Why A Starter Digital Camera Kit Can Be Your Best Choice

February 4, 2012

A starter digital camera kit can be the best choice for an extremely busy parent or grand parent today. If you are a grand parent today, and your grand child lives nearby, you probably know the joys of grand parenting!  You are probably also aware that you have even more limited time to get those very special pictures of your grand baby as he or she grows up than you did with your own children.  Because your access to them is much more limited, and even if it isn’t, you find that because you are older, taking care of them requires even more energy than it used to.  That is why a starter digital camera kit can be your best choice.  The camera in the kit is usually fairly light and easy to handle.  And, you get all of the basics in one package and don’t have to spend a lot of time shopping around to figure out just what you need and don’t need.

Our daughter and her former husband have let us have our grand daughter every other wednesday since she was born. Actually, we even had her every week for the first six months of her life, that is until we found out that her parents were getting a divorce.  Then, her father did not want us to take her on “his” wednesday, because he still had to pay for day care even when she was with us.

Grandpa coloring with Piper

Her Grandpa, my husband, gets her in the morning around 8 a.m. on those Wednesdays.  Now that she is two years old; as soon as she gets to our home, she promptly goes to our bedroom door, and knocks loudly for me to come out to see her.  Her Grandpa and I try to give her much attention and quality time when she is with us, and she responds by directing us to read to her, color with her, put puzzles together with her, and it’s really cute to see Grandpa playing baby dolls with her!  She especially likes Grandpa to feed her because he is a pilot and can do all kinds of airplane sounds for the spoon to make as it fly’s on its way to her mouth, the hangar door!  He does a helicopter, a jet, a piper cub, a Navajo Chieftain twin engine, and usually a DC3 too!  It’s just delightful to watch, and he has her rapt attention.

If you want to get great pictures of your grand child, you will need to make this investment of time in them, and they will reward you with the most delightful pictures that you can ever imagine.  This is because you have made them happy to be with you!  So, have your starter digital camera kit, with battery charged and ready to go, nearby.  Quickly re-reference your camera manual the day before so that the buttons and dials are familiar to you and take those pictures of that happiness!

Now, for the sad part.  Due to the games that parents of divorced children play, our grand daughter does not get to spend nearly as much time with her mother as she does with her father.  Needless to say, she misses her mother greatly, and this is a very deep seated need within her that is not being well met.

When it was time to go home to her mothers we had her put her coat on, and told her that we were taking her to see “Mommy.”  This brought forth a flood of tears because she then wanted to see her mother immediately!  Riding in the car, all the way back to her mothers , it nearly broke my heart as she was sobbing for mommy, mommy, mommy!  I wished that we could just magically transport her immediately to her mother’s front door.

Because I was basically a mother who could not leave my babies and young children with a day care or baby sitters on a regular basis, I could feel our grand daughters pain.  I did try it with our oldest son when he was about three years for just a few short months.  I remember that he regressed with his potty training, and would scream at the front window of the day care center, as I drove off to work  every morning.  Needless to say, I quickly got enough of this, and quit my job!  Later, after he had grown up, he told me how “he hated me for putting him there!”

digital camera starter kit

Piper has feelings for her Grandpa

The moral of the story is this:  If you want your children and grand children to grow up with their basic core emotional and physical needs met, then you need to spend lots and lots and lots of time with them.  And, during that time, you can capture some of the most precious things that life can offer:  Digital memories that you can put on canvas prints!

Photos On Canvas Of Your Children

February 3, 2012

Photo On Canvas

Don't Let The Innocence Be Lost!

Photos on Canvas are a long-lasting way to show off your photo. While shopping, I came across a do it yourself kit for putting your photos on canvas. This got me to thinking about all the photos I could display in a whole new way. You can have a professional make up the canvas or you can go the do it yourself route.

The Professional Way

Oh how easy it is to upload your photos to a canvas photo website and let the professionals handle the rest. You do have to make a couple of choices before they get to work. You need to research what form of ink they use. Make sure it is archival grade ink. Most sites offer framed and unframed photos on canvas. One option is to get the canvas only or have the canvas stretched over artist stretch bars for a tight mount. Stretch bars also come in different thickness check your website for the sizes they offer. You can usually decorate the outside of the frame mount with the image wrapping around the mount or your chose of color. Once you choose the thickness of your mount then you can put a frame around the canvas. Every website differs as to what they are willing to do to a photo and at what price. They can enhance the picture but remember how good the picture looks is based on what it started as. You can also request touch ups for blemishes, red eye, whitened teeth or have objects removed from the photo. Do you want your photo in color, black and white or sepia?

Do it yourself

I love to scrapbook and make crafts with my photos, especially the ones highlighting the special times in my children’s lives. The thought of saving money and being able to put my photos on whatever shape canvas I want is particularly an enticing concept. I have found two main ways to create your canvas artwork. The simplest way is to buy a transfer kit. You will need to print out the exact size of the photo you want to use on a high-quality laser printer. Follow the directions on the kit. The kit will give you a medium that you will paint over the print out, special transfer sheet and canvas. The second is the iron on transfer; I think these are perfect for totes, shirts or pillows. Although you are limited to the size of the photo you can transfer, transfer papers are easily found in stores. Make sure that photo that you are transferring is the mirror image since you will be laying it face down on the canvas. Then you need to use a warm iron to adhere the photo image.

Using canvas to display your photos will allow you to enjoy them for years to come.

Get The Most From Your Camera With Zoom Lens When Photographing Children

June 9, 2010

camera with a zoom lens

At Mayflower Beach Cape Cod - Taken with zoom lens at 135mm focal length

Your digital camera probably comes with a zoom lens that allows you to vary the focal length from a wide-angle or normal perspective all the way through some moderate telephoto length. Understanding the effects created will help you get the most from your camera with zoom lens.

You may ask: What is a zoom lens? Answer: A zoom lens is a lens that allows you to change or adjust the focal point usually by rotating the lens. If you cannot do this, then the lens is called a fixed lens and has a fixed focal point.  A zoom lens may be either a wide angle lens, or a telephoto lens.  This is determined by which side of the normal 50 mm lens the lens is on; if its between about 14mm and 49mm it is called a wide angle zoom lens. And if it’s on the other side of 50 mm say 51mm to something like 200mm or greater, they are called telephoto zoom lenses. However, you may even have a zoom lens that covers wide angle, normal, and telephoto focal lengths.

One of my favorite trip lens for photographing children is the Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS for Canon SLR cameras (get a Canon Lens Hood for it too!) which works quite well when you have to do a lot of walking with the kids, plus take care of them, and photograph them as well.  When you are on a day outing with your kids or grand kids, it’s very easy to be overwhelmed with all of your responsibilities. I find that this lens is a great compromise between being able to get some great pictures of the kids that have enough quality should I want to have them made into art on a canvas print, but without having to carry extra lenses and having to change lenses as well.  Remember if you only have a point and shoot camera, or your cell phone camera with you, you may be really disappointed with the quality should you get a great pose of your child.

camera with zoom lens

Taken at the Cape Cod Mayflower Beach (uncropped) with a focal length of 200mm

Many people ask me about the 2.8 zoom lens.  All this means is that this lens is a “fast” zoom lens because when it is at the 2.8 aperture the lens is wide open to let in a lot of light, and the 2.8 zoom lens is also expensive because the lens glass is finely ground very close to the edge.  However, the size of this lens does not make it easy to carry when you have kids too.  I have a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS telephoto zoom lens that I like to use at places like the inner cape beaches on Cape Cod where the kids can get quite a ways away from you and still be in shallow water.  If I couple that lens with my Canon 5D Mark II, then I have plenty of low light capability, and plenty of mega pixels that can be cropped off (for images when the kids get a little too far away) which still leaves me with a very high quality image to make into the canvas prints that I love so much.

camera with zoom lens

The same picture as the photo on the right, taken with a zoom telephoto lens at 200 mm (now cropped)

As you may recall, focal length is just a measure of the magnification that the lens provides. A larger focal length produces greater magnification; hence long focal length lenses are great for capturing fast action or enlarging objects that are moderately far way.

A key fact to remember, however, is that the focal length of a given lens also affects the camera’s angle of view. Because a telephoto lens magnifies distant objects, it has a very narrow angle of view. As you reduce the magnification and zoom out towards smaller focal lengths, the angle of view likewise increases.

At the extreme end of the scale – specifically, wide-angle lenses – the image is actually shrunk with respect to what the human eye can see. The angle of view becomes extreme, sometimes even greater than 180°. This kind of wide-angle lenses known as a fish-eye lens due to the peculiar effect of the angle of view.

The focal length of your lens has one other important characteristic. Depending upon whether you have your lens set to wide-angle, normal, or telephoto, you will get a very different depth of field. As we discussed previously, a telephoto setting yields minimal depth of field, while a wide-angle setting generates a lot of focusing depth.

photos on canvas

Again, the same picture printed on canvas

Not all special effects need to be done inside a computer. The zoomed picture is a good example of a special effect that you can do in the lens of your camera without doing any processing on the computer whatsoever. To take a zoomed picture, you need a digital camera that allows you to change the zoom setting during exposure; generally, only professional SLR-style digital cameras are capable of this feat.

If you have a camera that you can manually move the focal length of the lens then you could set it on a tripod, set the shutter speed for about a quarter of a second, and manually move the zooming in a firm, steady, and consistent motion.

Getting The Most From Your Camera With Zoom Lens

Getting The Most From Your Zoom Lens

The telephoto end of your zoom lens is great for capturing distant objects, but the additional magnification can create blurry pictures. Especially if you’re shooting something in low light, where your camera might choose a slow shutter speed, so I highly recommend that you take telephoto images using a tripod.

Remember, keep taking lots and lots of photographs of your kids. You will be glad you did!

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

ps: Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter “Real Kids Photography” here!

How Important Is Time Consciousness?

June 2, 2010

time consciousness

Five year old playing in the winter snow in Michigan

Do you know how important is time consciousness? As a parent we are all excited when our first child arrives, and we vow we are going to record their history in photographs. So how are you doing with the record of your child’s history?

Recently I watched an interview with former first lady Laura Bush, and I was struck by a comment she made. She said “The days seemed long but the years were short.” As a grandmother I look back and I understand what she meant.

Each day seems so busy, and at the end we are exhausted from the demands of the children. Then one day we wake up and are told we are suffering from the “empty nest” syndrome: the kids are gone, and all at once you are all alone while your husband trundles off to work.

By “Time Consciousness” I am referring to the fact that we don’t often consider time in our lives. We get so busy, look at the clock, and are amazed at where the time went.  We need to refine this art of the brain to be aware of the passage of time, and what it means to us as regards capturing the moments of our children’s lives.

But if we are to record our child’s history in photographs, then we need to be acutely aware of time. We need to think about how quickly things change, and make a serious effort to take the time to photograph each important step of their lives in photographs, and then displaying those pictures proudly in our homes for all to see and enjoy.  I even go so far as to encourage parents and grand parents to hang on the walls of their home a favorite photo as canvas art.

photo as canvas art

Make your special photo as canvas art

To be successful we need to give photography more than a passing thought. We need to make sure our
camera doesn’t just sit in the closet gathering dust; out of sight, out of mind. The first step is to make a conscious decision as to how important photographing our children is.

I have been blessed because of my passion for photography. I always have a camera or two nearby, ready to grab when the moment occurs. Oh yes, I have seen the look on my husband’s face, or the kids faces, when I run back in the house to grab the camera.

But now, years later, I look through the images and discover things I had long since forgotten. Like that birthday when the boys threw cake at each other, or that first day at school, or that ski trip we took. As I work around our home I see walls covered with framed photographs of our children from when they were born through when they got married.

And it helps ease the pain of that “empty nest” feeling.

So think about the question: “How Important Is Time Consciousness?”

Remember, keep taking lots and lots of photographs of your kids. You will be glad you did!

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

ps: Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter “Real Kids Photography” here!

Create A Unique Photo Book As A Romantic Valentine’s Gift

January 26, 2010

Romance isn’t just about candle-lit dinners and boxes of candy with big bows on top. Real romance lies in the personal touch, in showing how much you love someone with a few heartfelt words just for them, or a unique gift that you’ve really thought about and taken time over. We’ve posted several great ideas for Valentine’s gifts already, including a pink Canon camera and a gorgeous canvas print, but if none of those seem just right for your partner, how about creating a unique photo book, celebrating your personal love story, as a truly memorable gift.

Dig out photos from when you first met and once you’ve finished exclaiming over how young you both look, scan them into your computer (unless of course you met recently enough for them to be digital pics!). Find photos that tell your story and bring back precious memories: the amazing vacation you took together, the first house you bought together, your wedding day, the birth of your children, or whatever milestone moments of your lives that come to mind.

Once you have found and selected your photos, it is easy to make a professional looking photo book by laying out your photos together with some text. Write your own messages or add favorite poems and quotes. You can be imaginative and write up your story in the style of romantic fiction, or just add dates and places as more of a factual record, but be sure to include a message of love at the beginning and end, so that your gift has that essential element of romance. You could even add a secret message by placing a single word on each page amongst the photos which put together make up a 20 word message of love. Or create your own unique way of putting together a photo book, there is no limit to the possibilities.

Photo books tend to have a minimum of 20 pages and a maximum of 80, so you’ll need at least 20 photos but can include many more if you lay out several per page. Allow yourself plenty of time to play with the layout and select photos. The biggest problem you’ll have is keeping it a secret from your partner, as you spend hours leafing through old pictures and exclaiming or sighing over the happy memories they evoke!

Mum and Photographer

Mum and Photographer

Put One Of Your Own Special Photos On Canvas For Valentine’s Day

January 19, 2010

Valentine’s Day is just over three weeks away now and if you don’t want to resort to last minute flowers and chocolates as a gift for your loved one, now is the time to start thinking about that special gift that will make their heart glow. When you’ve got young children it can be hard to keep romance alive, but your shared love of those wonderful kids is the glue that holds you together, through sleepless nights and stress, as well as the joys that they bring. The perfect gift for Valentine’s Day could be a gorgeous picture of your young family, celebrating your love by putting one of your own photos of you all on canvas.

There are plenty of other personalized photo gifts that you can create with your photos and many romantic ones too, but a canvas print is one of the most enduring of all. A good quality canvas print can outlast you, its image remaining bright and sharp for a hundred years, so that your grandchildren can still enjoy it. A beautiful photograph of your family, perhaps a mother and baby picture or an informal group of you all, will encapsulate all the love you feel for your family and keep its memory alive for the next generations. How much more romantic can you get than that?

You still have some time left to look through all your photos for the perfect shot, or take a brand new one if you can’t find anything that feels just right. The last day to order for standard shipping is Feb 2nd if you go through Photoworks.

So start thinking about setting up the perfect portrait of your family. Do you just want a portrait of the kids together, or do you want to be in the photo with your partner too? A tripod will make it perfectly possible to set up a photo using the self-timer, but otherwise enlist the help of a friend to take the photo, once you have worked out how you want it. Small kids get bored of having their photo taken very quickly, so make sure you decide on the background and look at the lighting before you get them involved.

Once you have grouped yourselves get your friend to take lots of shots in quick succession and try out some variations. Having everyone looking at the camera and smiling is the obvious arrangement, but try out others too. Attract the kids’ attention and have some photos of you all interacting and looking at each other rather than at the camera. It gives a wonderful intimate feel and can be fun if you get them laughing too. Experiment. Don’t just limit yourself to one session. Try different days and different locations until you get just what you are looking for. You are capturing a mood as well as a likeness, and moods can change from day to day.

Then choose your best shot and put it on canvas for a wonderful Valentine’s gift.

Mum and Photographer

Mum and Photographer

Personalized Photo Gift Ideas for Valentines Day

January 12, 2010

Christmas is over, we’ve cleared away the tree and breathed a sad but relieved sigh that life is back to its dull old routine. No more gifts to buy… but is that true? February isn’t that far away and with it another gift giving day. What are you planning on giving your partner for Valentine’s Day? If you haven’t thought about it yet there is still plenty of time to come up with a special and thoughtful gift. Open up your photo files and then scan the internet for some personalized photo gift ideas.

Here are six gift ideas that leapt from the screen for inexpensive and fun photo gifts for the special person in your life:

1.  A photo mug with a heart design – OK, so a mug isn’t very original… but we all use them and you can get some very pretty designs and interesting shapes these days!

2. A mousepad with a photo of you both framed in a heart – It’s another everyday item, but again something that your partner will see every day and which is bound to make them smile.

3. A beautiful cherry wood keepsake box with a photo inlaid on the lid. Put a special photo of you both or of the kids and it will be the perfect place to store precious memories and keepsakes.

4. A silver charm bracelet with a miniature photo charm on it. You can add more charms onto it as you like, perhaps you could add one every year, or else make one charm for each of you and each of the kids, so that the whole family is collected together in a gorgeous miniature photo gallery.

5. A sterling silver photo locket with a monogram on the outside and a photo inside. This could be a wonderful personal gift for the love of your life.

6. If your partner is a wine lover, then buy a very special bottle of wine and make it personal with a wooden photo wine box. Choose a photo of you both to slide into the front of the wooden box with a special message.

For standard shipping, most of these gifts need to be ordered by the end of January, so you still have plenty of time to go through your photo files and create the perfect gift for your partner in time for Valentines Day.

Mum and Photographer

Mum and Photographer


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