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How to Take Magical Photos by the Christmas Tree | Photo Tips

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How to Take Magical Photos by the Christmas Tree | Photo Tips

I LOVE Christmastime. From the music, to the spirit of giving, the food (lots and lots of food), and the beautiful lights, there is so much to love and appreciate about the holidays. During a time of year when it is dark early, Christmas lights provide the light we so crave. They are also a perfect opportunity to photograph my children enjoying the magic of Christmas long after the sun has gone down.

However, photographing busy kids can be tricky, let alone when you’re doing it in low light. That’s why I’m providing you with some easy tips to help you capture magical photos by the Christmas Tree.

Turn off all lights besides the Christmas tree.

When it’s dark so early, it might seem like you need to turn on all the lights to make up for the lack of light. However, we want the Christmas tree to shine and be our only light source.

Lens:    Sigma 35 1.4 Art     ISO 4000, Shutter Speed: 1/100, Aperture: f/1.8

Lens: Sigma 35 1.4 Art

ISO 4000, Shutter Speed: 1/100, Aperture: f/1.8

Make it a fun.

Whether it’s eating a candy cane by the tree, singing Christmas Carols loudly, or even reading a favorite story, make it more about the fun and less about taking pictures. My kids favorite thing to do is play I-Spy with the ornaments. It’s a fun way to get them looking around the tree, keeping that light on their faces. They even play now on their own (even when I haven’t prompted them), giving me plenty of chances to capture them by the tree.

Lens:  Sigma 35mm 1.4 ART    ISO: 2500, Shutter Speed: 1/160, Aperture: f/2.0

Lens: Sigma 35mm 1.4 ART

ISO: 2500, Shutter Speed: 1/160, Aperture: f/2.0

Experiment with Techniques and shoot from different angles.

Of course, get the obvious shot of everyone looking up at the tree. However, play around with different angles. Stand on a chair so shoot from above, or maybe sneak behind the tree to to capture that light on their faces, with the tree only in it a little bit. Even wait for your kids to move around the tree so they are on the side of the tree instead of between you and the tree.

Another fun thing to do is play around with different techniques. Free lensing creates gorgeous bokeh with the tree lights. (Please only try free lensing if you have had instruction). You could also try shooting through something, like special Christmas 3D glasses.

Sigma 35mm 1.4 ART  - Freelensed  ISO: 2500, Shutter Speed: 1/60, Aperture —-

Sigma 35mm 1.4 ART - Freelensed

ISO: 2500, Shutter Speed: 1/60, Aperture —-

Sigma 35mm 1.4 ART  - Shot through 3D glasses  ISO: 5000, Shutter Speed: 1/160, Aperture: f/1.4

Sigma 35mm 1.4 ART - Shot through 3D glasses

ISO: 5000, Shutter Speed: 1/160, Aperture: f/1.4

Get in the Frame

The Christmas tree provides a great opportunity for you to jump in the frame. Using some of the tips above you can keep the kids all snuggled up with you for a few self portraits.

Lens:  Sigma 35mm 1.4 ART   ISO: 2500, Shutter Speed: 1/60, Aperture: f/1.4

Lens: Sigma 35mm 1.4 ART

ISO: 2500, Shutter Speed: 1/60, Aperture: f/1.4

Photograph the tree during the day too.

We have our lights on all the time to soak up the Christmas season. As the kids play, having the tree in the background adds a bit of sparkle while helping tell the story of our holiday season.

Sigma 35mm 1.4 ART   ISO: 1600, Shutter Speed: 1/320, Aperture: f/2.0

Sigma 35mm 1.4 ART

ISO: 1600, Shutter Speed: 1/320, Aperture: f/2.0

Sigma 35mm 1.4 ART   ISO: 1600, Shutter Speed: 6/40, Aperture: f/2.0

Sigma 35mm 1.4 ART

ISO: 1600, Shutter Speed: 6/40, Aperture: f/2.0

In the end, just have fun with it and capture the magic that is the holiday season. I love the creative opportunity to capture my kids when the evenings are dark early. I cannot wait to see what you capture. Make sure you’re tagging #nlpshootandshare for a chance to be featured.

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Summer Photo Challenge | Part IV

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Summer Photo Challenge | Part IV

Another week has gone by (so fast!), which means it's time for more Summer Photo Challenge Photos! The week's are flying by, and the deadline to submit your photo to be entered to win a FREE Back-to-School Mini Session, is Saturday, August 23rd.  So I knew it was time to kick it into gear this past week, using the photo challenge prompts for inspiration! LOW LIGHT. With Sawyer kicking the nap, I knew I had to take advantage of the days that she just couldn't last any longer. Summer Photo Challenge, low lightOUTFIT: I shared this outfit on Instagram, because, it's so adorable! (Okay, so is the baby!) I was pretty excited to find this in the consignment store!Summer Photo Challenge, outfit, baby girl, 4 months oldCHILDREN:Summer Photo Challenge, children, play dohLAZY: A lazy morning from my camping trip over 4th of July. That isn't my daughter, but I love her relaxed state. And yes, she's playing with a fly swatter!Summer Photo Challenge, lazy, campingCLOSE UP: Just before selling my Macro I tackled the close up photo (you don't need a macro for close up!). Milo was slightly less then pleased I called his name while he was watching Paw Patrol. Gotta love that expression though!Summer Photo Challenge, Close Up, BoyBOOKS: Milo loves reading books with Grandpa! Summer Photo Challenge, Books, Reading with GrandpaFACELESS PORTRAIT: Summer Photo Challenge, eyelashes, young boy, Faceless Portrait

Looking for more Summer Photo Challenge inspiration? Check out a few of the previous articles - Part III, or Part I (which has the photo prompts).

*Neyssa*

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6 Simple Smart Phone Photo Tips

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6 Simple Smart Phone Photo Tips

Improve your Instagram feed with these 6 simple smart phone photo tips! There is so many things that I love about my iPhone camera. Don't get me wrong, I love the quality and control I have with my DSLR. But I love the look and feel of my iPhone photos. I always have my phone on me, so I can capture any moment. Plus, it's small size and fact that it is always around means I can sneak a photo of my kids without their knowing right away. Plus, with a few quick taps, I can share my images almost instantly with family and friends. To make the most of my smart phone camera, I follow the tips below! 1. Use window light to make your subject pop.  Milo loves helping me dust the house (thank you Swiffer Duster). As he worked, I grabbed my phone and got ready to snap an image. I suggested he dust the blinds as the light from the window was bright. I loved how it is lighting his face, drawing my attention right to him. I used a simple black and white filter in Instagram to change my image and share here!

smart phone photo tips, backlighting, photograph everyday moments, preschool boy

2. Capture the Details. Just because you're using a smart phone, doesn't mean you can't take storytelling images. Bath time is one place I often take a quick photo with my phone as I watch my kids play. One day Milo says to me, "look mama, a house-bridge-crane!" This was a detail of bath time I had to capture! Instead of just photographing their cute faces, I used my phone to capture the details of bath time!

smart phone photo tips, photograph everyday moments, bath time

3. Hold the "shutter" for burst mode. One downside of smart phone cameras is that they can be slow when you're trying to capture your fast toddler. However, that's where the burst mode comes in handy. By holding your finger on the shutter you can take many photos right after another. (This is, I'm sure, how Sawyer has take 200 selfies up her nose in a matter of seconds). The images below were all taken as Sawyer was swinging. Pushing a swing while trying to take a picture of someone swinging can be very tricky. However, I held the phone with one hand while I pushed with the other. By holding the shutter I was able to capture the image on the left below. The other two are examples of other images I captured in the same few seconds.

smart phone photo tips, photograph everyday moments, girl on swing

4. Shoot from Above. One of my favorite parts of a smart phone camera is that it is light and easy to try different angles. By shooting from above you add a new element of interest to your image. Other favorite images I've taken can be found here, here, and my all time favorite one here.

smart phone photo tips, photograph everyday moments, bath time

5. Get in the Photo! I can not say enough to get in the photo with your family! The smart phone is an easy way to do so. A few of my favorite photos with the kids (or my husband) are below, and they were all taken with a smart phone! It shows that you were there too. (Plus, I love how I can put as little or as much of me in the frame as I want!

smart phone photo tips, selfies, mom was there too, mother and kids

6. Print your photos! Just because you took the photo with your phone, doesn't mean it has to stay there! I download my phone images right into my LightRoom catalog every 1-2 weeks, so that they are backed up, and added into my Digital Project Life album. (Check out my April album pages here.) But I've also discovered a new and amazingly easy app called Chatbooks. Once I get my first book in the mail I will share more on that! Either way, get those photos off of your phone!

*Neyssa*

P.S. Want more smart phone photo tips? Click here!

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Photograph Their Snuggles

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Photograph Their Snuggles

As our kids grow, we don't want to forget to photograph their snuggles! I know I love to capture their smiles and that glimmer in their eyes. But what about a softer side? I was going through some photos and found this photo of Sawyer snuggling her baby. She carried that baby doll around everywhere (until she was replaced by Minnie Mouse). But when she was sad, upset, or recovering from a tantrum, she'd snuggle with her doll. I might have forgotten had I not taken the time to photograph their snuggles together - Sawyer and her baby. As I looked at this photo I was also reminded of a photo recipe in Me Ra Koh's book Your Child in Pictures. The recipe in her book is about capturing the "Objects of Affection" since what your child snuggles varies from child to child along with the stage he or she is in. Sawyer's object of affection has changed several times and she's only 2.5 years old! Talk about a fickle girl!

Does your child have a favorite object to cuddle up with? Use this recipe to help you photograph their snuggles!

Photograph their snuggles, photography tips, photo recipe, toddler girl with her baby doll

SET UP: Having the camera out and ready will help you capture this spontaneous moment. Pay attention to when and why your child snuggles with her baby the most. For Sawyer, it was after a tantrum, just before nap time  or after her brother told her no (which happens 100 times a day). Since I couldn't pin point the exact moment it would happen, I made sure I had my camera out on the table. If you have to dig out on the camera bag, you'll for sure miss out on trying to photograph their snuggles.

CAMERA SETTINGS: Since you don't always have control of when and where the snuggles will happen, you may not have them sitting by the brightest window in your house. In the image above, I selected an ISO of 1250 to allow in lots of light. For your aperture, having that blurry background will help the moment shine. Shooting wide open will help you capture that emotion. Finally you'll want a shutter speed that is fast enough to capture the moment. For toddlers, I suggest not going below 1/250.

COMPOSITION: Here is where you have more creative freedom to tell the story of your child snuggling her baby. I decided a vertical image where Sawyer and her baby filled the frame would have the most impact. There is nothing else to distract from the moment. I also decided to be on the side where I see the baby doll more than I see Sawyer's face. But I loved how the way she holds her baby was center stage. There is also the detail of the way she's leaning into her baby and that she still has her pacifier in to really tell the story of Sawyer at this stage.

Sawyer now snuggles Minnie Mouse, or the Easter Ducky a friend recently gave her. She also does not have a pacifier outside of bed time (I know, I know, it's time to break that habit). But by looking at this image, I'm reminded of Sawyer 6 months ago, how she has changed and how she is still the same little girl.

Now it's your turn. Photograph their snuggles! Then share with me your results on my Facebook page! I love to see what you were inspired to capture.

*Neyssa*

P.S. Struggling to get the settings right or frustrated that auto mode did not capture the moment as you had imagined? Sign up for my May 2nd Photography Workshop and learn how to capture these ever fleeting moments of our children's lives. Click here to learn more and register. Seats are limited.

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