Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Portraits.

Melanie and her boys were going to over to do some Christmas baking and I was asked if I could take some pictures of her kids. Jodie heard that I was taking pics and asked if she could come over and bring her kids too.

I have a large backdrop - it's a 10x20' sheet of heavy white cotton - that came with some stands and a cross bar. I set it up in the basement after clearing out an area to give some room. Because it had been folded up into a small bundle it has some pretty serious wrinkles and creases in it. I tried to iron it, but my ironing board isn't 10' long. It was very frustrating. I did about 1/3rd of the length before giving up, the part that was ironed would be hanging from the stand, and most of the larger creases were gone, so it didn't look too bad. I read on the internet that some people use hand held steamers to de-crease their backdrops. I my look into it that to see if it's something that I'd like to try.

Nathaniel jumping around.

I was using three flashes for the shots, one in a softbox, one in an umbrella and another that was mostly aimed at the backdrop behind the subjects. Tried to use the softbox for key with the umbrella as fill.

After taking a set of pictures, I would upload them to my computer and let the Mom's decide which ones they wanted. For the keepers I'd croped them for 5x7 @ 300 pixels per inch. My general work flow was to set the white balance, straighten then crop. On some ( most ! ) of them, I would have applied some curves adjustment.

I enjoyed trying to get the little ones to smile and react to me so I could get some nice expressions. The older ones were a little more challenging to engage.

On Saturday I only shot the nieces and nephews. Clare and Conor were in need of hair cuts so after a trip to the salon on Tuesday. I setup the backdrop in the basement again on Thursday. We used the backdrop for a few (!) photos and then went upstairs and tried to get some shots around the Christmas tree. This was good because I get a bit more practice setting everything up and moving things around. All this practice allows me to become more comfortable with the process.

Clare and Conor dressed for the season

When Jodie was over she`d asked if I`d be interested in taking a set of pictures of her family. I thought that this would be fun and agreed. We still had to co-ordinate and make sure that everyone would be able to meet up at the same time. After a couple of e-mails back and forth I discovered that she was intending for everyone to come over to my place to take pictures against the backdrop. There would be eight adults and three kids. My house isn`t that big !  We ended up renting the community room at the Real Canadian Superstore down the street to do the shoot. The room was much bigger, and the ceilings were quite a bit higher, giving me lots of room to maneuver.

Schwanke clan

I packed up all of my stuff and brought it over to the community room setup the backdrop and got ready. We had the room booked for two hours starting at 6:30pm. I`d asked everyone to come around 7:00 so I could get stuff setup. Overall, I think it turned out well. Some of the the group shots are pretty heavily cropped though as it was hard to position the group on the backdrop because it was only 10 feet wide. It was cool working in the larger space though, and I liked that the size of the space wasn't a limiting factor in the shoot. I think I`d rent the room again under similar circumstances.

I still have a lot to learn in this though. I needed to do a fair amount of post processing to adjust for the light and shadows.. stuff that should have been accounted for during the shoot by setting the power on the lights correctly and by placing the lights more appropriately. Another thing I need to work on is positioning and posing people.

Click here to see the Kids Christmas photo's..
Here to see the Schwanke portrait session.

Thanks for reading

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