Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

12 on 12 – January 2017

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

You know what I need? Another photo project.

(That’s sarcasm. Serious sarcasm, because I already do my iPhone photo posts AND I’m doing another 365 Project which you can follow on Instagram.)

But I am a huge, huge fan of Sesame Ellis so when she started a group on Facebook to share and learn and discover new photographers, I couldn’t help myself.

So here’s this month’s 12 photos on the 12th of the month. The theme was supposed to be New Beginnings. These were all taken in January, so close enough for me.

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Twinkly Christmas Magic

Monday, December 19th, 2016

This was my first attempt at twinkle light bokeh photos, almost exactly 5 years ago. 

Here is the best one. It was a total accident because I had no idea how to use my camera.

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I took some more for our Christmas card in 2014, but for some reason I never blogged them?! That seems very unlike 2014 Suzanne. She blogged everything. Not like this lazy cow 2016 Suzanne who can’t even do once a week. But I’ve looked through every post from the end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015 and can’t find them.

For posterity, here’s the best one from that set:

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And this year, I attempted them with all FOUR of my children. Finnegan is still super skeptical of group shots and being held by his siblings. He is pretty sure that’s neglect, and I should rethink my life choices for allowing it.

But capturing matching jams and twinkly lights is my favorite and I’m going to take this photos every year for as long as I have even one child who will cooperate.

This year’s jams were a gift from my friends at Gymboree, who are the best. Finding jams that fit ages infant to big kid isn’t always easy, but we’ll be able to match for years in gymmies.

(Also, I’m actually sort of horrified by how much bigger my children are. This is not ok. Why do they grow so fast?!)

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Here’s my quick 30-second list of tips if you want to take twinkle light photos yourself.

  1. White lights on white cord on a white background.
  2. The further away from the lights you can place the kids, the blurrier the lights will be.
  3. Set your DSLR camera on A or AP (so you control the aperture) and use the smallest number your lens allows.
  4. Use natural light (besides the Christmas lights) if possible, otherwise your photos will be really yellow.
  5. Don’t be afraid to crop after the fact – if the edge of your backdrop shows, just cut it out when you’re editing/looking at your pictures on the computer.

Let me know if you try, I LOVE this kind of pictures!

 

 

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Here Are Some Nice Pictures To Look At

Sunday, November 13th, 2016

I don’t think I’ve ever written about my 365 Project here on my own blog. I wrote about it for Jill’s blog once last year and I share my photos on Facebook and Flickr (when I remember to put them on Flickr – here’s 2015 and this year). But if you just happened to stumble across my blog here, you’ve never seen most of those photos I take every day.

Since pictures are about as much as I am capable of right now, here are a bunch of this year’s photos that make me smile. And who doesn’t like happy photos?

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San Francisco Whirlwind

Friday, October 14th, 2016

This post is going to be long and rambling but also full of pictures because I currently have 30 free minutes and who knows when that will happen again, so I’m just doing this all at once.

We survived flying to California with 4 kids! A 5 week old who basically just eats and sleeps is a very easy traveler. School-age kids who whine until you buy them in-flight entertainment are slightly more difficult but still manageable. A 2-year-old is awful. He only slept on the way home after hours of rolling around and crying. Ok, it wasn’t hours. But it felt like hours to his two parents who were desperate to get him to be quiet so we could nap for at least a few minutes.

I had been really worried about the logistics of our travel, but it worked out well. We brought our Joovy Caboose stroller and both car seats to the airport, along with a Tula baby carrier and a babywearing wrap. After we parked, we loaded everything we could onto the stroller, I wore Linc on my back and we had the kids pull our rolling carry on. At the check-in counter, we checked two big suitcases and Linc’s car seat in a car seat bag. At the gate we checked the stroller and Finnegan’s car seat, so I wore him in the wrap and E wore Linc. On the plane itself, we each had a personal item, I ahad the diaper bag and E had the rolling carry-on with all our wedding clothes. It all worked in reverse in San Francisco perfectly. If we hadn’t been flying direct, we would have also gate checked Linc’s car seat (I was very worried they might lose it).

I won’t tell  you about the bathroom incident on the plane ride, but let’s just say I recommend packing at least an extra set of underpants (if not a whole extra change of clothes) for EVERY child.

For our stay, my parents rented a house from Home Away or Air BnB or one of those places, so our family could all stay together. It was the 6 of us, my mom and dad, my brother, my grandmother and my uncle. A house was SO much nicer than a hotel for a lot of reasons. The big kids had their own room, there was a general area we could all congregate to watch TV or have snacks, we kept the fridge stocked with milk and Diet Coke, and when Finn cried in the middle of the night there was space to take him so he didn’t wake EVERYONE up. I will definitely look for houses vs hotels for any future family travel.

On Friday morning, we had some free time before the wedding obligations and since everyone was on East Coast time we were awake and ready to explore by 8 am. Our first stop was Battery Spencer, an old fort overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. I needed to readjust my expectations of “old” for the West Coast – in Connecticut, 1700’s is old. Battery Spencer was built around 1900, so just slightly old. The actual fort wasn’t impressive but the views of the bridge were AMAZING. It was easy to find, an easy walk from the parking area, and totally doable both with the kids and the stroller.

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After our visit to the fort, we took a very very narrow, very very very VERY windy road through the hills down to Muir Woods. It’s a really popular National Park with a remarkably small parking lot, so we parked in the second overflow lot. Since none of our group had been there before – and there was no cell phone service in the valley – we didn’t know if it was going to be stroller-friendly or not. So I let the kids go ahead with my parents and E hung out with me while I fed and changed Baby Finn, then wrapped him up on my chest so we could go stroller-free. For the record, the main path is a very wide, well-tended boardwalk, so the stroller would have been fine. There are lots and lots of trails but if you do the main one you never have to really hike at all. It took ages to find the rest of my family because our phones only worked half a dozen times in 2 hours, but eventually we met up again.

It was amazingly beautiful and the weather was perfect – nice and cool and quiet. I suspect it’s like that a lot down in the woods. I would very much like to go back some time without so many kids so we can do a full hike up the mountain (hill?) and down to the beach. I have major regrets that we never made it to a beach in California.

P.S. The National Parks offer a year-long pass for active duty military that lets them (plus 3 dependents) in for free. At Muir Woods, kids under 15 were also free. They gave E the card right at the register, no planning ahead needed, so we enjoyed our day for zero dollars.

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I told Caroline this was the area where she could say anything she wanted and she said she wanted ice cream for lunch.

The rest of Friday was the wedding rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner. I’ll spare you too many family photos, but the location (the groom’s parents’ newly renovated smart house) was so beautiful.

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They had these instant Fujifilm cameras around for guests to take photos. It was a great idea, except for all the photos the kids wasted (and the ones I wasted. Backlight does not mix with instant photos).

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At about 6:30 pm I made the call that we were done. Taking my kids at their best to a fancy restaurant is tough. Taking my kids who were still on East Coast time after 5 hours of running around is impossible. Evenings are Finn’s fussy time too, so I was at the end of my rope, patience-wise. I felt like kind of a jerk skipping the dinner when I was the maid of honor but I am 100% sure everyone enjoyed themselves a lot more without us there.

And then Saturday was wedding day! I was not the wedding photographer. I wish I had been, but only if someone else had been maid of honor and some other someone else had watched all of my kids all day, because there were so many beautiful details to photograph (not to mention the bride!!) and I didn’t get any of them because I was busy being IN the wedding. I’m just super jealous someone gets this gorgeousness in their portfolio and I only have a handful of pictures to document it.

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This is my brother, who has a promising career in leaning casually.

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The catering was actually done by someone we went to high school with, so in my head she’s 15 years old and performing in The Wiz with me. But it was INCREDIBLE. The best food I’ve had in years.

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The day after the wedding, the bride and groom hosted a brunch with lots of delicious food at Mountain Lake Park in the city. They even picked up In-n-Out burgers for us (although, I’m not gonna lie, Five Guys is still my true burger love). The kids had a wonderful time running around and tiring themselves out. The California trees were great for climbing and we found a pre-made fort slash fairy house in one of the groves. I’m definitely dreaming of moving to San Francisco and selling my soul to afford an apartment that backs up to that park. I might even bring one or two of my kids.

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While I made them pose for this photo, literally every other person at the picnic started asking them SO WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO HAVE KIDS LOOK HOW CUTE YOU LOOK AS A LITTLE FAMILY I BET THAT IS WHAT YOUR KIDS ARE EVEN GOING TO LOOK LIKE???!?!?!?! Apologies to you both, guys. Please remember I said NOTHING about you having kids at the wedding or during my speech.

And then we said goodbye to San Francisco.

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The last known photo of Everest. We can’t find him now, so I think he got left at those chairs during the shuffle to get everyone and everything on the plane. I think I’m more upset than Lincoln was.

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5 Tips For Taking Newborn Photos Yourself

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

Here’s my first piece of advice when it comes to newborn photography: HIRE AN EXPERT. This is one case where you truly cannot recreate what you see on Pinterest on your own. The time, training, expense, and expertise that goes into becoming a great newborn photographer cannot be replicated with a how-to post on the internet. If really beautiful newborn photos are important to you, they are absolutely worth the money.

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This is professional work. Hire someone for this.

I’ve never hired a real photographer for my newborn photos before. All I have from when Evan was little are snapshots. A friend and I tried to take newborn photos of Caroline but they’re mostly Pinterest fails. The photographer I did hire (for so little money it doesn’t even count) was not an expert and our shoot was a disaster. With Linc, I was so confident I could do it on my own I spent an enormous amount of time and effort trying to make what I was picturing in my head a reality. I never even came close. I am very glad I have those photos and some even live on my walls, but I wasn’t (and will never be) an amazing posed newborn photographer.

Newborn photography is also physically taxing and if you’re trying to do it while you should be recovering from birth, you’re going to get tired and sore very quickly. Every time I’ve photographed a newborn I’ve ended up absolutely dripping in sweat and feeling like I’ve run 10 miles (I can’t run 10 miles). Even if you’re feeling pretty good, the bending and crouching and twisting and kneeling and physical work needed to get the results professionals do for 3+ hours is exhausting and you will definitely feel it later. Just one more reason why hiring someone is worth the expense.

So with Finnegan, my last baby, I hired a professional. A professional who isn’t me. Fellow Connecticut photographer Stefanie Cole came to my house, worked super patiently with my cranky baby, and delivered a gallery of absolutely stunning images. They are art. I want them all on my walls. I am so grateful for her and her talent.

 

That being said, with a newborn in the house I can’t resist taking his picture. Since he’s my fourth baby and about the 40th newborn I’ve photographed (even though I’ve moved away from posed sessions) I feel like I have some experience worth sharing. So here are my 5 tips for taking newborn photos yourself.

    1. Pick the right time. Here is one advantage you have over a scheduled session – you can take pictures of your baby 24 hours a day. Newborn sleep schedules change all the time. Be prepared to take your baby’s pictures the next time you’re expecting them to be sound asleep. Get them stripped down to just a diaper, then wrap them in something picture-appropriate, like a pretty swaddle blanket, a plain white onesie, a scarf or a newborn wrap you bought on Etsy while you were dreaming of newborn photos. Then feed them really well, snuggle them close, and wait for that totally-limp-arm stage where they won’t notice you snapping away. tips to take your own newborn photos
    2. Pick the right spot. You want to find a corner of your house where there is a lot of light, but not direct sun shining in patches. If you have just one big window, you’ll get dramatic, directional light like I did in these photos. If you have a corner with several windows, you’ll get more even, brighter light. A room with white/light walls is even better. Turn off your electric lights and try just using the natural light from the window – your colors and shadows will look more natural. tips to take your own newborn photos
    3. Pick the right background. Professional newborn photos are often posed on a beautiful seamless background that fades out in every direction. That look is about 75% skill and 25% Photoshop. I don’t recommend trying it on your own. So instead of trying to recreate it, put plain white sheets and a plain duvet on a bed and use that space. If you have a beanbag chair, throw a blanket over it and shoot from above instead of the side. If you don’t have a beanbag, make a nest of pillows. If you want something fancier than a blanket, the fur throws most photographers use are called “flokatis”. Genuine sheep ones can cost big bucks, but look at Wayfair, Overstock or Rugs USA for deals. Cream, gray or brown are beautiful colors for newborns. Don’t use fleece, don’t use anything with too many bright colors, and don’t use anything that needs to be perfectly smooth (texture is your friend). DON’T try to stuff the baby in a bucket or a basket or on a tiny chair or in crazy poses. Lay them on their back or side, curl them up a little, smooth out their hands until they are relaxed with their fingers flat. That’s all you need. Besides maybe a cute hat. tips to take your own newborn photos
    4. Pick the right angle. This means don’t shoot up your baby’s nose or from their feet. You want them to look proportional and highlight just how tiny and precious they are in their first couple weeks. Shoot from above when you can, or close ups of all their precious little parts. Imagine the light and your camera is water flowing over the baby from their head down and try to follow that angle. Zoom (or move) in close, then take the same shot from as far away as you can. Turn your camera so the baby is vertical, then at an angle, then horizontal. Some photos will work and some won’t, so don’t be afraid to take a lot and look through them later. Trust me, no parent has ever said “Man, I wish I didn’t have SO MANY pictures of my newborn.” tips to take your own newborn photos
    5. Pick the right equipment. In this case, the right equipment is the camera you have. It might be your phone. It might be the DSLR you got for Christmas 2 years ago. It might be your old point and shoot. The best camera to capture an important moment is the one you have. IF you have a fancy camera and lenses to choose from, a 50mm 1.8 is a great newborn choice. You can shoot in A or AP mode with your f-stop set at 2.8 or just shoot in auto with the flash turned off. If all you have is your iPhone, tap the screen on the part of the baby you want to focus on and it will adjust exposure. Editing apps like PicTapGo, Afterlight or Colorstory can help you edit. But keep it simple – remember, you’re not creating crazy effects or fake tilt-shifts or selective color. You’re just capturing your beautiful new baby as they are.

It’s also important to remember if your baby is grumpy, fussy, uncomfortable or otherwise unhappy you can call it quits and try again some other time. Do it tomorrow. Do it next week. ALL the day with a newborn are both so long and so short, you will barely remember them in a couple years. It’s not like if you don’t get these photos when your baby is exactly 2 days or 2 weeks or 2 months old you’ve failed. Just do the best you can so in 5 years when you send your tiny newborn off to kindergarten you have something to look at and cry over. That’s totally normal, right?

Good luck! Let me know if you take any newborn photos, I would love to see them!

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