the weekend in pictures

IMG_8560_blog IMG_8566_blog-2 IMG_8568_blog IMG_8578_blog IMG_8586_blog IMG_8624_blog IMG_8627_blog-2 IMG_8630_blog IMG_8642_blog IMG_8643_blog IMG_8650_blog IMG_8654_blog IMG_8656_blog-2 IMG_8662_blog-2 IMG_8671_blog IMG_8676_blog-2 IMG_8689_blog IMG_8696_blog IMG_8715_blog IMG_8729_blog IMG_8731_blog IMG_8736_blog IMG_8738_blog IMG_8742_blog-2 IMG_8749_blog IMG_8753_blog IMG_8756_blog-2 IMG_8759_blog IMG_8761_blog IMG_8777_blog IMG_8787_blog IMG_8788_blog-2 IMG_8797_blog IMG_8818_blog IMG_8819_blog-2 IMG_8824_blog-2 IMG_8842_blog IMG_8851_blog-2 IMG_8870_blog-2 IMG_8953_blog IMG_8954_blog IMG_8961_blog IMG_8966_blog IMG_9038_blog IMG_9087_blogwe spent fourth of july at the lake for the first time in years.  i want to remember…

  • morning coffee and crossword puzzles
  • a long walk
  • the smell of sunscreen
  • the sound of the boat gliding through the water
  • warm sun
  • smiles and laughter
  • golden evening light
  • locusts and cicadas

hope your weekend was wonderful.

love, kelly

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exposure::the three legged stool::putting it all together

hi everyone!  so here we are in week five of my summer photography series, how to find the light in your photography.  and just to give you a quick re-cap….remember that:

  1. aperture is the opening inside of your camera lens that lets the light in.
  2. shutter speed controls how long the camera’s sensor is exposed to the light.
  3. ISO determines is how sensitive the camera’s sensor is to the light.

and together these three elements determine the exposure of an image.  i like the analogy of a three-legged stool because each of these key elements has to work together to create a well-exposed image.


before we get started, it is important that you know that there is no “right” or “wrong” exposure.  and depending on your personality, this can be either a) incredibly liberating or b) incredibly frustrating.

in case you were curious, i was in the b) category when i first started.

you can take the same photography a million different ways, but in the end, all that matters is this….does this photo tell the story you want to tell.  that’s it.

and this leads me to another important thing to remember…the most important pieces photographic of equipment that you will ever own are 1) your heart and 2) your head.  no camera, lens, gadget, or gizmo can ever bring heart and soul into a photograph.

ok.  so now you’ve got your camera, you’re armed with knowledge of the basics…let’s do this!  let’s make some magic!

to start with, set your camera to manual exposure (M).  and now i want you to stop and connect with your subject.  ask yourself, “what is the story i am trying to tell?”  next, think about the camera settings we learned during the past three weeks…which ones will help you tell this story.

this is how i usually get started:

1) check the light and set my iso….what time of day is it? am i indoors or outside?   is it sunny or cloudy?  i find that ISO 100-200 is good for outside in bright light.  ISO 200-400 works for cloudy days or shade.  and i’ll use ISO 800-1600 indoors.

2) what is my subject….simple subjects like a person or thing i’ll use a wider aperture like to 2.8, 3.5, 4.0 to isolate the subject and blur the background.  a landscape shot i’ll got with a narrower apertures like 9.0 to 13.0

3) motion…is my subject moving? if so i’ll need a faster shutter speed to capture the action.

so let me show you how i put these all togther in the following example:


as you can see, my subject in this shot was this rose of sharon flower.  it was morning and i had some nice filtered sunlight so i set my ISO to 200.  i wanted to isolate this flower so i set my aperture to f/3.5. and so with that in mind, with my aperture fairly wide open and the bright, ambient light, i knew that i would not need my shutter to be open very long.  so i set my shutter speed to 1/500 to start with.  next i looked through my viewfinder and pointed my camera toward the focal point.  then i pushed shutter button halfway down to check the exposure which is indicated by the meter/index along the bottom of viewfinder.

exposure index

yours may vary slightly, but on my canon, the exposure index reads from -3 on the left to +3 on the right with 0 being in the center.  anything on the (-) side the camera reads as being under-exposed and anything on the right side the camera reads as over-exposed.  zero then would be what the camera considers to be the “correct” exposure.

in the above image, my camera indicated that my image was over exposed by about +2…too much light.  so i adjusted my shutter speed to be faster (open an even shorter amount time) to reduce the light coming in to the sensor.  as i moved the dial to reduce the shutter speed, i watched in the viewfinder until the indicator landed on the zero.  then i pressed the shutter button all the way down to take the photo.

the final settings were ISO 200, f/3.5, 1/1000.  this is what the camera determined to be the ‘correct’ exposure.  and i was happy with exposure…it told the story of a pretty pink flower on a bright summer morning.

here’s a completely different example.


i have a thing for kitchen sinks at night.   i love the sense of home and intimacy.  so before i took this shot, i went through my mental checklist.

first the light…nighttime with one simple, direct light over the sink – ISO 2000.  next aperture….a simple scene with no one ‘thing’ being the subject – aperture f/4.5.  stand back press the shutter button halfway to check the exposure.  this time however, i ignored my camera’s reading.  because to my camera, a ‘correct’ exposure would have been to have the entire scene evenly lit.  which is not at all the story i wanted to tell.  so i underexposed my shot by -2 1/3.  which keeps the light right over the sink and everything else in the shadow.

ok, here’s one final example.  yesterday we took a boat ride and my daughter and niece were jumping off the side of the boat.


i wanted to capture the jump, mid-flight.  plus any additional drops of water.  i knew i’d need a fast shutter speed to capture the action.  i set my ISO to 200 and my aperture to f/3.2.  then upped my shutter speed to 1/2500.  i did a quick check of my exposure and i was close but a little over-exposed.  so i bumped it up to 1/4000 until the meter was on zero then had the girls jump.  i snapped away.

ok…so i know this is alot of info to take in at once, but exposure is the foundation for photography. the thing i want you to remember is this…it takes practice.  it takes practice to learn your camera.  it takes practice to understand how light affects your camera’s settings.  it takes practice to develop your own, personal style.  so the key is to just keep taking pictures.

in the coming weeks, i’ll share some more about specific lighting situations, but for now just have fun {photography is supposed to be fun} and keep shooting.

love, kelly

to see all the posts in this series, click here.


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let freedom ring

i know i’ve been a little MIA lately.  but i just wanted to pop in to wish all of you a very happy fourth of july.

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the other day i made a little word art decoration to celebrate and wanted to share it with you.

let-freedom-ring_blogclick here for a full-size, full-resolution printable version.

click here for a *.png that you can you with your own photos.

{personal use only please}

i hope your weekend is full of all of the people and traditions you hold dear.  love, kelly

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exposure::the three legged stool::part 3

hey everyone.  today makes the fourth installment in my photography series, how to find the light in your photography.   in the course of the past couple of weeks we’ve talked about aperture and shutter speed, so today i wanted to share with you the third key element of exposure and that is ISO.

June 21, 2015-3

simply put, in digital photography, ISO is the indication of how sensitive your camera’s sensor is to the light.  the lower the number, the less sensitive and conversely, the higher the number the more sensitive.

ISO in photography is often registered in values of 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600 etc.  every camera is a bit different…my old camera had a max of ISO1600, but my new camera can go up to ISO3200.

ISO most often comes into play in low light situations.  as you might imagine, when there is less light, a higher ISO would be desirable.  here…let me show you with this shot i took in my back yard tonight.  it was about 8:30 p.m.  the sun had gone down behind the houses so i had very little natural light.

in this first shot (SOOC or straight out of the camera), i set my camera to ISO100 (less sensitive).


and below here is the same shot i took with my ISO set to 1600 (more sensitive).

ISO 1600

at first glance you might not really notice any difference.  but if you really look closely, the shot taken at ISO1600 is a bit more faded, less vibrant.  and that is one of the potential drawbacks of shooting with a high ISO.  the other drawback is much more noticeable when zoomed in.

ISO100 zoomISO 1600 zoom

look closely at the petals and leaves.  see how they look grainy? basically what happens is that the camera is interpreting what it thinks should be in those pixels.  that’s what is referred to as digital noise and that is the other potential drawback to shooting with high ISO.

digital noise can be addressed in post-processing to some degree…the only caveat is that you will often lose some image sharpness.  but having noise and grain in a photo doesn’t have to be a ‘bad’ thing…it all depends on the look and mood that you’re trying achieve in your photo.  for instance, increased grain in your image can really enhance a vintage, film camera feel.  or add grit and drama to a portrait.


so this week i would encourage you to explore different types of lighting situations. continue shooting in either in aperture or shutter priority modes to keep things simple. and next week we’ll put all three elements of exposure together and you’ll be making magic in no time!

love, kelly

to see all the posts in this series, click here.



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exposure::the three legged stool::part 2

hi everyone.  i’m here with the third installment of my photography series, how to find the light in your photography.  last week we talked about aperture, and this week, i thought we should take a few minutes to discuss shutter speed as one of the key elements of exposure.


quite simply, shutter speed refers to the mechanism inside the camera body that opens and closes to let light in to the camera’s sensor.  using my previous analogy, if you compare aperture to the pupil of your eye, then the shutter works like your eyelid.  think of a bright, sunny day – if you you look towards the sun, then you have to squint, the pupil of your eye constricts, and you have to blink often.

in photography, shutter speed is measured in fractions of a second – for example 1/100 means that the shutter of the camera is open for precisely 1/100th of a second.  and as you might guess, a shutter speed of 1/8 lets in more light than a shutter speed of 1/1250.

in addition to controlling the length of time that the sensor is exposed to the light, by virtue of this opening and closing action, shutter speed also can portray motion in a photograph.  a very fast shutter speed will virtually freeze the action within the frame.  and conversely, a slower shutter speed with allow for some motion blur.

so for example, this past week tropical storm bill paid us a visit.  days and days of clouds and rain.  in the shot below, i captured the raindrops falling into the pool.  notice the shutter speed of 1/1250.  and notice how you can see the individual rain drops falling and the bubbles and droplets in the water of the pool.

shutter speed 1250

in this next shot however, i decreased the shutter speed to 1/8 of a second.

shutter speed 8

these photos were taken just seconds apart – it was raining just as hard – but notice the surface of the water.  notice how some of the bigger drops of water are visible, but overall this photo has a a softer, almost ethereal quality to it.

the artistic use of shutter speed is an awesome way to convey motion – fast shutter speeds are great for sports or wildlife photos….catching a batter’s hit or a butterfly midflight. but images with blur can convey great mood and emotion as well.

shutter speed is key for exposure and a great tool for telling the story in a photo.  so this week think about motion in your photography.  we’ll revisit shutter speed again, but for now, try setting your camera to shutter priority and experiment with different shutter speeds.  notice how it affects the aperture and the overall look and feel of your photo.  see which shutter speeds help you tell the story in your heart.

love, kelly

to see all the posts in this series, click here.


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