Use of Light and Smoke Bombs

One of our favorite things to do when shooting or preparing for a shoot is to think out of the box. We had the wonderful opportunity to travel to North Carolina for our cousin's wedding, so we decided that we could try something that we had never tried before because we were with family and they would still love us if it was a disaster or not. Haha. So we ordered some smoke bombs of various colors and waited until it got dark to start shooting. 

Some of the essential things we needed were a camera, light, light holder (our cousin Kristen who is a professional now), amazing dancers, and a smoke bomb holder. We decided to have Mike hold the smoke bomb the first time while Ali filmed. Mike was able to move the smoke bomb back and forth in order to fill the entire space with the smoke. The space that we used was outside by a tree with a stack of wood behind us (you can see from the picture below). 

Kristen is now a professional Lighting Guru!

Kristen is now a professional Lighting Guru!

Here are some of the nitty-gritty, camera detail stuff that we used. We decided to put the light directly behind Alyssa and Stephen to get the silhouette effect. To capture this effect with our camera we had to make sure we were exposed for our highlights, meaning that we didn't want to have the frame so bright that we would lose the contrast in the light. We told Alyssa and Stephen to start dancing and they did it like pros! They spun each other around, kissed a couple times, and came up with amazing dance moves! 

After we did a couple shots where we held the smoke bombs, we decided to give the smoke bombs to Alyssa and Stephen to hold and do whatever they wanted with them. It turned out so fun! It helped because we were just down the hill from the reception where we could still hear the music, so it was easy to dance to something instead of making up a song in your head. Haha. 

We did have one fail because we decided to light from the front and it turned out terrible. We lit two smoke bombs at the same time, red and blue to try and get purple, but in the end, we almost killed Alyssa and Stephen with smoke inhalation. If you're going to try this, make sure you just do one at a time and light it from the back. It looks way cooler. 

The last idea we used came into play during post production. We decided that it would look like a bigger production if we overlaid some light leaks to make the smoke/light look like there were different colors. In fact, we did have multi-colored smoke bombs, but they didn't show up well when we looked at the footage. We put the light leaks on top of the footage and used the blending option "overlay," and then played around with the opacity for each clip. Here is an example of the before and after of the effect. The top image is before and the bottom is after. We thought it looked a lot cooler with different light leaks (you can find a free download of the leaks here).

We hope you enjoyed this small tutorial/explaination of us having fun with smoke bombs and light! Below you can find links to the finished wedding, camera we used, smoke bombs we ordered, editing software, and the light we used. 

The Hills of North Carolina

You may be offended by the title, but being from Denver, CO, most of the so-called "mountains" in other parts of the US, are actually just hills. This doesn't take away the fact that the area of Winton-Salem, NC is incredibly beautiful. There are many places to hike, camp, rock climb, and many other activities to do there! 

We found ourselves enjoying thirty to forty-five minute drives through the rolling countryside to get to various venues for Alyssa and Stephen's wedding. We enjoyed many gorgeous sunsets and a night by a campfire, filled with stories and laughter. It was such an amazing trip and amazing company.

Alyssa and Stephen held their wedding at Luna's Trail. This wedding and event center was such an amazing venue to have a wedding. The ceremony was on the side a huge hill that overlooked Hanging Rock State Park. Following the ceremony, we went down the hill to the reception hall, set in a field surrounded by a forest of trees. 

The great room, where we had a delicious dinner, was perfect. It had super high ceilings covered in metal tile with an open wall that looked out into the field. The weather was perfect as guests were able to enjoy games on the porch and then stroll to their seats to eat. 

Sometimes you have to get creative when making wedding films because it is super fun to change things up. So, we also decided to do something different and order some smoke bombs. We put the light behind Alyssa and Stephen and then had them dance. The effect worked really well. Then we gave them a smoke bomb and they danced while holding it. This made us so happy while we filmed because it looks so awesome! Here are a couple of screen grabs from it. We didn't include this in the Teaser Film because we want it fits with the Highlight film so much better. So look out for our post of the Highlight film!

We had such an amazing time in North Carolina and can't wait to travel again!

Styled Shoot at the Stanley

We were able to be a part of our first styled shoot about a month back. To be honest, we didn't know what a styled shoot was until we googled it and watched some highlight videos of various styled shoots. Then we were like "Ohhhhh. A bunch of talented people get together and do what they do best and then take pictures and film a random couple (who aren't really a couple) being all cute and stuff." So we were pumped to be a part of our first one!

What we liked best, was that we were able to just have fun and try out different shots/angles/crazy stuff that we wanted. We always try to mix in different things our shoots and weddings, but when there isn't really any pressure, it is exciting to get some fun, new shots! 

Our favorite shot from the highlight film was when Danni was just sitting in the chair waiting for us to tell her where to go, and we noticed the light was coming in and hitting her shoulders perfectly. It was such a great moment to catch. The light was making the flowers pop and Danni look like an angel. The Hangar at the Stanley was a great place for natural light to come through and light up everything because of its huge windows.

Everything was planned incredibly well, the decorations were wonderful, the flowers were gorgeous, the deserts were super delicious, the lights were perfect, the venue was very industrial and awesome, the invitations were designed so well, and the dress was so beautiful!

This styled shoot was a great way to connect with other amazing vendors who are wonderful at what they do! Here's a list of all the vendors who were a part of this great styled shoot.

Planner/Coordinator - Privé Events 
Cake/Desserts - Fluffed and Frosted
Dress - The Bridal Collection
Favors - Meitte Et Chocolat
Flowers - Poppy and Pine
Hair/Makeup - Kim J Beauty
Invitations - Fries the Moment
Lighting - Lighting and Design By Scott
Photographer - From the Hip Photo
Rentals - Max and Livie Event Rents
Suit - Hannah Migliaro with the Men’s Wearhouse Cherry Creek
Venue - Hangar at the Stanley
Videography - M&A Films

Cover photo by: From the Hip Photo ( 

Bliss Bridal Boutiques - Open House

A couple of months ago we had the opportunity to join an amazing team at Bliss Bridal Boutiques. It has been such a wonderful experience meeting other vendors who are pursuing their own dreams with excellence and being inspired by that excellence. 

We had an open house to show off each of the vendor's talents and it turned out beautiful! The flowers, desserts, decorations, brunch, and whiskey made it such a fun day! Also, the weather was simply amazing and I'm pretty sure that I got a little sunburn. 

Check out the highlight film above and pictures below to catch a glimpse of the fun we had! Definitely check out each vendor as well! They are all so good at what they do!

Photos by Ray Trout with Bliss Bridal Boutiques ~

Privé Events - - Planning & Flowers
Under the Garter - - Boudoir Photography
Fluffed & Frosted - - Dessert Stylist
Heather Mason Photography - - Wedding Photography
M&A Films - - Wedding Films
Ally Triolo - - Airbrush Makeup
Ashley Anne Jewelry - - Jewelry
MiHi Photo Booth - - Photo Booth Rental
Yours for Your Day - - Vintage Rentals
Preslee Style - - Wedding Hairstylist

Nice, France

When you think of France, what cities come to mind? Paris, Marseille, Bordeaux...maybe others that are known for their wine, history, or fashion. When Ali brought up the idea of spending a week in Nice, I agreed before I even knew where it was located on a map. In fact, I really didn't know anything about the city until we got there. 

Nice was the last leg of our three week trip we had earlier this year (Click here to see our trip to Venice). The city is located along the cote d'azur, also known as the French Rivera, also known as the blue coast. If you google "cote d'azur" you'll find oversaturated pictures of towns/cities with water so blue that you may have to squint in order to actually see what is in the picture. But, really, this is pretty close to what you see in person! The water is amazingly blue. The cities are built on the mountain side. Beautiful, gigantic boats inhabit the coves. The list goes on and on!

One of our favorite things we did was driving along the coast from Nice to Monaco. There are a few different cities that you drive through, and each one having a little different coastline and variety of colored buildings. Once we arrived in Monaco, we decided to go to the Oceanographic Museum. This is an amazing Aquarium/Museum built where the sea meets the rocks. We had a spectacular time looking into the eyes of sharks and watching Nemo swim around with his friends. 

Another highlight of our trip was going to the small town of Grasse. Grasse is known for its perfumeries. They not only mix and make perfumes, but they actually make the oils you need to make the perfumes. We we went on a tour of a perfumery called Galimard. I've always wondered why perfumes and cologne are so expensive, but after them telling us that it costs at least ten thousand dollars for one liter of lavender oil, I am am able to understand. Haha. 

All in all, our trip was relaxing and wonderful. I wish the weather was a little bit warmer so we could swim in the beautiful sea, but that's ok. The video shows a little bit of the amazing views we had during our time in Nice! 

Las Fallas

What do you get when you mix sculptures made out of wood and plastic, loads of people, kids setting off fireworks, and fire?...well I would give you the answer, but that would be too easy :). Seriously though, it is actually a brilliant festival known as Las Fallas. 

Ali and I, accompanied by Ali's Grandma, were able to attend the last day of this festival that takes place in Valencia. Here is a quick history lesson about Las Fallas. The festival was said to have started in 1497 when carpenters, after a long winter of working on their work by flickering candle light that hung from makeshift wooden posts, decided to burn the wooden posts in celebration of warmer weather and longer days. It has evolved over the years to what it is now, which is a spectacular celebration. 

When we were planning our spring break, Ali mentioned that we should go see this festival. I didn't really know what it was but it sounded cool. I teach some private english lessons to adults and asked them about it, and they said it was loud and crazy. Then I told them that I was taking Ali's 80 year old grandma to the festival. They responded with surprised looks and the same advice: make sure to get ear plugs. 

Once we arrived to our Airbnb in Valencia, which was five or six miles outside of the city center, we heard loud explosions going off. We were told by our host that these thundering festivities had been going for the past 15 days, and that got us very excited to get into the city as soon as possible!

As we got closer and closer to the noises, we started seeing children with these wooden boxes that were tied around their necks. They hung below their chest and gave them a good work station to light fireworks. I've never seen so many little kids lighting off fireworks in my life. Usually an adult is with a child when they light fun, small, sparkly fireworks, but this was not the case. The adults were sitting outside at restaurants chatting with their friends while their kids were lighting off fire crackers, M80's, dynamite...that last one may not be true. However, it was crazy! 

After getting used to the explosions going off everywhere, we were met by these massive, colorful sculptures. They are called ninots. These ranged anywhere from six feet to thirty feet tall. They're made of foam, wood, paint, and things that are not good for the environment if you burn them...yikes. Many of the ninots were politically charged and very satirical. They were placed all over the city, which was completely shut down from traffic, and made for an exciting time of exploring the city. 

The peak of the festivities started at 10:00 pm. This was the burning of the small ninots (each year, people vote on the best ninot both big and small. The winner is the only one that is not burned to the ground). Airborne fireworks started going off, marching bands were playing, and then a rope with massive explosive fireworks was tied around the ninot setting it aflame! Flames, heat and black smoke poured out of these colorful creations, and only took a couple of minutes for the entire ninot to turn into a smoldering pile of ashes. Part of the tradition is to wear bandanas around your neck so it is easily accessible to cover your nose and mouth because of the smoke. We definitely needed them. Midnight was when the big ninots were burned. The festivities heightened with bigger fireworks, hotter flames and larger piles of ashes left after this amazing spectacle. 

We were able to get home at about one in the morning. Although our ears were ringing and our chests felt tight (too much black smoke), it was a great festival. If you ever get a chance to attend, take that chance! Make sure you bring ear plugs and fireworks. It is always better when you you can make noise! Make sure to watch the highlight video of our time! You can also see some of our other adventures from previous posts by scrolling down or clicking the "adventures" tab above! Till next time!



We are over halfway through our time here in Spain and it has been exciting, difficult, easy, adventurous, and wonderful all at the same time. Ali and I were able to travel to many different places during our Christmas break including Marseille, Nice, Milan, Cinque Terre, Assisi, Rome, Florence, and Venice. All of these cities had their own unique characteristics which was incredible to see and experience. One of our favorite stops was Venice. 

Venice has always been a city that I've seen in movies or read about in books, but I never really thought that I would be able to experience it. So, when Ali suggested that we should go there, I flung everything that was in my hands at that moment and exclaimed, "You bet your bottom dollar we should go to Venice!"...but seriously, I was super pumped for the opportunity to go to Venice!

When we arrived in Venice it was extremely foggy. I actually thought that we had walked into a Pirates of the Caribbean movie because of the fogginess. I was waiting for Jack Sparrow to swing down from a building, land in a gondola, and then ride away like nothing happened. In fact, it was so foggy that we were unable to see across the main canal. It made for a mystical, magical experience, however we weren't able to see any spectacular views. 

We went on a half day tour that went to three different islands: Murano, Burano, and Torcello. It was incredibly fun. Murano is known for its exquisite glass, Burano for its lace, and Torcello for its white, stone chair. In the vlog you can see a little of the glass blowing and the beautifully colored buildings. One of the best foods we had was a cannoli on Burano! The creme was perfect as was the crispy, pastry shell!

Two of the dinners we had were incredible. We found this interesting restaurant with a host who loved to make you feel uncomfortable...haha. He suggested we try the fresh sea bass. It sounded good, but we did not know what we were in for. After waiting for an hour for it, he brought out a silver platter with vegetables and an entire sea bass staring right into my soul...He then proceeded to prepare the fish so we didn't have to pick through the parts. It ended up being one of the best fillets of fish that I've ever had!

The next night we went to a local, organic restaurant that our Airbnb host recommended. It was AMAZING!!! I had the lasagna and Ali got cheesy spaghetti. Now you may say, "Mike, I have had both of these before. You're in Venice. Eat something more interesting." I would then reply and say, "You have no idea of the quality of these two dishes." The lasagna had some sort of spice that made it a little sweet yet salty. Amazing! Ali's cheesy spaghetti was made with homemade noodles they had just made in the front of the restaurant. Then, a cook from the back came out with an entire wheel of cheese. He poured some hot water into a crater made in the top of the wheel of cheese. He put the homemade noodles into the wheel of cheese and started stirring it, slopping it, and flipping it until the noodles were drenched in cheese. He plated it and served it to Ali with a smile! We both have never had such amazing pasta dishes! A must if you ever go to Venice!

Our trip was amazing! Soon I will have more posts about our time in Italy. You can check out the other traveling vlogs at our vimeo page here. Thanks for checking out the blog!! Traveling is the best! Wooo!

Barcelona and Valencia

There are many songs that refer to places that I could only dream of going. The Decembrists have a song called ‘O Valencia,’ Freddy Mercury has ‘Barcelona’ and Elton John, ’Paris.’ These cities seem so far away, like something you would see in a movie or in the news, however, they are cities Ali and I have had the opportunity to visit! Our travels have been so amazing and eye opening to different cultures, food and people. Once you start traveling, it is difficult to stop.

Recently (early December), we were able to rent a car and drive across Spain to Barcelona and Valencia. We had an extended weekend and thought it would be a great opportunity to visit a couple of cities that are further away. Our friend, Chris, was at our house when we spontaneously decided to go, so we invited him along.  We went from nothing to having everything booked in about an hour. It was an intense hour! 

Barcelona was our first destination. I was able to drive for the first time in four months which made me pretty excited for the trip. There is something about cranking up the music and driving 120 down the highway…120 kilometers per hour that is. We stopped to fill up the gas tank and saw a couple houses that looked as though they were straight out of Star Wars. They had sort of an adobe style mixed with a bit of Tatooine. I'm pretty sure Anikan Skywalker grew up in one of them. This was a great start to the trip.

I was blown away by the Sagrada Família. For those of you who don’t know what this is, it is an exquisite cathedral designed by Antoni Gaudi. It looks like no other cathedral with its vivid, brightly colored, stained glass, amazing spiral stair cases, and strange architecture you might see in a science fiction film. It literally took my breath away! 

After Barcelona, we traveled to Valencia. Even though Barcelona is on the coast, we didn’t get to the beaches because we stayed in the center of the city. However, in Valencia we stayed two blocks from the Mediterranean Sea. I was able to see the Mediterranean Sea for the first time! It was incredibly blue and reminded me of the beaches in Michigan (if you minus the salt water and millions of creatures that could kill you). Valencia is a beautiful city and known for its paella, Oceanographic Museum and wonderful beaches. 

After our time in Valencia we headed back to Madrid. We had such a great time and captured a little bit of it. The video is above. Check it out, and also make sure you check out our past excursions here!

Street Music of Madrid, Sheep, and Toledo

Street music is a big part of the culture in Madrid. Sometimes I feel as though I have a soundtrack to my life. If we jump on the metro we are met by an accordion player, walk down the street and hear a guy playing the pan flute, or listen to the cimbalo as we walk through Puerta del Sol (“Gate of the Sun” in the center of Madrid). We find so many different types of music throughout the city! It is really fun to hear all these different types of music!

The vlog has a couple different events going on. First, the background music is by three different bands. The first band is a group of women playing drums who we came across walking down the street. The second band is a group that loves to woo women who pass by. They have great harmonies and are really fun to watch. Last, but not least, the background music is provided by our friend’s band. They play every week at the rastro really win over the crowd and play very well!

We were able to travel to Toledo (which used to be the capitol of Spain) and see some amazing old buildings and one of the most amazing cathedrals we have ever seen! Some of the roads were so narrow that we were able to touch the building on either side of us. It was a truly enjoyable experience for both of us. 

As you saw, or will see if you haven’t watched it yet, we were around a bunch of sheep. Madrid has one day of the year where the sheep farmers march their sheep through town. The farmers do this because it is part of a 700-year-old law that allows farmers to move their livestock through areas that were once open pastures and woodland before modern day Madrid became a sprawling city. It was quite a sight to see!

We have had a great two months here and can’t wait to show you more of what has been going on! Also, you can watch our previous vlog here.


Play, Eat, Work...

Many people think that life should be work, eat, play. In that order. Well...that's not the life we have found in Madrid thus far. Don't get me wrong, Ali and I definitely work, however we find that we have a lot more time for the things we love. There is something about living in a new city, not knowing the language, and where everything is a new experience, that helps with creativity and getting out of the monotony of life. This is exactly what Ali and I were hoping we would find with the move to Madrid. Here is a little snippet of what we have been up to the past three weeks…


Last weekend Ali and I were able to visit the two massive parks in Madrid: Retiro Park and Casa de Campo. Retiro reminds me of City Park in Denver. A great park that has a lot going on during the weekend, people exercising, and people just enjoying life. Casa de Campo, however, is about five or six times bigger than Ritero Park. It has a zoo, aquarium, a couple of lakes, and a lot of trails. There is so much to do. The Metro has three stops inside the park. 

One great thing about Madrid is the street musicians. Everywhere we go, we find ourselves having a real life soundtrack. Granted, some musicians are better than others, we still love hearing the accordion on the metro, the pan flute player on the street, and the fully amplified, five piece, jazz band in the park. They are all enjoyable to listen to. We have so much time to explore and to really enjoy the city where we are living.


Two weeks ago an area of Madrid called Lava Piés had an event called Tapa Piés (pronounced pea-ace). I don’t know if you’re familiar with Spanish culture, but when you order a beer or a glass of wine most bars and restaurants will give you a tapa. This could be a piece of bread with jamon (cured ham) on it, a bunch of olives, a bowl of chicken and rice soup etc… Tapa Piés is an event that had about 90 restaurants and bars involved, and each of these places would have an original tapa that they entered into the contest. We paid 2.50 euros (about $2.75) for a beer and a tapa. It was great! We went to about ten different places and tried their tapas. My favorite was a croquet with cheese and ham inside! 


Our work is pretty fun. For those of you who don’t know what we are doing for work, we are English teachers in primary schools. Ali’s school is crazy far away. She takes a 30 minute metro to a train station in the north and then jumps on a bus that can take anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half to get to the village where she teaches. I, however, walk 15 minutes to my school….I teach 1st grade, 5th grade, and 6th grade. Ali teaches kindergarten through 6th grade. We are teaching assistants so we don’t have to lesson plan or anything. We take small groups of kids out of the classroom and teach them English or help them with their work using English. It is pretty fun! Oh, and we only have to teach Tuesday-Friday! Yeah 3-day weekends! EVERY weekend!!!

We love it here so far! We are currently planning our trip to France and Italy for Christmas and New Years! Feel free to contact us and ask us any questions through Facebook or text us with iMessage ( or WhatsApp (+1-616-648-4731)!

A Reel of First Travels (There's a Video)

We have been in Spain for a little over two weeks already! I feel like time is going really fast. Some of the reasons why we are here in Spain are to travel to as many places as possible, see the sights and document in various forms. Our first trip outside Madrid was to a small village called El Escorial. It is known for a massive Monastery! I've always thought that monasteries were these small, quaint buildings with jolly monks who make some sort of beer or wine, but this place was nothing like that. It was massive, I didn't see any monks, there was no making of beer or wine, and there were a lot of tourists. Here is a vlog (video blog) that shows a little bit of our adventure!

New Country, New Culture, Start of Adventure

We made it to Madrid, however, there may be some details that should not be looked over in-between us leaving and us arriving here. For those of you that didn't see us before we left you may not know the stress we were under. They are summed up in these three bullet points:

  1. We didn't know if we could actually move to Madrid until the Saturday before our departure (one week).
  2. We had to move out of our condo completely in one day.
  3. We worked every day until the day we left.

I don't write these things to make you feel like you need to send us a care package, (I mean you can but I don't know where I live), but to let you into our crazy move. 

We arrived on Tuesday and have had a great five days. Two of these days were spent at our schools. Ali's school is really far away. She has spent a lot of time on public transportation: 30 min on the metro and then a bus that takes 1-1.5 hours to get to her school. I, however, have a 15 minute walk from where we are living. 

Speaking of "where we are living," we are living with our friend Chris. We are sleeping on his futon. It is very generous of him and his two other room mates to house us! We know Chris because Ali worked with him when she was in South Korea. He has helped us get a bank account, he's shown us around town, paid for our sim cards (we don't have access to cash yet), and been our translator when we don't know what is going on (about 90% of the time).

We have many stories from our travels that we want to share but it would be the longest blog ever if we shared them all. One of our favorite stories comes from our journey from the airport to Chris's apartment. 

It all began five days ago...seriously, it did. I was under the impression that we had a two bag allowance on British Airways, so we packed 4 huge bags that were 50 lbs a piece, guitar, mandolin, a heavy backpack, and a carry on with all our camera equipment. Let's just say we may have overpacked. Anyways, we got to the airport in Denver and they said that we had to pay for our extra bags. I felt like Macaulay Culkin when he put aftershave on his face after she told us that it would be $95 for each bag. A single tear was slowly trickling down my face when she swiped the card and told me to "have a nice day." I'm pretty sure I heard a menacing laugh as we walked away. 

The flight was smooth and we had decent food. I was planning on watching a lot of movies but after the first one I fell asleep like a little baby. After traveling 12.5 hours, we arrived in Madrid at 5:30 p.m. Chris met us with a smile that turned into a fearful grimace that turned into confusion. Our plan was to take public transportation (the Metro) which consisted of two transfers and a couple flights of stairs. Did I mention that it was rush hour? 

Our first Metro was easy to board and we had no problems. Then came the first transfer. Fortunately this transfer had an elevator that went down 4 stories. We had to wait a little bit because the first two trains had too many people on them. We decided to dash onto the train and wedge our bags in-between people's legs. The next stop was not as easy. We basically fell out of the train and then had to ride 3 escalators and then carry our lives down two flights of steps to another train. Two trains passed because we couldn't fit into them. Then we mustered up a little courage, split up (I went by myself and Ali went with Chris), and pushed our way onto the train. This was not a little "excuse me" push, it was a "I'm getting on here whether you like it or not" push. 

After we arrived at our last stop we were hot and sweaty. We had to carry our bags up two fights of stairs and walk to Chris's apartment. The sidewalks and streets are all cobble stone in Madrid. Everything is uneven and cars come at you out of what seems to be a sidewalk. You could hear the sound of our bags from a mile away. It was like a machine gun farted for ten minutes. In the end, we made it to Chris's apartment and were able to relax! Woo!

Here are some pictures from our travels so far:

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