Sunday, December 13, 2009

Williamsburg Wreaths

My stroll around Williamsburg to see the gorgeous holiday wreaths they put out on display every year didn't exactly go as smoothly as I would have liked. A rain forecast meant that we had to smoosh all of our weekend activities essentially into one day so we attempted to walk around to see the wreaths right before Logan's naptime, which was just a bad idea. So between temper tantrums and me holding a toddler who couldn't make up his mind on whether he wanted up or down, I did manage to sneak in a few pictures of the wreath displays before we threw in the towel and headed back to the car. If you'd like to see the full collection of pictures, visit my facebook page and feel free to join my fan list!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Twinkling Lights | Virginia Beach Children's Photographer

This picture didn't go exactly how I had envisioned it. The layout of our living room was a little awkward to get the shot I wanted, but I thought I would share how to get the twinkling lights in a picture like this one. You know when you squint your eyes and look at a street lamp the lights turn into a starburst? Well, the same thing happens when you close up the aperture. Think of it like your camera is squinting. I took two pictures for this shot, both from a tripod. The first I set the aperture as high as it would go, to f/32 and got the twinkling lights effect. Then we brought Logan over to the tree and he started pointed out the lights and ornaments. The second shot was taken using bounced light off the flash, I angled it towards the top of the wall directly behind me and set the shutter speed back up to around 125 so it would freeze Logan's small movements. Then I merged the two photos in photoshop and came out with this final product. Try it on your tree and see what you come up with!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Yarr | Virginia Beach Children's Photographer

Wishing everyone a safe and Happy Halloween!

Spiderweb brush is provided by redheadstock on Deviantart!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Forgotten: A Photographic Series

I'm always drawn to these abandoned houses and buildings. I sit there wondering and imagining their life...the kids running around in the back field. The dog sitting on the front porch watching the cars pass by on the road. I wonder what circumstances led to their abandonment. Why were they forgotten? I pass by them every so often. Sometimes I am lucky enough to have my camera with me.

I thought I would start sharing this series with you. It's definitely a work in progress. I see a couple worth sharing every year. If you'd like to see more in this series, visit my facebook page and become fan!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Blog Assignment: Add some flare!

I'm starting to love working with couples more and more. There is always a spark, a justifiable passion that interconnects the two and places them in their own little remote bubble miles removed from where I stand with my camera. Jenn and Nate were the lucky ones who responded to my request for a local couple to model for this particular blog assignment and they definitely brought out their love and appetite for each other during our shoot. This past week was spent learning about lens flare. I know I've done it in the past, but I've never just sat down and played with the exposure and location of the sun flare for use artistically.

A few things I learned...

Always work on fully manual exposure. Use your display screen and histogram to determine whether you nailed the exposure correctly or not. Most of the time I was going against what my in-camera meter was saying was the proper exposure.

Block the sun either with your subject or your hand to let the camera focus on the subject, then bring in the light. The camera has a hard time focusing in such bright conditions.

Try to pay attention to where the sun trail is falling on your subject. A couple of shots I wasn't able to use because there was a overly bright sun spot right on my subject.

Avoid looking directly at the sun. I'm sure this type of assignment takes it's toll on your equipment as well, but I always tried to keep the sun behind my subject until the last second and then step out and frame the shot.

Here are a few shots. If you like these and want to see more from this shoot, head over to facebook and join the fan pages! You never know when I'll need another local model!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

D Family: Sneak Peek | Virginia Beach Family Photographer

I know how patiently this family has been waiting to see their group shots so I thought I'd throw in another sneak peek for them! This is from our double take with the D family!

Here's a mini sneak peak from our beach shoot with the D Family! This precious little girl is surrounded by some pretty fun cousins who always manage to keep me entertained!

Cara: Sneak Peek

Cara is the newest Associate at William E. Wood and Associates, Realtors on Laskin Rd.! We did a session out at the beach for her professional headshots. Here's a sneak peek Cara!

Friday, October 2, 2009

M Family Teaser

What a great time I had with the M Family down at the Oceanfront! They are such a gorgeous family with a couple of awesome kids too. Thanks for the fun tonight! I only wish the sun had tried to peak through!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Vacation Rewind

We left early last baby, no dog, just me and mine. It was the first time I was away from him for more than a day, but I needed this. We needed this. One deployment down and another one approaching way too quickly means long hours for the hubby again and single parent duties for me. Some days he is able to make it home for dinner, and other days, like last night, he asked me to keep Logan up a little later than usual just so he could see him for a few minutes awake. So we decided to go away for a few days, just the two of us. A new roof on the house left us with little fun money, so we did it simple... a rustic cabin for two in the woods, no electricity, no running water, and an outdoor commode that made for some warm snuggling after cold night trips outside. Pure bliss!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Blog Assignment #5...Props

I was so thrilled and honored to have the chance to make Baby E's first portrait! I've been patiently waiting to try out a new prop purchase of mine and Baby E couldn't have been more cooperative for the task. So, this weeks blog assignment is also a teaser post. I've been scouring here and there for props to use that add to a picture instead of distract. I've found Etsy is a wonderful site for all things homemade. Some things I've learned though with props is to always ask yourself if you are adding a distraction to the picture, or is the prop enhancing the story? Another lesson to take from this shoot is to let the lighting be your guide on where to shoot. We ended up shooting in the breakfast nook area of their house because they had these great corner windows that let in beautiful natural light. I knew I wanted a darker background for these pictures to contrast with the cream colored yarn, so we placed a table on its side a few feet back from where Baby E was "swinging" and it made for beautiful blurred darkness.

So without further ado, introducing Miss E!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Blog Assignment #4...Ghosting

This weeks assignment wasn't nearly as fun as I was expecting. I was all geared up for playing with double exposures when I realized DSLR's can't do double exposures! It's the first time I think I've noticed its limitation. Film cameras definitely have the upper hand here! You can still get those ghosted images, but it has to be done in an editing software (unless your camera has a double exposure feature!). Photoshop made it very simple to get that "double exposed" image, but it just didn't have the same amusement factor of trial and error with the camera. So to do this technique in photoshop, I placed one image on top of another, changed the opacity of the top layer and deleted around everything but the hand in the foreground. Simple enough!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

18 Months

Where did the time go? He's 18 months already. He loves crashing cars but he's afraid of loud trucks. He can eat more food than I can, throw the granddaddy of tantrums, and give the biggest hugs and open smile kisses. I completely adore him and only wish he could stay little, in my arms.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Too late...

I was about 2 minutes too late on this picture. Driving home the other day I looked out over the marina and the sun was a gorgeous burning red color. It was absolutely stunning and looked like something you'd see only in an African dust storm. By the time I was able to park the car and run back up over the bridge it had ducked down between the clouds. Nevertheless, it was still a beautiful site! I only wish I was in that boat cruising along without a care in the world.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A fav...

This is becoming one of my favorites from my shoot with the K family. I got the crazy photographer look when I told them I was shooting below the waist, but I love the way it turned out!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Rainy Day

Sorry guys! No blog assignment this week. We had a fun holiday weekend stuck inside sick. Logan and I are finally feeling better, but it seems to have finally hit the hubby. Who gets sick in the middle of summer?! Well, instead of a blog assigment, here's some pics of my little man for you to enjoy! I know how much family loves checking out the blog and seeing Logan pop up! :) We had a rainy Labor Day, so we took Logan outside to play in the puddles. He was a little apprehensive at first. I think he was waiting for the "NO!" to come, but once he saw Daddy tapping his toes in the water, it was all fun and games! I need to work on the whole rain boots though. How do they work anyway?! I tried putting the pant leg inside the boots and he had the whole MC Hammer puffer pants going on, so I decided on the "flood" look. Maybe I just need to put different pants on him next time.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

K Family Teaser

I had a blast with the K family today! I love the beach at Fort Story, and was thrilled when they picked this beach for their family shoot! Fort Story has it all...dunes, beach, rocks, lighthouse, stairs... and they definitely didn't disappoint with their creativity and fun. Here are just a few teasers for you! The boys really loosened up towards the end and gave me an all out cat walk photo session that had me in stitches laughing. So much fun! Thanks for the laughs guys!

(This one makes me crack up! They really do love each other!)

Monday, August 31, 2009

West Virginia

I love that my little family can still be spontaneous, even with a toddler in tow. A late decision to get away left us with a day to prepare a carload full of necessities and an evening to make a decision on where to adventure to. We decided on West Virginia, mainly because of the promise of cool mountain air and the allure of a 6-hour drive instead of a 9-hour drive to the Smokey Mountains (yes, we were considering it!) We ended up camping near the Greenbrier River Trail (a rail-to-trail conversion) and the scenery there was breathtaking! School was already in session there so a mid-week camping decision gave us free reign of the campgrounds and a lightly traveled trail to enjoy at a leisurely pace. Here's a few pictures for you to enjoy. The bridge was part of the trail system and was a gorgeous site to see! The lake was eerily calm. We saw one family sitting on a park bench enjoying the site and a canooer way off in the distance absorbing the serenity. I could have stayed there all day!

Blog Assignment #3...Slow it down!

This weeks assignment was a bit of a learning curve for me. We were headed to West Virginia to do some camping so I thought it would be the perfect time to practice slowing down the shutter speed to see what happens! Simple enough, right?! Well, the state forest we were in didn't exactly have the raging river or streams I was hoping for. Have you seen the buttery water shots where the water runs like silk over the rocks? They do that by slowing down the shutter speed, so I thought I'd try it! The less light out the better, so twilight or just before sunrise are perfect. Unfortunately Logan puts limitations on when I can go out (and because I wasn't about to venture out alone with all the bears we saw) so I attempted this picture on a rainy day in the forest when there wasn't much sun out. (and yes, you can make fun of my 1.5ft waterfall! :) Even still, I had to close my aperture as far as it would go so I could slow down my shutter speed. ISO was 100, Aperture was f/32 and Shutter speed was 5.0 seconds (a tripod is a must!). Not exactly ready for a spread in National Geographic, but it was fun to practice! I also attempted a star trail picture and failed miserably. There just weren't enough stars out to make any impact. I'll try that one again next time we are away from the city lights.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Blog Assigment #2...Reflections

This past weeks blog assignment was working with reflections. I thought I would really struggle with this assignment because this past week has probably been one of the busiest for me with family in town and military commitments. Finding the time to schedule myself in was definitely at a premium, but what I am finding with these assignments and enjoying more than anything else is that I look at my little world with a new set of goggles on every week. As long as I have my camera with me, I always have the chance to stumble upon something that fits the theme of the week and I have become more aware of what I find interesting around me and how I can present it in a photographic form that you might not have seen before. So here are a few from this past week.

This first one hubby graciously let me use him as my model. He is looking out at our son Logan and I love that you can see and feel the happiness and pride that he feels seeing our son teeter towards him on the sand. ISO was 100, aperture was f/3.2 and shutter speed was 1/500 sec.

Yes, another ferris wheel picture!! But we were showing my in-laws the active oceanfront that Virginia Beach has to offer and these puddles in the parking lot showed off a beautiful reflection of the ferris wheel.

This last one I thought I'd throw in here so I can give you a little photoshop tip! Have you ever taken a picture that should have a gorgeous reflection in the water but the water just seems kind of blah? Usually there is just enough wind to mess your perfect reflection picture up. This was a sunset over the pond by our house and the original picture actually had a very pretty reflection in it already, but I thought it would be a good one to practice this on. I used the rectangle marquee tool (which by the way I'm using CS3 for my edits) and I selected the upper half of the photo from the water line and copied and pasted it so I'd have a double layer (You can also make a new layer of it by clicking Ctrl-J, but I wanted to be able to delete a good portion of it to show the brush in the foreground). Then either right click or hit Ctrl-T for free transform, then right click again and click on Flip Vertical. You can change the opacity to see enough of the layer underneath to place it in the right position then I just started deleting around the edges to bring back some of the foreground. If you had constraints in the picture that you wanted to only bring out the reflection on (like a defined shoreline) you could use the one of the lasso tools to define that constraint (hide the reflected layer first) and then use those constraints to "paint" back in the reflection so it keeps the neat shoreline. I didn't have those constraints in this picture because I was right on the water's edge taking the picture so you can't see where the water meets land in the foreground.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Blog Assignment #1! Night Photography

I've been stuck in a creative rut lately. I feel like so much of life gets in the way of learning. So, I decided to change it! Dominique of D. Long Photography and I have teamed up for weekly blog assignments to keep our butts motivated to learn. This past week's assignment was learning how to photograph at night using only available light (no flash!). I have NEVER done a night shoot before and I was eager to dive in. Cara and Patrick graciously (and patiently) let me use them as my guinea pig models. (Thanks Cara and P!)

So, this is the picture I am submitting for this assignment. It was one of the first that we tried and took a couple of takes to get it right. My f-stop was 4.5, ISO was 1250 and shutter was 1/4 sec. The hard part for me was working around the crowd on the boardwalk. I forgot to bring my shutter release cable so I was working with the 2 sec timer and trying to coordinate the crowd movement through the photo was a challenge. I love the movement that this photo offers.

One thing I noticed is with night photography you plan out your shots so much more which is a good and bad thing for me. So much of my style is trying to capture the emotion and connection of people. It is very difficult for your subjects to make that connection when they are trying to hold still for the camera to minimize subject blur while the shutter is open. You can't take advantage of them having an intimate and genuine laugh together because they would be one big blur in the photo. The advantage to it is I think I only took about 20 pictures in a 2-hour shoot which means the quality of each individual picture was better and there were less to toss out and less to edit. So here are a few more to show you...

This one below I probably could have lowered my ISO down a bit. There was much more available light here than any of the other locations. I have a habit when I am on manual mode to forget that it is a 3-way relationship between ISO, shutter and aperture. Usually the ISO just fades to the background for me once I set it.

This last one I think just might be my favorite. There is so much gorgeous light at night that I never noticed before. The reflection off the water gave the greatest light source and Cara and Patrick have this red glow to them from the lights of the ferris wheel directly behind me. It looks magical to me.

So we are hoping that these blog assignments will inspire others to either try them out, or share what has worked for them. I would have loved to have had the time to test my camera and see what manipulating the shutter or aperture would have done creatively for these shots, or how low I really could have gotten with the ISO. If I remember right, I started trying with 400 and the shutter was open way to long for Cara and Patrick to try and hold still for so I bumped it up from there. I feel like I know what the results would be on the streetlamps if I pushed the aperture up higher to get those starlights, but when I am in the midst of a shoot, I always forget to just try it out to see what happens!