Friday, November 30, 2012

Photo Friday- Fun with Lights

Today's Photo Friday is all about the Christmas lights on your tree.  I'm sure that most of you have your Christmas trees up or will be putting them up in the coming weeks.  I just love the look of a Christmas tree with lights glowing in the evening.  Taking pictures of your tree can be tricky though.  Trying to get the lighting right so the tree still glows can be a big challenge.  I happened upon some great tips on Pinterest here.

I loved the artistic look of the bokeh lights and wanted to take some of my tree.  These first two pictures were taken in the late afternoon.  I just closed the curtains and turned off the lights.  You'll notice when you look at the later pictures the difference in seeing just a little of the tree here and total darkness on the later pictures.  I think I prefer the afternoon ones.  I like seeing just a hint of the tree as opposed to just the shape of the tree.  Anyway, this what I got.   

I love the look of the colored lights!!  So fun!  I found it easiest to set my lens to manual focus and just play around with the lights that way.  By focusing farther out of focus the size of the lights changed.  I also experimented with getting closer and farther from the tree to get different effects.  I did use her recommend camera settings with my 50mm lens at f/1.8, ISO 800, and shutter speed at 160.  All of these photos are also SOOC (except for the watermark and a little cropping on Geoff's picture).   
I then remembered reading/seeing something about getting different shapes with bokeh lights by using a filter over your lens.  I don't remember where I saw this so I have no links to share it to, sorry.  I'm sure there is also some technical name for this but I have no idea what it is.  Anyway, I did an experiment and it worked!!  I used three different stars for this and give a couple examples of photos from each.  I used the same settings as above but put this paper 'filter' over my lens.  I used my Cricut to cut out the stars in the center and used a rubber band to attach it to my lens hood.       


Here are the pictures I got from my experiment.


Shaped bokeh!!  Aren't these fun?!  I just love how creative this looks!  You could use any solid shape in the middle of the filter in place of the stars.  Wouldn't it be fun to have hearts and red lights for a Valentine's Day theme? Or you could even do your last name initial or a favorite animal.  As long as you have a way to cut out the shape the possibilities are endless.   

One more experiment before you leave.  I wanted to see how a main subject in focus would work with the shaped bokeh lights.  Would the subject get distorted?  Would the bokeh effect still be there?  Since Geoff was still up he got to be my guinea pig.  I had him get on his tummy and watch TV a few feet in front of the tree.  Still using manual focus I focused on him.  In addition to the 'light' from the TV I put a flashlight on the floor to give him a little more light.  (Technically not the best thing to do but in a pinch it worked).  I did change my shutter speed to 1/40th as well to get a little more light.  I also laid down on the floor to get this angle. This is what I got and I love it!  How fun is that?! 

I hope I've inspired you to have some fun with your holiday lights this year.  Think outside the box and don't be afraid to experiment!  Thanks for stopping.   

Friday, November 23, 2012

Photo Friday- Start of the Season

It's the start of the holiday season and today's Photo Friday will hopefully get you in the holiday spirit!  I just love the magic of holiday lights and Christmas trees.  Last night we had the opportunity to watch the downtown lighting ceremony and after that we went to the Union Pacific building to look at their huge Christmas tree.  The boys had a great time watching all the lights turn on but they loved the train under the UP tree even more.  Of course my camera was along.  Here are my favorite photos from the night.  Thanks for stopping and have fun shopping. 


Friday, November 16, 2012

Photo Friday- Black and White Cowboy

On Sunday while we were having a fun game of Skip-Bo, Geoff decided that he wanted to be a cowboy.  He put on his vest, hat, and boots and then sat playing his Leapster and Angry Birds.  I love moments like these and especially love to capture them on camera!  The first few photos I got were in color and they just weren't doing it for me so I set my camera to black and white.  Much better.  Shooting in black and white can be so fun!  I just love the look of the black and white.  It's classic and you don't get distracted by all of the crazy colors and patterns going on.  You can see the difference in the first two photos between the color and black and white.  No black and white setting on your camera?  You can always use a photo editing program to change your photos to black and white.  So the next time your photo isn't quite what you were looking for maybe all it needs is a change to black and white.  Enjoy and thanks for stopping. 



Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cow Birthday Card

My niece turned 3 last week and wanted a cow for her birthday!  So cute.  Of course I had to oblige and made her this cute card.  I loved watching her open it and see the smile on her face.  So precious.  And what did it say inside?  Hope your day is 'MOO'velous.  I couldn't resist. 

I LOVE the Create a Critter cartridge for my Cricut!!  I use it ALL the time!  I almost always can find what I need on that cartridge.  The cow, barn, and clouds are all from there.  I love using dimensional adhesive to really give the card some depth. 

And don't forget all the little details.  A little ink around the clouds and patterned paper give it a little dimension.  Google eyes, glitter, gems, glossy accents, and a white gel pen all really make this card fun.  Don't go buy fancy embellishments, just jazz up what you have!  The next time you are making a card or scrapbook page go through your supplies and see what you have to glam up your card.   

Thanks for stopping and I hope to see you back on Photo Friday.  I think a cute little cowboy may be making an appearance.

  • cardstock: The Paper Studio (Textured Cardstock Brights and Darks), misc (blue)
  • patterned paper: misc (I got it free at CK Scrap and Play sorry no info)
  • Cricut cartridge: Create A Critter (all images)
  • ink: Tim Holtz Distress Ink (Vintage Photo, Tumbled Glass), Memories Dye Ink (black)
  • glitter: Recollections Extra Fine (Blush)
  • rhinestones: Queen and Co. (Orchid)
  • stickles: Ranger (Diamond Stickles)
  • stamp: Close to My Heart (Seasonal Celebrations D1112)
  • tools: We R Memory Keepers Corner Chomper (3/8")
  • gel pen: Uniball (Signo Broad)
  • misc: glue dots, Glossy Accents (Inkssentials), google eyes, pop dots, flower

Friday, November 9, 2012

Photo Friday- Zero out the Camera

It's another Photo Friday and today I want to share a quick tip with you that I learned in a photography class.  Zero out your camera.  Now you might be wondering what that means.  Basically it means setting any settings you might have changed back to a 'normal' setting so the next time you pick up your camera you can just point and shoot.  Still confused?  Keep reading. 

I love shooting in Manual mode.  I'm usually the happiest with my shots there.  I can change tons of settings there too from white balance to exposure compensation.  Sometimes I just love to play around with different settings and see what I get.  Being a mom though, I need to be able to grab my camera and also catch those quick fleeting moments without having to worry about what settings I have changed.  That is where zeroing out your camera comes in handy. 

Say you've been shooting outside in bright light and changed your White Balance to reflect that.  You put your camera away and don't change your White Balance back to auto.  The next time you grab your camera and go to take some photos inside it's still set for bright light.  If you don't realize it right away you can get some crazy color casts.  (Trust me.  I learned this the hard way). 

Here are a few easy things to set back to 'normal' every time you are done shooting:
  • Set your camera to P (Programmed Auto) or A (Aperture-Priority Auto) mode. 
  • Set White Balance to Auto.
  • Set Exposure Compensation to 0.
  • Set Flash Exposure Compensation to 0.  (I prefer to leave mine at -1). 
  • Set ISO to Auto.  (I usually set mine to 400). 
Everyone will have different settings that they like to 'start' with, so change this list to fit your preferences.  This is just a jumping board and with these settings in place you should be able to grab your camera and get those quick shots without too much hassle.  Then you can branch out from there to get creative.   

Thanks for stopping and don't forget to zero out your camera the next time you shoot!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Photo Friday- Halloween

In an effort to blog more and keep all of you coming back every week I have decided to add a few weekly posts/segments/series (whatever you want to call them).  I have a few ideas in mind and I'm going to add them slowly (just to make sure I can keep up).  I hope this will get me on here more and you following more.  So if there are things you want to see let me know! 

The first one that I will introduce you to is Photo Friday!  Every Friday I am going to share with you something photo related.  It might be my favorite photos from the week, a photo tip or trick, or a new photo technique that I am working on.  All that being said, I am just a mom who loves to take pictures and wants to take better ones!  I have no real training (I did take one photo class at our local community college) and mostly just experiment.  I love to read up on new techniques and use a lot of trail and error.  I may not always do things the 'right way' but I do what works for me. 

That brings us to today's Photo Friday.  I know that Halloween is gone but I know that some of you are going through the photos you took this Halloween and are either loving them or wishing they turned out better.  So this is what I did this Halloween to get some great photos. 

Take advantage of the great light at the end of the day!!  Eat a quick supper and then head out in your costumes and use that beautiful end of day light.  Go to your backyard, front yard, or even a park to get those shots.  Also take a photo of everyone in character by them self.  Have them strike that certain pose so you get the full effect of the costume.  If you can remove a mask take some with those off as well.  As much fun as it is to get dressed up it's nice to see faces too. 

Get a group shot!!  If you have a theme for your costumes this is a must, but even if you don't have a theme it's always great to get a shot of the kids or the whole family together.  Use a tripod and your self timer or remote to get you in the picture.  Ask a neighbor to come snap some if you don't have either of those.  We had our neighbor use our remote after I got our shot all set up.  Totally easy and stress free. 

Don't be afraid to crop!!  Use a photo editing program to crop in close and really get that detail.  Square photos are big right now with Instagram and you can even order square prints at mpix.  Here is our photo before cropping.  Not a bad photo but cropping sure does make it better.   

Bump up your ISO!!  This is something I am always scared to do but tried it this year while we were trick or treating.  Yes, you might get a little noise but if you want pictures without a flash in the dark it can work.  I bumped my ISO up to 1600 and used my 50mm lens for these shots of the boys and decorations (f-stop and shutter speed below the photos).  This look might not be for everyone but I like to look back at my Halloween pictures and have them feel like we are still walking around in the dark.  It also helps to get that glow in the decorations.

1/25th at f/1.8
1/40th at f/1.8

1/25th at f/1.8

And one last tip, move!!  The boys were walking ahead of us and there was a car with it's headlights on.  The boys were almost glowing.  I had them stop and got this shot. 

1/30th at f/1.8

 Not horrible but not what I had in mind.  But, by moving down to their level and using the boys as a diffuser of sorts I was able to get this shot. 

1/30th at f/1.8

Much better to me.  Yes, it has a little noise but I just love the feel of this shot.  So don't just get stuck in one place with your camera.  Move and get the shot you are looking for. 
I'll leave you with one last group shot.  Thanks for stopping and I hope these tips will help you get the Halloween shots you want next year.