July 30, 2013

PHOTOGRAPHY BASICS : ISO & WHITE BALANCE

Hi, and welcome back to Basic Photography Tips Part II. Last week, in Part I, we covered, shutter speed, aperture, and meter reading. This week we will cover, ISO, White Balance, and reading the light.
 (2009 image example of side lighting, 2011 image example of back lighting.)

ISO, White Balance, and reading the light are all similar concepts to what we went over last week. Each setting are things you will work with all the time. Depending on your preference.

ISO is your camera's sensitivity to light. The range of your ISO depends on your camera. ISO's range from 100 all the way to 12,800. The amount of light that is available to shoot with will determine your ISO. The greater amount of light there is the lower your ISO should be. The less amount of light there is the higher your ISO should be. Often times when shooting outside in the sun you would want your ISO to be around 200. If you are shooting indoors in low light or shooting in the evening you would want your ISO to be around 500. Keep in mind, the higher your ISO the more likely you will have noise in your photos. This is based of your camera as well. Remember to experiment with the full range of your ISO, not just 200 and 500.

White balance is the way in which your camera processes the color and light. Some choose to set their white balance to auto. I prefer to change my white balance based on the light source that I'm working with. For example, shooting in direct sunlight, in the shade, on a cloudy day, or in fluorescent light will each require a different white balance setting. Review your camera manual and experiment with different white balance settings. This will help you figure out which setting your prefer.

Reading the light is tricky like reading your meter. There is no one thing that you can do other then practice to better understand this concept. There are certain lighting directions to understand which will hopefully help, I can only provide examples that I often use. Back light, side light and direct light are very general concepts of light direction. The best light to shoot in is outdoors at either dusk or dawn, this is the gold hour, where the light is all golden and glowy. When shooting during the golden hour you can shoot with either three of the light directions listed above. Ovoid shooting mid day where the sun is directly over you. The light is too harsh, will leave shadows, and nobody usually wants to open their eyes.
   { Example of direct light. (photo taken by Husband) }              { Example of back light.}


Until next time:
- Start practicing and changing your ISO to determine your camera ISO range. Practice outside, inside, in low lighting, and in well lit areas. Determine how high you can set your ISO before you run into too much noise.
- Review your camera manual and experiment with different white balance settings. This will help you figure out which setting your prefer. Practice in sun light, in the shade, in cloudy weather, and in fluorescent light.
- Experiment with different light directions. Direct, back and side lighting. Remember to be open to trying different things not mentioned here. Everyone one has a different photography style, try different things to find your own.
- Practice, Practice, Practice.


Have questions? I would love hear them. 
Leave them in the comment section below, or shoot me an email.
Share with us your photography tips. 
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July 29, 2013

Shivers' Family Reunion: Our Week in Review

Husband and I just returned from our week in Iowa at the Shivers' Family Reunion. Five filled days of family, food, and fun. It was my first time in Iowa and it was an absolute delight. We spent a majority of our time on two different family farms. I often wish I could do a better job at putting into words things I experience and feel. I hope the photos I share give you a glimpse into this experience.
Husband and I participated in a scavenger hunt, which took us to downtown Des Moines, where we encountered Zombie Burger and Raygun. Both are unique and really really fun.
One of the first days we were in Iowa we went to the Warren County Fair; took a peek at all the animals and watched (cousin) Travis race.
One of my favorite things of all; skeet shooting. I shot four different kinds of guns, none of which I could name, but it was so cool!
Lots and lots of family time.
Lots and lots of ATV and Treker riding.
Bonfire and s'mores. Silo Climbing. I actually only made it as far as you can see in the picture. Husband, however, went to the top.
The whole Shivers crew.
This was my first Shivers' Family Reunion and I got to meet some new faces.  Husband and I had a great time and really enjoyed being able to see lots of family.

Have you had a family reunion lately?
What were some of your favorite activities?


Upcoming:
Husband and I have wrapped up our summer travels.

Be on the Look out for:
Photography Tips Part II. This week's Everyday Inspiration. A Heart to Heart. 

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July 25, 2013

Creative Gifts: Custom Paintings & a Baby Bib

In June some very good friends of ours had a baby. Their sister, Sarah, lives here in LA, and she commissioned Husband to do some paintings. Husband always begins his creative process by sketching. He sketched out each drawing after a conceptualizing process with Sarah.
Often times when Husband does art I'm always amazed. The four paintings above are the finished product.
Small fact; Husband is color blind. While he can see color he mixes up different shades. It was my job to match the skin tone each time of the little boy for the paintings.
When Sarah and Husband chatted about the paintings, Sarah decided that she wanted each painting to represent a little boy and is pug on an adventure.
The adventures decided upon were themed around; fishing, biking, music, and Star Wars. The bike painting turned into an "Indian Jones," theme.
Custom painting is no easy task. It takes lots of skill and hours to create beautiful pieces of art. If you have artist friends give them some love; it takes a lot of hard work, passion, and skill to do what they do.
Now, on to the creative sewing gift. Sarah, also commissioned a baby bib. I had a ball making this bib. I hadn't made a baby bib before this time... we don't have babies. Our friends had a little boy and they really enjoy bike riding and the outdoors. Sarah had requested fabric that incorporated biking.
This is what I came up with. This photo doesn't actually represent the finished product. Husband put in button snaps for me after this photo was taken.

Yeow! That's a lot of creative inspiration, right? 
What are some of your favorite creative gifts to give?

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July 22, 2013

Life this Weekend: Table Making

This weekend Husband and I spent a majority of our time working on our standing dinning table, made out of repurposed wood. We love weekends, we are very "weekend project" people. I'm so excited to share this project in it's entirety, once it is finished.
 I also spent some time resting and pinning. Who doesn't like a good pinning session.
What were your weekend plans?

Did you miss anything last week?  
Check out Last Week's Reads:
A Hometown Visit: My Week in Review
Sitting Down With a Creative: A Matte Painter
What's In my Travel Bag: How it Relates to Working from Home
Thankful Fridays: I am Thankful for Restful Days and Sweet Notes

Upcoming:
Husband and I are traveling again this week. Whoop! We will be heading to Iowa for a Shiver's Family Reunion (Husband's side).

Be on the Look out for:
Photography Tips. Lot's of creative inspiration. Gift Ideas. 

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July 17, 2013

Sitting Down with a Creative: A Matte Painter

Today we are sitting down with Sun Yoon,  a matte painter, from DreamWorks Animation.
Q: What does a typical day for you look like?
A: I rush down to get breakfast which shuts down at 9:00am, and then I take all my breakfast to my desk. First I check my schedule for the day and then I check the renders that I submitted the day before. They get rendered over night so I am able to check the ones’ I have done the day before. If there is something I don’t like that I can quickly adjust I do that in the morning, then I move on to other paintings and shots. There are other meetings with supervisors and art directors about what direction they want to go and what direction I want to go. There are lots of meetings and lots of coffee breaks.
(via)
Q: What is matte painting in a nut shell?
A: In feature animation it gets very expensive very fast to create everything on screen in 3D so they only create things that are close to the camera in 3D. Everything else is painted. So matte painting is taking care of the 2D elements in a 3D world. The goal is to integrate the 2D matte paintings with the 3D characters, and other props so that when the general audience sees it, it looks like it’s in a 3D world and not 2D. The purpose of using matte painting is bringing the cost down, verses making everything 3D.

Q: How did you get started in this industry?
A: At first I started working on painting backgrounds for 2D animated films. Then I got introduced to matte painting by taking a class. Then I got hooked and ended up here. It looked like where animation background was headed, so I continued to do it.

Q: How did you get into DreamWorks?
A: They were looking for people. At the time there was a friend of a friend working here. So I showed my work online and they liked it and then I had to submit everything to HR. Then I get through.
Q: When did you know you wanted to be an artist / work in this industry?
A: I think art is something that we always do. I think there was never a question about it; it was such an organic process for me. I thought I wanted to do science, which I did for a couple of years. And then I went back to art and it was very affirming.

Q: What are some films you’ve worked on so far?
A: Here I worked on Puss In Boots, Turbo, Kung Fu Panda II, and How to Train Your Dragon II. Before here I worked on small animated shorts that weren’t very well known.
(via)
Q: What is one of you favorite projects you’ve worked on so far?
A: Kung Fu Panda II because it was my first feature animated film experience. It was artistically most challenging. I grew a lot and I learned a lot so it was the most exciting time. I think that was the first time that I was actually working steady at one place too, so started building relationships with people at work.
(via)
Q: What is your experience in traditional art?
A: I always drew and painted. I painted quite a bit before high school and then after high school.

Q: What is the most important part of creating for you?
A: I think for me, at work, since we are creating what art directors have already envisioned, the most important part is understanding their vision and materializing it and being able to take criticism if I don’t get the notes, and keep adjusting until I actually hit what is in their head.

Q: Who or what has been the biggest influence in your artistry?
A: It's hard to say because it’s always changing, from period to period. I few months ago I was working on Turbo and we were using LA for reference to create backgrounds, so I was most influenced by looking around me. I really like referencing the sky and mountains.
(via)
Q: What is the biggest challenge in your career?
A: I think the biggest challenge was right after school. I hadn’t done much painting. I had spent a lot of time at school studying animation, but not painting. I was lacking skills and a portfolio for painting. So I had to spend a lot of time working on my painting skills and building my portfolio. It was very challenging emotionally and financially.

Q: What has it taken you to get this far in your career?
 A: I’m very goal oriented so when I set my goal I work really hard for it. Since I am Asian I am very disciplined. So it comes very naturally working hard for what I want. When getting into to DreamWorks, it was God. I didn’t think I was good enough, but it was a door opened by God and I have been placed here.

Q: What are some of you creative hobbies?
A: I love bones, I like looking at skeletons and bone pictures. I want to paint them or draw them, but I am too lazy, so I just stare at them. I like designing and decorating with bones and skeletons.
(via Sun Yoon)
Q: What is it about those hobbies that you enjoy most?
A: There is quality about bones that are very beautiful looking but also morbid, but it’s mostly really cool looking. I don’t really think of what was on the outside. I just look at the bone and it looks like it had a lot of story.
(via Sun Yoon)
Q: What advice would you give to those wanting to go into this field?
A: Some think it’s all about the software, but what is most important is to know your artistic skill and passion. That is the most important. If someone who has great artistic skill, but isn’t familiar with the software they should take time to learn the software. If someone is familiar with the software, but the artistic skill isn’t great, they need to work on that.

Q: What do you want to see in your future career?
A: That is something I stopped asking myself since I realized that God is in control. I live day by day. I’m just waiting to see what his plan is for me.
 Thank you so much, Sun, for sitting down with us today! You're story is so inspiring.

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PHOTOGRAPHY BASICS : SHOOTING IN MANUAL

My journey with photography begun my senior year of college. I had decided I wanted to learn photography so I took "Intro to Photojournalism II." While I did learn some basics of photojournalism what I mostly took away was the basics on how to properly shoot with a DSLR. It was ingrained in me from that moment to always shoot manually, and now I'm not sure I could shoot any other way.

For all those that are in the process of learning to shoot with a DSLR. thought it would be helpful to share what I learned. Everything I am sharing are things I have learned over the years.
(The above photos include one of my very first photo shoots, on the right, which was shot with film.)

Lets start with talking about shooting manually. The minute you begin to shoot manually, while it is difficult, it will begin to change your photos. Every day that I walked into that class my professor would yell, "You better be shooting manually!"
When shooting manually there are three things that you will be working with all the time; shutter speed, aperture, and reading your meter. 

Shutter Speed is the rate in which your shutter opens and closes. The larger the number the faster the shutter will open. The smaller the number the slower your shutter will open.

Aperture is how wide your lens will open to let light in. The smaller the number of your aperture the more light will enter. The larger the number of aperture the less light will enter.

Reading your meter is kind of tricky. Each camera meter has a different sensitivity to the light. When you look through the view finder of your camera at the bottom of the screen you'll see a scale with a plus sign on one end, a minus sign on the other end, and a 0 in the middle. When reading your meter you want the scale line to be even with the 0.

When I shoot I set my aperture first and adjust by shutter speed to create a proper exposure. For example the photo below was shot at f/1.8 (aperture), 1/500 (shutter speed), 50mm(lens).
Different lighting, the amount of people, and different events will all require different sittings when shooting manually. Sporting events require a higher shutter speeds. Low lighting requires a lower shutter speed. The more you practice the better you will get at knowing which settings to use.

Until next time:
- Break out that camera manual and learn what all the buttons and dials do on your camera.
- Practice adjusting your aperture and take notes about which aperture sittings you used. Use something small as your focus point, like a mason jar to see how it looks using different f-stops.
- Practice adjusting your shutter speed and take notes about which shutter speed sittings your used. Try to shoot things in motion and in different light setting; well lit areas and low lit areas. Practice shooting indoors and outdoors.
- Practice, Practice, Practice.

Have questions? I would love hear them. 
Leave them in the comment section below, or shoot me an email.
Share with us your photography tips.

July 16, 2013

A Hometown Visit: My week in Review

Last Monday began my week in Joplin. Joplin is my hometown and I traveled back to celebrate one of my dearest friend's wedding.  I love my hometown, it's basically the opposite of living in Southern California. It's way way slower, there are far less people, there are lots and lots of open country space, and it has the best sound. The sound of nature.

Last Monday afternoon Husband drove me to LAX, I went through security and without knowing what the day would hold I found out that my flight had been delayed 4 hours. It was an, "okay, nothing I can do about it," day. By the end, my delay turned into 6 hours and I didn't arrive in Joplin until about 3:30am.  I did a lot of reading, a lot of sitting, and a little bit of walking.
My week was filled with so many lovely people and experiences. I got to hang out with my favorite four legged furry friend. She was actually mad at me when I left.
Big Brother and my Mom took me skeet shooting. It was my first time shooting a shot gun and I learned how to throw clay disks. Currently one of my new favorite pastimes. (full post to come later)
Spent time with these lovely ladies celebrating Caitlin's upcoming nuptials. We've all been friends for so long, they are some of my favorite people.
Did some pampering for the wedding. I rarely paint my nails so this was a big deal.
Got ready with this beautiful lady on her wedding day. Check out her wedding photos here. I'm so excited to pick my favorites and share them with you. Aaron, a really great friend, captured all the amazing memories.
(Caitlin Skyping with her cousin Kacey.)
My week ended at the Springfield airport.
I arrived back in LAX to my wonderful Husband. He was even holding a sign. : ) LAX is always a shock for me when I return because it is so different. It's good to be home, I missed Husband.

Are you able to visit your hometown often? I would love to hear about your favorite places.

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July 10, 2013

Favorite Summer Foods: Tuna Salad, Grape Tomatoes, & Cheddar

Growing up Tuna Salad was an absolute summer must. Every summer my mom would make it, it's as though it ushered in summer.
One of my favorite things about Tuna Salad is that it can be varied in so many ways. Growing up my mom would always put onion in it. I never really liked the onions so when it was finally my turn to make it I started using celery. I love the crisp crunch of celery.  I really enjoy putting cheddar on mine and Husband really enjoys provolone.

Tuna Salad - serves 4

2 cans of tuna
4 hard boiled eggs diced
1 celery stalk diced
1/3 cup diced pickles
2 Tbsp mayo
2 Tbsp mustard
1/2 tsp Season Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper
1/4 tsp Onion powder
1/4 tsp Garlic powder
grape tomatoes (optional)
Cheese of choice

In a large mixing bowl add tuna, season salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, mayo, mustard, celery, and pickles, mix well. Once mixed well add diced eggs and mix together. Serve on whole wheat bread with your favorite cheese and top with grape tomatoes.
Enjoy with a large glass of tea!

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July 9, 2013

Tally's Silver Spoon: The Best Coffee

Is it ridiculous that I wanted to do a post just for Tally's Silver Spoon? The coffee was just that good. And when coffee is that good it is worth talking about. So let's break this down a little.
I don't drink coffee, but I'm guessing it's because I've never had good coffee, because when I had coffee at Tally's I finally understood what this coffee craze has been all about. I don't know anything about coffee lingo, all I can say is it was super smooth and creamy. So so good. Tally's Silver Spoon Coffee, check.
But what about the food? Yep, it was just as good has the coffee. Just writing about it makes me want to go there again. Husband ordered the "Really French Toast." Have I convinced you to go?
And one of the best things of all, the company. : )
 
Where do you get your favorite coffee?


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