December 10 on 10: Winter Woes by Lisa Robinson-Howeler

I'm tired of winter and it's barely begun.

I hate the gray days, the lack of sun, and the cold.

It has me completely unmotivated to take photographs and if I do take them I really have no desire to share them.

But, for the sake of consistency and for my own sanity during these winter months, I have been taking photographs.

The 10 on 10 is part of a blog circle and to continue the circle you can click on the link at the bottom of the page. Ithaca area photographer

To continue the circle visit Caroline's blog! And if you have a blog and want to join us, please do. You can find us on Facebook and join us in January!

Find time for your soul by Lisa Robinson-Howeler

There is usually at least one big blow up from me at bedtime on school nights and it’s usually directed at the 3-year old who thinks bedtime is playtime. I know it’s my own fault for trying to put two children with an eight year age gap to bed at the same time. I know it’s also my fault for not asking for a little more free time for myself where my soul can sit still and listen to my heart.

After I’ve stomped away to pout and decompress in the bathroom I usually remind myself of this and of the fact she’s only three and winding down at three can be a tough task.

She’s exhausting and frustrating but I wouldn’t give up the playful moments between somewhat tired and incredibly exhausted nor the quiet moments when she finally gives in to sleep for anything. I love to hear her giggles and watch her jump “jus’ one more time,” for the tenth time. I love to feel her body tiny and solid and completely surrendered to relaxation and rest against me. That moment I look down and see her eyes closed and her face relaxed is often full of internal elation because once she’s asleep I can have a little bit of free time for myself, if I’m not too tired.

Sometimes the free time I do find myself with is often so short I try to do too much at the same time - watch a show, edit photos and write a blog post all at the same time. In the end I often find I have accomplished very little and my head is a jumbled mess of thoughts and sheer panic that I don’t have time to do all I need or want to do.

My goal now is to choose one task I want to finish in that golden hour between when the two of them fall asleep and my eyelids won’t stay open anymore.

Today I chose blogging during her nap. At bedtime it may be catching up on a favorite show (of which I have only a few) or reading a chapter in a book or listening to a podcast. Whatever I choose I am grateful for those little moments of mental rest when my soul gets some much needed attention.

How do you step away to recharge your soul? Or do you? If not, make that your goal this week. Find time to make space for your thoughts, your feelings and for your soul to breathe.

Photography tips: Never be afraid to raise your ISO to get the shot you want by Lisa Robinson-Howeler

I recently joined a Facebook documentary group and right before I joined they had a challenge to capture scenes in the evening, after the sun set, at a higher ISO. For non-photographers, taking photos at a higher "film speed" (ISO comes from the day when photographers used film) can create a lot of grain, dots and pixels in an image, so it is often avoided, unless a photographer really needs to set their camera at a high ISO to get the scene before them.

Since I live in a dark house and in the north of the United States, low light situations and the use of high ISO is often required. It’s something I once lamented, having to push my camera to get a photograph I wanted after dark in my dark home. More and more I now embrace the light and dark and the grain but most of all the creative challenge of   finding the right light and the right position to get the shot despite the less than ideal lighting. 

I didn't get a chance to submit a photo to the album the other photographers had submitted to in the group, but I  tried the challenge myself one night based on their inspiration. 

My daughter was bouncing on the bed with her brother, procrastinating bed time, and I decided capturing the moment was more important that whatever grain resulted in the final image. After all, the image and memory was ultimately for me, not for a project that required a clear, non-grainy photograph. In the end I'm glad I grabbed the photograph because it was a memory that will mean something to me, even if it doesn't mean anything for anyone else.

The settings for my image were ISO 8000 (the highest I have ever gone), f2.8 and 1/320.

It was shot on a Nikon d750 with a 50 mm 1.8.

Other photographers in the group submitted their favorites from the challenge with a little information about their settings and what they learned from the experience. I hope you enjoy their images and will even visit their blogs to learn more about their art.

Alicia Thwaites

  This photo is by the amazingly talented Alicia Thwaites. Learn more about her thoughts on the project at  


This photo is by the amazingly talented Alicia Thwaites. Learn more about her thoughts on the project at

This was taken at 6:43pm
ISO 3200, f1.4, 1/200
“I learned that artificial light doesn't always have to be ugly and I can play with it and get an interesting shot. I can give myself permission to shoot in less than ideal situations and not miss out on moments.”


Adriana Silva

ISO 4000 1/160 f2.5 at 8:30PM.

“I learned that I could push my ISO much higher than I usually go for. I'm including routines that were missing on my memories. Grain... I love grain anyways!”


Cara Bettcher


6:54pm, ISO 3200, f2.0, 1/100

”While I feel fairly confident working with low light situations (thank you birth photography), I sometimes forget that you can make even the lowest light unique and powerful. This challenge forced me to step outside my comfort zone of just getting a "safe shot" when light is lacking and to embrace it and use it to create something unique and fun.”


Tara Lynn Geldart

Iso 10,000 1/320 f3.5 @6pm.

“We waited all day to decorate this tree. I was going to move it into the living room to get better light but it was still too dark. I was pretty bummed and almost didn't take my camera out because I couldn't make my "vision" work. Instead I bumped the iso and waited for the shot I wanted!”


Kathleen White


 f1.8, 1/160, ISO 3200 7:04pm

“Stalling before bedtime, but I'm in love with those perfect little eyelashes. There is something about this picture that makes me want him to stay little now more than ever before.
Also can I just say how much I loved this challenge. It completely pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped me see light in new ways. And it was nice to have some of these nighttime memories captured even through the chaos, when I wouldn't normally be taking pictures!”

Jessica Hachey

This was shot at 8:18 pm at ISO 12800. F 3.5, SS 1/200

“My take away was...experiment! I tried really slow shutter speeds, shooting all the way open and cranking up my ISO. The challenge forced me out of my comfort zone...and now my comfort zone is a little bit bigger.” 

Lori  Hancock McCurdy


F1.8 ISO 10,000
Here's what I shared about this shot...
"When your husband sits down to play the piano and sing and you think it's still so cool after 26 years. 
And you want to make a picture of it. 
And then your daughter decides to dance. 
But it's almost completely dark. 
And then he laughs at you trying to make a picture in the dark. 
But in the end you make the picture that means so much to your heart ❤️"


Nikki Gould



Taken at 8:54 pm ISO 6400 16 mm f2.8 1/250

I'm not afraid of taking photos in less than ideal lighting. It's something I've been working on, knowing that I do sessions in homes and I'm not always guaranteed outside light coming in through the windows. This challenge certainly helped me push myself and watch for the lighting that I needed to achieve the photos that I took, and to push my camera to the extremes. Luckily my kids provide plenty of entertainment when it comes to getting ready for bed.

5 tips for holiday photos with kids by Lisa Robinson-Howeler

I’m sure many parents are planning to attend holiday events this year and taking photographs of their children is almost always part of the festivities. Here are 5 tips for getting the best out of those holiday photos and most of them are the same for any other planned special  moments  where children will be involved.

1) Fill their bellies and get 'em their naps! Make sure your children are well fed and well rested before attempting to ask them pose and smile for a photograph. Low blood sugar and drowsiness is a perfect storm for tantrums, crying fits and uncooperative subjects. The same is actually true for adults. ;)

2) No need for the "smile for the camera!" chant. Don’t actually ask your child to smile. It’s not always necessary to pose your subject or even have them look at the camera to get a good photograph. Sometimes capturing your child in the moment, enthralled or excited about their surroundings is enough to make the moment and the memory magical.

3) Don’t use flash . Not only can a flash be distracting but it can also create unnatural images or allow only portions of the scene to be illuminated. If you’re not a professional photographer and can’t figure out how to take a good photo without the flash in a low lit scene, look for an auto setting on your camera that can help such as the the aperture setting which will allow you to set your aperture wide open, letting more light into the camera. If you can adjust ISO on your camera then definitely boost that up as well. Some smart phone cameras allow you to turn the flash off and will automatically compensate for the lower light.


4) Get low. Get down to the same level as your child so you can see what they’re seeing. This tip is true anytime you are photographing children but can especially be helpful at the holidays when the delight in a child’s eyes are what the moment is about.


5) You got to move it! Try different angles/distances. Yes, it can be important to get down on your child’s level but you don’t have to stay there. Sometimes changing your perspective can help give an entirely different feel to an image, whether by conveying a feeling of smallness or magnitude or simply bringing you closer to the action or the moment.


Most importantly and more important than anything is remember to have fun and not become so focused on visually documenting the moment that you forget to live in the moment. Remember to set aside perfection and planning and embrace the spontaneous for the sake of securing memories.