Mason {cleveland newborn} a TBT post

Oh, Mason

Detail collages get me in all the feels. I love seeing those newborn lips, and those mushy cheeks, and the little noses, and those itty bitty ear folds.

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When I can, I like to create a little birth announcement for my newborn clients.  Even if you don’t purchase 150 and mail them, it’s always nice to have one for yourself. When my daughters were a few months old, maybe even a year old, I finally made a couple for myself and printed a 5×7 of each, then framed those 5x7s in an 8×10 matted frame. Just a suggestion… 😉

No one can resist a nibble on newborn toes. Maddie is no different. I love Mason’s face, looking up to Daddy like, “HAAAAALLLPPP!!!!” Seriously, it’s not like anyone could resist taking a smooch or maybe… nibble.

If you’re expecting in June or July of 2017, email me today wendy@wboycephotos.com to set up your newborn session!

Check out rates and session information on www.wboycephotos.com 

How to: create a holiday silhouette

A year or so ago, I typed up a post about silhouettes but because Word Press is sort of the devil, it got eaten and is lost in the pits of internet mystery. So here goes with Take 2: Holiday Silhouette.

Long story short– expose for your tree lights, focus on your people, under exposing the people. Voila! Silhouette.

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ISO 200, f 1.6, 1/40th, 35mm 1.4 lens used

I just asked my daughters to stand in front of the tree and BE TOTALLY 100% STILL FOR PETE’S SAKE JUST STOP MOVING. (proud parenting moment  -_-)

But I had good reason to demand they be totally still. If you know anything about photography you know LIGHT MATTERS. Light is the single most important factor in your photography but when you shoot this, you want NO LIGHT. Why is that, Wendy?

Glad you asked. To create this specific holiday silhouette, your only light source will be your tree. If you have day light, lights on in the room- you will have a harder time getting that soft bokeh from your lights on your tree. But when you have pretty much zero light, you’re going to need to use a super slow shutter speed. When you have a super low shutter speed, any movement will look like a ghosty blur. No bueno.

What you’ll need in addition to a basic understanding of the manual settings of your camera:

  • tripod or something sturdy to set your camera on
  • holiday lights, the more the better. DO NOT wrap your kids in holiday lights.
  • a kid or two who will STAND STILL FOR THE 100TH TIME, I SWEAR TO GOD. (swearing to god optional). Also good for practicing with, stuffed animals because they are the best at being still when people are in the room.
  • a DLSR camera

Handy to have:

  • remote shutter release

First things first, mount your camera on your tripod or Sturdy Thing. You’re going to keep your ISO low, and your shutter speed SLOOOW like I said above. You can up your ISO a little bit, but don’t go to high or you will risk too much light on your people. My ISO was set to 200. My shutter speed was set to 1/20th– if I was trying to hand-hold my camera at that shutter speed the silhouette would be a motion blurry mess.  If you have a remote shutter release, it’ll be nice to use so you don’t risk shaking the camera even on your tripod when you push the shutter release.

Next you’re going to set your f-stop. I was set to 1.6 since my lens is pretty baller and I knew I would be able to get both girls in focus with it. For super beginners it’s sometimes suggested that your f-stop equal the number of people in your picture, so with 2 people, I could have set my f-stop to 2.8. If your lens only goes to 3.5, just remember to move your subjects farther away from the tree (some day, I’ll teach you all about depth of field and why it matters).

You should be good to give it a shot. Set your person or stuffed animal up, and take a test shot! How’d it look? Was your subject in silhouette? Was it a little brighter than you expected? If so, you can speed up your shutter, or close down your f-stop. Were the lights little pin pricks? Slow down that shutter even father! Show me in the comments on wendy b photos what you got!

Safety in photography: holiday edition

I saw a really good post over on newbornphotography.com about taking safe photos during the holiday season. To most of us pros, they are common sensical but there are a lot of people who will try to take photos themselves (and hey man, more power to you if you want to give it a shot). One of the first things they talk about is the danger or wrapping your child in Christmas lights. Just– don’t. It’s so unsafe for so many reasons, not the least of which is the lead the wires are coated with. In fact, you should wash your hands after handling the lights yourself!

I love the look of “twinkle lights” in holiday photography- it’s a safe way to incorporate lights without risking anyone’s safety.  I had one of my daughters sit for a minute so I could show you a couple safe twinkle lights. I’ll do a tutorial post on how I shot these twinkle lights shortly ;D ::UPDATE  read how to create this backdrop HERE.
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If you’ve looked back and found that WHOOPS you’ve done this, don’t worry about it. Most people really don’t know better. Before I had any idea what I was doing, I’m about 98% sure I tried something with lights. But I won’t do it ever again. Your safety as my client, or your child’s safety if you’re trying this on your own, is more important than getting a bunch of “ooh that’s so cute!” comments on your Facebook feed (and you betcha I’m going to post to my Facebook).

There is one other big thing I can’t stress enough when talking about safe photography, though not holiday related. Let’s talk about railroad track photos.

Never, ever EVER (for real) take photos on railroad tracks. Nothing ruins a photo session like being hit by a train like happened below:

http://petapixel.com/2014/06/20/photographer-missouri-hit-killed-amtrak-train-photo-shoot/
http://www.diyphotography.net/train-kills-one-photographer-injures-two-taking-photos-train-rails/

Even if you’re preeeeetty sure the tracks are “dead” meaning they haven’t been in use (that you know of) you are still trespassing and breaking the law. Please, don’t ask us to shoot on tracks. I don’t like having to tell my clients no, but I won’t hesitate to do it. I love my clients but there’s no way I’m going to jail for you or anybody! If you read that like Garth Algar from Wayne’s World, award yourself one gold star.

I know there is a ton of info out there and a lot of people feel :so what: when it comes to things like this, but if you’re my client, my friend, I will never ever put you in harms way.

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Star burst street lamp

At Christmas time, I showed you how to create a star-burst effect with your tree lights. The neighborhood I live in is lined with street lamps and every night I want to photograph them! If you’re in Northeastern Ohio, you know it’s been *really* cold. Really cold + expensive electronics = OH NOZ!

A few nights ago, I got sick of waiting out winter and decided to set up my tripod, camera and remote shutter right in my foyer and shoot through my storm door. I can see two lamps really well, but this spring/ summer, I’m going to head out on to the sidewalk and get more of the neighborhood 🙂

Look how cool these star-bursts are!

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Super love that. Have you tried to create any star bursts? If you need directions, you can find them HERE 😀

Photography how to: create star bursts

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    Oooooh, bright shiny lights. I love how the tree is glowing and the lights are bursting, don’t you? I’m going to talk you through how you can take a picture of your family’s tree (if you have one). You will need a basic understanding of photography, you’ll need to understand shutter speed, but that’s not super hard 😀
    You’ll need:
  • tripod or something sturdy to set your camera on
  • camera with timer and manual settings
  • pretty lights to photograph (I have a crap load of lights on my tree and still want MORE! ahaha)
  • an dark night… ooh

You might want:

        • a remote shutter release

So, first things first- turn off all the lights. Light is the number 1, most important thing you need when taking pictures, and in this case, you need to eliminate all outside light because you want the only light source to be your tree.

You’re going to set your shutter speed to a really, slow, really long which is why you need something sturdy to set your camera on. Any tiny movement will RUIN THE SHOT FOREVER! Well, ok, it’ll just ruin that one shot but you’ll have to reshoot and if you’re a perfectionist, that’ll drive you crazy. My shutter speed on the above was 13 seconds– the shutter was left open for 13 full seconds allowing all the twinkly light to enter. I had my ISO turned as low as I could, which is 100. Your ISO setting tells your camera how much available light there is- a low number means there’s lots of light and the camera doesn’t need to compensate for that. A high number means there’s very little light. Logically, you’d want to set your ISO to a higher number since there is very little light- BUT in this case we are going to make up for the low light with a slooooooooow shutter speed.

I closed down my aperture to F-11; there’s a long explanation about the blades in your lens and angles, so you can read up on the specifics and I encourage you to but I’m not going to get into it all. You’re going to want to be stopped down to at least F-11, the further down you’re closed the more dramatic your burst will be.

Next, you’re going to frame up your shot. Select your focus point, you can pretty much just point it toward the middle and go at it. Your lens will be stopped down so almost everything will be in focus. Remember, you need something sturdy to hold your camera or you’re going to get motion shake. Use a tripod, or, rig up something sturdy to angle your camera correctly. If your camera has a timer setting USE IT. If your camera has a remote setting, invest in a remote.  I use the word “invest” loosely–I have this little guy . $7 folks. Worth it if you have a Nikon DSLR (there are millions for Canon and other bodies as well). Go ahead now and take your first shot. How’d it look? Good? No good? Post your picture to my Facbook page wendy b photos. If you don’t like what you got, shoot again!

You can use the settings I have listed as a starting point, but if your photo isn’t “right” make adjustments and try again. Every situation is different, you may have more or fewer lights on your tree, you might have more ambient light, make the adjustments for YOUR specific situation. And, feel free to ask for help 😀

 

f-11 13″SS 100 Iso

A&X: a twinkle light session! {Sagamore Hills Mini Session}

After I posted a little twinkly light teaser on my Facebook page, my friend Ashley asked if I could fit her kids in. Her son and my daughters were in the same Kindergarten class, then they had t-ball at the same time. Ashley and I got to know each other walking laps around the t-ball park- she was pregnant with Xavior at the time and due any minute! It’s been so fun getting to know these three (and daddy Ryan and hound-dog Charlie, too). Ashley wanted to get some photos for Ryan to keep at work, and I think we got some great ones.

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Aren’t those boys perfection?

And, totally tooting my own horn, but how awesome are those lights? So soft and warm. I’m so 100% offering mini lights sessions next year. Leave a comment or send an email to wendy@wboycephotos.com if you want to be sure YOU get a mini session!

How to: create that twinkle light backdrop

So, a little while ago, I told you not to wrap your kid in holiday lights but to instead try something like this set-up, which is good advice and you should totally take it. m-twinkle-lights-1wm  But… maybe you don’t know *how* to do such a thing! No worries, I can help you get started. You are going to need to put your camera in manual mode, or at least *AV*/ *A* aperture priority and you’ll need a basic understanding of your camera’s manual features. If these words are Greek to you, maybe call in the pros and ask about a mini session 😉 Otherwise, it’s pretty easy to do.

What you’re going to need:

  • a bunch of Christmas lights on a WHITE WIRE
  • an SLR camera and lens — I used a Nikon D7000 and Nikon 50mm 1.4 lens but entry level bodies and lenses will work just fine with a little tinkering
  • a solid color background
  • something to hang your lights on

You may want:

  • a white sheer curtain
  • a couple boxes of cheap-o laminate floor
  • speedlight– do NOT use your on-camera flash. It only points forward and will ruin EVERYTHING! ::dramaz::

The first thing you’ll want is something to string lights on. I have a backdrop stand, and used an ivory piece of vinyl backdrop from The Backdrop Shop, but you don’t need a “real” drop; if you have a solid, light color wall in a room that gets LOTS of sun light you could tape lights to your wall. You can use a full size sheet (a twin size white sheet will work if you have only one person in the picture).

This is a pull back of my set up, shot with a wide angle lens. I have a 6×6 backdrop, about 12 pieces floating laminate floor and 2 strings of 150 white lights. If you want to load up your lights, you can buy more, but I think this is plenty.  After you hang your lights, wash your hands!

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(also, sweet vintage sled, right?) Shooting in a purple room poses challenges, so I would suggest trying to shoot in a light, neutral colored space. Sooner or later, that purple room will be painted (again, for the 3rd time) a neutral shade as I start offering more sessions in my home space.

You’ll need to set your lens to it’s widest aperture. I know my lens isn’t its sharpest wide open, so I keep it around to 1.8 or 2. You’ll also want your child out as far away from your lights as you can get while still being able to frame the shot well. Depth of field gives us that blurry background with those glowing orbs of light and works when you are closer to your subject than your subject is to whatever is behind it.

My settings were f 1.8, SS 1/250, ISO 160 with my white balance set to flash since I had to use my speedlight. I  used my speedlight because I was taking a picture in the early evening when there isn’t a ton of natural light available. I bounced the speedlight on a 45o angle behind me.  I could have adjusted my settings; slowed my shutter speed, ratcheted up my ISO or opened all the way to 1.4 buuuut I have a speedlight and truly, there was very little natural light.

Once you have your settings… set, it’s time to start! You may have to change your settings around here and there. If you don’t like what you’re seeing, adjust your settings. It’s best to take test shots with something like a stuffed animal- something that won’t get peeved at you for taking time to adjust.  Once you have the shot you like, add in your model! I had my daughter sit on the sled to have her up a little higher and a touch farther away from the backdrop. Remember you want to be closer to your kid than your kid is to the lights, but having your lens as open as possible helps a LOT if you don’t have much space.

I took a few practice shots and really didn’t like the look of the lights- they glow pretty yellow (which yea, I could have set a custom white balance but eh) so I put a white, sheer curtain panel over them. It softens the color of the bulbs and creates a sort of faux- bokeh. You can see in the pull-back picture that the lights are still pretty sharp and that is for sure NOT what I wanted.  Draping the sheer made it so soft and perfect.

DSC_0086If I had moved my daughter out more the lights would be even larger orbs. I could also use my 35mm lens so I can be zoomed out some and able to get closer to my kids! All kinds of adjustments can be made. I’ll keep shooting and if you’re not getting what you want, keep trying! It’s worth it, promise.

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