Saturday, December 31, 2011

Invy 3525

I've been taking photo classes every two weeks in Puyallup, looking at all kinds of aspects of photography: light, contrast, shadow, color, composition, pose, etc. One of the most interesting classes was a fine art class in October. The model, Elizabeth, was beautiful, with a classic figure that she looked great on this faux-marble bench. The high contrast black and white really looks good here, and I especially love the contrast between her smooth skin and the wonderful textures and highlights visible in her hair. I love her pose, too, curled up onto the bench with her bare toes, one arm up, the other resting demurely on her breast. It all just works.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Guest photo of the day: Pika, Ochotona Princeps

Pika, Ochotona Princeps by DeForestRanger
Pika, Ochotona Princeps, a photo by DeForestRanger on Flickr.
I'm always envious of anyone who gets good photos of wildlife. It takes a combination of patience and long glass that I just don't possess most of the time. My good friend -- I'll call her "Crow," because that's what she goes by among most of her friends -- has the gift, as you can see in this photo. Her long lens is nothing more than a crossover camera with a good zoom and an uncommonly steady hand. Along with patience, she has the ability to become part of the landscape in a way that allows her to approach normally skittish animals like this pika. The detail she's managed to get in this image awes me -- you can see every hair on the fur, and it almost looks like the little fellow is about to jump out of the frame at you. My hat's off.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Archive Photo of the Day: We control the horizontal

The Dilbones wanted a family portrait for their Christmas card. I took a few for them to consider. We took some traditional poses (see below), then played around with some off the wall ones, including this one where they're all laying on the ground with their feet up on the couch; it got them all smiling and laughing, and I think this is one of my favorites of the set!
The Dilbone Family
The Dilbone Family, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Photo of the day: Up

Up by The Bacher Family
Up, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
In August, we went down to Albany, Oregon for their annual Art and Air Show. Kelli and I got up early one of the mornings and went out to see the balloon liftoff at sunrise. There's nothing more beautiful than the bright colors of a hot air balloon against a clear blue sky! I'm particularly pleased with this image, because I love the pastel colors and the clean lines of the balloon against the pure blue of the sky.

Here's another image I also love, from the same morning:

IMG_9118_1

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Guest photo of the day: Somehow I don't think I got the rightdirection...

This photo is by my friend Angelina Kovtun, who spends every spare moment hiking with friends in the Washington Cascades, and taking incredible photos of her adventures. I particularly love this photo, because it's perfectly composed and full of life and light, an especially fine accomplishment because I'm sure it was taken with a self-timer! I love how the three women in the photo are framed on the left-hand side, in focus, with the mountains out of focus in the background on the right. I love the almost-identical poses, so bold and spirited, but pointing in slightly different directions. I love the slight vignetting around the edges of the frame, probably caused by a wide angle lens and/or a polarizing filter, but which gently focuses the attention into the image. All in all, it's a photo that speaks to me of summer days in the mountains with friends, and that makes it a success.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Archive photo of the day: Panorama from the Nisqually Vista Trail

For your Christmas holiday, here's a magnificent photo of Mount Rainier, taken on snowshoes from the Nisqually Vista Trail on one of those glorious winter days we get now and then, usually (as in this photo) in March or April, in between storms. The Mountain is covered with a thick blanket of snow, the meadows are buried, the 25-foot trees have only their top 5 feet sticking out, and the landscape is as wide and white as it can get. So, it seemed appropriate to me to not try to get the whole photo in one picture, but to take several (four in this case), and stitch them together in to a grand panorama. That's what you see here, and I'm very pleased with the result.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Photo of the day: Gloria in excelsis Deo

I took this photo last night at a wedding reception. I'm still sorting out those photos, but when I downloaded my pictures, this was the one I immediately scrolled to. I was SO pleased with how this image of three angels on the side table turned out. I used a narrow aperture (f/11) with a flash bounced off the ceiling with a diffuser to light only the objects in the foreground of the photo. The background was a well lit living room, but with the exposure metered for the close flash, it all disappeared into blackness, as if these angels were actually singing in a dark sky.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Guest photo of the day: Kermit Snow Angel (1st Place Boston Globe)

I absolutely love this photo, by David Lee Tiller. Yes, it's technically perfect, with perfect lighting and composition, but the idea behind it is the best part of all. Who would come up with the idea of Kermit the Frog making snow agels? Yet it works, and the bright color against the white snow makes a great high contrast pallette. I love it. (Merry Christmas!)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Archive photo of the day: Mr. Hyde

Mr. Hyde by The Bacher Family
Mr. Hyde, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
Two days before Christmas, I thought I'd share with you my best "Bah, Humbug" photo. :-)

A photo group I belong to has a daily challenge. Usually, I'm too busy to come up with something on a given day, but once in a while I feel inspired and end up creating something that's fun and surprising even to myself. This particular day the challenge was "ugly." Well, I thought, what can I take a picture of that would be "ugly," without offending the one being labled ugly? I know, I'll take a self-portrait! So before I showered or shaved, I set up the camera on a tripod next to a window for strong natural side lighting. Then I took a series of photos with the nastiest expressions I could muster. This was my favorite. What I love about it most is the sharp focus on my right eye, right in the center of the frame (even though my face is positioned in classic thirds).

Merry Christmas -- bah, humbug!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Photo of the day: Julie

Julie by The Bacher Family
Julie, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
Julie was our model for one of my recent studio lighting classes in Puyallup. I really like the way this image turned our -- the lighting is really nice on her face, and the black background works nicely both with her black and white outfit and her blonde hair.

Here's another one from the same set I really like. And these shots look great in black and white, too.

IMG_5723

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Photo of the day: A beautiful couple

A beautiful couple by The Bacher Family
A beautiful couple, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.

Sometimes, a zoom lens just won't do.

In my collection of lenses, I have two "prime" lenses. Primes are the opposite of zooms: they have only one focal length, in my case, 50 and 85mm. If you want to get closer to the subject, you can't turn the lens ring, you have to physically move closer. But the tradeoff is three-fold: first, prime lenses collect a lot more light than zoom lenses can, so you can shoot in significantly dimmer light. Second, the better light capacity means you can use natural light more than camera flash, with all of its challenges and limitations. And finally, prime lenses usually allow you shoot at significantly wider apertures, meaning you can use shallower depths of field. This allows you to focus on a particular spot and have everything else around it disappear into beautiful out-of-focus "bokeh." It's a great tool for photographic composition.

This image was made with a flash, not natural light, but I was able to use less flash and still captured a lot of the background context of the image than I would have been able to without my prime (50mm) lens. The wide aperture (f/2.8) also allowed me to get this young couple in perfect focus while the rest of the party-goers disappeared into the background.

Here's another example. In this image, the use of a narrow depth of field immediately pulls the eye to the bud of this Devil's Club plant at Mount Rainier National Park, and the fine detail of the spider web attached to it, and the ring of spines around it, despite its position off-center in the photo. I also shot this at an ISO of 320, allowing me to capture more detail with less digital noise than I'd be able to (at least with natural light) if I'd been using a "slower" lens.

The beauty of a prime lens

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Archive photo of the day: Grandpa Sonny

Grandpa Sonny by The Bacher Family
Grandpa Sonny, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
Every year, the Mettler family gathers at somebody's house for a Christmas party. In 2010 the setting was the home of Kelli's Aunt Linda and Uncle Sonny, pictured here with his granddaughter Tacy. It's a popular spot for the kids, because of the pool! It is, however, a tough spot for photos -- it's dim in there, and the kids moe awfully fast! So I'm very pleased with how this one turned out, lit in part by the overhead lights but just as much by the natural light from the windows.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Guest photo of the day: The Alvord

The Alvord by Nathaniel Reinhart
The Alvord, a photo by Nathaniel Reinhart on Flickr.
I love a landscape image with deep depth of field, composed so that it pulls your eye into the image and on toward the horizon. This photo by Nathaniel Reinhart is an awesome example, with that cracked mud foreground that seems to go on forever, and the clouds in the background looking not exactly brooding but a little ominous nevertheless in the light of what seems to be dusk. Add just the hint of vignette around the edges, and you can almost fall into the frame of the photo.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Guest photo of the day: Stranger # 44

Stranger # 44 by buiu
Stranger # 44, a photo by buiu on Flickr.
I really love the idea of photographing strangers on the street, in part, I think, because I have such a hard time imagining myself doing so! You have to be bold to propose photographing someone you've not only never met, but simply flag down on the street because they look interesting. BUT look at the results! Thiago Ramos has captured an amazing image here, perfectly lit (I wish his exif data were visible so I could tell whether he used a fill flash), perfectly captured with an interesting expression, perfectly composed with a depth of field that gives a sense for the busy street without it intruding on the image.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Archive photo of the day: Vinyard near Salem

Vinyard near Salem by The Bacher Family
Vinyard near Salem, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
This is a vinyard Dad and I found while geocaching east of Salem. I like the contrast between the orderly rows of the vinyard and the beautiful chaos of the clouds. I also like the way the juxtaposed clouds, for me, pull my eye toward the farm house.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Photo of the day: Student Photographer

Student Photographer by The Bacher Family
Student Photographer, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
took this photo at Daniel's Christmas program at Columbia Crest Elementary School. I took lots of pictures of Daniel and his classmates, of course, but this is the image that really caught my eye. It's not a fantastic shot, technically, but I love the captured moment.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Guest Photo of the Day: BM_Blue_Tongue_2860


BM_Blue_Tongue_2860, originally uploaded by ScottRKPhotog.
Scott R. Kline has a knack for photographing unusual people -- which is probably a natural side effect if you spend time at the Burning Man Festival in the Nevada desert. He makes traditional photographs, too, and very well, but it's the unusual talents and costumes, the outrageous tatoos and body piercings, the free spirits that are his forte. I like his work, I think, because I'm fascinated by the same kinds of people, those who don't give a damn about fitting into societal conventions, whose individual spirit shines through even as they go about their daily lives. At least, in the middle of the Nevada desert.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Archive photo of the day: Grandma Kief

Grandma Kief by The Bacher Family
Grandma Kief, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
When I took this picture in January of 2007, my Grandma Kief was 90 years old and living in a nursing home. Her mind was beginning to slip a little bit, but her health was still strong, and when we managed to get down to Oregon from our home in Washington to see her, she would always greet us warmly and with great love. She faced many challenges in her life with grace and equanimity, and while this is not the most beautiful portrait ever taken of her, it captures the same look I saw in her eyes as she died in June of 2009: hope and joy, mixed with stubborn determination and just a trace of sadness.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Photo of the day: Julie in the Christmas lights

One of the most fun things to do as a photographer is to play with light. What effect does it have when you put a light over here, and another one over there to fill in the shadows? What difference does it make if the light is in front of the model, or behind her? How about if it's a white light, an amber light, or sunlight? So when we found this matrix of Christmas lights set up in the studio during one of our photo classes, left behind by someone else's project, we gravitated toward it like moths. Our model, Julie, really got into it too, sitting in front of the lights, behind the lights, close to the lights, far away from them, striking different poses. I love the effect I got with this one, with the glow of the lights on the near side of her face but also a backlighting effect behind her profile, and the warmth of the incandescence turning her skin amber. It's not a great photo, per se -- the composure's so-so, and you can see other photographers in the shadows to the left -- but it's an example of trying something out and being delighted by the result. That's what photography is all about.

Here's another angle I like a lot, mostly because of the "bokeh" -- the out of focus lights in the foreground:

IMG_5671_1

Monday, December 12, 2011

Guest photo of the day: Humanoid

Humanoid by billgfoto
Humanoid, a photo by billgfoto on Flickr.
I think I've gotten a bit snobbish lately about studio photography with strobes, as opposed to off-camera flashes. This image by Bill Gekas is a proper putting-me-in-my-place, as it's an absolutely phenomenal image made with a speedlight, softbox, and reflector. That's actually an encouraging thing for me -- because I don't own any studio strobes, but I do have a flash and a cord, and softboxes and reflectors are cheap. Beyond that, it helps to have a fantastic model, as he clearly does, giving such a natural pose, her (his?) hair blown back, presumably, by a fan underneath the camera.

I always know it's a good photo when my first reaction is "I want to do that!" ...and I start scheming how to make it happen!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Archive photo of the day: Where's Rudolph?

Where's Rudolph? by The Bacher Family
Where's Rudolph?, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
My wife Kelli made these cute reindeer for Daniel's birthday party in his class at school. Aren't they awesome? I thought the best way to photograph them would be straight down, emphasizing the repetition in all the identical faces looking up at me. The box frames the image further. Best of all, Kelli ingeniously gave one of the reindeer a red nose, which adds a spot of color and a touch of interest to the photo. Can you spot Rudolph?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Guest photo of the day: Kid with a Bowler Hat

Kid with a Bowler Hat by The Derek
Kid with a Bowler Hat, a photo by The Derek on Flickr.
I absolutely love this image by Derek McClure. The photo itself is great, with the young boy looking so openly into the lens of the camera, perfectly lit, with a really nice catchlight in the eyes, and whimsically costumed in the old bowler hat, vest, and white shirt. But that's only the beginning of the image. Derek has add to the image by desaturating it, gving it just a touch of the sepia tone but not too much, and adding just a bit of the old scratched and textured background as if it were made on an imperfect glass plate. The textures are masked around the face, so as not to detract from that wonderful expression and beautiful eyes.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Archive photo of the day: Christmas wonder

This is another one of those cases of being in just the right place at just the right time. We were gathered for Christmas dinner and I had my camera in hand, when I looked over and saw Aubrey gazing into the display case. A flash would have ruined both the lighting and the mood, so I snapped a shot at slow shutter speed and hoped for the best. It came out even better than I'd hoped. I love the reflection in the glass!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Guest Photo of the Day: Jean-Luc Delarue


Jean-Luc Delarue, originally uploaded by thomaskrauss.
I don't think anyone would call this a beautiful photograph, at least in the traditional sense; but I find it deeply affecting nevertheless. I think it's those beautiful eyes, peering intently under the top of the photograph, across the scrunched up nose. I wonder what the original photograph looked like -- a square image implies that cropping was involved. Did Thomas Krauss, the photographer, crop off the top of the photo, to intentionally produce this dramatically unbalanced image? Or was it a horizontal photo and he cropped it square to avoid extraneous distraction? Was the contrast this dramatic in the original, or is that an artist's addition? Whatever the case, it's a great example of what a good photographer can do, not by altering reality in any way, but by carefully calling attention to the right details through creative framing and lighting.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Archive photo of the day: Love and socks

Love and socks by The Bacher Family
Love and socks, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
This is a favorite photo of a friend of mine with her daughter at our house... The daughter (with the striped socks) was relaxing in a chair as her mother rested her hand, in comfortable intimacy, her on her feet. I focused in on that connection, and isolated it further with a bit of a vignette. Sometimes the best pictures are based on what's cropped out of the picture as much as what's included!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Photo of the day: A fairy mushroom at Drift Creek Camp

I have had a heck of a time photographing mushrooms. They're small... close to the ground... wet (and therefore highly reflective of light)... and usually located in dark places that require long shutter speeds, especially to get the proper depth of field for a macro shot. So I'm very pleased with how this image of a mushroom at Drift Creek Camp turned out. I took several shots, hoping one would turn out, using a variety of different settings. This one's entirely natural light with an 800 ISO and an f-stop of 5.6, at the full 135mm extension of my lens but with a shutter speed of only 1/15 of a second -- making it even more amazing that it didn't turn out blurred. I love the way the background fades out while the foreground mushroom pops three-dimensionally into focus.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Guest Photo of the Day: Relentless Force - Svínafellsjökull Glacier inSkaftafell, Iceland

How can you just not fall in love with a photograph like this? It's breathtakingly beautiful in every way--the combination of fire and ice, the saturated color of the ice and clouds, the supreme depth of field, the leading lines that pull your eye deep into the photograph. I love it. It's as perfect as the photographer's name--Örvar Atli Þorgeirsson--is unpronouncible.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Archive Photo of the Day: Photo 8 at Rim Village


Photo 8 at Rim Village, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.
After an immense snowstorm, I snowshoed up to Rim Village in Crater Lake National Park to take pictures of the snowy landscape and the morning sun shining through the fog with pine marten tracks in the foreground. It was a surreal and beautiful landscape, with every branch and surface piled high with snow. For some reason, I took along the park's digital camera rather than my superior SLR; and then for some other unknown reason only kept small versions of the photos rather than the full resolution ones. It's a loss, as this was one of those magical, unrepeatable days, alone in the snow at the top of the world.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Photo of the day: Bri and the sky

Bri and the sky by The Bacher Family
Bri and the sky, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
Bri is a good friend of our family's. I photographed her at her brother's birthday party, as she climbed on one of the structures of a miniature golf course. I'm rather pleased with this image, not so much because it's a good photo of Bri, which it is, but because of all the work I did erasing the batting cage and streetlamp in the background! To me, it makes a much stronger image set against the blue sky than with all of the distracting clutter. It also fits Bri's personality better this way -- just her, on the highest point around, with the world and the sky spread out around her.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Guest photo of the day: S.


S., originally uploaded by flickpan.
Clean lines, simple poses, soft lighting -- these are the things that make a classic portrait or fine art photograph; and while I love creative, off the wall photographs too, I deeply admire a photographer's ability to capture that timeless quality that defines simple and essential beauty. This fine art photograph is a perfect example, though "flickpan" also has some gorgeous studio-style portraits, too, and some outdoor shots that are fantastic. In fact, it was really hard to choose which photo I like best, to feature for this guest photo. In the end, I chose this one because it most captured both a sense of classical elegance and creative spirit.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Archive photo of the day: Hands-on experience

Hands-on experience by The Bacher Family
Hands-on experience, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
One of the outreach programs we offer at Mount Rainier National Park is called "CAMP" -- "Camping Adventure with My Parents." It's taken different forms over the years, but has generally involved providing opportunities for camping experiences to families who've never camped in a national park before. So, when you have a first-time camping trip planned, you want everything to go perfectly, right? And as part of that, you want the weather to be ideal--not too hot, not too cold, and certainly not wet. Who likes dealing with a muddy campsite?

Well, as it turns out, the answer to that question is: KIDS! This young lady had the time of her life playing in the mud around her tent, helping to redirect the flow of rainwater around the tent rather than under it. Her parents, to their credit, didn't panic in the wet weather, either. "We brought dry clothes," they said mildly. "It's part of the experience."

I captured this image with a fill flash, and I'm really pleased by the bright colors and high contrast that resulted, with the tent in the background just a little darker, less bright, and out of focus.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Photo of the day: Christmas Jedi

Christmas Jedi by The Bacher Family
Christmas Jedi, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
Every year, we put up our Christmas tree, and then the boys put their pajamas on and pose in front of the tree. We have a nice series of these photos over the years, as the boys have grown and changed. This time, after taking the standard photo, I thought, why not get creative. "Boys, go get your light sabers," I said. Both David and Daniel are strong with the Force, and have been Jedi Padawan for years. I took several portraits with the lit sabers, but of course nothing looks as spectacular as crossed swords.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Photo of the day: Lacey and Aubrey

Lacey and Aubrey by The Bacher Family
Lacey and Aubrey, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
I took a lot of pictures at this year's family Thanksgiving gathering, but when I look back through all of them, none catches my eye quite like this one. There's just something very lovely about the expressions on the faces of Lacey and her daughter Aubrey -- Lacey, with that look of infinite love on her face, and Aubrey, with an expression that says she absolutely knows it. In my opinion the very tight crop just adds to the intimacy of the photo.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Archive photo of the day: David on the bus

David on the bus by The Bacher Family
David on the bus, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
This is one of my all-time favorite photos of my son David. I took this photo as we rode a bus in to Seattle to see the Christmas decorations and the lighting of the city's Christmas tree, just after Thanksgiving. I love the natural lighting on his face from the window, and the casual composition of the photo. It really has the look of being something spontaneous, caught in the moment -- which it was -- and yet it's perfectly lit, with nice catchlights in his eyes and good separation between David and the foreground and background.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Photo of the day: Blue Jack

Blue Jack by The Bacher Family
Blue Jack, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
I've been attending studio photography classes every week or two this fall, and have been learning amazing things about studio lighting. A lot of this is obvious stuff to someone who's been doing it for a while, I'm sure, but for me, some of it is revelatory. Who knew, for instance, that a perfectly black background would take on a beautiful hue when a colored light is shined against it? I this case, a blue gell over a spotlight with a grid on the front creates a beautiful blue highlight fading to black around the edges. Carefully centered behind the head of a subject (in this case, our instructor, Jack Kegley) wearing a blue shirt, it creates a really nice portrait in which the blue color pulls the image together. Jack's face is lit on the right by a key light, and by a secondary light on the left. Shooting from the dark side of the face narrows the appearance of the face subtly, and the strobes create nice catchlights in the eyes.

Here's another version of the portrait I like just as well. In this case, the highlight behind Jack's head is centered behind the darker side of his face, creating more contrast. He's tured a bit more toward me, and I shot from a higher angle, giving a completely different energy to the shot. This one also has more contrast, because instead of a second light, we used a reflector on the darker side of the face.

IMG_4694_1

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Guest photo of the day: Beautiful Gutter

Beautiful Gutter by i5prof
Beautiful Gutter, a photo by i5prof on Flickr.
I love this colorful image by Julie Akers. As I've said recently myself, I can't resist the alure of a beautiful leaf. I find myself wondering how close to the original color this image is, or if Julie boosted the vibrancy and saturation in photoshop. Either way, it's expertly done, without any of the colors burning out or hiding the textures, and it makes a great patchwork quilt of natural tones!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Archive photo of the day: Autumn in Paradise

What a difference a month makes.

I took this photo in October in 2008, as Mount Rainier enjoyed its first dusting of snow on the upper ridges, and the huckleberries and heathers in the subalpine meadows were turning orange and crimson in the frosty mornings. By November, these same meadows are buried under five feet of rapidly accumulating snow, and the smaller trees are already beginning to disappear. They'll remain buried, in a typical year, for seven months, and in some years eight. But first, they add a beautiful evergreen color to the vivid landscape, below the great Mountain floating on its misty cloud of fog.

This is usually a morning image, by the way, the Mountain making an appearance as the clouds burn off, but in this case it was late afternoon, as you can tell by the shadows, before the fog finally cleared, giving the landscape a warmer and softer hue than you'd see at sunrise.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Photo of the day: Bigleaf Maple

Bigleaf Maple by The Bacher Family
Bigleaf Maple, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
I'm not sure why I like photos of leaves so much. Maybe it's just because they're often so beautiful, especially in the autumn when they've turned yellow and orange and red, creating splashes of color against the sky or on an otherwise drab forest floor. Maybe there's something metapyhysical about something once so full of life drifting to the ground to slowly return to the earth -- and maybe I'm overreaching for significance where, really, there's only a nice abstract pattern. Regardless of the reason, I do love leaves, and I love it when they make interesting layers of shape and color. This one caught my eye because it's such a bright yellow amid the browns and dark greens of everything else around it. The trick is composing the image in a way that's equally interesting. I chose, in this case, to center the leaf, but oriented at a 45 degree angle. There's no artistic or photographic principle at work -- it just looked good to me. And in the end, that's the standard I rely on most.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Photo of the day: Jim Kennedy

Jim Kennedy by The Bacher Family
Jim Kennedy, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
This is one of my favorite portraits from my recent studio lighting class. Jim's an excellent photographer in his own right, and, since we didn't have any professional models signed up to work with us, graciously agreed to pose for some of the other members of the class. He and another student were playing around with a pair of lights, one of them a softbox set up camera right, the other an umbrella light almost directly behind the camera. They weren't very satisfied with the results, so I suggested moving the umbrella to camera-left. The results were striking: suddenly the images "popped," almost three-dimensionally, out of the frame. Our instructor, Jack Kegley, wandered by and suggested we improve the image still further by "flagging" the umbrella light so that less of it struck the white background, thus creating more tonal separation from the subject. I'm very pleased with the result. Besides the great lighting, I also love Jim's bright shirt and jacket and the way the colors saturate the image; the great detail I was able to get in his beard and hair (thank you, 50mm prime lens!); and the nice catch lights in his eyes. I'm pleased that there isn't any reflection on the glasses, either. And I even like that he's not grinning into the camera -- the indirect, more thoughtful look is a nice alternative.

Here's the fully-flagged photo. I do like the separation it provides from the background, but I think the expression and catchlights are better in the first image:

IMG_4679_1

And, for good measure, one with a smile. What do you think? Is the smile better than the more thoughtful look above?

IMG_4678_1

Monday, November 14, 2011

Archive photo of the day: Daniel!

(80) Daniel! by The Bacher Family
(80) Daniel!, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
This is one of my favorite photos of Daniel. On the 3rd of July a few years ago, Daniel and I were outside playing with a magnifying glass, and I demonstrated how to focus the light from the sun to burn holes in a piece of newspaper. Daniel was fascinated by this, and when we were done, he took the piece of newsprint, attached a piece of yarn to it, and made it into a nametag. He wore it that evening as we waited for the local fireworks show to begin. He was proud to show it off for a photo, and the evening light was just perfect. I love the way the light and the shallow depth of field makes the image look three dimensional.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Photo of the day: Eastwood. Kathy Eastwood.

Our fifth class in studio lighting was all about "multi-light setups." We practiced with key lights and secondaries, different placements of the lights, hair lights, reflectors, background spotlights with screens and gels. At the end of the class, after playing with all of the usual setups for an hour and a half, I grabbed one of the unused backdrops and a pair of lights and asked Kathy, the manager of the studio, to model for me. I had a particular "look" I wanted to figure out. It took me a while to get it right, but in the end, wow! Here's the result. I wanted a dramatic look, well-lit but with deep shadows on the face. I only had a vague notion in my mind of what it might look like. I started with two lights, one on either side of my model, then played around with different intensities. Finally, I moved the lights behind Kathy by about 20 degrees on both sides -- and voila, there it was! I asked Kathy to give me her best Clint Eastwood, and the result is phenomenal. I'll let you judge for yourself, but I'm super-pleased with it.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Photo of the day: The Brockmans

The Brockmans by The Bacher Family
The Brockmans, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
Looking back through my recent photos, I was struck by this image. It's not a technically perfect image -- I wish Randy, in the center of the photo, were a little sharper. But it catches my eye for its unusual composition. The extremely shallow depth of field -- the marvelous f/1.4 of my 50mm prime lens -- focuses the attention entirely on Randy's face, framed between the blurred images of Mary Jane and Bill Brockman in the foreground. The lighting also highlights Randy more than the Brockmans, and the catchlight in Randy's eyes completes the image. The eye is inexorably drawn first to Randy, to his expression, and then to the couple in the foreground to see what he's looking at. Only then do you see the intertwined arms, the look of devotion on Mary Jane's face, and fully understand the picture. It's the kind of shot that reminds me that sometimes an unconventionally composed picture can be the most interesting shot of all, and the one that communicates most effectively.