October 2007

Caption This Photo #6: Paul Peterson

Paul Peterson

Breaking a bit from the Donny Osmond photos I have posted thus far for the Caption This series, today we have Paul Peterson on his way to a sound check.  Sorry Paul, but the look on your face was obviously caught at a strange moment, but it was just begging for some captions to be inserted.

So what do you think is running through Paul’s mind at the moment?

Caption This Photo #5

Donny Perplexed

In 2004 Donny had a choreographer with him for a few days to help come up with some added flavor to the stage show.  Barry, pictured here, has also advised Usher with some of his moves.  It was during this time the now famous “In It For Love” move was born.

Donny had to work to learn everything Barry was cramming into a few days of quick training, and work he did.  In this scene Donny listens intently to instruction, but now is your chance to insert a what exactly you think is going through his mind!  Have fun!

Fall Portraits

 Family Portrait

It’s that time of year again, when everyone starts thinking about getting their family photo taken.  Whether they are doing this in anticipation of including a photo with Christmas cards, for a new framed photo on the wall, or simply to have a new photo to add to the scrapbook, this gets to be a busy time of year.

Fall colors are beautiful, but it depends greatly on the available lighting, a great location and a quickly passing time of year as the colors change.  If you wait too long, bright orange turns to rusty brown and you have missed your chance.  If you are too early you get too much green with only a smattering of color.

This year I tried a new location and was generally happy with the results.  Lighting was very difficult as our family was in a shadow in the foreground with a bright background.  To accomplish a more even shot I combined two exposures, one with the background exposed properly and one with my family exposed evenly in front.  I combined the two in Photoshop for a well balanced photo.

With family photos, rarely does everything go perfectly.  As with this photo, not every smile is perfect.  I may end up transferring some expressions from another exposure onto this one to try and improve upon it, but perhaps not.  Sometimes leaving things closer to reality feels better and gives us something to laugh about years later.

When picking a location, keep in mind a few things:

  • What is in the foreground that may add or distract on your photo
  • Same for the background – do you have a clear shot or is their a road or building that may ruin an otherwise pleasant shot
  • Can you choose a different angle to solve any distractions
  • What time of day will provide the best lighting for the location; keep in mind the time of year for how early it gets dark if going for an evening shoot
  • Is the ground going to be wet or dirty; if so, bring something to sit on such as a blanket that can be tucked out of view of the camera (note that in this shot there was duck poop everywhere!)
  •  Does the location require permission for photography use
  • Suggest color ideas to your subject for clothes that will compliment the location

When actually taking the photo, here are a few things to think about:

  • Look for balance in your arrangement.  This is one of my weakest points I continue to try and improve on.
  •  Be quick about it, especially if kids are involved.  You may only have a matter of minutes before the youngest ones lose interest and start getting fussy
  • When working with kids, you can’t be bashful.  If you need to make crazy sounds or goofy faces to get the shot, it is a small price to pay!  Consider bringing noisy squeeze toys or similar if you will have very young children in the photo.
  • Shoot the same shot from different angles.  You may not realize one angle was better than the other until you look at them later.
  • Look for bright spots on faces that can foul up an otherwise good shot.
  • Use a tripod – you may be the master at holding the camera still, but you will never be more steady than a camera mounted on a tripod.
  • Consider using a trigger release.  Once you have framed the photo you can stand to the side of the camera and be as goofy as you need to capture kids attention.  When everything is just right you can hit the trigger without going back behind the camera.
  • If you are taking your own photo, with a tripod you can use the timer function. That is how this particular photo was taken.

There are plenty more ideas that can apply to the family portrait, but hopefully this will get you started.  Most of all, just get out and take some photos.  I typically will get out with the family several times over a few weeks to be sure we get the best shot we all love.  Kids have bad days, weather and lighting may not cooperate, etc.  When you get that perfect shot in the end, it is all worth it.

Canon 40D, 17-55, 1/125 at f/8.0 and 400 ISO

Caption This Photo #4: What’s He Thinking?

What’s He Thinking?

Time for another edition of “Caption This.” Along with getting your subject in focus and the lighting, one of the hardest parts of concert photography is getting an expression that doesn’t look downright goofy. Singing is an emotional art, so there are many expressions that go along with the mood of the music as the entertainer puts on their show. They look great in motion, but often captured in a still moment they just make you say, huh?

Today’s isn’t too bad, but definitely not one you would put on an 8×10. So what is he really thinking? You tell me!

Canon 20D, EF 28-135mm, 1/80 at f/3.5 and 400 ISO

Always Look For Opportunities


When are you at a point when photography has becomes more than just picking up the camera and taking a snapshot?  When do you break out the camera more than at Christmas and birthdays?  When does taking photos become a hobby instead of just something you feel obligated to do at major occasions?

I can tell you I crossed over that line long ago and have never looked back.  For me the difference between a casual photographer and an enthusiast is when you look for and take opportunities to take photos for the sake of seeing how it turns out.  You take photos for the fun of it instead of when you feel like something has to be recorded.

Of course you still take those necessary photos, but you take them better.  You take many different angles to be sure you have the best possible shot.  You take the standard shot, then you take a more artistic approach to the same shot.

Today’s photo reminded me that I will take any photo that catches my eye, and I try to be ready to take photos when the opportunity presents itself.  You will find a big difference in the number of opportunities you find when you are looking for them versus waiting for them to knock you upside the head.

Canon 40D, EF24-105L, 1/13 at f/4.0 and 800 ISO