Archive: ‘Depth of Field’

Photo Tips For a Weekend Retreat!

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

A relaxing weekend needs some special photos!


When you go away it can be a temptation to leave your good camera at  home…my advice?


You don’t have to focus on photos your whole trip but do take time to get some details so you can tell the story later. I went to this wonderful retreat center recently with a friend and I am so glad to have some good photos to to use to make a digital book to share and remember the trip. It is important to journal and remember the things that we do that impact our lives… putting the details in a digital album are the perfect way to do this.

Get some ‘big picture’ shots that tell the story of where you were.



(I had to sit on the ground to get this angle to get the whole steeple in the shot)

But remember to keep your eyes peeled for the details that makes your photo story so interesting:


Like these very cool orange very tiny (1/2 inch tall) mushrooms that I have never seen before that we saw on one of the trails growing out of the tiny gravel!


This is a good example of a very low f stop and a shallow depth of field: the closer you are to your subject with a low f stop the more out of the focus the background and foreground will be…only a sliver of the photo will be in focus… hence a shallow depth of field.

I can’t get enough of the flower photos, they are among my all time favorites!


We were at the Billy Graham training center and so I had to get some defining details as well:





The chapel was so simple and so beautiful.


I love taking photos of things in rows; the pews were old and interesting … I got on ‘their’ level to get the shot.


I couldn’t get enough of the mountains…even though it is a cliché shot – – take them anyway!


Camera Mom tips for a weekend get away:

  1. Pack your good camera; charge your battery and empty your memory card the night before you leave. I always put a sticky note on the back door to remind me to get the battery; it is easy to forget when you are in a rush to leave. Don’t forget to bring your charger.
  2. Plan to take your camera  out 2 or 3 times during the trip; you don’t need to carry it the whole time.
  3. look for the big picture shots that describe where you are.
  4. Take shots that explain the mood of the place you visit (the rocking chairs above show the relaxing nature of this trip!).
  5. Details are as important in your photos as they are in a good story. Look for details that spark an emotion, a sense of beauty or that ‘describe’ where you are. The mushrooms in this example are an unexpected detail or it may be close ups of shells on a beach or nature around you are even beautiful food!
  6. Be sure to get ‘you’ in at least a few shots.
  7. Photos of photos or of art are fine!
  8. Think about the plan or the layout for your album as you take shots i.e. get the shots you need for the cover of the book as well as front and last pages. The ‘big picture’ shots work well for these.
  9. Look for and take the cliché shots!
  10. Make your book on the way home from the trip. You can do this if you have a laptop. I do this on the way home from most of our vacations so I don’t forget the details of the trip. I have a ac car adapter, my husband drives and I scrapbook!


Baby Baby Baby!

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

Photographing little babies is just so …..  fun, and stressful, and tense and …hard!! But so worth whatever it takes to get the job done.

This photography  effort below was not perfect. I am just a mom trying to figure this stuff out and I make plenty of mistakes on my journey, but this new mom was happy to have some pictures of her little girl, mistakes and all, and I was  happy to get the practice and learn some things.

I headed out the door with my bag packed:  one white satin baby blanket, some white tulle, a few simple baby outfits, a rattle, crunchy bright toy,  my 50mm 1.4 lens, an empty memory card and a full battery.

What I was hoping to find when I got to the house was: nice window light and a fed ‘not sleepy’ happy baby!

Here are some thoughts on what I learned and a few tips.

Pack a little simple outfit just in case the mom forgot. I like lots of baby skin showing but a little simple dress for a girl or shirt for a boy is cute too. I brought this  little pink slip along with a cloth diaper cover…always use a diaper cover (found at most specialty children’s stores) there is nothing cute about a disposable diaper.


I found some great natural window light in the upstairs foyer. We put the white blanket over some pillows and tried to set her up a bit.  Remember to turn off the flash!

You may or may not always get the smile you want at this age…so be happy with the tongue!


Be even happier if you get the tongue AND the smile together! Notice in this shot that the head needs to be tilted down a little more. Note that the tulle in the background keeps the carpet from showing.


Try to face the baby directly toward the window light. Notice the light in her eyes?  I have had some success with mom holding baby and getting the over the shoulder shots. But she has to hold her up high so the baby isn’t buried in her shoulder.


I used my 50mm lens and learned that the f stop needed to be a bit higher than it was with the close-up shots  These were shot at 2.8, ISO 160, shutter speed 1/100.  When  your f stop is low and you are close,  the depth of field is shallow meaning that only a sliver of the photo will actually be in focus. In this case one eye is in focus and the other one is not because it fell a little behind the right eye and out of the focus area….this is called a shallow depth of field, only a small part of the are is in focus. I should have increased my f stop to include a larger area.

After a little crop.


I always like to get hands in the shot, both hands seems to be a bonus.


Try different angles and work through the crying and diaper changes. Don’t get discouraged; one minute they will be screaming and the mom will be anxious then the next second they will calm down. Although an extra pair of hands to help is good, I seem to have the best success when mom leaves the room!


Try changing to black and white post editing. This is black and white with the temperature warmed up a bit.


I had to get flat on the floor  for this shot but I love it. Once the crawling starts this shot will be hard to get so get it before they start moving!


I love the interaction here with mom. The beauty of this shot  is that you can’t really tell if she was laughing or crying! So keep shooting through the crying! You may be surprised!


Finally, keep shooting till the very end when baby gets tired and the ‘nuzzling’ starts. At this point it would have been good to get some sleeping baby photos but she was changed and put down for a nap. I felt like I needed a nap too!


Camera Mom Tip:  Practice is the key to getting better with your photography. Remember with babies especially you will have to take a lot of shots. Practicing with a baby doll is a good idea. I like to plan a few sessions so I don’t feel so stressed to have to get it perfect the first time!


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