Saturday, June 28, 2008

Photography 101

I taught a Photography 101 Class for a local Relief Society group last weekend. I thought I might as well share it with all of you! The main focus of my mini lesson will be the great Ansel Adam's quote: "You don't take a photograph, you make it!"

The Basics: 
1. Use the bothersome grid that sometimes pops up in your camera! That grid is a crucial part of the "Rule of Thirds."
The Rule of Thirds is where you use that grid to keep your subject out of the center of the frame thus making your photos more interesting. I give you a challenge to look at magazine ads or even watching a movie can reveal to you that most professionals use the rule of thirds. 

Here is how to use it, when taking a picture of a person, you want to make sure that person's face is not centered in that middle square. An easy thing to remember is that you want one of their eyeballs to match up with one of the points. (Usually the top two points but things can vary). You also want their face to take up about 2/3rds of the frame and so this grid will help with that as well.
When taking pictures of a landscape like a sunset or something of that sort you want to keep the horizon above or below the horizontal lines. You RARELY want your horizon line to be smack in the center of the frame. 

2. Depth is crucial! In the photography world we call this depth of field, I have heard a lot of other people refer to it as, when it makes the things in front and behind your subject blurry. This is an accurate description but for our purposes (and since that description is pretty long,) I am going to use Depth of Field. This aspect of photography is controlled by what is called your aperture. Controlling your aperture is a more complex part of photography so we will not cover that here and plus if you are using a point and shoot camera it is more difficult to control that manually. 
HOWEVER! Take advantage of your cameras program settings and do a little fooling it... one way to simply create depth of field is by getting in close to your subject and pressing the shutter button (the one you press to take the pictures) half way down causing the camera's focus to lock on your subject then pull your camera off to the side a little so you use the rule of thirds and see some of the background and then fully press the shutter button. This should result in your background being blurry and your subject in perfect focus! This can be a little hard to master so play around with it a little bit and you will eventually get it. 
{The picture to the left is one I took using a little fuji film point and shoot digital camera when I went to Alcatraz. Notice how the pole in the foreground is blurry but the stairs are in focus!} 

Also of note about Depth of Field: your eye does this naturally - experiment - look at something in the middle of the room, keep looking but out of your peripheral vision do you notice that the carpet in front of what ever you are looking at as well as the wall or what ever is behind the subject of focus is all blurry!!! That is why pictures that use depth of field are more appealing to our eyes!

Common Mistakes:
1. What is this picture supposed to be of? 
*SOLUTION: Robert Capa, a WWII photojournalist said, "If your pictures aren't good enough, then you're probably not close enough." Get in there... you HAVE to get closer to your subject. I remember when I was younger and would take a camera up to girls camp and there would be a little chipmunk running around and I thought he was SO cute I just wanted to take a picture of him so instead of creeping up slowly and quietly I would just sit where I was a take a picture of this vast area of trees, bushes, and flowers. When I got home I would think, gee what ever happend to that picture of that cute chipmunk. I was so far away that I couldn't see it! 
Get in closer with your kids, your husband, and nature... plus things get more fun that way anyways! 
Don't go overboard... there are times when a wider angle is better because there may be something else going on in the picture that the viewer doesn't understand because everything is cropped out. 
2. Why can't you see the faces of the people in the picture, they are so dark and shadowed? 
*SOLUTION: Try not to take pictures during MID DAY! The sun is at it's harshest point during that time so if you have to shoot a picture during that time then find a shade tree that doesn't allow any sun to penetrate through or just go indoors and take the picture.  Not only does it produce dark shadows but the bright sun can also cause your camera's program mode to choose an exposure setting that is too bright thus giving you photographs that are really blown out (or the white spots are so bright and there is no detail in them). 
*Hint: There are ways to trick your camera into thinking that the sun isn't as bright as it seems... if you have a basic point and shoot digital camera, you can point your camera down at the grass and press the shutter button (the button you press to take the picture) down just half way! When you do that your camera puts its exposure settings to what it thinks the grass should be, when you hold up the camera (KEEPING THE SHUTTER PRESSED HALF WAY!!) the people in the picture should look darker and not as many bright white spots then press the shutter button all the way down and voila! You have a better exposed picture. 
*Another Hint: It may seem counter-intuitive to use a flash during really harsh sun conditions but it will actually help lift the shadows from your subjects eyes (given you are close enough to your subject.) Always try to set your flash at a lower setting so you don't get as much red-eye and your people don't look fake. 

3. Why wasn't I in any of the pictures?
*SOLUTION: Hand over the camera and let someone else take pictures for a while! This happens to me a lot, I usually like to take my "big camera" with us on trips because I not only want to get quality tourist shots but I also want to document parts of the trip with a nice lens and full control of my camera. I need to just set things on program every once in a while and just let someone else take a picture of us... Even if you have to, let a responsible one of your children take a picture of you and your husband because lets be honest, how many are there of him and the kids or you and the kids and none of just you two??

If you liked this post and are a visual learner just ask and I can update with pictures showing examples but right now I am just a little too lazy to whip that up for you plus I have more important things to be working on... like next months BLOGLIGHT!!! 

**Also, don't forget to check out my Photography Blog!!!**

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Our Fun Friends

So I was just editing some pictures for my other blog, eyes of mad and I came across these pictures of our friends we had a going away BBQ for... they live so far away in Michigan now and we miss them lots but it seems they are having some fun...

Well here are the pics!Here are us cute girls...The Rignells and the WintchesHere is my husband being strange... who knows. 

Monday, June 23, 2008

Contest I Entered...

I just entered a contest over at Holly Becker's blog, decor8. Go check out all the great ideas and don't forget to vote for me! (If you like my design... it is called Blissfully Turquoise.)

Visit here for all the details on where I found all the goodies on my board!

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Oh how I love vintage things! I have been dying to start a collection of old cameras for my future office or even just my house. Why old cameras, first of all, I am a photographer... and second of all they are great pieces of beauty and great construction which add a small but interesting element to decor!

Well my Mom and I came to see my friend from high school get married in Logan. My Mom and I haven't seen each other since Easter so it was fun to have just a girls mini weekend! With her she brought a few little goodies mostly from her and my Dad's trip to China. I got a sweet new yellow purse and some watches and they also got Peter a way cool watch and a soccer jersey. 

One other little "treatlet" that my Mom brought with her was something my Dad found while he was out shopping with my Mom in a antique store... an old vintage camera! I LOVE IT! It is a Brownie made  by Kodak. I don't know exactly how old it is but it is wonderful! I love my little camera. 

So this isn't my camera but it is pretty close to how it looks! I found this one on Ebay! 

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Anthro vs. cheap...

So I love Anthropologie and not just for their clothing (although every time I go in one, which is not very often, I just get depressed becauseI can't spend hundreds of dollars on one item! I was born to bargain {Thanks MOM!})
I do still go on to the Anthro website and check things out from time to time... I think it is the same reason I order the Pottery Barn catalog of which I can't purchase anything from either, INSPIRATION and a good source and starting ground on what to keep my eye out for. 
The last time I looked on their website (earlie
r this week) I saw these Vineyard Napkins...

I think I must have them! They are so cute and so perfect... how can I live with out them! For a set of 4 for $24.00, I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I know that isn't that expensive considering the store we are talking about BUT we are still living on a budget here. HOWEVER, today I hop on to the site to link some pictures for all you others to drool over while we still live the "newly nester" or married moneyless stage, I couldn't find my coveted napkins that I wanted to much! As I scoured the site I came to find that they were at the bottom of the SALE page! Holy Smokes... on sale, already, I just found them a few days ago! Now only $12.95 for a set of 4... I think I may have to ask permission to splurge! 
A few other things I have been found wanting lately is the mercury glass candle holders. I saw some in Pottery Barn and just loved them. I also bought (ready for a bargain of the century???) 4 little glass balls which have candle holders in them at the Kohls after Christmas sale for $2 each!
Well they have some of those little gems at Anthro and they are only $6! 
Here are some sweet finds at IKEA. I actually own the top one (I used to have two but one didn't like where it was located and so it decided to fall off the table so as to never be moved some where again! Humpf!)

More Matthew

To continue our Bloglight, here are some more things I have found on his site. Since "Wedding season" is in full swing I figured what better than some fun ideas that have to do with weddings (featured in his Summer 2006 bonus section). 
Here is a unique gift, a little honeymoon snack box. You can create your own and wish the new couple well on their first day!

These little cookies are a delight! And pretty easy too, they are part store bought and part yummy home-made ganache! Oh those look like perfect party desserts (at a bridal or baby shower...) or even little snacks the kiddies can much on at a wedding reception.

Go check these things out!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Yummy, yummy, yummy!

Ok, can I tell you how much I LOVE having a BBQ! We have had grilled dinners every night for the past couple of days and will continue doing so if I have control over it (which I do...). 
We have cooked everything from corn to zucchini to steaks to pork loins and it has all been so amazingly delicious I just can't stand it! 

Peter has become a "master griller" (according to him). I think his favorite part is dousing the charcoal in lighter fluid and then lighting it on fire. Must take him back to his scout camp day... huh... not a good image.
Here is a creamy potato salad, North African-Grilled Corn on the Cob, baked beans and grilled pork tenderloin! Most amazing flavors, so fresh and just good!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Bloglight: Matthew Mead

I decided that I want to do a spotlight (well I will call them a bloglight) on a different blog or website that I think those who are "newly nesters" can benefit from.

For our first Bloglight I wanted to highlight Matthew Mead of Matthew Mead Style. This man is amazing with all the creative ideas he throws out there. He has talked about putting out a magazine (and has published 1 or 2) published a few books (which I totally recommend! Cakes for Kids: 35 Colorful Recipes with Easy-to-Follow Tips & Techniques and Easter Eggs: 40 Fabulous Projects for the Whole Family) AND had this wonderful website which updates with the seasons. He always has a few sections that are great: Entertaining {Usually includes recipes or other things for great party planning}, Style {Great and pretty cheap ideas for decorating and crafts that are easy to do!}, and Collecting {This section always gets me inspired and on the look out for some of these items... although where I live it is hard because we have a lack of really good thrift stores and flea markets.} Depending on what the theme is, Matthew will usually throw in a few extra things that are always fun to look at and get ideas from! He is actually where I found our next month's bloglight!

Enough from me... go check him out for yourself!

Just for a little inticing, here are some pictures from his website of crafts I have done and they have turned out FANTASTIC. (I will have to post my pictures when I get around to it.

In this craft he teaches you how to make faux spring branches for year-round buds!This is a great how-to topiary... I think too many of us would just rather go buy one but why, when you can make one that is unique to YOU!Photos from Matthew Mead Style.
"Bloglight" logo created by ME!