Saturday, November 14, 2009

Beauty Lighting

I did a blog article on beauty lighting a few months ago but I love the results of this lighting setup so much, I wanted to share again. Last time I used one light from above and a reflector at the bottom. This time I used one light from above inside of a beauty dish and one light from the bottom inside of a medium softbox and this is the result.

My lovely wife Michele

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Photographing the Holidays

The Holidays should be a time of joy and celebration but it often turns stressful for whomever is in charge of taking the pictures. This year, eliminate the stress and take better pictures by following a few basic tips.

Be Prepared
The night before the holiday gathering, make sure you have your gear ready. This means fully charged batteries, and an extra set. Plenty of empty memory cards. Tripod, light stands, reflectors. You may also want to have your camera and flash settings correct prior to the family gathering as well. This will ensure your pictures turn out great without having to fumble with the settings while your family is there.

Use the Right Light
When photographing the Christmas tree, avoid using flash. Flash will overpower the lights on the Christmas tree and create a harsh shadow. Also, try out of focus shots when photographing the tree.

If it's all possible, avoid using the on-camera pop-up flash when photography people. Direct flash is very unflattering and should be avoided. If you do not have the option for remote flashes, using something like a piece paper towel over the flash will help soften and diffuse the light.

Also consider using as much available light as possible. This means opening the windows and letting natural light in. If you're using lights from lamps or other artificial light sources, remember to change the White Balance setting on your camera to avoid strong color shifts.

Getting Great Holiday Family Portraits

Hire me!
But if you want to try yourself, these tips may help.

Have the family wear festive, holiday colors. You want the photo to say the Holidays so greens, reds, and whites are appropriate. Not everyone has to wear the same color, but patterns and busy prints should be avoided.
If you decide to take the photo outdoors, earth toned colors are a safe bet.

Make sure all your camera and lighting settings are correct before the family poses. This will ensure that the task will be stress free and that you keep your subjects looking happy. This is especially true for kids and babies. You'll have a time span of about 2 minutes. Make sure you spend that time getting great smiles and expressions and not fidgeting with your camera settings.

When photographing a group of people, have everyone close their eyes and count to three. On three, have them open their eyes and then take the shot. This will reduce the chances of someone blinking.

Getting Great Holiday Family Candids
Make a list of shots that you don't want to miss. A list will help you remember important shots that you may otherwise forget because of the hectic nature of the day.

When photographing kids and pets, get on their level. Perspective can make a break a photo.

Anticipation is the key. Be ready when kids open their gifts to make sure you capture their expressions.

Take a shot for every gift opened. This will help keep memories alive.

When photographing in the snow, remember that all digital cameras will have a tendency to underexpose. Change the settings on your camera to increase the exposure 1-2 times the norm.

Last but not least.....have fun!

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Balloon Festival with no balloons

I’ve planned a trip to Winchester, VA a few months ago. I booked a hotel for a couple of days and made plans to visit Skyline Drive and the annual Winchester Balloon Festival. We arrived at our hotel on Thursday and visited Skyline Drive after getting checked in. We were hoping to photograph the beautiful fall foliage along Skyline Drive. We were disappointed because there was about 10 feet of visibility due to the thick clouds that were lingering around the mountains so needless to say the photographic opportunities were nil but we had high hopes for Friday.

We woke up at 4AM to be able to get to the mountains in time to catch the sunrise. We were disappointed once again with the thick cloud cover until we got a break in the clouds. It only lasted about 20 minutes, just in time to get this image:

The clouds rolled back in quickly but I wasn’t ready to quit shooting yet. I couldn’t really shoot anything wide because the lack of visibility so I decided to pull out the 400mm and snag these shots:

We later stopped for breakfast at a restaurant off of Skyline Drive. The food was good but the architecture was better. Here is a shot of the restaurant’s ceiling:

We decided to make our way to downtown Winchester. It was a gloomy day but at least we were under the clouds and not literally in them. Here are a few shots I made while in town:

Yummy Thia food.

Saturday morning was the big morning. THE HOT AIR BALLOON LAUNCH! We arrived at the Balloon festival at 7AM ready to capture the big hot air balloons. We left at 8:30AM after they announced the balloon launch was cancelled due to the weather. BUMMER! :-(
I did sang a few non-balloon photos at the festival:

All the aniticipation and planning went down the tubes. It was time to head back home. We drove down Skyline Drive and I managed to get one more decent photo:

There's always next year.