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Jane and Rob

From the beginning, I could tell that Jane was a kind of force. Everything works out for her, but there’s always going to be a bit of a struggle to get there. Her wedding was no different.

The florist thought that the wedding was on Saturday, and hadn’t delivered the flowers by 30 minutes before the wedding. So at 7pm on a Friday night, as many as four people were trying to track down the florist, while another relative was headed out to try to buy other flowers at local stores.

Meanwhile, Jane was busily getting ready.

At 8:10, the bride walked down the aisle to marry her sweetheart of 14 years. Her son Nathan escorted her. Twenty minutes later, Jane and Rob happily made their way past throngs of supporting friends and family.

Inside, the cake was wonderfully decorated.

There weren’t a lot of formals… Jane and Rob were more interested in the photojournalistic aspect of their wedding. But we did like what we managed to get, despite having gone past the sunset.

Congratulations once again to Jane and Rob and Happy Birthday to Jane’s son Nathan, pictured to the right of her (with the beard) in the picture above. They also provided him with a cake and a round of the birthday song.

Original Sin

Yeah, I knew you’d look at this post just based on the name. I would, too. What IS the original sin, you may ask? Well, if you read your religious text there are many different ways to learn the answer. But in the case of this post, the Original Sin is a heavy metal band for which we did group and individual photos.

The group is an eclectic mix of five guys you might not ordinarily put or see together and say “there’s a heavy metal band waiting to happen.” No, these guys are unique personalities that all seem to get along quite well. Unedited, this is one of my favorite shots of the band as a group.

We took two sets of individual photos of each band member. One without instruments and one with. There’s something about one of the band members that just screams “heavy metal” to me. It’s one of the images I like the most. Everyone else seemed to like it, too.

The guy in the black sleeveless shirt in the group photo is a close friend of my younger stepdaughter, Tara. Of course, they came to us for their first album shots and publicity photos. I think things went pretty well.

On the complete other end of the spectrum, I also did a wedding tonight. I’ll post that in my next entry. I have three portrait sittings on Saturday, so look for the wedding and portraits later in the day, maybe even Sunday. 🙂


INFO: What happens to my pictures?

Most people don’t ask. They just trust that we are handling their wedding photos with care. We are, but there are a lot of “what ifs” floating around out there that can completely destroy your wedding images – forever.

Before arriving at a wedding, the storage and security part has already begun. I bring a lot of digital memory cards with me to record onto. At least four cards and at least 8GB. That will usually be good for around 2,000 images. Larger weddings will obviously need more image space, but that’s another subject.

At the wedding, I carry a device that is basically a portable hard drive that reads and stores memory cards. At critical moments during the day, I put the memory card into this device and copy all the files off the card and onto a hard drive. I can then reuse the card or continue taking photos in addition to what is already on the card – I just put them on the hard drive as a safeguard measure.

Once back at the studio, all cards and the portable hard drive are copied to our main server. After I’ve verified that the images are all on the main server, I make a backup disk of the files on the hard drive – usually onto a DVD. That DVD is filed away and then the images are copied onto my laptop for editing and publishing.

On my laptop is where I edit out blinks, bad pictures and the like. After editing, I renumber the images into their chronological sequence. This puts the pictures into a sequence of the way they occurred, since I use multiple cameras at the wedding. Once the sequencing is done, I do basic color correction for those that need it and publish them to the online site for the wedding couple to review.

After publishing, I move the edited and resequenced images to the main server and off my laptop. The original images are still safely tucked away on a DVD and we print from the edited images.

Any questions? 🙂

Senior season has begun…

Not every senior season starts with someone who has already graduated, but this isn’t a normal year anyway.

Joelle graduated from Musselman High School a year early, taking some classes in the summers to help complete all her high school requirements early. She told me she has an older sister in college, a younger brother in high school and plans to attend Shepherd in the fall.

With a great interest in small animals, she wants to explore veterinary service in some way.

We took about 30 photos of Joelle in several outfits. She arrived early and we were done with her sitting in about 45 minutes, including a drape shot and several formal photos. This close-up ended up being her mom’s favorite.

Congratulations to Joelle and best wishes for her continued future success.

And four realtors…

So after spending the first two and a half hours finishing up the keying in of baseball pictures, I spent almost an hour with Mrs. Bennett and her daughter going over dance pictures for the last three dance seasons. This is one of our favorites of her. A little of the new Impressions has been applied. You can see that the skin glows a little, there’s more emphasis on the face and it just seems so much softer. There are technical descriptions for what we’ve done, but the picture speaks for itself.

After that, I hurried down to Inwood to do some team photos for Professional Realty, Inc. in Inwood. I was really taken by the building they occupy. Built from modulars, it has the appearance of a nice home on the side of the road, but inside it is all office. I really liked the front porch – which needs some furniture, but did have a lot of nice hanging flowers. So, when they tell you it’s the fourth driveway on the left, don’t pass by the blue house with the wide front porch – that’s the office!

Here’s a shot from their sitting. They had about 15 photos taken in four locations and in two outfits. We did it all in about an hour. Very cooperative and helpful, Kathy, Pam, Melissa and Sam made this job a real delight.

When I got back, and after relaxing for a brief moment, another of our dance parents stopped by to see some of the photos. Mrs. Stocker has always been one of our best clients, and enjoys the photos of her daughter a great deal. Diana and I enjoyed sitting with her and talking about her daughter’s portraits, and reviewing something special we’re doing with one of her portraits in particular. Hopefully I’ll have more on that later this week.

Speaking of dance pictures. It’s time for a brag. It’s not often during dance picture season that you have the opportunity to take a magnificent image – one that turns everyone’s head. Well, in a dance studio like Tari Jo’s, there are going to be talented dancers. And Sara is quite talented, and challenged herself and me to capture an image that embodied the skill of the dancer and the timing of the photographer. That image is below. An image like this deserves special treatment, so Diana added some wonderful Impressions work and it went from “wow!” to stunning.

At home, I picked up some branches so Diana could continue mowing while the dogs were out romping around. I did a little more painting around the windows, and took a short fall that bruised my right elbow… I think I’ll live. But the painting will continue. 🙂

Good night, all.

Resolution to catching up

Instead of trying to go back and catch everything up, I’ve changed the way I’m doing things. I’m going to spend at least 10-15 minutes EVERY DAY on my blog, regardless of what else goes on. It has been my sanity in the past, hopefully it will just be a good release.

So, we’re painting the house. We moved into our home in 1994 and it was in great shape. The former owners took exceptional care of it and we enjoyed how well they had done so. Over the years, though, we kept promising ourselves to paint the house. We got close a couple of times, even taking the paint chips home and looking them over. But alas, we never resolved to do it.

This year, we were determined. Diana was more determined than I, so it was important to me as well. We agreed on a color early in the spring and it got put aside again. But around the middle of May we were at the Home Depot and picked up some more paint chips to look at and matched one with the color we had settled on over the winter. We went ahead and bought the paint, plus some white for the trim, some roller kits, brushes, tape, everything we thought we’d need. We had some stuff left over from when we painted the studio, so we were ready to go.

On Memorial Day Sunday, we had a lot of help in doing a lot of the prep work and starting the painting. Jeff and Mike removed a lot of the caulk and replaced it around many of the door and windows in the front. Jill and Diana worked on trim and the front patio. I was power washing the house and trying to remove much of the damage done by ivy vines we had over the years. The power washer was phenomenal in removing most of the grime, some of the paint, and a few pieces of the siding. 🙁

After lunch, Tara came by with some friends and worked on the north side of the house for an hour or so before they had to leave. Jeff kept working on painting that side of the house, fighting with a bush. I went to pick up crabs while Diana finished washing the house, and Jill continued painting the trim.

We cleaned up around 7 and sat down to some great crabs and fixin’s.

Thanks much to Jeff, Jill, Mike, Tara and her friends and of course my lovely wife Diana.

Since that time, we have been dabbling. I went to the Wal-Mart and picked up a Wagner Power Painter. Why hadn’t I done this before? Holy moly.

After figuring out a new plan, I decided to spend each evening doing the edge work (around windows and doors) and then this weekend I’ll use the power painter to do everything else. I can’t believe how fast this thing covers. I’m really looking forward to getting it all done. The gutters in the back are next, then a thorough cleaning of the gutters.

I’m off to bed. I have a location sitting on Wednesday. Looking forward to it. 😉

Busy Busy Busy – April 23-29

So what have we been up to for the last few weeks? Just name it. And that’s what the answer will be.

In the last week of April and the first week of May, we spent each evening taking soccer pictures for Jefferson County Youth Soccer. There are a LOT of kids in that league, and it takes every day to get them all photographed. The parents and players have all been very cooperative.

On Wednesday and Thursday, April 26-27, we photographed most of the members of the Shepherd University fraternity Delta Sigma Pi. Since we offer extensive school-based services, we do several composites each year for local college/university organizations.

We were contacted on Thursday, April 27 by a young lady who was getting married, somewhat impromptu on Friday evening, April 28 at the Bavarian Inn. It was a lovely wedding. Diana officiated in the gazebo behind the main dining room, and I took photos of the ceremony and family members present.

On Saturday, April 29, we photographed individual racers for the American Scholastic Soap Box Derby which was being held in Shepherdstown on May 13. Each racer was photographed with their car on the practice and weigh-in day at James Rumsey Institute.

Later in the day, we photographed most of the teams from Summit Point Baseball, doing team and individual photographs. I think there were about 20 teams. The weather was beautiful… cool with a light breeze and plenty of sunshine – my favorite!

More to come in the next entry.

LESSON: Where’s the sun?

It seems like everytime I’m at a family event or somewhere outside among other people where there is a camera present, the question always comes up about where the sun should be when taking a picture of someone.

The short answer is that there is no hard and fast rule. It depends on what else you have available and where the sun is in the sky. Here are two scenarios where the placement of the subjects with relation to the sun are different.

You’re in an open area outside, with very few trees or other covering structures, such as a ball field or the beach. The sun is at about a 45-degree angle to your position, so it’s either mid-morning (10am during the summer) or late afternoon (4:30pm in the summer). Let’s think about this for a moment. If you put the sun behind you (the one with the camera), that means the sun will be on the faces of your subject. They will be very well lit and you won’t need to use a flash. But there’s also a problem with that. Because the sun will be on their faces, it will also be directly in their eyes. Bright light in anyone’s eyes causes them to squint. It also causes their face to distort from the squinting. So now you’re taking a well-lit picture of someone whose face is squinting so much that they look like a raisin. Not good.

So, you decide to put the sun behind them (in front of you) by turning everything around. That works to make sure there isn’t any squinting! But it creates two new problems. The first problem is that now your background is very bright and your camera will underexpose your subject’s faces, making them appear very dark (see the picture below for an example). You can turn on your flash (yes, turn ON your flash – even in sunlight) to fill in the dark spots on their faces, but your camera has to be smart enough to know how to do this properly. The other problem you face is the sun beaming directly into your camera and causing a phenomenon referred to as camera flare. These are bright flares of light that can show up as streaks, circles or a combination of both in various colors. It’s SOOOOO complicated.

But here’s the solution. Place your subject (and yourself) so that the sun is to the SIDE of where you are. That’s right, so that the sun is coming from the left side or the right side. There won’t be much squinting, if any, you will still have brightly lit faces, the shadows will be at a minimum, and the chances of camera flare are almost non-existent. The picture below gives you an idea of what that might look like.

Second problem. Outdoor at the local park, enjoying a family outing. You want to take a picture of your family for the scrapbook. The sun is directly overhead. You want it to be nicely lit, but you are worried about the horrible shadows that are caused by the direct sunlight (these appear as dark spots under chins, noses, eyebrows, etc.). What to do, what to do?

You could wait for a cloud, but sunny day clouds aren’t usually thick enough to dim the sun’s light sufficiently to reduce the shadows. Instead, move your family under a shady tree. The direct sunlight is reduced significantly, and you still have enough surrounding light to get a good photo!

There are lots more scenarios you could come up with, and I encourage you to do so. Please post a comment with your outdoor lighting question (or indoor if you like) and we’ll see if we can come up with a solution for you.

Until next time, keep those cameras snappin’!

My Easter Weekend

I rarely take any real time off. I go home at night, eat, sleep and all that. But time off is like 2-3 days of doing not much of anything. But this past weekend was just that… a few days off to kind of relax and enjoy family and have some fun.

Diana’s mom lives in Robesonia, PA… near Reading. The state capital is just 45 minutes west and Philadelphia about an hour and a half east/southeast. We left straight from the studio on Friday night, hoping to get in and get a good night’s sleep. That’s exactly what happened, except for the sleeping part. Sometimes you just aren’t comfortable in a bed that isn’t your own.

The dogs weathered the 150 minute trip pretty well. They liked that we put down the huge doggy pillow in the back of the car, along with a chew bone and a rope toy. Admittedly, though, they were just as happy to get there.

Jack, our Scottish Terrier. He’s 4.
Saturday was a real do-nothing kind of day. Jessica, my daughter, and Mike (her husband) came up later in the morning along with Cameron, my constant-motion two-year old grandson. We spent the majority of the day on Saturday catching up, chasing Cameron and watching the multitude of trains go by (my mother-in-law’s home is a mere 300 feet from a set of dual tracks that carry a LOT of train traffic). We also took some photos of her beautiful flowers, which involved me on a stepladder to shoot down into some of them.

Diana’s friend Elaine visited from nearby Frystown, bringing Diana a beautiful new spinning wheel to use for her yarn-spinning, at which she has become quite adept. The conversation and good times that ensued lasted well into the late afternoon. That night Dawna (mother in law) made a big pot of spaghetti and meat sauce… everyone ate. Cameron wore a good portion of it, but enjoyed it anyway. Diana’s sister Joyce came up from her nearby home (a block away) to have dinner with us and watch some TV. They left when the yawning started. 🙂

Joyce and Cameron played with the dogs in the backyard. Benny is the wheaten Scotty you see and Bagel is the Basset/Beagle mix in the center, along with Jack.

Sunday morning came with cooler weather and a beautiful bright sunshine that just says “Easter Morning.” We were all anticipating Cameron’s easter egg quest and as soon as Joyce and Bruce (Joyce’s husband) arrived, we got to the goodies. Cameron had a LOT of Easter baskets. This kid was in chocolate heaven. But the real fun came after he was quite content that he had baskets, candy, new toys and stuff to play with.

NOW it was time to go outside for the easter egg hunt.

With only a little help from the seven adults there, Cameron found all twelve of the dyed eggs and four plastic eggs with MORE chocolate goodies inside.

Mike (Cameron’s daddy) helps him recover an egg from the tree.

After a wonderful dinner of ham, potatoes, brocolli, asparagus, and rolls, we were all wondering why we felt like we did at Thanksgiving; full, ready for a nap and feeling hungry an hour later. Unlike Thanksgiving, though, there was no football. So while Bruce and Mike found a baseball game on, Cameron was outside watching for trains, exploring Dawna’s gardens and chasing the doggies around – among other things.

The dogs frolicked in the backyard on Sunday.

When he went inside and demanded Bambi, we were happy to oblige – well, they were happy anyway. I was throwing the ball for Oreo (our Sheltie).

But the movie was soon less important because of something that distracted Cameron. We all snacked on some very sinful cake combinations that Dawna had gotten at the local store. Coffee complemented the desserts and we were once again stuffed. I think Cameron missed out since he was napping. But, he played awhile longer after he got up before Jess and Mike had to head back to West Virginia, since Mike had to be at work later that evening.

Diana and I stayed on, I worked on crossword puzzles and Diana read. It was quiet and peaceful and I felt really relaxed.

Monday morning we got up and got our things together to head back home. After a quick breakfast and gathering up of the dogs, we started the trek. We made a couple of stops along the way, Benny barfed in the back of the car, and we got home in one piece.

Now, back to work. 🙂


Happy Retreat

On April 14, I had the privilege of taking some publication photos for Valley Homes and Style at the Happy Retreat home of Bill Gavin in Charles Town. You don’t get to go into many homes with so much history, but Bill was happy to share that the home’s wings were built by Mr. Charles Washington (brother of George Washington), and that the main home may have originally been built as well, but had since been razed and rebuilt in the early 1800’s by another owner of the home. With 12 foot ceilings in the main floor and eight foot ceilings in the upper floors, you can imagine I was enjoying the view.

One of my favorite rooms was the original dining room.

This exterior view would have been nicer if the weather had cooperated a little more. But I wasn’t complaining too much.

Lastly a view in the living room(s) area. Originally the living room you can see on the other side of this picture was the dining area for guests. As with most early homes, the kitchen was not inside the house. The existing dining room was for family and close friends. Today, the room you can see the most of is used as a living area and the room beyond, for which there is a sliding door, is used as a reading room. Opened to their full volume, 20-30 people can mingle easily.

You can see more images of the home in the upcoming issue of Valley Homes and Style. The history alone is going to make you long for more.