Lovely Forest Portraits

It was a rather warm morning in The Woodlands. We decided to take some portraits of Gloria in the lovely WG Jones State Forest. Even though it was early in the morning, it was sure to get a quite toasty in the sun, so I tried to plan to stay in the shade as much as we could. The light filtered through the pine forest providing fairly mottle shade, but it produced some neat highlights in the background. I kept my model in the forest shade, trying to keep the leaf- shaped shadows off of her face and body, for a more evenly lit portrait.

The forest floor was not as lovely as it seems in the pictures. It was overgrown, full of ants, and thorny weeds. Walking was treacherous in high heels so Gloria kept her tennis shoes on most of the time, only changing shoes right before portraits were taken.

The first and second sets of lovely portraits were taken in the same general area, dodging the sunny areas peaking out from behind the trees. We used a speedlite in a softbox as a main light, using filtered daylight as fill.

For the last set of portraits we moved elsewhere in forest. I found a large log nestled in with some young pine trees, and thought that it would be a perfect setting. The sunlight backlighting the leaves and branches produced a lovely glowing effect. I moved the softbox close to Gloria from the side opposing sun, so that we would have plenty of light to fill the shadows.  We took some full length portraits, combined with ¾ length to make a very lovely set.

When I edited these images, I tried to let the vibrance and contrast of these portraits speak to me. There were a few that were so lovely, I just couldn’t decide if I liked better in color, black and white, or chocolate. That is why I provided a few images here with the different color treatments.

Black and white image of outdoor portrait

Woman putting on makeup in forest in chocolate color

Smiling portrait of woman outdoors

Woman sitting in chair in the forest

Woman sitting on log in forest

Woman portrait in forest standing on a log

Food Photography, Cayenne Peppers

I have never really tried food photography before. Often I have thought about it, but never have the time, since I am the one that cooks in this house. It is hard to keep the camera in the kitchen when I am cooking, for safety and mostly the lack of space. There is not a lot of natural light over by the cook-top, so I never really thought of taking “action cooking shots”.

This is the first year that I have planted anything, and our cayenne peppers have been extremely happy, since we have them surrounded in a soaker hose.  The other day, my husband brought in a bunch of cayenne peppers from our very own plants. We counted 29 peppers that were ready all at once. Not only do I now have to come up with some recipes to to use all these peppers, but I thought I should take some photos of these beautiful cayennes.  I have never had so many peppers at once, and I have not had any experience with food photography, but I wanted to try.

I took the peppers outside on my deck, and brought a green blanket to put underneath them.  I used the natural light, coming from the side as my main light and used a small reflector, with gold side up for fill. The gold side of the reflector makes the light seem a little warmer, which I thought would make the photos look better. I arranged all my peppers on the blanket and took pictures with 1 hand while holding the reflector with the other. This would have been a great time to have a helping hand, but my son wouldn’t stay still long enough to help, and he was busy stealing the peppers off of the blanket.

The bright red made a great contrast from the green blanket. I had just one pepper that had an end that curled over. That pepper immediately became the star of the show. Here are the photos of my very own cayenne peppers.

View my other post on another “first adventure” in HDR

Cayenne peppers in a line

Cayenne Peppers viewed from the top

line of several cayenne peppers

bottom tips of a bunch of cayenne peppers

Portrait at Mercer Bamboo Princess, Spring

It was 8:00 am and we met right as Mercer Botanical Gardens, in Spring, was opening. I think it was already in the high 80s, but it was nothing compared to how hot it would be in a few hours. We walked back to the Bamboo Garden section for this portrait session. Since Monika is a friend of mine, our sons played together while we took photos.   I set up my camera and lighting gear, and off we went making some great summer portraits. These were taken with 1 speedlite attached to a softbox, with occasional use of a gold reflector, using morning sunlight as a fill light.

The sunlight filtering through the bamboo made this portrait session so beautiful.  The images started to come effortlessly. The lighting, the posing, the atmosphere was extremely pleasant. We changed locations within the bamboo garden several times, and each location seemed as lovely as the last. The fan was not an intended prop. It was something she had on hand to keep cool, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take a few images of her amazing eyes. The parasol was a prop that she brought and wanted to use, upon which we both loved the final images with the light shining through her purple parasol. The 2 hours that we were at Mercer seemed to just fly by. We only decided to end the portrait session since it was getting nearly too hot to be out without profusely sweating!

After heading home to take a look at the images that I got, I started to see the possibilities in post production. To me, these finished portraits have a surreal, yet very 50s feel to them.  The slight selective de-saturation and the brightness of her eyes make these images unique. These portraits truly transformed Monika into a bamboo princess!

View my other post lit with speedlite at sunset!

Fan portrait

Portrait with Parasol

Woman smiling at camera in bamboo garden

Closeup portrait of a woman

Speedlite Portraits at Sunset

My son wanted to go outside and sit on the deck the other evening, at sunset. I decided it would be a good time to try out my new gels that I bought for my speedlites. I put one speedlite on the banister angled to shoot up to the white porch ceiling, above and in front of my son. With a yellow gel affixed to the speedlite,  the light bouncing off of the ceiling would be even and slightly yellow, which warms up the skin tones a bit. The flash was on a low power, so that it would illuminate the foreground with my son, but allow the beautiful sunset in the background to remain an  integral part of the portrait as well. With the aperture open wide, the pine trees in the background became very soft, but still distinguishable as pine trees. This sunset portrait with a speedlite is interesting just because there is so much in the image for your eyes to take in.

The next three portraits were made using the same general principle, except this time the speedlite was directed mostly towards, a little in front of,  the subjects at an angle relative to the camera.  Once again the flash head was on a low power. The little girl is the daughter of a close friend, and it was nice to get to take pictures of the two kids together playing.

You can see in a few of the portraits, that there is a bit of movement visible, but the faces remain in focus. That is caused by using a slower shutter speed,  but the critical points of focus are frozen by the emitting light of the speedlite. You can see in the progression of the pictures that we were losing more and more light. However, the light in the background from the sunset is still vibrant and colorful.

It’s not often that we have great sunsets like these, but Im glad I could capture some great portraits with a single speedlite to make them precious!

View my other post lit by speedlites in the bamboo garden!

Boy Sitting in Chair for a portrait at Sunset

Portrait of a girl at beautiful sunset

boy looking at camera in sunset

Portrait of a small girl at fading sunset