Saturday, March 30, 2013

Photo shoot with my darling daughter (or torture, as she likes to call it)

I love this shot and the post-production look I was able to give it!
For Christmas, one of my presents was the opportunity to take my daughter's senior pictures. She HATES getting her picture taken, and so for Christmas, she agreed to let me do that. It is now the end of March, and we finally got it together to get it done during Easter vacation. I scheduled it for late afternoon, the supposedly 'golden hours', but instead we got clouds. I figured it would make for at least some interesting lighting, so we went ahead with it. This was a learning experience for me, since I hadn't done much portrait work before. I had so much to think about.
The first location (at what we call Tooth Mountain) did not go too well. I thought it would look better than it actually did and my daughter was still not in the greatest mood about having to do this.
Oh well, we did get some good shots out of it, and then headed to the next location I had chosen.

This was an old abandoned house with some outbuildings that were pretty ramshackle. This was a much better shooting location. The sun was a little lower and more dramatic through the clouds and the buildings were really cool-looking.

We had a lot more fun there, despite the wind, which really picked up (and of course she was wearing a dress!).

We got back and I put all the pictures on my computer, just over 200 of them. We ended up with about 50 that I liked, and 25 of those that she liked, out of everything. Some were my fault with bad exposures or poor focus, and some were her just not being happy about doing it and looking like it on camera. Such is life.

I had a lot of fun in post-production, fixing things like lighting, skin issues, color, and playing with Black & White and Sepia as well as other creative pre-sets. I could do that for hours - it appeals to the artist in me. It is one of my favorite parts of photography - playing with the pictures afterwards!


I am including a couple of before and after shots so you can see the difference. Sometimes it is very slight and other times it is quite dramatic.



What I learned from the whole shoot was that I need a lot more practice doing this to be totally comfortable with remembering all the things I need to remember - basic camera settings, lighting, angles, setting up shots, and making the client feel comfortable. It will help me get less bad shots and save me time in post-production! So....if you know anyone who wants some pictures taken, I can give them a really good deal while I am still learning. They will get some great pictures, and I will get some much needed practice!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Son and surf: Trip to Santa Cruz

The natural bridge near the lighthouse in Santa Cruz
 I have not written a blog in a week and a half. I got the flu from somewhere and it totally wiped me out. I barely had the energy to work, and photography just went by the wayside. I started to get better by the end of last week, but then I had to go up to Santa Cruz to get my son from college. I went early so I could spend some time taking pictures at the beach. It was a beautiful day, and there was a kayak-surfing contest going on. I didn't even know there was such a thing!

 I went to the beach by the lighthouse and at the end, beyond the natural bridge was a beach no one was using - too rocky for surfing or sunbathing, but perfect for pictures and waves!
 Sometimes the waves would break over this one big rock and then make waterfalls over it. It was very beautiful and I got some decent pictures of it.

I am trying out some different effects in Lightroom, so that is why the lighting is a little different in some of these.
I like this one because it shows the moss and algae that was all over the rocks, but there is still a bit of ocean in the shot. I could have spent all day there, but I had to go pick up Alex.

I got a new book that I am reading through, Understanding Exposure. A lot of it just makes perfect sense, but I am learning some good stuff that I didn't know. I also got asked if I do weddings last week. I was honest about my past experience, but I know I could do a great job, and they would get a great deal, since I am still in the portfolio building process.  Hopefully, they will want to use me.
The redwoods at UCSC

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Bloom where you are planted

My morning adventure
The nose of an Air Force jet
Yesterday I went to a talk that local photographer, Mike Massee, gave at Mojave's Plane Crazy event that they have every month. He works for XCOR so he gets to take pretty pictures of the flames shooting out of the backs of rocket engines, along with Space Ship One and some other pretty amazing rocket planes.

                                                           It was really interesting, and it ingrained in me even more the idea that you have to just take pictures as you go through life and of what you do, and where you go, and of what you love. He was just taking pictures of fledgling rocket engines and by being in the right place, he was given some amazing opportunities to take pictures of Space Ship One which were used all over the world. The room for the talk yesterday was packed, with people sitting on the floor and a group came from Riverside to hear him.

On the way to Mojave, I stopped to visit the joshua tree that gave me the pretty picture in my first blog. The bloom is continuing on its merry way. This stage is not nearly as pretty. But full bloom is pretty nice, so I can't wait for that.
After the lecture, I went out to the tarmack and took some pictures of the planes they had there. I do not know their names. I am not really a plane person, other than to like flying in them. But I got some fun shots and got practice shooting in the blinding sun on concrete (always a challenge!).

Saturday, March 16, 2013


Clouds from yesterday evening - so different!
See the moon?
I have been running a fever of over 100 degrees F since Wednesday night. I have been keeping it at bay with drugs, and my only other symptom is a moderately sore throat, some laryngitis, and then tonight a nagging cough that won't let me sleep. Lucky me! Hence, the writing of this installment at 3:30 in the morning. I had some pictures that I took yesterday that I hadn't gone through. Yes, I know... what am I doing taking pictures when I don't feel well? I justify it by telling myself that I've never seen clouds like that before. And actually last night, the clouds were on the unique side. I think the cold front coming in had some cold air up high that was turning the moist air into little bits of cloud. The official name is altocumulus clouds, and we don't see them up here very often. So I wanted to get some pictures of them.

The beginnings of a sunset
I was good. I didn't even walk to the end of the street. I drove. I did this because yesterday morning when I got all the great sunrise pictures, I did more walking around, and paid for it with an aggravated sore throat from breathing the cool air.

Sunrise 03-15-13

When I edited those pictures, I totally missed some that were really great, so I will share some of those too.


Who needs paint?
What am I learning about photography? You have to take the opportunities when you can get them. Even if you don't feel all that great, just do it. It is actually worth it. I'm glad I made myself get out there.

One of my many walking trails

Friday, March 15, 2013

Proverbs 31 woman? Me?

The beautiful sunrise this morning

I love the branches of creosote bushes!
In a photography book I read recently, it said that to be a photographer you have to get up earlier than everyone and miss a lot of dinners. I laughed, because it is so true! That is because the best light is at dawn and in the hours leading up to and including sunset. I found that out on my own, because that is how I live. Very rarely do I get up after it is light out and I am gone at dinner because of my daughter's dance classes, so I have free time during those "golden hours" to take pictures.
Prickly, but beautiful

This morning was no exception. I took my daughter to school at 6:30 (I know, waaay too early!) and then thought the sunrise might be fun to capture, so I headed into the desert for a shoot. I was not disappointed. Forty-five minutes later, I headed home to check out what I got.

I feel like the Proverbs 31 woman, getting up before dawn, but instead of preparing breakfast for my household, I am out working my camera and enjoying the beautiful morning God made. In case you weren't up that early, enjoy some of the fruits of my labor - a virtual 'breakfast' of beauty.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

My front yard - the aerodrome

Coming in for a landing

Spring has sprung in my neck of the woods (and by that, I mean desert), and the plum tree in my front yard is full of lovely pink blossoms. Every year that signals the influx of many, many, and I mean MANY bees. On the other side of our driveway, we have a fruitless pear, which does the same thing. When we go into the front yard, the buzzing is pretty darn loud.
I have been trying for days to get a clear close-up picture of a bee. I have several decent pictures, but nothing crystal clear. I have tried different settings, different lenses. I think I need a macro lens, but I don't even know how they work for moving targets. 
Let me tell you, you do not want to know how many pictures I have taken. Okay... over 200 pictures - luckily digital 'film' is free! Here are some of my better ones.
I've heard that slow and steady wins the race....maybe that's true!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

PANSTARRS and Joshua trees

Abstract Joshua tree

The demise of a Joshua tree

So today was a very ADD picture-taking day. I had to work a lot during the day, but after I dropped my daughter off at dance, I headed out to capture the PANSTARRS comet with the crescent moon that was supposed to show up tonight. My first location in Palmdale was a Joshua tree forest. The poor trees did not seem very healthy. I could not find one bloom.
It was directly in the flight path from Plant 42, so I got a cool shot of a plane flying over.
Then sunset came. It was not one of those amazing AV sunsets we sometimes get, but the pictures turned out pretty decent.

PANSTARRS comet and crescent moon- Quartz Hill, CA

More cool pictures, but no moon. I realized the mountains were going to be in the way, so I headed up to Quartz Hill where I was able to set up my tripod in our church parking lot. I managed to get a couple of decent shots, but power lines were in the way, so I am going to try again tonight in Mojave.

Really good pictures are a lot about being in the right place at the right time, and I just wasn't in the best place to get an amazing comet picture. Such is life. Sometimes you have to work a little harder to be at the right place at the right time, but it is worth it! In pictures... and in life.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Beam me up, Scotty!

Vasquez rocks in Agua Dulce - "Beam me up, Scotty!"
Well, today I didn't have any work to do, so I decided to go visit my family 'down below'. I took the opportunity to stop and do some hiking at Vasquez Rocks (combining my need for exercise with my love of photography). It is so easy to drive by on the freeway and just kind of notice, but it is a lot of fun to hike around in the area, because there are so many rock outcroppings and trails. I think I found a new cover photo for FB!

I also learned that to have blue sky, I need the sun behind me. They probably learn that in Photography 101. Oh well, now I know!

Here are several other shots.

The yuccas have not started their Spring growth yet.

Notice me pointing into the sun and the sky color - not blue!

I fixed my position for this shot - looking good!

In the photography business-developing department, I got a couple of computer programs I have been needing (wanting) to help me to a better job with post-production tasks. I will have to spend a little time getting up to speed, since I had older versions, but they will help me keep everything under control.

I also began to research how to set pricing - YIKES! It is quite complicated and I no longer wonder why photographers charge as much as they do, taking into account equipment, post-production, travel, time, subscriptions, printing, etc, it is quite obvious that I will have to spend some serious time figuring this out, so that I don't lose money.

But, hey, one or two steps at a time! I am more knowledgeable than I was yesterday, and that's a good thing!