Photo Tip Friday: Lighting - Part 1

by Mary Denman

Welcome back to Photo Tip Friday.

This week, I'm beginning a series on lighting in photography

Why? Because lighting is so important and is very dynamic. Especially sunlight. 

If you don't understand how lighting changes the mood of your photography, you may be missing out on some powerful shots. 

So this week is dedicated to helping you understand sunlight

Here's the big tip that you need to remember. 

The very best natural lighting is before 9:00 am and after 3:00 pm.
The light from 9:00 to 3:00 is known as devil lighting. 

Why? Because in the middle of the day, the strong sunlight creates stark shadows. You can use this in your photography, but it takes more work. And people don't photograph as well in the middle of the day unless they are completely in the shadows. But more on people photography in another post!
Mary Denman Photography

Let's get started.

In order to show you the effect of sunlight throughout the day, I took a picture of the same flower, from the same place, four different times during the day.  

This first picture was taken at 8:25 a.m.  

Notice how the iris almost looks like it's glowing? The long rays of the morning light illuminate the iris from behind since I was facing east for all of these shots. 

Mary Denman Photography

Then, I went back at noon. 

Notice that the shadows are much more stark? The stem has almost disappeared in the shadow from the iris. 

Mary Denman Photography

Then, I took a picture at 3:30 pm, once the sun was heading back down in the sky. By this point, the sun was behind me and so it illuminates the front of the iris.

Compare it to the noon shot. 

Mary Denman Photography

Finally, I took a photo at 7:00 pm when the sun had already set. There was no direct sunlight at all. This creates what is called a flat picture. 

Can you see the dramatic difference? You see almost no shadows, and it's harder to see the definition of the petals. 

The flower stands out from the background because it's white. But see how depth perception is flattened? 

To sum up: 

You can't always take pictures at the best time of day, but if you're aware of the effect light has on your photos, you can start trying to use the best lighting to improve your shots. 

And, the more you're aware of how lighting changes, the more you can learn to work with it. 

For bloggers: How could this flower inspire a blog post?

For cell phone users: Whether you're using a DSLR camera or a cell phone, you need to be aware of lighting. The newer a phone you have, the better quality optics you have and that means you'll be able to mimic a DSLR camera more closely. If your cell phone is older, you'll have to be more aware of lighting.

Cell phones read the lighting primarily where you focus. They aren't able to read the overall lighting as well as a camera. So, by knowing this, you can help your cell phone read the lighting where you want by telling it where to focus. In this case, it would be on the iris.

So, how has lighting been a challenge for you or when has it created a great shot? 

Which of these pictures do you like the best and why?

Hope this tips helps.

Keep on clicking. 



Photo Tip Friday: The Dynamics of Lighting in Photography (click to tweet)


Wordless Wednesday - Spring Blooms

Welcome back to Wordless Wednesday!

I have more beautiful spring flowers to share. 

I'm glad I got these shots because were going down to freezing tonight...they may not be as pretty tomorrow. 

Join me on Friday for Photography Tips

I will start a series on lighting.

Join LINKY below.

I do my best to visit your blog if you leave a comment!

Dogwood blooms by Mary Denman

Tulips and Azaleas by Mary Denman

Tulip by Mary Denman


Monday's Musings - What Does Tenacity Look Like?

Mary Denman Photography
by Mary Denman

We don't hear a lot about tenacity. 

Here's the definition: the quality or fact of being able to grip something firmly

We hear more about getting things done efficiently, being successful, playing well, mazimizing profit.  The list goes on. 

Mary Denman Photography
But I witnessed tenacity. And that got me thinking. 

Do I give up and quit too easily? 

Do I give up before I even start the day? 

I'm afraid the answer is yes. Way too many times. 

But on Lake Como in Italy, I watched tenacity in all it's beauty. 

Mary Denman Photography
Do you see the flowers growing out of the crevasses of the wall?

They don't have an easy life.

Waves from powerful boats pound them. 
Wash over them. 
Drench them.

Day after day.

But yet, there they are.

Clinging to the wall for life.
Mary Denman Photography
Withstanding the onslaught. 

Striking a contrast between the hard, lifeless rocks and the constantly moving water. 

It makes their beauty stand out even more. 

And it humbles me. 

You see, after losing my dear mother and father-in-law two weeks apart in May, 2013, I've had waves of grief crashing over me. 
Mary Denman Photography

Making me feel like I might drown. 

But here I am. 

Still hanging on.

I miss them terribly. 

Especially Mom.

But I hope my life brings joy to others and glory to God. 

He's the rock I'm clinging to. 

These simple flowers on a lake in Italy gave me a picture of what tenacity looks like in all it's beauty and power. 

So tomorrow, knowing that as I approach the anniversary of their deaths, the waves of grief will be ever near, I will remember that they won't drown me. 

That they will come and go. 

That I have the courage to hold fast. 

To keep trying. 

To not quit. 
Mary Denman Photography 

To quote Mary Anne Padmacher: Courage Doesn't Always Roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow."    

Mary Denman Photography

To quote 2 Cor. 4:8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;


Photo Tip Friday - Using Lighting and Perspective

by Mary Denman

Today, I really want you to start thinking about how lighting affects your shots because next week,
I'm starting a three part series all about lighting.

But before that, I want to show you how perspective can alter the effect of lighting. Or, how lighting can make you change your perspective. 

Let's get started. 

I visited Brook Green Gardens in Pawley's Island, SC. It's an amazing property. The owners, one of whom was an artist herself, set out to create an incredible outside museum with art. They only used American artists and built gardens to showcase the art. I went with my family the first day and then went back on my own to spend lots more time photographing.

This statue is so powerful by itself that they consciously made the surrounding area very simple. The reflection pool provided for some great shots. 

I walked the entire way around the statue, taking pictures from every angle. Why? Because of the lighting. You see, I was there in the middle of the day when lighting was the hardest to deal with. Natural sunlight is easier to work with in photography during the morning hours before 9 a.m. and the late afternoon hours after 3 p.m. (I will demonstrate and talk more about this next week in the first part of the series on lighting.)  But I couldn't be in the gardens only during those times. So I took pictures as best I could under the prevailing conditions. 

I started in front of the statue and worked my way around it. Notice the large reflection pool. I could only get so close, so I used the pool to add interest to the photos. 

Here's where I want you to start thinking. I want you to comment and tell me what's changing in the series of pictures. What do you notice about them? 

I also want you to tell me where the sun is. It's not directly in any of the shots, but it leaves enough clues so you can tell where it is. 

Which picture did I take with sun "behind me"?  Why do you think this?

So which is your personal favorite of all the shots?

I will answer any comments and make sure we cover all the clues left behind. But I'm pretty sure you will collectively figure it out. 

The reason I'm having you participate so much this week is because you will notice more about lighting before I start the series. Then, you'll be able to apply it more effectively. Plus, I love talking about photography! 

For bloggers: When you take pictures, you can use them for inspiration for blog posts. What would one of these pictures prompt you to write about?

For cell phone photographers: The same principles listed above apply to your cell phone.  As you move around your subject, the lighting will change and that affects your photos. Learn to use you phone camera just like a regular camera.

Hope this post helps.

Keep on clicking!


About me and my blog: 

I love writing, photography and teaching. I've tried to combine these loves on my blog. I talk about things I observe in life during Monday's Musings. On Wednesday, I participate in Wordless Wednesday which showcases people's photography from all over the world. Then on Fridays, I do Photography Tips.

Thanks for dropping by!


Wordless Wednesday - More Colors of Spring

By Mary Denman

Welcome back to Wordless Wednesday!

Enjoy these gorgeous colors of spring.

Come back on Friday when I discuss photography tips.

Join LINKY below!

I do my best to visit your site if you leave a comment!

Have a great day!
Tulips by Mary Denman Photography

Daffodils by Mary Denman Photography

Spring Flowers by Mary Denman Photography


Photo Tip Friday - Use PicMonkey

by Mary Denman

Today, I want to tell you about a free, online photo editing service that I think you'll be excited about.

It's called PicMonkey.

Why am I excited about it? Let me count some of the ways....

1) It's free! You can upgrade, but the free part is still awesome.

2) It's easy!!

3) It makes putting text on your photos fast and simple.

4) It gives you options for editing color, exposure, cropping, rotating, and so much more. I can do all those on my Mac, but I know a lot of people who can't. This is why I'm excited for you to learn about PicMonkey!

5) You can make collages, Facebook headers, and many other cool creations with your photos. 

6) They have great instructions.

7) Most important to me? PicMonkey never uses my pictures for anything, without asking for permission. There are quite a few free, online editing services that can use your photos that you upload to their site at will. It's in the fine print. That bothers me a lot. I'm not famous or the best photographer out there, but I do work hard at my craft. PicMonkey states very clearly that my pictures are my pictures. They made a huge fan with that alone!! Read the legal stuff here. It's actually funny.

8) The entire website has intelligent humor. 

So, on to some work I just created, just to show you some examples.

I've just started doing product shoots for someone who makes customized jewelry. This is an example of how I can show off what Amy does. Her website is here.

This next collage is just to show off the lovely daffodils that are blooming here in South Carolina. Spring is here!

This is one of the coolest things to do. I'm sure you've seen where people put a quote to a picture. I took this sunset picture, cars included. How many people were out and about with this gorgeous sunset going on, but didn't even stop to appreciate it?

So how does PicMonkey apply to you?

1) It's a great, free editing service.

2) It will help you if you have a blog, a Facebook page, or anywhere else where you have an online presence.

3) You can just use it to gussy up your pictures and print them if you like! Those can make great, personalized gifts.

Let me know how PicMonkey works out for you!

Hope this tip helps!

Keep on clicking!




Wordless Wednesday - Spring Continues

by Mary Denman

Welcome back to Wordless Wednesday.

Spring is getting prettier and prettier here. 

Hope they make you smile! 

Join me Friday for photography tips where I'll talk about Picmonkey.

Link up below.

And a big THANKS for all the kind comments you've left since my return to blogging. :) 

You make blogging a joy!! 

Happy Wordless Wednesday!




Photo Tip Friday - Perspective in Photography

by Mary Denman

Welcome back! 

I've missed all of you and I'm happy to be here. My shoulder is healing well this time. 

I've decided to add two sections at the end of the photography tips.
1) How to use your photography for your blog
2) How you can apply the lesson of the day to your cell phone photography

Let's get started with the photo tip for today. 

Recently, one of my cats started the new habit of sleeping up against the heating vent. This provided a perfect opportunity to take some pictures and teach about perspective in photography. 

This is an overall shot. Notice how this picture provides context. You can clearly see Duke, the vent, the window and the curtains. I was standing above him for this picture.

Can you tell where I was for this shot? Yes, I put the camera at Duke's level which was on the ground. Can you see the huge difference that perspective makes? Change your position to see your subject differently.

For this shot, I moved in closer while still on his level. He was very patient for this photo session. Notice how the focus is now on his eyes and face. I couldn't get the heating vent out of the picture entirely, but I minimized it so it wouldn't detract from Duke. 

Then, in my quest to eliminate the vent from the background altogether, I took this shot. I think this photograph is pretty interesting. It's not very typical. That's where your creativity can come in. Experiment with different perspectives. Some shots might work, others might not. That's fine. Digital is essentially free and you can delete anything that doesn't work. But you can also get immediate feedback and take another shot. 

For the last shot, I stood back up and once again focused on Duke's face. But from above. Notice the difference of the feel to the photo from the closeup at ground level?

TIP: When something catches your eye, take multiple shots from different perspectives. Move around. Kneel down if you can. Hold the camera above your head. Move to the left or right of your subject. Experiment my friend!

BLOGGING TIP: My friend and fellow blogger Alycia Moralas was very taken with Duke when he was younger. She took this photo. She used a program called Picmonkey to put the quote on the picture. She used this as a thank you note for writing instructors after a conference. You can also do this to illustrate what you're writing about. Or, your pictures may inspire you to write a post. 

(More on Picmonkey next week.)

Alycia's blogs: 
www.alyciawmorales.com and www.godsgloryphotography.blogspot.com

CELL PHONE TIP: You can move around as well. And, since it's so lightweight, it's very easy to get different perspectives. 

Share your thoughts on the pictures. Which do you like the best and why? 

Hope this tip helps! 

Keep on clicking!


P.S. I'm so glad I did this shoot with him. He left this earth too early for us. But he was a rescue cat and we gave him a loving home.  He is sorely missed.


Wordless Wednesday - Spring is Here!

Hi! I'm back!

And happy to be here. :)

My shoulder is recovering well. 

Drop back by on Friday for Photography Tips.

Join LINKY below. 


Monday's Musings - My Birthday Miracle

My Birthday Miracle

Hi! I’m back! My shoulder is mending well this time. I still have to build up strength, which will happen over the next few months. But I’m doing well. And happy to be back! So let me tell you a little story about a miracle that happened while I was recovering. . .

I wasn’t looking forward to my birthday this year at all. I don’t care about my age. That wasn’t it.

What was hard was that it was my first birthday without my mom. Not only that, but she and daddy used to always call and sing me the funniest rendition of happy birthday EVER.

You see, my mom had a beautiful voice. Well, used to. Until her stroke 11 years ago. Then, her singing was, well, it was different. My dad has never had good pitch. And once mom didn’t have so much control over her voice, it cracked. While they were on the phone singing to me, they would get off key and would break into giggles and laugh at themselves. Then, daddy would sing even louder, off key, just to make mom laugh. The whole way through the song! It was the highlight of my birthday each year.

Last year on my birthday, my husband and I drove up to be with my parents who were both hospitalized for different reasons. They were in different rooms so they weren’t able to sing to me. I didn’t want to be anywhere else on my birthday than with them. Little did I know, it was my last birthday with my mom. But we did joke about being in a hospital together many years ago for my birth during a city-wide, blizzard-induced blackout. Actually, it was an entire East Coast blizzard. And about my poor mom having to walk five flights of stairs in labor. . .

Which brings me to this year’s birthday. After mom passed away, I realized I would never again hear them call, sing me “Happy Birthday”, and break into fits of giggles and laughter at how they sounded.  

You see, I had never recorded it because I waited for their call each year and always picked up when I saw their names. I mentioned this to my sister not long after mom died. I couldn’t believe how much them calling and singing to me meant.

So my sister quietly started on a quest. About five years ago, mom and dad had missed her birthday and called her late to sing to her. But she missed the call. So she had a recording of them singing to her. On her cell phone. Which she no longer has. But before the voice mail went away, she got out her video camera and recorded them singing. But she didn’t mark it. For months, she’d put in tape after tape and forward through it, stopping to look for this elusive 30 second clip.

Then, on my birthday, at 10:00 p.m., my sister called. She asked if she could play me something that would make me cry. I laughed and said I had already cried enough that day and I’d be fine.

That’s when the miracle happened. She had just found the message. I got to hear my mom and dad sing “Happy Birthday”. On my birthday.

I have never laughed and cried so hard at one time!

My day was complete.

God knew how much I would need that this year. So, for whatever reason, mom and dad missed my sister’s birthday one year. And left her a voice mail on a different day.  They may have chided themselves for forgetting.  But look at the good He brought out of that!

I’m learning to trust that God knows what he’s doing. Especially in the midst of this difficult season in my life. He does love me.

And he loves you too.

P. S. And yes, she marked the tape clearly and now I have that message recorded on my phone as well . . .