Sunday, November 29, 2015

Vintage Val Home for the Hoildays

Vintage Val is an ongoing series that I photograph with
gorgeous mom of two Valorie!  We have been shooting it
every season for the past two years.  It's a fun, fantasy fling for us...thinking of
locations to tell little stories.
The tale this Christmas, Vintage Val returns to her childhood house in:
"Home for the Holidays"

We got permission to shoot at a wonderful bread and breakfast called
The Montague Inn.  Val and I wish we really lived here!

The amazing coat belonged to my sister's mother-in-law Violet and I was asked
by Violet's daughter if Vintage Val could wear the coat as a tribute to her mother.
Isn't it perfect?

Shooting indoors is a challenge, so I am sharing some wonderful lighting tips.
I prefer to use natural light whenever possible.
In this next photo, my photo pal Lucy held the reflector for me.
We were able to reflect light coming from a nearby window onto her face.
I also had Val stand across the room from the lighted tree
and with a larger aperture, thus narrower depth-of-field,
the tree lights turned to beautiful bokeh!

But in this next photo with the dark corner, no luck with the reflector.
I know it's tempting to think, "Oh, I'll just brighten this up in Photoshop."
Take the time to capture the correct exposure.
It will save you a ton of time in editing,
and the photo will not have problems with harsh shadows or extraneous noise.
So, I used my flash unattached from my camera and tethered by a cord. 
You can also buy wireless remotes.
Instead of aiming the flash right at my scene, I had Lucy
angle the reflector and I aimed the flash at the reflector.
The light bounced off the reflector creating a much more
natural, softer, diffused light!

We used the same technique by the fireplace where there was no window
for reflecting light.

Here's a notoriously tricky lighting situation.
The camera exposed for the bright window
rendering the rest of the photo dark.
Here, the reflected flash worked wonders!

In this next photo, we used the reflector to bounce the
light from the window back onto Val.

When hand holding my camera, I need the shutter speed
to be at least 1/125 to avoid blur.
Indoors, this means I must CONSTANTLY monitor my ISO and
crank it up when necessary to
make sure my shutter speed stays fast! 
(I know it's a pain to keep checking,but it's much better
 than getting home and finding that most of your photos are blurry! 
YES, that has happened to me!...HORROR!)
Another bounced flash photo:

In the library, a window on the right side of this photo was casting lovely natural light.
See how her face is heavily shadowed when her face is turned away from the window?
Whenever possible, have your subject posed towards a
window as in this pretty photo:

In this next photo, a gorgeous chandelier was hanging to the left.
You can see Val's shadow on the wall.

I tried various angles because I wanted to capture
the sparkly chandelier, but not the shadow.

Use the natural light whenever possible.
I love the golden lamp light in this photo!
I had her angle her face slightly toward this light.


The natural sunlight coming in from the window is exquisite!

I shot this next photo with Val higher on the staircase because
that's where the light was falling.
Always LOOK for the light!

Further down the stairs where it was darker,
we used the reflector.

This lovely window seat was begging for a photo.
But when I exposed for the bright window, the pretty
draperies and Val were too dark.
In this case,  I bounced the flash off of the white ceiling
and now everything is beautifully exposed.

Another case of a bright window in the background
taking over the exposure.
I took control of the exposure by
bouncing the flash again.

She was far enough away from the
tree lights to create pretty bokeh in the background.

As I photographed this shoot, I took extra shots so I could
share these techniques with you.
You will grow tremendously as a photographer if you will
study and practice these techniques.
The payoff for the added attention to light and details is


  1. Lovely shoot! I love the idea of a continuing story line through the years!

  2. I love Vintage Val and this new photoshoot is gorgeous!