Archive: ‘Vacations’

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!


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…

St. Simonsimg_7131

  • *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!!!


The Beach: Teenagers And Heroes!

Monday, June 6th, 2011

The beach is so fun, but it is one hard place to get good shots especially if there is full sun….which is generally all the time!  Teenagers are fun, but it is hard to get good shots especially if they are acting like teenagers and are a bit moody…which is generally all the time!  So when you combine the two, getting good shots can be a challenge…but not impossible for the confident camera moms out there!!

Here are some dos and don’ts and a few things I have learned about photographing teens and the beach and teens on the beach.

Do bring your camera. I know it sounds stilly to even say this but a lot of people don’t want to get sand in or on their camera so they don’t even bring them down to the ocean. I say go for it!  It is better to get some good shots with a little sand than no shots at all. Wrap your camera in a small towel and put it in a bag for protection. I use a quilted bag with a zipper. After I use it, I zip it back up and pull it in and out during the day. Don’t forget to always put the strap around your neck when you are using it to keep it from falling in the sand.

Do avoid the middle of the day sun… if possible. This is not a deal breaker but the light is much easier to deal with early in the morning and late in the afternoon. Believe it or not, this shot was taken in the morning, if it was much brighter she would not have have been able to open her eyes.


Do look for action shots. These ‘in the ocean’ shots are hard to get because the light is bright in the background and the subject tends to be too dark. Some advanced photo/camera techniques can help with this but for now I just did a quick edit to brighten it up a bit. The time of day can make these water shots easier. This was at high noon but very hazy making it difficult to shoot.




The photo below was from another trip, you can see that it was brighter and not so hazy for this shot. The shutter speed was also very fast to get the drops of water. Try your sports setting for these shots and a good zoom lens. I don’t recommend taking your camera in the water!


Don’t be afraid to request a few action shots. Melissa has been doing handstands since she was little so I like to get these shots when I can.


The YMCA shot always gives them something silly to do for the shot– which is a good thing. As a camera mom it is good to have some suggestions for what to do in your bag of tricks when the camera comes out.  It can mean the difference in having them run from the camera and staying for the shot.


Do get the funny stuff. Get your camera out when they start doing something funny, but be quick, these shots come and go fast!


When the brother starts picking on the sister it is generally worth a shot!


Don’t leave out the big picture. Look around at your surroundings and get the ‘other stuff‘ on your beach for your photo story. There is always more to the beach than sand and water.

The pier for example.


The inside  shot of the pier.

Simply unbelievable!


Don’t give up. If  your kids are not cooperating, look  for other interesting things all around you and practice!

a cute toddler:


a black dog and his Frisbee:.




Oliver North….

did I say Oliver North!!??!!

Yes! We met him on the beach walking his dog! So glad that I wasn’t worried about taking my good camera down to the beach!


Don’t use a flash. A standard rule of mine. Even though the photos may be grainer, I think they look better without the harsh light of a flash. This shot below was taken when it was really dark (9 pm), but a little moon light, high ISO, low 4 stop and some lightening up in post editing helped get enough light to keep the flash off.

Yes, she is kissing the fish!! The fishermen next to us said that she had to kiss the first fish! So she did. If only I had that kind of influence on my kids!


This shot is grainy but I love the look on her face and our friend in the background. I would not have liked this shot with the flash.


Don’t give up on he sunset shots. They can be are difficult to get the true color. Try setting your shutter speed high and see if you can get the color to look more natural.


To sum it up, When you are at the beach don’t be afraid to take your good camera. The morning and evening is usually the best light and if you have teens just try to get them in their world.  A few posed shots are Ok but you will tell a much better story with the candid shots that come along….oh, and don’t be afraid to get the the famous people walking by too!

Photograph Your Favorite things While on Vacation.

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011


How do you photograph an amazing trip?

You photograph your favorite things.



Our trip to Boston this weekend for the National Gym Competition went way beyond my expectations. When you have four children it is hard to find time alone with each child, we had a blast with Melissa. I like this shot above because this is one thing I remember about this 13 year old year. … skinny jeans and those purple shoes; I don’t ever what to forget it!

This weekend won’t be easily forgotten.

There is no way that I can share all of the wonderful memories/photos  we had but I can share a few of my favorite shots…and hopefully inspire you to click away when  you are on vacation. Even when it may be a bit inconvenient, it is worth it to have the photos when you come home.

This shot of Melissa is not perfect but it is perfectly her. The wind was blowing her hair everywhere but I just love the look on her face….so un-posed with her  natural ‘sometimes hard to get’ sweet smile! These natural looks can be few and far between with teens;  you will treasure the ones you get.


She was really having fun and that is the teen photo tip for this next photo…start clicking when they are having fun don’t wait for them to stop or ask them to look at you just pay attention  to what they are doing and it will work. She ran up to this pavilion and just started dancing, I started clicking. If I had asked her to dance it never would have worked.


I will go ahead and admit that I have some sort of fence obsession! Every time I saw one I was captured (I also really love fences in snow!). I could not get enough of the rod iron ….it was everywhere.


The details were amazing.


The ‘inside jokes’ when we are together are always a must for our family vacation photos – -  “Why?” might you ask, and how did I end up with about 15 photos of all the different Dunkin Donuts we saw in Boston? It was a ‘you had to be there’ story that I will put in my scrapbook that made us laugh over and over; so glad I have the photos to remember it!


There is no way I can show all the wonderful shots here of the beautiful historical buildings … but I took plenty! I like this one through the trees; always try different angles of your favorite shots.


We stayed in the wonderful town of Hingham, MA (pronounced Hing -M) with some of our best friends who recently moved there. It was as quaint as the sign on main street and as full of character as a Norman Rockwell painting.


Do you know what famous retail store calls Hingham, MA it’s home?


The original Talbots – -  red door and all!


The charm was everywhere.


I re-discovered that the best time to get great photos was early in the morning. My friend and I went to get coffee and some great photos early one morning leaving everyone at home sleeping.  Nothing beats that wonderful morning light for a soft romantic feel. Remember that tip when photographing people too. The houses were simply beautiful…I took tons of these shots as each house had its own unique personality and I had to have them all!


Downtown Boston was full of history and one photo op after another. Here are the Teammates at Fenway Park. My twins love this shot!


The famous Cheers bar (just the outside.)


(don’t be afraid to do a horizontal crop, it will change the feel of the photo)

Beautiful historic graveyards.


And more fences!


But my favorite shots were the churches, I took way too many to post but they were begging me to capture them….so I did.


It was so hard for me to write this post and narrow down all the stuff I want to share! I tried to make a Trip Tip List below but I will continue to add to it as we head into the summer vacation season! I am also working on a tip list for gymnastics and baseball so stay tuned!

A few Photo Mom Tips for vacation shots: 

  • Take more photos than  you think you will want but don’t put them all in your book : )
  • Make a list of what you want to get and get it early in the trip if possible; don’t ‘wait’ till you see it again to take the shot, you may not see it again.
  • Get scenery shots but don’t forget to put  your family in some of them.
  • Early morning light makes for wonderful flattering photos.
  • Shoot the funny things that happen that are unique to your family.
  • Since many vacations include scenery shots, crop horizontally to be bold be different.
  • Pick a theme for some shots  i.e. doors, windows, churches, fences! etc.…
  • Bring plenty of memory cards and charge  your battery every night.
  • Bring a back up pocket camera.
  • Hand your kids a camera.
  • Tell the story by taking ‘sign’ photos.

I will leave you with one final shot. What we did on the airplane! I also learned how to play Angry Birds! Whoo Hoo for this mama!



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