Archive: ‘Holidays’

The Turkeys vs. the hams

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

The last few weeks have been a whirl with a very fun Thanksgiving, fun Christmas decorating and a house full of fun Company!

Here  is a look back at the priceless Thanksgiving memories!

We joined the fabulous Slattery family for our day of thanks – –


They wanted me to snap a pix for their Christmas card this year – -easy to do with such a handsome group! I picked the dark green background and worked with the sunlight. The white shirts are always a challenge for the camera but I think this worked. If you ever get asked about what people should wear for group shots….neutral colors that coordinate (not match) are a good choice.

We moved on to the annual Thanksgiving Play written this year by Steve!



It had a space theme (?) and featured their dog Daisy dressed as the turkey!




The play was a huge success!

it was now time for The Game! The Thanksgiving Football Game: Turkeys vs. Hams


The action was fast.


Aunt Donna thought she would never catch the football.


Adam was thrilled to have a break from the Army base!


Melissa outran just about everyone and did cartwheels when the ball wasn’t coming her way.


Chris takes sports very seriously.


Evan got the ball after yelling ’open’ about 20 times!


Andrew made some great catches.




Donna finally caught the ball!


In the end, it was an outstanding effort by both teams and the final goal, Thanksgiving Dinner, was enjoyed by all!


It was a perfect day and we are thankful for the fun photos to remember it all.

I used my 70-200 2.8 Canon lens for the outdoor sports shots. It is very difficult to get the action shots if you don’t have a quick shutter speed. You can adjust your manual camera settings to achieve this. You can also use the sports setting but remember that when you are on any of the creative settings your camera usually determines what to focus on sometime it is a person and sometime it is a tree. So, if you want more control over the focal point, switch over to manual and change the selection to the center point and you will be much happier with the outcome!

Have a fun few weeks getting ready for Christmas and don’t forget to keep your camera out on the kitchen counter all charged up so you will be ready to go!

Looking a lot like Christmas!

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

If your life is like mine now you are in full swing with Christmas…it seems to come faster and faster every year! Here are a few shots I have gathered …  a few shots that you may not want to miss at your house…

Getting the tree.


The yard decorations at night all lit up.


Various ornaments. High ISO and low f stop to get the blurry lights in the background. When you focus on something in the foreground, the background lights will blur with a low f stop; go give  it a try!




Don’t for get the storytelling shots: Evan wore sunglasses to decorate the tree!


The Christmas programs. I use my 70-200 2.8 lens, ISO around 2500.



More playing outside!



…and more tell secrets of course this time of year….


Yummy cookies..


A rescue kitty that went to a wonderful home we found!


And finally, Santa!

My friend Sharon sent this photo that she took at a recent Christmas party…looks ‘real’ to me!


My quick tip today for you is to take lots of pictures this week. Remember that you are telling a story with your photos so don’t forget to get the ‘before, during and after’ for your events. Capture YOUR special traditions and the things that define your family. We are headed to Disney this weekend so – – you know that I will come back with tons of memories…and full memory cards!

Have a wonderful ‘week before Christmas’!!

Signs of Christmas Eve: some photo tips

Friday, December 24th, 2010

When you grab the flour grab the camera! (Thanks Aunt Donna for the cookie help!)


these were straight out of the camera, the light in the kitchen is working with my camera and the twins were working together too!


Try different angles and get down on a different level:


Don’t miss a favorite waiting for the perfect shot:


Storytelling shots are still my favorite:


Final gifts for Santa:



Take a shot of the stockings before the kids get to them:


1/50, F stop 4.0 ISO 3200 no flash

Go get some sleep and have a wonderful Christmas Eve!!

A Christmas TPA!

Friday, December 24th, 2010

How do you take a picture of your teen at Christmas? This TPA (Teen Photo Attempt) was just an effort to get something of my oldest! I am about to put lights all over him as he has been sitting at that computer for hours!

Oh well, “can’t fight ‘em…go take a picture instead”!

….and make it a storytelling shot if you can!


1/60, f stop 2.8, ISO 160 with a string of lights next to the computer 🙂

maybe if I decorate his computer he will get in the spirit of the season?

Merry Christmas!!



“How Many More Days Mom?”

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

They can’t wait for the presents and it is torture for the twins to ‘watch them’ under the tree day after long day ….

I like the bonus ‘tree reflections’ in his eyes. Like I always say, photos bring little ‘gifts ‘for mom to open!


1/50, f stop 2.8, ISO 1600 no flash (just the light from the tree) straight out of the camera with custom white balance set before I shot…yes you read that right! I figured out the custom white balance on my camera and boy does it make a huge difference… whooohoooo!!



Your ISO Is Your Friend At Christmas

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

Learn how to make your ISO work for you this ‘low light’ holiday season… these indoor shots would be harder with a low ISO. Even though it is a tad bit grainy, it is not a bad trade off.  Remember to practice and get your settings figured out before the ‘moment’ happens… The fast shutter speed was made possible by the high ISO which allowed these ‘low light’ shots to be in focus.


both pictures ss 1/200, F stop 2.8, ISO 3200

If your ISO only goes to 1600 or your F stop doesn’t go to 2.8: get the ISO as high as you can and the f stop as low as you can and play with the shutter speed.  Try to get it in focus. It is OK if it is a tad dark, you can lighten it up a bit post editing. but you can’t get the focus post edit.  Don’t forget that you can shoot Christmas lights during the day too so the overall light will be better.

Also, the best ‘bang-for-your-buck- great-for-a- mom lens is  the 50mm fixed 1.4 or 1.8.  Put it on your list for Santa, you will be able to get wonderful shots of your kids! It is a very inexpensive way to get hold of that wonderful low f stop setting!


Finding Black and White ‘Gifts’ From From Color Photos.

Friday, December 17th, 2010

Christmas colors are wonderful but there is something to be said for the nostalgic look of the black and white print.

image 2010-12-1 0001

This is a Christmas photo of me and my siblings not too many years ago (ha). I love the look and feel of this print. It was a gift to me from my mom and is the only one we have like it.  I love the fact that my brother looks like he is trying to escape and my sister looks so proud in her new dress, but what is up with those bangs we have?! Don’t you agree that this print would take on a whole different look if it were in color?

When the twins went to see Santa, I was in a hurry and wasn’t thinking about this photo above. The color photos I took last weekend were alright but not thrilling. A few days later I looked at them again and decided to change them to b&w …..and I love them now! They tell such a different story to me.

This is the before in color:


it is OK but the toys in the background and all the red color is a bit distracting;  it tells a story of the toy store and the activity of going to see Santa.


This is the b&w and all of a sudden I really see the emotion or the magic emerge from this photo. I can just hear Andrew describe his Star Wars ship and Evan the Toy Story toy he wants; their hands are telling the story! I didn’t notice their hands as much the first time I looked at the color photo.  The B&W tells a different story. It seems more simple and warm and, even though they are the same photo, I really like this one better.

There are 2 things to do when you convert to b&w or sepia:

1.  Usually you will want to crop in a bit and get closer

2. You will always want to brighten it up (increasing the mid-tones) and possibly make it a bit warmer on your temperature setting. If  you do a straight conversion it will almost always be too dark.

Go ‘unwrap’ some black and white photo gifts! You already have them! All you have to do is go to your color photos and start looking for the treasures! They are there and you will be thrilled to find them, you may even want to frame a few to put around the house.  (Be sure and share them with us too!)

Happy treasure hunting!


Just For Fun: Blur Them On Purpose!

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

I spend so much time trying to get my photos in perfect focus that, at times, is fun to blur them on purpose! After the post with Evan by the tree I decided to experiment with the blur concept a little further and had so much fun!!




Christmas is a perfect time of year to practice this as there are so many lights and this technique works well with small points of light. This is a string of little colored lights on the floor. I love to see these ‘colored balls’ in the background of good shots of my kids by the tree, but before I bring the kids into the picture I am going to figure it out first.  I get the nice blur of the lights at times but in the past it has been hit or miss.

So how does this work? As I said in the last post, there are a few things you need to do to get this:

wide open aperture (low number) and a short distance between you and the subject (if you have a subject) in front of the lights. If you have a subject you focus on them and the background will naturally blur with a low f stop.

If you don’t have a ‘subject’ then it is even easier: just put your camera on a low number f stop and take it off auto focus so you can manually blur the lights. For these shots below I set my ISO at 500 and was on f stop 2.8, the low f stop allowed me to keep the shutter speed somewhat fast.

img_1754 img_1756 img_1758

SS 1/160, Focal Length (FL)  200                                        SS 1/125, Focal Length 70                                                        SS 1/135  FL 130

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SS 1/125  FL 148                                  SS 1/125  FL 135

This one below was taken this morning (ss 1/125, FL 135) and it looks very much the same as the ones taken at night above….so you can experiment any time of day!


You don’t have to use a low f stop. If you use 5.6 you will need to adjust the shutter speed but you can still get a good shot,  the shape of the ‘balls’ may be different, these are more like octagons below and they are a little bit blurry because of the slower shutter speed (my blurry picture is blurry!)


ss 1/40, f stop 5.6 FL 135

So take a break from your Christmas shopping and have fun with this! Let me know if you have any questions and share your fun new ‘blurry light’ photos with us on FB or here in the Holiday Gallery!

ps if you have a ‘Confident Camera Teen’ in your house, encourage them to give it a try, they will love this!


I love blurry backgrounds.

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

… Really love them! They help your photos so much and provide such a wonderful artistic element to give personality to your photography.

But the added benefit to the blurry background is that at times, when there is a point of light in the background, you get these wonderful blurry circles that are so fun and whimsical.




ISO 500, F stop 2.8, ss 1/30

In the photography world, this is called: Bokeh.

When I looked up the definition for you this is what I got: “a Japanese term for the subjective aesthetic quality of out-of-focus areas of a photographic image.”

So, it isn’t just the blur but it also includes the beautiful way the blur can happen or ‘look’. When you have small Christmas lights you can get beautiful round blurry points so this is a great time of year to learn how to do this.

This was taken just a few minutes ago to demo this for you. Since this effect occurs when the background is outside the depth of field, it is good to use a shallow depth of field or a very low F Stop. Set your camera on the lowest it can go. But you will also need to know that the distance between the camera and the object as well as the difference between the object and the background are also important.

Here are a few general ideas:

The background will become more blurry if:

The background is farther away from the subject

The foreground is nearer, your camera is close to the subject

The F stop number is small

The focal length is long

OK, so think about that and practice. Put your child on stool in front of the tree but not right up on the tree…pull it away a bit. Then keep your lens close to them. Make sure you get some light on their face to balance the light from the tree. See what you get, this is so fun! I will be back with more tips on this in a few days, I’m going to go practice too,. Go to my FB page to ask any questions!

Thanksgiving is Here!

Thursday, November 25th, 2010


We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.  Cynthia Odic

I love this time of year.

The weather, the leaves, the turkey, the Indians and the time to stop and think about what we have that deserves our gratitude.  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day today …and don’t forget to remember the details that make life so full and so fun!



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