Photography

A Great Lens for Bokeh

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

On Tuesday night I was having a nice chat with some blog friends (Marian, Maria, and Cathe) at Marian’s book signing in my hometown and we were discussing blogging and photography, and the consensus was a that a 50mm 1.8 lens (or the more expensive 1.4) is a great blogger tool for those desirable beauty shots.

The 50mm is a fixed focal length (or “prime”) lens with wider aperture capability (refer to this post for a more in depth explanation on aperture.)  I bought my 50mm lens last December as an early Christmas present because I wanted the ability to snap pretty close-ups and to take Christmas tree bokeh pictures like this.  The ones with those pretty twinkle light orbs!

twinkle light bokeh

This image was taken with the little bowl of ornaments 7 feet away from the tree of twinkle lights and me positioned another 4 feet away from the bowl.   Camera settings with 50mm lens:  f/stop 1.8,  shutter speed 1/40,  ISO 800.

If you don’t know how to use or change the Manual setting yet, get ready to learn how with these fabulous online videos for visual learners that I’ve mentioned before offered by Shoot Fly Shoot.  Once you know how to change the aperture (or f-stop) to a wider setting, you’re all set to take great holiday bokeh shots, but it only works when you have a lens with that capability.

Kit lenses don’t go below a 3.5 f-stop, so you’ll achieve beautiful bokeh and shallow depth of field when you invest in a lens that allows you to go to a wider aperture of 2.0 or lower numerical setting.  A really nice affordable version is the 50mm f/1.8, offered for both Nikon and for Canon and for less than $125. 50 mm for canon and nikon

 

The lens isn’t just great for those pretty orbs in the background at Christmastime, it’s perfect for all those beauty shots where you want to achieve shallow depth of field beyond your subject matter (where the background or foreground beyond your focal point is blurred).

 

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Family Portrait 2012

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Last week our oldest was home from college for Thanksgiving so we set aside an hour to take the annual family picture.  We were so grateful to have perfect weather that day (hello gorgeous fall colors!) and a willing and talented photographer to assist.   Last year I just set up the tripod for our family Christmas photo, but this year we liked the idea of being outdoors together.

kate family photo

family collage 1

kids leaves

kids cute and silly

leaf throwing

 

We enlisted the help of my talented friend Heidi who takes amazing pictures as a hobby (but really she should go professional!) and she’s always teaching me something new about photography, sharing her tips, and turning me on to fab photography sites. 

I asked if she could meet us at our house and snap a few photos.  We looked around the neighborhood for a great backdrop and I saw this tree just up the hill from our house so that’s where we shot these.  The whole shoot took 20 minutes and we were done – I love how they turned out! 

A few tips for taking great outdoor family photos:

1)  Lighting.  Most professionals will tell you to snap the images during the “golden hour” or “sweet light” which is one hour after sunrise and one hour before sunset when the sun’s rays are not overhead but traveling sideways instead since the sun is low in the sky. 

2)  A Good Photographer.  If you don’t know a great photographer, then by all means hire one!  An hour spent on a session plus a CD of the captures to go with it is a great investment.  Pictures really are the best keepsakes!   Kids grow up fast so I say spend the bucks, you’ll never regret a great photography session.

3).  A Great Backdrop.  Think brick walls, pretty nature scenes like the beach or the woods, an old barn, anyplace that has some color and character. 

4)   Limit the Palette.  There’s no need to wear matching outfits, but it’s best to at least keep the palette limited. This year we went with gray and navy and that worked and everyone dressed in what they liked.  The exception is if you’re shooting in black and white and in those circumstances it doesn’t really matter if everyone is wearing something in a different color. 

5)  Act Naturally.  Hyper posed images can seem phony so it’s nice when you just snuggle up naturally or engage in antics that capture the family’s personality.  Just ask the photographer to keep snapping and you’ll end up with some great ones! 

Have you taken any great family pictures outdoors?  If so, share your tips! 

 

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