Saturday, December 24, 2011

How to Get Great Photos of Your Christmas Tree.

I know this is kinda late but you've still got time to take some photos of your tree, if you're like me you leave it up till New Years Day anyway ;) 
I have had people ask how to get those glowing/sparkly photos of their Christmas tree with a dslr camera so I am here to tell you how!

First, here is an average photo of my tree.  The camera settings I used were: ISO 2500  f 2.2  1/80 sec  
I didn't have lights on in my living room so I had to use a high ISO, most basic dslr cameras will only go to about 1600 ISO so if I were using a camera like that, I would have had an even darker photo like this...

Not a very good photo, huh? 

But, by using a tripod and a sloooooow shutter speed, you can get much better results!

First, you will need to have a basic understanding of how to adjust your settings manually on your camera.  Also, as I mentioned you will need a tripod because you will be using a very slow shutter speed and your image will be extremely blurry if you don't use one. 

It will take some patience and experimenting in order to get it just right but just play with it.  The settings I used are just a guideline and I was in a dark room so depending on your lighting situation, you will need to adjust the settings accordingly. 

For this image, I used the following settings:  ISO 500  f/32  ss 30 sec (yes, that is 30 seconds :)  See how much better this photo turned out?  Notice I used a very small aperture (high number) of f/32.  This creates that starry effect you see!  But the smaller aperture you use, the less light that is let into the camera. 

I liked the starry look of that photo but I wanted more light so I adjusted my aperture a bit for this photo to f/16.  (I also could have bumped up my ISO)

So, settings for this photo were ISO 400  f/16  ss 30sec

What a difference from the first photo!  (All of these images are un-edited/SOOC.)  Now you can take great photos of your Christmas tree without feeling disappointed that the photos don't do it justice!  Happy picture-taking!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

All photos taken by Kristen (blog author) unless otherwise stated. Do not copy/save or print without permission. Thank you!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Our Christmas Trees

Here is a look at our Christmas trees this year.  I am posting from my parents house so I just have some quick images of the trees, nothing detailed but enough for a quick post.  :)

This is our little tree in the new bonus room.  It was our first tree from when we rented and didn't have room for a larger tree.  It's a little sad and spindly, but I tried to dress it up a bit.  It is decorated in silver and white with ornaments from the Dollar Tree and things I got on clearance after Christmas last year.  I always try to keep it frugal with Christmas decorating since it is only up for a few weeks out of the year (but I still try to make it pretty!)
In this view from our living room, you can see both of our trees.  I love this view!
This is our 'big' tree in the living room decorated in red and gold.  I positioned it in front of a window so that passers-by could see our tree from the road.  :)
(When I get home, I plan to post about how you can get your Christmas tree to sparkle and glow in pictures!  It's really easy and makes such a big difference!)
And these are a few 'trees' we have in the entry-way (they are clearance finds from JC Penney one year.)
We do have one more tree in the house (Hayden's) but I didn't get any pictures of it before we left on our trip.  The poor thing looks a little sad since Hayden has re-arranged it several times and has thrown toys into it, etc...  Funny because he doesn't touch my big trees.  I have them decorated with glass ornaments and never had a problem with him grabbing them.  I wonder if baby Ava will be just as 'friendly' with my ornaments?  ;) 
I hope everyone is having a wonderful Christmas season!

p.s. I am linking up to Sarah's Christmas Tree Party! (late...)

All photos taken by Kristen (blog author) unless otherwise stated. Do not copy/save or print without permission. Thank you!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Mantel

For my Christmas mantel, I kept it frugal and simple.  I dreamed of a gorgeous mantel complete with a huge mirror and large wreath, lots of mercury glass, fluffy greenery, (I could go on and on....)  But, alas, I did not have the funds to support that dream mantel.  So, I used lots of things I already had (I always try to hit up the after Christmas clearances for the next years decorating) and purchased just a couple new things at Marshals.

The old window has been on my mantel since we put it up in the new bonus room (that I am still working on....maybe someday I will post about it!)  Anyway, the wreath I have had for several years but it still had some life in it :)
As for the garland spray on the mantel, I used several things I purchased on clearance last year after Christmas.  Lighted evergreen garland, large artificial white poinsettias, some silvery ball thingys and the glittery (and very messy!) twisties.  The only things I purchased new this year were the silver ball garland and mercury glass globes at Marshals for under $30 total for all.

My silver stockings were another clearance purchase from last year :)  I just love those after-Christmas sales!  I try to never buy Christmas decor for full-price (but there is the occasional impulse buy for something that I really want like those beautiful mercury glass globes ;)

So, there you have it.  My frugal and simple wintery Christmas mantel. 

I don't know about you, but Christmas is really sneaking up on me this year!  I cannot believe how close it is and I hate to say it but I am really behind in my Christmas shopping!  Looks like I will be finishing it up last minute as usual! 

I am linking up to Rhoda's mantel party!  Take a look at the hundreds of beautiful Christmas mantels that are there!

All photos taken by Kristen (blog author) unless otherwise stated. Do not copy/save or print without permission. Thank you!

Welcome Baby Emily

Today I got to spend some time with my bestie and her brand new baby girl, Emily!  She's just 9 days old and as precious as can be!  We hoped to get some sleeping, posed photos but Emily had other plans ;)  We didn't give up and I managed to get a few.  My favorites ended up being the candid shots I got of her and her mommy in her nursery.  Those sort of shots are always my favorite.  I was there about 4.5 hours but I didn't mind because it was fun hanging out with Kyla and her new little one while our 2.5 yr olds played together.  Here are a few of my favs.

One to show off little Emily's beautiful baby room :)
Little princess

All photos taken by Kristen (blog author) unless otherwise stated. Do not copy/save or print without permission. Thank you!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Ramsey Family (family photo session)

One of my good friends asked me to take some family photos for her and we worked hard to make it happen!  :)  The first attempt at these photos was rained out, so today we had better weather and were able to get some cute shots!  I hope that my friend loves these, she is a picture-lover like me!

Such a beautiful family!
Could they get any cuter?
What a little beauty!
Little heartbreaker!!

All photos taken by Kristen (blog author) unless otherwise stated. Do not copy/save or print without permission. Thank you!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Collins Family (lifestyle photos)

My friend Allison asked me to take some lifestyle pictures of her and her family and I happily agreed!  I will admit that I am definitely out of my 'comfort zone' when people ask me to take posed pictures of their family.  I struggle to come up with ideas and it just feels somewhat un-natural to me. I so enjoy shooting people just being themselves.  It takes the pressure off both me and the people I am photographing and makes for some beautiful images!  Today I got to hang out with the Collins family and took some shots along the way.  We had a fun time, I hope they love the photos!  You can just feel the love in these images!

p.s. I kinda went overboard on the 'sneak peak' but there were so many that I loved!

What a little beauty
Color!  :)
Putting her "B" on the tree
Lastly, this one "just for fun"  :)

All photos taken by Kristen (blog author) unless otherwise stated. Do not copy/save or print without permission. Thank you!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

On a Rainy Day....

Today it rained, a lot.  I decided that instead of keeping Hayden cooped up in the house, I would let him go out and splash around in the puddles.
He had so much fun and I tried desperately to capture some of it (while at the same time trying to keep my precious camera dry with a grocery bag and umbrella.) Because of all my efforts trying to keep my camera from getting wet, I didn't get to concentrate much on composing cute shots, I just kinda shot blindly and hoped for the best :P  Anyway, Hayden loved it and was asking to go back out after lunch but mean old mommy made him take a nap instead...

All photos taken by Kristen (blog author) unless otherwise stated. Do not copy/save or print without permission. Thank you!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Our Shoebox Gift

I first heard of the ministry of Samaritan's Purse when I was a kid and my grandmother would make up a shoebox for a needy child every year.  I remember thinking it was so cool that a kid in a far away country was getting that box full of fun goodies!  Fast forward to when I was a college student.  I made up my first shoebox with my boyfriend (now hubby) and it was such a blessing that I decided I would do it every year.  Sending a shoebox gift has become a yearly tradition for my husband and I and this year we started teaching Hayden about it.  Though it is hard to explain to a 2 year old that we are buying gifts for a child that doesn't have many (if any) toys but he will understand it more each year.  It's never too early to teach our children to give to others! 
I am so glad that our church supports this ministry every year.  It is so fun to see so many getting involved and excited about sending the shoeboxes.  And we don't have to worry about finding a drop-off location, we just bring our box to church!
So Sunday, we picked up this pre-printed shoebox to fill with goodies!
(you can use any regular sized shoebox or the clear plastic ones with lids as well!)
And last night we took Hayden to shop for the 'boy.'  We chose to get gifts for a 2-4 year old boy since that is the age that Hayden is and that way he could help us choose the gifts.  Over the years, we have done different age groups for both genders.
Hayden was excited to 'go shopping for the boy' even though I know he didn't fully understand what we were doing.

(though I wasn't planning on it, we let him choose something for himself {the toy story doll, Jesse, that is in his other hand.} once we got there because I quickly realized he was not going to be able to pick things for the box until we let him get something...but after that, he was great at helping choose several gifts for the box and didn't try to keep them for himself or get upset when we told him that they were not his toys.)

It helps to take your shoebox into the store with you so that you can see exactly how much you can fit in the box!
We picked out toys, candy and other things until our box was full.
And this year, I paid the postage for our box online so that I could print a barcode and track our shoebox!  We will be able to see what country our box went to this year!
I encourage all of you that if you don't already, find a worthy charity to donate to this Christmas season.  No matter what budget you're on, we all have something we can give.  We are on a very tight, one-income budget but we don't ever go without and our son always has Christmas and birthday gifts (and plenty of them) so I don't let myself think that we can't afford to donate, even during the years when we don't have as much as previous years.  This donation is small for sure but it makes a big difference to a needy child and that warms my heart.  I hope that in years to come, we can afford to make a bigger difference in others' lives during the holidays.  It truly does the heart good :)

All photos taken by Kristen (blog author) unless otherwise stated. Do not copy/save or print without permission. Thank you!