Photography: How to make fun shapes out of light

This is a little trick I remember reading a long time ago, but I just now decided to give it a try! It’s the right time of year since it works so well with Christmas lights.

(There are a lot of better tutorials out there for this, but I haven’t looked at any of them to make this post, because I’ll just compare and worry too much about my own instructions. Feel free to Google for more thorough and accurate information.)

Here’s how I did it:

1. Cut out a shape. I happened to have a decorative punch (for scrapbooking) in the shape of a butterfly. Any shape will do–I’ve seen examples with hearts and stars, for instance. I’m interested in experimenting with some hand-cut creations. Cut the circle large enough to fit over your lens. I traced around my cap for sizing. It doesn’t have to be perfect (or even circular), I just tried to make it semi-neat for the photo.

2. Attach it in front of your lens. I just used tape, knowing I’d be removing it after a few minutes.

3. Take a picture of some Christmas lights! The important thing is that the lights are as blurry as possible. Basically, what you’re creating is shapely bokeh. You can either manually take the lights out of focus, or you can force the camera to focus on something at a different distance and hold down the shutter so it won’t refocus on the lights.

Some places sell little plastic lens caps that have shapes pre-cut for this purpose. This is just the cheap, DIY version of those.

In the above photos I focused on my little hummingbird decoration and a butterfly Christmas ornament so you can see that the lights are just strung up in the background and blurred (into the shape of butterflies). The more lights the better, and it still works in a brighter image, it just doesn’t have the same vibrancy. Experiment with it, because I certainly haven’t done much experimenting and I am sure there are lots of cool things you can do with this. Also, I don’t know how well it works with non-SLR cameras. Anyone want to try and get back to me?


Catching up

I haven’t been very posty, mostly because I don’t have a lot of photos and I just haven’t felt like putting forth any blog energy on my vacation. ๐Ÿ™‚ But today my Project 52 photo is due, so I thought I’d mix it with a few other pictures and comments.

Project 52: I was watching this squirrel on my neighbor’s deck. She had some sort of berry plant that he liked.

But the click of my camera made him a little nervous.

He’s suspicious. (“I think this character is going to be suspicious about stuff.” – Joey from Friends)

Food non-Friday: I had many delicious and special foods on Thanksgiving. Breakfast was orange cinnamon rolls! Just the Pillsbury kind, nothing fancy, but they’re special since I so rarely buy these.

Thankful non-Thursday: One of the joys in life is clean sheets, so I had to take a picture after I made my bed up clean. Hey…how did he get in there? ๐Ÿ™‚ That’s my orca, Finnegan! I’m a grownup.

More fall: Photo taken in the past couple of weeks.

Where are they now? While I’m being random, here’s my old Cabbage Patch doll that I told you about. My mom sent me a photo she had taken after she restored her from her one-armed state and sewed her a new dress. She is now apparently living a happy life in New Mexico with my niece.

Disappointing fact: People have said I look like a Cabbage Patch doll. ๐Ÿ˜

How has your Thanksgiving break been? We get three days off from work, so I have five days of down time. It’s actually been really awesome! I managed to do a little cleaning and filing, I cooked foods I normally am too lazy to make, I’ve almost finished season 7 of The Office after signing up for a free month of Netflix, I talked to some of my family members, shopped, paid bills, slept in, read, played games, planned out some of my gift-giving, listened to music, and have been extremely lazy at some moments. Now I just need to not feel guilty about it and I’ll be great.

Have a nice weekend!

Portraits – Hollie

One more 15-minute portrait session to take advantage of the great light and fall colors. I felt especially happy with these–Hollie’s a great model for me and has the perfect fall look. I love photographing red heads! It’s nice that she works just upstairs from me so I could interrupt her for a few photos at a moment’s notice. Even nicer is that all these photos were taken right near our office building!

Read between the photos for more info about Hollie!

The leaves had just been blown into piles, so we took advantage (and didn’t make a mess, I promise!).

What music do you listen to the most these days? Christian and Pop/Rock

What’s your favorite season? Spring, because everything smells fresh and flowers start blooming.

What are you looking forward to? Being debt-free!

Describe your personality. Friendly, warm and fun. <–I can vouch for this.

How do you spend your free time? Baking, knitting and hanging out with family and friends.

Thank you, Hollie! I may be dragging you out again sometime. ๐Ÿ™‚ Winter photos, you know.

PS Am I crazy, or does she kind of resemble Sandra Bullock from certain angles?

Project 52 (22)

Buttoning up one’s coat has become everyday life around here. Here’s Hollie between poses during our brief photo shoot the other day. Tomorrow I’ll post my favorites, so check back! I really liked how they turned out.

Another everyday photo from earlier this week when several geese gathered at the edge of the lake out back.

Portraits – Katrina

My friend Katrina graciously agreed, once again, to let me take some pictures of her. ๐Ÿ™‚ (See a previous session here.) It was yet another lovely afternoon at work when we could take a 15-minute break for photos. I was glad to practice photographing flare/into the sun, and I definitely learned a lot about what not to do. ๐Ÿ˜› But I’m still happy with several shots.

I forgot to do this with Heather, but read between the photos for fun facts about Katrina!

What are some of your favorite books? Favorite books of all time include The Boxcar Children, The Bobbsey Twins, and Sue Barton. Yeah, Iโ€™m a big fan of kidsโ€™ books. These days I rarely I have time to read.

Whatโ€™s your favorite way to spend your free time? Free time, ha! Love to read, but usually quilting wins out. Because I love that too!

It’s a lot harder than it seems to catch a good leaf-tossing shot that isn’t too blurry.

If you could be doing any type of work, what would it be? My dream job would be at home as a wife and mom. But since I am neither, and canโ€™t live in dreamland, I do love office work, which is convenient, because thatโ€™s what I do. ๐Ÿ™‚

Name some of your favorite foods. Tacos, pizza, chocolate (because chocolate is a food, right?)

Whatโ€™s one of your favorite holiday traditions? I enjoy my churchโ€™s candlelight service at Christmas.

Thanks again, Katrina. I’m sure this isn’t the last time you’ll be featured in my blog! ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s mushroom season

Here are just a few photos I took last week.

There’ve been lots of foggy days.

I love cute mushrooms!

There are so many kinds.

This one looks like a sponge.

These were a surprise when I saw them up on the side of a hill when I was about to pack up and head back. They looked like cartoon mushrooms! I had to climb the steepish hill to get photos. Not great photos, but some evidence. They were very large–about 5 or 6 inches across the top. And guess what? Dania once gave me a little mushroom guide, so I can look these up. They are Fly Agaric. A quote: “The quintessential toadstool, it is a large white-gilled, white-spotted, usually deep red mushroom, one of the most recognizable and widely encountered in popular culture.” Well I don’t think I’ve ever seen one in real life, but it does look like something in a children’s book or cartoon. Awesome! That’s your lesson for the day.

We’ll end on something a little daintier. Darling!


I haven’t posted links in awhile, so here are a few things I’ve enjoyed lately, from friends and strangers…

Binksie and Bep – The very talented Hannah has finished a children’s book that she wrote and illustrated all herself! It looks really cute. I don’t know Hannah that well (I know her sister a little better), but I’m really impressed with her work. She’s only 25!

Spinach and Artichoke Hors d’oevres – These look delish. I need to try them.

My Little Turkey – A cute photo post about a photographer trying to get photos of her baby in a costume.

Heart and Earth – If you like things to be all-natural, my friend Rebecca makes organic body care products for you to purchase. There’s lip balm, hand soap, deodorant, and more.

Senior Portraits – I just think these turned out really beautifully.

Holy Matrimony – My sister posts lots of cute stories about her kids (you may be interested in following her blog regularly!), but here’s a fairly recent one that was especially amusing.

Sailing – This song came to mind the other day, and it used to be one of my favorites when I was a teenager. It makes me very daydreamy. [The video effects ruin it for me (sorry, but sailing and crackling squares don’t really go hand-in-hand), so probably don’t watch it while you listen.]

Let me know if you enjoyed any of these! I like being able to support people’s happy corners of the internet. There’s a lot of horrid stuff online, but there are so many fun things to celebrate, too.

Portraits – Heather

The weather was so nice in the afternoons last week, and I hadn’t done portraits in awhile. I was really eager to take advantage of the nice color and light, so I convinced a couple of coworker-friends to let me do a 15-minute portrait session with them. ๐Ÿ™‚ They were both very cooperative. First, here’s Heather!

I like outtakes!

She’s pondering life. Actually, I don’t even know if she realized I took this shot.. she was just glancing between photos.

Thank you, Heather! Let’s do this again in the spring. ๐Ÿ™‚

Project 52 (21)

I don’t know what to say about this photo–it just captures the fall feeling from this past week. I loved it!
(Hand modeling by Katrina.)


Happy Ones Day! Or Elevens Day. Yes, I did schedule this to post at 11:11am. ๐Ÿ™‚ I don’t think I can designate the seconds, though.

[I don’t have a special photo, but I wanted this entry to be more than text, so just imagine those weeds are making the number eleven on purpose. ๐Ÿ˜€ It’s a very festive photo, isn’t it? So bold and full of energy.]

This day seems special, so I have even planned a get-together with some of my friends to celebrate it tonight! I know it also happens to be Veteran’s Day, so many of you have the day off and will think more about veterans than numbers (as you probably should).

Have a great day!