12 Portraits of 2018

Like most people, the end of the year is about lists. A list of things like goals that I have for the year, things I need to change or photos I love. Well I thought I would bow to peer pressure and create a list of 12 portraits that I love and had fun creating this year. Now don’t fret, if your session did not appear that doesn’t mean I didn’t like any of the images or enjoy creating it. I just didn’t want to have a list that would go on and on and bore all 5 of my readers.  The reason I chose these images is that I tried something different, it came out great and now I use the set up as part of my other sessions. So here are my favorite 12 portraits in no specific order.

My nephew. Besides being my nephew and good looking, this pose turned out perfect for him. He looks strong and confident looking into the camera lens. I used paramount lighting which I hadn’t been able to do well until I bought a boom light stand. The paramount lighting is dramatic because his face and upper portion is lit creating dramatic shadows that helps him blend slightly into the background. And making this image black and white just adds to the drama.

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The next one is my son looking down on the city. The Crow is a character that he wanted to create and be photographed as. A lot of the solitary hero’s seeming to be ones that always perch themselves above the city to look down on it. I wanted to create that with Colin, but I wasn’t 100% that I was going to convincingly pull it off. I first photographed Colin on a bench and lit him in a with a light that would look as if it came from the street. Then I photographed the city scene a few days later. With the two image I combined them into one. I chose a blue, cold look because he is looking down at the city with some contempt and revenge for those who wronged him. After creating this image, I became motivated to create more cosplay like portraits.

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Colin and Rose. I had never felt that I had posed couples well but with Colin and Rose I really had an easy and great time creating these. I hate to admit but when it comes to posing, I feel I don’t do this well. Rose and Colin agreed to work with me which opened some new posing ideas to me. There were so many images that I really liked, but this portrait of the two of them was my favorite. A simple pose that has symmetry as well as conveying emotion to the viewer. The bonus of this session it that I was able to work in a park that I had never considered until then. The park has great light at this time as well as spots to use.

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Rose. Not only is she pretty, but she is a great model to work with. Again, I struggle to pose people, but Rose posed herself opening the possibilities that I could use with the next person I work with. Not only is this a great pose but I felt that the lighting looks so natural even though I had to use an off-camera flash. With that kind of success, I gain confidence to off camera flash into my kit for outdoor portrait sessions.    

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Morgan. I have always wanted to created portraits with a dancer since photographing my first dancing session. This time I got to do this with Morgan and as you can see, we did this outside in nature where, typically, you don’t see. In this spot I wanted to create a portrait that emulates a painting, something you would see in a Rembrandt or Degas and I feel I pulled it off with the lighting, color and the softness of the background. I think this spot would also look great with family and pets, don’t you think?

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Jack. My first encounter with Jack is when he was 5 and now here, he is, a senior in high school. I really liked all of his portraits but this one grabbed me. Not only is his pose and expression fit him perfectly but the lighting and his placement on the door works so well. I have used this door before but I finally feel I have discovered the best setup for this particular spot which excites me and want to create this again.

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Myles and Anna. I was dreading photographing at this park because it is so popular, but it is a popular place because it is so beautiful. We got a lot of great portraits with bright yellows and oranges of the fall colors, but I wanted to create some drama portraits that didn’t have color. That is when we went down to the beach and used the light and dark of the trees across the river. With the combination of flash and rim lighting of the sun I feel I have created this soft dramatic painted like portrait.

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Girl in Blue Dress. I have always loved the Rembrandt light because it has drama built into it. Most of the time when you set up this lighting situation, your subject blends completely or almost blend into the background. The hard part of this lighting is when you try to do this outside a studio an in a person’s home. This particular setting, I had the room to create this portrait and with her expression, background, and dress, it all came together and made an excellent image. Here sister’s portrait created with the same lighting came out just as good.  

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John and Family. John is, was a coworker and an all-around good guy. I don’t pose families well but with his group, I got a great group of portraits. This one was done in a wooded area using off camera flash that I believe has a natural light feel to it. Of all the technical aspects of this image, the grouping I am happiest with.

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Little Girl. I always love the soft expression over the great big smile that everyone expects. I created this portrait session of a good friend’s daughter. We started out with simple poses and big smiles but before I ended the session, I set up a pose with a soft expression and out of all the images, this was picked as the best by everyone.

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Stella. I have a lot of great images of Stella but this one is my favorite of them all. Just the fact I caught her in mid motion catching her tug. It is motion and energy caught in one image which you don’t always get to see.

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Triskaideka. I love to photograph this cat. He is expressive and know what I am looking for, and most of all, he is willing to have his photo taken. Not many cats put up with me taking their photos but Triskaideka really enjoys it. I love his expression and the light I caught in this portrait. This image is also my first time I used my new toy, a Nikon D750. All the rest of my images were created with an older Nikon D80 but because it is so old that if it breaks that is it, it is a brick. Now with the new toy I don’t have to worry about renting a camera for a portrait session, I have the D750 for my main camera and the D80 as a backup.

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By now you have noticed I don’t have 12 portraits but 13, the last is a bonus portrait I am compelled to add.

My parents. I created this portrait of my parents on their 60th Wedding Anniversary. That is 60 years of life’s ups and down along with three kids. They were loving and supportive of all that we did and gave all that we needed. My parents are why I am who I am and the values I have, without their love and guidance, who knows where I would be. 

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It was a great 2018 and I am looking forward to 2019, there are a lot of changes and goals I have made for the new year. One is for this site to hold only my landscape and photographic art while another site will be for my portrait work. I will continue to work on my style of portrait while challenging myself in

Still Here

I know it has been a while since I have posted on my blog or uploaded a podcast but it has been crazy lately. I try to budget my time in order to accomplish all the tasks that go into my posts but lately, I haven’t had the time, more to the point, motivation. It’s not that I am loosing interest in what I have been doing, but the energy to get it done. See I have changed my place of employment and instead of starting at 10 am I now start at 4 am. You would think it wouldn’t be that hard to change hours but it has been. So while I got use to my new wake up time of 2:45 I paced myself through the day and finished up some projects. Without getting into deep on all that I have finished, I thought I would post my last portrait session I created this year.

I really enjoyed creating these portraits of my friend Erin’s girls at their home. They were such a delight to work with were very patient between the background changes. Of all the portraits I am partial to the portraits done on the black background. My goal, with having only the one light, was to create an intimate portrait with the Baroque Style Lighting. The images I am most drawn to are the individual portraits where they are not smiling. I feel there is more of a connection to the viewer with these images than the others. Again over all the session was great and I am really happy with how everything turned out.

So this winter I am taking some time to renovate a room that I had been using but turning it over to my wife. It was a cat, storage and studio for my clean up work as well as my podcast but I will be cleaning it up and turning it into a quilting room for my wife. As for me, I will be taking a smaller room for my photography and podcasting studio. I don’t need much and the closet is a perfect size to record in. The last two days I have been going through items, pitching some and placing some in a better storage container. Once the room is cleared I will begin the demolition process, taking the lath and plaster walls out, redoing the lights and wall sockets. Then finally, refinishing the wood floors. I will post as the project progress. I am hopeful that it will not last too long and I can get my room set up.

A new year is starting and I am also looking to revamp this sight. I plan to separate the portrait work from this site on to a new one, leaving this site dedicated to the landscape and artwork. I am also working on new side projects that I believe will befit photographers that follow me. Without giving away too much, I hope to create content that will cover many topics that will be able to be applied to your photography. I’m excited.

So new stuff coming up, new looks and new places to go. I will keep you posted.

Stella

Photographing dogs can be both challenging and rewarding. On the other hand, puppies, they can almost be impossible but the rewards can be great. Today I had a session set up with my Son but due to the weather conditions, we had to scrub the day. That’s okay, there will be other days with better light and not so wet conditions. But I was still had a need to make the day productive, I still had a need to photograph something. After finishing up the changes on my website I broke out the camera equipment and setup a background and got ready for a long session.

 

Stella is our new puppy the one we wanted after Star died. Star was our first real big dog. She was our frisbee dog, a half australian shepherd half beagle who came into our lives unexpectedly. She was a little puppy that fit in my wife’s coat pocket but then grew into a medium size energetic dog. As she got bigger she went through a destructive faze where she tore apart a recliner. Lucky the chair was free so we didn’t lose any money over it but still, what a mess to clean up. We came to the conclusion that if we gave her a job she wouldn’t be bord and the furniture would be safe. So we had her chase the geese where I worked and she was good at what she did. Once she even caught one. Did not know what to do with it but was happy as hell she caught it.

 

Star was a great dog and when she died it left a big hole in our lives. We knew in time we wanted to find another dog, an Aussie like Star but the price was way out of our budget. Resigned to that fact we quit looking until one of our friends got an Aussie mix. Cute as they come. So we contacted our friends who put us in contact with the breeder. They had the mixes but all male however they had a new batch of full blood Aussies and two were female. They were born on the 4th of July and would not be ready for a few weeks. So my wife and I got a deposit together and placed it on one of the females and for the next 4 or so weeks we worked on picking a name.

 

The day came when I got a call from the breeder that she was ready to pick up. I was excited and worried at the sametime. Excited to finally pick her up after so many weeks of anticipation but, at the time, my wife was in the hospital and I had to come up with a way to watch a dog and see my wife. Lucky I had some backup with my Son and my wife’s friends who really wanted to spend a lunch hour watching Stella. Eventually my wife came home which gave me another set of eyes on this ball of energy.

 

So today I took the time and set up a background and lights and with my camera I started to create images. I set up the black background to try to get that dramatic image but soon found that to be a bad idea. I traded the black for a white background but still did not have any luck. So I took up the background and opted for the wood floors and that is when Lily got involved and played with Stella. I just gave in and just took photos which yielded the group of images you see below.  Like I said before, you may shoot a lot of images but in the end, if you get at least 5 good or great images, for a puppy, its a good day. Stella has now been in our lives for over a week now and she is fitting in, well just don’t ask the cats because they have a not so favorable opinion of her.

"The Crow" Session

"The Crow" Session

Over the past few weeks my son and I have been planning out a portrait session that I have dubbed “The Crow.” With my help, Colin wanted to create a set of portraits that were a tribute to the comic as well as the movie “The Crow.” A session I knew that would challenge my creative as well as my technological side of my photography in order to achieve the look and feel that both of use were striving for.

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Water Lily

This is the first year that the pond in our backyard is in such a state, that my wife and I had decided that dismantling and rebuilding the pond was in our best interest. The growth of weeds and volunteer trees was more than the torch could clean out not to mention the odd rock that has fallen in and become cumbersome to pull out. So this year is one of the first years I am without a water lily subject to photograph through out the summer season. Until next year I have a handful of images I would like to pull out of the digital storage device and talk about.

 

This image was one of the first that I had converted from color to black and white, opening up a whole new way of seeing these flowers. I don’t have to tell you that I am a bigger fan of black and white and the how it gives a fine art look it gives to the subject. For this subject, once I manipulated the reds and greens to greyscales I became excited for the possibilities that opened for the rest of my collection of waterlilies.

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At the time I found the plant at the height of it health and production of it flowers as well as it’s pads. The pond too was in perfect balance with fish, toads and insects that for some became part of the images while other became food. As important is the health of the plants and pond, was also the surrounding area of the pond. My pond is located in the backyard shaded by the tall ornamental grasses and Black Walnut Tree. With that and the combination of the path of the sun in the summer, shadows and reflections played a vital role in the creation of all my waterlily images. So why does this image work for me?

 

I love how there are two subjects here; the first is the flowers themselves, right high of center and flowing down to the right corner. The secondary subject is the pads that are caught in muted light as well as the reflection at the bottom of the image. As I look at these subjects, my eye is directed in a triangular direct through the frame then slowly moving out to the upper left where the lilies pads reside in the shadows. I find the way I direct the viewer through my image with light still give them the ability to explore more easily so that all the details are consumed. Again I feel that what you don’t see, the trees and ornamental grasses, played a big part in shaping this image.  

 

As the work on the pond commenses, I will try to document portions of its progress, but until then I will try to post periodically post my water lily images and to spread the beauty of the summer captured in black and white. I am also considering in making the collection available as a box set of prints. Still working the detail of that and my store on the website so before it goes live I will announce it first to you.

Two Images That Relate

I set out yesterday to record the sounds of the park but like any good photographer I brought my camera with me just incase I came across an image that needed to be captured. The recordings that I am doing is for a slideshow of my work that I hope to produce later in the year. I thought it would be a great way of showcasing , what I plan to be, some of my best  images of the park. In order to capture the sounds I want I figured I would walk around to the different parts of the park and record as well as look for images to create or visit past images I have done. You know, multitasking.

 

One such area I revisited was an area where the top half of a tree had fallen and the undergrowth was in the process of covering it up. So there was saplings about 2 to 4 feet tall in the midst of turning color while the shorter growth was still green. All the while the tree branches were bare and a mix of light and dark grey. The flare of color seemed to spill out from the upper right corner of the image and pool near the middle giving a wonderful  contrast to the green of the small growth and grey of the tree.

 

Now that a full season has past I thought I would revisit the area and see if there was an image to be had in black and white. When I arrived I was disappointed that there wasn’t an image to be created at that moment. The scene had changed a bit and that could be because of the lack of growth or the wrong time and the light wasn’t right, either way there wasn’t much to be had. As I was recording I walked around the scene to see if there was any possible compositions to be made and that is when I found a hidden photo that need to be created.

 

As forest go, this area is small, well traveled and always in a state of death and regeneration when it comes to the trees. Most of the logs that are in a state of decay are large and rather long portions laying on the forest floor. Anything that has been laying down for any length of time has completely discrentagrated and scattered about, but what I came across was different. I found a length of log that is on the path of being consumed by the floor of the woods. The wood is splitting lengthwise along the grains adding to the texture and weathered look. The small plants slightly obscure it filling some of the spaces  in the curves of the log. Together the the light at that moment, the plants and the wood make a great study in the contrast in shapes and textures. I couldn’t help but observe and study it from all angles before setting up to capture the image.

 

Once I had it in Lightroom I worked the image so the weathering of the wood came out against the smooth surface of the leaves. Again, it needed to be black and white and for me, I’m drawn to the warmer toned black and whites and this image needed that treatment. I left it dark with the highlights in the mid greyscale with a lot of lower tones and blacks. Most of the warmth I left in the lower to black tones which for me gives it the that tone range a richness I am drawn to. I do believe there is something about a warm rich tone that pulls on the emotion on a viewer and give a calming effect.

 

I plan to visit that space again to see if there is an image to be had with different light and additional growth as well as see what happens to that log. This is what I like about this park, it’s not that it has great scenic overlooks but the surrounding areas have these great spots that, in the right light, pull you in and make great images. I definitely feel that these two images will be part of the bigger portfolio I am creating.

Great Portrait Session

What makes a great portrait session? The images, the planning, the experience or is it a combination of it all? If you think about anything you have done on personal level where you receive a product at the end, it is the product where you had planned well and had a great experience you value the most. Think about it; you go to the same salon because the experience and how you feel at the end. Same way with a car dealer or a favorite restaurant and even a healthcare provider. All of the places you go back to time and time again is because you have had a great experiences that had a plan to get you to a great product, in the case of a photographer, great images.

 

So how can you take the great experiences of the places you are familiar with and apply that to the photography studio? Well first you must find a photographer whose images grab you and that requires a little research. Most of it can be done on the web now a days which is great because it saves gas and time. And don’t look at just their specific types of groups you are after, look at all of their images because you are going to get a sense of their strengths and style of photography. When you have found one then keep moving through and look for at least two more that also spark your interest, this way you have options.

 

With the images you are looking at try to get in mind of what you would like to have done in your portrait session. Not many people do have a plan, in fact I hear a lot;” your the artist, I will leave it up to you.” That can be ok for some but again you are not adding to the overall experience of the portrait session. Think about it, portraits of any kind are very personal, they reflect you or your family and the goal in the end is to have them adorn the walls of your house, not some dark space of the closet. You don’t have to have an exact road plan but you should have an idea of the style you are looking for and the things you want to wear in the portraits.

 

The best way to get down to what you want ask yourself these questions. First; what style are we looking for? Is it Lifestyle where the portraits are more journalistic or is it more about posed formal portraits?  Do you want an outdoor session or more in the studio? These are sometimes hard questions to ask but necessary in order to get what you want. But because you have taken the time to, if you haven’t already, looked at photographers website, you can answer these questions easier by what images you are attracted to.

 

Once you have narrowed it down to the a few photographers that create images that attract you, then it is time to talk to them. That is correct I said a few photographers because not all of them you choose will work out. Some you may not mesh with and some maybe too busy to take you on. Set up an appointment with each photographer for a consultation session, most photographers should like to sit with you and talk about what you are looking for in your portrait session. Think of this like an interview, you are looking for a person that is not only creative but willing to get to know you so together you can get the portrait you love. In these interview you need to ask a lot of question and open up about what you are looking for in your portraits as well as the products you need. By being honest and open with the photographer you will be able to get the portraits you want.

 

In the few weeks of the appointment your photographer most likely given you things to do to prepare for the session, first and foremost is the hair appointments. You want to make sure that you get everyone hair is cut at least three weeks before the session. Everyone’s, or at least my hair, doesn't look it’s best until the second or third week after it has been cut. I think that is when it seems at its normal length to us and everyone else. This is also a good time to have the clothes picked out and purchased. New portraits sometimes means a new outfit for the occasion but sometimes it is hard to get similar outfits for everyone to wear.  By starting early you will be assured that not only you have outfits that look together but they can get a washing to loosen them up so they hang on the body more naturally.

 

The day before and day of you is key. You should try the best you can to get ready for the appointment under as little stress as possible. If you have little ones it is best to present the appointment as a fun adventure, keep the mood light as you get ready. This way everyone is happy and ready to have fun during the session. An hour before the session finish up getting ready and go over the list of things you could be bringing to include or change into during the portraits. And when you arrive to your session a few minutes before or at the agreed time make sure you are as excited and ready for the session. If your mood is up and laced with anticipation for a great time, then your session will go smoothly.

 

A final note on your photographer; back in the day when portraits were painted there was a lot of work done behind the scenes to insure they had a work of art that was worthy to hang on the wall. Communication of ideas, wants and needs are important and should flow between both you and your photographer. After all you are paying them for work that is not going to hang on their wall but yours and working out the details before the session will only insure best results.  Overall the advice that I am giving you is nothing out of the ordinary and you should hear the same thing from the photographer you have hired. Follow them and find a photographer that is not only skillful but ready to work with you to create images that you will love to hang on your walls.

Vacation is Coming

In a few weeks I will have 10 days off from work. 10 days to do what I want. Where to start? For the most part I have already decided the big concept of this time off, but the fine details are needing to be ironed out. That is always with me, I have the big ideas but I struggle with the small goals to lead up to the big finish. I shouldn’t worry because I have two and half weeks to plan, right, but I do and the more I worry the more I tend to freeze up and then when it comes to the big day, I have nothing. That is worst

 

So here is the big plan; to go two state parks and scout out some photographic opportunities. One park I am going back to is Kepler but I am not set on the second park. When I am not doing that I plan to rework the site to better represent what I do and what I am about as a photographer. Recently I have restarted my portrait end of my photography but I still really want to keep going on with my landscape work. The plan it to create a site that has both which some people would advise not to do. The thought is that is confuses potential customers and instead of booking you, they move on. I guess I will take that risk because as a photographer, I feel I need to present who I am as a photographer.

 

I am also reworking my blog and instagram pages to better reflect who I am as a photographer. I have not decided if I am going to delete photographs that doesn't reflect my work. I want the gallery page of my instagram feed to represent my style and subject matter I cover. As far as the day to day stuff I could post it on the Facebook page or post them on my blog with a story. As far a the blog, I want to journal more about the day to day stuff rather than specifically create stories to sell me, if that makes sense? If you look at a lot of blogs you may find well crafted stories that are designed to sell the services by telling stories about specific sessions. That is great but that is all you read in the blog. I want to not only right about the sessions that were fun but I will also write about my travels in the park, stories about the bike I am working towards, my pets, or the beer that I tried. I feel these are the stories that give you a better way of connecting with me.

 

I guess I will start with that and work on to bigger things,for now I will get my plans straighten out in the next few day. I need to make the most out of the time I have off.

What's New?

As I sit out on the porch listing to tunes and updating this blog I can't help be inspired by the nice weather we are finally having this spring day. It is spring, right? Although I haven't written or talked much about what I have done over the winter, I have been busy. Because I haven't a studio it is hard to do shoots unless I do them on site or brave the cold weather on a location shoot. But now that spring is in the air there are a few people who have approached me about creating family portraits. I am ready and have a lot of ideas for future shoots and can't wait until the green and warmer days start to appear!  

Although I had not created a lot of images this winter, I still was working on some photography none the less. First I was privileged to update the St Luke's Laboratory Staff Portraits that adorn the wall. Since I had been gone the task of creating and putting photos up of new staff has not gone to a photographer. Needless to say when I came back I could not let the contrast of the professional portraits against the mugshot go on much longer. I also created images of the happenings and stuff around the lab as well. It exercised my creative illustration/documentary skills so that we can show the patients that there is more than blood we deal with in the lab.

There were a lot of photographs that I really liked but one that stood out was the cutting up of breast tissue. That's right, the dissection of  a patient's breast tissue and I got to photograph it. Now I have no idea who's it was or the story behind it, because of the HIPAA Law, what I do know is it was interesting to personally witness the careful dissection and collection of tissue to further diagnose this person's condition. Even though I work at the lab, there are a lot of things I don't get to see on any given day. The Histology Department has been a one of those places in the lab I don't get to see what goes on. It's not because it's off limits, in fact nothing is off limits for me to witness there, it's because I don't always have the time to hang out there. Especially when you are on the clock and there are people who need their blood drawn.

I also hung out in the Micro Department where I got to photograph things growing on plates and people working with them. I was especially pleased with the portrait I got of Nick working on a plate. I thought it would look great on the wall of the reception area of the lab as well as my portfolio. Again I got to learn more about the micro lab than I had before shooting photographs. 

When I wasn't creating photographs of staff and the goo they work with, I was working on continuing education, specifically posing as well as lighting. I picked up a few classes on line on posing people both in groups and single subjects. I sometimes feel that I struggle with this and have always looked for ways to improve. These classes were taught by the leading photographers of the day. As of today I am still working through a class and once I am done I know the lessons I have learned there will show up in my sitting. I'm excited to get started.

On my last post back in February I talked about my health and how I was taking control over it. Since then I have completed my yearly physical and for the most part I passed with flying colors. Where I am still struggling with is the cholesterol issue, specifically it staying on the boarder line. My doctor was not too worried because I still  have some weight to loose and now that spring is here I should be able to drive the bicycle to work more often. 

With that I would say; if you are needing to update your families photographs this year let me know. Because I work every third weekend I don't have a lot of those dates open. You can call me or leave me an email to set up an appointment. I look forward to talk to you.