July’s Lighting Project {extended family pictures}

I love, love, love thinking up concepts for family pictures {I already have the next two planned} and luckily my family is awesome and pretty much game for anything.  I am not the greatest Photoshop guru on earth, I often tell people that I am not George Lucas and his band of merry men so I wasn’t sure I could pull this idea off at all.  I kind of sprang this on my family during a family Sunday dinner.  Oh, I had mentioned the idea but I didn’t know if it would work so I didn’t give them notice for outfits but it adds to the spontaneous feel don’t’cha think?

This is my originals concept a.k.a. the picture I saw in my head and therefore my favorite.  I like how everyone has more of their own space but it’s kind of a ridiculous size to print so I made the one below.

This one I made for my facebook timeline cover photo.  Of course I had to smush people over so my profile pic won’t cover my sister-in-law and nephew but you don’t want to see that one, it looks silly.  This is still an odd size for printing but I am looking into having a custom-sized metallic print made which should give me some lee-way.  My mom has a party room painted bright yellow and full of all sorts of random and she wants this big over the doorway.  I checked it out and it’s going to look fantastic.  To be honest, I probably won’t print this for my home, the colors don’t go with my decor at all but it will be perfect for my Mom and that’s kinda the point of these big family pictures anyway.

I did this one mainly for my sister Leah.  She says she has some Panoramic frames that she has purchased though as they are in Australia and she happens to be here visiting she doesn’t know what size she needs.  I designed it as a 1:2 ratio which is a pretty standard pano size.  I also saved everything as PSD’s so I can move people around without too much of a hassle.

For those who care about the behind-the-scenes info we used a trampoline, or for the babies their dads threw them into the air.  I had everyone do their best to only get sky behind them so I could use the magic wand tool in photoshop to select the sky and delete it easily.  I then erased the trees and mountains along the edges of the images.  I saved every person as a PSD with a transparent background so that I could drag and drop each person into the final image.  I took a picture of the sky by itself and then because I wanted a darker sky (which I did in photoshop)  I had to mask every person and go painstakingly around the edges painting out the tiny edge of lighter sky.  I’m sure there are easier ways but I am working with CS3 and just did my best.  Some of the hair is a little crazy but oh well.

I used my Nikon SB800 speedlight set at about a 45 degree angle to the camera aimed upwards and triggered by the pop-up flash on my camera, a Nikon D700.  My settings are ISO 400, shutter speed 1/250, and f/13.  I pre-focused on people and then had them do their best to jump straight up hoping the at f/13 I would have enough depth of field to keep everything reasonably sharp.  I did get a little motion blur but as people are jumping I can live with that.  I’ve been trying to play with my speedlight more this year because it is so much easier to bring on location so that is why I used it instead of my bigger studio light.  It worked well though sometimes it didn’t fire quite right, I’m not sure why.  I waited until the sun was behind some trees so that my flash would be the main light.  It was able to overpower any dappling.  I originally wanted to use the sun as a rim light but that direction there would have been all sorts of stuff in the background that I just didn’t want to deal with.

It’s not a perfect image but I love it.  It took three separate shooting days and a ton of post-processing but I’m over-the-moon pleased with it…though now I don’t know which image I like best.

Any thoughts?


Ryan & Kelsi’s Engagements

I had such a lovely engagement session recently.  This is Ryan & Kelsi and they are delightful.  They both love the Salt Lake City area and decided that they wanted to have their engagement images taken in Memory Grove just east of the capital building.

I took this after I told them not to pay attention to me.  I was walking around them and looking at other angles {just in case}.  This image is one of my favorites.  I try to always remember to walk around if I can.  You never know what another viewpoint will show you.

I am in love with the colors that they chose to wear.  I love the contrast of her orange with the greenery and how it also ties into the colors in the stone.

This is my favorite spot at Memory Grove.  It’s a little tricky to get to.  Luckily Kelsi had Ryan to help her.  So sweet!

I especially wanted to get an image with as much as the Meditation Chapel in it as possible because this is where Ryan proposed!

I so love the colors they chose!

A little closer up.  It’s nice to have a variety, at least I think so. 😉

This was a “for me” image.  The sun was going down and everything was so beautiful and romantic and to me this captured that feeling.  I always try to take just a few images to satisfy my artistic soul and I was happy that they liked them too.

Ahhhh reflections…I just realized I have two kissing images in a row.  Oh well, it was a lovely night and I had such a good time.  Sessions like this always lift me up and make me feel so good.  I am so excited for their wedding in August!

Pretty Darn Perfect Family Pictures

I will always give it to you straight.  Family pictures are work and really fantastic family pictures are a lot of work.  But when you get them up on your wall it is ALL worth it.  I was so excited to photograph my friend Sarah and her beautiful family.  I knew that she had put a lot of effort into preparation and that they would be wonderful.  I told them over and over how grateful I was for all that they had done because I so needed a wonderful session that day.  Working on these images has been pure joy.

Sarah started by deciding on a location.  She asked her girls what they wanted and they said “vintage”.  We were a little worried that our idea of vintage would be different than their idea of vintage so we had them look through my location images to help us get a better idea of what they were thinking.  Sarah also sent me a picture of the clothing they selected, I believe she had a personal shopper help her put it together.  When I saw the colors I immediately thought of this door and wall and as the location was on her girls’ list we were set.  I am so thrilled with how they turned out.  I think what they are wearing is perfect.  I love when people pick out a color theme to stay in.  Don’t the colors look wonderful with their hair?  I am so excited to meet with Sarah in a couple of days to custom design image groupings for her walls.  It’s sessions like these when I really, really love my job.

p.s.  Sarah, I played with the colors a little more on these images…couldn’t help myself, let me know what you think. 😉

Hot Pots and Geysers and well, Bears, oh my!

I recently went to Yellowstone National Park with my husband’s family.  I used to visit there every year growing up but haven’t been since I was married and my children have never been.  It was so fun to share so many of my favorite spots with my children.  The weather was drizzly and cold but it made for some GREAT clouds in my photos so for me it was perfect!  I even saw some bears which I never have done before.

I’m only posting a few of my favorite images here but I have a lot that I really love and they are on my Fine Art Boutique and available for purchase there.  Here is the link.


Waiting for Old Faithful.  It was just our luck that it erupted as we were driving in so we had to wait another hour and a half.

I just love the lines and textures in this one.

Have I mentioned I have a thing for lone trees?  How cute is this one?  It’s like the Charlie Brown Christmas tree.

I about had a heart attack here.  To reach the observation area you hike down a trail which is a succession of switchbacks.  I was helping my little boy so my oldest daughter beat me there.  When I got there she was standing on the cliffs on the other side of the railing so she could get a picture.  Holy Smokes, scared me to death!

I like the color of the water, the color off the orange lichen on the rocks and the little trail of melting water coming from the snowpack.

This was our last big stop. As you can see a major storm started coming in and we were dashing for cover.  My little boy was panicking about the lightening but we made it to the car and all was well.  I love the ominous clouds.