More Portraits of Hanna’s Friends

I don’t tend to mess with my photos too much. I will tweak them a bit to get better color, but I don’t play with presets and such very much. But this photos seemed to ask for something else to me. I didn’t use another preset, I made it my self. I actually started with a black and white, but it didn’t pop quite how I wanted, so I gave this faded, sharpened look a try. This was all done in light room.

I think I will do a post in the future about how this was lit and processed, but that is for another day.

I saved the settings from the other image and made a preset, so I thought I would see what it would look like on some of the other images from the day. I can’t decide for sure how much I like it in this setting. It seems pretty cool, but maybe the regular color images worked also.

It works pretty well with this image I think, and I learned something from this shoot. I need a light on each person, especially when they are this far apart. I like the light on the left, but it was pretty much gone by the right side of the image. I am thinking two lights, both on the same side (left) but with one directed at the right side of the image.

Anyway, here are a couple of more images from that day. Let me know what you think in the comments.

All the images were processed almost the same, with my new ‘fade’ preset. I will get to some images that are in a more normal color in a day or two. Just thought I would play with this look, and these images would be good for that.

Wood Lake Nature Center Part 2

I arrived at Wood Lake Nature Center before the sun started to set, but not by much. I did find some interesting shots as I walked around. There were a few ducks and geese, but not as many as I expected.

The reflections on the water of the dried grasses and the low light make for a pretty cool shot. Otherwise it is just a shot of a duck. Here it is just a shot of a duck on a cool reflection.

A long time ago I took a picture of a bolt on this same bridge. Probably not the same one, but I like the set up for this. It is shot with an aperture of 2.8 which sends the grass and trees in the background into a nice impressionistic color blur.

This time, shooting with a medium aperture of 5.6, the evening light on the reeds makes for some nice images. I didn’t stop the lens right down to 2.8, so that the background would show some definition.

Right when I was taking this a family walked by. They were having the darndest time trying to figure what I was taking a picture of. They kept looking into the distance, and back at me. Then one of the kids asked to look. I let them try to hold my camera with battery grip and the 70-200. I don’t think they ever saw anything through the viewfinder, but they happy to have tried.

Nothing much interesting happened with the sky that night. No clouds, no color, nothing special. I decided to use the sun reflected in the water instead. I also warmed the white balance up a bit to get the gold color like the other images.

Wood Lake Nature Center

Last weekend I went to the Wood Lake Nature Center in Richfield. I took quite a few shots, but I have been sick the last few days, and just didn’t get around to getting a post up. Here is the first of the images from that little outing. These are all of this little bird. It is mostly black with just a little red color on it’s wing. Smaller than a crow. This is the Red Winged Black Bird.

I went as the sun was going down, and I only saw a few people. I soon had the place all to myself.

There are paths that navigate the entire lake, and a floating foot bridge that crosses the middle of the lake. This is a great place to take pictures. I even saw a muskrat around the the bridge, but couldn’t get a picture.

This bird species, some ducks, and a few noisy geese were the primary animals I saw.

For those that know me, don’t worry, I did get some pictures of ducks. I will post them later.

First Cardinal of the Season

This isn’t the first Cardinal I saw, or heard this season, but it is the first that I tried to capture via lens. I admit that I really don’t have the lens for capturing an animal this small, and I had to crop this a fair bit, but it still looks pretty good.

One good reason to shoot early in the spring is the lack of leaves on the trees. These guys like to hide in the trees, not out at the edge. Even in this picture, I still have a shadow on the singing bird, even with the lack of leaves.

Skateboarding at Minnehaha Park

I was at Minnehaha Falls Park this last Saturday to take some engagement photos, but that fell through. I saw some guys go by on skateboards, one carrying a video camera, another a tripod, and I was intrigued. I headed over. I talked with Nick, the video guy, and he said I could take some stills, so I set up.

I was able to take some shots with no flash, but catching the guys going in and out of shadow from the pavilion wasn’t working. I set up a SB900 on camera as commander, and a SB900 as off camera remote. I really needed more light. Maybe using two, maybe adding some actual flash from the on camera light, but I had it directed at the off camera one. I didn’t use a softbox, just the bare light, sometimes gridded with a Honl grid. Neither worked great, because the beam of light was fairly narrow. The guys didn’t always jump from the same spot, and I wasn’t on a tripod. Sometimes I got a good flash, most of the time, I didn’t.

That image worked pretty well with the flash, but I still needed to lighten him a bit with the adjustment brush in lightroom. I needed bigger light, or more speedlights. This shot is with the skater coming from dark into sunlight. To make him pop I needed something more.

Also, I was using my 17-55 f2/8 lens, most of the time at f/4.0. Since I was relying on the camera’s dynamic autofocus, and the skater coming somewhat toward me, I wanted a bit of leeway in the focus plane. Unfortunately, at f/4 at wider apertures, I am getting tons in focus in the background. I took one image into photoshop to blur the background. Not sure if I like it, maybe I over did it, but he does pop.

I was also playing around with a gritty black and white look. I converted to B/W in Lightroom, and then added lots of clarity and grain, which is new in the Lightroom Beta’s. I think it kinda looks like old shool skate rags, but that could also be wistful thinking.

I took a ton of shots, and came away with about 30 that I posted. I was going to host them here, but really, I need a new section on this site to do that, so for now, I decided to post the images on Flickr in this Skate set. I’ll probably get them hosted here soon. I also put a few on Facebook here. It should be a public album.

To the skaters, thanks for indulging me. I would be happy to get together and try again if you would like to. If you want to leave your name, I would be happy to give credit to the skaters in the images. Sorry, I really should have written those down. If anyone wants an image in B/W or color, let me know.

I also took a few bits of video on my D90, and want to get that into something. Check back in a bit.

Kathy in Downtown Winnipeg

While in Winnipeg, I went to take some pictures of the Cathedral in St.Boniface with my sister Kathy as my model. Only thing was, there were no lights on the Cathedral. Easter? There was a service going on. Weird. Never figured it out. Luckily, as a resourceful photographer, I just turned around, and there was a nifty sunset going on. The picture above was the last of the images I took that night. I kind of wish I had taken some of Kathy with this much bluer (about tungsten) white balance, and gelled the flash, but I didn’t. So the auto white balance with the flash on is much warmer.

This, like all the images was shot in aperture priority, with the exposure compensation turned down two stops I think. I was using a 24×24″ lastolite softbox, in this case to camera left. A SB900 is inside with the diffusion dome on. The sky looks too orange really. Like I must have faked it. Also, I wanted Kathy to face the other way.

The bright orange is fading, and I am on auto white balance which may have shifted things. Also, the softbox is moved to the right, and I now needed to zoom to about 130 to get any light on Kathy. It still wasn’t quite enough, and I had to pop it up a bit in Lightroom. Decided that while the light was pretty good, the background could be better.

I moved up across a street and closer to the water, and even closer to her. I really like the light I got on Kathy this time, but the balance of the frame is not really there. Both Kathy an the bridge are on the same side, and there isn’t enough on the other side. She needs to move over.

I like the balance in this image much better. Kathy is positioned right in front of the cranes, so you can’t see them. Moved the flash to the other side. Still zoomed, maybe a bit much, but getting fairly good balance of light and shadow on Kathy. Look at her hair. I didn’t give her enough instruction about staying still in the long exposures were were getting. The flash freezes her face will, but the hair shows movement. Kind of interesting, but wishing I had taken a few more. The things you can’t see on the little LCD.

Anyway, I should have played with the light balance more, or at least brought Kathy back into the frame after I got the first shot shown in this post. The white balance is much cooler,and the image is not as underexposed. Oh well. Live and learn. Lesson: auto white balance isn’t always your friend.

Night Time Photowalk with the Family

My kids like to go on a “night time walk.” That just means that we walk around the block at night. One thing we do that probably makes it the reason they like to go on the walks, is let them take flashlights. Right now, their favorites are headlamps that they got as presents from their aunt.

When we headed out on this walk, it was almost dark. Very little light, and fading fast. I still took my camera. I had a 50mm set to manual at f/1.8 and 1/45 second. I tried slower, but the kids move too much. The pics were too blury. I tried a couple of posed shots, but they didn’t go over well. I got “the look.”

It’s better to just let them play and see what you get anyway. I wasn’t looking for technically fabulous shots, but just some interesting moments of my kids on a walk. They don’t really walk by the way.

They pick up stones, walk on low railings/fences, jump, run, and splash in the puddles. Walking is just too boring. The great thing about this night was that it was warm, with piles of snow on the sides, and melted snow in puddles in the middle. All sorts of great things to do.

So, if you wondered at the beginning why we only go one block (maybe two on a very special night), now you know. One block can take quite awhile to get all the way around.

So get yourself some flashlights, and head out into the night. You don’t need to try for perfect exposures. Try using the light from the flashlights, the streetlamps, the house lights, etc. None of these pictures were taken with flash. The on camera flash can look a little harsh. Turn it down if you want to try to use it. There is actually quite a lot of light out there without it.

Harry’s Birthday Party

I took pictures at my little friend Harry’s birthday party on the weekend. It was at the Lariat Lanes (you probably got that part) in south Minneapolis. (Actually in Richfield) I don’t imagine that many bowling lanes would fall into a category of anything but relaxed family atmosphere, but they really have it nailed here. Well, I suppose with two kids parties going on at the same time, it is hard to call it relaxing, but Harry and his friends had a good time.

I think that Harry had been to a bowling alley before, but he was just so pumped up that he could barely take time out from having fun to bowl. After tossing the ball, he would run back to his friends before he had even seen how many pins he knocked down. Pretty funny.

The kid above almost hit me in this shot. I was down beside the gutter right at the edge of the last lane in the building. I had no where to go but take take the pic. Good job the kid rails were there that kept the ball out of the gutter, or I would have taken on to the knee.

Some of the kids wound up and chucked the ball like the big leaguers. I swear he was putting a spin on the ball too.

There are more pictures on an album at Christopher Ward here.

Natural Light Portraits

I have been doing more and more portraits with flash recently, and I often forget just how wonderful natural light can be. While at Kate and Eric’s wedding, I thought that it would be a great opportunity to take some portraits of Annie with her fancy clothes and all.

The first shot I took, with the light directly coming in the window, I didn’t include here. It wasn’t as flattering because the light was still a little harsh. I had Annie standing in front of the walls on both sides of the giant window at the end of the room. The day was overcast, but the light coming in the window was still a little harsh.

The shots you see here are after I pulled the sheer curtains in front of the window. It helped quite a bit. I was surprised at how much softer the curtains made the light. It was like I made a huge softbox. The image still has shadows, and light areas, but the transition is very soft.

The walls of the hotel also provide a nice background, as if I had hung one just for this purpose.

I like the image above. We were trying something with her hair, which wasn’t working out, but it got a great smile out of Annie.

Lastly, I found an image that made a great black and white.