Friday, December 31, 2010

10 in '10

Top 10 Favorite things that happened in 2010!
(no particular order)


Rushmore

1. Vacation to South Dakota!

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2. The end of winter. It was so long and hard, I was happy to see green grass.


3. Spending the whole summer with Gene off from work because of his surgery. Not thrilled about the surgery part, but it was nice to be free to travel and do as we wanted all summer.

4. Getting published on Wedding Chicks, front page of the Forum, front page of the St. Joe News press and chosen to be in Orscheln's calendar for 2011.


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5. Getting Chickens!

6. Random phone calls from Seth, just to see how I am. Except those ones at 11 at night, I don't like those at all.

7. Sending Tanner off for 1/2 the summer to Upward Bound. I missed him, but was so proud to see how much he changed in that short time.

8. Our second anniversary spent antiquing in south Missouri

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9. Travelling to Arkansas to see Gene's oldest and all his granddaughters.



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10. Gene's 50th Birthday weekend in Nebraska City.


GENE: I'm amazed how much you continue to change. You have mellowed a lot since the first day I met you, it's kind of cool seeing you turn into an even better man. I love how you treat the boys (Tanner mostly since he's the only one here) like your own sons (sometimes to Tanner's dismay). I can tell you love him. It's funny watching you turn into a big marshmallow anytime you're around little girls, especially your own granddaughters. This year you went from taking snapshots at weddings, to taking portraits at weddings. Every time I download your camera, I am amazed by what you are seeing that I sometimes miss - I'll be honest it makes me jealous sometimes. You are a good husband and you're number one concern is taking care of me and our family. I love you for that. You are the very best friend I've ever had.

SETH: I am sure I don't tell you enough, but I'm pretty proud of you. After me giving up on nagging you, something got into you and you decided to go to school to be a fireman like your dad. All while working a full time job and a part-time job. I don't know many young guys like you, in fact, I know NO 21 year olds like you that are such a hard worker. I think you're finally figuring out that sometimes what is funny to you is maybe kinda irritating to others (at least mom) and you've pulled back a little bit. Most of that is my own fault, I definitely have the dominant smartass gene in this family. I proudly passed it on to both my kids. I see you coming out of your shell and people comment to me how you stopped them at the store and talked their ear off, something you never did before. Outgoing is good, and will take you far in life. If I'm hard on you, it's because I love you, and I want more for you than I had for myself.

TANNER: You're a pretty cool cat. I don't know one 16 year old that will get up from the TV get on their coat and shoes and announce they're going to go out and work on a chicken coop (for hours on end). It's nice coming home and seeing the living room cleaned and vacuumed without me asking. I go pretty easy on you most of the time, because most of the time I don't have to go hard on you. Parts of school has become hard for you. I'm not happy about it, and you're not either. You can do better, and I have faith that if you try harder, you will do better. I have never expected a 4.0, but I do expect your best. This year you started to drive .... on your own. I admit that kinda scares me, not just because you could have an accident, but because you'll have your freedom and I won't see you as much. I guess that's part of growing up and letting go but don't be shocked if I don't push really hard for you to get a car.

LANA: That's me. ;) I'm proud of the things I've accomplished this year, and disappointed in myself in other ways. I'm kinda ready to be me again. I'm ready to slip back into my old body so people around me will say "oh there you are, where have you been?" I'm gonna be harder on myself in some respects... in others, I'm going to ease up off myself. It's not cool to worry and let yourself be scared too much - especially over silly things that never ever happen.

CEASE FIRE RANCH: I love this place. No, it's not really a ranch unless you think that wrangling chickens is a career, then it is. I know it's just a manufactured home, on a couple of acres in the middle of a bean field, but it's the happiest place I've ever lived in my life. Everything I see and everything I touch is part of me. I helped create this place and make it what it is, and hopefully what it will be. If I end up living the rest of my life here, I will not be upset about it.

JINGLES: Your poop stinks and you howl too much. I'm glad you're so cute because I'd hate to think of your outcome if you werent. That goes for you too MACK.... oh, and you chickens too.

MY BLOGGY FRIENDS: After almost 1000 posts, and almost 4 years, I have found my voice - and it is loud. LOL. You all are awesome and wonderful. I wish there was a way that I could express how much it means to me when comments come through. I promise to visit you more the next few months as my work slows down a bit. I want to tell you how much I enjoy your writing as much as you enjoy mine.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Thursday Sparks - FREE* online learning

I've learned that the best way to learn something new, is to just try it and see what happens, evaluate what you did wrong, and try again. Lather, rinse, repeat.

However, sometimes we just don't even know where to start in our learning process. Then, in walked youtube. Before you knew it, we had millions of people out there not only taking videos of themselves doing stupid people tricks, but also, teaching others new things (besides stupid tricks).

Case in point, I recently got Photoshop CS4 and I knew that it would be a long time before I was proficent in it's use. I didn't know some of the very basics.... so I googled them! Not only will you find lots of links to almost every question imaginable, but usually there's a video to fit the bill too.

This is just one great video by Tutorvid.com You could go there, but they also have a channel on youtube.


Another place I've been visiting to watch different types of learning videos is netflix. Your subscription can include live streaming video. Not only do they have War of the Worlds (puke) and Sweet Home Alabama (yay), they have many different videos in the documentary/learning category. I included documentaries in this as I enjoy watching these shows on different types of photographers. For example, the other day I watched the President's Photographer and learned a lot, not just about technique, but on the inner workings of the President's photographer's day.

There are other types of videos too, I just punched in the word "painting" and pulled up approximately a dozen videos on painting techniques that you can live stream. Your mileage may vary depending on your hobby... I also put in "crochet" and netted nothing.

*While netflix isn't free, it is very cost effective and you will have access to videos that you can't find on Youtube or even in your own video store. (Do they even have video stores anymore?)

So when you find yourself wishing you knew how to play the viola, I suggest you hit up youtube and fill your heart's desires.


Note: Netflix, youtube, tutorvid, etc did not pay me to say any of this. I wish they did, but I'm a big nobody so *wahhhhh* I want my mommy!

If I were the crazy cat lady - on steriods....

Someday, when I'm old(er), gray(er) and (more) crazy, I'll take Gene's entire life insurance policy and build a barn full of critters. (I'm sure he'd be happy to know I'm spending his life insurance already lol).

Inside you'll find a plethora of critters I've fallen in love with:


Sydney the sebright

A Sebright Chicken




Baby pig taking a nap!

A Baby pig




baby african pygmy hedgehog - explored

Hedgehog awww so sweet!



My Very Own Fawn

A fawn - I wanna kiss his lil' face.



Curious Squirrel

A squirrel. I'll take a good old Missouri squirrel too, but if i get to chose, I want one like this. Or a black one. Or white, or maybe gray. Or ALL OF THEM!



Skunk

A baby skunk. Yeah, I know the possiblities.



Baby Great Horned Owls

A baby owl. Or two.




Red Panda

A red faced panda!



Nemo and Dory in Seattle Aquarium

Nemo and Dory. Or Marlin.



Mitza in the garden

A hamster, with a cute petunia hat. (which he'll probably eat)



On the lookout...

A weasel, which will try to eat the hamster so maybe I'll be ok with just a ferret.



Wheeee!!!!

Ohh a turtle! I'll settle for a box turtle. I hear they live forever so you have to put them in your will.



Odin & Echo Kiss

And a puddy and a rat... especially a pair that are friends.



At the moment, I think I'll settle for a Sebright Chicken if I can find one... and maybe a rat because Tanner's been wanting one forever. But don't push your luck boy.
PSsst.. I didn't take one of these photos. Click on the pic to see the rest of their work.
***************
In other news:
I've been sick as a dog. (Why do poor dogs always have to be so "sick"??) Today I feel a little better in that now I can kinda breathe. Yesterday was a huge struggle!
Tomorrow... New Year's Eve! Time to reflect on this past year, and think about our future. Share!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I still hate you snow... pretty much... sorta most of the time.

This winter thing STILL has me bitter. Cold and bitter.

Pun intended.

Last winter was horrible. Yes, I'm still complaining about it. It was horrific and long and horrific. Did I mention horriffic?
and long?

Well, you get the point. It help solidify my plans of someday moving to Florida and playing shuffleboard. *I get it* now.


However, there's one thing that winter has over alllll the other seasons. It sparkles.

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And frankly, what girl doesn't love sparkly stuff. I love that fresh fluffy snow, and driving along seeing all the snow shine and sparkle at me as we move by.

Sunday, we drove to my mother's for Christmas get together, and I noticed that the snow was so light, it was landing perfectly on the trees. It was very magical. Gene offered to let me pull over and take a pic, but I turned it down.

I later regretted that because it was SO light and fluffy that it was gone a few hours later.

Imagine my surprise when yesterday, it came to me, right to my front yard. It was very nice of Jack Frost to do that for me... or Mother Nature.... or both. Meant I could take piccies outside in my jammies.

{There's a reason why I catch colds.}

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{Yes, my chickens have their own mailbox. The never get anything good tho, just junk mail}



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So winter, I appreciate that you've been relatively easy on me this year. I accept your apologies. However, I'm a woman and we don't soon forget misgivings and abuses so I will keep a very close eye on you!



**Now, for the first time in months (years?) I'm going to bed really early. I feel like doo times infinity. My ears have been ringing since like noon. Not cool.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas recap - by bullet points

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  • I'm pretty happy Christmas is over. Bah Humbug. Sorry
  • Everyone is wearing warm stuff because it's really cold. Our furnace said it's final good-byes 2 days before Christmas.
  • White Christmas, but still travelable (not a word) - 2 thumbs up
  • I was really happy to finally unwrap that huge gift that'd been clogging up my living room for a whole month. It was a new office chair. I'm not sure I'm keeping it honestly. Sorry dear.
  • Gene also bought me a Sony Ereader, and I've downloaded a bunch of classic books. I also got a big fat 1TB external drive for my puter. It'll take me minutes upon minutes to fill it. Tanner bought me a ereader cover and some stainless measuring cups (I asked for them -they are nice), Seth got me a yummy candle and a pink snuggie.
  • Love my Cindy Lou Who hair?
  • I bought Gene several little things like new business cards, a jeweler's loupe and a tool bag, but his "big gift" was a weekend in Downtown KC at a super nice hotel, and also dinner for 2 at a traditional Brazilian place. All meat. No lie, how could you beat that.
  • He was informed he can't use it as my Valentine's gift. He's been warned. That was his only and final warning.
  • Tanner got a new TV. Seth got a bedroom set to keep him warm because he is a goon and insists on sleeping in the coldest room in his house. I don't feel bad for him.




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  • Christmas eve at the in-laws with a bunch of outlaws.
  • There was a herd of people there that we haven't seen in a long while.
  • Having said that, I don't get to see much of any of them anyway.
  • Got to see the new baby Susan, and give her the blanket I started crocheting in like, March. I suspect this is where I might have aquired my newly found cold since she has a runny nose, and I was kissing her on her nose just prior to this.
  • I realized the only pic I got of her sister, was of her kicking mom. Not cool.
  • Gene's son and grandbabies drove 11 hours (well, longer) to get her from Colorado. Too much driving, not enough visiting.
  • Celebrated Chey's 12th Birthday which was 4 days earlier
  • I got a lovely handmade fabric basket/bowl from my SIL Becky, and Gene got a DAMN HELICOPTER. Sigh. I had told him no helicopters this year. Apparently David didn't get this memo.
  • Way too much wrapping paper. Not enough leg room. Gene needed earplugs.

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  • Worst. photographer. auntie. ever.
  • I took a total of 3 photos at my mom's. Took more photos later of my sister's dog than the whole day. Weird.
  • Tayen made beautiful gingerbread girls. Gene's been dying to eat her.
  • We played dirty santa, but no one was really dirty, and well, 3 of the 4 men there came from my house so it was fairly tame.
  • My BIL (cole, pictured) offered up the pipe we needed for the temp furnace. He's an HVAC guy and well, fairly awesome.
  • I now have heat. My house is actually warmer than it was before. This does not translate into ventless gas heaters as being a permanent solution.

Despite feeling like a stuffed up pile of dog doo, I spent my Monday cleaning the house (because I was about to go INSANE), recyling, tossing, organzing and making a pile of boxes, cartons and bins to go back to storage full of Christmas stuff. Mostly things that never got put out to start with. I even have 2 bins of halloween stuff that will probably magically disappear since I've not put out stuff for years. Oh, and then there's boxes of tax papers. I'm putting it all on the trailer and taking it at once! That should be a treat for the eyes.

I think I just realized I'm as grumpy as I sound.

Humbug I say!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Cluck-mas!

We want to wish, our friends, family and regular readers a very Merry Christmas. Have a safe and happy holiday season.



Merry Cluckmas from Cease Fire Ranch



Friday, December 24, 2010

12 Days of Better Christmas Photography - Day 12 - Put down the camera

Our last day, is probably one of the most important of all.



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1. Make sure that you hand the camera to someone else once in a while. Even if you don't like how you look in photos, it's important that your kids, grandkids, ancestors know that you actually existed. No one says you have to make a billboard of them. Just acknowledge that you were there too.

AND...

2. Put down the camera.

Yep. It's true. It's ok to not photograph every millisecond of your holiday. Enjoy the moment, and just let it go. Sometimes life is a little drab, through the eyepiece of a camera.


I hope you have enjoyed our "12 days of better Christmas Photography" series. I had a lot of fun creating it for you! Have a blessed holiday!

12 Days of Better Christmas Photography - Day 11 - Before and After

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{Sorry about the double day! Somehow I missed a day in there somewhere! I meant to be done on Christmas eve, so we'll have a double day today!}



There's always a little bit of fun and magic in before and after photos. Of course, the before and after in weight loss is always a favorite, or maybe before and after a haircut. However, before and after a divorce is probably not so "magical".

Try to capture some before and afters this year!
  1. Before and after a snowfall. Pick a spot and photograph it before the snow comes and then stand in the same spot again. Make some fun of it and stand in that spot all four seasons.
  2. Before and after opening the gifts. I ALWAYS get a photo of the tree with all it's gifts packed under it, but sometimes I forget to get a photo of the paper, box and unwrapping chaos
  3. Before and after decorating (or undecorating) the tree.
  4. Before and after Christmas dinner. The beautiful meal laid out before, and the sky high pile of dishes after.
  5. Before and after - the look of your kids faces as they wake up, and then see the presents.

I'm sure you can probably think of a hundred more before and after shots, that would be loads of fun displayed next to each other in your albums!

I hope you are enjoying the 12 Days of Better Christmas Photography series, next, we will talk about probably the most important tip of all!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

12 Days of Better Christmas Photography - Day 10 - Group shots!

It's been an unbearably bad day.
Let's just say, new furnace??!!?? Merry Christmas to me!


I planned on writing a great post about group shots of your family, but instead I'll share this link that says pretty much what I was going to say!

12 tips to take a great group photo

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Lunar eclipse 2010 - a time lapse

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During last night's lunar eclipse over north/south America (and other parts of the world got a peak too), I just happened to still be up, and the clouds departed *just* in time to get some great shots of the moon. I stepped out about every 15-20 minutes to get a shot. It was the first eclipse I've seen in years.

In return, as the moon was completely red, I stood outside I heard one lonely coyote howl, and a pack a mile away or so answer him.

Creepy.


*****

In other creepy news, a local magazine is doing an article on me and my photography... we scheduled the meet up here at my house Wednesday at 2 p.m. Imagine my surprise when I heard a knock on my door at 2:15 p.m. on Tuesday.

The creepy part is, I was in my pajamas still, just getting ready to go run errands and my house looked like a bomb went off.

Yay me.

Look at the bright side, I no longer have to clean the house! woooot!

12 Days of Better Christmas Photography - Day 9 - Custom White Balance

I've been thinking for a long time that I would give a lesson on Custom White Balance but had not had a time to do it yet. I've had requests for it so I know it's time!

However, I realized that it's probably something that would be better told via video than trying to just type it out. I found a great explanation on youtube produced by Adorama.

Just ignore how much he talks with his hands. ;)

Monday, December 20, 2010

12 Days of Better Christmas Photography - Day 8 - Get a real camera!

This post for 12 days of Better Christmas photography, probably should have been day ONE. I think it's a great first step into better photos. It's also a personal pet peeve.

If your only camera is in your phone, then you have a crappy camera. Now, having said that, I know that there are some apps out there for smart phones that create some cool effects on photos. Period. I even saw recently an article that featured photos in Afganistan taken with the iphone. I'm ok with that.

*however*

If you spend .0002 seconds on facebook, you'll see that there's some really crappy cellphone photos floating about.


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{We try on funny hats when we go antiquing. It might be funny, but it's still a crappy photo}

I found this great list of questions to think about when shopping for a new camera here.

Camera Type

• Are you looking for a compact point & shoot camera, a DSLR, or something in between? (Or perhaps you haven't decided yet — that's okay!)

• Is this your first camera? First ever, or first digital?

• Are you interested in a high level of control, or would you prefer to let the camera do as much "thinking" as possible?

• If you had to choose, would you prefer a more versatile (large "×") zoom lens, or top-notch image quality with no zoom at all?

• What size of camera do you want? To what degree would you be willing to sacrifice other features for compactness?

Budget

• What budget have you allocated for buying this camera? Please be as specific as possible.

• Do you plan to spend more on additional accessories now or in the future? (Lenses, lighting, tripods, batteries, memory cards, camera bags... it adds up!)

• How long do you plan on keeping this new camera?

Usage

• What will you generally use the camera for?

• Are you going to photograph sports? What sport, and from how far away?

• Will you be shooting a lot of indoor photos, or other low-light photos?

• Will you make prints, or primarily view and share images on a computer screen? If you make prints, will they typically be small (up to 5×7") or medium sized (8×10"), or are you interested in larger sizes as well?

• Are you interested in spending time post-processing to make an image "perfect", or would you prefer to use images basically straight from the camera?

Miscellaneous

• Are there particular lenses or technical features that are interesting or important to you?

• Are there particular brands or models you already have in mind?
Now, I can't personally recommend any one camera if you answer all the questions above. I suggest you write down your answers and talk to sales people, do some research online, ask your friends. Most of all, pick up the camera and hold it in your hands. Does it feel right?
If you decide to go with a DSLR, but have a small budget, don't worry, you can still make that happen. eBay has great deals on used dslr cameras. Look for cameras that have low acutations. shop at night time. Look for buy it now deals. Look at the cameras that you are interested in in the "completed auctions" section and see what they are going for to know if you're getting a good deal or not.
This is how I shop for my equipment and I always pay less than anyone else.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

12 Days of Better Christmas Photography - Day 7 - Shaped Bokeh

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What is bokeh anyway? I know you're asking this question. It's pronouced "bow-kuh" for starters and it's those little round (usually) dots of out of focus light that speckle the background of kick butt shots. You might see it in the background of dappled light under a tree in the summertime, but in the winter you will probably see it in the background as your subject sits in front of the Christmas tree.


So here's how to get bokeh.

  1. Set your dslr to either aperture priority or manual
  2. If you are using a zoom lens, zoom in as close as you can go.
  3. Set your aperture to as wide open as it will go. My favorite lens is a 35mm F2. If I use a lens that's f4, etc, I do get bokeh but it's not the large spots, they are much smaller, but it does work
  4. You should be much closer to your subject, but there needs to be space between your subject and the background. The farther you can get away from your lit background, the better. We're not talking a half mile ok?
  5. Dappled light, such as Christmas tree lights, far-away street, city and car lights, dappled light through trees, sun reflecting from water or sand just right, busy give you the bokeh dots.

For point & shoot: if you aren't able to set your aperture manually, try the portrait and macro modes on your camera. You can use the macro mode even if you're not shooting macro. These auto modes give you wide apertures.

OK, But how do you get those hearts??

{61/365} HBM::heart bokeh edition

{great photo by someone that's not me}


Well, I didn't think there was much point in rewriting a great tutorial, so I'm sending you the link to try it yourself. I honestly haven't tried it yet, I always forget until I'm shooting and think "I wish I had one of those heart bokeh things"

If you don't want to take the time to make it yourself photojojo has a kit that does it all for you! With tons of shapes! (no I don't get paid for that product placement but dammit I should!)

Consider this a warning tho... Bokeh is addictive.
Proceed with caution

12 Days of Better Christmas Photography - Day 6 - Shooting snow

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Some of the photos I seem most disappointed in every winter, are photos of snow. No matter how hard I would try for years, the outcome would be muddy and gray photos that really didn't reflect what I was actually seeing.

Why is this happening!?

Well, the answer is simple. The snow is so white, and so bright, that it's tricking the camera's meter into thinking that it's getting a lot of light and therefore underexposes the image to compensate.

Tricky camera!

There are a couple ways to try to fix this problem.

Option#1:

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You get home from your weekend in Aspen at the lodge (happens to me all the time) and realize all your photos look like the one above. Pretty crappy. 90% of ppl will toss this photo and be annoyed they paid .29 for a 4x6 that's going in the trash can.

Here's how to fix the problem if it's ALREADY happened (before you print btw)... I took this photo last winter and wanted to kind of show how deep the snow was. BTW, there was a lot last year. I'm glad we're looking at a mild winter so far.

So anyway, I pulled the image into photoshop adjusted the levels by moving the sliders....
Example:

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Here is the before snapshop of levels, and below is the after.


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Carefully play with these levels until you get the right amount of dark and light to create enough contrast in your image. Not enough, and the image is too dark, too much, and the image blows out and loses details.

Voila!

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aka this is why God made photoshop.

You can now see how I "saw" the image in my head. I might actually play with it a little more, as it still feels a little on the dark side, but I didn't want to blow out the texture of the snow. As you can see, I left the blue cast to it, but that's a personal choice. I like snow having that "blue" look to it, it makes it look colder in my opinion. Again, you can remove some of this color yourself.

If you don't have photoshop, do not sweat it! I know, it's an expensive program. There's cheaper options like Paint shop Pro (which is awesome), and there's a free option called Gimp. But whatever you do, please don't edit your photos in picnik..... it's just *bad* and they look crappy.

Option #2 is Exposure Compensation

This option is for those people that think ahead, unlike myself. So before you hit the slopes, think ahead about what your scene will look like. Lots of white snow. Lots.

Your camera meter measures the light in a scene and tries to evaluate the average of all the tones. Again, all that snow is very white and very bright and tricks the camera into thinking that too much light is coming in so we must underexpose the image to get the "proper exposure".

Your DSLR may have modes like center weighted average or spot metering which try to compensate for issues like this, but sometimes even that is not good enough for the camera. You will need to manually "trick" it into exposing properly.

This is called exposure compesation and your camera will probably have a simliar display like below where you can ask your camera to underexpose (make it darker) or overexpose (make it lighter) by 1/3rd stop intervals. My canon, lets you under/over expose by 2 full stops either direction.

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To expose the snow, try pushing your slider to the right and increase your exposure. Experiment, but you will probably be in the +1-+2 full stop range. Each dot between the numbers indicates 1/3 of a stop, so if 2 seems to much, and 1 is to little, try 1.3 and see what happens. Do not depend solely on your lcd screen. I find that if mine seems properly exposed, that often times it's a little on the dark side when I get home.

Also, don't go too crazy with this method because your images will be over exposed. You can always add a little light, but once the details are blown out, they can never be recovered. Also keep in mind that you can use this method for more than just snow. I often times find that if I'm trying to shoot up into the sky (at birds, or such) that they are often over exposed.

Don't forget to put the exposure back to the middle when you get home, or you'll end up with a bunch of over/under exposed images.

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{This image was taken last night, as it snowed, looking up at the street light in our yard.
The starburst came from a snowflake that landed on my lens.}

The same way that over exposure works, under exposure works too. So if you're taking an evening shot, and the camera is trying to overexpose it to compensate for the lack of light, you can turn down your exposure compensation to -1 to -2 stops, whatever works best for your scene.

Which do I prefer?

Well, thinking about it now, I think I personally prefer option #1. Mainly for 2 reasons, first, I don't remember to set it when I'm out in the field and like I said, my images tend to look lighter on my lcd screen so I think I'm ok. Secondly, by being underexposed a bit, I don't lose that much detail. When I overexpose, I do it up right and tend to blow things out. I would rather gently pull it up in the computer.

What if I have a point and shoot?

Well, again, read your manual! You may have a mode specifically for snow. Manufactures know this is a problem so they are trying to compensate to make photography easier for you! You may also have a meter in your camera, but that is much less likely. If you have neither, then all is not lost, work on cleaning up those photos when you get home.

Other Winter photo tips:

  1. Be prepared for cold weather. This means if you're in your back yard, wear gloves and don't stay out too long. Thin warm gloves are best. You won't be able to operate your camera with big thick mittens. You'll take them off and your hands will get colder faster - and run the risk of frostbite which happens quickly.
  2. If you're going snowshoeing, then talk to the outdoorsy snowshoe people about what you need to get where you're going so we don't have to dig out your frozen corpse out of a snowbank.. ok?
  3. If you're walking straight outside from the house to shoot, your lens is going to fog up. Please give it some time to cool down and don't rub your lenses as you might scratch them, and honestly it won't help a darn bit anyway.
  4. Keep your batteries warm. Digital camera batteries (well, all batteries) go dead faster when they are cold. Keep a set in your pocket next to your body to keep them warm.
  5. Keep your camera protected if you're shooting in the snow, especially a wet snow. This can be as simple ans tearing a hole in a grocery sack for your lens to fit through. Water+electronics=Bad Juju

I know a million photographers out there might disagree with me, and that's ok, I still think you're awesome and probably pretty cute too. I'm only sharing here how *I* do things and what works for me. If you have any other methods, by all means please share! Links are cool, bad attitudes are not!

Friday, December 17, 2010

12 Days of Better Christmas Photography - Day 5 - better photos shooting indoors

You have a couple options:

1. No flash:

When you can, turn off your flash and turn on lights or shoot near a window and use the natural light. Natural light is ideal for photography you will have truer colors and the light will be softer. Do not face toward the window yourself or you'll end up with a silhouette. Instead, you need to be somewhere between your subject, and the window.

Without flash, you might have to embrace the yellow cast of incandescent lights, and/or a little blur until you get better at photography (there are ways to compensate that we will talk about later!) In a way, I kind of like that yellow cast that you get from regular raw light bulbs, I think it gives a warm feeling to some photos.

Don't forget, that even on some point and shoots, you can raise your ISO to make the camera more sensitive to light. The higher the number the more sensitive it is. However, often the higher the number, the more grain/loss of quality the image has, so there is a fine balance. You can pull beautiful photos at a much lower light so read your manual and figure out how to change your ISO.


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Tanner opening gifts.
Left: Natural light coming from the window facing north (it's a blue light)
Right: Incandescent light from a lamp (it's a yellow light)
I just embraced it and left it as is.


2. Flash:

The flash can be a real lifesaver, no doubt about it. The artificial light can mean the difference between a pretty good photo and a trash can photo. However, most light from flash units, in particular those on point and shoots, causes harsh flat light.

If you have a DSLR with an external flash unit, your best option is to bounce the light off of a wall or the ceiling. Practice! If you can't bounce your flash (or you have no external), you can diffuse the light coming out of your flash by making a diffuser out of a piece of tissue or a napkin. It really does work! This will cause the light to spread, instead of going straight at your subject and your shadows will be much softer.


Don't Forget:
Don't just let your other lessons we've learned go willy nilly indoors. Remember to crop in camera and watch your backgrounds!


Saturday's lesson will probably come Sunday morning! I have a wedding - I doubt she'd like me blogging instead of shooting! BRIDES today! I swear. ;)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

12 Days of Better Christmas Photography - Day 4 - Be Prepared

Crown Center Christmas trees


Are you prepared to take photos this Christmas? Plan ahead and you won't be disappointed with your results!

  1. Don't forget to take your camera! (I've done this plenty!)
  2. Keep fresh batteries in your bag, don't forget to recharge them.
  3. Jot a list of photos you'd like to capture so you don't forget.
  4. Are you going to need a flash?
  5. Think about the light ahead of time, and remember to set your white balance (I'll give a lesson on this!)
  6. Think about your surroundings before you shoot. Try to avoid picture frames growing out of grandma's head.
  7. Do you have enough memory cards with you?

Now, for you memory impared people out there (can I hear a whatwhat!), You know who you are! You need to hit Ctrl +p and print this out. Sit it on TOP of your purse or camera bag so you don't forget.

That's my advice anyway, not that I ever have to do stuff like that. I never forget.

Ever.
:p

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Front page feature at The Wedding Chicks!

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I am SO EXCITED!

I've been keeping a secret for a WHOLE MONTH. I'm actually very good at secrets, but this one has me about ready to bust from excitement.

About 5 weeks ago, myself and several other vendors pulled together to create a styled inspirational wedding/bridal shoot. It was specifically to inspire brides for ideas for their weddings! Morgan was our model and she did such a great job considering how cold she was! My husband, son, and Morgan's mom and sister were my pit crew. Everything fell into place almost perfectly. My husband didn't understand it completely, but he followed me with blind faith, and then he "got it" Half of the fun has been seeing him be so proud and excited. He's even talking to strangers on the street about it. LOL

*blush*

I submitted to The Wedding Chicks and heard back quickly that it was accepted for a front page feature! YAY! It took a while to get up (I think they had a backlog!) but today, it was finally there! It's been one of my proudest moments in my photography career yet.

It was even picked up by our local paper, the Maryville Daily Forum, as a front page news! From that, also a possible magazine feature! Isn't it funny how all these things are connected and good things happen?

What's next??

I can't wait!


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THAT'S ME!!


Photographer: Cease Fire Studios
Hair & Makeup: Rockin’ Rollers Salon
Dress Designer: I Can Has Kitsch
Floral Design: Bittersweet Floral
Jewelry: Cease Fire Heirlooms
Stationery: Pink Orchid Invitations
Veil or Hair Accessories: I Can Has Kitsch

12 Days of Better Christmas Photography - Day 3 - 25 things to shoot at Christmas time

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Today's tip is all about the details.

Sure, everyone has pics of their kids opening their gifts on Christmas morning, or maybe everyone sitting around eating dinner, but you're doing a disservice to your holiday memories. Are you going to be able to remember the hat that grandma wore to church? You'll soon forget that your little boy absolutely swam in those pajamas 2 years ago, that you threw away last week because they are now 2 sizes to small.

I've always made a point of taking a photo of my kids with their gifts on Christmas morning. Why? Because my favorite photo of me as a child on Christmas, I was sitting in a corner holding 2 toys I received that Christmas day. I likely would have forgotten those toys and the hours of entertainment had mom not taken that photo of me. I want my kids to have a memory prompt 30 years from now, about their Christmas in 2010.

Earlier this week we talked about getting in close, cropping in camera to get better shots. I want you to use that lesson to get pics of the little details of what makes Christmas special for your family.

In case you get a little stage fright, here's a list of prompts that might help you remember your camera!

25 Things this Christmas you don't want to forget to Photograph!

  1. The gifts wrapped under the tree
  2. Cookies and Milk for Santa
  3. The stockings on the mantle
  4. The weather outside that morning
  5. The tree lit the night before
  6. Kids sleeping on Christmas eve
  7. Reading Christmas stories
  8. What you made for breakfast on Christmas morning
  9. Christmas morning pajamas
  10. Your pets and any gifts they get
  11. Your kid (or you!) posed with your gifts received
  12. The look on their faces as they see the tree on Christmas morning
  13. Special baked goodies
  14. Gifts that you handmade, or special gifts you received
  15. Decorating the tree and hanging the lights
  16. Your house lit up
  17. Your church at Christmas eve services
  18. Wrapping gifts
  19. Your favorite ornaments
  20. Your fuzzy slippers - or your kids - or both!
  21. Letters to santa - and letters back
  22. The table filled with all the good eats for dinner - cue Norman Rockwell
  23. Class parties - office parties
  24. Your special Christmas outfits (parties, church, etc)
  25. A Group shot, even if that means doing the duck face, with no makeup and messy hair

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{"Baking" Christmas treats}


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{Left: Breakfast on Christmas morning, Right: Some of my decor}


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{Homemade pancake mix jars that I gave as gifts}

Only one of these photos looks like a "Christmas" photo. Don't feel like every image you create needs to include some holly leaves or the Christmas tree. There are hundreds of memories happening, that have no specific holiday "feel" to them. Does that mean they are not holiday memories??


Merry Christmas, and please share your photo links with me!

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