Printing School Photos

I’ve planned for this to be a quick post, but I’m not sure if I’m capable of doing quick.  Especially when I’ve been having trouble sleeping, so I sit here at 10:38pm trying to avoid going to bed and having my fingers ramble across the keyboard.  Plus, I’m trying to read a Foxtrot comic book at the same time.  Those are too funny.  Have you read them?  I’m thinking I need to get some for the kids for Christmas and I’ll read them all.

Back to my quick post that has diverged into something else.  Printing school photos.  Remember those Personality Photos I took of my kids?  Essentially, they’re school photos.  Homeschoolers gotta do their own thing for school photos.  This is my thing.  Last year I did something different and I don’t even think I printed those ones.  I think I sent the digital files to the grandparents.  I classed things up this year.  The grandparents don’t even have to shell out their own dough to print school photos of the kids this year.  Let’s see if I can repeat that next year.  I didn’t print those photos below, maybe I still need to send the other 20 digital photos to the grandparents.  Keep reading for the ones we got printed.  Ohhh, cliffhanger.

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After trying Mpix for photos previously (this post), I decided to try them again.  I kinda heart them and I’m not paid to say that.  I’m not even an affiliate.  Mpix offers wallet size photos.  I guess those are the traditional size for school photos.  They also offer magnet photos.  Shut the refrigerator door!  Magnet Photos!  Now the grandparents don’t have to adorn their refrigerator with a school photo and hold it up with a magnet advertising their dentist.  (No offense to the dentist).  The school photo is a magnet!  How cool is that?!  (I only had one big pot of green tea today…hmmm, maybe therein lies my sleeping problem.)

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The kids each got to pick their 2 favorite photos to print.  They may have had some motherly encouraging. “But don’t you think that one is a little cuter than that one?  It shows your dimple a little more.”  “Okay, if you pick the one with the bear, I get to pick the other one.”  You know, that kind of thing.  Bartering, maybe?

So then I set about ordering photos. I ordered a couple sheets of wallets that already have those pre-cuts in them.  Die-cut, is that what it is called?  Yes, that.  I love that.  The photos punch out oh so neatly and look professional.  Not like I printed wallet sized photos and cut them out with scissors.  That’s not so professional looking, but it gets the job done.  These Mpix wallets, I love them.  Now I’ve just got to mail some to the aunts and uncles.

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Then I ordered the smallest sized magnet photos.  There are 2 sizes.  Your photo will get cropped some from it’s original size, keep that in mind.  If you get the smallest size, they give you two photos.  With two sets of grandparents, how perfect is that?  Except, I kept the extra magnet and put them up on my fridge.  The grandparents either got a vertical set of magnets with the horizontal wallets or the horizontal magnets with the vertical wallets.  We figured they could use the photo magnet to hold up the other photo.  Sometimes we can think brilliantly.

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It was not so brilliant when the day after I ordered the photos that Mpix decided to hold a 25% off sale on their entire site.  Just my luck.  And I’m not kidding, there was a sale the day after I had already ordered photos.  I still heart them though.  (Shoot…a bug just flew in my water glass.  Not lucky tonight either.  Maybe I am lucky, I saw it before I drank it.)

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So, that’s my adventures in printing school photos.  Another photographic entry into my photography journal.  There may be some more exciting things coming up soon.  Something just arrived at my doorstep tonight.  It includes something for one of you lucky readers!  Who will be the lucky one?  How lucky are you?

School photos?  Do you get your own printed or happy to just check a box for a package that is printed for you?

Personal: My Backyard (aka Using a Macro Filter)

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.

Personal: My Backyard (aka Using Macro Filters) | Chrissy Martin Photography

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.

Personal: My Backyard (aka Using Macro Filters) | Chrissy Martin Photography

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.

Personal: My Backyard (aka Using Macro Filters) | Chrissy Martin Photography

I love the purple asters.  They come up everywhere around our house.  We try and leave them alone.

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Sunflower.  Some years we have lots and some years we only have a few.  This year we only have a few.

Personal: My Backyard (aka Using Macro Filters) | Chrissy Martin Photography

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.

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Another view.

Personal: My Backyard (aka Using Macro Filters) | Chrissy Martin Photography

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.

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Some of these flowers on this hill I planted years ago (yarrow, sage, feather grass).  The rest are native ones.

Personal: My Backyard (aka Using Macro Filters) | Chrissy Martin Photography

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.

Personal: My Backyard (aka Using Macro Filters) | Chrissy Martin Photography

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.

Personal: My Backyard (aka Using Macro Filters) | Chrissy Martin Photography

Hello boy.  Thank you for picking me some pretty flowers.  Time for dinner.

Personal: My Backyard (aka Using Macro Filters) | Chrissy Martin Photography

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.

Personal: My Backyard (aka Using Macro Filters) | Chrissy Martin Photography

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.

Personal: My Backyard (aka Using Macro Filters) | Chrissy Martin Photography Personal: My Backyard (aka Using Macro Filters) | Chrissy Martin Photography

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!

Personal: My Backyard (aka Using Macro Filters) | Chrissy Martin Photography

That is my fluff filled post for today.  Have you captured your backyard or the area you live in on your camera?

Personal: Homemade Marshmallows (aka Attempting Food Photos)

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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?!)

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The kids had their Friday morning cocoa while listening to an audio book.  Good times.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Now…do you photograph food?  Any tips?  Or, just tell me how you like your smores?

Kids With Cameras: Behind the Scenes in a Garage Studio

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.

Kids With Cameras: Behind the Scenes in a Garage Studio | Chrissy Martin Photography

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.

Kids With Cameras: Behind the Scenes in a Garage Studio | Chrissy Martin Photography

Smile.  I’m taking your photo with my favorite Nikon 35mm Lens.

Kids With Cameras: Behind the Scenes in a Garage Studio | Chrissy Martin Photography

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.

Kids With Cameras: Behind the Scenes in a Garage Studio | Chrissy Martin Photography

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.

Kids With Cameras: Behind the Scenes in a Garage Studio | Chrissy Martin Photography

The boy gets a turn to pose and the girl gets a turn with the P&S camera.

Kids With Cameras: Behind the Scenes in a Garage Studio | Chrissy Martin Photography

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.

Kids With Cameras: Behind the Scenes in a Garage Studio | Chrissy Martin Photography

Dark shot.  Backlit.  This shows the light that is coming in from the garage opening.

Kids With Cameras: Behind the Scenes in a Garage Studio | Chrissy Martin Photography

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?

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So there’s a behind the scenes look at me photographing Personality Portraits, thanks to my kids.

What have you been up to?

DIY Scarf Camera Strap

I have been wanting to try a DIY Scarf Camera Strap for a bit.  I just needed to gather all the materials and find some time.  Awhile back I had pinned a post from The House That Lars Built on how to make a camera strap from a scarf onto my DIY Photography Equipment Pinterest board.  (Random side note: If my girl had been a boy, Lars was at the top of my name list for boy names.)  Oh, that pin is the only lonely pin in there.  I’m not one to pin stuff and not use it, so I finally got around to using that pin and great tutorial.

DIY Scarf Camera Strap | Chrissy Martin Photography

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.

DIY Scarf Camera Strap | Chrissy Martin Photography

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

DIY Scarf Camera Strap | Chrissy Martin Photography

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.

DIY Scarf Camera Strap | Chrissy Martin Photography

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.

DIY Scarf Camera Strap | Chrissy Martin Photography

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.

DIY Scarf Camera Strap | Chrissy Martin Photography

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.

DIY Scarf Camera Strap | Chrissy Martin Photography

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.

DIY Scarf Camera Strap | Chrissy Martin Photography

Here’s my hemmed scarf and my leather holder with the split ring, all ready to be sewed.

DIY Scarf Camera Strap | Chrissy Martin Photography

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.

DIY Scarf Camera Strap | Chrissy Martin Photography

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.

DIY Scarf Camera Strap | Chrissy Martin Photography

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.

DIY Scarf Camera Strap | Chrissy Martin Photography

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.

DIY Scarf Camera Strap | Chrissy Martin Photography

Here’s the strap after I cut off those loose threads.  Not too shabby.  Just a little shabby.

DIY Scarf Camera Strap | Chrissy Martin Photography

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.

DIY Scarf Camera Strap | Chrissy Martin Photography

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.

DIY Scarf Camera Strap | Chrissy Martin Photography

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.

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