Happy Holidays!

It’s been a long time since I posted so one of my new years resolutions is to get this blog going again.  I really enjoy writing in it but my motivation tends to ebb and wane (as it does with almost anything else, not just blogs).  But lately I’m on a pretty big photography kick and I’m looking forward to a big life-changing event in the coming weeks so I think this is as good a time as any to start writing again.

And what’s the life changing event?  I’m going to be a Dad!  And that’s the topic for today’s shoot.  I took a couple pics of my wife Adriana a few weekends back so wanted to include them here.  I think these pictures are just fantastic and really show the “pregnancy glow” that you so often hear about.

Taking these pics also got me thinking about using flash and how important it is to understand it and use it well.  These photos were generally “back-lit” meaning that the sun was pretty much behind Adriana (actually in some cases it was also to her right depending on which way she was facing).  So I had to make sure to use the flash and that it was turned up to the appropriate amount, but I don’t want it to overpower her face and I want to make as much use of the daylight as possible.

One of the things I learned about flash many years ago that I always keep in my mind is that it’s not impacted by shutter speed – a flash unit doesn’t care if the shutter speed on the camera is set to 1/10 sec or 1/200 sec (most can’t flash faster than 1/200 or 1/250 sec though).  But flash does care about the other two components of exposure – Aperture and ISO.  So if you’re taking a picture and the flash isn’t enough (or it’s too much) you can make adjustments to Aperture and ISO to impact the flash, but changing the shutter speed won’t have any impact.

So in the picture above I wanted to make sure Adriana was fully in focus and that the background (Big Ben) was also in significant focus.  I wanted it to be a bit blurry so as not to be the focal point of the photo but also in focus enough so it was obvious we’re in London.  I found that f/11 was the perfect aperture for this photo.  I set the ISO up to 200 to give the flash a bit more “oomph” and the shutter speed turned out to be 1/100 (I was shooting in Aperture priority mode).  I left the flash on ETTL (automatic) but I often times shoot with the flash in manual to give me that much more control.

When the photo was completed, I did some basic editing in Lightroom.  I normally tend to bump up the clarity in Lightroom but with this photo I was careful not to do that overall.  If you bump up the clarity on a portrait it tends to make the faces pretty rough and gritty – not the look I’m going for in a pregnancy shoot.  So instead I used the adjustment brush, bumped up the clarity on Big Ben, the bridge and the water, and then was careful not to touch her face or body with the clarity brush.  I then shifted the adjustment brush to sharpness, and sharpened Adriana only.  Big Ben is ever so slightly out of the focal plane so it doesn’t make much sense to sharpen it.

Below there’s a few more pictures of Adriana that I took on the day, including one of me with her.  Anyway in the future I may do an actual recording of how I edit these photos (again it’s pretty basic stuff).  I hope you find this useful, I hope you have established some great New Year’s Resolutions for 2013 and I hope they have to do with taking more pictures!