Archive: ‘Nature’

How to Catch a Dragonfly

Saturday, April 21st, 2012


I love dragonflies. I have dragonfly things around the house and if you want to read a wonderful story Google ‘the Dragonfly Story’. When I first put this site up I was trying to figure out a place for a small dragonfly in the logo (I will get it in soon!).

Dragonflies are actually pretty friendly and much to my surprise they were not as hard to capture as I thought they may be.

The boys were fishing and we had a very friendly dragonfly come over for a visit. I had my 24-70 lens and put my settings on:

ISO on 400 because I wanted to be able to make my shutter faster to freeze the action of the fast wings.

f stop 3.5 because I wanted a blurry background

shutter speed ended up at 1/1020 because I knew it would be hard to freeze the action if it was slower.


I had to really get a good aim. I set my selection points to a center focus and was able to press the shutter button when I had the red dot right on the dragonfly. It takes some practice for sure to move that fast and get a good aim.


I did watch the background because the shots in front of the trees obviously did not work out too well the solid water and sky worked best.


I believe that our dragonfly friend enjoyed our fishing outing as much as we did. Even though I was the one trying to capture him he ended up capturing my fascination and my heart – -  our little helicopter friend!


Enjoy your spring, take time to sit down outside with your camera and see if you can capture a dragonfly or anything else that may be flying by!

How To Catch A Teen!

Monday, March 26th, 2012

We all know that photographing a teen is pretty challenging. 

You know what I mean.

I call the whole experience a TPA (Teen Photo Attempt)… It is an attempt. Remember that. You won’t always get it on the first try so don’t get discouraged at all; just keep trying!

The moon and the stars must be lined up just right as well as the shoes, the weather the mood the clothes and … everything else. I will say that getting some extra help can be a must if you are the camera mom. A cousin or friend will do (and is very necessary) to provide the bit of distraction necessary for a successful shoot. It is also a good idea to leave your house and go someone fun and different. We went to the area around our little local library.

This happens to be one of the least stressful shots (below)- – I recommend it for all moms of teens : )


So head out to a pretty place… and take some practice shots….of the scenery…



Then with friend to distract… start snapping a few of the flowers of course and see what else you might get : )


“Yes honey I am getting ….


the flowers!”


As you know the face is not necessary to tell the full story…


but the face is what we are after!  “Got it!”

You have to be quick, the smile may not last too long….


Don’t forget the teen jewelry and other details that define her personality.


The tracks were also fun and interesting for her to get distracted …


Back to the flowers; after all that is what we went out for! Right?


Make it fun and happy. Hand your teen the camera and see what she comes up with too:


Lord knows that these tricky teen years are full of exciting times…


mixed in with a little stress….


a little uncertainly…


and a lot of decisions.


No need for the photo shoot to be anything but fun and happy! Get if done today – –


Enjoy your sweet minutes with  your teen; she is growing up right before your eyes : ) Grab a tissue and grab your camera. Go get your teen off the computer or iphone and head outside to take some pictures of the flowers and see what else you might get!

Happy Spring!

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!


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.


img_7719  img_7720

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!

The Nest

Monday, May 30th, 2011

Friday night I opened my front door and saw 2 birds flying away……a careful look and I saw this nest. It had one egg in it. I was so excited!

I am pretty fascinated that the birds chose to build a nest on the front door of our house with kids running in and out of the door all day long. That is a mystery to me! What really isn’t a mystery is why I still have my Christmas wreath up! (Actually it doesn’t have any Christmas stuff on it and is mostly just green with a few red berries!)

Saturday I looked and saw that there were an additional 2 eggs in the nest! The boys are calling those the twin eggs! For this shot I had to get on the ladder and do my best not to break my neck!


I believe that the bird is a house sparrow.  I have had a fun time capturing her sitting on her nest…I want so badly to let her know that I understand her job and that I know how she feels!  (note the plug for the lights…don’t think I will plug it in : )


She will be the most photographed bird on the block for sure. I can see the nest through our glass storm door with a great view from my computer desk. This photo was taken through the glass. Patience is key for sure…a  lot of waiting and being very still.

Dad comes by for visits and helps with the egg sitting.


ISO 1600, f-stop 3.0, shutter speed 1/200 the back light made this shot difficult.

From what I read, it will take about 10-13 days before they hatch or 11 days after the last egg was laid.

Yesterday we got up and saw that another egg was laid so there are 4 now! The one with the most speckles was the first one laid. They are white at first then they get the spots. They are so beautiful! And check out this great nest, very cozy!


This will be a fun adventure as we get to witness the ‘birth’ of these little birds. We will enjoy learning all about the house sparrow this summer. I read that they can use the same nest 4-5 times each season. Hopefully I won’t miss anything with my camera.  I will keep you posted as it all develops!

camera settings: for the close-up shots the f-stop needs to be higher to get more of the nest in focus, it doesn’t need to be too blurry. My auto button didn’t work well at all so I had to go with manual settings and then tweak a bit in post editing. 

Below is the post editing I did on the above photo.

original shot out of the camera:


after cropping and changing the contrast and making it brighter:


I have found that the contrast function is very important.

P.S.  Got up this morning to send this post and…..look what I found!


One more egg!!

Have a fun holiday!


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