Featured: Snap Love Grow {New Life}

This evening, I clicked on the Snap Love Grow post to see who had been featured for their latest prompt {New Life} and as I scroll down, I see this image:

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I’m going to be real legit with you guys, I had no idea what to do with myself I was so excited. This is such an honor and I am so over the moon to have been featured on this site where the work is always top notch and so inspiring. I am filled with pride and happiness and feel so driven to keep pushing myself to work harder for my clients to create art.

See more of this gorgeous little girl and her lovely parents here: Fresh48 – Hey There Little One and Lifestyle – Littlest Girl at Home.

I was also featured recently at Cozy Clicks – Photo Feature: Red White and Blue

Lifestyle – Playtime with Granny

Living away from family is hard. A lot of times we enjoy our freedom but more often we feel isolated. We build up friendships which is essential and a true blessing, but it’s hard to watch J grow up away from his grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins. But, fortunately, we got a nice long visit with Granny, Grandpa, and Auntie S (and a big trip to Italy) this month and I wanted to share a few of J playing with his Granny as, unfortunately, these portraits are few and far between and highly cherished.

To talk about these photos a little: the too bright sun kept coming and going while I was taking these so the shadows and lighting is really harsh. I wouldn’t want to work with this light with a client because it’s so hard to get a flattering portrait like this! The shadows from eyebrows can make a person look exhausted or completely black out their eyes! Keep that in mind when working on your own or looking for a photographer to work with–no midday sessions!

I, however, had to capture J with his Granny because they were too cute together and again–the opportunity to photograph them together is a rare one.

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See more of J here: Lifestyle – Pizza Party in GreeceLifestyle – At the Mediterranean SeaLifestyle – Athenian PlaygroundLifestyle – Athens National GardensPhoto Feature: Red White and BlueJ does Brit FeteHappy Father’s DayLifestyle – Looking through the WindowLifestyle – J & Co. Sensory PlaySplish Splash

Splish Splash

SplishSplash Collage.pngI’ve been working on my lifestyle images and it’s tough! It’s hard to capture something that doesn’t say “Snapshot” instead of “Professional Image.” It takes work and thought and trying a million different things. But finally, I got a set that make me think, “That, that is lifestyle.”

Splish Splash Taking a Bath, featuring Mess Maker J!

***My husband was standing just out of the shot while I was working because taking pictures is distracting and my son was in a bathtub of water. Do not take pictures of your young child alone while they bathe for safety purposes.***

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For this first image, I bent upside down, hair dangling in the water, my husband sighing in the background. This was my favorite of the images I got that way of him playing. I really wanted that angle and I’m so going to try it again!

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This was “dangerously close to the splashing baby” with my husband sighing again in the background. I was almost touching him the entire time I shot from this angle.

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Mess Maker J is super into Peek-a-Boo lately. So when it’s bathtime with mommy, we always get a few in and he loves it! This time I brought my camera along for the ride! It was hard to pop up and down and get my focus in time!

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When we play Peek-a-Boo, J always has to search me out. Those cute little hands! I love them!

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I have a cheesy child. He makes this face often and I love it! He always makes me laugh and I cheese right back.

You’ve got to crack a few eggs…

As Easter hops its way onto the horizon and photographers everywhere scramble to get their sessions and edited, I wanted to go back to talking about my journey as a photographer.

The last time we spoke about my journey, I talked about J.’s first milestone session at one month (linkylink). I struggled at the time with lighting and the bed we were using and low shutter speed with my Canon Powershot. By Easter, I was warming my husband to the idea of a DSLR so I was still using my Canon Powershot.

At the time, Pinterest bombarded me with cute photos of babies and damnit I wanted cute Easter photos of Mess Maker J.! So to work we went. This time we draped a blanket over the back of our loveseat and used better lighting from the window in our living room. The lighting wasn’t that much better…

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EXIF: F3.2, ISO 1600, SS 1/160

 

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EXIF: F3.2 (which would mean good bookeh if the background were actually far away and not a part of what was propping Little Mister up), ISO 1250 (which means lots of noise), SS 1/160 (which means his hand is mostly not blurry).

So the biggest problem with these is that they’re soooo grainy and so the focus is soft. The focal point is definitely not on Mess Maker J. in the top photo, the bottom is much better but I think the focal plane is still a little skewed.

What will I do differently this year? Mostly have a 14 month old vs. a 2 month old! Haha. So bigger mess.

Get more light via reflectors. Some white sheets can reflect a decent amount of light, foil over cardboard, etc. Get that good light back in there!

The shutter speed is still too low as there is a touch of motion blur on his hand.

And lastly, that stupid blanket is all wrinkly and I still hadn’t learned my lesson about pulling it tight… so PULL THE BLANKETS TIGHT! Seriously.

That’s it for now, I’m getting pumped for my Easter minis! I can’t wait to see what everyone puts out there!

Keep making messes and taking pictures!

Filters-CPL, UV, ND

For Valentine’s Day, Mr. Mess Maker gifted me some filters for my Nikon D7200 and a reflector and I took some time to play with them today. Oh, and bonus, filters are probably one of the cheapest pieces of photography equipment out there!

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I got diopters (marketed macro lens filters but are not). One I was able to get something with through manual focus. The other one does a really good job of blurring my entire photo. I didn’t try the remaining two… because I am easily annoyed and that first one being so blurry and the second only working on manual focus… pass.

So don’t waste money on diopters or “macro lens filters.”

But it was a set that came with the filters I really DID want: UV, CPL (Polarizing), and ND, neutral density.

I use the UV always to kind of protect my lens and filter some UV light out that can harsh up your photos. I wanted the CPL because we live near a really awesome zoo and Mess Maker J. loves the aquarium, so I wanted to be able to get past some glare from glass in those situations. Both are great filters to have, I suggest investing in them both.

The ND, I’d seen some picture with/without type of thing and thought I would like to test them out.

While doing some shots of props for my St. Patrick’s Day minis starting this weekend (EEK!), I decided to try the ND filter out on the sky outside.

Here’s what I got WITH the ND Filter:

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This was ISO 100, f2.2, 1/125. I did nothing but convert to JPG in Lightroom.

Without the ND filter, exact SAME EXIF:

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Again, nothing done in Lightroom but the conversion.

AND that same image, with -3.54 Exposure (similar exposure to the photo with the filter based on the trees):

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SO, what does all of this MEAN other than clearly the ND filter did something.

Here’s the big thing: you can take pictures in full snow without making your shutter speed 1/5000 (which is what I had to do to get a few photos of Mess Maker J. this winter in Pennsylvania. You can also get better photos in full sun regardless of snow. Basically it dims the light without losing the color, so no more blown out portions of sky.

So get the ND filter for just those situations, when there is just too much light but you still want to get a good picture. I really could’ve used it when I was trying to get pictures of my brother’s family this fall in full sun.

Where I Started

 

Almost 13 months ago, I had a little bundle of joy. Mess Maker J. And Mess Maker J. is perfect in every way.

I was fortunate enough to find Melinda Mae Photography who took beautiful pictures of my son and his messy parents. I realized the value of family photography, of turning a group of people who think they look horrible into a piece of art. I am forever grateful for the beautiful work Melinda did for us over the course of J.’s first year. Here is one of his newborn photos.

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After watching her work, I’ve been scrambling to catch up.

I started out with the point and shoot my MIL gave my husband for his birthday the year we moved to Belgium. And my goal was to do some one month milestone photos.

Here is one from the little shoot that I did with him at a hotel while my husband was working on a business trip.

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Meet Mess Maker J. at 1 month. He’s stinking adorable, I know. He is/was/always will be perfect. Aw.

While J. is perfect, the pictures I take of him are not. But I’m working on it.

I shot this with a Canon PowerShot SX700 HS  in Auto but this model does offer manual controls so it’s a worthy camera for those of you looking for something less intimidating and involved.

Let’s talk about what’s wrong with this image and why.

Background. That brown blanket on the bed is a huge distraction. I have come to learn how annoying and hard it is to edit stuff out of an image. So, for things other than capturing Little Mister playing, I remove EVERYTHING and check my playback constantly to see what I’m getting in my shots and reshoot then and there so I can avoid trying to edit it out. Key word is trying, I suck at this.

Motion blur and focus. EXIF: ISO 800, SS1/60, Aperture 3.2. An ISO of 800 usually causes noise, it does on the camera I’m currently working with too. So I try to avoid it, but it’s necessary when you don’t have enough light. It probably caused some of the focus to soften too but the biggest culprit ruining the image is the shutter speed. 1/60 is barely enough to account for handshake let alone bebe J. flailing about. So 1/125 is okay for a slow moving baby/kid but 1/200-250 is definitely better.

This is my true start at photography and it was a bumpy one. Fortunately, it doesn’t matter. I still love my little Mess Maker and the photos I took of him. The truth is, I can’t go back and get better photos, kids don’t stay little for long. SO take them, blurry and dark and grainy, take them anyway.