What a Weekend!

February 20, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Can you believe the weather we had this weekend, it was warmer in Chicago than it was in Southern California!?  It was my birthday on Sunday and I can not recall ever being able to enjoy the outdoors as much on February 19th as we did this year!  70 degrees on Sunday, who woulda thunk it?  Since nobody expected this to happen, we had a slow weekend professionally and we were able to get out there and finally shoot our own family photos.  My wife is always saying "you take awesome pictures of everyone else's family, why not ours?" so we carved out time Saturday and Sunday to shoot ours.  We have so much fun doing what I call "professional selfies" in our home, and this was the first time moved the operation outside.  It also gave me a chance to experiment with a new setup for lighting photos and I am very pleased with how it turned out.  Give me call if you love these, and let's get your family photos done, too!  Enjoy!  And to those paying attention, yes I did get a haircut Sunday morning so I look a little "rougher" in the Saturday photos :) We had this great idea that we would go out on Saturday by ourselves while Callie (our Border Collie) was in camp playing and getting nice and exhausted.  The thought was then on Sunday we would include her in the photos because a tired Border Collie is a cooperative one.  We were mistaken.  She is never truly exhausted and always seems to have a fifth gear she can shift into to keep going, so of sixty photos with her, we kept two, and only one was she looking at the camera (this was not that one).

Our favorite from the weekend and the one that is getting hung over the mantle.  It's far from perfect photographic form but when you work with pets, you take what you can get, and her smile was too precious to let the fact our feet were cut off cause me to throw this away.  We only got this because a nice lady was walking by with her dog and noticed that our dog was staring at hers, so she kindly paused and said "I'll wait a moment behind the camera so you can get one of her looking" and it worked.  Thank you kind stranger!

As mentioned earlier, we went out without the dog on Saturday and took some photos at Moraine Hills State Park, a great place for family photos with lots of good little spots with views.  I was practicing my setups, and this one shows it off nicely.  We used a tripod and the wi-fi feature on my camera to connect with the Nikon phone app that allows you to control the camera with your phone.  It takes some practice, but is great fun.  The lighting setup here is three, two speedlights and the sun.  The sun is over our left shoulders (right shoulders looking at the pic) and high in the sky acting as our hairlight providing that halo around the top of our heads, something often done in studio to help separate your subject from the background.  Then the main light is about two feet off camera to the left on the photo (our right while standing there) and a fill light is about three feet to the right of the camera, a little further back so as to still give those facial defining shadows, while properly exposing everything including the background and keeping those blue skies blue. Same setup here with the lights (actually all but the last two photos in this post were setup with two speedlights and the sun all playing varying roles of main, fill, and hairlights).  It was a little harrowing on this shot, as the ice below the dock was just starting to melt away causing the floating dock to move on one side up and down with the water, while the shaded underside was still stuck.  So we would sit on the bench and half the dock would rock like it was going to tip over, until the other frozen half stopped it, and I must have jumped up thinking my camera was headed into the water at least half a dozen times!  We managed to get a great shot, though.   After being too frightened of the uneven dock, we moved to more solid ground and found a little bridge to take advantage of the leading lines of the railing.  This was a smaller area to work in, and it was great to see how even with space limitations the lighting setup I am using this year is so flexible that I could still make it work.  One speedlight about a foot off camera to the left (our right in photo) as a main, but close enough to the front to wrap around the faces for a fill-side light, and the sun as a hairlight behind us over our right shoulders (left side looking at the photo).  This technique is fantastic because it allows you to expose both the background and the subject equally, or play with it, without blowing out the background to make sure the subject is lit.   Just before heading to pick up the dog on Saturday we stopped at a forest preserve near our home (Camp Alphonse) to grab a few more practice shots in a less crowded space.  The parks were filling up so fast by Saturday afternoon that this was actually the third preserve we tried, but the rest had full parking lots and we couldn't get in!  But I know nobody goes to this one.  Simple one light setup again (I actually photoshopped in an extra set of catchlights in our eyes because I like two instead of one reflection).  To the left of the camera, about two feet, and the sun over our left shoulders providing a hair light and wrap around to the face to act as a fill light.  I love the definition you get with this look, and again we were able to shoot in horrible light conditions and still have it come out great!  I hope you enjoy, if you are family and want a print, send me a message with which one and what size and I will get one out to you from my print lab.  Here's to the rest of the week being lovely end-of-April type weather in February!


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