J&M Lighting Intensive Workshop!

LightingWorkshop

If you stand still life will pass you by!  Ok, yes! Totally cliche! I admit.  But isn’t it the truth?  Actually what I’m really thinking about is fear.  Fear can make you stand still.  A person who stands still doesn’t grow.  One thing that I would say is true about me is that I always like to keep growing.

Light is an amazing thing. Light can be a thing of beauty.  Light can create mood, bring out the gorgeous, hide the flaws, and even create emotion.  Light can help you tell a story. A photographer who master’s light, learns to control it, shape it, guide it, or capture it is a photographer who can tell a story in just one frame and create phenomenal works of art.

I’ve studied light.  I’ve studied the master’s and their use of light.  I’ve rented all kinds of equipment in order to become a master of light myself.  Yet… I never jumped in full fledge.  I never committed.   I dabbled.  I liked what I created when I did get my hands on some fantastic lighting gear but fear still held me back.  Fear of what?  I haven’t a clue.  Fear of blowing my money on this when I really should have bought that? Maybe.

No more.  I decided it was time to commit. Jump in with two feet.  Of course, I wanted someone to hold my hand!  So I signed up for the J&M Lighting Intensive Workshop.  Justin and Mary are two local wedding photogs who are not only gifted with the camera but they also possess a knack for teaching and hearts for sharing.  I knew they’d help me settle down and show me just what I needed.

Last Wednesday night they welcomed me and about 10 other photographer’s into their home and let us pick their brains and use their equipment.  They held our hands as we experimented.  They explain to us just what would be the best purchases and why.  We weren’t allowed to leave their home until we were experts in our own right.

To warm up we began with the basics… best practices for on camera flash.

We all practiced our on camera flash techniques on our fellow photographers.  Fun!

We all practiced our on camera flash techniques on our fellow photographers. Fun!

Justin and Mary’s technique is similar to my own.  I was pleased I was doing SOMETHING right!

storyboard-1010Then the real fun began!  Out came our model and all of Justin’s toys! We began with a simple one light system with a speedlight and umbrella.  This is the setup I am building for myself first.  But we didn’t stop there!

Never had I had the opportunity to see such great equipment put to use right in front of my eyes.  Actually that’s not true.  I’ve taken other courses on lighting, but it was always theory and no practice.  The best I ever got was watching someone else at the front of a lecture hall going crazy with more gear than should be legal to own.  There was nothing practical learned there other than this guy is a hot shot… no pun intended.  In the shot above you can see a beauty dish and a reflector.  How simple.

storyboard-1011Then came out my favorite piece.  An Octobank.  I knew what they things were capable of… but they are so expensive, even to rent.  So I had never had the opportunity.  Look at how gorgeous that light is on her, even when I shot from the side.  I squealed like a schoolgirl.  For the photo geeks of the world, if I remember correctly we had a profoto monolight in both the beauty dish and the octobank.

Finally it became my turn to play!  Here were my results.

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I love the depth here.  I think looking back I might have added a little fill perhaps with a reflector to these bottom two images.  But over all… I’m over the moon!  I CAN do this!  And I know just what I need and what makes sense to purchase!

The other part of this workshop revolved around using off camera light to photograph dramatic detail shots at weddings.  With a simple softbox and speedlight I was able to achieve this….

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Depth and drama. That’s how I want my photos to come out!  Justin showed me just what to buy.  Now I’m not fearful that I’ll make a mistake in my purchases.  I can’t wait until it all arrives.  Yep, I just about broke the bank.  But I’m worth it! And so are my clients.

If you are photog considering J&M’s Lighting Intensive workshop I have to say go for it.  You’ll have a fabulous evening and you’ll learn a tremendous amount.  It’s worth the investment.

Feeding Myself… and no i don’t mean food!

Last night I spent the evening feeding myself.  Feeding my creative spirit that is.  I got to hang out with some of the best photographers in my area.  We chatted and learned and thought and encouraged and tried and failed and retried and retried again.  My eyes are always keen on light, how it bends, flows, moves, shapes and dances.  But in my every day I sometimes loose focus…  So thankful for the opportunity!

To my photog friends, thank you for a great evening!

I encourage you to find that time to do that think that fills you up and helps you be who you really are.  Don’t put it off.  Make it a priority!

Happy Friday Eve everyone!  Please share with me your special thing… photography, knitting, scrapbooking, reading, exercise, cooking, bowling, blogging… whatever it is I’d love it if you shared in the comments.

Macro Madness… Colored Pencils!

Pencil Macro

I like to make every day objects into art work.  Our school space is in our basement and it’s a bit dark down there.  I was thinking it might be nice to spruce it up with some new and vibrant art work!  I dug out my camera and got to work!  What do you think of the results?  I’m not sure if I’d rather have these printed on canvas or framed in a simple black frame!  Hmm… oh! These might make nice gifts for an art teacher too.  I wonder what else I could do with photos like these!

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Easy Black & White Photos In Lightroom!

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I love creating black and white photos!  I just do!  I think they tend to draw your eye to what’s important in a photo, the emotions, the eyes, the STORY!  Sometimes though, it isn’t so easy to make them turn out the best!  When cruising the internet I tend to see some pretty drab, gray, and dreary black and whites.  Nothing kills me more than to see a child, especially a new born, with such gray skin that they look more deceased than sleeping.  I know! Morbid! But it does happen!  Let me walk you through how I changed this photo.

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This is my photo straight out of the camera.  Not so bad, a little on the dark side maybe but nothing too far from normal.  I wanted the viewer to really pay attention to their interaction.  Their gaze with one another.  Let me tell you how I dressed it up to make that happen!

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First I started by hitting the Black & White button in the Basic menu under the develop tab!  YUCK!  THIS is a GREAT example of a BAD black & white in my opinion.  It’s dark, grey, dull, and the girls look sick and ashey!  BLAH!

So I set out to change  a a few things.  I like my black & whites to be bright, with strong blacks and pretty good contrast.  So those are the sliders I tackled first.  I increased the exposure to 1.89… that’s quite a bit! I added a touch of fill light at 8 and I upped the blacks a tad to 9.  Then I attacked the brightness and bumped that right up to 68!  I told you like things bright!  Unfortunately this make their white shirts a bit too neon… if white can be neon!  So I slid the recovery slider to 34.  That helped a lot!  Contrast was next on my list and I slid that to 62.  Here… you can see my settings yourself!

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There was still ONE thing that bothered me though.  The beautiful girl on the right… her face as still just a bit too dark for me.  Take a look!

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I took my brush and selected the built in brightness brush and light went over her face!  I liked the result much better! Take a look!

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Every photo is of course slightly different.  While I love presets I usually have tweak everything no matter what.  The settings I shared with you are typical of the settings I usually adjust when creating black and white photos.  Play around with yours to see what impact they have on your photos!

Fontaine Family

This has to be one of the most fun sessions I’ve had in quite a long time!  The Fontaine’s are just an all around sweet, fun, and goofy family.  The goofy leader would certainly be their dad Bill.  I’d certainly call him the instigator of the family!  These guys rocked this session!  We were done in record time and I think the results were awesome!

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 It was an honor and a priveldge to work with you guy!  Thank you so much for making me laugh and indulging me in my own silliness!

 

To see more of the Fontaine Family session please click on the slide show below!

Easy Canvas Prints Giveaway! Oh Yeah!

photo canvas prints

I was recently given the opportunity to order a canvas of one of my very own photos from Photo Canvas Prints.  I’ve ordered canvas prints before, quite obviously, for my clients.  I HIGHLY reccomend canvases.  Why?  Because I personally am very lazy and completely indecisive at heart.  Though I adore the look of a beautifully framed photo I know that I’ll just hem and hah bout what I want style of frame I want or how much I want to spend on it… and then never get the darn photo framed and hung.  Seriously, I am totally envious when I walk into a client’s home and see all of MY beautiful photos of their family adorning the walls.  In my own home I never seem to get around to it.  That’s where canvases come in…. THEY DO NOT NEED TO BE FRAMED!  The edges are nicely wrapped with the photo edges themselves or finished off with a clean border.  Once they arrived it is super easy to hang them up and be done!  No indecision neccessary!

Here is the photo I chose to have placed on a canvas.  This one of my crew is over 3 years old and it might very well be my most favorite photo of the 3 of them ever!  This one should work great on canvas because there is LOTS of room all the way around my children.  Canvases require lots of space around the subject so that no ones head or arm falls off the edge and around the side of the finished canvas.

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The ordering process was a BREEZE!  I chose my canvas size, uploaded the photo, previewed what finish product would look like, and entered my shipping info.  Each step was clearly laid out for me.  There was absolutely NO confusion!  I’m totally impressed so far.  I’ll be really interested to see how great the quality is.  So far Canvas Prints seems to be a company that pays attention to details so my expectations are high!  There will be a detailed post once it arrives! I expect that to take a good 2 weeks.

In the meantime… Easy Canvas Prints has generously offered to give one free canvas to one of my wonderful Crystal Starr readers.  Go ahead and enter to win your own Easy Canvas Print!  I’ll be rooting all of you on!

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

* Easy Canvas Prints is providing the winner with their canvas and as a thank you to me for posting about my experience and running this giveaway on my blog they also provided me with a canvas as well.  I was not required to display a positive review in exchange for this opportunity.

The Santos Family is Back! | CT Family Photography

You may remember this incredible family I was priviledged to photograph back in in 2011. Things have certainly changed for them since then but I’d say one thing is for sure, God has been in control and taking fantastic care of them all of this time.  Take a look at how they are doing now.

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The big guy, Eric is entering his last year of highschool.  He is filled with dream of college and the chance to continue to pursue a career in sports management or some related area.  storyboard-957 storyboard-958

The not so little brother Kyle is rocking it as a middle schooler and enjoying every minute!storyboard-959

How about Mom Nancy? She’s doing a phenomenal job doing what she does best.  Being super mom to her wonderful boys. storyboard-960 storyboard-961

Thank you again to the Santos Family for gracing my lens!  It is always such an honor and a pleasure!

Baby Miles is 3 Months Old!

Do you remember Miles?  A few months back he, and his sister, graced my page with their adorable photos!  Miles was just a newborn then.  Now he is back to share with us he sweet little 3 month face.  Ah… doesn’t he look like quite the snuggler!

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This little guy is destined to be one handsome heartbreaker.  I can’t wait to share his 6 month old photos!  Thank you to his Mom Annie for being such a loyal client!  It’s a blessing to work with her and her family!

To see more of Baby Miles click the slideshow below.

 

Springtime Macro Madness

Macromadness

I’m blessed to live in a house whose previous owners were avid gardeners. Lord knows I kill plants just by looking at them! I kid you not! Ask my husband. Somehow every spring we do get some gorgeous flowers popping up all on their own! I dare not touch them… my black thumb would shrivel them up in moments! Breaking out my macro lens however is a treat! Here are some treasures I captured right outside my front door. Who knew such beauty existed just steps away!

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Do you have a favorite?  Is there anything you’d like to see photographed in a macro kind of way? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


 

 

 

Kristen and Ryan! A Wedding at the Society Room in Hartford CT

I recently had the great pleasure of being on hand to photograph one of the most gorgeous weddings I’ve ever witnessed. The beauty of course came from the beautiful setting and the sparkling bride. It also came from the love and adoration that Kristen and Ryan share. In my profession I have the honor of seeing many couples in love. Some stand above the crowd as these two do. It surely is a sweet, sweet affection. Simply breath taking.

I began with Kristen as she prepared for her day.
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Later I joined Ryan and his guys as they finished their preperations.
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Then we sprinted back over to Kristen as she put on the finishing touches.  Her style is just to die for!  Check out THESE SHOES!
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But then came one of my favorite moments of the day… the dress.  I think it must have been Kristen’s favorite moment too.
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The ceremony was beautiful of course!
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Ryan, what a sweetheart.  He had us ALL crying!
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I think these might be the most stunning formal photos I’ve ever had the opportunity to capture.
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Another fine wedding.  Thank you Kristen and Ryan for sharing your day with me and thank you to LaViera Photography for letting me serve them as Lead Photographer.  If you loved these photos let me know by clicking the little like button just below.  Thanks a bunch!

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