May 31, 2010

Purdy Flowers ...

After a hectic week of driving, visiting, 'vacation' and even some work, the lovely wife and I had a wonderful visit with friends in the Texas hill country for Memorial weekend. One part of that was a visit to the Antique Rose Emporium so that the ladies to could make gardening plans. If you are in the area, it is a very nice place to stop and look around.

One problem that comes up often for me is how much camera to take, and how much energy to devote to fun photography (as opposed to work photography) while hanging out with friends and family.

To solve that dilemma here, I took one camera and lens... the 5D and a 50mm. This was limiting because it is not a very good close-up lens.

The real key is to use what you have in hand rather than looking at all of the shots you would get if you took a whole kit with you. And the bonus... you focus more on what is around you instead of the camera itself.

I am not a very good flower photographer, so composition could be a lot better, but it is fun to practice. At least flowers don't get bored, annoyed or angry about posing :-).

One thing is certain... it is essential change viewpoints and get down on flower level to shoot. Shooting from snapshot-standing position will result in a bunch of boring photos.

As always, look for interesting things to use in the background (or foreground) to add depth to photos.

Triangles almost always make a nice composition, whether it is flowers or any other subject.

If you have a DSLR and a lens that can give you a nice out-of-focus background, use it wisely. If you don't have a good, single focal point in the photo, the short depth of field can actually just make the photo a mess. Like this, at f2.2.

As a contrast, leaving enough in focus will give plenty of pieces to draw the viewers' eyes around the photo.

Finally... don't forget to take people photos too.

Thanks for stopping by... if there is a particular photo question, subject or idea that you would like me to explore, please drop me a line.

Don J.

May 11, 2010

Photo fun with kiddos

I don't think of myself as a typical portrait photographer, so when I get the chance to do a set-up that a lot of people will go through, it isn't a couple of lights with umbrellas at 45 degree angles. Instead, I like to play with lights and have some fun while making photos that look (I hope) a little edgier.

A lot of this is probably due to spending too much time reading the likes of Joe McNally.

I just hope parents like having something a little bit different...

These are from a shoot I am in the middle of that we are also doing as a fund-raiser for Kaufman County Relay For Life, so there is a little extra room for having fun there.

For the regular portraits, the lighting is actually pretty even. It is a 3'x4' softbox slightly to the right, and smaller softboxes (the ones that come with the Elinchrom BXRi kits) on each side behind the subjects. I will probably change up the ratios a bit for Wednesday night...

With fast moving subjects (and they move a LOT) the all-around lighting is pretty flexible. There are some middle angles that have odd shadows, but even that isn't so bad considering.

The other thing that happens with strong lights from the sides is dangerous shadows from things like hair. Again, not bad, but distracting once you see it.

After the main shooting was over on Monday, it was time to play with the new lights.. this is the two BXRi softboxes directly left and right (no regular key light), with some fun post processing in Lightroom.

Have a great week everyone

Don J.

May 8, 2010

Dugout Portraiture

With Terrell in the baseball playoffs, I've had the opportunity to get back out to the field for some sports shots. They may not let me come back next year because they only scored one run in each game that I attended.

Today's game started at noon, and while it was a little bit overcast, the lighting was nice. When the sun came out though, it was typical harsh lighting.

What I noticed is that a dugout is a great example of finding nice light during midday sun. With one large open side and shadow everywhere else, it is like a huge softbox on one side.


Having a nice solid, dark background helps also, of course. Any time you are caught in the sun and trying to make a nice photo, look for shade that has one open side to the light, then look at the light on your subject.

Good posing would help, but even for snapshots of players, you cannot go wrong with good light.


Although there was plenty of light, my action shooting today was not great, so here are a few of my favorites from Thursday.

At 7 p.m. for the start, the light was getting really nice, washing across the field.


After losing the pretty light, it was just dark and funky.

This is a crop of a photo when a runner was avoiding a pickoff at first base.. made me laugh.

Perfect Mothers day gift? A camera of course.

Keep looking for good light,

Don J.

May 3, 2010

Lightning over Terrell

A nice spring thunderstorm rolled through Terrell, with a lot of lightning in the clouds. I saw only a few cloud-ground strikes, so I hope everybody is safe and sound.

I have written about photographing lightning before here and here. I suppose that 'play time' with the camera does pay off when you want to get a shot as a working photographer for the newspaper. See... go play with your camera just in case!

These are hand-held shots so clarity is a bit lacking...

I was shooting from the middle school parking lot, with only light poles, bleachers and trees really visible from under the awning. For a foreground element, the only thing recognizable was the water tower, so I just aimed there and shot until I got something. Lightning is mostly a game of patience and persistence. Equipment was the 5D and 70-200 because that is all I took with me to a special school board meeting.

one more..

Stay safe in the weather everyone,

Don J.

May 2, 2010

Photo Fun on the Web

Haven't done a links post in a while... here are some things that caught my eye recently.

Sportsshooter monthly contest winners are always interesting and inspiring.

Jim and Brian got some fun shots at the Warrior Dash event. Definitely should have made it out to that, looks like some crazy fun.

Do you hold your camera properly?

Why are pros so good? Because everything can be screwed up and they still get the shot they wanted.

Nice used Canon 1D mkIII's are in the low $2K range. In case you were wondering what to buy me for Cinco de Mayo, July 4, anniversary present (July 19) or birthday. (Or all of the above)

At lunch with friends we were discussing cool shots of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano... very cool shots.

As a creative person, I want to get to the point where I can identify and cut the 'crap' out of my work...

And... another favorite from a shoot last week...

Have a wonderful week everyone,

Don J.