Less is more

They say “Less is More” and now I believe it. I feel so much better without the clutter.  Let me elaborate.

There is less paper to put away each night.

Less toys to walk around or put away.

Less clothes to wash, laundry to fold, or stacks to put away.

Less dishes to wash.

Less food to store.

Less mail to open.

Less furniture [for my housecleaner] to clean.

Less crap to find storage space for in the garage.

Less books to store. And sheets. And towels. And toys. And everything else.

Less decisions about what to wear in the morning.

Less purchases to return.

Less commitments on the schedule.

Less TV shows on my watch list.

Less thoughts about all of the above.

And more thoughts on the things I really care about.  More time reading. More time writing. More time with my family.  More time on family outings or family vacations. More money for family vacations. More interest in the things I really want for my future.

More happiness overall!  Things are so much easier day-to-day, and in the end, that makes me smile and dwell on what really matters.

What does freedom look like to you?

Take a minute and watch this TEDTalk.   We are the most free people in the world, ever!  How will you use or abuse your freedom?  What does freedom look like to you?

TEDxAsheville – Adam Baker – Sell your crap. Pay your debt. Do what you love.


How to de-clutter your Facebook Newsfeed without de-friending anyone

About a month ago, Facebook got a lot of crap for performing psychological experiments on their users by messing with their news feeds and measuring the impact on their moods (as evidenced by subsequent status updates.  I don’t know about you, but this creeps me out.  It’s been pretty noticeable recently that there have been changes – either intentional by Facebook, or socially with how people are using the tool – that make it less desirable to check your feed.  After your last visit, what true benefits did you receive from reading your friends updates?  Or how many cat videos did you watch and share again?  (Or dog videos, those are really a lot funnier!)

So here are 3 tips for de-cluttering your Facebook Newsfeed:

  1. Unfollow any pages you may have liked:  Unless there is an A-M-A-Z-I-N-G food truck that you must know about every time they are at your office, you don’t need to know about every update for every TV show you ever watched (Veronica Mars is over), every restaurant in town (Oh, thanks for letting me know you close early on this random Monday night in January), or every morning selfie from your favorite celebrity (Thank. You. James Franco!)  Unfollow them and get your updates from their website (or even their Facebook page) when you really need to know.You can do this by hovering over any posts from these pages in your Feed, and selecting “Following” from the hover. This will “unfollow.”  You can also go to your profile page, visit each individual page you have liked, and click the “Following” button on each page.  This will take more time, but you can get it all done at once instead of waiting for their next post.
  2. Unfollow any “friends” that you do not talk to regularly, or that you do not have intentions to talk to: You don’t have to de-friend them!  You can still tell yourself that you’ll call them next time you’re in Chicago…  But you don’t need to know that they just washed their dog.  Or that they’re having a casual Friday night with the hubby watching Game of Thrones.  Of course, if you just met someone and are hoping to make more of it… by all means, use Facebook as a way to keep in touch… but not the ONLY way!You can do this by hovering over someone’s name on your Feed.  If you want to systematically go through all your friends, it will take more time.  Go to your profile, then your Friends tab.  From there you have to hover over every person’s name to see the “Following” button.  The Friends tab is sorted with friends that you interact with more at the top, so at some point you can pretty safely unfollow everyone from there down.  This could take awhile depending on how many friends you have. Facebook sure doesn’t make it easy for you!
  3. Unfollow any friends that only share cat videos, or crazy political stances, or pictures of their amazingly cute kids, or whatever it is that really messes with your mood: Yes, this may include your Aunt Clara.  Yes, this may include that funny guy that you used to work with 8 years ago that makes you feel insecure for not going out late on a Tuesday night.  But you know you need to do this.  So do it.  If you really need to get an update from Aunt Clara, ask her what she’s been up to when you see her at Thanksgiving. It will give you something to talk about!You can do this one little-by-little as you read your Feed.  With each post, see how it makes you feel.  Do you feel angry? Sad? Afraid? Distracted? If this is not what you intended with this check of Facebook, consider unfollowing that person.

That should take care of most of it.  What remains:

  • People you may know: It looks like it only appears once in your feed, so you can skim over it or ignore it.
  • Pages you may like: If you keep seeing the same ad, you can use the drop-down to “Hide all ads from …”  You may find yourself doing this a few times for different pages, but after awhile you will see less and less.
  • Your friend has liked this page: Same as above, you can select “Hide all ads from…” to avoid seeing these, but you have to select it for each individual page.

But before you’re done, I encourage you to take a step back for a minute.  Think about what your intentions are when you check Facebook.  Maybe there is a better place to get the updates you want!

  • Checking in with Friends & Family – try Instagram or Pat. Personally, I like Instagram so much more for getting regular updates from family. It requires a picture, which I love, and there are no sharing of annoying articles or videos.  And less of your annoying relatives are on it. Bonus!
  • Checking in with previous coworkers – LinkedIn is much more appropriate.
  • Celebrity news – BuzzFeed Entertainment, TMZ, Entertainment Weekly, and all the others are so much more thorough, if this is your thing.
  • Cat videos! – BuzzFeed or even just Vimeo and YouTube – subscribe to channels there and create your own feeds
  • Express your own opinion – Twitter may get you followers that are really interested in what you have to say
  • Random conversations – Again, Twitter works, but also, there are plenty of Forum sites that allow you to dig deep on your favorite topics with people who are just as interested as you are

So consider your objective in using Social sites.  If these tools are not meeting your objective, ditch them and find new ones.  You wouldn’t keep an old refrigerator if it didn’t keep your food cold.  Especially if it kept bombarding you with cat videos!   If your tools are sufficient with just a telephone and good old face-time, then consider eliminating Facebook altogether.  As I was going through the exercise above, I was quite impressed with the number of friends that have deleted their accounts.  I feel that many of us may follow suit soon.  If you’re not ready to cut the cord completely, consider trying to avoid logging in for 99 days.

Good luck, friends, and remember, you are in charge of your destiny! Don’t let a random company of 20-somethings determine how you spend your time or how your mood should change.

Don’t leave behind all that stuff!

I went to an estate sale yesterday. It was super interesting stuff! An old Remington typewriter desk, two sewing tables, a whole kitchen of vintage appliances in great condition, a beautiful piano and a couple extra instruments, old furniture – also in great condition, and a room full of art supplies and books.

I was so tempted to buy… Yet not at all interested! This was a huge mentality change for me as compared to a few years ago, or even a few months ago! Previously I would have thought of getting some art supplies, in case I wanted to try it out. Or some instruments in case I wanted to try them. I found an old journal with this old ladies notes from when she was starting a home – cut outs from magazines in the 50s, with notes like, “this is an ideal layout for a kitchen,” “some bedroom options,” and “happy children playing!” I think I have done the same thing myself, in various places, over the last 15-20 years, coming of age. I wanted to take it home as a symbol of connection to this perfect stranger. Plus, it was so quaint and old fashioned. But also in that room were boxes of old cards. Boxes of travel brochures and maps. Boxes of unused art supplies. Cases of books not opened in years. And that was what allowed me to walk out of there empty handed.

Growing up I always heard this Bible verse:

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matt. 6:19-21

And of course I understood what it meant and what it was teaching. But only now have I really understood the implications. These people having an estate sale were leaving treasures on earth for moth and rust to destroy, and “thieves” to steal, for $1 here, and $10 there. All that trouble to box up those maps and travel brochures, but now they will likely be thrown away after being picked through by dirty hands.

I don’t want that! I want to only trouble myself with maintaining the items that I truly need to live day to day. If I no longer need it, away it will go! I won’t keep the family heirlooms if they are no use to me. A few of them are useful! But the rest, maybe someone else will get use out of them and I won’t need an expensive piece of furniture to keep them from breaking or getting dusty.

I came home from the estate sale and told Shaun. He said, “so basically you don’t want to leave behind all that stuff?” But that’s exactly it! I want to leave behind happy memories, touched hearts, and enriched souls. How will I do that if I’m always cleaning up the clutter? How will I do that when I’m always shopping for more, better things? I won’t, so let’s find a way to avoid those things, shall we?

What we got rid of in June

The minimalism continues!  In the month of June… We only took one trunk load of toys and household supplies to Goodwill: 2014-06-29 11.03.24 That included this nice, ivory Ikea rug that we bought when we lived in an apartment in San Francisco and needed a rug in our bedroom. (God, I loved all those hardwood floors!)  But it’s been 5 years since we’ve moved back down to San Jose and we still haven’t found a good place for it.  It lived in our Family Room for about 6 months until we purchased a rug more suitable for the size of the room.  The kids had fun rolling up like Bugs in a Rug before I loaded it in the trunk:   2014-06-07 08.18.54 2014-06-07 08.19.06 I also sold my first item on eBay!  I have a pile of items to try to sell, but I thought I’d try it out on this one first.  I purchased this postpartum corset from Amazon, but it was too small.  I purchased the next size, but then thought I would keep this in case I would fit into it someday!  Well, that never happened!  So I sold it for almost full price (to a man?) on eBay.  Nice doing business with you.

sold on ebay!

sold on ebay!

And most of the month I spent collecting papers from all over the house and dealing with them.  My hope is to go as paperless as possible!  Right now all our filing is in one 4-drawer filing cabinet, which includes our tax history, our manuals and warranties, craft paper and envelopes, and all the paperwork we deemed worth keeping over the last few years.  That’s pretty good already, if I do say so myself! The work I’ve done the last few weeks was to get the craft paper in there – which took some organization with file folders and tabs and the like – as well as the manuals and warranties.  We were holding onto some of those for products we haven’t had for years!  Having all these in the same place will really help to find them and to not go crazy when I find them in random places all over the house.  Previously I had tried organizing them in a fancy binder (Pinterest-inspired), but that was too much work and intimidated me everytime I had something new to add or old to remove.  Having them in a file folder is SUPER-easy.   These two tasks cleared out two shelves on our bookshelf, hiding the paperwork away from view. And now, Ladies and Gentlemen, our filing system.  The top two drawers include our important documents and in the back-right, the warranties and manuals. 2014-07-18 15.05.34 The bottom-left drawer contains craft paper and other paper supplies, like photo paper and envelopes.  The bottom-right drawer contains Tax Histories and Home Sales records.  Eventually those might go in a box in the attic if we need the space.  Basically we know we need to keep these records, but not necessarily out in the open with easy access. 2014-07-18 15.05.14 My dream is to get a Fujitsu Scan Snap and take all that paperwork in the top two drawers into our computer/online filing system.  But that will take some time and I want to move onto minimalism of bigger items in the house first! And part of the paper-minimalism has been to go through the kids’ artwork.  I wish I had a photo of the 10-inch high stack of artwork that I threw away!  They were beautiful compilations of torn stickers coming loose, three scribbles on a page, ripped jellyfish made out of paper plates, and other items I’m sure you have all over your kitchen counters any weeknight after school 🙂   I created two boxes that we will keep in the office closet – one for P and one for L – with a hanging folder for each year in school.  The art and any birthday cards and school photos will go into each folder.  And as it gets packed full, we’ll have to go through and remove some more. This way, each of them has a box of momentos from their childhood, BUT ONLY ONE BOX! 2014-07-18 15.06.00 “What about all those beautiful drawings your little Picasso’s are creating each and every day?” you ask… Well, there will be some gems that we will keep (in the ONE box).  There will be some that we will want to remember, but not necessarily keep – those will be scanned or photographed.  Maybe one day those will go in a book!  But I would say at least 50% go Bye-Bye, and that’s ok with me!  I won’t even remember in 20 years 🙂 Check out this beauty little P brought home last week.  He tells me it’s a soccer field full of soccer players (you know, World Cup fever), but for some reason it makes me thing of something else… 2014-07-18 15.08.09 And here is a baseball field: 2014-07-18 15.08.16 Some others saved so far… 2014-06-10 20.40.29 2014-06-10 20.39.51 2014-06-10 20.39.34 And next month… minimalism comes to the China Cabinet, Living Room, Kitchen, and more of the office.

What we got rid of in May

May was our first venture into minimizing.   Here is what we eliminated… or passed on to better use! Sold our kitchen table on Craigslist for $220.  It’s been sitting in the corner of our living room for over a year, so I think the spending money for our weekend in Santa Cruz was put to much better use than this table lately!  A nice lady who is a nanny took this for her deck. Kitchen Table I sold this Anthropologie purse for $20 on a Facebook group for sales in my neighborhood.  It was originally over $80, but since I got it on sale for $40 and then used it for about a year, I think that was a pretty good return!  And now a nice lady in my neighborhood is loving it. Anthro Purse Carload #1 to goodwill freed up quite a bit of space in our garage and hall closets, as well as my closet and Shaun’s closet: Carload #1 While I was sick with bronchitis I went through our bookcase and found about 10 books to give to my mom, sisters, and a couple friends: Novels #2 Novels #1 I posted our no-longer-desired business books on my work “4sale” email alias and brought in about 6 books to the office for coworkers: Business Books   (The rest of the books will be donated to the library or taken to goodwill.  I need to find out if there are better places to take them.) And to round off the month, one last carload to Goodwill – this cleared up almost the full top shelf of the garage storage. As well as some old sheets, household supplies, and more clothing: Carload #2   For the month of June I’ll be taking care of the rest of the books, sending some clothes for online consignment sales, then tackling the kitchen!

Adventures in Minimalism

We recently took a family vacation to New Zealand. I had a lightbulb moment while we were there, of which there were three drivers for this epiphany:

We stayed at my sister and brother-in-law’s house, which is a 3-bedroom flat underneath another family’s home.  Maybe about 1000 sq ft of living space.  Not terribly small, but definitely smaller than any of the homes we have lived in recently.  They are able to do so because of their recent travels and not having accumulated a lot of possessions, but also it seems that they choose to live this way.  Their pantry has enough needs for the week.  Their freezer contains a few basic backups for unplanned meals.  Their baby has one basket of toys, not a full room of them.  It seemed amazingly simple, easy, and wonderful.

And a lot of New Zealand was this way.  Vacation homes we stayed in were basic and sufficient.  Hotels were non-descript inside and perfectly located outside. Shopping was straightforward and not overly done. Fashion was simple – what people comfortably needed for their activities that day.  There wasn’t a sense of judgement for what you were wearing or not wearing – it was almost as if it was of no concern to others.  As it should be, mind you, but this is not a familiar feeling to us capitalistic Americans.

Lastly, we traveled for 2 and a half weeks with two kids and just a few suitcases.  I would argue now we took WAY too much.  But we were able to make it work.  We took a few side trips and took even less – sometimes two small bags for the 4 of us. The kids were able to play with toys that fit into a small backpack – the rest of the time they made do with balls and sand toys that we purchased there, the baby toys, playgrounds, or things around us on our many adventures.  It really forced us to get out more and enjoy the world rather than stay in and get annoyed that they were getting into everything!

So as we have come back into our “real world” we are inspired to try to live with less ourselves.  We have been reading and become amazed at what “minimalists” are doing for their own lives and want a piece of that too!   In the future I’ll share a bit more about the resources we’ve encountered on this journey.

What have we done so far?

For Mother’s Day, S & P went through ALL the toys and gathered a pile to donate that allows us to only have two bookshelves and a toy box full of toys (rather than overflowing all over the house!)

I’ve pulled clothing from my closet on almost a daily basis!  My dresser of 10 drawers and 1 cupboard now has 3 empty drawers, and possibly one more on the way!  I wear what I love the most, rather than what I feel like I should wear because I haven’t worn it in awhile.  And I really feel this will continue to dwindle day by day as I find more unused or mediocre items.

Furniture – we have had a few pieces of furniture sitting around the house which we have not been able to find places for.  Although we love the pieces, if they are not getting used, they are just collecting dust and getting in the way. They are worth something, so we can sell them and use the money for activities that we would enjoy!   We are selling a kitchen table and a cabinet, and then eventually we will donate a leather chair and ottoman.

We are supposed to be receiving a piano from my parents soon, but we are taking another month to evaluate whether this is something we want to add to our home.   We like the idea of the items that inhabit our home reflecting our values and interests.  We definitely value reading and learning – so books take a prominent role.   We value health, working out, yoga, and sports, so that means we need to bring our workout equipment to a more prominent role in our home.  Family and friends are important – we feel we already emphasize space for socialization and quality time. So we will see if a piano is something that we want to add in order to emphasize the importance of Music in our day to day lives.  I believe it will.

But there is so much more that needs to be purged!  More clothes.  Cosmetics and cleaning supplies.  Dishes. Kitchen gear. Decorations.  Books. Paperwork. All the crap in the Garage.

This should be a fun journey over the next year!  It will be interesting to see how far we take it – whether it becomes simply a spring cleaning activity or a full lifestyle change.

This made my Sunday 10x easier

Saturday we had 2 birthday parties.

PJ and his buddies

PJ and his buddies

As a result we also had:

  • One Jamba Juice and one Krispy Kreme donut (on our way to Toys R Us to buy gifts)
  • Pizza
  • Cupcakes
  • Juice
  • Not much else
  • No nap
treats with Mom

treats with Mom

After we got home, Dad left to go take care of some errands, so I had a wonderful afternoon with the kids. Do you sense the sarcasm?  It was torture. PJ has learned the phrase “I need Mommy Time”.  So every time I tried to get something done, he would whine and say that. How do you resist?

In the backyard I was sitting on a blanket with LJ.  PJ wanted me to come play with him on the lounge chairs. He likes to pretend it’s a pirate ship.  I said I would stay on blanket as my ship.  He got really mad and said “That’s not EVEN a ship!  That’s a blanket!”  He said it over and over.  Incredulous that I would even say that!  Anyway.  After an afternoon of both kids whining and crying at the same time, I couldn’t wait till Dad got home.

Fast forward to Sunday – I had planned for Dad to go golfing. I would stay home with the kids and get some things done.  Wanting to avoid a meltdown, I sat down with PJ and we did this:

Sunday List

Sunday List

It was like he was a different kid!  I don’t know if it made it easier on me, on him, or on both of us.  But since we came up with the plan together and both committed to it, it worked!  We missed a few things on the list, but we agreed on it and had some fun instead.

Reminds me of the idea to use Agile for Families – I’ve always thought that would make things so much easier! Maybe when they’re older 🙂

Nursing moms, nurture yourself!

So over Thanksgiving my family took a vacation to Pacific grove. We stayed on a house overlooking the ocean, just steps from a beautiful walk along the California coast. One day while out on a jog I met this lady in a gazebo overlooking the ocean waves. We got to talking about babies and she told me that she used to come there to nurse her son everyday when he was little. In true NorCal (crunchy granola all-natural mom) fashion she said,

“Moms give so much of themselves! They give and give and give. They nurture their families and do so much for others. It’s important to remember who you are and meditate on that, nurturing yourself in that most important time.”

And it’s so true!

I like to joke that my baby literally “sucks the life out of me”. Sometimes when you’re done nursing your baby you can feel so weak, thirsty, and tired.  While your baby feels so happy, full, and energized.  And although that is not a metaphor, it can be a metaphor for how things will feel for you as a mom for awhile to come!

I really miss certain things this year as I nurse my baby.  I love working out and giving myself that me-time and energy. I’ve spent months at a time waking before 5 to make it to bootcamp or bikram yoga.  But when I have a baby calling for me at 3AM, 5AM, etc, how can I plan on leaving the house for a couple hours?  On top of that the sleep deprivation!  At this point if I even have to get up once in the middle of the night I end up sleeping through my alarm.

I also have been watching less TV and working less at night.  All that matters now is sleep!  When you wake up 1-3 times per night you need more than 8 hours.

And how about work time at work?  Oh yeah, I have to pump!  OK. So I love nursing my baby… but the pumping! Ugh. You don’t even get the touchy-feely good stuff from that.  Just the life sucked out of you, and smack in the middle of your work day.  Just when you get in a groove with something, POP, up comes the reminder and you have to walk across campus and get down with your little black bag.  And forget working while you pump… any stress reduces the supply, so you might as well be on Pinterest 🙂

And the calorie intake needed to keep this up…. ok, that’s not so bad 🙂  I’m really enjoying eating what I can for the next few months.  OK, I’m avoiding too much sugar and milk products, but that’s good anyways.  It’s pretty amazing that I’ve been able to lose all 40 lbs from pregnancy within 3-4 months, even getting below my pre-PJ weight!  All while eating a loaded (albeit healthy) diet.

I love the snuggle time with my LJ.  The precious face staring up at you like you’re the only thing in the world is something you just can’t explain. And my little secret — it gets me some nice quiet time after a long day when I have to nurse him to sleep.  It just happens to be during PJ’s crazy witching hour 🙂  My reading has increased if I can get away with a book on my phone while he nurses. Not sure how I’ll keep up with my book club after he weans.

I’ve made sure to nurture myself in ways that I can.  Shaun has been helpful and generous enough to make me get out – either at night with girlfriends after LJ is in bed, or on the weekend on my own.  Massages – either at work (therapist visits every Tuesday) or on the weekend (gift card from loving husband) – are amazing and help not only with the relaxation but also the sore shoulders. Chiropractor visits qualify as me time.  As do Starbucks runs on the way to work.  Heck, even the dentist is relaxing at this point 🙂

So I have to enjoy this as much as possible while I can!  It’s not hard in these precious evenings, but in the middle of the night, or at work when I could be working on a deadline, I need to remember that this might be it!  The last chance to nurture someone in this way. I can relax and enjoy it – catch up on the working out, working hard, and me-time in the very near future.

Photography: It’s Technical Stuff

I was treated with a Photography Class for my birthday this year from my wonderful husband.  I asked for it last year, but it was worth the wait 🙂 Five weeks of Saturdays on my own was also a gift! Classes were near home at the San Jose Learning Center.

The first class was all about the technical aspects of photography.  ISO, Aperture, Shutter Speed, and all that elusive stuff 🙂  I’ll not cover the details, since you can find all about that on Pinterest and the Interwebs.  But I will share what I learned to be my process in taking pictures manually.


Canon EOS Rebel T1i 15.1 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera with 3-Inch LCD and EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens
This is probably a “beginner” camera, but that’s what we needed a year ago when we got it 🙂 It definitely suits our needs right now, and the investment is really in the lenses, right?

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Camera Lens
We got this at the recommendation of some friends that also had young kids. They mentioned that you could pretty much foolproof take great pictures of your kids with this lens.  Only challenge is that it’s a fixed lens, so you have to stand back a bit if you want a lot in your frame.  It’s meant for close up portraits.  Now I know the reason behind how it works – it has the capability to go extremely low in aperture – f/1.8 – which allows smaller depth of field, or more focused attention on your subject, while the background and/or foreground are blurred.


The BetterPhoto Guide to Digital Photography (BetterPhoto Series)
This one has GREAT pictures that show the difference between shutter speeds and apertures.  Also explains good composition.  After my class I noticed that a lot of the images my instructor used to explain the concepts were actually from this book!  Nice that I can look back on them whenever I want.

The Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi/450D Companion
Specific to our camera, and has really helped me to learn the advanced features on our camera.  Helpful for when I don’t want to shoot fully manual.  I’m still learning a lot from this one!


So after my first class we had an assignment to take pictures with different shutter speeds, apertures, ISOs, and white balance.  This really helped me to figure out my process each time I’m using my camera.  Here is what I’ve come up with:

  1. When you arrive at your location, check and set your ISO and White Balance.  Take a few pictures, adjust, take again, until you’re comfortable with the settings.
    My instructor advised leaving White Balance at Auto.  I like this idea – but I would recommend consciously thinking about whether it is appropriate or not when looking at those test photos.  It is adjustable post-edit, but its much more satisfying to have the picture turn out the right tone from the get go.  If you might be changing locations, it would also be best to leave it Auto so that you won’t have to keep adjusting it. For ISO, try to leave it as low as possible for your setting.  I am always tempted to turn it higher to make it brighter, but you want to avoid the graininess.  I believe you can fix the brightness post-edit, but not the graininess.
  2. Once you’re ready to start taking pictures, decide what Aperture you want.
    Remember, low aperture numbers mean small depth of field, while large aperture numbers mean large depth of field.  Depth of field means the area that is in focus.  So if you want to focus attention on the subject, select a low aperture number.  If you want to show the full picture frame in focus (say, a landscape), select a high aperture number.
  3. Frame your picture and focus.
  4. Hold the shutter button down half way to see the exposure scale.
    Correct the exposure by using the wheel to adjust the shutter speed.  Sometimes you will have to adjust the aperture or ISO to allow for a more realistic shutter speed.  I think over time I will learn what the reasonable apertures/ISOs are for certain settings and just start with that.  Well, I hope so! This can be a lot of adjusting!
  5. Take your picture!

Now, of course, this has to all happen before you lose your shot!  It’s pretty tough for an amateur like me.  I’m still getting the hang of it, and honestly, will probably only use fully manual mode when I feel like practicing.

Alternatively to the above – you can decide to set the shutter speed first and then use your aperture to correct the exposure.  I can see needing that in certain scenarios, but for now I will stick with the process above as I am only still learning.

So they say “a picture is worth a thousand words”… let’s get talking 🙂

IMG_5827 IMG_5830

The left image above shows shallow depth of field (aka smaller aperture number, or larger aperture), while the right shows larger depth of field.  You can see the trees in the background a little more blurry on the left picture. Isn’t this guy handsome?

IMG_5862 IMG_5863

Again, the left is shallow depth of field, while the right is larger depth of field.  The “subject” is the tree, while you can see the trees in the very back are more blurry on the left picture.

IMG_5834 IMG_5836

Now, shutter speed.  You can use a fast shutter speed to “freeze time” as in the picture on the left.  Or you can use a slow shutter speed to make something or someone look like they’re moving.   Such a little acrobat 🙂

IMG_5846 IMG_5848

Shutter speed again.  Same slide, same speed, but the image on the left makes PJ look frozen, while on the right he looks like he’s speeding down.

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Camera panning – this will take some more practice,  but it’s fun to do!  You move the camera with the subject to get the subject in focus, while the background is blurry.  It helps you to see that they are in motion.  If you look closely you can see that PJ is crying.  Luckily there were quite a few other people there to help him while Mommy kept snapping away!

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The three images above show the difference in ISO.  The first is ISO100, second ISO400, and third ISO1600.  In this environment, either ISO100 or ISO400 would work, which means I should have had it on ISO100, since you want to use as low as possible to make the photo sharp.

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Now fun with White Balance.  Left = Daylight, Right = Shade

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Left = Cloudy, Right = Tungsten

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Left = Flourescent, Right = Flash

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Left = Custom, Right = Auto

So, looking at all those White Balance options, you can see that Tungsten and Auto both look the best.  The others are either too blue or too yellow in tone.

Wasn’t that fun?  Obviously I have so much more to learn… More lessons to come!