The challenges of photographing in natural light can be many. I don’t always get to choose when I photograph, especially because I photograph children and sometimes the best time for them is in the middle of the day. When that happens there are a few things that can help to make this actually work pretty well.
I think one of the most important things I’ve learned in creating imagery with an impact is to anticipate what could happen next. I do this when I’m photographing children, although I never really know what’s going to happen, I do know that something will happen.
Early December I found myself in Oahu, Hawaii on the north shore of the Island photographing the Pipeline Master’s Competition. This is an International surfing competition that is by far one of the most exciting events I’ve had an opportunity to photograph.
Using Sigma’s 18-250mm lens, I choose a very fast shutter speed at 1/2000 sec, F9.0 aperture and then compensated for additional light with an ISO of 640. These settings were all geared to make sure that my images were tact sharp and that I could stop the action while still getting an almost perfect exposure. Sigma’s 18-250 lens responded perfectly to the fast speed I was using and even from that distance, the images were crystal clear. During the early morning hours, just as the sun was coming up, my settings varied from ISO 160-640. My aperture and shutter speed also changed from F 7.1 at the lowest to my shutter speed set at a minimum of 640.
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Many times in my career I’ve had to work in locations I’ve never seen before. During that time I’ve had maybe 20 minutes to figure out where I’m going to set up my session. Whether I’m teaching a workshop/seminar or even with my new clients, it certainly gets my adrenaline working. This article is about the steps I take to make this successful.
First and foremost, the placement of my subjects has to do with the light as always. I’m driven by the quality of light available to me as well as the direction and location of where the light is coming from. Sometimes I will actually test out the light before photographing if possible so that I can see for myself what it looks like on the subject. I’m always looking for the light that will be the most pleasing for my client.
Most of my portrait work is all about photographing young children and their families. In most cases I have been working with these families for years. This session I’m about to share with you is one of my most recent.
Whether the age group of the children is between 3-5, or a more adult family like these three children ages 10-17 with their dogs, it’s always a challenge to come up with new ideas and expressions that tell some kind of story and reflect where they are in their lives. Most of my sessions are about documenting a certain time in my client’s life. With this family, Charlotte, who is now 17 is a senior in High School. My task is to create a senior portrait for her along with photographing the whole family and each individual child.
In most of my sessions, I’m always trying to stop the action of my subjects rather than show the movement. I would say the majority of my clients prefer to see sharp images of themselves and of their children. Sometimes the imagery, for me, feels a little bit static. So when I had the opportunity to photograph the Keeneland Races in Kentucky a few months ago, I decided to do something a little bit different and create some images with movement in them by slowing down my shutter speed to create the feeling of moving along with the subject. This creates a very soft image, but it still has enough detail that you can see what is happening. I found that it takes a lot of practice to get it right, or at least get close enough to create the illusion of movement. Recently, I have started to look for opportunities to do this in my work. As a professional photographer, I want to raise the bar for myself and be able to show my range of abilities by creating different effects in my work. Capturing the moment is still the most important aspect of my storytelling imagery, but how I do that is what I’m trying to change.
Working with people in general is such an honor for me. As a portrait artist, I photograph people of all ages. I can’t honestly say I have a favorite age group, although I do love photographing young adults and helping them to see their beauty as I do.
The ages of these young people included in this article vary from 11-19 years old. They are from different families and all share the same optimism that comes with being so young.
This past week I had an opportunity to use my new SD1 Merrill Digital SLR in a few sessions. I […]