Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Happy birthday, boys!

Can I tell you how much I love first birthday sittings?  It's so much fun to watch the babies explore their cakes.  And wear their cakes.  And smash their cakes...  The only drawback is that I always leave with a craving for cake.  So check out two of the cutest brothers around:

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I have to thank the little guy on the right for the inspiration to throw all of those little plastic balls in there -- it wasn't part of the original plan.  We did this shoot in their family room and he was playing in a porta-crib filled with the things as I set up the balloons.  He got a kick out of throwing balls onto my backdrop while I worked.  I thought it was brilliant!  It added a whole new layer of interest to the setup.  Way to go baby!

And now, just to give you a taste of what it's like to do a photo shoot with two busy one year-olds:

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Big smile

This sitting was a quick supplement to our first newborn sitting. Dad had to get to work so we just didn't get finished. No problem, I was happy to have them back. I'm always happy to spend time with a newborn. And look at this! I was so excited when I was shooting this pose and the little guy broke out into a big smile.

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This was also my last sitting in my home studio.  My kids are getting older and it was time to give them a space to congregate (and be noisy) away from mom and dad.  So the loft space that was my studio is the kids' new domain.  I'm sad to let it go, but it will be fun for them.

No worries though!  I've simply converted to "portable studio" mode.  Everything I have can be easily transported to your home.  If you're wondering how portable studio pics turn out, or you're worried that you wouldn't have the space to accommodate a portable studio, check out this first birthday shoot.  The whole thing was done in their driveway!

Friday, February 17, 2012

I love this!

Don't hate me for loving this picture.  It's not because my nephew, who is usually grinning from ear to ear, was having a sad moment, but because of the sweet way his mom and brother are comforting him.  I just love it!

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Friday, February 3, 2012

White balance and RAW format

I don't mean to get too informational here, but once again, I just can't help myself.  Move along if you're not interested, you won't hurt my feelings.  It's just that, I was finally going through my Christmas pics tonight and I felt inspired.  Sometimes really crummy pictures can be inspirational too :)

So, have you heard of white balance?  Nearly all digital cameras have white balance settings programmed into them.  It's a way to compensate for different temperatures of light.  For example, standard tungsten bulbs tend to make things look yellow (warm light).  Photos taken in the shade tend to be very cool -- with a bluish cast.  You can also get color cast from backdrops or dominant colors near the subject.  It can ruin an otherwise perfect shot.  

Here is a great example of why white balance matters -- these are straight out of camera (SOOC), no editing whatsoever:

manual white balance

On Christmas Eve, after the kids were in bed, I pulled out the camera and tripod to get some pics of this year's ornaments (this is the one my middle child chose).  I dialed in all of the settings manually, but left the white balance on auto.  Clearly it was a bad idea.  Fortunately I was just shooting still life so I had as many re-dos as I wanted.  I set a manual white balance and, voila!  Big difference!

If your camera can do a custom white balance, it's definitely worth learning.  I'm a Canon girl, so I know the option is there for everything from the Rebel series on up.  I use a white balance card (which is actually gray).  I just snap a picture of it, then go to the camera's menu and choose "Manual white balance" and then choose the card picture.  It takes all of five seconds.

Should you, for one reason or another, not adjust your white balance (or even if you do!), I can't recommend more strongly that you shoot in RAW.  The files are big, but they're so beautiful.  You can do all manner of tweaking without damaging the image in any way -- which brings me back to my Christmas photos.

I used the manual white balance on Christmas Eve, but I was a little lazy the next morning.  I didn't want to be fiddling with camera settings amid the chaos of unwrapping presents, so I put the camera in full auto.  I knew it was a bad idea, but I did it anyway.  This is why I was only just now going through the pictures:

auto white balance

Dozens of photos of happy orange children opening gifts.  I just didn't want to deal with the editing.  But, at least I knew they were salvageable.  If I'd shot these in JPG they would have been such a pain to fix.  But in RAW you can adjust the white balance after the fact AND you can do it to all of the pictures at the same time.  RAW is AWESOME!

What I have in the end isn't a perfect white balance, but it's close enough to keep me from tears.

The End.