Monday, November 18, 2013

DIY Lightroom Presets

Are you making exposure and color corrections to your photos using Adobe Lightroom? Have you bought into the pre-made Preset market?

Here's how you can MAKE YOUR OWN PRESETS:

•After importing your photos into Lightroom, choose the first image of the batch that you would like to make corrections to using the Development panel on the right hand side of your interface

•Once you are pleased with the look of that first image, right click on it in the "Film Strip" on the bottom; You will see an option to Copy your settings; DO THIS

•With the picture that you just worked on highlighted, go over to the Presets menu on the left side of LR; Choose the plus sign; The New Develop Preset box will appear

•Name your new preset based on the effects that you created for that photo in the Develop panel; Click Create


Happy Snapping, Vicky

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

How to Make Sharable Photo Stories and Books Directly from your iPhone or iPad with the NEW Blurb Mobile App

As much as Halloween is supposed to be about “scary,” in reality, it’s a lot about “cute.” It’s about kids in costumes, creative pumpkin art, and way too much sugar for everyone involved. Halloween is a holiday of sights and sounds. You’ll be taking photos and video that you’ll want to share that very night, but also keep forever. And, since you’ll likely be busy greeting trick-or-treaters, putting on costumes, and rationing candy, you need an easy way to capture the night’s events!

That’s where Blurb mobile comes in!

Blurb mobile is an app for the iPhone and iPad that lets you create sharable online photo stories—and turn those stories into beautiful 7x7 inch books. What’s a story exactly? Well, in the Blurb mobile world, it’s a sequence of photos and other media you capture on your phone. It can tell a literal written story—with beginning, middle, and end—or it can be just a collection of photos. 
First, take photos and video with the app, or import them from your camera roll (including those saved Instagram photos on your phone). You can add captions to your photos too. You can even record your little monsters saying “trick or treat,” and attach the audio track to your photo.

Get 15% Off a printed Blurb Book! Use Code:AUTUMN15 at checkout when you link to the Blurb mobile site below.

Want a printed version of your story? Blurb’s Small Square books are a great way to remember these special occasions!

So, whether you lean toward the scary or the cute or some awesome combination of the two—share your stories on Halloween night on your favorite social media sites with Blurb mobile. And then in a few weeks, get a beautifully bound photo book that you can look at for many Halloweens to come. 

Mamatography Tip:
Did you know that your iPhone and iPad have spot focus and exposure features? All you have to do is touch the point in the picture you want to be focused on or exposed for. Then click!

Happy Snapping, Vicky 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Capturing Fall Moments in the Pumpkin Patch :: Repost :: Mamatography Photo Workshops for Moms

Happy Fall 2013!
We haven't gone to pick out our pumpkin yet, but here's a little recap of our trip to Bedner's Pumpkin Patch in Boynton Beach, FL in 2011. My little Safi wasn't even 1 yet! Memories....

This thriving family fun spot was SMOTHERED with Mamatographers! I was so busy with my cranky girl that there was no time to solicit photo lessons ; ) 
Here are some tips for shooting in a busy pumpkin patch: 
1st, don't go at mid day! The best light is going to be early in the morning or late afternoon.I like the technique of a soft gleaming sun coming through my lens so Safi's back was always to the sun.
With that said, I experimented with Flash for filling in shadows. This gave my shots a nice saturation in the sky, pumpkins & her shaw.**Invest in an external flash, you won't be sorry you did**
CAMERA SETTINGS: Try to use your lenses WIDEST Aperture aka Fstop i.e. f2.8 or f3.5 for a painterly blurry background. To achieve this you might have to use a low ISO, i.e. 200 becuase there will probably be quite a bit of sunlight in the scene. As for your Shutter Speed, it will probably fall in a fast range of i.e. 1/500th of a Second.

For More on Camera Settings, Read my book or ebook, Photo Basics & Bayond- A Mamatographers Camera Bag Companion 
As far as beating the farm stand crowds...we booked it to the back corner of the farm where they had laid out cucumber plants to serve as imitation vines for the pumpkins. (It's very unlikely to find naturally growing pumpkins in South Florida). I tried to be mindful of my background and avoid capturing other patrons or farm workers in the frame. This gave my shots a feel of peaceful isolation so that the focus was ONLY on Safi.
I brought my Mom with me to help with Safi. Of course she wanted to eat dirt and gnaw on the bright orange pumpkins so it helped to have Grandma as a "Baby Stylist".

Here's some varied lighting examples...

Without Flash~

With Flash~

Happy Fall Shooting!
xo, Vicky & Safi

Monday, September 16, 2013

mod Camera Strap Giveaway & Review

Gladly, I took the opportunity to try out this comfy, cool, camera strap from mod. What's EVEN MORE spectac-ular, they offered to do a Giveaway for the Mamatography audience! Scroll to the bottom of this post to Enter!

In class a couple weeks ago, one of my fashionista students told me "Orange is the New Black!" I pondered this. Thinking, hmm, maybe I should completely redecorate my house in ORANGE, always getting ahead of my self ; )

Taking it down a notch, while I was shopping for some straps for the Mamatography discount store, I found the perfect one that would surely be fashion forward!
Not only is it the perfect color for Fall and the pattern itself is mod(ern), the quality and comfort is perfection!
When I'm shooting, I suffer from a lot of shoulder and neck pain if I'm going at it for a while. I prefer to carry bags that are padded and use straps that are cushy as well. This strap is just that!

The designed outer cloth is like a sturdy but wearable canvas material and the shoulder side is a plush brown material. There are durable clips which allow you to easily interchange there straps if you want to mix it up. What I really LOVE is that they're made in the USA! A heard to come by feature in textiles these days.

I definitely recommend mod straps for busy, tired, sore Mamatographers! Want one for your self? Enter the Giveaway below for a Gift Card to the mod shop or pick up the Orange strap in the Mamatography Discount Photo Gear Store, HERE.

For more on mod, check out their website, Facebook & Pinterest pages!

Happy Snapping, Vicky

Thursday, August 15, 2013

My Trip to the Polaroid Fotobar & Memory Lane

Last week I had the pleasure of exploring the new Polaroid Fotobar in my home town of Delray Beach, Florida after just moving back to the States.

I wanted to check it out before the Mamatography group "Foto Night Out" this month. I'm stoked for us local Mamatographers to have a chance to put faces to names as we've been working with one another mostly via Facebook. From my first step into the store, I knew that they would feel just as enthralled as I felt! The store had a NEW aire about it. Organized, modern, & fresh…and I mean smelling too ; )

I wanted to stay and play all night. But I had my feisty toddler, Safi, with me and my husband who even as a "Non-Creative" was excited with all the wall art we could create for our home.

I kept it simple on this trip and made a tryptic frame of our recent trip to Disney. Since I just upgraded my iPhone, this was a great chance to try out her printing legs and make some (digital) Polaroids from my Instagrams!

Their kiosks are chic and easy to use. You can either link straight to your Instagram account or upload your JPG's from a camera card, etc. For best results from your digital files, you always want to print from a minimal resolution of 250 DPI. And remember the more you scale and crop, the more pixels or Dots Per Inch you loose! A BIGGER PICTURE needs MORE pixels. 

The Polaroid Fotobar has done a stellar job of matching an online and IN-STORE experience. But my favorite part about the 'Fotobar Revolution' is how they are in part responsible for the resurrection of the Polaroid itself. They offer baskets full of traditional cameras and Polaroid film in the store. It's no wonder why so many digital photographic styles have been mimicked from the original insta-image. Back in college, I reveled in the Polaroids my Advertising Photography professor would snap in class with such vibrance and texture. I was just learning the 2nd Photoshop and was certainly still shooting film!

In 2008, Polaroid DISCONTINUED it's film and closed it's factory doors. A Great American Tragedy! That same year 2 Polaroid enthusiast purchased the last closing factory and started the 'Impossible Project'. And there it was, a Polaroid revival!

Now, with another new store open in Washington DC and others in the works, Mamatographers all over the land will have a chance to get their hands on custom products captured by YOU!

Wanna try out Fotobar products? Mamatography readers Get 20% OFF their Polaroids! (Use code: CJ20MR)

Happy Snapping, Vicky

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Christmas in July :: Get up to 20% Off a Holiday Photo Book

It's been a while my dusty old Blog! How's summer treating you?
My family and I have been just a LITTLE busy saying adios to our digs in Panama and re-re-locating back in Home Sweet Home South Florida. Though it's been a slow start getting back in the "norm" of things, one of my goals for this Summer was to finally make a Holiday photo book from last year. It's a young tradition to make cute little square, Blurb photo books for my daughter Safi. We've got a nice stack of them on the shelf in her room already. With that, I thought, why not drag the Mamatography Sharing & Critique group back down memory lane with me? So, this week's assignment was all things "Christmas in July".

Here's my version of it!
You too can 'Make Your Own Book'. Just click on the link after mine below.

C H R I S T M A S by Vicky Scesa | Make Your Own Book

To save up to 20% off your book, at checkout enter code: 

Merry July & Happy Snapping,

Friday, May 17, 2013

Great Depth of Field: Landscapes & Lifescapes in Guna Yala

Our family trip to Guna Yala (formally known as Kuna Yala & San Blas) this past weekend was not for the sole purpose of basking in the Caribbean sea. I knew that there was a story to tell of the Native people residing amongst these 365 islands. While there, I did take advantage of shooting some landscapes of palm trees, crystal clear water and white sand beaches. For wall art of course! To accomplish this, I knew that I wanted to shoot for "Great Depth of Field". This term in photography is generally used to describe a technique where all of the image is SHARP & IN FOCUS. The way to accomplish this is by using a smaller aperture than you might for say a portrait. Because there was a nice range of tones from the sea, mountains and sky, I was able to accomplish this very easily and didn't need to do ANY post correction using Photoshop or Lightroom.

For this image, I used my 17-55mm Nikon lens with an aperture of f8 to retain the detail in the fore and backgrounds almost equally.
For a complete guide on "Apertures" and other Camera Settings, pick up a copy of the Mamatography Photo Basics book!
Please excuse some of my personal, favorite family photos below ; ) 
Read on for a look at the Kuna culture!
Our view upon arrival to Isla Iguana from "La Launcha"

Digging with Daddy in the softest sand on earth! 
Lobster for lunch everyday? YES PLEASE!

Safi was just as curious about the nice nuns that arrived for lunch as I was.

Enjoying lobster and a snuggle with Daddy.

Who needs to wear a top when you're on a deserted island?!

Taking in the sunrise with my Boo Boo
As I mentioned above, the Caribbean itself was not the only reason for us to go to Guna Yala. I had been anticipating this trip from a Photographers perspective for years! So on our second day, we loaded up the "launcha" and held on for dear life as we bounced through sea chop over to the main village island where the Kunas reside.

Arrival at Carti Sugdub (Crab Island)

Another Kuna village across the way

Click the Pic to Enlarge
This image was the result of all my inspirations for this trip taken at the village of Crab Island (or Carti Sugdub in Kuna). I see these women in their colorful cloths and beads in the city everyday! My daughter's teacher is of their decent. My curiosity with the Kuna culture started on my first trip here to Panama CIty in 2009 with a shaded shot I caught of a weary Kuna woman staring at me from a phone booth. They come here to work, earning a living selling their popular Mola designs. They are HIGHLY protective of their culture greatly in part of the beauty of the landscape and risk of development form hoteliers. So much so, that in the 1920's their was a Kuna Revolution, in which they won. For me, visiting where they come from was a kind of closure. Because sadly, soon, we are leaving Panama. 

I imagine this lovely, elder women is on the Kuna Cocoa diet. The average Kuna drinks about 4 cups of organic, unrefined cocoa a day leading to long, healthy lives with a reduced risk of cancer and heart related deaths by an astonishing degree! 
Something to think about…

Safi & I getting our "Weenie" bracelets. I can't confirm the spelling, but that is in fact what they're called.

Below are Safi's little girlfriends, who followed us throughout the paths and allies, tickling her and calling for her with laughter. I wanted to wrap them up and take them home with us! We had bought these juices for them, it was a terribly hot day, that I'm sure they are very used to. But when the last sip was gone, to our horror, they chucked the plastic bottles straight over the sea wall and onto the rest of the garbage ON TOP of the buried sand line. WOW. HEARTBREAK.

Long before this trip, I had wanted to shoot a documentary on the Kuna way of life and create some kind of fundraiser scenario for the education of Kuna children. Mainly because I always saw their mothers working so hard selling their goods, just like the days when I went to work at the flea market with my mom. They are a symbol of independence and work ethic for women everywhere. To my delight, amongst the polluted village of the Crab, was this adorable little school boasting of brand new desks and learning materials. I especially enjoyed their bilingual alphabet and banners in both Kuna and Spanish. 

Now, from this experience, all I want to do is somehow educate them on how to contribute to the preservation of their BEAUTIFUL environment! All this granted, the government in Panama is not exactly resourceful in the way of environmental awareness. Steps are being taken in the Canal zone which is a very international area. But why not help the native people of Panama to be more aware too? They need to be taught to Reduce, Reuse & Recycle and be provided with a means to do so. These thoughts make me feel defeated at times, but if we start with simple education perhaps some books on the earth and our environment, maybe they'll tell their friends and their parents and MAYBE think before throwing that plastic bottle into the sea. 

I'll leave you on this note:
Snap some pictures. Share them and change the world!

Yours Truly, Vicky

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Mother's Day Giveaway from Mamatography Photo Workshops & Print My Picture Online

Mother's Day is this Sunday, which means it's OUR week!

To kick things off, Mamatography Photo Workshops & Print My Picture Online have joined teams to present to you a PRINT YOUR PICS Mother's Day Giveaway.

{No time to read this post? Just scroll down to the Rafflecopter form below to enter this GIVEAWAY!}

I am a fan of Print My Picture Online because I've ordered from them in the past to output my family photos. For this series below, I had them print a series of my Instagram (Follow me here!) snapshots either done w/ my iPhone or iPad. I was super impressed with how they came out! Who would ever think that you could get such quality pieces to show off in your home w/ a smart device?

5x5 Canvases from Print My Picture Online

16x20 Canvas from Print My Picture Online 
Photo by Lisa Della Bella
I recently sat down via web conference with Erica Bean, founder of Print My Picture Online, and asked her where the inspiration for her business came from. AND if she had any tips to share with the Mamatography readers on how to output their photos on Canvas.

Here's what she had to say: 
When my children were small I wanted to save every moment in time. I knew it was all going to be over in the blink of an eye. I took pictures of EVERYTHING! My home was filled with albums and supplies for scrapbooking, but I still felt as though I was missing out. I had all these great “pages” but none of them were on display anywhere. I decided I wanted images on my walls instead of the oil paintings they were filled with. I ordered large prints from all the typical “labs” but hated how they never looked right. The low quality had me searching for professional labs. To my dismay, their services were not available to me because I was not a professional photographer. But why did I need to be a professional to get quality images printed? I was determined that my pictures were deserving enough of quality printing. That is when my mission began! I wanted to offer the availability to anyone for professional quality printing at an affordable price. The same goes for our new frame line, BEAN Framed. They are available to anyone who takes pictures at an affordable price!
Some tips for printing on Canvas: 
Personally I've always LOVED photos on canvas! It gives such dimension and adds interest to your wall art. Have you ever wondered why some have the image on the sides and others don’t? It is a simple explanation, however, getting this effect doesn’t happen without some planning and forethought. When you are submitting photos to be printed on canvas you need to plan for the image to have approx. 2 inches of “expendable” space on all 4 sides. It's helpful to have computer software like Photoshop or Elements to custom size and crop your photos. Enlarging your picture to be 2inches bigger is not the fix, because you are making the images larger, you are not creating more expendable space. Expendable space happens when you are editing, even taking the photo! Don’t crop it all the way to the edge. If you do crop all the way to the edge the result, when printed on canvas, would be 1 of 2 things:
1). Blank space on the sides or 2.) 2 inches of your image (on all 4 sides) wrapped on the edge with back. This can change the whole vision you had for your art! When we feel an image is going to be affected by the wrap, we let the customer know that opting for blank sides is a better way to go!
xo Vicky

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, April 22, 2013

Trip to the Village of Embera Puru :: Photojournalism Tips for Moms :: Mamatography Photo Workshops

Happy Earth Day : ) For this post I'd like to share my photos from last weekend's adventure to Embera Puru, a Native village here in the jungles of Panama. Home to some of the nicest people on EARTH!

Many months ago, I had a pleasant encounter with an Embera family on the banks of the Canal. I snapped a few pics of them, as they were happy to, but I knew that there was a greater, more colorful experience lying up river amongst their many villages. I've been making a vigorous effort to take advantage of my surroundings here and most of all, the people. The native culture amongst me is so greatly intertwined with the modern happenings in Panama. There are multiple native groups, the most prominent in my area of Panama City are the Embera, Kuna and  Ngöbe-Buglé peoples. My daughter's teacher is a lovely, Kuna lady who I adore, named Teacher Dady (a little confusing at first to my American daughter ; ) She is from a very popular group of islands called San Blas. These are amongst the most beautiful in all the Caribbean sea. I've yet to get there but it's next on my list!

What's so great about the Embera villages for me, is that they offer a unique photographic experience relatively close to home here in Panama City. A friend of mine recommended Embera Village Tours as they provide a very authentic version of a tourist's excursion. 

In the Mamatography Photo Sharing and Critique group, this week, I assigned "Natives" as our weekly shoot topic. I wanted to give this one my all!

The Journey to Embera Puru: Fredrico carried some supplies I wanted to donate. "Amor" was our captain.
When we arrived, what a welcome it was!
This trip took around 1 hour by van to a lush, green, hilly bank just east of the Panama Canal. Driving through the many towns north of the city is a pretty common site. It's hard to imagine what we would soon find on our journey. Suddenly, the earth just opened up! And there were these dug out canoes and colorful Embera men there to greet us. *A couple funny side notes: Our guide contacted them by cell phone which they can access by climbing the hills in the village to notify them to jump in the motorized canoes to meet the tourists at the shore "ramp". Knowing these things did not take away from the experience one bit! In fact, my bottom is utterly grateful that I only had to sit on that piece of ply wood in the canoe for an hour and a half compared to, if rowed, could've taken a full day or more!  

I brought just about ALL of my gear on this trip because I didn't have Safi with me, this time! It was important to me to really focus on capturing the essence of the experience and leaving the diapers and crankiness at home. I used both my camera bodies this day because on one I had my 17-55mm Wide angle, zoom lens for landscapes and on my new camera my 50mm normal/portrait lens to capture faces, details and HD video of the village. I put everything to use! Important to mention that I brought a large raincoat with me to throw over my gear on the boat trip. Luckily, I didn't need to use it as we're on the edge of dry to rainy season.

View from my canoe on Rio San Juan de Pequeni
This trip was a much needed escape from the awful realities that had been LITERALLY exploding back home and seeing it all here on CNN. When I stepped off that canoe and walked up the hill of musicians, my camera holding hands shook with joy! 

My eyes filled with tears as I marveled in the faces of chubby cheeked children and their bare breasted mothers. It was all just so beautiful, like I was meant to go there all this time.

I immediately locked eyes with little Leila. She's 1 of 3 daughters of my new friend, Silvania. Whom, greeted me in English. I was shocked! Most everyday people in Panama, even in the city, do not speak English. That's just the way it is. But here was this native girl, giving up on my bad Spanish, and communicating in MY language.

Silvania is a storybook in herself. She's just 20 years old, a mother of 3 and working towards going to college in the city to perfect her English to show visitors like me, where she lives. What was especially interesting about her, is that she is not actually an Embera. She is from the Ngöbe-Buglé culture generally located in the more Western side of Panama. She met her husband (I still have to get the scoop how) who is from the Embera tribe, and brought her to his village where they are raising their beautiful children together. The elder women, including her mother-in-law, help her care for her girls as well since her family is on the other side of the country. 

I gave Silvania the goods that I brought for little girls. I could laugh at my self because I brought them these fancy sandals from Nordstroms and all the kids were barefoot! Just the way kids should be. One little one got a kick out of a pair of sunglasses Safi never took to. 

She and all the Emberas were so warm and kind. Men and women alike. The little girls whom were big sisters, really amazed me. They were little mothers themselves, filled with affection for their baby siblings.

Another baby's treasure!
Leila being sneaky with the big girls.
The cloths shown hanging on the line and on the female Emberas, are designed by them. However modern technology has enabled them to sketch their designs and then deliver them to the city where they are then EMAILED to Japan, printed and shipped back for them to wear, sell and enjoy!
Beautiful goods, handmade by the Emberas
Silvania coiling a traditional basket made from hand died, palm fibers.

as our guide Dave said, she's never seen a camera before ; )
Lunch! We were fed a fresh feast of Tilapia, which was caught in transit, with Patacones (fried Plantains)
in a leave sleeve. 
Mom splitting up a snack. Keeping the peace amongst little villagers! 

If you have the chance to take the simplest of excursions in which you can capture a native group, do it! Even if they too are adjusting to the modern world, they choose to stay removed from it. This makes for an intriguing VISUAL STORY in the style of "Photojournalism". Even in your day to day lives, when you're taking pictures, attempt to tell a story. Take more than one picture of the same thing or person on a particular day or at a special place. Remember every moment of a unique experience through multiple unique images.

On this day, I truly was a kid in a candy store. One just couldn't take a bad photo of these lovely people! I can't wait to return, next time with Safi. We're going to have a sleep over with Silvania and her girls. Should be intersting to see how Safi fares a day with out the iPad! Silvania says SHE can't wait to go to the city in July and catch up on TV. Though, her kids say to her "Mami, I don't like TV". Bless their little Embera hearts!

Happy Snapping, Vicky