Monday, January 31, 2011

January 2011 Rejects

In 2011 I am working on shooting with intention. Taking few shots more deliberately.

And still. I have many rejects. Here is the best of January!

Ian's latest technique to "help" me take a photo. I focus, recompose, he shouts, "I'm not in the middle," and moves to place his reflection in the center of my lens!

Or he just dodges at the last moment. Nice head shot.

It looks like 2011 will be a good year to continue the Lens Cap series. I love it so much.

In 2011 I'm also adding the Overexposed Series. It's a nice contrast to the deep colors of the Lens Cap Series.

Notice the sharpness of the tree? Got to love good focus.

And wow, look at this fence. Not sure why that same little boy keeps getting in the way of my shots.

And the hand. Close up. Perhaps you've seen other parts of this body before?

One of the beautiful things about shooting everyday is collecting a few rejects along the way! Perhaps I should consider creating a reject book this year? 

Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday Inspiration

Feeling inspired this morning. Inspired by all the goodness people share with the world. So many posts resonating with me this week. Here are a few, captured through their quotes.

Remember what is important to you and do that. Read and write about that. Love and breathe that, and them.
Courtney Carver, BeMoreWithLess

There is no such thing as a perfect parent so just be a real one.
Sue Atkins, posted by my friend Karen Bierdeman

You don’t need to be concerned with changing the world with your photographs. You need to be concerned with telling a story about the things that really, truly matter to you. It doesn’t matter what they are.
Scott Bourne, PhotoFocus

Here's to an inspired weekend.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

How To Get Sharper Photos | Photography Quiz Answers

Getting sharper photos takes more than one simple answer or setting, but many of you identified THE BIG culprit behind less than sharp images.

Shutter Speed.

Yep. Shutter speed. We so often focus on aperture and ISO, shutter speed becomes the forgotten step child of photography.

In fact, when you view a photo on your camera's LCD screen you may think you've nailed it, only to be disappointed later.

But first, why is Aperture NOT the answer?

You were correct about the sharpest point of a lens typically being one stop up from the widest aperture. So yes, that may be a small contributor but not as big as THE BIGGEE. Also, distance to the subject can effect sharpness. At 2.8 I was a fair distance away from him (more than 10 feet) so at a wide aperture I get more in focus.

Shutter speed, when hand holding your camera, needs to be equivalent to or greater than the reciprocal of your focal length to get a sharp photo.

Shall I show you what that means in English?

If you are shooting at 50mm your shutter speed needs to be 1/50 or faster to avoid camera shake. The 1/50 will show up as 50 in your viewfinder.

Another way of looking at it:
50mm=1/50 of a second
70mm=1/70 of a second
100mm=1/100 of a second
200mm=1/200 of a second
300mm= 1/300 of a second

So, the longer my lens, the faster my shutter speed needs to be. You can then get your light for a correct exposure from either opening up your aperture (I was as wide as I could go) or bumping your ISO up (my best choice).

If you are using Aperture Priority Mode watch your shutter speed since your camera will find a correct exposure, but not a shutter speed fast enough to avoid camera shake or to stop motion.

And yes, it was a bit underexposed. I grabbed another one and fixed it up a little better.

But still with that bit unsharp, shutter to slow issue. I'll use the photo, but once again, be reminded to slow down and think through my shots!

I hope this was helpful. Any questions?

Monday, January 24, 2011

I Heart Faces Photography Contest | Innocent Wonder

I heart iheartfaces.

Innocent Wonder is this week's themes. So many ways to interpret it. 

I journaled these words after taking this photo:

You weren't really looking at me. That was ok. You were deep in thought in the midst of a paleontologic dig. I'm certain you were narrating this event as you discovered bones from long ago, right in the middle of the garden path, somewhere between the leeks and the Walla Walla onions. 
You can see both larger here

I love how he finds wonder everywhere.

Happy Birthday Kelly

Happy birthday sister of mine!

I hope you have an amazing day, you deserve it. 
We've not always seen eye to eye.
We are less than alike in so many ways.
Our worlds are different in more ways than we can count.
But you are dear to me.
My sister and my friend.

Thank you for being you!

While taking my niece's senior photos last year she plopped herself down on her mom's lap. We laughed. I clicked and ended up with one of my favorite photos of the two of them!

Happy Birthday Kelly.

Photography Quiz: Help! My Photo Isn't Sharp

Are you ready for a quiz? We've not taken one here in a while!

This is a photo taken yesterday at 6:14PM in the park near our home. It is not sharp. Lack of sharpness is the #1 question I'm asked by people in class, on facebook, and in emails.

Click on it to see the larger size, if you aren't convinced.

ISO 800 | 200mm | f/2.8 | ss 1/160 

Did you notice how soft the focus is on his eyes and face. What simple, simple mistake did I make in capturing this moment? 

I'll post the answer tomorrow!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

How Procrastination Changed My 365 Project

I took a photo everyday in 2010, as I did in 2009.

I didn't keep up with getting them into a photo book though. I got behind. Some days I didn't select my photo of the day, keyword it, and upload it to flickr. Ok. There were several weeks when I didn't do that. I took pictures, put them in folders by date, knew they were there. That was it.

I'm determined to get my 2010 book completed by the end of the month. I'm compelled by a free coupon that expires that day and by seeing how amazing it is as they come together.

My procrastination paid off though. Had I selected my POTD last year this photo would be the selection.

A salad. It was an incredible salad. After a day in the hospital for my mom's knee replacement surgery it was a nice quiet moment with my sister. A great memory. But yesterday as I was putting I found this photo. Taken with my phone.

My dad. He loves to read. He didn't always. I don't remember him reading much when I was a kid, but now it is a daily ritual for him. He drives to work early to read before he starts work. He's never been in my 365 as he's not a photo fan. But I got this. Doing what he does, knowing he sat in the room with my mom as she rested post surgery.

Is there anything or anyone missing from your 365? I'm glad I found mine. Procrastination paid off.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

365 - The Same, Only Different

I anxiously awaited the opportunity to pop my last photo into the template to complete Page #3 of my 365 book. I love how Anna's (free) template can be used in different ways.

I'm not sticking to a week to one page, rather opting for a flexible flow of whatever mood strikes me.

Nine days in one template.

Four days in one template, with a simple merge to show off the ice on my windshield.

The first eight days you saw when I was thinking about beginning with the end in mind.

I anticipate a few one photo pages as well. I'll just adjust the template as those days happen. Looking forward to seeing how the year in photos unfolds!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Feeling the 365 Spark

I grabbed my camera and stuffed it into the bag as I raced out the door to work in Ian's classroom. With so much sunlight outside, I knew light would be good inside. 43 photos. I snapped them while they sat in circle time and while they got their wiggles out. I want to remember these moments when he still smiles at me when I come into the classroom, giving me a thumbs up and a wink to let me know we're all good.

I tried to hide the camera until they got involved in what they were doing. Using my 70-200 (as my metadata recommended) meant I could sit back and let the lens do the work.

After a few days of indecision over my photos of the day, today's came easily. I knew as soon as I saw it on my screen. I'd tried to frame him between arms of his friends, with the little belly showing and of course, the ears being tugged. So him right now. It was the last photo I took. It was the one.

Something happened this week. I regained a spark for 365 I've not felt in a while. Reacquainting myself with a lens I too often leave in my bag, shooting someplace that isn't completely known to me. It felt good.

How is your 365 going? Are you feeling a spark? What's creating it for you? Let's chat.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The (Controversial) Winner Of the Family Vote

I was out voted by my family. 

Like many of you, the dreamy sepia tone was my favorite. Artistically, it is the best photo, but this year's project 365 is leaning towards memories.
Christi hit the mark with her comment, "For us all we know is that he's playing on the swing. To be there in that moment there is so much more going on. I'm sure he's talking, you're talking, there are bugs and critters, his imagination. For all I know he was flying in a space ship in one of those photos and the story behind the photo would make the difference."
In this moment he was Bear Grylls parachuting to the ground. I plan on printing the other photo for my photo wall and giving copies to his grandmothers. The one above will go in the 365 book. How can I deny the little adventurer who pointed at the screen and said, "that one, it's got color."The boy likes his color.

I was out voted and I can live with that!

I should have guessed another sunny afternoon would yield another batch of photos, this time a helicopter.  Another day, another 365 decision.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Taking A Family Vote For Photo of the Day

After my display of geekiness yesterday, I'm going photo heavy today! I took on my challenge and with the aid of sunshine for the first time in MANY days, a swing, and my 70-200 lens we headed into the garden. He played while I sat at a distance willing myself to use a focal length less than 200mm.

We took a family vote to decide on THE photo of the day. The 5 year old criteria for selection is always straight forward, no holds barred.  Dad thinks a little more strategically and Mom always goes for the emotion. 

These are my favorite type of 365 photos. Just the natural flow of life as it unfolds.

Which is your pick? I'll share the final family choice tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

How Metadata Can Improve Your Photography

Before digital cameras, photographers kept notebooks of settings and situations to improve their photography. In the digital era information is at our fingertips, hidden in our photo's metadata. Programs like Lightroom let us quickly look at large amounts of data. I wondered if mine held anything of value.

Here's what I found.

I tend to shoot at the extremes of each lens - typically the widest aperture, the shortest focal length, or the longest focal length. Not a lot of in-between.

Then the latent analytical side I don't often admit to kicked in. What did my Photos of the Day tell me? Would the story be the same? Numbers all over? Aversion to using an ISO other than those translatable into film speeds?

I found a few interesting things about my Photos of the Day.

My ISO was almost always 100 to 200, telling me that I was shooting in abundant light for most photos. Runners up? 400 and 800. So, yes, I love my film speed equivalent ISOs.

Most of my POTD's apertures were right at f/4.0. Again with good light, moderately shallow depth of field. I thought this might be because my wide angle lens' widest aperture is f/4.0, but when I looked at the lens used for most POTD it was the 50mm f/1.4.

The abundant light explains why only 3% of my photos were taken with a flash.

Very few of my photos were shot at narrow apertures (above f/8). Most likely driven by available light and a moving subject.

So what do I do with all of this information? I plan to use this to challenge my photography this year. There are focal lengths and apertures and shutter speeds I'd like to try out a bit more. Dive a little more creatively into places I avoid. Stretch myself out of the settings that come so naturally and easily. A few ideas:

  • Work with narrow apertures more often
  • Play with external flash as my light source
  • Slow my shutter speed down a little more often
  • Perhaps ISO 320 now and then?
  • Use my 70-200 lens a bit more
  • Try focal lengths in the middle ranges of my lenses

Are you intrigued? Or frightened by my geekiness? Take a look at yours, see what it tells you.

Quick Steps To Analyze Your Metadata
Open Lightroom
Select Library Mode
Type "G" for Grid View
Select the folder you want to analyze
Select Metadata
Click on each column heading to choose the metadata you want to view

What does your metadata tell you?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Another Approach To 365

I stumbled upon another alternative when you miss a day of 365!

365 is about our memories. I don't want to feel locked into anything, bound by rules that get in the way of my life. I want 365 to be a natural flow with my life, something enjoyable.

While away for the weekend my husband emailed me photos each day of his escapades with Ian. I realized I had to include them in my 365. THEY are my life. They are the focus of my energy and love. So I'm plugging them in. 

I can live with the quality being less than perfect. In 20 years I'll be so happy to see this little moment again.

What's stopping you from including other people's photos in your 365? Does it feel like cheating to you?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Simply A Photo of the Day

We are so lucky Ian has a thoughtful teacher. She has wonderful assignments that involve the entire family and well, make for excellent photos of the day.

He'll be taking this to school today. Ian's dad made one to, filled with the wishes and dreams for Ian. I made it in his classroom after our monthly parent meeting as I waited for a friend in the classroom next to Ian's. I love that his little table is the background.

I used my phone, with the flash. Processed using Matt K's Nostalgic Preset. I love it.

What do you dream for your children?

I'm sharing this at The Simple Things. It is the Simple Things that matter so much.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

11 Things I Love About LOAD and 4 Ways I Make It Work

I love LOAD (layout a day). Why?
  1. Lain. She's a hoot.
  2. Amazing community of supportive people.
  3. Thoughtful prompts each day.
  4. I'ts a nice kick in the pants to get our memories documented.
  5. It gives me justification for being creative EVERY DAY for a month!
  6. It makes creating a more natural part of my life.
  7. Inspiring interviews from inspiring people. Some new to me, some old friends.
  8. I dig through my photos, which is ALWAYS fun.
  9. I see things my life a little differently, a little happier when I'm done.
  10. I have a tangible outcome for all of the time I invest. LOVE THAT.
How do I make it work with a job, a child, and a husband who expects I help out a little around the house?
  1. I open Photoshop in the morning and work on my page throughout the day.
  2. I keep it super simple. Photos+words. 
  3. I use templates. A LOT.
  4. I don't stress over my pages. Just create.
Do you love LOAD? Thinking about it? I hope you join me!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Project 365: Begin With the End In Mind

You've finished your first week of Project 365! Congratulations.

It's been helpful for me to start the project with my final result in mind. Am I going to put them together in an album? How many details do I want to include? How large do I want the finished book to be?

So many options.

In 2008 I included a photo on each page. I started 365 in March, so the book is shorter than 365 pages.

In 2009 I took a different approach. I used Anna Aspnes' Templates and included a week on each page with journaling. I changed each page up a bit as well. I changed the color with each spread. There is A LOT more going on on these pages than is typical for me! And I'll be honest, I'm not done with it yet! Here's a look at a few of the pages. I have all of the photos and journaling. Just need to get it done! Credits here.

After including so much in 2009, I included less in 2010. I used Ali Edwards' Grid Template and a little word art. Just photos. Super simple. And well. I'm almost done! Credits here.

For 2011, I'm grabbing the best of both worlds. A little journaling and a grid style from Anna Aspnes'. I'm going with a black background to make the photos jump off the page. I have a fun idea for changing this template up each week!

You can find this template at a free download on her blog! I used her Art Play Celebrate Value Pack for the paper. I like the challenge of the landscape photos as I'm definitely more of a portrait shooter, it will be good to get me out of a rut!

What is your plan for how you will bring your project together? Link me up in the comments to your ideas! Anyone just blogging them this year? I'd love to see.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Photographing Birthday Moments

ISO 1000 | f/1.4 | ss 1/40 | 50mm

Happy Birthday Breena! 

30 candles provides enough light to shoot in Aperture Priority Mode with spot metering. It blows out the candles, but gets her face perfectly exposed! Birthday cakes go quickly, so have your settings ready to go before the moment if you can. Aperture Priority gives you that little added assurance your exposure will be close. The silhouette on the right of the frame is a little family friend. I think Breena will love knowing he shared this special day with her.

This is also my Simple Things photo for this week.

If you've not found Rebecca Cooper's blog, I recommend you stop by her Simple Things Challenge each week. She and her photos are lovely. And really, can't we all use more lovely in our lives?

Friday, January 07, 2011

Honor The Ordinary In Your 365 Project

For the past week Brene Brown has touched my world in the most interesting ways. I opened my email, to find a link to Brene's Video with my dear friend's comment, "it spoke to me similarly as your professional goals did." I had watched the same video the day before when it popped up on the front page of Ted.

Reading Twitter yesterday, Ali Edwards tweeted about the same video. I clicked, not realizing it was the same Brene who was somehow infiltrating my life. So I bought her book on the Kindle for iPad.

Early this morning I woke up, unable to sleep, and sat in bed with my iphone in hand. I read almost the entire book. So much of it resonated with me. So much of it felt like she was talking directly to me. Her words were a beautiful extension of my 40 Day Yoga experience and the practice I'd completed just hours before.

Are you wondering how this all relates to Project 365? I found it in one statement she made in her videos and explores more in her book.
"In the ordinary moments of our lives is really where we can find the most joy." Brene Brown
That, my friends, is what 365 or 52 or 12 or whatever project you might be working on is about. Ordinary. There is comfort there. There is life there. There are memories there. There is joy there.

No matter what camera you are shooting with. No matter how you decided to bring your project together, it is about our lives.

Here is my ordinary life over the last seven days. There are multiple cameras. There is imperfection. Most importantly...there is joy.

I hope you find the joy in your ordinary life.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Get It Right In Camera, Or Not

This photo of Ian from December has been grabbing my attention since early this morning. It is completely him. That is his real smile right now, and the look in his eye. Real. Him.

It's confession time. I hope you don't mind.

You've heard it. Get it right in camera so you don't have to work on it later. Yes, it's true, I believe it. I say it in my own classes.

Can I show you something?

I cropped the heck out of this! And you know what? I can live with that! Sometimes you just have to. Children aren't easy to photograph. They have little minds of their own (little growing minds, thinking up new ideas every moment.) So if you're messing in Lightroom or Photoshop to make your photos look better. No worries.

Anybody else out there doing a little creative cropping? I can't be the only one!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

So, What do you do when you skip a 365 day?

Is it possible to pick just one of these? He was showing me his happy dance on the way to the zoo this morning. The one on the left is going to be THE photo for the day, but it just makes me smile with the other one next to it!

But what do you do if not every day is a happy dance day? What if (gasp) you miss a day? Here are just a few ideas to consider.

  1. Skip it and move on. No harm, no foul. No one will know and frankly, in twenty years no one will even notice. 
  2. Fudge it a little. Take a photo related to that day, no one will know. Take a photograph of your calendar perhaps?
  3. Make fun of it. Find something fun or tacky to replace the day every time you forget. Perhaps a pink elephant? Or a solid color. Or the ugliest piece of jewelry you own? 
  4. Give up. Don't go forward. Consider yourself a failure. 
Okay, so four isn't really the BEST option, but I had to include it :) 

What is your strategy?

Monday, January 03, 2011

How LOAD Changed My Life

The real count down has begun for me! Only 28 days until LOAD 2/11 begins!

I took part in LOAD 10/10 thinking, I'll complete some layouts, think about "story," and make it through a week or so.

And then...

I was completely enamored. I loved the community. The prompts. Lain's awesome interviews. Yes, she interviewed me. And? It was AMAZING! Even if I sounded like a geeky, photography obsessed goob, her questions had me really thinking about why I spend time behind the camera and why I scrapbook.

On her website, Lain claims LOAD may change your life. Well. She wasn't wrong. I loved finding the stories I needed to write and capturing them together with some of my favorite photos. I got into a great rhythm of putting together pages without worrying about them being perfect. I got them done. They are some of my favorite pages because they are truly some of my favorite stories.

I cannot wait for February 1st to arrive so I can feel that inspired again. Best part? February's theme is INSPIRATION!  My plan, at this point, is to scrap each of my 365 photos as I take them in February. I'll see what inspires me when February arrives though!

If you want to be inspired and get those memories captured, join me for LOAD 2/11. It may change your life too.


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