Archives for the month of: July, 2014

When composing a photo, leading lines help the viewer to know where to look. In the photo above, I intentionally left the bare tree branches in the corner to help lead the viewer toward the subject of the photo. The fence posts also serve the same purpose.
I am unhappy with myself for not composing the barn differently on the shot, however. When taking a portrait, the shot would typically be composed with the subject facing into the picture. The same holds true for a building. The “face” or front of the barn is pointed out of the shot, leaving the viewer to feel like something important was cropped out.
Had I moved to the other side of the barn or been directly on front of it, there would have been no tree branches to frame it nor would I have gotten the water tower in the picture.
What I should have done was moved to the right of the barn, so it would be facing inward and let the fence posts do the job of leading the viewer.
Oh well, hindsight is definitely 20/20 when you have a digital image to look at. 😦


These images were taken on a sunny day in the meadow outside my house. I waited until the sun was beginning to set and would be behind the tall Queen Anne’s lace. I sat on the ground and shot straight through the flower plants. I set my auto exposure bracketing because I thought I might want to process the shot in high dynamic range. For the photo above, I chose the bracketed shot that read -2, because the 0 shot did not bring out enough detail in the flowers.
I did end up making the image above HDR, but tried not to overprocess it, because I wanted it to look natural.

Another one of my favorite subjects from my favorite part of the world – Kentucky 🙂


Knowing what’s going to happen before it happens is always a plus for a photographer. While covering the commencement ceremony at the high school in town, I was aware that at a certain time during the ceremony, the graduates would be throwing their mortar board caps in the air.

Preparing for this, I set my camera on shutter priority, 1/200, to stop action and set my ISO to 1600, because it was getting dark and I knew exposure would be an issue. I took my chances with the camera assigning the F-stop. I had already set the focus on the last row of graduates and locked it in. When the hats went into the air, I was able to fire two shots. This one was the best.

Thankfully, there was enough light from the stadium lights to silhouette the hats. I could have used my on-camera flash, but having shot in dusk conditions before, I knew all that I would have captured would have have been two or three hats that were close to me on a blackened background.

This shot only had a slight bit on editing. I had to straighten it and enhance sharpness slightly.


Product DetailsProduct Details

I picked these books up while I was on vacation. I am always on the lookout for new books that I can look at and then loan to my students to help cultivate their skills. These two books, both published by Quarry Books, are chocked full of great, fresh ideas for honing your photography skills. Some of them are very basic and can be done with a cellphone camera. A few require a DSLR. However the focus is not on equipment, but developing self expression.
Some of the exercises include zooming in on specific animal parts, shooting blindly by not looking through the viewfinder, and forming a still life using objects from your wardrobe. There are projects to do using your photos included and a brief lesson on composition and lighting. I plan on looking at each one again more closely before adding them to my lending library. I may share some of the projects in upcoming posts.


One of the great things about living on a farm is you don’t have to fake rustic backdrops. The one above was created against our new outbuilding using the door from the building that was removed to build the new building. The large rock was already in place and I slid the salvaged door behind the rock and covered the window opening with an old burlap sack. I placed an old fuel oil stove next to the door and added some greenery. The rock serves as a seat for the subject(s). I zoom in and voila, no idea this is not in front of an old building.



With a little creative placement of objects, you have great places to shoot children. I have photographed many children (especially my own) in this wagon. The hostas make a great background. For added effect, an old quilt can be added to the wagon (I usually line the wagon with a piece of plastic so rust doesn’t get on the quilt). This is a fabulous place to photograph an infant or small child. Make sure you get down on the wagon’s level for the shot.



This stump under a tree, next to a woodpile is a good place to shoot down on a subject. This works well for adults who are sensitive about lower body image. By shooting down on the subject, you minimize the lower body. They  will look great with the woods in the background.

I have used this boat before propped against the barn. I plan to think of other ways to use it by itself.

The barn itself has a nice weather-beaten look and the landscape timbers provide a perfect place to sit.

My husband brought home this heart he savaged from a junk pile. It is great for pictures of kids or couples. It can be moved to wherever I want.

It looks pretty in the coneflower bed by itself. I can’t wait to try it with a subject. 🙂


One of the biggest challenges photographers face is trying to get a genuine smile from a subject. My son is one of those people who really struggles with looking natural in front of the camera.
I took these pictures of him before his eighth grade dance. He was dressed up and looked very dapper. When I got the shot all ready to snap, his face looked like he was in pain. I managed to get him to laugh and then could snap the picture.
Everything about the shot below is good except his smile. It looks s bit forced.
I like this one better.
The next two pictures were taken at the beach at a kayak dock. He did a little better for these. Maybe it was the more casual attire. 🙂


The beach is one of the most popular settings for portraits. However, there are a few things photographers need to know before heading out into the sand with camera in tow. First, remember that the air at the beach is full of salt, which is corrosive to the components in your camera. NEVER take your interchangeable lens off on the beach. Microscopic bits of salt and sand get trapped inside of your camera and will damage the sensor. The humidity will also damage the camera. I usually take my DSLR camera out to the beach just long enough to shoot the portrait then take it back into the air conditioning.

IMG_3170Having covered camera damage prevention, let’s move on to how to get the best shot. Most photographers know that the best time to get a portrait is during golden hour, which at the beach is intensified by the sun’s reflection on the water. The shot above was taken just before sunset on the gulf coast of Florida. The nice glow on the subject was cast more by the sun’s reflection than the sun itself.

IMG_3179When taking pictures of groups, the same principle works, unless, as with the picture above, a storm has just passed over and the sky is cloudy. Golden hour doesn’t exist when the sun is not visible. For this shot, I set the flip up fill flash to fire just enough to help illuminate our faces slightly. The shot below was taken the same way on the nearby waterway. I actually like the way it looks better than the beach shot. The trees help to frame the subjects and the buildings and docks add some texture to the background.

IMG_3180I always encourage my students to take vacation family portraits. There will be more on portraits to come in other posts.

Keep shooting 🙂


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