Archive: ‘‘Light’ Tips’

Window light is Best for Babies!

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

Here is sweet Sophia again just a few weeks old.  The trick to photographing babies is to be patient. I am not a professional photographer and I have not been to formal photography classes  but I am a mom and I know that babies have to be fed, warm and with mama to be happy. So, I am guessing that works for the photography mom too. We got her up after a little nap and mama fed her. We moved over to some window light and started shooting.

First I grabbed some shots of this cute little bottom and those precious feet! I set my camera to the following settings using my 50mm 1.4 lens I love.  

Shutter Speed  1/125, because she was not moving fast, I usually like to keep the ss at least 1/200 with kids. but this day I needed to lower it to get the light to work.

F-Stop 3.5, because I wanted some blur in the background

ISO 500 because we were inside and the window light was not too bright.

I picked up this cute diaper cover at a specialty children’s shop for my camera bag because diapers are ugly and bright colors/clothes are not always flattering on newborns, we love baby skin to show.



Then we put a black shirt on mom and a pink bow on baby and tried out best to get baby to look at me, she was not too interested at first…


But I kept shooting…


and finally got some eye contact!


Next I wanted to get  some more feet to go with the shot we took before she was born, remember this one?



I had mom sit by the window. Window light is best…love it…

Then it was time to eat again! love the ‘nursing hands’!


The next tip is to try to get babies face close to mama, this is harder than you think but worth the effort.


I love the way the light is coming across her profile in these shots:


She is not old enough to hold her head up so a little help from mama’s hands under the blanket works.


Finally one more shot of that precious face! For these I used some black fabric that I had to drape behind her so there wasn’t a cluttered background. A few yards of black fabric is a perfect addition to your camera bag. Make sure the light from the window is on her face with her eyes catching some of the soft light.



I love the black and white/sepia look especially against the black background. Sometime I use the black and white adjustment on my Memory Manager software but then it is a little blue to me…so I warm it up a bit to get this look….not totally B&W and not totally sepia.

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Stay tuned for some more baby photos of a brand  new baby boy!

Get your camera out today!


Baby Sophia Finally Meets Her Big Brothers!

Friday, June 15th, 2012

She is here safe and sound and as precious as we all imagined!



Sophia had a big ‘welcome to the family’ by her three big brothers!


Not too much writing today – – just a few tips to let you know that I used my 50mm lens and the wonderful window light that the hospital provided! No more dark dingy rooms from years gone by – – we had wonderful light for a wonderful birthday! party



Someone looks a little worried!







Just can’t get enough of this precious little girl!

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One thing is for sure – — she will be loved to pieces by all those brothers and everyone else of course!


Best wishes to Sara and Mitch as they bring little Sophia home….I’m sure you will be seeing more of Sophia as I have the honor of capturing her babyhood! Can’t wait!

No flash and virtually no editing thanks to the beautiful window light. General camera settings 50 mm lens; ISO 250, F Stop 2.0, ss 1/160

Avoid This Big Mistake

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

One big mistake that camera moms make when it comes to taking those ‘quick get the shot’ photos in every day life is that they don’t pay attention to the available light.

You know the moments that I am taking about: a moment arises – – someone says ‘who has a camera?’ and 6 people pull out their phones!

This moment happened to me yesterday and I was so glad that I had my iPhone! We were at a wonderful violin exhibit with our violin teacher and met the man who refurbished all the beautiful violins in the exhibit. Our teacher was so excited to get her photo with this very famous man (to be honest I had no idea who he was!) but she was thrilled to meet him unexpectedly.  So 6 moms got their phones out and everyone basically got this same photo: (I took this one so I could show you this good bad example!)


I saw what was happening…. and decided to be bold and ask the three people to turn around and face the light. They did not have to move much just simply do a half turn and face the exact opposite direction. I realized that with the bright window light behind them the photo would be a failure. I also knew that our teacher really wanted a photo with this famous man and I didn’t want to let her down. Sometime to be a good photographer you have to be bold and unpopular for a moment. They did not want to move; people never do. I waited for everyone to finish (taking their bad photos) and kindly asked the 3 subjects turn around. I was smiling and begging .. please, please, please… : ) They finally did and I got this one  shot but it was much better:


Understand that NOTHING changed on my iPhone. I simply asked them to turn around and face the light! That was it.

I am so glad that I took the extra effort to get this for our teacher she is so happy to have it.

Remember that photography is all about light. Study it, use it and make it your friend. And don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. Sometime people and circumstances won’t cooperate but when they do it is always worth the extra effort!

hint: if there is no way to turn the subject toward the light then…I hate to even say this… you will want to turn on your flash. Your camera may not want to turn on the flash automatically because it will ‘see’ tons of light and think that you don’t need anymore. However if the light is behind the people it won’t matter and their faces will be dark and you will have to turn on the flash. But only use the flash as a last resort! Always ask them to move first and face the light! Especially in a setting like this where there is plenty of beautiful available light!

20 minutes With a Precious Baby Boy!

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

How do you capture so much cuteness in one 20 min session? As you can only imagine it can be very stressful to even think about a photo shoot with a 3 month old baby – -not to mention actually trying to accomplish it successfully. I am not a pro – – but I am a mom who knows the value of getting that perfect shot of our babies and knowing that because they change and grow so fast we have to be quick or we might miss it.  even though the nights can be long and mom is so tired and exhausted we simply must get these little minutes of that first year documented and frozen in jpeg time.

Here are a few of my favorites shots with some tips mixed in.


We were in the nursery in natural window light. For this shot we put him up on the dresser on a blanket. I draped another blanket over his head and got only 4 shots before things started to fall apart! But we got our shot!

Tip : Be quick!


I used my 50 mm 1.4 fixed lens. I shot with the following settings: f stop 2.8; ISO 650; shutter 1/250.  I did have to warm up the photos a bit in my Memory Manager software (I love it!). The other thing I am learning is that if you edit your photos on a laptop the brightness of the screen may not match the image you get back after printing… more on that in a future post.

Tip: You know you have enough light when I saw the catch lights in his eyes.


This is just a close of of the previous shot – – done in editing.


I don’t like props but a satin blanket works very well. I carry a pink one and a blue one. Try to stay away from white ones if you can as the white tends to confuse the camera and the color balance can be off. It was hard to get him to look in the camera and believe it or not I seemed to have more luck when I asked mom to take little brother (and herself) out of the room. I thought he may get fussy but babies love to fuss mostly to impress mom once she was gone he was very interested in me and my camera!

Tip: try to get mom to leave for a few minutes…the baby will look at you when there are no other distractions in the room.


Love those busy baby hands!  I like them better when part of the baby is in the background. I love the way he is holding and looking at his hands here.

Tip: keep shooting even when he is not looking at you.


There was crying, but the sweet look after the cry is priceless. Here mom calmed him down and put the blanket over her knee where he was snuggled all warm and cozy and safe. We also gave him another blanket to hold and feel more secure and happy.  Notice that all these shots are with no clothes. You don’t want to distract your eyes too much  when you have such beautiful baby skin!

Tip: don’t pack up when the crying starts. Be patient.

Tip: no clothes for babies…so keep the room warm!


Capture the action; start shooting when he puts his hands up to his mouth. Don’t wait for the action then decide to shoot, if you do you will miss it every time.

Tip: Don’t put your camera down! Learn to watch your subject through your lens so you are ready to click the shot. This is one of the hardest things to get used to doing and takes practice.

To wrap up. These shots aren’t perfect but we got them.  I wish I had known what I know today about my camera when my babies were little. I believe that every mom can get good enough with her camera to get the shots she wants.  I also believe that only she can recognize the perfect nooks and crannies of the day when her baby is happy – instead of making a big fuss trying to load him in the car to take him to the professional and hoping that he is not tired, sick, crying etc. at that ‘$250 session’ moment. The best moments to photograph are when  you are at home doing life with your baby: right when he wakes  up, right when he is done eating, right after a warm bath… these are all only 10 min windows so have your camera nearby and ready in the nursery. Know ahead of time where the natural window light is in his room and feed him there, dry him off there and let him play there so you can grab the shots.

Be inspired to get some shots of your baby today no matter how old they are! Remember the minutes turn into years quickly and he will be one day older tomorrow!

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’!!

No More Gray Photos!!!

Monday, December 5th, 2011

Do you ever wonder why your photos have a blue or gray tint to them? Do you even notice when they do? Are the skin tones really natural? You may be so glad to get the shot that you aren’t looking at the skin tones.

I took this photo this past week and was disappointed by the gray color of their skin. Do you see it? Yuck!


Here is another one, do you see the weird skin color? YOU (and I ) can do better than this!


We were outside at 3:30 in the afternoon and I had them in the shade with the sun at my back which is a good rule in general…but rules are not always dependable in photography!

The next day I took the twins back out and was determined to figure out the problem once and for all! So I did an experiment. It was exactly the same time of day and I put Evan in the same spot, then I moved him around and had him face the opposite direction (after a photography friend gave me some obvious advice!)

The shot on your left was taken in the same spot as the day before. It still has the gray problem. The shot on the right is much better! Both are straight out of the camera with no editing. What a huge difference, do you see it? All I did was turn him around.  In the photo on the right he is looking toward the sun setting light with the house behind him. The one on the left he is looking toward the sun but the house was casting the shadow that he was standing in…causing the gray color. There was enough light for both shots but the shot on the left has the better light.

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This is the same jpeg with a bit of post editing to brighten it up even more – – the gray tones are not there!!


The other key to this is keeping your white balance on ‘auto’. Go check it now. Is it on auto? The only time I generally change it is if I am in a gym or other very dark place. Most of the time it needs to be set to ‘auto’.

Here is an example of the ‘daylight’ white balance setting. The first photo has the right amount of light as I finally figured out how to get them looking the right way! But it still has a weird tone…it was set on ‘daylight’ white balance. the photo right below it was taken on ‘auto’ white balance. Both are the jpegs right out of the camera with no post editing. See how much warmer the second photo is?

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Do you see the difference? WOW! It makes a big difference! The ‘auto’ setting is much warmer.

Here is Andrew with the warmer ‘auto’ white balance:


So the lesson is:

1. Study the light on your subjects face and do not settle for gray skin – – it is NOT OK! Keep moving around until you get the faces to look warm and not gray. 

2. All light is not created equal: Just because you have enough light it may not be the best light. This will take some practice. Go practice on a no-stress shot when  you can just play with it.  Maybe take a doll with  you since most kids won’t put up with this for long! Take the shot from different angles and go to your computer and look at them. You may not be able to see it on your camera screen quite yet – -that takes some practice. Remember that even if 10-15 minutes goes by the light will change (especially later in the day). So do all your shooting first taking notes as to where they were facing etc., then go look on your computer to see the differences.

3. Have your subject face the largest opening of sky regardless of where the sun is. If they are in the shade, have them look toward the large opening of the sky, that is where the most light with be reflecting on their faces. The warm ‘sun setting’ light will make them look especially warm if it is later in the day.

4. Keep your camera on ‘auto’ white balance for now. There will be times to change it, but for now…’auto’ is your friend!

5. Photography exposure is all about the light…having enough of it and having the correct white balance. Most problems with exposure are generally related back to these two things: enough of the right light and,  white balance.

Have a wonderful week with your Christmas shopping and I will be back with some cool ideas for ‘fuzzy’ Christmas lights!



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!

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.

Perhaps the hardest but most fun shoot you will do!

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011


Everyone knows that it is difficult to photograph babies…that is why most moms are willing to pay big bucks to get big shots of their kiddos…


I am here to tell you that YOU CAN get them yourself! Yes, you the camera mom, can get the shots of your kids that you love – -that the pro will never get because you know your kids better then they do and you know the look you are after.  You also have the benefit of being able to grab your camera during that little unpredictable slice of time when baby’s good mood hits and baby isn’t eating, sleeping, drooling, crying or filling a diaper! The timing is everything with babies but I have some other tips for you as well!

1.  Get anyone over 5 to help you out and stand behind you and make faces, baby will think they are SO funny!


2. Pick your background carefully and stay away from cars and garbage cans. Do put baby outside on the grass on a blanket and have a good spot in the shade picked out ahead of time, with baby facing the light or open sky. I also like to have a clean simple (no patterns or soft patterns)  baby shirt handy to throw on right before you walk out the door to the backyard.


3. Get those baby hands! Start clicking away when you see the hands go up.


or holding toes!



4. Add a hat!


(notice ‘catch lights’ in eyes – you have enough light on their face when you see these.)


5. Look for a nice profile shot.


6. Look for expression. Don’t wait for the perfect smile; that serious look is priceless!


7. Change the background during the shoot. Move to a different place outside, keep the same light but just move around. I love the patterned pillows for the background.


change it to sepia


then get closer with your crop!


then experiment some more and try really close!


8. Put baby on her belly and try a different angel and look up at baby.


9. Get baby to do a ‘baby push ups’ by putting the arms out front.


10. Be quick! Don’t wait too long when you see that good mood …grab it…it will be gone before you know it!

Oh….and don’t forget to take lots of photos of baby…they are not babies for long!

Camera Mom Tech tips:

I used my 50mm 1.4 lens. Most settings were:

ISO 100 because I was outside

F stop: mostly around 3 but I used 7 on some of the closer shots

Shutter Speed: between 1/250 and 1/350 depending on the light. You want to keep your ss fast with kids because they move fast!

Post Editing: very little, warm up the temperature when needed (babies like to be warm) and brighten the mid tones if needed.

Everything is Better at The Beach!

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011


Don’t you agree that Everything is better at the Beach??!!!



Smiles are bigger!




Hair is blonder!


Digging in the dirt is more fun!


Frisbees fly faster.




Apples taste much better after you have been in the salt water for a long time!


…once you get the sand off!


Candy taste much better too!


Collecting bottle tops….


and playing with ‘trash’ is more fun!


The water is way more exciting…


and the fish is fresher!


The trees are bigger!


and the flowers seem brighter…


Treasures are more valuable…


and handstands are straighter!


It is true…EVERYTHING is really better at the beach…

…even the end of the day!


Other beach tips!

  • * I love the ‘then’ and ‘now’ shots…. get them when you can…

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  • *Change the angles. I also love the artsy feel of the angles…try tilting your camera to get a totally different feel:


  • * BRING your good camera  to the beach. I know a lot of people don’t like to take their nice camera to the sandy beach but if you keep it protected  it will be OK. I wrap mine in a small clean towel when I am not using it and always put it right back in a quilted zipper bag  in-between shots. So glad to have my photos!
  • * Take lots of shots and try to tell the story of what you did and ‘felt’ with your camera.
  • * Keep the light to  your back. Make sure that your subject has light on their face or they will be too dark.

this is the sun behind Evan….(facing me)


this is the sun facing Evan (behind me)


  • *Final thought – -  teenagers are usually easier to photograph on the beach…like I said EVERYTHING is better on the beach!!!



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