Tag Archives: low light

Fleece is the Fashion for Pacific Northwest Witches

Halloween Becky 2018

Boo!

Every Halloween, I try to get a selfie of me with one of my witch hats (yes, I have more than one).  It allows me to stretch my photographic creativity a bit, and to hone my makeup skills.

Happy Halloween!

Ready For A Night Out On The Town

Ready for a night on the town

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

 

 

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Filed under Canon, Halloween, Halloween, holiday, Holidays, low light photography, Photography

The 2016 Christmas Tree is Up!

Beckys Christmas Tree

Becky’s little Christmas tree, with a suitcase on the right to hide the electric cords, and part of a studio light because – at the time – I had no other place to put it

I did not plan on putting up my tree this year.  After all, I’d be visiting my sister and her family for the holidays, so why go to the effort of putting up a tree I would not see for the final 1-1/2 weeks of December?

One afternoon, however, during the weekend prior to Thanksgiving, while on a long walk, I was thinking how nice it would be to see bright, multi-color lights.  My mind’s eye saw all sorts of photo ops….

Bell Ornament Non-HDRChristmas Lights And OrnamentsLondon OrnamentPresents Paper And BowsChristmas ColorsNo Solicitation

No solicitation, Santa.  Just leave the presents and don’t try to sell me anything.

Happy Holidays!

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Getting The Shots for Kyle and Adrienne

A Dip and A Kiss

I’m not a full-time wedding photographer so I don’t have a wedding scheduled every week like some photographers with whom I am acquainted.   I’m happy with the three weddings I have booked for this year (I *do* have a day job, ya know).

The first wedding in the books for 2014 was Kyle & Adrienne’s nuptials on June 21st, located at  La Tranquila Ranch in Tomball, Texas.  Adrienne’s parents attended a  wedding I’d photographed in early 2013, and her father liked my work enough  that he convinced his daughter to use me.

A couple of months prior to the wedding, they hired me for their engagement photos.  Bonus!

The ceremony was set to be conducted beneath the sheltering, shady branches of a stately, 85-year old oak tree stationed at the  end of a long, wide swath of soft, summer-green grass.

I’d arrived early, as is my wont, and scouted the area for locations in which to place myself and my small step-ladder during the ceremony and afterwards for posed shots.

Becky and the Old Oak Tree - VERT

Hot and sweaty from the humid environment, I finally entered the villa, site of the reception.  Ahh, AC.

Cameras and I awaited the arrival of the bride and her entourage…and the flowers…and the cake…..and the guests.

Delivering The Flowers

Boutonnieres

Wedding Cakes and Reception Setup

The Brides Arrival

Portrait of A Bride-To-Be

Helping Her With Her Dress

Bride and Bridesmaids

Kyle and Josh in the Background

Brothers

The Men ORIG

As I was photographing the bride beside the windows of the reception room, the sky dumped a flood of rain upon the area.  The outdoor wedding was switched to an indoor wedding.  Although the bride was disappointed, the precipitation did nothing to dampen her excitement and happiness for the day.

The Bride From Above - Vignette

Adrienne Looking Out The Window

Beautiful Bride - Vignette

Adrienne Veil and Bouquet

Despite the quick change in ceremony venue, everything – to my eye – went off without  a hitch.

Waiting To See His Daughter

Waiting For The Ceremony To Begin

The Ceremony From Above

Recording The Ceremony

Putting The Ring On Her Finger

The Kiss

The Newlyweds

First Dance

First Dance - Twirling His Bride

Feeding Kyle Cake

On The Dance Floor

Reaching Out

Here’s the thing with wedding photography:  it’s more than just a matter of taking pretty pictures.  There are a *ton* of “required” images every photographer must capture, and you’d better get them because weddings are one of those situations where there are NO do-overs.   You’d better have  the professional equipment with which to capture those images (and you’d better know how to use said equipment).  You’d better get the couple exchanging rings during the ceremony; you’d better get the couple kissing at ceremony’s end; you’d better get the couple’s first dance; you’d better get the father-daughter and mother-son dances; you’d better get the toasts and speeches; you’d better get the couple cutting the cake; you’d better get the couple in their get-away car; you’d better get all those little extras like the bride getting ready and the groom and groomsmen and the reception set up and etc. etc. etc.  And then, you sure as hell had better know how to process those images after all is said and done.  You’d better know how to capture the mood, lighting and emotion of the players on that day.  So much to do for a wedding photo shoot!

Here’s the skinny on how I got the shots.

Cameras:  Canon 5D Mk III and 2 Canon 1DX bodies (my own and one rented from Lensrentals.com

Lenses – all Canon:

Note:  these are all considered “fast” lenses because of their ability to open up at a wide aperture to allow in the maximum amount of light – perfect for low-light situations.

Flash:  Canon 600 EX-RT with a mini softbox attached with velcro to the flash head.

Because the wedding and reception were inside, I knew I would be using a relatively high ISO – anywhere from 1000 to 3200+.  I made as much use as possible of the beautiful natural light streaming through the glassed-in reception area windows because I dislike using flash unless/until I absolutely must.  I *did* use a flash, though, for the reception party and dances as the sun set and it grew dark outside.

The posed images were all taken within the villa.  The rain had ceased after the ceremony,  but because it was so hot and steamy outside (hello, it was Texas on the Summer Solstice), the difference in temperature between the air-conditioned building and the area outdoors not only steamed up my camera lenses but my glasses as well.  It would have taken too long to acclimate the cameras and there were too many requisite shots to get in too short of a time span before the reception party began in earnest.

Goofy Girls

Ultimately, the only outside shots I got were the ones of Kyle and Adrienne in the “get away” car.  I had to stand outside by myself for about 30 minutes to free the camera lens of condensation.   In hindsight (and that’s always 20-20), I should have put a camera and lens in a bag and just left it sitting outside for an hour or so while I stayed within the villa capturing other shots; after all, I *did* have three camera bodies.  Ah well, every wedding I work provides some new lesson/insight for me to use for the next occasion.

Everything was hand-held.  No tripod.  No timed shots.  Only one lens possessed image stabilization (IS). So, I applied what I jokingly (and other photographers disparagingly) refer to as the “spray and pray” method of capturing an image.  The method is simple:  hold down on the shutter button and click away for about 4-5 shots.  Rule of thumb is that, out of all of those shots, at least one of them will be nice and sharp.  The downside is that it uses up a lot of memory card space and adds to your post-process time as you go through each image to find the sharpest one.  The upside (for me) is that I have *a lot* of memory cards (48 cards varying from 4GB to 16 GB).

By the time the party ended at 10PM and the bride & groom were ensconced in the car and down the road, I had captured over 3000 images (remember, “spray and pray”).  Ultimately, those images were culled down to 360 “keepers” (took me 3 weeks of post-process work).

I use Lightroom *and* Photoshop on my PC when editing photos.  I find some tools easier to use in Lightroom than in Photoshop and vice versa.  I also work with Layers in Photoshop.  A layer is a non-destructive way to edit a photo without changing the original.  Layers, however, make for a much larger file, which is why I save my images to either a 500GB  or 1TB portable hard drive (actually, I save to two different portable HDs because redundancy is a photographer’s saving grace in case something happens to one of the drives).

Noise reduction software, either stand-alone or as a plug-in, is de rigueur when shooting within low-light environments.  I use Imagenomic’s Noiseware and there are other, equally good, noise reduction applications on the market.

I also applied a number of special effects presets from OnOne Software’s Perfect Effects program.  I used this particularly for the groom, his groomsmen, and some of the  bride & groom shots.

Josh and Kyle

It was a fun wedding, everybody was really photogenic, and I captured some great moments for the bride, groom, their families and friends.

Ready To Roll

Next wedding:  late September, here in Texas.

To see more images from Kyle and Adrienne’s wedding, click on this link.

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Filed under Canon, Equipment, Life, Photography, wedding

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!

Stegasaurus

Spotlight on the Stegosaurus

Triceratops

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

Halloween Becky

Halloween Becky

How could I *not* do something in honor of one of my favorite holidays?

I used to work at the Texas Renaissance Festival, and while working there, I purchased this totally cool handmade leather witch hat that I only get to wear once a year (along with the jack-o-lantern shirt).  The light strand is one of several that my sister gave to me; it’s been adorning one of my bookcases in the living room as the strand make a great nightlight.

So I set up the camera and 85mm lens on a tripod.  I turned off all the lights.  I used a small flashlight that I held below and to the side of me to give my face a little light with some deep shadows.  My wireless remote captured all of this.  The finishing touches to the photo were some vignetting and the text (in “Chiller” font).

Happy Halloween, Everybody!

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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.

Speeches

  • 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.

Father-Daughter-Dance_U9A2581_thumb3

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.

The-Bride-The-Groom-The-Bentley_0719[2]

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