SMITH FAMILY

Here is a sample of favorites from the Smith Family photos, taken late December, just a couple days prior to Christmas, in South Georgia. In the South, we have no snow, and it was a beautiful day in the park for photographs. Thank you, Smiths, for the opportunity to photograph your family.

Corbin Family

Here are a few from the previous session in early December. We met before sunset in a park and the lighting really came out to my advantage in post processing, despite the rainy overcast day that preceded sunset. Thank you, Corbins, for the opportunity to photograph your beautiful family. I hope you enjoy these!

Bracketing HDRs for Interior Photography

I’m expanding my portfolio to include interiors and real estate photography. A problem with photographing interiors is that sometimes they are not well lit and there isn’t enough external studio lighting on hand either. So the remedy to this is to “bracket” several photos of the same subject across a spectrum of exposures, then later on (if your camera doesn’t automatically do this—some do), merge the photographs together into an HDR to get more detail across the spectrum of lighter and darker areas. This can be done directly in Lightroom, which is what I usually do with landscapes, or this can be done in Photoshop or in an external software. Today I used Photomatix, and although I won’t go into the software in great detail, I’ll show you how the HDRs came out with this software. Before I show you, I also want to note that Photomatix can be used as a plug-in to Lightroom, and that is how I used it this evening.

I hope you enjoyed this selection. I think this mansion is a bit of a fixer upper, but I hope someone purchases it and does renovate it. Would you live in a giant house like this? What would you do with all the space if you did? What do you think about the photographs? Do you enjoy this rendering that Photomatix has helped create? Let me know, I love your feedback!

Photographing the Sun

This week I've been working on photographing landscapes that involve the sun, rays from the sun, or lens aberrations due to harsh sunlight. Early on in my photo excursion yesterday, despite frigid temperatures in Hawk's Nest and Carnifex Ferry Battlefield, both state parks in West Virginia, I realized that the sun was getting in my way of photographing without either harsh shadows, or by creating aberrations in my photographs. You should also know that I keep a steady monologue on my hikes, and during this particular monologue, I cursed the sun, the cold, creaky trees, and geese. Geese always deserve it, and as difficult as it may seem when being chased by one or a gaggle, it is possible to get away from those foul, loud-mouthed beasts. That being said, I could only run away from the sun by being in the shade, so I tried that, and remembered I could create a halo effect that way. I also remembered that I could work with a flare from the sun to my advantage in order to create a more appealing scene by highlighting a main subject, like in the photo below of the house that Henry Patterson built in the 1850s on what would become the battle field of Carnifex Ferry, Summersville, West Virginia.

Henry Patterson House at Carnifax Ferry Battlefield in Southern West Virginia

Henry Patterson House at Carnifax Ferry Battlefield in Southern West Virginia

Not only did I use this method here, but also in more photographs, along with one that I posted to Spotlight West Virginia. I'll show it below and explain the method I used.

Sunset over Summersville Reservoir, West Virginia

Sunset over Summersville Reservoir, West Virginia


In this photograph, I took my inspiration from the shots that Spotlight West Virginia tends to post. These posts seem to generate a decent amount of popularity for this area, and they all have the same type of recurring theme in photographs that the page itself shares--over-saturated/vibrant, sunset, sunrise, landscape; they love the colorful. Sometimes, I like to work with vibrant compositions, drawing from the personal style of one of my favorite photographers, Olivier Laude, esq. I take color theory into account in what I do in order to be sure the color schemes are complementary. So that's what I've tried here, and it's generated more local popularity than usual I think, in a shorter amount of time. The main thing I did for the shot was wait for the right time of evening involving a vibrant & warm sunset over an interesting landscape, frame the composition auspiciously, increase clarity, increase shadows very little to bring out detail, increase whites to bring out the ice, and there it was, an enhanced picturesque photo that is appropriate for popular photography. There's more, but that's all I've posted in photos of the day so far since getting in last night and post-processing. I hope you enjoy my work as much as I do. :) Have a great weekend!!!

Photographing the Sun on Harsher Trails

I’d not really done as much golden hour photos as many photographers had in the past, so I will highlight the nice golden colors you get from that here.
You’ll notice that as the sun gets lower in the sky, the more diffuse shadows become in certain areas, but also there is this dramatic glow that becomes more red as the sun goes down. This image isn’t one to sell, but it highlights an important lesson in terms of understanding how color changes over time in terms of natural lighting. That plant is a Sumac, by the way. It’s a plant found in the Eastern United States. Apparently it is used as a spice in order to deliver a tart flavor to foods but be careful to avoid picking any poisonous Sumac, because that also exists although it’s not as common. The leaves are similar. Anyway, toward nightfall the sky began to look morered as it lowered below horizon.

This is nightfall, dark blue skies, and a nice jeep.

Night Photography and Ghost Portraiture

During my time in West Virginia some years ago, I had the honor of assisting a photographer named George Bragg, who worked with GEM Photography. He was an ex coal-miner turned photographer and he helped me learn more about landscape photography, but also, how to photograph at night. George passed away about a year ago, but I’ll never forget his lessons.

Lesson one:

When photographing at night, use a tripod, light your subject, and take long exposures.

Lesson two:

When taking a long exposure with the shutter open for about twenty seconds, go stand the image really still for about half that time before moving out of the image in order to render a ghost portrait.

HDR Stream in West Virginia

While sorting through old photographs yesterday in the archive and cleaning/rearranging files, I came across this set of bracketed landscape images with long exposures of water I took while checking out some of the historic and forgotten back roads of West Virginia. This one was off McKendree Road, considered McKendree, West Virginia (unincorporated).

McKendree Road, West Virginia

McKendree Road, West Virginia

There’s a bridge over it that water was spilling off of onto the other side. I used that shot for an altered landscapes composite project for a college assignment at the time, and this was just a lovely landscape behind it that I captured as a personal bonus.

I do not recall my exact settings on the camera for this image, but I can tell you basically how it was created:

I set up the camera on a sturdy tripod.

I bracketed 5-7 images from darker to lighter exposures.

All of the exposures were long in order to cater the water’s movement.

I merged the bracketed images during editing and performed some color corrections.

That’s it!

Late Afternoon Light

These are from the daily photo project of my son. To see the completed project, visit this site:

https://silasking.wordpress.com

I had my husband and son, and also my son’s friend Jordyn, pose just before and during the late afternoons indoors and out in order to show you what types of outcomes you can get from photographing during the afternoon light. Of course, these have been edited, but the lighting and lack of shadows outdoors comes from photographing during this time. As you can see, the lighting indoors during those hours often renders dramatic lighting.

Corbin-Spain Civil Ceremony

I had the good fortune earlier last month to photograph these two and their family during and after their civil ceremony. Check out these highlights of a handful of my favorites! After learning my clients love more dramatic imagery toward later editing of the set, I began incorporating HDR styles with greater detail and color to make them pop. I've enjoyed the style so much that I plan to continue the aesthetic in my future portraiture work! Do you prefer more soft images, or more dramatic images with clarity and oomph?

Focus & Exposure in Smartphone Cameras

November 15, 2018 Let's talk about focusing and exposing in cell phone cameras. This is a simple topic but I see a lot of people misusing or misunderstanding the method; although most everything is automated in our phones, there is a little bit we can do to better guide our cameras and their softwares here. I'm going to cover a few things in this area. Generally, I post images from the professional camera, but over the past couple weeks I was on vacation and was wary of the possibility of losing mine somehow, so I reluctantly opted to use my camera built-in to the Pixel 2 cell phone, which I feel renders quality images in an efficient package. What I cover today will not be specific to Pixel 2's; generally speaking, all new smart phones seem to have these settings. I have used both Android and iPhone devices, and, in terms of focus and exposing, they are pretty much the same. Be sure to clean off your lenses with a microfiber cloth prior to shooting for less glare and smudging.

  1. So first, let's take a look at some screen shots.

 

You see the little circle in each of the above images? That is what focuses on various objects within your screen. It also exposes your image for the object in focus. So in the first example, I'm focusing on one of the brightest subjects in the image--the lights. This brings the lights themselves into focus; however, it does darken the rest of the subject around it. This can be fixed in the built-in editing feature later, but that's a topic for another day. When, in the second image, the circle is focused on the more grey area within the mirror, you can see that you'll get a bit more bright over all image, although there's a little less detail within the lighting. Similarly, when the focus is up high in the shadowed ceiling, you get an even more bright image with many of the highlights far more overblown. This can create a nice effect sometimes, but as a general I try to avoid overblown highlights since detail cannot be recovered in them. Wherever you want to focus within an image, tap that subject.

2. Ok next, some basics for your selfies and portraits:

The first rule here is that you want to go ahead and make sure light is falling onto your subject. This means that you'll want to face a lit window or a light if indoors, or if outdoors at night. If you're outdoors in the daytime, you should be fine, just beware of harsh shadows if it's midday on a sunny day--get up under a tree and photograph from a shadow's edge.

For example, take a look at these selfies.

 

These three were taken within the same unlit room. Granted, the natural lighting in this room is pretty good. There are three large windows along the outdoor wall. In the first two, my portrait has been backlit, with my back to the brightest lighting source rather than my face, which is our subject in this case. You can see here that, when focused on the nose, or the subject, the camera automatically exposes for what you're shooting, and the highlights in the background spill around your subject. In the second image, when focused on the lighting source, you can see that less detail is available on your subject and that I am darker. The extra ISO or exposure work that the camera has to perform causes it to render a more noisy image in terms of quality as well.

Let's turn me around. Now I'm facing the windows, or the main lighting source. I point on my eyes or bridge of my nose (in portraits, that is where you want to focus for best detail), and now the camera doesn't have to work so hard so your image quality isn't noisy. The subject is the main thing that's lit, and because I'm facing the window there's a catch light in my eyes. The catch light livens the face(s) of whoever you're photographing.

One more note on this: when taking portraits, there's a nifty portrait feature often built in to smart phone cameras. Go ahead and use that. In the android device I use, it gives me two images in the end--one with the background more blurred (the strength of which can be altered in editing afterward), and another with the original, sharp background.

 

Alright! Go out and try these suggestions for yourself and show me what you come up with! Let me know if you have any problems I may be able to help with and I'll send further suggestions if you need.

Fireworks at Jardine Stadium, Independence Day, 2018

Every year, I improve a little on photographing fireworks. See some of my favorites, along with an experimental image of a family playing with sparklers. Settings ISO 100, F/13, shutter open 8 seconds. Mostly done with a 24-70mm, one with a 16-35mm wide angle lens, and another with the zoom 70-200mm.

Southern Grown: Assignment Highlights

June 12, 2018 Check out some of the highlights from various Southern Grown assignments last issue. Enjoy! :)

Well, Hey There. What's New?

June 11, 2018 It's recently been brought to my attention that I haven't updated this in a while or really done much at all with any of my social media business profiles. I'm generally a bit lax in that area because I feel sometimes like if I spend much more time behind a screen I'm just going to merge with it and become a robot. Nevertheless....

So what's new with you?

What's new with me? I moved to South Georgia to my old hometown. I've been gone for about eleven years now and decided I'd finally give into the homesickness. So I sucked it up, decided I had to take the good with the bad down here, and came on home.

Fortunately, two of my friends were tired of working for a negative magazine CEO and decided they wanted to to it on their own, if only they could find a photographer. Joy had been doing advertising and sales, and Josh had been graphically designing, and then came Victoria. We're covering all of Southeastern Georgia and plan to eventually branch into Northeastern Florida. We cover largely ag related businesses, but we also document a bit of historically interesting places, and we list upcoming events and things to do within our quaint little towns.

We've got our first magazine out; it was our test magazine. The book was thin because it was our test prior to shoot for more. The quality was magnificent--the magazine is properly bound without staples, the prints came out nicely, and I'm not sure if we're going with that same print company for upcoming editions, but I hope we stick with them or either find another company with comparable quality prints or either even better quality outcome.

In this edition, we covered everything from blueberries to a rodeo. I'll list a few highlight posts during the coming week, but that's all for now in this update!

Go check one out! You can find a copy at one of these locations for only $3.00:

Douglas: Waldron Farm Supply Fuller Supply Company General Coffee State Park Papa's Gun Shop Ryland's Title Lending Badcock Home Furniture & More

Nicholls: Nicholls Pharmacy

Alma: The Blueberry Barn

Vidalia: Phillips Pharmacy

Baxley: Mr.Ray's Bbq The Whistle Stop

Tifton: Southern Pride Produce and Country Store Rutland Farms

Blackshear: Country-Gypsy

Waycross: Sassy Sisters Consignment Breezy's Boutique & Gifts

St.Simon's Island: Athena Spa by the Sea