Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Shooting Without a Flash Indoors

I used to get a tad nervous when I had to shoot portraits
inside in an unfamiliar place.
I hate using lights or flashes so the first thing I do when I arrive
is look for LIGHT!
This can be lamps, windows, doors...what are sources of light
in the room?
In this case with 17-month-old Fiona,
the Christmas tree was by a huge glass sliding door...
Here, I used my 50mm 1.4 lens and had it fully
cranked to 1.4 to let in lots of light and blur the Christmas tree.
I shot in manual so I could bump the shutter speed to 150
because I had a squirmy, moving subject.
The lower the ISO...the less noise,
so I started with ISO 200.
It's really a matter of trying until you get
a good exposure.
I pulled that pretty chair over by the window. This is the first
photo I took:
Notice that I have some beautiful illumination on the coat and back of
the chair, but her face is shadowed.  The entire photo is too dark.
I re-angled the chair so her face was lit.  I really look
closely at where the light is falling on my subject.
I bumped the ISO up to 400.
I also lightened and brightened a bit in editing.
Fiona did move around and removed her pretty gold shoes...
I LOVE the natural expressions of children!
I don't always need them to smile.
But love when they do it naturally:
Exposure is the result of combining these three things:
Play around in manual and adjust:
Aperature: The size of the lens hole that
lets in the light. The lower the number, the larger the hole, thus more light. But also
less depth of field so better chance for blur, or to create artistic blur.
Shutter speed: How long your shutter stays open. Adjust this to a faster
speed if you want to freeze a moving subject especially children without blur!
I need at least 125 to avoid blur from camera shake with children.
ISO: Light sensitivity of your camera sensor.  The higher the ISO number,
the more light in your photo, but also the more noise, so keep it as low as possible.
Move lamps in the room to light where you need.
I always shoot in RAW so I can adjust the white balance in editing.
I think Fiona looks like a little Shirley Temple with her
natural curls, so I turned some into black and white.
you understand these techniques.
It will get easier and easier, until you can handle
your camera with ease and get beautiful indoor shots!


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Magic Glitter Trails

Little Isabel is turning four on Christmas Eve
and I wanted her birthday portrait to be special.
So, I added a magic glitter trail!
I simply loaded some
sparkle brushes into Photoshop (You can also use Elements.)
and started stamping them onto a new layer.
I got my free sparkle brushes here.
It was lots of fun!
I had sewn an angel costume for my daughter when she was in
second grade and I still have it.
I created a magic wand by gluing a star Christmas ornament
onto the end of a thin piece of plastic tubing and wrapping it
in gold ribbon.
I took this photo of Isabel in my backyard:
I cloned out the house to the left and the patches of blue sky.
I felt the sparkles would show up better against a dark background.
I mixed a few gold sparkles in and did a slight gaussian blur
on that 3 pixels.
Then I used a soft brush to paint the grass white to look like snow.
I think it gave her an angelic look.
Above, I added some white haze and snow.
I Googled "halo png." to find the halo. 
Then I tried it with my grandniece Fiona in
her Christmas portrait:
I remembered a shoot I did last summer with 2-year-old Genevieve
wearing butterfly wings and holding balloons.
I cloned out the balloons....moved the magic wand from
Isabel's photo to this one and created this:
Then I thought of COLORED sparkles!
Here's a special effect that is fun to try to give that ethereal look:
I learned this technique at Rita's wonderful  CoffeeShop Blog. 
If you don't want to create this yourself,  you can purchase
a magic glitter trail and magic wand overlays in my Etsy Shop!
I hope this inspires you to come up with even more
ideas for using these magic sparkles...
especially at Christmas!