Virtual Photography Class: Photographing Your Child’s Eyes

My favorite thing to photograph is obviously my children.  But more specifically, I most recently love photographing their eyes.  There is something about a child’s eyes that capture the timelessness, beauty and innocence within them.

This post has very little to do with your camera and very much to do with positioning yourself and your child.  In fact, even those of you with point-and-shoots might be able to glean a few tips with this post!

Here’s how to beautifully capture the eyes of your child(ren):

Step 1:  Go outside and position your child facing the sun while they’re actually standing in the shade.  Take a few test photos prior to photographing your child in order to ensure you have the settings how you want them on your camera. I would recommend using your camera in AV (aperture priority) mode (more about this here).  Oh and by all means, don’t use your flash.

Step 2:  Sit your child down.  A tricycle works wonders.  You want them to be stationary, otherwise it will be difficult capturing that glass-like quality in their eyes.

Step 3:  Stand on a step-stool, a ladder, or even on the back of your car.  As long as you are above your child.  They might hold still just to see you up that high!

Step 4:  Get their attention to look up at you and into the camera.  This may require a moment of goofiness.  Go for it…it’s worth it.


My friend Rachel’s little boy

And if you’re more of a visual learner…

There you have it.

Go outside.  Right now.  (Or tonight…or tomorrow morning, depending on when you read this.)

Try it.  Leave a comment and tell me what you think.


And if you absolutely cannot get outside, place your child in front of a window and stand up on a stepstool (or just have them sit on the floor and you stand up).

And remember…take any and all of my photography “tips” with a grain of salt, I am the student!  I am not a photographer and know very little about photography.  But I’m trying to learn.  And the best way I learn is by trying to teach someone else.  So thank you for indulging me.

If you haven’t yet, be sure to read the other posts in this series:

Overview of Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO
Depth of Field
White Balance

And in case you’re wondering, I have a Canon Rebel (a relatively affordable dSLR) and I almost always use my 50mm lens.

Virtual Photography Class: White Balance

There is a tiny little function on your camera that can make a HUGE difference in the overall look and color of your pictures.  This function controls the white balance of your photos.  White balance is typically set on the “auto” function (AWB).  “Auto” doesn’t necessarily mean better.  Like anything else, we often have to tell the computer in our camera how we want our pictures to look.

White balance refers to how your camera interprets colors.  If it doesn’t interpret colors correctly, the hues in the rest of your photograph will be “off.”

White balance can be adjusted using the “WB” on most cameras, which you can see on the photograph above (I have a Canon Rebel and almost always use my 50mm lens).

Here is an example of how much white balance can affect a picture.  The only setting that was changed in all six of these pictures was the white balance.  And they came straight from my camera…no editing whatsoever.


Wow…big difference, huh?  Typically, you’ll want to go with whichever white balance setting describes the lighting of your shoot…unless you’re trying to get a different kind of look for your photo.  At which point you’ll just want to play around until you get what you want.

You can also customize your white balance by taking a photo of something white in your current lighting conditions and then manually changing your white balance settings.  But that’s a little too technical for me, so we’ll just stick with what we’ve got.  ;)

Disclaimer:  I’m not a photography expert.  I’m a student and am still learning!  There are so many people who are much more qualified to share photography tips with you…but the best way for me to learn is to teach someone else.   So there you have it!

Virtual Photography Class: Depth of Field

I love pictures where the subject is in focus and everything behind it is blurry.  It’s my personal preference.

The sharpness of a picture, or how much of a picture is in focus, is called depth of field.  The depth of field is controlled using your aperture, specifically your f-stop.  The smaller the f-stop number, the more the background of your picture will be blurred.

Take a look at these two pictures:

Shallow depth of field:  f  1.8



Wider depth of field:  f 5.6  (still a little blurry in the background, but not as much so)


Some people like for the entire picture to be in focus (like the second picture).  I prefer the first.  Which one do you like better?

You might be thinking, “That’s all fine and good, but how do I control the depth of field???”

Here ya go:


When you set your camera on “AV” (Aperture Value) or “A” Mode (Aperture Priority) depending on which camera you have, this allows you to control only the aperture and lets the camera figure out everything else.  Because I love a shallow depth of field, this is my favorite setting to shoot with.

To get a shallow depth of field, your f-stop will be smaller (like the 1.8 in the first photo above), which allows more light to come in.  To sharpen more of your picture, you’ll want to use a higher f-stop (like the 5.6 in the second photo or even higher because even that picture still isn’t all the way sharp).

*Please note:  Some cameras and lenses do not allow your f-stop to go below 4.  I was using a 50mm lens (my absolute favorite…I rarely take it off).  This lens is stationary and does not zoom, but the lighting in the photos it takes is beautiful.

Any questions???  I’ll try to answer them, but no guarantees.  :)

Did you miss Part 1?  Go here.

You might also like:

-Tips on Photographing Your Child’s Eyes

-Adjusting the White Balance on Your Camera

Virtual Photography Class: Part 1

Well, last night was our first class.  And I learned quite a bit of the basic fundamental terms of photography that I had heard thrown around before but never really understood.

I told you I would share what I learned, but you must promise not to beat me over the head if what I share isn’t 100% true.  This is how I understood it to be based on the class and some research I did afterwards to make sure I was understanding everything correctly.  But I could be wrong on something.  After all, I am the student.  Don’t hold it against me.  Plus, I still have a long ways to go in my photo-taking ability (as you’ll see through my example shots).

Let’s talk about the shutter.  Whether you  have a camera that’s brand spankin’ new or one that is 65 years old, every camera has a shutter.  A shutter is like a door.  It opens and closes as it takes the picture.

The shutter speed is how long you leave the “door” open.  The faster/higher the shutter speed, the more the camera will be able to freeze the action.  Slower shutter speeds usually require a tripod because our hands can’t hold still enough to capture the image while the “door” is open (especially anything slower than 1/60th of a second).  The longer the “door” is open, the more light that comes in.

For example…

This picture was shot at a shudder speed of 1/125th of a second.  Although his back hand is blurry, it looks as if he’s been frozen in midair.

This picture is blurry, indicating that my son is in motion (really, when isn’t he in motion?).  It was shot at a shutter speed of 1/80th of a second.  And in case you’re wondering whether these pictures were posed…they absolutely were not.  These are my children in all their glory.  :)


The aperture (F-stop) is like the iris of the eye.  It controls how much light comes in.  The higher the aperture, the more light that comes in.  The lower the aperture, the less light that comes in.  These settings are called f-stops.   Pictures that have too much light (too high of an aperture) look blown out.  Pictures that have too little light (too low of an aperture) are too dark.


The ISO (International Standards Organization…don’t ask me why in the heck it has this name) is your camera’s sensitivity to light.  The lower the ISO, the less light your camera will utilize.  The higher the ISO, the more light your camera will use.  When taking pictures outside in the bright sun, you’ll want to use an ISO of 100.  When taking indoors or in darker settings, you’ll want a higher ISO like 800-1600.  But in order to have a crisper picture, you’ll want to use the lowest ISO that you can without compromising the light in the photograph.


And in case you’re wondering, I have a Canon Rebel xsi that’s a couple years old.  It came with a lens (as a set), but I honestly barely ever use that lens.  Instead I use this 50mm and I absolutely LOVE it!  It captures the most beautiful lighting and does a much better job of getting the depth of field I like than the kit lens.  It doesn’t have a zoom, so it takes some getting used to…but it’s worth it, especially since it is rather reasonable as far as lenses go!


That’s it for today.  We’ll get down to the nitty-gritty in coming weeks (I hope).  In the meantime, how about you go dust off that camera manual and do a little light reading???  You’ll be glad you did.


*My friend Kristen has a lot more suggestions here.  I read her post and thought to myself several times, oh yeah…I forgot about that.  Head on over to read more of her suggestions.  I’m just trying to dissect this photography stuff into bite size pieces for my own sake.  :)

Virtual Photography Class

Thursday night marks the beginning of my 5-week photography class (alongside a sweet friend).  This is something I’ve never done before but have always wanted to do (besides in high school photojournalism class, that is…when we still used a dark room).  I am super-excited!  I love my camera and my favorite 50mm lens, but don’t really know about the “technical stuff” that makes photos beautiful.  I want to be able to take beautiful pictures of my kids in the moment without having to doll them up and bribe them with suckers after a photo shoot “if they’re good and smile pretty”.  Although I’m sure those days aren’t gone forever.  Have you ever tried to take a family photo with a tripod…and two ornery boys…and a dog…and get everyone to look in the same direction???  There will still be a time and a place for professional pictures, but hopefully I can capture those special moments throughout the day.  And maybe a few will even be good enough to frame!


I thought as we’re taking this class, I would post what we learned for the week as well as perhaps a few example photos.


Keep in mind, however, that I am a student. I don’t really know what I’m doing.  There are much more capable people (like real photographers, for instance) to share this kind of information.  But as I learned in my teacher ed courses…the best way to learn something is to teach it!  So maybe we can all learn together, right?