Archive for 2011

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

December 15th, 2011

I love Christmas! It’s my favorite holiday season. From the decorations to the songs to the movies I watch…it’s such a fun and festive time of year. I’m not really a Christmas cookie type of person, but for some reason, this year I decided to take a Saturday and make a bunch of different recipes. [...]

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I love Christmas! It’s my favorite holiday season. From the decorations to the songs to the movies I watch…it’s such a fun and festive time of year.

I’m not really a Christmas cookie type of person, but for some reason, this year I decided to take a Saturday and make a bunch of different recipes. These were all so yummy!

These chocolate chip cookies are now my favorite! I know that’s a controversial statement, much like saying “my favorite mac and cheese recipe,” but really, these are to die for! I think it’s the 3 types of chocolate in the cookies that does the trick :)

I’ve never made lemon bars before and these were very easy and quite good! Lemony and not too tart :)

Chocolate mint cookies – very tasty! My favorite part is right after you take them out of the oven, you place an Andes mint on top and let it melt for 5 minutes, then spread across the cookie with a spoon. Yum!

Cranberry cake – I’ve made this a couple of time, via my mom’s recipe. It’s really easy and also very good! I’ve never been one to partake in cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving, but this cake is so sweet that the cranberries’ tartness is a perfect complement.

These chocolate covered cherry cookies are tied with the chocolate cookies for my favorite!

For someone who claims to love Christmas so much, we don’t really have a lot of decorations…just the tree, stockings, and a table runner. I picked up this glittery wicker tree last year. It sure makes a pretty photograph, huh?

And, in a true departure from my non-crafting ways, I actually made something this year. I’ve often joked my Pinterest board is just a record of things I will never do, but I saw this wreath, and it looked so cool and didn’t require anything special so I decided to give it a go! I almost gave up because I had to go to 3 different stores to get all the supplies, but I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out! I originally found it on Whipperberry.

I took this picture of our Christmas tree today out-of-focus – pretty cool, huh?

In the spirit of the Christmas season, how amazing is this story? Kind people are paying off layaway charges at Kmart. It’s these types of things that make me happy to be part of humanity!

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Getting Bokeh in Your Photos

December 11th, 2011

We put up our Christmas tree today, which prompted me to think about all those photos you see this time of year with the lights blurred in the background. It’s a pretty cool effect, but how do you do it? It’s fairly simple, but you need two things: a “fast” lens and distance. I shot [...]

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We put up our Christmas tree today, which prompted me to think about all those photos you see this time of year with the lights blurred in the background. It’s a pretty cool effect, but how do you do it? It’s fairly simple, but you need two things: a “fast” lens and distance. I shot the photos below with my 50mm 1.4; you could certainly shoot the photos with a lower aperture but the effect won’t be as extreme. In these photos, I used one of my favorite ornaments from my childhood and handheld it as I stepped a distance away from the tree (about 3 feet).

This photo was shot at f/1.8. Nice background blur effect.

I stepped even further back and opened up my aperture to f/1.4. You can see how the lights get even more blurred and how the circles are almost completely round.

I then stepped down to f//2.0. As you can see, the shapes start to get a little more square.

I put the photo right next to the tree in this last one – as you can see, even though I’m still shooting at a low aperture, the lights don’t blur. Distance is key!

Happy shooting!

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Ann Marie, Eddie & Juliette: Irvine Family Session

December 6th, 2011

I am so lucky to be able to capture families as the kids grow! I took pictures of Juliette when she was a newborn, and I’m happy to say she’s just as sweet and adorable now as she was then! I took pictures of Ann Marie, Eddie, and Juliette in a fun family session last [...]

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I am so lucky to be able to capture families as the kids grow! I took pictures of Juliette when she was a newborn, and I’m happy to say she’s just as sweet and adorable now as she was then! I took pictures of Ann Marie, Eddie, and Juliette in a fun family session last weekend in Irvine. The great thing about working with kids is they’re unpredictable. You might think that’s a downside, but in order to keep them engaged, you have to keep changing things around, which makes for really fun pictures! Thanks for a great session, guys!

How beautiful is Juliette?

I love her face in this one! Looking to mama for reassurance :)

Love the laugh here :)

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Canvas Contest for 2011 Clients!

December 1st, 2011

This has been another great year and I’m thanking my 2011 clients with a canvas contest! I’ve created a contest on my Facebook fan page, and the client with the most amount of “likes” by December 11, 2011 will win a 16×24″ canvas! Please see the link below to go to the contest and good [...]

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This has been another great year and I’m thanking my 2011 clients with a canvas contest! I’ve created a contest on my Facebook fan page, and the client with the most amount of “likes” by December 11, 2011 will win a 16×24″ canvas! Please see the link below to go to the contest and good luck!

Courtney McManaway Photography End of Year Canvas Contest!

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Thankful

November 24th, 2011

I thought about my grandmother a lot yesterday. It started with my cousins coming to Thanksgiving dinner. Kevin and I have never hosted Thanksgiving, yet when I found out my cousin Jesse was moving into town, I couldn’t be more excited to host. I have another cousin that lives in Newport Beach, and Thanksgiving is [...]

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I thought about my grandmother a lot yesterday. It started with my cousins coming to Thanksgiving dinner. Kevin and I have never hosted Thanksgiving, yet when I found out my cousin Jesse was moving into town, I couldn’t be more excited to host. I have another cousin that lives in Newport Beach, and Thanksgiving is about family, right? So I started creating my menu. When my cousin Mackenzie told me she was bringing piegorgies, all the memories came flooding back. I started thinking about mashed potatoes, ambrosia, and meatballs.

All my grandparents have passed. But I have great memories of Thanksgivings and Christmases at Sweetie and Grandpa’s house; my mom’s parents. I know the layout of their basement by heart; small bar, fireplace that had a “fake” log, pool table we would cover with a large wood plank to place all the delicious food for holidays. There was the table where the parents sat (with huge vinyl pillows we would slide along the linoleum floor afterwards), the kids table, and toys my grandparents always had on hand. There was a small piano and life-like marionettes I remember vividly.

I thought about my grandmother mainly because as I was looking through my single oven, small kitchen, I wondered how she fed 30. My grandparents grew up during the depression and were incredibly frugal; yet looking back, I felt spoiled and loved every time we went there. It really is a gift to grow up so close to family. Sweetie (a name I gave her when I was a toddler; I heard her calling my grandpa sweetie and so I called her the same) was such a warm, sweet spirit. I remember her laugh to this day.

I called my mom today because the recipe she gave me for Sweetie’s meatballs didn’t quite work out. They fell apart as I was cooking them, and we discussed HOW my grandmother fed so many. My mom shared that whenever one of her siblings would have a baptism or confirmation, they would have as many as 80 family members, and my grandmother would cook tirelessly, often sending pre-cooked dishes to neighbors’ refrigerators until they were needed.

It’s odd to look at this picture – 3 people have passed since 2008 – but I am SO THANKFUL. I am thankful to have grown up with so much love, to have such rich memories, to be so rooted to my family. I’m lucky. Happy Thanksgiving.

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Rachael + Cameron: Anaheim Engagement Session

November 19th, 2011

You know someone like this. She’s so pretty, and fun, and sweet you kind of want to hate her, but you can’t help but be so happy you’re friends with her! Such is the case with Rachael of Charmed Beauty, who worked her hair and makeup magic for me a few weeks ago for my [...]

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You know someone like this. She’s so pretty, and fun, and sweet you kind of want to hate her, but you can’t help but be so happy you’re friends with her! Such is the case with Rachael of Charmed Beauty, who worked her hair and makeup magic for me a few weeks ago for my portrait shoot. I absolutely jumped at the chance to shoot her Anaheim engagement session with her fiance, Cameron. These two were so much fun to work with – easy-going and sickeningly photogenic. Thanks for the incredibly shoot, guys! Enjoy!

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Rachael…stop being so pretty. It’s making me mad ;)

Total cuteness ahead!

We ventured off to the Oak Canyon Nature Center to wrap up our shoot. The sun was quickly setting, so there wasn’t a ton of light to work with, but I love the photos! So sweet and intimate. I always encourage couples to bring “props” so long as they fit their personalities. In this case, I can attest that Cameron can play the guitar, and play it well!

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Cameron was showing Rachael how to play a little guitar in these photos…I just love them!

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Bounce Flash

November 18th, 2011

There are many photographers that think flash is the devil. I would agree with that to an extent – I do not think direct flash is the most flattering for any subject, and prefer to bounce my flash, via the “black foamie thing,” which can be seen here. I thought I’d post a very quick [...]

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There are many photographers that think flash is the devil. I would agree with that to an extent – I do not think direct flash is the most flattering for any subject, and prefer to bounce my flash, via the “black foamie thing,” which can be seen here. I thought I’d post a very quick example of how flash can look so much better by bouncing it!

As a carboholic, I just love pierogies. Here is an example of how they look with direct flash. All photos were shot at f/8, 1/250 shutter speed, ISO 500. The exposure has not been adjusted in any of the files.

Not a bad picture. Nice sharpness. The subject is bright. But I find the shiny parts on the plate distracting. I was standing directly above the food and I bounced this flash into the ceiling, which means it came back directly at the subject. In some cases, this looks great, but in this case, I’m too close to the food for it to look subtle.

In the next picture, I turned my flash head to the right and bounced it off our white shutters. The color is important – if you are bouncing off, say, a red surface, your photos will have a red cast.

I think this picture is far more pleasing. The reason for that is the photo has dimension. There is an apparent contrast between light and shadows, which makes the food look more realistic. This mimics the look of soft, natural light, which is a photographer’s favorite light!

I then turned the flash head to the left wall that was about 10 feet away from me. Here’s the result:

Not so good, huh? The wall is too far away at my aperture, which means the flash can’t output enough light to properly expose the subject at this distance. You’ll also notice the image starts to look grainy. I shoot with a 7D, and it’s pretty darn good at handling grain, so long as my exposure is correct. If I were to increase the exposure of this picture in Photoshop, the grain would be really bad.

Now, I could have opened up my aperture to properly light this. I might have started at f/5.6 and work my way from there to find the proper exposure. But it turns out the closer wall worked a lot better for me, so I’ll stick with that photo :)

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Lucy, Russ, Grant & Alec: Laguna Beach Family Session

November 12th, 2011

It’s been almost a year since I’ve seen this family! It’s amazing how much Grant and Alec have grown in that time. This shoot ALMOST didn’t happen in the rain, but Lucy was able to come up with a great back-up location ;) Enjoy! View Family Portfolio View Pricing Contact Courtney

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It’s been almost a year since I’ve seen this family! It’s amazing how much Grant and Alec have grown in that time. This shoot ALMOST didn’t happen in the rain, but Lucy was able to come up with a great back-up location ;) Enjoy!

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