Using Manual and How I Learned

As you know, I am a student of Shultz Photography School. I am in his Grads program but I also purchased his Photo Fix. Photo Fix is where I learned manual so I cannot go into detail as to how he taught it but the program helped give me a visual in my mind when I use manual mode. Eventually the settings became second nature. Now when I see a low number aperture, I think lots of light and bokeh. When I see a slow shutter speed I think lots of light but possible blur. When I see a low ISO I think low light but less grain. It is a bit more complex than that but the more you shoot in manual, the more you will automatically have those associations. Also, the more you shoot in manual, the more you will know which settings will work. For example, I always start off with ISO 400 in my house. If I am outside and it is sunny, I automatically start with ISO 100. If it is cloudy, I will start with ISO 100 or 200. Most of my photos are indoors so usually my camera is on ISO 400. Here are the steps for when I shoot indoors on a sunny day.

  1.       ISO 400 (usually my camera is already on this setting)
  2.       Aperture (usually as low as I can get it because I like bokeh)
  3.       Shutter speed
    1. I start minimally with 1/50 (for my 50 mm lens) because that will at least reduce camera shake
    2. Adjust shutter speed and try and get my meter at ‘0’.

The same process is similar if I am shooting outdoors on a sunny day.

  1. ISO 100
  2. Aperture (as low as I can get it)
  3. Shutter speed
    1. Start with a minimum of 1/50
    2. Adjust shutter speed to get my meter at ‘0’.

In other news…I bought some attachable macro lenses. Here is a picture using my macro x10. I will go into more detail in another blog post.


Also, I apologize for not being around the last month but family has been in town all month and every bit of free time has been dedicated to them.

I hope you get outside and enjoy the beautiful spring. I love all of the flowering trees!

Editing Photos – From a Hobbyist’s Perspective

I have watched a few professional photographers edit photos. Honestly, I do not like editing much. I feel it takes a lot of time and it can be a rabbit hole that you can get lost in. However, being that I still consider myself an intermediate hobbyist photographer, I figure I can probably offer a different view on how I edit photos. Below you will find what I do most of the time. I use Adobe Lightroom to edit photos. Once in a great while I use Adobe Photoshop but I am not including that down below.

  1.       Adjust Exposure
  2.       Adjust White balance (look at skin tones)
  3.       Check Enable Profile Corrections (under Lens Correction)
  4.       Crop and Straighten
  5.       Adjust Shadows or Highlights if I feel there is too much or too little
  6.       Adjust Clarity
  7.       Adjust Vibrance
  8.       Adjust Saturation carefully (you do not want too much typically)
  9.       Possibly use a preset (usually a Shultz Photo School preset)
  10.       Possibly tweak preset by doing numbers 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, & 8 again.

Well, that is what works for me at the moment. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them. Adios!


In a Hobbyist’s Photography Bag

Often when I read about photographers and what they have in their camera bag, it is usually a professional photographer (someone who actually makes money off their photos). Well, I am not making money off my photos so I would not consider myself a professional. My budget is far less and I find it harder to justify spending money on photography. In thinking about this, I realize that my perspective is different. So what does this intermediate hobbyist photographer have in their bag? Well here you go.

  1.       Nikon D3000
  2.       Nikkor 50 mm f/1.8 lens
  3.       Nikon 18 – 55 mm f/3.5-5.6
  4.       Nikon 55 – 200 mm f/4-5.6
  5.       Amazon Wireless remote
  6.       Aperlite Off camera flash
  7.       Tripod (not actually in my bag but I do use it)
  8.       Mini soft box for my flash

My favorite lens of the three I have is the 50 mm. It allows me to have beautiful bokeh, which I love and it allows me to get more light into my photos. Because I enjoy the low aperture on my 50 mm so much, now I want a wider-angle lens and a macro lens with small apertures as well.

Photo Project Routine

I have been asked how I do two 365 projects. I have established a routine. So far I have only missed one prompt from the last 87 days and it was due to the fact that I kept putting it off even though I knew what I wanted to photograph.

  1. Right after I wake up, I check what my prompts are. I do this right away because some of the prompts need to be done right away.
  2. When I read the prompt, I usually envision something right away. Yes, you can do this too, especially with objects. For example, what do you envision when you hear the word “sharp”? How about “in my cup”? I envision a knife for “sharp” and my morning coffee for “in my cup”.
  3. I take what I envisioned and think of how I can incorporate my daughter20170302-DSC_0507. Obviously, this cannot work with every prompt such as for the word “sharp”.
  4. Sometimes I think of how I can be more creative with my first vision. For example with the word “breakfast”, I thought of cereal in a bowl. That seemed extremely boring to me so I thought of cereal pouring out of a box. Here are some other ideas for how you can be more creative:
    1. Aerial view (such as the 2nd picture)
    2. Low angle
    3. Wide angle (picture from far away)

      “Digging for Treasure” was the prompt
    4. Close up angle
    5. Create interesting light
      1. Dramatic light with deep shadows and bright light
      2. Sunset light (i.e. golden hour)
      3. Use a flash
    6. Nature
      1. Fog20170122-DSC_1372PS
      2. Snow
    7. Shutter speed

Lastly, remember you are a busy person and sometimes you cannot expect every photo to be perfect because we only have so much time and energy to make it perfect.

Your Dream

What do you dream to do? I think most of us are scared to say it out loud for many reasons. I know I am scared because I am afraid people will think that I am not capable of doing it. What if they end up being right? I am also scared because if I state it, people may help me out, and then what if I end up doing a terrible job? I wish I can remember where I read it but somewhere someone said that you should just state your dream out loud because that is the first step. I have been tiptoeing around taking that first step. Ultimately, I have been scared of failure but here it goes…

I want to show people the beauty of their family’s everyday by taking lifestyle pictures of their family…especially families with young kids (4 years and under). I want to take pictures of your kids reading books, playing with toys, running around your backyard, etc. All that stuff that many people would find mundane but you love. I would also like to get the parents interacting with their kids. If you are looking for portrait type pictures, that is not what I would prefer to photograph.

There you go, I said it. Now I am wondering if people even want pictures of their kids doing those things. To me, they are special moments that will not last forever. Capturing these moments with my child, forces me to stop what I am doing, be mindful of the moment, and see the beauty. Below are pictures of the type of photography I want to do for you and  if you are interested, let me know.

So now I go back to the beginning of this blog and ask you the same question. What do you dream to do and why do you want to do it?


What You Can Learn Before Getting a DSLR

Photography can be an expensive hobby. Any hobby can be expensive. It is easy to get caught up in thinking that you need the most pricey equipment in order to get the best results. Before you run out and spend money, know that a good photo has a lot to do with the photographer. Google iPhone photos and you will see what I mean. If your goal is to eventually buy more expensive equipment but you cannot afford it right now, you can still learn what makes a good photo. Here are some basic photography skills you can learn. These basics are a very important foundation.

  1. Composition
    1. Rule of Thirds                                              20160711-dsc_0661
      1. Horizontally
      2. Vertically
      3. Four Cross Points
    2. Leading Lines
      1. Real lines
      2. Implied lines
      3. Depth of field
    3. Negative Space
  2. Lighting
    1. Natural Light vs. Shade
      1. Which one do you put your subject in?
      2. Which way do you face your subject?20170107-dsc_0314
    2. Artificial Light
      1. White Balance
        1. What are the different types?
        2. When do you use them?

If you have heard of these, I recommend reviewing them. You may notice some details you missed. Also, the more you read about them, the more those rules will come naturally to you. Have fun!

Black & White Edits

I have been loving black and white recently. At first, I was not a fan. I never understood why someone would want a black and white photo except for taking pictures of old stuff. I generally love color. Now that I have played around with it, I can see the appeal. Below, I have also shown you examples of these reasons with before and after black and white edits. You are lucky to see the pre-edit versions. I hate some of those original photos.

1.      The photo has too many colors and I feel like my subject is lost in all of the colors and/or you hate the color you painted your walls. For the record, her room has a nature theme.

2.      The image is way overexposed but the picture has something special in it (like my daughter’s big eyes).

3.   The picture is boring. This has come in useful with my 365 photos. I cannot delete a photo if I want to feel like I accomplished my prompt for the day.

4.      If the subject is supposed to be white but I cannot get the white balance perfectly white. Also, black and white can make a subject look cleaner.


5.  If I do not like the color of the subject, but I like the rest of the picture.

So, lesson learned…experiment. You may be surprised by what you like.

Editing Photos and a Chicago Trip

I used to not like editing. I thought that if you edited photos that you were lying about what you really took a photo of. If you really think about it though, photos are not exact replicas of what you see with your eyes and your eyes are unique to you so everybody doesn’t see everything exactly the same. Yes, you can make something appear brighter, darker, more saturated than it was in real life but rather than think of it as lying, think of it as emphasizing the beauty of the scene. You can also think of it as your artwork and you can do what ever you please. I think a photo will never be as beautiful as what you would see in real life but you can try and capture as much as that beauty as possible.

On another note,my brother and I took a trip to Chicago this past summer. We love going down there and exploring. Here are a few of my favorite photos from the trip.

Here are Wikipedia links for more information about what I took a photo of.

Macy’s Building

Cloud Gate

Jay Pritzker Pavilion

Maggie Daley Park

Horshoe Bend AZ


Lessons Learned – 365 Projects

Let us talk about photography projects. I am doing a letter to my daughter every month with photos and 2-365 prompted photo projects. One of those 365 projects is Bethadilly’s prompted 365 project from last year and the other one is through Fat Mum Slim. I got through all of January without missing a day. Woohoo! What have I discovered so far?

1. Some of the prompts push me to be more creative than I usually am.

2. Some of the prompts push me to go and take a walk or go in my car and find a location to photograph. I think anything that forces me out of the house is a good thing.

3. I do not like every prompt because they force me to go outside my comfort zone. Currently, I am the most comfortable with portraits and the everyday moments.

4. I am discovering my style.

5. I am getting quicker at realizing why I want to take a photo of a certain subject.

6. I am quicker at capturing exactly what I want on camera.

7. Not every photograph is going to be perfect.

8. I have found that I am often drawn to something because it reminds me of a past memory.

Let me explain how this played out with the picture below. I hope that my thoughts in words make sense.

I went on a walk for the prompts “my Saturday morning” and “in my neighborhood” (discovery #2). I came across our pond in our subdivision which would require me to take a landscape picture (discovery #3). I specifically wanted to photograph the peninsula jutting out into the foggy waters. It reminded me of a movie or a novel such as Lord of the Rings (discovery #8) where your imagination is taken on an adventure. Fog makes a scene mysterious, I feel (discovery #5). Well, I took the first photo and did not like it. I did not know if I wanted the peninsula on the top half or bottom half of the photo because I did not know if the water or land was more important to me. They were both beautiful. I asked myself, “Why do you like this scene? What about the scene makes it intriguing? How are you viewing the scene through your eyes (i.e. the peninsula is not straight across, but below me)? As I answered these questions, I realized how I could show the beauty on camera. I needed to show the peninsula on the bottom half of the photo. I needed to zoom in, show the water and peninsula together, and make sure the fog showed up as well (discovery #6).

I hope that that makes sense. Thoughts go through our heads a lot quicker than when we write them down so you may be doing this without realizing it. Is the below photography perfect? Heck no (discovery #7) but sometimes the discoveries made along the way are more important than the final product.


Happy Wednesday!