Open Thread Thursday

Such a Jasper Face

What do you want to know??

I thought we’d try something new today!  If it works, I’ll make it a regular feature :)

Back when I was a house blogger I used to read Apartment Therapy religiously and they had open thread posts quite often. The way it works is you just post any question you have in a comment and other readers can comment with an answer to your question or post one of their can be about parenting, photography, or just whatever you feel like throwing out there!

So, what’s on your mind?

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Beth47, I am not Ariana, but check out for photo printing, much better than drugstore pictures.

As for the bokeh (blurry background) that is something you do in camera. A lens with a wide aperture (f/1.8 for example) is a great place to start with getting that look to your images.

Beth47 says:

I was wondering if you had a recommendation on a good online source to develop pictures. Maybe something for a novice that’s better quality than Walgreens.

I was also wondering how you get the background to be blurry on close-ups. I love it! Is it the lens or do you change it in photoshop/lightroom?

Shane says:

@Sarah — i recently read a book on Equally Shared Parenting… while it’s not focused on marriage, it is focused on sharing the parenting responsibility along w/ the other elements of your life that make you fulfilled and happy. Like most ‘approaches’, I think it’s best to see which parts resonate w/ you and put them together in a way that best suits your family. Do a search on Apple iBooks (and likely Amazon too) for “Equally Shared Parenting”.

If there is a specific aspect that you are interested in or a specific stage (newborn, infant, toddler, going back to work, sick kid, etc), I’m happy to try to share what’s working for us.

lelu says:

Haven’t checked in over here for a while. Jasper is getting so big and he’s just as cute as ever. Loved the Father’s Day post!

I wanted to answer Fiona’s question. I think most mom’s are surprised how deeply they love their firstborn and are worried there is no way they can love someone else as much. That was one of my biggest worries before my second was born. But it’s just as amazing, just as wonderful. I think maybe your heart grows along with your belly and makes plenty of room for that second baby. And for me, the third, fourth and fifth as well. I am amazed every day how much I love those little people!

And if you feel like superwoman now, just imagine how you’d feel if you drove three kids to school, took two more to play group, taught four piano lessons, did ten loads of laundry, cooked dinner, then had them all bathed and in the bed by eight. (That is by no means my everday, but I have days like that. Often.) I am superwoman. Every mother is. It is the best, most rewarding, awe inspiring thing that has ever happened to me.

Oh, and my kids are each about three years apart. 13, 10, 7, 5 and 2. I never had two in diapers at the same time. That’s what works for us. I know women with children 18 months apart and they love it because they play so well together. That works for them but I don’t think that would have worked for me. I think you just need to know yourself. But second babies? I totally recommend them :)!

P.S. I miss becoming home too.

Sarah says:

Hi –
I miss becoming home too! I think that was one of my first design blogs I ever read. And I think you have single handedly made me love photography. Oddly enough, there are more pictures of my third born than my first!

I sent you an email too, but my question is about marriage and any advice you have. How do you and Jeff make it work, while parenting?


ariana says:

Fiona, yes, definitely will do it again!

Your second question is a bit harder, and I don’t even know if I’m qualified to answer.. but I think I can give at least ONE piece of advice:

Join an online community or forum of other photographers and post regularly for constructive criticism (CC) on your photos. I am a member of and I have learned SOOOO much about how to improve my photography there.. honestly I wouldn’t be half of where I am today without it. I regularly see people who go pro who have white balance issues, skintone and consistency problems, exposure and PP problems and I always think to myself if they were members of ILP they would NEVER think they are good enough to charge anyone with that skill level!

It’s a great place to get a grounded opinion of your skills rather than listening to friends and relatives who will ALWAYS think your pictures are awesome.

For hardcore CC ILP is the place.. for business resources I LOVE the Clickin Moms photography biz forum. I also get business advice in ILP since I was accepted as a “prepro” member, but the board is slower than Clickinmoms so I like to have both options :)


Heather, that’s a hard one to do a tutorial on because it’s so specific to ME, I just kinda play around with free fonts I download! I can do a tutorial on how to watermark though!

heather says:

I would like to see a tutorial of how you make such a pretty signature on your photo’s. Maybe its pretty simple but I would love to put my name on my photos but I have no idea how and I have never seen one as pretty as yours! Thank you!

Fiona says:

Second question: Will you do “Open Thread Thursday” again? I hope so….

Third question: What three pieces of advice would you give to someone who wants to start a photography business?

ariana says:

Fiona, I always wonder about that too with the second child.. hopefully someone will chime in because I’m not qualified to answer :)

As for my logos, I don’t really consider them logos, infact I really want to redesign the becoming mom one! I mostly just download and play with free fonts and then for the decorative elements use free “dingbat” fonts. I’m DEFINITELY no graphic designer LOL.

Katie, awwww, I feel so bad about becoming-home and how I just unceremoniously abandoned it. Glad to hear someone misses it, even though I feel more guilty when I do!
Occasionally something happens around the house that I think would be a good becoming-home post, like Jeff built a shed a while back.. but we’ve sort of neglected the house a bit.. ok a lot since becoming parents, so I guess my focus on becoming-mom is in step with my new reality :)

Momma Wilson, thanks for delurking! It’s hard to give exact settings because I don’t know how much light we are talking about (I haven’t really attempted shooting after dark), but if you are reading your meter and then checking your histogram you should use that as a guide to let you know if you are exposing properly, and it may tell you you don’t have enough light at all. IN general, in any low light situation you need to crank up your ISO, probably lower your shutterspeed as low as you dare (but NO lower than 125 for kids and preferrably higher!) and open your ap all the way. If all else fails, a speedlite will be your best friend :)

Momma Wilson says:

I’m a long time follower, new commenter:) So, hello!

I am a mom that loves to photograph her kid… but I have the hardest time shooting in manual mode at night. Any recommendations on what settings to use if the sun’s not out?

Thanks in advance:)

Katie says:

I am also a long time reader who is just commenting now.
Just wanted to say that I miss becoming home and your house blogs and projects. You have such great style – will you ever post there again?
Katie :)

Fiona says:

I have another question for Ariana….your logo for your website on here and becoming home – how do you do it?


Fiona x

Fiona says:

Hi everyone….

I think Ariana is right about the level of self sacrifice on becoming a parent. Also I never knew how much love I had inside of me for another person…how my love is so fierce…I never knew I had it.

I am amazed at how strong I am…. I gave birth, I made another human being with my body (with a tinsy bit of help and a lot of looking after from my husband!) I continue to function on very little sleep and keep a household running, baby fed and clean, shopping done….I am SUPERWOMAN and so is every other mother out there (even though some days I feel like I am falling apart!)

What I want to know is what it is like to have a second child….is it as special? Do you love them the same as your first? How long do you think it is ideal to leave between children…?

Love this post Ariana….

Fiona x

ariana says:

Lisa, yes- that’s right – just hold it down.. a lot of people ONLY back button focus with AI servo. As far as the weight and motion blur.. that’s one of the reasons that I was told that the IS was TOTALLY worth the extra money on these lenses. 1) because they are incredibly heavy and prone to motion blur and 2) because at long focal lengths camera shake is more of an issue (like with macros). I don’t think I’d get the images in sharp focus that I do with my 70-200 without IS. In fact I KNOW I wouldn’t because one time I had it in the wrong IS mode and my pics were soft.

jbhat, I’ve been wondering where you have been/how you are.. glad you still have time to pop in every once in a while b/c I’ve missed you! :)

jbhat says:


Just chiming in to say that I too have been busy, but that I checked in today and love your recent posts. Especially the one about Father’s Day weekend. It sounds like it truly was an exceptionally wonderfully weekend, and I’m so happy for all of you.



Brooke says:

Ariana-long time blog stalker, first time posting :)

I was wondering…where did you find the white blanket you use during your newborn shoots with the incredible texture?! Love it!

ariana says:

Hi Brooke! Glad you delurked :)

I use two white blankets, both are from IKEA – one is the ofelia bobble blanket and one is the ofelia throw. Both are available online!

shae says:


Here is some stuff I wish I had known before the baby – to have senokot and fleet on hand at your house. My husband had to make a midnight run my first night home. I wish someone would have told me how terrible I would have felt the first week (not to scare you) – but the hormones and your body trying to recover from birth are really tough. That combined with no sleep can make you feel terrible. And finally, just know that even if you try your hardest (like me!) that sometimes breast feeding just isn’t going to work for you. I was someone who used to scoff at women who didn’t breast feed – then I had problems with my milk coming in, etc. Then I realized not to be so judgmental. Oh, and one final thing – I swore I didn’t want help – that it should be a special time for my husband and me with the baby. That changed the moment I got home and my mom ended up staying 8 days with one pair of clothes as a result (b/c she hadn’t planned on staying).

The good part is that it is wonderful to have a newborn- so don’t take this all as negative – this is just stuff I wish I would have known.

Oh, and I also co-slept, used sleep aids, and always rocked my baby to sleep. Do what you want, and don’t let others make you feel bad about it! My co-workers still judge me for co-sleeping. But I work all day and it is a way I get to spend as much time with the baby as possible. Not that it is “the right way” – but just to say do whatever works for you!!!

Sarah says:


Three things I did not expect before I had a baby:

1. You should never order the second glass of wine when you’re eating out with a baby. You never get to finish it.

2. You and your partner have to do so many things apart from each other. I didn’t realize that if I wanted to go out to a movie or for drinks with friends it would likely be a “girls night” and vice versa. If I want to go shopping (in peace), he has to stay home with the little guy. Etc. So you end up doing a lot of things apart from one another. (We’re on a budget ever since I decided to stay home, so babysitters are rare treats.)

3. It’s the best, best, best (after the first six weeks:) I don’t think I was really, truly happy until I had my son.

Lisa says:

I back button focus so if I switch to AI Servo do I just hold down the focus button all the time?? Also I just bought a 70-200 3.5-5.6 and normally shoot with a 50 1.4. It is WAY different and so heavy. I am having a problem holding it steady and also having to shoot with such closed down aps. Any suggestions?

Dyan says:

Hi Ariana!
If you could recommend an inexpensive camera for someone who would like to take great pictures but doesn’t want to fool with setting aperture, lens, speeds, etc.?
I was looking at Nikon Coolpix or something like that?
Hopefully under $200.

ariana says:

Hi Dyan,
My favorite point and shoots are the panasonic lumix series. They use Leica lenses, which are VERY high quality. They are constantly coming out with new models that are in the $300 range that have HD video, but you can also find older models without video in the $200 ballbark.

ariana says:

I know!! I totally want to, just been crazy busy, but I’m going to try harder :)

Ariana you need to come hang out with us more time on the bump photo board! Pam you should come over there too.

ariana says:

He’s doing great! We stopped treatment after maybe 13 weeks? Since then, maybe 6 months later he had really bad rashes and reactions to SOMETHING, but we never figured out what it was, food or a surface irritant. But he has no known food allergies as of now!

Thanks ML for answering Pam’s question.. I was going to suggest AI servo as well :)

Pam, the manual will cover those but in a nutshell one shot focusing once as you depress the shutter halfway then keeps that focus until you fully depress or release. ai servo keeps focusing as you push the shutter button down until you release or fully depress so it is constantly updating the focus. the other mode, ai focus I think? makes a guess of if it thinks your subject is moving or stationary and then picks either one shot or ai servo based on that guess.

pam says:

Thanks MicheleLouise! I have no idea what all the focusing modes mean (I guess I should read the manual, eh?) so I’ll check to see if that’s what it’s on. I don’t think it is, though.

Pam – what focusing mode are you in? You need to be in Ai Servo so that the camera knows the subject is moving and to keep refocusing until it actually captures the image. I always switch to that for moving targets and back to one shot for stationary things like landscapes, architecture or macro photography.

Danielle says:

How’s your son doing since completing NAET, or is he still receiving treatment?

pam says:

Ariana – I guess it’s not so much about freezing action as getting the camera to focus fast on whatever I’m trying to focus on, while the kid’s running. If that makes sense. Maybe it’s just something that gets better with practice. :)

Jennilynn says:

And for your 1st question-
You will be SHOCKED that your body will function on as little sleep as you are getting the first few weeks.
I didn’t know how much my relationship with my pets would change.
And its more wonderful than you imagine :o)

ariana says:

Amy, I think your first question is a tough one… I don’t think ANYONE really understands exactly the level of self sacrifice particularly in the first have to think of it like basic training or something. That baby OWNS you the way a drill Sargent would :) But then it REALLY does start to get easier, and I can say that now I feel much less like a martyr!

About EASY, just like Pam we used it as a rough guideline and it worked for a while, but only after maybe the third month or so? I feel like it takes a few months for a reliable schedule to emerge, and once it did it followed that guideline. Then, because he went to daycare where they do only two naps he transitioned to that schedule.

Pam, what shutterspeed are you using? With running kids you need it at LEAST at around 250 or so, even if that means jacking up the ISO!

Jennilynn says:

We used the EASY method and it was WONDERFUL. The main things about the newborn being on it was just trying to make sure they got full feedings (to avoid any snacking, though sometimes it happens anyways with growth spurts), and have awake time after eating during the day.
The main thing I didn’t like about those books is they suggest not using “sleep props”, like EVER. And I came to realize quickly that when little ones are that little, it doesn’t freaking matter where they sleep- as long as they are getting sleep! Around 4 months is when we started making some adjustments. (We ended up using a little bit of Ferber to get him to nap in his bed eventually- he went down at night, but not during the day)We still don’t REALLY let him cry it out much- if he’s crying in his bed, something isn’t right in most cases.
But Rowan was always a great sleeper. I don’t know if its because we did EASY, or if its because we got lucky. You’ll get critics telling you that you don’t listen to your child just because they hear the names of the books- do what you feel is right and ignore them.
My child is one of the most well rested, and HAPPIEST baby around- we always have strangers( & Family) shocked that he is so smiley & loving & happy all the time. So I have a REALLY hard time believing that I’m a bad parent who doesn’t listen to my child’s needs ;o)

pam says:

Amy – We used EASY as a rough guideline for the boys. It worked pretty well for us. I also followed something I read somewhere (not sure what book it’s from) where you put the baby down for a nap 2 hours after they wake up, then another nap 3 hours after they wake up, and then down to bed 4 hours after that nap. Or something like that.

But we were lucky, the boys came home from the hospital on a schedule, since they spent 2 weeks in the NICU. Obviously I hope that is not the case for you. :)

pam says:

My question is about photography. I have a hard time focusing on my boys when they’re running around. Is there a certain method I should be using? Or just shoot fast and often and hope for the best? (I have a Canon 40D)

Amy says:

Also, any parents out there that used the E.A.S.Y. schedule from the Baby Whisperer, or the Babywise techniques? Was it helpful for you and your child? Any good tips for starting out a newborn on a schedule?

Amy says:

How did your expectations of becoming a parent differ from the reality of becoming a parent? I am 10 weeks from my due date, and I would like to be as mentally prepared as possible