Posts Tagged ‘family photography’
For weeks I had been considering the question…
Should I post… *deep breath* …phone pics on Camera Latte?
Because here’s the truth, once you get into all the baby gear: the diapers, wipes, extra clothes… and the toddler gear: lunch box, toys, extra clothes (yes, were in that dreadful place again as Little Lue started having accidents again), jacket, and the occasional scooter. Oh and lets throw in baby wearing or a giant stroller into the mix, the last thing I want to jam into my already ginormous and oddly heavy bag is a massive DSLR.
***A little camera talk, feel free to skip lol***
Because of this dilemma, I have set my sights on a the new mirrorless cameras… Many in the photography world are sure that they are the “future” of photography. It’s hard to say wether that is true or not, but right now, for me, those thinner, lighter, and fantastic little cameras are calling my name. I will probably be jumping on the mirrorless bandwagon soon, but until then, I need to figure something out. Anyone around here shoot mirrorless? I’m thinking of going with the Fujifilm xT1 and getting her a small pancake lens (the 27mm), thoughts?
The set up looks quite lovely if you ask me 😉
Image from fujivsfuji.com
Until I figure out a more compact camera system, or the Littlest Princess and Little Lue require less stuff (never?) I probably wont be dragging around my D90 very many places, much less so the D700. And the lenses, forget it… So lately, all I’ve had in my hands for capturing our little adventures is this contraption… The Samsung Galaxy s4 Zoom
Image from gsmarena.com
And while it’s proven to be quite the conversation starter… truth is, it’s nothing more than little point and shoot attached to a cel phone. Nifty and a fun little gadget, but momma still misses her big cameras… so so very much…
So back to the original question… Should my beautiful blog, created with images lovingly taken and edited with my DSLRs and Lightroom also be a place for my every day phone pics……..
Absolutely! Why? Because it’s not the tool, it’s the vision 😉 No matter how fancy a camera I could purchase, or the lenses, or set up, or anything else. Art isn’t about the tools, it’s about the artist and their message. It’s about taking what you have in your hands and creating something that draws you in, something that tells a story, conveys feelings, and shares a message.
If I had more time, or more sleep, or an extra arm, or maybe a nanny, a cook, and a maid, I might have a tiny bit more sanity left to figure out how to drag around one of my cameras. But for now, I will longly stare at it on my desk and look back at it with despair as I gather up jackets, and blankets, and keys, and snacks, and toys. Holding tiny toddler hands and bundling up baby in some kind of carrier, wrap or sling (boy do I have to post about THAT lol), heading out of the house in my totally misfitting clothes and forgetting to tie up my unbrushed hair into a messy bun. Away we go as I try to make it out of the house alive, with some sanity, to the oasis of motherhood, playdates.
So stay tuned my friends… Camera Latte lives… New posts coming soon, straight from my cellphone LOL!!
It feels like forever since I was able to walk outside without a coat or jacket… And this past week I think it’s safe to say the weather is turning and Spring is HERE!! Sunshine and 50 degree weather, what more could I ask for?! (ok ok… so 80’s and a beach would be nice, but I will take the 50’s over 30-40 any day!!)
No jackets!!! YEAH!!
Butterflies and bees!!! YEAH!!!
Windows open all day!!! YEAH!!!
I am a happy camper…
Oh and look… Remember that huge chunk of land out behind the kitchen, that’s called a BACK YARD!! YES!!! lol
Digging in the dirt… Seriously I think this is the first time Lucy has ever actually PLAYED with dirt (and not sand) LOL!
Puppies in the sunshine
The wheelbarrow made everything more fun!
Oh look! My swing!
Picked some flowers to make a garden… I think we need to start our real garden now
Decided to bring the camera along this Thursday to our little activities. I have been traveling “light” lately and leaving the camera at home for most outings, but this doesn’t make for many opportunities for taking a few pics! So going to try a little harder to bring it along more often, specially now that the weather is starting to turn. Woot!
Thursdays is Dance Class day! We had taken a little break from dance class as well as gymnastics for a couple of months since Little Lue had been a little uncooperative in the mornings. But it wasn’t long before she started asking about dance class. So I decided to reenroll her and see if this time she would be a little more appreciative. We haven’t resumed the gymnastics though, I figured we would ease back in, and dance seemed to be more in tune with this child. She LOVES to DANCE.
So dance class is at 11am and only 30 minutes. So I have been also hitting up the library story time right before at 10am. Sometimes we make it in time, others, not so much. Thursday mornings is also Stroller Warriors! A new running club on base that my friend leads. But since I am getting pretty big now (woot woot 3rd trimester!) I haven’t been attending. I might try to make some meetings anyhow and do some mostly walking haha. We will see The weather has been so nice this past couple of weeks! It’s hard not to want to be outside. If you are local and want to get out running with a great group, go check them out!
But yeah, THIS particular morning we went to story time. And we were actually on time! Yeah!
This is one of the songs they sang, goes to the “Row row row your boat” song music. Pretty cute.
Actually sitting down for a story, progress!
And now we’re off to dance class!!
I seriously love Miss Kate, she does a fantastic job and is SO incredibly age appropriate. I really appreciate her.
Kiss your knees!
Wrangling up the dance crew LOL!
We always have fun props…
Dancing with a scarf
So fun <3
The highest point in Germany!
On our last day in Garmisch I was really hoping to go to one of the viewing platforms on the mountains, and it was recommended we go to Zugspitze! It’s just the village over from Garmisch and OMG was it breathtaking.
You can ride one of dangling carts all the way up to the top of the mountain, but let me warn you, it is NOT for you if you have problems with heights. I have a slight fear of heights and let me tell you, I was kind of physically frozen in fear once the ride was getting closer to the top. Almost a 90 degree angle going up. Terrifying. View was amazing, just terrifying LOL!!!
Thankfully, there is also a train that goes up the mountain. You still have to take a short ride to the peak, but not nearly as visually dramatic. (We took this route on the way back) Slower, but I swear I’m never doing it the other way LOL!!! You can even take the train from Garmisch all the way up.
Anyhow, the view at the top is amazing! And to our surprise (but not to anyone else headed up there) there is an INCREDIBLE ski lodge up there right in at the top of the mountain (that’s where the train stops). We knew there was a ski and sledding area, from what we were told, but we had never seen anything like this. It was just a giant glacier at the top of the mountain, everything white wherever you looked, and ski trains going down them. There was even one dedicated solely to sledding! How cool is that?
We rented a couple of sleds and it was a lot of fun, but we just couldn’t get over the view. Just crazy amazing! I’m so glad we didn’t miss this spot.
This is the ski area below the peak.
So this past Christmas we decided to take a trip to Garmisch and it was AWESOME! I hope we get to go back next year because it was so much fun.
We had my husband’s brother with us as well as my parents. We all stayed in a cabin at Edelweiss Lodge and it was just perfect. It was a “deluxe” cabin with a kitchen, a small bedroom and an upstairs little loft. Brother in law, husband, Little Lue and myself stayed up in the loft area and my parents stayed in the bedroom. It was a pretty nice set up and I think we were all pretty comfortable. We even had our dogs with us!
The Lodge was in a separate base from the cabin, but still walking distance. It was really nice with a few food options. It even had an awesome indoor pool! Too bad we found it on the last day… Oh well… Next time! 😛
The Garmisch itself was a really cute village with plenty to see. The mountains could be seen from where ever you were and just looked sooo beautiful. The village was still somewhat decorated and at night all the lights were up… It was just beautiful everywhere. So wonderful and festive.
Husband and BIL went snowboarding on one day and we decided to all go together the next day just to sled and see some snow (sadly it did not snow while we were up there! Ugh… This winter is getting pretty boring without all the fluffy stuff!!) and it was SO much fun. And to my surprise it was SO incredibly kid friendly. There were so many little ones sledding on the slops and people just sitting and enjoying the day as if we were at a large wintery park. There were even a bunch of strollers all over the mountain! It was just really cool to see and reassuring to know that we could happily come back next year we our new addition bundled up.
We are definitely hoping to get to come back. Such a great trip for everyone.
So since we went to the husband’s Christmas party where Santa came and handed out gifts Little Lue finally made a connection she had previously missed. The boxes under the tree are GIFTS!
We had been keeping a few boxes under the tree that we knew were gifts under the tree… They were still in their mailing packaging, so Little Lue really hadn’t given them much attention the few days they were there. But after the party… She realized what they were… So she grabbed a box, brought it over to us and said “Christmas present!” in the most adorable toddler voice eva. “Open the door!”
I’m not very good at waiting myself… so what the heck… Let’s open one.
Well… This turned into opening a box every day LOL!! There are now no more boxes under the tree and we have saved the rest of the gifts for tomorrow morning, Christmas Day, but it was still fun to have her open a few things so that it’s not totally overwhelming Christmas morning. I’m glad she got to enjoy a few things without the craziness of opening 10 things at once haha.
So since most of these gifts came from Nana’s house and she MUST have pictures. I decided to document as best I could. 😉
Yessss! A car or “Brum brum”
I was a bit worried about all the tiny pieces, but she loves them! Fine motor skills 😉
Luna’s turn for a random portrait
And mommy playing with her camera again… haha
So husband’s work had a Christmas party for kids and here are some photos! It was fun because we were told to bring our kids a gift and there would be a Santa who hands them all out. Fun!
Little Lue was honestly horrified at the Santa Clause and wanted to leave immediately after his arrival, but once he started handing out gifts she changed her tune. LOL!
She got to decorate a cookie, and make a ginger bread house… sort of hahaha. It was pretty nice.
First we decorated cookiessss….
Then Santa showed up… After a small panic attach you can see how interested she is once he started giving out stuff LOL!!
But that doesn’t mean she wanted to hang out with him… Got her gift and ran for it hahahaha
Oh man! A goody bag too?!
I think she liked it
Now lets make that gingerbread house!
Honestly… she mostly tried to eat it 😛
But the marker was pretty fun!
Naaaaa… Eating it is better
We finally found a neat place to buy our tree from!
For whatever reason, I vividly remember going out to pick out our Christmas tree. Our family always had a live tree and I so loved the smell and specialness of the Christmas tree. It was always an exciting and special day. And because I feel like just picking the tree is supposed to feel special, I really didn’t want to go to just anywhere to get it. I was hoping to find a local something to get a tree form other than Toom (German version of Home Depot/Lowes)… Although for a moment there it was looking like the best option!
Anyhow, I went out for a walk around the village and finally (I do say finally because this place was right on the main road) noticed this house that had a small sign that read “Weihnachten Baüme” Now… I had no idea what this meant, but it had a Christmas Tree picture, and I knew baum had something to do with plants, LOL, so I figured I’d walk into the drive way for a look. And sure enough right around the corner were a bunch of trees! Yay! It was pretty cool, the drive way snaked around his yard so it was like a little tree maze. He even had some smaller trees in pots, which I thought was pretty cool. The owner didn’t speak much english and unfortunately my German vocabulary is still quite small (minuscule really), but I was still able to get an average price and the times he was open. So later that evening we came back and picked out our tree!
Somehow I managed to pick out a massive tree… When it was laid down to be wrapped up I was tempted to say we needed a different one because, OMG, it looked HUGE. But it was too late. So we took our massive tree. The owner told us he has been selling trees in the village for 40 years! We happily told him we would come back next year. Lucy got a cookie and Duvi was not able to refuse the “schnapps”, haha, and away we went.
Back home is when I finally pulled out the camera. So here are some X-mas decorating photos <3
Soooo… Yeah, we had to chop off some trunk off the bottom to make it fit LOL!!! Glad we have a strong and persistent daddy 😉
A little ambience… 😉
I’m telling you, this thing was just massive. But it’s grown on me hahaha…
Everyone waiting patiently haha
Random Bongo portrait <3 My baby is so cute!
Aha! He did it! Go daddy!!!
Open up the treeeee…
Putting up the star… Can anyone find the very first ornament on the tree? 😉
The lights were quite exciting!
All done!! It’s a little wonky looking… But I still love it Definitely grown on me since we put it up hahaha
And yes… I do see that random empty layer… I think that’s how German Christmas Trees are supposed to look… Right? LOL
Anddddd…. Mommy playing with the camera LOL
A few weeks ago we met up with some friends to check out our first German Christmas market at Bernkastel-Kues. It was super nice to see them and fun to explore such a pretty village. Bernkastel-Kues is a town along a river bank and just has a lot of character and lovely architecture. We we wandering around with the little ones so it was hard to pull out the camera for pictures too often, but I still managed to catch a few shots…
I’m guessing this is a fountain in the summer, very cool!
Love the city center walkways here… So wonderful to wonder around without cars… I wish they would do this in Old San Juan! Just rope off more pedestrian areas
My favorite image… I might need to print this one <3
Checking out the scene…
Waffles on a stickkkkkkkk!! LOL
One large Advent Calendar!!
These are part of the little shops they put up for the Christmas Markets. They just sold random crafts, clothes, foods, ornaments… Stuff like that.
Fun rides too haha!!
And after a day of walking it was nice to settle down in a warm restaurant for lunch.
Ok… Now this may have been more exciting for mommy than for Little Lue LOL!
Last week we had lots of precipitation forecasted, along with lower temperatures, and everyone (and by everyone, I mean that hand full of child like adults who still think snow is like magic falling for the sky) was hoping for snow… But sadly, all we got was some cold cloudy weather along with a few drizzles of rain. A little snow dusting one night (mostly on roof tops), only to melt by midday… That was it… Quite disappointing!
So you can image my dismay when the whole forecast for the upcoming weeks is clear/cloudy with 10-20% chance of precipitation… BOOOOOO!
Well, we were pleasantly surprised yesterday with the first snow fall! It snowed for about 3 hours and honestly I was just glued to the window staring at it. It would slow down and be nothing more than tiny specs of white, and them suddenly downpour with big chunky clumps of snow! So pretty…. Non of it stuck to the ground though… So it was just mostly fun to see. And of course as soon as I saw it I started dancing around like a kid, grabbed Lucy and the camera, threw on some coats and ran outside. (Quite impressive, as I’ve been avoiding the outside as much as possible the past month!)
So because we went out when it first started snowing, it wasn’t really very much coming down… and it was SO hard to photograph… But whatever, here are the pics I got.
It was so so SO pretty. I wish I could have captured it better. Oh well… at least Little Lue looked cute, right?
Adventures in Germany Continued
So a couple of weekends ago we were wondering what to do. I think that for daddy and I, our time in Key West had us soooo spoiled. We didn’t ever had to take long drives to do stuff, and it always felt like we had plenty to do. So here in Germany we hear of all these amazing cities and things to see, only to realize many of these spots are 2-4 hours away. Sure… It’s definitely a doable distance, but alas… We just loath being in the car for so long on… So our solution has been to scour the newspapers and anything we can get our hands on looking for random activities we could do closer to home. I’m not sure if it’s the upcoming holiday season, but there seems to always be a craft show or festival happening somewhere!
This weekend we spotted something a little more random… The yard sale page had an add for someone making Raw Apple Juice! Seemed interesting enough, so we decided to check it out.
It was actually really cool.
First you put the apples in a shredder!
Then you put the apple grinds into this giant pressor. Sure there are tiny ones you can use at home, but this one was much more impressive LOL.
If you are wondering… Yes, it did smell quite amazing!
Next, you had to press the apples… HARD!
And BAMMMM… Juice! Lots and lots of juice! Well… Cider, really
Did I mention it smelled amazing?
Little Lue decided we needed lots more…
Can’t really get more organic than that!
Better late than never… Yes?
A few shots from our visit with Nana and Papo mid October <3
I know I have been quite neglectful of my little blog lately, but it’s only because I’m extra tired, extra cranky, and totally freezing my buttie. Why so tired? If you haven’t heard, I’m pregnant!
Yes, those are the big news I shared with my family as they arrived for their first visit to Germany. And between pregnancy naps, senseless emotional roller coastering, trying to play catch up with the house cleaning, and chasing around a not so compliant toddler, I’ve had little time for the fun stuff… But thankfully the 2nd trimester is finally here, and I’m starting to feel a little more like myself… Sort of…
Enough chit chat… Here are a few shots from the visit!!
It was my mom’s birthday (any excuse to come visit us!) and that evening my dad had Lucy walk into the room with a cake in the wagon, it was a pretty cute idea. My mom was so surprised
Wondering around Trier with some awesome company
I seriously can’t wait to get my new lens. I have been patiently waiting to purchase a nice wide angle lens to take with me when we go to new places and it’s finally going to happen this weekend. I really want to start working on some scenic and architecture photography. Scenic photography really speaks to my soul. I still wish we could have invested in some Peter Lik art work before leaving Key West (he has a gallery there) I really think he is my photography inspiration. Hoping to really focus on this part of photography while living in Europe and taking advantage of these amazing places that we will be visiting. So so excited on working on a new skill! Always learning, never stop!!
So here we are wondering around Trier. I almost wanted to leave the camera in my bag and just enjoy the day… But I simply couldn’t… Trier is the first older city we got to visit and it was pretty amazing. We are actually planning to go back very soon since I feel like I need to see it all AGAIN lol.
So today was Little Lue’s second gymnastics class and I totally love it. I mean… she loves it? Can it be both?
It’s just so much fun to see her in a different setting, taking directions from her teacher, and having SO much fun doing it. I love the teacher Miss Kate, she makes the class super fun and appropriate for their age. I hope Little Lue gets to be in her classes a lot while we’re here! (She’s the same teacher for her dance class, yay!)
Little Lue is pretty good at following directions, but still gets a bit side tracked haha. Still, I can tell she’s totally engaged in everything that’s going on.
So this morning we tried on our new leotards! Yes, both of them… Because mommy was too excited to wait for Little Lue to go potty after she had woken up before trying the first one on, and Little Lue was too excited wearing her gymnastics clothes to remember to tell me she needed to pee.
So off with that one and on to the other!
We were so very excited to get to class… Little Lue couldn’t wait to take off all her clothes and just have her gymnastics outfit. Glad it’s pretty warm in there! (Did I mention it was in the 40’s this morning!?)
When is it our turn?!?!?! ***waiting for the door to open***
Decided to do a little stretching while we waited…
I think my favorite part about today’s class was when Little Lue used to bar to swing! She did it all by herself and loved every second of it. (So did mommy!!! You can tell by the disproportionate amount of photos LOL)
And just like that it was over… I think it’s cute that they get little stamps on their hands once they are done We always talk about showing daddy her gymnastics stamps.
This tutorial will help you understand how to take better photos with your DSLR camera using your basic 18-55mm kit lens.
Image from Kenrockwell.com
I have had a few friends approach me every now and then with questions about photography and even if I often feel like a newbie myself, I think it would be helpful if I shared some photography basics for those who want to learn how to get the best out of their “nice cameras”. And this way I can always share this post with people who have questions! haha
Also, I know there must be about a MILLION photo tutorials on the web (I know, I’ve read a few of them!) but I wanted to write one just for those awesome Camera Latte fans .
So lets get this started. I’m going to talk about a few different things. So read this when you have time to relax and really dive deep into your camera.
Let’s start with what you have to work with, your tools of the trade.
Your Camera Body
Congratulations, you just bought your first “nice” camera, a DSLR! It even comes with detachable lenses, fancy! Now I will point it at anything and get fantastic Pintrest worthy photos! Or at least, that’s what we all fantasize about, right?
And while you should see a jump in the quality of your photos when using a DSLR, you may be wondering what happened to the awesome blurred backgrounds you were hoping for. Wasn’t this the reason you purchased this camera in the first place? Other’s will convince you that you need a better lens, or camera body, or both. But wait a minuteeeee… Let’s see what we have to work with first!!
Even the most basic entry level cameras have everything you need to get started. And while a better camera body will render better images, unless you are looking to take professional level photos, your entry level body will do just fine. I don’t say that to make you feel like the cool cameras are only for “pros”, what I mean is, if you are not ready to drop 1K-4K on a camera body, and most beginners won’t (I sure didn’t!!), don’t worry about having the highest level camera (remember, professionals make a living on their photos, so yes, they spend top dollar on their equiptment). What you have should be perfect to learn on. Once you start pushing your camera’s capabilities to their limit, consider upgrading. What camera do I use? Depends! I have a Nikon D90 for home life, a Nikon D7000 for my professional work, and a Fuji TX1 for travel.
Nikon D7100 24.1 MP DX-Format CMOS Digital SLR (Body Only)
Fujifilm X-T1 16 MP Compact System Camera with 3.0-Inch LCD and XF 18-55mm F2.8-4.0 Lens
Here’s the thing, DSLR’s are complicated machines being marketed to regular consumers as a “fancy awesome camera”. I mean, look at them! They are bulky, need their own special bag, and did I mention you can switch the lens?! Fancy. The end. But most consumers will never know how awesome their little machines really are because they never switch out of… AUTO MODE!
Let’s do that right now. Pick up your camera, locate your main control dial, and switch it from AUTO to M (Manual).
Ok, now we’re getting somewhere!
Now… here’s what you do next. Put your camera down. And locate your User Manual. Yup, that’s right… That oddly large booklet that came with your camera. You have to actually read it! Turns out that each camera brand (and even model to model) is a little different. And as much as I wish I could easy tell you how to control your Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO on your camera, I can’t. You are going to have to figure that out yourself. So I just officially gave you some homework! You can either come back to this post later, or finish reading this and later pull out your manual, but from this point on, I will have to assume you know how to adjust those settings on your camera.
Find out how to do these things on your camera by reading your User Manual
#1 Learn how to switch your camera to Manual Mode
#2 Learn how to gage the Exposure on your camera
#3 Learn how to adjust ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed
Using your Camera
OK! Now we are ready to play
Lets pick up your camera and start taking photos on Manual.
Most people would start talking about exposure, aperture and shutter speed at this point, but I want to start with light.
Look around you. How much light do you have to work with? Are you indoors? Outside? Is it super sunny or cloudy and dark? Is it a bright room, or is there only artificial light?
Adjusting your ISO to lighting conditions
This is IMPORTANT. Because the amount of light you have to work with will determine your ISO setting. Your ISO setting with determine how much light your camera sensor will use. You can think of your ISO as empty ice trays all over censor (the part of your camera that “sees” the image). The bigger the little containers on your tray, the more water *light* they can hold, right? Too much light, and you will have frozen over ice (no good). And too little you will have tiny useless ice cubes (also no good). You want your tray to get the right amount of water *light* to make perfect ice cubes.
So, in a dark room, there really isn’t much light. Think of it as a warm drink that needs MASSIVE ice cubes. You’re going to need a high ISO as the amount of light you have to work with diminishes. Outside on a sunny day, 100-300 ISO. Indoors 500-1200, evening/dark room anywhere from 1200 to 3200. Your camera may go up even higher! But remember this, once you pass 1200 ISO, be prepared to see grainer photos. That is just the nature of the beast. Remember those “pro” cameras? They will have minimal grain at the highest ISO settings, but for the rest of us, grain will happen. And if you are trying to capture a photo of your babies sleeping in a dimly light room without ruining the ambience with a flash, a little graininess is fine.
If your ISO setting is too high for the amount of light you are working with, you will also get grainy photos. Your “ice trays” will over fill and cause little specs of light overspill on your photos. No good!
So lets starts with what is easiest to practice on, walk outside on a relatively bright day and set your ISO to 100-300. If it’s a little cloudy try 500-800. This should help you get the sharpest image while still having a full range of use of your Shutter Speed and Aperture to get a proper exposure.
(I promise once you read your User Manual all this will make a little more sense!)
Outside on sunny overcast day, ISO 320
Notice my subjects are slightly underexposed because the sky is so bright! I could have slowed that shutter speed to get a better look at my hubby!
Nikon D90, Nikkor 18-55mm 3.5-5.6
ISO 320 18mm f/3.5 1/800sec
Outside on cloudy day under lots of shade, ISO 1000
Nikon D90, Nikkor 18-55mm 3.5-5.6
ISO 1000 18mm f/5 1/200sec
Indoors ample light from a window on a cloudy day, ISO 1600
Nikon D90, Nikkor 18-55mm 3.5-5.6
ISO 1600 18mm f/3.5 1/200sec
Indoors with limited light during the evening, ISO 2500
Notice how much graininess is happening in the darker areas of the photo. This photo is also underexposed, but with my ISO already cranked up to 2500, a wide open aperture, and my shutter speed at 1/40th of a second, there wasn’t much else that I could do. But I wasn’t going to miss this moment just because it was so dark!
Nikon D90, Nikkor 18-55mm 3.5-5.6
ISO 2500 18mm f/3.5 1/40sec
Using your lens Aperture to your advantage for portrait photography
Ok, so lets work on getting that awesome blurry background! Yay!
Here is the part where your lens matters. You will need a lens than can have a wide aperture to get those blurred background, you get some fantastic bokeh at 2.8 or wider (and by wider I mean smaller number, confusing, I know). But let me tell you a secret… Most of my blog’s photos, and many of my favorite photos at that, have been taken with a lowly kit lens. Yup, that’s right! A basic 18-55mm kit lens that comes with most DSLRs. This kit lens’s aperture starts at 3.5, giving you very minimal bokeh. Surprised? You shouldn’t be! Because I told you, you can take great photos with the tools you already have! While my kit lens wont deliver the bokeh that my 50mm 1.4 does (not by a long shot) it still gives me a sharp beautiful image when wide open with just a hint of bokeh to give the subject that popping out of the photo effect.
Why do I use the 18-55mm when I have the 50mm 1.4? It’s wide and cheap, that simple. My subject is usually a toddler, I can’t be on the other side of the room trying to snap a cute photo of her. I might not even HAVE the other side of the room if the space is small. And I don’t always want photos of her hands or just her eyeball… I want to see her painting with water colors and get the full scene. If we’re outside, I want to see her, AND the awesome park/woods/mountains/ocean/whatever in the back ground. I want to have a snap shot of what her room looked like in one or two photos, not a series of 20 because only a few feet of wall fit in each frame. In essence, at 18mm, the 18-55mm is a great wide angle that gives you the freedom of being really close to your subject for great portraits or getting a full view of a scene/location.
Notice how much more of the scene you get with the wider the lens. All of these were taken with me standing in the same spot in the room about 15 steps away from my subject. Big big difference!
Taken with a 18-55mm 3.5-4 at 18mm
Nikon D90, Nikkor 18-55mm 3.5-5.6
ISO 1000 18mm f/3.5 1/100sec
Taken with a 35mm 1.8 from the same spot
Nikon D90, Nikkor 35mm 1.8
ISO 1000 35mm f/3.5 1/160sec
Taken with a 50mm 1.8
Nikon D90, Nikkor 50mm 1.4
ISO 1000 50mm f/3.5 1/200sec
Now what was that about shooting wide open?
To get that blurry background effect, you need your aperture to be as open as possible (without compromising your subject’s sharpness). I can’t shoot my 50mm wide open at 1.4 because the depth of field becomes so shallow that only my subject’s eyes, or nose are in focus. Everything else starts to blur. I usually shoot it at 2 or 2.8 because I want the subject’s entire body in sharp focus. Since most kit lens’s widest aperture starts at 3.5, you will never have that problem. Your subject will always be in focus (as long as your camera is focusing on the right element you want in focus) and you will get a nice modest amount of bokeh.
Having your aperture wide open will also mean that your lens is capturing as much light as possible! On a sunny day, that can be a LOT of light, sometimes too much. Aren’t you glad you don’t have to worry about that because you have already selected the correct ISO settings? 😉 Yeah, I thought so!
So in simple plain instructions. If you want a blurred background photo with your kit lens, shift to the closest range (on a 18-55mm, this would be 18mm). And now adjust your aperture as wide as it will go, to 3.5.
Side note, when working with any zoom lens you should get some background compression which also blurs the background a bit. This also helps when working with this lens at other apertures, not just 3.5.
Here’s a great example of how much bokeh you can get with your 18-55mm when you get really close to your subject. The flowers are blurred and the background is also well blurred and your subject perfectly sharp. Yay!
Nikon D90, Nikkor 18-55mm 3.5-5.6
ISO 320 18mm f/3.8 1/800sec
And in case you’re wondering, will you get better results from a better lens? Say a 50mm 1.4 or a 35mm 1.8 like I mentioned above? Absolutely. But I want you to work with the tools you have right NOW and practice practice practice. Once you get the hang of it, you will truly enjoy a lens upgrade.
Achieving proper Exposure using your Shutter Speed
(I hope you did your homework, because from this point on it’s going to get tricky!)
Alright! We are almost there! Now is the time to start worrying about exposure.
Your photo is properly exposed when the image is not too dark or too bright/washed out. You want to expose your photo to cater to your subject. What I mean by this is that maybe it’s really bright out and your camera is giving you a properly exposed photo. You take the shot and your subject is really dark and all you can see is a blue sky. In this case you want to over expose the image just a tad to bright up your subject. You need your camera to take in more light. But you don’t want to adjust your aperture (either way, you can’t really make it wider if you’ve followed these suggestions thus far, it’s already taking in as much light as it can!). You could adjust your ISO if it’s not at it’s very lowest setting, but often ISO is adjusted by clicking on multiple dials/buttons so not really ideal for quick thinking. The easiest way is to adjust your shutter speed.
Your shutter speed is the amount of time that the lens’s shutter remains open during a single shot. This could be 1/4000 of a second or 1/100 of a second or even 8 seconds. These tiny fragments of time make a big difference in the amount of light the censor has access to and yet a minimal effect on the type of photo you want up to a certain range.
If you are working with moving subjects (I know I am) I want to freeze time. I don’t want my daughter to look like a messy blur. Any shutter speed from 1/4000 of a second to 1/100 or even 1/60 of a second will freeze her actions. Giving me a clear sharp image. That means that I can adjust my exposure working solely that range on my shutter speed. That’s makes things pretty easy on me!
Under exposed Image, shutter speed 1/60 sec
Nikon D90, Nikkor 18-55mm 3.5-5.6
ISO 2500 18mm f/3.5 1/40sec
Over exposed Image, shutter speed 1/8 sec
Notice it’s also blurry
Nikon D90, Nikkor 18-55mm 3.5-5.6
ISO 1000 18mm f/3.5 1/8sec
Properly exposed Image, shutter speed 1/60
1/60th of a second is also the slowest shutter speed I recommend to use with moving subjects such a children.
Nikon D90, Nikkor 18-55mm 3.5-5.6
ISO 1000 18mm f/3.5 1/60sec
And, that’s it! Shoot away! Once you have selected the shutter speed that creates properly exposed images for your current lighting conditions, you are good to go!
If you are all the way up to 1/60th of a second on your shutter speed and you are still getting an under exposed image, what does that mean? You don’t have enough light! And you can’t change your shutter speed, or your photo will be blurry. And you can’t change your aperture, it’s already as wide as it will go! So that means you have to adjust your ISO and bump it up so that your censor can use more light. (This is why I try to select the correct aperture first!) Try bumping it up by 200-500 units or even more so you have a little more leeway. Now readjust your shutter speed to expose your image. DONE!
You did it! You should be able to take some fabulous photos IN MANUAL SETTING with that awesome BLURRY back ground with your KIT LENS! How sweet is THAT?!
Now go be awesome! Take awesome photos of your family and PLEASE if possible share them with me by posting a link in the comments of your success! I would truly appreciate it.
If you have any questions, comments, or anything to add, please feel free to share with me. I would love to hear how this works out for you! And don’t stop here, keep learning and reading up on your camera and how to use all your settings for different types of photography.
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So after a day of treasure hunting at the flea market, wondering around Ramstein-Meisenbach through their little shops, and spending some time on the base BX searching for tiny dance leotards, there was still no nap.
At this point I figured Little Lue would just crash at 7pm or something… So instead of trying to force on sleep at 4pm, we decided to go on a walk.
Heading out the door I decided to grab my camera and make it a little photo walk. I’m glad I did. I kind of love some of these…
And this particular photo just spoke to me so much. It’s of this really young couple… I didn’t want to disturb them when we passed them, but I had to look back and take one shot. They were very blushy as we walked by, like they were meeting in secret. One of them had come in a motor cross bike, probably from another village… It just gave me that young love rushing feeling; crazy, forbidden, new, and exciting. Any how, I love how this photo came out. I want to make more artful pieces like this in the future