Napa Valley: The Westin and Oxbow Market

My husband and I just got back from three days in Napa Valley for our anniversary! If you are looking for a new vacation spot and want some place full of beautiful scenery, amazing food, great wine (and lots of it!) then Napa Valley is for you. We saw so much and are still relishing in excitement from the trip.

Napa Valley Westin Hotel

Westin Napa Resorts

 

We stayed at the Westin Verasa Napa resort. They were so good to us; they upgraded us to a one-bedroom suite upon arrival (that never happens!) and had complimentary tapas and wine every night. The resort is located within walking distance to downtown Napa Valley and the Oxbow Market, and sits along the Napa River.

Napa Valley Mom Blogger

After checking into our hotel, we walked over to the Market for dinner. We ate at Kitchen Door (the pizza is fabulous) and indulged in an old-school double scoop of ice cream at Three Twins Ice Cream. We explored the many different vendors in the Market and then enjoyed a super relaxing walk back to the hotel. It was the perfect start to a vacation we’ll never forget.

Here are some photos of us exploring the Oxbow Market, and of our view walking back to the resort.

Napa Valley Mom Blogger

Napa Valley Mom Blogger

Napa Valley Mom Blogger 4

 

Napa Valley Mom Blogger

Napa Valley

Napa Valley Mom Blogger

Napa Valley Mom Blogger

Napa Valley Mom Blogger

Napa Valley Mom Blogger

Napa Valley Mom Blogger
Napa Valley Mom Blogger

Napa Valley Mom Blogger
Napa Valley Mom Blogger

Napa Valley Mom Blogger
Napa Valley Mom Blogger

Napa Valley Mom Blogger

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Napa Valley Mom Blogger 1

Napa Valley Mom Blogger

I was putting the lens cap back on my camera when I accidentally snapped this picture and yet, it’s my favorite photo from the night. See my camera strap in the way? Me either. I’m just focusing on the moment too. 🙂

I learned that I’m a hobbyist photographer

“My name is Stephanie and I love to take pictures of my kids & family. The most important thing that I would like to learn today is how to use my camera indoors, or when there is little light. I take good pictures when the sun is right, but indoors … I might as well just forget all about it.”

I took a Digital SLR Photo Fundamentals class today and that was my intro statement. We had to get up and introduce ourselves, say what we loved to take pictures of and what we wanted to learn. I am so grateful to have taken this class because getting to know my camera better was a New Year’s resolution of mine from 2012.

Arizona Highways is a local publication that is known for amazing landscape photos. They are not hobbyist photographers, they are the real deal. And today, from 9-5pm, I got to learn from some of the best. I can honestly say I now have more of an appreciation for great photography. I now understand how much knowledge is needed to cross over into manuel mode.

There were many ah-ha moments and I finally understand aperture, ISO, shutter speed and white balance. The class was great! I get to take the “Photo 102: Beyond Digital Basics” class here soon, so y’all better watch out. You thought I always had my camera in my hand before … just wait. I know Ryan is excited.

(I didn’t edit the below photos so you could get the idea)

photo classI learned that you can use your flash outside to pick up more light on your subject. A flash? In the sunlight. Who would have thought. See the difference?

photo classI took my FIRST non-blurry photos indoors today. I was lucky that all of my subjects (toys) sat still. I played with aperture and white balance to maximize the most out of the horrible conference room lighting. It’s not photo journalism, but it’s pretty monumental to me.

photo class

We took a spinning top and learned how to stop the action or capture it. Above you can see it ‘blurry’ or in action, while below it will be ‘stopped’ or rather still in motion but stopped for that one second in my photo. Again, basics that I had no clue how to do.

photo class

photo class

I also played around with aperture (my favorite feature) to get the blurred background effect. Depending on which aperture setting you choose, it determines how wide open the lens will be during an exposure. I played around with this shooting trees and my oh-so-knowledgeable instructor.

photo class photo class

I was super excited about my new skills so I rushed home and tried them out on Kelsey. Of course … a three-year old isn’t interested in holding on so you can test out which setting is best. In fact, she was so not interested she covered her face with a broom. Ugh!

kelsey