First post of 2011 – Better Late than Never!

Welcome to 2011 and my very crazy life. This post is much later than expected but better late than never! Included in my crazy schedule was a work trip this January that included photographing an event. Thought maybe things would slow down just a bit but nope still going 100 miles an hour!

At the end of December my cousin invited me to try to take some photographs of her family at my Aunt and Uncle’s house. This became quite the challenge since Lucia who is five and Emma who is three were not feeling all that well and were exhausted from a very busy Christmas. I had to figure out how to photograph two girls who were not in the mood to cooperate with their Mom’s cousin who was following them around with a camera.

Alex the newest member of the family was an easier subject but not by much, Alex was either asleep or constantly moving every inch of his body.

I did figure out an interesting trick with both girls. There is a staircase in the house were my Aunt places her Nutcrackers, one on each stair. With Emma as long as I distracted her with naming the Nutcrackers she stayed still long enough for me to take a few shots.

Lucia eventually warmed up to me and decided she would pose for me. It helped she was very proud of her bracelet and necklace she made that day.

In the end I got some good photographs and the rest of the set is here.

In more recent news, I heard an excellent speaker and attended a workshop on portrait photography with one light with the Camera club I am a member of. I had a few light bulb moments that I hope I can put in play on the next opportunity I get to take photographs. I also have a longer wish list of equipment now too.

Photography and my pursuit in learning the craft is becoming an itch that I does not go away!

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The Big Surprise!

After months of secrecy I can finally reveal why I have been our friend’s baby paparazzi for the last few months. Shortly after our friend Jessie’s baby bump photo shoot, Erica decided to create a photo book. Not just any photo book — but one that would document a life changing event and allow their new son Evan to see the story of his conception. Erica was the driving force behind the project and proved she has a hidden talent when it comes to organizing and designing a 42 page book. Erica also makes a great project manager — she kicked my butt in gear several times to get the photo editing expedited!

The photobook would not be completed without adding the magic of Christmas.  I checked my list twice and made sure I had the essentials:

  • Upgraded flash for my Sony camera
  • Super soft all white chenille blanket
  • Absolutely adorable Santa suit
  • Candy striped optical illusion onsie

I quickly discovered the challenges with photographing a 1 week old sleepy newborn versus a 10 week old fully alert infant. Checked the list again and added the following:

  • Wind up bear that flashes, repeats phrases and sings
  • 1 vibrating baby seat to keep baby calm
  • 1 hour allotted for baby model to nap

We presented the photobook on December 10th to our friends with bated breath. To our relief, both were surprised and delighted by the thoughtful gesture. The project was a lot of work but it was well worth it in the end.  My sister shocked Damian, Jessie’s husband, by including childhood photos acquired from his mom in Trinidad.

 

 

 

In case anyone would like to create their own photobook we used a company called PhotoBook Canada (www.photobookcanada.com). You download their software which allows you to create a unique book for any type of event. The software program is simple and easy to learn. It will even warn you when you are using photos with too low of a resolution. When ordering, we do recommend you add the extra expense of a slip cover, which gives the book long term protection.

One big project finally finished although I still have busy holiday’s ahead.  I have at least one photo shoot planned and possibly a second. For a hobby it sure is taking up a lot of my free time. Not that I mind too much.

Not sure if I will have time to post before the end of the year so Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

PS. For those who noticed that is not my normal writing style, Erica took over editorial duties tonight and added her own flare. Someday I will get her to write a guest post — Erica is an excellent writer (and editor) with a quirky sense of humour!

 

New challenge, an onsite photo studio!

My dad and I always love a challenge but when it was proposed we do an onsite photo studio with printing at a charity we volunteer with we had a few reservations. We only had a few weeks to get everything organized, tested and confirmed.

The equipment needed for this event included the following:

  • One rented studio kit containing one umbrella and one medium softbox
  • A Canon T1i with a 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens, tripod, remote trigger and USB cable for tethering
  • Laptop with Lightroom 3 (used a PC ideally would have preferred a Mac)
  • One printer, a Canon i9900 with extra ink
  • Several packages of 8 ½ X 11 glossy photo paper plus envelopes to put prints in
  • Props, a Christmas mouse, a chirping toy and cute puppy (to keep the kids attention)
  • One rented backdrop (not used but better safe than sorry!)

Set-up and testing took several hours. We were placed on a stage and it was not the most ideal situation.  The stage curtains we used as our backdrop were black. To make things even tougher we were at a semi-formal. The big challenge how to make guests wearing black or dark clothing not have floating heads in front of the curtains. Took several tries and several setting adjustments but we got the best lighting mix for the situation. We also made sure that the flashes were not set equal to give depth to the photos.

The set-up is below (we were doing both formal and Santa photos):

I am slightly off centre to the chair, umbrella to the left and softbox to the right (sorry I am no McNally so that is about as technical as I get!). Since we were on a stage we had to tether down to the PC which my Dad manned. The set-up worked pretty well other than we were sharing the stage with DJ and were right between two speakers. Made it really tough to hear and there was a lot of hand signalling going on. Next year we need to find a quiet space to set-up in would allow us to be able to speak to guests and less miscommunications between my Dad and I.  Especially important for my sister who was struggling to keep everything organized and to take the donations for prints.

We did have a few technical difficulties over the course of the night. Pretty sure we should have been taking the photos in jPeg not Raw. The camera would at times jam as it tried to get caught up with processing. Only other solution would be to have a faster memory card. Although jPeg would have worked since we were doing the shots pretty much in camera. Only thing my Dad had to do was to crop the photos and then print. We would also make sure we do not use a black backdrop, it was absorbing too much light and photos had the appearance of being too dark. We also needed a light box to allow guests to see the photos in better lighting and realize the photos were well lit and exposed properly.

All in all it was a successfull night, took 60 plus photos including Santa photos with the kids.

The Santa photos were quite the challenge since I had to take them fairly quickly. I learned over the night I am not too bad at portrait photography once I got used to the idea of having to adjust dresses, sitting positions and keep little ones attentions. If you would like to see all the photos taken they are posted in a Flickr set.

Another blog coming soon on a Christmas photo session I did for my friend’s infant Evan. Not as easy as when Evan was a newborn!