Farewell to the class of 2014

I find inspiration in working with young people; exciting lives ahead of them using the gifts they have been blessed with. Best wishes to the class of 2014 and thanks for the memories…

 

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Light is my inspiration, my paint and brush…

~ Ruth Bernhart

Below we see the final results of off camera flash edited with Kubota Actions in Photoshop CS5.  I like how the lighting from behind accents the “guns” which are the result of many hours in the weight room. The rusty stairway frame on the side of the old Legion hall adds to the texture and character of this shot.

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How is this done?  Below we see the original, straight out of the camera shot…

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Utilizing a pose that used this muscle set, I had the subject flex his muscles to accentuate the hard tone.  Dad is holding an off camera Canon 580 EX2 off camera flash set at ETTL, triggered with Pocket Wizards.  F2.8, 1/250, ISO 200. Front was lit by available light only.

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In Photoshop CS5 I added the Bleach Mike Kubota action.

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Removed Dad but left the flash. I think it adds a special “spark” to the image.  Another option is to remove the flash of light, as well, to not compete with the subject.  Cropped a little, as well.

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Hmmm… maybe black and white would look good.  Bronze God Kubota action.  This is my favorite black and white action.  I have found it best to desaturate the image first before applying the action.

Considering  light, whether it be available or flash, as a paint and brush on canvas is where you begin to think like an artist.  Experiment and learn through trial and error.  You may be surprised to find an artist inside of you, too!

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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On the edge of adulthood…

…excitement, anticipation, anxiety, questioning, wondering…

This Bible passage seems to speak to young people as they look forward to graduation.
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Thoughts race through young minds on the cusp of a new world. Which direction should I go? Which school or vocation should I pursue? …and the age old question – What if I fail?
So many opportunities before them in high school and beyond. If one tries, there is an activity or pursuit that will fit their talents, personalities and interests.

I am usually in envy of young people with their whole adult lives ahead of them, but should I be? I am in a transition phase, as well, but I have many years of experiences and efforts behind me.  I already know what I can and cannot do so that narrows the field. (Lots of things I use to be able to do that are not options now)  I also know what I want to do which is also a plus.

The big question, though, is what SHOULD I do?

O.K., so maybe I’m not so different from these young guys and gals after all!  Maybe the Bible passage is a good one for all of us in any of our stages in life.  Hmmm…

Yesterday… a small town and its football team.

It just dawned on me that this is the first senior portrait season in many years that I haven’t photographed a Grant-Deuel High School football player. Even though the Grant-Deuel football program joined the neighboring Milbank, SD team last year, I still had a couple of Grant-Deuel jerseys because…those WERE the days!

Football brought so much excitement, anticipation, as well as the occasional let down, to the tiny town of Revillo, South Dakota.

  • Friday Night Lights brought the community together to support and cheer on a current crop of players who  spent many hours in the weight room to strengthen not only their bodies but their team, as well.
  • The benefits of a team working together on the field, in the locker room and in daily life was a built in support system for the challenging times.
  • Coffee shop conversations included the feats of the team, stats, playoffs and the possible trip to The Dome (Site of the SD state high school football championships ~ Vermillion, SD).
  • Spectators needed to pack the car with several sweatshirts, blankets, mittens, rain gear, etc., to prepare for all kinds of weather.
  • It was important to leave a vehicle at the spot you deemed as the supreme viewing location (so you could sit inside with the heater running) at the crack of dawn on game day.
  • Cheerleaders rallied the fans during all kinds of inclement weather.
  • …and the band played on.

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So many changes….but life does go on, doesn’t it?

It’s Photo Friday ~ Seniors…the art and the card

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Lately it seems like most of the hours of my days have been spent designing high school graduation announcements/cards for my class of 2013. I know they aren’t my kids but I have spent some quality time getting to know them through their sessions and I try to follow their sports and academic accomplishments. The graduation card is the grand finale of this process. I don’t know if I just get the best seniors around or if this class of 2013 is one to be proud of. I’d like to think it’s both.

I confess to be somewhat attention deficit in how I conduct my life ( I blame it on my years teaching kindergarten ~ if you can’t lick ’em, join ’em!) but this does not seem to be a detriment during the card design process. Or, is it? I try to make each card unique and approach it as though it is a work of art. I know this is not a good business practice as far as making the most money. I should offer a handful of designs and take it or leave it, or else charge five times more than I do. I’ve been a parent with bills and now I’m on the other side trying to make a living with this photography gig. I struggle with this balance and hopefully will find a happy medium at some point. I have a feeling that I’m not the only photographer struggling with this balance of making a living versus creating art.