One of the first requests the little brothers make when big brother comes home is “Come jump on the trampoline!!!”. The boys love their older brother and he indulges them completely. Today they enjoyed another fun jumping session on the trampoline while I snapped away. In some of the pictures you can see the joy and awe the younger boys feel when watching big brother. After a while my 7-year old even showed some sweet skills of his own too.
Photo stuff…flash would have been ideal but I wanted a really fast shutter speed. I don’t have the stuff to do a high-speed sync setup with parallel flashes, nor would I have bothered anyway. I shot in manual mode and in motion situations like this with such a high dynamic range you just have to pick your exposure based on what will keep the most important details. Sometimes you hit it, sometimes not. Sometimes the subject is in shadow and you lose details to shadows, sometimes (like when the faces are pointed to the sun in these shots) you lose detail to blown-out highlights. I gambled with f/2.8 to allow the fast shutter without going way up on ISO and to get some blur in the background but my focus distance was far enough that my DOF was fine (and I didn’t get much blur). All that sounds like I went through a bunch of “photo stuff” to set up for a photo shoot but frankly I just quickly chimped a few shots to pick an exposure — all of that is a 20-second thought process then I fired away.
Writing from the friendly skies between Austin and Seattle…
We’ve been getting a lot of rain in Austin lately, which is a huge blessing! I worked from home today and shortly before noon the skies let loose with some hail. Despite the risk of damage to cars, roofs, and whatever else, it’s always fun to have a hailstorm. This one was good. Most of the hail was about marble-sized but for about 30 seconds we got some that was nearly the size of golf balls. It was quite entertaining to watch the large ones sky off the trampoline.
Of course I got the camera out. I realize the scenery isn’t all that interesting but the hail is IMO. You can see hail from the sky (falling right-to-left), from the roof (left-to-right), and bouncing helter-skelter off the trampoline. Using ISO 100 and playing with shutter speed and aperture I attempted to capture streaks of hail stones as opposed to freezing them (no pun intended) in time. While it would’ve been fun to play with a flash and stop the motion, I needed to get back to the job which pays the bills.
One final note: This hail came down at about 11:30am-ish and when my daughter and I left the house at 3:40pm there was still ice in the yard despite the fact that (1) it was March and (2) it had rained all day. It was amazing how much ice came out of the sky.
Last Friday I walked past our kitchen window and was blinded by the light of the setting sun reflecting off the trampoline as my daughter was jumping. The backlighting also made for great highlights on my daughter’s nearly black hair (it’s that beautiful American Indian super-duper dark brown — and the brown really comes out when it’s backlit). I grabbed the camera and told her to keep jumping. I picked an exposure in manual mode and fired off 50 shots or so with the intention of posting something for #weareparents on google+. My son ended up in the g+ post (see here) last week so I decided to post the trampoline pics this week.
I wanted to include several “poses” in my image and set about to do that via clipping masks. I’ve played with clipping masks in the past — they’re easy — but I use them so infrequently that I always have to refresh my memory on how they work. I’ve posted some pictures below to illustrate a simple clipping mask. I started with a white background layer and a layer with a random image from my desktop (which happens to be a variation of HDR Tennis #18 which I modified via inverted curves to look rather nuclear:
Between those layers I inserted some text that said “Clipping Mask”:
My layers then look like this:
To use the text as a clipping mask, simply hold press option (alt on windows) and click on the line between the text and image layers. The result is this:
And the layers now appear like this:
We *tried* to take some portraits of my wife and daughter but not everyone was cooperating. Eden was a bit fussy when we posed her but I snapped off some frames anyway. This is image is one — the ONLY one — worth keeping. Despite being the only good image I call it an outtake because it’s not at all the image I was after. I like the expression on my wife’s face and Eden’s outstretched arms but it has a few technical issues. For starters, because I was shooting near wide-open and my wife was moving back and forth to rock the baby, the focus is a bit off. We’ll try again soon.
This was shot with two lights: a Canon 580EXii at about 1/16 power in a small softbox at camera left for the key light and a Canon 430EXii high, behind my wife at camera right for hair/highlight (1/64 power and gel’ed with some ND to kill more of the power). The background is a sheet we hung in the hallway (yep, I need to get some backgrounds). I started by setting an exposure which killed the ambient. Using my older daughter as a test subject I then added the key light followed by the hair light. The background is not lit because my intent was to make it pitch black.
Before even shooting this my intent was to process in black and white but I haven’t even attempted to go that route in processing yet. I tweaked some areas in Lightroom then brought the image into Photoshop. I used masked curves to brighten the hair, eyes (a tad), and a few areas of skin. I also used curves to darken a few areas. One final curve dropped the red channel ever so slightly. I sharpened the hair and used noise reduction on the rest of the image. That’s all I can remember anyway…
Here’s another version of the same image which I processed slightly differently. I can’t personally decide which I like best although I lean toward the one at the top of the post which blends subject/background relatively seamlessly.
Took a few “impromptu” portraits today. These have been planned for a while because my daughter is getting ready to fly to Africa to visit family and we wanted to take a few portraits for her to print and take with her. Due to the busy-ness of our household lately we just hadn’t gotten around to taking pictures but now things are down to the wire — her flight is in the wee hours Tuesday morning. So, these became impromptu portraits — grab the gear, throw some makeup on, round up a few assistants (family members) to help, and head to the backyard before *all* the light is gone.
These images were both taken with an off-camera flash high camera front and left Joe McNally style (Joe McNally personally helped us light one of my other daughters a couple weeks ago — see posts here and here). The flash had a diffuser on it (Joe McNally’s recommendation) and was shot at 1/4 power through a white shoot-through umbrella just barely out of the frame. A white reflector was held low and right, also just out of the frame. I normally default to using a 1/4 CTO gel on the strobe in shots like this with warm daylight. However, given the already warm color of my daughter’s skin I didn’t gel the flash at all and it proved to be the right call. Once we dialed in the power on the strobe we took about 10 shots using two backgrounds and decided we had what we needed.
I’ve got Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” playing through my head these days. I haven’t heard the song since, oh, 1985 but I thought of it when I viewed the sunset above. When I saw those clouds (I didn’t even manage to catch them at the peak of brightness and color), the first thing that popped into my head was the phrase “fire in the sky”. The clouds looked like flames. My 3 year old asked me if the sky was on fire — even he thought it looked like fire. Frankly, the image doesn’t stand on its own but I thought the uniqueness of these clouds made them worth sharing.
An hour before this sunset the sky looked like this:
I figured we’d have a great sunset after seeing those clouds but I was busy throwing the football around with the kids so I missed the best part of it. I would have loved to zip over to a nice vista to take this shot but I settled for the back-porch version.
Smoke on the water…fire in the sky. Someone please make the music in my head stop 🙂
We’ve been getting a ton of rain this week thanks to the relative proximity of Hurricane Alex and the fact that we’re on the north side of it. I’m very glad for the rain, thanking God for it each time I look out the window, but I wouldn’t mind seeing a few more peeks of the sun.
In light of that (no pun intended) I decided to post this sunset image that I took sometime back. Nothing fancy — a picture of my son in our backyard as the sun heads to the horizon. I never get tired of seeing sunsets and am tempted to get the camera out for each one of them. It’s a run-of-the-mill 3-exposure HDR with some basic adjustments.
Speaking of rain, some of our family is headed to Seattle for a wedding next week. I’m reminded of the classic saying “I spent the summer in Seattle — both days were sunny”. I’m also reminded of a joke I heard sometime back that goes something like this:
A man moved to Seattle from sunny California and of course, it was raining. It rained the next day, and the next…and the next. After 7 or 8 straight days of rain he was wondering if it would ever stop. He asked a young boy passing by, “Does it ever stop raining here?!?”. To which the boy answered, “How should I know? I’m only six…”.
On Wednesday I left work mid-afternoon — wasn’t feeling so great. I walked in the door at home, said ‘hi’ to my family while making a beeline to my bed. Three hours later I woke up to miserable aches and fever. While (barely) standing at the sink to get a drink of water I looked through the window and saw my daughter swinging. Loving that backlight from the sun, and remembering that the dailyshoot assignment was to take a photo using natural light, I grabbed the camera (which is always handy) and took this shot. I purposely included the window frame to give a sense of someone inside looking out. Headed right back to bed for the night at that point…
I had in mind to try and use the window frame in a rule-of-thirds mode but it just didn’t work out with the other elements in the frame as I tried options. Of course I only tried for about 30 seconds because I couldn’t get back to bed fast enough. I got a little lens flare…that’s OK sometimes and doesn’t detract from this shot IMO.
Finally processed the image the next day — picked a preset in Lightroom, added a bit of warmth and clarity — done.