What Can Your Bad Photos Teach You?

Stop! Don’t delete your bad photos. You have a lot to learn from each and every one of them!

Don’t believe me?

Let’s take a look at a few of my bad photos for a little postmortem report!

ISO 400 | f/2.8 | shutter speed 1/320 | 70mm

Frame Your Subject | Postmortem Report

What went wrong? There are a few issues with this photo:
  1. Framing – The subject is only partially in the frame. Your eye is led to the people in the background, the soda machine, and the mushroom creating a sense of too much business.
  2. Focus – The focus fell on the mushroom instead of the jumper. Our eye goes where the focus is.
  3. Aperture – The wide aperture of f/2.8 doesn’t leave a lot of room for error! Remember, small f/number, less in focus.
What can you learn from this photo?
  1. Frame Intentionally – Look all around your frame and place your subject where they are the strongest in the frame. Competing elements will take away from the photo you are trying to create. Read more about framing your subject.
  2. Fine Tune Your Focus – Use your camera’s features for the best chance at great focus. If your subject is moving use AI Servo mode(Canon) or Continuous Focus (Nikon) to track their movement. For even better results try back button focus.
  3. Watch Your Aperture – Choose a narrow aperture (larger f/number) to get more in focus and have a better chance of your subject being in focus. Read more about aperture.

ISO 400 | f/4.0 | shutter speed 1/15 | 17mm

Stop Action | Postmortem Report

What went wrong? There are two big problems with this photo:
  1. Shutter Speed – Notice the hands? You can’t see them because they are lost in a blur of motion. And it’s not artistic at all!
  2. Wide Angle Distortion – Do you see that strangely large head my son has? Yep, too close to the lens and his head grew in an unfortunate way.
What can you learn from this photo?
  1. Choose Your Shutter Speed Wisely – If you are photographing a human, your shutter speed needs to be at least 1/125th of a second if that human is moving in any way! You can sometimes get away with a slower shutter speed if they aren’t moving, but most of the time, crank it up to stop motion. Read more about shutter speed.
  2. Watch The Wide Angle – Wide angle photos can help you get a lot in the frame, but if your subject is too close to the lens, you’ll get strange distortions. Back up a bit to avoid large heads and noses. Learn more about focal lengths.

ISO 3200 | f/1.4 | shutter speed 1/20 | 50mm

Low Light | Postmortem Report

What went wrong? There are MANY things wrong with this photo:
  1. Low Light – Photography requires light. Yes, you can take low light photos, but you’ve got to have all the right conditions come together to make low light photos work. They didn’t come together here.
  2. White Balance – See that yucky yellow. Yep. Bad white balance selection.
  3. Focus – No light? No focus? One is difficult to have without the other.
  4. Subject – What was I taking a photo of anyway? Even if this was in focus, I’m not sure it would be an interesting photo! Do you know they are?!
What can you learn from this photo?
  1. Low Light – When taking low light photos, you need your subject to stop moving for your best chance at getting a good photo. And yes, sometimes you just need more light. Fill flash would be appropriate for this photo.
  2. White Balance – Match your white balance setting to the light you are shooting in or shoot in RAW and edit. Either way, getting it right will create much more pleasing images. Read more about white balance.
  3. Focus – Low light focusing requires a little extra care and a little light. Here’s a little low light help.
  4. Subject – I’ve said it before, frame your subject in an interesting way for an interesting photo! Shoot with a little intention.

See what I mean? There is a lot to be learned from out deleted shots before we throw them in the trash. Take a little time to see what yours tell you so you can improve your photography the next time you pick up your camera, whatever camera it might be!

Are you ready to give it a try now? Here’s one more photo to practice with!

ISO 1250 | f/5.6 | shutter speed 1/40 | 100mm


What went wrong? What can you learn from this photo? Share in the comments below!

Want more tips from Katrina? She’ll be talking about creating story in your photos during Lain Ehmann’s CreativeLive class, Scrapbook Your Story, on Monday, May 19th. It’s LIVE and FREE online. More details here.

Taking “Perfect” Photos

One of the questions I get asked all the time is,

“How do you get such perfect photos all the time?”

I always have to laugh because

I do not get perfect photos all the time!

I get lots and lots and lots of bad photos. If I import 200 photos in Lightroom, I will probably delete 150 of them. That’s150 not perfect photos and 50 still-not-perfect photos.


Don’t you just love this “perfect” photo? My daughter with her hands on her face (which she did in every single photo) and my son trying to get to the birthday balloons. Yep, perfect.

This mistake is in thinking that when I post photos, it was like I magically stepped out, clicked the shutter once, and then posted the photo. However, that is far from reality!

Getting “perfect” photos requires more than a shutter click and an upload.

Before I give you a few tips on getting perfect photos, I need to be clear on one thing: perfection is not my goal. Even if it was, my “perfect” and your “perfect” might mean two different things. For one photographer, “perfect” might mean perfect exposure. For another, it might be perfect focus. For another, perfect color. For another, perfect connection with the subject. The term “perfect” is arbitrary.

Now with that out of the way, here are a few ways that I get “perfect” photos:

1. I know my definition of perfect. Although I shoot (no pun intended) for great focus and exposure, connection to my subject and capturing the real moment is far more important to me. If a photo is perfectly focused but failed to capture who my children really are, I don’t care about it. I would much rather have a soft-focus that oozes personality than tack-sharp eyes and an expression I have never seen before.

2. I take lots of photos. And by lots, I mean lots. For special occasions especially, I would never settle for just taking a few photos. One of the advantages of digital photography is that we can take hundreds of photos in search of one or two great ones. It costs us nothing but our time. I will often take hundreds of photos, keep two or three, and toss the rest.


3. I’ve learned basic photography and editing skills. It always helps to get a photo correct in camera (exposure, etc.) I have learned a lot about how my camera and lenses work and from practice, I have learned to make them work for me. I am also very comfortable in my editing style and approach which helps me make a photo look like the feelings in my heart.

4. I am patient. When you are trying to get a great photo, it is easy to try too hard and end up making everyone miserable in the process. Instead of yelling and telling people, “Look here!” and “Do this!” I wait for the moment to happen. The patience pays off.

Improve Your Everyday Photography With Lego Minifigures

Do you want to improve your everyday photography? One of the best ways I’ve found is intentional practice. Practicing in different lighting situations, with different angles, and with different settings helps you master your way around your camera. You will also begin to see opportunities for photos that you might not have noticed otherwise.

So what does this have to do with Lego Mini-figures?

A lot.

One of the biggest frustrations I hear from people trying to improve, is that life moves too quickly to change settings and get it right. Many people (me included) worry about missing the moment as you fumble with your buttons and dials.

That’s where Lego Mini-figures step in.

Intentional practice means slowing down, setting things up, and thinking through what you are doing. Most children, pets, and adults aren’t willing or able to endure your fumbling around as you build your photographic confidence.

Set a Lego in good light and they’ll wait for hours as you do what you need to do. They’ll never ask if you are done yet or grimace when you ask them to move just an inch more to get in the good light.

Mini-figures are even better than tomatoes! They don’t rot and can be stored indefinitely. Nice.

So where do you begin that intentional practice?

Grab a Mini-figure, your camera, and a favorite lens (or just get your phone). A macro lens is nice to have, but not essential for photographing Lego.

Find A Clean Background

Begin by considering your mini-figure’s background. Eliminate any extras. You want the subject of your photo to be obvious. You can do that by finding a solid colored background or blurring the details behind with a wide aperture.

Consider Context

What are you including in the frame to tell the story? Anything you leave should be there for a reason.

Get Close, But Not Too Close

Step closer to create an interesting image, but no the bounds of your lens. If you are too close, your lens won’t focus and you won’t like the result.

Play With Point of View

Now play. Shoot at eye level. Shoot from behind. Shoot from the side. Play with the angles to see what you create and what is most interesting.

Eventually you may find yourself carrying someone in your pocket everywhere you go. You’ll add a little fun to family outings, challenge your creative limits, and cherish a cooperative subject that doesn’t talk back!

Have you played with Lego photography? What do you like about it? How has it helped your everyday photography?

How To See Your Photos With A Critical Eye

I love most of my photos. You probably love yours too.

Of course we do! When we capture our moments and our memories, it makes logical sense we’d love our photos.

Have you ever wanted to take your photography to the next level? Have you been unsure how to do that?

Once you’ve learned how to shoot in manual mode, how to see the light, and how to get a great composition what’s next?

I believe the next step is to see your photographs with a critical eye. Not in a beat yourself up because you never get it right way, but in a next time I should think about this way.

When I critique photos in class I focus on three things. These three elements help to create a stronger image.

Emotional Impact

The first step is to look at the Emotional Impact of a photo.

Take a look at my photo and then quickly respond to the questions below.

  • How does this photo make you feel?
  • What do you like or dislike about this photo?
  • What does it remind you of from your own experience?
  • What does this photo make you think of?

Your answers may be different than mine, but a good photo will begin by creating some type of emotional connection to the viewer. You are reminded of something, connected to something, or made to feel a strong emotion. In my everyday photos I like the emotions to be positive, but it’s not just positive emotions behind good images.

MY EMOTIONAL IMPACT CRITIQUE

This photo makes me feel warm and happy. I want to reach into the frame and give him a big hug. I’m reminded of childhood innocence and that special connection between a mother and her child.


Composition

Once you’ve critiqued from an emotional perspective, move forward to composition. Often composition choices help drive the emotional feelings we have about a photo. We’ll look at four specific elements of composition.

Take a look at this photo and quickly respond to the questions below.

  • Does the photo appear balanced?
  • If used, Is the rule of thirds used effectively?
  • Does the angle of view enhance the photo?
  • Does the crop work for the photo?


MY COMPOSITION CRITIQUE

This photo relies on the use of the rule of thirds, filling the bottom two portions of the thirds with landscape. The horizon would be stronger if it was either lower in the frame or just a tad bit higher as it falls very close to the midline of the frame. The leading lines created by the road, lead the viewer into the frame in an effective way creating balance and movement.


Technical Elements

Now it’s time to get technical. For the technical qualities we can start with a few basics.


  • Is the exposure too dark or too light?
  • Is light used effectively?
  • Does the depth of field enhance the photo?
  • Is the photo in focus?


MY TECHNICAL CRITIQUE

This photo has strong emotional impact. The technical qualities of the photo could be improved with more light on the subject. The eyes lack a catch light, making them a bit flat and lifeless. The depth of field is very shallow, making the letter to the tooth fairy difficult to read. The low light of the image, impacts the focus of the image. Notice how it falls on his nose rather than his eyes or the finger pointing to the new gap.


So What Now?

Does my critique mean I delete these photos from my collection? Absolutely not. I use the critique to improve my next photos. It helps me to think about those small elements that come together to create an image I love. I’m also reminded that sometimes the emotional impact is enough for me to overlook the technical mess a photo may have.

Did you find one area’s questions harder to answer than another? The area with the most difficult questions is most likely the area where you can grow your photography skills the most! A nice little critique bonus, isn’t it?!

Have you critiqued your own photos in a constructive way? Share in the comments below!

Photographing What’s Real

As much as I love some aspects of social media, there are definite downsides.

When everyone is posting images of their creative endeavors, gorgeous clothes, inspiring fitness journeys, food that looks too good to eat, and self-portraits that belong on the cover of a magazine, it can be very easy to find discontent in our lives.

When I see so much beauty and creativity online, it inspires me, but it also makes me feel insecure. My home isn’t always clean. My kids clothes (who am I kidding — MY clothes) don’t always match. I don’t shower every day. The sink piles up with dishes. I lose the two-year-old. Kids cry. I get lazy with meals. And on and on it goes.

Real life isn’t all rainbows and sparkles.

I remember taking one of my first “life is not perfect” photos. I was following the mantra I had read of parenting and photography:

Don’t get mad. Take pictures.

And so, way back in 2006, when my (now almost ten year old!) son got himself stuck in our picnic basket, I let him cry for a moment while I grabbed my camera. Cruel mom? I don’t think so. This is one of my favorite pictures from this time in our life. I love it, and so does my son.

And this one from a few days later:

You know what? Real life is real. And it’s our life. It’s a life filled with so much love, so much fun, and so much excitement. But it is also a life filled with many not-so-perfect moments and lots of Pinterest unworthy days.

It’s not perfect, but it’s ours.

And so, I embrace the imperfection. I don’t shy away from clicking the shutter while looking at piles of laundry, three-week-old unpacked suitcases, and a desk that is so full I have to shuffle everything around just to find a place for my coffee.

It’s not that I am proud of the imperfection. I actually get a little annoyed with a recent movement not only to accept imperfection but also to glorify it. I don’t like that I am not a tidy person. I don’t like that the dishes sometimes sit in the sink until morning. I get stressed looking at piles of stuff around the house. I want it to be different. But while I am working on it, I am going to record it.

And this is why:

All of these moments are reminders of a life being lived. They are memories of a hectic life with six little ones. They are proof that no matter the house (we’ve lived in a different one every year that we have been married), no matter the furniture, no matter our location, we have lived a happy (and sometimes messy) life.

I also want my children to know and understand that I am not perfect. When see that others have struggles and short-comings, it allows us to enter into relationship with them in a more authentic way. Have you ever tried to be friends with a perfect person?

And so, I choose to let perfection go.

This is our life. This is real.

(I didn’t take any of these photos for this post. I just went through my folders and found some gems. Many of them are from when I was pregnant — a definite not-so-perfect time in life!)


A Few Tips:

1. Don’t be afraid to capture the imperfect moments. They are as much a part of your memories as the perfect ones.

2. Just because you take a picture of the imperfect doesn’t mean you have to post it online. Not all of your memories have to be broadcast.

3. Be considerate in taking photos and/or posting images that might embarrass your friends or other members of your family (either now or in the future). Some moments are better left alone.

4. Sometimes what makes us feel sad/insecure/frustrated now are things that become our funniest memories later. Go ahead. Take the picture and then give it a few years for it to become funny.


So what about you? Any imperfections in your life? Do you record them?

Photographing a Baby Shower

I have what you might call a lot of kids. I have six. I know people with more, but still, it seems to be a topic of conversation most places I go. I always make sure people understood that while it is hard, we love it.

One fun thing about babies is the anticipation of them. Although I don’t love being pregnant due to the physical toll it takes on my body, I do love all the mental and emotional parts of expecting a new baby. So much wondering and dreaming and hoping..pure bliss.

And of course, one of the fun things about all that waiting and expecting is getting to celebrate this new life with the people you love. In America, it is a tradition to have a baby shower: a time for your friends and/or family to “shower” you with love and gifts. It’s such a fun time! So many memories of sweet friends, kind words, and joyful anticipation.

But you know what? Out of my eight or so baby showers, I only have photos of TWO. And one of those was because I took the pictures. I have nothing from the other six baby showers. Nothing. I don’t have pictures of the food that wonderful friends made. I don’t have pictures of silly games played. I don’t have pictures of the people who surrounded me with love and excitement. I’m sad that I can’t go back and remember those special times.

Because of this, now when I go to showers, I look around and see if anyone seems to be on “camera duty.” The mom-to-be shouldn’t be worrying about preserving this memory, but someone should. Baby showers are such a slice of life. When I think back to my showers they remind me of where I was living, who my friends were, what the weather was like, and more. I think everyone should have those memories documented. So, if I don’t see anyone who seems to be taking charge of photos, I pull out my camera ands snap away. And then sometime soon after I hand the precious mom a CD with her images on it. Moment captured.

So, what do I look for when I am taking pictures? A few simple things:

Food

Baby showers are usually filled with yummy food made by loving friends. It is usually beautifully displayed and is a testament of the love for guest of honor. I try to sneak into the food area right when things are just starting up (so no one is around the table) but before people are released to eat. So much work goes into setting up a beautiful display and I want to capture it!

Decor

Oftentimes, there is a lot of time and effort put into the decorations for the party. Whether it is flowers, candles, streamers, decorative food, or onesies, make sure to get a few photos of the beauty around. Don’t forget the small details!

Gifts

What’s a shower without the opening of gifts? Make sure to get pictures of the gift pile/table and some of the guest of honor opening the gifts. Over time it is easy to forget where all your baby stuff came from and it is fun to look back on photos and think, “Oh! So that’s where that blanket came from!”

Guests

A shower is such a blessing because it is filled with the people in your life. There is nothing like having a group of women surround you with their love and blessings. Make sure to snap a few pictures of the guests so the mother can later remember who was there. Sometimes, like at a church shower or an “other side of the family” shower, she might not even really know everyone. It’s nice to have photos!

Activities

Most showers have some sort of program. Maybe there are games played. Perhaps someone gives a devotional. Just make sure to get a few pictures of any special activity that is included.

The Guest of Honor

Don’t forget to get a few photos of the mama-to-be. She might not be thrilled to pose for photos (who really loves being big and pregnant?), but someday, when the pregnancy and baby fog fade, she’ll be happy to have a few photos that she can look at think, “Oh my goodness. Was that really me?” Yes, it was you. And you were beautiful and glowing!


So, have you ever thought of taking pictures during a shower and blessing that mama with photos?

Banner is from BABYCAKES by Erica Zane and Libby Pritchett at Sweet Shoppe Designs


All of these photos are from February 2013 when I attended a shower for my beautiful friend (and fellow mama of six) Sara.

When Do You Change Your Metering Mode?

Your camera uses reflected light to create a photographic image. The whiter areas in your frame reflect more light than dark areas. Your camera relies more on the whiter areas to determine your exposure. Each metering mode will give you a slightly different creative look based on the light it reads.

Camera makers use different names for their metering methods. Essentially, they fall into three categories of evaluative, center weighted, and spot metering.

Evaluative/Matrix Metering

Evaluative metering uses the light from the entire frame to determine the correct exposure for a photo. Given a high contrast subject in your frame your camera is going to balance all the light to create an exposure.

Evaluative metering may also be called multi-segment, pattern, zone or overall metering.

When To Use Evaluative?
  • When the light is even, without a lot of contrast in your frame.
  • It’s often recommended that beginning photographers start here.

Notice how bright the image. You can see details throughout the frame. Whites are very bright. Notice that the shutter speed is a slow 1/100th of a second.

Center Weighted Metering

Center weighted metering works similarly to spot metering but evaluates the light from a larger area in around the center of your focal point.

When To Use Center Weighted?
  • When you want your main subject exposed correctly and don’t care about the background exposure.
  • When you want more accuracy than evaluative metering provides.

Notice how the background is darker in the image. Compare it to the previous. You can see fewer details in the frame now as many are lost in the shadows. Notice that the shutter speed has increased to 1/200th of a second, letting less light in.

Spot Metering

Spot Metering determines the exposure based upon the light at your focal point. If your subject is dark against a blue sky, you will likely expose your subject correctly but “blow out” the sky making it white. Spot metering works well in high contrast situations. The key is looking at your subject and determining the spot you will meter.

Spot metering may also be called partial metering.

When To Use Spot Metering?
  • In back lit situations, when you want the subject exposed correctly.
  • When your subject is either much darker or much lighter than your background.
  • In low light situations.

Notice how spot metering limits the light to the main subject. Very few of the details remain in the darker portions of the frame. The shutter speed has increased to 1/400th of a second, letting in even less light from throughout the frame.

In Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Manual modes you can choose your metering mode. For the location of your specific buttons for changing your metering mode check in your manual under “metering” or “exposure.”

So which of the three metering modes is correct? While each one has situations that it works best in, ultimately the best mode is about the creative effect you are looking for.

I have a personal favorite image from the three. Any guesses which it might be? Which is your favorite?

My Favorite (Affordable) Lenses

It’s no secret that the typical kit lenses that comes with most entry-level dSLRs aren’t the best quality. While they work, they are very limited in their capabilities and it usually isn’t long before you want to upgrade.

The question is, “After a kit lens, what’s next?”

Before I give my answer and share with you my favorite lenses, we need to get a few things straight.

1. In sharing my lens recommendations, I am doing so from my own experience.

2. These recommendations are for the hobbyist photographer only. While the lenses that I mention are good and would work for some professional work, that’s not the experience I am coming from. There are certain types of professional work (especially weddings) where the need for quality goes way, way up.

3. Like I made clear in my It’s Time to Buy a Camera post, I think that it is important to know why you are getting a new lens. When I have purchased new lenses, I have done so because my current lens(es) were lacking some ability. You should know exactly what your current lens is lacking and why. To think, “I want to get this lens because that is what so-and-so shoots with and I want my photos to look like hers” is going to leave you frustrated and out of money! Chances are, so-and-so knows how to use her camera, knows what settings to use when and why, and is comfortable editing.


Okay, now that that’s settled, let’s get on to the fun stuff. Besides my first dSLR purchase in 2006 and my kit lens that came with it, I have purchased four lenses. So, I have had five lenses in total. Here are the some of the pros and cons along with examples photos.

KIT LENS (18-55 mm 5.6)

Pros:

  • It’s nice to have a wide(r) angle lens. There is a lot of flexibility in what you can shoot.
  • It’s cheap (or free with the camera)
  • It gets you started with learning your dSLR

Cons:

  • It’s cheap and poorly made
  • You are limited with a 5.6 aperture. This keeps you from being able to shoot in low-light conditions without a flash and from being able to get the “blurry background” that most people are hoping for.

I won’t bother with examples of photos from my kit lens. At the time I owned it, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing with my camera. I put it in auto and spent six months being convinced that I got a dud camera.


“NIFTY FIFTY” (Canon 50 mm 1.8)

According to Amazon, I I purchased this lens in March 2007 (about four months after purchasing my dSLR). This was (and is) a great lens and is always what I recommend for a first lens purchase.

Pros:

  • It’s cheap! For a little over $100, you can have a great lens that will open up all sorts of photographic opportunities for you.
  • 1.8 aperture. It still amazes me that you can get a 1.8 lens for this price. The 1.8 aperture allows you to let in LOTS of light and it achieves that beautiful bokeh you want.

Cons: It can be a little slow to focus (especially noticeable after using higher quality lenses)

MY EVERYDAY LENS (Tamron 28-75mm 2.8)

Before we moved to Indonesia in 2008, I knew that I wanted an everyday lens. I loved the flexibility the zoom of my kit lens and I loved the quality of photos with my 50mm. After researching and then renting a lens to test, I decided on the Tamron 28-75 mm 2.8. I LOVE this lens. For everyday use for the mom with a camera, I couldn’t recommend anything more.

Pros:

  • The zoom offers great flexibility in shooting situations (much more so than the 50mm which made it so hard to shoot in small spaces).
  • The 2.8 aperature gave me creative freedom as well as the ability to shoot in lower-light situations.
  • Price. While not cheap, it was about one-third the cost of the Canon equivalent.
  • The photo quality is great for the hobbyist photographer.

Cons:

  • The quality of the lens itself isn’t even close to the Canon model. I had the outer ring of the lens break off after about a year (where the lens hood mounts) and after four years of hard use, the auto focus stopped working. However, the pros outweigh the cons enough that I recently purchased a replacement lens.

MY BELOVED MACRO (Canon 100mm 2.8)

This was my first scary “big-girl photographer” purchase. It was a lens that I didn’t have a real need for, but I wanted to stretch my creative wings. I saved for it and I am so glad that I did. I love it. When life gets me down, I get out my macro.

Pros:

  • It’s a macro lens! Macro photography is usually of very small subjects, in which the size of the subject in the photograph is greater than life size. Basically, it just means that you can get in really close to your subject. Flower and bugs never looked so cool.
  • It works as a great long portrait lens. While I love my bugs and flowers, this lens also takes great portraits.
  • The 2.8 aperture allows for a lot of creativity and flexibility.
  • It’s sharp. Because of the fixed focal length, the focus tends to be sharper than on a zoom lens. This is highly dependent on user use and error, though.

Cons:

  • It’s pricey for the hobbyist photographer. For most people, $500 isn’t something you just plop down so you can take pretty pictures of flowers.
  • It’s big and heavy. Carrying this lens around isn’t something you want to do every day.
  • It’s a fixed focal length. 100mm is your only option, making the use of this lens in smaller spaces an impossibility (unless strictly shooting macro shots).

FAST AND FURIOUS (Canon 50mm 1.4)

I wish I could say that I researched, thought about, and saved for this lens. But alas, that isn’t true. We were getting ready to go back to the States for a year and my Amazon cart was so full of printers, phones, a new camera, and household goods that really, I figured it wouldn’t really make a difference. Silly as it was, I am thankful for this purchase. Soon after, the auto-focus on my Tamron stopped working and this lens became my every day lens for a year and a half (until I could afford to replace my Tamron).

Pros:

  • It’s so fast! Seriously, the speed of this lens is amazing (and it makes it hard to go back to lower quality lenses).
  • The 1.4 aperture is to die for. I have a serious issue with my love of bokeh and this lens does not disappoint.
  • For the quality, the price is great.
  • Light! The 1.4 (especially when coupled with the high ISO capabilities of my 7D) means that I can shoot in very dark situations without having to use a flash.
  • The other light. This lens doesn’t weigh much at all and so carrying it around all day is easy.

Cons:

  • Just like its 1.8 counterpart, the 50mm fixed length is limiting, especially in small spaces.

So tell me, what lenses are you checking out?

GoPro

When we were getting ready to leave the States last summer, to return to our home in Asia, we were given a gift from some people who wanted us to get something for ourselves. With six children, it’s natural that all of our money gets spent on gifts for them while we pass each holiday with a, “Maybe next time” thought when it comes to gifts for ourselves. Our friends, however, wanted us to do something special with it. My husband and I agreed: a GoPro camera.

We had first seen these camera when a friend posted weekly recap videos from the summer camp where my husband and I met. We loved the fun and crazy videos they were able to take with a camera that has a 170° wide-angle lens, is shockproof, is waterproof to 197′ (60M), and is wearable and gear mountable. So fun!

Since buying ours, we see them everywhere! The kids love to be on the lookout for them in TV shows and in movies. They are often mounted to the hood of cars, on the front of motorcycles, or even on strollers.

The camera takes both still photos and video, which we love.

Here are a few still photos:

A few things to note:

  • After reading reviews, I decided to purchase the dive casing. You can use the regular casing underwater, but people had mixed reviews. Since we were leaving the States and wouldn’t be able to change our minds later, we just went ahead and got it.
  • The camera is small! The whole thing is about 2x3x1 inches!
  • This one caught me off guard: there is no viewfinder at all! You just hold it out there and click. With the 170° wide-angle lens, you tend to get what you are hoping for.
  • It is definitely not a video camera that can replace your regular camera. The audio is very quiet in some instances and very loud in others. But keep in mind that it was designed for sports and action (and therefore it doesn’t want to pick up every sound!)

We haven’t gotten to play around with it as much as we would have liked, but we have done we have had so much fun with. I can’t wait to test it out more. My husband and two older sons just got back from a trip to Legoland Themepark and Waterpark (in Malaysia) and had a blast with it.

Our first experiences with it were during our month-long stay in Cambodia. We took a lot of trips to the pool!


So what would you do with a GoPro camera?

7 Childhood Details To Photograph

Details. I love details. Those little bits of life representative of today.

This moment. This time.

The toys my son plays with. The favorite stuffed animals. The cup he prefers. The chair he likes to sit in. Today’s favorites will be replaced with others as he grows. I convince myself I’ll remember them and then one day I realize I just can’t recall the small details anymore. This brain only has space for so much!

Are you thinking about the photos you want to take this year? Add childhood details to your list of photos, whether you plan to tuck them into a pocket page or create pages for an album. The beauty of life exists in the details and these details shouldn’t be missed.

There is a HUGE bonus to photographing details! No cooperation is needed. You can move your subject to good light and capture multiple angles, all without complaints from your subject.

A Favorite Stuffed Animal

My son has been given more stuffed animals than any one child should own! While many are special there are a few very special ones. I want to capture them now while I remember who gave them to him and what makes them special. His dragon is by far his favorite. Taking photos now makes it easier when they escape our home for other adventures.

Toys

I have a photo of the first block my son ever played with. The red soft one. It was the first toy he grasped. The first one he put to his mouth. The photo reminds me of that special moment. The block is gone, but the memory remains! What are the important toys for your little one?

Make sure you capture the most loved items. Whether it is the tricycle in the backyard or the special doll dragged around for years. Get them in their natural settings as well as in unique spots that highlight their details. Shoot in close to them and step back to get all of the details.

Art Projects

Overwhelmed with the number of art projects your child creates? Photograph them and compile them in one place. Give them good light and try shooting directly at them or placing them on the ground and shooting from directly above.

Games And Game Pieces

CandyLand, Shutes and Ladders, Don’t Break the Ice, Ants in the Pants. All of the parts and pieces make great subjects for photos. They are perfect candidates for a little macro photography.

Cooking Creations

We decorate a lot of cookies and cupcakes in my house. I’m so pleased to have my son’s pink frosting phase captured! Not only did it pass, he now insists pink is for girls and blue is for boys. Geez!

Books

Do you read a book over and over again? Are there themes? Photograph the books you are reading to them now or that they are beginning to read to themselves (whether they really can or not). You’ll love seeing how the books change as they grow.

Shoes, Socks & Clothes

Little socks, little shoes, and little shirts all lead to bigger shoes, socks, and shirts! Capture the special clothing, bows, and buttons while they are being worn. Grab the swinging shoe with the tiny ankle and sock. The mismatched outfits, the high heels on little toes, all such a mark of right now. Trying shooting from the floor to get the best angle on little feet.

Things To Consider

When you shoot, try several different angles and perspectives. Move the object, move yourself. Try to see what your child sees in it. Change your focus up some. Focus on the big parts, the little parts. And if it has eyes, focus on the eyes! Then tuck them in or write about them all year long. You’ll be glad you have the details to remember.

What are your favorite childhood details to capture? Share in the comments below.