aly dawn personal · momma bee

Letters to My Little One | 36 Weeks In My Belly

 

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Thursday, June 1, 2017

To my little peanut,

 

I just wrote June, little one. June will most likely be your birth month (unless you decide you are too comfortable and wait till July!). Your due date is fast approaching! Physically, I feel great! I’m starting to move a little slower and waddle, but I really do feel great.  I can feel your big movements everyday. You are definitely starting to run out of room, I can tell. Don’t worry! We’re almost there! Then you’ll be outside of the womb and in my arms. And I will snuggle you so much and love you so much. Just 4 more weeks to go, little one.

I love it when your daddy explains why he is so excited for you to come. He’s excited to hold you. He’s excited to teach you. He’s excited to watch you learn on your own. He’s excited to watch you grow and develop. He’s excited to see you smile for the first time. But, most importantly, he’s excited to be your dad. (Little side note, little one, if you came on Father’s Day, I think I’d be OK with that!). I can tell as time is getting closer to your arrival just how excited daddy is about you coming into this world. And I am excited, too! You’ve definitely got us both wrapped around your cute little fingers already. And you’re not even in our arms yet!

I think we are pretty much ready for you. We have so many cute little outfits for you, some toys, and some books! You also have a really nice stroller and car seat for all of your travel needs. One thing we have yet to do is set up your crib. But that’s on the agenda this weekend, so don’t worry about your sleeping arrangements when you arrive. Mommy and daddy have you covered.

I’m in shock. I really can’t believe it is June. I remember when I found out I was pregnant, last October, I couldn’t believe it. We had tried for so long to get pregnant. And there was the little ‘pregnant’ sign on my pregnancy test saying I was pregnant with you. And now I am shock that it’s June. That the due date of June 29th is only 4 short weeks away. A month really isn’t that long at all. I am so excited to hold you. To care for you. To love you. To watch you grow. To see those hiccups in real life (you are hiccuping right now as I type this, it’s so cute!). To teach you about anything and everything. You’re a miracle, little one, you always will be in my eyes. You make me so happy already I’m not sure how I could be happier once you’re here, but I know I will be!

The count down is on.

I love you so much!

Love, mommy

photography tips + tricks

5 Ways to Shoot the Same Subject

I’ll be first to admit that I am an overshooter. I take a lot of images of the same thing, just to be sure I get the shot that I first set out to get. I usually start off with a simple perspective, my perspective. Then I’ll move from there to shooting down. Shooting up. Stepping to the side. You name it. It’s important to try different perspectives. I tend to find that I can get two completely different shots of the same subject if I just change my camera angle a little. And I tend to like them both for two different reasons. Read on to see why you should take more than one image of the same subject and for a few examples of different perspectives.

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A great way to add variety to your portfolio is shooting the same subject in different ways. There’s many more ways to do this than what is suggested below. Experiment and have fun with it.

2017-05-15_0001shoot far and up close

Include the environment in your shot. Take a wide angle shot. Then get in close and take a picture. This is a great way to get a variety. You can tell I shot in the same place in the images above, but they are two very different images. I love both of them for different reasons. I love how the first one shows the environment. It shows a run down shed. Then the second one completely focuses on the girl in the image, shaking her head. Both are beautiful and both tell a different story.

2017-05-15_0002shoot up

In the next two examples, I show both straight on and shooting up or down. For shooting up, it tends to work better to make an object seem big. This could work for dogs, for children, something that is already small. I don’t shoot up often, especially now since I’m 8 months pregnant, but I do love the variety of shots I can give from shooting up. Shooting up on these blue berries (I am actually not sure what these are!! I wonder if they are poisonous?) shows many more blue berries than shooting straight on.

2017-05-15_0003shoot down

I am obsessed with shooting down on my subjects. Usually because my subjects include dogs, children, and flowers. I think it adds a fun twist to the image. Shooting straight on can be fun as well, but I just love the way images that are shot down look. I love the catchlights I can usually get in my subjects eyes, because light is coming in from above. I also love including my feet in images where I’m shooting down. This can be a fun way to get in the frame.

2017-05-15_0004blur one of your shots

I purposely blur some of my shots sometimes. I think it adds a cool effect to it. Both of the shots above are great and I love both of them for different reasons. But I love the blur one because I think it adds mystery and makes you linger just a little longer. Blurring my shot is especially easy since I use Back Button Focusing, I can just simply twist my focus and take the picture, without having my camera re-focus. It’s a great little effect to use. I tend to still try to make the objects in the frame recognizable, like in the blurred shot above. You can still tell it’s a girl riding a bike. When blurring your shots on purpose, just make sure your intent is clear (for example, don’t have a blurry subject and a crisp clean background, that makes it look like you missed focus).

2017-05-15_0005shoot straight on

I’ve mentioned shooting from below and above, but shooting straight on can also be an option in adding variety to your portfolio. Shooting straight on can help include the environment and help tell a better story. In the shots above, I love both of them. But the second one with the environment tells a story more than the other. You can tell with the one shot straight on that it’s someone’s yard, the sun is starting to set (based on the light), and there are more flowers than just the one being photographed. I love including straight on images, especially with children or dogs.

 

 

 

aly dawn personal · momma bee

Letters to My Little One | 34 Weeks In My Belly

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Thursday, May 18, 2017

To my little peanut,

34 weeks little one. 34! Only 6 short weeks left, and you’re fully developed and ready for this crazy world. You love to move lately. Not that you weren’t moving before (you definitely were!) but I can feel you so much better now. You’re bigger, too. Which makes momma slightly more uncomfortable, but that’s ok. You’re going to be here before I know it and I am trying my best to prepare for you! I am comforted by the fact that it doesn’t have to be perfect for you (because, let’s face it, you won’t remember any of this). Which means it doesn’t have to be perfect for me! I just need the essentials and I’ll make it by.

I am preparing my job for when I go on maternity leave, training new people and making sure everything gets covered there. I am doing my best to prepare our small little apartment for your arrival. We had the baby shower this past week and it was so much fun to spend time and celebrate your arrival. So many people showed up to make me and you feel loved. Because, little one, you are already loved! I am so excited to finally hold you in my arms and to sing little songs to you and whisper ‘I love you’. It’s going to be the best thing in the world and I am ecstatic.

I love you so much!

Love, mommy

editing tips + tricks

5 Reasons to Convert an Image to Black and White

I’m in love with black and white photography. There’s just something about it that pulls me right in. It can take an ok photo to a great photo. Sometimes color is necessary to help portray your story. But there are times when converting to black and white just makes your photo that much better. Be sure to be thoughtful when decided whether an image should be converted to black and white or not. If you’re not sure when it is appropriate to convert, keep reading for 5 reasons to convert to black and white.

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I’m always drawn to a good black and white. I love my color edits, as well. But there’s just something about black and white that always draws me in. It can enhance the emotion, mood, and overall image. Here are some examples of why I choose to convert to black and white.

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1. to enhance the details

I love love love converting my macro shots to black and white. I find that it enhances the water droplets and makes them sparkle. It also enhances the details. Of course I love my macro shots in color, too, but I always convert to black and white if I feel like it will enhance a certain part of my image. For the image above, it brings out the water droplets more, which was the main focus of the image.

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2. when the white balance is just off

I really try to make the white balance work for every image….but let’s be real here, it doesn’t always work. Lightroom has plenty of resources in adjusting your white balance. But, let’s be honest here, sometimes it’s just off no matter what we do. There are times when there’s just too much green. When there’s color casts (illustrated above in the color image). Sometimes, the black and white conversion just makes it easier.

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3. to add drama and enhance a mood

I really love how dramatic a black and white image can feel. I usually like to convert any image I feel like has any sort of drama. Sure the color image looks great, but the black and white takes it to the next level. It can really enhance the mood of an image.

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4. to show off the shadows

If you have an image that has amazing shadows, often times converting it to black and white just make them that much better. So, try it. Convert that image to black and white. I usually try to have neat lighting in my black and whites, the light always adds to the feel and mood of a black and white. Having nice shadows and converting to black and white creates balance in your photos.

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5. to make an image feel classic

The first word that comes to mind every time I view a black and white is classic. Black and whites just have that feel to it. Choosing to convert to black and white will give them that timeless, classic feel. I love including both color and black and white in my client galleries, so that they can hold on to those memories.

Choosing to convert to black and white is a personal and artistic choice. Whether you want to enhance the mood, get rid of distracting white balance, or just simply make an image classic, black and white is definitely a powerful tool in photography. Have fun converting your images to black and white in Lightroom and try to convert images that seem like they need a little bit of help. You never know, you just might like the outcome.

photography tips + tricks

3 Reasons to Buy Phone Lens Clips

If you’re like me at all, you really have a hard time taking pictures with your phone. You just feel like no matter what you do, the phone images look terrible. Even though you have that fancy DSLR camera and those images are fantastic. Once I realized that my phone was not my camera, my phone pictures started improving drastically. I realized that I would not get the same type of images with my phone as I did with my camera. Simply because my phone’s camera was not as good. I even have an android. Iphone seems to be the most popular when it comes to phone photography. But this article is for android users or iphone users. After I realized my phone was not my camera, I decided to buy phone lens clips. At first I thought it was a joke, they were so inexpensive! But once I received them and tried them out for myself, I instantly fell in love with them.

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This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you in advance for supporting Aly Dawn Photography!

All images in this post (except for the first, which was taken on my Nikon D610 with my 50mm lens) were taken on my Moto X.

These Aukey phone clips are really well made. They have a great design that allows them to clip onto any phone. Even my not-so-slim Moto X. I did have to take my phone case off for them to work properly, but that’s not a big deal for me. You literally just clip them on to your phone and adjust the lens so that is covering the camera correctly. And instant magic happens. Let me tell you the three top reasons I can think of for buying these lens clips.

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1. they are cheap

Ok, probably my favorite part about these lens clips is that they are cheap. But they are not poor quality! I was hesitant in buying them at first because I wasn’t sure how durable they would be since they were so cheap. But I promise you, you get a lot more for your money. You get two lenses and one of them is a 2-in-1! All for about $12. You really can’t beat that when it comes to camera equipment (can I please get an amen?!). Lenses range from $200 to thousands of dollars! So I’ll take $12 any day.

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2. they allow you to have a variety of shots

So, before, you were just taking photos on your phone and they all looked the same. Now with these clips, you can have a variety of shots with just your phone! The three different types of lenses you get are fish eye (my favorite!), wide angle, and macro. I love using the macro one to blur my shots. The fish eye is so fun because of the distortion it causes. And the wide angle is extremely nice because it allows you to get more in your shot. And of course the macro is fun for close ups of tiny objects (and it works like a charm!). And then you have the normal view from your phone. So, that’s 4 different ways to photograph on your phone now. Endless possibilities.

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3. no need to lug around that heavy gear

We all know that photography gear can get heavy and inconvenient at times. There have been countless times where I left my photography gear at home simply because I didn’t want to carry it around. BUT you always have your phone on you. And the clips are small enough they could fit in your purse! It’s easy to transport and easy to use. I’m seriously in love with them and I am loving the images I’ve gotten with them. Now, wherever my phone goes, you can bet these beautiful lens clips go to. I really think you should just try it (it’s only $12, after all!) and see what images you can get with your new gear.

What are some subjects you love to photograph using your phone? Comment below.

aly dawn personal · momma bee

Letters to My Little One | 32 Weeks In My Belly

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Thursday, May 4, 2017

To my little peanut,

This is crazy. I just wrote May. The next month is your due date month! Daddy and I are super busy getting ready for you to come. We’re preparing for your beautiful birth. We’re preparing for you mentally. All you need to know is that we will be as prepared as we can be when you get here. This morning, daddy and I snuggled you. It was the first time since I’ve been pregnant with you that I really felt like a family. You and daddy are my adorable little family and I am so happy. Daddy’s excited, too. He hugs my stomach and talks to you. It melts my heart!

I haven’t had much physical change, besides you growing and pushing my stomach out more. The main thing is having some hip discomforts. My midwife told me I now needed to sit down when I put my pants on. Take the steps one at a time (that’s more of workout than the normal way to walk up steps!). After taking these precautions, my hips are feeling much better. I’m thankful for a midwife who knows what she is talking about and listens to my needs.

I am excited this week for my next doctor’s appointment. I love listening to your heart beat. It’s so perfect. My midwife always says you’re one happy little baby. I sure like to think you’re happy and smiley just like your daddy! I can’t wait to see what you will be like. Will you smile all the time? Will you have hair? What will your nose look like? Your eyes? Will you have dark hair? Ahh! I just can’t wait to meet you!

My baby app tells me that I will gain about 1 pound from now until you get here, and most of that will go to you! Which means you are growing! And fast! But it makes me so happy. I am so amazed at what my body has done. My body has created a miracle and continues to help it grow. Even after birth, I’ll help you grow. It’s incredible. Motherhood is beautiful and I’m so happy you are my child. I’m so excited to meet you, and so is daddy! We only have about two months left, little one. And you are doing great. Mommy is doing great, too! We still have leaps to jump over together, but soon enough (in just four short bi weekly updates) you’ll be here. I’m so proud of how you are growing and I’m proud to be your mommy.

I love you so much!

Love, mommy

blogging tips + tricks

3 Ways to Catch Up on Blogging When You’re Behind

Yes. I admit it. I’m behind on blogging. Life happens, right? Work suddenly takes up a lot more time, taking pictures, family life, they all seem more important than blogging. Trust me. I know. I love blogging – it helps relieve stress from work. But when work is extremely stressful and time consuming and pressing, well, you know. Blogging gets pushed to the back burner. This week, I have a few pointers on keeping up to date with your blog. It doesn’t matter what kind of blog it is, photography, food, fashion, any type of blog, these three tips will help.

need some blogging ideas? check out my 100 photography blog post ideas.

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This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you in advance for supporting Aly Dawn Photography!

1. make time to blog

First and most obvious answer is to plan to blog. Set aside a time that will work with your busy schedule, and blog. For me, the best day is Saturday’s in the morning. I write all of my blog posts (when I’m on top of things!) that day and schedule them for the week. All I have to worry about during the week when work gets in the way is making sure they post! I also have a planner that I love to write all my notes in and blog posts ideas, I put in my planner when I have time to blog that week. It makes it so much easier.

2. have ideas ready

I think this goes hand in hand with tip number 1.  Have your blog posts ready. I love using my blog jar. It’s so easy to make (all you have to do is buy the jar and write on paper!) and it’s cute to add to your desk. On the time I have set aside, I’ll just add these ideas from my blog jar and write them down on the days that I want them to air. It’s so simple and saves me a lot of time!

3. post relevant topics

Ok. This one is important. You’re behind on blogging and you really need to post something so that you can get more traffic to your blog. I get it. But don’t make up a post just to say you blog. Blog with a purpose! Make sure your post is relevant to your blog topic. For me, relevant posts include anything photography, editing, and blogging related. I wouldn’t randomly throw in a post about fashion, because, let’s face it, you probably really don’t want to read that! I am not the best person to talk to about fashion. But, photography on the other hand, I could talk for hours about. Hence why I have a photography blog! So, if you’ve fallen behind, make sure you still blog about relevant topics to keep your blog uniform.

What are some ways you catch up when you’re really behind?

aly dawn personal · momma bee

Letters to My Little One | 30 Weeks In My Belly

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

To my little peanut,

This month is the month I start going to the doctor twice. Then May I go twice, and then June is every week. We’re so close, it’s amazing. But can you believe we only have 10 weeks left? I certainly can’t. I’ve enjoyed our 30 weeks together so far. Of course there’s been up and downs, like how I was sick for the first trimester. Or how for the second one I was just plain tired. And now that I’m in the third one, I’m tired and sore! You’re growing so fast, I’m amazed. You also kick harder (gee thanks!) and you also like to move a lot more. I love feeling your little movements in the morning. Sometimes it distracts me from my work. I’m just so proud and happy you are moving so much and getting so big. I absolutely love you so much. I can’t even describe it.

I’m amazed at what my body is doing. You’re a miracle. Last night I was laying in bed and you were moving around so much. When I looked down I could see every movement you made. It was amazing to see. And it made daddy and me smile.

I really can’t complain about my pregnancy. I feel like I got it pretty easy. I was sick for the first trimester, but after that I feel pretty good. I’m tired a lot. But, I tried taking a nap one day last week and was so wired I couldn’t go to sleep that night. So, I try to avoid naps now. Other than being tired and can’t sleep, it’s been a pretty good pregnancy. As far as psychical changes to my body, I almost don’t have a belly button. It’s just flat. But I love it!

Your favorite thing is music. I can tell because anytime I have music on, you are squirming like crazy! It’s so cute. You especially love it when the song has a good beat, when I play the piano, and when I sing along (I’m so sorry!). I hope you love music when you’re born, as well. Other things you enjoy is when I eat (you act like I’m starving you!) and car rides. You also like to keep mommy up at night with your big kicks and movements.

30 weeks down, 10 weeks to go. 10 weeks! In just 10 short weeks, we’ll meet face to face! You’ll meet daddy and your aunts and uncles and your grandparents! In just 10 weeks. So, as always, grow little one. Grow and stay healthy. We’ll see each other soon enough, and then a whole new adventure will begin.

I love you so much!

Love, mommy

photography tips + tricks

3 Tips to Get Started in Macro Photography

I don’t claim to be an expert in macro photography. But it is definitely one of my favorite genre’s of photography. It’s very soothing and relaxing. I also love the beauty of nature and I love capturing that. I am that crazy person that is always outside scouting out beauty in my own backyard. I am that lady that asks for flowers when someone asks me what gift they should get me. And I am that lady that steals your flowers (sorry mom!). But I don’t only find beauty in flower. I love buds, grass, leaves, anything nature. Just give me my camera, macro lens, and nature and I’m good to go.

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So first and most important is your equipment. Sure, you can take pictures of nature with a normal 50mm 1.8. But you won’t be able to get that detail and that texture you so crave with just a simple lens. You’ll need a macro lens. The one I have is an older version, Nikon 105mm 2.8, it doesn’t have the nice vibration reduction (VR) like the newer lenses have. I will one day upgrade to a lens that does have VR. I’ve heard that they are so much easier and nicer to use. Now, if you’re not sure you’ll like macro photography (like me) and don’t want to spend a ton of money on a macro lens only to find out you really don’t like it, I would suggest buying macro extensions first. I bought them first and decided, yes, I really do enjoy macro photography and then moved on to buy my Nikon 105mm 2.8 lens. I will point out that macro extensions do not work as well as macro lenses. They don’t get you the clarity a macro lens would. But they do allow you to see if you really want to splurge on a macro lens.

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1. don’t be afraid to change your aperture

I’ll be first to admit that I love wide open images. Even in macro photography. But just like in your normal everyday photography, I would suggest experimenting with different apertures. The image above is shot at an f stop of 8. That is quite a bit higher than what I would normally do. But as you can see, since it’s a macro lens and the compression is greater than a normal lens, the background is still blurry. Experiment and see what type of aperture you like best. I do a variety of apertures to get different effects. If you have a wider aperture (lower f stop number) you’ll come to find it a little challenging to get what you want in focus, but it can create a beautiful effect that I sometimes go for.

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2. add water droplets

I have a squirt bottle that my husband got me as a gift (us photographers ask for the weirdest things!). And I love using it for my macro photography. I also love going out in my backyard right after a rainfall to capture the beautiful natural water droplets. I love adding water because it gives you something else to focus on. It adds texture and dimension to your macro work.

3. use a third hand

If you don’t have one already, I highly recommend going out and buying a third hand. I use it when I get flowers and for when I just want to isolate one flower. It is so great. Plus you can move your flower to any background you want, it doesn’t have to be the bouquet of flowers that came with it. Like the image above, I used a third hand to isolate the flower and get it with a plain background to really exaggerate the flower and water droplets.

Macro photography, once you start, is very addicting. It’s one of my favorites things to photograph. So, I dare you to start. You’ll be forever grateful that you found such a beautiful genre of photography.

 

 

aly dawn personal · momma bee

Letters to My Little One | 28 Weeks In My Belly

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Thursday, April 6, 2017

To my little peanut,

Did I really just write April? Your due date is approaching so fast. This week was mommy’s birthday (daddy’s was last week!). I woke up on my birthday with a ton of kicks from you. I could even see you move. It was a great birthday present and I will cherish it forever. Thank you, little one, for that nice wake up call! Daddy felt and saw you move, too. He’s so proud of how big you are getting and how strong you are getting. I was recently looking at a phone picture I took of myself when you were just 13 weeks along…my how we both have changed! But I love it so much, little one. You truly are a miracle.

My next doctor’s appointment is the glucose test. I am not looking forward to it at all. But I sure hope I pass. I am excited to once again hear your heartbeat and see how you’re doing. Since this week marks 28 weeks, we now officially only have 12 weeks left. That’s 3 months. I can’t believe how fast it’s going. I cherish the little moments we spend together on a daily basis. I know that once you get here, time will go by so quickly. That’s one of the main reasons I started photography. I wanted to be able to capture my kids and hold on to memories that way. I hope I don’t annoy you with always having the camera in your face!

Your daddy and I are (finally) going to IKEA this weekend to pick up your crib and dresser. I’m so excited! I received some baby clothes from my wonderful cousin and don’t have a good place to put them yet. Come Saturday, we will! Everything is starting to fall into place and I am so excited.

Up until this next doctor’s appointment, I was having them every 4 weeks. Now it’s going to be every 2 weeks. I really can’t believe I am already to that point in my pregnancy. I also can’t believe it’s the fourth month of the year and you come the end of the sixth month!

As I am typing this right now you are hiccuping like crazy! It’s really cute. I love that you are developing and getting bigger. I can tell you are growing. You are stronger. Your kicks are stronger. Your movements bigger. You love to move in the morning. So much that you make my stomach move and I love that so much. Your aunt gets so annoyed with you because I say you are moving and she tries to feel my stomach to feel you move and you immediately stop. It never fails. It’s so funny, you’re already driving your aunt crazy. I am just extremely happy you don’t do that to your daddy. I honestly think you like it when your daddy talks to you and touches my belly. You always squirm the most when he’s around.

Little one, you are loved. There are so many people helping your mom and dad prepare for you. I hope I never forget the love and help I have received from people already in my pregnancy.

I love you so much!

Love, mommy