3.29.2014

4 ideas for printing and displaying photos

Digital photography has numerous advantages but one thing that film photography had going for it was that in order to even see your pictures you had to print them. I still remember the excitement of getting a roll of 24 pictures (wow, that sounds like so few!) developed. This also meant you always had numerous pictures available to put into a frame or album. Now with digital photography it can be hard to find the motivation to print and all too easy to accumulate thousands and thousands of photos on your computer without actually doing anything with them. However, whenever I have taken the time to print my photos, I've been happy with the results. Plus there are so many interesting and different ways to print or display your photos these days; here are a few:

Group them

Sometimes when a single photo is hung on a wall  - especially if it's a large wall  - it can look a little lonely. Grouping photos into a collage or on a photo ledge can make a greater impact and allows you to display more photos (a bonus if you have a hard timing making decisions like I do!). A couple tips for creating collages:  keep the space between the photos relatively consistent and fairly narrow, test out different layouts on the floor before hand and be sure to have a good mix of larger and smaller frames.




Make them fun

Pinhole Press makes a variety of super cute photo items that are perfect for kids. I ordered a memory photo game as a gift for my niece's upcoming birthday and created a mini book of names and faces for Maelle (which she loves to flip through).


Make them glossy

A couple of years ago my husband and I went to an art show and fell in love with a photograph covered in epoxy resin (which creates a glossy, glass-like sheen). Since the piece's $1000 price tag wasn't in our budget, we decided to try the technique ourselves.  The process was relatively easy  (check online for tips) and involved 1) Printing the photo 2) Gluing it onto a wooden board cut to the same size (Home Depot can do this) 3) Following the epoxy resin directions on the box (we bought our resin from Curry's Art Store).



Bind them
There are so many online options for ordering photo books but I've been happy with My Publisher. Be sure to sign up for their emails so you can order during one of their frequent sales (40-60% off).




3.19.2014

Cabin fever: indoor photography tips

Thanks to this year's neverending, bitterly cold winter, I have spent more time indoors than I would have liked. Which means that I have become very well acquainted with the challenges of indoor photography (off colours with artificial lights, blurred images because of slow shutter speeds, harsh and unforgiving light from the on-camera flash, the list goes on). There are some oft-repeated ways to address these problems: adjust your white balance to correct colour, choose a large aperture, increase the ISO and limit the use of the on-camera flash (click here for an article on the topic).  And while these tips help, the truth is I often find myself forced to make unappealing trade-offs in low light situations.

I can crank up my ISO to 800 and higher but I'll end up with a grainy picture (at least with my camera, noise is less of a problem with higher-end DSLRs). I can choose a very low Fstop (such as 1.8 or 2.4) but this will result in a shallow depth of field (which might not be the look I want). I can try a slower shutter speed  but this almost always seems to result in motion blur. All this to say I haven't quite figured out indoor photography or which trade-offs to make.

Thankfully one of the best indoor photography tips has nothing to do with exposure choices (phew!).  Find the natural light.  Natural window light can cast a softer, more flattering light than what you'll see in an artificial lighting situation. This does require a bit of thinking though: you might need to move your child's play space to the window or coerce your husband to move to the brightest room for the photo shoot or figure out which windows in your house have the best light and at what time of day (north or south facing windows usually offer the best indirect light). But it will be worth it. I find it easiest to place myself in between my subject and the window (front lighting) or to shoot from the side while my subject faces the window (side lighting).

Nonetheless, given my struggles it was a welcome relief to find myself visiting my husband's aunt and uncle a little while back. Phyl and Morley live in a beautifully restored, old farm house (that goes back generations on Morley's side) outside Shelbourne, Ontario.  It was such a treat to take photos in a house that was bathed in beautiful, natural light (even more so as it reflected off the snow outside). Here are some pictures from our weekend away.






And since a winter walk is much more appealing in the woods than in the grey, dreary city, I took a couple pics outside too.




3.05.2014

Lil' Baby B

During the first couple of days of my daughter's life, I only took a few photos. Surprise, surprise, I was far too busy feeding/burping/admiring/changing/loving her to think too much about getting out my camera. But I distinctly remember knowing that her newness was fleeting and wanting to capture it.  There is something so magical about newborns. Their wrinkly skin, erratic limb movements, teeny tiny features and curled up sleeping poses make them almost seem half human (in the most endearing, adorable way).

So when my friend Jen gave birth to her sweet baby boy, Beckett, I jumped at the chance to photograph a newborn again. I briefly toyed with the idea of trying to recreate those super-cute posed newborn shots - you know the ones, slightly reminiscent of Anne Geddes, baby's head resting on arms, naked bum with only a hat or hair band. However, I quickly thought better of it. Instead I kept it simple and followed some of the newborn photography tips that I had come across:
  • Position baby a few feet from a bright window for ample natural light (ideally at a 45 degree angle)
  • Go with a neutral background / clothes (if any)
  • Get in close and use a wide aperture (low F stop number)
  • Focus on the details, like the hands, feet, eyelashes
  • Keep baby warm, especially if taking photos without clothes
  • Take newborn photos during the first 5 to 10 days (newborns tend to be very sleepy and relatively easy going at this stage, provided they are well fed).

Although there are challenges to taking newborn shots - awake times are few and far between, the colour/texture of their skin isn't always perfect, they can change from sleepy angel to screaming terror in t-minus two seconds -  in other respects they are a joy to photograph. Lil' baby Beckett was no exception. You can get beautiful, sleepy photos of newborns. Plus you don't have to worry about them moving too much (unlike my rapidly crawling 9 month old)!