Photo Tip Friday - Documenting Life

Welcome back to Photo Tip Friday! 

Today's tips are designed to help you help you see how to photograph your daily life for special events. 

Let's get started. 

On a beach trip to the Outer Banks, we took our kids to the Lost Colony. First, we participated in a demonstration of how to pack "gunpowder" like the settlers did.  With this picture, I made sure to get all the cousins in the shot along with the instructor.  

I stood behind the National Park Ranger and got the faces of my kids and nieces and nephews. 

Here's another angle. It has a different feel to it. 

I took this one more on the level of the kids. 

Notice how I framed this one?

I got the entire Ranger and all the kids, but cut out as much clutter as I could. 

But I took this photograph while I was standing. Compare it to the one above. Notice the different feel of the shot? 

Here are some closeups of the kids. 

This shot is above, looking down. I like the perspective this angle provides. 

You can see the young man working hard to roll the paper on the stick. 

Here, I bent down and once again took a shot on level with the kids. While you don't see all the "gunpowder" and supplies in this photo, you do see his face and hands at work!

Try different perspectives with photography!!

Here are the supplies each child had to use.

I wanted to document that since all the parts would be hard to remember without a list!

They had a good time making the shots for the weapons.

After the demonstration, we went out to explore. On the way back in, my son pulled out a flat piece of metal and said, "Mom, doesn't this look like the letter Z?" I looked and agreed it did. He also showed me a piece of old brick.

But then I said, "Sweetie, this is a National Park, we need to give that to the Rangers. We can't take it home."

This is the happy Ranger. When we showed him the finds, he wanted to see where they came from because they were definitely man-made.

He was so excited to find metal fragments.

We all pitched in and found him lots more.

He couldn't wait to show it to the archeologists for identification!

So, once back in the Ranger Station, one of my nieces explored the metal. 

I took this shot up close, with all the treasures we found in the foreground. 

I love how she's looking so closely at the metal shards. 

So as you go through life, take your camera along and document life as it happens. 

Take overall shots like the first ones above. 

But then go in closer and take shots of the details. 

You'll be glad when you're looking back. 

So which shot is your favorite of these? 

Hope this tip helps! 

Keep on clicking! 



Wordless Wednesday - Dolphins in the Wild

These are dolphins in their natural habitat.

Playing and having fun! 

Thanks for dropping by!

Dolphins off the coast of North Carolina

Dolphins are playful!

Some back for PHOTO TIP FRIDAYS where I discuss different aspects of photography!

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Monday's Musings - On Being Thankful

I have a lot to be thankful for.

But I don't always see it.

It's way too easy to not be thankful.

And, it's easy to be critical.

To see what others have that I don't.
To not even appreciate what I do have.

Feeling sorry for myself or feeling self-righteous robs me of thankfulness.
Being critical robs me of joy.

Life doesn't always go my way. Mine has certainly been difficult recently.

But in spite of the trials, I can be thankful. I can look outside of my own little world and see the bigger picture.....

So today, I'm counting my blessings, naming them one by one.
What am I thankful for?

That I had 47 years with my mom.
And knew my father-in-law for 30 years.

That my husband is walking this life with me.

That we have five different, interesting children.

That we have a wonderful son-in-love.

That I have a place to lay my head every night.

Food in my pantry. (Although my 15 year old claims, "We have no food.")

Live music....from the hands of my kids.

Kids who sing out loud. 

Who play together.

Board games. Old fashioned fun.

Vacations spread through out the years.

Silly Vine recordings.

And that's just a start.

Even writing this post is making me think of more and more to be thankful for.

Will you join in? 

What are you thankful spite of the trials you may find yourself in?


Photo Tip Friday - Using Different Perspectives

Welcome to Photo Tip Friday!

Today I'm going to show you how a change of perspective can take one subject and make it look very different. 

Let's get started! 

Here are three shots of a Zinnia, a fairly common flower. 

Pink Zinnia
This is an overall shot of the pink beauty, isolated from others around it. The shot is off-centered. Greens in the background set off the flower's colors. 

This photograph captures the entire flower and from a perspective we would see it with our naked eye. 

If we move in closer and take a picture, the center stands out more, allowing you to see the flowers inside the flower.  

But this shot crops part of the flower off. 

Why? To focus more attention on the center. 

How often have you looked at a Zinnia from the side? 

Probably not too often. Look at the layers upon layers of petals.  

This perspective creates a completely different look and feel to the flower. 


Here is a very different perspective. 

Notice the sky in the photo?

I got down on my knees and got under this Zinnia. Then, I took the shot looking back up. 

Why? Just to get a different perspective. 

When something catches your eye this week, I want you to take multiple shots. 

Move around your subject. 

Get down on your knees (if you can!). 

Look straight down on your subject. 

Try to be creative. 

Hope this tip helps! 

Keep on clicking!



Wordless Wednesday - Beach Shots

Welcome back for Wordless Wednesday! 

This is a "Thanks Mom and Dad for all the beach trips the family had!" post. :)

Enjoy the feel of summer on the East Coast!

Storm on the Horizon in the Outer Banks of NC

Sand dune grass

The beautiful Atlantic Ocean

My beautiful, happy MOM!!

Mom got excited about something she saw!

Thanks for dropping by! 

Come back on Friday for Photo Tip Friday!

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Monday's Musings - Losing With Grace

There is someone in my life who has amazed me recently. 

It's my dad. 

He lost his beloved wife of 60 years recently.

He spent the last 11 years of their marriage caring for mom after her stroke. She fought, and with his help, became somewhat independent once again about 9 years ago. 

But the past year was tough. Mom was hospitalized 4 times. She suffered fractures easily. Daddy was right there. Us kids took turns coming to care for them both. 

And in May, we said goodbye to her. 

How dad has handled his loss has been astounding. 

He devoted his life to her. 

He misses her. 

But not a conversation goes by where he doesn't tell me how blessed they were. 

How lucky he was that she said, "Yes." 

That they had 6 great kids. 

That we had so many family beach trips with all thirty-some of us getting together.

That they had been able to travel some. To Germany. To Hawaii. To Canada. To Alaska. Each of those trips was to visit one of my siblings or travel with them.

He tells me how much God had blessed them. 

He mourns. But not as one without hope. 

I had only heard my dad cry three times in all my life. Until mom passed away. Now he cries almost every time I talk with him.

But he assures me he's okay. 

Even in his deep loss, it's not all about him. He asks about me, my husband and about each of our kids. 

We talk about growing up. About our life as a family. About mom. 

She was special. And I'm grateful. 

I know mom would want us to go on. Living. Being happy again.

Because her hope was not tied just to this earth. Her hope was in eternity. In God's love. She was at peace. And we are, too. We miss her. But one day...

I'm humbled by my parents. Their deep faith has gotten them through some tough times. And now, to hear my dad express his gratefulness, even in the most difficult thing he's ever faced, is humbling. His faith in God is giving strength to those of us in the family.  

He has suffered a great loss with grace. God's grace.

And for that, I am thankful and blessed. 

May you see God's hand working in your life today. 

My mom would be the first to tell you how good God is.....


Photo Tip Friday - Shooting in Low Light Pt. 2

Today's tip is about taking shots in dim lighting.

This week is PART 2 and we're going to cover photography in an indoor setting.
You can read PART 1 on outdoor photography in low lighting here

Taking photographs in low light can be challenging. 
So, here's a quick reminder.

Time Value        = how long the shutter is open to let light in
Aperture Value = what size the aperture (shutter) is: 
                                f/5.6 lets in more light
                                f/22 lets in less
ISO                     = "speed" or "sensitivity" of the film: 
                                100 ISO needs bright light - think SUN
                                1600 ISO needs less light - CANDLELIGHT 

Let's go over some photos. You'll notice I put the Time, Aperture Value (Av) and ISO on each photograph. This is to help you learn these terms so you can start to experiment on your own!

These first two shots were shot at 800 ISO which is a more "sensitive" speed of film. It doesn't need as much light. But because the stage lighting was so bright, ISO 800 allowed the picture to not be washed out. You can see the snowflakes on the wall. 

And this shot also employs the silhouette technique. I wanted to create the feeling of being there, right in the middle of the stage setup.

Notice that this shot has the same Tv, Av, and ISO. But it has a different feel to it. I angled the shot to make it more interesting. 

And notice that it's a little fuzzy. I was hand holding at 1/15 of a second. Remember that most people can hand hold a steady shot at only to 1/30th or 1/25th of a second. I wanted to show you that every shot I take is not crystal clear. But I like the feel of the photo. 

And, if I had checked the picture a bit closer on the camera, I probably would have moved up to 1600 and retaken the shot. But photography is dynamic and every learns as they go!

Now we get to shots taken during the performance of a Christmas show. Notice the ISO is 3200. I needed the "speed" or higher "sensitive" nature of a higher ISO. 

Why? Because I was sitting in a dark auditorium and wanted to make sure I stopped any motion from the people onstage. Especially of the soloist.

I zoomed in on the soloist and made sure I had the Christmas tree fully framed in the shot as well.

But in this photo, I used a wider angle on my lens to make you feel like you're sitting in the audience. You can see the silhouettes of the people in the next row. I also got the entire choir in the shot. Then, I framed it on the left side with the Christmas tree and above with the spot lights. 

It was a wonderful show. 

And here is one of my favorites. Flames are never the same twice. I used an ISO of 1600 and focused in closely on the flame. That resulted in everything else being black. 

So, I want you to play with your camera. 

Look and see if you have setting that says Av which is Aperture Value. Start at the lowest setting of 100 ISO and take a shot. Then, move on up....200, 400, 800, 1600 and maybe 3200. Just sit right where you are and see how it affects the pictures. 

Then, go somewhere dark and try the same thing. Adjust the Aperture Value and see what happens. 

As always, if you have a shot you're proud of, leave me a link and I'll be happy to drop by! Or, if you want me to discuss something in particular, leave me a comment. 

Hope this tip helps! 

Keep on clicking! 



Wordless Wednesday - Barred Owl

Welcome Back for Wordless Wednesday!

Photo credit goes to my husband! (He did use my camera, through the windows!)   :)

This Barred Owl decided to come check out our back deck.

(Yes, those are the Christmas lights still ready for use....)

Oh, and my dear daughter named him FREDERICK.

Stop back by on Friday for Photo Tip Friday on taking pictures in low lighting, Part 2!

Join the party with LINKY below and Happy Wordless Wednesday!


Monday's Musings - Pain With a Purpose

I don't like pain.

Apparently, I wouldn't make a good Marine.

One of their mottos is: "Pain is just weakness leaving the body."

That's where they'd lose me.

More power to them. I appreciate the fact that they train hard to protect our country. Their pain has a purpose. But I couldn't join their ranks. (We won't even go into my age which would prevent me....)

But back to the point.

I don't like pain. But I've learned a lesson because I deal with it regularly.

Take my shoulder for example.

For several months, it hurt. I finally mentioned it to my doctor. She gave me cortisone shots. A couple of times.

It didn't help.

Then, I went to physical therapy. For a few months.

It didn't help.

Then, I went to a chiropractor. For a few months.

It helped other things, but not my shoulder.

I gave up and just figured I had to live with the pain.

A couple of years later, my hubby fell and hurt his shoulder. A month into it, he went to the doctor. She sent him to an orthopedic doctor. He ordered an MRI. My hubby had a torn rotator cuff. They scheduled surgery.

I asked, "What does your pain feel like?"

He described it. The lightbulb went on. I returned to my doctor. I saw an orthopedic doctor who ordered an MRI, and guess what?

Yep. I had a torn rotator cuff. And had lived with it for over 2 years at that point.

Hubby had surgery first. Two months later, so did I.

Then came rehab! It's a long recovery. But worth it when it works.

Unfortunately, my body didn't heal properly. A year ofter surgery, I was back in the doctor's office complaining of the same pain. I had another MRI. I still had a tear......No one's fault. Just bad shoulder genetics. I needed surgery, AGAIN!

This summer, I finally had the more extensive open rotator cuff surgery. I had put it off since January. The pain was just getting too much to ignore and it hampered my day to day living. (And driving our Miata!)

I've now dealt with 4 1/2 years of shoulder pain. My ortho assures me I'll feel great once rehab is over and the pain finally goes away. (He also fixed my bicep tendon which was about to snap. It was causing pain along with the torn rotator cuff.)

I'm choosing to trust him.

So what have I learned about myself and pain in this process?

First of all, I'm not the wimp I assumed I was. I've thought I'm a wimp because I feel pain. Now I know I'm strong because I keep going in spite of it.

Secondly, I learned you just can't ignore some pain. It's there for a reason. To tell you something is wrong. My shoulder didn't get better on it's own. I needed a surgeon.

Thirdly, I've had to trust the doctor that the pain I now feel is okay and that I have to press through it to get strong again. It still hurts like the pain of a torn rotator cuff. Except worse.

So how can I tell the difference?

Well, I had to have someone look inside of my shoulder and find the tear, the cause of my pain.

Only after that could we come up with a plan to deal with it.

After this surgery, you'd think I wouldn't trust my doctor. But I do trust him. He explained why it didn't work the first time and how he went about fixing it completely differently this time.

I push through the pain now. And I'm getting stronger, not weaker.

So how does this apply to life?

We all have pain. Either physical or emotional. We have hurts, sadness, losses.

Pain actually does serve a purpose. We need to be aware of it.

What's behind the pain?

Is it something broken that needs to be fixed?  Like a broken relationship. Unforgiveness.

Or is it a season of pain to make us stronger? Like exercising. Mourning.

How can you tell the difference?

This is where you need a surgeon.
And a heart MRI.

Go to God and ask Him to show you why you're in pain.

I'm in a season of mourning. It hurts. The pain of losing my mom will never go away. But understanding that I can either let it stop me from living or learning to go on and comfort others is a decision I have to make.

I'm learning to trust God to get me through.

God is the great Physician. 

Ask Him for guidance. 

Then listen for His answer. 

The pain you're in may be for the purpose of strengthening you or teaching you to depend on Him.

He'll be there for you.

He has been for me....


Photo Tip Friday - Shooting in Low Light, Part 1

Welcome back!

Today's tip is about taking shots in dim lighting.

This week is part 1 and we're going to cover photography in an outdoor setting.
Next week, we'll cover indoor shots.

Taking photographs in low light can be challenging. I'm sure you've taken a shot outside which looked cool when you pulled out your camera. But once you took the shot, it was too dark to be worth much.

So then you turned on the flash.

Either it didn't help at all (because the subject matter was too far away) or it washed out the shot (because the subject matter was too close).

And, you came away disappointed. Well, let's try and remedy that.

A quick reminder.

Time Value        = how long the shutter is open to let light in
Aperture Value = what size the aperture (shutter) is: 
                                f/5.6 lets in more light, f/22 lets in less
ISO                     = "speed" of the film: sunlight uses 100 
                                                              candlelight uses 1600 or higher

Let's go over some photos. You'll notice I put the Time, Aperture Value (Av) and ISO on each photograph. This is to help you learn these terms so you can start to experiment on your own!

Mary Denman Photography
Here's a nice, warm fire. Flames are never the same in any picture. Writers say they dance for a reason.

The flash wouldn't have resulted in the warm red and orange tones you see here. So I held the camera for 1/4 of a second. If you look closely, it's not crystal clear. But for me for this shot, that's okay. This is a "family" shot.

Mary Denman Photography
We were sitting around the fire with our kids. And here's one of them now.

Notice the difference in the ISO I used? When I was focusing in tight on the flames in the shot above, I used a lower ISO of 200 because fire burns so bright.

But in the second shot, I used a faster ISO of 800.

Why? I had to take into account both the very intense light of the flames and the reflected light on his face.

ISO 200 in this shot would have washed out the flames and struggled to capture enough light to see his face.

How do I know this? Because I've washed out a few pictures....

But digital gives you a great chance to learn quickly!

Mary Denman Photography
Okay. I love storms. I've wanted to get a shot of lightning for quite a while. Last summer, we had a massive storm come through and I took this shot from my front door. On a tripod. Even so, I, my lens and my foyer ended up soaked. But it was worth it.  

This shot required a lot of patience. Lightning is so fast and bright, that you can't just "snap" a shot when you see it. Notice I left the shutter open for 4 seconds. Knowing I had to leave it open for so long, I made the Aperture f/22 which means the shutter opening is smaller and lets in less light. 

I played around until I found that ISO 1600 worked well. 

Mary's Cheat Sheet: Take more than one shot! 

Please know that I probably took 30 photos during that storm to get 4 or 5 that were really good. Digital is free for taking shots, so take plenty, sort out later! 

Mary Denman Photography
This is an urban, nighttime photograph. 

The sun had been below the horizon for a while. But the city lights and the spot lights on the falls made for a tricky picture situation. And, I wanted the water to be milky which meant I had to leave the shutter open longer.

I didn't have my tripod, so I used the rail of the bridge as my stabilizer. 

Mary Denman Photography
I even used the railing as my "tripod" to get this picture of the bridge itself. 

Notice the people on the bridge are a little blurry? That's because of how long the shutter was open. I like the sense of movement they bring to the photo. 

Remember for low light, outside shots, you'll need to play with your settings to get the right combination. Go outside tonight if you have time and play around with your camera. Experience is the best teacher. 

Then, when you want to know what to do when you see a gorgeous sunset, or fireworks, you'll be better prepared.

Hope this tip helps! 

Keep on clicking.



Wordless Wednesday - Cat and Dog

Welcome back to Wordless Wednesday!

Here's one of my silly cats.  

He loves to sleep. 

Mary Denman Photography

On people...

This is a really sweet dog and owner I did a photo shoot for.

Doberman Pincer


Recent posts:


Click on the links below to go past posts...
What's That Dial (on your camera) For? Part 1Part 2Part 3
Using Reflections, Part 1Part 2
Discussing Some Photos (using the learned information)
Using Silhouettes Part 1Part 2


Tuesday's Thoughts - A Quiet Life

There's something to be said for a quiet life. 

In our world, it doesn't happen often. We have to make a decision for it to occur, like giving up our electronics. Going on vacation.

Or sometimes, we're forced into it.

I fit in that category. I had major shoulder surgery 6 weeks ago. It's one of the hardest surgeries I've ever had. And given all the difficult circumstances I've been through in the past couple of months, I made a mental decision to give myself a few weeks off from life and just recover. Emotionally and physically.

I planned the surgery during the summer so it wouldn't interfere with my kid's schooling.

And I have to say, I was amazed at what it felt like to let myself off the "I always have to be productive" hook.

After taking care of everything I could before surgery, like asking my church for help with meals, I planned on recovering.

What a difference. 

Dealing with such strong pain post surgery wasn't easy. It made me miss my mom all the more because I'm still a little girl at heart, wanting my mom when I'm not feeling well.

But when things were tough, I kept telling me to give myself grace. That's what I would do for someone else in these same circumstances. So why not apply it to me?

Too, I remembered that God promised not to give me more than He could get me through.

When I needed to cry, I cried.

When I needed to just play a silly video game, I did that.

I learned not to give in to the guilt that crops up....
"You should be more productive."
"You should be strong."
"You shouldn't need help."

That wasn't easy.

I lost people I loved dearly. Grieving takes time.
I was in pain from surgery. I had to get through it.
I needed time to think.
To process everything.
The entire past year.  

Slowing down has confirmed what's important in life. 

Do the bills need to be paid? Yes.
Do calls need to be made? Yes.
Does the car need to be fixed? Of course.

Life goes on. The mundane and routine goes on.

But ultimately, being in a loving relationship with family, others and God is what really matters. 

I'm very thankful I have no regrets with my mom or father-in-law. They both knew how much I loved them. And I spent several weeks this past year caring for both of them.

Of course I miss them.

But I'm thankful for the love we shared.

And I'm committed to loving those around me now. My husband, my kids, my extended family, my friends.

We don't know what life holds around the corner. We need to live with eternity in view. We need to love while we can. To build memories.

And sometimes, we need to take a little time off, for quiet, reflective thought. To focus on what's truly important.

Loving relationships.


Photo Tip Friday - Using Silhouettes Part 2

Welcome back! 

Last week, we started talking about using silhouettes in your photographs. 
(You can read about Part 1 here.) 

I'm going to go back over the same photos, but this time, listing: 

Time Value (Tv)
Aperture Value (Av) 
ISO Value

Why? So you can understand how to take these shots yourself. 

Let's get started. 

Here's the first shot again. 

I took a fast shot at 1/1250 sec.
The shutter or F-stop was at 5.6 which let in a lot of light. 
The speed of the film was 400 which means it needed less light for a good shot. 

Notice the color is beautiful?

If I had used a slower ISO of 100 and had to take a longer shot, the colors would have faded. 

This shot is similar in F-stop and ISO, but the light was much dimmer because the sun was behind the mountains. I had to leave it open for longer. I used 1/10 of a second. The color isn't as intense as the shot above.

(Note: I have really steady hands and have learned how to brace myself. I don't recommend this speed without a tripod.)

I also could have used an ISO of 1600 to get a faster shot. But I had it on 400 moments earlier when there was enough sunlight and just kept shooting. Photography is not an exact science. 

On to my favorite! Because most of the light was coming from the tank, that dictated that I use a fast speed. So I put my ISO on 1600. That was as high as my old camera could go. Now I have ISO 6400. So just check your camera's settings to see what you can use. 

                                                  Notice in this and the next shot that I used ISO 100. That requires a lot more light. In the first 2 pictures above, I was photographing a setting sun. The light was dimming. 

These were a rising sun. It was getting brighter by the second so I had to use ISO 100.

Any higher ISO would have completely washed out the pictures. 

I wanted the washed out effect in this one, but the one of just the surf needed more color.

So now that I've given you the more technical side of silhouette photography, I'm going to give you the Mary Cheat Sheet. 

Using the "M" setting on your dial means Manual Mode. This means you control EVERYTHING.  

Honestly, that can be pretty daunting. But here's the quickest way to take more control of your shots: learn to use the ISO feature. 

On my Canon, I use the "P" feature regularly. P stands for Program Mode. I set the ISO to the light conditions and don't worry too much about Aperture or Time Values. When you learn that ISO 100 is for bright light situations, and that 1600 or higher is for low light settings, you can quickly change how your photo turns out.

When I'm photographing my cats or kids, they move around a lot and so I set a higher ISO and then the camera takes a faster shot, freezing the motion more clearly. 

But when I want to take shots of flowers with a very blurred background, I may go on over to full Manual Mode to get the effect I want. Flowers aren't prone to running away so I can take my time and control everything on the camera. 

So, I hope this technical aspect helps. 

Which shot is your favorite? What would you do differently in any of them?

As always, if you have a shot you want me to see, please leave me a link. And, if you have a topic you want covered, just let me know. 

Hope this tip helps. 

Keep on clicking!