Photog Friday: Fireworks!

The 4th of July seem to have snuck up on me this year! Less than a week away and we have NO plans or any idea where to take the boys to see fireworks. So, before I research that for my area, I thought I’d repost last year’s tips on how I plan to shoot some images of the fireworks show.

Shoot some Fireworks!

1. Set your camera on Manual Mode (Dooo it!)

2. Set your ISO down to 100. This way you get maximum color saturation. Since the ISO will be so low, and the Wild Things will be roaming, you’ll want to use a tripod if you can. Resting the camera on your knees may work too but let’s face it, you may want you hands free  in the event a Wild Thing starts to run across the field.  In my shot below you’ll see some wriggle in the tips because I didn’t use a tripod. But Becky’s example is AWESOME! This year I’ll try using a remote shutter release & tripod … see if that’s a little more steady but still hands free.

3. We want detail so put your aperture f-stop at F/11 or F/16.

4. Put your camera on Evaluative Metering so your color and light is metered throughout your whole frame. This will enhance all the colors in the sky.

5. Slow your shutter speed waaay down. Start with a slow shutter speed of 3 seconds. Relax & go from there. What you’ll want to do is push your shutter release button down when the firework goes off and wait for the image to record 3 seconds of the light. Then when the shutter closes (you’ll hear it), check your LCD and see if it looks bright enough. Too dark? Slow your shutter speed down a little more … maybe try 4 seconds.  Too bright? Do the opposite, try a faster shutter speed like 1 second.

Another tip is that you’ll want to try to dial in your settings as fast as possible. The longer it takes you, the more smoke will be in the air from the fireworks. No pressure, just concentrate. Once you get your settings where you want them, enjoy the show & click away!


This one below was shot by Becky M. – great shot!!

Thanks for sharing.

If you get some shots you’d like to share – email me!! I’d love to post them on the blog for you … send your settings too!

But most importantly, have fun & be careful!

Happy 4th of July!

Photog Friday: The Power of Peekaboo!

Again, a day late … somehow Fridays seem to slip by me! Mostly, because I spend much of my week wondering “what’s today? Tuesday? wait, Thurday?!”

Anyway, since its the weekend, let’s talk about something fun for Photog Friday – Peekaboo!

Babies & kids of most ages love it! And with a little practice, you’ll get the timing down and capture some great smiles! If you’re at the park, trees work great for this. At home you can use a door, a shower door, a blanket – get creative!

All you have to do announce, “Let’s play a game!” with my older boy I have to make it more of a challenge. I tell him to hide behind the door (or whatever) and I’ll try to capture you with my picture. It’s more of a catch-me-if-you-can with him so I’ve learned to be quick. I take a shot before we start so I know where my settings need to be and then use the first couple of peekaboos to get my focus & composition down. Then it’s all a matter of shooting at the right moment and getting them to enjoy the game. Usually, big smiles from me are mimicked by them and if you aren’t getting any giggles – make sure to squeal like they scared you or slap your forehead a few times!

Here are some of my favorite Peekaboo shots, have fun with it!!

Photog Friday: Too Grainy?

Happy Friday!

If you’ve been practicing shooting in the house, you may have noticed there are rooms with horrible lighting or distracting backgrounds. In these shots below, the lighting was decent enough to turn off my flash but that meant I needed to up my ISO. And whenever you’re shooting in low light and have to raise your ISO, you might notice that the shots look “grainy”. So, now I find myself with grainy shots with a distracting background … what can you do?

Convert them to black & white my friends! Then add a little contrast and you’re done. A grainy shot that you didn’t like in color, now looks timeless.

The black & white also embraces the emotion.

Here are some shots of my beautiful little niece at 5 months old …

You can find more posts on indoor lighting HERE and HERE. And feel free to email/comment with any questions, I don’t have all the answers but I know people who do!

Thanks for stopping by!

Photog Friday: Too Dark or Too Light?

Happy Friday!

This week is geared towards my friends that are still timid about the leap into Manual mode on their DSLR. So, to help ease you in, we’re going to go over a little about how to use the manual mode to fix your shots that are too dark or too light in Aperture Priority (Av mode for Canon).

Let’s say you’ve taken the shot in Av and its just too dark. Here’s the easy fix:

1. Click on your “Display” feature to see the settings that the camera used to take the shot and write that info down.

2. Switch to Manual mode.

3. Set your aperture and ISO to match the settings you wrote down.

4. Your image was too dark, so that means you need to let in more light, so you need a slower shutter speed. Because the longer your shutter is open, the more light gets in, the lighter your shot (more info on shutter speed HERE). So, for example, the camera used 1/200, so try using 1/125. (if the shot was too light, you’d adjust the other direction).

5. Take the shot. If its still too dark, keep moving your shutter speed to a small denominator (slower speed, more light, try it and it will make sense).

6. “Now my shot is blurry!” if you just said that, its from hand motion because your shutter speed has dropped too low. SO, move it back up a bit and this time raise your ISO. The higher ISO will compensate for the bump to a faster shutter speed.

DON’T read this and freak out – it sounds more complicated than it is, you can do it!

The important thing to remember here, is that you’re PRACTICING, experimenting, and USING your camera in Manual mode.

I don’t use Av mode but here is my thought process when adjusting my shutter speed for the shot below –

I rolled my 12 hour old baby’s hospital bassinet over to the window. Opened the curtains. I’m in Manual, my camera’s evaluation meter sees a lot of white in this frame so it tells me my exposure is at 1/250 (because it averages the white blanket with his skin and sees “bright!”) so I start there 1/250, ISO 200 (because I’m indoors), and f/1.4. My shot is too dark, so I adjust the shutter speed to 1/60, ahhh, now its too light! Okay, adjust to 1/125 – there … that’s what I’m looking for! Natural light, pretty shadows, and creaminess in the blanket…a shot deserving of a gift from God.

If you need more info on manual mode, you can find it HERE.

Hope that helps! And as always, comment or email me with any questions…thanks!

Photog Friday: 5 Things to Practice

Last week, the post was about what to avoid when shooting your wild things. If you missed it, you can find it HERE. This week, let’s talk about tools you should practice to avoid beginner’s mistakes. Some of these things I learned the hard way, some I’ve read along the way. Either way, if you keep some of these tips in mind next time you shoot,  it will get you closer to capturing your wild thing’s story.

Here are my Top 5 Things to practice while shooting your Wild Things –

1. Practice Finding Your Story. Is the story: we were on the beach and there happened to be a baby? Or is it: Look at my baby on the beach! See the difference there? Decide what your story is (baby or beach?)  and let the other be the background. And not too much background! Sometimes that background helps tell the story but most of the time it camouflages your Wild Thing so if its not enhancing the story – cut it out!

2. Practice Getting Closer. Fill the frame with at adorable face! If the background enhancing the story, you want just a bit of it (see above #1) but otherwise, get in close.

3. Practice Your Timing. Get to where you want to be when the light is flattering – Morning and Evening. Wild Things will almost always avoid looking at a camera in bright outdoor light. And even if they DO look, it will be a squinty face. So, trying to get them to look at you at noon sets you up for failure. I like to shoot my wild things in the morning when they’re fresh or in the evening when they’re a little slower from a busy day.

4. Practice Turning Your Back. There will be times when you have to shoot when it’s bright out. Instead of trying to get them to look towards the sun, move so the sun is behind them. If it’s high noon, find a tree or building for some shade. This may be a good time to learn to use your flash as fill to get rid of the raccoon eyes a high sun leaves on your darling’s face.

5. Practice Turning Off the Lights. Stop and take a second to look for the light. One way to make the natural light more dramatic is to turn off the indoor lights. So, open up those shutters & raise your ISO.

… those are my Top 5. Don’t worry, they’ll be more – Stay Tuned!

Photog Friday: 5 Things to Avoid

When I first started using a DSLR, I knew very little about photography. There’s so much to learn. It was all so overwhelming. Today’s tips are some things I learned to avoid that improved my photography right away. I have TONS of shots I’d like to go back and improve, maybe someday I will. Maybe when my wild things are in school and I have nothing to do – “nothing to do” hahaha, I crack myself up sometimes!

Anyway, here are my Top 5 Things to avoid while shooting your Wild Things –

1. Avoid too much Background. Sometimes that background helps tell the story but most of the time it camouflages your Wild Thing. The tip here, if its not enhancing the story – cut it out! Get in closer and take a tighter shot.

2. Avoid Dark Spots. Stop and take a second to look for the light. You can raise your ISO but if it’s still dark, pull back the curtains, or get the Wild Thing outside.

3. Avoid the Pop-up Flash. That’s right, I said it – avoid the evil pop up flash. Honestly, you know you’re pretending that the red eye, 5 o’clock shadow, or deer in the headlight look is part of your Wild Things cuteness anyway. Turn if off, start using Manual mode, seek out the natural light but avoid the pop up!

4. Avoid Centering. Read up on the Rule of Thirds and composition. You’ll be glad you did! There’s an older post on it HERE.

5. Avoid Thinking You’ll Get the Shot the 1st Time. Wild Things are quick and unpredictable. Use your mom skills of manipulation (c’mon, you know you have them) to recreate the moment you missed. Praising the Wild Thing and insisting they show you again & again may just give you the chance you need to grab the shot.

… those are my Top 5. Don’t worry, they’ll be more – Stay Tuned!

Photog Friday: Back Lighting

I distinctly remember during High School Yearbook class, watching tons of team photos being taken with kids all facing the sun. Its one of the first rules many photographers are taught to ensure a well lit subject.  I hate that rule!

Facing the sun makes for squinty subjects. And if you’re subjects are kids – like most of mine – its almost impossible to get them to look at you if it means they have to look towards the sun. That’s why rules are meant to be broken!  I love to practice shooting subjects with nice back lighting, it can create some beautiful shots.

With back lighting you can get some of my favorite effects – silhouettes! And one thing I’m still practicing to get right, getting a nice sun flare in the shot.  There are a lot of different looks you can get with back lighting – balance it with other light (natural, reflected or artificial), or an extreme backlight will give you the silhouette, or something more subtle. Endless possibilities! And it takes some practice to get the look you want.

Here are some of my shots and how I used back lighting to give you some ideas.

These first 3 shots are natural light and back light by the sun.

The shot is exposed for the subject but the light is very strong from behind.

 

These 3 below are more extremely back lit.

The shot is exposed for the brighter background and that caused the subject to be silhouetted.

 

 

The next 3 shots are all back lit by the sun with a flash used to add light to the subject to balance it out.

Without the flash, the subject would have been darker or silhouetted.

 

These last 2 are natural light (no flash) and back lit by the sun.

Exposed for the subjects but I moved so they were in between me and the sun.

So, get out there and practice some back lit shots! Feel free to email me some of your favorites and I’ll post them on a follow up post soon! Thanks for stopping by…

Photog Friday: Fireworks!

Happy Friday!!

It’s been a while since I’ve had time to post a photography tip … so here’s one for this weekend.

Shoot some Fireworks!

1. Set your camera on Manual Mode (Dooo it!)

2. Set your ISO down to 100. This way you get maximum color saturation. Since the ISO will be so low, and the Wild Things will be roaming, you’ll want to use a tripod if you can. Resting the camera on your knees may work too but let’s face it, you may want you hands free  in the event a Wild Thing starts to run across the field.  In my shot below you’ll see some wriggle in the tips because I didn’t use a tripod. But Becky’s example is AWESOME! This year I’ll try using a remote shutter release & tripod … see if that’s a little more steady but still hands free.

3. We want detail so put your aperture f-stop at F/11 or F/16.

4. Put your camera on Evaluative Metering so your color and light is metered throughout your whole frame. This will enhance all the colors in the sky.

5. Slow your shutter speed waaay down. Start with a slow shutter speed of 3 seconds. Relax & go from there. What you’ll want to do is push your shutter release button down when the firework goes off and wait for the image to record 3 seconds of the light. Then when the shutter closes (you’ll hear it), check your LCD and see if it looks bright enough. Too dark? Slow your shutter speed down a little more … maybe try 4 seconds.  Too bright? Do the opposite, try a faster shutter speed like 1 second.

Another tip is that you’ll want to try to dial in your settings as fast as possible. The longer it takes you, the more smoke will be in the air from the fireworks. No pressure, just concentrate. Once you get your settings where you want them, enjoy the show & click away!


This one below was shot by Becky M. – great shot!!

Thanks for sharing.

If you get some shots you’d like to share – email me!! I’d love to post them on the blog for you … send your settings too!

But most importantly, have fun & be careful!

Happy 4th of July!