one trick that will improve your pictures overnight…

one tip to improve your pictures overnight

One trick that will improve your pictures overnight… really? Yes, really.

If you haven’t already heard it a million-gazillion times, a great picture is all about great light. Unfortunately we can’t always get great light, or can we? 

A few years ago, it happened for the first time, the mom of a senior I was photographing started asking questions. She was the first in a long line of moms who asked me the exact. same. thing. During the photo session she watched and helped (because if moms have an interest I’ll put them to work 😉 ), as we moved her son around a private garden for his senior pictures.

The garden location meant a lot of shade, sometimes deep shade. While my professional flash could light up a small stadium, I rarely need to use it; instead I opt for reflectors whenever possible. As we moved through the garden and I showed this mom how to position the reflector to bounce the light back toward her son’s face, she fell in love — with the reflector.

Professional photographers have been manipulating light since the beginning of photography. It’s what we do.

Reflectors are simple to use, and can be nearly anything. I bet you have something in your home right now, that could be pressed into service as a reflector, and BOOM, your photos just got better! Here are just a few items you might already have on hand that bounce light:

1.  white poster board

Most moms with school age kids have some poster board in a closet somewhere. This flexible, cheap, and easy to use item works wonderfully to gently bounce light back toward your subject.

2.  a white sheet or towel

A towel or sheet work best when your subject is on the floor. Place this on the ground in front of them to reflect light back onto their face. If they are sitting, place the towel or sheet across their lap.

3.  a white door

If you have white doors in your home, count yourself lucky. They are amazing when you’re trying to take pictures inside your home. Just move that giant, hinged reflector, back and forth to see where the light falls, and voila’!

4.  concrete sidewalk

Use this just as you would the white towel. Concrete is particularly helpful if you are photographing someone laying in the grass.  Have you ever noticed how the grass bounces back green light, and makes people look, well, green? Avoid that by having the person lay close to the sidewalk so the light bounced back will be neutral.  Works like a charm 😉

5.  reflective car window shade

If you have one of the foil-like shades you put in your cars’ windshield to reflect the sun, you can use it in your photos for the exact same purpose. One of the benefits of these is that they are generally easy to prop on something, freeing up your hands.

6.  aluminum foil

To make a DIY reflector, wrap aluminum foil (dull side out) around both sides of a piece of cardboard, poster board, or other firm but lightweight, surface. Leave one side with the dull foil facing out.  One the other side, mist some white spray paint (hold about 24 inches from surface). The paint will soften the bounced light. This gives you two reflectors to use in dark areas. Using foil can be overkill, because it’s a very harsh reflector of light. I would only use it if the location is extremely shady.

If you are just dying to know what reflector I use, while it’s no longer available, this one is very similar. Do you have another idea for a reflector? If so, please share it here so we call all learn something new!

If you’re ready to learn your own mad photography skills, talk to me about which of my photography classes would be right for you. Click this link to learn more about my Photography Workshops!!

until next time,
play hard, and have fun,
~Beth

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10 Fabulous Holiday Gifts for Photographers…

Welcome to the 4th annual edition of Fabulous Holiday Gifts for Photographers!  Each year I compile a list of some of the most fun (and useful) photography related items I come across, which makes this one of my favorite posts to write.

This collection of gifts has prices ranging from $8 to – $229, so you’re sure to find something here for everyone. Enjoy!

Holiday Gifts for Photographers - memory card safe

1. Memory Card Safe

If you have a camera, you have memory cards. Maybe you have a lot of them, but do you take care of them? Those little buggers are pretty tough on their own, but they do have some delicate bits and pieces. Take care of your precious cards by protecting them, oh and keeping them all in one place where you can find them. Bonus? This comes in some cool colors! $29.99*

Holiday Gifts for Photographers - memory card reader for iPad

2. Memory Card Reader for iPad

Such a cool idea, does this really need any explanation? 😉 $15* for SD cards $30* for CF cards

Holiday Gifts for Photographers - polaroid camera

3. Polaroid

The Polaroid Camera was cool, then it was gone, and now it’s back again! Combining digital and instant prints. $99.99*

Holiday Gifts for Photographers - retro vintage polaroid prints

4. Retro Polaroid Prints

Those Polaroid prints have such a distinctive look. Miss it? A lot of people do, and now there are plenty of places that will turn your digital pics into “Polaroid” prints. Some of them even have subscription options take your Facebook and Instagram photos and print them monthly for you! Prices vary depending on quantity, etc.  $22.45* for 24 prints.

Holiday Gifts for Photographers - photo books from Facebook or instagram pictures

5. Photo Books

Another simple way to get your photos off your computer, and into your hands! Can you tell I believe in getting photos printed? $8*

Holiday Gifts for Photographers - iPhone camera sticky notes post it notes

6. Paperback Sticky Notes

Sometimes you just need paper! I love this idea for making a quick note with something you probably always have with you 😉 $8* Holiday Gifts for Photographers - pocket reflector

7. Pocket Reflector

Sometimes you just need to bounce a little extra light to the right spot. $15*

Holiday Gifts for Photographers - photo camera decals

8. Photo Decals

Did all those Polaroid ideas leave you feeling a bit nostalgic? These 8-bit decals remind me of my early computer experiences. Pack of 5 decals. $18* (5 pack) 

Holiday Gifts for Photographers

9.  Vintage Camera Tote

Show everyone your love of all things camera. This cool tote is made with 95% post consumer recycled material that has a crushed, wrinkled look. Measures 15″w x 11″h x 6.25″d in size. $19*

photography workshop, photography class, photography instruction, photography learning,

small groups make sure you get hands-on instruction

10.  Photography Class

You spent your hard-earned money and bought the camera.  You followed the “quick set-up” instructions, and started taking pictures.  Maybe you took A LOT of pictures.  And some of them were good.

Some of them were really good!

You were impressed. You were so happy you bought this beautiful new piece of technology. Then reality set in. You wanted more of the really good pictures, and less of the how-fast-can-I-delete-this? pictures. You wanted fewer happy accidents and more, that’s the shot I wanted! That’s normal. Really. I know that’s where I started.

With my half-day, full-day, or one-on-one workshops, you’ll gain the skills to get the pictures you’ve always dreamed of. Reserve your spot early, my class sizes are strictly limited.  Starting at  $229

Did you find something to inspire you?  Do you need more ideas?

12 Fabulous Holiday Gifts for Photographers  (2012 edition)

15 Fabulous Holiday Gifts for Photographers  (2013 edition)

10 Fabulous Holiday Gifts for Photographers  (2014 edition)

And what if you happen to be the photographer…? Well, then just forward this list on to the appropriate gift-giving person!

play hard, and have fun,

~Beth

*prices as of 11-23-2015

p.s.s. I’m not affiliated with any of these companies (well, except for Elizabeth Wendland Photography 😉  ), and am not compensated in any way for making these recommendations.

10 Fabulous Holiday Gifts for Photographers…

Welcome to the 3rd annual edition of Fabulous Holiday Gifts for Photographers!  Each year I compile a list of some of the most useful (and fun) photography related items I come across, which makes this one of my favorite posts to write.

This year there were so many awesome items out there, it was hard to cull this list down to my top 10.  Many retailers aren’t waiting for Black Friday, and they’re offering great prices on these items  right now.  This collection of gifts has prices ranging from free to – well – not free 😉, so you’re sure to find something here for everyone. Enjoy!

vintage cookie cutter set - 10 fabulous holiday gifts for photographers

vintage cookie cutter set

1.  Camera Cookie Cutters 

Treat your family and friends to a ‘taste’ (ha, haaa!) of photography.  Give these fun vintage-style cookie cutters to the photographer who likes to bake, as well as take photos.  And if you like to bake, you can always buy them for yourself, and gift the cookies to your non-baking friends, win – win 😉    $17.95*

touch screen tonic - 10 fabulous holiday gifts for photographers

touch screen tonic

2.  Touch Tonic (for gloves)   

Cutting off the fingertips of your gloves just so you could use your camera phone was a mistake.

Keep your favorite gloves intact AND give them the touchscreen power you need with Touch Tonic, a paint-on solution for your cozy fabric-covered fingertips.     $20.00*

fishbombs - 10 fabulous holiday gifts for photographers

3.  Fishbomb 

The fishbomb is a portable accessory pocket that can be easily attached (and removed) to anything that about the width of a large belt, or smaller.  Attach it to belts, your camera strap, rings and straps on bags, camera bags, even the belt loop on your jeans!  Use them to hold lens caps, spare batteries, rain covers, etc.  They’re so handy, I personally have two.    $12.99 ea.*

what the duck - 10 fabulous holiday gifts for photographers

what the duck

4.  What the Duck  (comics for photographers)

If laughing and pictures are two of your favorite pastimes, this is for you!  If It Shoots Like A Duck… is the third book in the series.    $15.00*

project life app - 10 fabulous holiday gifts for photographers

project life app

5.  Project Life Photo App 

“Scrapbooking” has never looked like this!  Create photo collages on the go, print and slip into photo sleeves.  Done. “You can literally create pages while traveling, waiting for a doctor’s appointment, even laying in bed.” This app is an absolute steal at just    $2.99*

vintage cameras - 10 fabulous holiday gifts for photographers

vintage cameras

6.  Vintage Cameras

Photographers who are also collectors will appreciate this thoughtful gift.  You may find cameras in working condition, but even if they aren’t, they may still be a great prop.  Check with older relatives, pawn shops, ebay, garage sales, etsy, and Goodwill.    $ Free- $$$*

vsco cam app - 10 fabulous holiday gifts for photographers

vsco cam app

7.  VSCO Camera App

With the majority of photos now being taken with smart phones, a good app that helps you get the most out of your phones’ camera is a must. VSCOcam allows for exposure control, tint, contrast and more.  I use this app almost exclusively, and it’s my favorite camera app by far.  VSCOcam is available for iPhone and Android.    $ Free*

DIY memory card storage - 10 fabulous holiday gifts for photographers

DIY memory card storage

 8.  DIY Camera Memory Card Case

Your camera requires memory cards to hold all your precious images.  But keeping track of those cards and knowing if they’re full or empty, can be a problem.  A couple of years ago, I came up with a camera memory card storage hack.  It takes about 10 minutes to do, plus time for the paint or nail polish to dry.   $1.00* for a small Altoids tin

lens pen - 10 fabulous holiday gifts for photographers

lens pen

9.  Lens Pen

This small (and ultra-portable) lens cleaning tool belongs in every photographers camera bag (or fishbomb!).  With a brush on one end and a soft microfiber cloth on the other, it’s perfect for taking care of minor dust and smudges.  It can be used on all optics, so if you know someone who is always carrying binoculars, this belongs in their stocking too.  This is another item that I carry in my own camera bag.  $14.95*

photography workshop, photography class, photography instruction, photography learning,

small groups make sure you get hands-on instruction

10.  Photography Class

You spent your hard earned money and bought the camera.  You followed the “quick set-up” instructions, then started taking pictures.  Maybe you took A LOT of pictures.  And some of them were good.

Some of them were really good!

You were impressed.  You were so happy you bought this beautiful new piece of technology.  Then reality set in.  You wanted more of the really good pictures, and less of the how-fast-can-I-delete-this? pictures.  You wanted fewer happy accidents and more, that’s the shot I wanted! That’s normal.  Really.   I know that’s where I started.

With my half-day, full-day, or one-on-one workshops,  you’ll gain the skills to get the pictures you’ve always dreamed of.  You’ll want to reserve your spot early, my class sizes are strictly limited.  Starting at   $229

Did you find something to inspire you?  Do you need more ideas?

12 Fabulous Holiday Gifts for Photographers  (2012 edition)

15 Fabulous Holiday Gifts for Photographers  (2013 edition)

And what if you happen to be the photographer…? Well, then just forward this list on to the appropriate gift-giving person. 🙂

play hard, and have fun,

~Beth

*prices as of 11-21-2014

p.s.s. I’m not affiliated with any of these companies (well, except for Life As A Sports Mom 😉  ), and am not compensated in any way for making these recommendations.

tips for better landscape photos…

tips for better landscape photos - Oregon Coast

Oregon Coast – the lower f-stop helps the misty horizon stay soft
ISO 800 55mm f/4 1/320

5 tips for better landscape photos

 

While my favorite subjects to photograph are athletes, landscapes may be second on my list.

I was blessed to grow up in a geologically GORGEOUS area, and I’ve always found beauty in the landscapes around me.  I know many, many, people who despise the drive out I-84 through The Columbia Gorge, but it’s one of my favorite trips.  Seriously, where else can you go from wooded wetlands, to desert in a few hours, and get to see all the phases in between?!  Beautiful.  Since the spring weather has been creating some amazing views all across the valley, today seems like the perfect time to share a few tips for better landscape photos. 🙂

tips for better landscape photos - Portland Oregon sign

Portland, Oregon – for night photos the high f-stop makes the lights sparkle
ISO 100 50mm f/16 13″ sec.

  1. TRIPOD! —

    You can get a lot of good shots, while handholding your camera.  If you want great shots though, you need a tripod.  Those crystal clear, super sharp photos, come from the camera being perfectly still.  You don’t need a fancy, or expensive tripod, but if you have one that is a little on the light side, you will want to stabilize it.  Use your camera bag to “weigh it down”, or when possible, you can even bury the legs in the dirt a little bit to help keep it from moving.  If there is a strong, or unpredictable wind, do not trust your tripod to hold you expensive camera.  When I’m shooting on a tripod, I have a strap attached to the camera, and looped around my neck.  Just in case!

    tips for better landscape photos - Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska

    Glacier Bay National Park from 30,000 ft. – this photo was taken out of the window of an airplane. I didn’t get to choose how to set up this photo, but I wasn’t going to miss this shot!
    ISO 100 50mm f/3.2 1/2000

  2. Assess the situation —

    If you see something that may not be there in a minute or two (sunsets, rainbows, random wildlife), don’t waste time with the tripod, get the shot!  A safe stable surface beats handheld, and a tripod beats a stable surface, but none of that matters if the moment is gone, and you are still setting up. 😉

    tips for better landscape photos

    Dinosaur National Monument, Utah – this rock formation was so amazing, I filled the entire frame with it.
    ISO 50 9mm f/5.6 1/400

  3. Pick the right lens —

    First, let me say that any lens can be a good landscape lens, as long as it tells the story you want to tell.  Take a minute to decide what the story of your photo is.  Is it the mountain, or the goat on the mountain?
    If you want the big picture ” the mountain”, you want a wide-angle lens (generally 35mm or wider).  If you have a wide-angle zoom lens, say an 18-55mm, start at the 35mm setting and adjust from there until you frame the image you want.  If you are shooting a crop frame camera, start at 20-25mm. Why 35mm?  Because that is the focal length that most closely approximates what the human eye sees.  So if you look out and see a lovely view, the 35mm will capture that view as you see it.

    tips for better landscape photos - Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska

    Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska – the blue of the glacier was so intense I wanted a low ISO to keep the color strong, and zoomed in until the glacier filled my frame.
    ISO 100 180mm f/5.6 1/640

    What if you want the “goat on the mountain”?  If you want the focus to be on something smaller in a big picture, it’s time to either get closer, or get out the long lenses!  Most DSLR’s ship with a long zoom lens, a 55-200mm or equivalent.  Those 85mm+ focal lengths, are what get you closer to your subject, so that you can isolate it from the background.

    tips for better landscape photos - Crater Lake, Oregon

    Crater Lake, Oregon – a higher f-stop was important to keep both the plants in the foreground, and the island in focus.
    ISO 200 26mm f/10 1/200

  4. Know your focal length —

    This is also called your f-stop.  It controls how much of your photo is in focus.  If you are after sharp, clear landscapes, you want that focal length at a f/4 or higher (usually around an f/11 or f/16).  Generally the higher the number, the more of your photo is in focus.  If you aren’t shooting in manual, you can choose this number by setting your camera to Aperture control mode, or A, on the dial.

    tips for better landscape photos - Yukon Territory

    Yukon Territory Alaska/Canada – the water here was so amazing, my main goal was to keep my ISO low for the color saturation
    ISO 100 50mm f/3.2 1/1250

  5. Ignore everything —

    There are all sorts of rules in photography.  Composition, settings, lenses…the list is amazing.  You can follow every rule in the book, but in the end, if you don’t like the picture, it’s a lousy picture.  Shoot what makes you happy!

If you’ve found these tips helpful, please share them with a friend. 😉

Until next time…

play hard, and have fun,

~Beth

DIY camera memory card storage…

DIY camera memory card storage holder

Your camera requires memory cards to hold all your precious images.  But keeping track of those cards and knowing if they’re full or empty, can be a problem.  You probably know by now I’m a DIY kinda gal, so a couple of years ago, I came up with a camera memory card storage hack.  If you’ve taken a workshop/class from me, you’ve received this in your SWAG bag. 😉  For the rest of you, who have asked me about this little storage solution, here’s what I did, and how.   Enjoy this weeks’ Fototip Friday!

altoids memory card holder

what you need:

  • Altoids Smalls tin
  • business card or a small index card, or a piece of card stock
  • pencil
  • scissors
  • paint or nail polish
  • optional: piece of felt, and glue

altoids memory card holder

 First you need to pick up a tin of Altoids Smalls. The container measures about 2 1/4″ x 1 1/2″ x 1/2″.  I found these at Target in the dollar section.  Sometimes they also carry them in the travel container section (over by cosmetics).  Now, enjoy your “curiously strong mints”.

DIY camera memory card storage holder

Take your empty mint container and clean it out thoroughly.  Make sure there isn’t any mint residue remaining.  Now let your creative side out, and give your little tin a paint job!  If you have some spray paint just laying around, use that.  You can also use nail polish if you want to get really creative.  I painted mine bright red, to make it easier for me to not lose see.  Let it dry thoroughly.  Overnight is best.

altoids memory card holder

DIY altoids memory card holder

Now grab the business card (or piece of card stock) and scissors.  You need to cut your business card down to measure 3 1/2″ long , and 1 3/8″ wide (most business cards are already the correct length).

altoids memory card holder

Now, fold your card in half “hamburger style”.

DIY altoids memory card holder

Next, measure 3/8″ on each side of the center fold.

altoids memory card holder

Fold again on each of those marks.  When you have created those folds, take your center fold and pinch it up, so that it creates an upside-down V.

DIY altoids memory card holder

Take your card and measure in 1/4″ from each end.

altoids memory card holder

Fold each of the ends up.

DIY altoids memory card holder

You will want to round the corners so that it will fit nicely inside the tin when you’re done.

DIY camera memory card storage holder

Slip the divider into your tin, and now you have a divider for two “sets” of memory cards; empty, and full!

DIY camera memory card storage holder

I keep all of my empty cards on the left side, and when they are full, I store them on the right.  That way, I never mix up what memory cards are full, and which are empty!  Unless of course, I drop it.  But that’s another post…

DIY camera memory card holder

Optional:  After I used my tin for a while, it started to bother me hearing my cards sliding around in there.  I took out my card divider and glued a small piece of neoprene inside the bottom of the tin, and another inside the top.  Felt would work well for this, I just happened to have a piece of neoprene left over from making my camera strap. 😉

Enjoy your new camera memory card storage!

Do you have a tip, hack, or idea, related to photography?  I’d love to hear it!  And if you create your own memory card storage, please send me a picture and I’ll add it to this post to help inspire others!

play hard, and have fun,

~Beth

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