Maternity Portraits for Nick and Chelsea

Maternity Portraits for Nick and Chelsea
Maternity portraits are loads of fun, especially when young siblings are included. Allisyn preferred playing in the sand, but look what a precious photo resulted. Don't you just love her little pigtails?! She can tell her little brother all about it and when he's big enough, he can play there too.
Can you tell she was itching to get back down to the sand? She was a real trouper, though, and cooperated just long enough. 
Truly, there is no other time in a woman's life that can compare to when she's pregnant! Sure, her body sometimes feels like it has been taken over by an alien, but what a joyous time it is! Every moment just makes Momma love that baby more. And by the time she's in the last few weeks, anticipation of meeting him face to face is palpable! 
Allisyn needed a distraction from the sand and this old chair from a falling down farm house was the perfect thing for her to stand on. I just love her little face! I'm looking forward to photographing little brother real soon!

Summertime Fun Without the Hassle

Summertime, Summertime, Oh How I Love Thee.
Are you that person? Were you the kid with oozy sores on your legs every summer. Were you the kid the bugs just couldn't stay away from? Me too! Did your children and grandchildren inherit that trait? Mine too!

Tiny flying critters love my skin. My husband seems to be immune to their bites, while I seem to be a magnet! In year's past, I would slather insect repellent all over myself and hold my breath for as long as possible. Even before I learned how harmful it is, I knew it hurt my lungs.

Thankfully, I've found something that protects me (and my grandchildren) while doing no harm to my endocrine system, my respiratory system, my integumentary system, etc., and something that will stop the itch if we forget and run out unprotected: 

I'll start with the prevention product first.

Young Living’s Insect Repellent is tested to repel mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas using only 100 percent naturally derived, plant-based ingredients.

Pure sesame oil and a carefully selected blend of essential oils traditionally used for their bug-repellent properties come together to make up all 99 percent of the active ingredients in this formula.

The other 1 percent? Vitamin E. That means you can use it on your little ones and not worry about the synthetic chemicals used in many traditional repellents. You’ll also love the pleasant, citrusy aroma and smooth, non-greasy, non-sticky application.

Now the fun part! Young Living's insect repellent is super concentrated. So for every bottle of Insect repellent I buy, I actually get 2 bottles. How? I ordered  spray bottles from Amazon, put half in the new bottle, filled both bottles up with fractionated coconut oil and voila! Two bottles for the price of one. (Link to the bottle below)

And now the "Oops I forgot the Insect Repellent" recipe: 

Disclaimer - I can only vouch for the effectiveness of Young Living Essential Oils. You do you. If you get instant relief from what you have, God bless you.

Start with a 12ml rollerball bottle. Add 10 drops each Frankincense, Lavender, and Tea Tree, and 20 drops of Purification. Top the bottle with Fractionated Coconut oil, replace the rollerball and lid, and swirl to combine. Then, when you have an itch from one of those pesky little critters, roll some on and hear the Heavens sing! 

If you like a supplies list, here ya go.
from Amazon:
You can use the second one to extend the YL Sunscreen Lotion - same process
from Young Living
Frankincense - comes in the products with NO MEMBERSHIP FEE ever? 

Bonus Recipe
For when your nose and sinuses need support. (That's all year round for me.)

Ask Yourself These 3 Questions Before You Buy a New Camera

So you want a new camera...
Before you go looking at shiny new cameras, ask yourself these three questions: 
  1. Have I learned how to use the camera I currently have? 
  2. What is my purpose for a new camera? 
  3. Will I invest the time to learn how to use all the features of a new camera?
Let's consider question #1
Perhaps you think a new camera will allow you to take "better" photos than you're getting now. But... Do you have your camera on the automatic setting when taking photos? If so, you're missing a world of opportunity! That's assuming your camera was bought within the last 10 years or so. It should have an aperture priority mode, a shutter priority mode, and a fully manual mode. 
  • Aperture mode lets you choose how open or closed the lens opening is - and the camera chooses how long the shutter is open.
  • Shutter mode lets you tell the camera how fast you want the shutter to be and the camera chooses the aperture.
  • Manual mode let's you set everything, aperture, shutter, ISO, etc.
I suggest you grab the camera you have, the manual that came with it, a pen and notebook, and go play. See what each of those settings will allow you to do. NOTE: it is imperative that you determine where your "sweet spot" for shutter speed is. Can you still capture sharp photos at 1/60th of a second? 1/100th? Once you know this number, you'll know your bottom limit for shutter priority mode. Or that you need a tripod.

Now, question #2
Why do you want a new camera? Most digital cameras made in the last 10 years are adequate for hobbyists. But if you want to venture into more professional photography, then by all means, consider a new camera. Do you want an SLR? If so, pay more attention to lenses than camera bodies. I recommend you stay away from kits: a camera body with substandard lenses included. You probably won't be any happier with that setup.

Choose a lens that matches the kind of photography you plan to do. Do some research. Join a private group on Facebook or if you're lucky, a group that meets in person. Bounce ideas off each other. Ask a photographer you trust for guidance. Rent a camera body and lens you think you might like and be sure before plunking down your credit card.

Finally, question #3
A new camera will probably have many more features than your old one. Are you going to take the time to read the manual and shoot lots of photos for the sole purpose of learning how to use it properly? If so, congratulations! You're ready to take your photography up a notch. 

If not, save your money.


Using Color to Achieve Dynamic Balance in a Composition

Let's begin with the four basic characteristics of color: hue, temperature, value and saturation (also known as Intensity.) Notice where the colors (or hues) lie on the color wheel.

  1. Hue is basically the color's name, blue, green, red, orange, etc. 

  2. Temperature, is a subset of hue, but just as important as the other three. Warm colors range from Red Violet through Yellow. Cool colors between Yellow-Green and Blue-Violet. Notice that half the color wheel is warm, half is cool.

  3. Value is the lightness or darkness of a color or shade. If a photo has equal values throughout the image, with no contrast or accent color, it runs the risk of being boring, uninteresting. Of course there are exceptions to this rule. ( Rules in art are made to be broken creatively!) 

  4. Saturation is the purity or intensity of the color. When I squeeze paint directly from the tube, it is of maximum intensity. A good rule of thumb is to compose your image so that there isn't an overabundance of high intensity colors. Of course there are times to break this rule! You'll develop your own style and preference. There are artists whose works are riots of fully saturated colors and they are wildly successful. 

Now, what does all that have to do with achieving balance in your photograph? Let me throw out another "rule" to consider: the most, some, and a bit rule.  Simply put, this rule states that for an image to be dynamically balanced color wise, most of the colors should be of the same temperature, value and intensity, some of the colors should be opposite those, and a little bit will be in stark contrast.  

For example, if MOST of the colors are warm, bright, and light,then SOME  of the colors should be their opposite: cool, dull, and dark. And finally, there should be a small BIT of color that contrasts with all the others in as many characteristics as possible. Think of the BIT  as the accent color.

Grab your camera and go look for color. Look for ways you can follow the rules or break them to capture a photo that pleases you. And find me on Instagram or Facebook and tag me in them.

How to Take Better Vacation Photos

How to Take Better Vacation Photos
Are you the family Photographer?
In our family, I have always been the photographer. A typical working family, we had two weeks vacation in the summer and as land locked West Virginians, we usually went to a body of water, either a big lake or the ocean. Now that we're both retired from 9-5 jobs, we have more time and opportunity to travel. And when our children invite us along on their vacations, it is glorious!

Our photo albums are full of photos that remind us of special times and experiences. These photos were taken in 2011 at Anna Maria Island in Florida. I truly enjoy the ocean (rather the dry beach part of an ocean) as long as I have books, a beach chair, and an umbrella. Having grandchildren along to watch and photograph makes me even happier. I've learned a few things along the way, so if you want to be able to take better photos on your next beach trip, here are some tips.

Getting good photos in the middle of the day when the sun is bright and directly overhead is problematic: dark shadows under the eyes (raccoon eyes) and harsh contrast (really dark darks and blown out whites.) But what can we do, since that's usually when we want to be on the beach or in the water? What can we do to eliminate that problem?

We use the sand or water as as a giant reflector, bouncing light back into their faces. Our photos will be much more natural, more pleasing to the eye: no raccoon eyes, no harsh contrast. Magic!

Horizon Line
In art school, we're taught that the horizon line should never fall in the center of the painting or photo UNLESS there is a compelling reason to place it smack dab in the center. 

When composing your shot, pay attention to where the sky meets the earth (or ocean) and place it in the lower or upper third of the frame. Notice how much more interesting your photo is.

But don't get hung up on the rules and miss an important shot. Remember that you're there to enjoy yourself and your family, and your photos will be priceless as long as they evoke good memories. Some of my favorite vacation photos are not technically correct. Look at the next one; I didn't get the horizon line level. But I love the photo.

If you're photographing children, try squatting down to compose the photograph. Get down on their level. It will make your photo much more engaging.

Of if you want to capture the ambiance and environment, move way back and get a bird's eye view. I personally prefer up close and personal, people centered photos, but will try to get a few taking it all in shots too. 

Observe the Rule of Thirds
A well-know design principle is The Rule of Thirds. Many cameras (including those on cell phones) have a setting where you can turn it on. In a nutshell, you place the point of interest along one of the lines or where two lines intersect. Notice in the next photo I placed the point of interest, my husband and grandson, along a vertical line and on the point right in the center of where two lines intersect. For whatever reason (and there is much research out there that tells why) the human eye is drawn to these areas. 

Another thing to notice in this photo is that I broke the no horizon lines in the center of a picture. There are other things going on that make this a technically correct photo, but we'll save them for another day.

Wrap Up
As you go about your day, pay attention to photos and pictures you see and like:
  • Where is the horizon line?
  • Where is the point of interest?
  • From which direction does the light appear to be coming?
  • From what position was the image captured? Looking straight on? Looking down? Looking up?
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