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Badlands Nation Park, and why I'll probably never be an astrophotographer

We visited the Badlands National Park recently.  The entire purpose was to try my hand at astrophotography. It was a bit windy the night we went out, but I was still able to capture a few shots. None of them are worth showing the public though; they all turned out a wee bit blurry because I used way too long of a shutter speed. At least I know what I did wrong. 

Badlands Selfie | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography

Besides the shutter speed, I learned a few things about astrophotography...

  • It is way harder than it looks
  • With my camera I need to be in place, and focused in, before the sun goes down
  • I am a great big chicken when I am standing out in the middle of no where, in the pitch black. 
Badlands by Day | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography

I seriously would have had a Blair Witch Project experience if my family had not been out in the pitch-black-you-can't-see-beyond-a-foot-in-the-darkness-of-night with me.  I can totally relate to those poor kids...


Joshua Leonard:
I heard two noises coming from two separate areas of space over there. One of them could have been a deer, but the other one sounded like a cackling.

Heather Donahue:
No way!

Joshua Leonard:
Yeah, it was like a serious cackling.

~Blair Witch Project


Badlands by Dusk | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography

I think I will stick to the daylight for now, and something I happen to enjoy, panoramas. 

Things you will need for beginning astrophotography....

  • A tripod
  • A remote trigger.... I have an app that will do this for me, or you can use your timer. Which is what I ended up doing because I forgot about my handy app. 
  • I used a wide-angle lens, because I was wanting a landscape shot.
  • An editing program, because no matter how great of a shot you make, astrophotography almost always needs a boost from editing. 

This is a great site if you want to explore astrophotography further.


You can see more of our visit to Badlands Nation Park at my new Instagram gallery called @wanderingroad

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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

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

The Beauty of Art and Breaking the Rules

To me the beauty of art is that, as the artist, you can take any creative measures you want. Sure there are rules in art, but when it comes to creativity, rules are always meant to be broken. Every new area of art is an example of this thought process. Realism, to Impressionist, to Post-Impressionist, you can clearly see the rules breaking for the creation of art. 

The same holds true for photography. There are rules when taking photos, rules when editing photos, but ultimately it is all up to the vision of the artist on what rules to follow, or to break. I break rules all the time, and I LOVE it. It is in the rule breaking that I find myself to be the most creative. 

“No man has the right to dictate what other men should perceive, create or produce, but all should be encouraged to reveal themselves, their perceptions and emotions, and to build confidence in the creative spirit.” ~Ansel Adams

There are those that see the above shot as cheating with editing. Some people have said that editing a photo at all is cheating. All photos over the lifespan of photography have been edited, and manipulated. The darkroom was the place to manipulate photos through the exposure of light to the image before digital photography took over the world. And now, digital processing is the new rule breaking generation to create an entirely new era of photographic art. 

The number one rule of rule breaking... do not lie about it! Own it. Be proud of it, but do not try to pass off edited photos as "what the eye sees" photos. Technology has made people incredibly smart and they know a scam when they see one. All of these photos are mine, and are heavily edited because I LOVE the editing process, the creative freedom in shaping beauty. 

"It's not what you see, but what I want you to see." ~Ansel Adams

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: How I Isolate Color

The Random...

It is not always easy to capture the color of the season. I live in an area where our fall is not the cascading colors of orange, red, indigo and yellow streaming over the landscape. My landscape is mainly evergreen, with a smattering of mostly golden yellow aspen trees throughout. To find another color of fall is a treasure hunt of the eyes.

I have found the best way to capture the color of fall here is to isolate it. Instead of lavish lush landscape photos I have focused on close-up shots of splashes of colors. 

Lisa Kerner | Life Thru the Lens | Colors of Autumn | How to Isolate Fall Colors

The Good...

To isolate a color you do not have to rely on macro photography, but you do have to get personal. Do not be afraid to tuck your camera in nice and tight for your shot, but be sure to stay within your sweet spot for you lens.

Tip... if you have nature photos that are not tack sharp most of the time it is because you moved in beyond the plane of focus. I play this one by ear, and push back in tiny increments until I can visually see that I am tack sharp. Practice makes perfect on this process; purposefully step in too close to your subject and then back off to see just how close you can get to a subject. (Yes, there are focal distance rules, but I find most people learn best by doing and seeing.)

Lisa Kerner | Life Thru the Lens | Colors of Autumn | How to Isolate Fall Colors

To isolate the color further I often look for contrasting backgrounds from the color I am isolating. 

Tip... This is where bokeh comes into play. Most people think of bokeh as those pictures that have the shimmers of round spots in the background of a shot. However, the definition of bokeh is: the visual quality of the out-of-focus areas of a photographic image, especially as rendered by a particular lens.  The key to bokeh is space. Space between the subject and the background, or space between you and the subject if you have a larger zoom lens. (By larger, I mean 200mm or more) To create bokeh with a zoom lens: I zoom all the way out, 200mm or more. Then, I manually set my focus point on my subject. I tuck in as close as I can get with my zoom fully extended, make sure my subject in focus, and shoot. 

Lisa Kerner | Life Thru the Lens | Colors of Autumn | How to Isolate Fall Colors

And then, there is the Rule of Thirds. The rule of thirds is meant to be broken, I break it all the time, however it works rather well in isolating fall colors. It works because when your subject lies within the a third of your shot, then the viewers eye will naturally be drawn to the subject, and consequently the isolated color of the subject will register with the brain quicker.

Tip... You do not always have to shoot with the Rule of Thirds in mind. I often shoot a little bit wider around my subject and then recompose it in editing, with the crop tool. 

Lisa Kerner | Life Thru the Lens | Colors of Autumn | How to Isolate Fall Colors

How to isolate the color of fall, quick review...

~Look for pops of color within the over all landscape, then shoot close. 

~Look for pops of color with a background that is a contrasting color, and create bokeh.

~Look for pops of color that fall within the Rule of Thirds in your shots. 

Lisa Kerner | Life Thru the Lens | Colors of Autumn | How to Isolate Fall Colors

The Fun...

~ Do not forget to hashtag your photos on Instagram and each Friday I will feature some of our favorites at Lisa.Kerner  

#ColorsofAutumn_Indigo

#ColorsofAutumn_Crimson

~ Do not forget about the giveaway, you only have a couple more weeks to enter... hop on over to Kristy's site at Life-n-Reflection to enter for a chance to win, to be announced October 31st. 

On Wild Life Photography, and Photography Equipment.

I have to admit I made a huge photography purchase recently. I hesitated to share it on here because it was so expensive, and I could see how it would look like a frivolous spend to some. But, the hobby of photography is expensive once you start diving into advanced techniques. And, to achieve the techniques, you need the equipment. 

Lisa Kerner | Life Thru the Lens | Simply Living Photography | Wild Life Photography

I love, love, love wildlife photography. Not bird photography, although I do have some favorite photographers who take amazing bird photos, but the big animals are what I love. I dream of capturing that iconic shot of a buffalo charging me in the snow. Let's be realistic though, those bad boys are big, and they can kill a person, I really do not want to be close enough to be gored to death. 

Lisa Kerner | Life Thru the Lens | Simply Living Photography | Wild Life Photography
Lisa Kerner | Life Thru the Lens | Simply Living Photography | Wild Life Photography

That leads me to my purchase. I bought a 100-400mm telephoto lens with a 1.4x converter. After taking it out three times now, man oh man it was a worthy investment. We have a National Park trip planed for Yellowstone Nation Park and The Grand Tetons and I am really excited to use it there. 

Lisa Kerner | Life Thru the Lens | Simply Living Photography | Wild Life Photography
Lisa Kerner | Life Thru the Lens | Simply Living Photography | Wild Life Photography
Lisa Kerner | Life Thru the Lens | Simply Living Photography | Wild Life Photography

The Good, a few good tips on camera gear...

Camera gear is EXPENSIVE! When I link to items on Amazon, I usually cannot link to items that are on sale... but, I very rarely purchase a piece of equipment that is not on sale.

  • Tip One... Amazon puts camera gear on sale regularly. I have several Tiffen filters that I bought at 75% off, or more. This is the time of year to begin trolling Amazon for deals.

  • Tip Two... B&H Photography is also another store that I shop at. They have terrific sales and ever week they have a special on some form of equipment in the deal zone.

  • Tip Three... Buy used, or, refurbished equipment! Always read the reviews to make sure you are not falling for a scam, or purchasing grey market gear.

Lisa Kerner | Life Thru the Lens | Simply Living Photography | Wild Life Photography

If I do purchase a piece of equipment at full price, I always walk through these steps.

  • Is it worth the price, or, can I wait until a newer version of the equipment comes out and purchase what I want at a lower price? (Waiting can mean years, not months, in the camera market.) For example, I recently switched back to the iPhone, but I did not purchase the new 7. To me, there was not enough updates to justify the new phone and because I went with the "older" version I was able to purchase my phone for less than $200.

  • Will I use the equipment enough to justify the cost? My recent purchase a telephoto lens was worth the cost to me because: 1. I have wanted a telephoto for almost 5 years, 2. I have missed several wildlife shots because I did not have a telephoto lens, and 3. I knew I could use it for macro photography as well. So, while it was expensive, it was worth the price.

  • Do I "need" a particular lens (or piece of equipment) now, or can I use another lens (or piece of equipment) until I can find a good sale? I do want to slowly replace the Nikon lenses I use for nature and landscape for my Fuji camera. I do not own a dedicated macro lens for my Fuji yet, but by purchasing the telephoto zoom lens I am able to use it for macro shots. That means I can wait a little while longer form my macro lens.

  • Is this a piece of equipment that is worth the full price? Some pieces of photographic equipment never go one sale. Either, because they are a brand that never lowers their prices, or it's a specialty piece of equipment that garners the full price. Those are the pieces that I save for, and purchase, knowing my images will be better for the full price purchase.

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Life Thru the Lens 22/52... A few of my favorite PHOTOGRAPHY things....

Jill from Daily Bread mentioned the editing process I used on the wildflower photos that I shared in a recent post. So, I thought I would share a few of my favorite things. 

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things

 GTG Preset Elegant, GTG Stone Soup Matte from Innocence Workflow, Hand Edits

GTG Preset Elegant, GTG Stone Soup Matte from Innocence Workflow, Hand Edits

These are A Few of my Favorite (photography) Things.... 

  • Although, I strongly believe in capturing a photo that is nearly perfect straight out of the camera (SOOC), I also believe that my artistic style comes from my particular editing techniques. One of my very favorite editing supplies are the Greater Than Gatsby Preset/Action sets. I own them all, and I use them all on a regular basis. They have a terrific deal on their Collaborative Set right now. 
  • Design supplies have become an integral part of my editing and Creative Market is my go to place to find fabulous graphic design items. 
  • I believe that all artists, no matter if their medium is photography or paints, have something new to learning. To further my knowledge in the photography and design industry I have been taking classes through CreativeLive
  • Although I have a wish list a mile long, my camera bag is not full.... Nikon D7000 with the 18-55mm 3.5 lens, Nikon 55-200mm 4.6 lens, Nikon 50mm 1.4 lens lens,  Nikon 105mm 2.8 Macro lens, Fuji XT1, Fuji 18-55mm 2.8 lens, MeFOTO RoadTrip tri-monopod, LowPro Flipside Sport backpack for hiking, Vanguard Kinray 43 Sling backpack for travel, various Tiffin Filters, a 5 in 1 reflector set, and, other miscellaneous items.
  • Cell Phone Apps are an amazing thing. I do not always have my camera on me, but I always have my cell phone, and apps are an integral part of the process. I own and use VSCO with all the filters, Instagram, PhotoDirector, HyperFocal, and Photo Tools. When I head back to an iPhone the first app I will purchase will be the Camera+ app. 
  • Of course, I would be setting you up for failure if I did not mention my backup system. I have 3 external hard drives... yes three. After losing all my photos I am determined not to have that happen again, so basically I have backups for my backups. I would also be backing up my photos online but our internet is limited so I am not currently using an cloud service. 
Life Thur the Lens Monday Linkup | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography

The Good, The Fun and The Random....

It was our anniversary last weekend. One of the nicest things about it was planning a little getaway and not having to worry about it being interrupted by "work".... ah, retirement from the military is grand. I'll be sharing more of our weekend adventure next week. 

WHAT ARE A FEW OF YOUR FAVORITE THINGS?


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LIFE THUR THE LENS WEEKLY LINKUP | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography

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Life Thru the Lens 17/52.... Spring in Paris; Embracing People in Travel Photos

The first time I visited Paris I really did not love it. It did not scream out "City if Love"; Paris bellowed city of busyness, city of sandy streets, city of disorientation, city of chaos. We visited Paris for our fifteen year anniversary and we had a jam pack agenda.

The second time we visited Paris, we went with no agenda on a "we will figure it out as we go" weekend and I fell in love. Paris should be taken in at leisure with no real goal in mind other than to let the culture seep through your bones. 

How to Take Travel Photos with People in Them....

How to take travel Photos | Embracing People in Travel Photos | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography

~ I will often wait around for the perfect "people free" moment to capture an image when we are traveling. However, there are times when that moment is never going to happen. So, I learned to embrace people in my travel photos and began to take pictures with a more creative approach. When you are trying to capture a scene, or architecture, the most important thing is to make it the subject and not the people. 

How to take travel Photos | Embracing People in Travel Photos | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography

~ Look for shots that tell a story. People will tell you a ton about their day if you simply watch them. So, when embracing people in your travel shots look for the story to capture. 

How to take travel Photos | Embracing People in Travel Photos | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography
How to take travel Photos | Embracing People in Travel Photos | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography
How to take travel Photos | Embracing People in Travel Photos | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography

~ Look for shots that emphasize scale. One of the best ways to embrace people in travel photography is to incorporate them into the scale of the scene. When you take a shot of just the scene, with no point of scale, the subject is often diminished in size; people bring reference to the size of the subject of your photo.  

How to take travel Photos | Embracing People in Travel Photos | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography

~ Take the once-in-a-lifetime shots of people, just be polite about it. I struggled with taking this last shot because it was during mass at the Cathedral of Notre Dame. However, I knew it was a once in a lifetime shot. And, I knew every time I looked at it I would instantly be transported back to that moment, and the feelings I had in the moment. So, I turned my camera to museum mode, and prayed I could hold it still enough for the shot with no flash. 

How to take travel Photos | Embracing People in Travel Photos | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography

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