Holiday Decor

Tips for Magazine Quality Photography

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

Hello all, thanks for the kind comments on this morning’s post on better home photography!  I have a great guest today, one I’ve had the pleasure to work with and observe create magic in front of and behind the lens.

Please welcome back Matthew Mead, the incredible stylist, writer, author, and photographer behind Holiday Magazine.  I invited him to share a few of his best tips for improving your photography, especially those detailed close ups he’s so brilliant at, and that desirable bokeh backdrop created with twinkle lights that we all love so much during the holidays. 

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”When it comes to taking beautiful images with your camera it truly is a “practice makes perfect” proposition.  But there certainly are some tricks of the trade that I have found repeatedly useful in photographing food and still life imagery.

tips for magazine quality photography

I own a Canon Rebel XTI camera which is truly my right arm when it comes to my work.  I have several different lens which I use for things like room shots and up close imagery like miniature items or tight details but the magic for me resides in the 50 mm 1.4 lens.  This lens allows me to select a sharp focal point with everything else in the frame falling off softly in a very palatable “out of focus” style.  I use multiple F-stops between 1.4 and 3.0 in order to achieve the desired degree of focus depending on the subject.

To begin, set your camera to manual. This will give you the most control over the image and allow you to manipulate the light to the best possible outcome.  I am a huge fan of auto focus and find it most helpful when shooting food to allow me to work quickly and select multiple focal points in just a few minutes.  The benefit of a manual shot also allows you to shoot RAW files which are the largest format file that you can create and will allow you the ability to manipulate your image in many different types of photo programs.

I shoot all daylight imagery so make sure you set yourself up in a situation that allows for plenty of light.  A shear curtain or “scrim” is useful in cutting the light if it’s too bright or harsh.  Remember that subjects that are light or white are best on the opposite side of the light source as they will become over lit or “blow out” in too much light.

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Wintery Mantel

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

Well it’s certainly looking a lot like Christmas around here which means some things are done like the tree and mantel, but much of it is not. I’m going very minimalist with the décor, perhaps it’s because I’ve had to bring it all out a few times this year, so I’m keeping it simple.  I’m in a ‘less is more’ mode right now and loving the fuss less look. 

Most of my holiday decorations are a mixture of white, gold, and silver, and every year I just pick a color to layer on top.  This year I’m loving crimson again. I’m infatuated with white ceramic things, you’ll spy a new snowfall tree from Z Gallerie and two white reindeer I picked up in an after Christmas sale last year ~ they’re both my favorites right now so they got the prominent placement on the wintery mantel.  

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And how about that gorgeous mirror?  It’s the Bellasol from Ballard looking lovely in the living room but it’s really just visiting ~ it’s destined for the powder room in January.  I found it on sale at Ballard with free shipping two weeks ago, the sale couldn’t have been better timed since I’ve had my eye on it for a year now for the bathroom.  I’m loving the way it bounces images around the room. 

Those are the same stockings from last year, just embellished with red yarn and pom poms. The iron fireplace screen was an antique faire find last spring, a steal at $40.

christmas mantel stockings

 

Yes, I have a giant 9 foot moss covered branch in my living room and yes I love it. The story behind it is here.  I’m obsessed with this branch, it’s like it fell off the tree because it wanted to live in my house. 

The new club chairs with nailhead trim were acquired from Joss & Main (I saved up enough credit over there to only have to pay cash for half of one) and if you love them too they’ll be available at my sale next week.  The white furry pillow is actually a reformed bath mat (read about it here) and the lamb’s wool “throw” is just the cover to the West Elm mongolian lamb’s wool pillow I’ve had for awhile (seen here).  Red velvet pillow from World Market, red sparkle pillow from Crate + Barrel.   

christmas mantel cg

 

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Organized for the Holidays

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

Are you feeling the frenzy that tends to creep up around this time of year?  I think we all start out with the desire to stay on top of it all, but sometimes we get derailed with all of those requests for our attention. One of the quickest ways stress creeps in is the lack of organization that comes from not having an actual plan in place for everything from wrapping the gifts to entertaining a small crowd. 

I asked my friend Jen, the the super momma blogger behind I Heart Organizing to offer up some advice for those of us who get that anxious feeling during these busy times ~ Jen has so many great ideas for everyday storage solutions around the home, I thought she’d be the perfect guest to offer some encouraging suggestions for staying organized through the holidays and beyond.

Please welcome Jen and her advice for staying organized during this season! 

“Hi everyone! Jen from IHeart Organizing here today to share a couple of my favorite holiday organizing tips and tricks!  Let’s face it, the holidays can be an extremely chaotic and busy time!  From activities to decorating to entertaining, it seems as though there is always something going on. I am a big believer that with a little organization; you can make it through all of the craziness with a smile on your face.

Have your gotten your first holiday card in the mail yet? They are sure to start coming in daily, so now is the time to start thinking up fun ways to keep them on display to enjoy them throughout the entire course of the season.

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A few festive ideas are to clip the cards to decorative ribbon, pin them to a pretty memo board, string them from twinkling strands of lights or create a Christmas tree collage right on your favorite focal wall.  When the holidays wind down, whether you choose to hold onto the cards or recycle them is always a personal choice, however, a great way to preserve all of those family photos you received is to create a dedicated holiday album that can be added to year after year.

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