Photographing the Littles

March 15th, 2017|photography|

Recently my dear friend Lisa Bearnson asked if I’d take pictures of her 11-month old niece, who hadn’t really had any ‘professional’ photos taken of her as of yet. Now, I am by no means a ‘professional’, but I can do okay. I know enough to get by, but in the photo world, I believe I’d still be considered an amateur. And it’s been years since I’ve photographed a child this age. Whew! It’s a workout!

So today, I thought I might share a few tips I used get some photos of this cutie.


Gotta keep up.

This is the biggest tip. These little tykes move fast! And you need to be ready in both might and mind…and by mind, I mean how you’re shooting. While I was in a lit area, it wasn’t lit enough to freeze the movements of this fast little one. I prefer just shooting in Aperture mode these days and let the camera do its own configuration of shutter speed and ISO. On my Fuji X-T10, I can set a minimum and maximum ISO so that the camera has a range with which to stay in. But in this case, I did set my ISO to 2000. I didn’t want to take any chances. Many cameras these days can have a higher ISO without getting grainy. Sweet.

Additionally, I set my Aperture to f/2.8. The lower the number with the f-stop, the faster your picture takes as well as it lets in more light. But with that comes a trade off. If you shoot wide open like that, you’ll get the nice blurry backgrounds, but then with an enclosed setting and fast-moving subject, you may end up focusing on an elbow rather than the eyes. At first I set my focus area to the full frame, which basically lets the camera pick what to focus on within that whole space.  But when I took this photo below, I needed to switch to a specific middle-range of focus points–one that I could move and pick the area. The first photos I’d taken kept focusing on her elbow, so I had to switch to a narrow focus area that I could move around and pick the area that I needed. Using that 2.8 and shooting this close doesn’t allow you much leeway with what comes into focus.


Get down on their level.

One thing you need to do, is go with their flow. If they get down on the floor, you get down with them. You can get some sweet shots like this above by laying on the floor with them. She was winding down with energy and having some fun just laying on the floor with me and watching me….while I watched her. ;)


Perfection is in the imperfection

Candid shots always have the best energy…the best personality. And no person can do this better than a young child. You have to expect the unexpected and just roll with it. You can’t get a one-year old to sit still for longer than two seconds.

You may not always get the perfect framing, but you can crop it later. Sometimes it’s better to stand back and allow the child the freedom of the frame instead of you worrying about getting a perfect ‘straight of the camera’ shot.

In this example above, there was much of the wood cabinets and much of the carpet because I’d taken it vertically. Cropping to a square eliminated many of the distractions so that we could focus just on that cute little stink.


Take 100 photos to get 10 good ones.

I probably took 150 photos in that one hour time frame and got maybe 15 photos that I think were really darling. Blurry. Moving. Out of frame. You name it. They are there.


I loved the previous photo as a full shot, but also thought it would be amazing to zoom in on her face and her little hand…and change it to black and white for just sweet simplicity of her expression and hand gesture. Tiny little things that you want to remember.


Photograph the ordinary.

It was time to eat. You don’t hold up a hungry baby for the sake of a photo. Lisa had propped her up on this brown+tan pillow. Since she was wearing a tan and pink sweater with a black+white polkadot bow, the colors worked better…when not in color. I love the textures and patterns in shades of grey. And again, using the focus points allowed me to get her face rather than the end of her bottle.


Take your time.

I think that you have to find the balance of moving quickly, but still taking your time. Get to know your camera’s main settings. Practice with them so you can be quicker at accessing them–know how to quickly change your focus points. You have a short window with a child. They’ll stay entertained only for so long before they want to move on to something else and you miss that ‘one shot’. Knowing what might work ahead of time will help, but then again, you still need to be able to go with the flow…and the munchkin…because…they are always on the go.  ;)


I actually did very little editing on these photos. I mostly just lightened them. I like the naturalness of it all. I think the subject and conditions with which I was shooting warranted only a little lightening. The sparkle–catchlight–in her eyes is all her own.

If you guys have any additional pointers, please share them! I don’t expect to make photographing littles a regular gig…until I’m a grandma, that is. ;)


Fun With Fuji

June 9th, 2016|photography|

I cannot tell you how much I am loving my new Fuji-XT10! I’m still learning the ins and outs of it all, getting accustomed to the buttons, and all that jazz. But I am simply loving the results! I’m finding that I really need to do very little editing on the photos too. Generally speaking they just come out so beautiful that I may lighten it a little and do a little contrast, but that’s about it. And really, many of them just don’t need any editing…and I’m loving that!

This week we’ve had our annual girls camp with Lisa Bearnson, Kristy Banks and our daughters. Not only do our children continue to grow, but now the families are beginning to grow. A lot can happen in the eight years we’ve been doing this…including Lisa and Kristy both becoming grandmas. What???

So yesterday Lisa asked if I’d take some pictures of her darling granddaughter, Oakley. Of course I was more than happy to oblige. She’s such a cute little stink!

She not even two years old and was having a grand time blowing dandelions!

I think this particular photo is my favorite. I love the shadows and light.


And the amazing thing is, I didn’t even have to kneel down to take the shots. I felt like I was using an ‘old timey’ camera that you hold down at your waste and look through a view finder. Only in the modern-day world, you flip out that screen and hold the bottom of the camera with your fingers and the top with your thumbs–using your thumb to press the shutter button. It was not even obvious to Oakley that I was taking pictures.

I love getting down to get her within the dandelions without having me get down into the dandelions. ;)

I haven’t photographed a toddler in a very long time, much less with a new camera and in this fashion. So it was really quite fun following her around. But also, she was often a fast-moving target. So I still feel like I need to work on the focusing and aperture combinations.

She was just absolutely adorable and if I could share all the darling pictures, I would. But for now, I’ll leave you with one more. And if you’re thinking about that camera, now is an excellent time as they have rebates going on (B&H Photo). No affiliation. Just loving the camera and sharing my enthusiasm. I plan to do a walk through on it soon, but for now, just enjoy this cute little face. :)



Telling Stories With Your Smart Phone

January 28th, 2016|photography|

This morning I stumbled across a video about taking photos with your smart phone–and in this case, an iPhone 6S/6S Plus. (I will neither confirm nor deny that I was avoiding work.)

We are taking so many more photos than ever before, which I think is amazing! And what I found fascinating is that with all the bells+whistles of the latest+greatest in cameras, you can still tell a most amazing story with the one you most likely already have in your hand….your smart phone. It’s quiet. It’s discreet. People are used to seeing smart phones out. And it’s pretty much always with you.

But when you pull out the ‘fancy’ camera (aka, dSLR), it’s more noticeable, maybe even clunkier. You kind of feel more on-the-spot if you’re taking photos on the streets. For example, I was taking photos on the streets of New Orleans with my Canon 7D. I liked the look down this sidewalk, but then within a second of preparing my shot, this man walked out of the coffee shop.


no street life web2

It’s one of my all-time favorite photos I’ve ever taken. I had loved all the nuances of the location–the bikes, the pipes. the sign, the ornate railing above the sign, the glare of the freshly washed-off sidewalk. I even wanted people in it, but didn’t necessarily want to be obvious about it. But when this man came out in his light-colored clothing, it just popped. It completed the shot. A serendipitous moment that I wasn’t expecting. Those are the best, right?

Lucky for me it all happened in an instant. But had he been walking down the sidewalk towards me, I would have felt very funny ‘focusing in’ on him and would probably have waited for him to walk by. Had he been walking down the street and I had my iPhone out…it wouldn’t have bothered me.

But how many times have you been in cramped quarters with your ‘fancy’ camera? Unless you have a wide angle on it, there’s no way in h-e-double hockey sticks that you’re gonna get the shot. As was the case with this shot.

Processed with VSCOcam with c3 preset


There was literally about three feet between the wall and the glass counter. Enough space for people ordering and for people waiting to order. And even with my iPhone, it was still hard to get the shot. Now, even if I’d have had a wide angle lens on my big mama camera, I still would have felt odd taking the shot and still wouldn’t have used it. But subtlety abounds with a smart phone, right?

It may not be the sharpest– it’s low-lit and she’s in motion so she’s a little blurry–but doesn’t that add to the energy of the photo?

So I guess what I’m saying is, there is purpose for all your ‘tools’. I still love a dSLR, but I also love the subtlety of my iPhone.  But when all is said and done, the best camera you have is the one you have with you. And nine times out of ten these days, it’s your smart phone. It’s pretty much always with you. And you can take amazing photos with it! It’s an amazing story-telling tool.

I think the best representation of this is done in the video I watched. Here it is for your viewing pleasure. The photos he took were awesome…and, I’m sure, edited….but still. A very fascinating look at a professional photographer’s opinion on using an iPhone. And if you’re interested in another one from the same two guys, check out THIS  one.

The Pancake: It's Not Just For Breakfast

July 29th, 2015|photography|

My son enjoys spending money–or enjoys dreaming of what he’s going to spend money on. (It’s true Zach, and you know it.) He’s always got some ‘cool thing’ that he wants to buy and it changes frequently.

We’ll be talking about one thing one day–like a fly rod he wants or that he wants to take a trip somewhere, and the next day he comes home with a lens.

This just happened at the beginning of the year.

Of course, with this particular purchase, I was quite intrigued. Canon released a new lens in November of the pancake variety. And just like the name, you can imagine what the lens looks like.


He bought this Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 lens for $149.

And I have to say, it’s a pretty nifty little lens for the price. (Note: This is not a lens you can use on a full-frame camera, like the 5D.)

I tried to convince him he should let me take it when we did our cross-country trip in March, but he wasn’t having any of that. I wish I would have just bought myself one then. It would have been awesome for places like the cemetery in New Orleans.

I’ve been struggling wanting to take my big mama camera (Canon 7D) around with me because it gets heavy and cumbersome. Love the camera, but it’s not very convenient. I’ve hauled it with me in a bag on many occasions and taking it in and out–most often with my 28-135 IS lens attached–and gets awkward…and heavy.

Need a little visual to see what I’m talking about?


Do you see what I mean? Granted, I lose all zooming capability and the image stabilizer, but with that small of a lens, don’t really need the IS. And with the megapixel of the 7D? I can always zoom in using Photoshop if I need to and probably be fine. Not only that, this is a fixed lens, meaning, I can set my aperture and it will stay…and I love being able to maintain the aperture I want.

I’ve been eying the Fuji x100s camera for like a couple years. I really want it. Light weight. Cool as heck looking. Love the retro. And a 23mm f/2 lens. Perfect for city, landscape and just everyday shooting. They are actually on the x100T now…that’s how long I’ve been wanting it. ;)

I still really want the Fuji, but with a cost of $1299 for the most recent model, it’s not so in the budget. Perhaps if I sold my 7D….

But at $149, I finally bought my own lens so I can have pancakes for breakfast, lunch and dinner, whether at home or on vacation.

Here’s a few sample shots I took at about–or just over–a foot away.

pancake11-webSettings: f/11, ISO 800



Settings: f/5.6, ISO 800


pancake28-webSettings: f/2.8, ISO 800

The one downside to it is that it does vignette a little when you get down to 2.8, as you can see by this photo. Seems that if you shoot with a little higher f-stop number, then it doesn’t vignette quite as much.

Zach’s been using his quite a bit these past few months and loving it.

I’m excited to give it a real test drive on some upcoming travel myself.

The Story Behind The Photo

June 8th, 2015|everyday life, photography|


Not too long ago I took this photo of our dog, Otis. He was looking way too cute not to take the photo.

So, of course he looks cute and you could just look at those big brown eyes as adoringly as he’s looking at you.

But is there more to this photo?


Definitely, yes.

I had shared this photo on Instagram with the quick tagline:

Ready to chase a bee or a gnat at a moment’s notice. 

I think living in our Insta-everything world has helped us record more, but also helped us not record enough.

We are capturing moments more than ever, which is fantastic, but are we getting the whole story?

A good chunk of the time, I think not.

I also think it happens in scrapbooking. We are good to get the date and a title and maybe a line of journaling, but what’s the story behind the photo?

It’s those details that capture a greater slice of life.

Here’s what you don’t know about this moment.

We were sitting out front on a fresh spring evening when the weather had finally started to warm up a bit.

I was sucking in as much fresh air as I possibly could while sitting on my tan plastic adirondak Home Depot chair with my computer on my lap.

I was missing The Amazing Race, one of the few shows I watch, and I didn’t even care.

We have to tether Otis to a tree so he won’t run off–or chase the much-despised-by-alldogs dog that frequents a walk with its masters on most evenings.

He had just been jumping around trying eat a bee and gnats.

Even though he’s five (that’s 35 in dog years) and as big as a horse, he still acts like a puppy and is all cute when he’s playful like that.

Being a lab-rottweiler mix, he has that hound dog in him and loves sniffing everything, including this evening, except he was digging his nose into the grass trying to sniff something out. It was rather funny to watch him do this.

As he finished his intense sniffing, he hunkered down right to the left of my legs looking just like that.

Looking so danged cute, I knew a photo needed to be taken.

Getting up to get the shot I wanted was not an option because he would have followed me and I would have lost the moment.

I knew I wanted a ground shot so I could get him nose-deep in grass, so while sitting in my chair, I grabbed my phone, turned the camera on, and positioned it down on the grass under my leg–not really being able to see the shot I was taking and hoping for the best before he realized a camera was on him and moved…as he usually does, the stinker. How does he know??

Snap. Done. Love.

While the Insta-tagline was cute and fun, it captured just an insta-moment and the whole story is so much better.

So the next time you sit down to document your photos, think about all the little things and include adjectives to describe that moment in greater detail.

It’s a much better story.

Photography + Lessons Learned The Hard Way

March 20th, 2015|photography|

One of my favorite parts of New Orleans was going to Lafayette Cemetery, which is locoed in the Garden District. For anyone going to New Orleans and wanting to see the St. Louis Cemetery 1 in Jackson Square, as of March 1 you have to have a tour guide and the one we inquired about was $26 a person!!! We didn’t know this until we’d walked clear over to it from Jackson Square. Being hot and a little tired, we weren’t exactly keen on searching for one and got on the Hop On Hop Off buss right there.

We really wanted to see a cemetery, and so we thought we’d research the other free ones later. As luck would have it, we chatted with a cute little family who were going to the Lafayette Cemetery the next day. When I looked it up, it was just a few blocks from our hotel!

So we opted to go at 8 a.m. the next morning and it couldn’t have been any better. We literally had the place to ourselves except a couple people. It was cool, it was shady, it was empty….sweet! The St. Louis one was crowded, no shade, mid-day….so our serendipitous trip to Lafayette was doubly delightful.

Lesson Learned (or so I hope)

But here’s the lesson I’ve learned. I have a tendency to set a low aperture number on my  camera thinking I’ll get a more artistic shot that way as well as I feel like the lighting will be better in shaded spots. I need to remember to NOT do this in every situation because in a place like the cemetery, it should be more in focus across the board. If I need to, I should set a little higher ISO to compensate. And it seems like it looks good on that little screen. Ohhhh…why must I learn these things the hard way.

Let’s see if I can smack that into my brain.

Here’s one of my favorite shots…even if it isn’t 100% sharp across the board. (The middle is sharp. I am kind of kicking myself.) I played with it and got three color choices.

Which do you prefer?


SLR vs. iPhone

October 7th, 2014|photography|

A few weeks ago we took a Sunday drive up to the Mirror Lake in the Uinta mountains. We hadn’t been there for a few years and I’d been really wanting to go back.

I’d taken both my dSLR camera and my iPhone. I’d never planned to take a panorama photo using both my dSLR and my iPhone 5, but just so happened to have done both. As a result, I found this the perfect opportunity to show a comparison.

With a dSLR, you need to take three photos (or so) to create a panorama photo later on in Photoshop using the Photo Merge feature. With an iPhone, you can just do a ‘flip of the switch’, so to speak, to change modes to a Panorama feature.

Here’s my results.

The dSLR Version

mirror lake panorama lg

I did enhance this photo a little in Photoshop. Brightening it slightly, adding a little contrast, and enriching the blue sky a little. Overall, not much. But just made it look a little better.

Because I could take three photos, I could get more into my panorama than the iPhone. I was afraid to go too far from side to side with my iPhone in the event it would ‘warp’ the photo.

An SLR will always produce better quality, especially if you increase the size but I was fascinated by the color difference.

The iPhone 5 Version

mirror lake panorama iphone lg

An interesting observation. When my son saw me post the iPhone version on Instagram, he’d automatically assumed that I’d used HDR–a feature also in the iPhone that enhances all aspects of a photo to provide the best representation of the colors in a photo.

I had not.

I was amazed at how blue the sky had turned out.

I can’t decide which one I like better. I really like the blue and white of the clouds and sky in the iPhone version. But I think the quality is better in the SLR. I also think that the coloring in the SLR version is probably a more accurate representation.

What’s your two cents?

send me a postcard

March 27th, 2014|photography, tips and tricks|

Postcards are great to pick up while on a trip. You can often find a great slice of life where you are without actually having to go to the same vantage point.

I love picking them up just for fun wherever I go.

But what I love even more are the look of vintage postcards.
But those aren’t exactly within your reach.

Or are they….


[ These were printed on my Epson PictureMate Charm and photographed on my iPhone. ]

While working on a particular project, I thought it would be so cool to have some vintage postcards to be a part of it. But where on earth would I find them???

Then the thought occurred to me . . . make my own. 

It’s so easy to vintagefy (yeah, it’s a word) a photo these days! Just add some words using a retro-looking style font to a photo that you took on your trip–with a retro  filter of some kind added, of course–and voila! You’ve got yourself your very own vintage postcard!

So let’s take a look at this picture from NYC. I use an in-camera app called Camera Noir to give this a vintage black and white feel. I added my text in Photoshop and got this:


So easy!

Then I took it one step further. I used Rad Lab to add some various stylets to get a vintage and faded look. Curved my text on this one, added a little border and got this look:


A couple extra steps, but still, very easy.

Then I decided I wanted to get really creative. Many of those vintage photos are sketches or paintings of the town. I wanted to achieve a similar look–just to see if I could. So I pulled out my trusty Filter Gallery in Photoshop and added a Dry Brush Artistic filter in addition to the Texturizer Texture filter and got started in on this one. Then I pulled up my favorite Rad Lab and started playing away with a whole assortment of filters. When it comes to something like this, the only thing you can do is play because every photo–color, subject, contrast–is different and these filters and stylets will have a different affect on each one.

After all that playing, I added a red section and shadowed title. Next, I added  a paper background and changed Blending Mode to Multiply (taking down the Opacity a little), and this is what I got:


And here it is close up so you can see the detail:


And in case you were wondering what this photo started out as–unedited? Yeah, crazy right?


Combine my love of travel with my love of photography and mix it in with my other love of all things vintage?

This was fun for me. :)

photo app • vsco cam

March 6th, 2014|photography, technology|

I’m just a sucker for photo fun. Usually it’s more so on my computer, but I do dabble in iPhone fine art.

A few days ago Zach got himself a new smartphone. Granted, his other one was almost two years old, but it wasn’t the ‘most recent’ release of the line when we purchased it at the time. I mean, c’mon, the ‘most recent’ changes like every two months.

But he got a nice new phone with a great screen and introduced me to the VSCOcam app (or website+video) that he was so excited to now have access to. This came out last May, I believe. Now, I’m not a big filter girl, but man, they just have a way of pulling you in! In general, I like the look of filters, but wind up going with the natural enhanced shots most of the time.

The app itself is free, but you can buy a pack of a few filters that you want for .99, give or take. Then they had a bundle of 38 for 5.99 vs. getting the 3 or 4 for .99. And when they make it look like this?



Bought the 5.99 set–as indicated by the ‘In Bundle’ sign.

I’m not a big app buyer in general, so it didn’t seem like much of a big deal to just have a little fun.

Like I say, I can get sucked into this stuff on a whim. That being said, my most favorite app ever is still, and will probably always be, PicTapGo. Love that thing and use it all the time.

But this app is incredibly powerful! I love choices….variety….and this baby has a ton! Even from the Library view after importing the photos that you want to work on, you have three viewing choices. (And these are screen shots on my iPhone, so they aren’t the sharpest of photos. :) )


So the first thing you do is import your photo from your Camera Roll (or take your own photo) and then pick a filter. I like it because the filter indicator pops up on your screen momentarily.


If you notice in the middle photo, once you’ve picked your filter, it has a little slider on it. If you push on it again, you’ll get a slider for the intensity of the filter.

Again with the choices. love.

But that’s just the beginning. In the right photo you’ll see the various options for altering your photo–each one with its own slider. They include: Exposure, Temperature, Contrast,  Rotate (love this), Crop, Fade, Vignette, Tint, Saturation, Shadows, Highlights, Sharpen, Grain, Highlight Tint, Shadow Tint, and Skin Tone (a free filter add on).


And what I really love about this app is that the changes are always there for you to modify again if you want. So if I exit this and decide I no longer want the vignette and I want to Sharpen and Rotate it…done. If I rotated it too far. I can fix it. And when I say rotate, I mean rotate. Most apps only let you rotate in 90 degree increments. This one has a slider (of course) that you click and drag and it will rotate it for you. LOVE!


So on this last Yankees Stadium photo, I took the Exposure to -1, Temperature -2, Contrast +1, Saturation -1, and then of course added a Vignette and Rotated. it.

And that’s just touching the surface of it all. Here’s some things I did with a photo of a little corner flower shop in NYC. We bought flowers for the kids and the music teacher and piano player here to give to them after singing in Carnegie Hall last year.


(oops. typo. ignore it.)

And this is where it gets kind of cool. With Shadow/Highlight Tints, you can add a tint to the shadows or the highlights of the photo.


It’s just subtle change, but fun. Here’s the final shot with a couple other edits.


The possibilities with this app are endless. I think one could get a bit carried away. Which is probably why I usually shy away from filter apps and stick to make a photo shine in its original–but enhanced–state. I usually don’t have time to mess around. But it’s fun to have when you do want to play. Oh, and I also like being able to filter your library by Edited, Unedited, All or even Flagged ones. Pretty sweet.

And speaking of playing, here’s a before and after of the Santa Monica Pier. I was playing with this last night. :)


The one bad thing about using photo editing on my phone is the fact that my vision changes from time to time so I may have to get my glasses. Oh how I hate that. Taking out my contacts and holding it close is dreamy though. I can see it clearly that way.

Anywho. It’s a fun app to play with. :)

take advantage of the moment

October 26th, 2013|photography|

It’s early in the morning here in Florida and I guess I’d put my eight hours of sleep in, even though we’d had a good day at Harry Potter World + Islands of Adventure yesterday. Dan is going to have to build me my own HP world, by the way. My most favorite ride was flying around with Harry. It was pretty darn amazing. Felt like you were flying. Loved every minute.

Anyway, I just thought I’d take a quick moment to share a photo with you while everyone else is sleeping. We decided to eat at the Rainforest Cafe at Downtown Disney and somehow stumbled along the Lava Lounge–same menu, you just sit on a deck outside over the water. Sounded lovely to me–and much better than the 2 1/2 hour wait for inside. We only waited about 15 minutes.

This was the view when we first walked in to sit down.



This beautiful sunset was in progress.

Of course I had to snap a couple photos, especially with the Wizard of Oz balloon up in the air. Beautiful photo. Happy + content with my little capture of the moment. But within about 5 minutes, it changed to this.

I had to take a picture, even though Jordan said I should just sit down because I’d already taken one. But…but…but…I had to do it and so my first beautiful photo was added to with an amazing photo. I wish the balloon was still up in the sky, but wow…what a sky! And water!

And really, I didn’t do anything to these photos but add a tiny bit of Oh Snap to make sure things were a little sharper. What you see is what we saw.

Absolutely breathtaking and I soaked up every minute of it.

So the moral of the story is, if you want to take advantage of a photo op, do not hesitate…even if you may be ’embarrassing’ your daughter. She was even impressed. ;)