Thursday, May 31, 2012

Katie Evans (or "How to Get Out of Automatic")

In a library
along a main street oozing history and character
I learned more about photography, and even my camera, from a Katie Evans Workshop a few weeks ago.

I also learned I knew more than I thought I knew.
That was just as helpful as anything else.

If you and your camera are just getting acquainted
and you see Katie is coming to your town
I recommend signing up for one of her workshops.

Even if you and your camera are on pretty intimate terms, but you're self taught,
I suggest signing up just to fill in any gaps you might have missed along the way.

(I got a good deal through Living Social, similar to Groupon. I bet you could, too!)

If you can't attend a workshop, I recommend getting a copy of Katie's book, The Key to Taking Pictures Like a Professional Photographer. 

In it Katie... well, I'll just tell you what she says about it...

"Have you invested in a digital SLR, but can’t quite figure out how to get those stunning pictures out of it? You know what you want your pictures to look like, but you just don’t know how to get there. You haven’t dared to shoot in anything but automatic and when you do…well, let’s just say those aren’t the pictures you post on your blog.
Does this sound like you? You’re not alone…
You CAN get those beautiful, artsy, cool pictures you are imagining. The information that I will reveal in this book will help you finally understand your camera and beyond. I teach how to achieve a proper exposure, how and where to find the best light, which lenses are the best and why, what the important settings on your camera are about, RAW vs. JPEG, how to compose a striking picture, the best editing software, my  “must-do’s” in my editing process, and so much more."

Katie takes you through the steps she takes to get a great portrait... camera and gear, exposure, camera settings, lighting, and more. If you're still shooting in automatic, she'll get you into manual. 

If you're already familiar with manual settings, she'll show you things on your camera you didn't know you had!

I bought the book at the workshop (1/2 price - yay!) and even though I've been shooting in manual for awhile now, I found the book to be a good guide with a simple and concise layout. 

So... I signed up for her affiliate program. 
If you purchase a book through the link on my sidebar, I get a percentage. (yay!)

(Pssst... Don't tell Katie, but I probably would have posted a link to her book, anyway.)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Belated Lessons from the Third Shoot

One evening way back in April, I spent a few hours traipsing after my friend Debbie's precious family with my camera.

It  just hit me I never posted any of them here!

We had scheduled and rescheduled the shoot at least twice trying to work around the weather and other conflicts, and we had to do it in the evening when the kids were tired, but I'm pleased - and I think she is - with the way they turned out.

Then there was another delay. 
Before I had a chance to really look at them, my friends and family  pitched in and bought me a new computer for my birthday - a Mac! - which meant I had to load my editing software, not to mention learn how to use the computer.
(I'm not complaining, believe me!)

But Debbie is truly a saint and never complained. 
That's no excuse for me, though. I learned from this shoot that no matter what happens, I need to make my client's photos a top priority. 
I need to have a quick turnaround, no matter how saintlike and patient they are.

I also learned...

... bubbles might be tough for 4- and 5-year-olds 

 ... let the client know they are off the hook for trying to get the little ones to smile, and to just relax and keep looking at me

... if possible,  schedule the shoot in the morning when little ones aren't tired, but if that's not possible, follow them around and catch them doing what they enjoy (I'm glad I wore tennis shoes!)

Debbie, thank you again so much for letting me spend time with you and your beautiful family!!

Monday, May 28, 2012


Some came home. 
But too many didn't. 

Today I'm remembering and giving thanks to those who gave everything for the freedoms I too often take for granted. 

There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends ~ John 15:13

Friday, May 25, 2012

A Trip to Rosebud

My friend's mother died this past week. 
She lived in Rosebud, a little country town less than two hours away from me, so of course I attended the services to support my friend.

If you've ever driven in Texas, you know how diverse the terrain can be. 
This is where I started early Tuesday morning, in the rolling hills near my house...

...and in little more than an hour, I was here, driving through flat farmland...

I had never driven out that way before.  

My heart just soared to see so much farmland untouched by encroaching housing developments, and horizons that stretched for miles with nothing blocking the view but prairie grass or cornfields.

This little cemetery is where my friend's mom was buried. 

This weekend... as on all Memorial Day weekends for who knows how long... the community will gather here for prayer, a picnic, and a sprucing up of the cemetery. Even family members who have moved away will come back to pitch in. 

Now that's the way to celebrate Memorial Day, don't you think?

These blooms spiked out from a tree at my friend's mom's house - I can't remember what it's called, but I fell in love with it.
(*I finally looked it up - it's called Texas Lilac Vitex.)

 I have a soft spot for old buildings, so before heading home, I stopped on Main Street and snapped a few photos.

This church and cemetery in another small town caught my eye on my way to Rosebud that morning. 
I promised myself that on the way home I'd stop for a photography break.

You have to keep promises to yourself, you know. 
Life's just too short not to.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Where has May gone?

I can't believe my last post was almost two weeks ago. My camera has been busy but so has my body, running everywhere except home in front of my computer.

Here are a few bits of my May so far...

Flowers are in transition.. 

(Mexican Hats)


(bee balm or horsemint)

I met some sheep...

I saw a double rainbow and beautiful sunset...

I spent Mother's Day snapping photos of huge green parakeets and white doves in my parents' backyard...

I finished editing photos from my last shoot...

I helped celebrate a college graduation...

Encountered a snake on my morning walk... 

A wonderful surprise waited for me in the mailbox this afternoon...

Well, I was actually expecting it. 
I won it in an online auction to raise money for Pesto's dental surgery... you can read about it HERE
I don't have a cat right now, but I'm a cat lover and appreciate what Joan of God's Little People is doing for them in Greece. 
(Plus, I just loved that little purse!)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Focus and Breathe

Stuck in Austin traffic one evening a couple of weeks ago with 2/3 of my kids
I glanced out the window and spotted bright colorful graffiti painted on a train car one bridge over...

Camera! Camera! Camera! I squealed, twisting to reach into my purse behind my seat.

But responsible kids that they are, they reminded me I was driving and didn't need to be snapping photos
so Daniel took these for me.
Mostly to get me to be quiet, I bet.

I couldn't read the words until I popped the images on my computer.
Here... I've zoomed in so you can read them, too.

Just the reminder I needed. 
I love when that happens!
Hope you have a wonderful weekend, and don't forget to Focus and Breathe!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Doo Doo Doo Lookin' Out My Backdoor

Well, not my backdoor.
Not anymore. 

I spent the weekend with my parents in my childhood home.
Growing up, I loved my backyard, but I never remember it being as entertaining as it is now. 
There's so much going on between the birds, squirrels, plants, and neighbors
I could spend hours just staring out that backdoor... and usually do.
Join me for look?

I miss blue jays. 
My dad doesn't like them - they steal the squirrel's peanuts. I think we've convinced Daddy they need to eat, too.

But he's still partial to the squirrels, even though they mistake his thumb for a peanut every once in a while. 
I took my standard photos of the squirrels with the peanuts, but my favorite is the one above.
Peanuts make me thirsty, too.

Morning Glories grow rampant on a section of chain link fence - these spiral buds caught my eye.

But of course I took some of them in full Morning Glory glory. 

When I was little, we had a succession of blue parakeets just like this one, all named "Pete".  
I wonder if this one escaped from someone's house? 
It's been coming around to Daddy's feeder for a few weeks now.

Tom spotted this Blue Jay taking a dip.

"I just washed my hair and can't do a thing with it!"

This fig bush is older than I am. It grew from a cutting in my Great-Grandmother's yard, so as my dad said, technically it's even older than the house.

Pete came back several times while I was there, to my delight.

One of the neighbors celebrated a birthday. How could I resist taking this shot of all these girls in their tutus playing on the trampoline? 
I especially love the little cowgirl ballerina, don't you?

Hope you had a wonderful weekend, too!


I've been honored with a Post of the Week from Hilary at the Smitten Image for my backyard tour.
Thank you, Hilary!!!