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?
If you like this post, you'll probably like This one too.

Are Your Household Products Making You Sick?

Are Your Household Products Making You Sick?
I'm a reader. A learner. And yes, a teacher. I've been researching synthetic ingredients found in everyday products, things we use EVERY DAY in America:
  • laundry detergent
  • fabric softener
  • candles
  • deodrant
  • hand soap
  • disinfecting wipes & sprays
  • toothpaste
  • baby lotion
  • pet shampoo 
  •  etc.
In my research, I'm finding many cases of illness that link directly to ingredients in things we use daily, trusting that they are safe.

At this point, I have no words to complete this post! I'm angry. I'm sad. I'm hopeful.

If you are inspired to do some reading on the subject, go grab a product you're currently using. Look at the label. Pick an ingredient and go to Google and type in "dangers of _____." Pay attention to the URLs and stay away from "fake news" sites. 

You'll learn why headaches are so common, especially in children. Why skin conditions are so insidious. Why respiratory problems have become so common. Why autoimmune disorders are so prevalent. 

And so on...
I'd love for you to share what you learn.

And if you're interested in a community of likeminded people, join me in my private Facebook group, tools4life

You might be interested in these articles:

4 Ways to Better Health

4 Ways to Better Health

Immunity - What Can We Do?

First, consider these 4 things that deplete our immunity:

  1.  Lack of Sleep. That's a biggie, I know. Especially today! Social isolation and worries about all the things that empact us is a big reason for wakeful nights. But even during good times, parental duties, job duties, normal anxiety, etc., can cause interruptions in our sleep. I have some strategies that work for me, perhaps they will work for you.

  2. Processed Food. Fast food. Takeout food. Real food harvested not for optimal nutrition, but for optimal transportation to your grocery store. Real food grown in soil poisioned by pesticides and depleted of essential nutrient building minerals. Our bodies can't function optimally when we consume fake food or food devoid of nutrients. Again, I have recommendations for you to help with nutrition.

  3. Sugar. Refined white sugar. Fake sugar like High Fructose Corn Syrup. Synthetic sugars like aspartame, splenda, etc. Consuming sugar will immediately decrease your immunity! As a reformed sugar addict, I know first hand how hard it is to ditch it! The stuggle is REAL and UGLY!  Have you looked into all the health problems caused by sweet, innocent little Sugar? We have to kick its little butt out of our lives! Again, I can help you with that.

  4. Stress. Anxiety. Your Fight or Flight response is in place to protect you. But if you are in a perpetual state of F or F, you are undoubtably damaging your adrenals. Stress is known to cause many illnesses and disorders. I'm not a medical professional, but I have found things that help us manage stress. 

Any list of negatives needs a corresponding list of positives, right?

  Here you go:

  1. Sunshine. There are dozens and dozens of studies published about the benefits of getting outside on a sunny day: improved circulation, balanced sleep/wake cycle, Vitamin D, etc.
  2. Exercise. It doesn't have to involve a gym or specialized equipment. A simple 20 minute brisk walk is enough. Can't walk briskly yet? Then start where you are and just walk. Movement gets your lymphatic system moving. That's reason enough to move, but there are hundreds of other benefits.
  3. Fresh Foods. When you shop for groceries, make most of your purchases from the fresh and fresh-frozen sections. Read labels on EVERYTHING. Avoid processed, fortified, sugar-free and fat-free foods. (Usually this means it is WORSE for you than the one it replaces.)
  4. Sleep. How can sleep be on both lists? Just like not enough of it is bad for us, adequate sleep is good for us! Our bodies rejuvenate while we sleep. Our brains solve problems for us while we sleep! (I'm an artsy, word-sy gal. Math isn't my thing. While in college there were many nights I'd work on a trig problem until I could no longer hold my head up. After a good night's sleep, I'd go back to the problem and be able to solve it quickly.) Sleep - the lack of it - can be an easy fix OR may require many lifestyle changes. Are you willing to try?

Isaac Colegrove - Class of 2020 - Tug Valley High School

Yesterday was a first for my studio. I always do in-person photo previews in the studio. Seeing the expressions on my clients' faces is always fun and rewarding. However, Isaac's mom is a nurse practitioner and was concerned about bringing in something that might put me or A at risk. So we used Zoom to teleconference so she could see the portraits and choose the ones she wanted as prints. It wasn't in person, but a nice alternative in this time of social distancing.

Isaac is about 6'4" tall so I was super thankful that my studio ceiling is 10' tall. Even so, I had to use a step stool to get some of these photos.

Positioning of the photographer is just as important as is posing of the subject. Sometimes I feel like a contortionist, especially when photographing babies and small children, and small pets. I'm not the least embarrassed to lie on the floor, climb to the top of a ladder, or any number of other weird scenarios.  There's no shame in my game!

Red is Isaac's color for sure, don't you think?

After his photo session last week, we chatted for a bit. Isaac is a naturally funny guy. He showed me his back, which looked like he had been caned, and joked that his dad had beat him. I know his dad, so didn't believe it for a minute.

Turns out he had a scary wreck on his 4-wheeler. I grabbed my Essential Oils Desk Reference, handed it to his mom, and after just a few minutes of reading, she ordered her very own Premium Starter Kit and a bottle of Helichrysum. She's one smart momma!

Is it time for you to jump on the Natural Health Movement?


Senior Portraits - Ethan Fowler - Chapmanville Regional High School

Senior Portraits - Ethan Fowler - Chapmanville Regional High School
This senior portrait session is probably my favorite of all time! Look at this antique car! Kudos to Ethan's momma for having the vision and finding the perfect outfit.
Ethan is the first martial arts practicioner I've photographed and what a fun experience it was! At the time of this photo, he was a 7th Kyu Green Belt in Shotokan Karate. Now he is a 6th Kyu Blue Belt. And he does jujitsu! (That's all greek to me!) 
Ethan is a super smart, fun, self-motivated, and respectful young man. Better yet, he knows he is secure in the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. His mom shared that Joshua 1:9 is one of his favorite verses:
Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

This time of schools being closed, possibly till the end of the year, has to be super stressful on everyone, but especially seniors. Lots of uncertainty about ACT, SAT, visits to college campuses, and all the other things usually done at this time of year. Just one more thing to pray about. And know that Ethan's verse and so many others in the Bible are true and trustworthy.

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