Sunday, March 17, 2013

Mid-March Snow Portraits

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 Everyone was groaning about a mid-March
snow storm moving in Friday night,
 but I was EXCITED to awaken to whiteness Saturday morning.
My mind was still spinning with ideas for snow portraits
and I got to accomplish them!
I found this red hat and jacket at a thrift store...
You know I LOVE thrift stores!
I really wanted to use the red with winter snow portraits.
Plus, Alyssa has the prettiest eye lashes!
With dramatic colors like red, I like to edit with high contrast.
Recently, I found a wonderful pink, tufted chair at a thrift store.
It cost me $ it was a splurge, but I HAD to have that chair.
It's heavy, but my sweet hubby lugged it out to our backyard so I could
photograph Alyssa in dreamy pink.
(The dress and shawl are from thrift stores, too.)
Do you agree that I HAD to buy that chair???
With dreamy shots like these, I like to blur the edges of my subject and the background.
I also added snow sparkles.
To learn how to add them and pick up free sparkle brushes, click on this blog post.
I was in that dreamy mood,
so I had Marissa wear another thrift shop formal.
I look for long dresses with huge, billowing skirts
because they photograph so dreamy.
I insanely got up on an aluminum ladder in my snowy boots
and almost slipped off to get this next shot.
I love this angle from above!
I bought this antique hat and was eager to photograph
beautiful eyes through the black netting.
Bregan has the perfect eyes!
The rich green wrapped around her is a drapery panel
from a thrift store! 
I always look for texture which really adds to photos.
Those are my glam portraits that I've been carrying in my mind.
The girls also wanted some fun casual shots.
That furry hot pink thing around her neck is an old collar
I guessed a thrift shop!
I switched out the scarf for a softer look with peach.
I found this next cute jacket at a resale shop.
This next photo of Marissa took some effort.
I had her bend over with her hair flowing forward.
I got myself into position with the camera focus set on
Al-servo so it would refocus as she moved.
I had her stand up while flipping her hair back. 
It took a few tries, but I LOVE this photo!
It personifies the joy and exhileration of winter and snow.
I hope these portraits and tips help you squeak in some last snow photos
of the season.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Tips for Shooting in Bright Beach Light

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In my last blog post, I shared how I met stunning sisters Johanna
and Andrea while photographing sunrises in Cancun.
The sisters are from Stockholm, Sweden and the gorgeous
product of a South African mother and blonde, blue-eyed Swedish father.
Both have AMAZING green eyes!
I was SO BLESSED to photograph them!
Of course, I wanted beach poses, but the bright sun direction
often creates a whopper challenge.
We shot at 4pm and the sun was terrible for shooting the
ocean in the background.
See the mottled shadows on her face?
Also, the sun was shining in the subject's eyes making them squint.
I had the girls close their eyes as I counted to three...then open.
I told them they could close them the moment they heard my camera click.
But, I still had to deal with the shadows in editing.
So I took the girls away from the ocean where I could photograph
them with back lighting.
No ocean, but still a tropical look and feel.
Backlighting is my favorite....the hair just GLOWS!
And, no strange shadows on the face.
Actually, Johanna and Andrea glow all on their own.
While photographing this pretty shot with the sun igniting
Andrea's flowing hair...
I lamented that the florescent ocean was not in the background...
So I MOVED HER THERE in Photoshop!!!!
I went down to the beach at the same time of day and shot a photo at the same
angle as the original, so I could move Andrea into it.
I shot with a 50mm lens at 1.4 aperature...a very shallow depth of field,
and focused on the center area where I wanted to place Andrea.
In Photoshop or Elements,  I opened the beach photo then the photo of
Andrea and selected the Lasso Tool.
Using the Lasso Tool,  I drew around her body and included a large area
of the sand in front of her. 
It's important to include the shadows on the sand so it
is realistic.  It doesn't have to be a perfect outline, we'll deal with that later.
Using the Move Tool...I dragged and dropped Andrea into the beach photo.
You can resize your subject as needed.
Then I went to work with the eraser tool around her legs and body.
I lowered eraser opacity to about 30% over the hair so those pretty backlit strands remain. 
I also used a lower opacity eraser to blend the sand.
Here's my result again:
I did this with several poses and LOVE the results.
I didn't like the sidewalk leading to the pool behind
Johanna in this next photo:
So I used the same technique to move the blurred flowers
in the far left of this photo...
To behind Johanna in this photo:
You don't have to accept a bad background....create beauty!
I hope these tips help you take outstanding beach portraits!

Monday, March 4, 2013

How to Photograph Sunrise Silhouettes

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While on my anniversary trip to Cancun last week, I got up every morning
at six to photograph the sunrise.
Since Cancun faces the east, we didn't get a sunset over the ocean,
so I wanted to capture the rising sun.
This pier was in front of our hotel and gave me a lovely focal point...
especially when people were on the pier.
This family had no idea I was photographing them. I was silently blessing
them for being up so early to become my secret models!
I have always said my cutest and sweetest hubby would
hang the moon for me...
Here...he's holding the sun for me!
(He got up early to do this....I love him!)
These photos are fun to try. 
I won a photography contest and one-thousand
dollars for Hold the Sun photos.

One morning, I quickly snapped this gal walking on the pier.
I shouted out and asked if she would pose for me.
Notice with silhouettes, you need to see most of the body for
it to be effective.  Here, her silhouette is cut in half by the dark ocean.
As the photographer,
I drop LOW for silhouettes...sometimes even lying on the ground.
The best silhouettes tell a story with
body movement or position.
Have subjects spread arms, bend legs...otherwise, the person looks like a
black blob.
The woman's sister was also on the pier and I loved her
long hair in the silhouette.
Look for other silhouettes in the photo.  I waited for this bird
to fly into the perfect position.
Sunrises and sunsets take just minutes...
so enjoy those few moments capturing as much as you can
In editing, add contrast or up your blacks to really define
your silhouettes. Also, straighten your horizon.
Another tip, the sky should take up more space in your photo than
the ground.  Or do it the other way around with more ground than sky.
 In other words, don't put your horizon at the halfway
point or you will lose visual interest. 
(That's just one of the "rules".  All photography rules are made to be broken ; )
When the sun was up I was stunned to see
the beauty of my models Johanna and Andrea...
sisters from Stockholm, Sweden!
Turns out, they were staying just two doors down from us in the hotel.
I asked if they would pose for me on the beach in the sun
and they happily obliged.
I'll share those photos in my next blog post along with some
great tips for shooting in bright beach sunlight.