Five Tips For Shooting Better Fall Photos

Happy Monday! There’s only one week of October left, eeek! Grab your camera and go take a walk in the woods, but before you head out, learn how to take better fall photos. This post was originally published on October 30, 2014, but after a wonderful hike in the woods this weekend, I thought it was worth another look.

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Autumn really tends to steal the show in terms of natural beauty, dontcha think?  This year I took a trip to Asheville, NC and after cruising up and down the Blue Ridge Parkway I don’t think I’ll ever take fall for granted again.  I spent three days hiking, driving and simply sitting and looking at leaves.  After the trip I mentally cataloged what went well and what went wrong in terms of the photos I took.  I thought it might be helpful to share a couple fall photography tips here in case you want to capture the season.

  • Zone in.  Don’t be afraid to focus in on one tree, one branch, even one leaf!  Get close, choose your angle and go for it.  While the whole forest is beautiful sometimes when we constantly shoot at a wide angle, the viewer’s eye doesn’t really know where to focus when looking at the picture.  The resulting image will be a mess of pretty hues instead of that amazing sugar maple with fiery red leaves. While you’re busy looking up, don’t forget to look down and around too.  There are multitudes of berries, fungus and seed pods waiting to be photographed too.

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  • Photograph your subjects in open shade or on cloudy days.  Cloudy days are great for photographing people; the clouds act as a huge soft box eliminating all shadows.  Obviously you have no control over the weather, but avoid midday sun and its harsh shadows, instead find a big wide open area of shade (near a building, under tree cover, etc) and take portraits there. You should find that the light is even and diffused because of the shade, but still bright enough because you’re in a wide open area.  If the sun is peaking through and creating hot spots (over exposed areas) in your photo, it will be pretty distracting so look around and try to avoid that as best you can.  Shooting in open shade is more comfortable for you (not so hot!) and your subject (no squinting) and the balance of light between your subject and background won’t be as drastic and therefore much less confusing for your camera in turn creating a better image.

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  • Shoot when there’s weather. Shooting during a sunny day with blue skies is nice, but shooting when it’s stormy, foggy or rainy is more dramatic and interesting. Weather easily adds mood to a photograph without a subject present.  I especially like shooting dark blue stormy skies during the fall because the contrasting colors of the deep blue sky makes the orange leaves pop even more. Shooting in the rain (or right after if you want to stay dry) looks fantastic during fall.  The colorful leaves that normally look dry (well, cause they are) glisten and shine, which really brings out their color.  Think about how nice a car looks when it’s freshly washed and still has drips of water on it or how shiny your nails look when you put a clear coat on.. it’s all about the glisten 😉

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  • Try setting your white balance to Shade.  (Its symbol is usually a house with three diagonal lines next to it)  Shade basically warms up your photograph, which in turn will result in leaf hues closer to what you are seeing with your eyes.  Sometimes photography can be frustrating and disappointing because what we see isn’t what our camera sees.  It’s ok to use the camera as a tool to better create the scene in front of you.  Using Shade white balance is one way I’ve found to help the camera represent changing leaf colors more accurately. Try it and see if it works for you.

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  • Coordinate with the fall foliage.  We think about color whenever we’re trying to create something visually pleasing (interior design, picking out an outfit, choosing a palette for an art project) so it only makes sense to do the same when we’re creating photos.  If you know you’ll be the subject or the shooter, dress to compliment your scene!  This is especially easy in the fall because you generally know what colors to expect. Next time you are the subject of the photo, you’ll compliment the scenery and visa-versa.

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I planned on only dishing up five tips, but here’s a bonus that works for shooting in any season and setting: Shoot during the golden hour.  This rule basically runs every photographers life.  The light is warm and shadows are long, which creates for interesting and beautiful photographs.  If you want to shoot the changing leaves and natural scenery, shooting during the first hour and last hour of light is highly advantageous.  The colors of the yellow, orange and red leaves will look even more brilliant during the golden hour so plan your walks just before sunset!

Have fun and happy shooting! Oh and if you snap a shot using one of these tips, tag us on IG @liveseasoned because we would love to check it out 🙂

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How to: Photograph Young Siblings

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Family portraits are hard.  There’s a good chance everyone involved has varying levels of interest in taking a great portrait.  I’m usually the one in the bunch groaning, so I’m here to tell you how to make future family shots a little less painful, specifically portraits of young siblings.

It all comes down to making it quick, easy and safe for the little ones.  You’re not going to walk away with fifty amazing portraits, but if you get one great shot, the squawks and squeals are all worth it.  In previous posts, we gave you a primer on photography, newborn portraits and kid candids.  I advise skimming those posts to get a better understanding of light and photography before setting up your mini models.

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5 Tips For Taking Better Kid Candids

Taking great kid candids is an important skill to have.  Give any parent a stellar photo of their son or daughter and you’ll be invited over for dinner often.  Throw all those kid candids in a photo album and BOOM you have the best mother’s day present ever, one that will never be duplicated or lost.  If you need more dinner dates or a great father’s day present (it’s already June!) than read on my friends, read on and charge those camera batteries because today’s post includes 5 Tips For Taking Better Kid Candids.

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Simple Twig Wreath

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Happy Fall! This foraged twig wreath screams autumn and the best part about it is it encourages you to go outside and prance around in the woods.  You’ll need to gather a bunch of twigs and sticks, which is really easy at this time of year.  The forest should be full of dry kindling waiting to be collected.  I wanted to create a natural looking decoration that was quick and easy, but also cheap.  This wreath ended up costing me nothing but time (most of which I spent looking for my glue gun) since I already owned the other materials.  I made a pretty big wreath because I wanted it to be the center of attention on my tiny shed wall.  First things first, think about where you’d like to hang your wreath and measure or eye it up so that you have a general idea of how big you’d like your finished product to be.

Supplies:

  • thick cardboard
  • pen
  • scissors
  • tape
  • twine
  • glue gun
  • big ol’ pile of twigs

Steps:

  • Step 1: Draw a donut onto some scrap cardboard (I traced a random jar, but it doesn’t have to be perfect) and cut it out.  My cardboard seemed flimsy so I cut two identical donuts and taped them together with masking tape.
  • Step 2: Dispense a line of glue on one side of your donut. Press the twine into it and wrap it neatly around the donut.  Continue dispensing glue (on what will be the back side of your donut) and wrapping twine until you cover the entire donut.  Cut a length of twine (mine was about 4 inches) and tie it in a loop around your donut so you can hang it up later.
  • Step 3: Now it’s time to place the twigs.  This is where you can let your creativity come through.  Do you want a wreath of all tiny twigs? Bigger sticks? Bark or no bark? That’s all up to you.  I wanted something that looked really rustic so I strived for lots of variation in both size and color.  Start by placing the 12 o’clock and three o’clock sticks, but don’t glue them down yet.  Choose sticks to fill in the space between 12 and 3.  Once you have a quarter of your wreath laid out, you can begin hot gluing the sticks to the donut.  Don’t rush this process, glue each stick individually and pay attention to how they are arranged in the center of the donut. You will want the center to resemble a star when you’re finished.
  • Step 4: After you have filled in 12 o’clock to 3 o’clock section, place the 6 o’clock stick on the donut and repeat the process.  Continue until your entire donut is covered and your wreath is complete.
  • Because my wreath is so large, I wanted to create an additional layer of smaller twigs to add some depth.  I did this by repeating steps 1-3 and simple gluing my smaller wreath onto the larger one.

I had  a great time creating this project because there really is no way you can screw it up. It was a stress free craft project, which kind of equates to meditation for me.  I hate sitting idle, but sometimes I don’t feel like concentrating too hard on a project.  It’s also perfect for kiddos.  They can search for twigs and lay them out to their liking while a parent glues them to the donut.  Another reason I’m keen on this twig wreath, it gives me something to photograph in all seasons.  Have you ever taken the same photo over and over during each season?  It’s nice to have a single object that remains unchanged yet altered by whatever is going on in the shot (rain, sleet, snow).  I’m excited to see how this simple craft holds up this year and how pretty it will look with a dusting of snow 🙂

 

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Headscarves: Four Ways!

Headscarves are great. What a statement, I know.  I’ve always admired people who can pull off a headscarf. Then my thrift store had a going out of business sale and I bought seven of them and I thought, ‘I better start wearing headscarves.’  That’s it folks.  That is the story of how this post was born.  For a few weeks, I would only wear them while going on a solitary hike or in my living room and then there was a week where I didn’t feel like washing my hair, but I had to run errands and just like that, I became a person who could pull off a headscarf.  I was getting compliments left and right! In the grocery store, at the post office, even at restaurants and bars.  It felt pretty great since I was initially self conscious about them.  I’m pretty sure we can all be headscarf people, which is why I want you to read this post and put it into practice. Like right meow.

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Air Plants in the Shower

Last week Sarah gave us instructions and inspiration for a great air plant display using reclaimed berry boxes. Before reading this post, her post is a great place to start for an overview of the plants, how to care for them, and a reliable source for placing wholesale orders.

As soon as Sarah started talking tillandsia, I got so excited about the idea of putting some in the outdoor shower! It’s a great way to add something unexpected to the space while increasing our garden’s vertical reach. I know this seems like a unique project, but we’re hoping it’ll inspire some more creative uses for these versatile plants. What about adding some air plants to your porch posts, up the trunk of a tree, or to the supports on a swing set? As long as the location is getting some nice bright, but not direct, light and a regular misting from either the rain or a hose, then your plants should thrive.

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Air Plant Display DIY

Ever think of hanging air plants in the shower? We did and we loved it!

Hey Ya’ll! (I swear I’m developing a southern accent already)  If you recall, last Friday I shared some tillandsia (commonly known as air plants) and succulent display inspiration.  I’m truly obsessed with both.  Tillandsias and succulents are easy to maintain and display and both are easy to propagate as well – win, win, win.  For the past few years, I have pinned countless air plant displays with the hopes of making one myself.  Well, that day has come my friends.  That day is today.  Actually, it was yesterday, but the big unveil is today, it’s right now, so scroll on!

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I really like the idea of displaying the tillandsias like artwork so I knew I needed some type of frame.  I picked up two antique berry boxes from my local flea market for 75 cents a piece.  The vendor told me they were about 35 years old.  They definitely had 35 years of dirt on them, which I didn’t wash off BTW.  I figured it added to the feel of the whole project, but who am I kidding? I was just too lazy and dry dirt is ok with me, wet dirt is when things get messy, right?  I bought my air plants from this wholesale vendor.  The site isn’t flashy and I wasn’t really sure what I was getting since there aren’t photos for each individual item, but I was blown away by my package of plants.  It arrived severely dented (because it was so light), but not a single plant was damaged or dead and I ordered sixty plants!  Yes, I spent $84 on air plants, but the most expensive kind was only $2.20!  Now I have a whole little colony of air plants. They’re my children. Don’t come too close.  After spreading them out on my kitchen table and looking at them for days (that is not an exaggeration) I finally came up with this easy display idea.  While I had enough plants to fill up the berry boxes, I also wanted a display shelf for crystals and treasures and thus my design:

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Air Plant Display DIY Supplies:

  • air plants
  • 25 gauge wire
  • scissors
  • pile of clear (or really whatever color) thumbtacks
  • frame of choice (I used a berry box. You can use an empty photo frame, crate, pallet, random rusty frame you found in the woods (I did that also!) or whatever you have on hand)

 

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Air Plant Display DIY Instructions:

  • Depending on what type of frame you are using, your DIY instructions may differ.  Use this as a guideline and if you have any questions just drop me a line.  Because everyone’s frames will be a little bit different, I’ll show you two basic ways of setting up your display. Here we go: The first option is to wrap the wire around the frame edges (in my case the frame is a crate, but it’s the same basic structure) to create a wire grid.  Thread the wire (length depends on your frame width) through and behind the frame, bring it around in front of the perimeter and tightly twist it around itself (the length of wire that will run horizontally across the frame). Repeat by threading the length of the wire through and behind the frame, bring it around the front of frame and this time run it in a straight line across the frame. Repeat on the other side by wrapping it around the outside and back of the frame and pulling it through the frame opening two times and finishing it off by twisting it around the straight horizontal wire.  Cut the excess with scissors.  Repeat this process down the entire length of the frame.  Leave 1-2 inches in between each row.
  • After you have completed the horizontal rows, it’s time for the vertical columns. Cut a piece of wire 3 inches longer than the inside of your frame.  Twist the wire onto the top rung of the horizontal wire “ladder” and thread the wire behind the rungs.  Twist the wire onto the bottom rung as well.  Repeat across the entire frame leaving 1-2 inches between each vertical column.
  • Now you are ready to add the tillandsias, but first let me briefly explain the thumbtack method.  If you are using a wooden crate or pallet, this method is nice because it completely hides all the wiring.  Simply create a wire grid like previously mentioned, but instead of wrapping the wire around the frame, wrap it snuggly around a thumbtack and stick it in place inside the edge of the crate.  Continue the process starting with horizontal rows and moving on to vertical columns until a grid is formed.
  • Placing the tillandsias is quite easy, but it must be done with care.  Simply push the bulb of the plant through a wire square and thread a couple leaves behind and then through adjacent squares.  Two or three leaves should do it.  Start with the largest plants and don’t put them too close together.  Tillandsias need good air circulation to survive.  As you add plants, you can thread them into place by using larger tillanndisa plants’ leaves.  As you can see, some of the plants aren’t threaded through the squares rather they are held in place by other plants.
  • Remember you’ll have to mist or submerge your plants every so often to water them.  I plan on taking my frames off of the wall, misting my plants, waiting until they dry (they dry pretty quickly) and hanging them back up.

*If you want to hide the wrapped wire, try wrapping your entire frame in hemp, jute or yarn.

**If chicken wire is available to you (I didn’t buy it because I didn’t want 20 yards for a .3 yard project) you can easily attach it to the center of your frame by wire wrapping or the thumbtack method instead of creating a grid with 25 gauge wire.

 

Air Plant Care:

  • Air plants prefer bright, but filtered light. Don’t place them in direct sunlight.
  • They thrive in 45-95 degree weather (7-35°C).
  • In dry climates (air conditioning especially) mist your plants 3-4 times a week, mist less frequently in humid climates.  You can also water your plants by soaking them in room temperature water (don’t submerge the flowers) for 10 minutes at a time ONCE every two weeks.
  • Allow your plants enough circulation to dry within 4 hours of watering.  To check for dryness, look at the leaf bases in the central part of the plant.  If the plant remains wet for too long, rot may develop.
  • Water in the morning or afternoon so that they dry by evening time.  Tillandsias are nocturnal and respire at night, which means they take in carbon dioxide at night. If they’re covered with water they cannot take in carbon dioxide.

As you can see, there are endless ways to display these little gems.  Since you don’t have to worry about soil you can get really creative.  I love the little Peru Inca Gold in the shell casing.  Don’t you?  In case you were wondering, the plants with the pink buds are a Xerograhica x Brachycaulos hybrid and they were only $2.20 a piece! Also, the potted plants from left to right are Harrisii ($1.65), Ionantha Guatemala ($.61), and Kolbii Large ($.94).  I also purchased 10 Brachycaulos ($1.38), which is the lone plant in the wire grid  and lastly, six Velutina ($1.83), which kind of look like a bigger version of the Harrisii.  I would recommend doing a quick google search of each plant before you buy them to get a better understanding or at least a general idea of what you’ll receive.  Like I said, I was ecstatic with my package and I’m dying for an excuse to buy more.  Christmas come quick!

 

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Photography 101

As you may know, I’m obsessed with photography.  I have a degree in photojournalism from Temple University and I have been working in some sphere of the photography world for the past five years.  I’m the first to admit that you do not need a degree in photography in order to take great photos. In my spare time, I teach photo classes to adults who would like to become more comfortable with their DSLRs and photography in general, and I thought it would be helpful to start sharing that information here as well. Today is the first installment of Photography 101.

Photography can become quite overwhelming because when it comes down to it, there is a lot to learn.  The good news is, you do not need to learn it all right away!  Today in Photography 101, I’m going to go over four important tools for shaping light in your photographs.  These four components: aperture, shutter speed, ISO and white balance are the key to creating a beautiful photograph.  Once you have a clear understanding of all four, you can begin experimenting, breaking out of your comfort zone and using the MANUAL setting every time you are out and about.  You are smarter than your camera, which is why you are probably frustrated with the AUTO setting.  Follow along and learn how to understand the relationship between light and photography.

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Arrow Embroidery Tutorial & DIY

Don’t shoot! I know this post is a little later than normal, but that’s because I was working on an original arrow embroidery DIY for you cats.  I think we can all agree that arrows are both adorable and hip.  They deserve to be embroidered on cabin pillows, baby onesies, inspirational banners and just about everywhere else.  Whenever I see arrows, I think summer camp, forest adventures and cabin get-aways.  Who doesn’t want to think of those things? That’s why I created this arrow embroidery tutorial.

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I’m not fibbing when I say arrows are easy to embroider.  Each arrow is made up of a couple different stitches all of which are outlined below.  The colors, style and feel of each arrow is up to you!  I encourage you to sketch out a few arrows to define the style you’re going for and then start stitching.  If you really want a summer camp vibe, take your arrow embroidery supplies to the woods!

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