29 August 2011

Improving

The next few months are crazy busy but I don't want to neglect practicing my photography. I recently came across an article. (I found it on pinterest- if you aren't on already, you should definitely be. It is, literally, the first thing I've been excited about online since discovering email in the '90's.) Anyway, the article lists 21 things you can do to improve your photography. It is a great list of things I wouldn't necessarily think of on my own. Things like "Find your favorite photo and discover why it's your favorite" and "Take your camera into a dark room."
Also, I thought this blog would help me - and it has. I'm realizing that I don't take photos nearly as consistently as I feel like I do. It seems to happen in bursts. Since it isn't a money-making endeavour, it is relegated to the sidelines. But I don't want to leave it there. I hope it will grow past a hobby and into a part-time income in some way or another. We'll see what happens, but in the meantime, I need to work on my growth as a photographer whenever I can.
The "22 Things You Can Do Today..." article is really interesting and I want to tackle some of those challenges. So be on the lookout for those.


I am also entering a photo competition where the title is "Evokes Emotion". It is sponsored by a book about photographing children - so I'll need to come up with a good idea for that. I still have a couple of weeks to submit and I'm just trying to think about a unique idea.

Here's my best entry if I just submitted one I've taken already, but I'd like to go out and take some just for this competition:
my kiddos Easter 2010


Any tips or links to photos of children that fit with this theme would be greatly appreciated!


We're headed to London for a few days, so I'll have some exciting new pictures up from that trip soon as well!

25 August 2011

Looking forward

This weekend I'm going to take a few shots of a lovely older couple. I am looking forward to blessing them with some photographs that they can have & share and hope I can capture a bit of their kindness and love in an image.
It's an interesting thing, though, thinking about and trying to prepare for it. I think the Americans are more self-promoting than the Scottish. For instance, I have not yet met a Scottish woman with a blog. They just don't do it. I am sure there are exceptions, but as a culture, people are just less pretentious.
This couple, too, is older and I think there is a similar generational difference. Not having access to so much technology means that it is more special for them. This is a more important process for them than, say, the friend that came out for photos last month "just for fun."
And as a result of that infrequency and natural and learned hesitancy to be the focal point of the attention, I am sure there will be more guidance needed from me in posing and positioning.
I'm looking forward to the opportunity! I'll let you know how it turns out...
As always, any help is greatly appreciated!

Here they are "before". This is a candid shot I took last spring:

15 August 2011

My 40-150mm and Fort George

Last year, my husband bought a camera for me for Mothering Sunday. Isn't he sweet? Because it was a gift, there was no discussion about what type or what lenses or anything. In fact, honestly, I'd never even taken one picture with a DSLR before he gave me that sweet gift in March 2010.
I immediately fell in love with the quality of photos so far beyond the old digital point and shoot we had from 2004 (which, by the way, was also a gift - from his parents: Clearly the "making memories last" kind of family. I love them.)

The camera came with 2 lenses, a 14 - 42mm, and a 40 - 150mm. Until this year, I never used the 40-150mm for anything except landscapes. I always felt like I had to step out of the action to capture the action, so I just put it aside and stayed with the handy 14-42mm - almost all the time. In addition to the fact that I was able to capture more area without backing up, I also loved the fact that the aperture setting went lower. Down to 3.5, whereas my 40-150mm only goes down to 4. In all of my early reading, it seemed like the aperture setting was the key to getting those great shots where the stuff in front is in focus, and the back is blurry. And yes, I now know what bokeh is but I still feel uncomfortable using it. Is it a noun? an adjective? I'm definitely not fluent in photography.


picture I took of the "Y" family earlier this year with my 14-42mm

Well, the more I took pictures and read forums and blogs and articles and my camera's manual, the more I came to realize that the look I desire is actually a really complex relationship between your distance from the subject, the subject's distance from its background, how much your lense compresses that area, and then, finally, how precise your lens' focus is within that range. There are crazy algorithms and lots of confusing diagrams to explain this, if you're willing to figure it out. I should be: but I'm not yet. I decided on the trial/error route, at least for now.

So, (after fixing a broken lens mount flange all by myself. thank you. That's another story.), I attached the 40-150mm, leaving the 14-42 at home so I wouldn't be tempted to return to it, and enjoyed a gorgeous day in the sunny Scotland summertime at Fort George. They were having a Celebration of the Centuries. Which is a strange title because, actually, the focus was on the different soldiers/warriors from this land, from the Pictish people to Jacobites, to the modern day. It was an exciting day with people dressed up from all the time periods and lots of activities for all ages.

Here are a few of my favourite shots from the day - all with my 40-150mm:








As always, any constructive criticism is much appreciated!

8 August 2011

Photography for Adoption

My friend, Casey & her husband, Dan, are trying to raise funds to bring their adopted babies home from the Congo.

Every $5 or share gets them that much closer to their goal and gives you a chance to win this AMAZING photography basket which includes an external harddrive, membership to a photography forum, camera strap & bag, Lightroom 3, and SO much more.

Check it out! Where else would you get a chance to help such a great cause AND possibly win such a wonderful basket of photography goodies? no.where. that's where. ;)

Here's where you should click. now.

Shutterbugs unite to bring Evie and Ezra home!!

7 August 2011

"L" Family

Earlier this summer I had the opportunity to take some pictures of my friend, Emma, and her husband & daughter. The shoot went pretty well, I think, but I learned a few things.
I had a few ideas for poses/locations, but at the end of that In only had about 50 pictures. And for every 10 pictures, I still only usually have about 1 that is worth keeping. I'm still on a heavy learning curve! Now I know to have more pose ideas and locations than I really think I need.
Also, there was a whole series of photos that were over-exposed. And not in the cool dramatic cold way. This was in the "I used a film camera and left the back of the camera open" kind of way. Totally unsalvageable. So, I know I need to stop pressuring myself and take the time - in the middle of a series, not just in between poses - to double check my settings.

Also overexposed - but salvageable.


same photo with a little texture, and some needed warmth,
& less pedestrian on the pathway 
 But we did get a few good ones - thanks to their patience with me. And it was just plain fun to spend some time with them on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon.
Isn't she just gorgeous?


Daddy & his girl
 Another thing I learned was to be sure to stay focused on getting at least one good one of each combination of subjects. I got a good one of mom & baby, of dad & baby, but not *any* of mom & dad, and not any one that I'm totally happy with of the 3 of them. Here's the best one, I think, of the 3 of them -
Not bad, but a few more shots & I probably would have had a winner.
I quit too soon.

If you're looking for someone to take your family pictures -
just let me know! I'm still learning, but willing to practice on you!

5 August 2011

Learning about Lightroom

                     


I had about 100 pictures almost exactly like this one - same lighting, same camera settings, similar location of the subject. I'm fairly new to photography and I'm using Lightroom 2 (which was a gift from the amazing Courtney Navey). A friend of mine here mentioned to me that you could download presets. Basically, instead of having to configure every setting on your own, you can select a preset configuration to achieve the color/look that you're aiming for. Of course, you can then manipulate the settings further - to take some vignetting off, for instance. I found 2 sets of presets that have been so helpful. The first one is called Wonderland and the second is Bryan Wheeler. The Bryan Wheeler site has instructions on installing the downloaded presets.

Once you're in lightroom, you can then either choose individual presets for pictures - or, in the case of the 100 photos that are similar, you can just change the first one and then copy the development settings and paste them to the other 99 pictures. What a time saver! Thanks for letting me know, Margaret! 

2 August 2011

Texture

Just thought I'd share a few of my recent favorite textured photos. I imagine that this technique will appear quite dated in the future, but I just love the feeling that can be evoked with a little added texture. I hope you'll agree!


10th Anniversary


Kids resting at the beach


Raspberry Picking




2 year old fairy

My girl at the Beach

"A" Family

This family has been a blessing to us since the moment we met them, helping us make friends, lending us furniture, and filling the kids' room with toys. We are glad to call them friends.

I am pleased to be able to commemorate their 10th anniversary with photos and hope the photos can communicate the love they have for each other.






Happy Anniversary! May you have many more lovely years together!

To see a world

To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour.
~William Blake


I will be sharing my photography on this new blog - hoping that it will help you to see the world through a new perspective.