than you. Thank you for the reminder that the ones to be there for are those that you love, that you live with, that you would die for.
    Love, love, love you for your honesty.
    Susan

  • jennifer carlisle - I have to say that your article at Tweet Potatoe Pie just really hit home with me. I too treasure the too quickly passing time with my kids. Finding balance is so important. Thank you! Your children are blessed to have you as their mother.

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Thank you for writing the post on balance. You teach me so much. I’m so thankful that you shared it!

  • kimberly oyler - oh ashley, you are so full of wisdom. and such a good mom. i laughed at the part about responding to emails though. considering how many emails you probably get, i’ve always thought you were so quick to reply!

  • Julie - Loved the guest posts, saying “no” to free yourself for “yes” to the littles-that’s exactly what I needed to read right now. I struggle with it daily. Thanks again!

  • Emily Betzler - THANK YOU! Your guest post on balance was such a good and important reminder for me. Your openness and honesty is a gift.

    - emily