Family Photos (But Not Mine)

Have you missed me? I can’t believe the backlog of posts and photos I have to share with you — but I’m afraid you’ll have to be consoled for now by taking a peek at this beautiful family:

This is Katie, Kevin, and their daughters. I work with Katie, and have formerly worked with both Katie and Kevin at a previous job. We decided it was high time to get together again, since Jameson was still a sluggy newborn when he met them before (and obviously, wee little baby wasn’t around yet either!)

I offered to take some photos for Katie of her family as practice. I think maybe I could have adjusted the apeture somewhat more, but I didn’t want to be at risk of losing some focus. Practice makes perfect, right?

I spend so much time photographing Jameson and Lily, I really wanted to try my hand at a hard target: a toddler who doesn’t know me, and a baby who doesn’t care.

What I learned? I need to develop confidence in posing. Katie and Kevin were so natural that it didn’t matter, but I was uncomfortable telling them how to pose. Anyone less photogenic than this beautiful family and the photos wouldn’t have turned out nearly so well.

Katie’s favorite: The one that included their pup, Lucia. She told me they didn’t have a single family photo that included their dog. Let me tell you, we almost gave up before we got this shot. I didn’t realize I had a blow out spot until later, that was a little disappointing.

Tip 2: Dog treats from the start with the family, and a good loud voice to get the dog to look at you.

Meanwhile, Brian was chasing around Jameson who was running through the yard like a whirlwind. When I crouched down, he wanted to climb on my back, which was cute, and brings me to tip 3:

Toddlers like other kids. She wanted to smile at Jameson! He was conveniently located behind me for the last couple shots. However, the most natural smiles from her were when they were unposed or she didn’t think I was looking:

Yeah, I got a couple of my own kid, too. After the “official” shoot, we blew up the bounce house and let the kids go wild. Katie and Kevin own an RV, so they played in there for a bit too before we had a cookout lunch on their deck.

It was funny to watch Jameson watching her — she was jumping up and down all over the place, and he seemed to be wondering how to imitate her. He doesn’t know how to jump yet!

It was so fun to do these photos, to try my hand at observing the lighting to select the best locations for shooting in her yard, and to see what it’s like to take photos of kids you don’t know (that don’t know you!)

My personal favorite was this one, of Katie unposed smiling down at her new 7 week old baby girl.

Oh, just keeping it real, this great color coordinated family did all change after the photos were finished into much more casual outfits. (The baby’s changing might have been necessitated by a very successful poop. Thankfully she had good timing!)

P.S. Speaking of babies, our friend Lauren finally got to take her twin girls home at just under 4 weeks old. They are about 4-1/2 pounds and are super cute! (And I’m not just saying that; they really don’t have that “premature” look about them at all. They’re adorable!) I got to meet them briefly last week, and I’m so very excited that they finally got to come home.

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Popsicle Summer

It’s only June and the grass is already dried out and sharp. We have gotten some early hot, dry weather this season!

But, it’s perfect for popsicles:

I attended a free Lightroom webinar session a couple weeks ago and got a few tips and tricks from it. It was mostly an intro course, but I felt like I learned somewhat. At the end, they had a discount code for their shop at Pretty Presets (it was a free webinar remember).

My photos in the evening are mostly outside now. And since I take a lot of evening photos because I work most days, I felt like it was a smart investment to purchase some sunlight and color enhancing and adjusting presets for Lightroom.

I went ahead and purchased their Spring Color, Flare & Haze Collection, and I’m really happy with it. The key to presets though is knowing how to tweak them to your needs, which they showed in the webinar. I’ve never used the gradient adjustments in Lightroom, so this has opened up a whole new world.

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Jameson Visits the Zoo

We had a wonderful weekend! Saturday, we relaxed most of the day away. Jameson took a nearly 3-1/2 hour nap, ran errands with dad to Home Depot (they were gone for a lovely hour), and was in such a great mood all day. It was so relaxing and, dare I say it? Easy.

Sunday it was nice out, so we decided to go to the zoo. There was a small chance of rain in the morning, but we opted to go early anyway to try and by pass the crowds that were sure to come. It definitely worked, and many of the animals were out and active!

We saw the elephants first, and then we heard calls out to our right. I didn’t know what animal was making the noise, but as it turns out it was the lion. I don’t think it was a full out ROAR but it was the first time I think that I’ve heard the lions calling out.

We headed up toward the Australian exhibits, and a small kangaroo was right up near us.

Can you see the joey poking out of her belly? The zookeeper standing by pointed it out. His or her little arm or leg is sticking out. I couldn’t believe how close she was to us! We took Jameson out of his stroller so he could get a better look at all the animals near by.

He loved watching the birds and the train going by.

We didn’t stray too much into the Australian exhibit, and turned around to go see the giraffes. The giraffes weren’t out but we saw them inside. Jameson didn’t want to stand forward for this picture, but at least I got him next to the measurement.

The great part about having a pass is not feeling obligated to see the entire zoo in one visit. We picked and chose the best exhibits with big animals that Jameson would appreciate. After seeing a few more birds, reindeer and camels, we came around to the best exhibit of the day!

The bears were out and they were actually playing! I don’t believe I’ve ever seen them moving like this before, so I had to take video evidence as well.


Jameson loved it. Brian would say “Can you say bear?” and Jameson would say “Beh”.

Next door, the polar bear was out. He was calmly surveying the scene.

So calm was he that we decided he’d be a perfect backdrop for a few photos.

This one cracks me up, it looks like Jameson is a little concerned about the polar bear behind him.

Our last stop at the zoo was the monkeys, and we plopped Jameson next to one statuesque monkey on a bench. Jameson wasn’t so impressed.

Before we headed over the rainforest just outside the main zoo, we stopped for some lunch. Jameson had his very first happy meal, and insisted on eating his chicken nuggets whole rather than cut up. He loved the apples, but wasn’t too fond of the fries.

The rainforest wasn’t too crowded, so we let Jameson walk around a bit. He held Brian’s hand really well and walked from exhibit to exhibit.

I hadn’t realized before, but most of the glass is set low, low enough for Jameson to see.

We really tired him out that morning, but he only really napped for 45 minutes in the car on the way home. He was up and at ’em again after that, ready to play outside for the rest of the day!

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Warm Up

This week, the weather looks like it’s finally warming up and here to stay.

Last week we had one beautiful evening that we took Jameson on a walk (literally) down the three houses on our street.

He loved it, and he didn’t want to go back home. He wanted to walk right up to our neighbor’s door. He also loves walking down our driveway to get the mail (once I get him going in that direction).

Jameson’s not quite willing to walk in the grass yes (but based on his history with grass, I’m not surprised). I am betting by the time summer hits though he’ll want to run through it barefoot.

Photo Challenge Submission

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Capture A Day: One Month In (and a half)

Last night I finally pulled pictures from all month into my Flickr set for my 365 (366) capture a day project. I take photos on my phone too, so I had to pull some of those in.

Following my own rules, if I forget a day, I can take a picture the following day of something that was there. All in all, I forgot 2 times. 1 of them I made up for, and 1 of them I didn’t.

So far, I feel like I need to spend more time honing in on how I want to better my photography instead of haphazardly taking some photos to make the day. I just bought a better supplemental manual for my camera, and I’ve read a few articles on focus which I’ve already seen results with. Hopefully the photos from these next couple months will be better!

On the other hand, I do feel like I’m taking a good representation of my days: Jameson with a little non-Jameson.

Here’s the break down:

Day 1 – Sun, January 1: New Years Day at JP & Lisa’s house. Jonathan and Jameson are playing with Jonthan’s walking toy.

Day 2 – Mon, January 2: Jameson loves to play with the Styrofoam snowflakes hanging from the banister upstairs.

Day 3 – Tue, January 3: Christmastime Kisses

Day 4 – Wed, January 4: Jameson is just starting to stand with no hands by letting go of things!

Day 5 – Thu, January 6: Taken 1 day late. Jameson’s growth chart with his first entry.

Day 6 – Fri, January 6: Jameson is getting the hang of putting his cars on the ramp to let them roll down! Dad helped Jameson put this car all the way up top.

Day 7 – Sat, January 7: Put away the ornaments and taking down the tree today. I separated the soft and unbreakable ornaments for Jameson to hang next year!

Day 8 – Sun, January 8: Great-grandpa’s 91st birthday. Brian, Jameson and his great-grandfather.

Day 9 – Mon, January 9: Jameson was getting into trouble so we picked him up and flung him upside down. Not really. He loves it.

Day 10 – Tue, January 10: My gross keyboard at work. Tried out a new iphone camera app.

Day 11 – Wed, January 11: Jameson is playing with the tunnel Brian got him for his birthday.

Day 12 – Thu, January 12: Sasha loves the fireplace.

Day 13 – Fri, January 13: Jameson’s grandpa’s birthday was on the 11th, but we had them over today for pizza, chicken & jojos.

Day 14 – Sat, January 14: Jameson likes to be silly now and roll around on the ground.

Day 15 – Sun, January 15: My big boy, laying on a pillow, eating cheerios.

Day 16 – Mon, January 16: Jameson didn’t want to sit for his 13 months photos, he’d rather be on his knees.

Day 17 – Tue, January 17: Playing with dad’s sweatshirt pocket, Brian is hiding a toy of some sort.

Day 18 – Wed, January 18: Jameson’s been really sleepy recently, probably a growth spurt (or growing in some teeth)

Day 19 – Thu, January 19: Jameson is getting long hair in the back sides. I think he has his father’s hair.

Day 20 – Fri, January 20: Favorite part of the evenings after Jameson goes to bed is the fireplace.

Day 21 – Sat, January 21: Jameson still loves pulling his socks off. Here he is in hi buzz lightyear outfit from Uncle Tyler.

Day 22 – Sun, January 22: Sitting handsome!

Day 23 – Mon, January 23: A drooly Jameson, climbing on me.

Day 24 – Tue, January 24: A new favorite activity is climbing through the stools in the kitchen. He’s a bit stuck here.

Day 25 – Wed, January 25: Reading stories with grandma.

Day 26 – Thu, January 26: I wasn’t feeling great today, but it was nice to have this wonderful homemade wedding soup.

Day 27 – Fri, January 29: Taken a couple days late, this is a ornament from my grandma’s.

Day 28 – Sat, January 28: He was actually kind of crying here, but this is from our Valentine’s Day shoot.

Day 29 – Sun, January 29: Playing with books.

Day 30We missed this day 🙁

Day 31 – Tue, January 31: Reaching through the stairs. A good shot of some top teeth!

Day 32 – Wed, February 1: Jameson “riding” Surfin’ Elmo during Baby Night Wednesday with the neighbors.

Day 33 – Thu, February 2: Scary faced Jameson climbing up the stairs.

Day 34 – Fri, February 3: Jameson getting his nails cut. He’s actually pretty calm about this.

Day 35 – Sat, February 4: Jameson and I drove down to visit my parents. Here is Jameson and my dad (Jameson is reaching for me but he’s not fussing so that is great!).

Day 36 – Sun, February 5: All Jameson wanted to do was go up and down the stairs and grandma and grandpa’s house.

Day 37 – Mon, February 6: Jameson loved greek yogurt so much he ate some of mine. Here he is with my mom.

Day 38 – Tue, February 7: Pork and onions, a dinner that I actually made myself. So good!

Day 39 – Wed, February 8: It’s raquetball night. Brian and I play while his sister or mom watches Jameson.

Day 40 – Thu, February 9: Jameson is climbing the stairs again.

Day 41 – Fri, February 10: Playing peek-a-boo (but totally missing something to cover his face, unless the tomato sauce counts)

Day 42 – Sat, February 11: Learned how to put the “coins” in the bank.

Day 43 – Sun, February 12: Jameson’s new, real shoes.

Day 44 – Mon, February 13: New duck from grandma for Valentine’s Day. Jameson loves soft things.

Day 45 – Tue, February 14: The only photo I took on Valentine’s Day was a 30% off coupon for Kohls to send to my friend so we can schedule a shopping date. What does that mean!?

Day 46 – Wed, February 15: Jameson is sick with pink eye and I am home with him. We “accidentally” put both legs through one pant hole.

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Rules and Whatnot

I know that I break all kinds of photography rules all the time.

My photos aren’t perfect, but I’m learning more as I go. I haven’t taken a class yet, though that is something I’d like to do.

Sometimes though I think I’m best off living in ignorance, where I don’t look at my photos and nitpick until no photos are accepted and approved to be seen by other humans.

I might not then post photos like this: where I took self portraits with Jameson, my camera perched on a pillow and I had to crop outrageously inward, creating that noise you see clearly by my neck.

Or when I don’t convert to black and white, I get that strange washed out glare from the windows behind us. But I still love it anyway.

There are all kinds of rules about light, and I am pretty sure this doesn’t qualify as a good photo to anyone, but I love how the sun glows on his skin. Even if the highlights are too extreme. The light was wonderful that evening, pouring into the living room and kitchen. (Us Clevelanders know how to appreciate the sunlight when we get it so rarely)

I tried to capture more of it, and ended up with more washed out photos.

Easy enough to convert to a vintage wash and make it look on-purpose.

It was a great evening to skip packing for my visit to my parents the following day, and just enjoy Jameson playing. And take some photos, forget the rules for now. I’ll be better tomorrow.

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For Christmas this year, Brian got me a monitor color calibrator. Honestly, these things always seemed like a luxury item to me, and while I wanted one more than I wanted a new lens for my camera (let’s face it, I barely switch between the two I have now), I didn’t think he’d actually get me one.

Not only that, he got me the professional version, like real photographers use.

I love it. I love that I can finally be confident in my color, so what I am seeing on screen is how it would be printed with professional services. I love that it adjusted my brightness for me based on the lighting around me in the room (I am sure I had it way too high).

The result is subtle — maybe you wouldn’t know that I had made color adjustments, though I haven’t posted many photos since the change. But I am certain that I notice it, and that my photos in particular won’t be way too dark, which seemed to happen when I got them printed.

Before you say that this seems like an extraneous purchase for an amateur photographer, I will take a moment to remind those of you who dealt with me while I was planning my wedding and my issues with color and matching. I have a little bit of a problem with this. It is why I will forever purchase furniture sets, rather than eclectic pieces put together like they do in HGTV homes. It’s just my thing.

But I do feel like I need to step up my photography as a result. I need to play more with manual mode. Would you believe me if I told you I use a program mode that is automatic with an ISO limit so my photos won’t be too grainy? All the work happens on editing front, and I am not sure that’s a good thing, even if I can still get reasonably good results.

So far, the picture a day project is continuing, though I haven’t uploaded in a while. Right now, the photography is taking a back seat to actually just dealing with the day to day, so I haven’t made any progress in taking better photos thus far. Right now, a huge part of my day is focused on not eating too much. Did you know that when you restrict your calories, you feel hungry all the time? It makes a food loving lady sad…

Have a happy weekend everyone. Winter has come back to Cleveland (finally) so we’re hoping to take pictures in the snow this weekend again. Also, Brian’s dad’s birthday was this week, so we’re celebrating with pizza tonight. One slice for me.

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My 2012 Capture 365

Here’s how this post was supposed to start:

This year, I am doing Capture 365, a picture a day. I hope you’ll follow my picture a day project for 2012 on Flickr! Pictures may not be loaded every day, but I will be taking them every day. I am planning to capture everyday life: Jameson, Brian, Sasha, food, fun. I hope to break out my prime lens more often. I hope to become a better photographer. And if I get stuck, there are always places to find inspiration. But it will be fun regardless!

Here’s how it’s starting in actuality:

Yesterday I already forgot to take a photo. What do you do when you are 5 days into a project this big and you already screw up? I don’t suppose you give up, do you? I feel pretty ridiculous that I’ve already forgotten. But as this is my personal project, I suppose I can make my own rules, right?

I have decided that instead, I will take two pictures today. One picture must be of something that was there yesterday, to represent yesterday’s photo.

If I had remembered to take a photo yesterday, it would have been a photo of our Chipotle meal. Yesterday, Brian and I played racquetball for an hour and 15 minutes while Brian’s mom babysat. I burned some 500 calories and earned permission to eat my whole burrito bowl from myfitnesspal. It was so good to stuff myself silly after feeling deprived all week.

Since I didn’t remember, maybe I will dig through the trash to find the Chipotle bag? More likely, it will be of another Christmas decoration: We are taking them down this weekend. Jameson is showing a real interest in the Christmas tree now after weeks of leaving it alone.

Jameson used my belly while I laid on the floor last night to lift himself up and stand by himself for a few moments. It was cute, he did it over and over, about 5 times, before crawling over top of me to get to the other side. The best toys were on the other side. The photo of Jameson on January 4 for the 365 project was him standing up by himself for a second! He still won’t really let us help him practice walking though. This child sure does want to do everything on his own, I am sure we’re going to be in for it a few years down the road…

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Gone Sledding

On Wednesday last week we had a little snow, significant enough to cover the grass completely for the first time. It was going to get warm (and sure enough, it was all melted by the next day), so I hustled Brian and Jameson outside to try out the sled and winter outfit that Santa brought.

Jameson was bundled up like the kid from the Christmas Story. Inside the house he couldn’t even crawl and kind of toppled over. He was a good sport though and didn’t cry at all.

I should’ve guessed though that a baby who couldn’t crawl well in the snow suit was also one that would have trouble holding on and he toppled over again, into the snow.

We might have laughed at him a little. Look at that cute lip!

We went inside, Jameson had had enough.

I went back out at dusk later though, to practice some techniques of taking photos of Christmas lights!

I started following Strobist, and they refreshed a post from the archives about shooting them. I am really pleased with my results, and it’s true that taking photos at dusk rather than full dark was much better.

The key though was switching the white balance to tungsten. However, I cheated and I did that in Lightroom after the shoot. That’s the beauty of shooting in RAW.

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