Lunenburg Portraits

Professional Portrait Photographer | Black Lamb Photography

A few weeks ago I went on holiday with my family to Nova Scotia to visit some family members who live out there.  We stayed with my cousin and her family and while we were there I did a photo shoot of her.  She’s a children’s story illustrator and a budding YA writer, so she wanted some photos to use for her website and for an author portrait.  Check out some of her illustration work on her website:  www.tiamushka.com

I love the vibrantly coloured buildings in Nova Scotia–especially in beautiful Lunenburg, where these photos were taken.

If you are looking for a portrait photographer in Ottawa or Gatineau, contact me.  I would love to create some beautiful portraits of you and your family.  I also do wedding photography.

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tia-mushka

Photography: You get what you pay for

You get what you pay for | Ottawa Photographers

I just saw this illustration online referring to graphic design and how you get what you pay for.  I had to post it here because it also pertains to photography as well.  Pick two options:

I will say one thing though.  If someone is portfolio building, they may either do a free photo session or charge very little in order to get people to pose for them for their portfolio (ie. shooting family, baby or maternity photos).  Personally, I think this is ok, EXCEPT when a bride & groom decide to use them as their wedding photographer, instead of hiring a professional.  If the photographer is doing it to build a portfolio, they don’t have experience; therefore, they are essentially using your wedding to practice.  Do you really want someone PRACTICING while shooting your wedding?  Are you sure that you really want to play Russian roulette with your wedding photos?  Sadly, if they mess up, there are NO reshoots for a wedding.

Remic Rapids Rock Sculptures

Balanced Rock Art Ottawa

For anyone who has lived in Ottawa for a while and is in the know, they will know about the rock sculptures at Remic Rapids Park.  Within my first year of moving to Ottawa, I had a good friend take me there for a summer outing.  I was blown away by these sculptures standing in and out of the water, free from anything keeping them together, except gravity and some sweat and hard work.  John Ceprano is the artist who began making these beautiful stone sculptures in Ottawa back in 1986.

While I was scouting out the location for an engagement photo shoot, I had the good fortune to actually see and meet Mr. John Ceprano himself with some other passersby.  Although I had zero clue of what he actually looked like, it was hard to miss the man standing in the water using a rock to hammer another rock onto one of the rock sculptures.

It was really cool to get an inside scoop about this year’s sculptures.  He told us that this year’s theme is called “Wonderland” and it involves Ulysses & Prometheus, who visit Alice in Wonderland.  Only a true artist would mix Greek mythology with Lewis Carroll’s story.  Loved it.

This past August 2013, Ottawa hosted its first International Stone Balancing Festival.  The first International Stone balancing festival was held in Ancona, Italy in 2012, which John attended.  For more information or to donate to Ottawa Rock Art (ORA), please go to the official website.  So, without further ado, enjoy the photos of some amazing balanced rock art made by a great artist.

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Ottawa Zombie Walk 2013

Chez 106 Zombie Walk

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to go and check out the Ottawa zombie walk.  Radio Chez 106 was the host for this gruesome event.  It was A.MA.ZING!  I have loved anything remotely Halloween related since I was a child, so when I found out that there was a zombie walk in Ottawa and in October, no less, I was SO excited to go and check it out.

So with camera in hand, I went to McDonald Gardens Park to go and get some shots of the undead in all of their guts and glory.  Enjoy.

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Six Tips For Getting Great Christmas Photos

Six tips for getting great Christmas photos (Ottawa Photographers)

For the average person, you do not need to have a camera with all of the bells and whistles in order to take great photos.  There really is very little need to spend that kind of money on a fancy camera unless you actually take the time to learn how to use all of those extra gadgets.  To sum up my point, I think that Peter Adams said it best, “A camera didn’t make a great picture any more than a typewriter wrote a great novel.”  

Of course, as a professional photographer I wouldn’t dream of using anything but a professional grade camera when shooting a wedding or portraits for clients.  My camera of choice is Nikon’s D700.  However, I do own a small point and shoot camera that I take with me sometimes when I go out with friends or family so that I can still take fun shots without having to lug my huge and heavy professional SLR around.  This is just a personal choice for point and shoot cameras, but I have loved using Canon’s PowerShot series since 2005.  They’re small enough to carry anywhere and pretty user friendly.  I have a pretty bright pink coloured Powershot, but that’s a side note. Ha!  Ha!  Getting back on topic, even with a simple point and shoot camera, there are easy ways that you can take great Christmas photos.  I have listed six easy tips that will help you and your family take great photos this holiday season.

1)  Don’t be afraid to use a flash outside, during the day.  Most people think that if it is light outside, that they don’t need to use a flash.  However, sometimes you really do need fill flash outside. For example, instead of taking photos of people facing the sun (which not only makes them squint and a lot of times have big, black spots where their eyes should be, due to harsh shadows), place them with the sun behind them and then use your flash to fill in more light on your subjects so that they are not a dark silhouette with a really bright background.  This does not mean that you will need to use a flash all of the time outdoors, but experiment to see what works best.  Sometimes when it is overcast, a flash could help to add some light in people’s eyes that may end up being dark circles without that pop of light, due to dim lighting.

2)  Do not rely 100% on available light indoors.  It is true that most digital cameras these days are able to take photos indoors without the photo ending up just being a big black mess, like in the days of film.  However, just because these cameras are able to actually absorb enough light to expose the photo, does not mean that these photos will be good quality.  Most of the time, the camera will use a very slow shutter speed in order to get that amount of light to create a photo, which will result in blurry shots due to camera shake.

photography tips

3)  This brings me to my third tip.  Sometimes you should use a tripod or, at least, place your camera on something sturdy while taking a photo.  Let me explain.  When you are hand holding a camera, most people cannot hold it steady enough at anything less than 1/60 second without the photo looking blurry.  If you want to shoot without a flash at less than 1/60 of a second, you will undoubtedly need to use a tripod, or at least steady the camera by placing it on a sturdy surface such as a table or other piece of sturdy furniture.  I would suggest that you can still let your camera use a lower shutter speed in order to use the available ambient light so that your background is light enough, but also use the flash so that you will have enough light to expose your subject so that they will not only be non-blurry (because essentially, the flash will freeze the frame enough to get the proper exposure on the subject) and also your subject will be colour correct in the photo, instead of being a yellow coloured mess.

To understand this, I will give a brief explanation of the Kelvin Rating System.  Camera flashes are rated the same as daylight (sunlight), which is at 5500-6000 Kelvins.  This gives a bluish tint.  On the contrary, ambient light is much more yellow due to its low Kelvin rating of 2800-4000 K. Most times, we think of normal colouring along the lines of daylight colours (5500-6000 K), so when you take a photo indoors without compensating either with a blue filter or setting, the photos will not look colour correct.  Don’t be afraid to mix both together to get a good exposed shot, but with a warmer, homey feel.  I found a chart on Pinterest that gives a great example of the colour shift in lighting.  It is originally from Girl Hearts Camera‘s blog.

kelvin rating chart from girlheartscamera

4)  Don’t be afraid to change the ISO settings on your camera.  To help you understand this, just think back to the days of film when there were different film speeds (ISO).  If you were shooting outdoors with lots of sunlight, you would use a smaller ISO speed (100 or 200 ISO), but if you were shooting indoors or in the early evening where there is less light, you would use a faster ISO, such as 400 or 800 ISO film.  This has carried on to digital cameras.  Most point and shoot cameras have ISO settings between 100-1600 ISO.  Just remember that the smaller the ISO number, the less light will be read by the camera.  The higher the ISO number, the more light will be read by the camera.  However, there is a trade off for both lower and higher speed ISOs. The higher the ISO number, the more grain you will end up seeing in your photos, which means the less crisp the shot will look.  This is why it is important to sometimes use a flash even when you use a higher ISO, because by your flash filling in some light, you don’t need to use as high of a film speed in order to get enough light for your photo.

5)  Use the self timer mode.  Don’t miss out on being in holiday group shots because you were stuck having to take the photo.  Either use a tripod or set up your camera on a sturdy, level place.  Press the button and the timer will usually give you about 10 seconds to position yourself in the shot before it takes a photo.  What I find the easiest way to position yourself in the photo is either someone leave a space for you to fit in (so that you are not accidentally cut out of the shot) or leave enough space around the group shot so that if you are standing on the side, you will not be cut off.  Either way, it will be far better for you to be in the group shot than to be the lone person mission from it.

6)  In order to actually accomplish some of my suggestions, you cannot rely on your camera’s AUTO setting.  When you let your camera decide on how to expose your photos 100% of the time, they will rarely ever turn out as fantastic shots.  They will either be too yellow and slightly blurry (due to hand holding with no flash indoors), the subject will be too bright, while the background is still quite dark (the shutter speed isn’t slow enough).  Instead, there should be a camera setting that you can put it on.  This will usually still work on auto, but it gives you the option to change settings, such as actually keeping the flash on or off (auto mode will not let you override any settings).

Here are some of the icons that I have been talking about that you will see on your own camera:

photography tips camera settings

Hey Baby, I Think I Wanna Marry You (Ottawa Photographers)

Ok, I know that this may be old news to a lot of people, but I finally got around to watching this video and I must say that I was crying watching it.  It is just too cute, loving and amazing all rolled up into one wonderful package.  Love it!  Here for your viewing pleasure is the link to the video to one of the best marriage proposals that I have ever seen.  Enjoy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_v7QrIW0zY&feature=player_embedded

My Pinterest

My Pinterests (Ottawa Photographers)

For anyone looking for wedding ideas (or cooking or party ideas for that matter), take a look at my Pinterest page:  http://pinterest.com/blacklambphoto/

Being grateful to be a mother

Being grateful to be a Mother (Ottawa Photographers)

It’s a few weeks after Thanksgiving and I would like to write about what I am grateful for.  Of course, I am so grateful to have a loving husband and a good family, but this year is different for me than any other year of my life.  This year was the first Thanksgiving that I could celebrate with my very own child.  I am so grateful for such an opportunity and blessing.

I do not doubt that every mother is grateful for her child.  However, I think that because I had to wait longer than most women to have a child that I am much more grateful to have her in my life.  Every day I thank the Lord for the privilege to not only be a mother, but to be a mother to my dear little girl.  She brings me so much joy it is sometimes overwhelming.  I get teary eyed a lot when I just look at her or even think about her.   I wanted to be a mother for so many years, but it just wasn’t in the cards for me, until now.

Yes, I would have had more energy if I had her when I was younger, but I think that things happen in life at the right time.  I totally believe that everything happens for a reason–even the bad or not so pleasant things.  Perhaps I just wasn’t ready to be a mother yet.

All I know is that I am so grateful for all of the things in my life that I was able to do while single, such as graduating college twice, getting a university degree, paying off my student loans, doing a lot of things on my bucket list, travelling all over the world and living and working in two foreign countries.  These things were important to me, so I am grateful that I was able to take advantage of being single and do them.

I must admit that being a mother is a lot harder than I thought it would be.  It consumes my time 24/7.  As I have written in another post, I have lost a lot of sleep trying to balance work with taking care of my little girl.  There just aren’t enough hours in the day!  But I do what I can, when I can.  And I keep telling myself that it WILL get better as she gets older.  I also tell myself to try to live in the moment and savour these wonderful times with my precious baby while she is still a little baby.  Oh how I love to look at her sunshine face!  It just makes me SO happy–happier than I could have hoped or imagined.  And with that, I leave you with a recent photo of my beautiful little girl.

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Children’s Illustration (Ottawa Photographers)

This past weekend I went home to my parents’ house for their Canada day party.  It was nice to see my extended family as well as friends.  While I was there, I did some copy work for one of my favourite cousins, Tia Mushka.  She is an artist in the truest sense.  She is a sculptor, mixed media artist as well as a children’s story book illustrator.  Her art work is just incredible.  I love how she incorporates mixed media into her illustrations.  I have the privilege of owning some of her artwork as we have swapped talents a few times for our mutual benefit.

Check out more of her portfolio on her actual website.  I’m sure that you will enjoy her artwork as much as I do.  🙂

Kudos to moms everywhere (Ottawa Photographers)

My little girl is now five months old and I am still struggling to get even normal everyday things accomplished.  It’s only been about two months since I finally have some sort of routine (which isn’t always so routine at times).  Ok, to be honest, I only have a morning routine.  As long as I can wash her bottles, eat breakfast, brush my teeth, shower, check my e-mails, possibly do a little sudoku and even do some laundry or other household chore (notice there’s no “s” as more than one household chore rarely happens unless you count turning on the dishwasher and washing machine at the same time 2 different chores)  🙂 before the next feeding and then her nap time, I am happy as can be.  Since I still get up in the early hours to feed her, I try to take a nap when she takes her nap, which can last from two-three hours.  However, I find myself torn quite a bit to either take a much needed nap or seize the opportunity to do some photography-related work.  Needless to say I have been pretty tired as of late.

Afternoons are a whole other ball of wax.  Most of my afternoons are filled with trying to entertain my baby as well as try to get some other little things done, such as possibly cooking dinner, going grocery shopping, etc.  As a new mother, I really find it hard to strike a balance.  I really admire women who have more than one child and are able to keep their sanity.  And mothers who also work full-time, you rock.

After fighting her regular morning nap today, my little girl finally succumbed to sleep and was out like a light for several hours.  This gave me the opportunity to finally upload photos from many photo shoots that I’ve done of her over the last few months.  I then was able to finally work on some of these photos.  I have been admiring her little face for the last few hours.  I hope that you can have the same pleasure.  Enjoy.