Apr 19, 2011

Couch as baby posing spot...

Even before the new addition to our household last week it was clear that a lot of my friends and family expected large quantities of photos. Many asked, "Are you going to take lots of pictures?"

Which I think was a rhetorical question because I take lots of pictures of much more mundane stuff than my own new baby.

What is remarkable is that simply having a new baby at home alters what was previously a good chunk of free time, sleep time and such, so actually setting up and taking photos is quite a task.

But we did need some baby pics so here you go. Couches make great baby photo spots, just drape a cloth on there and you have a nice seamless spot, black, white or otherwise. These are all taken with a single 500ws monolight turned way down low with a 2x2 softbox.

Softbox in close...

... can make the baby cranky. Turning on room lights to get their pupils closed a bit seems to help with the flash-shock.

Black background, moved the light up almost to the ceiling (about 10')for a little bit harder light source. Black cloth gives good shadows..

I also tried the softbox down at eye level, just so-so on the look though. Maybe if it was more to the right, toward the top of his noggin.

OK, so get yourself a baby and start shooting! Just be flexible, patient, and prepared with fresh diapers.

Don J.

Apr 14, 2011

Quick Pic - Lightning in Dallas

Our room in the new-baby section at Methodist Hospital in Dallas has a great view of the Dallas central business district, so when a nice spring thunderstorm rolled through, it made a great first shared photo experience for me with our new baby Joshua.

Missed a lot as always with lightning, but you have to take advantage of unique photo opportunities, right?

And the results.. nice!
Downtown Lightning-0179

Downtown Lightning-0267

I had debated bringing the Gorillapod, assuming I would shoot most everything hand-held. I'm glad I did!

Don J.

Apr 13, 2011

Delivery room photography?

Well, the day has finally come ... the day for my lovely wife to have our first child... how awesome is that!?

media center-0500

So, as a photog, I've been pondering about what camera and tech gear to bring to the hospital with us... here is what I came up with.

Laptop- Wifi in the hospital is great.

1D & 5D - justified 1D in my head because not sure how much light we will have to work with, also capturing some video.
SD4000- pocket cam for walking around the hospital and video capture.

Lenses- 14mm, 50mm, 24-70 zoom. - 14mm is sitting on the 5D to get an 'around the room' view.

card reader, audio recorder, gorillapod, etc.

Is it overkill? Probably. Don't really need two DSLRs, but they are much different in what look you get with the different lenses. Is it so much that I will lose photos switching between? I don't thinks so, because during the key moments, it will be the 1D/50mm or 24-70 combo and the rest will just be for details and video at random.

Anyway, what would you take? It is a very unique shooting situation, looking forward to the results. And the baby, of course!

Don J.

Apr 11, 2011

Insurance Shots - Pitchers

When you are covering events photographically, especially for a news outlet, getting a decent photo is part of the job. Of course you want a great defining moment of the game or peak action, but you have to have something, so usually it is wise to get something quick and safe as 'Insurance' before trying crazy things that may not work out.

In baseball or softball, the simple shot is the pitcher. Even if the rest of the game gives you nothing, the pitcher shot is always there. If you happen to have great evening light, even better, just find a cleanish background and you have a photo. The trick here is to catch a nice moment in the pitching motion or expression of effort.

Terrell at Forney-2762

Layering in some other background players or something can work nicely as well...

Given harsh, boring or otherwise unhelpful lighting and background situations, framing the pitcher with the batter works well. It generally takes a lot of shots to get this right given the narrow window of space and everyone moving during the process.
Softball vs Poteet-5810

Once the natural light goes away, look at how the lights are playing on the pitcher's face. If you are lucky it will get under the cap and make a unique look. Lights at high school baseball stadiums is spotty and difficult, but unique if you play around with it.

Finally, a fun shot is using manual focus for a spot between the pitcher and the batter, with a high enough shutter speed to catch the ball as the focal point. Again, it takes a lot of shots to get one good one.

Apr 9, 2011

Taking light away

Adding light to any situation is fun. Pop a reflector or flash and boring light turns into fun light. Learning to mix existing and added light to get a look that you want is challenging and fun, so that seems to be what I do a lot of.

Over the last year or so, especially working for the newspaper, I have leaned more heavily on using existing light and finding ways to take light away to create contrast. This is called subtractive lighting...

Here is a practical application.

A few weeks ago at the Dallas Arboretum we had a nice overcast sky. The color from the flowers was really popping and there was lots of light (and photographers) everywhere.
Arboretum Blog-1983

This is all fine and good for snapshots, but with so much light from so many directions, the light gets flat and funky.
My lovely wife is beautiful and pregnant, and not flattered by this light.
Arboretum Blog-2095

And this is why many reflectors have a black side. So that you can remove light from one side to get definition.

Of course, this was a pleasure trip, so I brought only one camera, one lens and no reflector. What to do? Find another location that naturally blocks light.

The Arboretum has some "Fairytale Castles", including the one with deep window sections. Voila. Compare with the other picture.. the light highlights her face and adds dimension.
Arboretum Blog-2121

Here is another one... in this case a cloudy morning at an elementary school "Career Day" event. Again, in overcast outdoor light. However, when I put this sharp-dressed young man under an awning and close to a building, it was as if he was lit by a giant softbox to the left.
Kennedy Career Day-6814

Looking for good light includes looking for ways and places to take away unwanted light. That can often be easier than adding light. And if you are shooting alone, there is a lot of freedom gained by not dragging out a light stand and a flash.

This is true for non-human subjects also by the way. Sometimes to get a nice look, you have to look at where to remove light to get some shadows and definition.

Don J.

Apr 7, 2011

A fair affair - The Bunnies

The Kaufman County Fair / Junior Livestock Show is all kinds of fun. Unfortunately this year I did not get to spend much time there taking photos.

One thing I caught that I had not seen before was rabbit judging. And of course, it doesn't get any cuter than bunnies, right?
The Bunnies-9803

I tried for an interesting shot of this girl and her dad watching as the judge checked out her rabbits, but it just wasn't working. 14mm on the 5D was just too wide to bring in the judge.
The Bunnies-9806

From the side though, it was a nicer moment when the girl came up and looked over the cages and the judge wiped his brow.
The Bunnies-9829

And this little guy was just looking for a way off of the table alltogether.

Finally, my favorite shot from the event was not at the rabbits...... instead this lovely cow made my day.
The Cow-9793

Baby Joshua is due Saturday. Pray for me :-)

Don J.

Apr 1, 2011

Track attack

High school track season is in full swing. Aside from the incredible frustration of waiting for particular participants that you want to cover and missing events because different things are going on at the same time, it is really a lot of fun photographically.

If you aren't looking for particular team members, there is a chance at repeated action in the same place, which gives you a chance to try different things and different looks in a short time frame.

With great access for photogs and the kids going all out to do well, good photos are everywhere you look.

Finding a good background can be difficult, so sometimes it is just best to shorten the depth of field (low aperture #) and get in tight.
Track April 1-5450

Sometimes if the background is other participants, the blurred out people can add a little to the photo...
Track April 1-5463

Go low, low, low and the sky makes a nice background. Of course, in some harsh daylight, you may need to watch the shadows.
Track April 1-5425

Track April 1-9896

Or find the sports that get way above like pole vault.
Track April 1-5493

But sometimes the distracting, busy background is just there and there isn't much to do about it.
Track April 1-5417

Finally, if you get some broken-cloud blue sky, use it for all its worth. A wide angle lens makes it all good, but you have to get very close to your subject. This is a full-frame camera (5D) with a 14mm, on the ground and about 6" from the edge of the long-jump landing pit.
Track April 1-9875

Same thing, crazy wide angle for sky, sitting closer than I probably should... you have to watch out to make sure you aren't distracting athletes or getting hit by a piece of equipment.
Track April 1-9889