Happy Birthday, E [Wordless Wednesday]

Evan is three!

And we are almost four!

This photo confirms two things: (1) I am HUGE and (2) Evan is physically incapable of standing still for more than .8 seconds at a time.

For Evan’s first and second birthday I hired a photographer to come to the house, do a family shoot, and then stick around and photograph the birthday party. It seems extravagant, but I love photos and I was afraid that if I were responsible for them, I wouldn’t enjoy the party. Plus, it was a good halfway point in the year to update the family photos. But this year, given our tighter budget, I forwent the photographer. And the results are pretty disappointing. I have very few photos and most of the ones I have are terrible. It makes me sad. I am glad that I enjoyed the party, but I wish I had a few more photos to share with you all and with our family who couldn’t be there.

Why I Shoot In RAW

Yesterday, I went from the bright sun to the dark car without changing my camera settings. Whoops.

This is what it looked like straight out of the camera:

And this is what it looked like after some very quick editing:

Not much commentary needed here. If this were shot in JPEG, those cute faces would have been lost forever. Shooting in RAW saved all that detail despite my mistake and saved the day. Again.

New Mexico in Photos – Part 3 [Wordless Wednesday]

Today I am sharing few more pictures from New Mexico (because I am not actually taking any other pictures these days). I bought a macro lens that I use as a walkaround but I’d really like to use for actual macro photography. For some reason, I can’t get my lens, which is designed for macro photography to autofocus when I zoom too close to my subject (which I thought was the point…). So this is the best I could get. Maybe I need to manual focus?

Any macro tips for me?


Take Good Pictures, a “How To” You Didn’t Ask For

I occasionally get asked what kind of camera I have, presumably because people think a nice camera is the cause of good pictures (hint: it’s not). Yes. I have a DSLR, but it is entry level. I learned how to shoot in manual and raw and edit a little, which is why my photos are better than they would be with a point and shoot. But the vast majority of my photos are taken with my iPhone. So I thought I would share a few tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way for better cell phone photography.

(1) Pause for a beat before you take the photo. I know, kids and cats are fast, but you need to give your camera a second to auto adjust the exposure and focus and doing this will prevent blurry photos. Sure, I miss the occasional shot doing this. But I save way more. I also take about 10 pictures for every one I share. Patience, grasshopper.

(2) Straighten the [insert curse word of choice] horizon. Even Instagram has this feature. You have no excuse for your crooked pictures. And no, that intentional tilt does not improve your photo or make it artsy. This is ESPECIALLY true if your picture is OF THE ACTUAL HORIZON. If I see one more crooked beach picture this summer, I might cry.

(3) If you learn one rule of photography, make it the rule of thirds. I learned this – true story – when I got my photography badge in girl scouts and I’ve never looked back. Your subjects should not always be dead center in your photo. While a centered photo might seem instinctual, our brains don’t find that as pleasing for some reason. Instead, break your photo up into three horizontal lines and three vertical lines so you have nine squares. Put your subject at one of the four intersections or put your horizon at one of the horizontal lines. I don’t always do this when I take the photo, so I crop it. It’s not an absolute, but it’s a good general rule. Most apps will show you a grid like the photo above to make this easy.

(4) Edit. Even your iPhone pictures (or maybe especially your iPhone pictures) need a little post-process love. I think it underexposes pictures a bit so I bump up the exposure and brightness on 99.9% of the photos I post to Instagram. I use the Afterlight app to do this – it’s my favorite iPhone editing app. You’ll notice that every one of those photos above is edited a little. I can’t think of the last time I shared an unedited photo (other than this post).

(5) But lay off the filters. I was an early adopter of the Instagram filter. I can admit that. But I haven’t used one in months. I made a conscious decision to abandon the filters and add edits by hand and I am never going back. When I do use a filter, it’s usually a black & white filter in the Afterlight app. I feel like I have my own style now, instead of a mashup of pre-programmed filters.

My Instagram feed last January:

My Instagram feed at the time of this writing:

(I have also rejected the notion that all instagram photos must be square.)

(6) When taking photos of your kids (or other subjects that are low to the ground), get down to their level. It makes for a MUCH better photo. This is so instinctual to me that I couldn’t even find a good before and after to you. I spend half of my life crouching to E’s level, snapping photos. This might be my my knees are so crunchy, now that I think about it.

Bonus Tip: Don’t share 18 photos that are all the same. We don’t need to see 8 photos of your kid eating peas every single day. One daily pea picture will do. Pick your favorite and share that one – it gives it more impact and declutters your social media.

What are your cellphone photography tips and tricks? (I have more I could share if you guys like this post).

New Mexico in Photos – Part 2 [Wordless Wednesday]


Last week, I shared some of the scenic views from our hike at Bandelier National Monument.  Today, I am sharing photos with my lovely family in them as well.  Ben, Evan, Ben’s parents, and I went on the hike together and I snapped these along the way. We don’t all get to hang out very often, so these adventures are previous memories indeed.



(Self-timer success! Although…where is Evan?)

Ben gets Photo Credit on this one.

We all had a fabulous time on the hike. Next Santa Fe post: macro shots.

Saturdays Are for Ball Pits, Apparently

After going to the Glazer Children’s Museum in Tampa the weekend before, Evan and I met some friends at the Great Explorations Children’s Museum in St. Pete (now, when is Clearwater getting one?). I have more pictures of Emerson here than Evan, partly because I don’t see him very often, partly because he isn’t really mobile yet so he is easier to capture, but mostly because he is so darn cute. I think these boys are going to be buddies when they’re a little bigger. Here they are having some fun in the toddler area: