Photo recipes | 008 | How to take an environmental award winning family portrait

Photo recipes | 008 | How to take an environmental award winning family portrait

This image was a part of a family session, right from the time of booking Dad was keen to have a shot in their garage with his boys.  I love environmental portraits, they offer a real window into the life of the subjects.  This image won a silver award at the recent 2016 National Australian Professional Photography Awards (APPAs).

Time of Day & Location notes

As we were also shooting outside family portraits, the session took place late in the day, around 4pm.  The garage door was open behind me throwing a lovely soft light inside.

Setting the scene

This was all about the them, Dad’s garage, cars and boys.  They set the scene, I merely suggested where to stand and what to do.

The tech stuff

I used a tripod so I could shoot as narrow a depth of field as possible, and a wide angle lens to include as much of the garage as possible. Using my 35mm f1.2L, 1/50sec, no one was moving fast, f9, ISO1600.

Editing

First I corrected the image for the distortion the wide angle lens gave on the yellow struts and roof.  Then a reasonably strong HDR effect was applied to the image on most areas of the garage.  I also softened & darkened the strong light that came from the roof and highlights throughout the garage.  The image was printed on a matt paper that softens the effect so I went a little further digitally then I normally would.

How to take an award winning family portrait

Photo recipes | 007 | How to a composite award winning family portrait

Photo recipes | 007 | How to a composite award winning family portrait

I’m going to fess up and say this composite image was something I thought of after the session, it would have been easier if I shot specifically for it, but I didn’t.  It wasn’t until I was editing the session images that the idea came to me to put them together like this.  This image won a solid silver award at the recent 2016 National Australian Professional Photography Awards (APPAs) and a silver with distinction at the WA professional photography awards.

Time of Day & Location notes

The family wanted an early morning beach session, so we met at sunrise.  There is a very small window of time where the light is soft and lovely, before the sun breaches the hills behind the beach and the mood changes.  The light becomes harder.  I live on the west coast of Australia.  Here the sun rises over the city and sets over the sea.

Setting the scene

Dad suggested the races during this shoot, which was a gift for his birthday.  He loves playing at the beach with his kids and races are something I love including in sessions. When kids are about to melt down, it’s a great distraction, I get great images and they get to play and burn off steam.  Win win.  The family had at least 5 races.

The tech stuff

I stayed in roughly the same place, yelling at the kids.  Because I didn’t have a composite in mind, I used my 24-70F2.8 zoom lens, and I zoomed in and out to compose different images.  The post production would have been easier if I’d stuck with one focal length. 1/800sec to freeze the action and f4.5 for plenty of depth of feild.  ISO640.

Editing

The final image was a composite of five different images, the three main races, and one extra of the dog (who was missing totally from one race shot) and a different shot of the little girl. One that would tell a better story.  The little one is loosing, she makes a break and ends up winning!  All edited together as best as possible to appear as one image.  The ocean being the hardest, as the waves had naturally completely moved.

How to take an award winning family portrait

Photo recipes | 006 | How to take a creative award winning family portrait

Photo recipes | 006 | How to take a creative award winning family portrait

This gorgeous image was taken as one of my whimsical portrait sessions.  Where I work with the clients to take one amazing hero shot of their kids that really showcases their personality.  Whimsical sessions are great fun and result in a quirky personalised art piece for the family home.  This image won a solid silver award at both the recent 2016 National Australian Professional Photography Awards (APPAs) and the WA professional photography awards.  Here’s the inside scoop on how I set up and captured this image.

Planning

For these stylised sessions I ask a lot of questions about the kids, what they love, what they are in to, colours, foods, habits etc and brainstorm various ideas for a set up.  In this instance, the older swimming loving sister who also loves to draw was painting a picture of her little brother, lover of small dinosaur and animal toys with the usual destructive nature.

Time of Day & Location notes

As this was taken indoors, the time of day didn’t matter.  It was around 11am, and we cleared a wall in the kitchen by moving a table.  There was a bank of windows to the right, and a smaller set directly behind me. The scene was actually taken as two images.  The boy then the girl, and joined together in PS.  This was bot for reasons of space, and because it’s easier to get the exact individual expressions when capturing just one subject.

Setting the scene

The little boy wasn’t feeling great at our session, he’d been sick for a few days.  I made sure the entire scene was set up ready to go, the lighting was right and the camera set on a tripod before encouraging him into the shot.  This way, no time or good humour was wasted getting things right, all he had to some come in and play.  Be a dinosour and smash up the city.  His older sister was easy, happy to do what ever we asked.  However I still made sure everything was ready for her.

The tech stuff

Shot using natural light, I set the camera on a tripod so that if I had to make any composites it would be an easy swap. Also the tripod allowed me to not hide behind the camera which allowed better engagement with the subjects.  I used my 35mm 1.2L lens, at f4 – I wanted depth of field here.

Editing

Editing this award winning image was a matter of combing the two final images.  A lot of work had to be done to make sure the floor aligned as well as the skirting boards and blended so that no join could be seen.  I also removed distracting elements like power points and a small window.  A few marks on the walls were cloned off.  The final image was then given a slight HDR look with a heavy tonal contrast in PS. This gave the image and ever so slight cartoon look that I really think helped to set off the image!

How to take an award winning family portrait

Photo recipes | 005 | How to take an award winning family portrait

Photo recipes | 005 | How to take an award winning family portrait

This gorgeous set of images of a little girl and her dog won a silver with distinction award at the recent 2016 Austalian Professional Photography Awards (APPAs).  Here’s the inside scoop on how I captured this set.

Time of Day & Location notes

Late in the afternoon in the height of summer, just as the sun was setting behind the trees.  I met this family a park local to them, and made sure I positioned myself facing into the setting sun.  The girl and her dog were playing on a walkway, that gave a beautiful leading line and framing to the image allow you to focus on what counts.  Their beautiful bond.

Setting the scene

This is the kind of image you can’t fake, the parents need to be comfortable with the interaction, the dog needs to be happy and calm, and the little girl needs to be very comfortable with the dog.  In other words, it really needs to be her dog, and this needs to be how they play daily.  I had a parent just outside of shot and we simply encourage the little girl to play with her dog, and I lay low to the ground capturing the interactions.  A few times the Mum and Dad would put dog and little girl back on the spot, but the rest was really up to them.  I find the candid nature of these images, while in a carefully selected location and set up is what brings the magic.

The tech stuff

For that gorgeous background blur, I used my 135mm f/2.0L lens, and made sure I was as low to the ground as I could be. I was actually lying on my stomach. The longer the focal length you can use the better to really get your subject to pop.  My aperture was f3.2, just in case either of them moved slightly forward or back and the shutter at 1/400, I perhaps could have raised this up a bit to freeze any really fast movements, but luckily in these three images everything was sharp. I then adjusted the ISO to ensure correct exposure (in this case ISO640).

Editing

Images I enter into awards often receive a different level of editing than standard family portraits.  These images were edited in Photoshop to remove any distracting elements from the original capture.  Bright patches in the background, distracting grass bits etc, and then the edges were darkened to really focus in on the subjects.  The black and white conversion the final element, I found removing the colour allowed the focus to be solely where I wanted it to be, on the two adorable subjects.

How to take an award winning family portrait

Photo recipes | 004 | How to take the perfect jumping photo!

Photo recipes | 004 | How to take the perfect jumping photo!

Time of Day & Location notes

This particular image was taken before sunrise and on the beach, but you can take a jumping shot when ever you find great light and in almost any location.  You simply need to keep you eye out for any elements that might clutter your frame or distract you from the action.

Setting the scene

Too easy for this one.  Find a spot and ask your child to show you how good they are at jumping!

Have fun with this shot, make sure your shutter speed is nice and fast and it helps to have your camera on rapid fire so you have plenty of images to choose from.

The tech stuff

I used my 50mm f/1.4 USM lens, the nifty fifty will work just as well. Any focal length can work, that will depend on what you also want in the image.  I set my aperture at f3.2 and the shutter at 1/800 to freeze that jump then adjusted the ISO to ensure correct exposure (in this case ISO800).

 

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Photo recipes | 003 | The best photo of your baby is also the easiest!

Photo recipes | 003 | The best photo of your baby is also the easiest!

It’s true, the best photo, pose, portrait of your baby is actually the easiest one to take and you can get stunning results with any camera if you follow a few simple rules.  This work best for babies from about 8 weeks to 7 months, but like all things with babies give or take a year 😉  If you baby is happy on their back, your set.

Time of Day & Location notes

This shot is taken inside by a large window or glass doors using purely natural light, so any time of day where you have nice soft light coming in and no direct sun patches is perfect.

Setting the scene

The direction you lay your bub is key here, they need to be parallel with the window, so their head and feet are both the same distance from the window.  You simply stand over your baby and chat, pull faces, smile, giggle and play peek-a-boo.  NB:  It’s easy to make a mistake, so be sure you use the camera strap around your neck.

The tech stuff

I my 50mm f/1.4 USM lens, the nifty fifty will work just as well.  I set my aperture at f2.8 and the shutter at 1/500 then adjust the ISO to ensure correct exposure (in this case ISO640).  Make sure you lean far enough over your bub so your not looking up their nose (that looks good on no one) and snap away.  Magical portraits will follow.  Guaranteed!

 

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