I had been staring out at my backyard for a long time and saying, “I really should photograph it.” Cause who knows when it’ll be that in bloom again. The weeds flowers went crazy this year when we got a little bit of rain. My normally dirt filled backyard became a jungle of weeds and flowers. So on a recent cloudy afternoon, I finally got out quickly with the camera.
Nothing fancy (except for some macro filters!) and barely any editing to most of these. I was just out with my camera documenting my backyard. It was fun. I need to just get out with my camera more. Not worry about composing pretty photos or technically doing everything great. Just snapping away at things I love. Like pretty flowers and insects.
So, welcome to my backyard filled with native weeds flowers.
I put on my macro filter, the +4 one, and photographed the flowers in our yard. It helps with the filters to have your aperture closed down (high number). I was at F11. Macro filters are a cheap accessory that you can have some fun with. Just be sure to get the correct ones for your camera.
Those yellow flowers were dying and the purple ones were opening up.
The yellow ones really stink. I can’t stand them. One year we had a yard full of those things and the next year I picked every single one I could out by the roots. This year they weren’t too numerous, so I left them. They look pretty mingling with the purple asters, even if they do stink.
I love the purple asters. They come up everywhere around our house. We try and leave them alone.
Sunflower. Some years we have lots and some years we only have a few. This year we only have a few.
Poppy mallows. I think that’s what these orange flowers are. Our first year living here a local garden center sold us one and it immediately died. Little did we know that they just come up naturally around here. Thankfully the native ones are hardier than the one we bought.
You’re lucky I’m only showing about a quarter of the photos I took. That poor play set has seen better days. I’m trying to convince the kids to let me take it apart. I’d like to put the slide on the dirt hill in front of our house.
Some of these flowers on this hill I planted years ago (yarrow, sage, feather grass). The rest are native ones.
The sun came out as I was nearing the end of photographing the yard. Dinner was calling. That sunflare was not added in post production. Cause you can do that, you know…..add sunflares into your photos. Fake sunflare. This is real.
Hello brightness. I mean, hello, you fluffy little white dog. Get the rabbit. It’s in the flowers. And yes, not all of my yard is awash in beautiful flowers. Some of it’s just dirt and weeds.
Hello boy. Thank you for picking me some pretty flowers. Time for dinner.
As we were headed in to dinner, we all got distracted by a little praying mantis on our fence. I had to take a couple of photos. It eventually flew and landed on my husband’s shoulder. I think it had enough photos. Some one may have dropped my +10 macro filter on the concrete and scuffed it up. Good thing I don’t use that one much. I prefer the +4.
We also got our yearly photo by the aspen tree. I think I wrote about that tradition 2 years ago in this post. (That post was from my old blog.) I’m pretty sure I got a photo of it last year too, I guess I didn’t post it.
Awwwww, look how little they were! This was from 2008. The play set was in better shape then. The yard was just dirt and a few weeds. My, the kids and the tree have grown!
That is my fluff filled post for today. Have you captured your backyard or the area you live in on your camera?
I’m trying to bring my camera out and get photos of the kids just doing things. It helps that I’m trying to document what we do in school, but often I just end up with a mess of messy photos. It’s just a beautiful mess here.
Last week I attempted to make homemade marshmallows for the first time. We try to eat healthy (what?! you say marshmallows aren’t healthy?) most of the time. At home we try to avoid giving our youngest food coloring or food dyes. (When we’re not at home…well, we’re not too strict.) Did you know that the marshmallows in the store have food coloring? Yes, the red and brown and orange and green ones have food coloring. But the white ones do too. Yep, there’s blue food coloring in white marshmallows. Plus a bunch of other stuff. So I had pinned a few recipes for marshmallows and decided to attempt to make some for our Friday Morning Hot Chocolate. Sans food dye.
Ever since the kids were little and old enough to enjoy a cup of cocoa, we’ve had Friday Morning Hot Cocoa. We rarely miss it. The kids love it, I love it, it’s great. I’m pretty sure it’ll be one of the things they remember about growing up with me. They have homemade hot chocolate and I have a mocha. We usually have homemade whip cream, but this past Friday we tried homemade marshmallows.
I made the marshmallows on a Thursday and let them sit overnight before cutting them. These were pretty easy to make! I was surprised. I used the Rustic Homemade Marshmallow recipe from The Urban Poser. And really, these marshmallows were pretty easy to make (especially if you have a stand mixer). Usually any cooking with a candy thermometer scares the whatsit out of me, but this was a piece of cake marshmallow.
We were calling these “Healthier Marshmallows.” If marshmallows can be healthier. It’s just water, gelatin, salt, honey, and vanilla. We dusted ours with cocoa. My girl loved that part. She hadn’t had marshmallows in her cocoa in awhile, so this was a great treat!
To be honest, I’m not a big fan of plain ol’ marshmallows. It probably has something to do with the fact that I don’t like gelatin. I can’t stand Jell-O. It’s a texture thing. Now I do love marshmallows cooked over a fire. Smother them between graham crackers and chocolate. Yum! I’ve taken to liking mine sandwiched with peanut butter or almond butter and chocolate between Ritz crackers. That is a good treat for camping. (Guess what I’ll be bringing camping?!)
The kids had their Friday morning cocoa while listening to an audio book. Good times.
While the kids were doing their handwriting lesson (cursive), I took 5 minutes to try and do a portrait session with the marshmallows. Now, I’ve come to learn that 5 minutes doesn’t quite cut it for food photography. I’ve also come to learn that I don’t quite have the time and patience to do food photography….yet. I could see myself totally wanting to learn more about food photography when the kids go off to college. I have a feeling it takes some time to cook pretty, set-up pretty, and style pretty. Mine is 5 minutes of pretty. Kinda like my morning routine. 5 minutes. 2 to brush teeth, 1 to put in contacts, and 1 to put on moisturizer with sunscreen and throw my hair up. Boom, done. Perhaps that’s my problem.
Moving on….I photographed marshmallows. That sounds pretty ridiculous now. I photographed marshmallows. Let me chew on that.
I just put the marshmallows on a plant stand we had by our big picture window in the dining room. Some scraps of paper I had laying in the cupboard were quickly brought out to add color. I used natural light from the window and pushed the plant stand up next to my white painted desk. 5 minutes. Snap, snap, snap. Lick my fingers (kidding). Snap, move a marshmallow, snap. I used my 35mm lens, because that was what was on my camera. ISO 400, F2.8, SS 1/100. That’s it. I need more practice.
I even indulged in a cup of the leftover cocoa with the marshmallows. I think I still prefer my mocha with a dollop of whip cream, but this was good too!
Now…do you photograph food? Any tips? Or, just tell me how you like your smores?
Time for another kids with camera post and this includes a behind the scenes look at the Personality Portraits. Or at least when we were practicing for the portraits. One session down and two more left for locals. All money donated goes to a local family! It’s win-win. You help out a local family with their adoption costs and you get fun portraits/headshots of your kids. (You can find out about Personality Portraits in this post).
While trying out my new backdrop for the Personality Portraits, my kiddos took turns with the point and shoot camera.
Here’s a pullback of the whole garage studio. I did back the vehicle out for the real deal and put an x on the ground in painter’s tape for the kids to stand on. Don’t you love the kitty litter holding the stand in place? I had it there for wind blowing in, but I only really needed it when I set the light stand up with the garage door down and then I put the garage door up. The door caught the light stand and about sent it crashing to the ground. Whoops.
The boy got a photo of the new backdrop. Savage Seamless Background Paper in Thunder Gray. I’m pretty happy with it. It can look dark or light in a photo depending on how you white balance and expose. I ordered mine (along with some Bone) from B&H Photo Video. Usually my husband’s little old car is in this space, but he was at work.
I pretty much stand right in front of the light. I’m putting it high up above the kid. That way I’m not having to move it up and down too much for different kids. It seems to work well enough there. Unless it gets hit by the garage door.
Hello, pretty girl with the two missing teeth. And hello lady with the camera. Ugh. I really don’t like having my photo taken. And I’ve since promoted myself to a new DIY scarf camera strap. The new one is much better and cooler than that pink one.
The boy gets a turn to pose and the girl gets a turn with the P&S camera.
I love the faces that kid can make for the camera. Oh, my husband likes to ride bikes, if you haven’t noticed. We keep that garage door shut most of the time and we have security cameras on it. Plus we have all the serial numbers of the bikes written down and photos of all the bikes. We’re a little more diligent on that kind of stuff since our house was broken into. (No, none of the bikes were taken). We invested in the security cameras after that incident. Do you take photos of your valuables? You really should, if you haven’t.
Dark shot. Backlit. This shows the light that is coming in from the garage opening.
Now here’s a few of the photos I captured during that time. Can you see the catchlights from the garage opening and from the softbox?
So there’s a behind the scenes look at me photographing Personality Portraits, thanks to my kids.
Feel free to follow the tutorial if you want to make yourself a scarf strap. It’s pretty awesome. I’ll show you what I did, though mine may not have turned out as pretty. Sewing leather is a whooper. Cutting leather isn’t easy either.
I had already made a camera strap cover in the past. It was pink and I used an old dres of my daughter’s to make it. You can see how I did that here. That thing had minky fleece on it and I got pretty warm wearing it. I already sweat buckets on a photo shoot and I didn’t need anymore help in that area. The minky wasn’t doing me any favors. So it was time to move on to something different. Something with a scarf.
The funny thing is that I have quite a few scarves in my closet, but I rarely wear them. I have a feeling that this scarf strap will get quite a bit more use. I had some scarves I could have chosen out of my closet, a black and white chevron one was winning the scarf strap war. Until my most recent trip to Target. Curse those orange clearance tags. I found a pretty white and blue scarf for a price I couldn’t pass up. It was destined to be a scarf strap.
I had already grabbed my other materials. You’ll need:
A scarf (obviously)
Leather, faux leather, vinyl, whatever floats your boat as a tough material
A split ring (keyring) or some sort of clasp to put in the leather
A secure clasp to attach to the keyring and the camera, a swivel one is great (make sure it fits on your camera)
Cutting and sewing equipment
I got my leather and jewelry findings at Hobby Lobby. I managed to get them both when they were having a 50% off sale on leather and a 50% off sale on jewelry findings. This was a pretty cheap project for me. It’s about $8 worth of stuff and I didn’t even use all the jewelry stuff.
Following the wonderful tutorial I had pinned, I started by drawing out the shape I wanted my leather to be. Ack. This was stressful for me. I started by drawing half the shape and folded the paper so I cut mirror it. It reminded me of the top of a baby bottle. Or something else. See? Stressful.
Then once the paper was cut out, I tried to trace it on the back of the leather, with the leather folded in half. You want mirrored sides. It’s not easy to draw on leather, especially if you’re using black.
Then I cut the leather out. I wasn’t that great at it. I tried scissors and a utility knife. Maybe neither of them were very sharp. I made sure that my split ring fit before I did any final cutting and trimming. It needed some help. I wasn’t too pleased with how my leather was looking like a preschooler cut it. Oh well. I got over it.
The scarf I had was really long. REALLY long. It needed some trimming. So I used the ultra high tech way of putting the scarf around me and eyeballing where I wanted to cut it. I made it a little longer than I thought I should. The camera hangs just below my waist and I can wear the scarf across my body. I like that. If I want to shorten the strap, I just put a hair tie around the top of the scarf to bunch it up some. Easy peasy. So basically, I cut an end off the scarf.
I hemmed the rough end that I cut. You could probably skip this, but I did it just to keep it equal with the other side.
Here’s my hemmed scarf and my leather holder with the split ring, all ready to be sewed.
I folded the scarf a bunch to fit in the leather part. It was pretty thick. Thankfully, the scarf was thin. Otherwise I never would have gotten the scarf to fit in that leather piece.
I sewed. I may have thought nasty thoughts about my sewing machine as I did this. You’ll want a tough needle and tough thread. I didn’t have either, but used what I had. Thus, I thought nasty thoughts about my sewing machine. I wanted to throw it outside at numerous points. But we’ve been trying to teach our children to not react to their initial thoughts. So I refrained from how I wanted to react and instead responded to that sewing machine in love. Okay, not love. But that’s another story. I used a zig zag stitch and went across the leather and fabric inside of it.
I proceeded to sew around the leather piece in a rectangularish shape. My thread broke at numerous points and bunched up on the backside and a whole lot of other sewing mishaps occurred. You could try sewing this by hand, but I knew that would be a whole other problem for me. I then ran across the leather in the middle with a straight stitch, just to make sure I had enough stitches going through the scarf to keep it attached to the leather. I didn’t want this falling apart on me as I’m using the camera.
Here’s my mess of threads when I finished with the sewing machine. I cut off all the loose threads and was left with an okay looking strap. Thankfully black thread on black leather doesn’t show up too much. Good thing I didn’t use white.
Here’s the strap after I cut off those loose threads. Not too shabby. Just a little shabby.
Done! It’s hard to get a photo of the camera strap while it is on my camera. I should note that you want to make sure the clasp you got fit on your camera. Best to do this before you sew the whole scarf thing.
I attempted. Here’s a not so lovely shot of me in a mirror. I wanted to wait to post this until I could get a photo of myself using the strap on my camera. But alas, I haven’t asked anyone to take a photo and haven’t gotten around to it yet. So I might as well post this without a pretty photo of me using the scarf strap.
Have you attempted a scarf strap?
If you’re not the DIY type (no shame in that), there’s a bunch of wonderful places that sell beautiful scarf camera straps. The sellers of these scarf straps are way more experienced and talented that I am. Try Etsy or just do a search. You’ll find plenty of pretty camera straps out there. If you know of some great places to get a scarf camera strap, please feel free to list them in the comments. It’s always great to hear about wonderful photography equipment places.
Welcome to information about Chrissy Martin Photography’s Personality Portraits for a Cause 2014.
This blog post will give participants answers to frequently asked questions. For the rest of you peeking in…it’ll give you a glimpse into the school portrait alternative that I’m offering to help raise money for a good cause. Plus, at the end of the post you can find out information about my set-up and equipment.
Personality Portraits are kid-approved photos. They are an alternative to the usual school photo. Personality Portraits are a fine art portrait that is meant to capture the personality of your child. These aren’t a substitute for school portraits, I’d still encourage you to get a school portrait (or take your own) if you can afford to do it. The Personality Portraits are a different take on capturing school children and their personality/everyday look. I will be taking Personality Portraits of local children to raise money for a local family that is adopting a son with Down Syndrome. You’ve got to know me or know the family to get the information about dates and times. I won’t be posting those here or putting them in the comments.
On with the Frequently Asked Questions:
What are Personality Portraits?
These are portraits that aim to capture the personality of your child. I don’t require kids to smile cheesy smiles. If they are a grinner, I’ll let them grin. If they prefer not to smile, that’s fine. If they want to laugh, I’ll capture that. If they are shy, I’ll try to get that in a photo. If they’re energetic, I’ll try to capture that. I want you to look at the resulting photos and be able to pick one out and say, “That’s my kid!” I want their personality or everyday look to shine through in that photo. You won’t just get the traditional vertical portrait. I will be taking your child’s portrait in both a landscape and a typical portrait orientation. The landscape look gives the photos a more “fine art” portrait look. The portrait orientation is the typical “school portrait” look.
What do you mean by Kid-Approved?
School portraits are often parent approved. We choose their clothes and style their hair. For a Personality Portrait, it’s about having the kid be happy with the resulting photo. Even if it means they get to dress themselves! I will show the kids their small images on my camera and make sure they are happy with how they look before I let them go. If they don’t see an image they like, I’ll try and take a few more at that time.
What are the dates that the portraits are being offered?
There are 3 dates with different times in September 2014. If you’re local and know me or the family the fund-raiser is being offered for, you’ll get the information. Locals can email me for more details (tell me where you live if I don’t know you personally).
How much does it cost?
A donation of $5 per child is suggested. You are free to give less or even give more, depending on your finances and situtation. Donations can be given online or cash/check can be given on the day of portraits. All money raised will go to the fundraising cause. I am donating all my time and will not take any payment.
What will I receive?
You will get 2-4 color digital images emailed to you.
These are personality portraits. I’d encourage you to let your child wear what they typically wear at home or school. If you pick out your child’s clothes on a daily basis, then continue to do that. If your child typically picks out their clothes, then let them do that for these photos. If your son wants to wear his Hot Wheels shirt, let him. If your daughter wants to wear a princess gown or a super hero cape, then let her. I’m all about letting the kid express themselves with what they wear. Pajamas are even fine by me! The same goes for the hair. I’m not looking for portrait perfection looks. I’m looking to capture your kid. And if your kid rarely combs their hair (like my son), then let me take a photo of them with their hair askew. If you daughter wants her favorite bear in the photo (like mine), that’s fine.
What ages of children can get photos?
I will take any child up to the age of 18 that can stand on their own or sit on a stool. Toddlers, preschoolers, and school age children are welcome to have their portraits taken. I’m sorry, but I will not be able to safely accommodate any babies or have the time to take baby portraits for these extremely short portrait sessions.
Can I get portraits of the siblings together?
I’m sorry, no. I will just be doing individual photos.
Are there retakes?
Nope, sorry. Hopefully your kid likes one of the photos, they should have approved it. You can always try to DIY some school portraits at home. I have a tutorial on how to do it here.
What is a model release?
I will have this form available to you to fill out at the portrait session. It’s basically a form that allows me to use your photos on my website, facebook page, flyers, or other material. Your kid’s face could grace this post or future ones, if you choose to sign the release. There is no obligation to sign the form. I want you to know that if you do sign it, I never use real names or give locations, I keep all private information private.
Where do you recommend I get photos printed?
You are free to get your photos printed where you like, but I will warn you that different labs print photos differently. The color, quality, and sharpness could all come out differently that I what I see on my monitor (or what you see on yours). For photos that I take, I recommend Mpix for printing. Be aware that depending on what size print you choose, your original photo may have to be cropped.
Do you edit the photos?
I am doing minimal editing to these photos to save time and to leave the photo as captured. I will adjust for exposure and sharpen the photo. Typically, I will edit out blemishes and marks that aren’t permanent in a full portrait session. I am not doing that with the Personality Portraits. I left the bug bites and allergy swollen eyes on my kids’ photos because that was part of them at the time. I will edit out blemishes and non-permanent marks if it is requested, otherwise I won’t.
Can I hire you for portraits?
I would love to say yes, but at the moment I’m booked. My family comes first and I homeschool my children, so I don’t have much free time. I am truly honored when others think highly of my photography and allow me to capture their beautiful families. I only consider myself a hobby photographer and take some paying jobs to help support this expensive passion. At the moment, I am verbally committed to a small number of families for fall portraits and I won’t be accepting any other jobs. I am happy to recommend other wonderful local professionals. I love to share what I learn and do with photography on this blog and I truly love to encourage others to pick up their camera and capture a moment.
What equipment are you using for these portraits?
I always say to “Rock what you’ve got.” Many of you probably have a much nicer camera than what I’ll be using to take these photos. Here’s my list of equipment:
Taped x on ground for subjects to stand on and a stool if some prefer to sit
What are your camera settings?
With using an off-camera flash and trigger system, I can’t have my shutter speed be any higher than 1/200. That affects what my other settings are in manual mode. I’m using single-point focus and spot metering. I am shooting in RAW and setting a custom white balance with my Expodisc. My ISO is 100, my aperture is F2.2 or F2.5, and my shutter speed is 1/160 or 1/200.
Here’s hoping I am able to capture some great Personality Portraits and raise some money for a wonderful family to help in the costs of adopting their son. Thanks so much for stopping by!