Category Archives: Holiday
Here’s a rework of a quick portrait I took over a year ago of my niece. I loved the pose, the expression, and the soft light. When I originally did this up, I spent a lot of time darkening the background and doing a lot of the things that you normally do in post-processing when you don’t have a lot of experience. But what I didn’t do well enough was compensate for the month of January and the blue florescent light overhead. Consequently this poor, beautiful girl had the complexion of your average zombie. I put forth a little more effort this time, adding some ambient color and doing to give her a warm glow. I think this is a much better effort than a year ago.
Rework Wednesday – Quiet Elegance by Anthony Bopp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
This was taken at my company’s Christmas part over a month ago. I was bitterly disappointed with myself that night. I had decided I did not want to lug around my whole camera bag, so I put my 18-55 mm lens on the camera and left with that and nothing else. It was terribly unsuitable for the conditions. The room was much too dark for a 3.5 aperture, and even at 1600 ISO (my camera’s max) it was difficult to get any photos at all. I really, really needed my 1.8 50mm prime.
I realized my mistake almost immediately, and for a considerable time during the evening I set the camera on a table and refused to carry it, knowing that my photos would be dark and blurry with camera movement. But this charming couple wanted me to take a portrait of them, and I have difficulty with the word “no.” So I smiled bravely and warned them I didn’t have the proper equipment but I would try my best.
Fortunately the couple performed much better as subjects than I was performing as a photographer. I knew from looking at the picture in the LED screen that I had captured something special, assuming that the noise of the high ISO wasn’t too bad, and that the focus was as sharp as it appeared, and a ton of other factors turned out right. I spent quite a bit of time in post-processing for this, softening out the noise and bringing out the colors. I think I achieved something I can be very proud of, despite the conditions and my poor choice of equipment.
I’ve said in the past that I’m not big on themed photos. That is, you tend not to see a bunch of Halloween pics from me around Oct 31. So here’s a Christmas photo in the latter part of January.
Our church was decorated for Advent on December 2. This is one of my favorites from the roughly 2 hours I spent at shooting. It was another excellent opportunity to try out my new tripod legs (I got the Oben 2310 AC).
For this shot I wanted the lights on the Christmas tree in the back to have a soft bokeh but I needed all of the candles to be sharply in focus. I think I came close to the effect I wanted, but the second candle from the left (which is closest to the camera) is slightly more out of focus than I would have liked. This is a good lesson in DOF for me, and one I often forget. I put the focus dot squarely on the wick of the large center candle. However, I failed to remember that the circle of influence for depth of field is weighted slightly to the rear. That is, there is less distance between the focal point forward than there is toward the back where objects will be in focus. Had I moved the camera backwards just a couple of inches, it is quite likely that all of the candles would have been nicely sharp.
For two years I’ve been studiously avoiding flash photography. I’ve used the pop-up flash on my camera occasionally when I absolutely had to have more light, or to experiment with. But 99% of my photography has been without flash. I’ve challenged myself to get photographs using only the available light and my wits, and I think that over the months the challenge has proved useful.
But I had a request to do an early morning portrait, like 30 minutes before sunrise portrait, in the middle of a wooded area, and I was out of tricks. There will be no available light, there won’t be any way for me to bring my own ambient light. So I went to the dark side, and ordered myself a flash. I have exactly 3 nights to learn how to use it before I have to do the real thing.
This is my first attempt. The location is the middle of my living room. The flash is on a tripod to the left and slightly to the rear, and pointed away from the scene. I used a white reflector to direct the light back to the subject more softly. Despite the months of resolve to not use a flash, I have at least made myself familiar with the theory. I can see I have a lot of room to improve, but for my very first attempt I’m very pleased with this result. A special thank you to my lovely wife for suggesting the subject. Tomorrow I’ll have to come up with a way to challenge myself further.
A straight-up portrait of a young lady from church. She should have known better than to sit beside me when I was holding a camera 🙂 We were at a rehearsal for a Christmas program, and this was the one and only picture I took of her. She was looking away from me, I focused on her hair, and waited for her to turn.
I did a lot of tweaking on this in Nik software modules of one sort or another. Given the extremely slow exposure, I knew I would need to soften the image in order to make the blur less prominent. Still, I’m a tad surprised at how sharp it came out, particularly at her eyes. I also warmed up the image quite a bit to enhance the mood.
I don’t often post images designed to go with a particular day of the year (you’ll notice the closest thing I have to a Christmas picture from last year was about two weeks after Christmas) but I had this idea for a photo and I couldn’t let go of it. Actually, this is a pretty poor effort to capture what I have in my imagination, and someday I’ll try to do a better job of it, but my idea will require just the right circumstances and location (possibly equipment as well).
This is my niece – on my wife’s side of course. No one on my side of the family is this beautiful. This is another holiday shot I got on New Years, and like so many other of my favorites it was very nearly an afterthought. My wife and I were saying our goodbyes and just about out the door when I realized that I hadn’t gotten a picture of her yet (she was a late arrival) so I quickly put the camera to my eye and fired off a couple of shots.
The result was, in my opinion, one of my best portraits. Sharply focused yet highlighting soft features. The only lighting was from a fairly harsh florescent ceiling light, and I was frankly surprised at how soft the result turned out to be.