Storytellers Blog Circle

April 2018 Storytellers Blog Circle by Andrea Moffatt

storytellers blog circle logo

This post is one of several in a monthly educational blog circle made up of storytelling photographers and Offset artists. After you read how I shot my storytelling image for the month, click to the next artist at the bottom of my post and follow the circle the whole way around. Enjoy!

Our family (two families with kids plus grandparents) recently returned from Disney World, where we had the vacation of a lifetime. While everyone enjoyed different parts of the trip, one of my favorites was... you guessed it!... telling our story through pictures. It was reinvigorating to think about each ride, environment, and new experience as a puzzle to be solved. 

Probably the trickiest puzzles were those that were defined by low light or motion. The following image was made under both conditions:

ISO 3200, f/1.4, 1/30sec

The picture shows Pap pap and Grandma enjoying the Buzz Lightyear ride in Tomorrowland. On this ride, visitors are seated two to a car and try to defeat the evil Zurg while the car spins in unpredictable directions. In low light. Blacklight, to be exact. Sweating yet? 

This was one of the first rides we did, and so it was here I discovered that the dark was so complete that I couldn't actually see the dials on the top of my Fuji. It would've been an ideal time to have all my dial directions and locations memorized OR have a handy light up screen to show my settings. Unfortunately, I had neither of those at my disposal. My Fuji is still a little new to me and it doesn't have the light up screen on the body that my Nikon does. 

So here I am in this spinning car, spinning the dials on the top of my camera until the exposure looks right. (Luckily, I can do this because the Fuji Xt2 does have a terrific exposure preview function.) That's how I landed on such a slow shutter speed. I would never recommend purposefully choosing 1/30sec! 

Once I got the exposure right, I just needed an opportunity. Even though it sounds like I was fooling with my camera for a lot of the ride, I was mostly shooting my laser gun. I wasn't doing it well, mind you, but I was putting some feeling into it. Hey- we all have our strengths, and video games have never been mine. The whole time I was playing, I knew I had my exposure right, so I left it like that while I bided my time.

When I realized there was a point ahead of us where all the cars were lined up and close to each other, I simply waited until my husband and I were facing his parents, manually focused, and shot! 

That same series of steps: finding good exposure, biding my time, and manually exposing, were my bread and butter on all the dark rides on the trip. Hopefully it will help you the next time you encounter a low light + motion puzzle.

Keep reading and learning. Don't miss the next storyteller in the circle, Tanya Moon Photography! 

the family story keeper click photo school

March 2018 Storytellers Blog Circle by Andrea Moffatt

storytellers blog circle logo

This post is one of several in a monthly educational blog circle made up of storytelling photographers and Offset artists. After you read how I shot my storytelling image for the month, click to the next artist at the bottom of my post and follow the circle the whole way around. Enjoy!

I thought I would share an image this month that was HARD to make. It's also an image with which I'm not 100% satisfied. But it's a mistake to think that every image we shoot can and should be perfect. Sometimes, life gets in the way and we have to work with what we have. Does that mean we should avoid shooting that story and wait for better light, better composition? Absolutely not! Our lives are beautiful and happening right now: in mixed light, among clutter, and in less than ideal circumstances. We've got to do the best with what we've got.

The image below was an important one for me to capture because it marked the first time my husband was sharing one of his all time favorite books from his childhood with the boys.

ISO 2000, f/3.5, 1/250sec 

ISO 2000, f/3.5, 1/250sec 

Simple enough right? It would be a straight forward image to capture except... a few weeks ago, we got this new reading lamp in the living room. It's fantastic for reading, but it's my nemesis when it comes to low light photography. As you can see, it throws a pretty concentrated pool of light. The spotlight effect can be really lovely, especially if it's isolated as the only light in the room. For instance, if that spotlight had been the only light on and I would have backed up and shot very wide, the result could be stunning. 

Too bad that wasn't the scenario on this night! I was contending with the orange kitchen light in the background as well as the fact that my son was sitting up high on the arm of the couch so that the lamp was close enough to singe his hair. 

Because of how close his head was to the lamp, if I would have tried to expose for the faces of my husband and sons, that large bright patch on his head would have been utterly blown out. Knowing this, I exposed for the bright spot on his head. As a result, the rest of the picture was pretty dark and not only did I still have to burn down the highlight on his head a little more, I had bring up the exposure on their faces with a radial filter.

So there you have it. I got the picture- bottled that memory- even though the process wasn't pretty. I'd say that's fitting for a life that's not always pretty! 

Now keep on reading by clicking over to a new storyteller in our group, Stella Lebel in London. Happy reading!

Want to learn more about capturing family life in a meaningful way? Check out the course syllabus for my Click Photo School course beginning April 16th, The Family Story Keeper

May Storytellers Blog Circle by Andrea Moffatt

I thought it would fun to take my new Lensbaby Trio 28 with us to our local fair, because all the fun sights and colors would pair well with this creative and rather unpredictable lens. I wasn't really planning on getting any "important" shots of my boys, because from experience, I know that due to the tight space and the crowds I usually end up with a bunch of the same types of waiting-for-the-ride-to-start shots.

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April Storytellers Blog Circle | Waiting for the Moment by Andrea Moffatt

My son was busy saving the world in his favorite costume the other day, but he couldn't find the cape. Of course, everything had to stop while he located the exact one that came with the costume. (Absolutely no substitutions acceptable!) I had been taking pictures of him jumping off of things- a staple in our house- so I already had my camera as I followed him up to his room to look for the cape. He was pretty sure it was at the very bottom of a big tupperware toy tub (where else?), so he started digging and taking toys out amassing a bigger and bigger pile as he searched.

While he looked, I thought about how I could use the very low, back light in his room.

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March Storytellers Blog Circle | Framing using Layers by Andrea Moffatt

I shot this image today, on one of the first warm days of 2017! Everyone wanted to get outside and so we went over to visit Mimi and Pap we schlepped out allllll the toys. Everyone was playing with different things at the same time. (Isn't that what happens at your house when the weather breaks and all the kids and adults shed their winter bonds?)

Of course, because everyone was playing with different toys at the same time, I have a camera card full of one child flying a kit, one launching a helicopter with pap, etc... A while it's nice to have images of these memories, in the end, I like to pick one image for my 365 project (and eventually for printing). Because I know one image will be printed, I prefer to choose the one I feel will best help me hold onto the essence of the day. Today, this was the image I chose because it captured a few stories at once.

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Storytellers Blog Circle | February 2017 by Andrea Moffatt

You can probably tell that an image like this is all about perspective. I set my camera on the table and, using a low aperture, shot through all the layers on the table. I purposely framed him so that he would be on the right hand third of the image, because I wanted him to look like just another thing at the table: glass, salt shaker, boy, glass... 

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Storytellers Blog Circle | January 2017 by Andrea Moffatt

I'd been trying to get a nice picture of my son sleeping for a while. He is right on the edge of growing into his big boy face. Soon there will be no more of those sweet baby cheeks. I was on a time crunch. I was on a mission.

The problem I was facing was the light source. When you photograph a sleeping child, you usually need to add a little light to the scene (unless, of course, your child needs lots of light to sleep already).

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Storytellers Blog Circle: November Edition by Andrea Moffatt

My family and I stopped at the playground one chilly evening after daylight savings. The sun set much more quickly than we were prepared for, but it made for gorgeous fall skies. I had my Lensbaby Edge 50 on my camera because I was playing- mostly shooting sky and nature pictures. In case you're not familiar, Lensbaby lenses are completely manual focus and produce interesting, surprising effects, but the learning curve is a bit steep if it's not something to which you're accustomed.

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Storytellers Blog Circle: October Edition by Andrea Moffatt

Welcome to my October Storytellers Blog Circle post. Since we are in the thick of fall, pumpkin-everything, and soccer every weekend, I decided to pick this image of my youngest son, entertaining himself during his older brother's soccer game a few weeks ago. I picked it because I like the story it tells about our Saturday mornings right now, but I also picked it because it's sort of a rule breaker in the way I exposed him. Let's talk about it!

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Storytellers Blog Circle: September Edition by Andrea Moffatt

I shot this image at my father in law's birthday celebration a few weeks ago. The goal was to get a shot of the way the three little ones "help" with the birthday candle tradition. I'm always drawn to photographing the things in my kids' childhoods that are becoming traditions and/or things they'll certainly remember when they grow up and have kids of their own. And I'm pretty sure this is one of them, because I remember sitting on laps and offering my expert assistance to my own aunts, uncles, and grandparents... perhaps more than blowing out my own! 

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