Tag Archives: Photography

Little photo shoot

Stephen has been gone all morning. Bean had her summer preschool class and Sprout got to do some errands with him. Got out the “real” camera and took these.

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A book review and showing off what I learned from it

The camera manual just wasn’t cutting it for me. Can we say dry much? So when Stephen and I took our birthday cash to the bookstore last week I decided that I was going to get a photography book. After perusing several it came down to two books, one was about photographing babies only and the other was Photographing Your Family: And all the kids and friends and animals who wander through too by Joel Sartore with John Healey from the National Geographic publications. Since the latter was more broad I chose it, but I think I want to go back and get the other book too because it looked like it had a lot of good hints and I liked the way it had little lessons throughout. For those of you on GoodReads, please excuse my reposting of the review, but I wanted to share it with everyone…

Every family has that one person who’s running around trying to document their lives, even the most seemingly insignificant moments. This book is for that person. Get it for them. Joel Sartore is a professional photographer for National Geographic and he will say all the things to this person that you’ve been dying to. Then he’ll give them a bunch of really great, practical, easy to understand photography hints so they can get the best photographs of your family.

Some of my favorites:

“If you’re living with someone, you have better access to that person than to anyone else on earth. That’s huge when it comes to getting great shots. But should you shoot everything? No way. In fact, you shouldn’t shoot most things. Bad light, bad composition, and sensitive subject matter are all red flags. There’s a time and place for everything.”

“Because you have unlimited time and access, your family photos should be the best photos you’ve ever taken. Just be discriminating. Remember, not everything your loved one does merits photographic preservation.”

“Believe it or not, I often construct my pictures from the rear forward. If I can’t make the background look good, I move on. You can really tell if photographers know what they’re doing by looking at their backgrounds. Are there streetlights and tree limbs sticking out of loved ones? That’s the mark of a rookie.”

“Being selective about what you shoot is tough, but it’s the key to making really interesting frames. Ask yourself, ‘Should I take a picture of that?’ and most of the time, the answer will be a resounding no because most of the time the light is too harsh, or the kids or the cat or the spouse are not really doing much. Think about why you’re taking these images. Are they to preserve some special moment? Are you going to show them to people? Is it worth their time and yours? Have you captured something funny, something joyous, something peaceful, something sad? It can all be good, but you have to give it some thought and time.”

“Shoot candidly. Nothing bores me more than seeing photos of people standing stiff and smiling just because the camera is on them. They all look like bowling pins. My mother’s camerawork is gawd-awful, for example. She has this little point-and-shoot thing and drags everyone out in front of it, then lines ’em up and shoots. It’s predictable and irritating.”

“There are many, many times when taking pictures is not appropriate. Ever see a fumbling, oblivious photographer draw attention away from a wedding ceremony? Not cool. Or how about the obnoxious click of a shutter during a school exam? Know your limits at solemn ceremonies. Ask permission to shoot sensitive subjects, even among family members.”

“Please remember, they’re just pictures. Put it in perspective. A hundred years from now, nobody will know you existed. Ever see people who are videotaping every moment of their kids game? Or snapping stills endlessly at school plays or piano recitals? Who in the world will be willing to look at all this stuff? Is that harsh? Maybe, but somebody has to tell the truth, and it may as well be me, an objective observer who has had to sit through way too many bad slide shows. It’s truly mind-numbing.”(less) “

So anyway, I’ve learned a lot and will be revisiting this book several times over to make sure I get the stuff down that he’s talking about. For now I’ve already started putting some of it into practice and really thinking about my photographs. This week I decided to mainly focus on the Av (Apperature priority) mode on my camera and specifically getting some fun and candid portraits. I pretty much kept my F value at 4 or 5 all week long. Now, just because I read a book doesn’t mean all my pictures were great or worth keeping. I did get some that I am much happier with and I feel like I’ve progressed a ton in feeling comfortable as an amatuer photographer.


This shot breaks all the rules… rule of thirds is definitely broken… her ear and the little wisps of hair next to it are what are in focus instead of her face… she’s cut off in weird places… etc. But I love it. I love the expression of absolute delight at doing her favorite thing: swinging.


My white balance setting was way off on this one, but I kinda fixed it in the processing phase. I also cropped it. She was laughing and trying to grab her papa’s mop of hair and he was really out of focus to the point where it hurt your eyes to look at the photo.

Love both of these, but wish his hair wasn’t all in his face! He’s getting it cut this weekend:

Anyway, hope you are enjoying the return of Eye Candy Friday as much as I am. 🙂

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The new camera, the good and the bad…

Alright so this post is going to take the place of Eye Candy Friday for this week. I wanted to talk about my new camera.

A few months ago my dad let me go onto his commission points redemption site and pick out a new camera for my birthday because I had been complaining about how much I hated our Canon Powershot G5, specifically the lag time on it. Eventually it stopped being on backorder and it arrived at my door the week before my birthday.

After a lot of great input from all my photog friends I decided on the Canon Rebel XSi. It came with an 18-55mm lense with a built in image stabilizer.

So here is what I think about it after using it a couple weeks…

Things I like:
-No lag time. The shutter speed is really fast too. So great, especially when trying to photograph an on-the-go baby girl.
-The auto settings on here really annoy me. Which is kind of good because it is forcing me to learn how to do things manually and that will make me a better photographer in the long run.
-The color and crispness of the photos it takes is WAY better.
-I love being able to adjust my zoom with my hand on the lens body, instead of using a little toggle. I just find this to be so much more intuitive.
-Because I went from a Canon to another Canon a lot of stuff is the same.

Things I miss from the old camera:
-The easy to locate and adjust flash on/off button. On all the XSi’s auto settings you aren’t even allowed to turn off the flash (one of the things that annoys me about those settings). To do it in the other modes it is a bit of a more complicated process which involves going into the menu and finding the off place. I do not like this. On the PowerShot there was just a little button that you could push to turn the flash to always on, auto on, or off. I have never been a big fan of the flash because it always makes my pictures look overexposed. I like using natural light much better so having a complicated process to turn off the flash is a bit annoying.
-No video. I knew this before I bought it, but I still miss the ability to capture little videos. Guess we’re just going to have to get a little video camera now. 🙂

Anyway, thanks, Dad, for the camera. It is definitely an improvement over our last one.

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Exploring the Tv setting

I’m actually reading the manual that came with the new camera and there is quite a bit of information in there. Today I decided I should bring “Eye Candy Friday” back to my blog and share some of the playing around I’ve been doing each week for the different settings on my camera.

Upon a cursory read of the manual, the first thing that intrigued me was the Tv setting and what the manual had to say in there about changing the shutter speed to do things like blur movement, particularly the movement of water, on purpose or capture them in crisp detail. So that was one of the first things I wanted to try.

What I learned today is that if you want to get the blurred water look, you should probably not head out with your camera in the middle of the day when the lighting is super harsh. Most of the pictures I took using a slower shutter speed were way overexposed. I was able to selvage a few of them though by messing with them in the editing process.


Crisp shot of the fountain shooting into the sky.


An attempt of the same shot with a slower shutter speed to blur the fountain, but as you can see it is very over exposed.


Crisp shot of a the mini “rapids” section of the creek in the park.

And some blurred shots:

Overall, I admit these are not very good photos. I’m still learning, so bear with me. 🙂

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Getty Center Gardens

Tomorrow I turn 26. Stephen arranged a babysitter and took me to the Getty Center to celebrate. I got to mess around with my new camera a bit in the gardens today. I was kicking myself for not bringing the manual because it would have been the perfect opportunity to try out some of the techniques and settings on the camera, but I really didn’t know ahead of time where we were going and what we would be doing.

Anyway, here are a few of my favorite shots:

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Week Thirty Two

Today it was more apparent than ever that I hate my camera. Bean is go-go-going and the lag time on this thing, even on the “rapid fire” setting, is just killing all the moments that I want to capture. By the time the thing actually decides to take the picture she’s already too close or not smiling or a lot of other stuff. But spending at least $700 on an SLR isn’t exactly part of the plan in the next year or so.

Yesterday when I was helping Bean take steps around the livingroom she turned her head towards my hand that was holding hers and started trying to suck/bite my fingers. I immediately discovered that there is a razor sharp tooth in the front that has finally broken the gumline. It isn’t really visible, but you can definitely feel it.

Anyway thanks for all the concern, offers of help and prayers. I really am going to be fine, I know. We all are. Also, it really is amazing how much a good night’s rest two nights in a row can make a difference. That and not being at odds with your husband and your best friend.

I think this is about all the drama you’ll get from me for awhile.

I’m still feeling really great, which still is weird to me. But I guess I can’t complain after the way I felt last time. If this is how the next nine months are going to be then bring it on. Pregnancy isn’t so scarey afterall. 🙂

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