Thursday, December 17, 2015

A Doggie Christmas card

I wanted to get a cute picture of Jazzy, my 9 month old mutt (papers say Labrador/Boxer mix but I see Pitt too) for my Christmas card.  Getting the best shot is a lot of work.  I had help from my husband Dale who was in charge of situating Jazzy on the set. 

My set up was simple. I used a white, fuzzy material clipped to the fence, threw a few large, plastic ornaments form the Dollar Tree on the ground, leaned a small tree against the backdrop and asked Jazzy to sit in the middle of it all.

Here is how it all played out.  The first time she saw the set up she started barking at it.  "What strange thing is that in my back yard?" is what she probably was thinking.  When she realized that getting near it meant getting treats, then she was  all for jumping around on it. 

 Once she was comfortable with all the stuff, it was time to add the Santa hat. I have one that has a beard included and I thought it would be so cute on her. However, she just wanted to eat the ball at the end of the hat. The following photos are of her reaction to the hat and her being on Santa's naught list.

A lot of patience was needed for this session.  Jazzy is still a puppy and her exhuberence is fun to watch, but not good for taking pictures. however, with good timing and her obedience to some basic commands (and a hot dog of course), we finally got a few good shots.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Tonight I attended a presentation given by Julianne Kost at Thomas Nelson Community College. I was expecting more information about technical things in  Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, something I could always learn more about.  However, she spoke instead about her creative process and shared images resulting from several self appointed projects. 

She has made these projects into books, Window Seat and Passenger Seat and more which are inspirational journeys in creativity.  

I will be reading those  books but her presentation was enough to spur me into rethinking how I processed a few photos last year.  In the spirit of creativity, I have reworked the following images.  I took these from a window seat or from the train seat traveling to and from NYC.

Using some selective focus, not in camera, but in Photoshop.

 Playing around with modes and filters in Photoshop

 Okay, I'll admit, I was driving for this one but it turned out okay and I never looked through the camera, i just pointed it forward and hit the shutter.
 Dirty petroleum works and other industrial towers can be quite contrasting in black and white.
 Out of the 100 or so photos of trees as they went by, this is the closest I had to Julianne's neat swirly images.
 More selective focus and blending modes
 This was an in camera double exposure.  An accident, I probably could never repeat it, but hey, it works.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Photographing the “Terrible Twos”
What do you do when the terrible twos strike in the middle of your photo session?  You make do, that’s what you do. 
I had the opportunity to photograph a beautiful family. Mama and Daddy are so easy to photograph and their smiles could light a room.  Their son, age two, is really a cutie pie, but he’s two.  What does this mean?
 It means he wants to go right when you want him to go left.

He wants to cry when you say smile. 

He won’t look at you when mama and daddy are ready, but the minute mama or daddy looks at away, he looks at you, but still a smile is very rare.  

When you want him to sit, he stands, when you want him still, he runs away.  

This is nothing new with a child of two, but trying to get a photo, together, when the terrible twos are in full swing, is a challenge.    So what do you do as a photographer?

You bring props, and if necessary, sugar and bribery are always a good thing.  In this photo shoot, I brought a little pumpkin I thought he could hold which he kept returning to me,

a light saber that he ended up throwing,

a small truck which also became a missile,

and a punch  balloon which popped.

All out of props, I reached in my pocket and pulled out my TicTacs.  Oh, they worked.  We popped one in his mouth, then threw them so he’d chase the box and find it. Mama and daddy were faster and would get into position.  If things worked, they would turn around and “snap” I’d get a photo.

But there was more running to do. 

That’s when we saw the bench in the field.  We moved it under a tree and were lucky to get a few nice, quick shot in.  I made him smile by tossing the TicTacs in the air.  Silly, I know, but ya got to be to get their attention.  It helps that I think the terrible twos were getting very sleepy.

One more quick location, and a plane flew by… oohs and ahs and “snap” it worked.  He didn’t smile here, but it’s really a touching moment. 

So there you go; plan to bring props, candy and  just roll with the flow.  I started out trying to use off camera flash but he wouldn’t stay still long enough to use it on the beach so I positioned the family in the sun. By the time we got to the field, I knew off camera just wasn’t going to work, so I put my falsh directly on the camera.  I was using a 70-200 lens and set the flash range for about mid way. I used a diffuser but pointed the light directly at them.  Luckily,  his energy started to wane, and I was able to do the bench and fence photos with the off camera flash.
All in all, I was able to get a few very nice photos, you just have to have patience and go with what the two year old directs.  

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A Night in Amish Country

This past weekend I had the pleasure of photographing my nieces wedding which also gave me the opportunity to travel in the Amish country in Pennsylvania.  I found a beautiful bed and breakfast in Chocranville, PA.  The Elver Valley Farm bed and breakfast is run by Elvin and Vera Roher who have wonderful stories to tell. 
The main house has two rooms but they have a “cabin” as well.  It’s not a real cabin in that it has running water, many beds, a full kitchen and bath room but it is set apart from the main house and close to the pond.  You can find more information about the Elver Valley Farm bed and breakfast on the web. 
The location was perfect for me.   Because I was close to my destination I could take the evening and relax.  I listened to Elvin talk about his 99 varieties of Hosta plants and how he built his wagon out old parts from different pieces of equipment, one of those being a trailer bed from an old IRS wagon.   After listening to his stories, I walked around looking at the Amish farms.  I drove to a nearby Amish restaurant and had the best chicken pot pie I’ve ever eaten. All the while, of course, I had my camera at my side. 
I tried to respect the Amish wish to not be photographed so,  though I had ample opportunity, I did not photograph their faces.   One lady rode by quite slowly in her horse drawn wagon and I asked her if I could take a picture and she said, “Of the horse, of course” .  It always makes me appreciate my life when I see the Amish.   Here they are following their religion and beliefs amongst a world so far removed from my own, yet they are happy.   I certainly lack the courage to live without my comforts.  Sure, some say they were raised that way, but I was raised without a cell phone and a microwave but would not want to live without either now.
Here are some of my photos from my trip.