Saturday, April 23, 2011

Senior portraits and a trip to the local fire station

Last Sunday was a fun day of shooting here in my home town. My wife's sister and her husband had previously asked if I could shoot senior portraits for their son (and my nephew) Phillip. Of course, I readily agreed and so we made plans for them to come down for the weekend and we would shoot for an afternoon.

For the first set of photos (in his casual clothes) we went to one of my favorite local wineries. They have great backgrounds and the area is shaded nicely all afternoon. It also happens to be right by a reservoir, so we brought our kayaks and hung out by the water for a couple hours of R&R.

When we had Phillip sit down by this large barrel, I didn't think that I would like this pose, but after shooting the images and coming back home to look at them, all of us agreed that he looked good in this position. This just goes to show that, as a photographer, you should try many different poses in many different locations, and you might get something better than you hoped for.
Many of the old structures around this winery have these well aged wood walls, which make for a perfect background. This weathered wood adds color and dimension to the images.

This is one of my favorite images of the day. Phillip looks really comfortable in this position and I really like the lighting on his face (half light and half shadow). I shot this image at f2.8 to have his eyes in focus and have everything else fall out of focus. This draws the viewer's attention right to Phillip's eyes. (Photographer's note: You will notice that in half of the images Phillip is smiling, and the in the other half, he is not. I always try to shoot portraits with different expressions. It is interesting how some people look better smiling and others look better with a more serious look. Sometimes, when I am photographing a younger child, who only gives me that cheesy fake smile, I will use this as a technique to get a true expression from them. As it turns out, Phillip looks great with both expressions, but it is still nice to half a variety for them to choose from.)

After 45 minutes of shooting against different backgrounds, I saw this wide open area and thought that it could be something different. I had Phillip stand on the grass, I metered for the background and used the Canon 580EX II to add some fill flash - or would that be Phil flash? :) 

Phillip really wants to become a fire fighter and he is doing volunteer work at a fire station near his home town. He brought his dress blues and his turnouts so that we could take some photos in those outfits. Being a photographer, my first thought was: "Where would we find a good background for these outfits?" and of course, the logical answer would be a fire station. Figuring that the local firefighters down the street would be willing to let us use the station for some shots, we drove down there and asked. They were more than willing to help us out.

This is one of my favorite shots of Phillip at the fire station. I had him stand next to the truck for some shots but the shot was a little flat. At that point, I asked him to put one leg up on the rig to add some dimension to the pose. But it was still missing something and he had nowhere to put his right arm. I tried having him move his right arm to different positions but all of the poses looked awkward. That is when the firefighter, who was watching us shoot, asked if we wanted a prop. Great idea! I asked if we could borrow an ax, and it was just what we needed to complete the photo.

I created this B&W version of Phillip using the new version of NIK Software Silver Efex Pro 2. This software gives you amazing control of all of the gray scale tones within the image. Love it!

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