January 31, 2011

My 365 Project | Week 4

Good morning! Some of you have asked me some questions about photography and I'll have a little Q&A at the end of this post...

It's week 4 - 28 photos down, 337 more to go: one day at a time.

Day 22: Baby L.  I had my very first ever newborn shoot today and boy do I have lots to learn and props to buy. She was the best baby, so calm and awake and more awake - she decided not to sleep much for the shoot, so we're trying again in a few days for some sweet sleeping baby, curled up in a ball, shots. I love this picture - I think it's the baby wrinkles in her hair and she was SO tiny. Items to bring next time include a big heat lamp, haha!

Day 23: Onion Volcano.  Tonight we had a girls' night out at a Japanese steakhouse and I knew that I wanted to get a shot of the onion volcano. I won't even tell you the copious amounts of butter I consumed, but that meal sure was delish!

Day 24: Not Sleepy.  Avery chooses the most appropriate reading for her daily reading assignments - this one is always a favorite, although we never listen and make her go to bed even though she's not sleepy and will not go to bed. Lola, she's such a good influence.

Day 25: Scrumptious.  One of my faves - white chocolate & cranberry! A tasty homemade treat from my in-laws tonight. I'm so loved. OK, it might be the kids that persuaded this tasty treat to come home with us - who can say no to those precious grandchildren? :)

Day 26: Sorry!  Andrew and I played a fast and brutal game of Sorry Sliders this afternoon. It started off nicely enough and then soon became a battle of who could slide the pieces the craziest.

Day 27: Just the 2 of Us.  I stole Avery away for the evening and we went to go have a chai at a little local cafe that is amazing. I brought my camera with me and ended up liking this photo of her scraped up, well loved shoes. I love how her feet are just dangling off the edge of the big comfy chair. She's still little and not growing up too fast - just as long as her feet still hang off the end of a chair...

Day 28: All Quiet.  The house was suddenly alarmingly quiet and those mommy instincts sent me searching the house; only instead of finding someone coloring on walls, I found this sweet girl 'reading' Sleeping Beauty on her bed. My little princess, dressed as Cinderella, reading Sleeping Beauty. I found the camera and sat in front of her - she couldn't have cared less - and I took some pictures of her little piggies.

A little Q&A -

Q:  What camera do you use?
A:  I have a Nikon D5000 and it's a wonderful starter SLR camera.  The Canon equivalent is the Rebel T1i, I believe.

Q:  What lenses do you use?
A:  When I bought my camera, it came with 2 kit lenses - the 18-55mm 3.5/f and the 55-200mm 4/f.  I saved my pennies and bought my favorite lens, the 50mm 1.4/f.  It really creates those nice blurry backgrounds (bokeh) and allows me to shoot indoors without the flash.

Q:  Did you take a class? 
A:  I took Oh Shoot to learn how to shoot in full manual mode and then I also took Portraiture 101 to help with composition. 

Q:  What editing programs do you use?
A:  I mostly work with Photoshop Elements 6 (yeah, I should probably upgrade...) and have purchased some editing actions from Paint the Moon, which give photos unique looks and texture. I also have Lightroom 2, which is a super powerful editing program made more specifically for photography, but I'm still new to it, so I end up bouncing back over to PSE where I'm more comfortable. 

Q:  What tips do you have to make photos more interesting?
A:  Photos like laundry?  haha!  I am certainly not an expert at this at any level, so my advice is what works for me and I may look back at this in a year and wonder what the heck I was thinking.  But, this is my take.  When you are photographing a subject, try to capture them at different angles.  Just by simply tilting the camera slightly to the left, or getting below or above the subject can make a huge difference. 

The photo on the left is ok - you see his happy face and the pieces on the board, but tilt the camera a bit and you get the photo on the right.  It's still on the same plane as the photo on the left, but it has a completely different feel and mood.  You can still see Andrew in the background, so you know there is someone playing the game, but the focus is more on the pieces.

The photo on top is cute, you can see her dress-up clothes and princess crown, but I had wanted the focus to be on her toes.  In the bottom photo, I got down lower and closer so that the depth of field changed and all the attention in the picture is brought to her feet.  You can still see that she is reading a book, and you can still see her dress-up clothes, but the focus is where I wanted it.

Like I said, I'm not an expert by any means, but this is what works for me.  Take lots of pictures at different angles and heights and distances and you'll be amazed at the different moods your photos will take on.

See you back tomorrow for more paper goodies -


  1. Thank you! This post really helped me out! I was just searching the net today to find out which lens I would need to get those blurry backgrounds! Still not sure if I am going to buy a Nikon or a Canon ~ heard lots of good things about the Nikon. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Great tips! I am so loving these posts!! This week's is especially beautiful. The reading, the precious baby and the shoes - OMG - fabulous! You are going to have such a treasure at the end of the year. How fun.

  3. Karen I look forward to your pictures each week - your kids are so sweet & good sports! Thanks for the tips I really must start using my DSL more!!

  4. You finally pushed me over the edge -- between you and a dear "IRL" friend waxing poetic about the 50mm 1.4/f lens, I finally broke down and order myself one and told DH I'd already bought my Valentine's Day present from him. I'll keep you posted on my progress, and will look into the Jessica Sprague classes, too. Thanks for the enabling! :)

  5. I've been really enjoying these posts- almost enough to do consider doing it myself! ;)
    I'm using a canon xsi- a baby by comparison- with the kit lenses. I generally shoot in AV, and am using PSE 7.... I've got my pioneer woman actions.... I really love the template you're using- I know I could download it, but might try making one- it builds my brain to try such things, right?! :D
    Congrats on the newborn shoot!!

  6. Beautiful photos Karen! Thanks so much for your inspiration. :)

  7. These are just adorable Karen-- i love the shoes shot--- such a cute, unexpected look... your kids are just adorable!!

  8. Great pictures and thanks for the photography tips. I am heading over to Jessica Sprague. I have the exact same camera as you as well as the lenses plus 2 other lenses. I need to start taking way more pictures and get out of my comfort zone. Thanks for all the great tips and info.