Hot! Hot! Hot! 100 degrees, and over, here in Rock Hill, SC. The heat has been excruciating for the past week and my kids are going stir crazy! The Carolina summers are certainly beautiful with all the happy sun, but man oh man, is that heat and humidity some serious stuff. It's like being slapped in the face with a steamin' warm wash cloth each time you venture outside.
Needless to say, we have been sticking to indoor activities. The Children's Museum in Rock Hill was on our agenda today so my little Energizer bunnies could use up some of that energy. If I could just bottle it up and sell it I would be a millionaire!
I took my camera with me on our excursion so that I could share with all of you some tips for taking pictures at a museum and give you an overview of this little gem we have here Rock Hill (only 20-30 minutes from Charlotte, NC).
If you happen to need a place to bring your kiddos to beat the heat I suggest going to The Children's Museum on Main Street in Rock Hill. First, I suggest parking in the parking lot behind the museum. There is not much parking on the street and I know how pesky parallel parking can be with multiple children. So make your life a little easier and get that child transportation vehicle into the parking lot. It is on White Street. Here are a couple pictures to show you that you have the correct lot:
Millstone will be easily viewable from the parking lot. You will not see any signs for the Children's museum yet. BTW: Good pizza here!
This is the important part of the parking lot. There is an alley behind that woman who is walking her dog. This is a very cute alley to walk down to get to the museum.
This alley was recently painted and tiled. If you haven't seen it yet it is a fun place to get pictures. As you can see, my kids thoroughly enjoyed it! Once you get to the end of this alley you will take a right onto Main Street and the museum is only a few doors down.
One more shot for the photographers to see the majority of the mural. We went around 3pm on this day and there was no direct sunlight, so it was easier to get an exposure that didn't have too much contrast.
How did I get this image?
Nikkor 35mm 1.8 prime lens
Shutter speed: 1/400 sec
The Main Street Children's Museum in Rock Hill, SC
I thought this was just a tree house, but it's actually an elephant-shaped tree house! "The more you know!"
As you can see from the images above there is a lot of fun to be had in this nice little air-conditioned museum. It is not big enough to feel overwhelmed with two children running in different directions, but there are many parts to play pretend at. The list in order of L's favorites go like this (she was very specific about this when I asked): tree house, castle, dress up room, kitchen, ship, train track area, frog dance floor, puppet stage, pumpkin baby play area, pulley system, and gift shop. Sometimes the museum has special events, which are always well put together. One of the best things is how cheap it is to get in! Only $6 per person and babies are free. Take a look at their website by clicking here for more information.
Let's talk photography now! If you will be bringing your DSLR camera with you I suggest taking your zoom lens. I took my 35mm prime and regretted it partially because it was hard for me to get in the position I needed for some of the shots I really wanted. One positive to taking my prime lens is that it provides a larger aperture (opening in the lens) so that I did not have to boost my ISO too much. When you increase your ISO you will notice more grain. The outside pictures from above had an ISO of 200, but then I changed the ISO once I got inside to 1000 and then to 2500 because I was not getting a shutter speed high enough to get clear pictures. I mainly used manual mode instead of shutter priority or aperture priority because the lighting inside is wonky (yes, that's a technical term). This is one of the main reasons learning how to use manual mode is important. Most of the pictures were an aperture of f/2.5 or f/3.5 because the lighting was low. I try to keep my shutter speed at 1/160 or more while the kids are in play mode because I want to capture movement. If they are running I want it to be higher. I did take a couple of the pictures at 1/80 but the majority of those I did not share because they ended up blurry due to movement.
The vibrant colors at this playful museum are wonderful to transport the kids into an adventure land full of fun, but not so fabulous when it comes to white balance issues! I kept my white balance on auto, but I definitely had to change the colors in post processing (edited in Lightroom). Here is an example of a SOOC (straight out of camera) shot verses the edited version.
Note: I took these images in RAW instead of jpg so that I would have more control over editing.
Just because an image doesn't come out exactly like you want it to in your camera does not mean it is worthless. I loved this picture because it shows connection and the playfulness of my kids at this age. It's not perfect on photographic technicality, but it's perfect to me as their mom. This is a moment I will cherish forever!
I urge all of you to get out there and start taking pictures. Try using manual, aperture priority, or shutter priority modes. Don't be afraid of learning how to use your camera and don't worry about always getting the perfect shot!
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Larisa is a natural light photographer and teacher in the Rock Hill, SC and Charlotte, NC area.