The Gorman Family // Charleston Family Portraits

Lindsey emailed me a little while back about doing some family pictures before Christmas, and she really wanted to have fall color in the background. Yeah that sounds awesome! Until I started looking around and realized that Charleston doesn’t really get fall color. Sure every so often there will be a tree with some red or yellow, but for the most part there are a ton of evergreens and the hardwoods all change at different times. I was getting kind of frustrated (especially when I went through Georgia on my way to visit family and all the trees were gorgeous), but then Lindsey said she had found a good spot in her neighborhood! This is some of the best fall color I’ve seen around here! (If you think that’s sad, just remember that we’ll be visiting the beach while you’re still wearing long johns :-) )

Oh and did I mention that Grace is three months old now? It’s crazy how fast she’s grown!

Lindsey, I love your yellow pants!

Little Grace still likes to dance =)

She may be little, but she has deep thoughts!

Better Photography with ANY Camera: Lighting

I frequently hear things like “if only I had your camera” or “your camera takes such great pictures” or “make sure to take some shots with your camera.” While it’s true that a better camera can make a difference, there are a lot of things you can do to take better pictures with whatever camera you happen to have on hand. This blog series is to show you some of those techniques!

Normally I’ll be shooting each post with three cameras: my LG Dumbphone,

my Canon PowerShot A520,

and my Nikon D80 with a 50mm lens.

Today, however, my PowerShot was having some inexplicable battery issue that I’m hoping just means my rechargeables no longer recharge and not that the camera itself is unhappy.

Anyway today we’re talking about lighting and two cameras should be sufficient =)

Light is the most important aspect of photography. Without light there are no photographs and without good light there are no good photographs. So what is good light? Well it depends on what your subject is, but in most cases good light is coming from a low angle (between 10 and 45 degrees) and doesn’t hit the subject from the same angle as the camera. When you’re photographing people, good light is also generally soft or diffused.

Low angle light (as apposed to noonday sun) is more flattering to people because it fills light in to the eyes underneath the eyebrows and removes the dark circles. It also works better for most other subjects because it creates more dynamic shadows. A ball lit from above will have a horizontal line of shadow across its middle, and horizontal lines are boring. If you light the same ball from the side, the line of shadow would be vertical (which is more interesting than horizontal), and if you light it from a 45 degree angle, the line would be diagonal (which is the most exciting of all!). Why is a diagonal line ten times more exciting than a horizontal one? No idea, but they did experiments and it’s true.

So you lowered the angle of your light (or if you’re using the sun, you’re shooting when the light has lowered itself), but where do you place the light?

Anywhere but directly in front of your subject. Frontal lighting (like from a flash) is unappealing for two reasons. The first is simply that a bright flash in a dark room tends to hurt people’s eyes and leave them with squinty contorted expressions and red eyes. If you face people toward a bright sun, they tend to be in even more pain (the sun is brighter than your flash and doesn’t go out after a fraction of a second) causing stiff smiles and watery squinty eyes.

But what if you’re photographing your tea kettle collection instead? Frontal lighting is still a bad idea for the second reason: it removes shadows. A photograph is a two dimensional representation of a three dimensional world and the primary indicator of that third dimension is shadow. If you light your ball from the front, there is no line of shadow (boring or otherwise) to indicate that it is, in fact, a ball and not just some lame circle.

Finally you’re taking great ball, orange, and tea kettle pictures, but Grandma Jane keeps complaining that she looks old in your photographs. Maybe she doesn’t have the perfect complexion that she did when she was twenty, but you can still help her out a bit with soft lighting. Soft light creates more gradient between the highlights and shadows. If you light your medium sized ball with a small powerful flashlight, the line of shadow will be hard: dark on one side, light on the other. If you light it with a patch of sunshine from your kitchen window, however, the line between light and dark will be much softer. Grandma appreciates this kind of light because the soft shadows cover over her wrinkles instead of emphasizing each and every one with a bright highlight next to a dark shadow.

The two main ways to soften light are to pass the light through something translucent (clouds, a dirty window, a white umbrella, etc.) or to bounce it off something reflective (a white wall, a silver umbrella, a reflector, etc.). You can also use a fill light. Fill light is a less powerful (or farther away) light that you put on the shadow side of your subject. It doesn’t soften the main light, but it does reduce the contrast between highlight and shadows like a softer main light would.

For these examples I photographed Mr. Bear in the hallway with overhead lighting, in a bedroom with window lighting, and outside under the shade of a pine tree. The first camera is my LG phone camera and the second is my D80 set to “auto” (which explains why the flash fired in the hallway).

As you can see both the window and the shade created much better photographs than my hallway light or the D80 flash =)

Titus // Seattle Baby Photography

My big brother is in the Navy, so he and his family live in the very green, very wet state of Washington. Due to the nearly three thousand miles, school, and getting married, I hadn’t had a chance to visit them yet. Then, about a week before my wedding, they had little baby Titus, whom I was anxious to meet! Our mom went out to visit while Trey and I were on our honeymoon, but thankfully grandmas like to see their grandbabies often, so I was able to tag along on the most recent trip :-) . It was awesome! Very cold and wet? Yes, but also incredibly green with so many independent little shops. It was really great to be able to spend so much time with Rick, Chelsea, and the baby. They moved right after their wedding two years ago, so this was my first really extended time with them as a family.

Rick & Chelsea, y’all are awesome! Thank you for being such wonderful hosts. I had a great time, and I’m so excited to see how your family grows over the years. I hope you love your pictures!

The giant bear may have been a not-so-subtle attempt to buy my nephew’s affections ;-)

First grandbaby! (Thanks for taking all the pressure off, Rick :-) )

There’s nothing that inspires smiles quite as much as bouncing in a doorway swing!

Or getting tickled by Daddy!

Alyssa & Wes // Charleston Couples Photography

I have driven past this location several times in the past couple of months and often just as the evening light was setting the purple grass on fire. “Man,” I thought to myself. “How awesome would that parking lot full of grass look with a gorgeous couple standing in the middle of it?” But then what were the chances I could convince someone that shooting in a parking lot would be beautiful?

Alyssa had mentioned that her and Wes wanted anniversary pictures. Originally we were thinking Mempkin Abbey (also stunning), but due to the distance, closing time, and Wes’s work schedule it wasn’t going to work out. I threw out a couple of alternatives and they picked the park! Yay!

Alyssa & Wes, y’all are awesome! I always love our shoots, and I hoped you’re as stoked about these pictures as I am. I wish you much happiness and love in the years to come!

They brought their wedding cake and some Starbucks to share! =)

Elizabeth & Andrew // Charleston Couples Photography

Saturday morning broke cold. Really cold for South Carolina. But it was better than the hurricane we were having the previous weekend, so we pushed through. This is Elizabeth & Andrew almost six months into marriage! Together we learned that it takes almost an hour for the sun to get over the tops of fully grown pine trees, and that Andrew is only ticklish when he wants to be =)

Charleston Couples Photography

Charleston Couples Photography

Charleston Couples Photography

Charleston Couples Photography

Charleston Couples Photography

Charleston Couples Photography

Charleston Couples Photography

Charleston Couples Photography

Charleston Couples Photography

Charleston Couples Photography

Charleston Couples Photography

Charleston Couples Photography

Charleston Couples Photography

Charleston Portrait Photography

Back on the East Coast

Consider this my “back in the office” post =) I had an awesome time out in Seattle with my big brother, sister-in-law, and the new munchkin, and now I get to attack a large stack of editing! Here are a few pictures from the trip to hold you over until next week… when I’ll have two gorgeous couples, baby Titus, and the start of my first ever series! Whoop! Until then, stay warm and eat lots of fall apples.

The Good Things

There are a lot of downsides to owning a 8 month old 75 lb monster. There would probably be fewer downsides if Trey and I were better, more consistent trainers, but such is life. Instead of a well-trained companion, we have a giant beast of energy and saliva that could easily have been the inspiration for Looney Tunes’ Tasmanian Devil. No matter how many drinks get knocked over with his rudder tail, no matter how many visitors he scares to death with his over enthusiastic greetings, and no matter how many times I have to rescue the dish towel from his monster paws, Cole has one routine every night that never fails to make me smile.

Every night at 9:30 Cole gets his dinner, and Trey and I move to the bedroom to read and wind down. Cole eats his dinner, drinks some water, and then comes to get us. He sits patiently outside the bedroom door until one of us notices him. Once he thinks we’ve seen him, he goes back to his crate and waits inside for one of us to come and close the door so he can go to sleep. The whole routine is so polite and distinguished, I often wonder if this is the same dog that has been wreaking havoc in my house all day. If he were a person, I would think that it was his way of making up for his misdeeds so we couldn’t possibly stay mad at him.

Sarah // Charleston Senior Portraits

I had such a blast working with Sarah on this shoot! Her mom actually mentioned Mepkin Abbey as a really great portrait location during the summer, but I hadn’t had a chance to get out there yet. Then Sarah needed senior pictures and specifically requested the abbey, so I knew I needed to check it out. I went a couple days ahead of time just to get a feel for what we could do (and because I always underestimate how long it takes to get to a new location). I was floored! Fields of tall grass and wildflowers, moss draped oaks, wooded paths, a lake… it was photographer heaven!

Sarah, thank you for showing me the abbey. I hope you love your pictures!

Charleston Senior Portriats

Charleston Senior Portriats

Charleston Senior Portriats

Charleston Senior Portriats

Charleston Senior Portriats

Charleston Senior Portriats

Girl, you are so gorgeous!

Charleston Senior Portriats

Charleston Senior Portriats

Charleston Senior Portriats

Charleston Senior Portriats

Charleston Senior Portriats

Charleston Senior Portriats

Charleston Senior Portriats

Charleston Senior Portriats

Charleston Senior Portriats

Charleston Senior Portriats

Charleston Senior Portriats

Charleston Senior Portriats

When we were done with the shoot, we went to check out this cotton field that I had discovered on my first visit. I’m not very familiar with cotton or farming in general, but all of the cotton I’d seen before was brown by the time the cotton balls showed up, so I asked my resident farm boy about it when I got home. He started asking a bunch of questions about the leaves and stuff, so I wanted to take some pictures to show that I wasn’t crazy. He said that it’s definitely cotton, but it shouldn’t still be green or be nearly so tall. Can any plant experts out there explain this? Are there different species of cotton? Have the monks cultivated something new?

Charleston Senior Portriats

TGIM?

I’m used to dreading Monday, and I think that’s a pretty common sentiment. When Trey and I were dating, Monday always meant the end of our visits and the beginning of a week filled with class and homework, and while I generally liked school, it was not a trade I was thrilled to make each week.

Of course now I don’t have to make that trade :) Not only do I get to see Trey every day now, but I was actually really psyched for Monday this week! This weekend I had three photo shoots, and now it feels like Christmas morning where I get to unwrap all the pictures and really dig into to editing! So, as weird as this might sound, happy Monday everyone!

And here’s a little taste of what I get to work with today :)

 

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