Posts Tagged ‘princess’

Photography: Making The Most of a Convenient Location

Monday, April 3rd, 2017

I wanted to take some photos of Caroline in her new princess dress last week, but it was dinner time and Multicultural Night at school so my timeframe for this magical photo shoot was about 7 minutes. I live on a teeny tiny lot in a city neighborhood, so meadows and forests are in short supply. We do have an empty lot across the street, but most of it has been turned into a community garden (the vegetable kind) by a church.

But the weather was warm-ish and the sun was shining and my model was cooperative, so we popped across the street to borrow their grass, figuring we would just be making the most of a convenient location.

And we found a beautiful field of crocuses!

But it wasn’t actually that magical. It was just a little square of flowers between a driveway, a dead spot, and the church’s mulch pile. Here’s the cell phone pullback shot of Caroline in the same location:

 

There are several tricks you can use to maximize a less-than-ideal location if it’s all you have to work with. I knew when we went out to shoot I would be trying to disguise the background so I choose my 85mm f/1.8 lens, which is a medium length and is good at separating the subject from their surroundings. Once we found the flowers I decided to shoot at about f/2.2 or f/2.8 so I could include a good slice of the photo in focus – I wanted to be able to get Caroline’s whole profile in focus instead of just her eyelashes, or her whole body as opposed to just a sleeve.

Here are 5 more pieces of advice to help turn a bad spot into a good spot:

  1. Light! The sun is starting to go down and partially blocked by some of those trees, which means a great glowy kind of backlight instead of harsh overhead shadows. If the sun had been coming from the opposite direction I would have shot the other way (which would have been unfortunate, because there’s pavement the other way).
  2. Work your angles. I took a lot of these photos from overhead with Caroline crouching down, which includes a lot more grass/flowers and a lot less background. You can also get super low yourself, and shoot straight across the ground – you’ll end up with fewer distracting background elements.
  3. Get close. Fill the frame with your subject instead of trying to get too much of the environment. Yes I wanted to capture the crocuses, but having her hold them or shooting the flowers on their own is a good option.
  4. Horizontal vs vertical can be your friend. I shoot horizontally 90% of the time, but in this location I didn’t have a lot of space to work with. To create some variety in my shots, I took a series of photos vertically. Sure, she was standing almost next to a dirt pile, but because the photo is narrow you can’t see it.
  5. Don’t say cheese. Almost none of these photos have Caroline looking at the camera. Instead, you’re looking at what she’s looking at – her hands, the flowers in front of her, etc. Let your subject guide the viewers eye into the foreground instead of the background.

 

If this was a client shoot instead of just a fun session for Caroline, I would have taken the extra step in  post-processing and fully removed the fence posts, dirt spots, and blue trash can from the background of a few of these. It’s not a hard fix in Photoshop, but I’ve gotten in the habit of using only Lightroom to edit my 365 photos or blog photos, just because it’s so easy.

Let me know if you have any questions!

Making the most of convenient locations

 

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Caroline’s 3rd Birthday – Princess Party!

Monday, December 16th, 2013

This is not the most amazing party I’ve ever thrown. I think Caroline’s woodland fairies from last year was a lot more creative. I decorated more, I made more food, I had more crafts and activities. But both kids are now at an age where they have An Opinion on what kind of party they want and as much as I like throwing fancy parties I really just want them to be happy – which means this year Princess Caroline got her Princess Party. She had an absolutely amazing time and will probably talk about it every day for the next year, and that’s really what matters.

Food and decorations first: The giant 3 balloon is from Oriental Trading and I will be buying one for every birthday from now on. I bought one of those disposable helium tanks since none of the local stores would blow up a balloon I bought somewhere else and it’s still floating 2 days later. The printables all came from an Etsy shop called Mama Moonlights, who customized the colors and name for free. Almost all the other decorations were from previous parties (one of the advantages of so many parties is I have a TON of stuff!).

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Welcome!

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I am not a chalkboard writing expert yet, but give me a couple years.

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That frame has been in the basement since a yard sale last summer. I bought three for $2.

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The tulle covered lights were from Caroline’s first birthday.

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Christmas lights are the best part of December birthdays

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A reading/relaxing/seating corner

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Seriously LOVE this balloon

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Dress up selection – I bought the adjustable rack for $20 from Amazon

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Lousy iPhone photo of the Royal Tents – also from Amazon and extremely well made by Pockos. They’re around $30 right now but I paid about $20 each.

For our food and drink, my theme was Pink and Fancy. It was a 2 pm party, so I went with mostly light food and desserts instead of a full lunch. Of course I had a ton of stuff left over, so please come to my house and eat some fudge and candy. I bought a bunch of pink candy from Amazon and Oriental Trading to make the table extra pink.

Food table

Food table

Crown cookies, decorated by my mom and the kids

Crown cookies, decorated by my mom and the kids

Tomato & cheese tea sandwiches

Tomato & cheese tea sandwiches

Recipe found here

Munchkin fruit skewers (these were totally gone)

Munchkin fruit skewers (these were totally gone)

Jello cups with pomegranate seeds (so sparkly!)

Jello cups with pomegranate seeds (so sparkly!)

Sugar cookie cups with mint buttercream (the crowns are Wilton, I bought them at Michael's)

Sugar cookie cups with mint buttercream (the crowns are Wilton, I bought them at Michael’s)

Recipe found here (way prettier than mine, but mine were gone post party so they must have tasted OK)

Thumbprint cookies

Thumbprint cookies

Radish dip

Radish dip

Fruit "crowns"

Fruit “crowns”

Tex mex tortilla wraps - these were also ALL gone

Tex mex tortilla wraps – these were also ALL gone

Adapted from the recipe found here

Cake from Big Y. I highly recommend their bakery for your ridiculous cake needs.

Cake from Big Y. I highly recommend their bakery for your ridiculous cake needs.

Hot chocolate bar with grown-up options

Hot chocolate bar with grown-up options

Pink punch - strawberry soda, strawberry guava juice and raspberry sherbet

Pink punch – strawberry soda, strawberry guava juice and raspberry sherbet

Enjoying her punch from fancy cups

Enjoying her punch from fancy cups

Strawberry milk in "milk bottles" (frappuchino bottles)

Strawberry milk in “milk bottles” (frappuchino bottles)

Kids love straws

Kids love straws

Fancy pink goblets to drink sparkling cider (from Oriental Trading Co)

Fancy pink goblets to drink sparkling cider (from Oriental Trading Co)

Also a hit

Also a hit

For activities, I was counting heavily on the kids enjoying dress up and using their imaginations to entertain themselves. It actually went pretty well! I also had the printable coloring sheets that came with my Etsy set but didn’t get a picture. They’re really cute.

I started buying accessories for the Princess Makeover station a long time ago. Walmart and Target both have cute party sections where you can find costume jewelry and tattoos and crowns and things, and they often go on clearance to make room for new stuff. The temporary tattoos and the clip-in hair braids were two of the most popular items (I left out some sponge pieces and a small cup of water so grown ups could help with the tattoos).

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Crowns, tiny hair clip crowns, hair extensions, rings, necklaces, bracelets, eye patches, foam swords and wands

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Browsing her options

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That chalkboard was the train schedule sign for Evan’s train birthday

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One of his many tats

I also collected all the princess dress up I could find. Some hand-me-downs, some consignment store finds, some gifts, and some purchased over the last year meant we had a ton of wardrobe choices for our guests. The pink dress Caroline is wearing and the knight costume Evan is wearing were both awesome Costumes.com deals, purchased for $5 after Halloween. We now have an extremely complete collection of size 3-5T princess dresses.

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We even dressed up our baby friends as princesses

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Pirate-knights

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Handsome

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Caroline was happy to share her dresses, although at first she kept saying “You have the same dress as me!”

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Friend hugs

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So blurry, but so happy (That’s my dad)

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We are a no judgement princess zone. There were only 3 boys in attendance so they got into the spirit too.

Caroline has been talking for WEEKS about how everyone was going to sing Happy Birthday to her and how excited she was for that part, so please excuse the ridiculous number of photos.

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Her brother helped her blow them out.

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The cake topper opens into a purse/castle toy and Caroline has been playing with it ever since. Pretty good deal if you ask me.

Well, that was over 1000 words about a pretty simple princess birthday, so I’ll wrap it up by saying thank you to my parents and E’s parents who both came to help basically just for the party. I could never have gotten all the food made and the house in decent shape without them. It means a ton to me that our family understands and supports my birthday party addiction. And thank you to all our friends who braved the snowstorm to come celebrate with Princess Caroline – she had a truly magical birthday and it wouldn’t have been special without all of you!

One more of the birthday girl:

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 p.s. Caroline’s actual birthday isn’t until Thursday, so I’m going to be totally fine until then. But expect a SERIOUS meltdown on Friday about my baby turning THREE.

 

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Sunday, December 15th, 2013

I survived party week! Now I have 10 days to clean up before Santa comes, takes one look at this disaster, and leaves with our gifts because I’m disgusting. I wouldn’t blame him.

Sunday:

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Off to church

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The Christmas tree farm has an adorable quaint tractor-pulled wagon to take you up the hill to the trees…or a heated mini bus. DUH.

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Caroline Claus

Monday:

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Trying to climb out the window at the pediatrician (wusses, it’s not even a flu SHOT)

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Tree decorating

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I’m the big one with the crown, the scribble on the left is E

Tuesday:

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Snow day = cookies

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They LOVE eating snow

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Self portrait(s)

Wednesday:

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Pretty

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More snow eating

Thursday:

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Sent him off to school in my slippers. I LOVE THE BUS.

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My house really needs some Christmas lights. Maybe next year.

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SO HAPPY her Mormor is visiting

Friday:

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Bumpas are too tough to need coats

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She was in a crazy bad mood considering we were shopping for her birthday

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Storytime!

Saturday:

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Castles for the Princess

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World’s Tackiest Cake? The castle turns into a purse for carrying around the princesses. World’s BEST Cake!

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Grandpas are awesome, because they read your new book 6 times in a row without complaining. Mommies don’t do that.

Besides the party and beating several levels of Candy Crush, I did NOTHING useful this weekend. It’s a good thing both kids love Caroline’s presents because it’s buying me a few days of recovery/time to get my photos together so I can share. Although Her Highness might be so spoiled at this point I never actually get a day off again. BRB, writing hate mail to the Navy.

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Monday, December 9th, 2013

This week was actually way more interesting than it looks in iPhone photos. I just spent nearly all my free minutes with my headphones plugged into my phone listening to podcasts while I tried to get the disaster that is my house under control. I’m happy to report about a 50% improvement. It would be closer to 100 if there weren’t two small people who make more messes literally SECONDS after I clean them up.

Sunday:

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I promise we did lots of things, but the only picture I have is the gingers helping me pick fabric at Joann’s.

Monday:

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Princesses love iPads

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Princesses also love paint dots

Tuesday:

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Morning person

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Practicing his long jump

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Hugging her dog-brother

Wednesday:

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This might not impress you, but that’s 50 cents less than the actual price, thanks to Stop & Shop points.

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If they made the salted caramel kind I would be the happiest person EVER.

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Mystic

Thursday:

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This girl loves school, except for the days she doesn’t, in which case OMG THE SCREAMING.

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Waiting very patiently for her brother.

Friday:

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Princesses want their quesadilla RIGHT NOW.

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I’m trying to decide if this stuff will look ridiculous in our slightly-smaller-scale dollhouse

Saturday:

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THE EXTRA COUCH IS GONE AND MY LIVING ROOM LOOKS LIKE A LIVING ROOM!!

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Finally started decorating – one week to go!

This week I am going to finish 90% of my Christmas shopping, bake a zillion things, decorate for Caroline’s birthday AND Christmas, have a coffee date with a friend, clean the house for my parents and my in-laws (yaaaaaaah!) and possibly dye my hair rose gold.

Today Evan’s school is canceled so we have the morning to decorate the Christmas tree the kids and I chopped down and brought home and got in the house ALL OUR OWN SELVES. Or really, my own self. The kids weren’t very good with the hand saw.

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My Week(160) in iPhone Photos

Sunday, November 24th, 2013

Caroline talked me into rented one of the Barbie animated movies – something about magic pink horses? – and it was just about as awful as you can imagine. I would rather watch one million episodes of My Little Pony than anything Barbie-themed ever again.

Sunday:

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A bear, a Wuzzle and an angry bird walk into a bar…

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Weird things I drank today: apple cider vinegar in grapefruit juice, chia seeds in lemon water.

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Sleeping face.

Monday:

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Mondays are royal occasions.

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Greeting her subjects as they arrive home.

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Hair stylist daddy brushes the ginger curls

Tuesday:

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So much blue sky, so so cold

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A recent family picture! It’s a miracle!

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When that face says “pweeeeeeease??” I almost always say yes.

Wednesday:

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The school’s Thanksgiving program was a fruit salad (my job was to send in a cantaloupe)…

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And a performance of some songs about turkeys and family

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Tiny Dunkin Fan.

Thursday:

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Bus stop cuddles

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Accurate Snow White portrayal

Friday:

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Proof everyone – even Princesses – loves Target

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I think there are some kids under all that hair

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CLEARLY we needed an organizational system

Saturday:

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Maybe the highlight of the week.

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“Mommy I’m going to do my pose and Caroline is going to do her pose and you take a picture, OK?”

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If I could go back in time and start househunting again in CT, I wouldn’t even consider anywhere but Mystic.

I can’t believe this week is Thanksgiving already, especially because right after Thanksgiving it’s December. I’m not ready for December. I need way more than 2 week to finish getting ready for Caroline’s birthday party…and WAY WAY more than 2 weeks after that before Christmas. I am not prepared. AT ALLLLLLL.

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