Sunday, August 23, 2015

Summer Still-Lifes

This summer I have gotten into still-life photography and
absolutely LOVE shooting them outside in the early morning sunshine.
I wanted to share mine, to inspire you to look around your own house
for pretty, colorful items and treasures that will make a pretty photo.
Still-lifes are a great way to learn and grow as a photographer
and use your imagination and creativity.
Start with just a few simple things on a table.

For tips on shooting still-lifes and capturing the
light, CLICK HERE.
Still-lifes can be anything that stays still.
Maybe some interesting tools you have on a work bench.
various spoons you have in the kitchen drawer.
When I was planting my summer herbs, I created a still-life
arrangement with the gardening tools and plants.

Pretty things around your house can be used. 
It's fun and simple to match colors.
Try using the artistic filters in Photoshop to
make your still-lifes look more like paintings
Watch my VIDEO TUTORIAL to learn how to do this. 

I became very observant this summer and considered
things I never really noticed as possible still-lifes!

One morning I looked out the window and saw the sun sparkling
off the morning dew, so I plopped a pitcher of flowers onto the grass
and shot VERY low...lying on my stomach in the WET grass!

I came up with this next idea when I saw my pretty glass pitcher in a cupboard.
I got it as a wedding gift and rarely use it. 
I like the shape, so I put water into the pitcher and added food coloring!
This photo was used by The Farmer's Almanac in an
article about pink lemonade!

My kids went blueberry picking and I really loved the color
so I photographed them.
This began my obsession with photographing food!
We had these grapes in our fruit bowl, so I used them in a still life.

I actually went to the grocery store and selected the
most colorful and interesting vegetables and
went crazy photographing them inside and outside.

I got to eat some yummy salads..and YEP...
I photographed them!

If we had strawberries in the fridge...I photographed them
on the kitchen table.

Lemons anyone?

My daughter was home for the weekend and I made her breakfast.
Yep....I photographed it and now this photo is on the
website of an egg farmer in Germany!

I also photographed my poached egg breakfast one morning.
A friend brought me some cherries, so I took some photos.

I just want to open your eyes to photographing
the simple, everyday things in your life.
Just add a vase of flowers (fake flowers photograph beautifully!)
table linens you already have in a drawer. 
Use interesting chairs and tables you have around the house.
Let your imagination run wild and enjoy shooting
some still-life photos of your own.
Better yet, frame them and hang them in your home.
ART that contains your own treasures!

Tips for Photographing Still-Lifes

Still-life photos are beautiful taken outdoors in the summer
months.  Simply gather some of your favorite items
or poke around your house for interesting things to add to
your still-life.
My friend Carol was out for her daily walk and found this chair
in somebody's garbage.  She actually carried it for a full mile
to her house thinking I could use it as a photo prop!
I spray painted it pink and was excited to use it for a still-life photo.
My friend Rol lives on a few acres of land and much of it
is untouched nature.   I look along the edge of his driveway
for seasonal wildflowers or tall grasses.

I don't have to go too deep into the thick of things to find
beautiful settings for my still-lifes.
First I photographed with my still life facing the sun.
You can see in this next photo that the scene is flat and rather boring.
I see annoying shadows on the chair which always happen
when a person or still-life is facing the sun.
This is why I much prefer to backlight.  I want to play with the light!
 I turned my scene around so the sun is shining behind my
still-life set up. 
I shot this while standing and it's still boring.
At this height, I am not capturing the sun shining through
the greens.  It looks flat and lifeless.
So, I stoop down and now I am seeing the light
in the background which gives the photo depth
and interest.
I shot this in aperture priority mode at f/11.
The tiny aperture allows for a deeper depth of field
so more of the scene is in focus.
Next, I opened the aperture all the way on my
Canon 50mm 1.4 lens.
A large aperture creates a shallow depth of field so much
less of the scene will be in focus.
Here I focused on the pink watering can and just about
everything else has some blur.
It's also MUCH prettier!  See how the light in the
background created beautiful blur?
That's called bokeh  (Pronounced BO-kah) and it is
highly desirable in photo backgrounds!
I played with different angles, but
notice I am still crouching down with my aperture open to get
that magical light and beautiful bokeh.
Look at the dramatic bokeh in close-ups!
Here's another still-life I shot in my backyard against
a dark green tree line.  Boring with no bokeh!
So I moved my still-life to an area of the tree line where the
trees were lower, thus I was able to infuse light and
create dazzling bokeh.
Bokeh is created by light shining around something and trees are
perfect for creating bokeh!   If your lens doesn't open to 1.4...
place your still life far away from your background to get the bokeh.
Moving just a tad, I was able to capture some
natural sun haze which I think is pretty.
Close-ups, shot low with sun and trees in the
background will create the pretty bokeh.
Find all kinds of fun things to photograph in your home.
Use interesting tables, chairs, table linens, vases, and flowers!
Fake flowers photograph beautifully.
To see my still-lifes from this summer, CLICK HERE.
These tips should light up your outdoor summer still-life photos.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Vintage Val in her '55 Montclair

As I have shared before, many of my photo shoot ideas come to me in visions. 
The photo above is the result of a vision I had with the turquoise car and Val's white
scarf blowing out the window.
When I had the vision I thought, WHAT????
WHERE am I going to find that car????
I have learned to trust the visions because I am then led to all the props and
fine details of the photos.  I have learned to think of it as an exciting adventure
and to just follow it along.
But WHERE was I going to find a turquoise car from the 1950s???
A day after I had the vision, I was watching television.  I NEVER watch
commercials because I have Tivo and speed through them.
But that day, a commercial popped up and I found myself watching it.
The commercial was advertising an upcoming Antique Festival in a nearby
town with a vintage CAR SHOW!!!!
I KNEW I had to go and sure enough I found the exact car in my vision
and the owner was from my own town!!!!
Skip and Peggy were awesome to let me use their FABULOUS  '55 Montclair for the shoot!
It took me several weeks to pull together the props from the vision.
I had to spray paint one of my picnic baskets white because I had
more ideas pour into my brain with Val going on a picnic in
the spiffy car.
I found a wonderful vintage dress that matched the car on 
a vintage fashion Etsy Shop called TwoMoxie
The owners, Angela and Beatrice sent the perfect dress from Canada and
were excited to see the photos.
But I still needed shoes for Val.
One day I had the urge to go to the Salvation Army to look for the shoes.
I did not know what they looked like, but I followed my urge to go.
I approached the shoe aisle, but one of the workers was stocking
 shoes and was blocking the aisle.  I tried to look down
the long row of shoes around her, but my
eyes were turned to see the PERFECT colored high heels right in front of me for $3!
I was SHAKING with excitement...THESE were the shoes and they
matched the dress and CAR!!!!
The props were ready, but the shoot kept getting rain delayed.
Finally, we were able to synchronize the car, Val, me and the weather.
I usually love to shoot in bright sunshine at 10 am,
but when we arrived at the location, I quickly realized the sun
was going to be a big problem with lots of glaring chrome, plus
shooting inside the car!
We shot the picnic scenes first.  I backlit Val and
used the reflector.
That orange blob on the grass to the right of me is
my mini leaf blower we used to blow Val's scarf in the first photo.
To learn about using a leaf blower to create wind in photos
The reflector always saves the day in bright sunshine,
but remember to look for the soft "edge" light...not bombard her with
a pure reflection of harsh sunlight!
To learn how to use a reflector CLICK HERE.
Skip was so nice to take these behind-the-scene shots with my I-Pad.
Here's the picture story of Vintage Val going on a picnic
in her matching '55 Montclair.
Only Vintage Val would drive a car that matches her outfit...hee hee!
Look at those PERFECT high heels and I was led right to them!!!!

Shooting inside the car posed lighting challenges.
I had Skip move the car so we wouldn't get direct sunlight coming
in the windshield.


WHY don't they make cars in these fun colors anymore???

This is one of my favorite photos with Val's curl just right.
I LOVE the colors!

We had to move the car again because of the harsh sunlight.
And Skip used the reflector to light her inside the  dark car.

Val is an avid reader and was going to bring a book to the
shoot that matched the car...ha ha!  But she forgot.
My friend, whose land we used for the shoot, brought us the perfect book!
"101 Classic Love Poems"
Of course, Vintage Val would read that on a picnic in
her matching land rover!

My vision showed her with a bowl of strawberries which I bought,
But with the rain, the shoot got delayed and the berries sat in my fridge for a few days.
A special thanks to my hubby who didn't eat them,
even though he REALLY wanted to!

Vintage Val always gets her beauty nap!
I'm still pinching myself over those PERFECT shoes!!!

Skip held the reflector for me in many shots.  He is one of only a few
helpers who has an innate understanding of how to angle it for
the softer glow.
In this next photo, Skip held the reflector to BLOCK the sunlight
entirely on Val's face.  Notice how it is glaring on the rest of her body.
He was standing outside the car holding the reflector over the windshield.
THANKS, Skip!!!!


He blocked the sun in this next photo, also.
See how there are no shadows or glare on her face,
but there is on her legs?
Skip and Peggy were the BEST!  Peggy even helped arrange
Val's skirt saying, "Jill, I think you need a bit of petticoat!"
I could go on and on about those SHOES!  Have you ever even seen
high heels in that color???

Once again, the sun blocked by the reflector.


I am very grateful to Skip and Peggy for helping me fulfill my vision!

The shoot took a grueling two hours, but we all had a ton of
fun and laughs!  Val is a trooper!
Would you believe, when we got back to my house, Val's
car wouldn't start and we had to jump it????
That would NEVER happen to Vintage Val!
It's so magical to play out a vision...