Friday, July 19, 2013

Photographing Newborns Outdoors

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There must be a baby boom because I have photographed
three newborns within the past few weeks.
Newborns are so sweet, but are a special challenge to photograph.  I like to
take newborn portraits when the baby is seven to ten days old and still
very "moldable".
My favorite place to photograph them in the summer is outdoors because
newborns love it warm!
In the winter, I have to photograph them in my basement studio where
it's difficult to warm things up. I would MUCH rather be outside with natural light
and a natural setting.
I love to collect interesting containers for newborns and
am always scouring the thrift stores.
Be creative with these containers.  They really add to the portrait feel.
I found this little baby cradle at Goodwill for $3.
I cleaned it up and spray painted it.
This next photo of baby Alexis was taken in a basket I
made 25 years ago to hold the programs for
our wedding!
I love to get a sibling in some of the photos.
I wait for that natural connection rather than have
them just smile at the camera.
For me, this next photo is my easiest to pose.
The babies just snuggle into the container and sleep.
That's when I can move their limbs around in cute positions.
I like to prop the chin up on their little hand so I can see their face better.
Newborns can't hold their head up yet, so simply have
someone hold it up for them from behind,
so you can clone out the hand later in Photoshop.
I do a variation of  this pose on almost every newborn photo shoot.
If they are asleep, it's very easy to move their
little hands and arms into cute positions.
It's fun to try new poses, containers, hats, blankets
and other fun accessories.
The hardest thing for me with newborn shoots is getting
the baby to sleep!
I don't wait for this to happen...I dive right in and
start by photographing the baby awake.
I wrap them in a blanket so they feel snug
Usually, they tucker out and once they are asleep
you can get the adorable "molded" shots.
Have the parents bring a special toy or stuffed animal.
This is baby Joey.  His aunt gave him a little stuffed
kangaroo with her baby joey so it is very special in the photo.
I bought the little baby prop bed on Etsy for $35.  It was unfinished,
so I spray painted it and sewed the bedding myself.
You can find lots of great photo props on Etsy!
Joey's dad loves baseball.
Since I enjoy crocheting, I make TONS of baby hats and I
stitched up these hats for baby Joey.  His dad wore those
striped baseball pants when HE was a newborn, so LOTS of special
memories in these photos.
I found the teensy red sneakers at Goodwill for $1 !!!!
Four year old Madi and six year old Lily
brought their new brother Nash for me to photograph.
Coordinate colors so it all ties together.  I make all my own
hair accessories in every color.
Yep, I LOVE this pose....and adding a special stuffed animal.
I found this red tool box at a thrift store.
The possibilities for newborn containers is
endless.  I just look for interesting things the size that can hold a newborn.
I think newborns are beautiful snuggled up with nature.
I know you will have fun thinking up creative ways
to showcase a newborn outdoors!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Photographing Sparklers

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With the Fourth of July just days away, I want to share how
to photograph sparklers and keep the people in focus.
Love birds Emilee and Nate were excited to pose for me, and brought along
Nate's mom Missy to do the sparkler writing.
You will need:
a DSLR camera with the BULB setting and a tripod.

Shutter speed:  BULB (meaning the shutter stays open as long as you hold
down the shutter button. Pull out your manual to learn how to set it to bulb
on your particular camera.)

Aperature: f8

ISO: 100
A flash.  You can use your on-camera flash, but I used my speed light.
Set to rear-curtain flash.  (Read your manual to find out how to do
this on your camera or flash.)
A helper to do the writing.
20 inch sparklers and a lighter
A strong flashlight
Set your camera on the tripod and 
shine a bright flashlight on the subjects
 so you can get a focus. Now set the focus button on your lens
to MF (Manual Focus) to lock it in.
It's important that your subjects not move forward or backwards
after the focus is set, or they will be out of focus.
  With an f8 you will have
a decent depth of field so with the focus set, it should be fine.
Missy did all the sparkler writing.
This allowed our subjects to remain perfectly still.
Have the writer light the sparkler, then place it where they will
begin writing. 
I told my subjects to hold still while I counted down
3-2-1...then I clicked the shutter and held it down while
the writer wrote with the sparkler.
With Missy's back toward the camera, but the lit sparkler to her left
so her body wasn't blocking it,
Missy quickly created the sparkler design, then
immediately left the frame.
As the camera operator, I held down the shutter button
and the moment she left the frame, I removed my
finger from the shutter button and the
FLASH went off.
By setting the flash to fires at the END of
the exposure.  This lights and freezes the subjects without
washing out the sparkler writing.
Like magic...the writer doesn't show up in the photo!
If you lift your finger off the shutter button
before the writer is out of the frame, they will
show up as a ghost in the photo like this:
We actually took these photos in two locations.
I wanted a pretty sky behind them, so we shot on top of
a hill at our local park about a half hour after sunset when the
sky is a rich blue/purple.
Here in Michigan, that was between 9:45 and 10pm.
We were happily shooting when the park employee
told us the park was closing.
We fired off another shot, then took the darker photos
above in my backyard.
This technique takes some practice. 
We had many duds and blur before we finally got the hang of it.
If the subjects moved even slightly, we got blur:
I hope you try this and get some amazing photos.
Have a BLAST!