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Anatomy of a Snapshot Part II: Eliminating Distractions in your Background

22 Apr
will-collage

Thanks to everyone who left  love on my blogs last week!  I love photography and am excited to share what I know with others.  There were several questions asked and I hope by the time this series is done, those questions will be answered.

I hope you all looked through your photo files last week in search of chopped limbs and are practicing incorporating all body parts into your current shots.

This week we’re focusing on backgrounds.  In your photos, your subject should always be the focus.  But sometimes we’re not aware of clutter or objects in the background that cause distractions until we’ve got the print in our hands and it’s too late.

In our original Snapshot, can you spot at least 4 distractions?
When I look at this snapshot, my stream of conscience goes a little something like this:
“Those are my boys… 
Hmmm…  I’ve been looking for those shoes…  
That bag matches his shirt… 
I should really change out that painting and put something seasonal on that table…  
It looks like Will is exactly one step shorter than his brother…”
See how the boys are no longer the focus of my photo?  Too many distractions.
Here are three ways to eliminate distractions in your photos:
1.  Declutter the background!
It doesn’t take much to make sure your background is clear of clutter.  When I go into a client’s home to shoot, I always end up rearranging things around the room.  I’ll clear tables of tchotchkes, roll up distracting rugs, move chairs, open or close blinds and move plants.  Anything that will show up in the background that might distract the viewer from the subject of the photo.  Your house does not have to be spotless to be an ideal location for a portrait.  That’s why I assure moms, when I come to shoot their newborns, that they do not need to scrub their house for our shoot.  It takes no time at all to create a clutterless space by moving a few things out of the way.  Here are a few examples of clutterless backgrounds.
2.  Fill your frame with your subject!
Don’t be afraid of getting close to your subject and eliminating as much background as you can. I think that’s one of the most common mistakes made when shooting people.  Unless the background adds context to your image, you don’t need it.
Even though this snapshot has too many mistakes to become a portrait, look what happens when I get closer and fill my frame with my subjects. The boys become the focus of the picture again.
Here are some more examples of filling your frame with your subject.
3.  Open up your aperture!
(We’ll discuss aperture in detail in week 6)

The aperture of a lens is the diameter of the lens opening and is usually controlled by an iris. The larger the diameter of the aperture, the more light reaches the film / image sensor.

Aperture is expressed as F-stop. The smaller the F-stop number (or f/value), the larger the lens opening (aperture).

Aperture is what allows you to hone in on your subject and leave the rest of the photo out of focus.  If you have distractions in your background that you have no way of removing, opening up your aperture is a great way of eliminating them by blurring them.  For example, if you were taking a picture of someone sitting in the bleachers at a football game with lots of other people around and behind them, shooting with an open aperture would allow your subject to be in focus while the people behind them would be blurry.

If you know how to change the aperture (f-stop) of your camera, set it to a LOW number (f/1.4-f/4).  Remember, the smaller the F-stop number (or f/value), the larger the lens opening (aperture.)

Here are some examples of how your images look when you open up your aperture.


So, this week as you’re out shooting, pay attention to what’s behind, in front of, and around your subject.  And try out some of these ways of eliminating distractions in your photos.

  • Declutter your background
  • Fill your frame with your subject
  • Open up your aperture
You’ll be one step closer to turning your snapshots into portraits!
Next week:  Composition!

 Thanks Wenderful! 
I can’t wait for next week!
For more photography ideas and inspiration,
make sure to check out her blogs:
Wenderful and 
Happy Earth Day!
Some Projects Celebrating Earth Day will be coming up later on!
 XOXO
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Do You Shoot on "automatic"? How to Take a Fantastic Picture!

15 Apr
7

I’m really excited to introduce you to someone special!

My sister — Wenderful!  
I know I’ve talked about her a bunch on my blog. She is the person that got me blogging. She also is an amazing photographer. 
She even won the *I Heart Faces* Blogoversary contest! And she has spend YEARS studying photography. As someone who shoots on “automatic” most of the time, I thought it would be fun to have her come over and give us a few tips from a pro!
73
black-white
{she took this picture of my Hannah}
She also has an amazing “365” blog.  
a.m.a.z.i.n.g
I’ve been there.
You’ve been there.
You’ve finally rounded up the kids, wiped the remaining lunch off their faces, wrestled the swords from their grasp, bribed them into standing together without punching, pulling, or poking one another, and you swiftly flip on the camera and snap their picture before chaos ensues. Only to check the back of the camera to find something similar to this:

Look familiar?
This is what I call A Snapshot.  Unfortunately most of us have at least a handful of snapshots in our photo files.  Believe it or not, it only takes a little thought,  a few seconds of planning, and a touch of creativity to change a snapshot into a memorable portrait.  
In this series of posts, we’re going to dissect
The Anatomy of A Snapshot
I’m going to give you tips on how to take better pictures of your family.
There are six main ingredients that make up A Snapshot.
1.  Limb chops
2.  Cluttered background
3.  Distance from your subject
4.  Poor composition
5.  Fake smiles
6.  Poor exposure
Let’s start with limb chopping.  Fingers, toes, hands, feet, elbows, knees.  It’s a common offense among people with cameras.  It’s easy to do and you don’t notice it until you start clicking through your photos or files.
“That’s a great picture!  Awww, too bad little Johnny is missing his left hand. “
or
“What a sweet shot of Grandma!  Awww, too bad she has no feet.”
I’ve done it plenty of times.  Ruined a perfectly good shot by chopping vital body parts.
Take a look through your own photo files and take note of how many vital appendages are missing in your pictures.  Sometimes you’ll shoot close up and you won’t have enough room to include the entire limb.  In that case, avoid chopping at joints.  Shoot in a way that your chopping looks intentional.  A “planned chop”, if you will.
You get the idea.  Pay attention to those outer appendages and include them in your photos whenever possible.  It’s usually just a matter of being aware of what you’re  filling your frame with and recomposing a fraction of an inch.   It could mean the difference between A Snapshot and a Memorable Portrait.
Next week:  Cluttered backgrounds
***
Thanks Wenderful!
If you want some great picture ideas, check out her 365 blog!

52 ... Things I Love (mail)
78

69

XOXO

Do You Shoot on "automatic"? How to Take a Fantastic Picture!

15 Apr
7

I’m really excited to introduce you to someone special!

My sister — Wenderful!  
I know I’ve talked about her a bunch on my blog. She is the person that got me blogging. She also is an amazing photographer. 
She even won the *I Heart Faces* Blogoversary contest! And she has spend YEARS studying photography. As someone who shoots on “automatic” most of the time, I thought it would be fun to have her come over and give us a few tips from a pro!
73
black-white
{she took this picture of my Hannah}
She also has an amazing “365” blog.  
a.m.a.z.i.n.g
I’ve been there.
You’ve been there.
You’ve finally rounded up the kids, wiped the remaining lunch off their faces, wrestled the swords from their grasp, bribed them into standing together without punching, pulling, or poking one another, and you swiftly flip on the camera and snap their picture before chaos ensues. Only to check the back of the camera to find something similar to this:

Look familiar?
This is what I call A Snapshot.  Unfortunately most of us have at least a handful of snapshots in our photo files.  Believe it or not, it only takes a little thought,  a few seconds of planning, and a touch of creativity to change a snapshot into a memorable portrait.  
In this series of posts, we’re going to dissect
The Anatomy of A Snapshot
I’m going to give you tips on how to take better pictures of your family.
There are six main ingredients that make up A Snapshot.
1.  Limb chops
2.  Cluttered background
3.  Distance from your subject
4.  Poor composition
5.  Fake smiles
6.  Poor exposure
Let’s start with limb chopping.  Fingers, toes, hands, feet, elbows, knees.  It’s a common offense among people with cameras.  It’s easy to do and you don’t notice it until you start clicking through your photos or files.
“That’s a great picture!  Awww, too bad little Johnny is missing his left hand. “
or
“What a sweet shot of Grandma!  Awww, too bad she has no feet.”
I’ve done it plenty of times.  Ruined a perfectly good shot by chopping vital body parts.
Take a look through your own photo files and take note of how many vital appendages are missing in your pictures.  Sometimes you’ll shoot close up and you won’t have enough room to include the entire limb.  In that case, avoid chopping at joints.  Shoot in a way that your chopping looks intentional.  A “planned chop”, if you will.
You get the idea.  Pay attention to those outer appendages and include them in your photos whenever possible.  It’s usually just a matter of being aware of what you’re  filling your frame with and recomposing a fraction of an inch.   It could mean the difference between A Snapshot and a Memorable Portrait.
Next week:  Cluttered backgrounds
***
Thanks Wenderful!
If you want some great picture ideas, check out her 365 blog!

52 ... Things I Love (mail)
78

69

XOXO

Dinner Dilemmas: Part 2 — It’s ON!

5 Apr
Thanks to everyone who commented on my Dinner Dilemma post last week!
It was so amazing to read your comments. 
There were so many great ideas and suggestions that I thought it might be helpful to compile them here. 
I mean, I can’t be the only mom who struggles with this, right?

And, while I’m on the subject of “Keeping it Real”, I didn’t implement the Dinner Nanny menu last week. Jeff was out of town and I was lazy. But it’s ON this week!

https://i2.wp.com/www.omniswami.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/crockpot.jpg

Here’s some great tips you shared:

  • Some of you use one day as a food prep day. By buying meat and veggies in bulk and then freezing the meat in individual meal portions. Keeping the veggies in the fridge ready to use
  • Another great idea was to make a  jar of conversation starters. It makes for some interesting conversations.
  •  How about making a  big pot of sauce on the weekend and using it for a few different recipes during the week?
  •  Make pizza toppings bags to freeze.
  •  Some of you are big planners. Many commenters make a menu once a week and shop once. 
  •  A couple of people planned things out for 2 weeks.
  •  One commenter plans a month at a time and does a big shopping trip. 
  • And one commenter cooks once every three months and then just pulls out whatever is on the menu. She makes 80 meals at once. WOW!
  •  Food calendars were another great idea.
  •  Crockpots. What would we do without them? 
  • One commenter has 30 different Crockpot dinner meals that she put together and rotates through! She also has a 3-month supply all of the non-preishable ingredients on hand for those meals.
  • Another idea is Sat or Sun cook 3-5 meals to put in the fridge. Then just pop them in the oven when you need them.
  • I also had some other idea for theme nights:  crockpot/soup, salad/sandwiches nights.
  •  Did you know this? At Sams club in the Deli (where you buy a pizza or a hotdog in the front of the store) you can buy a box of frozen PREMADE pizza crusts. They are about $2 a piece and you get a huge box. I am going to check this out!

Sundays are the day when I meet with the family to decide on the menu for the week. So I thought it might be a fun theme to post about once a week where we can share ideas on making meal times easier. And since you guys are so much more knowledgeable than me on great meal ideas, I thought I would make a linky where you can share any related posts that have done that people would find helpful.

And, I also have started a BlogFrog community where we can share ideas. Right now I have the question — What is Your Favorite Easy Meal to Make? If you have time, will you go over to my sidebar and put in yours? I might be helpful for people stopping by!

Thanks – I can’t wait to hear more of YOUR great dinnertime ideas! Link up your recipes, time saving ideas and dinnertime-related posts.

And, the winner of the Emmie Kate Sterling Silver Mother’s Bracelet is:
 #179
Congratulations! Send me your contact information!

I have a fun new giveaway starting in the morning!
XOXO

Dinner Dilemmas: Part 2 — It’s ON!

5 Apr
Thanks to everyone who commented on my Dinner Dilemma post last week!
It was so amazing to read your comments. 
There were so many great ideas and suggestions that I thought it might be helpful to compile them here. 
I mean, I can’t be the only mom who struggles with this, right?

And, while I’m on the subject of “Keeping it Real”, I didn’t implement the Dinner Nanny menu last week. Jeff was out of town and I was lazy. But it’s ON this week!

https://i2.wp.com/www.omniswami.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/crockpot.jpg

Here’s some great tips you shared:

  • Some of you use one day as a food prep day. By buying meat and veggies in bulk and then freezing the meat in individual meal portions. Keeping the veggies in the fridge ready to use
  • Another great idea was to make a  jar of conversation starters. It makes for some interesting conversations.
  •  How about making a  big pot of sauce on the weekend and using it for a few different recipes during the week?
  •  Make pizza toppings bags to freeze.
  •  Some of you are big planners. Many commenters make a menu once a week and shop once. 
  •  A couple of people planned things out for 2 weeks.
  •  One commenter plans a month at a time and does a big shopping trip. 
  • And one commenter cooks once every three months and then just pulls out whatever is on the menu. She makes 80 meals at once. WOW!
  •  Food calendars were another great idea.
  •  Crockpots. What would we do without them? 
  • One commenter has 30 different Crockpot dinner meals that she put together and rotates through! She also has a 3-month supply all of the non-preishable ingredients on hand for those meals.
  • Another idea is Sat or Sun cook 3-5 meals to put in the fridge. Then just pop them in the oven when you need them.
  • I also had some other idea for theme nights:  crockpot/soup, salad/sandwiches nights.
  •  Did you know this? At Sams club in the Deli (where you buy a pizza or a hotdog in the front of the store) you can buy a box of frozen PREMADE pizza crusts. They are about $2 a piece and you get a huge box. I am going to check this out!

Sundays are the day when I meet with the family to decide on the menu for the week. So I thought it might be a fun theme to post about once a week where we can share ideas on making meal times easier. And since you guys are so much more knowledgeable than me on great meal ideas, I thought I would make a linky where you can share any related posts that have done that people would find helpful.

And, I also have started a BlogFrog community where we can share ideas. Right now I have the question — What is Your Favorite Easy Meal to Make? If you have time, will you go over to my sidebar and put in yours? I might be helpful for people stopping by!

Thanks – I can’t wait to hear more of YOUR great dinnertime ideas! Link up your recipes, time saving ideas and dinnertime-related posts.

And, the winner of the Emmie Kate Sterling Silver Mother’s Bracelet is:
 #179
Congratulations! Send me your contact information!

I have a fun new giveaway starting in the morning!
XOXO

Get Your Face On Party!!

17 Feb

One of the nicest, cutest bloggers — Beth @ Stories From A to Z has a really different and cool party going on right now. Get Your Face On Party!!  

It’s a really fun get-together where you can share your best tips and tricks they you’ve discovered to looking your best!  

I am excited to join in the fun and go around and learn some new things! 

So here are some of my favorite beauty things:
Sun Block — I wear it every day, even when it’s overcast and gloomy. 

I am a hugely gullible person when it comes to wrinkle creams. I think I bought my first one when I was 18 – why? I have no idea! Some of my favorites are:

Renova — Wonderful stuff that helps speed up cell turnover and take away fine lines. You can only get it by prescription, but it is worth it!


Kohls’ Tri-Aktiline Instant Deep Wrinkle Filler. 
It works right away and I use it under my eyes.
Olay Pro X Wrinkle cream. 
I use it on my forehead.
Primer is wonderful stuff! 
I hardly use any foundation, just primer and concealer.
 I have found one makeup that I like. 
Maybelline Instant Age Rewind.
I also put a little bit of bronzer on my whole face 
when I am done just to give me a healthy glow.
 Those are my favorites. 
 What are yours?

Go over to Beth’s to get some great tips and tricks 
to help you look beautiful!

Here are my before and afters — sorry the pictures are not the best…

 

Have a wonderful day!
XOXO

Extreme Makeover: Beauty Tips/Tricks

3 Jun

It’s that time again: Extreme Makeover: Me Edition. This week I have been doing really well – I have been walking/running in the morning for an hour each day. I am starting to feel really strong. I also feel like I have more energy during the day. I still am down 3 pounds from where I started, and that is fine. I have noticed more toning in my arms and in my abs. I also noticed that my pants are fitting looser – so yay! I still need to download some good workout music to my ipod. Go on over to Amber’s and join in the fun!

This week’s question:

What’s your favorite beauty secret?

  • Sunscreen: I am a big believer. I use Neutrogena 45 sunscreen. I really like Neutrogena because it doesn’t make my face break out. I wear it year-round. And I put it on in the morning when I go walking even though I wash it off later and have to reapply it again after my shower.

  • I know other people have said this, but I love tank tops. The kind I buy are from a store called Charlotte-Russe. They are very light-weight and stretchy. They smooth evrything out and give me coverage for when I am bending over and my top hikes up over my pants.

  • Makeup Primer. I love this stuff. It smooths your skin out and mattifies your skin.

  • Mineral makeup. I think this is so much more natural than liquid makeup. And you can apply layers of it when you need a little more coverage.

  • Sunless tanner. This is great stuff. For me, using so much SPF, I don’t get very much of a tan. But if I have to go to the pool I feel so much better with some color. If you need some color fast, this stuff has bronzer AND self-tanner. The bronzer gives you an INSTANT tan so you can see it immediately. And it doesn’t rub off on everything.

  • Shine happy. I have EXTREMELY dry hair. No matter how much I condition it, nothing matters. This is a clear coat that is like dye, but without any color. It just gives your hair shine. It lasts about 6 weeks.
Have a wonderful day!
XOXO