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; 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

Colors of Autumn: Crimson

"It was one of those days you sometimes get latish in the autumn when the sun beams, the birds toot, and there is a branching tang in the air that sends blood beating briskly through the veins." ~P.G. Wodehouse. 

Lisa Kerner | Life Thru the Lens | Simply Living Photography| Colors of Autumn
Lisa Kerner | Life Thru the Lens | Simply Living Photography| Colors of Autumn
Lisa Kerner | Life Thru the Lens | Simply Living Photography| Colors of Autumn
Lisa Kerner | Life Thru the Lens | Simply Living Photography| Colors of Autumn
Lisa Kerner | Life Thru the Lens | Simply Living Photography| Colors of Autumn
Lisa Kerner | Life Thru the Lens | Simply Living Photography| Colors of Autumn

I love to celebrate the seasons through photography and cooking. In the Spring, I hunt for new blossoms of color and I begin to dream of fresh fruits and veggies. So, fresh salads play a big role in my menu planning. The summer is all about capturing adventure and fun. Barbecue is the main focus of our meals because there is nothing like a good charred burger after a day of excitement. Fall always comes in with a rush in our house. To find some calm in our lives, fall becomes a time of slow hikes among the trees, capturing the splashes color around me, and filling the house with the essence of fall through spice laced baked goods. I find solace in winter. It is a time to capture the quiet of the landscape blanketed with the cover of snow, and then to return home to a soul warming bowl of chili, soup, or stew. 

HOW DO YOU CELEBRATE THE SEASONS???

~ Do not forget to hashtag your photos on Instagram, we are on our last color of the month  and Friday I will feature some of our favorites at Lisa.Kerner  

#ColorsofAutumn_Crimson

~ Today, Kristy is sharing about How to Create Personalized Stationary with Your Photography. 

~ Do not forget about the giveaway, you only have a ONE MORE week 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. 

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. 

Colors of Autumn: Week Two, Pumpkin

The Good...

October's Party

October gave a party;

The leaves by hundreds came -

Lisa Kerner | Life Thru the Lens Link Up | A Autumn Photography Challenge

The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,

And leaves of every name.

Lisa Kerner | Life Thru the Lens Link Up | Autumn Color Challenge: Orange

The Sunshine spread a carpet,

And everything was grand,

Lisa Kerner | Life Thru the Lens Link Up | Autumn Color Challenge: Orange

Miss Weather led the dancing,

Professor Wind the band.” 

~George Cooper

Lisa Kerner | Life Thru the Lens Link Up | Autumn Color Challenge: Orange

The Random & Fun...

~ Today, Kristy is writing a Photoshop Tutorial for Post Processing Fall Photography: Learn to Blend with Color Gradients and Texture. Free texture included!

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

#ColorsofAutumn_Pumpkin

#ColorsofAutumn_Indigo

#ColorsofAutumn_Crimson

~ Next week, I will be giving a tutorial on Capturing Fall Colors, which is next week... be sure to pop back here to see How I Isolate Fall Colors

~ AND, do not forget about the giveaway... hop on over to Kristy's site to enter for a chance to win, to be announced on October 31st. 

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE FALL SEASON??

 

 

 

A Fall Collaboration, Week One: Gold

Hello to all my Life Thur the Lens community. Guess what?!!! Kristy, from Life-n-Reflection, and I are collaborating this month on a Colors of Autumn Photography Challenge. Ever Monday, throughout the month of October, our link up communities will be tied together.

Lisa Kerner | Life Through the Lens Link Up | Colors of Autumn:Gold

The Good... What you need to know...

~ There is a color prompt list for each week. I will be sharing specifically off the color prompt, but feel free to explore and capture images outside of the prompt. 

~ There will be a giveaway at the end of the month. Hop on over to Kristy's site to enter for a chance to win, to be announced on October 31st at Kristy's place. 

Lisa Kerner | Life Through the Lens Link Up | Colors of Autumn:Gold

~ If you are on Instagram tag your photos and each Friday I will feature some of our favorites at Lisa.Kerner  

#ColorsofAutumn_Gold

#ColorsofAutumn_Pumpkin

#ColorsofAutumn_Indigo

#ColorsofAutumn_Crimson

~ On week three I will be giving a tutorial on how to capture fall colors. 

Lisa Kerner | Life Through the Lens Link Up | Colors of Autumn:Gold

The Fun...

Kristy made this terrific Autumn Photography Checklist... be sure to pop on over to her place to download it. 

Not everyone around the globe is experiencing fall, and that's pretty exciting! So, my challenge to you is to find the colors of the Autumn Colors Photography Challenge in the season you are in. Think outside of the box, be creative. After all, that is what photography is all about. 

Lisa Kerner | Life Through the Lens Link Up | Colors of Autumn:Gold
Lisa Kerner | Life Through the Lens Link Up | Colors of Autumn:Gold

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.

DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR PURCHASING GEAR AT A LOWER PRICE??? LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW AND SHARE IT WITH THE LIFE THRU THE LENS COMMUNITY.

Life Thru the Lens 35/52... Devils Tower National Monument

Last week I gave you a sneak peek at a little adventure we went on, but I didn't tell you where it was. If you guessed Devils Tower, in Wyoming, you are correct. You'll notice no apostrophe, which is correct. 

The Random...

The Tower is not only a NP Monument, it was the first National Park Monument. The proclamation to declare it a national monument accidentally left out the apostrophe in Devil's Tower. The form was signed with no apostrophe, and the official name Devils Tower was set in history.

Devils Tower National Monument | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography

The Good...

~ The best view of Devils Tower is from the backhand side accessible on a dirt road off to the left when heading up to the visitor center. 

Devils Tower National Monument | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography
Devils Tower National Monument | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography

~ There are four main hikes in the area Tower Trail, Red Beds, Joyner Ridge, and Valley View. 

Devils Tower National Monument | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography
Devils Tower National Monument | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography

~ You'll notice colored pieces of cloth tied to the trees around Devils Tower because it is a sacred Lakota sight.  

Devils Tower National Monument | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography

We really lucked out as we were exploring the nearby trail to decide if we wanted to come back and hike it, a storm rolled in. Matt Kloskowski said, "if there is something interesting in the sky, take the picture." He further went on to explain that those landscape shots that stop you in your tracks almost always have a great sky, not just an interesting subject. 

I began to ask myself why I loved a particular landscape shot, and found out that Matt was right, it always had a terrific sky. So, when this storm rolled in I knew I had to stay and try to capture the clouds. 

Devils Tower National Monument | Lisa Kerner | Simply Living Photography

Tips for visiting Devils Tower...

~ Devils Tower is a nice little day-trip from Rapid City. Or, you can catch it on the way to (or from) Yellowstone. 

~ Your National Park Pass works here, hurray. 

~ Devils Tower is open year round. Except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day. We especially love it covered in a new blanket of snow.

~ Be sure to hike around the base of it; It is intriguing to see how the formation looks from each side. The base hike is paved all the way around to make it accessible for everyone.

~ We went left on the hike, which I advise because it saves the best for last.

~ Be on the look out for animals while you trek around the base of the Tower; we saw a momma deer and her twins on our hike.

~ While hiking, look up. Devils Tower is a popular mountain climbing spot and most days you can see several climbers on the surface of the Tower. We chatted with a couple hikers on the path. They advised to come early if you want to see them, because they usually descend the mountain before the surface gets too hot. 

~ Visit the visitors center and get those National Park Passports stamped, but also take a look around. I thought they had a rather nice gift shop.  

HAVE YOU FOUND YOUR PARK THIS YEAR??? YOU DO KNOW IT IS THE 100TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE NATIONAL PARK SYSTEM, IN THE U.S., THIS YEAR. 


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