All posts by Michelle

Sister Portraits in the Park

Sisters are funny. I know for a fact that this particular set of sisters have been dying to do some portraits in a park for a while. We met in the evening atRobFlemingParkin The Woodlands to do some sibling portraits. Originally there were to be three kids in the pictures, but the youngest, a 3 year old boy, was in no mood for portraits.  With that said the focus ended up on these adorable sisters.

We moved to different areas of the park, trying to keep the still moderately high sun out of sight, hiding behind the many trees in the area. The great thing about doing portraits atRobFlemingParkis that there are so many different types of backgrounds waiting to be used.

The older sister seemed ready for her pictures with great smile and very expressive eyes. The younger sister suddenly became reserved in front of the camera, but still made a beautiful model.  Both sisters were very different in front of the camera, but that is what made this session very unique.  After the session during the editing, these differences really led to different post processing styles as well. The more reserved sister seemed more appropriate with the selenium toned black and whites, vs the other one who I used lots of vibrant colors with.

It was when the two girls were in the same portrait did they really come alive. The girls were hugging each other while laughing and smiling and even running all over the park together. These two were great fun to take portraits of. I love being able to capture that youth and innocence in a child’s portrait. I also enjoyed seeing two sisters who really loved playing together as well. They had a good time, and I did too. Maybe next time we can get that youngest sibling in the pictures too!

serious girl brown tone

girl sunset portrait thoughtful look

happy smiling girl sunset

hugging sisters in the park

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

Nova Scotia Holiday Landscape Photos Part 2

Here is the second set from my holiday landscape photos. All of these photos were taken on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. The Cabot trail is a road that winds around the upper tip of the island. It is hailed as being “one of North America’s most beautiful drives.” As you drive, you pass through Cape Breton Highlands Provincial Park, which has outstanding views of the Atlantic coast and the surrounding highlands. The landscape changes from a rocky coastline, high cliffs, to vast forests, and sweeping meadows.

The first landscape photo is of  the coastline, inside Cape Breton Highlands Provincial Park.  The sound of the waves crashing into the shore was incredibly loud, and I could feel the cold air rolling in off of the Atlantic water. We kept driving higher and higher up into the highlands until we got to a hiking trail. We hiked over 2.5 miles to get the view from the next 2 photos.  On the way to the tip of the ridge, we passed through different landscapes. We started out in a forest with small pines and cedars, with lots of fiddlehead ferns. We then passed through vacant meadows with hardly any trees, but plenty of evidence of moose. We then emerged on the ridge to the view you see here. The view was astounding. My only regret was that we were there on a day that was a bit hazy, so the sight was limited.

The fourth photo was just taken on a pullout spot off of the road, on the way back to our lodging. The huge slabs of rock were stacked on top of each other. The sheer size of the rocks were incredible, and hard to see from this landscape photo.

The last photo as taken in the small town of Baddeck, at the base of the Cabot Trail.  It was foggy, so the visibility was rather low, but the small lighthouse with it’s red paint provided great contrast to the scene.

View part 1 of my Nova Scotia Landscape Photos



Nova Scotia Landscape Holiday Photos

My husband and I went on holiday to Nova Scotia at the end of May. I couldn’t figure out where we should go for vacation. Last year we went to British Columbia, so I thought we might try the Canada’s Atlantic coast. The landscape is drastically different than on the Pacific side, but it is still beautiful in it’s own way. This set of landscape photos were all taken in the same area in central Nova Scotia, on the Bay of Fundy.  The lighthouse is on Cape D’or near Advocate Harbour, which required a long drive up a dusty, narrow gravel road.  This was one of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen. The sheer cliffs were astounding, and the contrast of the green grass against the dark rocky cliffs set upon the shining bay was absolutely breathtaking. The last landscape photo is the view from right near the lighthouse itself. You can see how small the full-grown pine trees appear at this angle.

The second to last photo was taken while we were actually kayaking on the Bay of Fundy. This was a holiday after all, and we wanted to have some adventure, so we took a day and went out onto the bay. The landscape looked completely different from the water level. It was rather chilly, and very windy, which made paddling difficult and cold.  We paddled for an hour and then stopped for lunch. After that, we started back towards our starting point. This return journey proved to be much more cumbersome that the trip in. The wind was howling, the waves were crashing, and the landscape became a lot more dynamic. It seems that our holiday wouldn’t be complete without being soaking wet and freezing cold!

Please visit my 2nd set of Nova Scotia landscape photos

Senior Portraits in The Woodlands

We did this future rockstar’s senior portraits near Waterway Square in The Woodlands. He was easy to work with, and had lots of ideas about poses and such. I was quite happy with what we got in just a short amount of time. I love doing senior portraits because they usually have such great ideas and interesting props which allow for a lot more edgy portraits than normal.

We started at 8:00a, so that it wouldn’t get too hot out, during the course of our portrait session. We started at the Woodlands Waterway, near some of the restaurants. This first picture was actually taken at the entrance to a parking garage. The tile matched his purple shirt perfectly. The light was coming in overhead from a tinted glass canopy, which seemed to diffuse the light a little bit. The tile was only complete down to  his waist, so all of these pictures were taken from the waist up.

The second picture was taken near The Woodlands Waterway. There is a stairway that I was able to get up on and take the portraits pointing down at him. There was light bouncing all around the stairwell, but I did use a small reflector to bounce some more light into this senior’s face.

The last two portraits were taken at a little known out of the way place in The Woodlands, on College Park road. I used a reflector on the last portrait, but only natural light on the second to last photo.  These old scarred and beaten freight trailers were just the urban and grungy backdrop that this senior was hoping for.

These senior portraits lent themselves to an edgy and colorful post-production. I brightened the colors and sharpened the details, which allowed the colorful nature of this senior’s personality to shine through. I did play with the lighting a bit, which made these senior portraits really unique.

Pictures in the Park, Spring

I had the pleasure of taking pics of these three boys on a lovely evening not too long ago, in Spring, TX. The prints from this session were to become a Mother’s Day Gift, so the boys were dressed in suits and ties, on this warm spring day. We headed to the park where there was an easter egg hunt in progress, so there were people everywhere. We started taking pictures out of the way on a grassy hill, which is where all of the below images were taken.  The contrast of the bright green grass against the suit and skin tones, was perfect for these individual shots. Each one of these boys had distinctly different personalities, and it was tricky to get them working together for group pictures. We then moved to the edge of a small lake, where I took several pictures of the three boys looking out over the lake.  For these two settings, I used natural cloudy light, with fill from a single reflector.

After the crowds started to dwindle, we moved over to a small stand of trees, where another member of the family would join the pictures. This is the first time I had to do a session with multiple subjects, and a dog. This little spaniel was well-behaved, but made things a little more difficult to coordinate all the boys and dog in their places at once. It was challenging, but fun all at the same time. I was quite happy with the pictures that I walked away with, but I must admit that these individual shots are my favorites.

In post- production,  I adjusted the color, and increased the contrast a bit. These three pictures didn’t require much, because the faces really spoke volumes about these boys. The silly, the shy, and the teen!

View my other post with Children portraits in the Park

Portrait of children in the park

Photo of Children at Mercer Botanical Gardens

I took this photo at Mercer Botanical Gardens, not long ago.  My friend and I wanted to take our kids somewhere different, so we decided that Mercer would be a nice change. Neither of us had been there in a while, so I was surprised to see how much had changed.

My son is rather shy when it comes to other children his age, and it takes him a while to warm up, even to his friends. We were walking  up some stairs, and the little girl needed to hold her mommy’s hand for stability. We were looking at the different plants in the gardens, when we approached the second set of stairs to go down to ground level. My son offered his hand to his friend, and this was the split- second photo I took of the children holding hands.

Of course the settings on the camera were not where they were supposed to be, and the background was completely blown out, also there was only partial mottled shade, light shining through the trees, for lighting. Not Good.  I couldn’t miss this opportunity for this picture, so I took a few before the moment was gone. Even knowing that the settings were wrong and the photo was going to be too bright, I thought I might be able to save at least one  image, since I didn’t have time to mess with the camera.

In photoshop, I converted it to black and white, and exaggerated the details a bit. Then I softened the entire photo to give it a demure painted look. It’s definitely not the best photo I have ever taken, but I was at least able to salvage a somewhat other unusable image. With that said, the photo still has a fairly high sentimental value to me, which is why I have posted it here on my blog.

View my other portrait sessions at Mercer Botanical Gardens

Children walking together in The Woodlands for a portrait

Visit my Woodlands Family Portrait Photography Website!