Thursday, March 22, 2007

Beautiful By Sunset...Scary Fun By Day!

The last snowstorm we had was supposed to dump another two feet on us, instead it snowed a short while and then turned to a sleet/snow mix for about 8 inches. It then turned bitterly cold again for a few days and the wind whipped through the area for days. The combination left us with a very hard, shiny, slippery snowcover surface.
Lex noticed one evening how beautiful the sunset light was reflecting on the icy snow surface and told me I should take some pictures. Well she has a great artistic eye for photography (really) so I just had to go and look at what she was seeing, and this is what she saw(as always, click to enlarge the images)...

There is so much beauty in nature, in so many places in so many forms. Ok, that's the 'Beautiful By Sunset' part. Now for the 'Scary Fun By Day' part!We love to slide, one of our favorite winter activities, and we are lucky enough to have a great sliding hill as part of our back yard which gets lots of use. But when it is sooooo slippery that it can't be walked up, the sleds have to be put away. Far to dangerous to sled on. The kids are all extreme sliders and have been schooled about 'rolling out' when they are going too fast and a crash is imminent, (like into the house or woods/trees, etc :) ). When conditions are like this even to bail out is futile, for once the speed is achieved you would still keep going 'sled speed' after abandoning the sled. These conditions make for some of the funnest sliding ever though...sliding on your butt, tummy, whatever! It's tricky to get up the hill, you have to kick 'toe holes' in every step of the way and one mis-step sends you sliding back down the hill in a fashion you don't want to!

Here are Lex and Emi heading up:

And here is Lex coming down. There is very little control once you let go and start down, you just have to hope you have a good line!!

And one of my rosy-cheeked, blue-eyed Emi after some extreme butt-sliding :)

Another WedPix Article on 'Alone Time'

Amid all the flowers, food, music and festivities, there are two people at the focal point of a wedding: the wedding couple.
With all the attention heaped upon the bride and groom, a portrait session away from the crowds can help capture private moments between them. It gets the couple away from the pressure that comes with their wedding, and a chance to be alone to reflect on the occasion.
So why not consider at least a brief window of time to go off with the photographer to make some creative portraits in a picturesque environment, whether it be a park, old barn or nearby beach?

To be sure, a creative portrait session is not something that will happen at all weddings. Not all couples need or want one, and many prefer to let the moments captured during the ceremony and reception serve as photos of just the two of them.
And while it may seem like a deviation from truly just sitting back and letting the wedding photojournalist document the day as it unfolds, such portraits are no different than what photojournalists may find themselves doing most days while working for a newspaper, magazine or wire service. And it’s hardly the heavily posed photos of traditional wedding photography, but rather a way of putting the bride and groom into an environment and sometimes just letting them be.

Ideally, photographers will want to spend a relaxed period of time with the bride and groom during a portrait session. But with the demands of the wedding planner, caterers and others worked into the schedule, that luxury cannot always be realized. Sometimes a schedule may leave up to an hour for portraits. On other occasions, it may be only five minutes, or perhaps no time at all.
If it is something they choose to do, the couple of honor should make sure there is some window in which they can get away. It’ll pay off, as this quiet time will often produce some of the best portrait opportunities.
If the bride and groom choose to have a portrait session, says Shawna Herring, a WPJA award winner, “I’ll suggest that we plan on spending about 15 to 20 minutes after the ceremony with me, away from everyone else.”

Opinions vary as to the best time for the bride and the groom to get some isolated quality time with the photographer, although most tend to try to capture a few portraits before the reception, when everyone still looks fresh.
WPJA award winner Bradley Hanson says that sometimes a bride and groom will want to do the portrait session before the entire ceremony. In these cases, he likes to start photographing the bride getting ready, and then observes as she meets the groom for the first time on their day.
Others find that taking the bride and groom away between the ceremony and reception leads to a great photo session, since the couple has just exchanged their vows and is experiencing the emotions of being a newly married couple.
“Something palpable happens after the ceremony,” Shane Carpenter says, “whether it’s just sheer elation that everything has passed, or the psychic emotional bond that's happened now that they've entered married life. As the documentarian, it's my job to catch that transition.”
A session after the ceremony also works well logistically, as wedding guests are often shuffling from the ceremony location to the reception hall. The travel time also lets the couple head off somewhere with the photographer for a shoot in an attractive environment.
Though it may be impossible to achieve the ideal alone time due to tradition, family responsibilities or scheduling conflicts, the bride and groom should work together with their photographer to find the best period in the day to have minimal disruption and optimal time.

Unless the wedding involves a runway model marrying a seasoned actor, the odds are there will likely be at least one subject— the bride, groom or both— who is unfamiliar with being the focus of a portrait session. “Most people have a preconceived notion of what it's like to get their picture taken,” Herring says. “They almost expect to feel uncomfortable.”
One of the best ways for couples to loosen up in front of the camera is by forgetting it's even there. “I talk to the bride and groom and keep them focused on things other than being photographed,” says Hanson, who notes that he peppers the couple with questions about how they met, what they do, and where they’re off to afterwards to put them at ease.
Another way to get a few creative shots is to pick a day before the wedding for a photo shoot. Herring tends to do this, taking the couple out for two hours to a location of their choice. This strategy helps to build a relationship and lets the couple get comfortable with being in front of the camera. When the bride and groom begin interacting with each other, the camera stops being the focus and the result is great, un-posed images.

Set aside a good chunk of time to spend with your photographer.
Get away from the guests and family to capture those truly intimate moments between the newly married couple.
If someone is camera shy, bring a relative or friend to help them loosen up.
Go out for a pre-wedding day shoot with the photographer for a totally relaxed session.

“It helps to calm their fears,” Herring says. “I don’t want them being nervous with me on the big day.”
If on the day of the wedding either the bride or groom has a hard time acting naturally, Hanson sometimes will pull in someone else—either the best man, maid of honor or another sibling—just to make the mood more informal.

With all the great emotions that pour out when the couple are alone together, the last thing the wedding photographer needs is a portrait session ruined by the couple being distracted by numerous flashes and guests vying for their attention. It can also be overwhelming for the couple to have so many “look here” or “do this” demands tossed at them from a crowd of well wishers.
That’s why most suggest keeping the guests away for the private photo session. In fact, Herring stipulates it in the contract that everyone stay away for the private shoot.
If the families don't understand the snub, just be sure that someone explains that the whole point is to get the best creative portraits of the soon-to-be or newly minted husband and wife—images that will season the collection of other, more unplanned moments to be shared forever among family and friends.
— by Paul Ziobro for the Wedding Photojournalist Association

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

PLaying With Actions

I love Black and White versions of images, both portraits and landscapes. Yesterday we had a high temp of -2F with windchills at negative-30 or less at my house so I happily spent the day inside, feeding the fire and playing with post proccessing actions. I usually convert my images to a "traditional" black and white but then really turn up the contrast to make them a little more 'edgy', but I decided to try some other variations and here is what I came up with:
(be sure to click on the images to enlarge them)

This one is the original, straight out of the camera (just camera pre-sets)

This is a "modern antique", it is almost b&w but there is some color left behind. This isn't the best image to showcase the action, but I think it's cool still

This one is "b&w mocha", kind of washes out the highlights a bit much but I still like it

This is called "chocolate syrup", mmmmmm yummy! This action is growing on me

This is "split tone" it is a cross between b&w and a sepia tone. I am really starting to like this action. It is what I used on my profile pic

And last but certainly not least is this edgy b&w that I applied a LOT of grain to. I love grainy b&w's!!

So there are some different variations of the same image using some pretty cool actions on it :)

Monday, March 05, 2007

WedPix Article

For many, the most exasperating and dreaded moment of every wedding is right after the ceremony and before the reception, when everyone in the wedding party is called together for a grand staging, row after height-organized row, of matching taffeta and tuxedo silk.
"It's 'formal' picture-time!" - a wedding element as traditional as cake-cutting and garter tosses.

These days, however, brides and grooms are far more likely to break tradition when it comes to their weddings-and their photography. Couples are throwing creative and intensely personal weddings that represent their relationship. And they want their photography to capture that story-not the one a photographer is directing. Instead of pre-determined, posed stills, brides and grooms want to remember the unplanned, special moments that define the individuality of their wedding: a laugh between bridesmaids in the dressing room; a mother watching her daughter adjust her veil; the intimate moment between a father and his daughter, minutes before walking down the aisle; or the flower girl sitting in the grass, oblivious to her role, more interested in a dandelion than her basket of rose petals.
But there's a catch to pulling off this highly personal, documentary-style approach: you have to be willing to allow the photographer behind the scenes, giving him or her access to your most personal moments, so they can tell the story of your wedding-from beginning to end, and all the hidden parts in between.
Even if you think you've given your photographer unlimited access to your day, there are sometimes sticky situations that are out of your control. Churches, for example, often institute strict rules about where a photographer is permitted to stand during the ceremony. Another common restriction involves the use of flash photography. If that's the case, and there's truly nothing you can do, then you have to be realistic about the photos your photographer will be able to capture. If he or she has to stand in the back of the church, it will be impossible to document the bride's expression as she approaches her groom.
Amy Deputy, a wedding photojournalist and member of WPJA, says that designated church areas are one of the biggest roadblocks to access. "Churches have had such obnoxious photographers in the past, and it is a very sacred event," she says. "Sometimes it helps to talk it over with the pastor, and let him know that your photographer has promised to stay down low in the front and be respectful of the ceremony."

Daniel Sheehan, a Pulitzer Prize-winning commercial and editorial photojournalist, developed a strategy when he started photographing weddings-an interest that arose when he did a photo essay for a friend's wedding. Sheehan likes to attend the rehearsal, if only for a few minutes, in order to identify the key players in the wedding, as well as coach them if necessary on what kind of photographs he likes to capture. "At the rehearsal, they're thinking of everything that's going to happen the next day, minute-by-minute, and I can get an idea of what moments are important." And, if there's still a family member who's not cooperating the next day? "After working in newspaper for 15 years, I'm used to not listening," Sheehan says.

You will be tremendously busy on your wedding day, often with every minute scheduled and accounted for. If you know you want photographs that capture the two of you sharing a special moment alone, you should schedule time together-on a park bench, walking down the street, or just canoodling. "I like to have 30 minutes with just the couple," Deputy says. "Is that faux photojournalism? Maybe. But it's also creating a natural and special moment where they can just be in love." She won't set up a shot, but she encourages you to make the time, so these moments have a chance to take shape organically. Otherwise, they might not happen.

Deputy also recommends giving your wedding photojournalist a primer about your family dynamics. Share some personal details about your parents and siblings, so the photographer can get an idea of how to capture their strongest attributes, as well as the relationship you share with them. What's their story? Who should be photographed together? What do you love to do together?

To avoid any problems with family members barring the photographer from intimate settings or bugging the photographer for specific, posed group photographs, Chicago wedding photojournalist Anne Ryan stresses the importance of preparing your family beforehand for the type of photography you've chosen for your wedding. She has had good luck with couples who delegate a point person. This person is in charge of communicating with the photographer, identifying the VIPs, so the photographer can capture candid moments involving the near-and-dear cast of family and friends. "Everyone has that one friend or family member with drill sergeant mentality who likes to give orders," Sheehan says. "They become my accomplice." He also recommends putting together a shot list in advance.

Most photographers agree that granting an all-access pass isn't just about physical spaces. "Photojournalism is about documenting great moments with totally unguarded emotions," Deputy explains. That means letting your guard down enough to let your photographer see who you are. Take time to get to know your photographer, and make sure you hire someone you feel a connection with.
You have to completely trust your photographer to handle your emotions responsibly, and to know intuitively when they should or shouldn't photograph. With trust comes comfort. "When people are the most natural and comfortable, that's when they look their best," Ryan says. "The moment you start directing, they start acting differently."
That's another reason Sheehan likes to make an appearance at the rehearsal. If he takes some photos at the rehearsal, he gets a preview of the people who pose. "People are trained-you point a camera at them, and they turn and give you a big smile," he says. "At the rehearsal, I can give them a talk, tell them to act natural when I'm around."
"When they know they're OK just the way they are, they give themselves permission to open up. And all of that is done in an instant," Deputy says. "When people are comfortable with who they are inside, they can look right into the camera-and there's a really powerful connection. That's a picture that tells a story."
— by Meghan McEwen for The Wedding Photojournalist Association

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Student Awards

Alexis and Emily each earned student awards this past Wednesday. They are such great kids and are both great students, which makes me so very proud of them!! They are both very well rounded with many interests both in and out of school. I just had to brag about them a little :)

I enjoy going to the monthly Assembly whenever possible, it is such a wonderful event for the students. The Strong School is a 'Blue Ribbon School', one of only three schools in the state to earn that high honor, and one of only 300 odd schools in the nation. The expectations are high for the students in our school, and a lot is demanded of the students. For all their hard work they are awarded recognition in front of the entire Student Body and Faculty each month and there is always a large number of students called up for numerous awards. These are not just "fluff" awards given for simply trying, they are awards that are earned with hard work and excellence. The students set goals and tend to meet and exceed them on a regular basis. The positive effect on the children can be seen at the monthly Assembly as they are recognized for all they do. It is just a great event at a great school in a great community.
Ok, enough boasting about our school :) here are some pics of my girls from the Assembly this past Wednesday (the gymnasium is lit by harsh florescent lighting only, so I used some post processing actions on the images to enhance them which I rarely do. The action is a 'Hollywood' action, designed to make the images "dreamy" and "hollywood-like" :) ).........
Emi receiving her certificates for all 100's on her spelling tests for December and January

Lex receiving a certificate for being invited to the 'Principal's Breakfast' for "Helping Others With Technology" . Introducing Lex to the computer when she was one years old is paying off ;)

Here she is receiving her award for High Honors (all A's). She was one of 4 in her class.

And last but not least, Lex was awarded "Student Of The Month' for the month of January '07. The write-up accompanying her award was really nice. She does such a great job in school, is super helpful to others, volunteers for everything, and gets involved with everything going extracurricular wise.
These are of her receiving her S.O.M. Award :)