Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Shooting Without a Flash Indoors

I used to get a tad nervous when I had to shoot portraits
inside in an unfamiliar place.
I hate using lights or flashes so the first thing I do when I arrive
is look for LIGHT!
This can be lamps, windows, doors...what are sources of light
in the room?
In this case with 17-month-old Fiona,
the Christmas tree was by a huge glass sliding door...
Here, I used my 50mm 1.4 lens and had it fully
cranked to 1.4 to let in lots of light and blur the Christmas tree.
I shot in manual so I could bump the shutter speed to 150
because I had a squirmy, moving subject.
The lower the ISO...the less noise,
so I started with ISO 200.
It's really a matter of trying until you get
a good exposure.
I pulled that pretty chair over by the window. This is the first
photo I took:
Notice that I have some beautiful illumination on the coat and back of
the chair, but her face is shadowed.  The entire photo is too dark.
I re-angled the chair so her face was lit.  I really look
closely at where the light is falling on my subject.
I bumped the ISO up to 400.
I also lightened and brightened a bit in editing.
Fiona did move around and removed her pretty gold shoes...
I LOVE the natural expressions of children!
I don't always need them to smile.
But love when they do it naturally:
Exposure is the result of combining these three things:
Play around in manual and adjust:
Aperature: The size of the lens hole that
lets in the light. The lower the number, the larger the hole, thus more light. But also
less depth of field so better chance for blur, or to create artistic blur.
Shutter speed: How long your shutter stays open. Adjust this to a faster
speed if you want to freeze a moving subject especially children without blur!
I need at least 125 to avoid blur from camera shake with children.
ISO: Light sensitivity of your camera sensor.  The higher the ISO number,
the more light in your photo, but also the more noise, so keep it as low as possible.
Move lamps in the room to light where you need.
I always shoot in RAW so I can adjust the white balance in editing.
I think Fiona looks like a little Shirley Temple with her
natural curls, so I turned some into black and white.
you understand these techniques.
It will get easier and easier, until you can handle
your camera with ease and get beautiful indoor shots!


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Magic Glitter Trails

Little Isabel is turning four on Christmas Eve
and I wanted her birthday portrait to be special.
So, I added a magic glitter trail!
I simply loaded some
sparkle brushes into Photoshop (You can also use Elements.)
and started stamping them onto a new layer.
I got my free sparkle brushes here.
It was lots of fun!
I had sewn an angel costume for my daughter when she was in
second grade and I still have it.
I created a magic wand by gluing a star Christmas ornament
onto the end of a thin piece of plastic tubing and wrapping it
in gold ribbon.
I took this photo of Isabel in my backyard:
I cloned out the house to the left and the patches of blue sky.
I felt the sparkles would show up better against a dark background.
I mixed a few gold sparkles in and did a slight gaussian blur
on that 3 pixels.
Then I used a soft brush to paint the grass white to look like snow.
I think it gave her an angelic look.
Above, I added some white haze and snow.
I Googled "halo png." to find the halo. 
Then I tried it with my grandniece Fiona in
her Christmas portrait:
I remembered a shoot I did last summer with 2-year-old Genevieve
wearing butterfly wings and holding balloons.
I cloned out the balloons....moved the magic wand from
Isabel's photo to this one and created this:
Then I thought of COLORED sparkles!
Here's a special effect that is fun to try to give that ethereal look:
I learned this technique at Rita's wonderful  CoffeeShop Blog. 
If you don't want to create this yourself,  you can purchase
a magic glitter trail and magic wand overlays in my Etsy Shop!
I hope this inspires you to come up with even more
ideas for using these magic sparkles...
especially at Christmas!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Create a Snowglobe Christmas Card

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The sign-up form is on the upper right of this blog.
Last Christmas Eve I posted this wonderful snowglobe idea,
but knew it was too late for people to actually use it
for Christmas cards...
So I decided to repost the information in time for you
to try this fun technique this year for holiday cards.
I found it on a fabulous website called
They did all the work and all you have to do is add
your own photo like I did with adorable Santa Preston.
I love that you can also modify the snowglobe
like subtracting some snowflakes or adding more at the bottom.
In the next photo, I added one of my snow overlays to make it look snowy.
You can get my free snow overlays

You can also add text to personalize
your holiday card.

I appreciate all who share their
talents with others...such a great holiday project!
Thanks, Extreme Cards and Papercrafting!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Heart and Star Shaped Bokeh

Here are some great ideas on how to add the sparkle from
your Christmas tree to photos.
I love to turn the lights into bokeh by placing my subject
across the room from the tree and using a large aperture.

Have your subject face a window for beautiful natural
light on the face, and the bokeh tree in the far background.

Experiment with aperture and distance
to create different looks.

Another FUN idea for Christmas lights...
change the round bokeh into a SHAPE!
I have been having a blast with SHAPED bokeh...see the little hearts
of light on my Christmas tree behind my daughter?
It's very easy and fun to create...actually, it's fascinating!
I learned how to do it from a wonderful tutorial
by Kevin and Amanda.  Click here.
This is what the tree looks like with normal bokeh:
I love that, too....but it is fun to create the shapes.
 You can also try stars, snowflakes...whatever you want.
Just have fun creating some magic with your Christmas tree!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Autumn Poses

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sign up to receive my NEW Newsletter.
The sign-up form is on the upper right of this blog.
Welcome to my 200th blog post!
I started writing my blog two and a half years ago and it
has now evolved into a way to share my knowledge about photography.
In that time, I have become a professional portrait photographer.

I was crazy busy the last two weeks trying to squeeze in these
fall photo sessions.

Three year old Ella is adorable!

We've had so much rain this season here in Michigan.
I had to cancel and reschedule several photo sessions.

I photographed four people last Sunday when it was
warm and very colorful!

I love Maddie in the fall colored scarf my friend
knitted for me to use in photo shoots.
Thanks, Karen!

I took Maddie to the woods near our house.
I LOVE shooting among colorful trees
that create amazing bokeh in the background!

Nine-month-old Emma was so cute
decked out for fall.

Her mother Grace brought along her Halloween costume...
a charming chicken...ha ha!

And, I finally got to use the little apple hat I
crocheted last winter. 
I imagined it on a baby in an autumn portrait.

I really got some good use out of the basket of
apples I bought last month.  
Lots of baby sessions with the apples.

I took Alyssa to a colorful park near my house.

Her friend Marissa is so pretty, too!

I lucked out with all the above fall photos.
When I was driving around this morning, I was
aghast to see that most of the leaves in these photos have fallen
off the trees!
Glad I can share them with you while we're still in the
spirit of autumn.