Thursday, May 13, 2010

3 Months

Yay!  Your baby can hold their head up and not look a martian when you try to prop them up, but how do you make that translate into cute?  Honestly, 3 months isn't really the time for professional pictures.  They're too big to be amazing newborns, and too small to really get a gleeming smile or chuckle.

BUT, that doesn't mean you can't get some great home photos, and even with stuff you have around the house!

1.  Remember that breastfeeding pillow you no longer use?  Use it for photos!  Most of my belly pictures are taken on one of those.  Cover it, prop the baby up on it and get on their level and shoot away.  Love their little heads peeking up.  Love this photo.  WHY is she growing up on me?

2.  Stuff 'em in!  A lot of my pictures are taken in a lage chair in our playroom.  It faces a window and it has some nice pillows just perfect for wedging a baby in between.  Just shoot quickly because they tend to fall forward (and at most shoots I had a helpful assistant... well, a mostly helpful assistant. :D)

3.  Work those eyes.  The reason I like that chair is it points towards our sliding glass door so even those dark baby eyes still have a great gleam to them.  I think she's plotting on how to steal the world's milk supply... one squirt at a time.

4.  Work it.  Ok, maybe I'm wrong.  As I look at these photos they're some of my favorites.  They dont' move, they're happy.  Problem is -- it's hrad to find those happy times sometimes at 3 months so home shoots are great.  I love this photo of my little P.  Did I mention she's growing up.  I'm pretty sure she'll be puting college applications in next week. 

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Showcasing that Special Outfit

Admit it, you've done it.
You've taken pictures of your kid just because of an outfit.
I did just that when it was P's blessing.

While this montage also shows some candids, it does show how you can showcase an outift.

1.  Pick a contrasting background.  I obviously wouldn't photograph her in a white dress on a white background, unless you're looking for a "floating" look.
2.  Blankets.  I think I've failed to mention that baby pictures are a great time to get in all those blankets loved ones have made you.  In the middle photo my mom made both the hat and the blanket.  I love that picture, she looks so angelic.
3.  Accessories.  While P doesn't wear a bow in every day life, she does in photos...  Maybe that's just so we can tell her apart from C. :)

Let's face it, the clothes make the baby.  Ok.  Maybe not, but they sure are fun!

Monday, May 03, 2010

Stage Photography

Recently, Conner had a play and it was tough getting good pictures!
They're kind of nazi-ish about letting parents back stage so I was left having to take pictures from the audience.

So, what are my tips for getting good stage shots?  Basically, it's the same as any low-light conditions:
1.  Shoot in a high enough ISO so they're not blurry.  These were shot at 800 ISO.  It's a low light condition, and you have to adjust.
2.  Use an approrpriate aperture.  Do you want focus on just them,  or on the whole stage?  A smaller aperture will focus on just your child, and it will allow for a quicker shutter speed.  However, a larger aperture will allow for you to see more kids and if your child is moving or dancing, you need a larger one to make sure they remain in the field of focus.
3.  Pick a zoom lens.  These were only with my 18-55, I wanted to take me 70-300 but that is a story for another day.
4.  Edit them.  The pictures weren't great straight out of the camera, but with a little Lightroom magic I really like how they turned out!

We loved Conner's play and I'm glad I have nice pictures to show for it!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Photo of the Week

Voila, two little happy kids in their easter clothes, pretty great -- right?  MAN, these two... trying to get them to smile and look at the camera... If you've read this blog for a while I've photographed these two since they were born.  Literally, those very moments. ;)

They're just over a year apart and they are funny little cute bundles of fun... love them.

BUT, much like my own that doesn't make for great photography.  I try to get some interaction photos and while those are fun, they aren't often the ones you want to put on your mantle.

I do most of my shoots at parks, and this one's a fun one and I was really glad with all the greenry behind them.  If I pointed my lens in the wrong way we could've had some ugly wires, etc.  Also, I try to make sure they were always looking towards the setting sun (these were taken at just about 7 pm) and in a shaded area.  That way you've at least set-up a good shot and you can just pray for the rest of it to fall into place.

Pictures of kids.  It can be scary, it's true. :)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Photo Shoot Editing Process Step #1: Rating

I thought I'd go through my system of editing.  Here's a clue.  Most pictures aren't that great straight out of the camera!  I almost always have to fix them.  BUT, I don't fix all of them.
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2I use Lightroom (which I got with an educational discount, well -- make that DREW got it with an educational discount, thanks dear!).  I love it.
But my first step is to always rate the photos.  Lightroom allows you to rate them 1-5.  I really only use 2-5, and I only keep photos that are a 3 or better:
2 -- totally out of focus and ugly
3 -- Not the best, but I might giggle when I look at it someday
4 -- Pretty great

I only rate through 4 inititally. 

Then, I pull up all the 4's, and go through those (and sometimes zooming in to check focus), and pick about 1/3 of them and rate those a 5.  Fives are my favorites and usually the ones I post online or in my videos, etc.  I only edit photos ranked a 4 or five.  It just saves time.

Windows also has a ranking ability.  It's just a quick way to go through the pictures and decide which are really your favorite.

Ta-da, there's step one!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Just TAKE them

I've had some questions about whether people can do all these fancy things on their own little cameras.
The short answer.  No.

Even though I was trying hard with my smaller camera, things just weren't as great.  Having the right lenses and ability to more you aperature and shoot in raw does make a world of difference.

But it's not ALL the difference.

Also, in photoshop you can do a lot of great things with the photos you already have.  One of my big gripes is dark photos.  I'm going to do an entry on this as soon as I climb out of my post-Disneyland pile.

I took my tiny camera to Disneyland and while the pictures aren't as great as I could have taken otherwise (or, even if I spent a little time editing them, which is unlikely at this point) I still love them.  Like this one of me, P and Minnie.  I didn't take it, and I certinaly didn't do much to it (but Disney at least did set it up so the lighting at Minnie's house is GREAT!... but it's a picture I already treasure because it's of me and my little girl.  I don't get many of those since I'm often behind the camera.
So, shoot away!  Enjoy what you have, and now that SLR's are so cheap you can always save those pennies for "someday". :)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Taking a self-portrait in a manual Mode

How do you use your timer setting when you're not there to focus on?
Well, here's the answer when you're setting up the shot, use something to take your place, to make sure that your focus is right!
For instance, this picture from my blog last week:

I wanted a small apperature so that the background wouldn't be the focus, my sweet shoes would be. :)
So, I used a game to set-up the shot, like this:
Then, once I had set my focus and started the timer, I just ran and replaced myself and my shoes with the box.  Easy Schmeasy... plus everything's in focus.  If you just set your camera to take the picture with nothing there it would have focused on my back wall, making it MUCH less fancy.

If you want to read more about my sketchers shape-ups you can find it on my losing with lovers blog on the right.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tips on not-quite-so-new-newborns

If you want "newborn" photos I recommend the earlier the better, but of course you can take them ANYTIME.  These are of P at 1 month of age.
  • Take pictures of everything, are they asleep, are they crying, you'll like them later!
  • Take the props with you.  The little duck shows how small she is, and the pacifier shows how hard we worked to get a decent photo. :)
  • Light their little eyes.  Make sure there is a light source in front of them.  I take most of her pictures in a chair that faces a sliding glass window.  That makes her eyes have those catchlights, makes her look alive and like she's something special.
  • No need for socks.  Unless you have amazingly cute socks or shoes, just leave them off.  You'l miss those tiny piggie toes one day!
But again, just TAKE PHOTOS.  You can do it!  Just give it a try!

Friday, April 09, 2010

Newborn Pictures at Home

Bundle them up!  This pictures shows how amazingly adorable the baby can be in all those cute bright blankets you got for your baby shower.  They're just the right size, and they won't be great for long, so you might as well use them now! :)

Go naked!  Sure, don't post them all over the internet (and this one isn't actually my favorite, but it's the best one that's fit for internet consumption) but the little belly button, those crackly fingers and toes.  They're gone all too soon!
Get those cute little baby parts.  Have a part of an outfit that you just love!  Zoom in so you remember it!  Don't forget those precious little hands and feet!
And finally, don't forget some great backgrounds.  Of course, look for fabric cheap at Joann's.  Look for one color fabric.  The one on the left is a fuzzy fabric and the one on the right is just an old blanket.  Dark fabrics work great, and of course, the black fleece from J's works wonders!  Also, I used a quilt that I made for her as the background in some of these.  Have a blanket your grandma gave her?  Take a photo on it, so that when you give it to her someday it will have extra meaning!  Just TAKE THE TIME to take those pictures.  I adore these pictures of P and while I thought I was a little frivilous doing a photo shoot almost daily I am glad I did. 

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Photo of the week

Here's my favorite photo of the week:

I am a big fan of taking care of every day objects.  Flowers, my mixer, stuff around the house that I love.  This one is of my front door planter.  Isn't it cute?

Just make sure the item is evenly lit (I tend to only use natural light), figure out if you want only one part in focus (a small apperature) or the whole thing (larger apperature).

For this one I thing I used an apperature of around 2.0... I didn't want JUST the orangy flours to come in focus, but a little bit more.  You can see that some of the other flowers aren't in focus, and that's cool.  Ta-DA. :)

Thursday, April 01, 2010

How Do You Do those Monthly Portraits?

Yes, it does look like my baby is floating in a black nebula.  Thanks for asking. 
She's not.  At least not in the photos. :)

I just take black fleece that I bought at Joann's (look for a sale, or use a coupon to get the best price, of course).  I bought 2 years, I'm pretty sure.  I just drape it over an overstuffed chair.  In the beginning I kind of shoved her in between two pillows so she'd prop up, but now I'm just hurrying to take a picture before she runs off.  Easy Schmeezy, and I love to see how much bigger she's gotten!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Photo of the Week

I really want to get my camera out more, and Sunday was just SCREAMING for a photo:

That's P's new easter dress from a dear friend from my shower LAST YEAR.  I'm so glad she bought it, I still adore it today.  But, that's not really what this blog is about (mulling over a fashion blog for baby girls, as if I don't already have ENOUGH blogs!).  The lesson to be learned here:
Get them out, take their picture, be done.

Kids don't want a 2 hour photo shoot.  They don't care if you get the shot, they just want to be done.  This is one of the very first shots we took and it's the best.  I worried that P clapping might ruin it, but it makes it all the better.  It shows everyone, how goofy and sweet they all are.  This entire shoot took about 5 minutes.  I did a couple with P alone (really, how could I not?), I did Drew and the kids, I did the kids alone, and then Drew did one of me and the kids.  I'm just going to add those here just to prove I try and get a picture with my kids at least once a year:

A couple of tips for quick spontaneous shoots at your house:  Find a spot in the shad without a lot in the backround (you'll notice the nice gas meter on the back right in Drew's shot, I should have cropped it out, but I am apparently very lazy and blind today.


oh, and have a baby girl, because she will totally up the "cute" factor of anything you're doing. :)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Hospitals, Picture the Pain

Let's face it, hospitals are pretty boring places.  I find, after my first baby I'm pretty well bored out of my mind, and trying to savor it before I go home to complete chaos.  It's a great time to take pictures of those little babes.  Their faces all scrunchy, head all coned, face read and spotted.  Let's face it -- they're not getting any smaller. :)

Some of my favorite shots are done in the warmer.  It gives a really "medical" feel to it all:
This photo was taken by Drew, as I was having a little mending done on myself at the time.  My main thing for my husband was to not use the flash, if at all possible.  Keep checking the LCD to see if they're coming up blurry.  I have some other similar shots (taken by moi) here.

Take a picture with the people who helped you:

This is my nurse Kelly.  Sometimes when I look at this photo I realize people do nice things for other people.  Of course, for me it's more of a "pay it forward" kind of a feeling.  I don't mind taking pictures with my patients, and I wish I'd had pictures of our nurses on the other two (although I look at them a little less favorably, Kelly did a great job).

Grab a picture of your surroundings. 
I like how this one captures my surroundings for those 2 days.  Plus, the tags on her legs, her cord clamp, the funny hospital T-shirt.  It totally captures her little hospital life. 

The hospital, oddly enough, has dramatic portrait lighting. 
Most hospital rooms have a window in them.  For these shots I just did them on the bed, and made sure she was looking at the light (sometimes you have to turn them around, since they sometimes get their heads in a certain position and really like it that way).  I like how she's in the nasty hospital bunny blanket and how tiny and amazing she looks.  I sure love my little subject.  I'm glad I got some good shots in the hospital. 

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

How'd You Do That?

While I am NOT ready to get back into the business end of photography, I am ready to get back into taking pictures and posting... even pictures of things that aren't P.  Although, she is awfully cute, and I'm sure she'll make an appearance or two, or three... :)

I'd like to take some of the pictures I particularly like and put them on the blog saying why I like them and what I did to set-up the shot.  Surprisngly, this is the picture I picked for today.

I'll tell you why I love it:

1.  Spencer is getting into that "ugly photo" stage.  They are self conscious about how they smile, they have lose, or lost teeth, they're just funny about having their photo.  Luckily, Spencer's not fully entrenched into that phase yet so I still have a few more months before I cringe with EVERY shot of him (I did that with Conner for about 1st and 2nd grades, really).  The main trick is to distract them with something else.  I think we were talking about some of the suess books he'd read at school.

2.  The background.  Yes, that is our water storage barrel and a tiny tree that we transplanted last year and we are just hoping it stays alive.  Now, I also did this shot (to the right).  The background isn't obvious and the focus is mostly on his face.  But, there's something happy and great that shows the "background" to your life.  I often take pictures of the kids int he front yard and we've seen our tiny orange tree (obviously, the Ericksons REALLY want to grow oranges, and aren't having much luck yet) grow up in those photos.  Have I ever realy done a shoot of our orange tree, no -- but it often gets mentioned as we watch our family movies.  And yes, the water barel is also a part of our life.  Just not one that is very fun to empty.