Fine Lake Friends at The Wedding

13 months, three dates and two venues later, the Cox-Norman wedding finally went down on the most perfect day one could serve up in mid August. Awarded for their patience and tenacity, Katie and Jadan exuded love, respect and happiness and reminded us of the journey to the altar.


Set at the picturesque Stonegate Manor in Benton Harbor Michigan, we enjoyed the outdoor wedding ceremony then settled in for an evening of games, fellowship, dancing and out right fun.


Our contingent arrived Friday evening which allowed us to explore St Joseph beaches Saturday morning. The lighthouse along Lake Michigan gave us a landmark for this pre-wedding group selfie:

Lake Michigan Vibes

After the wedding ceremony, we milled about the lovely grounds and took advantage of the furniture vignettes set up on the expansive lawn. The vintage seating was the perfect setting to capture our Fine Lake Ladies group, all dressed up. I set up the scene and had Caroline take the photos with my camera. I was going for a more serious, strong, don’t mess with us vibe.


Fine Lake Ladies Mean Business

Of course there needs to be a relaxed and happy photo too.

The Normal Look

Since all the couples were dressed up, I took portraits. (And not even with my normal portrait lens! I’m still happy with the way these turned out - taken with the Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8 on the Z6II camera).


Janice and Mike:

Janice and Mike


Nancy and Philippe:

Nancy and Philippe

Mary and Bob:

Mary and Bob

Jill and Buck:

Buck and Jill

I really need to have Janice take a couples photo of me and Scott! Next time I will position Scott, hand the camera to her, then get into the picture.

The official wedding photographer, Heather Kanillopoolos, did a fantastic job. So much hard work goes into capturing this once in a lifetime event. It is prudent to hired a seasoned professional. Heather’s work can be previewed at her website: .



Biltmore Estate Visit

In July, my youngest sister, (Michele), from the UK visited the US - she flew to Charlotte NC since that’s where our parents and other sister live. Of course, I flew from Illinois to NC to join in all the fun. It’s been 2 years since the nuclear Chang family last gathered and to make the visit extra special, the Chang women took a short overnight trip to Asheville NC.


Asheville is a short 2 hour drive from my sister’s house, nestled on the western edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Along with proximity to the mountains, another major attraction is the Biltmore Estate, built by George Vanderbilt in the 1890’s. Situated in a secluded parcel of land, one can explore the vast 8000 acres by hiking, horseback riding and guided tour. The main attraction is the estate house, its grounds and gardens, which is where we focused our day.


Note - We decided to visit Biltmore last minute while we were driving towards Asheville, so I secured tickets online but could only purchase tickets to access the grounds and garden since access to the 250-Room Estate was sold out. But after we arrived, Teresa checked at the on-site ticket office and we got a timed entry around noon. Travel tip - it always pays to double check availability onsite!


After you park, the trail leads you to the estate via this observation area where you get your first glimpse of all the grandeur that awaits….



Which requires a group selfie!

Visit to Asheville and Biltmore Scenes from around the grounds:

Biltmore Estate Visit Biltmore Estate Visit

En route to the Conservatory, we took time under the grape arbor to cool off.

Sisters Teresa and Michele:

Sisters Mom taking in all the beautiful vines and flowers:

Looking Up

The approach to the Conservatory:

Scenes from our visit to the Biltmore estate, starting with the Conservatory, finishing with the Estate tour. We had a great time. #family #changgirls #stmchang


Inside the Conservatory we saw trains winding through the plantings along with miniature replicas of Biltmore buildings. Closer inspection of these models revealed they were built using plant based materials - for example, the filigree detail of an iron fence was fashioned out of the cross section of walnut shells. Roof shingles were made out of pine cone scales. The railroad trestles were formed by twigs, leaves and acorns!

Visit to Asheville and Biltmore


Visit to Asheville and Biltmore


The house tour included an audio accompaniment that provided much insight to the history, culture and details of living in such a house at the turn of the century and beyond. The tour also brought us “downstairs” to the kitchen / service quarters and described the inner workings of such an operation, ala Downton Abbey. Teresa had visited the house prior and remarked the tour had been expanded to include the “Back stairs Elements” of the estate.


The view from the Estate’s balcony. Yes, this is a real photo! Such a beautiful day.

Visit to Asheville and Biltmore

Grand stair case:

The Way Down #staircase #chandelier #family #biltmoreestate


After our tour, we enjoyed wine tasting at onsite Antelope Village. A wonderful way to finish off our day.


The Class of 2021 - Nephew Matty Graduates

Graduation season is upon us and while most ceremonies still deviate from past traditions, group gatherings to celebrate this important milestone are no longer taboo. With lower virus positivity rates, high vaccination percentages, many states continue to move towards normal, pre-virus practices.


We traveled to North Carolina and attended my nephew’s high school graduation. Our local airport flies directly to Charlotte, making it very convenient and easy to visit. I flew there last November to spend time with my sister and ended up taking Senior photos of nephew Matty.


Matthew - Class of 2021

Along the Greenway


This photo was a test shot “outtake” but I really like it due to Matty’s attitude. Matty’s older brother Zach moonlights as a model and I found Matty’s expression Zach-like!


Channeling Zach

Matty’s graduation ceremony was held at the new Atrium Health Ballpark north of Charlotte. The outdoor graduation ceremony harkens back to our own past experiences - my high school graduation was held on the high school football field. With an outdoor venue, student cheering sections don’t feel disruptive (the shouts don’t reverberate like they do in a formal concert hall). Matty’s graduation was met with perfect weather and topped off with surprise fireworks. After a year and a half of remote learning, a normal graduation was a welcome and fitting way to cap off the Class of 2021’s high school experience.

Matty Graduates

Matty will attend NC State and study computer science engineering. We are so proud of him! The little ones grow up so quickly - this last photo is Matty on the left with his brother, Zach, taken in 2012.



The Transition to Mirrorless - Nikon Z6 II

After nearly nine years, I bought a new camera body and ventured into the world of mirrorless photography. Oh, wait, the second part of that statement is not accurate. I do own an old mirrorless Olympus OMD camera - also purchased nine year ago, but it didn't "take", ie, it sits, very un-used in a camera bag and serves as a stinging reminder for me to be more mindful of my purchases. [So maybe that misguided purchase resulted in this nine year wait and reluctance to switch over to mirrorless.]


My Nikon D600 still performs beautifully, shows no apparent issues with its mechanical elements with over 28,000 shutter actuations. The D600 gives me all the results I want - great action shots, great low light capability, great portrait photos and the list goes on. I resisted the pull of the new mirrorless cameras due to the EVF (Electronic View Finder) and slow performance based on my experience with the Oly.


So why convert now? Technology has caught up, especially on the EVF - [a baseline requirement]. I learned that my current lenses could be used on Nikon's latest mirrorless cameras - [important as I have invested in good glass]. The final deciding factor for me is the smaller, lighter camera form factor. I've grown weary of lugging around a heavy, bulky camera bag when my pocketable iPhone can render 70-80% similar images to my D600. But I still need performance of an interchangeable lens camera and the mirrorless fits that need.


So I purchased a Nikon Z6 II along with the FTZ lens converter which allows me to utilize my existing F-mount lenses on the camera with full functionality.

New Nikon Z6 II

With my 24-70mm lens mounted via the FTZ converter:

New Nikon Z6 II


  • The EVF performance is amazing - I don't miss my view finder at all 
  • Focus points - I can now set focus point anywhere in the photo area. The D600's focus points are clustered in 30% of the center of the photo area and I always felt that handicapped the composition or slowed me down with focus / recomposing action. 
  • The form factor and controls - the smaller body is suited for my small hands. Which makes me think it might feel cramped for someone with normal / large hands. 
  • The controls feel intuitive and I'm well versed in Nikon camera settings so there hasn't been too steep of a learning curve. 
  • Auto focus - it is amazing and includes tech upgrades like subject eye detect for people and animals.

Here's a photo of a droopy Louie the Siamese cat as an example.

Barely Awake 

  • In camera image stabilization coupled with auto focus 
  • What you see is what you get with respect to the EVF and exposure control. Want to underexpose? The EVF renders that under exposure. I moved to Manual control and immediately saw the exposure settings were way off in the EVF. 

  • The only substantial con I've run into is battery life. Of course the EVF will drain the battery faster than a standard DSLR. 
  •  The live view screen on the back is hard for me to use due to ambient light conditions, but honestly, I'm going to use the EVF 95% of the time anyways.


Yes, I still plan to use the D600, so maybe I will turn into one of those photographers who tote around two cameras at a time to avoid the hassle of switching lenses. Of course that counters my desire to lighten up my camera kit. Maybe just for those portrait sessions!



Here Come the Sunflowers

Repeating the success of last summer, a local realty group has teamed with a local farm and planted a field of dreams - with sunflowers.


Last year’s sunflowers brought much joy to the local community, worn down and weary of the pandemic’s impact on summer - in the sunflower field, we could all enjoy being outside with plenty of space in the midst of these happy blooms. It was the end of August, a time of transition and potential hope that the Fall would usher in better days. The sunflowers buoyed those hopes.


This year’s field, while larger, is located to the north of town and was planted earlier so the sunflowers are peaking in July vs at the end of August. Or, maybe last year’s field was planted late; I found it more enjoyable to visit in the cooler August weather than mid July’s heat and humidity.

Some Blue Sky Too

My visit this year happened on a morning right after a torrential overnight rain. Can you say streams of mud and standing water everywhere? Still, the massive field provided that same magical sense being enveloped and safe in something bigger than our own sphere of life. The flowers teemed with bees and pollinators, all doing nature’s great work.

Sea of Faces

Since my visit in mid July, the weather has turned downright delightful, giving us cooler and drier conditions to enjoy, which means more people will visit the sunflower field.


Bonus - I caught this engagement photo session during my visit. What troopers - it was early Sunday morning in the heat and humidity. I shot this behind the scenes photo.

Engagement Session



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All images on this blog (unless stated) are the intellectual property and copyright of Shirley LeMay Photography and Shirley Behind the Lens (© 2005-2020). Do not steal, borrow or pirate the images here.

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code. and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act) prohibits the use of digital property to be used without the consent of its owner.

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