Can you believe I took this picture?

Because I can’t.


I mean….it only took me about 37 blurry pictures and a lucky guess at the right ISO and aperture and shutter speed on a winding country lane in the middle of picking blackberries….

… get this photograph.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Let me start where all really good stories start… the beginning.


Country Road


It all started here.

Well….technically….it all started at the photography session at the Haven conference taught by these guys.

And a little thing called “bokeh.”

Have you ever heard of bokeh (pronounced boca) before?  Look at magazines or blogs with beautiful photographs and you will notice the fuzzy, blurry stuff in the background highlighting a sharply focused pillow or butterfly or flower or shoe buckle.  And all that wonderful blurry background somehow makes the pillow or butterfly or flower or shoe buckle look even more amazing.

That blurry stuff….it has a name.




But I wasn’t really thinking about “bokeh” in the middle of blackberry picking.  I was stomping around and making a lot of noise in case there were any snakes and supervising to make sure a few berries made it into the bucket and picking stickers out of my hand and wondering why…..whenever they picked blackberries in the movies it always seemed to be so much more romantic and that I really did not remember seeing any snakes or bugs or stickers in all the blackberry picking I have ever seen on the big screen.


And I was taking pictures.

Of course I was taking pictures.

I have a blog.

And if you write a blog….what sounds like a better blog post than blackberry picking on a country lane.



And the pictures were fine.

Normally….I’m okay with fine.  But this is blackberry picking on a country lane.  This is more than fine.  I mean….they make movies about stuff like this.

Staring at my “fine” pictures, I thought of the photography class and the tips and ISO and aperture and shutter speed.

And the manual setting.


Do people really even take pictures in the manual setting?  Ummm….not people who live in Kentucky who really like taking pictures of blackberry picking with a new camera that still makes them a little nervous.  Not people who just learned that when you hold down the button on the camera half-way it focuses the picture and that the little running man icon on the camera dial takes multiple shots.

Not those people.

Those are definitely NOT the kind of people who shoot in manual.



And then I remembered the class.

And how they made it seem so easy and how they made me think that maybe, somehow, some way….I could do it.

And I took a deep breath.

And tried it.


Now the best ending to this story would be if I set my aperture and ISO and shutter speed and the picture turned out perfectly.


At once.

But this isn’t the movies.

This is real life in a blackberry patch.

And some people take a little time.

Some people have to shoot 37 pictures to get it right.

But that is so not even the point.  The point of this blackberry picking ISO aperture story is that one beautiful wonderful incredible picture happened.  A picture for the ages.  A picture that will freeze that summer afternoon of blackberry-picking-finger-pricking-manual-photography… in my mind….forever.



A summer day when a blackberry picker turned manual photographer finished the day off with homemade vanilla ice cream and fresh-picked blackberries…..

…..and a little “bokeh” on top.

PS  Josh and Kevin….seriously….you are both rock stars 🙂

PPS  And the winner of the Red Letter Canvas Giveaway is # 75 ….picked by random generator…..drum roll….Jill Florey.  Congratulations Jill!  E-mail me for the details on your prize!



  1. Image for Leo Windham Leo Windham

    Congratulations. So, it can be done by an amateur like me. We'll see. We plan to buy a new camera soon. Your photos are really good. The black berries in creme look scrumptious.

  2. Image for Karen Karen

    I too have a new camera (Nikon D5100) talk about scared, well let me tell you I believe it sits on the table daring me to take pictures. I loved your pictures however, and I hope to become a better photographer as well. I have been reading your blog for about 2/3 months and love your sense of humor that you bring to the blog community, keep up the great work. Karen

  3. Image for Danielle Danielle

    How fun to go blackberry picking! Like you I'm always afraid of the snakes. I just recently switched to manual mode and I refuse to go back to auto. Yes, do I have 100 shots that hit the recycle bin and I get to keep one perfect shot...yep...but oh so worth it. Thank goodness for digital. Keep on plugging away...get a bigger memory card if you have to...but stay on manual until you can walk into a dark room and set your camera without even looking (at least that was the advice I received) ;) Great post. Love your sense of humor.

  4. Image for Peggy Peggy

    Yummmy! Seriously my stomach is now being quite unladylike.... it is growling up a storm just looking at your pictures..... and I thought I was hungry before... now I'm famished! Yep you did that good! Okay here is a question for you... how do you take pictures of a small room with no windows that opens up to a hallway with no natural lighting? Yep the "cave tunnel" in the house! The room in question... the boys' bathroom is undergoing its makeover. It looks spectacular so far but I've not been able to capture the color of the paint. It looks blue when in reality it is green.... kinda. Do you remember the color of old scrubs? The gray/blue/green color... Thats it! Keep up the good work! Try to stay cool!

  5. Image for Ann Ann

    Well done. I still use the auto setting on my camera. I have the Canon Rebel for Dummies book but even that has been a challenge. I am here on my own trying to figure everything out but sometimes I just can't. I feel the same way about Photoshop. I really need a tutor. lol. Anyway, lovely berries. Can you give us the details on the coffee ground hydrangea miracle? When do you put the grounds on and how much? Just curious.

  6. Image for shirley@housepitalitydesigns shirley@housepitalitydesigns

    I had this mental picture in my mind of you walking through the blackberry bushes waving your hands and screaming at snakes.....laughed so hard I choked on my coming out of all the openings of my face!....You are too funny...but your photos are not!....Good job Kari!! that Bokeh, especially on the homemade ice cream and blackberries!!...Love Kevin and Josh's workshop too....buying their wonderful on-line class!....and great pic of your very cute precious one...glad he got to be a blog star! Have a wonderful "Thursday" :)

  7. Image for Angie Angie

    Gorgeous photos. I love the last one and the one looking into the bucket. I've vowed to start using manual mode before we go on vacation next month. I'm sure it will take me at least 37 times to get it right! Have a great weekend!

  8. Image for HRH Sarah HRH Sarah

    Yea for bokeh!!! Those are some seriously good looking blackberries! Isn't it funny how we somehow think we're going to "mess up" whatever gadget we've got if we use it in a way we're not comfortable with? Takes some courage to start learning a new skill set. I STILL haven't learned to use the ISO settings on my SIX YEAR OLD camera. But my husband has- hmm. Annoying.

  9. Image for Andrea Andrea

    I most certainly can believe you took those pictures! I have often admired your wonderful photos. I, too, am on a steep learning curve with my camera. I take many a photo before I even get one slightly acceptable. I really need to check out their course!! ps blackberries are my absolutely favorite berry, and I'm quite jealous that they are ripe there already!

  10. Image for Kate Kate

    Great job! And beautiful pictures! I make loads of noise when we are out picking blackberries too. But around here, I am stomping to make sure there are no bears on the other side of the thicket!

  11. Image for Beth @ Unskinny Boppy Beth @ Unskinny Boppy

    YES!!!! YOU NAILED IT!!!! I'm so proud of you! It's not that hard, right? Practice Practice Practice! What kind of camera and lens do you have? Your bokeh is beautiful! My 50 1.8 lens makes the bokeh look like a honeycomb, but yours is so nice and soft! :D I love this post! I wish we lived closer.

  12. Image for Maury @ Life on Mars Maury @ Life on Mars

    What are you talking about "ONE beautiful picture"??? They are all amazing and look like they came out of Country Living or Martha Stewart. I did not get this far from my foray into the manual. Let's blame it on my non-DSLR camera, shall we?

  13. Image for Tori Rowland Tori Rowland

    Your pictures turned out fantastic! And that bokeh, well, what can I say? Awesome! I've been trying since I got home from Haven to get that right, and haven't mastered it yet. What were your settings? Share the secret! : ) Your pics - and your blackberries - look amazing and have me wanting to go eat a bowl of berries, which I shall do now. Congrats on mastering the M!

  14. Image for Gee Singh Newbanks Gee Singh Newbanks

    Good morning from a sunny North Central Florida. Finally blue skies not obscured by fat grey clouds . Beautiful pictures... perfect!! Bokeh... hmmm.. Martian to me , but I am sure it makes perfect sense to the hubs. he does the picture taking . Those are yummy looking black berries **wipes drool from lips** The grocery store variety has nothing on these. * Thoughts of black berry tarts flow through my mind*

  15. Image for Lynn @thevintagenest Lynn @thevintagenest

    okay.....I have heard enough about snakes for one day. There was one in the Romantic Roost aka chicken coop yesterday but thank goodness it was Bobby G. who collected the eggs and not me. And I was blackberry picking too but not in manual. Your blackberries are so beautiful compared to my pitiful ones. I did get just enough to combine with fresh peaches for a cobbler tonight but the deer mostly beat me to the berries. xoxoxo P.S. Your photos are spectacular!!!!!!

  16. Image for Susan Susan

    Wonderful blackberry pics! I'd love to find a place around here where I could pick some, too. =) By Girls Camp in two weeks, it will be too late, even if there are bushes there. The black raspberries in my back yard won't produce until next year. You have wonderful memories, wonderful pictures (bokeh included), AND you got to eat fresh blackberries. Does life get any better?

  17. Image for Patty Patty

    Get outta Dodge! Blackberry picking already? Jez Loiuse! Our bushes just started blooming. Ok, granted we had a very cold spring and an even colder and wetter start to summer. Sigh. Your photos are great and they make me dream of the berries to come. That is, if the black bear (who visited our fenced backyard on Mon and cleared a 6 foot fence like it was nothing), doesn't get them all first. Summer is sure to start here soon, fingers crossed. I love your blog and humour, you keep it real. Patty/BC

  18. Image for Barbara F Barbara F

    I feel like I can reach out and pluck one of those blackberries off the screen - amazing job, I'm so impressed! Oh, and that country lane? A little slice of heaven.

  19. Image for anne anne

    I have the camera and I am still learning.I need some classes.WOW gorgeous photos.All of them.Well they always are.But I love the close up shots and the blurry background.I have a camera lens that is supposed to do that.But I have not figured it all out yet.These real cameras are a little complicated LOL. ((((Hugs)))) Anne

  20. Image for Gretchen Gretchen

    You know the one person at Haven that was truly herself and not someone trying to be cool or hip? That would be you Karianne. You are the rock star! Thank you for letting me get to know you, just a tiny bit and enjoying every minute of it. As for your go girl. That class was awesome and you are rockin' that camera with your fancy pictures.

  21. Image for Jennifer @ Town and Country Living Jennifer @ Town and Country Living

    LOVE the guys at Shoot Fly Shoot! I signed up for their online photography class and have learned soooo much. They explain everything so clearly. I figure photography is like playing a musical instrument. You have to practice, practice, practice! Your photos look good ... especially that first one! Isn't it fun?

  22. Image for Jennifer @ Town and Country Living Jennifer @ Town and Country Living

    LOVE the guys at Shoot Fly Shoot! I signed up for their online photography class and have learned soooo much. They explain everything so clearly. I figure photography is like playing a musical instrument. You have to practice, practice, practice! Your photos look good ... especially that first one! Isn't it fun?

  23. Image for Anna Anna

    2 things. #1 I want your followers, you have a SOOO many comments on each post, I love it!. #2 That's some darn good bokeh! :) Anna

  24. Image for Karen Karen

    Wow girl, these pictures rock! I'm still learning too, especially outdoor shots. Practice does make perfect as my mom always said. I was afraid of my camera too. I've learned it doesn't bite LOL and it's a lot of fun!

  25. Image for karen@somewhatquirky karen@somewhatquirky

    Oh I used to pick blackberries with my grandmother and pop. They had a freezer full of em and also the cheapest ice milk you could buy at the Piggly Wiggly....we had blackberries and ice milk every day. Thanks for the lovely pics and memories. I like to use bokeh on PicMonkey in pictures where my hands and fingers are on the edge. Softens the age spots, wrinkles, and other signs of diy hand abuse...

  26. Image for Jo-Anne Jo-Anne

    I have never picked blackberries or blueberries or any other type of berry but I can remember my dad telling stories of his youth when he and his brothers would go picking both black and blueberries................

  27. Image for amy watson amy watson

    Blackberries asr my very favorite berry in the world, l have said it before, but your photography is amazing!,,I think I have asked before, but now I NEED to know what kind of camera you use....I finally lost my kodak easyshare, ( it died from old age) so now I am taking a survey from all the blogs that I follow....all 5 of them :) so far I have asked you and Dawn from Creative Cain Cabin and Funky Junk Donna.....but nobody as participated in my survey....will you be the first....? Pretty Please, with a blackberry on top :)

Comments are closed.