Oct 19, 2010

You asked, I answer (again)

OK, so this is sort of a cop-out. Here it is, only Tuesday, and I can't think of anything to say.

I know. You're probably all like, "You're not Pioneer Woman or anything. We can take it if you take a day off." And yet.


You gave me a whole bunch of questions to answer last week or whenever it was, and I stored them all neatly and nicely so I could come back to them on days just like this one. I'm sure you didn't expect me to have to dig into them so quickly, but there you have it. Many of them deserve to be posts all their own, but several of them work well in groupings. These are some of those.

HandyFamily asked, "How about tips for blogging? Your humor shines through; how do you do that?"

Well, first of all, that's really nice of you to say. I'm glad you think I'm funny and not obnoxious. I guess the "key" for me is just writing like I speak. Or like I think. Or both. The way I write at work has to be pretty formal, and I can't take liberties there like I do around here. So this is my chance to write in a much more conversational style and throw in the occasional off-color remark, which is a nice change of pace. I also try never to write anything that I'd be ashamed for my kids to read in a few years ... because I assume that at some point they'll get curious and start reading it, and I might not even know it when they do. I don't want to embarrass them, and I don't want to hurt their feelings. I also don't want them to think less of me because of what they find here. So I guess that's it. Write like you're talking to your friends, and don't write anything you don't want your kids to read later!

Erin (a friend from middle school, when I lived in Raleigh, N.C.!) asked, "How about some photography tips featuring photos of sweetly dimpled little men?"

Well. First of all, I don't know anything about my camera. I shoot in full automatic mode and don't edit my photos before I post them. I don't have the patience to learn about shooting manually or the time to edit my pictures before I post them. If I had a fantastic one, I might boost the color or something before I printed it, but that's it. But I HAVE learned some things by trial and error that help me get better pictures (and these may not be true for everyone):

1. Don't shoot indoors unless absolutely necessary. If it IS necessary, shoot using natural light by windows. And if you can get outside, do that instead.

2. Never use the flash. I much prefer the natural shadows that form without it. There are some exceptions to this rule, but I completely ignore them.

3. Get farther away from your subject and zoom in with your lens, rather than using your wide-angle lens and just scooting up close to your subject. That will give you the nice blurry background that looks so nice while keeping your subject in sharp focus.

Although unless you've only got one or two subjects, this technique will NOT be quite enough to obscure a large grey trashcan at the bottom of your driveway.

In terms of getting them to smile at the same time, I have a few techniques. One is the Kid Pyramid, pictured above, which the kids usually like. No matter how many I'm shooting, I just pile them up. Usually they smile just from the fun of it. And sometimes you also get some other really sweet shots, like this one:

Another one is to tell them, "Don't smile. Don't smile! Whatever you do, DON'T SMILE!" And most of the time they just can't help it. They do. If you have Sport Mode on your camera (likely a digital SLR or "DSLR" feature), turn it on and ask, "Who can laugh the loudest?" Click away, and you'll likely come away with several really cute ones that look pretty candid.

With my boys, I can usually also get a grin by asking "Tooty McTooterson," "Pooty McPooterson" and "Burpy McBurperson" to look this way. Because what young boy doesn't enjoy a play on words that insinuates that he toots and burps? I DON'T KNOW ANY. And I'm loathe to mention this, but some of you might have teenage boys who won't smile. I won't give this person's identity away, but last year I was photographing a certain teenage boy whose mom reads my blog, and he was being rather uncooperative stoic. So I was forced to pull out the big guns. I put the camera in Sport Mode and shouted, "TITTIES!" Well. All I'm going to say is, I GOT SOME REAL KEEPERS WITH THAT ONE. Great smiles. Great ones.

And lastly, my dad has taken lately to saying, "Show me your armpits!" with groups like large families. Everyone throws their arms in the air and it's really spontaneous looking. Very cute.

So those are some tips I hope you can use ... at least they were free, right?  ;)

Amy asked, "Auburn or Alabama?"

If you live in an SEC state, you'd be surprised to hear that we don't root for either team. We're just not sports fans around here. But I think if I'd married someone who loved sports, I'd definitely be into it, because I think you just naturally gravitate toward things like that when someone else in your family loves it so much. I love watching the boys play baseball now, and at the end of Nathaniel's games, he usually asks to find a spot to watch another game, which we do. I'm happy to watch other people play and I love to spend the time with him. So if any of the boys end up talented athletes or even just avid fans of one team or another, I'm sure I'll be right there cheering alongside them, gladly.

Mama Bear asked, "What's your favorite snack food?"

Ohhh, Mama Bear. What a loaded question. HOW LONG DO YOU HAVE? I feel like I should break this answer down into categories and subcategories: Salty: salty - nut, salty - chip, salty - sweet ... Cracker: cracker - with dip, cracker - without dip, cracker - with cheese, cracker - without cheese ... But I guess I'm going to just have to choose one of something. Hmm. I'm gonna go out on a limb and assume that by "snack food," you aren't allowing anything chocolate. So that narrows it down a little. Still thinking. It might be a three-way tie between Almonds with Sea Salt, Wheat Thins with Smoked Gouda, and candy corn. OH SO SUE ME. It's almost Halloween.


paige said...

I'd laugh if you yelled "titties" at me. Because I know you. I wouldn't be shocked but it's be hilarious.

Unknown said...

I can testify! The "titties" trick worked like a charm on my Big Jake who is notoriously stoic!

Bridget said...

good tips! (my first time here.)

Sarah T. said...

I don't think that your full answer to "Alabama or Auburn" posted.

Great post!

Erin said...

OK, I have filed your teenage boy photo trick away in the depths of my mind for years to come. I hope they don't learn what that word means for a long, long, long time.

Until then, I can attest that anything having to do with bodily functions is bound to get a giggle. Gas? HILARIOUS! Oh, the 3-year-old boy brain.

Mama Bear said...

You had me until candy corn... :-)

René said...

Cute photography tips! I should have used the titties tip during "the walk". Love the armpit idea too.


Beth, Joshua, Isabella, McKinley and AnnaKate said...

so I'm a Project Manager too... Tell me about your job/industry. :-)

Katherine @ Grass Stains said...

Paige, YES. "Titties" also works well on adults. Proven strategy.

Bridget, welcome! So glad you came by! I hope you'll come back.

SET, you were right. Somehow a whole paragraph disappeared. I tried to recreate it ... but it's not as good as it originally was.

Erin, happy to serve! Thanks for the question.

Mama Bear, it's just that time of year. I had it on the brain. And also: I never liked candy corn until about three years ago. Now I love it. If you're not 37 yet, maybe you still have time.

Rene, yes you SHOULD have used it during the walk! If only I'd posted days sooner ...

Beth, I'll email you.

Katherine @ Grass Stains said...

Beth, your email just came back as undeliverable, so if you have a chance, send your correct email address to stainsofgrass (at) yahoo (dot) com when you have a chance!

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