In The Yard

Daddy's Hand

So we were just hanging out last night in the yard.  I had read an article from the Digital Photography School.  It mentioned getting out of the shade when shooting outdoor portraits.  The shade gives soft light that is easy on the face.  When you backlight using the sun, the background gets blown out.  Sometimes you don't want that, sometimes you do.  So I made it a point to try to take some with sun just out of frame.  I like the edge that it gives in the photo below.  You see the highlights are blown out on the camera left side of the face.  Some may say that is not a good exposure.  I say I really like it.

Oh Yes I Am Sweet


Another One I Like


Can't get away from that kids eyes.  Lighting here is just my Vivitar 285HV into a shoot-thru umbrella at 1/4 power.




I am really liking LR2 and all of the presets that are available for it on the web.  These shots started as decent photographs with cool lighting IMHO.  But the colors are just too stinkin' accurate!  What?  It occurred to me as I was looking at various effects to apply to these shots that I spent a lot of money for a camera that has incredible resolution, low noise, and represents colors accurately.  Now I am undoing all of that.  What does that mean?! 

It reminds me of the tube vs. solid state debate in music circles.  I have to admit that I used to be a solid state guy until I played my '74 Strat through a Fender tube amp.  It just does sound better.  I know as an engineer these days that it has to do with the harmonic content of the signals as you overdrive the devices.  Odd harmonics from tubes and even harmonics from solid state.  But that's a debate for a different time.

Anyway, I suppose that all that matters is the end creation.  Use whatever tools and techniques necessary to produce the outcome that you have visualized.

So the lighting is this: I have a home-made foamcore snoot on my 285HV @ 1/4 power for the key light, and for accent, my 540EZ, bare @ 1/32 power.

I found this great preset called "Matt's Polo/Ralph Lauren" available HERE.  I really like the desaturation and also the tone that is added. 



More From The Wedding

The Gazeebo by you.

Here are a few more from the wedding that I shot recently.  They asked me to capture the decorations so that's what I did.  It did look very nice.  The house is an awesome country house with a huge wrap-around front porch.  The grounds are covered with big oak trees.  Nice place to get married.  So the first one above is a shot of one of the flower arrangements with the decorated gazeebo in the background.  The flowers were in the shadow of the porch so I brought in my shoot-thru up close and camera right.  The ratio here with the ambient is pretty close.  It looks like maybe a half stop.

The Farley's

Here is the front of the house.  Ambient light only here.  You can see the challenge for portraits by looking at the light filtering through the oak trees and hitting the ground in front of the house.  Blotchy, contrasty light; not good for portraits.  So that's why I drug around my umbrella on a stand.


Here is another ambient shot of some decorations with the gazeebo framed by one of the oaks.

More Decorations

Great job to whoever decorated.  It really looked great.

The Cake

Oh yes, the cake.  Yummy by the way.  I hit this with the shoot-thru as well. 

Cactus Trigger Update
Just wanted to add that I am still using the Cactus Triggers and have been completely happy with them.  Had an experience here where when I moved inside the house with the flashes, they weren't firing at all.  I mean at all.  I switched channels about 3 times and found one that was clear and they fired every time after that.


The First Wedding

Bridal Portrait Indoor by you.

So here they are.  Some of my favorites from shooting my first wedding.  I showed them to the happy couple today so now I'll show them to all both of you :).

IMG_9658 by you.

Bridal Portrait Indoor Smile by you.

I choose these because they are definitely my favorites but they also are indicative of the different techniques that I used during the afternoon and evening.  The bridal portraits above were all taken indoors in fairly low light.  The top portrait was taken in a corner where there were two large windows.  One camera left and one behind the subject.  This gives some great light.  Nice soft light for the face and great accent on the face and shoulder from behind. 


This one is taken in the same area but the subject is now standing and we can see the bare bulb lamp and natural wood of the window frames behind her.  I like this one because the event took place in an awesome country house and this gives that feel.  And the rustic red walls go well with the blue in the flowers.

Bridal Portrait Outdoor


So next we have moved outside to the gazebo and I have broken out the Vivitar 285HV on a stand with my shoot-thru umbrella.  I underexposed the ambient by 1 1/2 to 2 stops so that the subjects pop.  And then bring up the flash power until I get a good exposure.  The shoot-thru allows you to get the flash very close to the subject which maximizes the power of the small strobe but also increases the apparent size of the light source.  This gives the nice soft transitions from highlight to shadow.

Bridal Dance

I have tried flash blur before without any success.  But I decided to try it again while the bride was on the dance floor.  I actually got a few shots that were good.  This is my favorite because the side of the bride's face is in focus but you get a sense of the motion of the clapping.  So I just really dragged the shutter here.  I got 1/8 of a second on this one.  So I would focus, start to rotate the camera, and press the shutter release while rotating the camera.

The Cake

So here is the cake smash.  For this I took advantage of the white ceiling of the front porch.  It was tight quarters with many people on the porch.  Not enough room to work my umbrella around so I fired my Vivitar into the ceiling.  I took one setup shot made an adjustment and took the rest.

I carried the stand with umbrella around a lot during the evening when shooting the special portraits.  But while I had light, I took many candids at ISO1600.  The noise reduction in LR2 took care of that and gives a great result. 

For processing I:
1) Did the noise reduction when needed.
2) Added some contrast by bringing up the black levels.
3) For the bride, I always \reduced the clarity slider a little for some added softness.
4) Added a little vibrance to bring out surrounding colors without affecting skin tones.
5) And added vignetting to taste.

That's about it.  It was a great experience.  They seemed happy.  I shot about 450 shots and processed a little over 200 keepers.  Wouldn't mind doing this again sometime I think.

Gimme Some Candy by you.

Be blessed.


Stay Tuned!

So I photographed my first wedding.  Really happy with the results.  I haven't delivered anything to the couple yet so I want to wait until that happens before I start throwing their special day around the net to all 3 of you that read this.  I learned a few things.  I experimented with flash blur, something that I had tried before with little success.  It rained.  So the adventure will be unveiled in the near future. 

Be blessed.