Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Slaying of the Pumpkins

Okay--now that I have gotten all that "nerdy" stuff out of the way (see previous post) I can now show you a few pictures from our annual pumpkin carving festivities. We don't get really fancy around here, but apparently some of us use it as a time to release some aggression (see picture #3). Happy Halloween!!!

She really doesn't have much aggression in her, just a lot of "will" to do it on her own.

Nerdy Stuff

Okay--so not everyone will appreciate this post. But this little rectangular-shaped item brings a BIG smile to my face. In case you do not have a single nerdy bone in your body, I'll fill you in on what this little device is and how it could give me so much joy. This device is my new 1 TB (terabyte) External Hard Drive. A terabyte is 1 thousand gigabytes or a thousand billion bytes. Bytes store information on a computer. In my case, I need those "bytes" to store glorious photos.

I have been desperately needing some more "bytes" for a while now. My DVD drive has been burnin' up DVDs like mad. I have been searching my current external hard drive for any bit of space it might have left and deleting any unnecessary items that might have accidentally been copied there. My computer hard drive has been cleaned up so I can squish on just a few more files. And still I have been out of any kind of "bytes."

See, when you take lots of pictures and each of those pictures is a large file from a 12 Mega pixel camera, storage for those pictures will quickly become an issue. And when you run memory-hogging programs like Photoshop that require a certain amount of free hard drive space, storing them on your computer just isn't an option. So, that is why this little silver, rectangular-shaped piece of metal (and whatever else is inside that makes this miraculous device work--I'm not THAT Nerdy) becomes something that brings a big smile to my face.

So now that you know what it is, check out the newest addition to my computer family:

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Few Family Peeks

I actually took these pictures on Monday, but have been working on them a little at a time all week. So here they finally are!! They are a cute family and related to me (of course!)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Nature Up Close

The other day, I got out my macro lens to use. I haven't used it for a VERY long time (I almost forgot what to do.) The simple definition of macro photography is up-close photography. In order to take pictures close enough to be defined as "macro," a photographer has to have a lens that will allow the camera to focus much closer to the subject. For most of these, I was just an inch or 2 from the subject I was photographing. A macro lens also gives a very shallow depth of field, meaning that the exact point at where you focus will be in focus, but everything else will have varying degrees of blur. Before you see the pictures, lets get one other thing straight, I am not a true macro photographer. I am also not one to get so close you can't tell what it is (check here for some serious macro stuff). Focus is CRITICAL in macro photography, and although I tried my best to get my focus perfect, some of these are a not spot on. Even though it is not my specialty, every once in a while it is fun to focus CLOSE. With fall here and so many beautiful colors outside, I thought I'd try to capture a few.

The first set of photos is an Ode to a Rose Bush in Fall:
Come fall, my rose bushes are some of my favorite flowers. They bloom even through the first snow!

Oh, and lest ye think a rose bush is ONLY beautiful, check out the thorns on those babies!!! Not so friendly-looking, eh?

Now, for some other colors and textures of fall.

The following is possibly my favorite of these photos. I think it is the colors and bokeh (or blur) of the background.

Despite the freezing temperatures (okay, well, in my book any temperature that causes me to turn on the heat is freezing), these flowers my daughters gave me for Mother's Day keep blooming.

I told you which one was my favorite, which one is yours?

Monday, October 20, 2008

From Park City

We went up to Park City this past weekend and despite a nice vacation and a little relaxation, I didn't take many pictures. I took a few and my daughter some, too. The first two are mine (just snapshots of the girls in the hot tub) and the last is hers.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Get in Close

The other day, I asked if anyone would be interested in any photography “How To” related posts. I didn’t get a lot of suggestions for topics. However, Laurel did ask if there was anything that I could suggest for those without any fancy camera’s and lenses. I am going to attempt to answer that challenge. I think there are a few simple things that can improve all photographs. I might post a few other ideas over the next few weeks.

Today, I am going to focus on just one simple improvement most anyone can make in their photography—Get in close. Actually, closer than that. Now just a liiitttttttle closer. Okay, that’s about right! Getting in close simplifies your photo allowing your subject to shine. Simplifying your photos will give a photo more impact and draw more attention to your subject. The easiest way to simplify is to get in as close as you can. Getting in close eliminates clutter in the background that may detract from your subject. Maybe this seems obvious to you, but I think it is the number one characteristic that separates a typical snapshot from a great photo. Most photography books call this “filling the frame.”

To simplify effectively, you must first decide on the focus of the photo you are taking. Once you decide what/who your photo is about, FILL the viewfinder with what you are trying to capture. Sometimes that may be a just a face or one person. Other times it may be a beautiful landscape or a whole group of people.

Here are a few examples:
If I wanted to capture a picture of the beautiful flowers my husband brought for me the other day, which would be more interesting. . .

(this is okay but does it really allow the flowers to shine? Have you seen this picture before? Does it stand out from the last bouquet you saw photographed?)
or these:

If I wanted to capture the beautiful red leaves on the bush outside my door, would you rather see this:

or these:

A couple of things to remember. First, most rules in photography have been beautifully broken. I am sure this one has, too. Second, if your subject is a person, you have to be a little more specific about what you are trying to capture of that person--their beautiful expression, their interaction with a sibling, how much they have grown, or this person in the beautiful surroundings they are in. Each one of those scenerios would require a photographer to frame the photo differently.

Try this out for yourself. Take a few pictures this weekend for fun and see if it makes a difference in the photos you take. It is a pretty simple trick that can make a big difference. I'd love to see your results.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Because I Think She's Beautiful

Saturday, I was out trying out some photography techniques I have been working on (figuring out how to set a custom white balance with my new camera--six months is still new, right?). I only had a few minutes outside before I knew my baby would be awake. My daughter saw me with the camera and asked me to take a picture of something her and a friend had created in the neighbors backyard. I headed over. After I'd taken the "required" picture. I snapped a few more. This photo is VERY close and not a perfect composition, but I love it just like a mom should and because I think she's beautiful.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Experimenting with Backlighting [or Why a Photographer of Girls Should Always Carry a Brush and Hair Accessories!]

Lets just start out by saying that taking pictures in full sun has ALWAYS scared me to death. Harsh shadows and bright spots--need I say more. I have tried flash to even those areas out, but I haven't mastered that and I still tend to get unpleasant photos most of the time. My motto has been, "Open shade is my best friend." For the last 4 1/2 years, I have lived and breathed this motto (at least for portraits.) However, recently I have seen some fantastic pictures taken in full sun with the sun behind the subject (backlighting). Sometimes, the photographer even got some "artistic" sun flare, too. (Side note--unartistic is not pretty--artistic is!!) I had wanted to try, but my fears had always taken over. "Shade, shade, shade," would ring out loudly in my ear.

Well, enter my last family photo shoot. I knew because of the time of day and weather that we would be photographing in full sun. I was scared, actually, lets say terrified. So, I loaded up my kids (and a VERY indulging husband) and set off to find the light and photograph in full sun. Before peeking at these pictures, please note that I have MUCH to learn in this area. I had many outtakes that you'll not see (it's my blog and I you are under my power--ha ha.) But for a first attempt, there were a few keepers. After seeing the pictures--I think the title will make sense.

These aren't perfect, but have shown me that a photographer CAN successfully photograph in full sun and have pictures turn out. I won't be so scared next time and will try more. I'd accept any comments or suggestions, especially if you have more experience than me in this area (and I would be thrilled if you'd comment even if you don't!)