Where do you start?

Over the last 2-3 months, I have been asked by several people to help them with their various photography questions, relating to gear or how to get a certain look. I thought I'd take some time, here on the blog, to cover some of the questions that I get asked more often. 

I'm no Ansel Adams, Scott Kelby, or Sue Bryce... I'm basically a mom with a camera who has been passionate about photographer for like, ever, and who decided to be brave and make a business out of what she loves to do. I do some photography well. I'm also a good teacher. So why not share some information with those of you who want to know? I'm not planning on writing a book for each topic, just a few pointers I might give you if we were out shooting together. And please, if you have questions regarding any type of photography or gear, ask away. I might not be able to tell you much, but you get full access to my brain. 

So I put a bunch of topics (that I've been asked about) into a hat and drew out LANDSCAPE. So we're starting w/ Landscape Photography. 

Landscape photography typically shows wide-open spaces in our world. Most of the landscape photos we see focus on nature. Landscapes are not restricted to nature, but can highlight several other views - including man-made objects. Landscapes can show us forests and deserts, mountains and valleys. 

Look at a landscape photo on Flickr or in a National Geographic magazine. What do you notice first? Light? Color? The beauty of the scape? What you will also notice, but maybe not realize is everything is in focus from close-up to far away.  

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Not a strong example of a great landscape, but you can see everything is sharp from close to far away. This is because I set my aperture to a higher #, which actually means my lens is opening up just a tiny bit. I shot this @ f/16.  

One 'rule' of landscape photography is that the horizon line should never go in the middle of your frame. It should lie in the bottom 1/3 line or top 2/3 line of the frame. Look above, and imagine dividing this photo into 3's, horizontally, then place the horizon line accordingly.  And you can see how I did not do that in the above photo. Here's one where I did. 

If I'm shooting for a client or to be published in a magazine, then I'd pay more attention to the horizon line. If I'm shooting for myself... I put it wherever I want. Know the rules first, then break the rules.  Sometimes you just gotta grab the shot as it is, before the view disappears.

Composition is an important element in landscape photography. We see a beautiful sight, and we snap a photo, but it doesn't look amazing on the back of our camera. Not as pretty as we see with our eyes. This is where elements of composition come in. Something is needed to help draw the viewer's eye into the photograph. Elements like leading lines or a strong foreground come into play.

My eyes see lines. I can't help it... call it a curse if you must, but that's what I see.  Used well, they can draw the viewer's eye into the picture. Here's an example.  The fence line begins on the front left of the photo and the fence leads our eye to the middle. The curve of the road takes our eyes back right to the treeline which leads us to the mountain peaks. Movement. 

Another element in landscape composition is to have a strong foreground... something in the front third of the photo to grab the viewer's eye. This item should be in focus most times, when it's not it is for artistic purposes. Here are examples of one w/out the strong foreground and one with. 

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It's an okay photo but nothing to write home about. 

The yellow grass and wildflowers grab out attention and our eyes look up and back to take in the rest of the photo naturally. 

 2 other questions regarding landscape photography. First is what lens do I use and secondly, where do I focus?  You can really use any lens you have for landscape photography. I prefer an wide to ultra-wide angle, such as the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 or Nikon 24-120mm f/4.  Having a fast lens (aperture 1.2-2.8 for example) is not necessary for landscape as you'll be shooting with f/stops in the 2 digit range, so a 16-35mm f/4 or 24-120mm f/4 is fine. I've seen beautiful landscapes taken with a 70-200mm zoom lens. This lens will offer some nice compression in your shot. Now where to focus in your frame. I've read to and practice focusing about 1/3 into my frame. It works for me. 

The final aspect of landscape photography (I thought i wasn't writing a book) is whether or not to use a tripod. I've used them and I've not used them. The more I advance into photography and my skills increase, the more I use it. I am able to visualize a shot and realize what I need to capture it. Sometimes, I need that tripod, especially if I'm bracketing.

So that's it. I hope you're able to pull out a nugget or two of useful information. Please let me know if you 1) enjoyed this post 2) learned anything new from it 3) have any questions! 

Blessings!

Here's a little about me & photography.....I offer clean, classic photography for my clients, with a twist of authentic lifestyle! I specialize in senior and family photography. I love macro and landscape for personal projects.  

 

Summer, oh Summer, what will we do with you?

Last night, at 9:24pm, PST, Summer of 2017 officially began. 

Now here in the Las Vegas valley, it felt like Summer began mid-May. That's the joy of living in the desert, we get a sneak peek of summer way ahead of time! But I digress.... 

12 weeks of free time coming up, right? Time to sleep in, read some good books (grab the Mitford series by Jan Karon  (Jamie @ www.jamiezanotti.com has me hooked on those), catch up on Netflix series, lounge poolside. Throw in 2 sessions of summer school (early morning wake-up for most of us) and afternoons working on fall and winter business, that's us in a nutshell for the summer. 

This is what I'd rather be doing.... 

or

Just sayin....

What adventures do you have in store for the Summer of 2017? I'd love to hear!

 

Carie and her family!

During the first week of May, I ran a contest on my Facebook page for Teacher Appreciation Week.  Being a homeschool teacher for the last 10 years, I totally get the idea of showing our teachers how much we appreciate all their hard work. I was giving away a full session and a mini-session to a teacher who had been nominated on my FB page. 

I drew two names, one for a full session and one for a mini-session. Carie won our mini-session give-a-way! The cool thing here - my two youngest children were in Carie's kindergarten class before we started homeschooling!  

This family likes to be outdoors and I was happy to photograph them at one of their favorite spots!

Congratulations Carie on 21 successful years of teaching in Clark County! 

 

Adventure at the Art District!

Kyla wanted to have her senior session down in the Las Vegas Art District.  Now the Art District encompasses a lot of real estate downtown, so I went down the day before to map out some perfect spots. 

Posing, more than photographing, in the Art District, is definitely an adventure! Lots of people are watching you. Kyla rocked it. She was a superstar and not flustered by any of the crowd!

Can you believe this is downtown Las Vegas? Such a gorgeous background for Kyla. 

This next location screams Art District! 

We moved on and hit some other great, totally fun spots!  I love the turquoise wall...

This next location was totally fun. So bright and colorful. It's near the John E. Carson Hotel!

We ended up in an alley that offered two different points of view. By this time, the sun was high in the sky and we were too hot to shoot anymore!

Congratulations on your graduation, Kyla! 

Class of 2017

Pinterest Win or Fail?

I'm so excited to start this project on so many levels! 

1) I love to craft! 

2) I love photography! and this project is about photography.

3) I'm overwhelmed with life right now and when I'm overwhelmed, why not craft instead of focus on my 'to do' list? 

4) I have so many business ideas spurred on by this craft. 

Stick around to see how it turns out! Place a bet on the win/fail if you're feeling adventurous! 

Desertbloom travels to Seattle!

I was so excited to go see two of my boys recently! Not only because I hadn't seen them in ages, but because they both live in Washington - the state. I've never been there before. Van and Janet drove into the city to give us a whirlwind of a mini-tour!  

After landing in Seattle, I took my first Uber ride to the Ferry Terminal. I had my camera ready to take photos, but I had to give up 15 minutes into the ferry ride because the wind was sooo cold! 

I spent a few hours walking around Bainbridge while waiting for Sailor Boy to get off of work and come pick me up. Thankfully, Bainbridge has lots of little shops which kept me occupied. 

Friday morning I headed to downtown Paulsbo to walk the waterfront and main street of this quaint town. With my hot cup of fresh-brewed coffee in hand and camera slung over my shoulder, I set out on my adventure before the rain came! I walked for hours, took hundreds of photos, and explored several shops. It didn't start raining until I got back in the car to head back. 

We took the ferry over to Seattle on Saturday to meet up with Uncle Van & Aunt Janet for a wonderful lunch & walking tour to Pikes Place Mkt.  It was fun to see all the goodies and smell all the flowers and delicious pastries...  we ran into Jim A & his son James too! Jim is Dad to Mrs. Sailor Boy, also known as Sailor Girl! (She is currently out on deployment so keep her in your prayers!)

My final day in the PNW area was gorgeous! 

Frost on the grass and cars, fog everywhere else! It was simply beautiful. The skies opened up as I boarded my final ferry.  The Olympic range was shining in the sun and Mt. Rainier came out to say hello as well! Doubly-blessed! 

It was a great trip, but mostly because I was able to see my crazy boys. I love them and miss them so much! 

Extended Family Session

I love photographing extended family sessions because of all the connections among the generations. I love seeing Grandpa and Grandma being loved on by the grandkids, laughter among the siblings, just lots of love going around!  

This couple raised the craziest bunch of kids and grandkids, every one of them a keeper!

 

Aren't these red rocks beautiful? We met at Lake Mead National Recreational Area, just a short drive from Las Vegas, Henderson, and Boulder City, Nv.  

This group had me laughing so hard throughout the session. Hard! 

To be honest, my journal entry for this day started with  "Things I never thought I'd say at a family session!" 

Do you have a large family? Are you planning a family Reunion?

I'd love to photograph your memories! 

5 Top Tips to Rock Your Senior Session!

It's your senior year! You've been crazy busy with SAT's, ACT's, college applications, prom committee, not to mention sports or homework!  You have so many things to do and so many deadlines, it's definitely not as much fun as you were hoping! But wait.... don't forget your Senior pictures! That should be something that's not only enjoyable, but memorable! 

You probably don't want one more thing to think about, so I've put together 5 tips to help you plan the most incredible Senior Session ever! 

1) Budget - Unless you're financing your portrait session, you'll need to sit down with your parents and find out what the budget is for your Senior Session. Is your budget to cover the session only, or does it need to cover prints and announcements as well? Will it cover hair and make-up? 

2) Photographer - There are probably hundreds of photographers in your town or city. There are cheap ones, expensive ones, bad ones, and great ones, so how do you choose the right one for you? First - look at senior photos your friends are posting. Do you just LOVE them? If so, ask them for the name of their photographer. Look at his/her website, Facebook account, and Instagram feed. Is the work consistent? Does his/her style speak to you? Photographers love referrals! 

Not ready to commit yet? Check out hashtags on Instagram! #yourtownseniorphotographer, #seniorphotos, and #seniorphotographer are a few examples. Scroll through the photos to see which ones you really like. Check out the photographer and link to his/her website. Google is another option. Google 'your town senior photographer' and 'your school senior photographer.' You should find plenty of options. Another option is to have your parents ask their friends for a referral. 

Call every photographer who you're considering hiring. Find out his/her rates and what the packages include. Are digital files included? Prints? Print credit? Announcements?  Call and speak to every photographer you're interested in, even if the cost is higher than your budget. I have customized packages on occasion for a client. You never know if you don't ask! 

Most importantly, you want to connect with your photographer. You want to be comfortable with and trust your photographer. This will help you relax during your session, and therefore your photos will be more natural and authentic.

3) Location - Where do you want to have your photos taken? What type of background do you prefer?  Let your photographer know what you preferences are. He/She should have a go-to list of locations to offer you. What if your photographer works in a studio? 

4) Style - This covers outfits, hair & make-up, and props. Some photographers allow for 2-3 outfit changes, some don't. Check to see what is included in your session. Pinterest is an excellent resource for wardrobe ideas. I send my Seniors a board full of wardrobe ideas and a board full of color palettes.  Practice your hair and make-up ahead of time. Don't wax the day before your session! What about props? Do you play an instrument or play a sport? Bring the instrument and your team uniform. Let your photographer know what you plan to bring. Think about all the details before your session. 

5) Parents - Include your parents in this adventure! Most likely, they're paying for it. This is a big transitional period in your life, exciting for you and bittersweet for them. Listen to your mom when she gives you advice on outfits. You might want to wear something totally trendy. She has the gift of experience and knows that in 5 years, you'll regret it. Definitely bring her along on your photo session. She will help hold your stuff, keep you relaxed, and cherish every moment. 

 

I believe your Senior Photography Session should be all about you, and the things that make you shine! I want you to love the experience more than you love your photos!  

A walk through time....

While making a U-Turn, my friend and I stumbled upon this fabulous neighborhood, tucked away amidst busy thoroughfares, that took us back in time. Reminiscent of Wally & the Beav, it called to us, come back! 

We headed back for a photo walk through the neighborhood a few days later.  Words that come to mind ...  enchanting, quaint, quiet, neighborly, established, picturesque.  This area reminds me of the east coast.

 

I loved all the details in this neighborhood. Pride of ownership is apparent. 

I have a 'thing' for red doors, texture, lines.... so when we stumbled upon this little treasure, I was tickled Red! 

Head over to Jamie's blog to see what she discovered on our walk! 

 

 

Ready to take on the world....

I've been privileged to photograph this lovely young lady before and was thrilled when Mama called and asked for another session! 

I love the outfits and accessories Paulina chose for her session.  In this first one she is wearing  a shakira from her ancestors' Indian tribe in Panama.  

This wall is one of my favorite spots at the Springs Preserve, here in Las Vegas. I love the purple flowers drifting down from these big containers. 

I love this coat from Anthropologie! The green / black combo is sweet! 

Strolling through the back part of the Springs, we found this beautiful vine-covered wall... what a surprise find because it's winter here in the desert. Even better, it matched Paulina's outfit perfectly! 

Thank you Paulina, for a wonderful afternoon!  I always feel refreshed and uplifted when I spend time with you! 

 

 

Photography Field Trip!

I'm so excited to finally make the jump to SquareSpace!  I am still working on the new site, I'm not necessarily the most techie person in town. 

I am bummed that I'm not able to transfer my old blog posts (2 years worth) over to SquareSpace.  I'm going to be reposting some of my favorite blog posts over here as I am able. Starting with this one! 

What Photographers Do on a Day Off of Work

My sweet friend (and fellow photographer) and I recently planned an adventurous photography field trip day. We were heading to the China Ranch Date Farm down in Death Valley. Jamie, from www.jamiezanotti.com , had planned our trip as well as any AAA rep could have!  Unfortunately, and fortunately, we didn't communicate our plans so well to The Weather Channel, haha!

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Armed with waterproof boots, umbrellas, and bags of camera gear,  we drove out of the Las Vegas Valley on a very rainy Friday morning.  We hit snow over the south part of the Spring Mountains and wondered out loud why we didn't own those beautiful homes at the top of the summit.  Down into the next valley we went, heading for the Old Spanish Trail. We arrived safely to the China Ranch Date Farm after stopping to admire the beautiful, desert canyon above it. We enjoyed the quaint gift shop / antique store and then walked around the farm for well over an hour, in the rain, with our trusty umbrellas and boots, Coyotes were out enjoying their day on the ranch too! They stayed on their side of the trees and we stayed on ours. 

We headed up out of the canyon and became aware part of the road had already been washed out from the rain!  Off to our next stop on our tour, Dublin Gulch, near Shoshone.  Pretty soon we came upon a very, very small town, Tecopa.  The town was home to a very tiny post office and a hot springs (for nudists) resort!  We explored the town a little, not the hot springs! 

Heading north, we found Dublin Gulch with little difficulty. You're transported back in time to the late 1800's and early 1900's, where miners hollowed out the hills and created little condo-like homes. Some of the apartments still had chimneys coming out of the top of the hills. My favorite part were the red wooden doors. Pretty amazing! We stayed here for an hour or so, getting wetter and wetter.  

We mosied on up to Pahrump, stopping on occasion to photograph the beautiful colors of the desert.  We filled up on KFC and found a local winery where the grapevines were calling to the cameras. Literally soaked to the bones, we gave up and headed back to the Las Vegas Valley, encountering more snow on the way home! 

All in all, it was a wonderful and refreshing adventure! I was excited about the weather because I knew the lighting would be perfect and we wouldn't have a lot of other people 'exploring' with us! Thanks so much, Jamie, can't wait for the next 'field trip'.