Sunday, December 14, 2014

Smiles for the Food Pantry

This year I attempted something larger in scale than I've ever done.  I created a "Winter Wonderland" type backdrop and invited people to come sit in an effort to collect food for the Help Food Pantry (and to give me more practice. )

Yes, more practice.  I was able to put to work my new flash.  I now have two Canon Speeligts, 600ex-rt and the ST-E3 RT Speedlite Transmitter.  Yes it was an investment, but oh my, what a relief to not be worrying about the flashes not communicating or having to manually drop the flash to fix a setting, or triggers that don't want to work or dangle from the light stand.  I can hide my speelight behind things and it still works.  It's awesome.

So here was my winter land set up.  I don't know how you other photographers keep people lined up inside the backdrop paper, but when I do groups, I always end up getting stuff outside the paper's borders in the background. So I utilized the church's chair racks to hang a few extra sheets so make my backdrop a bit wider.

I used fake snow on the floor near the backdrop to make it seem like snow drifts and plastic table cloths to cover the floor where the backdrop didn't.  I know, it's huge, but now I'm not spending all my time editing out the backdround. Reduce the clarity over the fake floor snow, and it looks great.  (Or as great as an indoor wonderland on a budget can look.)  Or just leave it and it still looks okay.

I searched the internet and found many photos on Pintrest that used the lights just draped over the backdrop and I liked that look.  I took a small part of my backdrop that I had cut off previously, painted it sky blue and clipped it to the white backdrop.

One of our church friends had this huge Frosty so I borrowed it, and bought a cheap tree to give it the outdoor look.  Some large colorful balls from the Dollar Store, some greenery that was on sale with ribbon,  and a little time getting it strung up, and wala. 

Here is what it looked like.

I used one flash with a flashbender as a hair light. The flashbender directed the light towards the front so that my twinkly stuff in the blue "sky" would not get extra light.

My other flash was in a soft box.

I also bought some 1/4 inch Styrofoam board and  made a "Joy" sign and a "Noel" sign.  It was another idea I found on Pintrest and well, it is a great idea.

I had my assistant and young protege help me and between the two of us, and my husband's help, we took photos of 9 families on Saturday and about 5 more on Sunday after church. There were roughly 300 items of food donated.

By the end of the day, after several snow ball fights, dogs and cats, the "snow" was getting kind of ragged, and it's something to consider for next year, but all in all, it held up rather well. 

Now to think about next year...what will I do?    Here are some shots from this shoot.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

New York City reflections

As you can see I do not update my blog very often, I have little time. Right now though, I have a moment while I wait for my daughter to wake so she can accompany me to NYC Penn station,

NYC is a multitude of opposites and constant stimulation.

I love that I am able to build happy moments with my daughter, that she is able to live and work and move towards a future.

I hate seeing others whose futures seem lost,

I love the sparkly lights, the flashing signs, the beautiful photos on all the ads,

I hate the dark alleys, the grime in the subway and the sight of an old man digging in a restaurant's trash looking for food.

NY is a wonderful place for food, from the vendor carts on corners to the classy Tai restaurant or the Steak house around the block, food of all cultures temps your palette. Almost every turn may smell of baked bread or grilling meat.

Yet amongst such abundance are hungry people who cannot survive without the charity of those who can; people who live in the street who smell of unwashed bodies and rotting clothes.

Halloween in my daughter's neighborhood was such a celebration. The decorations and costumes were enjoyed by all ages.

In the light of the next day it is clear that not all houses were decorated. Some houses stood abandoned with windows of wood planks, peeling walls and torn sidewalks.

If I were to stay in this city for more than just a brief visit I would never rest. I would either be photographing it or trying to fix it!  I give kudos to my lovely daughter for being able to balance it all.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Weddings, the event many photographers fear.  Well, I've started and I will only get better with time.   My goal is,  that at  the end of the day, I can say, that I've captured the feelings, special moments and importance of the wedding.

I know there is so much more gear I could have to make things easier, but I've already stepped over my budget by buying a camera that is up to the job.  My Canon 5D Mark III is amazing in low light and I would like another one some day.

So I have two cameras, the 5D Mark III has my longest lens for the service and the 7D has my widest lens.   My assistant has a Nikon and uses various lenses which he is comfortable with.  My job is to photograph the bride and her crew and my assistant's job is to follow the Groom.  That is until the actual ceremony where my assistant's job is to photograph from an angle that won't include me in the shot. Seriously, I move around a lot and forget that he's there, but he does a great job of staying out of the shot and not including me in his.

For the reception I keep the wideangle on the 7D but put my nifty 50 1.8 on the Canon.  It's perfect for the dancing scene.  Oh, I also use the 100 mm macro for the ring shots.

Lighting is always an issue.  I love outdoor weddings because there aren't too many concerns about getting "enough" light, yes you may have to use flash to fill in shadows, but at least it's not so dark the camera doesn't want to focus.

For the reception, well it's still a work in progress.  I've resorted to bouncing flash off the ceiling but it is not my goal.  My goal is to have enough speed lights to place strategically around the room so that I can change which direction my light will come from with the dial on my ST E3 RT speed light transmitter.

The more I do the better I will get and in the mean time, I do the best I can, which is not too shabby.

Enjoy the photos.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

More Bike Racing.  I don't know what it is, perhaps it's the challenge of getting a good shot, or just the thrill of watching the race, but I love to photograph bike racing.  My best shots are taken with my 17-55 2.8 lens at about 3.5  at 55mm.  The best angle always seems to be when you shoot low up to the rider's face.  Tell me what you think. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

I Love Photography.  I love capturing a great image, smile or gesture.  I recently had the pleasure of capturing a a portrait of my niece,  of a bike race,  of my pregnant niece, of my sister and her puppy and a few days later of my beautiful daughter.  I did spend a lot of time editing but the results are worth it. I am not a naturalist.  I believe a lasting photo should have everything done to it to make it as pleasing as possible.  Editing to clear skin tone, fix backgrounds, lighten the foreground and to fix color temperature are all great techniques a photographer should learn how to master.
 Below you will find before and after photos. Enjoy 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The world of computers, though useful and an invaluable tool for me, gets too complicated sometimes when one link meets another and then a virus sets in and all hell breaks loose.  Anyway, I've deleted all my old blogs to ensure that none of the mishmash trash of the accumulated malware is linked to my new blog. 

 So today I start fresh and begin my blogging series about digital painting.  I haven't much time today, except for a brief introduction so keep looking as I get more stuff to post.

Here is my first attempt at a digital painting.  I was inspired by Fay Sirkis when I attened a workshop at Photoshop World in 2012.