Silhouette of yours truly by Jose Sandoval, one of my students from one of  our many field trips

5 tips to jumpstart your creativity

Having have a camera with you at all times, is the best way to improve your photography.

Even if you’re not using the camera, just playing around with settings and taking a picture can be very illuminating.

DSLRs today are so complicated I still find features I have not used so anytime I find myself waiting around, I often dig out the owners manual to see what a button does.

Those technical writers of camera manufacturers don’t always explain the ins-and-outs of their hardware very well unfortunately.

So it can take even season users a while to truly get how a feature works.

Sorry smartphone users, my biggest beef with them is there is no reliable way to control the depth-of-field so until such time they give you aperture control, I can’t consider using it beyond documentation purposes.

If all the time you have to devote to photography is your weekends , then try the following: Continue reading

ISO 100 1/60 sec @ f2.8 200mm Canon 5DMark2 body on a monopod.

Vergara family portrait part 3

Moving closer to the water--working in late evening as you can see with the setting sun on the left, I anticipated that the color temperature of the sun would require the use of a color temperature orange gel for my flash.

Moving closer to the water–working in late evening as you can see with the setting sun on the left, I anticipated that the color temperature of the sun would require the use of a color temperature orange gel for my flash. WIthout the gel, it would be very noticeable that I used flash on the right. ISO 100 1/60 sec @ f8 80-200 zoom lens set at 135mm. Canon 5D Mark2 on monopod to minimize camera shake.

Steffen watches over my Softlighter and WLx800 strobe as I shoot. Notice the 1/4 CTO gel on the flash.

Steffen watches over my Softlighter and WLx800 strobe as I shoot. Notice the 1/4 CTO gel on the flash.

Once you have an idea of how big your group is, you will have a better idea of a suitable location.

Obviously if it’s a number that’s more than 5 or 6 persons, you should plan on doing the photo outdoors. Continue reading

Resty Vergara and his family. Canon 5DMark 2. ISO 100 1/200 sec f8 80-200 zoom set at 120mm.

Vergara family portrait part 2

A slightly different frame of Resty's family.

A slightly different frame of Resty’s family. I brought along 2 little stools (without backs) for Resty’s wife and mother-in-law. I knew I didn’t want them all to be standing because the differences in height would make it awkward. This arrangement allowed for all their faces to be closer together.

The number of people in a group you are photographing matters a lot because the larger the group, the more likely someone will either be lost or  late.

Besides that, coordinating the wardrobe or clothing will be more difficult as well.

Continue reading

family portrait at park

Vergara family portrait part 1

When a student/friend Resty Vergara hired me to photograph his family, I thought that would be a wonderful opportunity to  also document the photo shoot with the help of my friends Steffen Urban, his lovely wife Cecilia and Marvin Sesuca.

For the family portrait, I carefully considered the following, not necessarily in any order:

  • Location
  • Time of the shoot
  • Number of people in his family
  • Equipment

Continue reading

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Photo tips from a creative Southern California photographer