greetings from sunny (and foggy) los angeles, ca

Hi, I'm heather. I like taking pictures. I take a lot of them. I stay up way too late. I wake up with my kids way too early (for me). Though slowly I'm learning that sleep is good.

I love photographing newborns, toddlers, kids (I've got two of my own), families, name it! Large groups and weddings make me way too nervous, but I'd be happy to refer you to other photographers in the area.

I love to hear your comments, so feel free to add to my blog by posting. Having a hard time remembering "umami?" Well, I wanted a name that would be easy to remember, spell and find, but apparently I did none of that, so if you'd like to get emails when I post, just add your email to the "subscribe here" box... you'll be the first to find out when I'll be offering mini sessions and other specials!

have a happy day... heather


we're baaaaack! 3 days, 2 nights... a roadtrip

Can you guess where we went for vacation? Well, when you see the pics, you might be able to guess that it was Matt's idea and not mine. ;)

Because I'm feeling a little bit lazy, I'm going to post most of these SOOC (straight out of camera) instead of editing them. Okay, I take that back...I'm going to lightly edit some of these...

can you guess where we're headed?

(sorry I chopped off your chin Kaylie)

On Tue we spent the day at Disneyland for Jack's bday. He was totally melting down by the time we left and cried for a half hour on our drive home. On Wed he helped Matt put together a new Cost Plus dresser (Matt LOVES Cost Plus but not so much now that it took him forever to put together this latest purchase and since it was missing the handles). Anyway, Jack totally started sneezing while they were putting it together and we figured it was just allergies or some reaction to the toxic formadahyde furniture ;) , but nope, the next day on our way out of town he started with a runny nose, more sneezing and a nasty cough. And you can guess what little girl got the same symptoms the next day.

Hm... were can you find snow covered moutains behind you and desert in front of you?

Photo tips: Shooting people in bright sun (keep in mind I'm still learning too, so if you have any hints or tips to share, please comment...or if I say something totally wrong, uh, just quietly email me and I'll uh get that all fixed up. ha)

Okay, these are all SOOC. If you want any settings or more info, let me know. On this trip I had no choice but to practice shooting in bright bright daylight (perfect practice since I deal with sun all the time in LA). Most people think the best time to do family pictures is on a beatiful sunny day like this. But in reality this is actually a very tricky lighting situation for newbie photographers like me. If you're shooing in automatic or aperture priority, and have the sun behind your subjects, you'll most likely get a photograph like this:

The background looks nicely exposed, but the subject is all dark. Well, if you want to do a silohuette, it's very easy, just have the bright sun behind your subject (try positioning your subject so his/her body actually blocks the sun. Then see what you get when you shoot in auto.

BUT if you were hoping to get a nice family picture where you can see everyone's faces, you'll have to try a few other tricks.

The picture above was taken in full sun at 2:30pm. You can see the sun is coming in from the upper left side of the picture since Matt's face is brightest on that side and he's actually casting a shadow in Kaylie's face... oops, just noticed that. I exposed for the background so I could see the clouds and nice blue sky f/14 (since I didn't care if it had a blurry background or not), 1/200 sec, ISO 100 (bright sun). And then I blasted Matt and kaylie with my flash set at its highest power so they wouldn't be all dark. The flash helps to fill in some of the shadows on their face too. No longer do we have the dark subjects, but they do have kind of squinty eyes (another problem with shooting in full sun...lots of dark eye sockets and squinty eyes since it's so bright out). Here are a couple more:

Just be sure you don't hit them with too much flash! Oh and see that dark spot to the left of Kaylie's ear? That would would be dust on my sensor. Time for a cleaning!

So another option when the sun is out, is to shoot in the shade.

Ahhh... much softer. But in order to get the nice blue skies, I still exposed for the background and used my flash to fill in his face. It helps that the sun is a natural reflector too. Settings: f 2.8, 1/1250 sec, ISO 100. I usually have to try a few different flash setting before I get it just right. I've also been playing around with exposing for the subject's face (without using a flash or reflector to fill in) and then seeing what happens to the background. In this case, the background ends up all blown out like this:

Here's a shot to end today's post (that Matt took). I'll be back later to show some of the highlights from our trip.


Melanie said...

what great pictures, fun family times! personally i prefer to not do the fill flash - but you actually did an excellent job of it!!!! and I lik e the turnout.

For me I do the meter off of their faces -- then take that shot, then staying right there I quick move my meter up a lot to get the same picture with it exposed for the background, does that make sense? I also always do backlighting in this sense (sun behind subject) to eliminate shadows.

anyhoo...not sure you needed to know my method, but something worth trying 0 like I said you did a fab job.

umami photography said...

Hey, glad you like them and thanks so much for sharing what you do... I like learning new techniques (that's why I spend so much time on ilp) :). So you basically combine your two images (one exposed for the subject and one for the bkg)in photoshop? What do you do if there's a bright halo around your subject?

Backlighting has become my new friend on bright afternoons. Less squinting and even lighting.

I'm starting to like the look of blown out bkgs too. :)