Friday, December 31, 2010

December Rejects

Happy New Year's Eve! What better way to wrap up the year than with the rejects of December! I'll share these, put them behind me and move on to fresh things in 2011.

And for December, I think I'll leave these without explanation. The out of focus oddness says it all!

Happy New Year! Here is to embracing our reject photos and finding more in the coming year!

My Life. In 10 Photographs.

I love looking back over my photos. So many are special to me for the story they hold, not necessarily the quality of the photo. 2010 was a year of Ian. He changed so much this year, holding conversations, asking questions about the world, exploring. Tantrums seem to be slowly disappearing from his repertoire, replaced with more "I love you momma's" each day. It is no surprise that many of my favorite photos are of Ian.

You might remember many of these.

A boy in the backyard.


My life. In 10 photographs. It's been a good year.

Thanks for sharing it with me.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

10 Ideas for A Photo of the Day Project

Are you thinking about starting a photo a day project or continuing from last year? I started my photo a day project on February 28, 2008. It started as a 30 day challenge with this photo.

I've learned a few things both about photography and keeping up with a 365 project in the three years I've been collecting a photo a day.

Here are the things that have helped me most along the way.

1. Keep it real and simple and don't be afraid to capture the ordinary and the simple.  Photograph life as it happens, naturally and spontaneously. Those are the memories I will treasure most. Sometimes it is not about a perfect photo, just a moment of life.

2. Include photo walks in your 365, with others, by yourself, with inspiration lists. Just get out and look for things that inspire you. Or just walk around your house.

3. Collect and review your photos. Looking through my photos, reading the stories I've written about them and seeing them together is great inspiration to keep the project going!

4. Scrapbooking your photos? Keep it super simple. It is a BIG project. I'll post more on that tomorrow!

5. Hang in through January and February, they are the hardest months to photograph. Low light. Mostly indoors. They can be tough.  Only let your mood get in the way a little.

6. Look in unexpected places for you photo of the day. Look up, down, around, behind. Shoot the same thing on different days with a different point of view.

7. Know that somedays selecting your photo of the day will be easy, others not so.  It may even be the first photo you take.

8. Get others involved. Whether you join a flickr group or ask people to vote for their favorites or blog your photos, having a group around you can make 365 a lot more fun!

9. Try something different. Choose a different setting. Try macro. Get off Auto. Change it up.

10. Enjoy the process. You are documenting your life. THAT is the most important thing.

What have you learned doing 365? What keeps you from trying it, if you haven't?

If you'd like a few more pointers as well as a LONG list of inspiration, check out my tutorial Give It Your Best Shot No. 02: Capturing A Photo A Day

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My Favorite Posts from 2010

There is something about the last week of the year and bringing together snippets of 365 days of life. When there was a television in our house I loved watching the highlights of the year, the quick flashing photos of who died, who was born, who did something monumental, which movies were big.

Here are my favorite posts from the year.  I loved sorting through all of my posts, reliving moments, thinking about highs and lows to find these.

Of Course He Will Have A Cake - this has become a favorite memory. I plan on making a cake again in a few weeks!

15 Years Ago Today - It seems I  tell this story a lot. I like it.

Why I Changed My One Little Word - Loved finding this story again. My communities mean so much to me.

My Photography - Sometimes I write to share my thoughts, sometimes I write to clarify things in my head.

I Heart Faces Photo Walk Through Sacramento - LOVED leading with this group!

The Corner Seemed Safest - This year was truly transformational for me. This post captures it best.

What Makes A Photograph Special - I so believe this.

Taking A Photography Risk - What a great highlight to a great year.

Thank you for being here with me this year. Thank you for reading and commenting and sharing of yourselves. I hope you know how much I value you!

Do you love highlights as much as I do? Which are your favorites?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Fun Way To Photograph Your Christmas Tree


Kelly (aka Mugsbigsis) is such a talented photographer with a beautiful home! I loved having her in Capturing Your Holidays. Don't you love how she made her tree come alive?

Want to know how?

A tripod is helpful to get a smooth zoom. A wide lens is helpful for this technique.
  1. Set your camera to Aperture Priority(AV or A).*
  2. Set your Aperture to f/20.
  3. Set your ISO to 100
  4. Secure your camera to a tripod.
  5. Place your hand on the zoom ring of your lens.
  6. Press the shutter button.
  7. Slowly turn your zoom ring.
  8. Check your results, try zooming faster and slower. In to out and out to in.
*You can also use Program Mode (P) or Manual Mode (M) for this technique.


Have you joined the new flickr group? Just for those of you I've had the privilege to help in your photography journey! Fun conversation, prompts and more to come! Share your photos there if you try out this technique!

Merry Christmas Eve!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Adding The Every Day To December Daily

We have a lot of water in our Northern California rivers with more rain expected. Seeing the park flooded has occupied a certain 5 year old's brain, so I included it in our December book. We were able to take some time while it was not raining to go see the park, show him all of the water, and see the fabulous clouds with blue sky peeking through!

Everyday life goes on in December, so I thought it was important to add it in. I struggled a bit with the title of the page. The template said, Merry and Bright, which just didn't seem appropriate. A quick erase and a little addition and I think I've summed it up better. Do you struggle with including the everyday in your December Daily book?


Have you joined the new flickr group? Just for those of you I've had the privilege to help in your photography journey! Fun conversation, prompts and more to come!


Check out my post today at TheDailyDigi! Lot's of fun with holiday lights AND a give away!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

How To Capture Christmas Light Bokeh

Lesson 1 - Lights Bokeh

The talent in Capture Your Holidays was stunning! I've asked several class participants to share their photos so you can see what wonderful images created in the last two weeks. TerryD photographed Santa with bokeh in such a beautiful way! I just love this image.

So how did she do it?

The key to great bokeh is:

  • a wide aperture
  • distance between your subject and the lights
  • a longer focal length.

Here you are, step by step. This photo can be taken in the daylight so you get enough light on Santa.

  1. In Manual Mode (M), select your widest aperture (the smallest f/number).
  2. Select Spot Metering.
  3. Meter on your subject for a correct exposure.
  4. Looking through your viewfinder, adjust your shutter speed until it indicates a correct exposure (the middle line on your light meter). Adjust your ISO and shutter speed, leaving your aperture at its widest number.
  5. Shoot.
  6. Review your results.
Have fun shooting!

By popular request I've created a Flickr Group for everyone who has been in one of my classes, benefitted from my tutorials or ebook, walked with me, or followed instructions on my blog! A fun place to share photos and stay connected. I hope you'll join us!

Be sure to leave TerryD some love!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Catching Up With December Daily

I knew as soon as I took this photo it was going on December 14th's page. I'm playing a little catch up this week. How about you?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Pretty Pictures of Christmas

Christmas time surrounds us with photo opportunities. I love the lights and decorations and the holiday spirit. Throughout this week I'm going to share some of my favorite photos from my own December collection as well as those from people in my Capture Your Holidays class at Debbie Hodge's GetItScrapped.  I may even throw in a how to or two!

My ornament shots were taken in natural light (front lit for the top, side lit for the bottom) using card stock paper as a backdrop. I absolutely have a weakness for the classic, solid color, glass ornament.

Few of them are on my tree, most reside in dishes or platters around my house.

What is your ornament weakness?

Friday, December 17, 2010

How I Became The Photographer I Said I Wouldn't

Yes, years ago I said I wouldn't be a photographer who took a long time setting up a shot. Thinking about it. Planning it. Waiting for the perfect light. Modifying the light. Manipulating objects just because.

Yep, I really said that.

Well, I spoke too soon.

Back in those old days, I had no idea how much fun it would be to play with light or maneuver my focal point or photograph things that will never go on my wall. Photos just for photos sake.

Call me a hypocrite if you'd like. In fact, just last month I posted about My Photography. Yes, that is still the type of photography I love, but I would be remiss to not mention the hour I took to photograph a cupcake recently.

Yes. An hour. I didn't even eat the cupcake. No one did. I paid $2.75 for something I never intended to ingest. In my defense, I did shoot it on a piece of card stock, using a card stock reflector in my laundry room!

Call it what you want.

How did it happen? I have one guess. Somewhere in the passion for photography,  numbers really started to make sense. Once I had a more intimate understanding of what I could do with my camera, the fun began.

It makes me wonder. What does 2011 have in store for me?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Go Back Later To Find Photos You Love

I discovered this one today from just about a week ago. I'm not sure how I missed it the first time. Love the expression(click on it to see it larger). I think it's bad case of red eye made me skip over it for my December Daily book. I'm rethinking that now. I may just go back and tuck it in there somewhere!

Am I the only one who skips photos, only to go back later and find ones you love?

What Do You Do When December Daily Falls Behind?

It happens. Things get busy and I'm not able to make a page. I'll even admit that over the weekend, I grabbed time to do nothing. NOTHING. It was bliss.

So, yes, that put me behind doing my December Daily pages.

My strategies when I anticipate falling behind:

  • Take a few more photos to trigger my memory (even if they are with my phone)
  • Blog small details if I can or make notes on my phone.
  • Go with one photo pages.
  • Keep it simple
  • Don't stress, there are no December Daily police.

I've got photos and my photos trigger my journaling. I'm planning on snagging some of my journaling from my blog as well.

This year's book is featuring more one photo pages. They are quick to put together, giving me time to focus on the journaling.  I've learned from my 2009 and 2008 books that journaling makes my heart sing!

What do you do when you fall a bit behind?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Celebrating 14 on the 14th

I've known him for twenty nine years. How is that possible?

We met in junior high, he was the new kid in town. (Go ahead, do the math, I'm okay with that!)

He was my "boyfriend" or whatever you call it when you are too young to drive or go anywhere unsupervised. Only for a few weeks. And then, I told him to go away.

We had similar friends, activities, and even classes throughout high school.

We both travelled to separate ends of the state after high school.

We are fairly certain we were at the same Depeche Mode concert at Dodger Stadium in 1990. We had many random life parallels like that.

Every time I'd have a bad relationship experience, I'd joke with my friends, should have stuck with Shea.

And then, fate would have it. We both moved "home." We both escaped to the gym and while I was on the tread mill (or maybe it was the Stairmaster) he approached me. Said hello. I wasn't sure who he was at first. And then I knew.

It bugged me for days that after all this time, we'd just said hello and left it at that.

I called him. He couldn't find a pen to write down my number.

We met at a little Mexican restaurant for dinner. We went to dinner again. We drove around in his Jeep with his dog Pete. The dog that shed everywhere and had the grossest, slobberiest drive by licks.

And then. He asked me a question. I said yes.

December 14th. 1996. We sealed the deal.

14 years ago today.

I can't imagine spending my life with anyone else.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Taking A Photography Risk

After walking out of the gallery, I glanced back through the window. There she stood. Looking at my photo. She was studying it. She looked intent, thinking. I knew then I'd made the right choice. I snapped a quick photo through the window, the view obscured a bit by the bronze work in the window.

I've wanted to take this step for a long time. Living in a neighborhood filled with art galleries, I wanted my art to inhabit some space. Not for the potential sales. Not for the exposure of my name.

For nothing more than to declare to my town, I'm an artist.

I've created a million reasons to not take this step before. I've talked myself out of believing I have talent or art worth sharing. Yes, I share on the internet. But that is different somehow.

The idea of a contest, at a gallery I know, with an open call for art did it. I submitted my form. I nervously carried my canvases, five in total, into the gallery. I walked out and wondered. Will they hang on their walls? Will anyone look at them?

On Thursday night we walked into the Barton Gallery and found all five displayed. Each one tells a different story. Each one a piece of me.

People looked at them. People commented on them.

And now they know.

I am an artist.

Friday, December 10, 2010

When Mom Brain Strikes The Photographer

My bag needed to be packed. His first school performance was just an hour away.

Which lens? Flash? No flash?

I wasn't even certain where he'd be performing. The auditorium? The gym? I had no idea what the light was like in either.

I've helped so many moms with these decisions before. It was always so easy.

  • Choose your fastest lens. Go with the 50mm if you have it.
  • Bump up your ISO. 
  • Watch that your shutter speed is around 1/125th of a second so you stop motion.
  • Shoot in Aperture Priority mode if you need to. 
  • Program is okay if you get flustered. 
  • Get the moment. Don't worry about switching lenses.

Why so hard this time? Why so hard when it was MY KID?

I needed to text all of the moms who've sent me texts and ask, "can you tell me what I told you then? I seem to be losing my mind."

Dad was late home. That didn't help my nerves. One of those things. Try not to react. Tonight is about Ian.

Bag packed. One camera. One flash. My 50mm on the camera. Wide angle packed just in case. Battery charged. Memory card cleared.


I walk in the gym. Immediately thought I should have brought the long lens. How will I see his adorable face? Too many people. Can't get close enough. There isn't even anywhere to sit! WHAT am I going to do. This is about Ian. This is about Ian. Just enjoy him.

We take him to prepare with his class for the big moment. When we return to the gym to await his appearance, the gym is clearing out. Perfect. Floor position. Up close. Right in the middle. Ahhh, 50mm won't be wide enough for all of them. Quick swap to wide angle. Meter. Good light. More than I expected. All set.

They arrive. Too cute for words. Big smiles, waves. I take pictures. Stop. I just want to see he his face. Take it all in. But I want to have photos. Snap. Adjust. Why am I adjusting? Shutter speed, what is that? I want pictures. I want to see it all. Ahhhh.

They're done. 5 minutes from entrance to exit. 38 photos. He's all smiles. I put the camera away.

I now understand what it is like to be a mom behind a camera at a school event. Weddings are easier.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Looking for Cooperation For Christmas Photos?

Do you have difficulty getting cooperation for photos at Christmas? Want to know my trick?

Offer to adorn him in lights so he can be a Christmas tree.* It helps if he is five years old and determined to dress up in "every costume in the world." I'll need to add this to my list of methods to capture active kids.

The trick to low light photos? Spot meter and expose for his face.

How do you get cooperation?

*promptly bathe him after.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

How I Speed Up My December Daily Pages On Busy Days

This week is PACKED with activities in our house. I love this time of year, but it can get crazy and a bit hard to keep up with December Daily.

I've given myself permission to have some December Daily Do Over Days! I grab a page I've already completed, swap out photo and journaling. Change an element or two (or none). I am then able to breathe easier and carry on to the next day! I want to complete my album AND enjoy the holidays. I've got to strike that balance!

I only took a few photos yesterday, this was a favorite. Sums up this time of year so well.

How are you balancing December Daily and enjoying the holidays?

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

How I Photograph Holiday Cookie Baking

I do not dress my child up in costumes for photos, I really don't. I do, however, set up our cookie baking for the best results!

Making Gingerbread Vegans is a favorite tradition, both to make and eat. Once we prep all of the ingredients in the kitchen, I move the entire process to the dining room table. I position the rolling mat so Ian's side is to the window or so the window is directly in front of him. You can tell in these photos where I positioned him in relation to the light.  Since I never ask him to move, I get more cooperation.

Once he gets cutting it's easy to wander around to get the best angle and light for a shot or two. The elf costume is just a bonus!

Click on the photos for product credits.

Do you have any favorite holiday photo taking tricks?

Monday, December 06, 2010

December Daily Day 5 - The Story Of The Elf

Class starts tomorrow. I always get a little nervous excitement brewing the night before class, hoping I've not missed anything, anticipating the chatter in class, and looking forward to seeing everyone's photos.

Preparing for class has me scrambling a bit to keep up with December Daily, but I'm determined. I've learned from past experience to keep taking photos and jot down what I can. I'm going to allow myself a skipped day here or there if I need to.  For yesterday, I'm leaving it big and black and white. I loved it the moment I saw him on the tracks. Do you have those moments you just know you're going to love the photo?

This year's book is turning into documentation of everywhere Ian wears his elf costume. Since he's worn it EVERY DAY since he received it, expect to see a lot of it! I'm certain he'll appreciate this book on the coffee table when he's fifteen.

Are you seeing any themes develop in your December Daily Project?

Narrowing Down the Photos For December Daily

I've selected my six photos to compliment my one photo layout of December 4th! Thank you for all of the great ideas and for gently pushing me toward my decision.

I loved all of the ideas you shared:
  • Put them all in a grid, similar to my post.
  • Make a flip page with the stories behind them.
  • Include a baseball card style page.
  • Use an index print of all pages.
  • Create an elf minibook.
Loved them!

So why did I pick only six?

I know this book will be printed 8x8 at Shutterfly. With my books from 2009 and 2008, I've found I like my photos a bit larger so I can really see them. I'll include pages with fewer photos, but those are typically non-people photos.

I loved the suggestions to include my mom and the cup. It becomes so easy to make every page an Ian page, he's filled with the magic of Christmas this year! I like that I'm left with a good overview of a special day.

I am still mulling the elf minibook idea! What ideas are you considering for your December Daily book?

Capture Your Holidays Through The Lens starts tomorrow! I'm so excited to help you capture special moments! The first lesson includes the technique for the light photo in the bottom corner above.

Thank you to everyone who has registered and spread the word. You are an amazing community of friends.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Selecting Photos For A December Daily Page

December Daily is filled with choices about paper, embellishments, journaling, AND photos. Today is a difficult photo day for me.

Not because the day was too busy to take any, but because it was too filled to narrow it down to a few. You know those days. Family visiting. Birthday party to attend. Santa to visit. Lights to see. All in one day.  Exhausting holiday fun.

Everyone is sleeping all snug in their bed except for me. I'm sitting in front of Lightroom. Sorting. I could create a 20 page book with today's photos. And I would really like the book.

What makes it even more difficult? A costume. A stinkin' cute elf costume my mom made for Ian. He's been wearing it since she arrived yesterday. I'm not THAT mom that dresses up her kiddo for photos, but HE is THAT kid that dresses up and asks to be photographed.

Here is Page 1 for today. The story and the costume must be in this year's December Daily book. I've decided to include 6 more for the day on another page. The choice is made more difficult knowing each photo contains a story.

So here are a few of my choices.  Which would you include?

Friday, December 03, 2010

How I Chose My December Daily Paper

I work to keep things in my life simple. I might even put too much energy into being simple. Is it possible, I need to simplify simple?

I've planned my December Daily pages in my mind for weeks. I knew I was going with a white background and a big, photo first style. Something like this page or this page from October's Layout A Day.

I sat at my computer, brought all the pieces together with my December 1st photo. Moved things. Changed things. Walked away. Lamented. Moved more. Slept on it. Picked different whites. Used no paper at all. Flipped the orientation. Considered going with a 6x8 size instead.

Where did simplicity go? What was I thinking?

And then...

I did it. I simplified.

Does it look familiar? I am now considering kraft paper and Ali's templates holiday tradition. It feels right.

How are you keeping your December simple?

I have a winner!

McScraps5 was randomly chosen for a free spot in Capture Your Holidays Through The Lens! Congratulations! Stop by her blog to see her beautiful December Daily book.


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