Thursday, December 25, 2008

PSF - Holidays

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

We are Jewish and celebrate Hanukkah. However, my hubby's family is not. We go to their house on Christmas Eve and Christmas day each year. Often these two holidays fall at the same time.

Hanumus - bokeh

This year my son is old enough to light the candles himself.

Day four

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to all out there in the blogsphere.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

PSF - I get to play too

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

This can be a tough time of year for those of us who do not celebrate Christmas. The lights, the songs, the santa its all much fun for the kids. My son is getting old enough to understand our heritage and the fun of Hanukkah. My daughter isn't there yet and is very into the Christmas this year. So we have been talking about getting Hanukkah gifts, lighting the Menorah and playing dreidel. I wrapped and put out each of the kids 8 gifts so they can see them much earlier than I normally do to get them excited. But I also wanted to do something else festive for the kids. I bought this Star of David light in a beautiful blue and hung it in my window above my electronic Menorah.


Its so beautiful hanging in my window. Even the baby liked to play:

Hanukkah Glow

My daughter is getting excited to open her presents. But we still love driving around and spotting Santa and Reindeer and beautiful twinkle lights.

My Not-So-Professional Lighting Tutorial

This is my very non-professional lighting tutorial for those who have asked me how I do my lighting. I will preface this by saying that I did nothing to these shots. They are basically SOOC except for a convert to jpg from RAW (except for the ones taken in Auto) and resized down for viewing but if you click on the images, they will open bigger.

So we will start off with two pictures of me looking goofy.

#1 This me me using my camera in Auto (gasp) with my pop-up flash in my dirty mirror:

#2 This is me with my Speedlight (Canon 430EX). I wanted to show what it looks like on the camera. I have one white diffuser that I keep on my camera 90% of time. If I am outside I take it off and use the reflector that is built into the top. I keep the flash pointed toward the ceiling or angled slightly back behind my shoulder to minimize the shadows and get that bounced look.
Goofiness over. Here are some examples. My daughter on the couch.

#1 On board flash. Its very harsh. (although this example doesn't do the harshness any justice)

#2 With my speedlight on ETTL (which is Speedlight-speek for Auto). Notice its a nice warm color. This was taken on Manual with ISO 200 1/125)

#3 With my speedlight on M. I find that I can crank up the power of the light. There are fractions on the back of the light. 1/1 is the fullest power and its BLINDING. Then it goes down in increments 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16 - you get the picture. This is where you have to play to get it right. When you have more light, you can reduce your ISO and increase your SS which helps with noise and blur. So I tend to use it around 1/4 or 1/8 power and keep an ISO of 200 which is what I used in this shot. The light in M is also whiter and less warm (which can be good and bad depending on the look you want).

Here are some more examples from a more willing subject model. This is my son's Build a Bear, Fred.

This shot was taken in Auto with my on board flash. That means the camera selected an ISO of 400 with 1/60 SS based on lighting. My 'studio' is a small room with little light. Therefore the flash has to compensate a lot. This looks quite harsh.

Since I don't like those setting, mostly because that SS is way too low for fast moving kids, that's where manual and the speed light comes in. This shot was taken with an ISO of 200 and 1/160 SS at an F/4.0. I tend to shoot at these settings often. Now I could have cranked up the speedlight as it is slightly too dark for my taste here. However, that's something that you have to adjust as you use the speedlight, unless you have a light meter, which I don't. However, looking at the quality of the light it produced, there are less shadows and a nice warm glow.

Here are two pictures of my new studio lights. I have one softbox that I keep camera left high and pointed down. Then I use the umbrella for fill on the side.

I use the softbox for my main light. I like the way it looks and I think it produces nice catch lights. As you can see above, I position it above the subject and pointed down. I have this light set to around 1/2 power. I am currently using the sync cable that came with the light to hook directly to my camera. As I mentioned, its a small room and I don't wander too far from the light. For the second light, the fill umbrella, I set it to about 1/4 power and I am utilizing the infrared sensor. This means when the first light is triggered by my camera, the second light detects that flash and will also flash. The only draw back to this is I cannot go above about 1/250 SS as that second flash won't be fast enough to catch it in time.

Here is an SOOC shot of my bear using my lights. The subject is fairly evenly lit, even though I could still move my fill light around some to get different effects. The biggest benefit to shooting with studio lights are two-fold. 1. I can shoot at ISO 100, 1/200, f/8. This works so well for multiple kids/people in one frame. and 2. You can keep your settings static throughout the entire shoot. Which, again for kids, is really really really nice. I can shoot off 20 exposures (once I get the lighting correct which I am still practicing) in a matter of minutes. Since my kids have very short attention spans, setting the camera/flash once and taking as many as I can in a short time is a real life saver!

One last closeup for good measure. Unfortunately, with this model you can't see the beautiful square catch lights that the softbox produces, but you can scroll down and see the photos I posted last week as examples.

Hopefully this was detailed enough to be informative. This is my first tutorial so I may not have explained everything as well as I could. Please feel free to leave me questions if there is something that you would like me to explain further.

Theme Thursday - Holiday Memories

I thought I would post pictures of the kids' first Hanukkah for this week.


This is 2002 with my first born. Mr Z. He was 6 months old here. He couldn't sit up yet and was fascinated with the presents.


This is 2005 and we have two. Miss E was 9 months old yet and starting to walk. She loved the lights.

IMG_6426 copy

This was last year, 2007. Miss V's first. She was 7 months old and already showing us her stubborn side.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Goofing off in the "Studio"

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

I recently bought some studio lights. I had literally one nanosecond before the kids melted down and refused to sit still for me to play. I really need some more cooperative victims models.

But I have to say shooting in a 'studio' is really fun and challenging. I just need to get the hang of light placement. So if anyone has any tips for me, please feel free.

Oh and I have had a bunch of people ask me for a lighting tutorial, so I promise I will get to that real soon.

I'm not all that great at BW conversions so I am practicing.

Week 46/52

Handed the camera to the 6 year old son to grab this one. He did great.

Look at those big browns.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Theme Thursday - Holiday

We are having lots of fun in my house getting ready for the big Holiday. Here are some ways we are celebrating.

Gimme a Gimel

My son challenged me to a fierce game of dreidel.

Dreidel Dreidel

He's beating me by taking all of my pennies.

Then I get kicked out of the game by the 3 year old.

The baby gets a turn putting the flames into the candles in their Menorah.

Menorah Fun

Then she wants to play with my electric one.


The older two put together their Menorah puzzle.


Then the tears come out when the youngest can't ruin their puzzle fun.


One final shot of all their loot wrapped and ready to go.

The kids are very excited for the 21st (and we are too).

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

WW - nature

Naturey HBW!

Friday, December 5, 2008

PSF - Kar Ra Tay

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Ever see that friends episode where Ross was explaining that he was a master of Kar Ra Tay? Man I loved that one. Anyway, I signed my son up for Karate this fall. At first he loved it, then not so much and now back to love. I was hoping it would help with discipline, focus and of course his boundless energy. Well it hasn't helped much with any of it but he has learned a lot. Now he wants a Karate outfit. Since I plan to sign him up for another class in the spring maybe I will swing for it. Here he is showing off his moves.

Karate Kid

Here's his scary punching look:


And his side kick:


I think he's ready for competition, thoughts??

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

WW - Siblings

Can you tell they are siblings?

About Me

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Welcome to my family blog. I am a mom to three, work FT and love to take pictures. Please visit my website to see more of my work.



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