Life Thru the Lens

Bear Butte at Sunset

The good, the random, and the fun!

Sometimes all you need is a photo....

But, then again, it is alwasy fun to create...

 "Midnight Sky" by Lisa Kerner Digital Artist

"Midnight Sky" by Lisa Kerner Digital Artist

Of course, it is so much better to see creation on display right in front on you...

And then you take that creation, and make art....

 Panoramic of Bear Butte, South Dakota

Panoramic of Bear Butte, South Dakota

An Old Wild West Town (Part 2)

THE GOOD & RANDOM.... 

Rockerville never really was an authentic wild west town, but it was an old mining town, founded in 1876 as a result of the gold rush in The Black Hills. During the 1950's and 60's, it became a tourist destination on the way to Mount Rushmore. However, eventually the town died due to the enlargement of the highway that flows towards Mount Rushmore. Rockerville literally sits between the north and south bounds lanes of the highway, and most people whiz on by never seeing the town until it is too late. 

What was left of the mining town/tourist attraction had become a sever safety hazard over the last few decades. So, while it makes me sad to see it gone, I do understand the need for it destruction. 

Instead of bulldozing it, the land owner asked the local fire department if they wanted to burn it down, using it for a training exercise. In the end, Rockerville went down with a legacy: gold town, tourists destination, ghost town, and an educational experiment.

Rockerville SD | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography
Rockerville SD | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography

THE FUN...Tips and Tricks when taking photos of rural towns...

~Look for textures to capture. Old towns are often full of fun textures like peeling paint, shingles roves, weathered wall paper, and so on. 

~Do not be afraid to explore, but if privacy signs are posted I am all for being respectful of the landowner and staying out. 

~While exploring, watch your step. There were several places I could have put my foot through the floor if I wasn't watching where I was stepping. On a main floor that is no big deal, but on a second floor you could take a nasty fall. 

~Look for interesting artifacts that capture the essence of the place. For example, the old hitching post (a few shots down) was a fun find leftover from the mining days. 

~Try to take shots that tell a story. Shuffle your feet to find the story telling shot. 

Winter Shadow, in an Old Wild West Town (Part 1)

The good, the random and the fun, all in one....

The thing I love most about the winter is the position of the sun, and the long cast shadows it can create during the golden hour.

Shades of Winter | Winter Shadow | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography | Life-n-Reflection

Winter is my favorite season for light. When you combine the winter sun with a cold crisp day, almost bitter, this incredible combination of the golden hour and blue hour occurs. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, I feel as though I am in a dreamland. The sky is bluer, the shadows are stronger, and the golden rays warm everything they hit.

Shades of Winter | Winter Shadow | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography | Life-n-Reflection
Shades of Winter | Winter Shadow | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography | Life-n-Reflection
Shades of Winter | Winter Shadow | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography | life-n-reflection

Tips for capturing a long shadow:

~Timing is important. To capture a long shadow you'll have to shoot either in early morning, or later afternoon. 

~Pay attention to where the shadow is landing, and shoot at an angle off center to the shadow. You'll notice none of my shots are dead on to the shadow.

~Although I did not use one for these shots, I will often use a polarizing filter in landscape photography to deepen my shadows, and to saturate my images. You can read more about polarizing filters at Cambridge in Color

~I did shoot these images hand held, but I do highly recommend a tripod. The main reasons I did not use one on this day, was that the snow was deep, and there were quite a few people around because the town was being prepared (by the local fire department) to be burned the next day. More on that, next week, in Part 2 of the story.  

Shades of Winter | Winter Shadow | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography | Life-n-Reflection
Shades of Winter | Winter Shadow | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography | life-n-reflection

I join the following link up parties each week: LINK-UP  COMMUNITY

Warm Up with a Valentine Still Life

The Good...

-> In still life photography, especially flat lays, the best practice is to keep building. 

Natural edit with no filters....

Shades of Winter | Warm Up | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography | Life-n-Reflection
Shades of Winter | Warm Up | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography | Life-n-Reflection
Shades of Winter | Warm Up | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography | Life-n-Reflection

The Random...

-> Whitespace, the space that has nothing in the shot, is good in flat lays. 

Kim Klassen Trace filter (with adjustments), with a little candle glow help from Grater Than Gatsby, Three Nails Collection...

Shades of Winter | Warm Up | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography | Life-n-Reflection
Shades of Winter | Warm Up | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography | Life-n-Reflection

The Fun...

-> I take a little help and buy my goodies for my still life shots. They are usually decorated much prettier than I could decorate them. 

Shades of Winter | Warm Up | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography | Life-n-Reflection

Snow Beautiful, Yellowstone National Park

The Good, the fun, and the random, all in one...

We visited Yellowstone National Park, back in October, and were lucky enough to experience early winter there. During our stay, we had weather that ranged from nice fall days, to blistery winter days; it was the winter days that I loved the most. 

Shade of Winter | Snow Beautiful | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography | Life-n-Reflection
Shade of Winter | Snow Beautiful | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography | Life-n-Reflection
Shade of Winter | Snow Beautiful | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography | Life-n-Reflection

Snow has a way of drastically changing the landscape of the land into a fairytale panorama. We happened upon this guy as we entered the park. No worries, I didn't play buffalo wishpeerer, like so many others at Yellowstone National Park. I value my life too much to get out of my vehicle when these beasts are so close. 

Shade of Winter | Snow Beautiful | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography | Life-n-Reflection
Shade of Winter | Snow Beautiful | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography | Life-n-Reflection

The last morning we were at the park, was an amazing moment in time. The hoarfrost (I know not exactly snow, but still beautiful) had covered the land in a thin layer, and everything was all aglow. Because it was so bitterly cold, the various mudpots, geysers, and hot spring were all putting on a spectacular show for us. 

Shade of Winter | Snow Beautiful | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography | Life-n-Reflection

"Color is everything, black and white is more" ~Dominic Rouse

Shade of Winter | Snow Beautiful | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography | Life-n-Reflection

A New Year, A Still Life Project and One Word

Three Steps to a New Year...

Step One: Reassess

At the beginning of every new year I take a look through my archive of photos to reassess things: where I need to improve, where I have improved, and to acknowledge just how far I have come. It is easy to view the work of other photographers and think that I will never measure up.  When we lose ourselves in the comparison game we cannot see how much we have accomplished. 

New Year Coffee | Life Thru the Lens | Lisa Kerner - Simply Living Photography

Step Two: Direction

I also choose a word to give me direction for the new year. This is something I do not take lightly, pondering it the entire month of December. In 2015, my word was ACTION. I took control of my art, and who I was, and focused on what journey I wanted to take as an artist instead of following other peoples ideas of who they thought I should be. In 2016 my word was two fold DOING-CHANGE. With that, I chose to dive deep into the photography world to learn new techniques, to sharpen my knowledge of editing and to evaluate just where it was I wanted to be in this community. It was a year of learning how to wear the words "I am a photographer" with confidence and poise.   

New Year Coffee | Life Thru the Lens | Lisa Kerner - Simply Living Photography

Step Three: Goals

This year, my one word is CREATE. This is the year to step out and be bold in what I create. To put my art out in the world unabashedly. I have a few goals I want to pursue this year, ones that I will share over the next few months, but my first goal was to enroll in the AWAKE course (which I did) taught by Sebastian Michaels. It is an artistic photography course that is only open twice a year to those who have taken Photoshop Artistry. If you want to improve your Photoshop knowledge I highly recommend Photoshop Artistry. My second goal, was to recreate my site and to make it a bit more professional looking. Take a look around, I am quite happy with how my new place looks. I will be adding a portfolio to my home page. (The pages are there, but not up and running yet.) Through that portfolio you will be able to purchase my art work. I also wanted to streamline the look of my blog. From now on, instead of links to the side that highlight different items I use in my photography, I will be linking to those items directly in my blog posts. My third goal, was to recreate my social media platforms. I have already begun that work over at Instagram by curating my feed, and if you hop on over you will see that my Facebook Page is live again, but now it's more representative of what I am about as an artist. My forth goal, was to choose a project and stick with it through the entire year. 

New Year Coffee | Life Thru the Lens | Lisa Kerner - Simply Living Photography

Once again, I am choosing coffee. I chose it last year, but I tapped out somewhere in the middle of February. Longevity is a challenge; I have yet to master it in my photography skills. Somehow, I think Pablo Picasso already summed up my command of longevity by saying, "It took me a lifetime." I think this skill will always be a work in progress. {Smile}

New Year Coffee | Life Thru the Lens | Lisa Kerner - Simply Living Photography

A Sneak Peek of Yellowstone National Park

The good...

I have a ton pf photos to edit of our recent trip to Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National park. It was an epic trip that left me with a list of photographic opportunities I want to pursue in the near future. A trip back is a definite must. 

For now, I'll leave you with a sneak peek of three panoramas that I took with my iPhone. I have several others that I took with my DSLR that I will share at a later date. Yellowstone and Grand Teton is a must for panorama photography. You'll really cannot capture the topography of the landscape without using panorama. 

Yellowstone in Panorama | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography | Life Thru the Lens Link Up

The fun; Tips and Tricks for Panorama Photography....

~If you plan to print your panoramas think about the length. Generally, you do not want to stretch them out too long, or have them too narrow. I have found that a 3:1 ratio is a great size to print. 

~If you are sticking your panoramaS together from individual shots you'll want to shoot in portrait aspect so that your short side will not be too thin. 

~If you do not have a panorama track for your tripod, don't worry you can still shoot them by hand. I plant my right foot and pivot from left to right (in a semi-circle) never moving my right foot. It takeS a little practice but the results are fairly spot on. 

~When shooting individual pictures for your panorama always shoot with an overlap of 15% to 25%. I have found when sticking photos together that 25% tends to work out a bit better for me. 

~Before you begin to shooting, pivot while tracking with your eye to notice where you might have to adjust up or down for the curvature of the Earth. This is very similar to following the line on your phone when shooting in panorama mode. 

~I always shoot more than once just to make sure I have what I need. So, I shoot my shots left to right, overlapping each shot, and then begin again. You can always delete your photos later, but it's hard to stick them together in Lightroom or Photoshop if you do not have enough information. 

~I like to stick mine together in Lightroom using the panorama feature because I can then adjust any aspect issues in Lightroom in the Transform Panel if I have any curvature issues in my final photo. 

Yellowstone in Panorama | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography | Life Thru the Lens Link Up
Yellowstone in Panorama | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography | Life Thru the Lens Link Up

Macro Photography

A commenter recently said that, "Macro photography takes time and practices, especially to get the bokeh background." You know what? They were right.

MACRO PHOTOGRAPHY: noun

photography producing photographs of small items larger than life size. 

Dreamy Bokeh| Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography | ©2016 All Rights Reserved

Macro photography can be intimidating but it doesn't have to be. I first began macro photography when I had 55-200mm lens mounted on my camera and thought, "Hmmmm, I wonder what that flower will look like if I take a picture of it up close?" I figured out my distance for focus by stepping forward and backwards, and then snapped the shutter. It was all an experiment. 

Fall Close Up | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography | ©2016 All Rights Reserve

Tips for taking a macro photo without a dedicated macro lens....

~The longer the zoom the better. This will help with that bokeh background. You will want to shot fully zoomed out.

To capture a bokeh background you want to create space between the camera and the object, and the object and the background. The further away the object is from the background the more bokeh you will achieve. 

~A lower f-stop helps. This too will help create a nice bokeh affect, but it can be the most frustrating thing to wrap your brain around. 

In basic terms, setting your f-stop to a wider value (a lower number i.e. f1.4, f2.5, f3.5) creates a shallow depth of field which focuses the attention on your subject. 

 Click through to read more... Photography 101: Understanding Photography Basics- Aperture & Depth of Field

Click through to read more... Photography 101: Understanding Photography Basics- Aperture & Depth of Field

~ A tripod is not necessarily a must.

I vary rarely use a tripod when I am taking nature photos. Gasp, I know, I know, I should be using one, but let's be honest it's not convenient. So instead, I ALWAYS rapid fire shots. Holding my camera steady, elbows against my ribs, I take a deep breath, hold it, and fire away. At a minimum I take three shots, but usually five to six. More than likely, one out of the six will be tack sharp in focus.

Dangling Fall | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography | ©2016 All Rights Reserve

~Wind is not your friend, or even a slight breeze.

When you live in a windy place, like I do, macro photography is much harder. Even the slightest breeze can make your shot blurry.  I always try to shoot macro nature shots on a still day, and if I have a slight breeze I up how many pictures I take of an object. 

~ Finally, practice makes perfect. 

I have a dedicated macro lens now, but it took time to find it's sweet spot. I still find myself practicing to figure it out completely. To me photography is always about practice, every day I am practicing when I pick up my camera and shoot, that's half the fun of photography.

A Little Fall Still Life Photography

The good, the random, and the fun....

November is upon us, how did that happen? 

I have been foraging in the garden over the last few months and working on some still life photography. Although it is fun to have neat props, I also enjoy the challenge of finding objects in nature to use in my still life photography. 

Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography | Fall Still Life Photography

Prop tips...

~ Think outside of the box. I actually use the spoons above for decoration in my home. They used to be tied together with a length of string. I just snipped it and then had several different props to use. Look around your house for props, you'll be amazed what you find. 

~ When you find props in nature do not trow them away when you are done with them. Dry them and save them for a later use. 

~ Think layers with your props. Layers bring depth to your shots, and texture as well. 

Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography | Fall Still Life Photography

Background tips...

~ My favorite background right now is a set of wooden slats I found at a hobby and craft store. I have thought about nailing them all together, but I like to arrange the colors of each slat according to what I am shooting. 

~ I am on the search for a neat piece of slate to use for a backdrop. Slate is really useful for food shots, just make sure when you purchase a piece it if food grade. You know, so that you can eat the yummies you are taking pictures of later. 

~ I recently had a discussion, in a still life photography group I belong to, about using old cookie sheets for backdrops. I am also on the lookout for those as well. I want ones that are nicely patinated from years of use. 

~My favorite backdrops for front on shots are white and black painters canvas boards. I found a pack of two, for 14 dollars, at a hobby store. I use clamps to hold them tightly together when I need a larger span for the background, or when I want to create a corner to shoot in. 

~ I also use foam boards, and then usually drape them with different scarves (that I picked up cheaply) and cut in half. They tend to be the perfect length without a ton of left over fabric to worry about. Plus, they are light and I usually do not need a clamp them to hold them in place. 

~ Cheesecloth is often a go-too background cloth for me. If you have a hardware store near you, check it out. Usually you can find cheesecloth for super cheap there. A hardware store is also a great place to look for tile pieces, that are on sale, that can be used for backdrops as well. 

Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography | Fall Still Life Photography
Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography | Fall Still Life Photography
Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography | Fall Still Life Photography

Colors of Autumn; A Final Farewell

The Random....

We are beginning to say farewell to the colors of fall in our area. Today is also the last day of our Colors of Autumn Photography Challenge. Kristy is announcing the winner of our give away today. Be sure to pop over to her site to see who won and to congratulate them. 

Lisa Kerner | Life Thru the Lens | Colors of Autumn; A Final Farewell

In my part of the world we are entering a month where thankfulness should be lingering on every second of our day. But, all too often, it is easy to entangle ourselves in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and we forget to breath deep and contemplate our blessings. 

Lisa Kerner | Life Thru the Lens | Colors of Autumn; A Final Farewell

The Good...

Will you join me this year on Instagram in #CapturingBlessing. I do not have a prompt list this year because I want you to find the blessing in your every day moments, not search for them. I want you to linger in the seconds of the day and capture the essence of your personal blessing. I want you to stop in a moment so overwhelming powerful you cannot help but try to capture the blessing. I want you to capture what is blessing to you!

Lisa Kerner | Life Thru the Lens | Colors of Autumn; A Final Farewell