Category Archives: low light photography

Snow in Southeast Texas: An Oxymoron

Snow Pic 2

Just another Friday morning, up at the crack of dawn and headed out the door at 4am to beat the traffic heading north into Houston.  After opening the door, I looked around me and saw that it was SNOWING!  In SOUTHEAST Texas!  All thoughts of leaving for work left my brain as I grabbed my Canon 5DSR and 24-70mm f1.2 lens to get some shots of this rarity.  I mean, snow on palm ferns is pretty weird, ya gotta admit.

Dear Northerners:  before you roll your eyes over my excitement (and the excitement of everybody from Kingwood to Houston to Katy to Clute to Galveston), please allow me to explain to you:  in southeast Texas, I am currently living closer to the equator than the North Pole.  It once snowed about 8 inches on Christmas Eve in my town back in 2004, and then it snowed a teeny bit (and I do mean teeny) in 2009 – more north than south.  Snow is, indeed, rare, in my neck of the woods, and for many living around here, this is the only chance they may ever get to actually see, feel and even taste snow (I’m serious).

For me, it was a reminder of beautiful winter scenes I’ve photographed in previous years, and beautiful winter scenes I hope to photograph in the future.  It was early in the morning, quiet, and utterly beautiful.

Tech specs:  ISO between 1000-1250, shutter speed 25-30, aperture f4-f5.6, handheld, burst method.

Snow On The Palm Ferns 2Snow Pic 1Snow On The SpiderwebsSnow AtThe Apartment ComplexSnow At The Apartment Complex 3



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Filed under 5DSR, Canon, Events, low light photography, Photography, snow, Texas, weather, Weather

Photographing Jennifer and John’s Big Day

Avery and Jennifer

I met Jennifer several years ago, during our Texas Renaissance Festival days; I have a couple of fun photos of her elaborately costumed as a zombie wench during the Halloween-themed weekend.  I also remember her telling me once she didn’t like jam because she used to work in a jam factory.  Jennifer is from the UK so she has that wonderful British accent.  Oh, and she’s the horror hostess of the Edwina Rigormuerte Houston Horror Chamber Review (being a photographer has allowed me to meet all sorts of interesting, cool people).

I was so pleased when Jennifer asked me to photograph her and John’s (she calls him by his middle name, Avery) wedding.  I knew this was going to be an interesting wedding, given the couple’s love of old horror movies and her own very unique fashion style.  What made it even more special is that, in addition to being hired as their official photographer, I was also a guest!  That meant I could have a slice of wedding cake (it’s a thing with me – I always try to get a piece of cake); for once, I could photograph the cake and eat it too!

A Slice of Wedding Cake

Ever heard of the Las Velas?  It’s a hidden gem in Houston located between Hwys 59 and 610.   It’s not obvious from the road, and I saw no large sign pointing the way to this venue.  I asked Jennifer how she found it and she laughed, saying she was searching online for “inexpensive wedding venues”.  The Las Velas’ exterior is filled with lots of flowers and greenery, fountains, and mosaic-inlaid stone.  The interior hosts large, airy spaces, lots of natural lighting, elaborate molding and polished stone floors inlaid with mosaic butterflies and curly-cues.

Mosaic Detail

The Ceremony Venue

The Bride on The Balcony

As I wrote in a previous post, every wedding is different.  This particular event was quite laid back and kinda funky (the bridesmaids wore combat boots with their dresses).

Boots and Heels

Levity with the Bride and Bridesmaids

Both ceremony and reception were interior events (with the exception of a few posed outdoor photos), so I made use not only of the natural light coming through the large windows, but my flash as well.  As with the previous wedding about which I wrote, I used the same three cameras (Canon 1DX, Canon 5D Mk III, and a rented Canon 6D) and the same Canon L-lenses (85mm f1.2, 70-200 f2.8, 24-70 f2.8, and 16-35 f2.8).  I photographed the same scenes with all three cameras, with and without flash.  For exterior shots, I used ISOs of 200-400 and interior shots had ISOs of 1600-2500 even with the flash.  As with the photos from the wedding of the previous post, I used Imagenomic’s Noiseware to reduce the high ISO grain as well as Imagenomic’s Portraiture and OnOne’s Perfect Effects for certain photos.

Tiara and Bubbly

W on the Cake

The Grooms Zombie Cake FX

The Groom and Groomsmen

The Bride OnThe Stairs

The Bride In Front Of The Window

Bride and Bridesmaids

Jennifer and Avery at the Fountain

The Ceremony From Above

The end of Jennifer and John’s wedding signaled the end of my wedding photo shoots for 2014.  We’ll see what transpires in 2015.

Photographer and Guest - My Table Assignment

To see more images from Jennifer and John’s wedding, click on this link to go to that gallery.

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Filed under Canon, Canon Lens, Events, Houston, low light photography, Photography, wedding

A Visit to the Lone Star Flight Museum

Thunderbird B-17G Flying Fortress

Thunder Bird B-17G Flying Fortress

I’ve lived in Texas for a little over 16 years now, and it’s taken me this long to discover Galveston’s Lone Star Flight Museum.  I still probably would not have heard of this place had I not been Googling around for some other aviation-related item and just happened to chance upon this site.

I’m interested in all things WWII-related.  If you’ve read my previous post “Remembrance”, then you know my father was a WWII paratrooper who jumped over Normandy on D-Day.

I’d just finished editing a large set of wedding photos and decided for my first free Saturday to take a little drive along the Gulf Coast toward Galveston and visit this museum.  Naturally, I took along one of my cameras (the 1DX with the 16-35mm lens).  I also brought along my 24-70mm lens but exclusively utilized the 16-35 because I wanted that wider-angle perspective perfect for capturing most, if not the entire, plane view.

The museum is well-lit, but it’s still an interior venue; this means I set my camera to a relatively high ISO of 640; I subsequently brightened up the images a little more during the post-process stage.

First Sight in the Hangar

First sight that greets the museum visitor’s eyes

Nose Art

Nose Art

Nose art

Some people think that these buxom, scantily-clad women (not including that winged tiger) are denigrating to the female sex.  I totally disagree!  But maybe it’s because I – on occasion – have the opportunity to photograph very lovely women (sometimes scantily-clad), myself, and thus I see the beauty in what was captured on the plane’s noses.  Don’t forget that this artistry was also a great morale booster to young men very far away from home.  The museum has a great explanation of the nose art you see here in these two photos.  My favorite piece of art is ‘Surprise Attack”.

Willys MB 1943

Willys MB 1943

Planes are not the only items on exhibit in the museum.

Tarheel Hal

Tarheel Hal P-47D Thunderbolt

Special Delivery

Special Delivery – B-25 Mitchell Bomber

During the time I visited, a James Doolittle reenactor was recounting Doolittle’s Raid to several listeners (including yours truly) .  I had a chance to speak to the gentleman afterwards, who told me he’d been doing this for 4 years, during which time he had the good fortune to speak to several survivors as well as to Doolittle’s biographer.

Bum Steer - P51 Mustang

Bum Steer P51 Mustang

According to the placard for this plane, the engine didn’t “meet the expectations of the U.S. Army Air Corps”; Britain re-fitted the planes with the Rolls Royce Merlin engine which greatly improved performance.

Annie Mo  F4U-5N Corsair

“Annie Mo” F4U-5N Corsair

The wing configuration reminds me of the imperial shuttle on Star Wars.  My tour guide Kevin told me that George Lucas is a huge WW II buff.

Marlene - Uncle Hos Nightmare

“Marlene – Uncle Ho’s Nightmare”

Million Airess

“Million Airess”

As a photographer, I absolutely LOVE the nose art on these planes.  Those artists were amazing.

Yellow Peril

Yellow Peril

Surplus Stearmans were sold as crop dusters and stunt planes after the war.  This gorgeous yellow model immediately brought to mind the yellow bi plane crop duster I sometimes see on my way home from Houston, swooping around and flying low to the ground.

A Stearman and A Texan

Ready to Roll

The museum offers 25-minute flights on both the Stearman bi plane and the T-6 Texan Trainer (for a price – check their website for more details).  Flights are offered on Saturdays, good weather permitting.  During the day I visited, the cloud ceiling was too low, otherwise I would have splurged for a ride (had I not been saving for my upcoming Alaska trip, I would have probably taken a ride in both, because they both looked like awesome fun).

FYI –  I recently read an online article indicating the Lone Star Flight Museum will be moved inland to Ellington Field sometime in the spring of 2016.   You see, Hurricane Ike did a number on the museum (to the tune of about $18 million) and damaged several planes.  There’s an American flag hanging on the wall above one of the jeeps; this flag bears a dirty water mark indicating the height of the flood waters that rushed into the museum’s hangars.

Becky and the T-6 Texan Trainer

Becky and The Texan

Special thanks to museum photographer Kevin McGowan for snapping some “me” shots in front of the Texan and the Stearman.  The show woman in me wants to return all gussied up wearing a 1940’s dress for some more photos. Open-mouthed smile


Filed under Aviation, Canon, low light photography, Photography, Texas

Low-Light Photography and A Night at the Museum

Cyborg Rex

The Cyborg Carnivore – that light looks like a laser eye

I am not a big partier.  I used to go out more during  my college days, but that was eons ago and I would now much rather do something sans crowds….unless, of course, it’s an interesting venue and I can tote along my camera.

My company’s 2014 Employee Appreciation Party  was held at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.  With the exception of a few exhibits, we had the entire place to ourselves.   I couldn’t refuse the photo ops, now, could I?

Greg Hills Talk

The Dance Floor and The Welcome Speech

I knew the light would be low or bright only in spots, but I did not want to take along a flash because I did not want to ruin the ambience that available light bestows.  Flash would have created shadows and would have destroyed any of the neat available-light colors seen in these photos.

Hall Of The Dinosaurs #1

Hall Of The Dinosaurs #2

Hall Of The Dinosaurs #3

The shots above are of the Paleo Hall, where tables and food stations were set between the skeletons of pre-historic denizens

So, I set the ISO high – varying it between 1000 and 2500 on my Canon 1DX and used my Canon 24-70mm version II lens.  The shutter speed was between 1/40 and 1/60 and the f-stop was set to 4.

I applied what  is called  the “spray and pray” method of image capture (I’d never heard this before until just recently).  It means you hold down on that shutter button, clicking away  (the “spray” part) and “pray” that one of the images comes out the way you want it.  I’ll go with that.  It’s always worked for me in the past and I have plenty of memory cards.

The View From My Table

A View of the Dance Floor from My Table

The Foucault Pendulum

Foucault’s Pendulum

Hall Of The Egyptians

Hall of the Egyptians

The Paleo Hallway

The Paleo Hallway

Ready To Do Battle

Face Off!


Spotlight on the Stegosaurus


My Favorite Dinosaur:  The Triceratops

I applied noise-reduction software to all of these images because the high ISO settings required elimination of the inherent grainy look.

Becky And Friend_H5T7981

Me and A Friend

I joke that someday, when I become a famously-recognized (and wealthy) photographer, I will rent this museum’s Paleo Hall for a reception.  Winking smile

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Filed under Canon, Canon Lens, Equipment, Houston, low light photography, Photography

Christmas Tree in the Window

Christmas Tree In The Window

To stave off the post-Thanksgiving-tryptophan sleepies, I decided to clean my living room window so that my lovely little Christmas tree would show up better from the outside.  Naturally, I had to take tripod and camera out after dark to capture images of this one little tree glowing brightly in the night.  Apparently, I am either the only person with a tree in the entire apartment complex, or I am the only person who likes showing off their tree through the window.

Beckys Christmas Tree

This photo was taken shortly after sundown.  I deliberately set the f-stop to 22 so the lights would create little starbursts.  The ISO was 500, I used my 24-70mm lens with the focal length set to 24mm, and the shutter was open for 30 seconds.

Christmas Tree In The Window

I switched from to my 16-35mm lens because I wanted a much wider-angle view of the complex and my tree.  The only issue was the fact that the oak tree branches in the yard drooped quite a bit.  The ever-so-slight breeze took those drooping branches and blurred them during the 30-second shot.  The ISO was 250.  I had to use noise-reduction with this image (yes, you can sometimes get grainy low-light photos even when using a low ISO) and I ultimately cropped out as much of the offending blurred branches as I could, giving this image a sort of pseudo-pano look.

O Christmas Tree

Lots of frames in this image above:  the front lights on the brick columns, the frame created by the apartment complex architecture, and the frame created by the oak tree limbs.

Magic Tree

The Magic Tree.   Easy to do if you ever decide to experiment yourself.  Just put your camera and zoom lens on a tripod, set the camera for however many seconds you wish, then play around with zooming the lens in and out to get some funky effects while the shutter is open.

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Filed under Canon Lens, Christsmas, Equipment, Holidays, low light photography, Night Photography, Photography, starbursts

A Wedding In Galveston–Thoughts And Hindsight

Inside The Car

No matter how much you *think* you know about photographing a wedding, there is always something new to learn and take back for use at a future wedding. Since hindsight is 20-20, here are a few lessons I learned and things I will (try to) do for future jobs.

  • For the reception – particularly the dancing – I’ll get closer to the action and use the flash more – without the diffuser dome.  I’ll just make sure the flash is not at it’s highest setting since a little bit of non-diffused flash goes a long way.
  • I’ll make sure to have a step stool or a free table handy onto which I can stand.  Actually, I’d requested a ladder and the resort staff said they would provide one for me, but never did and I didn’t have time to go search for one – I managed to find a chair that worked well enough for my shots.


  • In addition to the step-stool thing above, I’m going to try and procure something that allows me to stand above the action and use a tripod so I can request of the bride and groom that they go out to the dance floor and just stand there, looking like they are slow dancing while gazing at each other, while the rest of the dancers move about them. I’ll use a slow shutter speed on the camera so that only the newlyweds would be sharp in contrast to all the blurred movement around them.  I’ve seen similar wedding images to which this idea was applied and they are totally cool shots.
  • I will pack less gear (famous last words, I know, but I really do mean it).  Go back to my first post regarding this wedding to see all the gear I brought with me.
  • I will continue to remain ever-vigilant regarding subject placement against a background of lamps, lamp posts, or tree trunks so nothing looks like it is sprouting out of someone’s head.  Luckily for me, those issues were minimal and could be discarded because I took the same shots at numerous different angles.

Finally, here’s some advice for those of you embarking on a part- or full-time career in wedding photography. If you have a contract (and you should), make sure there is a clause stipulating that the bride & groom agree YOU are the only photographer who will take the official images of the ceremony as well as all the posed shots of  the bridal party and their families (I’ve got that clause in my contract).   Hard to avoid smartphones during the processional, but YOU should be the only one standing in the aisle with your camera catching the bridal processional.

Thankfully, I had no real issues about that with this wedding.  So, why am I even mentioning this? Awhile back, I read a  blog post about a professional wedding photographer who had a number of  key shots ruined because the guests were either elbowing the highly-paid photographer out of the way to get their own smartphone shots, or guests were getting *in* the way of a key shot, or because a guest’s flash went off at the same time the photographer’s flash went off, thus totally over-exposing (blowing out) the bride & groom or their families to the point that there was no way to recover any detail at all in the photo. I looked at each of this photographer’s photos and literally cringed over the shots ruined by rude people, both guests and non-guests.  One of my Facebook friends who is a successful wedding photographer told me he simply refuses to take any posed photos as long as some of the guests are trying to take the same shots with their own cameras. He just puts down his camera and waits.


While I’ve been extremely lucky with the weddings I have photographed, that blog post and those Facebook comments highlight this problem that all wedding photographers face at some point in time.  Because of the bride & groom for this wedding prepared a very handy schedule of events for the key players, I had no problems at all during the ceremony or with the posed shots, and very minimal issues at the reception (like this photographer photo bomb during the father-daughter dance).

Naturally everybody is going to pull out their smartphone or point & shoot to  capture images during the reception, which tends to be a much less-structured event than the ceremony and far more relaxed.   Sometimes, one even runs across those guests who have toted along their  fully-loaded SLRs to the wedding because they either think they are doing *everybody* a favor (including the wedding photographer), or else they don’t think the paid photographer can do his/her job as well as they might have.  My ego would like to think that these guys (yeah, it’s usually guys)  see the wedding photos and then realize (but would *never* admit) that I did a pretty damned good job after all!

Here’s my rule of thumb:  If I am invited to a wedding and I am not the wedding photographer, then I leave my camera gear at home.  Period.


I am exceptionally proud of the images I captured for this couple on their special day.    If you would like to see more photos from this wedding, then wander on over to my Facebook page Rebecca Latson Photography, click on the Photos box on my timeline, select Albums, then click on the link to the Maegan and Josh album. And, if you like what you see, then please “Like” me while you are on my page.

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Filed under Equipment, Life, low light photography, Photography, wedding

A Wedding In Galveston – Après Ceremony And The Reception

Guest Registration Table

Immediately after the ceremony, the bridal party ensconced themselves in an empty room within of the gazebo and waited for the guests to head  for the reception. Next on the schedule were family photos. While we waited, I captured a few images of the Newlyweds.


For this image, I used only the ambient side light coming from the window because of the warm, intimate feel the light bestowed.

Maegan And The Boyz

I used my Gary Fong dome diffuser over the flash for this quick shot of Maegan and the Boyz.

Family photos done, the bridal party remained for a few more photos.


Bride Bridesmaids and Parasols

A Quiet Moment

I stayed glued to the bride and groom and photographed them as they took the stairs down to the reception area.

Josh & Maegan - Stairs

Josh & Maegan - Kissing - Stairs - Perfect Effects

This is one of my favorite images.  For this photo, I used only the ambient light and bumped up the camera’s ISO to 1000.  Shutter was 1/40 and the aperture was f4 on my 5D Mark III.  I then used a vignette-spotlight preset from OnOne’s Perfect Effects plug in to brighten the area around the couple.  No, that preset did not create that yellow spotlight – the yellow light was already there.  The preset simply created a brighter area around Josh & Megan while lightly vignetting the rest of the image.

For the remainder of the reception, I focused mainly on getting candid shots and those little accents (like the table setting) that flesh out the character of the reception.

Bride and Bridesmaids

Fixing the bride’s bustle so she could dance and move around with a little more ease.

Bride & Groom Seating Assignments

Tablesetting And Background Dancing

The bride and groom dancing in the bokeh’d background with focus on the table setting.

The Band

The awesome band.

Aint No Mountain High Enough

The next dance after the First Dance was especially for the bride’s daughter.  The song was “Aint No Mountain High Enough”.

A Big Hug

Fun On The Dance Floor

On The Dance Floor

Up In The Air

Hava Nagila

Hava Nagila!

Fun On The Dance Floor

While I of course captured the prerequisite images of the First Dance, the father-daughter dance, the mother-son dance, the toasts, and the cake (and cake cutting), I knew the bride and groom would want lots of photos of their guests having fun and the two of them having fun alongside their guests, as you can see from the photos above.

First Dance

First Dance

Best Mans Speech

A Toast

Father Daughter Dance

Father-Daughter Dance

Mother-Son Dance

Cake Table Perspective

Cake Table

Cutting The Cake

Feeding Each Other Cake VIGNETTE

Reception photos can be problematic because receptions – as a rule – are low-light affairs. Flash is usually called for.   I, on the other hand, don’t like using flash as much as using the available light.  For the reception, though, the only real light came from the candles and lit lanterns on the tables and a large, drape of material embedded with lights.  So, I used both flash and ambient light, with ISOs anywhere from 2000 to 6400.  Yes, I had to use a noise reduction plug-in (although at times I used Lightroom’s  noise reduction sliders instead of my plug-in software – Lightroom’s noise reduction is not too bad, actually).

Bella On The Dance Floor

My feet were hurting (damned those beautiful patent leather shoes) so I was sitting at one of the tables, happily snapping away at the bride’s daughter who was happily swirling about the dance floor with her dress billowing around her.  She turned to me and blew me a kiss.

Bellas Swirling Dress

Bellas Swirling Dress

I am guilty of taking quite a few photos of the bride’s 6-year old daughter. She was a  fun (and funny) little girl who enjoyed herself every bit as much as the adults.

Next Post:  Thoughts and Hindsight

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Filed under Life, low light photography, Photography, wedding