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Wenderful’s — The Anatomy of a Snapshot: Exposure

27 May
The Anatomy of a Snapshot: Exposure

If you’re looking to make “The Switch” from using your DSLR in auto mode to shooting in Manual, you’ll need to understand Exposure. (And if you’re totally happy shooting in auto, kudos to you. There is certainly no reason you need to be shooting in any mode other than what you are happy and comfortable in, unless you’re planning on taking on photography as a career. In that case, you really should know your way around exposure).

Exposure: is the total amount of light allowed to fall on the photographic medium (film or sensor) during the process of taking a photograph.

Whenever anyone asks me to help them learn how to shoot in manual I suggest two things:

1. Read your camera’s manual from front to back. At least three times. Until you know what every button and switch does and why.

2. Once you understand your camera, read Understanding Exposure, by Bryan Peterson. It’s the best “textbook” for learning exposure. You can find it on Amazon.

I’ll do a quick review of exposure to get you started. But if you’re serious about learning to shoot in manual, do the two suggestions above, and then practice, practice, practice, and you’ll be well on your way.

I thought and thought about the best way to explain exposure for this post. I came up with an analogy that may not technically be the most correct analogy, but I’m going with it anyway.

Exposure is made up of three components: ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed. They make up the Exposure Triangle. Think of a window with sheer curtains and wooden shutters. For this analogy, we’ll imagine exposure as the light coming into the window.

In the “olden days”, when you loaded actual film into a camera, when you headed to the pharmacy, you were given the option to buy 100, 200, 400, 800, etc… ISO film. That number indicated how sensitive to light your film was. Now that digital cameras don’t use film, ISO measures the sensitivity of the image sensor on your DSLR camera. For this post, think of ISO as the sheer curtain. The sheerer the curtain, the more light comes through your window, and the more sensitive your sensor is to light (high ISO – good for dark and rainy days when you need to let in more light). The thicker the curtain, the less light will come through your window (low ISO – good for bright, sunny days when you don’t want to fade your furniture).

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. In this case, aperture is how wide you open the shutters. Open them wide on dark days to let in the most light (low f/stop number, or what we call shooting “wide open”). Open them just a crack on sunny days to protect that furniture of yours (high f/stop number, or what we call shooting “closed up” ). Aperture is also what will let you hone in on a single object and allow the background and foreground to be out of focus by shooting wide open. It will also allow everything to be in focus when photographing something like a landscape by shooting closed up. Now, aperture is counter-intuitive. As the f/stop value increases, the aperture gets small, and vice versa, as the f/stop value decreases, the aperture gets larger. That can mess with your mind while you’re learning. But it’ll get easier the more you practice.

Shutter Speed refers to the length of time a camera’s shutter is open. In this case the shutter speed is how quickly you open and close the shutters. Close them quickly on sunny days so you don’t let too much light in. Open them slowly on dark days to let in more light. It’s important to note that the longer your shutter is left open, the more likely you are to get a blurred image. The faster you open and close that shutter, the less likely you are to have a blurred image. A high Shutter Speed is great for sports and children. A low Shutter Speed is good for stationary objects, landscapes, etc… Play around with shutter speed to create motion. I can’t hand hold the camera and get a sharp shot under 1/80 unless I brace myself against something stationary and hold my breath while releasing the shutter. At the same time, I can’t get a sharp shot of a moving object (like a child) at under 1/200 of a second.

Once you understand how each component of the exposure triangle works together, you’ll be able to adjust your settings so that they create “correct” exposure, meaning your image will neither be over or under exposed. Once you understand what settings do what, you can start to get creative. You’ll be able to look at the conditions for your picture and know exactly what your settings should be. Once you know that, you’re on your way to some pretty spectacular creativity.

For my final post next week, I’ll wrap up this series by answering your questions.

If you have any questions about what we’ve talked about in The Anatomy of a Snapshot or anything else you’d like to ask me, leave a comment and I’ll come back next week and leave you an answer in my post.

Happy Shooting!!!
Thanks Wenderful! It’s been so fun learning more about how to take a great picture! Leave a comment here if you have a question on anything photography-related. Wendy will answer YOUR questions in her last post next week!
Have a Terrific Thursday!
XOXO
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Wenderful’s Anatomy of a Snapshot: Part 5 — Avoiding the Fake Smile AND *Shey*{B} GIVEAWAY

20 May
Avoiding the Fake Smile
In our house, “cheese” is a four letter word.  My husband strongly dislikes everything made with any type of cheese product.  Lasagna, fondue, casseroles, mac and cheese, and nachos are never on the dinner menu here at our house.  And I strongly dislike  the phrase, Say cheese!”  Not only does it produce the  same painful look on everyone’s face (pronouncing the letter ‘E’) but it’s boring and, like my husband,  not everyone likes cheese.  So if you can’t shout, “Say cheese!”, what do you do to produce natural smiles?
Kids are honest.  They haven’t yet developed the refined skill of appearing happy when they’re not.  So the trick to capturing a genuine smile is to create a happy kid.  There are all kinds of ideas out there in the blogosphere but I will share with you a few tips and tricks that I use with clients as well as with my own kids.
KIDS
1.  Engage them in a song.  Don’t choose one that they’ve heard over and over again, like the ABCs.  BORING!  Choose something they’ve never heard before.  And one maybe you’ve never heard either.  Make one up.  Preferably one with their name in it.  Something silly and fun and playful.  They’ll think you’re silly and they’ll laugh.  And if you can’t make something up spontaneously like that, sing an old stand-by but change the words to something silly.  “On this farm he had a pair of pants, E-I-E-I-O”.  The kids will look at you like you’re nuts which makes for a great genuine expression, and then they’ll laugh and give you a fantastic smile.
2.  Engage them in a conversation.  Tell them about something silly you did as a kid or tell them about something silly that you heard about. Kids LOVE to talk about themselves so ask them if they’ve ever done something like that.  Sometimes that will give them the chance to tell you something they think is funny.  Snap away!
3.  Make Noise! All kids find humor in any and all bodily functions.  Even if it kind of grosses you out, don’t be afraid to make bodily sounds.  Then ask, “Was that you, or was that Daddy/the dog/the cat?”  If you find farting noises difficult to do, there are some free apps for your iphone that will make farting noises of all shapes and sizes for you.  I know.  I have a husband and three boys who get endless enjoyment from ours.
4.  Break out the bubbles.  Young kids especially are mesmerized by bubbles.  Let them run and chase and blow the bubbles.  My favorite photos of kids are unposed, natural, action shots.
5.  Use reverse psychology.  Tell them, “whatever you do, do NOT look at me”.  When they do look over say, “Hey, are you looking at me?!”  If they’ve warmed up to you, that should work wonders.
TEENS
1.  Compliment!  Teenagers crave compliments.  Most of the time they are unsure of themselves at this age and feel a little awkward.  But once they hear that they are gorgeous, handsome, hot, beautiful, breath-taking they begin to relax and start to enjoy the attention.
2.  Show them Proof!  Every now and then when I get a shot that makes my heart sing, I’ll show them the image on the back of the camera.  They are always curious to see how they look in pictures and love having instant proof that you are making them look awesome.  They make more of an effort to follow your guidance once they see the results.
3.  Engage them in conversation.  Tell them about what you were like at their age.  Tell them something that will really date you, like how you really wanted Madonna fishnets and a Lionel Richie tape for your 15th birthday.  It’ll help them relax and they might even share something about themselves with you.
4.  Belly laugh!  This is my favorite and can make for the biggest and best smiles.  Ask them to laugh as hard and as loud as they can.  If they are too reserved, you do it for them first.  Once they see what a fool you are making of yourself, they’ll be more likely to try it.
And remember, if all else fails, there are times and kids who just won’t smile like you want them to.  And that’s OK.  Take their picture anyway.  It will still be a genuine record of them at that time and in that moment.  Some of my favorite images of my kids were taken spontaneously and are a true expression of their spirit.
Now go out and never ever again utter the expression, ‘Say Cheese!”

Next Week:  Exposure

Thanks Wenderful! 
We appreciate the time and effort that you put into your post so we can take better pictures! 
And in honor of all your fabulous Photography tips, the fabulous *Shey*{B} is going to give away one of her AMAZING handmade camera strap covers!
I have been lusting after a camera strap cover forever and never bought one for myself, here are some of my favorites:
I love the polka dots on this one.
https://i1.wp.com/cache1.bigcartel.com/product_images/12184621/il_430xN.115514403.jpg
But I also love the color combination on this one, plus houndstooth!!
https://i2.wp.com/cache0.bigcartel.com/product_images/24760468/IMG_0272.jpg
{More polka dots!}
Shey also has a wonderful blog I love to visit — with great giveaways. Plus, she also has fantastic tutorials — you can imagine what a great seamstress she is. I also follow her on Twitter — she is hilarious! 
She is offering you a choice of a Click Cover:
https://i2.wp.com/cache1.bigcartel.com/product_images/24727125/IMG_0217_list.jpg
 Such fun colors!
Or, her newest creation — Cherry Limeaid
So – this is how you can win: 
1. Leave a comment here with your favorite strap from the*Shey*{B} store.
2. Leave some comment love over at Wenderful’s 365 Blog.
3. Spread the word of this fun giveaway via Twitter, Facebook, or on your sidebar (1 entry each)
4. Follow *Shey*{B} on Twitter
5. If you are a Tatertots & Jello follower or subscriber {love you guys!}, leave another comment.
Tons of ways to win!

This giveaway will run through Sunday night at midnight (MST).
And *Shey*{B} is also offering Tatertots & Jello 10% off your total purchase if you enter “tatertots” at checkout!
Good Luck!
XOXO

Wenderful’s Anatomy of a Snapshot: Part 5 — Avoiding the Fake Smile AND *Shey*{B} GIVEAWAY

20 May
Avoiding the Fake Smile
In our house, “cheese” is a four letter word.  My husband strongly dislikes everything made with any type of cheese product.  Lasagna, fondue, casseroles, mac and cheese, and nachos are never on the dinner menu here at our house.  And I strongly dislike  the phrase, Say cheese!”  Not only does it produce the  same painful look on everyone’s face (pronouncing the letter ‘E’) but it’s boring and, like my husband,  not everyone likes cheese.  So if you can’t shout, “Say cheese!”, what do you do to produce natural smiles?
Kids are honest.  They haven’t yet developed the refined skill of appearing happy when they’re not.  So the trick to capturing a genuine smile is to create a happy kid.  There are all kinds of ideas out there in the blogosphere but I will share with you a few tips and tricks that I use with clients as well as with my own kids.
KIDS
1.  Engage them in a song.  Don’t choose one that they’ve heard over and over again, like the ABCs.  BORING!  Choose something they’ve never heard before.  And one maybe you’ve never heard either.  Make one up.  Preferably one with their name in it.  Something silly and fun and playful.  They’ll think you’re silly and they’ll laugh.  And if you can’t make something up spontaneously like that, sing an old stand-by but change the words to something silly.  “On this farm he had a pair of pants, E-I-E-I-O”.  The kids will look at you like you’re nuts which makes for a great genuine expression, and then they’ll laugh and give you a fantastic smile.
2.  Engage them in a conversation.  Tell them about something silly you did as a kid or tell them about something silly that you heard about. Kids LOVE to talk about themselves so ask them if they’ve ever done something like that.  Sometimes that will give them the chance to tell you something they think is funny.  Snap away!
3.  Make Noise! All kids find humor in any and all bodily functions.  Even if it kind of grosses you out, don’t be afraid to make bodily sounds.  Then ask, “Was that you, or was that Daddy/the dog/the cat?”  If you find farting noises difficult to do, there are some free apps for your iphone that will make farting noises of all shapes and sizes for you.  I know.  I have a husband and three boys who get endless enjoyment from ours.
4.  Break out the bubbles.  Young kids especially are mesmerized by bubbles.  Let them run and chase and blow the bubbles.  My favorite photos of kids are unposed, natural, action shots.
5.  Use reverse psychology.  Tell them, “whatever you do, do NOT look at me”.  When they do look over say, “Hey, are you looking at me?!”  If they’ve warmed up to you, that should work wonders.
TEENS
1.  Compliment!  Teenagers crave compliments.  Most of the time they are unsure of themselves at this age and feel a little awkward.  But once they hear that they are gorgeous, handsome, hot, beautiful, breath-taking they begin to relax and start to enjoy the attention.
2.  Show them Proof!  Every now and then when I get a shot that makes my heart sing, I’ll show them the image on the back of the camera.  They are always curious to see how they look in pictures and love having instant proof that you are making them look awesome.  They make more of an effort to follow your guidance once they see the results.
3.  Engage them in conversation.  Tell them about what you were like at their age.  Tell them something that will really date you, like how you really wanted Madonna fishnets and a Lionel Richie tape for your 15th birthday.  It’ll help them relax and they might even share something about themselves with you.
4.  Belly laugh!  This is my favorite and can make for the biggest and best smiles.  Ask them to laugh as hard and as loud as they can.  If they are too reserved, you do it for them first.  Once they see what a fool you are making of yourself, they’ll be more likely to try it.
And remember, if all else fails, there are times and kids who just won’t smile like you want them to.  And that’s OK.  Take their picture anyway.  It will still be a genuine record of them at that time and in that moment.  Some of my favorite images of my kids were taken spontaneously and are a true expression of their spirit.
Now go out and never ever again utter the expression, ‘Say Cheese!”

Next Week:  Exposure

Thanks Wenderful! 
We appreciate the time and effort that you put into your post so we can take better pictures! 
And in honor of all your fabulous Photography tips, the fabulous *Shey*{B} is going to give away one of her AMAZING handmade camera strap covers!
I have been lusting after a camera strap cover forever and never bought one for myself, here are some of my favorites:
I love the polka dots on this one.
https://i1.wp.com/cache1.bigcartel.com/product_images/12184621/il_430xN.115514403.jpg
But I also love the color combination on this one, plus houndstooth!!
https://i2.wp.com/cache0.bigcartel.com/product_images/24760468/IMG_0272.jpg
{More polka dots!}
Shey also has a wonderful blog I love to visit — with great giveaways. Plus, she also has fantastic tutorials — you can imagine what a great seamstress she is. I also follow her on Twitter — she is hilarious! 
She is offering you a choice of a Click Cover:
https://i2.wp.com/cache1.bigcartel.com/product_images/24727125/IMG_0217_list.jpg
 Such fun colors!
Or, her newest creation — Cherry Limeaid
So – this is how you can win: 
1. Leave a comment here with your favorite strap from the*Shey*{B} store.
2. Leave some comment love over at Wenderful’s 365 Blog.
3. Spread the word of this fun giveaway via Twitter, Facebook, or on your sidebar (1 entry each)
4. Follow *Shey*{B} on Twitter
5. If you are a Tatertots & Jello follower or subscriber {love you guys!}, leave another comment.
Tons of ways to win!

This giveaway will run through Sunday night at midnight (MST).
And *Shey*{B} is also offering Tatertots & Jello 10% off your total purchase if you enter “tatertots” at checkout!
Good Luck!
XOXO

Wenderful’s Anatomy of a Snapshot: Part 4 — Composition

29 Apr

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

Utah friends: What are you doing for your holiday pictures this year?

21 Nov
If you are like me, you are scrambling around trying to figure out what to do about Christmas cards. What to wear, where to do the photos and are they all booked up?
 
I’m lucky because my talented sister Wenderful has been studying photography for years and is a Photoshop guru. AND she’s coming to my house for Thanksgiving! And since she is going to be in town for a couple days, I’ve convinced her to let my Utah friends share in her talents. She normally charges the big bucks because she is so talented and in demand, but she is going to do mini-sessions for ONE day: THIS FRIDAY, November 27th and has arranged a beautiful outside venue at Trolley Square. There will be old bricks if you want an urban, rustic background, a huge beautiful tree if you want Christmas card photos and all sorts of other options.
So here’s the deal, she only has a few slots open that day. If you would like to be signed up for a time, either leave me a comment or shoot me an email (my address is on the sidebar). You know your pictures will turn out great because she is uber talented PLUS she has the Photoshop skillz. And let me tell you, it is a good deal. We had ours taken by a local photo studio last year and the whole thing ended up costing me over $300. You get images that are edited — so everyone will look better, the backgrounds will be more vivid, and she can touch up any trouble spots. You will have the rights to one of the pictures and then you can order any of the 5-10 other images for half price. So you can send them in to a cute site like Shutterfly or Tinyprints and do something really different for your Christmas cards this year!
Check out her website or her personal blog and see her wonderful pictures. Here are a few of my favorites! I can’t wait for our session!!!
Thanks for stopping by!
XOXO
 
 PS – I finally got to see New Moon last night. So good 🙂

Utah friends: What are you doing for your holiday pictures this year?

21 Nov
If you are like me, you are scrambling around trying to figure out what to do about Christmas cards. What to wear, where to do the photos and are they all booked up?
 
I’m lucky because my talented sister Wenderful has been studying photography for years and is a Photoshop guru. AND she’s coming to my house for Thanksgiving! And since she is going to be in town for a couple days, I’ve convinced her to let my Utah friends share in her talents. She normally charges the big bucks because she is so talented and in demand, but she is going to do mini-sessions for ONE day: THIS FRIDAY, November 27th and has arranged a beautiful outside venue at Trolley Square. There will be old bricks if you want an urban, rustic background, a huge beautiful tree if you want Christmas card photos and all sorts of other options.
So here’s the deal, she only has a few slots open that day. If you would like to be signed up for a time, either leave me a comment or shoot me an email (my address is on the sidebar). You know your pictures will turn out great because she is uber talented PLUS she has the Photoshop skillz. And let me tell you, it is a good deal. We had ours taken by a local photo studio last year and the whole thing ended up costing me over $300. You get images that are edited — so everyone will look better, the backgrounds will be more vivid, and she can touch up any trouble spots. You will have the rights to one of the pictures and then you can order any of the 5-10 other images for half price. So you can send them in to a cute site like Shutterfly or Tinyprints and do something really different for your Christmas cards this year!
Check out her website or her personal blog and see her wonderful pictures. Here are a few of my favorites! I can’t wait for our session!!!
Thanks for stopping by!
XOXO
 
 PS – I finally got to see New Moon last night. So good 🙂