your questions answered (part 3)

So, I just happen to be one of those people who totally unplugs when I get busy. I don’t really mean to … it just naturally occurs. I haven’t forgotten about the questions you guys so kindly asked me WEEKS ago, so I’m going to try to finish the rest of the questions up in this post.

questions | part 1 | part 2

*cracking knuckles*

Tristina asked …

After we move, Stephen will come back to Atlanta for one week every month. I will come back with him every three months or so for visits. Can we make a standing plan that I come see you for one day during those visits?

Easiest question ever – YES! We can even meet halfway at a park or something once summer gets here!

Antoinette (beautiful name!) asked …

Kind of a photography question: Do you “pose” your kids for your shots and clean up around them or quickly sweep things out of the background before you take a picture? I’m a total beginner photographer and I started out wanting to “keep it real” by having a policy not to arrange the candid shots taken around the house. But it seems that our “stuff” often clutters up the pictures.

Love your pictures :)

First of all, thank you!! So very sweet :)

And secondly, have you actually SEEN my pictures? Ha! I’m just teasing. In my normal everyday pictures, I don’t pose my kids unless the picture is very obviously posed. But it’s usually, “Emma, can you stand over here?” … *click* … “Wait, come back!! Argh, nevermind.”

So you know how I mentioned that I shoot with a wide-open aperture (smaller number) all the time? It’s really so that all of the crap in the background is blurred out. Because my house is not neat by any means. I have a 6-month old who is bored after doing things for about 4.8 minutes, and I have a 3-year old who never stops moving. Ever. A neat and clean house is simply not possible unless I never sit down. Or eat. Or go to the bathroom.

All kidding aside, I have definitely moved stuff out of the frame, or I have shot from a different angle to try to get fewer toys or clothes in the background, but I really do try to capture our everyday, including the not-so-pretty part of our everyday.

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But then when the stars align (or I have someone coming over), I actually get things cleaned up.

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And THAT lasts for about 14 minutes.

Christie asked …

I love that you take so many pictures. You inspire me to take just a quarter of the amount you do.

My question is this — what advice do you have for a mom who works full time to fit more photos in during the evening? When I go home I help fix dinner and then have to clean up, along with other various chores. Practice makes perfect when it comes to anything, but you have to have time to practice. What did you do when you had your little business making diapers and such? How did you balance it all and still have time for photography?

I’m also interested to know what you think about prime lenses as well. I just use my kit lens now, but I want to invest in something I’ll really love.

The sad thing is that you only see a fraction of pictures that I post. I probably only keep 25% of the pictures that I take. Yikes.

This is a tough question for me to answer, because I have the freedom to take pictures anytime I want. And I definitely did not know what I was doing back then when I didn’t have the chance to put that much time into it. If I worked outside of the home, I’d take my camera with me and take walks on my lunch breaks.

Actually, these are a couple that I took back when I was working full-time (and didn’t have kids, yet).

old autumn dip

I also leave the kids with Ken sometimes and just go for short walks around our neighborhood. You don’t have to go to a beautiful place to get beautiful pictures!

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And do a lot of shooting on the weekends! I know, weekends are busy around here, so I can imagine what it’s like for you, but I am living proof that you don’t have to dress your kids up and take them out to a beautiful location to practice your photography. You can start in your home!

And when you just can’t get out of the house, well …

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I answered (or didn’t really answer) the question about prime lenses versus zoom lenses here.

Oh my goodness, I am totally loving these questions … you guys should all be news reporters. Or interrogators for the FBI.

Christine asked …

1. How do you take such great shots of every day moments while still being an active participant in them? I find at times that I don’t even feel like I was there because I focused too much on the photos.

2. I have a 9 month old who still benefits from being “worn”. I have a Moby wrap, which I really love, except for the fact that he is so interested in trying to lunge and grab at things, I’m terrified he is going to launch himself right out the top of it! Do you think he is just too old for it, am I being paranoid, or am I not getting him in well enough?

First of all, I don’t think about the photos … I just take them. Seriously. I get my settings right, and then I just shoot what I see. I would be terrified to take pictures of other people, because my comfort zone is MY house with MY kids. I know where all the best light is, I know what makes them laugh, I know their schedule, I know what they like to do best. So I really don’t have to focus too much on the photos. I just have fun and shoot.

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To answer your babywearing question … you need a woven wrap STAT!!! Since it’s stretchy, a Moby wrap is really intended for itty bitty babies who don’t move around a lot. A woven wrap would definitely help you get a better “hold” on your baby and keep him tight. I still carry Lucy in a wrap around the house (and she’s 18lbs, 11oz) … I actually wrote a post about all of the different kind of wraps I use.

OR get a soft-structured carrier … Ergo, Beco Butterfly or Gemini, Angelpack, Boba, etc. I use a woven wrap around the house, but I use my Angelpack for shopping or walks around the neighborhood (now that she has to get out and swing or play) because it’s so easy to get her in and out.

PLEASE let me know if you have any questions – babywearing is one of my most favorite things to talk about these days. ;)

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Amanda asked …

How often do you get pics printed (if at all)? I have great pics of my kids but lots of times fail to get printed cause I’m lazy and then my walls go bare. And when you do print them, does your editing style translate to prints well? I love the different looks of cool edits, but wonder if I do them will they actually look good hanging on a wall. Oh and where do you get prints from? I’ve heard mpix is good, but wondered your opinion.

What camera bag do you have? I’ve got a trip coming up in a few weeks to Charlotte & Asheville w/my mom and Lincoln (SO EXCITED-first time to NC) and need a camera bag.

Babywearing Q, what length is your wrap? I went on a walk with Lincoln in his new woven I made, ruck sack carry. The tails seemed so long, its 4.5yds. Thinking I need to chop it some more.

Random life Q, will you be eating dairy again when Lucy weans? There are often times when I’m making something with cheesy goodness and I think “poor Keli she can’t eat this” :) But then I think about how you’ve said that its part of why you are so many lbs down from pre-baby weight and I wonder if maybe I should go dairy free to lose a few :)

I have always been really really bad at getting pictures printed, but I’m working on it. I just printed out the first couple of months of my project 365, and I am so happy with how they turned out! I definitely need to do that more often.

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My editing style has turned out okay, so far. Except for pictures I got printed last year for my parents – they turned out really yellow. I’m not sure if it was my editing or what, but they turned out awful. Of course, me being me, I waited until the last minute to get them printed, so I had to give them to them how they were. [And that just reminded me I need to get those re-printed]

I honestly can’t remember where I got the bad ones printed, but my favorite printer is White House Custom Color.

Okay, don’t yell at me, but I don’t currently use a camera bag [gasp]. I just wrap my camera in a cloth diaper and pop it in my diaper bag [which is a hugemongous Vera Bradley tote]. I am in the market for a good camera bag once Lucy is down to 1-2 diapers per outing. I’ve heard great things about Ketti bags, Epiphanie bags and Kelly Moore bags.

As for the babywearing question, I love size 6 wraps, which are 4.6 meters long … which would be about 5 yards. Having said that, I still use the type of carries that go around Lucy a couple of times to keep her secure. She’s a little wiggle worm.

For the rucksack carry, I tuck in my tails by using a tibetan tie – instructions here.

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Ooh, dairy … tough question. I’ve thought about this a lot, actually. I will admit that my digestion has improved since cutting out dairy, but I will probably go back to eating dairy once Lucy weans. I definitely won’t be eating as much, and I will continue using the Earth Balance butter because it is SO GOOD. I have found a lot of other great substitutes that I will keep cooking with, but I will not hesitate to eat a slice of pizza every once in a while.

As a matter of fact, ever since we started giving Lucy some solids, I have been able to sneak dairy here and there with no side effects on her, so … we may be past it? I’m not full-dairy, yet (probably won’t be until she weans), but I can eat regular hamburger buns or a few cheese nips here and there. Woohoo!!

I don’t see anything wrong with dairy in moderation, but if there’s one thing I found out while on this diet, dairy is in just about everything. Seriously. It’s the first time I’ve ever had to think about what I was eating, and I bet I will check ingredients for a very long time.

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I have decided that once Lucy weans, and I can focus on something other than dairy-free, we will be cutting out high fructose corn syrup and food dyes. Emma and Ken are going to kill me, because boy do they love their Captain Crunch Berries.

Kristin asked …

I would love to know how you shoot subjects in nighttime settings or low light settings without using your flash, or if you use a speed light. I love your photos from Sea world and the night time shots are amazing!!

MANUAL!! I shoot 100% of the time in manual. For low light images, I shoot with a high ISO and then adjust my exposure accordingly. I do not use a flash or a speed light. For the Sea World images, there was a lot of light coming from the actual show, so I only had to shoot at ISO 640.

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ISO 2500 (!!) * f/2.8 * shutter speed 1/50 sec * 50mm

But there’s a reason you don’t see very many nighttime shots around here … I don’t know how to use a speed light. I will only shoot at night if there is a LOT of light around. And then I usually convert to black and white, because I can’t ever get my white balance right.

Ashley Jean asked …

do you use noise reduction (in detail) in lightroom 3?
I just found out how to use it and it’s great. I learned from this video, it’s a must watch if you don’t know how to use. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmc8aHCCI3Y amazing results :)

I don’t, because I use LR 2!!! I know, I’m ancient. And cheap. I will definitely keep this saved for when I upgrade to LR3. Thank you!

Kim asked …

My kids play both indoor and outdoor sports. I have a hard time getting decent pictures in basketball gymnasiums and hockey rinks. What would you recommend?

Good question! And I have no clue. I really wish I knew, but I just don’t. So I’m throwing it out there for anyone else to answer. Please help Kim, sweet readers!!

And last but most certainly not least:

Ashley Jean asked …

I would love to see how you edit just some of your photos. I know you don’t have “a full-proof recipe ” but just a tutorial on how you edit a photo in Lightroom. Please

I am going to do this in a separate post. Soon. I really really will. But it is late at night, and I want to get this one posted before people forget who I am, much less that they asked me a question.

Thank you all so so much for being so amazing! XO

april 6

since we’re on the subject …

On the subject of babywearing, I’ve had a few comments here and there about what types of carriers I am using and how I get teeny tiny Lucy on my back.

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Well, I am using various woven wraps. For first time babywearers with newborns, I recommend either stretch wraps (like the Moby or Sleepywrap) or a ring sling (like Sakura Bloom).

You can also find stretchy wraps and ring slings on Etsy.

Stretchy wraps are easier to maneuver than woven wraps, because they have more “give” and they work really well for teeny tiny babies. Ring slings are also easy to use, especially in public. For instance, I don’t live in the city, so I drive everywhere, and it would be a huge pain to have to wrap and unwrap Lucy every time I get to a new store. A ring sling makes it super easy to just pop her in and out of it.

But I spent all of my babywearing money on wraps and don’t have extra funds for a ring sling, so I’ll chat more about what I do instead towards the end of this post.

Anyway, back to the type of wraps I use …

the red/white wrap and the green wrap with blue flowers are both Didymos wraps – I have no idea where to buy them new because I bought mine used off of The Baby Wearer forums.

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The red and white one is called a Didymos Indio and the green/blue one is called a Didymos Millefiore. I got them ‘cause they’re purty.

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But seriously, Milly (green/blue) is better for back wraps, because it’s softer and lighter and therefore easier to tighten up (you obviously want a TIGHT wrap when you’re back carrying) while Indy is better for front carries.

I honestly don’t use Indy that much because it’s thicker, and it hasn’t cooled down enough to get good use out of her. I’m hoping to get more use out of her when cooler weather finally shows up.

Plus, I really love back carries now that I’ve got the hang of them.

I also have a Girasol wrap that I actually did buy new from here. It is also very soft (like Milly) so I use it for both back and front carries.

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I also use a soft structured carrier called a Beco Butterfly, but it is out on loan right now. You can see it in my previous post about babywearing safety.

So … I don’t have the Ergo anymore (I sold it to fund the Beco a long time ago) and I have 3 wraps. And a Peanut Shell fleece pouch that doesn’t get much use.

So how do I get her on my back?

And since I don’t have a ring sling, I use the simple cross carry when I’m out shopping, because I can strap the wrap on before I leave the house and then pop Lucy in and out when I get to the various stores.

Except I tuck Lucy’s feet under her bum and keep them inside the wrap since she’s still a little too young to ride with her legs spread.

Okay, I want to get this posted before tomorrow, because I never know if I’ll have a chance to post during the day … but I am needed upstairs for a feeding, so if I missed anything, just post a comment and I’ll respond as soon as I can.

babywearing safety

You know, a lot of people are talking about how the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) is going after baby carriers. And a lot of people should be talking about this, especially if you wear your baby.

While there have been carriers recalled due to infant death, the majority of baby carriers are SAFE. And when I was researching babywearing, it took me about 10 minutes to see that bag slings (the carriers that have been recalled) were really really not safe. It’s unfortunate that because of the production of a lousy carrier, the carriers that are safe are in question.

There are many articles, blog posts, forums and pamphlets that talk about safe babywearing, including my friend Steph’s most recent post about this very matter.

Babywearing, when done properly, IS SAFE.

But what came to my mind when I was thinking about babywearing safety is how babywearing has actually kept my babies safe.

For instance, this Beco Butterfly kept my curious toddler from sticking her hands in a wild animal’s mouth at a hands-on zoo.

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this Gypsy Mama wrap kept my baby safe from nasty germs at the aquarium when she was just a couple months old (I mean, what is up with strangers asking to touch your baby?? FYI, they tend to leave your baby alone when you’re wearing them!)

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this Ergo kept my seven-month old from being accidentally dropped while hiking through some perilous trails (yes, I just used the word perilous – extra points, right?)

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this Peanut Shell pouch (used properly!) kept my baby from being accidentally stepped or slobbered on by our very very large dogs

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this Didymos wrap has kept my second baby from being hugged too hard or kissed too voraciously or jumped on by my extremely active and extremely loving 3-year old

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this Didymos wrap has kept my baby next to me no matter what I’m doing, reducing the possibility of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)

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this Girasol wrap has kept my baby from being splattered by hot grease while I’m cooking

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The moral of this story is … babywearing is safe as long as you follow the rules and regulations of safe babywearing. If you ever have any questions, Google is your friend! Don’t just assume that because it’s sold in your local Babies R Us or Target that it’s safe.

And don’t assume that because one poorly planned product caused unnecessary infant deaths, that all babywearing is unsafe.

Because it’s not.

And, dude … babywearing can actually keep your baby safer than not babywearing.