Kristen Prelipp-Oguntoyinbo

10 Things All Photo Geeks Must Know – Part 2

This is the second part of a new series about photography called, “Ten Things All Photo Geeks Must Know.” It is for the more serious amateur photographer who shoots with a digital camera. These ten tips are the basis for a solid foundation in photography. Once you have these skills in your proverbial camera bag you will be able to advance quickly. Some of the posts will apply to film cameras as well but I am writing this series with an aspiring digital photo geek in mind.   Tip Two- What is an Aperture?   An aperture is to your camera lens what your pupil is to your eye. It is the circular opening through which light travels through the lens to the camera’s sensor (or film) to create an image. The opening can be very small (f/22) or very wide (f/2). Apertures are also referred to as “f-stops.” You will see these numbers engraved on the lens barrel– f/22, f/16, f/11, f/8.0, f/5.6, f/4.0, f/2.8, f/2.0, f/1.8 etc. Each of these values represents one time the amount of light either more or less in quantity. In other words, f/16 will let in twice as much light as an aperture opening of f/22. While on the other hand, an aperture of f/4.0 will let in half the amount of light than f/2. It is counterintuitive, but remember that a...

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Ode to a Lenten Rose

In January there is not much for a gardener to do, but at the very least you can admire one of my favorite plants, the Lenten rose, or Hellebores. Named for the time that it normally blooms, it has begun its show early this year. I am not a winter person. I tend to hibernate in my home with all the lights on to get through the cold and dark months. I think I have come to love hellebores for the fact that its blooming signals that spring is close at hand. Well, not this year! My Lenten roses typically start blooming in late February or early March. But here we are on January 24, 2012 and they have been blooming for a couple of weeks now. What a strange, warm winter we are having! Lenten roses are not roses, technically, but rather are evergreen perennials. These plants love shade and grow very well on the edge of a wood. They prefer fertile, well-drained soil containing lots of organic matter. Mine spread easily. When I transplant the new plants to other parts of my yard they grow quickly and bloom the second year that they are planted. They seem to be drought tolerant once established. And they are deer and vole proof, which is key in Chapelboro with our large herds of fat deer. Have any ideas for photo...

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Harvesting Books on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Last week I was keeping my ears and eyes open for a great photo story to tell and happened to hear about a wonderful organization called Book Harvest. The founder of Book Harvest, Ginger Young, was being interviewed on WCHL by Ron Stutts about their MLK Day Book Drive. This organization, which is only one-year-old, has successfully collected and distributed 35,000 books to low-income children in its first year alone. Suzanne DeConto, an Americorp volunteer, reads a book to Sophie O’Malley and Lila Ashdown, both four-years-old, at Book Harvest’s book drive at Flyleaf Books on Monday, January 16, 2012. Why Books? Several studies have shown that the biggest predictor of academic success for children is the presence of books at home. More so than other factors, such as parents’ education levels, income or geographic location, reading books prepares a child for success by teaching language acquisition. Just 15 minutes of reading before bedtime exposes a child to millions of words per year. The Problem Studies have also shown that there is a startling difference in rates of book ownership among low-income and higher-income children. These studies showed that above 50% of low-income children owned no books at all. Ginger Young and her army of loyal, hardworking volunteers are hoping to change that. I met with Robin Sheedy, one of these volunteers, last week. She was on the schedule to...

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Ten Things All Photo Geeks Must Know!

I am so excited to announce a new series about photography called, “Ten Things All Photo Geeks Must Know.” It is for the more serious amateur photographer who shoots with a digital camera. These ten tips are the basis for a solid foundation in photography. Once you have these skills in your proverbial camera bag you will be able to advance quickly. Some of the posts will apply to film cameras as well but I am writing this series with an aspiring digital photo geek in mind. Tip One- What is a Histogram? A histogram is a bar graph that was originally created for statistical analysis. But photographers have adopted it to provide a graphic representation of a digitally recorded image. When I am shooting I nearly always have my camera set so that I can see my histogram as I go along. More so than the image itself, it is my guide. When you capture a photograph your digital camera locates each picture element, or pixel, on this horizontal scale according to its brightness from 0 (black) to 255 (white). Pixels of equal brightness are stacked vertically to create lines of varying heights. The end result is a graph that appears as a smooth curve, a series of jagged lines, or a combination of both. If your histogram is too close to 0, or absolute black, there won’t...

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How to Better Photograph Your Family- Tip Eight

This is the eighth in an eight-part series created for the amateur family photographer. These tips are simple, quick things you can do to vastly improve the photos you take. TIP 8: DON’T FORGET ABOUT YOU As the self-designated family photographer you have been faithfully recording your family’s history for years. But are you in any of the photographs? I am quite sure the answer is no as you are most often behind the camera. Perhaps you took on this role because you hate to be photographed. Whatever your reason, you owe it to your family to include yourself. Your children will want to see photographs of you when they are adults looking back. And I think you will want to see yourself as well. DON’T FORGET THE MUNDANE Most often folks get out the camera for only the big events- birthdays, holidays and vacations. But what about the every day, mundane things? I am fully aware that this part of my life is fleeting. My children are 10, 8 and 5 and in just a mere 10 years two of them will be off at college. I want to remember what a typical day was like at every stage. For instance, the other day I was braiding my daughter’s hair. This is something we have been doing since she was a toddler. It takes several hours to do...

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December Gardening

You may think there is nothing to do in the garden in December as the weather is bleak and the plants are dormant. But this time of year is wonderful for buying bushes, planting bulbs and keeping poinsettias in your home.  First I will tell you about some bushes that would be a great gift for the gardener in your life. This time of year is the best time to plant bushes. We tend to get a lot of rain in December and January so once you plant your bush you won’t have to be as vigilant about watering. And your bush will have the long, cool winter to establish its root system before spring comes. Here are some favorites for December.     The holly plant, with shiny dark green leaves with prickly edges, has always been associated with Christmas, most likely because it really puts on a show in December. Botanically known as Ilex, holly plants are a genus comprising of about 400 species. On the left is a holly bush I found in my mother’s yard. As luck would have it she doesn’t know which one it is. Anyone? Anyone? But some of the more typical favorites are Nellie R. Stevens, burford and savannah. On the right is a favorite in my yard- nandina. I hardly notice this bush during the warm months but it is...

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Great Photo Gift Ideas

Today I visited Southeastern Camera in Carrboro to find out the best gifts to buy for the photo geek in your life. We all have one in our family or circle of friends. They are hard to find at times as they are often hidden behind a camera or are in front of a computer screen for hours at a time, but we love them all the same! Chris Johnson at Southeastern Camera pulled out five items that have been big sellers this year. $169.99 Action Life Media has created an ergonomic grip for iPhones. There is a whole photography movement of images taken solely with iPhones, believe it or not. You can do really great things with them but they are hard to handle as they are so small and they cannot be mounted on a tripod. The iPhone fits into the grip securely and instantly has weight, an easy grip and the ability to mount it on a tripod. From there you can put lenses on your iPhone using the 37mm lens mount or use the wide angle/ macro combo lens that is included. You can also mount a flash or an adjustable microphone (sold separately). $149.99. Tripods by Sirui. The amazing thing about these tripods is that they are really light, only 2 pounds. Despite its light weight this tripod can carry a heavy load- 8...

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How to Better Photograph Your Family- Tip Seven

This is the seventh in an eight-part series created by me, Kristin Prelipp Oguntoyinbo, for the amateur family photographer. These tips are simple, quick things you can do to vastly improve the photos you take. TIP 7: HAVE A PLAN.   If you are the self-designated family photographer you work hard at faithfully recording all the family events. But what good are all of these photographs if you don’t have a plan for them? Do they just sit lonely and unattended on your camera? Or on your hard drive? First, I will give you a solid, easy plan for archiving them so they won’t be lost. Secondly, I will give you some great ideas for creating beautiful pieces for your home with these images.   ARCHIVE FIRST OR BE SORRY LATER   Let’s say, for example, that you have just returned from a family vacation. You can either connect your camera to your computer via a cable, or, if you have a card reader, you can pull your CF card out of the camera and put it in the card reader. Once your images have been exported to your computer safely, locate the folder in which they have been placed. DO NOT ERASE THE CARD YET! I recommend that you have a simple naming system in place. For instance, all of my family photo folders are called:   ogun_the...

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The Great Shoot Out in the Garden

On Sunday, October 9th, Kidzu Museum of Chapel Hill, North Carolina is hosting the Great Shoot Out of 2011 at the North Carolina Botanical Garden. What’s the Great Shoot Out? The Great Shoot Out is a fun way to get a professional portrait by one of North Carolina’s kid-friendliest photographers for a great deal! Sessions can feature up to seven people, dogs, cats and what/whoever else you’d like to have in a snappy photo. All funds benefit the amazing programming at Kidzu Children’s Museum. I am one of the professional photographers who will be on hand that day. What fun it will be to have a bunch of a great families in a gorgeous setting doing good deeds together. The event runs from 9 to 4:30. What is Kidzu? If you are a Chapel Hill parent with younger kids you most likely know Kidzu very well, but for the rest of you, Kidzu Children’s Museum is an interactive museum for young children and families located in downtown Chapel Hill, North Carolina.Their mission is to inspire children and the adults in their lives to learn through play. In a town full of activities geared towards college students it is a special oasis for people raising children in the Hill. I recently spoke with Marie Ong-Tighe of the museum about the event. She told me that in addition to the fundraising photographer...

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How to Head Swap

Even for a professional photographer it can often be challenging to get a great family portrait in which each person looks good. Perhaps one subject looks perfect in one frame but the other subject is scowling. Next frame brings the same problem but in reverse. The solution is to do a head swap! No, a head swap is not a medieval torture or a new yoga move, it is just an innocuous technique in Photoshop to save an almost great family photo.   My background is in photojournalism so at first this felt wrong to do this. A newspaper photographer would get fired for altering an image in this manner. But if the goal is to get an image that will be enlarged, framed and will become a part of your home, each and every family member needs to look their best.   In this example I was photographing two grandchildren for a client. The older child had not slept well the night before so smiles were rare. The baby was pretty jovial. I finally got a frame in which this gorgeous girl’s smile shone through. As luck would have it, the normally smiley baby was chewing on a toy in that frame. What to do? Head swap to the rescue! The original images were shot with a Canon 7D at ISO 800 at f/3.5 and 1/125. I used a...

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