Protect your camera from the elements

Just a few weeks ago, I was given the awesome task of photographing students during our first snowstorm for UWO’s student newspaper, the Advance-Titan. When I was first given this assignment, I was actually excited to get photos– that is, until I realized that the snowflakes falling were the size of my hand and were coming down at what felt like 20 miles per hour. After literally 2 minutes of taking photos I had to head inside to avoid completely drenching my camera. I did a little brainstorming and finally decided that I could make a temporary cover out of a shopping bag. It wasn’t most stylish accessory, but it worked. This got me thinking about how important it is to protect my camera gear. I started doing some research and found that there are tons of things I can do to protect my camera from the elements. Here are some of my favorites:

Rain/snow bags: sells rain sleeves for $5.99. I have not tried these, but they seem to be a good investment for photographers who like to take photos outside. If you are caught in the rain or don’t want to buy a rain sleeve, you could also make one like I did. I simply just cut a hole out of a zip lock bag for my lens.

Filters: Filters are a great way to improve the quality of your pictures, but they can also serve as protection for your camera’s lens. Purchasing a simple UV lens filter is a great way to increase clarity and protect your lens. Most camera stores sell them for about $10. Here is an example of one that Best Buy carries.

Rubber lens hood: These are great for blocking out unwanted light, but they can also serve as a protector for your camera lens. These are also reasonably priced at about $15 at Best Buy. 

Here are some of the weather photos I took for the Advance-Titan! Please share your tips and photos with me 🙂

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Street Photography: Awkwardly Fun

In my photo class last week we had what our professor like to call ‘ the annual shoot out’ during this class we take our first attempt at street photography. We worked in teams of 3 students getting 2 hours to shoot, edit and post our pictures to our class blog. I was really nervous about this day because I am typically not a fan of being put on the spot but after some wandering around I had so much fun, I am now really excited about street photography!  Normally I like plans and being in control of a situation but with street photography I loved the idea of not know what was going to come next.  I also loved that I was so worried about getting just one good shot only to download my pictures and find that I had tons of great photos : ) I am just a beginner at this but here are some tips that helped me when shooting street photography:

1. Yeah it’s going to be a little awkward … taking photos of random people walking around on the street  is always going to be strange. I try one of two tactics, either I take my photos and then explain what I am doing to the subjects or I try to be discrete enough that my subjects don’t even notice me. A way to be more discrete is by using a camera designed for street photography. Here is a site that does a comparison of 5 cameras used for street photography. I am a big fan of the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF2 with 14mm but the site shows that you can even use an iPhone!(making me want to purchase one even more)

Partner in crime @DanielleBeyer <---- follow her on Twitter

2. Take a buddy… when we first started my group decided that it would be a good idea

to split up in order to cover more ground. We went our seperate ways, I walked around for a little bit but was too nervous to shoot any big crowds by myself plus I was shooting with a Canon Rebel T3i not really your most discrete camera. So I ended up calling one of my group members and we shoot a few things together we both agreed that it was much easier and we felt way less ‘creepy’ haha… hey if you are going to be a creepy camera girl you might as well have a partner in crime 🙂

3. Have fun with it…lately many of my photo projects have been very stressful and I feel like I have been lacking a little creativity. Doing this street photography assignment reminded me how much I love photography and the joy I get from taking pictures for fun! Don’t get me wrong I wasn’t doubting my love but sometimes I get caught up in making something super artistic and creative but that isn’t the way it works… you can’t force creativity it just happens! Here are some of my photos from my first attempt at at street photography! Expect many more soon 🙂

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I know it sounds strange and uncomfortable but I think everyone should give street photography at least one try! Please share your street photos with me : )

Fun Post! SPARK Anniversary Party

This is a fun post I thought I would throw in since most of my post can get a little technical, plus it taught me a photography lesson 😉

I spent yesterday afternoon celebrating SPARK Advertising’s 7th anniversary with my coworkers. I am currently working at SPARK as the PR and social media intern, I absolutely love working their and I am was very excited to be included in the celebration 🙂 The seven of us enjoyed ice cream cake from Dairy Queen and ‘sparktini’s’ (recipe posted below!) Here are a few photos from the party, enjoy!

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Sparktini Recipe:

1 1/2 oz Absolute Mandrin vodka
1 oz Rose’s lime juice
1/2 oz Cointreau orange liqueur

Recipe from

I know you were all waiting for my little lesson… I realized that a lot of my photography is getting to be very project focused, I am not taking time to shoot just every day things. Taking these simple party photos made me remember how much I love taking pictures for fun! Also that not all photos have to be great works of art they can be simple every day moments that are so important to capture. I hope you enjoyed my short post, please share your thoughts : )

Studio Photography 101

I shared with you in my last post, How to Become a Photo Superstar, my first stab at studio photography was not fun. I am still a little scarred from the experience but I decided it was time to take another shot at it. I am so glad the second attempt was much more successful than the first,  here is an easy step-by-step guide to beginner studio photography:

1. Get everything set up. If you are using a table or not get your backdrop ready before you start setting up your lights.

2. Have a lighting plan. Decide how you want your image to turn out and what types of lights you will need, explains the different types of studio lights.

You will also need to decide how you want to place you lights, watch this excellent video by Gavin Hoey to see a detailed description on how to set up a three point lighting

3. Meter your subject. Use a meter to determine the correct F-stop to set your camera at. I had no clue what a meter was until a few weeks ago, I don’t think I could live without it now!  In my first attempt at this stuff I didn’t use the meter and my photos were so terrible. To meter connect the sink cable into the back of your main light (the light that you want to flash first) connect the other end of the cord to your meter, get the meter as close to your subject as possible, press the pop button so the flash goes off and the meter will tell you the correct F-stop to set your camera to. I normally meter 3-4 times to make sure I am getting an accurate measure!

4. After you have all your gadgets set on your camera, plug the cable that was in your meter into your camera and you are ready to shoot! You may have to adjust your lights a little but the hard part is over 🙂

Please share your studio work with me and any tips that have helped you!

How to become a photo superstar!

So you want to get a job in photography? Although it is a tough field to break into it is not impossible! It just takes a few steps depending on what your goals are. As I mentioned before in my post about artist statements, it is important to define what you want to achieve with your art. Photography is mainly a hobby for me but I also love the thrill of seeing my work published to share with others. I also love all types of photography like most of the things I do I want to do it all! Here are some tips that have helped me leave my mark on the photo world:

Try it all: Be open to trying everything. Trying new things always feels uncomfortable at first but if you don’t how will you ever know what you love? I have tried everything from photojournalism to studio photography, the goal is to find something that you love.

When it gets tough…keep trying:  Many tears were shed (not the good kind) the first time I took a stab at studio photography, the whole thing was a complete disaster. Thankfully it was an assignment so it forced me to keep trying until I got it. During my studio attempts I learned that it is rare for someone to try something once and be an expert at it, things that are challenging are good because they push us to do better.

Get published: To me there is nothing more exciting than seeing my photos in print! I highly suggest submitting photos to your local newspaper or blogs and entering contests like F-stop and photographer’s forum. Not only is it extremely rewarding to see your photo published, you can also use it for your portfolio.

ASK: I once had a professor who told me, you can’t get what you don’t ask for. Once I started really listening to this advice I found opportunity knocking at my doorstep everywhere I turned. My advice to you is to never be afraid to ask… just think the worse thing that can happen is they will say no.

Share your work: Like getting published the thought of other people seeing my work makes me both terrified and extremely excited. In addition to getting submitting photos to get published start a photo blog like this one by Rick Alonzo or online portfolio like this on by Chris Stienert. Post your stuff on Facebook and Twitter adopt the #shamelessplug. I am currently the photo and art editor of our student newspaper, The Advance-Titan. Every week I collect about 10 newspapers to send out to my parents and grandparents to hang on the refrigerator, I don’t think I will ever get too old to post my stuff on the fridge : ) Be proud of your work, you deserve it!

Share some of the ways you all get ahead in the photography industry. What are some of the contest you enter?

A simple guide to HDRI Photography

High dynamic range imaging (HDRI) photography is a technique that allows photographers to capture a greater range of light and dark ranges in a photograph. It sounds complex and difficult but with these few steps it is actually really simple and can produce very beautiful images.

First I will give you a little background information on why I am doing this because like most other photo things up until about a month ago I had no idea what HDRI photography was. UW Oshkosh has decided to launch rephotography project, the media photo class that I am in now will be producing the images. We are taking images from the 1960s and rephotographing them either in the same location or taking a new angle on the meaning of the photograph. The image I selected  is of the old smoke stack. Below is my recreated image! Enjoy 🙂

The smoke stack no longer exists but you can tell it is the same area by the trees and sidewalk.


1. Locate a scene with dynamic range in lighting. For this project obviously I just had to work with what I could get but trying to pick a time of day, like sunset will help get more range.

2. Make sure to use a tripod, since the photographs will be merged together in photoshop even the smallest movement can ruin your photo. Refer back to my tripod post for more information.

3. After you have securely attached the camera to your tripod and set up your scene set your camera to zero exposure and take your first shot. Then you will take two underexposed shots and two overexposed shots. If your camera doesn’t have exposure stops like the one pictured then you will manually have to adjust your shutter speed, don’t adjust your f-stop because it will change your depth of field. Refer by  back to my post, A guide for photo ‘newbies’ for a refresher on aperture and shutter speeds.

Here is a quick example of manual bracketing:


Stops        Shutter speed       Aperture

(+2)            60                                 F8

(+1)            125                                F8

(0)              250                               F8- This is your baseline

(-1)             500                               F8

(-2)             800                              F8

So maybe you are thinking… ok, how do I find the baseline? Don’t worry I didn’t understand this either. What you do is make sure you are using your manual setting, look in your viewfinder and click your trigger button down just halfway, when you do this you should see a bunch of little number pop up on a line… ok, got it? Now set your aperture to the type of lighting available then adjust your shutter speed so the ticker is right in the middle on zero and ta-da! This is your baseline you can adjust your math on the shutter speeds as needed.

4. Last and easiest step! I use Adobe Photoshop for this but I am sure there are other programs out there you can use. The steps you take in photoshop are File> Automate> Merge to HDR Pro. Yep, it’s as easy as that!

I hope you enjoy my first attempts, please share your HDR photos with me!

Writing an artist statement

In our industry it is important to define the purpose of your art, whether it is a story you write or a photograph you take defining what you are trying to achieve is always a good idea. One way to do this is by writing an artist statement. An artist statement can be a simple paragraph about what your art means or an elaborate description of what your art means.

At first I was a little nervous about writing my first artist statement because I like to think I am creative but defining the whole purpose of my art…what??? I don’t really know what the pictures of my cat are supposed ‘mean’- just kidding of course I am not a crazy cat lady…

Anyways so I started out writing about the things I like to take pictures of..blah blah blah finished the whole thing, read it over and almost fell asleep. I came to the realization that I was going to have to put a little more time than I thought into making my artist statement a reflection of who I am and what I want to achieve through my art.

I started my search by looking at some of my favorite websites like Pinterest and Lookbook. I found all kinds of neat quotes that made me want to layout my artist statement in a creative format. I also looked at other photographer’s artist statements. Where do you get inspiration from? I finally got an idea and took my first stab at an artist statement. Check out what I have so far:

The great thing about your artist statement is it isn’t permanent! People grow and change so of course your artist statement can change. Share your artist statement with me : )