Candids are often my favorites and this is no exception for more reasons than one. This shot was not posed at all unless you count “Please look over here for a second” as posing. My wife of 25+ years loathes being in front of the camera so I appreciate that she indulged me this time. There was nothing to bounce flash off of (outdoors, no roof or ceiling overhead, no wall nearby) so I used direct flash with a diffuser. I started the evening using a 3′ sync cord and holding the flash off-camera at arm’s length but tired of that fairly quickly. Lightroom was used for most of the processing and for noise reduction (ISO 3200 was used) but I also cloned out a few unattractive elements around the scene. I didn’t do any skin retouching or the like.
We had a great bunch of little ones (three of whom are my children) gathered at a recent graduation party. I grabbed a hastily posed shot of some of them who happened to be playing near me.
I shot this using shutter priority and on-camera flash. I started out the night shooting with some off-camera lighting but it really got unwieldy due to try to take shots from all different directions (with no assistant). There was nothing but open sky above (and walls were too far behind me) so fixed bounce flashes was out of the question. I also tried a second remote flash for additional light and backlight but wasn’t satisfied with the results I was getting so I abandoned that. If I had the ability to bounce that flash I likely would’ve been happier with the second flash. Sometimes I use a 3′ sync chord and handhold my flash to get it off-camera but my cord went AWOL for a few weeks (it has since been located).
Since I was casually recording the event as a favor I wasn’t under pressure (except my own) to have “perfect” shots. This picture — and most of the rest — turned out fine IMO. Blue hour was just ending so I was able to retain some color in the sky even with the fast-ish shutter speed. A back light or rim light would have been really nice to separate the heads from the background but this was a quick candid afterall.
My camera was a Canon 5D mkii so high ISO was an available lever. I shot most of the evening using an ISO between 1600-4000. In the RAW files there is some noise — especially in the underexposed areas — but Noiseware is great at fixing that up. I can’t recommend Noiseware enough although I hear good things about programs like Noise Ninja and Topaz DeNoise too.
Went shooting with my girls this weekend at a friend’s house in Fredericksburg (see this pic for the awesome sunrise view we had on Father’s Day). Later that evening I remarked, “Wow, we shot a lot of clays today”. I quickly corrected myself, however, amending my statement to “Well, we THREW a lot of clays today”. We have fun regardless of how well we shoot on a given day. Lots of memories come out of these events.
I managed to shoot about 40 rounds out of the 12 gauge before I got tired of the kick then I switched to the 20 gauge (we had three 20s out there) and went through another 50-ish. The girls and friends went through their share as well and we ended up with quite a pile of spent shells, part of which you see in the pic above. We also shot plenty of rounds out of a 9mm Glock, a .22 Ruger pistol, and a couple .22 rifles.
The pic above was created by tonemapping three exposures, the darkest of which just helped bring down the metal reflections a bit. I blended in a bit here and there from the original exposures and parts from a layer processed with the “photo pop” preset in Topaz Adjust. Added a curves adjustment, a slight levels adjustment (brought in more blacks), and a bit of sharpening to all that and voila…there it is.
It’s finally getting (almost) chilly here in Texas and I’m glad for it. I know that after a couple of really cold days I’ll be longing for the heat of summer again and I definitely prefer the heat over the cold. I don’t miss those Chicago winters I experienced growing up.
The cold reminded me of the ice skating our kids got to do in Fredericksburg last winter. Just off Main Street in Market Square (Marktplatz) there was a very small rink set up for a week or two and the kids gave skating a try (the older ones already know how to skate). Despite my love for skating (I grew up playing pick-up hockey in the winters) I sat out and photographed the occasion. I’m sure I had back problems, knee problems, or some other old-man thing going on at the time else I would have been skating.
The shot at the top of the post has a great Norman Rockwell look to it. That effect was all done in Lightroom and then I use Photoshop to tweak a few areas. The portrait of my daughter was processed in Lightroom and got some ‘clarity’ added and a lot of adjustment brush to manually tone down the sunny spots and the like. Both shots got a bit of noise reduction in Photoshop (applied sparingly to the Norman Rackwell image).
Had a great Father’s Day this year! We spent Saturday night at our friend’s house in Fredericksburg and I woke up to a fresh cup of coffee and the sunrise in the image below (9-exposure HDR). It was such a cool morning (by Texas summer standards) so I just wandered around a bit and watched the cows graze.
We have so much fun with our friends and Sunday morning was no different as we enjoyed breakfast together and got ready for church. After church we headed home to meet our oldest (married) daughter and have a meal — of my choosing of course — together. The family got me something around 700 shirts which my son said was their way of telling me that they didn’t like my current wardrobe.
Speaking of being a father, we celebrated the birthday of one of our younger sons this past week. Whenever we celebrate our children’s birthdays I’m reminded of how old *I’m* getting.
Our son has become fascinated with cowboys of late (he wanted to invite Roy Rogers to his birthday) so we got him a cowboy hat and used matches for candles on the cake (seemed more like what cowboys would do). He loved it — “Mom, this is the BEST cowboy cake EVER!”. Here’s a shot of him getting ready to blow out his “candles”.
I don’t normally process single exposures (especially of people) as HDRs but I was inspired by Jayme Rutherford’s single-exposure turtle shot which you can view here. I decided that the cowboy theme lent itself well to the gritty texture that tonemapping an image brings about.
I really like watching football (and many other sports). However, I find myself watching less and less and I’ve decided this is a good thing as it gives me much more time to do “stuff”. It gives me more time to interact with friends and family.
New Year’s Day has historically been a football and food feast for me but this year we just hung out with friends in Fredericksburg. We ice skated, ate a lot of food, and jawed. Enjoyed it immensely. Talked about subjects ranging from family to faith to photography. Just enjoyed the fellowship and I didn’t miss the football at all.
The image above was made from three exposures tonemapped in Photomatix, blended with the ‘0’ exposure somewhat (and a teeny, tiny bit of the -2 exposure to squelch a few blown-out highlights). Played with contrast and some sharpening in Lightroom. I could have easily brought out much detail from the shadows but the real scene was full of dark shadows. The warmth of this room is intense — lots of warm lighting on all the reds and yellows in the room, with a warm fire adding to the light.