Sunday, March 28, 2010

Tulips and Timp

This is how spring looks in Utah!  The snow covered peaks of Mt. Timpanogos make a beautiful backdrop for the colorful display of flowers.  This is not a great photo technically, however, as the foreground tulips are too soft.  But I love this shot anyway!!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Sunrise in the Garden

"The grand show is eternal.  It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never dried all at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising.  Eternal sunrise, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls."
                                             --John Muir

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wednesday Workday - (Interesting People in their Environment)

Artist at Work
Thanksgiving Point Gardens has a tulip festival each spring where over 250,000 tulips are on display along with hundreds of thousands of other spring flowers.  It is a photographer's dream if you love flowers.  It is also an artist's dream,  especially if you are an artist who specializes in painting tulips!  

A few years ago The Gardens had a spring photo contest.  There were 13 winners.  They produced a lovely calendar with each month displaying one of the winning photos.  The 13th winner was used on the front cover of the calendar.  This is my photo as it appeared on the cover of that calendar.  

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tech Talk Tuesday (Just the Basics)

A Different View
Often a photo grabs your eye because it shows a view or perspective, or isolates a composition differently from what one normally sees.  Particularly if you are photographing something familiar, (like flowers), think about compositions that will be unusual or different than just pointing your camera down from above the flower, because this is the way most people look at flowers and this is the way most people take pictures of flowers.  And often this makes for a boring, ho hum picture.  Here are some ideas:  try shooting from underneath, emphasize the stem, capture dew drops at dawn, isolate a color palette,  include an interesting design element as a background, zoom in on the stamens, wait for beautiful light, etc.  I spent some time on Saturday at yet another photography workshop.  One of the presenters said that the most interesting photos are taken from either way below four feet or way above four feet.  I like that!  Try to get WAY below four feet for flowers.  Something to think about as you compose your spring flower gallery. 

Pretty Maids All in a Row

Pure In Heart

Pink on Pink

Spotlight Please

P.S.  I have a favor to ask.  When I upload my photos to this blog, they appear over exposed and washed out.  In order to make them appear correctly exposed, I often decrease the exposure before I upload.  So I'm wondering if my photos appear too dark or too light on your monitor???  (I know the original exposure is correct because they print out perfectly.  It's just the blog that gives me trouble.)  I sure could use your feedback on this!  If you could drop me a comment I'd really appreciate it.  Thanks a bunch!!!!!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Dew-Pearled at Dawn

Dew-Pearled at Dawn
"The year's at the spring,
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hill-side's dew-pearled;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in His Heaven--
All's right with the world!"
                                                                              --Robert Browning, The Year's at the Spring

Sunday, March 21, 2010

IT'S SPRING!!!!!!!

It is officially SPRING and even though it doesn't look like it yet where I live, it's time to celebrate the wonders of nature as it awakens from the slumber of a long and dreary winter.  And as we are dazzled by the riot of color and fragrance and beauty that is the season,  I hope we are humbled and awed by the majesty and miracle of God's creations.  And best of all, this beauty is free for all to enjoy if we just look! My wish is that we all make time in our busy schedules to enjoy the beauty that is SPRING.  I hope this season will speak to your soul and bring you peace and hope and gratitude.

To celebrate the beginning of SPRING I'm doing a 'theme' week honoring the lovely tulip.  I luv their colors from vibrant oranges and reds to pastel pinks and lavenders.  I luv the variety of shapes and sizes and their bold displays in SPRING landscapes.  I have tons of photographs of tulips, so it will be hard to choose, but if you are a tulip lover like me, I'll be posting tulips all week for you to enjoy, and include them in 'Tech Talk Tuesday', 'Wednesday Workday' and 'Phriday Phun".   (As a side note, if you live in Utah, take time for a visit to Temple Square, Thanksgiving Point, and the best kept secret - at least it was for me - the grounds of the offices of Tahitian Noni in Provo.  These places will blow you away with their SPRING beauty.)

You Light Up My Life
Tulip and Golden Forsythia

Friday, March 19, 2010

Phriday Phun

Costa Rican Cows

These are the phunniest looking cows we have ever seen!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

yourself to a lovely day, and I hope you are seeing spring 'green' out of your window today!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tech Talk Tuesday (Just the Basics)


In last weeks Tech Talk Tuesday, I showed you some portraits that were taken on short notice, outside,  at dusk.  They all had beautiful lighting, but not from an on camera flash.  As I've said many times, an on camera flash would produce a harsh, flat, deer-in-the-headlights look.  Most unflattering.  If it is too dark to bounce some light onto your subject with a reflector, (which would be my first choice), and you don't have portable studio lights to set up outdoors, but you want a lovely lit portrait in dark conditions, what is another option??????
Well, I guess you could just take your photo without any light at all......  but you can tell by the above result that this is not a good option.  Even a harsh camera flash would be an improvement over this.

Or, you could spend a few dollars and take a few extra minutes of preparation and have warm lighting like this.  Because it's off camera and can be directed at an angle, it produces more of a flattering dimensional look as it creates shadows and wraps around the face.  What created this beautiful light???

A $29 Black & Decker halogen spotlight I bought at Home Depot, and a sheet of translucent gel paper.   No special talent required.  Have a helper stand behind you and at an angle to your subject.  Have him hold the light in one hand and the colored paper in front of the light with the other hand.  You will need to make sure the shadows hitting the face are not sharp, especially on the side of the nose, and you control that by the angle of, and intensity of the light.   You do that by directing your helper to move either closer or farther away, and directing your subject on which way to angle her head.  That's it.  Any spotlight will do.  This one has 2 light settings to play with.  Pretty simple, don't you think???

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Friday, March 12, 2010

Phriday Phun

Now THIS is PHUN!!!!
At this time of year I don't know if I'm more anxious to see flowers blooming, or to take our RZRs down to Moab.  The top photo is Jeff and me, (I'm driving), and the bottom is Dalin, (our son), and his then girlfriend, and now wife, Emily.  We had so much fun on that little get away last summer, I can't wait to do it again!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wednesday Workday - (Interesting People in their Environment)

Street Vendor - Mexico
Here's my hat story.  We were being typical tourists seeing the sights.  It was a very hot day and my sunglasses just were not enough so I bought a hat like the one he's holding in his hand.  I wore the hat for about half an hour and having a bit more shade was a relief.  I usually don't sweat much, but because it was extremely hot, and because I was wearing a hat, and because we were walking a lot, I was sweating and wiping the sweat off my face with my hand.  After awhile I happened to glance down at my hand, and it was blue!  I couldn't figure out what it was, then I looked in a mirror and there were blue streaks running down my face.  I discovered the dye on the hat band was not water proof!  Another example of getting what you pay for!!!   I was just looking over this post before 'publishing' it and just noticed something in this picture for the first time.  It appears the person purchasing a hat from the vendor has his hand up to his face.  I wonder if he is wiping sweat from his brow??  I probably wasn't the only one ending up with blue face paint that day.  Ha Ha.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tech Talk Tuesday

Lighting for Portraits (Part 2)

Your friend has asked you to take her portrait.  You are at the designated location, she is looking fantastic, and you and your camera are ready to start snapping.  As you begin to place her in position you should ask yourself, "what do I need to do to showcase her best features, and then make this photo come to life?"  There are, of course, many things to take into consideration, but I'm going to be talking about lighting right now because that should be one of the most important things to consider and will determine whether your friend can't stop raving about what an amazing photographer you are, (you end up with a great portrait), or if she politely thanks you then never mentions it again, (a mediocre one), or heaven forbid, she isn't speaking to you anymore!  I'm going to help you avoid that last alternative, so read on.

In a portrait, the face, most always, should be the focal point.  Think of the face as an upside down triangle with the eyes the actual focal point.  Remember that dark colors recede and light colors advance, so your 'triangle' should be lighter than the rest of the image, with the eyes the most important part of that triangle.  Portraits are bad if the eyes are not bright and sparkly!  (Of course there are always exceptions; for example if you are going for a moody, vampire look or some other artsy thing).  So, the first thing I do is look at the eyes.  If the lighting is such that the eyes are dull or lifeless, you'll have a crummy photo.  Even worse, if the only light source is coming from above and the eyebrows are shading the eyes and creating dark circles underneath (raccoon eyes), will have a really unflattering photo.  So the first thing to remember is the light must make the eyes bright and expressive.  If you get nothing else right but the eyes, you and your friend will still be on speaking terms!!!  But of course, you won't stop there....

The direction of the light, the number of light sources, and the intensity of the light sources will determine whether you have a flat, boring portrait, or one with depth, dimension and 'pop'.  In this photo, the model is sitting next to, but not facing, a huge window.  You can see the light streaming in on the right side of her face as we see it.  She is angled partly toward the window creating catchlights and sparkle in her eyes.  As the light travels across her face, notice it is brightest on the side next to the window.   It moves across her face creating definition and shadow on her cheek.  Then it defines her nose with a soft shadow.  On the other side of her face the light begins to lessen, then ends with a deeper shadow on the other side of her cheek.  Notice how the light defines and shows her cute dimple.  (Before I go any further, here is my disclaimer.  This photo was shot quickly while Kenneth was setting up (see previous post), so it certainly is not a perfect example of perfect lighting, although there is no one perfect type of lighting.  Also, here I'm talking about simple solutions, not fancy lighting techniques with names like Rembrandt or Butterfly.)  Can you imagine how different this portrait would look if she were directly facing the window, or if a straight forward on camera flash was used?  I should have had a shot like that to compare, but I don't so you'll just have to imagine.  On second thought, you won't have to imagine because I'll just tell you.  It would look flat, boring and unflattering!  So, you must remember to have your main light source at an angle to the face.

The bottom line is this, you can make beautiful portraits with available natural light if you study the source and intensity of the light, carefully chose a location, then position your friend so the light softly wraps around her face and highlights her eyes.  Next week I'll talk about SIMPLE solutions when you need to help mother nature out a bit by adding alternative light sources, and tell you the best secret I learned at the workshop!  This will make your portraits even more beautiful and professional looking.

I'll leave you with a photo of my drop dead gorgeous daughter-in-law.  This was taken with only one natural light source.  Notice the soft shading on her face.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

On an Impulse!

This morning, (Saturday), before I got into my day, I checked a couple of my favorite photo blogs.  One had a post dated yesterday about an all day workshop today that still had a couple of openings.  It was being taught by international photographer Kenneth Linge.  Kenneth has been a world renown photographer for many years both in Europe and America.  He is from Norway, but now chooses Orem as his home base, although he travels all over the world.   (Check out his website HERE.)  His workshop today was about photographing people.  The cost was significant and I had appointments today, but I REALLY wanted to go.  The website info did not say when it started or how long the workshop would last.  By this time it was about 10 am and I was sure it was already under way.  I tried to call his studio, but no one answered,  so I decided to drive by just on the outside chance it was an afternoon class.  They were just getting started, and it was an all day and into the evening workshop, so I quickly called Jeff and asked if he objected to me attending.  He said go for it, so I told him I'd be home after 7pm and called and canceled my other appointments.   It's after 9 pm now.  I'm home and my head is swimming with information, inspiration, and determination to remember and use what I learned today.  Here's the good news.  Much of what I learned I can use without purchasing any extravagant equipment.  I was most impressed with his lighting techniques.  I learned you don't need fancy in studio lights to produce professional looking portraits.  Of course, I've always known that natural lighting is beautiful portrait light (see past Tech Talk Tuesday HERE), but one thing I learned today is how versatile one can be with natural and artificial light with a minimal amount of equipment.  Knowing where and how to position your subject is also critical.  Where many photographers prefer an overcast day when shooting outdoors, Kenneth loves to shoot in bright noonday sun, as well as after the sun sets.  Here are a couple of shots from today as Kenneth was showing various techniques:
Guess what the background is, the source of light, and what kind of light was used? Where is the sun?

This was taken behind an ugly building.  Again, what was the lighting and type of day.  What focal length was used to create the soft background?  How did I get the beautiful rim lighting on her hair?

Isn't this beautiful?  Lighting must emphasize the most important triangle in the photo, and for a portrait, this is......?

Wow!  This is outside after the sun set.  How was this lit and where did the beautiful blue sky come from??

These photos are SOOTC, (straight out of the camera).  No Photoshop editing, except to crop out other photographers.  Simple techniques can create lovely portraits.  Check back on Tech Talk Tuesdays and I'll pass along some of what I learned from this fabulous workshop.  And the good news is.....
for YOU it is FREE!!!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Fantasy Wedding

Isn't new love grand!  It is a time when two people are kind and considerate and loving and think about fulfilling each others' needs before their own.  And just like spring, love blossoms and grows and is glorious because each partner adores and cares for the other.  The future looks bright, all things are possible because they have each other and their love.  The challenge is to make the Fantasy a Reality!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Phriday Phun

 What does not belong in this picture??
We have a corner in our garage where we have piled junk to throw away, junk for a future garage sale and junk that we still haven't found a place for since we moved.  Michelle walked out today and was scared silly when a chicken jumped out at her.  To my knowledge we have no chickens living nearby.  Oops, I stand corrected.  I guess we now have a chicken living our yard!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

March Desktop Image

A couple days late, but click HERE to download my desktop image for March.  After it downloads,  then right click to save as your desktop.  It shouldn't be pixelated or blurred.    If you have problems, let me know and I'll help.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tulips and Timp

This is what spring looks like in Utah.  The snow covered peaks of Mt. Timpanogos makes a beautiful backdrop for the beautiful colors of spring.  This, however, is not a great photo technically.  The foreground flowers are too soft, but I still love the shot.

P.S. I'll not have a post Monday or Tuesday.  We're off to Las Vegas where Jeff is a judge at a car show.