Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Holidays

Nikon D200, Lensbaby Composer for the main plant and 60mm macro for the center, combined in PS (because even on a tripod I could never get the center really sharp)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Just Playing

I have been playing with my new camera, a Nikon D700, and my poor dogs have been the subjects.  I wanted to see what the camera would do in low light so waited until after 5pm when the sun had just about set but there was still light...not enough for my old camera, but definitely enough for the new one.  That is exactly the reason I wanted this one --- to allow me to keep shooting in less than good light.  I only pumped the ISO up to 800, but never would have gotten a shot with no noise at that setting with the D200.  So, I'm happy! And looking forward to shooting in new situations in the new year.  I hope all of y'all have some fun and interesting things to look forward to also!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Larry mentioned that he would like to see a closer shot of N looking at her reflection in the Christmas ornament where the viewer could also see her face, so here it is.  The reflection in the ball shows a family friend and her mother in the background and I did remove myself although that area, near the branches, was dark and hard to discern much.  I did not spend as much time as I later wished I had, placing her and working the frame and I also wish I had taken some with her dressed in her Christmas clothes as I think that would have added to the shots.  But, it is something I will keep in mind for the future.  Again, the large sheet that I had the juice-diffuser shooting through lit her very softly and pretty evenly from camera left, much to my surprise. I had practiced the set up at home and then did not move it at all once I got it set up at their home, and it went together very quickly so is something I will use again.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Ribbons and Bows

Little N really did have some darling clothes for her portrait session, and this burgundy dress was especially pretty on her.  However, when you are 5 months old and cannot sit up yet, it is a little difficult to see the outfit.  She enjoyed the texture of the fur so much that we spent quite a lot of the time letting her explore the throw.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

More Chubby Cheeks

When we went into little N's room to get some shots I did not take the sheet I had suspended from my reflector stand so it mimicked a window, I just took my SB28 with the juice diffuser on a tripod.  I extended the tripod legs so the flash and diffuser were about my shoulder height and it worked great to bounce the light pretty evenly around the room.  I was a little concerned about the white balance because her room walls are painted a light purple-lilac but the color balance in the files look fine to me, maybe even a little too warm since the whitebalance was set to cloudy. That is not the reason for the black and white version here, I just wanted to diminish the colors in the flowered pad she is laying on.
Nikon D700, 60mm macro lens at f4.8, 1/250th, ISO 400, flash with plastic diffuser at 1/8th power behind camera on the left.

Friday, December 18, 2009


This is one of my favorites from my session with little N.  She just could not be cuter than when she was exploring her feet.  Although she is too young to take part in all the holiday festivities this year, I know her parents are enjoying the gift of this precious little girl.
Nikon D700, 50mm 1.8 at f2.8, 1/90th, ISO 400, same flash set up as the previous post.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Wonders of Christmas

I got to photograph this precious 5 month old little girl recently.  She was a very happy and friendly baby and very easy to work with.   After we had taken some shots with the parents in front of the tree, and some of little N in some pretty holiday clothes, we took them off and put her on a fur throw in front of the tree.  She was attracted by the decorations so we put her closer and watched as she found her reflection in the large silver ball.  I love that she even explored the tree with her feet! It is such a joy to watch babies discover the world around them.
Nikon D700, 50mm 1.8 at f2.8, 1/90, ISO 400 and SB 28 with juice-fong, 1/8th power, behind a large white sheet on camera left

Monday, December 14, 2009

Different Species, Same Behavior

The lioness companion to Jonathon stood right in front of a group of photographers and vocalized to us for quite a long time.  Not really a growl but certainly not a meow either.
It bothered me, but Jonathon paid no attention at all, typical male.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


I find it so sad to look at most of the animals confined in the zoo.  Here Jonathon's expression seems to reflect that misery.  Intellectually I understand the need for zoos as well as the education they provide and yes, in some ways the animals kept there have better lives than they would in the wild, but in other ways so much worse.  I wish there was a way to keep them for short periods and then set them free again...I know, how unrealistic of me.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Baby Miles

This little guy was pretty new, I think he had been born just a few days before our field trip on Feb 21. I liked a lot about this image but my focus must be off a little because his neck is very sharp but not the end of his nose....I probably needed a smaller aperture.

Nikon D200, 70 -200mm 2.8 at f2.8 and 1/500th, ISO 320

Friday, December 11, 2009

Sleeping Flamingo

When I saw this solitary flamingo sleeping in the shadows with the light softly falling on it, I thought that except for the band on its leg, it could be sleeping on some tropical island somewhere.  It seemed to glow against the dark foliage. I did very little post processing to this image other than develop in ACR and then I darkened some white feathers in the background that were distracting, and darkened the band slightly with a Curves layer, then sharpened the image with Smart Sharpen.  I deliberately left the image dark, because that is the way the scene looked but it may be a bit too dark on some monitors. 
Nikon D200, 70 - 200mm 2.8 lens at f2.8 and 1/3000th, ISO 200.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Flamingo Curves

Must be a different bird than yesterday's post, this one didn't mind being a model.  I was drawn by the curving lines and the edge light.
Nikon D200, 70 -200mm 2.8 lens at f2.8 and 1/2000th, ISO 200

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What Chu Lookin' At?

From the archives, as they say.  In looking through my files for an image to submit for our final photo club judging of the year in the assignment category (it had to come from a club field trip), I found some from our field trip to the Houston Zoo back in February.  None are good enough to waste ink and paper, but thought I would post a few.  I think Doug coined this "giving the stink eye"... I can't say I have ever heard that term before, but it fits!
Nikon D200, 70 - 200mm 2.8 at f2.8 and 1/1600, ISO 200

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Dolly Needs a Home

This little female Chihuahua mix, about 3 years old,  ran out of time at the Friendswood Animal Control facility and was about to be euthanized to make space for the next round of strays but she was lucky enough to be one of the very few dogs chosen to be fostered by a volunteer and really needs to find a forever home. She was a little timid and shy for her photo shoot at the park but had a total personality change when I saw her in her foster home --- perky and friendly, she could not get enough petting.  She probably needs to go to a home with older people and no young children, so if you know of anyone who would love a small, sweet, well-behaved lap dog, tell them about Dolly.  She has a Doberman Pincher foster sister and a feline sibling at the moment and they all get along fabulously, so other pets are not a problem.  I would take her in a heartbeat if I could!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

This Is Serious Work, Being a Model

Taken on our hike, at the beginning of the session.  I realize the soccer uniform looks out of place in the woods and I wish he had been wearing jeans when we started, but we had plans to take some shots on the soccer field as soon as the sun got lower, so I didn't want to ask him to change just as we met.  But I do think walking back on the nature trail was a good way to get comfortable with each other and we all enjoyed the hike, so having some kind of an ice-breaker activity to do with kids is something I want to keep in mind for the future.  Does anyone have some things that work for you?
Also, I have been trying a new (for me) method of boosting color by converting to lab mode and then doing a curves adjustment layer on the a and b channels, very slightly moving in the sliders on both ends of the curve, sometimes one end more than the other, to my liking.  I just occasionally want a little more color pop and read that is a way to do it subtly.  Here I masked it off of J's face, but wondered how it looks on others' monitors
--- OK?  Don't bother?
Nikon D700, 70 - 200mm lens at 200mm, f4, 1/125th, ISO 200.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Seven Going on ?

Can you believe this kid is only 7 years old?  And that he really wasn't thrilled about getting his picture taken?  This shot makes me think there are going to be a lot of girls texting him in the near future, I hope his parents have a good cell phone plan.  And he is just as sweet and smart as he is good looking.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Meet J

J is the son of my sister's friend and he agreed to be my model recently.  He did such a great job!  We met at the park and went on a hike down the nature trail where I learned how to look for moss on the trees so I could find my way out if I ever got lost.  He is very smart and interested in all things science or sport-related, especially soccer and basketball.  It was so nice to get a chance to photograph a child who stayed where I directed him, posed fabulously, and had a great attitude while doing so.  I used a softbox and sometimes another flash with the juice-Fong, and I think both were used here as it was almost 5 pm with the light fading. This was my first shoot with my new D700 with the full frame sensor and I was very surprised to see more depth of field at various apertures than when I use that same lens on my D200 with the smaller sensor.  The reason for this was explained to me, but didn't quite compute so I have to just believe it works that way.
Nikon D700, 70 -200mm VR lens at f4 and 1/320th, ISO 200.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Another Tiny Flower

Again I cannot identify this flower.  It is another blooming ground cover about 1/2 an inch in size.  The petals are closed on all the hundreds of blooms I saw so evidently they do not open but do turn whiter as they age.
Nikon D700, 60mm macro lens atf 5.6 and 1/160th, ISO 200

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tiny Australian Violet

This tiny flower is blooming in a ground cover at my parent's house. The bloom is only about half of an inch in size and looks like a violet to me, but I am not sure.  My mom is out of town or I would ask her!
Nikon D700, 60mm macro lens at f7.1 and 1/125th, ISO 200
Frame added as a layer and masked off of the center.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Still Lauren

But really the last one.  This was actually one of the first ones we shot, along the railroad tracks.  We really wanted to have the tracks in the compositions too, but they were in full sun and we never made it back there later. I shot through some branches and weeds and really should have used an even wider aperture to blur the branches in the background more but I was going for the contrast of texture and pattern versus her smooth unblemished skin and satin dress.  The background darkened nicely when I used an action by Kubota called Creamsickle that I often use at a low opacity for smoothing skin and here I left it full strength on the background and masked it back some off of her face and skin as she really doesn't need it.  Then I added a new layer in overlay and used a low-opacity soft black brush to darken the branches and tree trunks immediately behind her head.  Luckily we never saw the reported snakes...
Nikon D200, 50mm 1.8 lens at f3.2 and 1/2500th.  Flash in a softbox from camera left.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Lauren on a Ledge, the Last One

I can't believe anyone would be tired of seeing shots of Lauren, but this is probably my last post of her....well I may have to show one of her standing in the snake-infested weeds (according to a passerby) next to the railroad tracks.  This ledge is actually about 5 feet up the wall, no stairs lead to it (Shirley brought a ladder) and Lauren did not hesitate when we asked her to climb up there.  I was thinking the cream walls and her white dress would be too bland and although I added a couple of textures here just because I felt like it, the original image itself is not bland either.  Usually I do not like shadows on backgrounds but here I did like the shape of her profile on the door behind her, caused by a flash.
So maybe I should show the uncropped, untextured shot:

so which one do you prefer --- closer and textured, or uncropped and no texture?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Lauren, Just Resting TTD 5

Even standing by a fire hydrant, trying to take a break, Lauren still looks beautiful.  We asked her to do so many things during the course of this session and she was game for all of them.  I never want to shoot a wedding or even do bridal portraits but it was fun to pose Lauren all over the alleys of Galveston --- she is beautiful and sweet!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Lauren and TTD 4

Here Lauren was posed by Shirley for a boudoir style shot.  The sun was coming from behind her, camera left, and a soft box on a stick was coming from camera right or maybe straight on, and possibly even the juice-Fong flash was aimed at her face but suprisingly all that light combined for a softly lit scene.  I think the black and white version looks like a still from a Grace Kelly movie, classic and beautiful.   
Steve has a similar image, but remembers the flash setup differently than I was thinking.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Lauren and TTD 3

While we were waiting for the sun to move off the red door in the alley, we went around the corner in front of the Masonic building and were posing Lauren in different ways when we noticed a woman sitting on the curb across the street and watching us.  She asked what we were doing and then told us she had a ton of ideas, and one was for Lauren to peek in the letter slot of the door like she was trying to see inside and she even knew how Lauren should hold her flowers.  So, this shot was posed by the realtor lady showing an open house nearby.  I wanted to include the carving at the top of the door, it almost looks like a heart. You can tell by the shadow the direction of the light but I don't know if it was only the softbox/flash or if the second light was used here also.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Lauren and Trash the Dress 2

Lauren was so patient while we all tried to channel Joe McNally and figure out how to light her in this concrete box.  I kept trying to get the light softer so the shadows behind her would not be so hard and dark and honestly here I am not sure what the flash set up is, we tried so many different things.  I know Shirley was using a reflector to block the sun from hitting her dress on the camera left as I cropped her out, and possibly the flash/softbox on a stick was coming in on camera right, and at one point we tried the juice diffuser flash laying on the ground in front of her and shooting up through the trigrip diffuser panel...I should remember to take some set up shots to refer to, but I get caught up in the shooting and never think of it.
Nikon D200, 50mm 1.8 at f5.6 and 1/45, ISO 200

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Lauren and Trash the Dress 1

When we first got to this alley we struggled trying to light Lauren in a concrete box with some plumbing, to the right of this doorway.  We had stopped here just for that fantastic red door but at that time the sun was hitting it directly so we started with the box and spent quite a bit of time there trying to get good light on her without harsh shadows being thrown directly behind her.  I may post one of those another day. Later the sun was only hitting the small patch of grass here where Lauren is standing and I think she is lit with the small soft box directly across from her on the other wall as well as the juice-Fong aimed at her face from camera right.  If that isn't correct, Mike,Steve or Shirley can correct me.  Unusual for me, I shot with a smaller aperture to get the texture in the door and wall to show the contrast between her smooth skin and the satin dress and the rough, weathered door and wall.  At this distance the texture is not really noticeable...
Nikon D200, 50mm 1.8 lens at f5.0 and 1/60th, ISO 200

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Monday, November 16, 2009

Whistle While You Wait

...for that lady with the camera to be finished. I think she is trying to tell me, enough already!  But she is still too cute even when she is being silly. Shot at f2.8 but she was very close to the plant in the background so I tried a texture to make the background recede some.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


This little sweetheart is the big sister to a newborn that I got to photograph recently.  She is so much fun to be around and while still a challenge to get focused before she took off again, the ice cream cone worked well here.  She wasn't even upset when the two Golden Retrievers ran over and managed to lick the whole scoop of ice cream off her cone in a flash. At only 3 years old she has the most beautiful hair I think I have ever seen on such a young child --- thick, long, and a wonderful red/gold/brunette, and her eyelashes are to die for!  But her personality is even better --- I had to laugh at her crossed eyes, whistling, choking, etc etc when she was tired of posing.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Lensbaby Sunflower 2

I used turquoise blue tissue paper taped to foam core for the background here.
Nikon D200, Lensbaby f4.0 with +4 closeup filter

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Interpretations of a Sunflower

I have wanted to try photographing a sunflower for a while and just never got around to it until it was time to come up with an idea for our triptych assignment, where each image in the triptych had to be taken by a different photographer and with all the images working together in some way.  I thought Steve, Shirley and I could each shoot a sunflower, or the whole bouquet, in our own particular style while trying to keep the colors consistent so they would combine well for a triptych.  Of course, I chose to use my Lensbaby because I wanted the petals to distort away from the center, rather than a plain old boring macro. :-)  In this shot I also used the +4 close up filter on the Lensbaby, with the f4 aperture ring.  A texture was added to give some interest to the green area.  Like Shirley said, something about sunflowers just makes you happy!  They are very sunny and cheerful looking.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Calla Lily Curl

Nikon D200 with 60mm macro lens at f4 and 1/500th, ISO 250
natural light

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Baby in Black and White

For this image I used a small beanbag covered with a white fur throw and the baby has the tutu on still.  I like the way the tutu adds softness and "girly-ness" to the image but wish I had noticed the distracting ribbon at the time.  I just am not skilled enough in Photoshop to clone it out well enough. Live and learn, it has since been removed from the tutu!  I like this shot just as much in color, but I think her eyes stand out even more in the black and white version.
Nikon D200, 50mm lens at f2.5 and 1/60th, ISO 200

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Baby L

Another shot from my second baby session, this time with her sitting in a "Bumpo" for support.  She is only 4 months old in this photograph, taken in June, so she was not old enough to sit up on her own.  Even with a serious expression, she is just adorable to me. 
I set up a white background near a large window that was on camera left and also used some white foam core hinged together and placed opposite the window for some fill light.  The textures are from Flora Bella Textures.
Nikon D200, 50mm 1.8 at f2.5 and 1/125, at ISO 200

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Texas Art

Found in a Friendswood eatery, Jake's Grill --- they make a great Blackened Chicken Salad.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Friday, October 30, 2009

Another Waterdrop, Two Versions

This past spring I had several blooms on a calla lily plant and every morning for a few days this waterdrop would appear only on this one lily.  I couldn't decide between the wider crop in color with the leaves as a background, or the black and white version that I cropped a little closer and darkened the background to remove the I have posted them both.
Nikon D200 with 60mm macro lens at f3.2 and 1/650th, ISO 250

Thursday, October 29, 2009


After one of our recent rainstorms, I found this large waterdrop balancing on a leaf of the succulent.  I combined 3 images to get the waterdrop sharp but left the plant unfocused to keep the viewer's attention on the droplet.  I am not happy with whatever is being reflected in the droplet, the brick wall of our house I think and maybe another section of the succulent, and next time I will move the plant somewhere for a better reflection.  I have wanted to try one of those waterdrop images with a flower reflected in the drop, but I have no idea how that is done.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Don't You Just Love These Guys?

They always make me smile.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Kelly with a Texture Layer

Nikon D200, 24-70mm at f6.3 and 1/50th
Post processing:  increased exposure, the recovery slider and blacks in ACR.  In CS3 I ran a Creamsickle action by Kubota that smoothes the skin and adds a punch of color but I masked some of it off her face, hair, shirt and the brick edge to retain detail there, then added a texture layer but masked it off completely from Kelly. Sharpened with the highpass filter in softlight.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Good Shadows and Bad Shadows

I think the shadows on Kelly in this image are not the most flattering and I did some selective lightening and darkening on her face in CS3 to try to even the patches out, but I do like the effect of the shadow of her profile on the bricks.  Larry had set the lights to hit her when she was turned the other direction and the camera position was on the far left but she had the idea to turn around and strike this may have been after she broke the ladder...
Nikon D200, 24-70mm 2.8 at f7.1 and 1/125th, ISO 200.  Two flash, one from camera left and one from the right...I am not sure why you cannot see any shadow from the flash on the right, maybe it was only set for fill but you can see both catchlights in her eyes when zoomed in.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Black and White

Nikon D200, 24- 70mm 2.8 at f5.6 and 1/30th.  Natural light
You can see a (blurry) speedlight  that was being used by Steve and Larry attached to the railings in the top right of this image.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


I am not the best panner (is that a word?) by far, but I really like action images with a blurred background because it helps to set the subject apart so I gave it a try from a side view as Kelly rode by.   I think my shutter speed was around 1/30th of a second here which blurred the walls just enough but still left the bricks recognizable. I think I had to change lenses to my wide angle zoom, a 24 -70 mm 2.8. I am positive only natural light was used, no flash for sure....I think.

Friday, October 23, 2009

My Versions of Kelly

While Larry and Steve immediately set to work placing strobes and figuring out lighting patterns, Shirley and I liked the natural light that was hitting Kelly in this alley behind Yaga's.  I thought this shot was taken in ambient light only but I can see some catchlights in her eyes when zoomed in closer, so I am not sure if that is only from reflected light or if a flash actually fired....sorry about not having all the information, it got a little confusing with one pretty model and four avid photographers. 
I have not had internet access on my main computer all week so thought I would use a flash drive and my laptop to post some images but I forgot to look up my exposure settings.  I was using my 50mm 1.8 and probably around f5.6 to get the brick in focus too, but will have to check that and post it later.
update:  No, I had already switched from my 50mm to the 24-70 and this was shot at 6.3 and 1/50th, ISO 200.