Monday, August 30, 2010

BAPC Portrait Field Trip 2

Nikon D700, 60mm lens at f4.8 and 1/250th, ISO 200
no flash, reflector

This model was our first victim subject 
when we began our portrait field trip and I wanted to start our group with ways to shoot portraits without relying on flash.  Since the light was still bright enough at this time, 6:30 pm, we used a reflector to bounce light onto her as she sat in shade on the warehouse loading dock.  I think the following image was also shot with the reflector.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

She's A Natural

Nikon D700, 60mm macro lens at f 5.6 and 1/90th,
ISO 200, flash in softbox on camera right
C. had picked these flowers quite a while before the shooting started.  It was just perfect that she wore a very vibrant peach-colored outfit that coordinated with the flowers so well.  But most of my images of her had a very strong orange cast, probably due to the combination of her clothes and the cloudy whitebalance setting I was using so I added a hue/sat adjustment layer in Photoshop and decreased the reds until I liked the tone of her skin better.  She has perfect, beautiful, peachy skin and I did not want to drain all of that tone away. I did not have to direct C at all in her posing, she just naturally seemed to look great no matter what she was doing.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

BAPC Portrait Field Trip

This little model was such a trooper on the long, hot evening our photography club met to practice portraiture in Galveston. I wish I had been able to spend more time with her as I have been longing to photograph a little girl who likes to dress up and pose but I had to share her with several other group leaders and a whole bunch of photographersBy this time she had been posing for a couple of hours but you would never have known it by her demeanor.  Though I only photographed her for a few minutes I got quite a few nice shots and I hope her parents like them as much as I do.  When we were planning the site and the models to ask to pose for us I think some people had reservations about the warehouse background and all the concrete, rust, etc but I really like the contrast of the young sweet child with the gritty environment (though you can't see it in this shot).  I wanted to get the kids out in the weeds and flowers too but we ran out of time.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Starring In Her Own Cartoon

Recently I found a fun dog-related site and submitted some of my dog photographs and yesterday our very special Maggie May was featured!  Check it out:
Draw the Dog.   
You can sign up for daily emails of the cartoons --- If you are a pet lover they are sure to make you smile.

Almost exactly a year ago we had a photo club assignment of Unusual Perspective and I took some shots of her diving from the bottom of the pool, and then combined some images with ones I had taken on a dive in Cozumel.  Never did I think of anything as creative as "The Little Mermutt"!  I posted them back in September '09.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Cuteness Overload

Felix --- just darling, who can resist him?
Ace --- playful and sweet.
I have recently been able to photograph the animals available for adoption at Friendswood Animal Control.  Then those images are posted on, Facebook, and can be viewed on Friendswood's cable channel.  I have had to use EXTREME self control to walk out of there without one of these darling kittens.  Happily 3 of the older cats were adopted last weekend but I am really surprised these two playful darlings are still there.  If I did not have 3 large dogs, 2 of which have serious health problems right now, these guys would have been in my camera bag and headed home with me.
Did you seriously think I could leave only felines in a post?  The following puppy and 2 dogs are waiting for a new home too.  Pass the word on if you know of anyone who would like to give them furever homes.

Boomer --- what ears!  He is very sweet, energetic and loving.

Allie --- scruffy looking but VERY soft.

Mozart --- looks like a small version of a Bernese Mountain Dog.

UPDATE:  Felix has been adopted!  But I happen to know there are 4 newborn kittens that just arrived.  They aren't ready to leave Mama yet but check back in a couple of weeks.

Monday, August 16, 2010

She's BACK!

Maggie is SO happy --- she can swim again!  And with the heat we have had lately, she is really really happy about it.  The surgeon wants her to walk 1/2 mile twice a day...but right now a snail could pass us.  If I had a free hand I could read a book, type a letter, make some phone calls, etc.  Poor Pearl can't figure out why I am holding HER back. But in just 2 weeks I can see Mags getting stronger and less wobbly, so I know it will just take time.  It is too hot for anyone to be out walking even before dawn so the reward of jumping in the pool on our return makes it worth dragging her out...sort of.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Maximum Security

Nikon D700, 60mm macro lens at f8 and 1/125th, 
ISO 800, flash in softbox on camera left

This was one of my submissions for our August assignment of Monochrome But Not Black and White.  I had processed this image in both color and a neutral black and white (in Silver Efex) but when I thought about what I wanted to say with this shot, I found that the sepia toning was more dramatic and it allowed the skin tones of the father and baby to have more contrast and yet looked more natural and organic to me.  I tried to emphasize the difference in the texture of the rugged, hairy arms of the father and the smooth perfect skin of the baby by adding a high pass filter and masking it off the baby's skin.  The judges that night thought the baby should have been turned more horizontally, as a baby is often held in that position but the father was holding him vertically when I shot it and I just cropped out the father's face in the upper left.  This was the only shot I took of the baby being held this way and I like how alert and awake the baby is, while being so safe and secure in his father's arms.
Another suggestion I got was that the baby's feet and the father's hand cradling them were distracting and taking attention away from the main subject of the baby's face.  I tried that crop below and am interested if anyone prefers it to the full length of the image I submitted.  I have to admit that I am biased and one of my favorite parts of this shot is the way those tiny baby toes are being cupped so gently and how the light is hitting the toes just peeking out. 

I do like the crop, but it is a different image for me... I guess I feel that it does not tell the story that I wanted to tell.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Eyelashes and Moustaches

I never realized before what fantastic eyelashes that Schnauzers haveThese two have so much personality that shows in their portraits --- the little guy in the red scarf looks just like a dapper gentleman to me, with a wonderful moustache.  Somehow the whiskers on her just look sweet... 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Most Difficult Subjects

They say the most difficult subjects to photograph are children and pets...but I think both are a lot of fun (and I will never attempt to shoot a wedding!).  These two brothers had the sweetest dogs and you can tell they are well loved.  Their mom was worried that the boy in glasses is not much of a smiler, but he couldn't be cuter IMHO. 

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Things We Do

I added a texture around Catalina in post processing, 
just for something different.

Catalina was another timid soul who was not sure she liked getting her portrait made. So, her person got down next to her to make her feel more comfortable.  Catalina is fairly new to her family and still adjusting to her new life, then add the busy atmosphere inside the hangar, and THEN add some pretty large and bright lights exploding in your eyes, and I can understand her reserve.  Oh, and I forgot she is also being a foster sister to a pretty rambunctious little male puppy who was rescued from Friendswood's Animal Control Facility.  I know from my own experience how tiresome little brothers are --- enough said.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


  Niles is the brother of Molly and Martin and he was the least thrilled of his siblings about getting his portrait taken.  He is very sweet though, and just  a little timid.  Well, the poor thing had just been microchipped and he definitely felt the sting of that.  Plus it was a little hectic and noisy in Jones Hangar and then those lights kept blinding him.  I think he did very well considering.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Sophisticated Martin

Martin is another Corgi and one of Molly's brothers.  He was very calm and collected during his portrait session and I got many really nice images of him.  I don't know if he is always as elegant and sophisticated as he appeared to be, or maybe he was just studying me to figure out what in the heck I was doing.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Miss Molly


I actually took some portraits of dogs who did not dress up.  This is Molly, a Corgi who was rescued by a member of my Friendswood Animal Advocates group.  She has 3 and they are all very cute.  I cannot remember ever meeting a Corgi before, and they are really such sweet and expressive dogs and a really good size ---- not too small and not too large.  Their fur is so soft too.  The last two images show what Molly does when she sees a squeaky toy...for some reason it makes her stick her tongue out in anticipation!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

She's A Diva

Nikon D700, 24-70mm lens at f4.0 and 1/250th, ISO 100
2 flash in umbrellas camera right and left
Meet Miss Vienna, as in sausage.  She was right at home in front of the camera and had several very nice poses for me. I am not sure she is too thrilled with the red boa though....maybe she preferred a different color, or possibly a tutu. No, I bet she is mad that we forgot the tiara.
I started out the day with my main light on the right at a slightly higher setting (maybe 1/8th or so) and was using the flash on my left as a fill at a lesser setting like 1/16th power but once the shooting started and I had to keep adjusting the output of both flashes for the different colors of fur or human skin tones, I lost track of my actual settings and just looked at my LCD and histogram for the results. Many of my shots of the dark dogs were underexposed but I was able to bring the fill light up in ACR.  I also have a free action by MCP Actions called Touch of Light, Touch of Dark that I often use to add light with a soft white brush to areas that I want brighter.  Here I used it on the left of the image and to bring more light to her both of her eyes.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Don't Hate Me Because I'm Beautiful

 Nikon D700, 24-70 lens at f4.8 and 1/180th, ISO 100,
2 flash in umbrellas camera right and left

Last Saturday my Friendswood Animal Advocacy group hosted several other local rescues at a Pet Adoption DayIt was held in an airplane hangar that is now owned by the city of Friendswood and used for various events and it was a great building for that ---  the air conditioning was essential when it was close to 100 degrees outside.  We had some dog art for sale, lots of fresh baked biscuits, microchipping for $25 (a GREAT deal), a pet trainer to talk to and of course lots of pets available for adoption. I thought it would be fun and hopefully make our group some money to have pet portraits available.  I set up a brown background with two flashes in umbrellas on each side of the camera.  I knew that the lighter-colored animals would show up well against the dark brown and I hoped that I could use one of the flash as a rim light or a hair light to separate the darker animals from the background.  I also had a box of fun props available, for either/both human and fur subjects to dress up in.  It was chaotic at times, but still a lot of fun.  There were times I had a lot of adjusting of the flash when the subjects were significantly different in tone from the previous settings and I am not sure what can be done to make that any easier.  When planning, I thought about using a white background but then knew if I wanted it to photograph as white and not gray I would have to light it too, and I only have 2 speed lights at the moment and was thinking I would need both to light my subjects inside that hangar.  Also, I was able to successfully gel the flash for the fluorescent fixtures so I must be making progress in my journey to learn flash!
So my next few postings will be some of the portraits I took at the adoption event ---- just try not to smile at these!