Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Bridge Photo Shoot

I have been really wanting to take some higher pressure pictures, so I decided to make Cassandra dress up and drive 20 miles away to a location that I thought would be awesome. I always get home from work too late and all the good light is gone. Today I got home just barely early enough to get over to this bridge I drive past a lot on the way to work. I think I am prepared to call the shoot a total failure. Here are some of the lessons I learned.

On the drive there, I was excited because the light was perfect and golden in the last half hour before sunset. But then as we got closer to the bridge I saw that, surprise surprise, it was right next to a hill that was blocking the sun from the first third of the bridge, the part I had planned to stand on take the picture.

(Lesson #1 Never call somewhere you have never been a location. IOW Go to where you want to take pictures with someone else at the planned time for the shoot at least once before you go there to take pictures.)

Then when we got there, tons of "Keep Out" and No Trespassing" signs lined the path. Empty beer cans and boxes showed us that people go there often, so I figured we weren't in any danger. We kept going even though the light wasn't what I wanted. Then I made the second mistake: I didn't take my lights with me. I went prepared with a small strobe, a wireless trigger, and a light stand. When I saw we would have to got through some bushes and wouldn't have much time, I left my lights.

(Lesson #2 Always take everything you have.)

Then Cassandra and I got to the bridge and I just starting clicking off pictures. I was nervous; I could tell she was nervous. So I just told her to sit somewhere and smile, while I desperately tried to find a good setting. I had a hard time getting the right exposure because if I exposed for her face, the sky was blown out, and since it was just flat, regular light, it didn't look good overexposed. If I exposed for the sky, she was too dark. (This is when my light would have really come in handy.) So I tried to find ways to get the sky out of the picture while I tried to help Cassandra relax. I set my aperture to 1.8 just because I did. And I figured it was too dark and I wouldn't be able to get fast enough shutter speeds. This is all mixed up, nervous, flustered thinking. All in all, I couldn't get anything to look the way I wanted it too. At the end, I got Cassandra talking, which made her more comfortable, but I was still trying to find the right exposure. So I just gave up and started clicking off pictures at the settings I had thinking they would be good enough and I could fix them in photoshop.

(Lesson #3 If shooting on the fly, take time to find good light, then take time to help the subject relax, then think about camera settings. [I think this is where shooting a lot comes in because when you are trying to fix things on the fly, it is much more instinctual than anything else.])

(Lesson #4 The first few shots are always throw-away shots. Think of the first fifty pictures as all throw-aways, knowing that you are going to take fifty more. If one is good, good, but don't count on it.)

Then when I got them home they were all out of focus because the depth of field was so shallow from the wide open aperture, and (the worst of all) the background, which we had driven so far, broken the law, and worked so hard to get to, was completely blurry and not even part of the pictures. I should have been shooting at at least a 4 or 5.6. Then, since Cassandra was comfortable and I just starting clicking off pictures without worrying about my settings, the ones I liked were all too dark.

(Lesson #5 If you are in a cool environment, use it by stopping down and including it.)

(Lesson #6 Don't assume that you can just fix it later. Get a good image first. Check histograms and blinking highlights along the way.)

Anyway, this is the picture I ended up with. It has a lot of noise in the shadows because I had to lighten it so much in post. But I think Cassandra looks pretty good in it.

Hand in hair

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Happy Halloween!
Natasha made this costume out of an old sweatshirt. She just made it up.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Elliot's new trick

So Elliot has got something new to freak us out all the time: he stands up. Now, most people would think that a baby standing up would be a good thing. And it is. But it only takes a few tumbles to make this new occurrence nerve-wracking.

He used to only be able to pull himself up to his knees and even then only on certain things that were the perfect height. Now he can stand on almost anything, and he tries it out on everything. He can hold himself up for as long as he wants. (Sitting back down is not a trick he has mastered.) A few times however, he has come down to the floor, not with his comfortable tush, but with his face and head. He loses his balance and then, before we can do anything, Wham!
I swear, there is nothing that hurts your heart more than a baby crying. Especially your own baby crying. Especially your own baby crying because you were being semi-negligent by letting him pull up on things when he can barely keep his balance.
He hasn't gotten hurt bad, and I guess it really is just part of growing up, but it is still hard to witness your child falling and getting hurt.
He is progressing so quickly. It's fun to watch.

So why don't you have a look.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sunday Post

I would like to begin posting more regularly. More for me than anyone else.

I recently bought a new camera. I went with the Canon 30d with a 50mm f/1.8 lens. I also bought a Nikon Sb-26 flash because I really like to play with light in my pictures. I've wanted this camera for about two years now. So it feels good to finally have it. Sometimes I feel like buying it was trying to live beyond our means, but I take about a hundred pictures a day, so I am getting quite a bit of use out of it. That helps to make me not feel as bad about the purchase. It is something that has always brought me a lot of joy.

These pictures are from a recent trip to the park. I work six days a week and I get home around 6 p.m. every day, so we don't get a lot of time to play during the day. In order to play at the park this day, we had to eat in the van. Natasha made pigs in a blanket and put some koolaid in a Nalgene bottle and I ate on the way there. There was just enought light to play until mommy and daddy were tired. I don't think Elliot does get tired. Or at least he doesn't show it until he is actually asleep.

In the picture of me you can see the affects of an outdoors-all-day job. I look like a missionary again. My skin is dark except where my shirt collar and sleeves end, and I have gotten really skinny from sweating all day and not eating right. I have lost 13 pounds since I started. I am excited to get to California and get fat again.

We will be in Oklahoma until Thanksgiving and then we are going to see my brother's son (who will be born by then) in Provo and then going to California for a month long vacation in December. Then we come back to Oklahoma to start school in January.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


So at work I kill bugs. I drive pretty far out into the country and deal with some houses out in the woods. In case you didn't know, bugs live in the woods. I was spraying a house down with pesticides, when I came across this little guy.
It's a tarantula, the biggest one I've ever come across. I sprayed it, and then caught it in a little plastic container and brought it home to show the girls. It was dead by the time I got home, so that's why I can hold it. It was covered with little hairs and about four inches across.
When we got it home our korean neighbor across the street came over to see what we were taking pictures of. Somehow he got the idea that the spider had bit me and that I was taking pictures as evidence. Then, he gave me a five minute lecture in broken english about how I need to report on-the-job injuries the day they happen or else I won't get anything.
We put the tarantula in a bag and threw it away and then he told us to crush it to make sure it was dead. I didn't want to do it, and Natasha was already freaked out. So I asked him to do it. Natasha ran away screaming with her fingers in her ears saying, "La la la la" so she wouldn't hear the crunch. And crunch it did. I guess it was halfway between a crunch and a snap, but our neighbor John sure did the job right.
Anyway, tarantulas live in Oklahoma and I kill them, or at least I facilitate their killing.

Elliot Laughing

Elliot Gettin' Around

This is about 3 weeks old, so he's a little better now. But you get the idea. He gets into everything. He hates sitting on his bum because he knows he can't go anywhere when he's sitting. He flips over as soon as we set him down and starts crawling directly toward the last thing we want he to be touching.