DIY photography filters

inspiration, jewelry, photography By January 11, 2020 3 Comments

I love taking pictures–I’m an amateur with a lot to learn and that’s okay. Maybe that’s what makes it fun. I love to experiment and try new things. I use a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV and I’m not sure if that camera can take a bad picture. Because my husband and I have a business creating handmade jewelry and accessories, I take a lot of pictures of my jewelry {and other things too!}. I want to create that magical shot that captures the heartfelt meaning behind every handmade design.

Today I tried partially covering my lens in 3 ways to see what kind of results I would get. I used a hair band to attach the object to my lens. I tried an olive branch, tissue paper and twinkle lights. The images are straight from my camera and unedited.

Check this out!

To start I cut a twig of olive branch leaves and attached it to my 50mm fixed lens with a hair band. This is high tech, folks!

It created some natural streaks in the foreground. I think it adds interest to the image–especially with the olive branch next to the jewelry box.

This is the sunburst necklace. Do you know that feeling; when you’re walking through a dark time and you’re wondering if hope or joy are even possible? Your heart is grieving. and then you feel it–just a hint of light. The smallest ray of hope and you hold onto it as tightly as you can. The sunburst necklace captures that glimmer of hope

The sunburst necklace has powerful meaning–you can see why I want the photography to tell that story! Find the sunburst necklace here.

The second filter I used what tissue paper, torn in the. center and the attached to my 50mm fixed lens with a hair band. {I still haven’t put away all our Christmas wrapping paper–so it was right there, available for me! Sometimes it pays to procrastinate!}

Oh my gosh aren’t these results magical? The tissue paper creates soft, blurry edges and with the center of the lens unblocked we get a clear image of one of my favorite necklaces–the Open Circle necklace.

A circle complete and whole. Each of us is part of the whole—together we are stronger and better. Every person is unique and precious. Every soul matters. This is the meaning behind the Open Circle necklace. Find the Open Circle necklace here.

I pulled the tissue back a bit more and got this shot of the Sunburst Necklace. It created softer bits of blurriness–so pretty.

I really went on a limb here and tied some twinkle bubble lights around my 50mm fixed lens. I was laughing as I did it–and also super curious to see what kind of results I would get. Check out this pic of my Artisan Pearl earrings. The lights created some bokeh around the edges of the photo. This image isn’t edited! So magical and fun.

These earrings are forged by hand to create an extra long, gold-filled stem and finished with a freshwater pearl. The result is clean and absolutely stunning. The pearl represents grace and beauty. Perfect with jeans and white tee or your favorite black dress. Find the artisan pearl earrings here.

Louis allowed me to photograph him with twinkle bubble lights tied to my camera lens in exchange for some dog treats. He’s such a cutie. He’ll pretty much do anything for a treat–even give me a head tilt!

I decided to try these same techniques with my iPhone.

The first image above left is with a small olive branch partially blocking the lens. I could have taped it to my iPhone case but I just held it with my other hand. I think it’s fun–like I’m looking through leaves to take the pic.

The second image I used some tissue paper with the center torn out. The blur isn’t quite as soft but it does create some foreground noise that’s kind of fun.

The last image is using bubble twinkle lights. This one was a lot trickier and I didn’t love the results. It’s just some round orbs in the foreground without that magical bokeh.

Which one is your favorite? Have you tried playing with real life filters? Hmm, I wonder what other things I could use for filters?


Whoa! iPhone 7+ portrait mode

inspiration, photography By January 12, 2017 7 Comments

I recently got a new iPhone 7+ and I am LOVING the new portrait setting inside the camera. I believe only the 7+ has this setting. I’ve also heard it’s in beta form right now, so it will likely be even better in the future.

The portrait setting allows you to get a crisp foreground image with a blurred background. It’s so good that I wanted to compare it to the regular camera setting and my Canon 5d.

In the examples below you’ll see the images in this order…

  1. regular camera setting on iPhone 7+
  2. portrait camera setting iPhone 7+
  3. Canon 5d Mark II The first image {regular setting} compared to the second image {portrait setting} show how AMAZING the portrait setting is compared to the regular. Wow! It’s almost as good as the Canon 5d!

    The background but adds depth and interest to the photo, don’t you think?

    It’s hard to tell in the above image because the photo is mostly foreground, but even a bit of background blur i the second photo {portrait setting} makes the photo pop!

    I think the middle photo {portrait setting} looks breathtaking, don’t you? Of course the last one {Canon 5d} is even more magical. But I am impressed with the portrait mode. So cool.

    In the first photo {regular setting} you can see Matthias and the dogs cuddling in the background. I think it makes the image kind of messy looking. The second {portrait setting} the spoons really pop. The third {Canon 5d} has even more background blur.

    This last example of the three photos shows a similar quality between the second {portrait mode} and third {Canon 5d} photos. Pretty amazing, right?

Do you have an iPhone 7+? What do you think of the new portrait mode?


styled shoot featured on green wedding shoes!

features, found here & there, inspiration, photography By November 8, 2013 No Comments

A little while back I joined forces with the amazing Cameron Ingalls to style a vow renewal shoot and it was recently featured on Green Wedding Shoes!

The gold xo cake topper and the gold mr. and mrs. banner looked adorable on top of a fantastic cake made my Two Cooks Catering! And how yummy do those appetizers look?! I may have snuck a bite or two.

The tables were decorated with hand painted rocks, vintage plates and cups, napkins from World Market with super cute wooden utensils wrapped in our diy pom poms. So inviting don’t you think?

We couldn’t forget about the kids! The couple renewing their vows, Brit and James, have the sweetest kids you will ever meet! They loved their little fox plates and coloring page placemats.

I am so thankful for all the amazing people who came together to make this happen!! It was such a fun collaborative effort and I could not be more pleased with the results! Check out the feature on GWS here!

List of amazing contributors:

photography: Cameron Ingalls // planning + design: Lisa Leonard + Alexandra Creswell // venue: The Sanitarium San Luis Obispo, California // florist: April Flowers // catering + desserts: Two Cooks Catering // hair + makeup: Savannah Casteel // women’s wardrobe: Ambiance SLO // men’s wardrobe: Jules D // fine jewelry: Baxter Moerman // cake toppers: Lisa Leonard // misc. props (plates, napkins, placemats, wooden utensils, cups, etc.): Brickhouse Goods


Cameron Ingalls

blog friends, inspiration, photography By June 18, 2013 9 Comments

Did you see our new summer collection? Oh my goodness, it speaks to my heart. I hope it speaks to yours, too! We have a photographer on staff and she’s seriously amazing {we love you, Alex!} but the day of our photo shoot she got really, really sick. Our friend Cameron Ingalls jumped in and handled the summer shoot for us–how amazing is that?!

I thought it would be fun to tell you about the first time I met Cameron. I already knew he was. I mean, he’s an incredible, world famous photographer. He also happens to live in the same town as us, and we have mutual friends. I kept hoping I would meet him. And then one day it happened!

My family was having dinner at Del’s Pizzeria {so yummy if you’re in the area!} and as we were leaving someone came up behind me and asked if I was Lisa Leonard. I replied that I was and he introduced himself as Cameron Ingalls. It is cheesy to tell you that I was a little starstruck? Well–it’s the truth. He is so talented. I got a little tongue tied to be honest!

 A lot has happened since our chance meeting at Del’s that night. Our families have become friends and we’ve had many opportunities to work together on projects.

Cameron has a magazine called Wedding Standard {I know, he’s amazing, right?!} And we got to do a spread on cake toppers.

Last Father’s Day we interviewed him for our series ‘What rocks about being a dad‘. It was a breakfast shoot at their adorable home.

I was a guest speaker for a workshop he held here in San Luis Obispo and I also created some styled shoots for the photographers.

And last but certainly not least, he’s taken our family photos the last couple of years for Christmas. These photos are so precious to me!

 Make sure to check out his blog and like his facebook page. And of course, you can see the beautiful photos he took for our summer collection here.

{thank you, Cameron. you rock!}


expectations and family getaways

family, photography By April 4, 2013 48 Comments

Last week our family spent a couple nights in Santa Barbara. We needed a little time away, just the four of us. Can I confess something? Sometimes while we’re away, I start getting a little annoyed. It seems like we aren’t in sync and things aren’t going like I’d hoped. Instead of ‘going with the flow’ I start to feel grumpy.

After I gave it some thought, I realized my frustration stemmed from unmet expectations. So I asked everyone in our little family their priorities for our trip. I thought, if we can lay out what’s important to each of us and set some expectations, maybe we’ll all be a little happier. And guess what, it worked!

Steve wanted to go for a few bike rides. Done!

Matthias wanted to go see The Croods movie and eat pizza. Done!

David wanted to play piano and explore. {He didn’t say it with words, but we know what he wants} Done!

And I wanted to get a few family pics and shoe shop for the boys.  On our first evening in Santa Barbara we walked to pizza and on our way back I asked if we could snap a few family pics. Everyone already knew this was important to me, so guess what? They didn’t complain. Woohoo! I set up my timer and snapped a few shots. 

A few family photos and my heart is happy! My expectations were met–and I felt more relaxed on our trip.

What’s important to you when you get away? Do you HAVE to have time to read a good book? Do you have a favorite restaurant that you want to go to? Do you need to sleep in to feel like it was a true getaway?


manual settings {photography 101}

photography By February 14, 2013 10 Comments

Hey friends! I’ve invited Josie again to share some photography tips with you. She is going to teach you how to work the ‘m’ setting (manual) on your camera. Ok, Josie, take it away!

Hi everyone! Today I want to teach you how to use your manual settings, it can be a scary thought changing your settings from the ‘auto’ to the ‘m’ but I promise you, you will be so glad you did!

The first subject I want to teach you how to use is the ISO. ISO measures the sensitivity of the image sensor, in other words, the lower the number the less sensitive your camera is to light and the finer the grain. If you are taking pictures in a low light setting and you see a lot of grain on the photograph as a result, this is because your ISO is bumped up to a very high number. You can find the ISO button near the shutter release button on most cameras. I have shown some examples below. The first example shows the ISO at a very low number of 100, this means there will be little to no grain.

The next photograph has an ISO of 1000, so some grain has started to show. You can particularly see it in the unfocused area.

Lastly, this next photograph was taken with the ISO being at 6400, this is very high and in result there’s a lot of grain that has formed. Some people like more grain on pictures so they don’t mind turning the ISO to a high number, personally, I like when I can’t see too much grain.
The second thing I would like to teach you is about the shutter speed, or the exposure. Since the settings are already on manual, all you will have to do is look through your viewfinder and find the light meter. Nikon and Canon are complete opposite when it comes to changing the exposure so you will have to mess with it to see what side is lower exposure and what side is of higher exposure. After you have done this you can test it out! I use Canon and if I make the little line on the light meter go far to the left the picture will be darker like the one below.

The next photo is with the bar on the light meter in the middle, so the exposure should be close to balanced.

Lastly, the next picture is with a high exposure and the bar is far to the right. Play around with this setting, it can be so fun!

Here is another example of exposure! Low exposure below.

Normal exposure.

High exposure.

The next tip I would like to teach you about is ‘white balance’. You can normally adjust white balance in your menu settings. You may need to search around, but you will probably see the abbreviation ‘AWB’, which stands for ‘auto white balance’. You can play it safe and keep the white balance at ‘auto’, or you can go out on a limb and mess with the other ones! The below pictures are all the same but with different white balances. The photo below is the ‘daylight’ white balance.

‘shade’ white balance

‘cloudy’ white balance

‘tungsten light’ white balance

‘white fluorescent light’ white balance

Lastly, I would love to teach you about image quality. When it comes to editing, this is very important. The photograph below is shot with the image quality at ‘RAW’. This will be under the ‘quality’ tab in your ‘menu’ settings. If you want to do any color correcting on an editing software, I would shoot with ‘RAW’. The photograph below is an example of a RAW photograph edited. Something to remember, RAW photographs are very large files, if you do not have much space on your computer or a smaller memory card, I would stick with jpeg.

This next photograph is the photo edited as an original jpeg rather than an original RAW file. I applied the same edited settings as the photograph above. As you can see, it looks a lot different and you will have to spend more time editing with this option.

Now that you have become a manual setting expert go out and spend some time messing with the settings. You will find there is so much more that you can do to a photograph to make it your own!

Thank you Josie! I hope you all found this helpful for photography, I know I did! Do you have any other ideas for photography posts? I want to keep these going.


photo composition {photography 101}

photography By February 7, 2013 12 Comments

Hey friends! I’ve invited Josie, our social media specialist, to share some photography tips with you today. She is also a professional photgrapher–so she knows what she’s talking about! And seriously, she found the CUTEST model in the whole world. Ok, Josie, take it away!

Hi everyone! Today I am going to teach you a little about photo composition. In other words, constructing and forming your photograph in the way you want to get the message across. I asked my little sister, Ally, to be my model for me in this post!

You can make a picture look so many different ways and portray many stories. Where the highlighted object in a photograph is located is essential. I am going to walk you through a few tips to help you with this.

The first tip on photo composition that I would like to share with you is called the ‘rule of thirds’. This rule is actually quite easy to follow and will make for a great picture. The grid below shows 9 boxes and there are intersecting points. Make sure the item in focus is at one of those intersecting lines. The item that you have in focus along this line intersection will be the primary subject.

My second tip would be to keep the subject’s eyes in focus. This means, always have the focal point on the eye.

Next, you want to get a natural smile right? A lot of times when you pose someone they can feel awkward and not feel themselves. So crack a joke and snap away, taking 20 or 30 photos of the same pose is okay. This way you will have plenty facial expressions to choose from. If you don’t want to stick with the rule of thirds you don’t have to!

Finally, it is so important to scan the entire background. What I like to do is start from the edge closest to the subject and follow that edge until you go all the way around. Sometimes there are objects in the background that you will not want and you will need to reposition yourself to cut them out. Also, it is important to check that no objects are popping out behind the subjects head (palm trees, poles, etc…).

Often times when I take pictures it means moving around the subject or me repositioning the subject.

I hope these photo tips were helpful! I love getting creative when taking pictures.

* * *

Thank you, Josie! And thank you, Ally {the best model EVER!} Hey friends, what else do you want to learn about photography? I think we should make this a regular series on the blog–because I want to learn more, too!


Super tricks to make a photo { aperture }

photography By January 31, 2013 17 Comments

It’s Thursday and I’m ready to teach you some more photography tips! Today we are going to be talking about ‘aperture’, in other words, how you adjust the depth of field when taking a picture. I have many examples to show you. Remember, practice helps you get better!

Here is the first example of adjusting the aperture. The picture above is with a low number aperture (1.4) and the picture below is with a higher number aperture (8). The lower the number the more depth of field and more blur will result. The higher the number the less depth of field and more of the picture will be in focus.

To adjust the aperture, you will have to switch your settings to ‘M’ on your camera. When looking through your camera’s view finder you will see a number that is next to the shutter speed. It can be one of the following: 1.2, 1.4, 1.8, 2, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, etc… It all depends on the lens you have.

A great lens to purchase to get the extra ‘blur’ would be a 50mm 1.8. I highly recommend it and it’s very affordable in the camera world.

When adjusting the aperture, use the dial on your camera that adjusts the aperture and spin it left or right. Depending on your camera, the dial will be somewhere near the image view screen or by the shutter release button.

Small number aperture above, large number aperture below.

Here are a few examples of aperture adjustment. The first photo will be a lower aperture number, resulting in more blur. And the second photo will be a higher aperture resulting in less blur.

As you can see, all of these photos are exactly the same, all I do is adjust the aperture and it gives the photo a completely different look. I used the same lens for all these pictures and I was standing in the same place. Cameras have so much to them and they are a lot of fun to mess around with. I hope you get the opportunity to fiddle around with your aperture. It just gives you more control! Fun, right?

So what do you prefer, a smaller area of focus and more blur or a larger area of focus and less blur? If you have any other photography tips that you would like to learn please comment below. xo


Tricks to become a photographer with one shot

photography By January 25, 2013 18 Comments

Have you ever wondered how photographers make water look the way it does in the picture below? It’s actually quite easy and I am excited to let you know the trick. You don’t have to be near a beautiful waterfall to practice. I’ll show you some places around the house that will work just fine!

First things first, I only know how to do this with a SLR camera (the camera’s that have interchangeable lenses). If you have an SLR, this tutorial will be for you! Now that you have your camera, make sure to switch the settings to the ‘M’ for manual. This way you will be able to mess with all the settings and master the art of ‘slow shutter speed’.

Take a picture with your shutter speed at a high number and your aperture at a low number. This could look something like your shutter speed being 100, aperture being 2.0 and ISO being 400. When you are adjusting your shutter speed, make sure to look in the viewfinder of your camera at the little bar that will go back and forth when you adjust your shutter speed. That little bar needs to be in the middle at 0. Take a photo and notice that the picture will take very quickly and the shot will freeze. See the example below with the faucet, the water almost appears to be frozen.

On the contrary, if you want to make the water look like it’s still moving and almost have a ‘foggy’ look, follow these steps! First off, adjust the aperture to a high number, for example: you can make your aperture 11, shutter speed 13 and keep your ISO at 400. Since your shutter speed is a lower number and your aperture is a higher number, there will be a delay when you take your picture. Instead of the picture taking really fast, it will have a noticeable delay. Often times it is hard to get a clear picture from this, so putting your camera on a tripod will be helpful. You will then see that the water looks like it is in motion instead of frozen.

Fast shutter speed with low aperture number.

Slow shutter speed with large aperture number.



This picture is very noticeable. You can see that the water is at a dead stop with the fast shutter speed.

And the water appears to still be moving with the slow shutter speed.

I captured this raindrop hit the floor with the fast shutter speed and low aperture number.

This is the same picture but with a slower shutter speed and higher aperture number. You can barely see the raindrop! It looks like mist.

Another example of a faucet. Practice makes perfect so try every place in the house where you can find water movement.

Once you have mastered the art of a slow shutter speed, you will be able to take a photo like this! Super easy and looks beautiful.

I hope that this was helpful! I love photography and get so excited to share what I’ve learned from others. I wondered for so long how photographers took a photo like the one above and love that I can show you now. Remember, every camera is different and every lens acts in a different way. Play with your camera and mess with the settings over and over, that’s how you will get better and feel more comfortable using it.

What other photography tips would you like? I will do my best to help you master this beautiful art. I still have so much more to learn too!


light painting

DIY, photography By January 4, 2013 18 Comments

On New Year’s Eve we spent a {very} little bit of time outside doing some light painting. It was so fun but it was also freeeezing outside and everyone wanted to be inside under a cozy blanket, watching a movie.

To get set up, I used my Nikon SLR, a tripod, and a flashlight. Find a dark room or, like us, an outside spot that’s dark.

I set my camera’s ISO to 200 and turned off the autofocus. The shutter speed was super slow, which gives the subject plenty of time to draw with the flashlight while the camera captures it. To capture the word ‘love’ I covered the flashlight between letters to keep it more crisp.

So fun, right?! Don’t you want to try it??