Monday, February 25, 2013

A lesson in ISO sensitivity

I could also title this post, "when bad things happen to good pictures."

I spent the first part of my day inside with Charlotte while Luke was at preschool.  We were coloring at the kitchen table, I opened all the blinds, and even though it was fairly overcast (and our house tends to be on the darker side), I decided to stage a photoshoot indoors, using the light of our big kitchen window.  I did get a few decent shots, but had to crank my ISO all the way to 1600.

Later in the day, the four (five, if you count my furry child) of us ventured outside.  The overcast sky was now cloudless and bright.  And around 4pm, the shadows in my backyard were crazy, but that's nothing new.  I decided to shoot anyway, completely forgetting about my earlier adjustment in ISO sensitivity.  I should have realized.  I needed some crazy shutterspeeds to balance my light meter in the sunny parts of the yard (1/1600!) but in the shade was able to stick closer to 1/250.

The pictures captured my kids perfectly, with their expressions and personalities.  There is just way too much noise, and photoshop only goes so far.  Lesson learned?  Check ALL camera settings!!  Or, maybe just remember to reset things when I make a drastic change.

About 0.25 second before a fight over the cozy coupe started!

Flowers for mommy

This was one of the last shots of the day.  I went inside to finish dinner, and a few minutes later everyone else went to go knock on the neighbor's door to retrieve a ball that went over the fence...

Saturday, February 23, 2013

New logo

I created a new logo this evening to play around with while I'm learning the best way to watermark.  I kept it simple and used a flower.  Besides my kids, flowers are my next favorite subject to practice on! These pictures were taken last month during a random afternoon at the park.  I have since had both pictures printed on 16x20 canvases, and they are hanging in the kids' playroom.  I love both of these pictures as they were candid shots, even though both kids happen to be looking at the camera!  Both pictures were shot with my 55-200mm lens.

I used a black version of the logo at 20% opacity here.
(f/8, 1/200, ISO 100)

This version uses a white logo at 40% opacity.
(f/5, 1/400, ISO 100)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Valentine's Day

I adore getting my children all dressed up for holidays.  They are my favorite subjects to shoot (and the reason I got into photography in the first place!), and have such priceless facial expressions.  I got them all dressed up for the occasion, only to find once we got outside that the clouds had turned to rain.  Instead of being able to take some of the images I had imagined (walking down the street, sitting on the lawn), we were stuck by the front door, under our covered patio.  I literally had about 5 minutes before they were completely over this idea, but in that time got some great shots!


My FAVORITE picture from the session.  I adore Luke's face, and how protective his hand looks against Charlotte's cheek.  This is now on a canvas print in my home!

Rainy Day Flowers

Today has been one of those nasty, rainy days when all you really want to do is stay inside in your pjs and curl up on the couch with some hot chocolate and a good book.  I had every intention of doing that today, but when I pulled into my driveway after taking the kids to school, I saw the way the raindrops looked on my blooming flowers.  I quickly ran inside and switched out my camera lens, and ran back outside to start shooting.  Unfortunately, the light drizzle turned into a downpour the moment my camera was around my neck, so I had to figure out how to juggle an umbrella with my camera (which requires both hands to manipulate!).  It wasn't easy, but I think it was worth it!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A day at the beach

A few weeks ago, I purchased a Spiderman kite on clearance for a grand total of $0.75.  Luke has been begging to fly it, and an afternoon at the beach seemed like a perfect opportunity.  Both kids adored it, and even Charlotte got a chance to help fly the kite!  These photos are from our second trip to the beach last week - so by this time, both kids were old pros!

The tail was ticklish 

Watching the kite

"Okay, my turn to fly it!"

Watching the action from a safe distance away

Beach toys.  Boy loves to dig a hole!

So grown up and checking out the water

"Hey, this is fun!"

water + sand = mud!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

More outside fun

It has been fairly nice lately for August, so we have gotten to spend some time outdoors!  The first two pictures were taken this morning around 11am, and the second two were taken this afternoon sometime after 4pm.  I usually only let the kids play outside before about 9 or 10 am and then after dinner, because it is here the rest of the day, but we have gotten some extra play time lately!

I have been running all of my pictures through photoshop - I'm not doing much other than perhaps cropping if necessary, increasing the saturation, and sharpening.  I tried and tried to take the food off of Charlotte's face in the second picture, and couldn't get it to look natural.  Sigh.  I'm trying, and improving at photoshop, but I still have a ton to learn!

Charlotte is obsessed with Luke's cozy coupe.  When we are outside, she either wants to play with that or swing.

Her eyes really did sparkle in the SOOC shot, but I played it up a little with photoshop.  Now I'm not sure if I did too much?

Finally, a more natural smile than his "cheese" face!

I was playing around with the artsy look of tilting the camera.  I like how it turned out, although I wish I would have had Luke sit a little further away from the outlet.  Oh well - live and learn!

My kids really are beautiful.  Sometimes I just have to look at them and wonder how on earth I got so lucky!

Shooting in low light

I have gotten pretty decent at shooting outdoors using natural light.  I shoot almost exclusively in manual mode and feel like I have definitely gotten the hang of it.  Indoors, however?  Not so much.  I have to sacrifice shutter speed to get the light I need, and as the mother of a 1 and 3 year old, that doesn't work so well.  I have tried aperture priority and shutter priority without success.  Shutter priority consistently tells me the subject is too dark.  Today, Charlotte was up from her nap before Luke, so I took advantage of her playing quietly alone to fool around with the camera (using her as my subject, of course!).  I suddenly remembered something I had read recently about exposure compensation.  I boosted it a little to the positive, used the coffee table as a tripod (to compensate for the low shutter speed necessary), and started shooting.  I even got a few elusive smiles!

Both of the pictures below were taken with my Nikon 55-200 f/4 lens.
1/15 sec
ISO 1600
+0.7 exposure compensation

And then big brother woke up, and after a snack of teddy grahams wanted to play with his computer again, so I snapped a picture of him, too!
1/25 second
ISO 1600
+0.7 exposure compensation

I got lucky today - there was a good amount of light coming through the window, and (more importantly), my children stayed relatively still while I was taking pictures.  This is rare!  While I was able to make these settings work today, I typically need at least a 1/125 shutter speed to stop their motion.

I'll keep practicing.  At least I know it CAN be done!