Many of my local photo friends will understand the reference in the title. If you don’t…then never mind 🙂 We celebrated another birthday today and my son asked me when we were going to take the “eight picture”. I didn’t know what he was talking about until he reminded me that we had taken a picture of him holding up fingers representing his age each of his last three birthdays. I’m glad he remembered. We spent the day with immediate and extended family playing games, opening presents, eating cake and ice cream, and jumping on the trampoline with the sprinkler.
Top photo: Manual mode, on-camera flash bounced off the porch behind me for fill, basic edits in Lightroom. It was taken early in the morning when the light was really soft. I took two versions of this photo — one with the face in focus, one with the hands in focus (this one is our traditional picture). Of course we want photos with his face in focus but we take lots of other pictures on the kids’ birthdays.
Bottom photos: Manual mode, on-camera flash in high-speed sync mode, with 1/4 CTO gel, pointed directly at the kids, basic edits in Lightroom. Taken in the middle of the afternoon when the light was at its worst. I used the flash in order to even it out a little bit. I don’t (totally) care for the look — maybe could go to 1/2 or 3/4 CTO gel and/or dial down the flash a bit — but it’s better than not using the flash at all IMO (I did some non-flash shots too). I could play with the white balance, etc. too and try to come up with something better but I’ve captured what I want…
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.
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:
Experimentation – Silhouettes
When starting out in photography it’s always good to experiment with creative ideas. Experimentation is a great way to learn about exposure, lighting, posing, etc. You discover what works and doesn’t work and will certainly retain that knowledge better than if you had just read about those things in a book. You will also refine your own style as you try out ideas and develop a knack for particular things.
One great thing to experiment with is silhouettes. You don’t need fancy equipment — the sun, a lamp, or a flash can be used to create a silhouette. Soft, reflected light combined with shorter exposures often creates striking silhouettes in images. You might try posing someone under (or near) a streetlamp at night and then get down on the ground to shoot the silhouette. Another element you can vary is how much the silhouetted subject is exposed (as you increase the exposure you eventually lose the “silhouette” effect of course).
Here are a couple of images which I created on a whim to experiment with silhouettes. I created the first while out catching the sunrise in Rockport, TX (see some of my Rockport images here). My daughter happened to show up on the scene so I asked out her to stretch out her hand roughly in front of the sun. Not a great overall composition but it’s useful as an illustration here.
This silhouette of my son jumping on the trampoline was just an idea I had while sitting on the porch watching him jump. I got underneath the edge of the trampoline (be especially careful with larger children or you’ll end up with a concussion!) and fired away. The shot I set out to make was one of him jumping high in the air with his arms stretched out (I did get some of those). However, the way the sun flared out from my son’s hand in the following photo made this a favorite.
Have some fun and experiment with silhouettes. You’ll get some great shots, and hopefully learn a few tricks which will become a useful part of your photoshoot arsenal.