Music Time

This week’s Take 52 Challenge theme was Music.  My two girls are always shaking or banging something which in their mind is making music so this week I had an easy task.

Change your Angle of view

I’ve been playing around with my speedlite lately, trying to get better exposures inside my house.  This shot was a combination of natural light coming in from the side and a bounced flash off of the ceiling above Mollie.  I’m working on some blog posts about using your speedlite (external flash) so more details to follow.

Week 9′s Theme: Growing

Feel free to jump in on the Take 52 Challenge at any time.  You’ll find us over at the Flickr Group and on Facebook too :)

Til next week





Do you need a Nifty Fifty Lens?

nifty 50 lens


A what you say?  Where have you been hiding out!

What is a Nifty Fifty Lens?

The Nifty 50 refers to a 50mm prime lens which is considered a portrait lens on most entry level DLSRs such as the Canon rebel series or the Nikon D3100 or Sony Alpha range.

Do I need it? Mollie nifty 50

If you are a beginner photographer and your main subject is your kids you will undoubtedly compare your pictures to those of the pro photographers that you have paid in the past to come and photograph your kiddos.

You want to be able to recreate those same types of photographs with your own DSLR.  You can get junior to smile and pose and look super cute but what you you REALLY want to know is how to get that BLURRY background like the pro did.  The lovely creamy background where it doesn’t matter whereabouts you shoot, your subject stands out, pin sharp against a soft out-of-focus creamy, dreamy background.

Well over half of my students come to me with this woe – “How to I get a blurry background?”


All about the f stops

As they learn a little bit about shooting out of auto mode they discover the concept of Aperture and learn that by controlling the Aperture, they control the depth of field, hence they have the ability to create a blurry background!

Nifty 50 aperture shot

Hurrah!  They’ve cracked it.  They’ve discovered they key…that is, until they try to shoot at a wide aperture with their camera’s kit lens – i.e. the lens that comes with the camera.  No matter how wide the open the aperture – usually f/4, the cannot achieve the blurry backgrounds they dream of.  Their photos still look flat compared with those shot by the pro.  Sound familiar?

So what gives?

Well, the main big difference between your shots and the Pro’s shots is most likely choice of lens.  And that’s where the  so-called nifty 50 comes in to play.  The nifty 50 is a 50mm Prime lens i.e. it it has a fixed focal length of 50mm and therefore doesn’t zoom.  If you want to get closer you gotta move your feet! This focal length of  50 mm is a nice distance for portraiture photography on entry level DSLRS and you’ll often hear it referred to as a portrait lens. But this is not where the secret lies.  The best thing about the nifty 50 is that is has an extremely wide open maximum aperture which means it will give you a much blurrier (is that even a word?) background than your standard kit lens.

Consider my fancy slide below:

Aperture slide for nifty 50

Aperture ratings

Most kit lenses can only open the aperture to somewhere between f/3.5 and f/5.6, depending on the focal length in use.  In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t a wide open aperture at all.

Our friendly nifty 50 however comes in 3 versions with a f 1.8, f 1.4 and f 1.2 maximum apertures for most camera brands.  These are considerably more open that the kit lens, allowing you to photograph inside in natural light with out the aid of flash, and more  importantly for this discussion, rendering a beautiful creamy blurry background.

That’s the key!  Use the best lens for the job and you’ll get the results that you are after.  The camera is only half the story…

I need to get one!

And the other awesome thing about the nifty 50?  It’s probably the cheapest bit of photography gear you’re likely to purchase.  Most pros shoot with either the f1.4 or the f1.2 but you can nab a f1.8 (like me!) for about $100. (Be sure to check out your own camera’s compatibility with any lens before you buy)

And trust me, you will blow yourself away with the results. Pin sharp, works in low light with beautify blurry backgrounds.  So what are you waiting for? Go grab one today!

Happy Snapping


P.S. The nifty 50 is such good value that it is one of the only lenses I recommend buying new – your can check it out on Amazon for the best deals.

It’s ok to admit your failures…

Ok I have a confession…I’ve fallen behind.  I’ve been so super busy over the last few weeks it’s been really challenging taking an image every week for the Take 52 Challenge (How on earth does anybody ever so the Project 365?)  Anyways, all is not lost.  The cool thing about this Challenge is that it’s mine so I give myself permission to keep on going!  I have actually been taking the images just not having had the time to post them, so now you get to see a mini collection all at one time.

Week 5: Shadows

This week I finally got my 50mm lens replaced so I spent some time playing with it wide open.  If you haven’t yet invested in a 50mm wide aperture lens then make it a point to do so soon.  I LOVE mine and I especially love that it is so lightweight and compact.  It makes a nice change from the heavy zoom lens that I usually have on my camera.  It gives such an interesting field of view and of course renders beautiful creamy backgrounds.  This shot is of Sam’s glasses and I love the way the shadows created by the glasses almost look like a reflection in the book.


Take 52 Challenge

Week 6: Shiny

I found Shiny a little tough – probably due to the lack of shiny surfaces in my house – I have 2 kids, a dog and a hubby who loves bringing the outside in you know!  And as my mother says I’m NOT a natural housekeeper.  So for SHINY I decided to photograph my newest Shiny object – the necklace hubby gave me for Christmas.  I used the little bell (also shiny) as a backdrop as it is a favor from one of our wedding showers way back when…

Shiny Take 52 Challenge

Week 7: Love is…

Awh, this week was an easy one right?  We were surrounded by love and lovely things all week so I used my iPhone to snap this shot of my brand new coffee tea travel mug from my hubby.  I was seriously excited about this mug – I mean it – I never had one of my own before and I need my tea in the mornings while carrying out my chauffeur duties for the little ones :)  Love is tea I guess! (oh and not forgetting the heart shaped peppermint patties)

CameraShy Take 52 Challenge

So I’m reinvigorated and planning to keep up from now on.  The crowd in the Flickr group is amazing – you guys inspire me!  It’s not too late for you to jump in – just get going this week and don’t even try to catch up.


Week 8:Theme: Music

Have fun :)







Take 52 Challenge – Week 5

I heard a podcast this week about how when we let the little things slip, then we begin to slide on big projects.  Makes sense.  Here we are at the beginning of February and so many of us have let our New Years Resoultions slip and then the goal gets lost and we let the whole idea slide.

Not going to let it happen with me. So, I ‘m playing catch up.  Only 5 days late with this post…

Week 5′s theme was Comfort

Take 52 Challenge



Sophie and her comfort blankie “Baddie.” He used to be so soft and cuddly … but even now, despite his lack of fluffiness, he still has his calming effect. Heaven help us if he were ever to go missing….


Week 5′s theme is “Shadows”

And I better get a wriggle on…

Happy Snapping