Tag Archives: how to

So You Have a DSLR, Now What? | Photography 101.

photography101I had a DSLR for a long time before I learned how to shoot manually by taking classes and seeking out knowledge. Now, I can’t imagine shooting auto. Still, I know I waited a long time to learn because I was intimidated. I’m a writer and numbers were involved (eek!). A few people have asked where and how I learned. I definitely recommend taking a class. A great one can be found through Nicole’s Classes (where they also often have sales) but if a class isn’t in the cards, check out a book like The Busy Girl’s Guide to Digital Photography.

My goal here is to make this a simple series–Photography 101 for shooting manually with your DSLR. It won’t be exhaustive because I want to focus on the basics in order to keep things as clear as possible.

First things first, turn your camera to M for Manual. If you’ve been playing around with other settings (I was always fond of Macro), you probably have taken some great photos. The issue with these presets is that they use Auto Exposure for each setting which may not be correct for the light, the depth of field, or the photograph.

Let me break it down the best I can.

So what is Exposure?exposureExposure: the actual process of capturing light with the camera to produce an image. It is the combination of the F-Stop or Aperture (the same thing) and Shutter Speed.apertureAperture or F-Stop: literal opening of the camera lens. It also controls the depth of field.* Annoyingly because it is opposite of my intuition, a large F-Stop gives a smaller opening while a small F-Stop give a larger opening. A smaller opening offers less light a darker exposure and a larger opening brings more light into the image and a brighter exposure.
shutterspeedShutter Speed: It is the duration that shutter is open and exposed to light, measured in seconds. For example, if I am photographing sports, my shutter speed is going to be fast. If I want to take in a lightening bolt, I will have an extremely slow shutter speed so my shutter is open for longer in order to hopefully capture the bolt. A long shutter speed requires a tripod because one cannot hold a camera still long enough for that lightening both. Fast or slow, the shutter speed will affect the Aperture and vice versa.

ISO: This number is how sensitive the sensor on your DSLR is to light. A low ISO number means less sensitivity to light and a high ISO number means more sensitivity to light. A higher ISO also means more grain or “noise.” When possible shoot with as low of an ISO as possible. Change the ISO last after you have tried to adjusting the Aperture and Shutter Speed so you don’t lose quality. Like Aperture and Shutter speed, these all effect one another.

I  have a Canon Rebel T2i so you may have to check your manual but this is where I am able to determine my exposure, change my aperture, shutter speed, etc. You’ll also see that I tried to take a picture with my phone of what you can see if you look through the viewfinder and press the shutter down slightly.cameratrioWas this helpful? Feel free to ask me any questions but keep in mind this is a series of Photography 101. At first, this was so overwhelming me. Take a lot of photos. Put your camera on manual and play with the aperture and shutter speed.

P.S. After the photoshoot of my camera, I cleaned it. 🙂
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How to Prioritize & a Free Printable to Help.

How to Prioritize & a Free Printable to HelGrowing up, I wrote things I had to do but was afraid of forgetting on my hand. I couldn’t forget it if it was right there, right? Well, my parents didn’t love it and turns out in this life stage it’s not super professional. So I started sending myself emails. I couldn’t miss those but I clearly already had an email problem. In the last few months, I’ve been bullet journaling which has been a huge help. I can list everything I have to do and because I am constantly looking at my bullet journal, I won’t forget. But everything I list? It doesn’t have the same weight; it can’t all be high priority or I would go insane (as would anyone).

So how does one prioritize in an easy way?

I learned this trick awhile ago and I have to say whenever I am overwhelmed, I go back to it. But what if I used it even if I wasn’t overwhelmed? Probably wise.

So I take my lists and lists (I’m sorry I just love a to do list, especially when I am crossing things off of them) and divide them up using this.Priorities_Worksheet

And then I use this extremely simple table to divide things into four categories: Urgent Important, Not Urgent Important, Urgent Not Important, Not Urgent Not Important. I’ve made one for you here so you can simply print it off (prints perfectly on regular sized paper) and get started: Priorities Worksheet.priorities2

Here’s an example of how I filled it out recently. It gives me a clear mind because I suddenly have to evaluate: is this thing urgent? is it important? Because if you know me, you may be laughing right now. Without the sheet and all in my head, I tend to think everything falls into that Urgent Important category when in fact that isn’t ever true.How to Prioritize & a Free Printable to Help 1

With a keener focus, I am able to prioritize my lists and cross things off in the correct order (instead of the order they come to mind) and there is no danger of forgetting anything…even though it isn’t written on my hand.How to Prioritize & a Free Printable to Help 2

Do you have tools to help you prioritize? Does anyone else struggle with this stuff? Don’t forget to download the Priorities Worksheet.
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How to Empty Your Inbox When it’s Overwhelming.

How to Empty Your Inbox When it's OverwhelmingI was recently with a friend who cannot stand notifications on her phone. When she saw that I had over 50,000 emails, she flipped. I’ve known for awhile that my (three) inbox(es) were out of control. But when an inbox is so out of control? It can be so intimidating. How long is this going to take me? Where do I even star? My eyes are bleeding staring at this screen.

I finally put my foot down (also my friend threatened an intervention) and I truly believe that even the worst inboxes can be conquered in under an hour if you follow these steps. I was strategic and it paid off. Just before this post, I was down to 6k in a single inbox and was down to 0 in 20 minutes following these steps.

I’d heard that if your inbox is as bad as mine, you really have to start from scratch. I took that to heart and so “mark as read” and “archive” became my bosom buddies.

But if you need proof to take my word for it:IMG_6601

Here is how to empty your inbox when it’s overwhelming:

1. Goodbye Social and Promo Tabs (for Gmail)

If you’re using Gmail, delete (or if it makes you feel better, “mark as read” and “archive”) everything in the Promo and Social Tab. You don’t need it. You definitely don’t need to read that so-and-so liked something you tweeted a year ago. Like I said, it you don’t want to delete, just mark as read and archive. In Gmail after you select all on a single page, it will ask in small letters: do you want to select all 4,000 emails in this section? (as opposed to what you have selected on a single page). Use this. Love it. It is your best friend.

2. Look for emails you don’t care about but may have a lot of in terms of keywords. Divide your email by keywords. Find the biggest chunks in your inbox.

If your inbox was a pie chart, what would the biggest piece of pie be? Who from? What company? Is there something in the subject line in each of those emails that is the same and universal? Get rid of as many as these pieces of pie as possible.

So for example, I searched all the emails that contained the word “bloglovin'” and I marked as read and archived them in batches. The same is true with any email with the word “amazon” in the subject line. I looked for as many of these batches as possible before I got into the nitty gritty. I tried to decrease the number of emails I had to go through one by one in any way possible. As a blogger, or someone who comments on blogs, I had so many emails with “new comment” in the subject line, which was a bloggers response to my comment on their blog. Marked as read and archived because some of these are months and months and possibly years old.

3. Sign up for Unroll.me

You know all those emails you’ve subscribed to over the years? Let’s roll ’em up into one email a day. Unroll.me is a great service for this. Get on it.

4. Consider the emails you actually need to respond to or require action.

Everything else should be “marked as read” and “archived.” Remember, you aren’t deleting these and they are easy to search for. They are just out of your face. Do it. Your inbox is too out of control to be emotionally attached to this stuff. This is email. It’s hard enough to purge your actual belongings.

5. Finally, when I got down to about 1,000 emails, I had to delete or archive one by one.

All in all this took an hour and was well worth it. Get rid of the biggest chunks like those emails from Amazon or Bloglovin’ or here is a great one for bloggers “Disqus.” Are you really going to go back weeks or even days and read these? No. But from now on, with your inbox at zero, you can read it and discard it or decide to reply.

You now have a clean slate. After this, delete and archive your emails as you get them. That’s what I am doing now. And you know what? I feel like a grown up. Did I miss any tips?
inbox
P.S. I’m really trying to practice a more organized life. I’ve always pinned a ton of cool things on a board called “Organized Chaos” and I am finally in a place where I can put these into action. The title may be in the running for my memoir (totally kidding!).

Follow Nina Bee’s board organized chaos. on Pinterest.

Go forth and prosper! Signature      

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How to Make Your Own Cool Welcome Mat on the Cheap.

How to Make Your Own Cool Welcome Mat on the CheapHere’s the problem. Well, there are three. The first problem is I have two white carpets in my apartment. The second problem is that people do not take off their shoes and as a friend and I discussed, we don’t want to one of those people who say: can you please take off you shoes? 

The third problem is that I was seeing these super whimsical, welcome mats with cute phrases like: Sup or Y’all or the Neighbors Have Better Stuff. I considered getting one and then saw the prices.


Here is the thing with DIY projects. Sometimes it is totally worth to buy the product and not DIY yourself. Maybe you don’t have any of the supplies. Maybe you don’t enjoy it and the annoyance feels like currency. The price of a DIY project is different for everyone so no one should get down on themselves. For this one, I decided to DIY. And a after a Chicago winter, it’s still completely intact.

I bought the same type of mat I’d been seeing and the thickest sharpie paint pen they make. The important thing to note it that this sharpie is OIL based paint because when people (or myself) wipe their (or my) winter boots on it, you don’t want the water to smudge or ruin your creation. Next pick your saying. I won’t lie: I like to be original. Plus, remember problems one and two up there? I settled on: Lose the Shoes. I hope it is a polite and funny way of saying, no really, please take off your shoes. 

Here is How to Make Your Own Cool Welcome Mat on the Cheap:

First, if you need a stencil, create one. At the very least, ghost write your saying to make sure you have enough room.mat1

Then, write out your saying lightly because if there is a mistake you can fix it.matmp

Next, press the oil based paint pen down so it bleeds and thickens each letter until the letters are the thickness you would like.

And voilà.mat4wm

This ended up being much easier than expected. Have you ever gotten in too deep with a DIY? My hand is raised. And also, how do you psychically tell people to take their shoes off without being that person who tells guests they have to? Thanks!
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Frost Yourself.

creamcheesefrostingFall is the time for pumpkin flavored everything, brisk weather that has me clutching my coffee to warm my hands. I used to love fall but I fear I may have spent too long on the west coast. And every one keeps on saying, it’s supposed to be worse than last year. Why? Who started this rumor? Is the Farmer’s Almanac really that credible? I need the answer to be: no. In the meantime, I made these delicious pumpkin cookies. They are my mom’s recipe and you can read more about them here. But I want to share an easy but delicious Cream Cheese Frosting (also my mom’s recipe). 

You with me?

IMG_8075You will need:

3 ounces cream cheese softened

3/4 cup softened butter

1 tablespoon of milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups powdered sugar

Unfortunately, cream cheese doesn’t typically come in 3 ounce packages so you’ll have to estimate. You know, the exact opposite of what you are supposed to do when baking.

First, beat the cream cheese and butter together.IMG_8079Then, add milk, vanilla, powdered sugar and beat until smooth.IMG_8080It’s delicious on anything. Seriously. I would dip celery in it. But red velvet, chocolate, caramel…I could go on. I put it on pumpkin cookies. And I made them for friends but I may have stolen one for myself or three. Okay, six but another friend ate three and I ate three and they were the ugly ones.IMG_8092

I’m a mess, you guys. No doubt. I think I am supposed to be learning that is okay?
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