Advertisements

Letters to My Little One | 26 Weeks In My Belly

20170322-_ADA4218

Thursday, March 23, 2017

To my little peanut,

 

My stomach is getting more + more round. And it’s all thanks to you, little one! I just bought some more maternity clothes, I feel like I’m running out of things to wear. But, that’s OK. It’s all worth it, because you’re worth it. You have definitely gotten stronger. I feel you kick constantly. You love waking me up at around 6:30-7am. But that’s OK! Sometimes if I hold really still, I can see you move my stomach.  Those little kicks and punches are so amazing to witness. I can’t believe how strong you are getting. And trust me, you are getting so strong. Sometimes you make me jump by how strong a kick is! But I love it so much.

I’m working on your registry, little one. I am making sure we have everything we need for when you make your big arrival. From clothes to toys to a stroller, you’ll be covered. We still have a lot to prepare for. Like buying your crib and making it into a co-sleeper! And buying a chest of drawers to put all of your cute clothes in! But don’t worry one bit, we will be ready when you come into this world. Along with all those other things, we were worrying about getting a rocking chair for you. My grandmother on my mom’s side (Grandma Gay) gave us a rocking chair. It was a burden lifted and I love that I now have something from my grandmother.

Growing a baby is beautiful and tough work. I can’t believe how much my body has changed since I found out I was pregnant with you. Clothes that used to fit loosely now fit snug. I’m amazed at all the changes my body is going through to prepare to bring you into this world, and to also help you grow. I’m amazed at the fact that MY body, MINE, is growing a little human being. It’s growing you, little one. And that to me is absolutely amazing and beautiful. I’ve started getting more and more tired. It’s not that I don’t have energy to do anything, per se, it’s just that my body is tired. My stomach is stretching and aching. I’ve recently found that doing yoga and walking around the neighborhood helps with my energy levels. I can’t wait for you to get here so we can go on walks together. And trust me, we will go on a lot of walks!

As we prepare for your arrival (which is still 3 months away), you’re getting bigger. You’re preparing for your arrival, too! My baby app tells me you now have cute little eyelashes. I can’t wait to see them in real life, little one! Your father and I often ponder what you will be like. What kind of person will you be when you grow up? What will you look like? What color hair will you have? I believe you’ll probably have blue eyes, if I remember my science classes correctly. 😉 Will you have curly hair like your father, or straight wavy hair like me? Will you have hair at all when you’re born (I sure hope so! But I know you’ll be cute no matter what!)? We have 3 months till we find out these answers, and it is so worth the wait. I can’t believe that it’s only 3 months left! I remember the day I found out you were there. It doesn’t feel like that long ago.

You’ll be here before we know it, snuggled up to us and getting used to life here. Keep growing. Keep kicking hard. Keep getting bigger. You are loved, little one. Don’t ever forget that.

I love you so much!

Love, mommy

Advertisements

5 Tips for Photographing Pets

I find time after time photographers have a hard time photographing their furry friends. I don’t have children (yet! Little guy is on the way!) so I’ve had to practice on my dogs. Photographing dogs has it’s challenges. For one, they are constantly moving (I’ve heard this is true for toddlers, but I wouldn’t know!). For another, they have long noses. Which makes getting their whole face in focus difficult.

Want some inspiration on dog photographs? Check out my dog project I did all throughout 2016.

2017-03-06_0001.jpg

Dogs can be so fun to photograph. They are so honest and they show you exactly how they feel. If they’re bored with you, it shows. If you try and use a treat (which I very rarely do), it shows. They give that camera an ‘ok I’m looking at the treat’ look. It’s totally obvious. But there are ways around this. I think the number one tip I can actually give is to let them warm up to your camera first. I get so many outtakes of my dogs because they like to come see what my camera is. I let them sniff it, I let them look at it. Whatever makes them comfortable. After a little while, they walk away and do their own thing. And now when I pull out my camera, they don’t even care. The tips below will hopefully get you on the right path to start photographing your dogs honestly, and move away from the posed shots.

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

All images in this post were taken with my Nikon D610 and the Nikon 50mm 1.8.

2017-03-06_0002

1. photograph them playing

There’s nothing more honest than a dog playing. They LOVE playing. They love playing with each other, they love playing with people, they even love playing by themselves. Photograph them doing it! Let them first warm up to the camera, and then just wait. They’ll start chewing on that stick again. They’ll start rolling in the grass. They want to do what’s fun most of the time. Let them do it. Make sure you have a high shutter speed. The lowest I ever go on my dogs is 1/200. Any lower than that and I sometimes get blurry images. Playing or being still, I try to make my shutter speed at least 1/200.

2017-03-06_0004

2. be patient

If you can be patient, you can get any shot of your dogs. Simple as that. I sometimes find that when I try to photograph them the way I want them to be photographed (in a certain pose, doing something, etc.) that I just have to patient and they will do it themselves. I sometimes find the prettiest light that I want to photograph them in. I lure them to the location, tell them to sit, and then just watch and wait to see what they will do in the pretty light. Most of the time, they end up laying down and relaxing. Completely being themselves. Sometimes, they just walk away, and play somewhere else. And I’m OK with that. I don’t want to force them to do anything. But by being patient, I usually get the shot I am after. It usually takes a while, but I think it’s worth it.

2017-03-06_0003

3. photograph them with you

I think just like getting in the frames with your children, it’s important to get in the frames with your dogs. They are definitely part of the family, and I know you want to remember them later on. I sometimes have my feet in images, I sometimes have pictures of my kissing on them. I have pictures of us playing together, because I do a lot of that during the week. In the image above, I was trying to get some pictures of my baby bump, and my dog wouldn’t leave me alone. So I played with her. There are so many different ways to get in the frame with your dog. Pick up the little ones. Sit down with the big ones. Show your feet and their heads. Just get in the frame with them. It might be fun!

4. use creative comps

You don’t always have to get their faces in the image. I often times like to photograph just their paws. Their tails. I try to mix it up. I get their whole body in the image, just their face, or just their paws or tail. There are so many different comps and angles you can use when photographing dogs, just like in humans. Try something different and I know you’ll love the outcome. Your photos will start to look natural.

5. let them be themselves

I’ve mentioned this above, but I cannot stress it enough. Let them be themselves! Don’t force them to sit. Don’t force them to look at the camera. Don’t force them to do anything. Let them be themselves. They do the cutest things all by themselves. Just watch them and photograph them. They are very honest creatures. And when I say that, I mean, they show all emotion. If they are bored, they show it. If they want that treat you’re using to bribe them to stay still, they’ll show it on their face. If they don’t want to sit in that pretty light for you, they’ll move. Photograph them being them, and you’ll always love the photos you come up with. I promise.

What are some ways you photograph your dogs? Do you get in the frame with them? I’d love to know!

3 Tips for Cloning Out Objects in Your Images

I really strive to get things right in camera. I like getting the settings right so that little to no editing is required. I like cleaning up my surroundings so that everything in the frame is exactly what I want it to be. However, there are times where this just doesn’t happen. Or where I feel like the chaos doesn’t add to the story of the image. There are definitely times when it’s OK to clone things out + there are times where it is hard or unrealistic to clone things out. I have found that following the three tips below really help in my cloning and in cleaning up an image.

clone-copy

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

1. clone out areas in shadows

When thinking about taking a picture that I know I will have to clone things out later, I always consider trying to make those objects in shadow. If I know I can’t move the things right then and there, I try to use light as my friend and put those things in shadow. Because of this, it is easier to clone out the chair, trash can, and table in the image below. Consider ways you can use shadow to your advantage to get rid of objects, and to make it easier in post processing.

2017-02-28_0001Taken with the Nikon D610 + Nikon 50mm 1.8.

2. know when not to clone

There’s a time and a place for cloning. If you have a distraction in your image and you try cloning it, but no matter how hard you try, or how long you stare at the computer screen, it just doesn’t look natural….let it go. It’s OK. Not every image has to be perfect. In fact, sometimes the things we desperately want to clone out could actually add to the story of a chaotic life. Whether that was what you were going for or not, embrace it. Not everything can be cloned out. Accept this fact and move on.

3. use photoshop

I am a Lightroom user. I find that the cloning tool in Lightroom works for me 90% of the time. But there are occasional photos where I need more help than what LR can give me. When this is the case, I take my images into Photoshop where the cloning tool is easier and better. One of my personal favorite tools in Photoshop is the Spot Healing Brush Tool, it makes it so easy to get rid of unwanted objects and to polish up your image.

 

3 Tips to Using Window Light

I love window light. I use it all the time. I use it at different times of day, too. I use it on overcast days and sunny days. There are many different ways to use window light. I love how different the light can look from the same window. I only have one window in my small apartment, and then my doors have windows on them. That’s it. But I am able to use them for different effects.

Have a small apartment but feeling uninspired? Here are tips to photographing in a small space.

2017-02-25_0013Taken with the Sigma 24mm 1.4.

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

All images in this post were taken with my Nikon D610 and the Sigma 24mm 1.4.

1. use the window for side light

I love side light. I use it often. It creates shadows on the face that really make the deminision of the face pop. It creates a 3D effect to your images, which is sought-after in the photography world. How you set up side lighting is by having your subject turn 45 degrees away from the window. Sometimes adding in a reflector or another window can help brighten the shadow side of the face some. Even though you are using natural light, you can still control how much light you really want.

2. control how much light you use

Which brings me to tip 2! No matter what type of light you are using, natural or artificial, you can control that light. When using window light, you can control it by blocking some of it with a blanket or blinds. Or you can add a reflector to help brighten the image some, there are really endless possibilities to creating the type of light when you want it.

2017-02-25_0014.jpgTaken with the Sigma 24mm 1.4.

3. look for catchlights

This is probably my go to tip. I always look for catchlights in my dogs eyes. If I see pretty catchlights (that is, a light in the eye) I stop what I am doing and run and get my camera! This can be applied to window light, too. If you are trying to find a good window that has great light, look for catchlights in your clients, kids, spouses, siblings, pets, etc. eyes. It has helped me find the right light, which eventually led to me being able to identify the kind of light I want to use.

What are some ways you photograph with window light? I’d love to hear!

How to Take Pictures in a Small Space

If you follow me on instagram, you’ve probably heard me complain about my tiny apartment. When I say tiny, I mean it. We basically live in something like a studio apartment (only except that sounds way more glamorous than what it actually is!). It has two rooms, the bedroom and the living room, separated by a half wall. The living room also has the kitchen in it, which is just a small strip on one side of the room. The walls are wood paneling. Yes. Like in a trailer home. I also have a nasty window unit, a ugly wall heater that doesn’t work (I attempted to hide it with my tv, but it’s still visible!), and a wall heater that does work (there is no hiding that one!). I like to call it vintage. There’s one window right next to the kitchen. Then my back doors are windows, and on that wall there is another very small window. That’s it as far as lighting goes in this place. Although I may seem like I complain about it a lot, I am very thankful for the time I have spent in my little apartment. I got serious with photography about two years ago and we have been living here for almost three. So, despite being small and not having very much light, this apartment has actually helped my photography. I’ve had to get creative with light source and how to use the little light I had available. I also had to get creative with how to use the small space that I had to get any type of image. I have a few tricks to get you inspired with a small space. This could be your own home or even a clients home. All you need is a little light and you can work any space.

Feeling uninspired because of all the rain or snow? Check out my tips to stay inspired during the winter months.

2017-02-24_0001Taken with the Sigma 24mm 1.4.

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

All images in this post were taken with my Nikon D610 and my Nikon 50mm 1.8 or the Sigma 24mm 1.4. All images were also taken inside my apartment that I described above.

use a wide angle lens

Having a wide angle lens like the Sigma 24mm 1.4 will not only help you with your settings, since it has that lovely aperture of f/1.4, but will also help you not feel so cramped in the small space. Sometimes with my Nikon 50mm 1.8, I feel like I can’t back up enough to get what I want in the picture. For in home sessions, I would recommend definitely having at least a 35mm or wider. A word of caution when using a wider angled lens on clients, make sure you leave enough room on either side for distortion help. Which you can fix in LR if it is extremely unnatural looking. I sometimes like to embrace the distortion, especially when I’m photographing my dogs. It’s a fun perspective. Another great thing about the Sigma (not sure if it applies to other wide angle lens) is that you can also get pretty close to your subject, and still have them in tack sharp focus, which helps you eliminate the background/distractions. This is sometimes helpful in small apartments or houses.

2017-02-24_0005Taken with the Nikon 50mm 1.8.

use windows to change your perspective

I can get so many different images with just one window. Even in my small apartment that has very little in the window department. If you find you come to a clients home and there is only one room with good light, but it’s small, you can totally work it and get different looks with just that one window. Not only can you use windows in your shot, but you can also use the windows for different lighting effects. I love using my window light to black out the background (because there are a lot of ugly things in my apartment that I’d rather not show!). Using light dramatically with the help of a window can really help eliminate distractions.

2017-02-24_0002Taken with the Sigma 24mm 1.4.

move furniture

If I wasn’t pregnant I would do this all the time. Sometimes my couch gets in the way of the pretty light, so either use the couch in your photos, or move it! I can get some nice reflections from my table if the light is right, but my table is up next to my wall and not very photogenic at the current location. I would move it and then photograph it! The same can go if you have a distracting piece of furniture that you don’t want in the background. Sure, you can always clone it out. But why take that extra time when you could just move it and take a few pictures, and then put it back where it belongs later? Sometimes I wait for my husband to get home to move it back for me. Totally an optional step!

2017-02-24_0004Taken with the Nikon 50mm 1.8.

focus on details

Instead of focusing on the big (little) picture of the apartment, focus on some details. Try macro, you can do macro ANYWHERE. It doesn’t have to be a big space at all! Try getting close to your subject to get rid of those distractions! The details of your everyday, of the place you are living right now might not seem important now, but they will when you leave! Get up close to your children, photograph their hair, eyes, little feet + hands. Endless possibilities when we focus on capturing the details. Even in a small space.

clean up before taking pictures

So, this one is something I don’t always do. But a small apartment can seem cluttered and dirty fast. Simplify where you want to take a picture real quick by picking up unnecessary things that don’t add to the story or point of the image. I am not suggesting you go crazy and clean your entire apartment (or your clients entire house!), but just be aware of what’s in your frame. I have gone into a client’s home before and moved things around so that the scene was simple. It just makes for a cleaner image. And less work when you’re processing your images!

go outside

Still feeling uninspired by the small space? There’s usually beautiful light outside, just take your client or your subject outside! I have done this countless times when the light just wasn’t bright enough inside. I have a car port right outside my door that gives some nice soft light. Even on an overcast day I can get some nice light in there. But first, try the tips above!

Do you live in a small space? Do you struggle when a client has a small space? What are some ways you go about photographing in a small space? I’d love to hear in the comments below.