Picture Perfect? Nope.

Traditional, eye pleasing, balanced family portraits with each individual  arranged perfectly have always been a challenge for me. I would not last long as a church directory photographer. While it is good to document a period in time for a family unit, we adults don’t seem to like how we look in portraits.  (Oh, I look so old, fat, my ankles appear too thick, can you give my husband 6-pack abs and a smile?  While you are at it, thin my thighs and waist…)   Then to find a background in the midst of Christmas chaos.  Oh, my.

2013xmascard inside1dBWFB

So, for the annual holiday card, rather than striving for the “perfect” portrait I decided to celebrate our imperfect, unique, quirky lives with a photo that embraces reality.  We are all leading lives that cover quite a wide spectrum of vocations, educations, interests and then you add a two-year-old.  It is what it is.

Thank you to my mother-in-law for crawling up onto a step ladder to capture this chaos.

Canon 5D Mark 2, Canon 24-70 L lens, ISO 3000, Gary Fong flash diffuser on a Canon 580 speedlight

I leave you with a toast for 2014:  Here’s to another year of experience.

CHEERS!

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Showdown at sundown: available light versus off camera flash…

A challenge/annoyance when working with back light is the blown-out sky that results from exposing for the subject. Blah, washed out results can make for a dull image. Off-camera flash to the rescue to add a little drama to the subject at hand.

Goplen-3373  A Boy and his Pickup

The above portrait is available light only.  Flash did not fire.  Sometimes the soft lens flare look is one I want, depending on the subject.  I wanted a strong, vibrant look for this situation so the  lighting above does not match my goals for this portrait.

Goplen-3404pophpcr_richsh2A Man and his Truck

For the portrait above I used 1 Canon Speedlight on ETTL triggered by Pocket Wizards about 6 feet or so from camera right and about 8 feet from subject. I had the flash on a light-weight light stand held by an assistant (Mom) and moved it when necessary for correct effects.  I was able to keep detail in the sky and rim lighting on subject is from the late day sun.
F11 at 1/200 ~ ISO 160 ~ 5D Mark 2 ~ Canon 70-200 IS L lens

I often like a shallow depth of field for portraits, but in this case I also wanted the truck in sharp focus.  High speed sync would have been something to consider to allow a wide open aperture, but this aperture seems to work fine for now.

Dramatic lighting ~ Off camera flash

The image below is an example of off camera flash during the day using a pocket wizard and 1 Canon Speedlight flash. The image was captured around 4:30 on a warm, sunny, summer afternoon on the shaded side of the building.  My lovely assistant (AKA his mom) holds the flash set at +2 about 8 feet to the left of the subject or camera right.

F8 at 1/200, ISO 100.  Canon 5d Mark 2.

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