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?


May Lightplay

For May’s lighting project I did a completely goofy/for fun image.  I saw in a photography magazine I subscribe to how the photographer lit the subject to look like she was watching T.V.  I decided to sort of recreate it my own way, in others words…completely different.

I enlisted my kids and provided them with a bowl of popcorn. I needed the room to be dark which meant they got to stay up a little latre and so of course my boys were game.  We tried pretending we were watching a scary movie but Seth said that pretending would give him nightmares so it we did a  funny look instead which I have decided I like better anyway.  They are actually watching T.V. though that light alone wasn’t strong enough to light the image without a slow shutter speed and hence motion blur.  I have my Nikon SB800 speedlight on this little adapter thingy so it will stay upright and I am firing it using the pop up flash on my camera (a Nikon D700) as a commander.  It’s zoomed as far as it will go, (105 I believe) and my flash exposure compensation is set to -2 to attempt to keep the room dark.  I also set the white balance to cool white fluorescent to mimic the blue light that T.V.’s give off.

This was just a goofing off shot that I saw in  my head and wanted to see what I could do.  I’ll probably never do anything with it but…who knows?

April 2012 Lighting Project

This project was a two birds with one stone sort of thing.  Ages ago I had thought of doing images of my children making faces and showing their personalities.  I’m trying to decide what to put over my bed and I thought four large black and white images of my kids would be fun.  Then I had the idea of making these nine-up composites when we had too many ideas for just one image.  I put the idea in the back of my mind to simmer for awhile but I didn’t forget about it.  Then, when I decided to do a headshot special for my friends I was trying to decide how to make the lighting work the way I wanted it to.  I am VERY picky and I have struggled with making strobe fit into my style because I really love the softness of natural light.  When I am doing headshots I don’t want to shoot with a small aperture and have everything sharp.  I want to focus straight to the eyes and have everything else fade into softness.  It’s just what I like.  I spent days upon days moving lights around and my children were so awesome and patient and ready to help, so when I got things where I wanted {and I am SO excited about that}  I pulled this idea back to the front of my brain and we took all of their favorite things and created these images.  We had a blast and from a strictly Mom perspective I love them SO SO much.  These are MY KIDS!!!  This is who these goofy little angel/heathen darlings are right now and these images are treasures to me!

March Lightplay {Utah Photography}

One of my goals this year is to play more with lighting and so I gave myself the assignment of doing a different lighting project every month. I am reading a really fun book The Hot Shoe Diaries by Joe McNally and sometimes I challenge myself to recreate something he has done but with my own twist, ’cause y’know, nobody likes a copycat. 🙂

The above photo was inspired by one of Joe’s where he is shooting through a rainy window and while I want to play with that idea too as I was reading the section an image through blinds immediately popped into my head. Luckily I have kids who are always willing to help (or willing to be bribed). This is my daughter and we are just in my front room and I have a Nikon SB800 flash outside on a lightstand in Remote mode and I am using my on Camera flash in Commander mode to trigger it through my open front door. We took a bunch but I especially loved the repeating stripe elements in this one as well as the shadow on the wall and the downturned face that I feel makes your eyes travel through the photo instead of getting stuck on the subject’s eyes.

Miss Jillian in the Snow {Utah Photography}

I love concept shoots and I love pictures in the snow!Just fyi, a concept shoot for me is where I have a picture rolling around in my head and am finally able to put the pieces together and shoot it.It’s kinda like saying “Shave and a haircut….”and then when you do the shoot and see the final photos you get to sing at the top of your lungs “TWOOOOOOOOOO BIIIIIIIIITS!!!!!”

It feels good.

This beautiful girl is the lovely and talented Miss Jillian Tirado.She doesn’t have her last name on her fbook profile for me to double check so I sincerely hope that I am spelling it correctly.We first talked about this shoot ages upon ages ago.Originally we were going to do it in the fall.I had some idea of it being the last fairy of fall about to go to sleep before the winter but now that I see everything put together it works much better as a snow fairy, don’t you think?We wanted to start a little earlier in the day to get day and night looks but due to a small driving mishap we got started a little late.Jillian valiantly offered to postpone but she had done so much work on hair and makeup (did you notice the forehead jewels)that there was no way I wasn’t going to see what I could get.I am actually delighted with how they turned out.

I forgot to mention that this shoot doubled as my lightplay monthly photo project for February. I was playing with off camera flash and the sky. The sky part is hard to explain but see the lovely blue in the shot below? That’s what I was trying to get on that shot. Just a little backstory: at this point in the evening it is so dark that I can’t see Jillian’s face through my camera viewfinder.

Luckily Jillian has agreed to play again so you will see more of her to come. I love being surrounded by artistic, creative people. Thank you Jillian!

p.s. Here is the link to the rest.


I really should be working on other things. :S

I have so much work to do, but all work and no play, well, YOU know.
I played hooky and went light painting with some fantastic photographer friends out at Saltair last night. We had SO much fun. Light painting is a blast. Several of them had brought steel wool. You attach it to a chain, light it on fire, swing it around and PRESTO, fun pics!! I’m such a pyro, you’d better believe I was in there a swingin’. Here are just a few of my favorite pics. I can’t wait for the next adventure!!

My awesome friend David came to help me again. He’s my best light paining buddy. We laugh!

This cropped is now my new Facebook profile pic. It makes me happy…I actually did do yoga yesterday, lol.

August 2010 Photo Project or ARGH, THE HUMANITY!!!

Once upon a time . . . okay so it was May 13, 2010. I took a really fun lighting workshop from the brilliant AND talented Ryan Christiansen. The very next Monday I ordered a plethora of new lighting toys, hoping to have them in time for some upcoming photo shoots and projects. Cue the hideous backorder. I hate backorders, they’re just mean. Here’s a shiny new toy, PHYSCH, can’t have it, neener neener neener. Lol =). So I finally get the call that all my stuff is in, YAY, as I’m standing in the airport waiting to board a plane to N.Y.C. Nope, not EVEN going to complain about that. Well technically it was Boston, but ANYWAY. . . time passes, I get my stuff, I have stacks of manuals to slog through. I even spend every free moment during my recent jaunt to my beloved Shakespeare Festival (HeLLOOOO Mr. Darcy) reading up on the last two (sorry Mom, Dad, and Leah). I spend ages setting everything up (my bedroom looked like a cross between a movie set and a war zone) when I discover to my horror that I have a 1/4 inch synch chord instead of a 1/8 inch. ARGH!!! THE HUMANITY!!! …Barbara Manatee, Manatee, Manatee. You are the one for me, one for me, one for me. Lol, inside family joke. =)
Finally the hideous error was rectified and I got to play with all my toys today. Two-and-a-half months later. Haha good times, I had fun.

I couldn’t choose between these two, and I’m tired and really shouldn’t be up still so ta-dah, both!

The goggles make me giggle, just had to. =)

Sidenote: I just got a new phone, it’s the new HTC EVO 4G and oh, how I love it! I haven’t allowed myself to read my phone manual until I finished all my lighting manuals (sorry everyone who got multiple hang ups from me because I didn’t realize that I was calling you) so now I get to read it. Huzzah!
p.s. I named my phone Scottie, and if you know me you’ll know why! lol 😉