TIPS for taking pictures in a Theater

My two younger daughters will be performing this coming weekend in Seussical the Musical!!!  To say we are all excited is an understatement...we can't wait for late night rehearsals and anxiety over dance moves to be over, um, the AHHHmazing performances to be seen!

No really, it's been quite FUN to say the least...and in the words of our newly opened High's going to be HISTORIC!!!

If you've been keeping up with my ponderings lately, you'll know that this "season of life" with preteen/teenagers has been quite surprising and actually quite lovely (plus or minus the mood swings and occasional drama)

This is our last year of Expert Cubes and Elementary School field trips...our girls are growing up and I'm forever trying to keep up with all their musings and interests.  One thing I never regret, is getting pictures to freeze the moment for them...Let's face it, I'm getting knees are creaking, my ankles are sore...I THINK I can do the things I want to do (Oh the THINKS I can THINK!...see what I did there???) But, the fact of the matter is that SOOO much is going on, that I often forget's for that reason, that I'm thankful for pictures that help me capture moments in time...

So, with that said, I have some helpful tips for you regarding shooting in a Theater!!!


1. Please note that a pop up flash will do NOTHING in most situations.  A pop up flash is meant for distances of no more than 6 feet in front of you.  If you use a pop up flash inside a dark theater from far away, the most it will do is cause distraction for the performers...This has got to be one of my biggest pet peaves...HOWEVER, you CAN adjust your ISO to get more light if your aperture does not give you the ability to have a wide window of light to let through. Typically, in these situations, my ISO is set to 800 or even up to 1600 in some cases.  The spotlights definitely help...if you aren't sure what ISO means, be sure to take a look at my Mentoring Classes!!! 

2. Because it is dark, your camera is going to "want" or "ask for" more light.  Sometimes this means that it will SLOW DOWN your shutterspeed...this can cause major blur on really neat action parts.  Therefore, be aware of this and again, adjust that ISO beforehand to give your camera enough light to work with, without using a flash. By doing so, you allow your camera the ability to speed up the shutter in order to catch action without giving up the light needed for the frame. Try not to slow your shutterspeed lower than 1/200 of a second, especially if they are moving on stage.

IF you keep your camera on Auto, more than likely, in low light situations it will automatically pop your flash (which will do nothing unfortunately) OR it will slow down your shutterspeed to nill and you'll get blurry pics :( You can try to stay on Shutterspeed mode (S or TV) so that you can control the shutterspeed no lower than 200 and the camera will do the rest (again, continue to be aware of your ISO to give your camera the MOST available light it can use!!)

3. Zoom in as much as you can, but also be sure to get the big picture too.  Try to keep in mind the "story" being presented.  Every story has characters, details, setting and action.  Try to "freeze" those story elements in your imagery. 

4. If possible, use different angles.  Instead of just shooting straight on, try aiming up, to almost get the ceiling in the background...try different composition techniques like Principle of Thirds, to give the image more pizzazz!

5. Remember to ENJOY THE SHOW!  Try not to have the camera in front of your face the entire time (or your iphone...recording video or snapping pictures)  Relish the moments WITH your's so, so worth it...Get a handful of really great pictures for the scrapbook and then sit back and watch them shine!!!  


Snow Day Soft Pretzels

We've had quite a few snow days this year.

Don't get me wrong, we LOVE them...

the most recent one however ended up postponing my Junior daughter's ACT test, my youngest daughter's field trip and my middle daughter's rehearsal for her HS musical performing in just ONE WEEK!

Don't think we're complaining about "having" to stay inside with hot coffee and warm soups, snuggled under blankets whilst watching Netflix or reading books...

OH no...we totally soak up snow days to their fullest...but, there was just a tad of an "angst" in there realizing that even though we have one more week to also means one more week of worry for ACT...and the long awaited field trip will now be rescheduled for Spring (which feels like forever away!!!)

So, one thing we've started...(and by WE, I mean ME) is spending some time baking goodies during our days of "nothingness" in the freezing cold tundra of midwest Ohio...(and warm deliciousness that chase away the "i can't have my field trip" blues)

If you follow me on Instagram, you've seen my posts about Soft Pretzels...

It all started with Shorts Brewery in Michigan over the summer...(you can check out THIS Instagram Highlight story OR check out the #torloneaustin2018 to get a glimpse of "Shorts" and that whole summer adventure)

The fact of the matter is that, along with our besties, my husband and I adore Shorts' soft pretzels...the guys like the mustard dipping, the girls like the cheese or PBJ... (the dips are a whole 'nother blog post in and off itself)

I knew it wouldn't be long before we'd each start trying replicate those parcels of warm yumminess as we long for our summer time excursions...

and thus the search began for a perfect recipe...

Being a fan of the Great British Baking Show, as well as all things FOOD (network or otherwise) I happened upon a recipe by A. Brown, here

If you like the short and sweet or want to see his little video, please feel free to link over...otherwise you can hear my little commentary below...


Start by warming up 1.5 cups of water...yes, it must be warm...yes, it's even better if you have a thermometer because apparently yeast is very fickle...if it's not warm enough it won't do it's thing...if it's too hot, it'll DIE...literally, DIE a sad death of yeasty yuck! This yeast likes 110-115 degrees.

Pour into that temperature ready water, 1 TBSP sugar and 2 tsp kosher salt

At this point, I then dump it all into my Mixer bowl before I sprinkle the ACTIVE YEAST package on top...

(I've tried fast acting yeast instead of just active, but I didn't like the consistency of the dough once cooked...I have no idea why, I'm just putting it out there...consider it a PSA)

Let that sit and foam for about 5 minutes...

Get yourself a scale to weigh out 22 ounces of flour OR, if you're like me and don't own a scale, you can just eye about 4 1/2 cups of flour...

Once the water/yeast mixture has foamed a little, you can add the flour into the mixing bowl and start letting it knead with that hook thingy for the mixer.

While it's doing that, go ahead and melt yourself some BUTTER...the original recipe calls for 2 ounces...I tend to err on the "more is better" sometimes I do 4 TBSP and sometimes it's 5!!!

pour that into the mixer while it's going...

AT THIS POINT, I get all British Baking Show happy and feel the need to KNEAD!!! I pull it out of the mixer and start slapping it on the counter and kneading and stretching...and speak to my dough in a British accent pleading with it to "prove" adequately during it's time...

Once you've got it all kneaded up (you can watch the GBBS for tips on kneading & proving) and let it rise for an hour or so...(in the British world, I believe this is called "proving") I just spray that same mixing bowl with cooking spray, dump the lump inside and cover with a towel in a dry place on my counter.

Line a couple cookie sheets with parchment paper
Fill a big pot on the stove with water
Pour in 2/3 cups of baking SODA

After an hour, it should have risen around double in size-ISH...

Start that baking soda water boiling on the stove now and preheat the over to it will be ready once you are ready...

Dump the dough onto a sprayed surface.  At this point I get a sharp knife and cut off pieces of dough the sizes that I need...sometimes it's 8, sometimes it's 10...just depends on how big you want your pretzels.

Most recently, I cut out 10, with the idea of using 2 of the pieces to roll out and cut into 1/2-1 inch bites (they were soooo yummy)

When you've rolled out each piece and twisted them into pretzel shapes, get ready for the messy part...

Get a timer ready...when the water is boiling, ONE AT A TIME drop in your pretzels (or if you are doing the bites, put in about 5-6 at a time) DO NOT LET THEM BATHE FOR MORE THAN 30 SECONDS!!!

Use a spatula or grated spoon to get them out and put them on your lined cookie sheets.

Once they are all "bathed", brush each one with and egg yolk/water mixture and put in the oven for 12-13 minutes.

When they come out looking all delicious, be ready with MORE melted butter to brush or pour on...if you want the cinnamon sugar look, just have a bowl ready with brown sugar, cinnamon and granulated sugar and dredge them in that!  If you are more of a "salty" person, just sprinkle with coarse kosher salt or pretzel salt.


It's at this time that I typically text my neighbor boys and tell them that they can shovel their way to my house and when the drive it finished, pretzels will be waiting!!!  



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