Aperture | Summer Photo Challenge08.20.12

This week I am going to start into the all important technical equation that accounts for most of the light that you capture in an image.  The next three posts will be Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO.  These three factors must work together to ensure that you have enough light hitting the sensor to create an image.  When you are working in manual mode each of these three factors will need to be considered in relation to each other.  So this whole equation will not really come together for a couple of weeks.  If you are uncertain how to work these factors together and this seems too much for this week…break it down by shooting in Aperture mode.  This way you will be able to adjust the aperture to see the various results and the camera will adjust the other variables to produce an image.

What is aperture?

It is the size of the opening on the lens that allows light in.  It will also be called the f-stop.  The smaller the f-stop (number) the larger the hole and in turn the more light that is getting in.  The aperture (f-stop) will also affect how much of the picture is in focus.  This is called the depth of field.  This means that the smaller the f-stop the narrower the plane that is in focus.  The larger the f-stop number the deeper the field of focus.  You do have to remember though that as more of the image is in focus, the less light that is hitting the sensor as this hole is getting smaller (can be likened to squinting).  This would be where the other two factors would have to come into play to compensate for less light or extra light.  The following (handwritten and iPhone pic- sorry:) diagram will depict how the size of the hole corresponds to the numbers.


Here are some examples with a larger f-stop (smaller opening).  You will want to have a higher number (larger f stop) for group pictures as well as for landscapes so that you have a large part of the image in focus.  The following shots have been done at f7.1 and f11 respectively.

calgary family photo1calgary family photo2

You would want to use a small f-stop (or shoot wide open) if you wanted to focus the viewers eye on a certain area of the photo.  The shallower depth of field will blur out a distracting background.  It is a nice effect to soften an image as well.  The following have been shot at 2.2, 2.0, 2.8, 5.6 and 3.5 respectively.  You can see here that focal length and distance from a subject will also come into play but I want to keep this fairly simple.  I hope that does note get too confusing.  It is best to begin playing with your camera and your lens starting with varying apertures and then you can start to see how other factors come in (like moving closer to the subject or zooming in and then later adding the other variables to the equation).


calgary child photographer_DSC2146aa


Have fun shooting this week and I look forward to seeing your images!

Leave Your Comment


What is 5 + 4 ?
Please leave these two fields as-is:
IMPORTANT! To be able to proceed, you need to solve the following simple math (so we know that you are a human) :-)

San Diego | Calgary Family Photographer08.14.12

A couple of week’s ago we headed to San Diego for a little holiday.  My husband was attending a conference so the kids and I were left to explore on our own…staying just 90 steps from the beach (or so the condo marketing claimed:).  Needless to say we spent a fair amount of time on the beach…exploring for marine life – dead and alive; setting up a bakery and pho shop (cuz doesn’t every child make Vietnamese pho when at the beach); boogie boarding;…  The boogie boarding took a couple of days to happen due to the number of jellyfish washed up on the beach…even though he knows how many times I have been stung and I am still here:).  We then explored some of the local attractions – Safari Park, Birch Aquarium and the Zoo.  We missed Sea World this time as we had to head home for the dog.  We had a ton of fun and will definitely be doing that again…next time we will be taking bikes and exploring that way.


Love how he is holding his arms…they are like this in a few.

He was enjoying watching the life along the boardwalk.  Don’t blame him, there was always something to see:)


The most we saw of Daddy as he had 14+ hour days:(._DSC0912a_DSC0967

No, no, no!


This is child care for giraffe.  The little ones sit in formation like this so the adults can watch them easier…if only!!_DSC0961a

Take time to smell the flowers:)_DSC0984a

No pictures please!


Posted this on FB but thought that I would share here too.  “I hope nobody is watching”.


Still a little worried:)

Freezing…not really!_DSC1066a




Shark egg sacks:)_DSC1203


Touching sea urchins_DSC1244a

Trying to touch a fish_DSC1275a

After he succeeded:)_DSC1266a_DSC1267a

A speedier way to dinner which in the end was not as I ended up carrying her, the scooter and my camera.  Definitely need to work on her endurance!_DSC1306a



Komodo dragon and his deadly saliva…you know you have a boy when you know this stuff!_DSC1340aI know you have already seen this but it is a favourite!


Leave Your Comment


What is 5 + 14 ?
Please leave these two fields as-is:
IMPORTANT! To be able to proceed, you need to solve the following simple math (so we know that you are a human) :-)

Lighting | Summer Photo Challenge08.13.12

Lighting…this is what it is all about.  Recording light.  It is probably the lesson that I should have started with but wanted you to begin by looking at what was in your photo and how you were going to compose first.  So now we are going to look at lighting a subject (using natural light).  Of course this is a huge subject and there are so many factors that affect lighting – from time of day (colour and intensity), to weather/available shade to direction of the light.  I am mostly going to focus on direction of light for this post and am only going to talk about the sun as I am not a fan of pop-up flash.

Front lighting

Front lighting seems the most obvious way for people to pose themselves when they are outside.  Unfortunately this will typically result in unattractive shadows under the eyes (producing a tired look to the eyes)if the sun is too high, flat lighting if the sun is lower (showing no form to the face and still tired eyes as depicted here) and it will also cause your subject to squint (as shown here).


Side lighting

Side lighting can be gorgeous depending on the angle and mood of the photo that you are looking for.  It will typically produce a more dramatic look as the light moves more towards the side of the head but it can create shadows and in turn, depth to your images.  Highlighting the contours of the face.  You will need to watch the way the shadows fall across your subject’s face and particularly the eyes.  You still typically want to maintain catch lights (the light reflecting back in the eyes – the twinkle) in both eyes unless you are going for an extremely dramatic look.  I am using this picture to show more of the shadowing and contouring.


Here you will see that the light from the window is hitting at about 30-45 degrees to the baby to give some depth to his face but maintain the catch lights in his eyes.

TOT12011 A119

Back lighting

Often photographers will turn their subjects away from the sun.  This helps to eliminate squinting and distracting shadows.  It can be tricky though so that you do not get too much lens flare (unless that is what you are going for) and you want to get the correct exposure on your subject’s face without completely blowing out the background (another lesson).  Back lighting does add nice rim lighting to your subjects hair and shoulders – making them appear angelic:).  It can also be used very effectively for silhouettes.



If you must shoot mid day in the harshest light and you do not want to worry about how the light is hitting the subject too much, try to place them in the shade.


I hope that this helps.  Please feel free to ask questions if I have not explained something clearly.

Have fun playing with light!

Leave Your Comment


What is 7 + 8 ?
Please leave these two fields as-is:
IMPORTANT! To be able to proceed, you need to solve the following simple math (so we know that you are a human) :-)

Summer Photo Challenge and misc | Calgary Photographer07.03.12

I apologize in advance for this very random and large post…I have had so many posts that I have wanted to start or have started and not finished…June was a bit of a whirlwind with school finishing early in June, travel back to Calgary for a bunch of sessions, a purchase of a house coming through (long story), renovations and clean up being done to the house, camps, a couple more sessions, move and birthdays.  It has been great as I can now start to feel settled (at least for a bit – this is the 7th home in 12 yrs:).

I have booked the rest of my trips back this year and they are booking up quick as an email did go out to clients on the waitlist first (please let me know if you know of future sessions that you would like and the months that you are considering, as I am trying to take that into account with my travel).

My schedule for the rest of the year is as follows:

– August 21-26

– September 20-October 1

– October 25-28

– November 15-18

– December 6-9

August and September have a few spots remaining and the rest are still fairly open.

Cristina has been helping me by writing some posts.  One of which is about “what to wear” as we get this question a lot.  I will have this post up over the next couple of weeks.

I am back in September for fall sessions as well as for the CIBC Run for the Cure.  Tot Shots has a team each year.  There are typically 20 of us and we raised $12,000 last year.  We are hoping to do the same this year (if not better).  Steph, my team mate who is battling the disease, has been working hard to raise funds and we are already over $5000…YEAH Steph!  Thoughts are still with her as she continues with her battle!  My family will not be there running/walking with me this year so I would love to have you come and run/walk with me.  If you would like to support our efforts but are not able to attend, please follow our link here to donate.  Thanks a lot!

Now on to the photo challenge…in the past I have offered photography classes as part of my social series.  This year I am not going to have the opportunity to do an in-studio session for you so thought that it would be fun to do an online one.  Feedback that I received from participants in the past, is that they found it overwhelming to take all of the info they learned and apply it at once.  So throughout the summer, I am going to post a tip or photography rule each Monday and I challenge you to work on just that tip throughout the week.  It will allow you to just focus on one element at a time.  I will begin on July 9th and will start with a composition rule and will progressively get more technical through the summer.  The challenge can just be for yourself or you are welcome to send me your best shot from the week – cuz I kinda enjoy looking at photos:).  Happy summer everyone and I look forward to seeing what you capture!

Here is a quick shot of my kids from yesterday:).

calgary child photographer

Leave Your Comment


What is 5 + 7 ?
Please leave these two fields as-is:
IMPORTANT! To be able to proceed, you need to solve the following simple math (so we know that you are a human) :-)

It's in you to give06.04.12

Canadian Blood Services’ tagline “it’s in you to give” is very fitting for this post.  I posted this video on my US website to help raise awareness but wanted to share here too as it is important.  The video definitely acted as a call to action for my husband and I – I called right away to get us scheduled with Lifestream.  Mike has always been really good about donating blood as he is Type O negative (universal donor) and he has always made it a priority to give in this way.  This video really resonated with me as I had never thought as to how much blood the banks can go through from one accident – if you do not have time to watch the whole video, the 4:30 to 5:30 minute was what hit home to me.

Leave Your Comment


What is 5 + 7 ?
Please leave these two fields as-is:
IMPORTANT! To be able to proceed, you need to solve the following simple math (so we know that you are a human) :-)