A Relaxed + Crazy Fun Family Portrait Session in Ann Arbor!

posted in: Photography | 0

What family portrait session would be complete without a little bit of crazy?  Because, honestly, that’s life with kids.  Fortunately, part of my job is to make the portrait experience be fun for the whole family… and we definitely succeeded during this portrait session.

When Cynthia and I chatted about what she wanted from her portrait session, she told me she was really just looking for one good portrait of everyone together. Well, I think we accomplished that — and more.  The kids definitely had me improvising, but that’s what I love about working with little ones!

We planned the family portrait session to take place at their home in Ann Arbor.  So, on the day of the session, we started out the session in the family room, and when I asked Samuel, Joseph, and Elijah to sit on the couch for me… the older two boys listened a bit better than their younger brother.  No worries.  He got to hide behind the couch for some portraits.  I convinced him to come out for a few portraits to check and see if my camera was working — and told him that he was invisible for my camera’s pictures.

That trick lasted pretty much the whole session…. and didn’t get old!

Once the rest of the family was ready, I photographed everyone on the couch before we headed outside to the backyard.  We did a series of portraits outside…. most of which were casual and on the fly.  I try to get a couple posed family portraits during a typical session, but am totally willing to create family portraits where kids can be kids.  Ryan and Cynthia were so patient with their kids’ antics, and I am glad they trusted me with creating their family portrait.

By the end of the session, I could tell that we were losing the two youngest kids.  It’s hard to try and sit still, right? I used a few tricks to get a few last portraits in, and then we called it quits.

Well, almost.  We realized that Liliana hadn’t been wearing her bow during the portrait session — so Cynthia asked if we could give it a shot.  Of course, I said yes!  It didn’t take long for someone to figure out how to take off the bow, but I captured several adorable portraits of her wearing it.  After a few more rounds of Mom putting on the bow, snapping a photo, and seconds later Liliana pulling it off…. we were all set.

I hope you enjoy these family portraits as much as I enjoyed creating them.  It’s always so much fun to work with kids — I love their energy and vibes!

 

family portrait session outtake, boys full of energy smiling for camera, ann arbor family portrait photographer on location
An outtake from ourcrazy but fun session! These boys were so full of energy — I loved it!
candid smile toddler boy portrait on location in ann arbor mi
This little guy was adorable… but definitely a wiggle worm!!
family portrait in living room, location portrait photographer natural light, ann arbor michigan
We got the whole family to fit on the couch for a portrait — the boys were really excited when I told them they could stand on the couch “just this once!”
boy outdoors smiling for camera, family portrait photographer on location in ann arbor mi
The older brothers had really great expressions — what fun to photograph them!
boy being silly for camera, family portrait in backyard, family portrait photographer ann arbor mi
Sometimes I think you just have to share the goofy shots. And these boys definitely loved being silly for the camera.
family portrait on location in ann arbor, in backyard of house, michigan portrait photographer
I really loved this family portrait. It took a lot of kid wrangling because one of the boys was getting antsy. I captured this shot by having everyone else sit for the camera, and then let the wiggle worm run and sit down “just in time” for me to take the photo. I also had him convinced that my camera thought he was invisible. He was so proud that I kept “missing” him in the photos! 🙂
baby portrait candid lifestyle portrait ann arbor mi photographer
And then this little lady decided it was time to start moving. Naturally, right?
baby girl with boy, natural light portrait, location baby portrait photographer ann arbor mi
Mom wanted one portrait with this adorable bow, so we reconvened for one last set of portraits. The bow didn’t stay on long… but it was long enough to get the shot!

If you have been putting off planning a family portrait session because it seems too stressful, or you’re worried your kids won’t be able to sit still…. please don’t wait any longer!  I love working with kids who are on the move, and it’s part of my job to create great family portraits while your little ones are on the move.  Contact the studio today at 734-424-0472 so we can chat about your family and what kind of family portrait you’d like me to create for you!

Jacob’s newborn portrait at the studio, plus big sis!

posted in: Photography | 0

For sleeping newborn portraits, it’s almost always best to do the session when baby is less than a week old. Why almost? Well, because every once in a while, you get a stalwart nap objector — like Jacob! Jacob was determined to stay awake for his newborn portrait session, even though there was sleepy dust in the air!

It was actually really adorable.  I used a number of my photographer tricks to help Jacob try to fall asleep, but ultimately we gave up and went for photos where he just looks like he’s sleeping.  Too funny, right?

Jacob’s big sister was very intrigued by the whole portrait session process.  She wanted a front and center view of the action.  And I literally mean that.  Fortunately, mom and dad came prepared with snacks, and I had a stash of new-to-her toys — so big sis was happily occupied for a lot of the portrait session.

Life is all about making adjustments and being flexible. And that’s how I manage my portrait sessions too.

Usually when we create sibling portraits in the studio, I have all the kids in front of the camera at the same time.  But, for this set of siblings, I could tell that just wasn’t going to work!

I am so grateful that my clients were willing to trust my vision… because by thinking outside the box, I was able to create an adorable portrait of both kids.  Before we photographed Jacob, I had big sis hunt for cheerios on the crate.  We got some cute individual portraits of her, and then it was time to swap kids!  My retouching magic put both kids in one portrait, and made the cheerios disappear.

I know you’ve been dying to see these portraits — so without any more chatter from me…. here you go!

 

newborn baby yawning while sleeping in forest. newborn photographer dexter mi studio portrait
Love this one! Since we were in the studio for the entire session, you know a little retouching magic happened here. But that’s okay, right? Jacob’s mom and dad loved this one… they’d seen my prep work for it (fake green grass, the wooden prop), but had no idea what I was envisioning for the final portrait.
newborn portrait session, infant baby photographer in studio
I loved this new photo prop — simple but adorable! The monochromatic tones really let you focus on baby Jacob — who was adamantly awake for most of his infant portrait session. Jacob’s parents chose to have this one printed as a canvas to hang in their home. It looks amazing on canvas!
sleepy baby wrapped in fabric, feet making heart shape
My heart melts with this one. I love how snug and sleepy Jacob looks… and how his feet make an adorable little heart!
studio portrait of newborn baby, newborn photographer dexter mi ann arbor mi
I love the cute wrinkles on Jacob’s forehead. Sleeping, or trying to, for this portrait 🙂
newborn baby boy with big sibling in studio
Jacob’s big sister was so adorable — you could tell she loved her brother! Darn that awkward toddler stage where well-meaning baby snuggles are just not gentle enough. But, I’m really pleased with how this portrait turned out. We photographed each child individually, and then I worked some magic to composite the two during retouching.
sleeping newborn portrait, baby portrait photographer, infant photography ann arbor mi
And one final sleeping one of Jacob. He really was adorable in every photograph I created!

If you are expecting a baby, or have a newborn, I’d love to chat with you about planning a laid-back and stress-free newborn portrait session with me at the studio! We can do a standalone portrait session, or to help you plan ahead, we can discuss the benefits of my Baby’s First Year plan. Contact me today at 734-424-0472 to learn more!

Making Time to Enjoy Baseball

posted in: Notes | 0

Don’t you love being outdoors? I’m so glad that the warm weather has finally showed up! Although, with spring and summer comes a flurry of activities. Baseball, swimming, golf, nature walks, you name it!

dexter little league machine pitch baseball dexter mi youth sports photo
This was Toby’s first time catching. He looked like a natural!

My oldest son, Toby, has moved up to machine pitch baseball with Dexter Little League this year, so we’ve been spending quite a bit of time at the ball diamond. My husband is coaching for the fourth season, so we constantly have baseball gear coming out of our ears. It might seem like a big time commitment, right? Yes… but it’s worth it.

I get to set my to-do list aside and simply watch Toby being a kid. And I get to chat with other parents who are doing the same thing! And the little siblings have fun too, in their own way (Zack, my younger son, loves to playing on the bleachers, or in the ball diamond dirt). I love the community that comes with baseball.

Most days, you’ll find me happily carrying a pocket camera. But, every so often, I’ll bring my DSLR camera and zoom lens to a ball game. For me, there’s just something about capturing a moment, a memory. It’s the process of creating and documenting life… and while I’m often busy doing this for my clients, it’s important to me that I do the same for my own family!!

So, with that in mind, here are a few photos from one of Toby’s recent games. Enjoy!

dexter little league machine pitch baseball dexter mi youth sports photo
Zack was on the sidelines for part of the game, cheering for his big brother.  Plus…. popcorn, because baseball and snacks go together. {Side note: isn’t this chair awesome??} 🙂
dexter little league machine pitch baseball dexter mi youth sports photo
…part of the game is learning to sit on the bench when most of your team is out on the field.
dexter little league machine pitch baseball dexter mi youth sports photo
Toby and a teammate on the bench.
dexter little league machine pitch baseball dexter mi youth sports photo
My husband, carrying on the family tradition of coaching baseball .
dexter little league machine pitch baseball dexter mi youth sports photo
Toby transitioned to machine pitch from t-ball really well! it was really amazing to see how much the kids had all matured since last season 🙂  {Side note: you can see Steven coaching at first base in this photo. I love my zoom!}
dexter little league machine pitch baseball dexter mi youth sports photo
Toby did a good job of getting on base…
dexter little league machine pitch baseball dexter mi youth sports photo
…rounding third base…
dexter little league machine pitch baseball dexter mi youth sports photo
…and safe at home! Toby was so proud of himself 🙂
dexter little league machine pitch baseball dexter mi youth sports photo
Even though the balls are thrown by the machine, kids still get to take turns playing the position of pitcher.
dexter little league machine pitch baseball dexter mi youth sports photo
Go speed racer! Toby had fun looking at the photos I took to see if he was running fast enough for both his feet to be off the ground at the same time.
dexter little league machine pitch baseball dexter mi youth sports photo
As the sun got lower in the sky, Toby got another run. He was so proud of himself.
dexter little league machine pitch baseball dexter mi youth sports photo
I love seeing good sportsmanship!!

Thanks for letting me share these family memories with you!  I hope that you’ve found fun ways to capture memories of things you enjoy doing as a family.  🙂

Learn About Shutter Speed

posted in: Learning | 0

Learn about shutter speed, part of the abcs of photography, with fun activities for kids from BPhotoArt.com!Welcome back to our ABCs of Photography series!  With 2018, we’re relaunching this as a biweekly series, to help you finish working your way through the alphabet ABCs.  This week, we’re on the letter “S” … so we’ll be learning about shutter speed.

What’s shutter speed?  It’s how long the shutter is open, or the length of time that the exposure is for the photo you are taking (Check out our learn about exposure activity if you’re not sure what the term means).

To simplify things, let’s break down shutter speed into slow and fast.

A slow shutter speed means:

  • The camera is taking the photo for a longer time
  • Your camera has more light for the exposure (you can take photos in darker places this way)
  • Things are more likely to be blurry, or even abstracted
  • The image may look shaky  if you don’t hold the camera steady (tripod, anyone?)

A fast shutter speed, on the other hand, means:

  • The camera takes a fraction of a second to take the photo
  • Your camera has less light for the exposure (you might need flash rather than existing light)
  • Things in the image will likely be crisp and sharp (or, at least, not moving!)
  • You don’t usually need a tripod.

Some typical shutter speeds you might see on your camera are numbers like these (going from slow to fast):

1/2    1/4    1/8    1/15    1/30    1/60    /125    1/250     1/500    1/1000

The bigger the number on the bottom of the fraction, the faster your shutter speed.  Some cameras will even have longer shutter speeds, as in 1″ or 30″ — but we’re not going to get into nitty gritty details here.

Now, the question is, what can you photograph with different shutter speeds?

If you’re a photography guru, you might decry the fact I’m leaving out aperture and film speed here — yes, I know that it’s a multi part equation, but we’re keeping this as simple as possible.  Only one variable: shutter speed.

With slower shutter speeds you can photograph:

  • people or animals that know how to sit still and not move
  • nature landscapes or buildings that definitely don’t move
  • night photos that have streaks of light from moving stars (this would be a really slow shutter speed – maybe even minutes long).

With faster shutter speeds you can photograph:

  • kids running around at breakneck speed
  • sports athletes during a game
  • hummingbirds in flight

Learn About Shutter Speed Activity

Now, onto the fun part!  Let’s learn about shutter speed by doing an activity or two!  Depending on the ages of your kids, you might want to just do one or the other.

First, let’s look at some photos and try to guess which one has a fast or slow shutter speed.  I’m not worried about exactness, so use this as a dialog as to “why” they are either slow or fast.  Click on each photo to enlarge it, and read the caption while it’s enlarged to find out if you’re right!  (these are all stock photos used with permission via pixabay.com)

Alternate Activity for Learning About Shutter Speed

Okay, now for one more activity.  This one might be fun for younger kids.  Get out your camera, or cameraphone, and start taking pictures of your kids.  See if they can “trick” the camera into photographing them as blurs by moving fast so that the shutter speed is too slow to catch them.  You can also have them see if they can sit/stand super still so that the camera can catch them.

If you have more than one kid, you can tell one to sit still while the other runs through the room — and take the photo.  One kid should be crisp and in focus, while the other will probably be blurry.  Make sure to let them take turns!

Wrapping Up

Well, I hope that was a helpful dialog about shutter speeds.  As you learn more about photography, you’ll find that this only touches the surface.  But that was the entire point behind this ABCs of Photography series.  To simplify photography terms so that kids (and adults!) can start to understand them!

Make sure to check back in two weeks for the next activity in the ABCs of Photography (letter T). You might also enjoy revisiting our last activity where we learned about the rule of thirds (including a fun snack activity for kids!).


The ABCs of Photography - An Educational Series for KidsJoin Betsy as she works through the alphabet in this educational series for kids… The ABCs of Photography!  We’ll cover topics from A to Z, with activity ideas for both younger and older kids

Sign up for emails to get each week’s blog update delivered to your inbox, which will include future posts in this biweekly series.

Portrait of Kids in the Studio

posted in: Photography | 2

These adorable little munchkins came into the studio for their portrait session this month.  Shh… don’t tell their grandparents, because it’s a holiday surprise!  It was really cute to see the kids interact, and to hear their ideas for how the portrait session should go.

portrait of brother sitting on sister's lap, kid portrait photographer dexter mi
I’d photographed Bella and Cole before, but they’ve grown so much since then! Bella wanted one of Cole sitting on her lap, so we did that portrait first.
brother clapping and smiling in sister's arms, children portrait photographer dexter mi
Cole was very excited…but as with all toddlers, he needed a little encouragement to smile for the camera. (This age is so cute…you get the cheesy “smile for the camera” grins and have to catch them off guard for a genuine smile). Love how this one turned out!
boy with stuffed animal, studio portrait photographer dexter mi
And a portrait of Cole by himself. I forget whether this was a bear, a bunny, or a dog, but the stuffie was definitely his favorite! 🙂
Bella had envisioned this portrait of her and her brother. I was happy to oblige! This portrait of the kids turned out so cute!
kids portrait in studio, photographer portrait studio dexter mi
And then we did a few portraits of the kids without the book. This one is cute, even through they’re not looking at the camera, don’t you think?
boys portrait brother in studio, photographer dexter mi
Next, it was time for a portrait of Bella and Cole’s cousins. Bryce and Trent were so cheerful, it was fun to photograph them!
portrait of kids in studio, children photographer dexter mi
And finally, we created a few portraits of all the kids. I like this one — they arranged themselves from youngest to oldest! Although, the younger boys weren’t as thrilled about this idea as the older kids. It’s all good though. What a cheerful bunch of kiddos!

 

If you are looking for the perfect gift to give a loved one, consider a portrait session!  While printed photographs are great to give (and receive!), it’s just as common for my clients to gift a certificate for a portrait session — especially if the recipient is supposed to be in the family photograph!  Contact the studio today or call 734-424-0472 to learn more about scheduling a session or purchasing a gift certificate for your loved ones.

Family Photos with Baby + Dog :: A. Family

posted in: Photography | 0

I photographed the A. Family when this cute little girl was just a newborn. And now here we are, doing a family portrait already… she’s grown so much!  There is nothing more exciting than getting to watch my clients’ children grow up into their own little selves.  Oh, I guess there’s one thing almost as good… and that’s when my clients bring their pets to the portrait session.  I love including animals in family photos (or any type of portrait photo, for that matter!).

infant portrait, digitally painted by photographer dexter mi
I based this digital painting from several photographs we took during the outdoors portion of their family session. It was really fun to create this, and I especially had fun painting the background of the piece.
family portrait with baby girl outdoors dexter mi
Here’s one of the portraits I am talking about. Adorable family portrait, no? You’d never know it was buggy out by their great smiles 🙂
mom with baby girl, portrait session outdoors dexter mi
We got this portrait of mom with baby girl before deciding the bugs were too thick outside …at least in this spot.
family portrait with baby and dog in grass. dexter mi photographer
Before heading into the studio, we did one last set of images out in the grass. I was hoping the bugs would be fewer in number here, but no such luck. They were great sports though! Love this one.
family photo in studio with baby and dog, dexter mi photographer
And after a bit of a break for baby, we started in on the studio portion of the family photo session.
baby sticking tongue out with mom giving her kiss, dexter child photographer michigan
It’s always cute to capture some of those silly baby faces. I love this one of her with mom!
baby smiling while mom holds her, dexter michigan baby photographer
And an adorable baby portrait where she’s all smiles!! I love it.
baby sucking thumb in dad's arms, dexter michigan photographer
Dad’s turn to hold her came next. At this point, she was more interested in her thumb. Too cute!
dad with baby, family portrait photographer dexter michigan
She was getting a little wiggly at this point, but we managed to get this one with dad and babe in arms.
mom and dad looking at baby during family portrait, michigan dexter photography session
Oh my gosh. I totally love this photo. She is looking so sweetly at the camera, and mom and dad are so happily looking at their baby. Love it!!!
outtake from photo session, prepping for baby portrait session dexter mi safe photography
This one is an outtake from the family photo session, but I wanted to share it with you because it’s important to know how much prep work goes into some of these photos. With little ones, we’re always VERY careful about keeping them safe. And then you can’t do a portrait like this with just any dog. They have the calmest, sweetest dog ever. Dad stayed right nearby the whole time, with his hand on his kiddo to make sure she didn’t fall over. That’s when Photoshop comes in handy — I do a little magic and you end up with a safely created portrait.
baby portrait studio dexter michigan photographer. baby girll with chocolate lab dog pet portrait
Seriously. Adorable. Isn’t this the cutest baby portrait ever??? I love how it turned out. And as I mentioned a minute ago, dad was holding onto this kiddo because she’s not quite ready to sit up yet. Sometimes Photoshop magic just makes sense. Safety first.
chocolate lab portrait in studio, pet photographer dexter michigan
And to finish things up, I took one portrait of this well-mannered chocolate lab all by herself. She is really such a sweet pup!!!

I’d love to talk with you about planning a fun family portrait session — whether or not you have pets to include! Call the studio today at 734-424-0472 to start planning for your next family photo.

Baby’s First Year – P. is Ready to Stand!

posted in: Photography | 0

One of the best parts of my job is getting to see repeat customers. I love it when my littlest clients come back to the studio, because it’s always so amazing how much they’ve grown! And, let me tell you — if you’re worried about planning a portrait session for your child because he or she just doesn’t behave in front of the camera — don’t worry.

That’s my job — leave the magic to me. I feel a little silly telling you this, but I’ve been called a baby whisperer by clients who were sure the photo session would be a bust. So don’t stress out. After all, that’s why you’re trusting me with your memories, with creating portraits of your loved ones. Relax, and let me do my thing.

baby's first year portrait, hand painted in photoshop, digital painting, master photographer artist dexter mi
I seriously can’t get enough of this smile. P. has the cutest expressions. I just had to do a painting from one of the priceless expressions he shared during his final first year portrait session. I am really excited about how this painting turned out!! LOVE!!
toddler baby boy with wooden car. studio portrait, baby's first year plan, dexter michigan portrait photographer
Like many little boys, P. loves cars. So when his mom told me he was super interested in anything that has wheels, I made sure to hand him a cute wooden car right away. No better way to help a kid relax and get excited about letting me take their portrait!
baby boy one year old, standing with a chair. photographer studio portrait dexter michigan.
Since P. was not quite standing on his own for this session in his baby’s first year plan, I brought out a chair to give him a little support. Now, when photographing little ones (or any clients, for that matter), safety comes first. For portraits where I have a toddler who may topple over, there’s always an adult literally right out of the frame. My rule? “If you feel uncomfortable at any point, grab your kid.” No photo is worth a little one getting hurt.
toddler boy riding rocking horse for baby's first year portrait in studio. dexter michigan photographer
I think P. smiled most of the way through his first year portrait sessions! By now, he’d started moving the chair around as a walking aid, so we switched to a new prop — this lovely wooden rocking horse that used to be one of my nieces’ toys. I’m all for repurposing well-crafted pieces. He was so excited to ride the rocking horse!
baby boy one year old, standing with chair in photographer studio. Baby's first year photos in dexter michigan
P. needed a little break, so we took the opportunity to do an outfit change. I love that his mom planned this portrait to correlate with his older sibling’s portrait at the same age. That will be so adorable to compare their portraits! Of course, the chair thing didn’t last long… but we got a couple before he was off to the races! (pretty typical for a first year session).
toddler boy standing and holding mom's hand during portrait session at dexter mi photographer studio
Here’s the closest we came to having P. stand unassisted. We tried seeing if he would let go of Mom’s hand for any length of time, but he was having none of it. Oh well. No worries, this portrait is still cute! One of the less smiley photos of P. ….but still adorable.
toddler boy with curly hair, smiling at camera. dexter mi portrait session for baby's first year.
And finally… look at those curls!!! I can’t get enough of this cutie. Isn’t it interesting how some siblings look so similar, yet have different features, like curly/straight hair? What a sweetie.

I hope you enjoyed seeing these first year portraits of P. (sigh, I can’t call him a baby anymore, he is getting so big!). If you want to learn more about planing your own portrait session with Betsy’s Photography, please call the studio at 734-424-0472 today. If you have a little one, or are expecting, make sure to inquire about our baby’s first year plan!

Learn about the Rule of Thirds (a fun snack activity for kids!)

posted in: Learning | 3

Learning is fun, but when you combine learning with snacktime, that’s even better!  This week, we’re talking about the Rule of Thirds (another stop on our trip through the alphabet with our Photography ABCs series).  What is the rule of thirds?  It’s a photography concept for creating visually interesting images — we’ll get into that shortly.

Read on to see how we’ll be using crackers to recreate the rule of thirds!

Learn About the Rule of Thirds... your kids will love this fun snack based learning activity! - BPhotoArt.com

The Rule of Thirds

First, let’s talk about the rule of thirds.  Here’s a definition I found at Cambridge in Colour:

The rule of thirds states than an image is most pleasing when its subjects or regions are composed along imaginary lines which divide the image into thirds — both vertically and horizontally.

Basically, you take an image, and divide it into thirds, both ways.  Where the lines cross, those are the places that you should try to have visual interest.  So, if you took a picture of your dog running at the park, you would want to make sure that it was at one of those spots when you look through the camera.

It’s a little bit easier to see than to explain.  Take a peek at this picture below (used with permission from Pixabay.com).  The image is deliberately composed so that both the bird and the wire are following the rule of thirds.  I’ve included a second image which illustrates this, as the blue lines divide the image into thirds both horizontally and vertically.

The wire is running horizontally across the image, placed at the lower third of the image.  You might notice that the bird is slightly to the right of the vertical blue line — but look at its eye.  That eye has been placed at the spot where two blue lines intersect.  Those intersections are points of visual interest.

pexels-bird-rule-of-thirds-no-grid
This image has been composed according to the Rule of Thirds. Image used with permission from Pixabay.com.
pexels-bird-rule-of-thirds-with-grid
With the addition of these blue lines to illustrate the Rule of Thirds, you can see that the points of interest lie along the lines, and at the intersections of the lines. Image used with permission from Pixabay.com.

 

Okay, now onto the fun snack activity!  This will help your kids visualize the concept of the Rule of Thirds.  You probably have everything you need in your snack cabinet.

Supplies You’ll Need:

  • 9 square crackers
  • 9 rectangular crackers
  • 4+ smaller snack items
  • snack tray or cookie sheet

We used saltines, graham crackers (broken into the smaller sections), and goldfish crackers.  But you could use any snack items that are square and rectangular.  The goldfish could be replaced by any similarly sized snack item: raisins, nuts, or bite-sized candies.  And, of course, you’ll need some sort of flat work surface.  My kids love using cookie sheets, but if you have a small serving tray, that could work well too. It just has to be big enough for all the crackers to be spread out flat.

First, you need some edible supplies for this activity. We used goldfish and saltines to learn about the rule of thirds
First, you need some edible supplies for this activity. We used goldfish and saltines to learn about the rule of thirds
Zack, my two year old, had fun moving the crackers around on our activity tray.
Zack, my two year old, had fun moving the crackers around on our activity tray.
set up the crackers in a 3x3 grid (3 across, 3 down). You can probably see the grid lines already...
set up the crackers in a 3×3 grid (3 across, 3 down). You can probably see the grid lines already…
Now add goldfish to the intersection points on the grid. Those are the key points of visual interest, per the rule of thirds!
Now add goldfish to the intersection points on the grid. Those are the key points of visual interest, per the rule of thirds!
Zack obviously could have used a little help getting everything "perfectly" lined up, but if you're okay with imperfection, it's best to let them run with it!
Zack obviously could have used a little help getting everything “perfectly” lined up, but if you’re okay with imperfection, it’s best to let them run with it!
Here Zack is showing me where he'll put his next goldfish for our rule of thirds activity.
Here Zack is showing me where he’ll put his next goldfish for our rule of thirds activity.
Graham crackers, when used to make a 3x3 grid, create a rectangle rather than a square. You can see how the rule of thirds adapts to this change!
Graham crackers, when used to make a 3×3 grid, create a rectangle rather than a square. You can see how the rule of thirds adapts to this change!

 

Rule of Thirds Activity Extension (for older kids)

Isn’t that cool?  You can also extend this activity by having older kids draw lines through photos in magazines, creating the rule of thirds grid.  Discuss whether the images adhere to the rule of thirds, if the most visually interesting things are found along either the grid lines or the intersections!

 


The ABCs of Photography - An Educational Series for KidsJoin Betsy as she works through the alphabet in this educational series for kids… The ABCs of Photography!  We’ll cover topics from A to Z, with activity ideas for both younger and older kids

Sign up for emails to get each week’s blog update delivered to your inbox, which will include future posts in this series.

 

Clothespin Christmas Angel (an elf alternative)

posted in: Notes | 1

My kids are really excited for December.  And since Thanksgiving has come and gone, there’s definitely been an uptick in the Christmas spirit around our household.  Last year, I’d been considering making kindness elves for the Christmas countdown, but never got around to it.  I have never really liked the elf on the shelf idea, so this year I did a little more exploring of alternatives to elf on the shelf, and kindness elves.

Some people made kindness elves, kindness kids, etc — whose purpose was to help the kids learn to pay it forward.  I liked the idea.  But then I stumbled across this idea of a Christmas angel.

 

Considering an alternative to Kindness Elves or Elf on a Shelf? We made a clothespin Christmas Angel! - BPhotoArt.com

I decided to print out a few kindness elf printables for the Christmas angel to share with the boys each day.  After checking out a bunch of different options, I decided to use these cute circle tags by Passionate Penny Pincher.

And since we celebrate Christmas in both the secular and religious sense, the Christmas angel will also be delivering a daily advent prompt to help my boys understand things on a more spiritual level too.  That part was easy, as I found this printable that goes along with the Jesus Storybook Bible #afflink …so I printed out a set of free printable advent cards for December.

When the kids wake up, I’m going to have this cute little clothespin angel sitting out on the kitchen table with some of the printables I mentioned inside this envelope.  I also wrote a brief “introduction” letter to the boys, from the Christmas Angel, of course.  The text was inspired by a Christmas Angel note I found at The Riches of His Love.

Considering an alternative to Kindness Elves or Elf on a Shelf? We made a clothespin Christmas Angel! - BPhotoArt.com

How to Make the Clothespin Christmas Angel

Now, in case you’re wondering how I made the clothespin angel, here’s the quick cliff notes version.

(Sorry, I didn’t take step by step photos, as I honestly wasn’t sure how it would turn out!)

Considering an alternative to Kindness Elves or Elf on a Shelf? We made a clothespin Christmas Angel! - BPhotoArt.com

I took a square piece of fabric that was about five inches by five inches — and cut a small hole in the center. Then I pushed the clothespin through the opening.

Using the gold pipe cleaner, I made a halo at one end, then bent it around the neck of the clothespin angel to secure the fabric “dress.”

I used another gold pipe cleaner as a combo waistband and set of arms.

Then, I took two more pipe cleaners and bent them into angel wings.  Honestly, they looked more like flower petals than wings at first, but I still think it turned out cute!

I then attached the wings to the clothespin Christmas angel on the back side (at the “waistband”).

Using some permanent markers, I colored the main part of the clothespin gold (it turned out more brown, but oh well), and drew a face on the Christmas Angel too.

I kept it really simple… because, well, simple is better!

…and easier.

So, if you don’t have all the supplies, then by all means, improvise!  Make it work for you 🙂

Considering an alternative to Kindness Elves or Elf on a Shelf? We made a clothespin Christmas Angel! - BPhotoArt.com

I’ll see how many days we continue the Christmas Angel concept… it might be a huge hit, or it could be a bust.  I’m all for being practical.  So, I’ll try to report back and let you know how it turned out.  It may be that this Christmas Angel ends up as nothing more than a cute decoration for our Christmas tree!

What are your ideas for helping kids get in the Christmas spirit?  Do you try to focus on being kind, or…? Do you love/hate elf on the shelf?  Don’t care one way or the other?  That’s cool too.

Regardless, I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

 

Easy Last Minute Thanksgiving Activities + Crafts

posted in: Notes | 3

 

Thanksgiving kind of snuck up on our family this year.  I’m not sure if it was just because life was busy, or we were preoccupied with school and the daily grind.

Whatever the reason, Thanksgiving is here.  And we haven’t decorated.  We haven’t finished going grocery shopping.  We know we’ll be spending Thanksgiving with family, but the details?  Nope.  Those are still TBD.

Maybe you’re a little more on top of planning ahead for the holidays than I am.  But, then again, maybe you’re not.  Whatever your holiday preparedness, I’m going to share some easy last minute Thanksgiving crafts and activities for the whole family!

And, if you scroll all the way to the bottom, you’ll even find a round-up of 12 or so recipes to help you use up your Thanksgiving leftovers.

There are several printables, some games, many crafts!  Most are oriented towards kids, but there are some that I think would be fun for adults too.

Okay, so without further ado, here are the activities.15+ Easy Last Minute Thanksgiving Activities + Crafts for Whole Family - BPhotoArt.com

Thanksgiving Conversation Starter Coasters (printable!)

I love the idea of these conversation starter coasters from Adventure in a Box!  You can print out the coasters from the free printable, and enjoy a number of fun conversations that might not have been otherwise had!

Thanksgiving Conversation Starter Coasters Printable - Adventure in a Box
Thanksgiving Conversation Starter Coasters Printable – Adventure in a Box

Thanksgiving Bingo (printable!)

If your family is into games, maybe you’d like to try this Thanksgiving Bingo Game from One Creative Mommy.  It looks really cute, and even if you don’t have Thanksgiving themed m&ms in the house, I bet kids would love playing with whatever snack or treat items you have on hand.

Best Thanksgiving Bingo - One Creative Mommy
Best Thanksgiving Bingo – One Creative Mommy

 

Egg Carton Turkey Craft for Thanksgiving

I love Red Ted Art crafts, and this Egg Carton Turkey craft is no exception!  Plus, it holds candy corn… too cute!  These would make adorable name cards for a Thanksgiving dinner, don’t you think?

Egg Carton Turkey Craft for Thanksgiving - Red Ted Art
Egg Carton Turkey Craft for Thanksgiving – Red Ted Art

Thanksgiving Gratefulness Game

Planet Smarty created this Gratefulness Game to Promote Wiriting and Math for her kids.  I love the idea of this game.  And, if you want to make a pretty thankfulness collage like is shown in the image below, check out the blog post for info on how to do that too!

Gratefulness Game to Promote Writing and Math - Planet Smarty
Gratefulness Game to Promote Writing and Math – Planet Smarty

Paper Roll Tukery Craft

How about this cute paper roll turkey craft from Non Toy Gifts?  Everyone is bound to have a spare paper roll (or two) lying around the house.  And, in a pinch, you could make a cylinder out of a piece of paper, right?

Paper Roll Turkey Craft - Non Toy Gifts
Paper Roll Turkey Craft – Non Toy Gifts

Thanksgiving Thankfulness Tree

Last year, we created this Thanksgiving Thankfulness Tree, and the boys loved it.  Even though we haven’t talked about it since then, my older son mentioned it out of the blue as we were talking about preparing for Thanksgiving.  I guess it really made an impression!

Make a Photo Thankfulness Tree for Thanksgiving - BPhotoArt.com
Make a Photo Thankfulness Tree for Thanksgiving – BPhotoArt.com

Pinecone Turkey Craft for Kids

Here’s another cute idea from One Creative Mommy!  Have the kids make pinecone turkeys!  I can totally see an extension activity for this craft — I think we’ll be making them using autumn leaves as the feathers since my boys love nature scavenger hunts so much.

Pinecone Turkey Craft for Kids - One Creative Mommy
Pinecone Turkey Craft for Kids – One Creative Mommy

Quilled Thanksgiving Cards

If your kids want to get in the spirit by making Thanksgiving cards, here’s a gorgeous craft idea from Red Ted Art.  You can make Quilled Thanksgiving Cards!  I think these would be fun for adults to make too…. but hey, maybe that’s just me.

Quilled Thanksgiving Cards for Kids - Red Ted Art
Quilled Thanksgiving Cards for Kids – Red Ted Art

Thanksgiving Cranberry Slime

Since no holiday is complete without a little mess, or a little science experiment,… why not give this Thanksgiving Science: Taste-Safe Cranberry Slime a try?  My boys would love doing this.  Although, you’d have to have cranberries (or get them on your next run out to the grocery store!).

Thanksgiving Science: Taste Safe Cranberry Slime - Schooling a Monkey
Thanksgiving Science: Taste Safe Cranberry Slime – Schooling a Monkey

Leaf Mandala + Thanksgiving Turkey Coloring Pages (printable! for grownups!)

Yes, I admit, this collection of Thanksgiving activities has been mostly centered on ideas for kids.  But, when the kids, are happy, the adults can be too, right?  Anyways, here are several Thanksgiving Coloring Page Printables from Red Ted Art.  Get the kids set up with an activity, then start coloring one of these yourself!

Leaf Mandala & Thanks Giving Turkey Coloring Pages (for Grown Ups) - Red Ted Art
Leaf Mandala & Thanks Giving Turkey Coloring Pages (for Grown Ups) – Red Ted Art

Thanksgiving Hats

Another cute idea to keep kids busy?  Make Thanksgiving hats!  There are ten different ideas in this post by Non Toy Gifts, and I have to admit, some are pretty creative!  My boys liked the boat hat best.

10 Thanksgiving Hats for Kids - Non Toy Gifts
10 Thanksgiving Hats for Kids – Non Toy Gifts

Thanksgiving Matching Game (printable!)

Here’s another cute printable that you can use to pass the time on Thanksgiving day!  Beauty Through Imperfection created a Thanksgiving-themed matching game printable.  If your kids are anything like mine… this should be a hit (no promises, they could be engrossed for hours, or it could last only minutes).

Thanksgiving Matching Game - Beauty Through Imperfection
Thanksgiving Matching Game – Beauty Through Imperfection

Turkey Place Cards

Since no Thanksgiving table is complete without decoration, these turkey place cards might be a cute project!  Although Mommy’s Bundle designed them for the kids’ table, I can see them in use at a low key family table too!

Turkey Place Cards for the Kids - Mommy's Bundle
Turkey Place Cards for the Kids – Mommy’s Bundle

Thanksgiving Turkey Snack + Kids’ Craft

If you’re looking for a somewhat healthy Thanksgiving snack, this edible craft turkey for kids from One Creative Mommy should be a hit…. it was for a class of kindergardeners, at least!

Thanksgiving Turkey Snack + Kids' Craft - One Creative Mommy
Thanksgiving Turkey Snack + Kids’ Craft – One Creative Mommy

Turkey Baster Pom Pom Game for Kids

This Turkey Baster Pom Pom Race, by School Time Snippets, is very simple, but I bet it will be popular with the younger kiddos!  Simple, no prep, and easy to clean up. My idea of a perfect game.

FUN Turkey Baster Pom Pom Game for Kids - School Time Snippets
FUN Turkey Baster Pom Pom Game for Kids – School Time Snippets

Turkey Bookmark Corner for Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving Turkey Bookmark Corner, from Red Ted Art, is really adorable.  And is the perfect thing for Thanksgiving, don’t you think?

Thanksgiving Turkey Bookmark Corner - Red Ted Art
Thanksgiving Turkey Bookmark Corner – Red Ted Art

The Gratitude Game (Pick up Sticks)

I love this Thanksgiving-adapted take on pick up sticks, by Teach Beside Me!  The Gratitude Game inspires thankfulness by having you name something you’re thankful for each time you pick up a stick.  Great idea!

(Thanksgiving) The Gratitude Game -Teach Beside Me
(Thanksgiving) The Gratitude Game -Teach Beside Me

Cultivating Gratitude: Ideas for a Month of Thanksgiving

Even thought I’m posting this days before Thanksgiving, the concept of gratitude is still valuable.  Especially considering, for many of us, the next holiday approaching will be Christmas. And in a world of “I want” and “I need” — it’s nice to be intentional about giving thanks.

Cultivating Gratitude: Ideas for a Month of Thanksgiving - Betsy's Photography (BPhotoArt.com)
Cultivating Gratitude: Ideas for a Month of Thanksgiving – Betsy’s Photography (BPhotoArt.com)

Recipe Ideas for Thanksgiving Leftovers

This last one isn’t really a Thanksgiving Day activity, but since the holiday typically includes an abundance of leftovers, you may appreciate these ideas on how to use up all those Thanksgiving meal items!

12+ Recipe Ideas For Thanksgiving Leftovers
12+ Recipe Ideas For Thanksgiving Leftovers

Okay. Now I’m finished, I promise. Go enjoy your Thanksgiving celebrations, have fun during your festivities, and make sure to remember the most important thing to be thankful for is the gift of friends of family.

Simple Holiday Ornament Card (with Photo Window)

posted in: Local | 8

Simple Holiday Ornament Card Free Printable... Cut out ornaments to showcase artwork or photos of your kids!

My boys were a little antsy for Christmas this weekend, so we skipped the usual “wait until one holiday is done to begin celebrating the next one” — a mandatory rule at our house.  After all, it isn’t even Thanksgiving yet!  But they wanted to make holiday cards, since I’d been talking with their Grandma about the family photos that we’ll be putting on their annual greeting card.

So, off I went to oblige my boys.  Sometimes it can be a struggle to find a craft or activity that both of them can do, since Toby is five and Zack is still two.  But after a bit of creative thinking on my part, we were able to come up with an easy Christmas card craft idea that can be adapted for any age!

So, here’s my take on the kid-made Christmas card idea.

(Don’t worry, I’ll share a free printable at the end with you, so you can easily make this simple holiday ornament card too).

Now, depending on your child’s age, you’ll be able to do less work — my five year old was able to cut out the circle windows for his own card.  But my two year old’s attempts with scissors did no more than make strips of paper (which you’ll notice we glued onto a solid sheet of colored paper to create striped ornaments. Too cute!

Supplies to have on hand

You’ll probably want to get supplies out ahead of time.  So, here are the things we used.  I included affiliate links to some items on Amazon, in case you want to get your own.

  • Zots Glue Dots or a gluestick
  • Paper Edger Scissors (the ones that make a fancy/crazy cut rather than a straight line)
  • Normal Scissors
  • Crayons, markers, or coloring pencils
  • paper in assorted colors
  • printable PDF, printed on standard paper

You might have noticed I didn’t bother to use cardstock for this project.  That’s because the two layers of paper make the card sturdy enough.  And, if you decide to include a piece of artwork inside the card, then the recipient can take it out and hang it on their fridge!

Making the Holiday Ornament Cards

I set the kids loose with all the craft supplies on the table, so we ended up with a few outtake cards too.

No big deal.  Those are adorable too.

But since you want to know how to make the ones I’ve shown you… I’ll focus on those.

First, we cut out the gray ornament shapes on my printable, shown below.  There are download links for a PDF and a JPG file right below the image.

Simple Holiday Ornament Card Free Printable... Cut out ornaments to showcase artwork or photos of your kids!

Holiday Ornament Card Printable (PDF format)  |  Holiday Ornament Cart Printable (JPG format)

After we had the picture window openings created, my boys decorated a second sheet of paper.  This ultimately sits behind the printable, and you’ll see some pops of color (or some cute pictures) in the ornament openings.

I did help the kids position the photos to make sure they were in the openings, but if you didn’t trim the photos close to size, as we did, there would be a lot more wiggle room.

If you’re having trouble visualizing this whole concept, don’t worry!

I took some photos to show you exactly what the two pieces of paper look like before (and after) they are sandwiched together.

Holiday Card Components (Before)

 

The holiday ornament card, just before being assembled. For this artwork page, created by my two year old, we didn't really need to worry about placement so much!
The holiday ornament card, just before being assembled. For this artwork page, created by my two year old, we didn’t really need to worry about placement so much!

 

The holiday ornament card, just before being assembled. Note how we positioned the photos so they will show through the ornament openings!
The holiday ornament card, just before being assembled. Note how we positioned the photos so they will show through the ornament openings!

 

Holiday Card (after, unfolded)

And once you put them together the holiday ornaments look very festive, regardless of whether you choose to showcase a crayon artwork or show off photos of your kids!

Once sandwiched together, the two parts of the card look great, even if you choose not to include any photos. I think this is a great simple holiday ornament card!
Once sandwiched together, the two parts of the card look great, even if you choose not to include any photos. I think this is a great simple holiday ornament card!

 

Once sandwiched together, the two parts of the card look great. I love how the paper strips cut with the edging scissors look on the ornaments!
Once sandwiched together, the two parts of the card look great. I love how the paper strips cut with the edging scissors look on the ornaments!

 

Now all that’s left to do is the folding. Depending on your child’s accuracy, they may ask you to help with this step.

Fine by me!

Simple Holiday Ornament Cards

Okay, now that you’ve seen the process, here are the finished cards!

The finished holiday ornament cards, after being assembled and folded.
The finished holiday ornament cards, after being assembled and folded.

 

If you want to see the fronts, insides, and backs of each card, feel free to click on an image below to enlarge.

Holiday Card Outtakes

Now, I have to admit, Zack (the two year old) helped me make both of these cards. Toby (the five year old), while perfectly capable, decided to do his own thing and create a very lovely holiday card of his own (he insisted I draw him something to color too).

Toby decided to draw this lovely holiday greeting card with the sun shining down on the pine trees and the water. Not exactly a printable holiday ornament card, but still adorable!
Toby decided to draw this lovely holiday greeting card with the sun shining down on the pine trees and the water. Not exactly a printable holiday ornament card, but still adorable!

 

Here are a few other outtakes of cards that my boys created… along the same thought process, but without the holiday ornament card printable.

 

 

I meant to share some pictures of the kids creating these holiday ornament cards, but things were a little crazy so I set the camera aside to help make sure everyone was using scissors safely (ahem…. toddler alert!).

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this cute and simple holiday card craft enough that you’ll forgive my being so early with the activity!  Now, go have some fun, download the printable, and cut out those ornaments to showcase your favorite kid-made artwork or photos of your kids!

 

 


kid-made-christmas-card-series-badge-largebphotoart-holiday-ornament-card-photo-window-sqYou’ll enjoy checking out the other Christmas cards created in this series! Thirty bloggers will be sharing their kid-made Christmas cards with you, so make sure to check out the entire Kid-Made Christmas Card Series (hosted by Mum in the Mad House).

Make sure to peek at this really cute Christmas tree card by Sew Kidding!

 

 

Learn about Quality of Light (a kid-friendly experiment!)

posted in: Learning | 1

This week we’re talking about quality of light! And I have an easy, kid-friendly, experiment that your kids will have a blast doing. Now first, we’ll have to delve into what the photography definition is for “quality of light.”  And this term is really the essence of photography.  Because photography depends on it.  How you choose to add light ot a scene (or leave it be) will drastically alter the appearance and feel of your final photograph.

Learn about Quality of Light (a kid-friendly experiment!) - part of Betsy's ABC's of Photography series at BPhotoArt.com

Here’s a quote I found on the web, from Gary Black Photography:

 

The quality of light refers to the light source, the direction of the light and its colour [sic]. The light can be hard, as it is in direct sunlight on a cloudless day, or soft and diffused as in an overcast day.

I’m not sure how to provide a simpler explanation of that.  The quality of light is a combination of factors that affect how the finished photograph looks.  You can take pictures of the same thing on a different day, or even the same day, and the quality of light could be very different.

Think of your kitchen table.  Maybe the sunlight streams through the windows in the morning, making it very bright and cheerful.  But if you come back at midday, your kitchen will look different, because the sun is overhead and the light entering your kitchen is softer and less direct.  You might remember we touched on this when we learned about existing light by going on a scavenger hunt around the house, or when we learned about flash with three different activities.

As an aside: If you’ve joined us partway through this Photography ABC’s series, please make sure to check out a few of the past posts where we talked about some of these different qualities of light.  And if you’ve been with us from the beginning, thank you!!

Anyways, the quality of light is something that’s easier to identify when you see it than by me describing it to you.  So, here are some ways to learn about quality of light!

Learn About Quality of Light With Flashlights

Have your kids set up a few toys at your kitchen table (or wherever), and make sure to have the following items at hand:

  • flashlight (or light source)
  • white paper or cardstock

Dim the lights, and then have your kids shine the light directly at the toys.  If your kids are older, have them write down some observations on a piece of paper, otherwise you can just discuss with them…

  1.  Is it easy to see the whole toy?
  2. Can you see a sharp line between light and shadow, or does it gradually change?
  3. Does the light feel hard or soft?
  4. Are there any details in the shadows, or is it so black you can’t really tell?

Next, hold up the paper as a filter between the flashlight and the toys.  Experiment with moving it closer to the toys, or further away from the toys. See how the quality of light changes.  Again, discuss (or write down) what you can see.

  1. Does it become easier to see the entire toy, even the parts in shadow?
  2. Does the light seem to become “softer”?
  3. Which light do you like better and why?

There really are no right and wrong talking points here.  It’s just a matter of observing, and being able to visualize the concept we’re talking about.  Quality of light is something that’s easiest to understand when you see it!


The ABCs of Photography - An Educational Series for KidsJoin Betsy as she works through the alphabet in this educational series for kids… The ABCs of Photography!  We’ll cover topics from A to Z, with activity ideas for both younger and older kids

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Learn about Perspective (hands on camera activity for kids)

posted in: Learning | 1

Today in our ABCs of Photography series, we’re going to learn about perspective!  As always, I’ll be using simplified explanations that kids can understand (hooray!).

Learn About Perspective with these kid friendly photo activities! | BPhotoArt.comPerspective is how you look at things.  We see the world in three dimensions, but a photograph captures life and compresses it down into two dimensions.  I like this definition I found on B&H Photo (read more about their explanation of perspective):

Perspective has several different meanings—several applicable in some way to photography. For the photographer, perspective is a summation of the relationship between objects in a photograph.

This definition from School of Digital photography is nice too (what is perspective and how can we use it to improve the composition of our photographs):

Perspective refers to the relationships between objects in a photograph, the relative distance, size and space etc. perspective could be used to define a subject’s shape and form and also to convey to the viewer a sense of volume, space, depth and distance.

Okay, so let’s try and simplify that further.  Because simpler is better, right?

For photographers, perspective is how the different things in a picture appear, where they are in the photo compared to each other. Because you can’t walk into a photo (it’s flat, after all), your perspective is chosen by the photographer — they decide how things will look, where to get you to look, by how they take the picture.

 

Perspective Photo Experiment

Now, here’s an easy way to experiment with perspective!  (This one is really a fun activity, if your kids like taking pictures, like mine do).

Put some objects on your kitchen table, or a surface of any sort, really. Maybe some legos, or some fruit, it doesn’t matter what, so long as they are similar in size.  Try to put an object at each end of the table, and one in the middle too.  Maybe you put an toy truck in the middle, a toy car at one end, and a toy train at the other end.

Then, try walking around the table, looking at it from different angles.  When you take a picture from one side, the toy car will look bigger than the toy train.  When you walk around to the other end, the photo will show the toy train as being bigger.  When you take a picture from above, all three vehicles will look equally large.

Talk about these differences in perspective with your child, maybe prompting them to experiment with different angles of view as needed.  You can discuss the change in perspective during the photo taking part of the activity, or if you’d rather wait until it’s time to look at the pictures, that’s ok too.

Smartphone Panorama Perspective Experiment

Another way to see the the concept of perspective is to create a panorama with your phone — and have your kids run from one spot in the image to another while you are panning your camera phone across the room.

Yours might turn out a little mashed together, like my first attempt at this did, but your kids will undoubtedly have fun running back and forth across the room multiple times while you figure things out!

bphotoart-smartphone-pano-experiment

Your kids will be able to see how they look bigger or smaller, depending on how close to the camera they were!

Talking Points

You can make something look really really big by getting up close and below it when you take the picture.

You can make something look very small by taking the picture from above, or from far away.

Now, some people think photography isn’t an art.

But it is… photography is all about finding the right perspective, choosing the way to have the image look the way you want.  Obviously perspective is a much more complex topic than this, but you get the idea.

And by trying this exercise on perspective, I bet you’ll see it too.


The ABCs of Photography - An Educational Series for KidsJoin Betsy as she works through the alphabet in this educational series for kids… The ABCs of Photography!  We’ll cover topics from A to Z, with activity ideas for both younger and older kids

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Learn about Overexposure (activity for kids)

posted in: Learning | 2

It’s time to start back up our Photography ABCs as we learn about overexposure!  I know some of you have been very excited for this… as am I!  Thanks for your patience while we got my oldest used to the routine of full day school… he actually adjusted very well aside from being really tired.  Which we’re still working on.  Okay, so anyways, this week we’ll be talking about overexposure.

Simply put, overexposure is when there is too much light.  It’s kind of like when you walk outside into the bright sunlight after having been inside all day.  Your eyes take a few moments to adjust, and until that occurs, you can’t really see much around you — it’s just too bright.  That’s because your eyes haven’t closed down yet — the irises are still very much dilated and all of a sudden, a ton of light hits your retina.

That’s why doctors shine a bright light in your eyes at well visits. They want to make sure your eyes are working properly (check out our learn about aperture activity, which is the camera’s way to close out light).  And if you’ve bump your head really hard, one sign of a concussion is that your eyes don’t adjust like they’re supposed to.

Okay, well hopefully you’ve got the general idea!

Learn About Overexposure, including activities you can try on your camera phone! (Image used with permission from Pixabay.com)

Now, this is a really easy camera phone experiment that will help your kids understand the concept of overexposure.  You can do this one of several ways.

Learn about overexposure by recording a video.  

Make sure to start recording your video in a dimmer area, and then move the camera to point at a brightly lit lamp, the sky, or something else much brighter.  Depending on your camera phone’s capabilities, it will do one of two things.  Your camera might adjust the exposure in a moment, thus being only briefly overexposed, or it will stay overexposed for the duration of the video. Either way, you’ll definitely be able to see how the camera was exposing the video for the darker area, and got overexposed when you switched to the brighter spot.

Learn about overexposure by taking a picture.

With your camera phone, you might be able to tap and hold on a spot to “lock” the exposure.  If so, lock the exposure for a darker (shadowed) area, and then move the camera phone to point at something bright.  It should be very white and overexposed.

For my camera phone, when I hold down on a focus point for an extended length of time, it locks the exposure value and the focus point. Do this, then move your camera to aim at something bright to see an overexposed image.
For my camera phone, when I hold down on a focus point for an extended length of time, it locks the exposure value and the focus point. Do this, then move your camera to aim at something bright to see an overexposed image.

 

Learn about overexposure by using the over/under exposure adjustment in your camera.

Whether you’re using your camera phone or your digital camera, there is probably a setting that will allow you to manually overexpose or underexpose your image.  On my camera, I have to tap the three little dots button in the corner of the camera screen, which expands a bunch of options.  One of those options is “EV” – this is the exposure value.  It should be at +0 or something like that, meaning your image is properly exposed.  To experience overexposure, change it to +2.  That will make it two stops brighter than the camera wants to make it.

On my camera phone, I can change the exposure value to intentional overexpose or underexpose an image. Yours can probably do something like this too.
On my camera phone, I can change the exposure value to intentional overexpose or underexpose an image. Yours can probably do something like this too.

Did you notice how the image changed in that last screenshot, by the way?  My black keyboard looks light gray, the keys are even completely blown out (meaning, they have no tonal detail, it is just pure white (to learn about the tonal ranges, check out my learn about grayscale activity, complete with printable coloring page).  But to make a long story short, the lighter the tone, the quicker it will “disappear” when something gets overexposed.  So, a yellow smiley face would “disappear” into white before a dark brown horse.

Pretty cool, huh?

I bet you can come up with some other ways to learn about overexposure.  Let me know your creative ideas in the comments below!  You might also be interested in my post where we learned about exposure (both over and underexposure). Make sure to check back next week for the next post, where I’ll share an activity for the letter P. You might also enjoy revisiting our previous activity where we learned about negatives.


The ABCs of Photography - An Educational Series for KidsJoin Betsy as she works through the alphabet in this educational series for kids… The ABCs of Photography!  We’ll cover topics from A to Z, with activity ideas for both younger and older kids

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Make a Jack-O-Lantern Stamp from an Apple {Plus Two Halloween Crafts}

posted in: Parenting | 0

Make a Jack-O-Lantern Stamp from an Apple ...plus Two Halloween Crafts!

It’s always fun to get ready for Halloween. Whether you’re pumpkin-carving, or maybe making a costume to wear when trick-or-treating, Halloween gives us the chance to be creative (like we did with this Jack-O-Lantern stamp craft!).

Did you know that carving pumpkins didn’t become popular until the celebration of Halloween was brought to North America? Originally in Ireland, people carved lanterns out of turnips. Well, in America, of course, pumpkins were very easy to come by (not to mention easier to carve!), so the tradition evolved to include pumpkin carving.

You might want to check out my post, 6 Tips for Helping Kids Carve Pumpkins; or learn how to Create Your Own Pumpkin Stencil from Better Homes and Gardens.

6 Tips for Helping Kids Carve Pumpkins - Betsy's Photography - BPhotoArt.com

Anyways, my boys were pretty excited for fall this year.  Our neighbors had a pumpkin patch, and gave us pumpkins… so we have a very well decorated front porch.  The leaves are coming down in droves, and there have been multiple requests for a leaf pile.  And, of course, reminders that we need to carve pumpkins.  Well, I wasn’t quite ready to carve pumpkins (we went overboard last year), but wanted to give the boys a chance to do something fun for Halloween.

So, we made Halloween cards! Well, they did.  And I made a garland.

You probably have most of the supplies on hand for this craft, but here are some links in case (#afflinks)

Supplies:

How to Make a Jack-o-Lantern Stamp From an Apple

While most of this craft is kid-friendly, the first step is going to depend on how old your child is, and how much you trust them to use a knife safely.  So, most likely, you, the adult, will be doing this first step… after that, let the kids loose!

The kids were excited to make jack-o-lantern stamps...
The kids were excited to make jack-o-lantern stamps…

 

Cut the apple in half.  Then carve out a chunk for the smile, and cut out two triangles for the eyes.  If you want to get fancy and cut out teeth too, go for it.  In my book, simpler is easier!

I cut the apple in half, and carved out a face in each side -- one for each of my boys.
I cut the apple in half, and carved out a face in each side — one for each of my boys.
Toby wanted to show off his jack-o-lantern apple stamp.
Toby wanted to show off his jack-o-lantern apple stamp.

Use the Jack-O-Lantern Stamp to Make a Halloween Card

Next, put some paint out for the kids. I took a kitchen plate, covered it in a plastic grocery bag, and then put the pumpkin orange paint on top.  This made for easy clean up, and allowed the kids to smear their apple stamps around to get full coverage.

Then, let them stamp to their heart’s content on the black construction paper with their thoroughly inked stamps.  My kindergardener was able to do this all by himself, while my toddler needed help placing the stamp down so the paint didn’t smear.  I didn’t think of this until after we were done with the project, but you could take a corn holder (for corn on the cob) and stick it in the skin side of the apple, creating a handle.

Oh well… hindsight is 20/20.

After the boys gleefully covered their paper cards with pumpkin stamps, I got out the white crayons.  My toddler was uninterested in crayons, and moved onto another activity, but my kindergardener sounded out and wrote an entire greeting on his Halloween card.  It’s so cute when kids start to learn to write… I love the phonetic spelling stage 🙂 🙂 …it’s so adorable!  But, I admit, it’s sometimes hard to read.  So, I did write a transcription of the message and tape it onto the card before we delivered it.

This craft took about 5 minutes for me to think up and prepare for the boys… and it occupied them for maybe a half hour.  Your mileage may vary, depending on your child’s interest and age.

Once you coat it with paint, the jack-o-lantern stamp looks a lot less like an apple, and more like a pumpkin.
Once you coat it with paint, the jack-o-lantern stamp looks a lot less like an apple, and more like a pumpkin.
Both boys diligently stamped away on their black construction paper to create lovely Halloween cards.
Both boys diligently stamped away on their black construction paper to create lovely Halloween cards.
Toby was definitely old enough to handle this craft on his own.
Toby was definitely old enough to handle this craft on his own.
The paint transferred better when we pushed really hard and went slower rather than faster.
The paint transferred better when we pushed really hard and went slower rather than faster.

 

Toby decided to personalize his Halloween card further by writing "Happy Halloween" ...among other things.
Toby decided to personalize his Halloween card further by writing “Happy Halloween” …among other things.
The apple stamps worked pretty well, I'd say. This crafting session was a success!
The apple stamps worked pretty well, I’d say. This crafting session was a success!

Use the Jack-O-Lantern Stamp Make a Halloween Garland

After the boys were done, I cut up some black construction paper into triangles and stamped them with the jack-o-lantern stamp.

Once the paint was dry, I punched holes in the corners and then had my older boy thread yarn through the holes so we could hang it up.

Voila!  Fun and easy decorations for my front door!

Mom's project while the boys made cards? cutting triangles from the construction paper so I could make a fun jack-o-lantern garland.
Mom’s project while the boys made cards? cutting triangles from the construction paper so I could make a fun jack-o-lantern garland.
I punched holes in the triangles and threaded floss through to string them together.
I punched holes in the triangles and threaded floss through to string them together.
We hung it over the sliding glass door, upon my boys' request.
We hung it over the sliding glass door, upon my boys’ request.
The boys decided it looked very spooky!
The boys decided it looked very spooky!

Use Your Imagination!

I am sure there are a million other ways you could use this cute jack-o-lantern stamp…

Do you have any other ideas for an extension activity based on this project?  Think of something else you could stamp with an apple Jack-o-lantern stamp?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

Our Experience With Online Piano Lessons

posted in: Parenting | 0

bphotoart-busy-kids-piano-lessons-2I love music. And my kids do too. But that’s not news to you, since I’ve blogged about raising kids who love music in the past, as well as why you shouldn’t give up piano.   Now, my boys haven’t really had formal lessons, as they haven’t been old enough.  But this summer, Toby, now in kindergarten, asked if he could take piano lessons.

Perfect timing!

So, I went digging through my music cabinet to see what books might be suitable for a younger piano student. I have quite a wide span of material, not surprisingly (my grandmother was an organist and a piano teacher, and I took piano lessons in grades K-12). When I inherited my grandmother’s upright piano, my mom gave me even more piano lesson books.

I found some books by Faber and Faber that I thought would be helpful (you can find lots of Faber and Faber piano books on Amazon #afflink). But I wondered if there was something else out there for the beginning pianist.  Something more modern and interactive.

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That’s when I discovered Busy Kids Do Piano (#afflink). When I saw this review opportunity grace my inbox, I was really excited! Busy Kids Do Piano is a complete system that includes online lesson videos and printable worksheets. Like any quality program, it’s not free.  The Busy Kids Do Piano course is $49.95, which works out to a more than reasonable fee of $2.50/lesson.

Let me digress for just a moment. You may know that learning music isn’t just about learning to play the notes. It’s also about understanding rhythm. So when you research a learning method, it’s important to evaluate how well it teaches rhythm, note length, and other basic concepts… because these are the building blocks you need to make a strong foundation for later understanding of music.

So, for me, it was important to ask myself, does Busy Moms Do Piano teach these concepts?

The answer is yes.

For the first lesson, she doesn’t even have kids use the piano — because they are learning about rhythm. Toby had fun choosing a percussion instrument from our musical instrument box — he selected two, actually.

With a tambourine and a rhythm stick in hand, Toby listened intently as he learned about the different notes, what they looked like, and how long their counts are. He practiced tapping along for the different notes, and I made sure he understood the concept of “holding” the note.

After playing the video through a couple times so that Toby could play along as instructed, he was ready to work on his worksheet.

I’m not one to force too much learning in one sitting, but when my kids are interested in a concept, I’m all for continuing!

So I pulled out the first worksheet and Toby worked his way through it. He learned how to draw a whole note, a half note, and a quarter note. We played the rhythm that was written on the page together.

Toby had fun completing the printable worksheets!
Toby had fun completing the printable worksheets!

Over the next days, Toby continued to be excited about piano, and repeatedly asked me when he could do another piano lesson.  Specifically, “the one with the video.”  Score!  I love it when my kids stay interested in something.

Looking back at our experience, I would say my child enjoyed Busy Kids Do Piano, and I did too.  The materials were clear and I was able to walk Toby through the activities without any trouble.  While I would have been comfortable teaching a more traditional lesson to my child, I think Busy Kids Do Piano is a great program for anyone who wants to familiarize their children with piano.  It’s an easy way to try out piano lessons, with the benefits of being able to go at your own pace, and being able to do the lessons anytime, anywhere.  And, as I mentioned, the fee for the material is more than economical when you consider a typical in-person music lesson might cost more like $30 for a half hour.

Can the Busy Kids Do Piano (#afflink) method replace a traditional teacher?  I think that’s hard to say…it depends on what you’re looking for, honestly.  For beginning musicians, or children you want to acclimate to music?  Sure.  For more advanced students?  Nope.  But it’s definitely a starting point for entry into the wonderful world of music!   I grew up taking music lessons, and a number of my relatives are musicians.  I think music lessons with a live teacher play an important role in shaping the musical experiences of children.  The instant feedback, the communication — you just don’t get that with a video lesson.  But these lessons are a good way to set the stage for learning music in the more traditional way, later on.

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Note: I received this product free in exchange for an honest evaluation and review.  The opinions and thoughts expressed are 100% my own.

The Easy Way to Draw a Heart + A Photo Valentine Craft

posted in: Parenting | 0

Last year in preschool, Toby’s teacher taught him (and me) a neat way to draw a heart.  It’s so ingenius that I had to share.  And since this trick about how to make a hear is so short and sweet, I thought I would also share an idea for making a photo Valentine’s Day card too.

But first, this trick for drawing a heart.

If your child is learning their letters, this method will be something they can do — Toby learned how to draw hearts this way at the age of three.

You need two letters to make the heart.  First you draw a big “V” — and then you put a little “m” on top of it. I’ve included a diagram below, that shows the heart with the “V” and the “m” not-quite-put-together, as well as the final heart.

bphotoart-photo-valentine-craft

Pretty simple, huh?

It’s amazing what kids gravitate towards.

So, now onto part two of this post.  The photo Valentine craft.

We usually have some holiday cards left over every year, so I let the kids turn them into photo crafts until we run out.  Last year we made photo valentines with pictures, and my toddler had fun, so I decided to make a photo Valentine’s Day card a little early so I could share the idea with you!

Toby was taking a rare nap when we created this card, so I had an 18 month old’s help putting on glue and decorating.  But hopefully this rendition will inspire you, in the very least!

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As you can see, I cut out some heart shapes, and cut out the photo of our family in a heart shape as well.  With an older child, I would have drawn the heart outlines and handed over a pair of scissors.  Toby would’ve loved that.  But, Zack just enjoyed helping my hands open and close the scissors as I cut.  And he wanted to use the marker too, so I let him have free reign of the inside of the Valentine’s card.  We kept it pretty simple. “Happy Valentine’s Day” on the front of the card, with “love Zack” on the inside.

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Then we digressed to other activities.  Zack found the paper I had gotten out, and a pen.  He had fun drawing on the paper, and wanted more hearts. So I drew him a few.

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After tearing up some paper, grabbing the scissors, and exhausting his young attention span, we were done with our photo Valentine craft activity.  Zack is a little young to do more than help push the cut out objects onto the card, but he did really enjoy the portions of this activity where I let him help.

Do you make homemade Valentine’s Day cards?  Have you ever included photos in your Valentines?  What do you think about the “trick” for drawing a heart? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Thankfulness + Gratitude Journal

posted in: Parenting | 0

bphotoart-gratitude-thankfulness-journalSometimes it’s hard to stay positive. This life is full of heartbreak and troubles.  Something that has helped our family lately?  A gratitude journal.  Also known as a thankfulness journal.  I got the idea from a good friend who has gone through a lot.  She mentioned that this simple act of writing down five things a day that she is thankful for has helped her realize how much good there is in her life.

Starting a thankfulness journal is a step towards a change in perspective.  It helps you focus on the good.

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.” – Mary Engelbreit

Being thankful, being grateful, about the things in your life …these small things can help cultivate a happy heart. Happiness is a choice, and the more you work on cultivating it, the more it permeates your life.

When I started my gratitude and thankfulness journal, my son, Toby, was really interested — and wanted his own thankfulness journal too.  So I found another notebook lying around the house and gave it to him.  He was thrilled.

Since Toby is just learning to read and write, his thankfulness journal looks a little different than mine.  I usually write the date for him (he’s started tracing it after I write it), and then he draws a picture on that page.  After that, we talk about his drawing, and depending on the complexity of the subject, I’ll write some notes about (porcupine and and obstacle course) it or have Toby write the words (i.e. race car, or airplane).  For him, it’s more of a focusing tool, a way to spend time drawing each day and thinking about what he is doing rather than just scribbling out a tornado (like he does sometimes with his school journal).

Some of Toby's drawings, including a bird on the left page and race car on the right page.
Some of Toby’s drawings, including a bird on the left page and race car on the right page.
Toby showing his drawing of a fishing boat on the left, and a playground in the rain on the right.
Toby showing his drawing of a fishing boat on the left, and a playground in the rain on the right.

My thankfulness journal is just words.  I end up using about a third of one page daily, by the time I write all five things I’m grateful and thankful for.  every item on my list is numbered, one through five, each day.  And I always start with “I am thankful” or “I am grateful” …just the simple act of writing those words hammers home what I am deciding to be happy about.

 

Some days, it's tough to find five "worthwhile" things to be thankful for. Other days, it is tough to stop at just five.
Some days, it’s tough to find five “worthwhile” things to be thankful for. Other days, it is tough to stop at just five.

The most consistent time for me to do my journal is right before bed, when the house is quiet and I have time to reflect on the day.  It helps me to find good, to see how I am blessed — even when I have a rough day.  Even if I can’t come up with something entirely original, I’ve never skimped on my daily list.

What have I listed?

It varies depending on the day.

Some days I’ve been thankful for the fact both boys took a nap, or that I got to take a nap myself.  Other days I’ve been grateful for miracles, both big and small.  Like a relative’s recovery from surgery complications, or that my son inexplicably found a precious earring that I had lost half a year earlier. I’ve focused on finding reasons to be thankful about my life — my husband, my boys, my pets, my home.

Toby with his thankfulness journal -- showing his drawing of a toy
Toby with his thankfulness journal — showing his drawing of a toy

There is so much in my life that I have — and all too often, I take it for granted.

This thankfulness and gratitude journal has been a way for me to change that. The best part of this method of journaling? It’s brief, succinct.  Anyone can find five minutes a day to write down five quick items.  Because in all honesty, it doesn’t take much longer than that.

Toby writing in his thankfulness journal.
Toby writing in his thankfulness journal.

And one thing I like about this journaling concept?  It focuses on the positive.  The only journals I previously knew about were ones where you chronicled daily life.  And what tends to come to the forefront?  The negative.  I don’t want to focus my life on the negative.  I don’t want to leave a written legacy that focuses on things in life that drag me down.  I want to focus on the positive. I want my written legacy to be inspiring and motivating.

And that’s why I keep this journal.  Because my days seem to go better when I make time for it.

Do you journal?  What do you write about?  Would you consider starting a thankfulness journal?  Would your kids do this with you?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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