New Equipment: Canon EOS M Mirrorless/Compact Camera

Yee Haw!  I finally have my mitts on a mirrorless/compact camera.  I’m so excited about it!  So excited in fact that I could do a happy cow jig!  (Mom, remember that dance after getting strikes in bowling while I was dressed as a cow….that one!).  I adore my “cute” camera.  It’s so cute and tiny and light.  I’m pretty sure I took a photo of it next to my DSLR, but I have no idea where it is right now.  And yes, that is me dressed as a cow bowling.  Though you can’t tell it’s me.  You’ll just have to take my word for it.  I mean, I am admitting to the public that I dressed like a cow to bowl for charity.  So did my parents.  I’m pretty sure my husband took the rear shot of me.  Cause I wouldn’t.


While trying to maintain at least one post a week and a smidge of my sanity, this introduction to my new digital baby will have to be short and sweet.  Meaning…not a whole lot of technical info, but a lot of my excited babbling.

I’m still learning her.  Yes, she’s a “her” to me. A cute little thing.  Once I learn her, I’ll delve into more detail.  Actually, as I learn her I’ll try to post things, but I can’t even seem to keep up with the laundry right now.  Plus, I have some beautiful photos to cull and edit from a marvelous family session.  *wink, wink*

I introduced her on instagram.  About a month ago.  I’m not quick here.

She’s a Canon EOS M.  I had a Nikon J1 on order last year and that fell through.  It was suppose to be a Christmas gift from my husband.  I didn’t want to spend a load of money on a compact camera (I don’t like to spend a load of money on anything), so many of my “dream” cameras were out of my price range.  My dear husband found this Canon and ordered it for me as my gift from last Christmas.  This camera is no longer made, so there are some great deals out there on it.  While we may not have gotten the “best” deal that’s been out there, I got a camera!  Happy Dance!

The camera with 18-55mm lens was $299 from  My husband also got me the 22mm lens for my birthday.  That was $99 from Amazon.  I’m going to get the flash for it with a birthday gift card.  Someone in my family has this same camera and I got to try out their flash, I think it’ll be worth it.

The awesome thing about this Canon compact camera is that you can get an adapter and use any Canon lens on this thing.  ANY Canon lens.  A huge telescoping lens might look funny on a teeny tiny camera, but hey…it’s capable of doing it.  I find that a huge benefit. Not that my DSLR is a Canon, but you never know.  I am an equal opportunity camera kind of gal.  No brand loyalty from me (cause I’m not paid to do it!).

Goodness, I’ve been blabbing on and on about this camera.  That must mean I like it.  I downloaded the pdf manual on to my phone so that I can read it when I’m sitting places like the airplane once or twice a year, guitar lessons, appointments (seriously…my kid is already getting sent to the orthodontist….bad genes), while my husband drives us in the car, and such.  I’m almost through the manual and plan to read it again.  I’m a camera geek like that.  I’m still learning the camera.  It’s fun.  Different, but fun.

So I guess I’ll have to have future posts on my “cute” camera.  But for now I’ll leave you with a bunch of shots I took on the camera’s maiden voyage.  Meaning…..I was still figuring the thing out.  These are all unedited.  Oh, how I want to get my editing hand on some of them, but I left them untouched to see what the camera shoots.  Canon definitely shoots brighter colors than my Nikon and my husband definitely likes that.  You can skip over my random comments if you want this to go faster.

While I was hoping this camera would arrive before our trip to Moab, it didn’t.  It did arrive before we met family in Alabama for some extended family time.  So I took the camera along with me to a cloudy, cool day at the US Space and Rocket Center.


I was playing with different settings on the camera and figuring out how to get it to do different things. I honestly can’t remember all the different things I did.  I’m pretty sure I was playing with the auto mode and the aperture mode during this visit.


Those would be my babies below.  They’ve actually ridden in a tandem trike with their Grandma before.  But not on the moon.


I kinda heart this photo below straight out of camera.  My husband is in the red coat and that’s my boy in the yellow hat running and looking up.  The colors are pretty bold.  We were fortunate to visit the museum during the day on a school day, so it wasn’t busy.


A photo of my husband taking a photo.  He’s in the very bottom of the photo, taking a photo of the rocket with his cell phone.  I think this was aperture priority mode.


Ducks.  I was playing with the focus.  Not so good here.  I think I’ve since figured out how to focus on a subject better.  This focused somewhere on the duck’s chest, not the face.  I thought I was focusing on the face.  The kids call this a half duck/half turkey.  Again, I was using aperture priority mode with my 22mm lens.  See how the ducks in the background are blurred?


I am so amazed at the colors that come out of this camera.  It’s like I gave them a color zing in photoshop!  Look at those goldfish!


The whites tend to overexpose, but I’m still learning how to meter the light from this camera.  It helps to understand exposure, but it takes some time to learn a new machine!  And that’s a lot of goldfish.


This photo of my family was taken by a fellow Canon EOS m user!  This was actually taken at dusk in very low light.  Pretty impressive for low light.  I think I had the 18-55mm lens on.


This was taken as we entered a cave.  At dusk.  After Halloween.  Spooky. I kinda like this one.


You do not want to know how many shots I took of my kids at the airport in Dallas.  Lots.  I was playing with different settings and figuring out the camera.  Cause that’s what you do on layovers when you like cameras!  I’ve got everything from blown out skies with the kids in color, to the kids dark and the background showing, and everything in between.


This was just for fun.  Cause I liked the blue peeking through the clouds.  I’m seriously impressed with the bold colors that come out of the camera.  I still can’t get over that.


There’s a reason I like this one.  If you know me, look closely in the photo and see what you recognize.  And no, I’m not paid by Southwest for this lovely bit of advertising.  I seem to pay them. (The kids say thank you to some special people for the Christmas plane tickets!)


Now all I need to do is add that camera and her lens to my equipment page.  I’ll get on that in a couple of weeks.  Hopefully.

Do you have a compact camera?  Dish on it.

Traditions: Memories Start With Food

When you think of holidays what comes to your mind?  Is it a yearly tradition or a special memory?

In my family, memories are made of food.  As Thanksgiving is in two weeks and Christmas is right around the corner, I’m thinking of family and turkey cookies.

Yes, you read that right.  Turkey cookies!  And no, they’re not cookies made of turkey.  They’re a special gingerbread cookie in the shape of a turkey with a tail of candy corns.  It’s an old family tradition.  My grandma made them, my mom made them, and now I make them with my own family.  These cookies have traveled the country and the world in care packages for family members that couldn’t be together to celebrate the holidays.

Traditions: Memories Start With Food | Chrissy Martin Photography

Turkey cookies are more than just a cookie.  They’re time spent together as we make them.  They’re memories of holidays past as we reminisce about past cookies (like the time I doubled the batch and forgot to double the flour!).  They’re the rush to hit the stores after Halloween so we can find the cheapest candy corns!  Then there’s the experience of the first turkey cookie.  I documented that on camera for my first child.

Traditions: Memories Start With Food | Chrissy Martin Photography Traditions: Memories Start With Food | Chrissy Martin Photography

Everyone in my family has a favorite part of the cookie.  I save the candy corn tail for last.  My kids eat the tail first.  My dad likes his turkey completely covered in candy corn.  And my mom still makes them the best.  She’s the one who scoured antique stores so each child could have a special turkey cookie cutter to make their own cookies for their own families.  If you marry into our family, you’re marrying into the tradition of turkey cookies.  My husband’s co-workers have even begun to expect turkey cookies every year at their Thanksgiving potluck.  I hate to disappoint!

Traditions: Memories Start With Food | Chrissy Martin Photography

As my family is spread around the world this Thanksgiving with their kids, I know we’ll all be biting into a turkey cookie.  My kids and their cousins with teeth will enjoy the candy corn tails while the newer cousins will have to wait until they have teeth.  Then they’ll have their photos taken with their first turkey cookie!  With turkey cookies we have the memories of past Thanksgivings and look forward to the future.  A future with more turkey cookies.

Traditions: Memories Start With Food | Chrissy Martin Photography

Today my kids and I will once again break out the special cookie cutter and start our batch of turkey cookies for Thanksgiving 2014.  I’ll have the camera ready to capture our yearly tradition of making cookies together.  We’ll cover some turkeys in candy corns and leave others with the traditional five.  I’ll pick out only the pretty cookies to send to work with my husband.  We’ll pass out some to neighbors and we’ll happily devour the rest at home.  We’ll eat a cookie before we run our annual 5K Turkey Trek on Thanksgiving and we’ll eat another one when we’re done.  Ahhhh, tradition and memories.  I love when they’re made of food.

Traditions: Memories Start With Food | Chrissy Martin Photography


Traditions: Memories Start With Food | Chrissy Martin Photography


This post was inspired by Patience Brewster.  Just as we craft turkey cookies every year, she designs special Christmas ornaments that can remind you of your special times and family traditions.  What are your special holiday memories or traditions?

Personal: Fall Break

I am up to my eyeballs in piles of stuff.  School work.  Laundry.  Dishes.  Bills.  Stuff.  Oh, well.  I suppose I’m not the only one!  We’ve enjoyed some fun times with a few side trips for our fall break.  I’m always hesitant to put casual family snapshots on this blog for many reasons.

Why I’m hesitant:

  1. The photos are just casual snapshots.  Nothing fancy.
  2. I use a variety of cameras.
  3. I don’t edit the shots.
  4. I just snap a photo and call it done.

But then I get thinking as to why I do photography.  It’s because taking a snapshot helps me remember the moment.  It freezes the moment for me and I remember it better.  Photography for most people is about taking a photo, it’s not about composition, style, lighting, etc.  Sometimes I need to forget all the “photography stuff” and just snap a photo.  I shouldn’t be hesitant to share photos that aren’t “photography worthy.”  I’m not a professional, I don’t need to showcase perfect photos.  Even professionals don’t always take “perfect” photos.  Every photo I take is part of my photography journey, so it’s okay to share.  Plus, I always encourage people to take a photo and then put the camera down to enjoy the moment.

Why I shouldn’t be hesitant:

  1. These casual snapshots are still part of my photography journey.
  2. Snapshots are a memory.  Photographing things helps me remember things.
  3. Because not all shots need to be “perfect.”  They’re perfect in their own way.
  4. It’s my blog, I can do what I want to.  (I mean that in the nicest way, plus you have to sing that.)

So, I’m going to post the unedited photos from our trip to Moab, UT.  My husband got invited to join a group of mountain bikers headed there for a long weekend.  The kids and I tagged along.  My husband had been to Moab before, the kids and I hadn’t.  To sum it up….the kids wanted to move there by the time we left.  But that’s probably because we visited when the temperatures were pretty nice.  I wonder if they’d want to move there if we visited in the middle of the summer.

Oh, our trip wasn’t without mishaps and other unexpected items.  Vehicles broke down, some people didn’t get to attend, camping sites were taken, and patience was tested.  But overall, it was spectacular.

These photos were taken with either my Nikon D3100 or our cheap Canon point and shoot.  If I’m in a photo, it was most likely taken by my husband with the Canon.  If we’re on bikes, the photo was most likely taken with the Canon because I can fit that in the pocket of my bike shorts.  The Nikon doesn’t bike so well.  The collage below was one I put on FB.  So it’s a variety of things we did.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a coherent story to tell with the order of my photos.  This will be like listening to a toddler speak.


My husband didn’t bike with the group on a Saturday, so we could visit Arches National Park as a family.  It was a beautiful day.  We thought the park was crowded, but found out it really wasn’t.  It’s gotta be crazy on a busy day!  We hiked to Delicate Arch, Landscape Arch, and Skyline Arch.  We also stopped at Balance Rock and drove through the park.  I did tote the Nikon along for this adventure.  She got a little banged up on some rocks while climbing over some rocks.  No harmful damage done.  I was wishing my new mirrorless camera had arrived before this trip, but it came while we were gone.


Randomness below.  Our bikes at the Slick Rock Trail.  We biked the practice loop because three of us had never biked on Slick Rock before.  It was quite the experience and there were some steep slopes!  See that family photo?  Someone was kind enough to take it for us and I reciprocated by taking their group photo with that camera the guy in the background is holding.  It was a Nikon.  I was totally familiar.  And dude, I’m sorry I didn’t use your camera in auto, like you had it set.  The darn flash kept popping up and I didn’t want a flash.  I hope your photos turned out.  I know, it’s totally sad that I can’t use a camera on auto.  While my husband was biking, the kids and I visited a fun park in Moab.


Biking stuff.  Dinosaur trackways.  My husband before a big group ride.  The Slickrock trails.  The Bar M trails, we did the Circle-O loop as a family.  The kids loved that trail!  It was pretty fun.  There’s a whole lot of rock out there.


Randomness again.  Our camper amidst the beautiful leaves.  Playing at a nature center and the musical park.  Arches National Park.  La ti da.


More of Arches National Park.  Keeping up?


There, done.  I feel better now.  That is, if I don’t look around my house. I suppose I should get a load of a laundry going and I’ve got a worksheet to type up for my kids’ school lessons.

It’s okay to just snap a photo.  It’s worth the memory!  What have you snapped lately?

How I Edited These Family Photos

Did you eat anything with pumpkin in it this week?  Just wondering.  It’s that time of the year.

I thought I would tell how I edited photos from this family’s session.  I realized I haven’t shared how I edit family sessions.  I’ve shared how I edit newborn sessions.  As usual, I’ll preface this by saying…every session is different.  I’m still finding my style and I like to experiment.  I’ll play with a photo and when I like it…I write down the steps in my “photography notebook.”

Web Sized (53)

So, while I don’t have screenshots of the step-by-step for this session. I can give you the play-by-play from my notebook.  You’ll have to imagine the steps.  I apologize if that’s difficult.  I’ll be doing some Photoshop speak, so hopefully you can follow along.


For this session I used all natural light. I used my ExpoDisc to white balance.  I shot in manual mode in RAW.

I opened the RAW files in Photoshop Elements and they opened into Adobe RAW.  Here I tweaked my exposure, if I needed to.  My Expodisc set the white balance temp at 5500.  In a few photos I did bump up the temp to 6000 for a warmer photo.  I like warmer.  I then dropped the highlights some and increased the shadows a bit in some photos. No formula, I just play with it until it pleases my eye.

The files were then fully opened into Photoshop Elements and I went to town with editing.  I used some actions and some hand tweaking.

Here are my steps in editing:

1) I started with a Quick Clean Workflow Action I got from Clickin’ Moms.

2) In some photos I ran a sun flare from Jessica Drossin’s Force of Nature: Pack 2 Light Effects.  I dropped the opacity of the layer to my liking, usually 20-30%.

3) I ran the Clean Colour Action from Clickin’ Moms.  I turned the Light layer off.  I also masked the skin and put the whole action at 50% opacity.

4) I did a Hue/Saturation Layer and increased the Yellows by +5.  I also decreased the Greens by -10.  On a few photos I decreased the Reds by -10.

5) I did my usual eye edits.

6) I used Dsisk Photography’s Deepen Background Action from the Make Me Wonderful Set ($2.00!!) with a soft brush set at 30% opacity and ran this over the background (not the subjects).  You could also duplicate this by using the burn tool.

7) I sharpened for web or for printing with MCP Action’s High Definition Sharpening Actions (FREE!).  I also ran a black and white gradient to turn the photos to black and white.  That’s it.


Whew!  Did you make it through to the end?  If you did, you deserve a big ol’ piece of pumpkin pie with real whipped cream.  Or maybe sneak some Halloween candy!  Enjoy!

How I Edit Eyes

First, a burning question.  Why must the low battery beep on a smoke detector go off only in the middle of the night?  Never during the day?  At least 3 out of 4 us wake up to it.  But then we can’t agree which detector is making the noise.  The kid thought it came from the parent’s room. The parents thought it came from the kids’ side of the house.  There are 3 smoke detectors within 10 feet on the kids’ side.  Guess we’ll have to change all 3 batteries.  Have you checked your smoke detectors lately?  There, that’s my public service announcement for the week.

Now on to the meat of this post.  I’m quickly going to show you how I edit eyes for portraits.  I’ve tried lots of different ways, but this is the way that I edit eyes most of the time.  It’s my favorite, at least right now.

I edited the eyes of my baby on this photo.  I quickly took this in the early evening at a bike park.  We were celebrating my boy’s birthday there.  The photo shown below is the edited version (at least the eyes).

How I Edit Eyes | Chrissy Martin Photography

In the before and after below, the only thing I edited was the eyes.

How I Edit Eyes | Chrissy Martin Photography

If you want to see how I do that, feel free to read on.

What I Use

I use Adobe Photoshop Elements (I have version 11) and Pioneer Woman’s free actions from “PW Action Set 2.” 

How I Do It

1) Open the photo in Photoshop Elements.  Locate the PW Actions Set 2 in my Actions Window.  See it with the black arrow below?

How I Edit Eyes | Chrissy Martin Photography

2) Click on “Bring On the Eyes!” action.  It’s highlighted in blue on the screenshot.  Run it.

How I Edit Eyes | Chrissy Martin Photography

3) Here’s where you use the action to your liking.  There are a couple of different ways.  This is what I do.  I prefer to use a hard brush set close to the size of the iris.  I then set my brush opacity at 30%.  I brush over only the colored part of the eye (iris and pupil).  The eyes get brighter and more sparkly.  Don’t over do this or you’ll get alien eyes.  You could also brush over with a 100% brush and then lower the opacity of the layer.  Occasionally, I’ll lower the opacity of the layer after a 30% brush if I feel the eyes are looking a little too fake.

How I Edit Eyes | Chrissy Martin Photography

4) Next I grab the “Sharpen This” action from the same set.  It’s right above the “Bring On the Eyes” in my action set.

How I Edit Eyes | Chrissy Martin Photography

5) Using the same brush (hard brush at 30%), I brush over the entire eye.  I get the colored part, white part, and lash line.  This sharpens just those areas a wee smidge.

How I Edit Eyes | Chrissy Martin Photography

That’s it!  Easy, peasy.  I prefer to use the actions because they’re quick and I like them.  I’ve hand-edited eyes before, but it takes me longer and I prefer how the eyes look this way.  How do you edit eyes?

How I Edit Eyes | Chrissy Martin Photography

There, now you know my secret to bright eyes.  Except, I guess it wasn’t a secret.  If you ask, I will tell.  About my photography, that is.

Other Resources:

I hope your week is going great!  It’s crazy busy here, but in a fun way!

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