Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Can you believe it’s time to start thinking about this ALREADY? I (Casharina) can’t…this year has seriously flown by, and I know I’ve heard all my life that “the older you get, the faster it flies,” and I can truly understand that now! My little ones are growing up before my eyes; it’s amazing how fast the years have passed with them.
Okay, let’s get back to the Holidays right! I LOVE Christmas; it’s my most favorite time of the year. I love what Christmas truly means and what it represents to me and my family, I love the magic of Santa and the fun it brings, as well as the lessons we learn about giving to others, the bright colored lights found inside and outside our homes…oh how I love this time of the year!
This year I’ve been focusing on taking better everyday pictures, and with that I have been focusing on the fact that this year I want to get better Christmas morning pictures. So after practice I’m going to share with you some of the pointers I’ve learned along the way and hope that they will enable be me to get my best photos yet! ;)
First of all, to be fully prepared for the hustle and bustle of Christmas morning (or any special event) we need to ensure we’ve got things ready the evening before. This includes:
- checking that the camera battery is fully charged
- having new/clear memory cards (have another available in case you need it…I always keep an extra one or two in my bag!)
- get your camera settings ready by adjusting all of your dials to the appropriate settings for Christmas morning fun!
- if you have an external flash, make sure you have new batteries in it or extras handy. I have had batteries die so many times during a photo shoot it’s not even funny!
Without a Flash:
For us we usually get up EXTRA early in the morning…honestly I can’t sleep due to excitement for my kiddos so I’m up all night waiting for the morning, and have had to wake my oldest up for a few years! Hah. I know sad right! (My mom was the SAME way when I was little!) We’re those people who have eaten and opened gifts by 6:45 am at the latest, although this year I’m going to let em’ sleep til’ at least 7!
OK, I kinda got sidetracked! I told you about our early mornings because many times I don’t want to wake the girls up with flashes in their face, I can’t say that’d put them in a very good mood! I also don’t love the look of straight on flash so there are many options you can choose to help your photos look fantastic without the use of flash.
With a Flash:
If you find that you need to use a flash, there are ways you can help avoid the harsh lights in the face, just like we’ve learned before in Rosy’s last Focus on Photos post
dealing with the challenges of indoor photography
. In addition to using a piece of cardstock you can also place a business card under the popup flash. This allows the light to bounce off the paper before hitting your subject head on. When using an external flash, you’ll want to bounce the flash off a wall or the ceiling to prevent the harsh light hitting the subjects face.
One thing I’m going to really try to avoid this year is worrying about “the perfect shot!” If you’re like me, you try to get the kids to look at you, wait on that perfect position of the lighting, gift, perfect little smile, all while trying to not include the trash and clutter of the morning??? Not this year. This year I want to focus on what we’re doing, in the moment. Honestly, when I look back at Christmas pictures from when my husband and I were young, it’s the clutter that really takes me back. It allows me to remember the “other” gifts and things going on at the time. I might be holding a new Barbie accessory, but in the background I can see a glimpse of a baby doll and clothes that I also received. Just because they’re in the background, I’m able to recall those special toys, those special things that didn’t make the “picture” or scrapbook, but because they’re in the background I can go back and see what I was like as a child. I want my kiddos to have the same opportunities. I plan to just keep memories this year and by that I mean taking the picture in the moment, not waiting, worrying only about getting pictures of what’s happening, and I challenge you to do the same!
Now, if it comes down to Christmas morning and your pictures just won’t look the way you want them to, forget it all and turn on Auto. You will never forget pictures you took, but you may regret the pictures you missed because you were focusing on technical details and not the photo.
To get some more great tips on photographing the holidays, check out Beckie’s posts – HERE and also HERE!! I used her tips to create the first picture in this post! I’m hoping to come some shapes to try the bokeh look too!
Don’t forget to stop back by tomorrow when Kylie updates us our November ProjectSCRAP check-in and shares the NEW December templates!!
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Hello Shabby Shoppe readers! It’s Rosy here and it’s time to talk photography!
For me, this is a time of the year where my enthusiasm for photography tends to wane a bit. The brilliant colors of fall are mostly over, it’s wet, rainy, and cold outside which forces all of our activities indoors and indoor photography is hard to get right!
I’m going to tell you right at the beginning here that I’m a bit nervous about sharing this post with you, because the reason that I’ve been searching for ways to improve my indoor photos is because they really need it! I don’t have tons of good examples to show you, although I would have lots of examples of icky indoor photos, but I’m sure you all don’t want to see that!
So let’s start by looking at one of the biggest challenges…
::: Lighting :::
The number one challenge of indoor photography is getting enough light. I should know, because my house does not have good lighting!
1. use windows and doors
You want to use natural lighting for photographs whenever possible, so be aware of where the light is coming from. Use your windows or even open the door (if it’s not too cold)! Having your subject facing the light can make for some beautiful catchlights in the eyes!
2. plan ahead
Planning what part of your everyday life that you want to capture in photos can be helpful. If you’re planning a fun activity for your family that you know you want to photograph, gently guide them to a well lit area to do it in! (for example: If I want a photo of Isaac painting, the next time he wants to paint, I’ll set up his supplies on the side of the table where he will be facing the light.)
If you want a photo of your cooking or other project, don’t wait until evening to make it!
3. bump up the ISO
Indoor photography will almost always require using higher ISO settings. A higher ISO will make your camera’s image sensor more sensitive to light which is helpful in low lighting. The danger in setting ISO too high is getting grain in your photo, so finding a balance is important.
4. diffuse your flash
If you aren’t able to get a properly exposed, clear photo by simply changing the settings on your camera, the situation may call for flash. I usually avoid using flash if at all possible, because of the harsh lighting it gives, but if you are able to bounce or soften that light, it can work very well. If you only have a pop up flash like I do, don’t despair! You can make that work too.
Here’s an experiment that I did, using a piece of white cardstock propped in front of the flash to diffuse it.
Even with my ISO set to 3200, f stop at 2.8 and 1/50 second shutter speed, the photo was underexposed and beginning to look a bit grainy without flash. Using my pop up flash created washed out colors and harsh shadows, but when I diffused the flash by holding my paper in front of it I got much softer and even lighting! I was amazed at what a difference it made!
::: Cluttered backgrounds :::
Another challenge facing indoor photography is that there is often a lot going on in the background. I think that context to a photo is a good thing, but seeing all the dirty dishes and strewn toys can distract from the subject of the photo!
1. clean up :)
Here’s where you can use your photography hobby to motivate your housework! When you look through your viewfinder, remember to notice what is in the backdrop and whether there are distracting object that can easily be remove.
2. zoom in
Cropping your photo closer to the subject can cut out distracting elements.
3. find a different angle
Often simply moving to another position will totally change what you see behind your subject.
In this photo, the background has a lot going on, when I stood on a chair and zoomed in just a bit, I got a much more neutral background, placing the focus squarely on Isaac and Sammy, the way I wanted it.
4. Photoshop it
Sometimes there will be a simple little something in the background that is easily removed in post processing with the clone tool in Photoshop. I’ve also been known to change the color of a bright object in the background to help it blend in better! While this is not my first choice of fixes, I don’t think you have to feel guilty about doing it, if it makes you happier with your photo.
::: Color :::
With the variety of lighting that we find indoors, weird coloring is often an issue. If you see that your color is funky, play with your camera’s white balance. Often, one of the white balance presets will improve your color. Some DSLR cameras allow you to manually change the Kelvin color value. See Beckie’s post for more details on that.
I hope that these tips can be helpful and that you’ve been inspired with me to improve your indoor photography! Thanks for reading along and feel free to leave me your own tips in the comments.
SP will be here tomorrow with a Project Scrap check-in!
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Hello blog readers! Kim here today to talk a little bit about photography and sharing a love of taking pictures with kids. Now, I will be the first to admit that I am self-taught and still have lots to learn myself about the technical aspects of photography, so that is not what I’m going to be talking about today :) But as early as I can remember, I have always loved photos. I remember having cameras of my own growing up and how excited I was when we would get my pictures printed at the photo lab (because, yes, there was a time when you had to wait until they were developed to see them!!) I still have photo albums of my pictures from elementary school and beyond. Lots of things have changed with photography now, making it easier to learn by just giving things a try. Digital photography means I can take as many pictures as I want and see how they turned out without having to make the investment in developing and printing them. So I take pictures of everything all the time!! And of course, my kids see me doing this and are interested in trying it too. I admit, sometimes this can be frustrating, like when I want to be taking the picture of them but all they want to do is be behind the camera instead! And after finally being able to invest in a DSLR, I’ve been a little hesitant to put it in the hands of a three-year-old, know what I mean?? But then, of course I want to take advantage of the interest my kids have in what I’m doing. I’m not guaranteed they’ll stay interested forever! So sometimes it’s hard to find the right balance.
Where am I going with all this? I ran across an idea several months back that I knew I’d love to do with my older kids, and I’m going to share our fun with you today. The idea was to have a photo scavenger hunt where you intentionally spent time letting the kids be behind the camera. Love it! Not only would they love that this time was all about them taking photos, but it would give them a fun way to find what the subject of the photos should be.
We had the perfect opportunity this month, as we were doing a big family birthday weekend and were looking for some simple fun things to do with everyone who was coming to visit. (Thus I played our scavenger hunt up bigger than necessary.) I started by creating a list of scavenger hunt items that I thought could be found in most outdoor places (thinking ahead that we could do this again later with the same list). I was mindful to use things appropriate for my kids’ ages (turning 6 and 4). Then I made a 4×6 inch card for each of the photographers that I laminated and put on a string so they could be worn around their neck (keeping little hands free for taking pictures!) Here’s what my card and list looked like:
Credits: Recipe Card template (rotated) from the Muffin Man set, paper from Heartfelt, alpha from Boo, star extracted from Sandbox swirl stamp, and camera by Heather Roselli
We headed to one of our favorite parks, divided up into teams (boys against girls at the kids’ request), and started taking pictures! Here are some of the photos that they took.
So what did I learn on our little adventure? To start with, I could have made the list longer! Although we weren’t making it a race to see who could find all the items first, competitiveness seems to run in our family and they got through these pretty quickly (about 15 minutes). I encouraged them to find more things to photograph when they were done with the list. It was also good that it wasn’t just me with the two of them because having a bit of adult help for each of them was good. But beyond that, it worked really well! They were both excited to see the pictures later on the computer and my daughter especially was excited to have my phone all to herself to take pictures (yes, we let her use the phone camera because it was simpler and what she really wanted to do).
Of course, you would expect that this adventure turned into a scrapbook layout! I thought I’d share that with you too before I go ;)
Hope you’ve enjoyed a peek into our fun with a kids photo scavenger hunt! And I hope you are all encouraged to find ways to share your interests with the kids in your life. Be sure to stop by the blog tomorrow, as Kylie will be here with the September project scrap templates. Bye bye!
Inspiration, Photography, Uncategorized
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Hello everyone…Casharina here! Today I’m bringing you our post for Focus on the Photos. I honestly had a difficult time coming up with something that hadn’t already been shared by the one of our talented team members as they have shared some wonderful tips and tricks! I decided to do a post showing how I fix under eye shadows, or shadows around the face for that matter!
To begin have your photo edited to the desired brightness.
Then you will select the quick mask tool. It’s the little icon that looks like a square with a circle in the middle, or a “camera.”
- Change your cursor to a brush by either clicking on the brush tool or hitting the B key on the keyboard.
- Ensure that your brush is a soft rounded brush and make the size appropriate to what you are working on.
- If I’m working on shadows under the eye I like my brush fairly small, however if I’m going to adjust shadows on the side of someone’s face I like it to be a little bigger for faster coverage.
- Paint over the area you are fixing.
Tip: it’s fine if you get outside the area that needs fixed, you can always adjust it if needed.
- When you are finished hit the quick mask icon again.
- It will select the OUTSIDE portions of the brushed area, so you will need to invert it, by selecting CTRL+I.
- Now you are ready to adjust that portion of the photo.
- I like to use the Curves adjustments.
- You can adjust the diagonal line to meet your needs. Moving the line towards the middle makes the photo brighter, while moving it down will make it darker.
- Once your finished you can add merge the layers together and you are finished!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this Focus on the Photos post today!
Check back tomorrow for for SP’s project SCRAP July check-in!
Photography, Tips and Tricks, Uncategorized
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Hi all! Kylie here…and can you believe that this is my very first focus on photos post! ;o) I do not pretend to have any real talent or technique when it comes to photography…I’m strictly a point-and-shot & hope for the best kind of girl!! So, today my post is all about sharing some cropping tips to enhance your photos post-click! There are so many components in crafting standout digi-scrap layouts…and a good crop can make all the difference!!
Beckie, photographer-extraordinaire, has touched on in-camera cropping in some of her previous photography posts. She said: “Professional photographers get gorgeous results by controlling every aspect of what is in the frame for each shot. Most of the time, the best photos are those with a clear and obvious subject! You can do this through in-camera crop, which means that you “zoom in” on only that subject matter that is important to you. (Click here for more information, from Beckie, on lenses and crop sensors) Often, however, we’re so busy (and hopefully caught up having fun!) that sometimes you’ll need to crop the image later, before you use it.” I agree! And, if you’re like me, generally, there is little time to think about the all-important composition of a photo because, rightly or wrongly, I’m too concerned with capturing the moment…kids move QUICKLY!!! However, thanks to our photo-editing software we can easily crop images in ways that can instantly transform them…making the composition all the more interesting and, at the same time, more appealing to the eye.
Cropping is a simple task. All we are really doing is removing part of an image…too easy, huh?!! Most of us should be familiar with the crop tool and how to use it. In most programs it looks like this…
If you’ve never cropped digital photos before here are a couple tutorials provided by Adobe that go through the process step-by-step.
Before we all get a little bit too crop-happy, let’s consider a few things:
ALWAYS CREATE A COPY/DUPLICATE of the original photo first, before you even touch the crop tool. Make all the necessary edits (by tinkering with adjustment layers, the various tools in photoshop or via pre-made photo actions etc) until you are happy with the result…then it is time to crop your image. Saving a separate copy to the original is sooo very IMPORTANT…I think we all understand the need to be careful with this, because once the original or master file is saved-over you can’t go back, can you?!!
Consider the design of your layout and the story you want to tell. Then think about how you can creatively re-work your photo/s to match your design concept and assist your story-telling. A little fore-thought and pre-planning can help you create amazing pages…pages that catch everyone’s eye!!
Choose your focal point and trim away all the distractions and/or empty space…so that your focus really does become your FOCUS!
Choose a photo shape
that complements your layout. Rectangles are our default, but you don’t have to stop there…make the most of that standard rectangle to really focus on the subject of your photo. Or think about squares, circles, ovals, other fun shapes, or even a combination of shapes using your shape tools and clipping masks, or an extraction
…just don’t over do it or your page may end up a complete & utter jumble and the eye won’t know what to focus on!! ;o) And if you work with Photoshop Elements have you tried the Cookie Cutter tool
? Oh…and don’t forget about SP’s Scallops, Shapes & More
set…an array of awesome pre-made shapes to clip to!
Take advantage of contrast! If you are choosing your background papers first, then have a look at the design you’ve picked – circles, polka-dots?? …well, contrast the paper with square photos…and vice-versa!
Use the Rule of Thirds
to guide you…creating focus that is a little off-center! According to the rule of thirds a photo or image is best composed when broken into nine equal parts (three sections and four quartiles). The focal point (for example the subject’s eye, face, or smile) is placed in one of the four quartiles. When used properly, it automatically creates an image that is more visually appealing than one that has the subject placed directly in the center. It gives a photograph motion and energy by drawing the viewer into the picture, instead of the subject of the picture coming straight at them. If you are lucky enough to have Photoshop CS5, or above, it provides a rule of thirds ‘crop overlay guide’ within the crop options tool bar. If you don’t have CS5 our good friend Damien Symonds
has a rule of thirds action for Photoshop
that you can download and use to help you crop to perfection! Also, check if your camera has a rule of thirds guide function?…have a play – it may save you time in post-editing!
Don’t forget to consider balance and proportion when cropping! With digi-scrapping it doesn’t matter so much, but sometimes it’s nice to stick to standard photo sizes…4×6, 5×7 and so on…to add a little more structure, formality and realism to a page! And don’t just concentrate on image size dimensions when it comes to balance and proportion…think also about the space & shapes that have formed within the actual image…negative space vs positive space…triangles…points of interest. Check that you have achieved balance before you apply that crop!! ;o) Oh, and balance does not always mean symmetry.
If you are cropping a number of photos you may want to keep your crop area to the same ratio. You can do this by setting your width and height boxes instead of using the free transform option of dragging the marquee selection handles over the photo randomly. Click on “clear” if you want to change the size or go back to free transform.
Try not to crop limbs (feet, legs, arms, hands etc) in awkward places! There’s no real rule to this…but if the composition looks wrong to you somehow…then it probably is. And if the original shot you captured made the chop - oops!! – attempt to improve the composition by adding a frame or some elements to disguise the awkward ‘amputee’.
Here are some other cool ideas for cropping…just experiment and have FUN!!
Now that I’ve outlined a few cropping tips, to be honest, I don’t technically use the crop tool as much as you’d think…I fake it!! First, I create a photo shape layer, using the rectangle tool for example, and then clip my photo to the shape (you can go with your preferred method of creating a shape layer and if you need help with clipping then you’ll find help right here in the Shoppe Tutorials for both PS and PSE!). In a way it’s the same as using a layered template! I then re-size and position the photo exactly where I want it. I consider this a faux-crop as I haven’t actually removed/trimmed away any of the photo. I prefer this way because I already have my “photo area” locked-in as far as my page design is concerned, but I still have the freedom to move the photo layer around until I’m 100% happy with its position within the shape (my “photo area”). Just be careful, going back to your photo and moving it round & round and re-sizing up & down within the shape, will cause the photo’s resolution to deteriorate. My advice is to play with your positioning until you are happy and then grab the original photo file again, place it over the other photo, in it’s final position…then delete the first photo layer -> in other words: the one that has lost some of it’s resolution and is now a bit on the fuzzy side (you can tell this easily by zooming in at 100%)!! Of course if you get the photo in the right spot on the first move you don’t have to worry about that last step.
I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s post…and it has given you a few fun ideas to play with next time you edit your photos for a layout! If you have any questions, please leave a comment on this post and I will do my best to answer it!! :o)
Thanks for stopping by…I’ll be back tomorrow with your JUNE projectSCRAP templates!! :o)
Photography, Tips and Tricks, Uncategorized