My Favorite Instagram Moments

Disclosure:  This post contains Affiliate Links.

I love coming up with ideas, writing posts, and taking photographs for this blog.  But I’m sorely lacking in discipline when it comes to putting my blog out there on social media.

I rolled my eyes when Instagram became a thing.  Just another social media platform to deal with.  I held out for some time, but I finally joined.

And now I love Instagram.  I found some gorgeous accounts to follow.  I still don’t post consistently, but I’ve found it’s a great way to document all those home, garden, and exploring moments that aren’t quite big enough to be a blog post.

So for fun today, I’m sharing a few of my favorites.

Ombré Cake

Recently I hosted a little family lunch to celebrate my mom’s birthday and my niece’s first birthday.

I can practically count on one hand how many times I’ve baked a cake.  But for this occasion, I knew I should step up.

So I tried my hand at this strawberry ombré cake.

Photography with DSLR

The stated 30-minute prep time is for other people.  For me it was more like two hours.  And somehow I wound up with extra batter, so I did six layers instead of five.

Photography with DSLR

Since Instagram is easy to use with cellphone photos, I’m guessing that’s how most people use it.  But I go old school and use “Bertha,” my entry-level DSLR camera (a Canon EOS REBEL T5 ). It’s a few extra steps to post my photos, but I feel Bertha gives me more artistic control than my cellphone does.

I took the cake photos with the EF-S 18-55mm lens that came with Bertha.  I call it my “street lens” since it serves many purposes.

Late Snow Fall

We had a beautiful late snow fall.  Chris and I took a walk in the park.  And yes, I lugged Bertha and the street lens along.

Photography with DSLR

I thought this mix of pristine nature and urban decay was Instagram-worthy.

Spring is Just Around the Corner

There is still so much for me to learn about using a DSLR camera.  But I know this much:  If I use Bertha on the manual setting, which I do if I’m not hurried, I can control the f-stop.

To me, this is the biggest advantage to using Bertha.  I never use a flash so, by controlling the f-stop, I can add light to a photo.

And I can control the depth of field.

I love a shallow depth of field to shine a spotlight on the subject of my photograph – in this case these tulips.

Here I used an f-stop of f/3.2. Shutter speed 1/20 sec., ISO-800.

The background is blurred just enough to make the tulips pop – while still adding some context.

For this photo, I used my Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens.  This fixed lens brings everything up close, and I’ve found it’s wonderful for portraits.  One great advantage of this lens is that it goes all the way down to a 1.8 f-stop.  Now that’s a lot of light – and a shallow depth of field.

Mom’s Chandelier

Using the street lens, I photographed Mom’s beautiful winter chandelier decor.  I was able to keep the background dark and create contrast by experimenting the Bertha’s light meter.

Street lens at 29mm, f/4.5, ISO-800, 1/25 sec.

Estate Sale Find

I found this adorable little Towncraft travel case at a neighborhood estate sale.  Although I’m not sure what I’m going to use it for yet, I just love the soft vintage colors.

50mm lens, f/2.8, 1/30 sec., ISO-800

The 50mm portrait lens somehow makes the case look better than it does in real life.

History and Intrigue

Last October I visited my friend Jennifer in Washington D.C.  We had so much fun exploring the city.  I’d never been there before, so it was invaluable to have a local showing me all the history and intrigue I might have otherwise missed – especially such a fun-loving local.

A few of my D.C. photos made it to Instagram, including our late-afternoon visit to the United States Supreme Court.

Just before it closed, I got this photo.  Later I dialed down the color saturation so the photo is almost black and white.

I love plants and gardens so of course we had to visit the United States Botanic Garden near the Capitol Building.  Little did I know that the greenhouse itself would be the most interesting part.

Photography with DSLR

And I was surprised to find a Monarch butterfly in the middle of the city – near Smithsonian Castle.

I captured it with my Canon EF-S 55-250mm F4-5.6 IS STM Lens. By using the right f-stop with this telephoto lens, I can isolate subjects from afar by creating that blurry background that I love.

Shot with the telephoto at 131mm, f/7.1, 1/2000 sec., ISO-800

I lugged Bertha, the street lens, and my telephoto lens all over D.C.  I took too many photos.  Here are just a few that I wanted to post on Instagram but didn’t.

Capitol Rotunda
Capitol Rotunda
The U.S. Capitol Building in the late-afternoon sun
The Korean War Memorial
The Jefferson Memorial

The June Bug

This photo appeared in this blog post and on Instagram.  It’s one of my favorite photos of our vintage Airstream trailer, the “June Bug.”

Here we have Bertha on a tripod, and the street lens at 35mm, f/4.5, 25 seconds, ISO 200.

What’s fun about this photo is that it was taken around 11:00 at night.

Using a tripod, I set up a very slow shutter speed (25 seconds!) that brought in a surprising amount of light.

I used a similar method to take this twilight photo of the June Bug at Yosemite a few months later.

For this one, we have Bertha on a tripod with the street lens at 23mm, f/5, 8 seconds, ISO-200

On the automatic camera setting, the light from the campfire could easily have overwhelmed the photo.  But by going to the manual setting and selecting a slow shutter speed (and using a tripod), the trailer and surrounds are also visible.

For more photos from our trip to gorgeous Yosemite, check out this post.

Not Bertha

We are very lucky here in the Pacific Northwest to have one of the finest annual flower and garden shows in the country:  The Northwest Flower and Garden Show. (In fact, the floral artist that I featured last year in this post won the people’s choice award at this year’s show!)

Mom and I go to the show every year.  The intimate little vignettes and table settings really pull me in, and I shared a couple on Instagram.

Not wanting to lug Bertha through the crowds, I brought my point-and-shoot Canon PowerShot SX280 12MP Digital Camera to the show.  This little camera can do a lot.  It has a great zoom (much better than my cellphone), and it’s compact.

But as you can see, the photo quality is not quite Bertha.

I love the frayed gauze table runner and the moss here. It’s definitely something I’m going to try.

A few weeks prior, Chris and I took a brisk bike ride to a city park.

Chris loves to collect vintage camp stoves, and for fun he brought a compact Swedish Optimus stove along and made us tea in the park.

Although taken with my cellphone, I thought this photo was Instagram-worthy.

Of course then I applied an IG filter.  Most of my Bertha photos don’t really need one.

More to Learn

Every time I look at my Instagram feed, I’m reminded of how much I still need to learn about photography – both the technical side and setting up compositions.

Bertha is an entry-level, very affordable DSLR.  So could I do better with a higher-end model?  I wonder.  Somehow I think Bertha still has a few more tricks up her sleeve.

All posts on this blog are for entertainment only and are not tutorials or endorsements


My photos were taken with this equipment.  But since models change and are upgraded from time to time, it’s always a good idea to verify compatibility between cameras and lenses before purchasing.


Some of these photos and others are available at Story Time, my Society6 shop

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16 Replies to “My Favorite Instagram Moments”

  1. Wow, I am super impressed with all these gorgeous photos!! I know zero about photography, sadly, and let my camera do all the work using the smart lens feature. But you have me curious to learn more! Beautiful photos, thanks for sharing!!

    1. Thanks Debbie! I had no idea how to use Bertha in the manual setting at first, and I have no patience for reading manuals. So I took a beginner’s class at my local community college which was really fun and huge help.

  2. Everyone seems to be using their phone for photos these days. This is a really nice post with lovely photos. It makes me want to learn what my camera does. It’s just a point and shoot but there are a lot of settings.

    1. Peggy, as creative as you are I’m sure you will do great things with that point-and-shoot. Mine does a lot of things, almost as many things Bertha. My husband loves the point-and-shoot and won’t touch Bertha. Strangely I find Bertha easier to use despite the bulk, but I’m weird that way.

  3. I have the same travel case, along with the matching suitcase (also found at a yard sale). I am using the suitcase as an end table in my guest bedroom, but don’t know what to do with the smaller (my mother always called it a ‘train case’) piece. Hope to see a post on how you’ve used it so that I can copy!

    1. Ann, what a great idea to use the suitcase as an end table, especially in a guest room (since anything travel-themed is perfect). Now I really have to put on my thinking cap and come up with an interesting use for that train case!

  4. No wonder your IG photos are better than mine. 🙂 I just snap and post. Oh, I do edit it if it’s too dark. I just do it for fun, but maybe I need to take more time. I was like you and resisted it for some time. Now I love it! Thanks for sharing with SYC. Your cake looks delicious!

    1. Thanks Jann. And by the way, I think your IG photos look great – and always so charming. Thanks for hosting SYC.

  5. Your photos with Bertha are beautiful. You know so much about your DSLR. I need to learn more and get a telephoto lens. Thank you for the inspiration and for sharing at Vintage Charm.

  6. Heidi I think all your photos are gorgeous. My favorite, if that is possible, is the one of the DC halls, that looks almost black and white. A DSLR gives you so much more control. I am saving up to buy one. Pinning your lovely photos.

    1. Thanks Mary! Hope you get your DSLR soon and enjoy it. Bulky as Bertha is, I hate to use any other camera now.

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