Real Mom*tog – Hannah Jeng

I often get questions about upgrading equipment.  It’s easy to feel limited by the equipment you have.  But, there is something to be said about someone who can take incredible pictures without buying the latest and most expensive equipment.  If you know your camera and understand light you can get great images with whatever you have.

That is why I was so impressed with our Real Mom*tog Hannah Jeng from Happily Everly AfterHannah is a mom to two cute kiddos who is living in Chicago.  Her images are bright and happy and she is only working with a Canon T3i.  That is impressive, people!  Hannah recently gave some great tips on capturing movement over on the Mom*tog Instagram. You can see all Hannah’s tips here or search #momtoghannah on Instagram.  And be sure to follow Hannah’s personal account @happilyeverlyafter

*** Canon T3i, Sigma 17-50mm f2.8, f2.8, 1/60, ISO 400

Processed with VSCOcam with s2 preset

“Capturing movement [Part 1 of 2]: If you follow my personal account (@happilyeverlyafter) you’ve already seen this picture yesterday but I thought I’d share it here today to talk about how to deliberately capture movement.  There are many ways to create motion blur and it can be very hit or miss but here is what I’ve found to be useful:
1.  Slow down your shutter speed. When the shutter is open longer, the subject has more time to move across/within the frame to establish some kind of blur.
2.  Decrease your ISO.  By choosing a low number you will be able to have your shutter speed open longer without letting in too much light. Another way to compensate for the extra light is to narrow your aperture (higher f-stop number). 3.  Keep your camera perfectly still!  With your shutter open for longer, it’s essential that you keep steady.  If you have a tripod, use it!  As always, practice makes perfect! – Hannah @happilyeverlyafter #momtoghannah

*** Canon T3i, Sigma 17-50mm f2.8, f2.8, 1/8, ISO 200

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

Capturing movement [Part 2 of 2]: Whenever my son is stuck on a homework problem, he shakes his pencil up and down while in deep concentration. I knew I wanted to capture that little nervous shake for my January photo project and to my surprise it was easier than I expected! I purposely had him do his homework in the living room where there’s plenty of light, set up my tripod, adjusted my settings, and patiently waited for the moment to happen.  It didn’t take many tries to get the perfect shot because with the exception of his fingers, he was perfectly still!
Because photography is an art form, there’s no right or wrong way to take pictures. I think the most important thing is to experiment (and have fun!). Happy shooting! – Hannah @happilyeverlyafter #momtoghannah

Real Mom*tog – Jessie Nelson


It’s been about 7 months since we started the Mom*tog Instagram account and I love the talented, kind, and fun group of women that have all joined in.  It’s such a supportive community of Mom*togs.  Many moderators are nervous when I ask them to contribute, but by the end of their week they end up having so much fun, making new friends and seeing just how much they were able to help fellow Mom*togs.  I even end up learning something new from each of them!

One commenter mentioned that she wished she could easily bookmark the tips on Instagram.  Since you can’t Pin or bookmark them over there I thought I’d start sharing the most well received tips here.  That way you can Pin them for easier reference later!

This week we had Jessie Nelson from Twin Falls, Idaho on talking about how to take pictures in the snow.  Jessie is a Mom*tog to two adorable boys and a professional photographer at Rock Creek Photography.  She gets a lot of practice taking pictures in the snow and, subsequently, her snow pictures are magical.  As many of you know, it’s not easy to get great snow pictures!  She gave a great tutorial on her settings and how she makes adjustments in Lightroom.

From Jessie:

*** Canon 6D with 50mm f/1.8 lens; ISO 250, f/2.5, 1/1250 Edited in Lightroom


“Good afternoon!  It’s Jessie (@jessieolean) again and right now I want to talk about how I personally shoot and edit pictures in the snow.  My favorite part!  First, I tend to overexpose +2/3 to +1 when shooting in such white conditions.  With all the light bouncing off the snow, my camera seems to think it’s plenty bright outside and underexposes my children’s faces.  So I compensate by overexposing.

I do 90% of my editing in Lightroom, especially when it comes to snapshots of my own children.  I can’t say enough good things about that program!  I love it.  When I bring a photo into Lightroom, I tend to work from the top down.  I don’t like my snow or faces to look blue, so I often warm up the temperature a notch or two.  In this particular photo I increased exposure +.10 and contrast +5.  I like my snow to be bright so I brought up the whites to +20, just before the right end of the histogram hit the right side of the box.  But I like to be able to see a bit of the detail in the snow so I lowered my highlights to -25.  I increased the shadows to +15 to see my son’s face better and decreased the blacks to -50.  Again, I like my histogram to take up the whole entire box and I like my blacks black. Vibrance is set to +15.  In the tone curve panel I added a slight S curve. Here comes the fun part: I LOVE playing with the radial filter and brushes.  My favorite ways to use a radial filter are to brighten my subject a notch or two inside the radius.  I may also use a second filter to decrease the exposure outside the radius, decrease shadows, and increase saturation.  This makes my subject stand out against the background.  I’m still experimenting and learning everyday, but this is my basic post-processing routine.  However, snow photos don’t always need any radial filters when the entire  background is white.  Use your creative juices and play!”

You can see all of Jessie’s snow picture tips here or by searching the hashtag #momtogjessie in Instagram.


I despise the word ginger, but I love a day that gives me an excuse to kiss my two redheads even more!

*** Canon 5D Mark II, 35 1.4

F 2.8, 1/320, ISO 400

F 2.8, 1/2000, ISO

F 2.8, 1/320, ISO 400

F 2.0, 1/320, ISO 250

F 2.0, 1/800, ISO 500

F 2.0, 1/400, ISO 500

F 2.0, 1/320, ISO 250

UNmanual / UNediting Guide Sale

Recently on Instagram I’ve had people comment about my images.  That they are better than ever.  That they are kind of on a new level.  I think it’s a factor of a couple of things.

First, I’m not stressed.  This time of year is typically crazy for a photographer.  Rarely would I ever pick up my big camera to take pictures of my kids.  Finding time to take their Halloween pictures was always a nightmare.  Everything was so last minute.  But, last Spring I decided that I wasn’t going to do that to myself this year.  Taking Christmas card pictures is my least favorite thing to do.  So I just didn’t book those sessions this year.  I’m lucky that I can cut back.  And it’s made me so much happier.  I think you can see that in my images.

Also, I’d say 90% of what I’m posting to Instagram is from my big camera.  I always felt this pressure to get the shot with my iPhone.  Like I earned some badge when I could say that I took the shot with my phone.  When I would take the shot with my phone I’d also want to get one with my big camera just because the quality is so much better.  I also recently joined a stock photography site and I want those everyday moments so I can submit them there.  So, I ditched the pressure to get the shot with my phone and it’s another thing that makes me so happy.  I can get the shot with my phone.  But, I can get a better shot with my big camera.

And I can get a better shot with my big camera because I shoot in manual mode.  I know so many Mom*togs that get frustrated because the image they take isn’t what they envisioned in their heads.  I know my camera well enough that I can tell it what I want it to do rather than it doing what it wants.  Aperture and Shutter priority are great starting points, but the end goal should be manual.

If you are interested in learning how to shoot manual along with really understanding different lighting situations and how to embrace the light you have check out the UNmanual.  It’s half off today and today only!

And if you are interested in learning how to edit your images in Photoshop check out the UNediting Guide.  It’s on sale as well.  Hope your Thanksgiving was great!