Summer Plans

I spent many hours at the preschool this year taking pictures of the kids for their personal yearbooks (aka “Me Books”). It turns out that I took more than 6,500 pictures there since September. Before the next school year starts, I want to see what I can do to improve my photography skills.

Initially, I only wanted to (1) learn how to use my external 0n-camera flash and (2) troubleshoot how to take better pictures in bad lighting (fluorescent, mixed ambient, various color casts, full sun).

However, I am now eager to improve in other areas; specifically, portraiture and modern lifestyle photography. I really struggle with knowing how to pose/direct people; finding the light, composition; and setting up the scene (so, basically everything ;)). I am more comfortable shooting candids, since there is less pressure to make them look polished (which makes sense).

That is all to say, I am challenging myself to work on portraiture this summer. I am sure the girls will tire of having my camera in their face, so I have already lined up some alternative “models” (their friends!).

To get the ball rolling, I took the girls out to the park yesterday for an impromptu shoot. I am trying to shoot in full manual (instead of aperture priority) and to read the histogram (which I don’t completely understand yet). I am also changing the way I focus (to back button focusing) so very few of my pictures were in focus (I just need some more practice with BBF). Thankfully I shot in RAW because my exposures were all over the place (due to the setting sun and me changing positions). I was able to fix most of my problems in Aperture. Hopefully by the end of summer I can consistently get the photos correct in-camera and I will not have to rely on post processing as much.

I did get a few decent captures with the girls and they are posted below. The shots I took of Chelsea alone did not come out (the light was completely off from the sun setting). And the focus in a couple of the pictures is a little soft, but I liked them enough to include them. I’ve gotta start somewhere!

One Two Three



Tessa (1)

Three Girls

If I keep up with this, I plan to post my progress here – even if the kids pictured aren’t mine! 🙂


All shot on my Canon 7D with my 50mm f/1.8 lens. I have not used that lens in more than a year, so it took some getting used to again.


2 thoughts on “Summer Plans

  1. Nice job! I shoot full manual almost all the time with my Canon. I tried BBF and never could get the hang of it, so I went back to shutter-button focusing and just make sure to toggle my focal point so I can put a point right over the bridge of the nose or in the corner of the eye. Do you toggle focal points? That made a huge difference in getting shots in focus for me. I also make sure to keep my shutter speed above 1/100 and to not go below an aperture of 2.2 on that lens. Good luck on your manual journey this summer; it’s very rewarding!

    • Heather — thanks! I think I’ll try BBF a couple more times to see if I can get the hang of it. I don’t know that it’s a good fit for me though because my thumb is normally pretty busy since I do toggle my focus points (I think my 7D has 19 points, which I love). I have gotten pretty quick with the toggling so I don’t know that it makes sense to BBF, especially with young kids.

      I don’t know if you realized this but I have been following your blog for awhile (I used to be on GF regularly and started following you then; maybe since 2009 or 2010?). Small world. Your photos are fantastic and I’m glad to see you working on PL this year. 🙂

      Sent from my iPhone

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