Photo Tip Tuesday |  The On-Hand Light Meter

Photo Tip Tuesday | The On-Hand Light Meter

Did you know you have a light meter “on hand” 24/7/365?

That’s right, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, three hundred and sixty-five days a year!

You do and it’s battery free, never needs re-charging  and is 100% accurate every single time you use it.  This little trick is probably the single best photo tip I’ve ever been given and yet…I don’t remember where I heard it.

My Coffee & Camera’s Photography Group has heard me share this little tip several times now and they are loving it.  Curious?  Have I piqued your interest yet?  Ok…enough beating around the bush…I’ll tell you.

The mystery magic tool is your hand!  Yes your hand!  You can also use your finger.  Stop what you’re doing right now and hold your hand or your finger up in front of your face.  Now move your head around without moving your hand and look at the way the light is hitting it.  Sometimes I’ll hold my hand up and twist it from side to side and look at my palm but more often than not I just use my finger.

I know right?!  Magic!  Now simply position your subject where the angle of the best light is coming from and viola…a beautiful photo!

Elfography – How to Take Better Photos of your Elf on The Shelf

Elfography – How to Take Better Photos of your Elf on The Shelf


Does your family have one of these fun little family members who comes back from the North Pole year after year?  If not you should!  An Elf on the Shelf is a great tradition for the whole family!  I’ve created a 30 page Elf on the Shelf Handbook that is FULL of information including:  What is all this Elf business anyway? Where can I get an Elf?  How to easily pose your Elf.  Elf arrival ideas. 100+ Ideas for Elf Mischief!  Departure ideas for your Elf.  Excuses for Your Elf Not Moving.  What to do if your Elf looses it’s magic.  Free Elf Printables and even a Printable Planning Calendar!

If your Elf is like ours and he or she comes back when the Christmas tree goes up on the Sunday after Thanksgiving then leaves with Santa on Christmas Eve then my Elf on the Shelf Handbook has FOUR YEARS worth of ideas for you!!  All of that and your eyes are not deceiving you…it’s FREE!!  Because I luv ya, I’m blessed that you’re here & I love to give back!  Details of how to get your Handbook are below but first I want to share a few pointers with you for taking better photos of your Elf.

♥ Simplify your photo.

If the objects in your photo aren’t needed to tell the story of whatever mischief your Elf has managed to find remove them and simplify.  The fewer distractions in your photo the more pleasing it will be to your viewers.

♥ Get down eye level with your Elf.

Eye level Elf photos are so much fun!  Let the camera see the world through your Elf’s eyes.

♥ Experiment with Angles.

After you’ve taken your photo at eye level….experiment.  Play around with other fun and interesting angles for your Elf.

♥ Focus on his/her face.

Whether you are taking photos of your Elf with a DSLR or a cell phone be sure to focus on his or her face.  When using your cell phone for photography you can simply select the focus area by tapping on that spot of your screen.  This will also set the exposure for your photo as well.  Most cell phones will allow you to adjust the brightness if you need to after setting the initial exposure.

♥ Turn off your flash.

When people ask me for photo tips & tricks this is usually the #1 thing I say to them!  Just turn it off!  When it comes to taking photos of your Elf you may well need it as he or she is usually inside and is often being photographed in the evening when the kids have gone to bed but turn it off and try your photo with it off first.  You can always look at your photo and turn it back on real fast if need be.

Now that you have a few tricks up your sleeve…snap, snap, snap away!  I can’t wait to read your Elf stories and see all of the wonderful things you come up with!  When posting photos of your Elf be sure to use the hashtags #elfography and #eotshandbook so we call all join in the fun you and your family are having!

To get your FREE Elf on the Shelf Handbook simply fill out the form below and it will arrive in your email in just a few minutes.  I sincerely hope the Handbook brings you and your family even more holiday fun this year and makes your Elf mischief a bit easier to plan!  Enjoy the Handbook & keep an eye out for more goodies to come very soon such as How to Take Better Holiday Photos, a Holiday Photo Checklist and a Guide for Organizing your Digital Photos.

♥ Di

Yes, send me my FREE 30-Page Elf on the Shelf Handbook!

* indicates required

( mm / dd )

Wonderful, Beautiful, Natural Light & the Best Time of Day to Shoot Portraits

Wonderful, Beautiful, Natural Light & the Best Time of Day to Shoot Portraits

When is the best time to take outdoor pics?

This is a great question.  Photography is ALL about lighting and I wish there was a “one answer fits all” to give you.  That said, the light that is my absolute favorite is an hour to an hour and a half before sunset or alternatively an hour to an hour and half before sunrise depending on the location and the clients availability.   

You will often hear photographers refer to the evening time as “the golden hour”.  Most weather apps will tell you sunrise and sunset times or you can also check to easily check other locations and/or dates.

I loveloveLOVE the Golden Hour and the beautiful halo lighting that you can easily get with it.  

There are photographers however that have mastered the art of direct sunlight and can shoot any time of day including high noon-2 pm or so but I’d say the majority will aim for sunrise or sunset.  I have been practicing with this some myself lately because I am always want to learn to master new skills.

Here is an example of halo lighting I took recently.  This photo was taken about 8:15am in the beautiful morning light.  


What is ISO?

What is ISO?

I am all about sharing the love of photography!  I love to help others take better photos whether it be simply using their cell phones, point and shoot cameras or answering DSLR questions for aspiring photographers!  I love to help others succeed!  I’ve been receiving quite a few questions lately so I thought I would start a “How To” blog section to help others.  Feel free to jump in and ask questions as well!  I will do my best to answer them for you.

What is ISO?  I currently have it on auto, what would be some recommendations when choosing the ISO?

The technical answer for this question is that ISO is the camera’s sensitivity to light.   The lower the ISO (for example 100), the less sensitive your camera is to light.  A a higher ISO (3600+ for example) increases the sensitivity of your camera making it easier to get quality images in lower light.

I use both manual and AUTO ISO.  For me (and I’m about to date myself) I think in terms of film and back in the 35mm days (I’m not THAT old ya’ll really) and which roll of film I’d have grabbed for what I was shooting at the time.  

If shooting a portrait session or wedding or anytime I have been commissioned for photographs I always shoot manual ISO.  The only setting that I do not set manually is the white balance as it’s a quick Lightroom adjustment.  I try to start as low as possible and when I read my meter and I can maintain a shutter speed of at least 1/60 with my chosen aperture then the ISO is correct for me.

Why 1/60th of a second?  This is totally personal.  This shutter speed produces the sharpest image for me.  When I go lower than that my images are not as sharp and in focus as I like them to be.  I have no idea why it’s just something I’ve learned over time.  Practice, practice and get to know yourself and your settings.  I recently heard a photographer speak that said in order to improve your skills you should be shooting 100,000 images a year whether it be on your camera or your cell phone.  That seems like a big number but it’s really not that many when you think about it.

I like to shoot as wide open as possible (at an aperture of 2.0 or less) if I can.  If I set my ISO on 100 and my aperture on 2.0 and my in-camera meter tells me for that setting my shutter speed should be 30 to balance the image (provided it’s not backlit, etc) then I increase my ISO up to 200 (just where I jump to next) and go from there.

If I can get a 60th of a second that way then I’m golden and ready to go.  I tend to be more aperture focused.  I know what depth of field I want for an image and then work the ISO/shutterspeed to make it happen.  ISO, aperture and shutter speed are your exposure triangle and everyone works their triangle differently.

Larger ISO’s are useful for darker settings and night photography, etc.  They used to scare me because I was afraid of grain but as long as you are using the lowest possible for the situation with the your aperture and shutter speed you shouldn’t be afraid of them.  I’ve learned to be confident in these situations but it came with lots and lots of practice.

I use AUTO ISO only on when I am on vacation.  There is just not time from the top of a tour bus to change your settings and snap a photo.  

Here are 2 images at different ISO’s.  Don’t be scared of playing as high as 3600 and up depending on your lighting.  As long as the light is there and the image is properly exposed you will be fine.


Manual, 1/1000, 2.0, ISO 400


Manual, 1/1000, 2.0, ISO 800

I hope this helps make more sense of ISO.  Please don’t hesitate to ask questions or offer more input!