Scenes from a Shopping Trip

Took my camera to L.A.’s garment district today:


Welcome:


As always there are so many little nooks to explore it becomes overwhelming:


Lunch:


Color:


The “per pound” store:


I think these have been here for a while:

30 new spools of thread:


A tiny peek at some new inspiration:

12 Steps to Better Child Portraits with Park Ave Photography

We are so excited to have Holly today on the blog! Holly is the fabulous photographer behind Park Ave Photography. She is a pro at boutique photography and working with kids. I’m sure you have seen some of her images in your favorite online stores. She is going to share with us some of her tips for taking pictures of young children! Please welcome Park Ave Photography to the blog!

Like every other parent, I love photographing my children. My oldest daughter, Peyton, was born 5 years ago, and with her birth came this fascination of capturing her every expression and milestone. Okay, okay, I am also guilty of buying those over-the-top outfits and dressing her up like my little doll to take pictures. When Peyton was 18 months, a few online boutiques asked if she would model their clothing. It became something fun for us to do together, and after a few years of doing this, we found a routine for it. It used to take 40 minutes to do a shoot, and I would take over a hundred photos to get only 10 good shots. Now we can go out and shoot 35 great shots in less than 10 minutes. Here are our steps to a successful photo shoot.

12 Steps to Better Child Portraits with Park Ave Photography via lilblueboo.com

Step 1: Plan it all out ahead. Being spontaneous is great, but once a shoot goes bad, trust me, they never forget.

Step 2: What time of day is your child happiest and alert? If it is 2:00, then make sure he/she is fed and bathed by 1:00.

Step 3: The invite. “Hi honey! Do you want to go ____________?” This is where you come up with something fun to do. Some examples would be picking flowers, playing red light green light, seeing how many balloons it takes to fly, hiding objects and finding them, blowing bubbles, counting and feeding ducks at the park, or any kind of pretend role playing.

Step 4: Now that you’ve gotten a “yes” it is time to get dressed and do up the hair. Be sure to talk about how much fun you are going to have and let them know taking pictures is also part of the plan. “I’m bringing my camera so I can take pictures when you fly away with those balloons!”

12 Steps to Better Child Portraits with Park Ave Photography via lilblueboo.com

Step 5: Introduce the reward system. “If you’re a good girl today, we’ll go get some ice cream later.”

Step 6: Pick a location that will be safe and fun with good lighting at the time of day you have chosen. It needs to be a location where they can move around freely.

12 Steps to Better Child Portraits with Park Ave Photography via lilblueboo.com

Step 7: The car is packed up with your camera equipment, a tote with props, wet wipes, drinks, and a change of clothes. Why a change of clothes? The clothes they have on for the pictures may be cute, but when they take them off, it signals that they are all done.

Step 8: Before you try to photograph your child, make sure your camera is on the correct settings. Then forget the camera for a while, and take time to connect and enjoy each other. Whatever event you have planned will set the mood for your photos. What you want to capture are the expressions that are a result of your precious time together (and maybe that really cute outfit too!).

12 Steps to Better Child Portraits with Park Ave Photography via lilblueboo.com

Step 9: When everyone is relaxed and happy, this is a great time to bust out the camera. If you have had a series of bad photo ops with your little one, it may take longer for them to warm up to you. They know what you are up to, but they are willing to play along when they know it’s going to be good for them too. After several fun shoots together, they will soon forget the days of you making them sit, smile, and say cheese.

Step 10: Make suggestions for poses, but let your child lead you. You are simply the admirer here full of compliments and by no means the boss. If he/she wants to be close to you or held, bring a helper to distract and play. Toddlers often look down at the ground and run. Rather than chase them around, have a helper bounce a ball high in the sky or find a location near an airport to get them to look up into the sky with expression. Kids love spotting planes in the air and they can’t help but to smile at them. No matter what, if you get to the point that you aren’t having fun, put the camera away. You never want it to be a bad thing. There is always tomorrow.

Step 11: Shooting between 15 and 40 minutes is about all you should expect. Be sure to shower those babies with hugs, kisses, praise, and a fat reward afterwards.

12 Steps to Better Child Portraits with Park Ave Photography via lilblueboo.com
Step 12: Show them the finished product. My daughters love looking at the silly pictures as well as the pretty ones. We actually have names for certain facial expressions, dance moves, and poses. Most of them are pretty goofy like “The Scuba-Scoob” or “Spanky Hanky”. Someday when Peyton is grown and dealing with real life issues, I’m going to tell her to bust out the Scooba-Scoob, and we will both crack up.

So in case you haven’t looked at it this way, taking pictures with your children can be quality time you spend with them. The best part is, you have the photos to remember those times forever.

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Thank you Holly for the awesome tips! You can follow Park Ave Photography on Facebook to see all of the amazing clothing she gets to photograph and her beautiful photography. 

 

photography via lilblueboo.com

 

An Interview with Shey aka "The Camera Strap Girl"

Two Weeks of Photography with Lil Blue Boo wouldn’t be complete without talk of accessorizing your camera ….perfect timing for a spotlight on Shealynn Benner aka “The Camera Strap Girl.” Shealynn, also known as Shey, is an amazing mother, talented photographer, savvy businesswoman, voracious reader…..and the owner of *Shey*[B] Camera Strap Slipcovers. Shey makes the most beautiful camera strap covers and accessories ranging from classic to one-of-a-kind couture. Here’s just a teeny sample of the eye candy you can find in her shop:


I first met Shey over a year ago and let me warn you…..she’s REALLY likeable. She’s one of those people I wished lived right next door. She’s down to earth, hilarious, and super smart. She has built a successful business from the ground up and is a huge supporter of others trying to do the same thing. She has some amazing posts on her blog about what has worked for her and what hasn’t…..a must read for any small business owner!


She doesn’t just make camera straps either….she’s always coming up with new things. I love the stamped ID tags she has for her covers, the point and shoot bags and the rad guitar straps!

I was so excited when Shey agreed to do an interview for the Lil Blue Boo Two Weeks of Photography and give everyone a little peek into her creative world! Thank you Shey! I LOVE creative people…..make sure to check out a few of my favorite posts from Shey’s blog too!

Behind the Scenes (I love seeing how other businesses work!)
So I’ve Been Thinking Of Starting a Business (innovation and accepting competition)
iPhone Photos (yes even her iPhone photos are gorgy!)
Preparing (Shey’s hubby cutting fabric….so sweet)
The Chair (an unlikely photo prop)

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Interview with Shealynn Benner aka “The Camera Strap Girl”

I love the nickname “The Camera Strap Girl”….how did you get started? What keeps you inspired?

Ah, yes. The Camera Strap Girl. Kinda fun to be known as her. :) I think Kim of Today’s Creative Blog thought that up, actually. I thought of the idea of making camera strap covers when I was on a photo shoot. We were living in North Carolina at the time, and I was in downtown Raleigh photographing a model. It was really hot and humid, I was sweating and my camera strap was literally rubbing my neck to an almost bleeding point it was so raw! I just remember thinking (continuously) that there had to be a way to have a more comfortable strap. Now over 2 years later I guess I know. ;)

Everything inspires me. I love magazines, clothes, anything really. I think outside the box all the time. I am always thinking “will that make a good camera strap cover? let’s try it!” I love designing! So fun! I love watching something come from nothing. It’s my most favorite feeling in the world. Well, as long as it comes out good… haha!

Your shop has been so successful, what are your tips for someone wanting to start a small handmade business of their own?

First of all, I think it’s really important to love your product. When you love your product, chances are others will too! Make sure you are definite in what you want to make. Then advertise and do giveaways. If people love your product, they’ll want to know who you are, so set up a blog if you don’t have one. Sign up for Twitter. Twitter and my blog have really been key for my business. I have made friends from both of them in real life, and I get a lot of recommendations from both. But I have also advertised all over the blogosphere too. When people begin seeing your blog buttons on sidebars often enough, they get to know you by the sight of that button.

Also, don’t be upset if you don’t have a lot of sales at the beginning. It takes time to grow a business! It just takes dedication and persistence. Owning your own business is like having a baby. Babies don’t grow up over night. You nurture, love, feed and learn along the way.

Pace yourself. Once you start getting busy, know your limits. I have 2 children They are the center of my world, but I sometimes let work over shadow everything. This shouldn’t happen. Of course we are all human, so we have some mess ups, but then we try again. What I also mean about pacing yourself is take things slowly. You don’t need to advertise everyone all at one time. I have done this before and it was so stressful once the orders began pouring in. Life gets hard to balance. Figure out what works for you and stick to that.

What camera equipment do you use? The photography in your shop is stunning….do you have any tips for product photography you can share?

Oh, thanks! I use a Canon 5D. I love it! My husband got it for me for Christmas last year. I am so busy lately that it’s been hard for me to get it out and take fun pictures, but I’ll be getting it out more and more here pretty soon. The lenses I use are called prime lenses. Meaning they don’t zoom on their own… essentially, the photographer is the zoom. I have found that they take incredibly sharp pictures and I really don’t mind being the zoom. I have a Canon 35mm 2.0 lens and a Canon 50mm 1.8 – that’s it. I have studio lighting I use on occasion but not that much.


Taking pictures of your products is so so important. In my opinion it’s one of the most important things to owning your own business where photographing a product is involved. You must have lighting of some sort. If not studio lighting, then make a light box and use fluorescent bulbs. You can handmade them for really cheap ($20 or less). Or if you prefer (like I do) use natural lighting. Natural lighting provides all you really need with no equipment… plus it’s free! When customers visit your website they want to see a crystal clear picture of what you are selling. I guarantee you that if your pictures are bright, clear and a realistic picture of the colors, textures, etc. of your product, you’ll be way more likely to get a sale than if your product was photographed under a chandelier with tungsten(orange) lighting or if taken by a flash, which is way too harsh.

Thank you so much Shey for sharing with us today some of the secrets to your fabulous camera strap business and peeking into your creative world! Want to know more about Shey? Make sure to visit her blog!

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Happy Saturday! Shey has offered a generous discount to all of you too! Enter 15OFF for 15% off your entire order until October 29th in her *Shey*[B] Camera Strap Slipcovers store!! Thank you so much Shey!

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P.S. One last thing! Make sure to check out the 2011 Creative Estates Conference that Shey is organizing….I’ll blog more about that soon as it comes together but I’m so excited because I’m a featured speaker with some amazing women! So thrilled! Lil Blue Boo will also be a part of the handmade market! It’s is going to be so much fun and we would love to see you there! -Ashley

Actions with Paint the Moon Photography

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So, I’m pretty excited about today’s guest blogger. I have been following Annie of Paint the Moon on Facebook for a while and her photography is ridiculously amazing! Take a look at this…

All about photoshop actions from Paint the Moon Photography via lilblueboo.com

All about photoshop actions from Paint the Moon Photography via lilblueboo.com

Lucky for us, Annie sells her actions and textures!! I am a customer of Paint the Moon and I’ve been thrilled with how user friendly her actions are. Here is an example of one of my pictures straight out of the camera on the left, and the edited version using Paint the Moon’s Passion Fruit Tea from the Coffee House Bonus Set on the right. I love the feel of the edited version, and if I can use actions so can you!

All about photoshop actions from Paint the Moon Photography via lilblueboo.com

 

A little about Paint the Moon


Paint
the Moon offers Photoshop actions to help bring new life to your images and take hours off of your editing time. Offering professional editing tools that help you do everything including extensive retouching, essential workflow edits, and beautiful and unique artistic processing. Using Paint the Moon actions will make complicated processing amazingly quick. Paint the Moon actions are also highly customizable for just the right look and are a breeze to use.

Also offering vintage and fine art textures to add a unique and high end look to your final images. Included with every texture purchase is my exclusive Textures Rock action set that makes applying textures and customizing the final look super easy.
Paint the Moon also offers video tutorials to help guide you through the editing process (new ones are now being added weekly) and beautiful free actions and textures to try before you buy.

Now, some of you may be asking, “what the heck are actions!!?” Well, I will turn it over to Annie to explain that to you! Be sure to watch the video at the end and there’s a little discount too that will make you VERY happy.

Please welcome Annie to Lil Blue Boo!!
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Tell me about Photoshop Actions and How They Can Rock my World! :) 

by Annie

Paint The Moon Photography

Photoshop actions are simply a recording of all the commands used to create an effect in Photoshop or Elements. They can be replayed at the click of the “Play” button, saving you hours of time in editing as well as creating complex effects with little to no effort. Actions can be used to do simple corrections like increasing contrast and brightening an image, or can do complicated techniques like skin smoothing and selective color popping. They are also a wonderfully easy way to add an artistic flair to your images without needing to go through the tedious steps of creating the look from scratch … black and white looks, vintage looks, intense color pop, you name it. They can take a ho-hum image and turn into a WOW image in seconds, and can save an image otherwise destined for the trash into a keeper.

After downloading your actions (which have an .atn extension), open your Actions Panel inside Photoshop. Go to Window>Actions to bring the window up if it is not currently visible. Click on the little arrow in the upper right hand corner of the panel. Inside this drop down menu select “Load Actions,” and navigate to your saved actions. Actions are cross platform compatible, so both Mac and PC users can have fun with the same actions. There are actions available for both Photoshop and Photoshop Elements. Most actions compatible with Elements are also compatible with full versions of Photoshop, but not the other way around. So, be sure to check your version of software for compatibility before purchasing or downloading actions.
Once loaded into your Actions Panel, simply select the action you want to run and click play. It will go through all the steps in seconds, leaving you with new layers in your Layers Palette and a new look for your image.

The first thing I always tell people when trying actions for the first time is “tweak your results.” Not every action will work perfectly straight out of the gate on every photo. Individual photos have different tones, exposures, etc. that can affect how an action will look when finished playing. After clicking play on your action you’ll be left with a series of layers … some simple actions will produce just one layer, while other more in depth actions will leave you with many layers to go in and play with. Take a look at what you end up with … turn layers on and off, adjust the opacity slider on each layer, etc. as you watch how each layer affects your image. Maybe your image is too bright? Well, take a look and see if there is a “Make Darker” layer to help adjust this or a “Lighter” layer that you can turn off or lower opacity on. Is your image not showing enough contrast? Take a look through the action’s layers for a contrast layer, sometimes called pop, and adjust this to your liking. Many actions will have layers that are “creative” additions, such as a “Vintage” layer or a “Haze” layer … you can totally customize your look by adjusting these (on/off or changing opacity).

Doing this extra bit of tweaking at the end of an action will give you a custom look that fits your style and your individual image.

All about photoshop actions from Paint the Moon Photography via lilblueboo.com 

And some examples of before and afters to show some of the looks actions can accomplish with the click of a button or two.

 

 

All about photoshop actions from Paint the Moon Photography via lilblueboo.com 

All about photoshop actions from Paint the Moon Photography via lilblueboo.com

 

All about photoshop actions from Paint the Moon Photography via lilblueboo.com 

Now, a video from Annie at Paint the Moon! You can click on the video for a larger version.

 

 

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Now, something that will make you very happy! Annie has offered a generous discount to our readers!! Enter blueboorocks for 20% off your entire order until November 5th!! How cool is that!? I’ve got my eye on the Essentials & Miracle Makeover Bundle ;-)

Big, huge thank you to Annie for this amazing guest post!! Be sure to follow her on Facebook for updates on new products, tutorials, and beautiful imagery. You will surely be inspired!

 

Photography via lilblueboo.com

Hip Mom Jewelry Camera Necklace Giveaway

Our fabulous sponsor Hip Mom Jewelry is helping us celebrate Two Weeks of Photography with Lil Blue Boo!

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Hip Mom Jewelry specializes in personalized jewelry. Whether you are searching for hand-stamped sterling or gold-filled, or a special piece to celebrate a birth, wedding, or anniversary they are happy to work with you to create your own treasured heirloom.

Hip Mom Jewelry is generously giving away one of the Shutterbug Photographer Necklaces to one of you! Take a look at this awesome necklace you could win, featuring a vintage camera. I know you camera lovin’ mamas are going to love this! Ashley has one and I am seriously jealous!

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::This giveaway is now closed. The winner is # 35, Donna from My Sweet Things. Donna please email lisa @ lilblueboo dot come to claim your prize. Thanks!

Thank you to Hip Mom Jewelry for this wonderful giveaway!

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Finding Backgrounds & Locations

This is one of my favorite parts about photography! Finding the location. Here are some ideas to help you find the perfect spot for your photos. 

Take a fun, bright quilt or sheet outside and drape it over a large patio chair. Sit your subject in the chair (candy always works for me), snap away, and then crop out the background.

Finding photography backgrounds and locations via lilblueboo.com

A little editing and voila! A pretty portrait! 

Finding photography backgrounds and locations via lilblueboo.com 

Drive around! You never know what you might find in your area…

…like this graffiti wall.

Finding photography backgrounds and locations via lilblueboo.com

Maybe a nearby hotel with a lot of history.

Finding photography backgrounds and locations via lilblueboo.com

The laundromat makes for a great location!

Finding photography backgrounds and locations via lilblueboo.com

A bright door (matching shoes are a bonus!)

Finding photography backgrounds and locations via lilblueboo.com

Speaking of doors, a white garage door is such a great backdrop!

Finding photography backgrounds and locations via lilblueboo.com

How about about an open field (bring an extra person to keep an eye out for snakes!)?

Finding photography backgrounds and locations via lilblueboo.com

An amusement park has fun bright colors for your backdrop and your kids will be happy :-)

Finding photography backgrounds and locations via lilblueboo.com

Can’t make it outside for your photo shoot? Here are some of our favorite links for building your own backdrops!

Mom*Tog - For moms who love digital photography

Have fun!

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Tips and Tricks with Gayle Vehar

Gayle is back for a second day, yay! If you missed her post yesterday on shooting in manual, be sure to check it out HERE. Gayle will also be judging our “Nix the Auto” Photo Contest so be sure to enter!



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Tips and Tricks to Get Better Photos

By Gayle Vehar

www.momandcamera.com


Okay, so we all want better photos. As much as I love my digital SLR and using manual mode on my camera, most of these tricks aren’t limited to those with “big fancy” cameras–these little tricks can be used by ANY camera! So, let’s dive in!

1. Turn off your flash! It is almost impossible to use on-camera flash and get a beautiful photograph. That super harsh direct light fired directly at your subject just isn’t flattering! I refer to it as the Flash of Death. If possible (and it is if you have a DSLR) turn off the flash and look for areas of beautiful natural light wherever you are. When indoors, that beautiful light can be found near glass doors or windows. When outside, that light can be found almost anywhere. I don’t mean NEVER use your on-camera flash–by all means don’t miss your daughter’s birthday or first dance recital over it. However, if you learn to turn off your flash and find the pockets of beautiful light, it will improve your photos 100%!!

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2. Not all photos need to have your child looking at the camera and smiling. When I first started taking photos (okay–I sometimes still do it), I was constantly telling my children to “Look at me and smile!” We aren’t always smiling in real life and often when someone tells us to smile we present them with a fake (for the camera) smile. Don’t get me wrong–I still want smiles sometimes, but I have learned that capturing my subjects when they are not looking or even smiling is way more precious. It is then that they are fully themselves.

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3. Fill your viewfinder with your subject. If you follow just ONE rule, have it be this one. If the subject is my son, then I fill the viewfinder with him, but if the subject is just his expression or his feet then I fill my viewfinder with that. If my subject is my blossoming tree then I need the tree to fill my viewfinder. But if my subject is just the beautiful blossoms on the tree then I need to fill my viewfinder with beautiful blossoms!

4. Practice everyday! I know this sounds CRAZY. I mean WHO could take a picture everyday, right?!?! I honestly think the fastest way to get better at taking photos is to do it everyday and share with others the pictures you are taking. It is also the fastest way to improve your manual mode skills. If you aren’t taking photos everyday (or at the very least many times a week) you won’t remember what to do when you pull your camera out or improve your skills.

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I’d love to have you come visit me over at Mom and Camera! I wish you the best in your quest for better photos!

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Big, huge thank you must go out to Gayle!! She has a such a gift and we are very thankful that she shared it with us here at Lil Blue Boo. We feel so lucky that she took the time to write these posts for our readers. Be sure to follow along at Mom & Camera for more amazing tips and check out her store where you can purchase some of her incredible prints!

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"Nix the Auto" Photo Contest!


The only way to get better at taking photos is to practice. Now that Gayle Vehar has taught you how to use the manual function on your camera, you have no excuses for staying in auto mode ;-) Professionals, show us your best photo….we want to be inspired (because we are pretty sure you aren’t shooting in auto). Here is an example of photo I took using some of Gayle’s tips to get a nice exposure. I’m shooting wide open so that my background is super blurry.

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Now we want to see YOUR photos taken in manual mode!

Photographers of ALL backgrounds are welcome to enter! Whether you just picked up the hobby yesterday or you have been in the business for a while, we want to see how you shoot in manual. To be fair, we will be splitting the entries into two categories: amateur and professional. We will upload your photos to the Lil Blue Boo Facebook page and then the voting will begin! The top 10 photos from each category plus 5 photos from each category that Lil Blue Boo feels should go onto the final round will be judged by Gayle Vehar. She will have the difficult job of selecting a winner from each category!

Winners from both the amateur and professional categories will receive a custom designed Lil Blue Boo outfit (boys or girls) and a feature on the Lil Blue Boo blog! Winner of the professional category will get a month of free advertising space on the Lil Blue Boo sidebar (over 12,300 weekly visitors)!

To enter:
1. Email your favorite photo taken in manual mode to lisa @ lilblueboo dot com. Please let us know how you would like to be recognized, if you prefer to be anonymous that is fine. Watermarks are welcome on your photos.
2. Please designate “amateur” or “professional” category.

The deadline for photo submission is Friday October 29th. International entries are welcome.

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Getting out of Auto with Gayle Vehar

We are honored to have the amazing Gayle of Gayle Vehar Photography and Mom & Camera as a guest blogger today! I stumbled upon Mom & Camera back when I was on my quest to understand the manual function on my camera. I have been hooked to her blog ever since. Her images are beautiful and her ability to teach is just as wonderful. She is going to get your camera out of Auto mode and you are actually going to understand what this camera terminology means! Please welcome Gayle Vehar to the blog!

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How to Take Your Camera Off Auto Mode and Start Getting the Photos You Want!

By Gayle Vehar

www.momandcamera.com

www.gayleveharphotography.com


When Lisa asked me to write about taking a digital SLR from auto mode to manual mode, I was thrilled. I love manual mode and I love teaching others about how to get their own great photos by shooting in manual mode. I have written about this topic on my blog in a series I titled The Big Three. I am going to do my best to condense it a little for you here but there is still LOTS of information. If you’d like to read my posts in full one at a time, you can check out the series on my Mom and Camera blog. Grab a drink and a snack and let’s dig in!!

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You need light in order to make a photo. If there is no light, there can be no photograph. Aperture, shutter speed, and ISO are the “Big 3″ things that control how much light is recorded by your camera. EVERY camera has each of these things–however, with most point-and-shoot type cameras (or any digital SLR operated in AUTO mode), you don’t have full control over how they operate. Why do you want full control? The short answer–because your in-camera light meter is easily tricked!

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First, let’s talk about aperture. It is a circular opening that allows light into the camera. The aperture is located in your lens. Aperture lets light into your camera much like the pupil of your eye allows light into your eye. It can be opened up or closed down depending on how much light you want to enter your camera. When you are trying to take pictures in a low light situation, you want to open the aperture up as much as possible to let in lots of light in much the same way that your pupil opens up and becomes larger when you are in a dark room. The more open your aperture is the more light that can enter the camera. In bright situations, you might want the aperture closed down or made smaller to let in less light in much the same way your pupil becomes smaller when you are outside on a sunny day.

F-stops are the number that your camera uses to tell how open or closed the aperture should be. The most confusing thing about f-stops and how they relate to aperture is this: the smaller the number the larger the opening in the lens (or aperture) and the larger the number the smaller the opening in the lens.

Aperture is also used to control the depth of field or how much of your photo is in focus. If you want everything between your camera and the subject and beyond in focus, then you need a closed down aperture (small aperture opening/large f-stop number.) If you want only your subject in focus and everything else to have that nice blurry look then you need an opened up aperture (large aperture opening/small f-stop number.) Since I LOVE blurry backgrounds, I tend to use a very open aperture A LOT!!

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Shutter speed is the second of The Big 3. Shutter speed is pretty easy to understand. Each time the shutter “clicks”, a little set of curtains open and close to allow light to enter the camera. The speed that it opens and closes is what determine how much light the camera records. That little curtain isn’t moving slowly. Cameras record shutter speeds in seconds or, more accurately, fractions of a second.

Shutter speed is used to control the amount of motion in a photograph. A slow shutter speed is often selected to suggest movement since a slow shutter speed will allow some blur. Fast shutter speeds are used to “freeze” motion.

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ISO is the third of The Big 3. I was first introduced to ISO in the days when I used film. I would go to the store to buy my film and the ISO 100 and 200 film had pictures of sun and ISO 800 film showed clouds. The real story is that ISO measures the sensitivity of the camera sensor (or film) to light. Digital camera sensors are made up of pixels. The lower the ISO number the smaller and less noticeable those pixels are. This is ideal. Increasing your ISO will allow your camera to be more sensitive to light and these numbers would be used in low light situations. However, increasing your ISO will also allow the pixels to become more noticeable.

As a general rule, you want to keep your ISO as low as possible. Increasing your ISO should only be done after you have exhausted all other options for letting light into the camera. Does that mean that I always keep my ISO at 200? Absolutely not! When photographing indoors, I really dislike on-camera flash and sometimes choose to have more noticeable pixels over using pop-up flash.

So how does this all work together? Let’s talk about exposure. At the beginning of this post I talked about how you need light to create a photograph. Really, you need the RIGHT AMOUNT of light to create a photograph. If you allow too much light in the camera, your photograph will be overexposed and your subject will be too light or white. If you allow too little light in the camera, your photograph will be underexposed and things will be dark or black. You control exposure with the Big 3–aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.

For any given scene, there are many different exposures that could be correct. Your subject and the final photo you see in your mind will dictate the settings you choose to get the right exposure. Think of these many different options as EQUIVALENT exposures. Your in-camera light meter looks like this: +…..0…..-. It can be seen when looking through your viewfinder and will help you set your exposure. Here is an example:

Let’s say that I am outside taking photos of my kids. I want the background blurry (shallow depth of field) so I open my aperture to f/3.5. The last time I was taking pictures I had my shutter speed set to 1/60 of a second. As I look at the light meter in the viewfinder, it looks like this: +|||||0…..-. Those lines toward the plus sign tell me that I have TOO much light coming into the camera. In order to get the light meter in balance, I need to make the shutter open and close faster so less light will hit the sensor. I turn the dial until the lines toward the plus sign disappear. Now my shutter speed is at 1/500 of a second and my light meter is in balance and looks like this: +…..0…..-.

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I could have also taken this photo at f/10 and 1/60 since that would also have been an equivalent exposure. However, the photo I ended up with would have been much different. In that photo the background would have remained in focus with much more detail than I wanted.

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You may be wondering how ISO plays into the balance of exposure. Let’s say that I now want to move inside and take some pictures of my kids jumping on the bed. There is a lot less light in my house, so I open the window blinds to let in as much light as possible. I know that in order to freeze the action, I am going to need a fast shutter speed. However, even with the blinds open and my aperture opened up, I still can’t get my shutter speed fast enough to freeze the jumping (the shutter speed would have to be above 1/250 to freeze motion.) Since I have exhausted all my other options to increase the amount of light coming into the camera, I need to make my camera sensor more sensitive to the light. By increasing my ISO to 800, I am able to increase my shutter speed to 1/400 of a second and thus freeze my kids mid-jump!

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Congratulations!!! You made it to the end! But really this is just the beginning! Now that you know the basics, start practicing in manual mode. It will take some time and patience, but you can take control of that powerful camera and begin getting the pictures you have always dreamed of!

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Now that you understand what Aperture, Shutterspeed and Iso are, you are well on your way to taking better photos! Be sure to refer to your camera manual if you don’t know how to adjust these settings. Post your questions if you have any, and we will do our best to answer :-)

Be sure to visit Mom & Camera for more great information. You will be hooked like me!

Gayle will be back tomorrow with some Tips & Tricks so stay tuned!

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Lets Talk Equipment

If you are just starting out in photography and want to take better pictures, you are probably wondering what equipment you will need. First, let me start off by telling you what you probably already have realized, photography is a VERY expensive hobby! Good news though, you don’t have to have the latest and greatest in order to take better pictures.

Ashley and I often get asked what type of camera we use. We both use Digital SLR cameras. Here is our equipment:

 

Ashley shoots with a Canon T1i and a Tamron 28-75mm lens.

Camera equipment via lilblueboo.com

Lisa shoots with a Canon Rebel XSI and Canon 50 mm 1.8 lens. 

Camera equipment via lilblueboo.com

A DSLR camera basically gives you full control over your photography when utilizing the manual settings. They produce better image quality, allow for faster continuous shooting (great for action shots) better depth of field (blurry background), and you can switch up the lenses for different situations and effects. Also, when you look through your viewfinder, what you see is what you get. Even when you leave your camera in the “auto” setting, you will still notice a difference in the quality of your images as compared to a standard point and shoot camera.

If you are purchasing your first DSLR camera, either one of the camera bodies mentioned above are great for entry level. There isn’t too much difference in the image quality of the T1i vs the xsi. If you are willing to forgo the HD video option then you can save a little money by going with the xsi.

Ashley and I both use different lenses. She prefers a zoom lens while I prefer a prime lens.

A prime lens does not zoom in and out. The focal point is fixed. So, if you want to get in closer on your subject, then you physically have to move closer. It definitely takes some getting used to in the beginning, but it allows for a lot of creativity when shooting and a prime lens will give you that super blurry effect in the background, aka bokeh, when you shoot wide open (will get to the technical stuff in a later post). You can get a 50 mm 1.8 lens for about $100 and for the price it’s a great score!

A zoom lens has a range of focal points which provides the photographer with a lot more versatility. They are pricier then most prime lenses, but if you prefer to not have to change lenses for different focal points then this might be the lens for you. To save money on a zoom lens you might try a brand like Tamron, rather then going with the camera model brand lens.

So, prime or zoom lens? It really all depends on the situation. Ashley shoots all of her tutorials and products for the store with a zoom lens. I could never shoot these instances with my 50 mm prime lens, trust me I have tried. I would have to stand really far back, and then my shot may be out of focus.

For a great article on choosing the right lens for your camera I encourage you to read this article HERE from PictureCorrect.

If you are not ready to purchase a DSLR, but are looking for a good recommendation for a point and shoot camera. Take a look at the Canon Powershot SD870.

You can still take amazing pictures with a point and shoot. It’s not all about the equipment, but more about the person behind the lens. Don’t worry, we will have a post dedicated to those without a DSLR in this series. So stay tuned!

 

Random Equipment Tips

:: Pass on the camera kit, get the camera body only and then the lens you want. The 18-55 mm lens that came with my camera is still sitting in the box.

:: Try a rental first! Borrow Lenses is a great resource! Rent your camera and lens before committing to a purchase. Try out a zoom and a prime lens to see which one you prefer.

:: DSLR cameras hold their value pretty well. If you decide later on that you want to upgrade to a Canon 5D Mark II (my personal dream camera) then you can always sell your current camera body on eBay and put it towards your new one.

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Contributed by Lisa

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