Archive: ‘F-stop examples’

Learning on 2 Wheels

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Photographing the most obvious childhood ‘rites of passages’ is a must for a camera mom.   Bike riding opens a big wonderful door to a world of outdoor play and where so many life lessons are learned!

For my boys, taking those training wheels off was a very big deal!

Kids learn how to set a goal and work hard to accomplish it!



They learn how to take care of their wheels!


They learn how things work.


They learn how to go faster.


They learn how to put on the brakes!


If they saved their money for their bike, they learn the value of hard work.


But the most important lesson of all is perhaps the lesson of sharing the road with their good friends and making memories that will last a lifetime….


Now that lesson is worth taking a picture of!

Camera Mom Tip:

Don’t forget to photograph the obvious, everyday stuff in your life!!

most pictures taken with a low ISO a low f stop and ss 1/200


Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

Have you ever tried to take good photos in poor restaurant light? It can be frustrating but it is fun to take photos at your favorite places so hopefully  you will pick up a few tips today.

This is a great yogurt place just in case you need to add another one to your list!


Photography is all about ‘light’ and what your camera does with it. So when you get to a place with strange or low light you have to quickly adjust your settings to get the shot. Remember we don’t like to use the  ‘on camera’ flash…it is not very flattering to anything out there and I recommend only using it in emergencies.

I set the ISO to 640 and the f stop to 2.8. I got by with a shutter speed of 1/100 because I wasn’t shooting a moving object. The slower  shutter speed allowed me to keep the ISO a little lower and resulted in a less grainy photo. Notice that with this shot the low f stop meant a real blurry background  as I got closer to the subject. So just a little bit of this photo is actually in focus the rest is thrown out of focus: a shallow depth of field. The further away you get the deeper your depth of field and more of your subject is in focus.


Photographing food is really fun because the colors are rich and…it doesn’t move!


You can also position the food to get the best light possible!

Are you getting hungry yet?! Melissa sure enjoyed her creation! Shooting at an angle allowed me to get my daughter AND the dessert in the photo – up close shots can be tricky but once you turn the camera a bit you will be amazed at what you can fit in the frame.

Another tip: teens are usually happy when food is in the picture! A prepared camera mom will get remember to get those rare shots!



We completely enjoyed our yogurt outing….this is a photo- story for sure!


Look all around … I was intrigued by the lights in this place!


This was actually hard to photograph – – I ended up with a much faster exposure time to get the detail of the light fixture. 1/800.  If I had a slow shutter speed I would have had too much light coming in the camera and the shot would have just been a white ball. Because there was enough light for the shot, with my camera directly pointing at the light, I was able to lower the ISO to 400.

Bon Appetite!

Summer is fading….Fast…

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Could it be possible that summer is on its way out already?

It won’t be long before shorts and bare feet will be put away…


and  playing in the driveway with chalk will be replaced with indoor games…



(‘bike wipe out’ band aids soon won’t be needed!)


and winter gloves instead of colored chalk will cover these sweet little hands.


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The caterpillars are all gone now….


(note low f stop number here, 2.8,  to get the real blurry background)


…the bikes will soon get pushed to the back of the garage.


My little monkeys won’t be hanging from the swing much longer,


or from the trees…


So  for now we will saver every last warm minute in the backyard and…


…we will be glad we took lots of pictures of our memories this summer so we can put them in an album and enjoy all of our fun photo stories by the cozy fire this winter!

Camera Mom Photo Tips:

  1. Photograph your everyday life don’t wait for special events.

  2. Shoot from new and different perspectives to make your shots interesting and to tell a deeper story.

  3. Get up close details as well as full shots.

  4. Do worry about getting faces with every shot.

  5. Do pick up your camera when you go outside!

Look What I Got For Free At The Fair!

Monday, September 5th, 2011

I have always wanted to know how to take photos of Ferris Wheels at night! You know .. those very cool shots that you see in every single ‘how to’ photo book?  I am happy to share what this camera mom learned last night at our little fair! It wasn’t exactly a Ferris Wheel but the rides were good enough to practice my night photography. Once you figure it out you will be so happy to know how to get these cool ‘free’ shots that always end up on the covers of those photo books at the bookstore!!!

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OK…you WILL need to go to your M button for this…or at least that is the only way I know to tell you how to do it. Once on M, I looked around and realized that they had tons of big lights so I ended up with an ISO of 320 because it was dark outside but there was still a lot of light to be had. I set my dial to M then change my ISO to 320.

Next,  I set my F Stop to 14. I am not sure exactly why 14 but I read somewhere to do that for these shots and  it worked  so I kept it there! Now the FUN part began when I started changing my shutter speed. Remember that a slow shutter speed will let more light in than a fast shutter speed and if that light happens to be ‘moving’ then you are in business. The long exposure (or the longer the shutter is open) will allow the light from the bulbs to be recorded as they move across the frame.

Let me show you:

All these shots were taken with the ride going full steam but you can see that they are all different due to different shutter speeds. This shot was taken with a somewhat quick (or fast)  shutter speed at 1/10:

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This shot was taken with a little bit slower speed 1/4, notice a little movement

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This one was 1/2, even more movement recorded

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The next four sots were 1/1

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They are all a little different due to the exact timing of the shot, that is what makes this so  FUN!

Here is another ride:

shutter speed 1/10

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1/2 for the next

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1/1 for the next three!

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For this shot I set the ss to 2 full seconds. As the shutter is left open longer more of the light is captured.

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One more ride: I raised the ISO to 640 for these final shots.

ISO 640, F 14, ss 1/32

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ss 1/10

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ss 1/1

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Get the signs too!

This was f stop ISO 640, 14, ss 1/32

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And finally – – a yummy shot to end the night!

nothing better than good ol’ fashion fair food!


Most of all have fun and PRACTICE! These shots aren’t perfect but I got further than I have in the past and that is what is important with your photography hobby…you have to practice to keep  learning!

Summary of tips for night time fair photography:

1.  Bring a tripod or monopod. I have a monopod, it is just one leg and easier to manage than a big tripod as it fold up easy. I use it for a lot of sports  stuff but these night shots require a very still camera when the shutter is open for a long time.  If you don’t have a tripod handy, find a nearby rail to prop your camera on. It will be difficult if the camera is not totally still.

2. When you can, put the self timer on for 2 seconds; even when you press the shutter with your fingers it can cause the camera to shake.

3. Get on the M setting and write down some potential settings before you go out.  Review it in your mind before you get there. This really helps to remember what to do once the confusion hits.

4. Keep  your F Stop higher than normal for these nighttime shots with lights. This higher number actually means that the size of the opening is smaller…the high number will result in a sharper image when dealing with outdoor lights and neon signs etc. The lower number on the f stop is a bigger opening allowing more light to get to the sensor. If you are close up and the the light is bright you can try a smaller number for the f stop and a lower number for the ISO.

5.  Experiment with your shutter speed to get different effects. This setting will control how fast the shutter is open. Remember that will a long opening you will need a monopod or tripod to keep the camera steady.

6. Practice a lot.

How To Shoot A Cowboy (Before He Shoots you!)

Friday, June 10th, 2011

The decision has been made. The 7th birthday this month will be about Cowboys. Not super heroes or space aliens this year but good ol’ vintage Western Cowboys. So here are a few vintage tips on how to shoot that cowboy (or cowgirl) of yours!


A few tips to begin.

  1. Look for great natural light (turn off that flash). No fancy equipment needed, watch for the catch lights in their eyes to make sure you have enough light on their faces.
  2. Try to get it right straight out of the camera, busy moms don’t have a lot of time for post editing. (None of these shots were touched up at all.)
  3. Tell the story and make it fun. Candid shots are generally my favorites but every camera mom needs to learn how to take good portrait shots of her kids.
  4. The Lens I mostly used my 1.4 50mm fixed lens for close up people shots. Fixed (or Prime) means that it does not zoom or move in and out, you have to physically get closer with your body.  Fixed lenses are much faster than zooms and allow you to shoot at half the ISO at the same shutter speed in low light, so the photos are much sharper. There are fewer moving parts making the glass more accurate. Look into getting this lens, it is inexpensive. A good prime lens is much better than an inexpensive zoom lens. It will instantly make you a better photographer allowing you to get a sharp focus with a wonderful blurry background even on your green box button and other auto settings.

The soft morning light or early evening light is best. These were taken between 8-9am and is the perfect time for kids because they are not tired and it is not too hot yet this time of  year.


These shots are not candid exactly but I did try to get natural looks and smiles (their ‘shooting’ was candid of course!)


Only you (not the pro) knows what those natural looks look like. That is why it is important for you to get the confidence (and the right lens) to do this yourself!

Make it fun and make them laugh…


Red bandanas are good for photos.


Ask for mean cowboy faces…


Watch for those sweet hands…


then ask for one….


then for another.


Props are good… (notice the great catch lights in his eyes? With hats on it is good to ask them to raise their chin a bit to keep the shadow from the hat off their eyes).


Or you can move the hat up a bit.


No need for eye contact all the time.


Keep shooting even when they are not paying attention to you….


Let them change positions often to keep it fresh.


Serious is good…



but serious is hard when you are almost 7…







Sepia is good color for Cowboys.


Finally, don’t take too long,  Cowboys are busy and on the go (with horses to round up and bad guys to get) …..


…so make your ‘photo time’ with them short and sweet!

Happy Trails!

Most shots were taken with the following settings:

ISO 100 F Stop 2.8 for single cowboy at least 4 for both. If you use a low f stop on more than one person chances are that one of the people will be out of focus. Shutter Speed 1/200 or higher (possible with the lower f stop).

10 Tips: Birthdays and Baseballs!

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

My camera was working overtime this weekend with 2 birthday parties, 2 baseball games and evenings with friends over! Here are a few photo highlights and some camera mom tips to go with them!

Big News: Evan (finally) got the game ball! Evan has been ‘praying’ for the game ball for quite some time so you can imagine how excited he was to finally have it in his dirty little hands! (He is sleeping with it!)


Tip: These types of shots look best when they are off center. If you can’t position the shot off center while you are taking it, you can do it in an easy post edit crop. Note that the blurred background (low f-stop number) makes the subject stand out.

Coach Chris was showered with birthday hugs from the team..


Tip: Zoom in and get the action close up. It is fun to watch from the side, but it is more fun to look at photos after! Be the mom that gets the shot…or be friends with a mom that does!

This camera mom was glad to get the shot of the hit…with the ball.  I call  this my ‘going fishing’ shot because you have to try a lot and learn to wait patiently.


Tip: Set your camera to high speed continuous shooting so you can get lots of frames per second and increase your chances of getting the bat and the ball in the same shot.

We went to a friend’s birthday party and I had a great time shooting the wonderful crafty creations of the mom who is very talented … ‘making’  this the most creative Lego birthday ever!

The centerpiece was a work of Lego art.


Tip: When at an event, look for the decorations that define the theme and shoot them before too much activity starts. Once the party starts you are distracted.

The cake was a wonderful big Lego block!


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Tip: get close-ups of the cake details. This is really fun to do with a low f-stop number on your camera setting to blur the background.

Request natural light for the cake shot if possible. This porch allowed  wonderful filtered light which made the picture taking a bit easier. Remember that you want a high shutter speed if possible which means that you need nice light on board.


Tip:  ‘Stage’ this all important candid shot if needed; we put the centerpiece near the cake for this shot and I checked the background before we started singing.

The finishing touches were everywhere! From handmade party streamers…


…to the decorated paper plates!


Finally the piñata…which was a Lego art project! I now know who to call when ‘my’ next middle school science project is due!


Tip: Ask a friend to come help you take photos of your birthday parties. No need to hire anyone, just offer to swap with another camera mom (or dad). It is not fun to throw the party AND shoot it at the same time! Jot down a list of what you want them to get ahead of time and take plenty of pre-party shots yourself. 

We also got a group shot and a shot of each child.

Moving on to our second game of the weekend! I practiced getting a few more fun shots of the ‘hits’.



And I met my camera mom goal this game to get some shots of the actual ‘plays’.  These shots are difficult because you have to anticipate them and not actually see them first.

So what do you think? Was he safe??


or out?


Tip: Know the game. Since you have to anticipate the play, you will have to know where it is going to potentially ‘happen’. Aim and shoot and look at what you got later later. Again the high speed continuous shooting mode (look in your manual to see if you have it) is your best friend with these shots. My camera does 6 shots a second but 3 or 4 a second is perfectly fine.

The ‘game ball’ ceremony at the end of the game…(note the little guy on the bottom right: is he trying to bribe the coach??!!)


But perhaps the most priceless are the shots you get on the sidelines at these games. These are the little slices of life that I LOVE the most…..


Tip: Keep your eyes open for what is going on around you and not just what is happening on the field.

How fun to get this ‘proud mama’ shot series of The Coming Across Home Plate Hug in full swing!




ISO 200, shutter speed 1/780, F stop 2.8

Tip: Be on the lookout for the un-posed emotional moments that are easy to miss because they are so fun to watch… don’t think too hard, just keep shooting when they are happening…something will turn out!

I have more to share but this is enough for one post!  This time of year is so full of photo taking opportunities…with the end of school and graduations and weddings…get your camera out and keep it charged up and near your car keys! Don’t miss a shot!

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!

Where Is Andrew?

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

I know I spend a lot of time on this subject but I think  it is important!  Look for details that define your life and your kids. These next few shots define one of Andrew’s favorite things to do.

He loves to color.

If I can’t find Andrew, I just go to the coloring supplies and he is usually there. If I can’t find Evan…well that is another story!


Looking for details within the details will help you get more creative with your story telling photography.  The details are everywhere.


This shot was taken with a very low f stop and it was pretty close up (a shallow depth of field) hence the blur.

I do keep the art stuff in the kitchen so he will work at the kitchen table where there is natural window light coming in. I can’t stress enough the importance of your light source when you are photographing people. Learning to turn your flash off and find the natural light is one tip that will improve your photography more than anything else.


This shot shows where the light source is. Notice how his left side is in the shadow and his right side is getting light. If I shot his face from the side I was standing his face would be too dark.

Get creative and think out of  your ‘box’ and experiment with different angles that you would generally not shoot.  Try not to ask for a pose.


Details require zooming in and cropping with your camera. (Andrew colors very carefully inside the lines as you can see, it is part of his personality!)


But the most important light lesson here is to look for the light on his face and the catch- lights in his eyes. The light source will usually be behind you for these type of shots. I let him keep coloring and just walked to the other side of the table for this shot. I like his hands by his face…I am a big fan of kid hands and getting them when I can.


(I wanted to keep this shot as natural as possible and get into his world so I did not ask for a pose. I simply composed the shot in my viewfinder and waited a few seconds then just said his name; he looked at me and I took the shot.  If you wait too long you will miss the shot.)

So what is Evan generally doing when Andrew is sitting quietly at the table coloring?

Well, you just never know…..


This day he decided to take a ride in his big sisters book bag.. totally his idea of course!


I am not sure how he thinks of these things….


1/25, ISO 320, F stop 2.8

…but he does…often! (not sure how he fit!)


(foyer window light)

You just never know with Evan …  and that is what makes life with crazy Evan so fun!


Most of the shots were taken with a little bit lower ISO than I usually use inside. The shutter speeds were around 1/30 – 1/50, also much slower than I generally use. Remember that with a high ISO you get more ‘grain’ so experiment with your settings to get the look you want. Each camera will also be slightly different.


I’m so glad I have these shots. They happen in a split second and you generally can’t ask for a repeat so you have to be on your toes for sure!

As I have so much fun photographing the twins and my daughter now, I  often wonder what shots I would have of my oldest son’s life had I understood the concept of storytelling photography years ago.  I did a good job of documenting events back then but it is a bit sad to lose those day to day stories as my memory fades.  I feel like my camera allows me to see fun things about my kids that otherwise would go unnoticed. Use your camera to know the people you love just a little better!


Camera Mom Tip: Turn  your flash off, learn your manual settings. Natural light is always better than the harsh flash with people, so learn how to find the light and use it. This tip will help  you more than any other when you are learning to get more confident with your camera.

People are always asking me how I have time to get this stuff…

It is a trade off…. I trade a clean house for fun photography….I’m thinking I’m getting the the better end of that deal : ) When my kids ‘grow’ out of the house I will have time to clean it…maybe!

Not Just Baseball Going On at the Ball field

Monday, April 11th, 2011

One great thing about being a mom with a camera is that you get to capture unexpected moments that happen all around you in your day to day life….moments that can’t be planned out or repeated for the photo appointment with the pro. I love this photography stuff and I love surprises! I feel like I get to open presents all the time!

At the game last week, I was getting the biggest kick watching this baby. One of his big brothers plays on our team and while I was shooting the big kids I was also able to keep my eye on this little guy.


This baby was on his grandmother’s lap and she was getting the best giggles from him as only a grandmother can do.  Can’t you just hear him?!  I immediately knew that I had a little magic to capture.


The perfect thing about this moment in time is that it represents something that is pretty rare…. nice light with a spontaneous slice of ‘baby life’: the tongue, the hands in the mouth, the instant change from a giggle to a stare to tears then back to the giggles… If I were going over to this sweet family’s house to photograph their kids, this would never happen…because you can’t plan this stuff! That is why you, the mom, have to learn how to use your camera and get these rare shots at an un-planned moments notice.


My f stop was low so I got the blurred background but I had to be careful to think about the depth of field issues as I moved from the far away shots on the field to the up-close shot right in front of me with my big lens.  In general, when you have a low f stop with a close up you will have only a very small slice of the subject in focus. Notice how some of his face is in focus but not his ears in the shot above? This is called a shallow depth of field. The further away I get the more everything would be in focus. It would have helped to have my 50mm 1.8 fixed lens with me, note to self: bring that lens to the ball filed.

Love those baby hands!


The middle brother got in on the action as he got some sweet mama love and kisses.


Notice the wonderful light on the side of his face during that yummy time of day?  Also, this shot works better with the fence in the background blurred out, if it wasn’t it would have been distracting to the subject.


Did I say I was glad to get those cute little baby hands?


..and more hands…


Aha, now we know why the obsession with the hands…there they are…the two little teeth…

He was just so cute I wanted to eat him up!

So, be really flexible and be on the lookout for these unplanned shots when you are with friends…once you start looking you will see them where you least expect them…


…..even on the ball field!


Camera Mom tip:  Look for the story within the story and be ready to take the stuff going on around you when you are at an event. Also, when the moment is right and it is working…..keep shooting! Gone are the days when we had to stop and change our film and miss the shot. Be prepared with an empty memory card and extra cards just in case… take full advantage of the moment and don’t get stingy with  your shots.

I am not a pro and these photos aren’t perfect as I am still learning a lot, however, if you were this mom wouldn’t you be so glad to have them? : ) So don’t worry if you are good enough,  just go practice and have fun and good things will happen!

most shots were taken at dusk with f stop 2.8, ISO 200, 1/400

I Love Babies and Showers!

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

I can’t think of too many things that are more fun than a baby shower, especially a pink girl shower! Welcoming the new little person into the world of friends and family is just about the best thing ever.


1/600, S.8, ISO 800

Be sure to get the details of the celebration. Cake pictures are so fun to take. You can move them to good light and play with your aperture (f stop). Don’t be afraid to try all different angels. Also, come early to get the cake shot….no one likes to wait for the photographer to do their thing while everyone is waiting to cut the cake! That is a good tip in general for any type of party shots. Arrive early and get the decorations and guest of honor before the crowd arrives and everything gets crazy.



1/64, f stop 2.8, ISO 800

The people are a must but don’t forget to take shots of the party decorations too.


Window light is best for balloons….pay attention to your backgrounds.


Don’t forget the guest of honor! Welcome sweet Natalie Grace!


1/500,  f stop 2.8, ISO 1600

and again in B&W




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