Wednesday, July 20, 2011

It all started with a picture I had in my head. {Utah Photography}

This picture, to be precise. Please welcome to the blog stage Anna, who not only is an amazingly talented individual but happens to be my counterpart in the show I am currently involved in. I've known Anna for a little while now and that she was involved in Guard. Last October {2010} I was doing my creative fog thing and suddenly a picture came into my head of Anna flipping a flag and having multiple flags around her head. I mentioned it to her and we set up a shoot only to have the weather completely ruin it. Remember how crazy the weather was last fall, and this winter, and this spring? Anyway, during auditions for the aforementioned show we decided to try again and this time the weather was perfect, even to the point of threatening us with rain which just meant that we had cool clouds in the background. This was perfect as I had decided to bring out my lighting equipment for this shoot. The point being to be able to use the sun as a rimlight/backlight and have enough light using my flash as key that I didn't have to blow out the sky and clouds behind her. It's a different look than what I prefer for regular portraiture in that it's a little, not sure what the term would be...harder?...more commercial? Well, I did want a less soft look and that's why I picked this location. A few of the shots are done with natural light because I always want to experiment with everything I can. That's how you learn. My brother Ben came and shot with us, here's the link to his thoughts on the day.

This was obviously done with no flash. I wanted a silhouette look.

This is against the portraiture "rules" of having your subjects face turned towards the light.
I have no problem with the rules or with breaking them. The point is, you need to know the rules so that when you break them you do it on purpose, not by accident. I was going for a dramatic feel and loved the shadows having her turned away cast on her face. Did I shoot one with her turned the other way? Of course I did...but I like this one better for what I was going for. Would grandma like this one better? Probably not, and that's why I did both.

Ben had a shot he wanted where her face was in focus but everything else was movement blurred. I tried it too but ended up liking the blur better. His turned out well. How we did that was lower our ISO as low as it could go so we could use a slower shutter speed, mount our cameras on a tripod and take two exposures. One with her holding still for her face and one with the flag moving. Then in Photoshop you move the in focus face onto the blurred one and voila!

Sometimes I can't decide whether I like color or black and white better.

Natural light, didn't want to try to haul my flash into the floor-less and dilapidated old rail car.

She also brought a saber and a rifle. The girl has mad skills. I love her lines in this shot.

These two were taken within minutes of each other. Isn't it amazing how you can change looks completely just by changing camera settings? Here's my mini-lecture. LEARN HOW TO SHOOT IN MANUAL!!!!! They are both with natural light (I love how the sun is back-lighting her hair in the above shot) but the above was for what I would call regular portrait and below an almost silhouette.

This was the "oh, let's just take one more" shot. It may be my very most favorite. I love the rim light on her body. I love her lines. Love the clouds moving in. See the rain in the middle right side? Love the sun flare!

It was a fun day but we were to tired to stick around for light painting. That will have to wait for next time. Instead we ended the night with a McDonald's pineapple-mango smoothie. If you haven't tried one yet, do so. You will thank me! I also got the shot I saw in my head so successful day? Yes!


  1. FUN! Yay for manual settings!! Are you going to the steampunk meetup? I am, and would LOVE to shoot with you again... not that we shot all that much the first couple times, but talking with you is always fun, and I like being around people I at least sort of know.

  2. I am signed up to go but I am doing a show at Centerpoint right now and may not be able to make it...sad...I would LOVE to shoot with you again. We had so much fun on the epic Salt Flat adventure day!

  3. How would you suggest learning to shoot in manual. The time has come the walrus said! Do I just practice? Should I google tips? I really want to start improving my photography skills!

  4. Leah, first learn what your settings actually mean. A good photography book can help with that. Then think about what you want to accomplish and how you would go about it. A trick is to start to take a picture in Auto and see what settings the camera chooses and then go from there. Say the camera says F5.6 at 200th of a second, you take the shot but then say "Hey, I'd like it a little lighter". Switch to manual and try either a slower shutter speed or larger aperture (smaller number). The more you experiment the easier and more natural it gets to where you don't have to think about it. :)