Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Mural As Background

When I shoot portraits, I generally like the background to fade away.  I like for the subject to stand out and be the main focus.  But recently, some very cool murals have been popping up around my city and I thought it would be fun to shoot a children's photo session in front of one.  I think the colorful, urban feel of the mural enhances the photograph.  And bringing a few props from home helps to keep things playful (chair, jewelry, flower).

One thing to remember about using your background as a feature in your photograph is that you really have to pay attention to it - the colors, patterns, lines, etc. - in relation to your subject.  Otherwise, its easy to end up with odd shapes/lines/trees/poles/etc. growing out of people's heads (and yes, this did happen to me during this shoot!) See...

Prominently featuring your background in your photo can be fun but it does add another layer of considerations to challenge your brain while shooting.  And I don't recommend bringing a four-year-old along as your "assistant", although I have to admit mine was very good at making faces at and extracting smiles from my model.

| Cindy Jackey | Child and Family | Portrait | Photography |

Monday, September 10, 2012

Sun Drenched Photography

'Golden Hour'. 'Godbeams'.

These are words to make a photographer drool.  Well, they make me drool anyways!  I recently made it outside to do an early evening portrait shoot that captured the moodiness and warmth of the setting sun. 

Hidden Cove = Hidden Jewel.
I discovered a jewel of a spot for outdoor photo shoots.  Hidden Cove Park in Decatur, GA.  It is a little known naturalistic park tucked away in a residential neighborhood in the NW corner of Decatur.  With grassy fields and long sight lines, it’s to die for in the early evening.  If you visit, you’ll most likely have the place to yourself.  Here are a few of the shots I got. 

My Fav.

Another pretty one.


      This one was taken just five minutes later. 
 The sun had set below the trees. Still pretty, but not the same! 
So, how is it done?

Technical Info (How-To).

Let me begin by saying, you cannot get this look with your camera on auto.  Or with a pre-set such as 'landscape' or 'portrait'.  This is a manual shot.  So use this chance to take your camera off auto and play with it.  The secret to success is: spot meter your subject and shoot directly towards the sun with your subject standing between you and the sun.  Play around with positioning.  Take some shots with the sun in the photo blaring right at you.  Look at the lovely flare it produces. That’s the fun of digital photography – instant feedback and a delete button.
Traditionally, the golden hour, which produces the wonderful light we are trying to capture, occurs one hour before sunset.  For your shoot, you'll want a clear day with the sun very low in the sky but still visible.  Here in the Atlanta area, we have all of these gorgeous old-growth trees to consider.  That means back your session time up to two and a half hours before the expected sunset, as the sun will set below the trees long before it sets below the horizon.   I took the first two shots above at about 5:45 PM, then the sun set below the trees.  The actual sunset time was more like 8:00 PM.  Here are links to two cool sunset calculators that will help you plan your shoot.

Notice that this golden hour light does tend to read rather flat.  The sunlight acts like a mist filling the air and knocking the colors and definition down a few notches.  So, bathed in sun = low contrast and you may need to bump up the contrast and saturation in post-processing.   I also found that the focus becomes softer in this type of light.

Well my dearies, you now know the basics of sun drenched photography, so get out there and try it (and don’t wait as long as I did!)
Cindy Jackey | Decatur | GA | Photography