Charlotte Eagles Soccer Game

I hope you all had a fantastic Memorial Day weekend! 

I like to spend my long, holiday weekends relaxing, catching up on life (i.e. laundry and cleaning), spending time with friends, and taking photos! This past Saturday, I was fortunate enough to take photos of the Charlotte Eagles soccer game -- the professional soccer team in Charlotte -- with the photography group I LOVE being a part of: The Professional Photography Group (PPG). I learn a tremendous amount every time I'm around PPG team members, and it's always a positive, uplifting feeling! I'm a big proponent of surrounding yourself with people whom you can learn and grow from, and my involvement with PPG provides that and more! 

Most photographers will tell you that if you're a good sports photographer, you'll be a good photographer in all aspects of photography. It's fast - paced, and timing, focusing, and getting the right exposure & color are just a few things that go into it. Well, prior to shooting the soccer game, I considered myself a fairly decent amateur sports photographer. I've taken photos at basketball games, swimming, kayaking, cycling, and rafting events, and was very pleased with how many decent photos I was able to capture. Soccer is a completely different story! 

The players are spread out during the entire field, they move quickly, they're often in clusters; which can make focusing tricky, and that darn ball is almost impossible to track! It was very a humbling sports photography experience. 

As if it wasn't difficult enough to take photos with one camera during the game, the owner of PPG, Brian, was shooting with two cameras during the game. He strapped one behind the goal to capture those epic shots of a goal being scored, and had one on him for the sideline photos. He used a wireless trigger to take the behind-the-net photos, and his photos were amazing! He taught me that for the goal photos or "header photos" (where the players hit the ball with their head), you have to predict where the ball is going to be, use your back focus button to lock your focus in your predicted area, and then hold it down and shoot once the ball gets there. It's not easy and takes quite a bit of practice, but it's totally worth it when you do get that shot.

The Charlotte Eagles are undefeated (GO THEM!), and won the game 1-0 against The Peachtree MOBA. They're a Christian organization and the games are very family oriented. They create a great environment with food trucks, music, and other fun activities for kids, like a bouncing castle. 

Here are a few of my favorite photos:

If you'd like to view more of my sports photography, you can do so here.



Hiking in the Carolinas

I've lived in Charlotte for three years, and moved here from St. Louis, Missouri. I absolutely love living Charlotte. There's so much to explore every single weekend, and you don't have to leave the state if you want to take a nice vacation or weekend get-away! (Total money saver on travel!)

I work a 'regular' job Monday - Friday at a cutting-edge technology company called Seedspark, and I love spending my weekends hiking and enjoying the beautiful outdoors of North Carolina. Because this is how I spend the majority of my weekends and hiking is one of my favorite things to do, I thought it'd be fitting to write my first blog about my favorite hiking spots in North Carolina! So without further ado, here they are!

1.) Dupont State Forest: confession, I have a waterfall obsession, which is why Dupont is number one on my list. You can take a .6 mile hike down to Hooker Falls or you can walk a little bit further and see a three tier waterfall called Triple Falls. It's approximately two hours from Charlotte, and I often take day trips there on Saturdays and Sundays. The views are spectacular, especially during the fall. The one downside, though, is that it's almost always busy. It makes finding that perfect photography spot a little chaotic. At sunset, right before the park closes, it empties out and you can take pretty photos of the waterfalls with the sun setting behind them. Hello pink reflections in the water! 

2.) Anne Springs Close Greenway: ok, I'm cheating a bit here, because Anne Springs is located in Fort Mill, SC. However, it's only 25 minutes from Charlotte, and the drive is super easy! If you're looking for scenic, not-so-strenuous hikes with a lake view, horses, streams, greenery, architecture, like old Dairy Barns, this place is for you! I've been at least 6 times, and I still haven't seen all of Anne Springs, if that's any indication as to how large this place is! It's not a State Park, so there is a $5 parking fee. This is also an amazing place to take portrait pictures, but you will need to pay a $50 photography fee...or be inconspicuous about taking photos and try not to get caught! ;-) 

3.) Pisgah National Forest: located in Brevard, NC, I highly recommend renting a cabin via VRBO or AirBnb and making a weekend out of Pisgah National Forest! There's entirely way too much beauty and hiking to do in just one day! There's over 500,000 acres of forest trails, gorgeous views, streams, waterfalls, and beautiful white pine trees! The hike is strenuous, so prepare yourself for a work-out. The last time I went, we hiked 9 miles, and had to take a few breaks during the hike. Do not forget to bring water, snacks, and of course, your camera for those breath-taking views at the top!  

4.) Lake Norman State Park: an hour away from Charlotte, I don't visit here nearly as often as I'd like. There are 30.5 miles of peaceful trails outlining the entire lake, which make for pretty water views! There are also little sand dunes/coves where you can take a break and cool off by swimming in the water. These little sand dunes are why it's my favorite place to take my dog, Chloe. Cooling off and swimming in the water helps her to keep hiking longer than her little legs can normally handle. In addition to pretty hiking trails, there's a public beach where you can lay-out and swim. You can also mountain bike, fish, boat, camp and grill out with friends and family. PS: I took these photos when I first started taking pictures, and will update soon! 

Comment below and share some of your favorite hiking spots in the Carolinas. To view more of my nature and hiking photos, you can check them out here!