Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Down By The Creek

There is nothing better than having the chance to capture family photos in the great outdoors. Just being outside in a beautiful location with loads of trees, rocks and especially a cascading creek is all it takes to get those creative juices flowing. Such was the case on June 25th down in Arkport NY at the lovely Sun Valley Campsite. It was here that a Fairport NY family hired us to capture them in a location that, while picturesque, was also a place that held special meaning for them. This is where they spent many a summer day enjoying the great outdoors. It doesn't get much more relaxing than this.
We were most fortunate that the threat of inclement weather held off. The sky varied between times of partly sunny and moments of mostly cloudy. It is this kind of variable sky that can drive an outdoor portrait photographer to want to stop & grab a glass of wine! The important thing is that we were rain free, and with digital equipment, this is a very good thing. We also had the pleasure of working with such a fun family.

Our photo session began with my wife, myself & our family of four following a trail down to the creek, to be specific, the Canaseraga Creek. This creek is what I would aptly call "a hidden treasure". I can only imagine what it must look like in the Fall. We will definitely want to return here in October.
 That said, we began to scout various positions along the creek so as to capture our family with some great vantage points. Mom & Dad were up first and why not. They are the "leader of the pack" as a former great 60's tune once noted.
 We proceeded to arrange our family in varied groupings both in and along side the creek. The water, though cool, was actually pretty shallow & moving along at a relatively modest pace. Our family has often walked in this creek without worry of being safe, so we felt comfortable obliging their wishes. Along with a number of posing ideas that we suggested & implemented, we of course asked the family to contribute any posing ideas that they too wanted to come to fruition.

While photographing a family outdoors, there are several factors that the photographer must take into account. Keeping the family's front side, out of direct sunlight, is a must. Keep the sun somewhat behind and/or off to the side of the people. For one thing, this will help achieve accent lighting on the back and/or side of the hair. It also keeps the face from bleaching out & the eyes squinting. In doing so you must (or should) fill the now shaded face in with additional light, either via a reflector or flash (the better choice). This will effectively brighten up the face, make the colors more vivid and add that sparkle (catch light) in the eyes. Reflectors can be cumbersome and bother the people's eyes. Utilizing flash is, in my opinion, more controllable & the more effective choice here. While on camera flash can be used, the lighting can appear somewhat flat. However there are times when that is the easier choice to work with and is still better than no flash at all. The more creative choice here is to use off camera flash. Angled away from the camera, the light now becomes more directional & can add depth & texture to the photograph. However you need to watch that you don't create overly large shadows cutting across the faces. Outdoor flash can either be diffused (light softened & scattered) or used "bare bulb". The latter can be a bit more harsh but is sometimes the choice when the background is overly bright. Below, you can see we were able to use a diffuser over the flash, which by the way was triggered by radio transceivers.

If you are going to keep your flash on camera (or use the pop up flash) consider purchasing a diffuser to cover the flash head. Yes, they even have them for the pop up flash. There are many brands so perhaps you may want to "google" or "bing" the topic on some rainy day. Also check out the stores below. These diffusers are especially helpful when doing portraits in shady areas.
Time & space here does not permit some of the more technical aspects of flash photography, which include camera & flash settings along with metering challenges. I do hope, however that I provided you some insight (and motivation) as to how you might want to improve your own, future outdoor family & friend photo shoots. If you already own a dSLR camera & external flash gun, you might want to visit Adorama or B&H photo stores regarding purchasing flash gun diffusers and radio triggers. Their are a number of models that don't have to be that expensive.
If you should ever have the desire to learn more with your camera gear, please check out the link immediately below.


Perhaps in a future blog I will have the opportunity to expand on the intricacies of flash photography. I hope you found our story both interesting & informative. In the meantime, enjoy YOUR family .. get out there & get some great shots .. they'll love you for it ... Ron