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Archive for January, 2012

Day 31

When I woke up this morning I wasn’t sure what to expect after yesterday’s debacle.

Before bed last night the Littles and I sat down to talk about what we learned yesterday.  One of our BIG lessons was *respect.*

Respect for our things, respect for ourselves, and respect for each other.

Silence greeted me as I turned off my alarm.  No yelling, no fighting, no screaming.

Where were the kids!?!

Sneaking down the hall I peeked into Glamor Girl’s room.  She was snuggled on her bed with our Chocolate Lab…reading.

Huh.

Moving on to the boy’s room I saw something that brought tears to my eyes.  My boys curled up together playing on Itty Bitty’s LeapPad… QUIETLY!

No arguing, no accusing each other of not sharing, no telling each other what to do.  Just two sweet boys RESPECTING each other.

WOW!

Brothers

Shot with my Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT

Lens 50mm f/1.4

ISO 1600

f/2.0

Shutter Speed 1/100

Today’s shot was a challenge for me.  It’s only been a couple months since I took my camera off of Av {Aperture Priority} and switched to Manual.

One of the things I’ve been working on is low light photography.

Often those special moments that I want to capture don’t have great lighting.  I don’t want to miss a moment or have a blurry underexposed image, so learning how to let more light in to my camera is HUGE for me!

The boys were curled up in their room with the curtains closed.  I opened them before taking the shot, but the sun was barely up and the light coming in was weak.

First I raised my ISO as high as it goes.  Your camera might go higher, but my beloved Rebel only goes to 1600.

Next I slowed my Shutter Speed to 1/100.  That is as slow as I can go and still get a tack sharp photo while hand holding my camera.

The final step was to set my aperture.  I knew it would have to be pretty wide open to let in the most light.  My rule of thumb is to set your aperture no bigger than f/x+the number of subjects in your picture.  So for the two boys I started with f/3.0.

The boys were in focus but my photo was too dark {underexposed.}

Dropping my aperture down a few stops allowed enough light in!

Parts of the photo are still underexposed, but that’s the way I wanted it.  My goal was to capture their little faces lit by Itty Bitty’s LeapPad.

Don’t be afraid of unique or low light situations.  With a few tips and tricks you can capture beautiful moments in ANY light!

 

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Are you like me and wish that you could proudly announce that you have children who were always well behaved, who cleaned up after themselves, who never lied or rolled their eyes?

Does anyone really have children like that?

Today was “One of those days.”  You know, those days where you count the minutes until Hubby comes home.  Where you wish that everyone could just go back to bed and start fresh.

Today was a work day for the teachers.  A day off to spend together.

We had plans.  Go see a movie, spend their Christmas money, play outside…  Oh yeah, it was going to be a *wonderful* day.

Unfortunately my alarm clock this morning was fighting and screaming.  When I stumbled down the hall to see what was wrong I encountered a mountain of toys in the boys room.  It was like they had dumped out each and every toy bin in their room into one huge pile on the floor.

Then the tattling began.

I really, really, REALLY hate dislike tattling.

Consequence:  They were not allowed out of their room until it was clean.  Glamor Girl was part of the debacle so she was told she had to help.

Oh the faces.

Lesson NOT learned as they started squabbling the minute they were done.

It’s moments like that when you want to throw your hands in the air and yell “Seriously?!?!”

So we moved from the boys room to the Little’s bathroom to Glamor Girl’s room to the playroom downstairs.  I found hidden stashes of toys and junk everywhere.  THIS is what I get for not inspecting rooms that are “cleaned” by Littles.  UGH!

We cleaned up every blasted toy in this house.

There are now several boxes of toys waiting to go to Goodwill, and bags of broken toys and trash.

Our awesome fun day was lost to a day of character building and lesson teaching.

I could just cry.

When all the cleaning was done, snuggles and hugs administered we had a wee bit of time left over to spend having fun.

Before the fun began I had the Littles put their hands together and cheer for a job well done.

It became today’s picture.

We are a family. NOTHING, not squabbles, not tattling, not even teasing can keep us from loving and supporting each other!

Shot with my Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT

Lens 50mm f/1.4

ISO 100

f/1.8

Shutter Speed 1/500

Today’s picture was taken outside.  As the Little’s clasped their hands together I laid down on the ground beneath them pointing the camera up.  The sun was beginning to set but the sky was still bright.

I purposely over exposed the background so that it would just be light, not sky.  To do this I dropped my aperture way down.  I could have lowered my shutter speed, but I had to keep it fast as Itty Bitty was wiggly and I wanted to freeze all motion.  Another option would have been to lower my ISO, but I wanted NO grain in today’s pic.

If you wanted the sky to show close your aperture {or slow your shutter speed}.  This will have your sky show as it’s true color and not just a bright light.

If you do this, it would help to have a way to reflect light up on their palms.  It would be very easy to under expose their hands since they are facing down, away from the light.  You could reflect light with a reflector or a white Tshirt wrapped around some cardboard.  Another option would be to angle the hands a bit so they are hit with a bit of light.

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Day 29

As I grow and stretch my wings as a photographer I learn new things every day.  What photos I think are amazing today will probably make me cringe in a few months.  I’m my own worst critic, and fight against that every day.  The bar that I set for myself is so high that sometimes I wonder if I will ever reach it.

One thing I do know, I will NEVER stop trying!

This blog is a journal of sorts through a wonderful adventure.  Taking a photo a day for 365{+1} days and sharing it with the world.

As I started my 365{+1} Project I learned of other photography challenges.  I’ve joined several of them, many of which you will see me posting the photos for here.  What I love about the challenges is that they give you a theme, often just one word, that you are to use as an inspiration for a picture.  I have to admit, that coming up with 366 *different* photos kinda terrifies me!  If I wasn’t sharing my project publicly it would be easier!  I could take 366 pictures of the Littles and be VERY happy!  Since it’s not just me looking at my photos, I try very hard to keep each photo fresh and different.

That’s where the photography challenges help!  The themes are often ones that I would never have thought of on my own!

There is ONE project that is near and dear to my heart.

It’s done by the owner of the company I am honored to be a part of – Piggies&Paws.

The project is called Capturing 52 Moments with Piggies&Paws.

The goal of this project is not to just take a picture once a week.  The goal is to capture a moment in time, to freeze it forever.  The winning photograph is chosen not because it’s a technically perfect photo, but because of the story behind the photo and it’s ability to share that story with the viewer.

This is *exactly* what I try to do each and every day!

Capturing 52 Moments with Piggies&Paws is for *all* photographers from professionals down to Mama’s with a camera phone!  You CAN take a beautiful photo that shares a “touch your heart” kind of story with an iPhone!  All you need to do is be aware of those special moments and CAPTURE them!

Capturing moments is what Piggies&Paws is all about.  We take your Loved Ones hand and/or footprints and turn them into knock-your-socks off beautiful pieces of art that you can hang on your wall!

If you haven’t already, I encourage you to click the link above and check out Piggies&Paws 52 Week Project!  Not only can you share your story, look at some *gorgeous* photos, BUT weekly winners get a Winner’s Button to proudly display on their blog {who doesn’t like bragging rights?}.

Monthly winners get something even BETTER!  The best photo of the month will get a Gift Certificate for one Piggies&Paws design!  With hundreds of Copyrighted designs, I don’t know how the winner will be able to choose just one!

Here’s my entry for Week 4.  The theme was ROMANCE.

What do you think?

ROMANCE is when the person you love reaches over and touches you because they can't go one more moment without connecting with you.

Shot with my Canon EOS Rebel XT

Lens 50mm f/1.4

ISO 400

f/3.2

Shutter Speed 1/100

Today’s picture was all about the power of TOUCH.

I wanted to capture a moment with my Hubs that shows our connection.  Hubs is my rock, my soul mate.  We have been through more in our 12 years together than other couples go through in a lifetime.  When my Mama and Daddy passed he was by my side.  When I’ve struggled personally or professionally, he has been there.  No matter what I know my Hubs will be right next to me.

How do you capture that in a photograph??

By focusing on the power of touch.

I set up the shot, adjusted my settings, got Glamor Girl ready to push the shutter button, and sat down next to Hubs.  Knowing that our faces weren’t going to be in the pic relaxed both of us.  No need to worry about smiles or how we look.  I had already explained to him what my goal for the photo was.  All I had to do was lean into him {like I’ve done a thousand times before} and instinctively he reached over with just his fingertips and brushed my skin.  I looked at Glamor Girl and she pushed the shutter button.

{Snap!}

My new favorite picture of the Hubs and I was captured!

Today’s picture is one in which it’s okay {in my opinion} to break the Rule of Thirds.  The focus of the photo is Hubs fingers brushing my skin.  Following the Rule of Thirds I should have had that focal point off-centered which would have looked awkward.  To me symmetry makes this shot.

 

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Day 28

Most days I don’t have a plan on what my photo for the day will be.  I keep my camera close by and hope that something jumps out at me.

Some days I absolutely ADORE the picture that I end up with.  Some days I don’t.

What’s funny is that the pictures that I’m not too sure about are usually the ones that everyone else falls in love with!  That’s the beauty of photography.  We all have our own idea of what beauty is and bring our own experiences with us when we look at pictures.  A photo can rock one person to the core but merely bring a smile to another’s face.

Every photo I take during this adventure means something to me.  It’s a moment that I’m capturing so I can hold it close to me always.

Like this moment.

Glamor Girl was stretched out on the floor making bracelets.  I was struck by how much she’s growing up.  She used to need me to help her with things like this.  Now she can do it all on her own.

There were colorful trinkets all around her, light reflecting off of a glass candle holder, and she had such a look of concentration on her face.

I wanted to remember this moment forever.

Shot with my Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT

Lens 50mm f/1.4

ISO 200

f/2.2

Shutter Speed 1/250

{Except for the sequins.  They were  1/400 to compensate for the light reflecting off of them.}

They say that a photo is worth a thousand words.  That is SO true!

However, sometimes ONE photo doesn’t tell the story completely.

Think of it like a book.  You can tell a story with no chapters and a thousand words, but chances are you’re leaving out lots of details.  Maybe your character isn’t fully developed, or your setting isn’t fully described.  The story is still the same, but it could be BETTER!  By making your story longer, by adding *chapters* you have room to focus on the little things and let them enrich the story.

Now think of photos.  Most photos can stand alone by themselves.  You can tell a wonderful story with just one image {like this one of Itty Bitty}.  Sometimes you want just a bit *more* detail in your story.

A great way to do this is to take a picture or two of some details that were in your original photo.

The first picture I took was Glamor Girl on the floor surrounded by all her glittery goodies.  I wanted to capture her with those sparkling lights around her, the look of concentration on her face, even all the sequins and ribbons all over the floor.

After I got the picture I was going for I sat there and just watched her for a bit.  Her hands stood out to me.  They’re almost as big as mine!!  Her hands are no longer the pudgy, uncoordinated hands of a toddler.  They’re lean and graceful.

{Snap!}

Then I noticed the light glinting off the sequins.  It was so pretty and the sequins were so colorful.

{Snap!}

As I was about to get up, one last thing caught my eye.  The yarn and ribbon she had laid out had such a wonderful texture to it.  I also loved how she lined it up so precisely.

{Snap!}

What started out as one photo was now four!  Instead of choosing just one for today’s picture, I decided to use them all!  My original story is now filled with rich colors and fantastic textures.  In the original photo you can’t see the details of the yarn or the light sparkling on the sequins.  With the addition of a couple more photos today’s “story” is richer, more detailed, BETTER!

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Holy beautiful day Bat Man!!!

This warm weather girl is doing the “It’s not FREEZING out!” Happy Dance!

It looks like we are getting a temporary break from the cold here on the East Coast!  It was an almost-warm-enough-for-flip-flops 68 degrees outside today!

What made it even better was that my Littles had a short day today!   As soon as they got home their school clothes went flying, play clothes went on, and they were out the door!

Our property is several acres of woods, trails, and grassy play spots.  One of the boys FAVORITE things to do is play outside.  Like, ALL day!  It’s been way WAY too cold for the Littles to play outside much, so today was a TREAT!

As I’m typing this I’m looking out the big bay window in my office watching the most spectacular sunset.

Oh yeah.  It’s all about the little things people.  🙂

About an hour ago I heard some yelling, then some screaming, and then the dreaded stomping of feet up the stairs to the house.

Ruh roh!

*Apparently* the boys got into a bit of a… shall we call it a disagreement?  They were covered in mud, Love Bug even had mud in his hair.  From what I understood Itty Bitty got frustrated about something and threw a handful of mud at Love Bug.  It all went downhill from there, and they have admitted to wrestling on the ground.  In. The. Mud.

Ewwww!!!

Well, in this house we “Hug Out” our disputes.  Yup, we make the offenders hug each other for a specified period of time {carefully monitoring that no one gets *accidentally* squeezed too hard!}

Love Bug and Itty Bitty were to hug it out for 30 seconds.  Surprisingly they did without complaint.  Of course, when they were done, Love Bug just *had* to show how strong he’s gotten {eating his veggies} and picked Itty Bitty up.

FORTUNATELY I had my camera in hand because I was outside taking pictures of the *gorgeous* day!

Here are my muddy yet still adorable boys!

I’m in LOVE with how they are holding on to each other’s hands!

*Mommy sigh*

Gotta love when "Hugging It Out" turns into "Look How High I Can Lift My Brother!"

Shot with my Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT

Lens 50mm f/1.4

ISO 200

f/3.5

Shutter Speed 1/250

To capture today’s moment I needed to first FREEZE the action and second make sure that both my boys were in FOCUS.

To freeze the action, I needed a minimum shutter speed of 1/250.  Anything lower and the boys hands or feet would probably have blurred {Itty Bitty was wiggly}.

For both boys to be in focus I needed to close my aperture a bit.  I’ve found that to guarantee focus with two subjects that my aperture needs to be f/3.0 or higher.  Anything less and I run the risk of one subject being out of focus.  The rule of thumb that I use {this is what works for ME} is to add 1 to the number of subjects that I’m photographing to get the maximum number I can open my aperture to.  For today’s pic 2 subjects = max aperture of f/3.0.

Love Bug was completely behind Itty Bitty, so I upped my aperture a bit more.  His body is in focus, but his head is a bit soft.  I could have closed my aperture down a bit more, but I was already getting more of the background trees in focus than I wanted.

So there you have it!  I upped my ISO to 200 to make sure everything was properly exposed and voila!  A pic that I will cherish forever!

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Do you ever have those days where you are faced with challenges that bring out your strengths and/or weaknesses?

Today  {well… the whole week} has been like that.

What keeps you going?  What makes you choose strength over weakness?

For me it’s the three “F’s.”

No not *those!*

Geesh!

What keeps me strong is my Faith, Family, and Fortitude.

My Daddy used to say that “Pain is weakness leaving the body.”  Yeah, he had a lot of sayings 😉

That statement really speaks to me though.  Giving up a weakness, or overcoming one is NOT easy.

It’s *so* worth it though!!

Today’s pic is my visual representation of strength over weakness.

Can you tell it’s been on my mind a lot?

What will you choose - strength or weakness?

Shot with my Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT

Lens 50mm f/1.4

ISO 400

f/2.0

Shutter Speed 1/100

For today’s pic two things *really* helped me.

First was telling my camera where *I* wanted the focal point to be.  My camera was INSISTING that I wanted to focus on the table, but I wanted to focus on the word STRENGTH.

Guess who won?

By choosing my focal point, I was able to get STRENGTH tack sharp and everything else slightly blurry.

The second thing that helped was a wide open aperture.  I wanted the tiles on the table to be slightly blurry {but still readable.}

You might need to experiment with this a bit to get just the effect you want.

Just remember that if you open your aperture more you are letting in more light so you will need to slow your shutter speed or drop your ISO by the same number of steps that you opened your aperture.

Starting with a perfectly exposed image – If you want to go from an aperture of f/2.2 to f/1.8 that’s two “stops.”  To compensate you’ll need to slow your shutter down 2 stops or drop your ISO down 2 steps.

 

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Day 25

Before I share today’s photo, I really want to thank everyone for your love and support!

Yesterday I shared my story about losing my Daddy to lung cancer.  I was blessed with oodles of love, messages, hugs, and support!!  Thank you to everyone who took the time to read my story!!  It has been bottled inside for so long, but my hope was that it might help someone who was going through, or had gone through something similar.

If you or anyone you love has ever been touched with cancer, my heart goes out to you!  Words cannot express the grief and devastation that cancer leaves in it’s wake.

Now… on to bringing a smile to your face!  🙂

After school today the boys and I decided to have a “Pose Off!”

I put on some glossy lipstick and gave each one of them a big smoochy kiss on the cheek.  They then did their best “Ack!  I’ve been kissed!” face.

Love Bug

Itty Bitty

Love Bug went for the uber cool, relaxed pose.  Itty Bitty {as always} put everything he had into it!

I’ve got Mommy Goggles and *cannot* pick a winner!

Who do YOU think won the Pose Off?

Shot with my Cannon EOS Digital Rebel XT

Lens 50mm f/1.4

Love Bug:

ISO 400

f/2.5

Shutter Speed 1/100

Itty Bitty:

ISO 400

f/3.2

Shutter Speed 1/100

My tip for today is to pay attention to your light when taking photographs.  These two pictures were taken less than 5 {yes FIVE!} minutes apart, but I had to drop my aperture to compensate for loosing light as the sun went down!

So many things can make your light change!  The sun can go behind or come out from behind a cloud, you can move into shade, you move closer or farther away from a light source…

Keep an eye on the light around you, and make adjustments as needed.  Changing light can also effect your white balance.

Itty Bitty went first.  You can tell that I caught him *right* as the sun was kissing the horizon by the scrumptious golden light!   I chose an aperture of f/3.2 because I wanted his entire face in focus.  When someone is looking at you head on, there is less area that has to be in focus so you can use a wider aperture.  Itty Bitty’s face was at an angle to the camera, so if I wanted his cheek *and* both his eyes in focus I had to close down my aperture a bit.

By the time I got a smoochy kiss on Love Bug {and showed him his brother’s entries into the Pose Off} the sun had dropped behind the horizon.  If you look closely at his pic you can see the teeny tiny strip of golden light that was left.  My shutter speed was already as low as it could go before I needed to break out the tripod.  If my ISO gets to 800 or higher significant grain starts to appear.  The only adjustment that I was left with was aperture.  I dropped my aperture two f stops which let enough extra light into my camera so my picture was properly exposed.  Love Bug’s face wasn’t at too big an angle to the camera so everything was in focus!  YAY!

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