Photog Friday: Photo Exercise #2

Last Friday of the month is the Photo Exercise post!

The idea is this, I’ll post an exercise and provide a place to upload a link to your photos for the following month.  So, you will have until the end of the next month to post your photo(s).  The exercises will mostly be “mommy based” but you don’t have to be a mommy to play!  The exercises will be based on some being posted for Me Ra Koh’s Soar Sisters (which includes yours truly).  I’m hoping these will help you learn a few skills as well as help me stretch & grow!

So, let’s get started!!

Photo Exercise #2 (August)

This exercise will focus on YOU, in your self portrait. Eww – I know, right?! But sometimes to learn, we have to stretch beyond what’s comfortable.


You will take TWO Self Portraits.  One image will have you in the photo.  The second one will be an object that symbolizes you.  Both Self Portraits are meant to document where you are in your life journey.  When you think about the present season of your life… How do you feel?   Are you excited, afraid, alone, content, searching?  What colors are you wearing?  If we saw your true insides, what would they look like right this moment?  What object would symbolize this time in your life?  What angle would you shoot it from and why?

How can you get this done?  Well, you can do this exercise in different ways.  You can either set your camera on a counter top or tripod and use the self timer to photograph yourself.  Or, you can collaborate with someone you trust.  I’ve done Self Portraits where I set the timer, but I often like to work with a trigger release.  Or you can have a loved one help you.  Doesn’t really matter, what does is your honestly to yourself in the assignment. A Self Portrait, much less self reflection, isn’t easy – but you can do! You SHOULD do it!

The assignment may take you all month or it may take you 1 afternoon.  My hope is that you see how photographs capture a moment in our lives.  YOU are the significant part of that moment.  We may not realize where we are in our lives at that particular moment, are we where we want to be?  Are we who we were created to be?  But we can express that moment in a photograph.

You have until the end of August to post your 2 shots …  and remember, this Photog Exercise deal is still new to me so it may take a few assignments for me to make it all go smoothly!  Have fun!

Upload a link to your photos below via Linky Tools or email 2 photos to: (please put Assignment# in subject) so I can upload them for you.  Feel free to use the ‘comments’ to add any additional story to your photos.

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Sister Love

These 3 sisters are some of the cutest, sweetest girls you’ll ever meet.  Even though the little one didn’t want to smile, we keep at it … and it paid off!  Two year olds like to make ya work for it, but its worth it!  And even when the little one gave up on us, the other 2 sisters where more than willing to keep smiling – beautiful!


Mommy Monday: My Assignment #1

Happy Monday!

This is the last week to get your Photog Exercise #1 uploaded.  I hope some of you out there did the assignment … and maybe even learned something from it.

I wanted to share my shots (I will also upload them on the assignment #1 post though).  Here’s and surprise – I picked Reed & Randy as my 2 subjects.  But I’ll share Reed’s details that mattered in his life & the settings of those shots.

Before I do, I want to mention that when I talked to Reed about things that were important to him, I was impressed that he seemed to understand that meant things he should be grateful for.  He demostrated that by answering with,  “umm, thank you Jesus for daddy, thank you for trucks, thank you for train table – Amen”.  They were all things that I had on my list for him already!  All I had to do was add a couple more.  I just love that kid!  And I love to hear such innocent thankfulness … kids his age don’t fake this stuff – so listen carefully when they speak!  Little voices have something to say & they may surprise you.

So, here are Reed’s 5 momentary details …

Daddy - 50mm ISO200 f/2.5 1/125sec

Trucks - 50mm ISO200 f/1.4 1/125sec

Train table - 50mm ISO200 f/1.4 1/125sec

Water - 50mm ISO100 f/1.4 1/100sec

Water2 - 50mm ISO100 f/1.4 1/100sec

 (I replaced the shot of Reed & his buddy with another water shot since I’ve already posted the 1st one)

Photog Friday: Basics of Exposure

Happy Friday!!   This weeks tip is to help you get started on the basics of exposure.  Exposure has 3 elements that you need to understand.  I’ll be going over these elements in tomorrow’s workshop (hope to see you there!) but here they are below.

The three elements:

ISO – the measure of a digital camera sensor’s sensitivity to light

Aperture – the size of the opening in the lens when a picture is taken

Shutter Speed – the amount of time that the shutter is open

It is at the intersection of these three elements that an image’s exposure is worked out.  Imagine your camera is like a window with shutters that open and close.  Aperture is the size of the window. If it’s bigger more light gets through and the room is brighter.  Shutter Speed is the amount of time that the shutters of the window are open. The longer you leave them open the more that comes in.

A great resource for more information on exposure is Digital Photography School (  Here there are articles on each of the 3 elements.

Start studying mommies!  Once you understand the concept, you’ll be equipped for making changes to your manual settings on the fly!

Email me with any questions – if I don’t know, I may know where to find the answer!

Happy 1st Birthday!

This little guy celebrated his 1st birthday in June.  To honor the day, his mom  wanted a session just for him!  We had a LOT of fun.  We started the day early to beat the heat and everyone had a great time!

I love photographing such cute faces! … I have the best job ever, I’m so thankful.

Happy Birthday little man!

Mommy Monday: Minor Details

So, as I work on my details assignment (see Photog Friday post) I captured this shot.  I love this one!

Just looking at it not only puts a smile on my face but clearly reminds me why I take photographs.  This one shot floods my eyes (and heart) with what might seem like minor details: his tattered buddy, the color of the room, the plants I painted on the wall when I was pregnant, his shirt that we struggled that morning to get over his growing noggin, and cute little smile that he rarely lets me get on camera!

Take it all in mommies – it will be different in a few months …weeks …maybe even days.

50mm ISO 200 f/1.4 1/160sec

Photog Friday: Wild Things at the Beach

Happy Friday!!

I got quite a few emails & requests from mommies wanting tips on shooting at the beach.  So, here are my top 3 things that helped me hunt & shoot my Wild Thing as he played on a sandy shore.

1. Time of day. I like to shoot at sunset, the colors are warmer, the sun makes the water sparkle, and there are less shadows on a Wild Things face as the sun goes down.  I also tried not to let any early morning shots get by me!  Capture them while the Wild Thing is fresh and the sun is lower.  Also, there seems to be less people on the beach at those times of day so you don’t end up with as much of the gym-short-sporting-jogger in the background.  Not to mention, there’s less sunscreen issues to worry about early morning or later in the evening.

2. Metering.  Change the metering on your camera depending on what you’re shooting.  Either “spot” or “partial” will help you tell your camera which particular part of the image you want well exposed – like a face.  I used spot metering to shoot Reed at the beach, that way I was able to get a proper exposure on his face without him having to face the sun.  All mommies should know: a kid facing the sun, will NOT look at the camera.  BUT that can make your sky look blown out.  So, if you are wanting to get a shot of a Wild Thing in the distance hunting for shells (or chasing birds) – “evaluative” or “matrix” metering will work better.  This way, your camera doesn’t just try to get good exposure on the subject, which would have washed out the sky.  Instead, the camera will take the whole scene into account and you’ll keep the sky blue.

3. Polarizing Filters. If you have to shoot Wild Things on the beach by day, a polarizing filter will help.  These will filter out some of the light so reflections are reduced, contrasted is boosted, and the skies will be a prettier blue.  Just don’t forget to remove it as it gets closer to sunset!  As it gets dark your shutter speed will get slower sooner with a filter on, remember – it filters out some of the light!  Wild Things are fast moving so you will need the faster shutter speed to prevent motion blur later in the day.

As always, my #1 tip is: PRACTICE! You can practice metering at the park just as well.  The more you’re comfortable with your camera, the better you will feel about making adjustments while you’re shooting in a new situation.

Also, don’t forgot that if you end up with lots of harsh shadows you can convert that shot to a low contrast black & white to try to save it.  But I personally prefer the color shots – the blues & sandy colors remind me of home!

A Beach, a Beautiful Family, and a Happy Photographer – La Jolla Photographer

First of all, I just want to point out that this mom didn’t just stop at a couple of gorgeous kids – she has 5 beautiful kids!  What a blessing!  And what a honor for me to be able to capture some moments for them … which have turned out to be some of my favorite beach shots so far!

I wish the sunset had been twice as long that evening so I could have taken more!  I really learned a lot during this session … I love that about photography!  I still have LOTS to learn, especially about shooting on the beach, but I’d like to thank Theresa and her gorgeous family for letting me practice on them some!

Mommy Monday: Details

Happy Monday Mommies (and not-mommies)!  I noticed no one has posted any of their shots for July’s Photo Exercise – no worries, there’s still time!  You have until the end of the month to post. If you’d like to review the assignment, you can find it HERE.

I’m still thinking about what details I want to capture for the assignment. But I decided to post some older shots of Reed’s details to help get your creative juices flowing.  Normally, I would post my settings along with these but some of them are pretty old and well, so is my brain so don’t have all the details. I’ll post that info on my assignment photos for sure!

Some details will stay with them forever … others will be gone by next week.  Here are some of the details that I never want to forgot as Reed grows up:

The way he likes to sleep with LOTS of his "buddies" surrounding him.

His favorite part of going to the park.

The way learning to run looks at the end of the day.

His fearless love for animals.

His Buzz Lightyear stance as he "POW POW POW"s everything.

One of his beloved things to do at any body of water.

The way he sings about "Mighty Machines" while playing with construction trucks.

How he trustingly discovers the world around him.

The shape of his baby feet.

The way he's Reedzilla from one activity to the next.

His love for water.

Photog Friday: Getting Manual

OK, Mommies! I’ve mentioned many times that you should be practicing in  manual. So, this week we are going to talk about some things to help get you there! Don’t be afraid, keep reading because you can do it!

See, your camera has a small  “brain”. If you’re shooting in Auto, you’re letting your camera make all the decisions for you. But it’s important to remember that your camera’s “brain” is like a 5 year old’s, it will make all the decisions you’ll let it – but they might not be the ones you’d prefer for your given situation. It takes practice to understand how to 1st guide your camera into capturing the shot the way you want it to look … then more practice to control the whole situation. Like parenting, it can be scary at first! And like parenting, it takes lots of practice! The good news with your camera is, if you screw it up – you can keep trying and no one has to go to therapy!

Where do you start? Learn about exposure! There are 3 elements to exposure. Think triangle, you need to understand how they work & fit together. It will take practice. For me, just reading about it wasn’t enough – I had to learn to use my camera settings until I understood the relationship between them. The exposure triangle is the most important consideration you will make when controlling your camera to shoot in manual.

Bryan Peterson has written a book titled Understanding Exposure which is a highly recommended read if you’re wanting to breakout of the Auto mode and experiment with manual settings. This book will help you understand the ‘the exposure triangle’.

Each of the 3 elements of the triangle relate to light and how it enters and interacts with your camera. The 3 elements are:

ISO – the measure of a camera sensor’s sensitivity to light

Aperture – the size of the opening in the lens when a picture is taken

Shutter Speed – the amount of time that the shutter is open

I tell all the moms who come to my workshops – start in Av (aperture priority) mode. In this mode, you decide the aperture (which controls the depth of field) and let the camera decide the rest for you. Don’t be tempted to change anything else at this point, isolate the aperture portion. After some practice, you’ll start to see how your changes in just the aperture affect the other 2 settings.

Practice in Av until you have a grasp on aperture – how will f/16 look different from f/2?, which aperture looked better when you were shooting at the park vs. in the house? do you know why? Which aperture did you like the look of best?

Once you understand aperture, next leave it in Av but change your ISO out of ‘auto’. Now you will be controlling 2 of the 3 elements … watch how your camera responds in changing the shutter speed for you. What happens when you change the ISO in the same situation?

After a bit, you’ll be ready for the next step of practicing control of all 3 things – guess what?! You do that in MANUAL!

It’s a lot like when I was learning to drive a manual transmission car. I took a driver’s ed & my dad showed me what to do. Then he let me drive him around the school parking lot until he was sick. Finally, he got out of the car and told me to “Drive yourself home”  and left me there. Of course I freaked out!! “Huh? where are you going?! … wait, what just happened?! he just drove AWAY?!”. I called him from the school pay phone (no cell phones back then!)  in tears to pleeease come back and drive me home. His response was,  “we’ve practiced sweetie … you know the basics, now use what you know and do it – it’s the only way you will really master it”.

OK, so learning your camera settings isn’t NEARLY as stressful! No one will get hurt … or have to go to therapy if you mess up. So learn the basics & use what you know. Be the master of your camera! Later, when your little one is all gone up – you’ll be SO glad you made the most of your camera!