Family Photos

While we were out on Lopez Island, we took the opportunity to snap some family photos. I know these don’t stack up to some of the really good professional photos, but it shows how far you can go with the key pieces: a reasonably nice camera, good lighting (one hour before sunset or one hour after sunrise), and a nice location. Thanks to Dad for snapping the photos that I’m not in!

Monthly Photos

Every month, Tyla and I sat Elijah down in our little homemade photo studio and took a series of pictures. It was an interesting photo challenge for me and I learned quite a bit. I’m not saying the results are professional, but I thought it was worth sharing what I learned.

  1. Consistent Lighting – The more consistent your lighting, the easier time you’ll have combining all the photos into a collage. We accomplished this by purchasing some halogen work lights. They’re very hot so I bounce the light off the ceiling instead of frying and blinding my son.
  2. Consistent Backdrop – Tyla bought a big white sheet and a big black sheet from a thrift store. In a corner of one room, I put 3M sticky hooks on the wall. I covered the top two corners of each sheet on both sides with packing tape and then punched a hole through the corners making a cheap grommet. Those holes go over the sticky hooks and bam, you’ve got a simple backdrop that’s easy to remove if you need the space.
  3. Consistent White Balance – I purchased a color calibration card and got in the habit of snapping one photo with that in the frame each time. This makes it super simple to get the white balance consistent across all the photos even if your lighting isn’t the same every time. Unfortunately I didn’t buy it until a few months into the project and I never could get those first few months to be just right (we also didn’t have the halogen lights until later in the project so that compounded the problem.)
  4. Reference Photos – If you’re going to take the same photos every month, make sure you list them out on a sheet of paper or just print off the first set that you get. At some point you’re bound to make a mistake and use the wrong prop with the wrong backdrop. You can see that in our dog photos.
  5. Tagging – I use Lightroom to store and edit my photos. Whether you use Lightroom too or if you just put them in a folder, make sure that as you’re editing the photos each month, you tag or otherwise set aside the ones that you’ll use when you group the whole series.

Every month seemed to present it’s own challenges. For example, he’s very mobile now so getting him to stay in one place long enough to take a photo is nearly impossible. Other times it was hard to find a time when he was happy and we were free. But in the end we got a fun series of pictures that shows how much he changed over the first year of his life. Kudos to Tyla for coming up with the idea.

Light Painting

Last year at the Scherschel Fireworks Extravaganza, we messed around with using sparklers and long exposures on the camera. This year I wanted to try it again, but instead of sparklers, I had picked up some red, green and blue battery powered glow sticks. They had lanyards attached to them which made them very easy to swing around. The results were quite interesting and I’d love to try it again. Here are a couple examples. For the bottom one I moved around creating the light swirls and then stood very still and briefly shone a flashlight on my face for a spooky effect.

If you want to try this yourself, you’ll need a camera with manual controls and a sturdy tripod. Specifically I took these photos with a 30 second exposure, an aperture setting around f/10 and ISO 100. It takes a few test shots to dial it in just right, but once you do, it’s easy to repeat.