Category Archives: Photography

Sn(app) Happy

I have published (in one way or another) over 1500 pictures from my phone since early 2011.
I’ve probably taken 5 times that.  (Here are some of my favorites!)
When I first fell in love with phone photography, I had a Droid and major iPhone app envy.
Mostly, I.wanted.Instagram.*
The first day I was eligible, I high-tailed it to the  store to get my brand-new iPhone.
The very first app I uploaded was Instagram and it was love at first sight.

Almost every image that I post has been processed in one way or another.
I will occasionally use the Instagram filters, but often I want a more specific look from my pictures.
Luckily, there are tons of great (and usually easy) ways to do that!

In this eBook by Alli Worthington, you will find a wide variety of information about apps and ideas and how-tos.
(I talk about my go-to app, Magic Hour, in chapter 3, and my pictures are scattered all throughout the book!)

But the best part? It’s only $5!

Want to make your pictures pop?  Want to turn good photos into great ones?  Just want to know which apps are for you?
This book is great for newbies and established (iPhone) photographers.
She touches on basic photography guidelines, but also shares tips you won’t see anywhere else online.

Oh!  And one more thing!  (Or maybe two more things.) (Ok, maybe three.)
1. I am a featured photographer in this book!  How cool is that?

2. Because Alli is all about sharing the love, for each copy of this book that is purchased from my affiliate link, I will get $3.75!

3. And I can’t wait to tell you more about ways another one of Alli’s (and friends) photography projects can help you earn money!  Click here to learn more about Picha Global, which will be making it’s debut soon!

 

*Instagram is now available for iPhone as well as for Droid (via Google Play).

Spring Hope

The day the Lord created hope was probably the same day he created Spring.
~Bern Williams

I close my eyes…only for a moment and the moment’s gone.

Hours and hours of scouring books and magazines and the internet.
Time flying by as I click over and over and over again on Pinterest.
Looking for something that my heart knows, my mind knows…but my eyes can’t see.
I’ll know it when I see it.  I know I will.

Looking at images and ideas of others,
I glean inspiration and spin the idea my own way.
Imitation really meant to flatter, not steal intellectual property.
(Although it hasn’t always happened this publicly, we have always copied one another.)

But it seems that lately instead of feeling inspired, I feel trapped.
I see other ideas and think mine aren’t good enough.
I see other ideas and wonder how could I possibly make that better?
I see other ideas and think only about how to make it work for me.

So I step away.
Quit looking at the beautiful art,
the lovely snapshots,
the simple and clean designs.

Instead I close my eyes.

I imagine the way the light will float down through the trees.
And how it will land gently on his back.
And how the backlight will make you glow.

And then snap.
I take my picture, your picture.
And though it may look like a million other pictures on the surface,
it is special.  it is unique.  it is you.

And you will look at it for years to come (i hope)
And the warmth of the sun will feel heavy on your skin.
And the smell of fresh grass will come to your mind.
And the heavy, comforting weight of new love will flood over you.

And that is what I want my photographs to be.
A moment immortalized, ready and waiting to be visited and cherished.
From this moment on.

Ask me no questions, I’ll tell you no lies.

“One of the assertions of science is that we don’t know everything, and that in order to increase our knowledge we have to be in dialogue with nature.  And it has to be a constant dialogue.  And it’s not sufficient to end that dialogue because as we increase our ability to measure nature, we can ask questions that are of a finer and finer level.  And so we keep finding new things not because nature is changing but because we are increasing our capacity to ask the questions of nature.

Physicist Jim Gates

  

  

 “And so by embracing our limits, by embracing our fallibility, we become more knowledgeable.”

~All quotes from Jim Gates interview on NPR’s On Being.  You can download the entire podcast here.~

Photography Tips I Learned the Hard Way

You’re not a photographer.  You don’t even want to be a photographer, but you want good pictures of your kids or your dog or the flowers in your garden.  You don’t have to have a fancy-pants camera or expensive lenses to take good pictures.   Heck, some of my favorite photos are ones I took with my phone.  So how can you – with your point-and-shoot or camera phone – get the pictures you want?

Here are some tips that I learned the hard way.  Now these aren’t hard and fast rules.  They’re just a collection of things that have worked for me.  None of these photos have been post-processed in any kind of photo editing software.  This is just like what you’d see out of your own camera (theoretically).

(Also, I am certain I have many, many options of ‘what not to do’ pictures in my archives, but it was easier to take new ones so I could show you what I didn’t like about a certain picture and how I fixed that problem.  My kids were happy to help for approximately 7 minutes.  It took more than 7 minutes.  That’s when Marshall got roped into helping me.  Bless his heart.)

1. Do what feels right.  If it feels weird, it’s probably going to look weird.

I asked Lydia to start sliding down and she stopped here.
Awkward positioning = awkward looking picture

2. It’s all about the light.  If you can’t find good light (or shade), don’t take pictures.  Have your subject facing the light, but not directly in the light.

These two pictures were taken in the exact same spot.  She didn’t move her feet at all.  In this first picture, she’s looking at me but the sun is killing her.  (She may be exaggerating the situation slightly.  I have no idea where this melodrama comes from.)  But for the second one, I placed my body between Lydia and the sun.  You may not always be able to use your body, but you can usually find or generate some kind of shade.

       

3. Look behind you.  Both ways.
Don’t have a gigantic ugly truck or, in this case, the edge of a picnic table in the background of an otherwise decent picture.

All I did was move myself a little to the side.  She stayed in the same exact spot.

     

Also look behind you before you step backwards.  I’ve hit the dirt a few times because I was so focused on the image.

4. Search for unique perspectives and even unusual angles, but also be sure to take some straight on shots as well.

These shots are cute enough, but I wouldn’t want every one of  my pictures to be this way.
(Actually, I’m not sure how I feel about the first one.  It looks like her legs are sprouting out of the corner, doesn’t it?)
Also? Some people really like pictures like this, so I guess it’s really a personal preference thing.

     

5. Watch out for shadows – especially your own.

I did several things wrong here.  I overexposed the image(which shouldn’t happen if you’re on automatic or using a point-and-shoot) and I didn’t position myself so that the cars were out of the shot.  But with a little cropping and photo editing, those things are workable.  But see his cool shadow on the ground?  Yeah.  That’s my head right beside it.  It’s technically photoshopable, but it would have been a lot easier if I’d just paid attention and fixed it in camera.

6. Don’t forget that you can hold your camera the other direction.  Fairly often I see a picture that has the subject doing something and a lot of distracting dead space around them.  Hold your camera vertically and fill the frame with the subject.  (Of course you don’t want to take all vertical shots either!)

I like the first shot.  It’s pleasant and shows off the playground.

But look what happens when I rotate my camera.  Lydia becomes the centerpiece.

Horizontal shots aren’t bad!  It just depends on the feel you want.
Mostly, I think people are just in the habit of taking horizontal shots and forget that vertical is an option.

7.  When taking pictures of adults or even groups, shoot from above.
This is another tip, not a rule.  Sometimes you can take a picture from straight in front of someone and it looks great, but if you shoot them from above, it gives the neck and opportunity to stretch out a little and get rid of that pesky double chin (you know, if you had one).

     

(Also?  Marshall’s such a good sport, isn’t he?  “Hey can I post an unflattering picture of you on the internet?” “Sure.  Why not?”  The man deserves some kind of medal, I assure you.)

8.  When taking pictures of kids, get down where they are (or lower).

Another tip and not a rule.  There are times when you want to get the whole scene and so you stretch up high and take a bird’s eye view shot.  And other times when you want to be looking down on them.  But look at how much more engaging the second picture is.

     

9. Anticipate the moment.  I have been known to sit with my finger on the shutter release button for quite a while.  I knew the shot would come, I just had to wait for it.  Learn how long it takes for your camera to actually take the picture after you push the button.  I’ve missed many a picture (especially with my phone camera) because I was waiting and waiting and waiting and then didn’t snap fast enough when the moment actually happened.

In these pictures, I knew that if I waited long enough, he’d look up at me and smile.  And that it would be an authentic smile because he was showing off his creation (i.e. hole that he was digging and making into a city).

     

10. Learn your camera.  Know what all those little pictures on the dial mean.  If you don’t have time to sit and read the manual, there is usually a quick guide that explains the basics.  Don’t just skim over it.  Look at the different modes and try them.  That way when you need them, you’ll know which one to use and how it works.

Bonus Tip: This may seem obvious, but the biggest thing you need to take good pictures is a camera – one that’s always with you.  The best moments are rarely the ‘Hey, y’all!  Let’s take a picture!” moments.  It’s the oh-my-goodness-that-is-just-picture-perfect-isn’t-it moments that you want to capture.  So when you are lying in bed with your sweet little one, put that sucker on silent and snap away.   Those are the memories that will just make your heart pound when you look at them again.  Like this one:

*****
I am so very excited about being a Community Leader at BlissDom this year!  The photography track that the BlissDom ladies have put together is phenomenal!   The conference is sold out, but you can still have access to this great content with BlissDom at Home, which will be available for purchase after the conference is over.

Move Over Mopey Monday

Apparently it’s been a true Monday for most of my friends.
If I could give all of you flowers, I would.
But since I can’t, I’ll share the ones I got with you!

You can see more on my flickr stream.  They are gorgeous flowers!

Sorta Blue

    

I need a sign.

The past few weeks have been a blur.
I remember snippets of time, but I get it all bobbled up in my head.
I am tired, but energetic.
I am weary, but happy.
I am busy, but it is good.

This past weekend, I had the chance to celebrate a friend’s 16th birthday.

I was there to take pictures, but also to make memories.
(And we certainly made some memories!)

As we were walking around the city and taking pictures, I started thinking about the upcoming weekend.
I’m getting ready for an friend’s wedding this weekend.  A good friend, a forever friend.
And I am photographing the entire thing.
Sometimes when I think about it, I get really excited.
Other times, it just makes me want to vomit.
Oh, good heavens…what if I royally screw this up?

I chastise myself for dipping into the well of doubt.
And I begin to give myself a little pep talk:
You know what you are doing.
It will be okay.
You are your own worst judge.
SO STOP FREAKING OUT!
You won’t be perfect, but that’s okay.
Just look at how far you’ve come.

I know, I know.
I just wish I really knew it would all be okay.
I just wish I had a sign…which is crazy because I don’t even really believe in signs and…and..and…
And right then (I kid you not), I looked up and there it was:

I’m linking up once again at The Extraordinary-Ordinary for Just Write.

Fall in Love

Whatever you are doing right now, please stop.

Walk to the nearest exit and go outside.

Breathe deeply.  Drink it in.

Let yourself be wrapped up in the golden blanket of fall.

How To Take Better Pictures

I know there are tons and tons of books and websites out there for people wanting to learn about photography.
I use a lot of those resources myself!  But I frequently get people asking me about some of the basics.
So I’m going to do a little photography post every now and then to answer some of those questions.
I’m not getting technical here, folks.  I’m talking basics.
(Like you can use a point & shoot camera or even your phone kind of basics.)

So…here’s a picture of a pretty cute baby that needs to have her hair pulled up out of her eyes.

We’re in my back yard (complete with smashed up old wading pool) and I am sitting directly in front of her.

If I sit up on my knees and get slightly higher than her, I can eliminate all that junk in the background.
(Also?  This isn’t really an issue with kids, but for adults if you shoot from above, you help get rid of that double chin look.)

You’ll notice that I don’t have her in the center of the picture.
That has to do with the rule of thirds, which will make your images much more interesting.

I liked this shot, but it still wasn’t exactly what I wanted.
So I decided to take the picture vertically.
Taking a vertical shot is a great way to catch the eye’s attention,
(Plus…a lot of picture frames are vertical.)
For some reason, people often forget to turn the camera sideways when they are taking pictures.

Everybody together now:  Awwww…..she’s so cuuuuute.  🙂

So those pictures are pretty nice pictures, right?
I like them how they are, but it is very rare that I share or print a picture SOOC.

I love love love Lightroom, but for your everyday picture taking, I wouldn’t want to invest in it.
So for most people I suggest using Picnik.com.

Here’s a step-by-step on how I edited in Picnik:
Under Basic Edits, I clicked Colors and bumped up the saturation just a tiny bit.
(I tend to prefer slight edits, but there are some people who pull off fabulous, funky looks.)

Then I clicked Exposure and played around with that until I was happy with it.
(For this particular picture, I slightly increase shadows and contrast.)

Then I went under Effects and added ever-the-slightest bit of vingetting.
(That is one thing you can most certainly over do!)

Then if you want to get rid of that little scratch on her nose, just go into Touch-Up.
Click on Blemish Fix, adjust your brush size and then click on the scratch.
(I will say that I typically only fix blemishes on pictures I take for others.
I like to leave the little imperfections on my kids because that’s who they really are…
always scratched up and bruised, but usually happy.)

And with those few quick edits, you have this:

Just to compare, I also edited the same picture in Lightroom.
It has a totally different feel, doesn’t it?

If I had to choose one thing to do differently, I would have turned her around.
She’s sitting with the light source behind her and it’s casting some shadows that I don’t really like.
But if you’ve ever met Anna Alden, you know that she doesn’t care what you want her to do.  🙂

So that’s a quick peek into how I take pictures.
Is there something else that you’d like to hear more about?
Your question may be my next post!  🙂