Monday, April 30, 2012

Jessica and Aaron | Lincoln, California Engagement Photography

Jessica and Aaron are getting married!  I am so excited!  Here is our engagement shoot.  It was a quick one since I was only in town for the rest of that day and it decide to go and rain on us!  We didn't get all of the shots we planned but we totally improvised and it worked out beautifully!  Love how sassy Jessica looks in her zebra shoes...

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Immortal the Musical poster ads

This is from a year ago!  It never got published until now!

Our 5th assignment was to create a theatre poster or billboard for our theatrical productions that we chose. I, as you may remember, chose to create photographic ads for the musical Immortal. I made 2 "movie" posters and one billboard. The horizontal is the billboard.

Here is the concept: In the story the creature, Lucas, is unknowingly turned into a vampire 300 years prior, and has been fighting his hunger since he destroyed his family. Well, he finally decides to give in to his thirst for blood and goes to a ball and meets Justine. She immediately goes into a trance and offers her neck to him.

The posters are the scene in the ball where Justine and Lucas meet and, like a dream, fall in love. Here is Justine offering her neck to the creature Lucas.

Now for the billboard: he is hungry and she looks good. She goes into a trance when she sees him. He is very smart and methodical. He is taken by her as well. His thirst for blood is always there. 

Now, he does not eat her and she is not dead. This image is to engage the viewer and draw them in, to make you want to know the rest of the story.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Diffused lighting aids

It's that time again!  Time for another tutorial.  I have had many requests and suggestions for what you want to know and I will for sure oblige.  I am going to keep with the lighting theme for this week and perhaps next week since really I don't think you can ever have enough on lighting.  As I said last week I really love backlighting and I really prefer to shoot within the first two hours of daylight or the last two hours.  If at anytime I say something that you don't understand please ask!  I sometimes forget not everyone knows photo lingo.

You cannot control the sun or the weather but you can still control the lighting.  Be aware of where your light source is coming from and where it is landing on your subject. I am going to show you a senior shoot I did at 6pm during the summer. My ideal lighting time.  This shot was done in a shaded area so the lighting was naturally diffused (meaning the light is softened before it hits the subject).  As you can see from the shadows on her face the sun is hitting the left side of her face.  For those times when you don't have the shade of trees building or whatnot, you can always buy some white ripstop (kite fabric) from your local fabric store.  You can have an assistant hold it for you or you can build your own frame with pvc pipes from Home Depot or Lowes.  This will still give you the shadows but they will be much softer and more flattering.  You can even use this fabric at not so ideal times of day to soften the sun.  I also like to make sure my background is going to be the same exposure.  I don't like to have a blown out background, it is distracting.  This image was a long walkway where the lighting was the same throughout.  Therefor I got a very pretty well exposed background and foreground.  This lighting still gives dimension.  You subject looks more 3d than straight on flat lighting.

For those of you that want to know the technical stats:
Camera: Canon 5D Mark II
Lens: EF 70-200mm 2.8L
ISO: 400
Exposure: 1/160th of a second at f/3.5
Focal length: 200mm

Here is a pulled out view of my location. Notice the even lighting throughout the walkway.  Sometimes tree shade is not ideal because the sun will shine through breaks in the trees, beware of leaf spots... 

As for the post proccessing (photoshop) All I did was add contrast and a touch of saturation.  

Photoshop FYI:   This paragraph may make sense to some of you and may be confusing to others.   For all of you anti photo shoppers and photoshop fans... every image needs some sprucing up, even if all it is is a touch of contrast.  Each image in your camera is flat.  When you take your images straight from camera to walmart's one hour photo, they enhance your images for you.  It is an automatic setting with their computers.  So, even if you don't use photoshop at home, your printer is using it at the store.  I like to have complete control over how my images get enhanced.  Then if I choose to go to walmart to print I turn off the color correction.  If you do not know how to do this, ask the lab tech and they will show you how.  If you enhace your own photos turn off the color correction!! Otherwise all of your hard work goes down the drain.  Also, you may ask the lab techs if they can calibrate their printers for you.  They are supposed to do this every morning before they open.  You may ask if they did and ask to see their log.  These are your images, don't be afraid to make sure they are perfect.  AND if you are photo shopping your images, make sure you convert your image to srgb.  It is a color space that the web uses as well as all one hour photo labs (walmart, target, walgreens, sams club, costco, etc).  If you do these things, make sure you have your image as srgb, turn off the color correction at your local one hour photo lab, and make sure the machines are calibrated (just ask), then your images should look like the image on your computer screen.  It would be a good idea to get a calibrator for your computer monitor too.  That way everything is as it should be.  

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Fairy Tale

I love to take an idea from my head and put it in my camera.  I love fantasy and fairy tales.  I love subjects that are just as excited about my idea as I am.  This was a fun shoot.  The lighting was overcast most of the time, which is okay.  I usually like to see the sun and use it to help create the photo.  In this case soft flat lighting works.  We did use a reflector to bounce some of that light back on her face.  I did her hair and makeup.  I wanted her makeup to be soft and innocent.  We went for pinks and white face glitter and shimmer.  Lovely girl.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Snow White

I still have plenty of photo shoots that I have not posted!  So I think I will post the sessions in between tutorials.  If you see a session you would like me to use in a tutorial please let me know!
hair and make up for Snow White : Jennifer Wolfe
hair and make up for the queen: Rebecca Quigley

This is a personal project I did.  We wanted to go for a more modern and fashion minded approach with Snow White.  This project is not finished... We have another session this fall to finish the job.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Moving Out!... outdoors that is.

Alright, so last week I talked about indoor, studio portraits. The majority of you starting out, will most likely be outdoors, so this post is for you!

Things you will need:
~Camera (I mean you have to have it to take pictures right?) More specifically an SLR or DSLR. (single lens reflex meaning a camera with changeable lenses) and you want to be able to do everything manual.
~a subject, you may want to practice on inanimate objects first since they... don't move. Grab your shoes, an apple, a flower, whatever. Practice your composition and lighting with it before you try to tackle an energetic child or a bored teenager or a couple, etc.
~ a reflector. Now, you can buy an expensive reflector if you want (I have a Promaster, system pro 5 in 1), but to start off you can get some white foam core from your local craft store or wal-mart for a couple of bucks. Once you are comfortable you can move up to the professional ones if you want but, if you're not going pro, I wouldn't spend the money on it.

Now you can have fun! Try to avoid high noon sun, unless you have a diffusor or a spot out of the sun. Otherwise you get yucky shadows under the eyes. My favorite times to shoot are Sunrise through about 2 hours after sunrise, and 2 hours before sunset through to sunset. The lighting is softer and much more attractive on people.

My favorite lighting is backlight which is what I am going to show you today.

This image was taken at 8:23 am about 2 hours after sunrise. We did some rock climbing to get to this location and I wanted the sun behind her to give her a very pretty hair light. I brought along Paul Bright (the name this girl and her sister helped me give my reflector).
I propped the reflector up on me while I shot. I used my wide angle lens(EF24-70mm f2.8L). The stats: 1/200th of a second at f 4.0. Focal length 24mm. Iso 100. I also used my flash with a diffusor to give me the full amount of light I wanted.
Here is the before post production shot (camera raw):

In post production I sharpened, added contrast... adjusted the brightness using curves. On this particular image I used a few MCP Fusion actions (Exact-o-sharp -it lets me choose where I want the sharpening to go,which in this case I lightly sharpened all of her then did another layer over her face and a third over her eyes. different directions @ 55% opacity -adding the contrast, color with markers @66% opacity-to darken the color of the eyes and add back the blush that the flash washed out on her cheeks, and golden @ 10% opacity to give the entire image a warmer color). With actions you are meant to adjust the opacity of each action to your liking. I never keep the opacity at full strength of any action I use.
Any questions? If you want me to go into more detail just ask! :) Don't forget to become a follower! Have a lovely day and happy shooting!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

How to create a studio portrait

Do You want to create a beautiful studio portrait?

As I have contemplated what to start with I kept thinking, I should start with something simple and work my way up from there. but what is simple? I am just going to jump in. Remember, it is not the camera that takes good pictures, it is the photographer. Sometimes the camera makes it possible to achieve your desired effect but you have to first envision it, study it out and then execute it.

I believe that photographing your own children can be the most difficult for a few reasons:

Reason one, you have less hands. Usually the parent is helping you to coral the child and get them to stay focused. My husband hates photo shoots so he gets frustrated when I ask him to help. So, you are the photographer and rangler.

Reason two, perhaps because of reason one, you have less patience.

Reason three, they know you and know how to push your buttons...

But having listed these reasons, it is still not impossible to get them to cooperate.
This is a studio shot I did of my daughter on her nine month anniversary. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what I wanted the final product to look like. I knew I didn't want the lighting to be flat. I didn't want it to look like your Wal-mart or Target portrait studio shot. I wanted it to look professional and stunning. How was I going to achieve that?

I set up my black back drop, which I made out of black canvas fabric, which I bought with a 50% off coupon at Joann Fabrics. I bought metal clamps at Lowes to hold the fabric to the rod of my background stand, which I bought for $100 at (Sandbags would be really helpful to hold the stand down but I don't have them yet). I bought the basket for $9 at Wal-mart.

First rule for studio shots, make sure to leave 6 feet between your subject and the background. This will let you light your subject and background separately. For a black background you don't want any light spilling on it so leaving the space will help. A gobo is also handy.

Now the lights. This shot has 3 lights. I had one coming over the backdrop onto her head for a hair light- a hair light separates the subject from the background. I had one one the left side as fill, one on the right side as my key. A light meter will help you know what exposure you should shoot at. This was shot at 1/125 of a second at f5.6. My focal length was 28mm and ISO was 100. I shot this with a Canon Rebel XT. My lights are Alien Bees. That is all of the technical mumbo jumbo.

I shot many shots before and after this one. As long as the baby is happy, why not? You never know what you are going to get. I had some pretty cute shots before this one and if I had said, "I've got it, we're finished." I would have missed it. Keep shooting.

Another rule, when your main subject is a person and they are supposed to be the focus, make sure you are focused on them. Not just any part of them, their eyes. Unless you think their knee is more important. If their eyes are not in focus the image is not going to draw you in like they should. When you hold your shutter release down halfway and hear the beep of focus, or when you see the little red rectangle blinking, your camera is telling you where you are focusing. If the red rectangle is blinking over their hand, you can rest assured that their hand will be in focus. You can adjust your focus, and you should. As your subject moves your focus should too.

Here is my SOOC shot:

I use Adobe Photoshop CS4 and Lightroom. I evened up her skin with using reduce noise filter. I added saturation and contrast. I brightened up her eyes only slightly. and then..........

Viola! Do you have any questions? Please ask away! Do be sure to follow this blog if you will be joining us regularly. The more followers I have the more prizes and giveaways you can have!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The blogs new direction | Getting excited!

I was told, a couple of years ago, I should start a blog for my photography and so, I did. I had no clue what to do with it! I have just been posting shoots I've done and written a few lines on how I felt. BORING! I am not a woman of eloquent words and so my posts do not inspire deep emotions or thought.
I am going a new route. It may take me a little time to get it organized but I am going to post weekly about my latest photo shoot and tell you how I did it. I will tell you what camera settings, what lens, what lighting I used, post processing, etc. I will even tell you my brain storming process. I will try to spice it up but you may see my kids a few times. I may do food, newborns, families, weddings, commercial, who knows! I have several ideas up my sleeves... Also, if you have suggestions or something you really want to see please feel free to ask away. I would love for this to be interactive. :)
Happy Sunday! Stay tuned!