Category Archives: Personal

{January Past}

I like to call 2017 “the year of the camera.” Between cameras that I was given and cameras that I found at thrift shops (and maybe one or two that I just plain bought myself,) I used MANY cameras in 2017. Normally, I’d shoot a couple of rolls through a new (or new-to-me) camera, then share the results as well as a little review of the camera here on Shoot With Personality. Between the fact that I used so many (and may not have gotten two rolls through each one right away) and the fact that I was saving most of the photos for my Secret Daily Photo film photography project, I went far too long without posting here. I have been sharing “b-roll” shots on social media, but I thought I would compile some into a blog post too.

January 2017

Label on the bottle of hazelnut liqueur that my Emulsive Secret Santa sent me from Poland.

Glittery double exposure

New vintage-style glass ornaments <3

Above photo taken with the Nikon F3 my friend David had recently given me, on Ilford HP5 Plus film


I mentioned Emulsive Secret Santa in the caption for the first photo in this post, and that was a film photography gift exchange I participated in during the 2016 holiday season. My Secret Santa was in Poland (which I didn’t know until my parcel arrived, as it really is a SECRET Santa exchange!) Along with some Polish sweets and a bottle of Polish hazelnut liqueur, he also sent me two cameras: A BeLomo Vilia and a Lomo LC-A. I could NOT believe it! The remainder of photos in this post were taken with those cameras. The black and white photos below were made with the BeLomo, on Ilford XP2 Plus film. The colour shots were made with the Lomo LC-A, on Fuji Superia 200 slide film, that was well-expired and cross-processed.

In my sister’s home


Me, before going to hear my mom sing one night

What much of my childhood looked light

A slightly magical night at Huddle House

Afternoon of golden light (but on black and white film)

Burn pile


Rainy night in Memphis

I know this is a bit of a different approach to blogging photos than my readers might be used to, but I hope you’ll follow along as I share some of the photographic fruits of my 2017!

Smoky Mountains, 2018

Confession: it took me several months to get my photos from my family’s 2018 annual visit to the Smoky Mountains developed due to a large backlog of undeveloped film. But even when I got the photos developed, I hesitated to post them for another couple of months. Honestly, I felt as if I didn’t photograph a wide enough variety of things while we were on our little getaway. To me, it didn’t look like we’d DONE much while we were in the Smokies.  It seemed most of  my film had been spent at Dollywood (a very worthy subject though!!) And then some photos of my family playing mini golf?? Who wants to see THAT?!

But then, I realized  a few things:

1) My Instax Square* photos helped round things out.

2) Even though it looks like I basically went to Dollywood and mini golfing, I know there was more to our trip than that! There were just some activities we did that weren’t suited to being captured on film with the particular cameras I had with me (though I have a couple of hundred digital photos from the aquarium which I took for my brother-in-law!) For instance, the restaurant where we had dinner that had animatronic chickens around the perimeter of the dining area which “performed” throughout the dinner – kind of hard to convey that in still images. (I might share a video with you of it…)

3)  Regarding photos that are just “family snapshots”  – just this week, I watched a program on PBS called “Family Pictures USA,” and it does what the title implies: through family photos, it explores both the cities where these families live and how those people shaped the communities they were in. So maybe a photo of my niece narrowing her eyes at me because she doesn’t care to have her photo made doesn’t necessarily have a lot of interest or merit to those viewing it, it matters to me and my family in the long run.

Having gotten all that out of the way, I can now proceed to share the photos! We drove up to the mountains on Halloween, so our little vacation took place during the first few days of November 2018.

A few shots from one of my favorite areas at Dollywood: The 1950s themed Jukebox Junction 

Double exposure from the County Fair section 

It’s Dolly’s banjo from her childhood, y’all! We had never gone into the little Dolly Parton museum in Dollywood before, but it was pretty cool!

On the steps to the chapel in Dollywood 

There was a pumpkin carving artist at the park for their harvest festival *heart eyes*

Stained glass in the Southen Gospel Museum and Hall of Fame in the park…it was interesting 

I burned through most of my film at Dollywood because, that evening, we experienced one of the most lovely things ever. We knew there was something called “Dollywood Great Pumpkin Luminights” going on at the time, but we didn’t really know what to expect. It was so cute though! There was what I would call “cute spooky” music playing throughout the lighted display. We loved it so much!

This is was taken the day we went to the Ripley’s Aquarium. It would have been better photographed at night, but this was a decorative tree outside the aquarium that lit up at night 

View from the hotel in the morning. Not half bad, is it?

We went back to The Island in Pigeon Forge to have lunch at Pommes Frites. That’s a fancy way of saying we had fries for lunch! Always have to photograph the Giant Wheel when at The Island though.

One of our visits the the Apple Barn. Apple cider 4 lyfe.

Old MacDonald’s mini golf in Pigeon Forge 

Sharing theses particular photos for one main reason: It’s obviously a photo of my mom trying to hit the golf ball in a round of mini golf. But what I didn’t know at the time, and what I came to realize when I saw the photos when they’d been developed months later: this weekend was one of the last times for quite some time that my mom would have normal mobility. This may be a little more personal than you’d normally find on a blog like mine, but few weeks after this was taken, my mother had a slip and fall accident at work, cracking her scapula in the process. The following week, she fell and broke her hip. She’s doing much better now, but seeing these so far down the line, knowing the events that followed shortly thereafter, it really hit home that things can change in the blink of an eye, so as someone who documents her family’s life via photography, it is important to photograph little everyday things too.

Mom’s form had improved a little by this point but not by much! 

Beautiful evening to have dinner at the Old Mill Pottery House and Cafe –  I may have petitioned to eat there that night even though we dined there a couple of days earlier…

Ice cream shop in the same at the Old Mill 


Part of a Hogwart’s model made from toothpicks, at the Ripley’s Believe it or Not museum

Ripley’s Believe it or Not Odditorium 

The entry of the Ripley’s Believe it or Not museum, taken from the balcony above it

*sigh* what more fitting way to portray the end of a vacation that took place the week of Halloween than to photograph this discarded pumpkin I saw on our journey home that Sunday?


All photos taken with a Lomo LC-A, Canon Sure Shot Z90W, and Fuji Instax SQ6. 


*I literally got the Instax Square camera the evening before we left for Gatlinburg, so I was having to learn to use it as I went along. I’ll post a proper review of the camera with more photos soon!


The promised video from Frizzle Chicken Farmhouse Cafe

“Let it Go,” Frizzle Chicken Farmhouse Cafe from Amanda Raney on Vimeo.


{Getting to Know You} Mamiya M645

This was an “oops, I did it again moment.”

Last year, I bought a Mamiya M645.

I once extolled the virtues of another 6×4.5 medium format SLR I owned- the Bronica Etrsi. I’d found The One! Then I let it slip through my fingers. I sold the Bronica to a friend on Twitter who had been eyeing one. I have to say that I regretted letting it go…

Maybe I should have righted the wrong and bought another Bronica, but I decided to go in a slightly different direction by getting a Mamiya M645.

Some differences and similarities between the Bronica and Mamiya:

  • Film backs: The Bronica allows you to change film backs (and, therefore, film types/speeds) mid-roll. A Mamiya M645 does not, though you can get extra film inserts to pre-roll with film so you can change film quickly once you finish a roll. I liked the idea of changing film backs, but, in reality, I didn’t really do it with the Bronica often. And carrying multiple film backs was just one more thing to keep up with.
  • Construction: The Bronica is largely constructed of plastic. Not so for the Mamiya M645, which means the latter is more hefty than the former (weight of camera gear is a significant factor for a lot of people.)
  • “Grip” options: I had a speed grip for my Etrsi, which allowed it to function almost like an overgrown 35mm SLR (you can see photos of that set up in the blog post I linked earlier in this one.) It allowed the shutter to be triggered with a button on the grip rather than the one on the camera, and film was advanced with an advance lever instead of a crank. All this is done on the right side of the camera. I do not have a grip for my Mamiya (yet?) I have been reluctant to try one for that camera, because its grips are left hand grips. I have felt dubious about that because I’ve felt that it might feel awkward to have the shutter button/film advance on the left side. I don’t know…it doesn’t appeal to me. I might try one eventually, because handling the camera without one is sort of like holding a cube!
  • The shutter types are also different between these two cameras (Bronica: leaf shutter in the lens, Mamiya: focal plane shutter.) I won’t go too much into the differences here, except to say that for my style of shooting, the differences really don’t matter all that much to me!
  • On the subject of shutter speeds, the ETRSi and M645 have the same shutter speed range: 1/500s – 8s, plus Bulb
  • Multiple exposures possible on both. I used this often on the Mamiya, not so much on the Bronica. (I wasn’t that into multiple exposures when I had the ETRSi)
  • Mirror lock-up on both (to reduce vibration during certain types of exposures.) Not that it was a feature I utilized often, but mirror lock-up on the ETRsi is more tricky than the M645 because, on the Bronica, putting the mirror back down fires the shutter. To avoid wasting a frame of film, you need to take the film back off, return the mirror to the down position (which fires the shutter,) flip the multiple exposure lever to activate that “mode,” then put the film back on again, take your next photo, flip the multiple exposure lever to exit, and finally advance the film. That’s A LOT. With the M645, you just flip the mirror lock-up lever to return the mirror to its down down position and move on with your life!

One reason I took the plunge and purchased the Mamiya M645 is that I got it for a song…seriously, it was a price that made the choice feel like it wasn’t much of a risk. I bought the body and lens (80mm f/2.8, the standard lens) then purchased the prism separately to complete the kit.

The format of this blog post is unlike most of my camera “reviews,” but it’s because I went about trying “new” cameras differently last year, so the posts I write about the cameras are different too! Side note: I only have limited photos from the first two rolls I took with the Mamiya, because most of those photos are allocated for different projects (which I keep alluding to on here…I’m promise all will be revealed as soon as possible!)

Roll #1: Fuji Provia 400F, expired in 2005, cross-processed (June 2017)

First frame! This is of a Russian wooden box I’d gotten at a thrift shop. 


Roll #2: Ilford FP4+ (June/July 2017)

So I’d had those two rolls developed (though I have shot another that hasn’t been developed as of yet.) I decided I needed to go ahead and replace the badly deteriorated light seals. The following photos were from my post-light seal replacement test roll (looks like they worked!) I can share all of the results from this roll because, well, they were just for this blog!!!

Film: Lomography Color Negative 400 (April 2018)

I will say that I don’t feel as if I bonded with the M645 as quickly as I did my Bronica ETRSi, but I also have had my {camera} attentions divided this last year, so I haven’t invested as much time getting to know the Mamiya as I should have. When I do pick it up to use, I really enjoy the experience though! I mentioned that handling the camera without a grip attached is like holding a cube, but it’s not been as awkward in practice as it sounds.  I hope that, with time, I will also get to add another lens or two to my M645 kit – there’s a drool-worthy 80mm f/1.9 available for it that I’d LOVE to try! Not to mention a wide angle lens would be nice too.

{Smoky Mountains} 2017

Back in November 2017, I went on another little family vacation to the Smoky Mountains, which was our third year going (as adults anyway, we used to go annually when we were kids!) The previous year, I took a lot of photos, but a major roll of film was lost in the mail. Thankfully, I had no such problem this time!

For this trip, the cameras I brought with me were: my Lomo LC-A, the Sears 35rf I’d recently scored from a thrift shop, and my Lomo’ Instant Automat.

The evening we arrived in Gatlinburg. In time to have dinner at our fave Mexican restaurant! This was taken while we were parked outside the lobby of our motel during check-in. 

One of the first things we did the on our first day was go to The Island in Pigeon Forge. It’s got shopping, games, and restaurants  (we had lunch there at a french fry restaurant called Pomme Frites that was AMAZING.) We went to scope out the giant Ferris wheel. More on that later 🙂


In the past, I have not taken many photos of my family when I make photos of our vacations, but I decided to change that during this family getaway.

We tried to go to some places and do some different things on this vacation than we have on previous trips to the Smoky Mountains. One of those “new things” we did was go to a place called Anakeesta, where you ride up the mountain in either an enclosed gondola (as we did) or on a ski lift chair. Anakeesta had only recently opened, so not all of its attractions were open yet, but we enjoyed the beautiful views immensely!

In our gondola (or Chondola, as they call it) 

Spectacular views

While at Anakeesta, we walked through the network of tree canopy bridges, which was quite the experience!

During this trip, I greatly increased the number of photos of my brother-in-law that are in existence 🙂

Descending the mountain in our Chondola 

The next day, we visited Ripley’s Aquarium (as we’d done in 2015 as well.) That was the only place where I shot digital while on vacation. I only posted those on Facebook and that was mainly for the benefit of my brother-in-law, who likes to have photos I’ve taken at aquariums printed so he can hang them on his office wall. I took HUNDREDS (as one tends to do on digital.) Here’s a screenshot of some of them…


After we’d finished our visit to the aquarium, we went to The Village because there’s a donut shop there that we love! Being the first week of November, Christmas decorations were already up in the area.

Christmas trees at The Village

Ole Smoky Mountain Candy Kitchen at The Village

Photos from our walk back to the motel room after visiting The Village

Our box from The Donut Friar, which is the donut shop we love at The Village 🙂

We stopped at a coffee stand on our way back to Anakeesta

We actually went back to Anakeesta on our second day in Gatlinburg, because our visit the prior day occurred in the afternoon and entitled us to entrance the entire next day too!

Can’t get enough of the mountains!

Somehow got one where she was smiling!

As I mentioned in my 2016 Smoky Mountains vacation post, there was a really bad fire in the area in November 2016. At Anakeesta, there is a Memorial Forest Walk that allows you to learn about the fire and its impact on the area. As you can see in some of these photos, the fire burned trees surrounding Annakesta, where the memorial walk is.

Colorful straws in a shop in downtown Gatlinburg

Best Italian! With calzones the size of footballs!

We also returned to The Island that night. It was BEAUTIFUL at night! It had rained, and the Christmas lights were shimmering in rain puddles.

The “show fountains,” where there’s a light and dancing water show set to music at different intervals throughout the day. They were fascinating to watch! 

The main purpose of our return to The Island was to ride the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel. It’s a 200 ft. high ferris wheel with enclosed gondolas.  As I mentioned, it was a rainy night, which made the experience even better because all the lights you could see from way up there were even more beautiful! We were quite worried about our mother, who is very afraid of heights, but she did GREAT on the wheel. I think it was a slow night at the wheel because it was raining, so the ride operator let us go around a few extra times 🙂 (P.S. This kinda makes me want to ride the London Eye if I ever get back to London again…)

The Great Smoky Mountain Wheel

Reflection of the Wheel in puddles from the rain

I will add something here that you wouldn’t know from just seeing the photos: One of the most fun things that happened was the torrential downpour during our visit to The Island. Even though it meant we got soaked, it somehow ended up being really fun darting around, trying to stay dry and catch a ride on the tram that transports people from The Island to the parking lot. We laughed so much! (plus the announcer on the tram was hilarious!)

The next morning, we went to The Christmas Place. It’s all Christmas, all the time, all year round! Though I doubt we would have visited had it not been close to the holidays 🙂 I don’t have a photo of it here, but the best thing there was the whole section of decor based on A Christmas Story! Including a full size “major award!”

The Christmas Place

We also went to Smoky Mountain Knife Works (for my brother-in-law.) Us ladies ended up sitting outside awhile to wait for my brother-in-law to finish his shopping 🙂

Outside Knife Works

I was bound and determined that my sister and I were going to a couple of thrift shops before we left the area. Here are a couple of photos from the flea market/antique mall we found. I ended up with a vintage Fire-King baking dish from there.

At the flea market

Dinner that evening

The Arby’s in Pigeon Forge still has the old sign!

Though this is the first photo of the Apple Barn from our 2017 Smoky Mountains trip, it wasn’t our first time there that weekend. We kept going back for more fried apple pies 🙂

I would have had more photos from our last night in town, but when I went out that night with my niece and brother-in-law to walk around downtown Gatlinburg, my Lomo LC-A stopped working! That was a bummer, but at least I got to spend a little time walking around with my niece and helped make sure she got a big funnel cake from a stand downtown 🙂


While I wasn’t as photographically prolific this time as I’d been in previous Smoky Mountains vacations, I was pleased with my camera set-up and with the photos I did produce while we were there. It was a great trip!

Photos taken with a Lomo LC-A, Sears 35rf, and Lomo’ Instant Automat

Post Navigation