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!

Monday, August 10, 2009


I can do frogs. I can't do snakes... or spiders. I'm glad it was this little guy who caught me by surprise and not the slithering kind.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Teaser for Ryan

Ryan is a part of the clan from yesterday! We stepped away from the group to get some professional headshots for his Realtor marketing materials.

D Family Teaser

I had a blast with the "D" Family yesterday! I would love to see what a typical dinner looks like when this gang gets together. This family has so much sincerity and love for each other I can only imagine the rowdiness from the bigger boys, the squealing from the grandkids, and the laughter and memories that they make together... pure chaos mixed with pure joy and life. Thank you D Family for the fun time at the beach yesterday and giving me a sneak peak into such a wonderful family! I hope you enjoy your teaser pics!

This last one was on our way back. This little girl clung to her Grandpa and I couldn't resist those big brown eyes claiming him as hers.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Family Fun

Here's some more captures of my time with the S Family! They have mastered the art of having fun as a family!