Family Time

Let’s walk around Uptown Charlotte after dark on Christmas Eve and see the Christmas lights and holiday decorations. Darn, it’s raining. Okay, the day after Christmas will work, but it will be during the day. Not so good for the lights, but great for some family time.

My son, Cooper, is home from college and my son, Trevor & his wife Katie, are visiting from CA. My daughter, Alissa, is far from home in South Korea having her own EPIK Adventure.

Free parking near the new First Ward Park. Perfect. Let’s start there. Not many people on the street and in the parks, but no problem. Family members make good subjects.


Trevor & Katie


Then over to 7th Street Station for lunch, Discovery Place for an IMAX movie, a stroll through Settler’s Cemetery, Fourth Ward Park and surrounding neighborhood.


Cooper at Discovery Place

We stopped at the fence at BB&T stadium to take a look, walked to Bank of America Stadium, and made a quick stop at a convenience store for bottled water.


My husband, Jack, waiting patiently while the others are in the convenience store

Then it was a walk through Romare Bearden Park, up Tryon to the Bechtler Museum of Art and Firebird statue, and a quick  pass through Epicenter on the way back to the car.


Jack checking out some new construction


Some silliness on the way back to the car

An enjoyable afternoon indeed. Glad I had my camera with me. It made it that much more fun.



My friend and neighbor, Kristen, is now a yoga instructor and needed a head shot for the Yes 2 Yoga website. Glad she asked me to help her out! We talked about doing the shoot outside of an old barn, but ultimately decided on using the yoga studio. I love the fresh color on the walls of the studio and the windows are a plus.

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The newly painted studio. Photo courtesy of Yes 2 Yoga in Edison Square

Kristen asked what color she should wear. I suggested pink…. it’s across from green on the color wheel.

I started out by having Kristen sit on a stool I brought with me. I positioned her at least 10 feet from the wall remembering what I learned from a recent one-on-one session with professional photographer and videographer Bart Baldwin of Bart Baldwin Visual Arts.  Move your subject away from the wall to get a nice blurred background.

The windows were directly in front of my subject. I was using a 100mm lens with camera settings of f/4.0, 1/125 sec., and ISO 200. I had a Stofen Omni-Bounce on my Canon 430EX II Speedlite, it was mounted on a flash bracket, and was pointed straight up to the ceiling.

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So….the baseboard in the background. Yea or Nay?  I’m still undecided.

I noticed the shadow under Kristen’s chin and again remembered what I learned from Bart. If I switch to a longer lens, I can step further back, zoom in, and the angle of incidence (the angle of the light hitting a surface) will change. That is, the angle at which the light from the flash is hitting Kristen will change. The light will fill in the shadowed area.

I changed out my lens to a 70-200mm and moved back. The two photos below were taken with Kristen standing, again away from the wall. Camera settings remained the same, however I realize now I needed to compensate for the change in distance from the subject. I was shooting at a focal length of 200mm. The images  were underexposed. Fortunately, I was able to correct them in post. I should have done 1 of 3 things:

  1. Increased the ISO to let in more light
  2. Added flash exposure compensation to add more light
  3. Used a slower shutter speed to let in more ambient light

I could have also taken a few steps closer to Kristen and shot at a shorter focal length than 200mm.

I also noticed by looking at the LCD screen on the back of my camera that Kristen’s mouth is soft in the image on the right. An f-stop higher that 4.0 would better guarantee all facial features to be in focus at a 200mm focal length. That’s when I decided to change my camera settings. I went to f/6.3, 1/80 sec., and ISO 400. This still produced an image that was a bit underexposed, but all facial features are in focus. I also caught a natural smile as we talked.

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Now if I can just get those yoga moves mastered, I’ll be all set.



Every Woman Can Be…A Beautiful Subject

I brought my Canon 6D, 100mm lens, flash and flash bracket to an Every Woman Can Be meeting as a always do. I took the usual candid shots of two or more ladies laughing, sipping coffee and conversing with one another. I also took head shots of individuals and those were the ones I like best. The first three images below are candid shots. The women didn’t know I was taking a photo (or they acted like they didn’t know). For all of the photos I took that afternoon, I didn’t adjust the flash compensation, but rather changed the camera settings to add or subtract light. Camera settings for the first three photos were 1/125 sec., f/2.8 to 3.5, and ISO 250.

It’s always a challenge to get an uncluttered background with many ladies moving about, servers coming and going, and all the plates, glasses and decorations on the tables. In addition, the room has dark wood and mirrors on the walls which cause a refection when using flash. Although there’s a lot of stuff in the background in the photo below, the fact that the stuff is blurred and that it’s quite monotone makes for a pleasing image. The subject stands out from the background.


The harsh shadow under this woman’s chin shows that the light from the flash was coming from above her. I’m okay with the shadow in this situation. Her face is well lit in this candid shot of a her listening to the opening presentation.

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I was looking for different angles and found one by standing on a chair. Cool hair, huh? Again a shadow under the chin.


As seen in the images above, the eyes are often not looking at the camera in my candid shots. In addition, many times the subject is caught with eyes closed, an unusual expression on her face because she’s in conversation, or a hand waving in front of her face. I’ve deleted those files.

The next three images are more portrait style. Each person knew I was taking her picture. I like this style of photography better and like the results better. Camera settings were 1/180 sec., f/2.8 to 3.5, and ISO 100.

I took several candid shots of this pretty lady while she was listening to the presenter, and wasn’t happy with just getting her profile. She noticed I was photographing her, turned toward me and struck a pose.

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I tried several times to get a good photo of this woman, but kept getting the paneled walls as a background, and her hair color blended in. I finally stood on a chair and asked her to look up at me. The unique angle worked.

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Here’s another portrait achieved by giving a little direction. “Hey, can you keep your body facing that way, but turn your head toward me?”

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I’m glad I had the opportunity to photograph during the luncheon.

Practice makes better.



Fun @ the Run

The Kiawah Island Marathon was a great opportunity to photograph people. There were plenty of runners, spectators and volunteers. I was a cheerleader for my husband and a group of friends from Charlotte who were either running the half or full marathon. Unlike most marathons, this one allows bicycles on the course. Perfect for me. I’m a biker, not a runner, and my camera bag with my Olympus M-10 fit perfectly in the basket of the rental  bike.

It’s fairly easy to take photos of people I know. They all realize I enjoy photography, so many expect to see me with a camera.


Sara & Hazel

Friends always want a group shot. This one looks like a snapshot, but I thought I’d include it because these friends will be happy to see the photo posted here.


Race ready

Cute kids. I kinda know them. They don’t know me. Maddie & Owen.

Oh, I just had to stop and and take a picture of this girl. That hair is awesome! Compliment a person and she has no problem being photographed. There’s harsh light on the right side of her face, but I was just getting a grab-n-go shot. The group I was with was headed to the start of the race and I didn’t want to lose them.


The national anthem is a good time to get solemn photos. People are caught up in the moment.


And they’re off! I didn’t even try to stop motion. Sports photography is a whole nother thing.


My biking buddies! They were patient when I hopped off my bike several times during the marathon to take pictures.


Ali & Di

I started out by taking a photo of one of the volunteers near the paper cups at a water station. We had a brief conversation about how I was just taking pictures for fun, and she lost interest in standing there and went by the other volunteers. Well, shoot. I didn’t get a good photo of her. But what if I highlight the cups by putting them in the foreground….and have the volunteers blurred in the background….


This spectator wasn’t going anywhere until her better half crossed the finish line. I think she thought I was photographing the runners as they finished the race. I was also using a telephoto lens, so I wasn’t right up in her face.


Hands holding things. Ear buds before the race and a Bud Light after.

Sitting around with friends after the half marathoners finished and waiting for the marathoners to finish was a good chance to snap this photo of Mona. Still smiling after running 13.1 miles!


Not everyone is a runner.


I would have to agree with this t-shirt. Running sucks. Photography doesn’t.


Framing, in photography terms, is using other objects in an image to bring focus to the main subject. Charlotte Camera Club recently organized a photography scavenger hunt and one of the items to find was “Framed”. I’m challenged by this composition, so a field trip to the grand opening of First Ward Park in Uptown Charlotte seemed like the perfect place to practice. The search was on! I was going to get as many images as I could that were “framed”.

Walking to the park, I passed the public library. I’ve shot at this location before and have used the tunnel-like area to silhouette a subject. Just to warm up, I figured I’d start there.


When I arrived at the park, the festivities had not yet begun. There were some people milling about and a few kids playing near a fountain and in the open field. Oh, what a cute dog! Dog owners almost always allow me to take photos of their pet. I framed this little gal between her owners.


Kids are easy to approach and most like having their picture taken. I asked one boy who was tossing around a soft disc if he would hold it up so that it would frame his face, and another boy (the one pictured below) asked if I would take his photo too.


Hmmm…..there’s a person sitting on a bench and here’s a trash can right in front of me that has on opening on either side. It was tricky getting a decent exposure on this one.


Eventually the grand opening was in full swing and five musicians were set up in the park. I hope I didn’t break their concentration as I photographed over their shoulders. At one point I showed one of them the view on my LCD screen, so she could see I had a purpose. I spent a bit of time near the musicians trying to get a composition I was pleased with.


A police officer standing in a doorway. I’m sure he noticed me photographing him, but didn’t seem to mind.


What I learned:  It’s easier to frame a subject than I thought.

In The Gym (aka Box)

I wanted to practice taking people pictures, but where should I go, who do I photograph? Ah, Crossfit Northlake! Owners Jason & Amy Bright allowed me to bring my camera to a class. I wanted to single out one person and follow him/her throughout the workout. I had muscles, sweat & determination in mind. Jason pointed out Christine and I knew she’d make a great subject. She graciously agreed to be photographed.

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My goal was to try out  a new lens. The 100mm macro lens that was stuck on my camera had to be broken to get it off. A Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 IS Macro Lens replaced it. I also wanted to continue to practice using a flash.

Christine got right to work, and so did I.



It’s always easier to photograph a subject that’s still. Well, Christine was anything but still and allowed me to practice with a moving subject.



I worked at trying to get the correct exposure in camera, but ultimately needed to brighten all the images. I was working with the maximum flash sync speed for my camera (1/180 sec.), a small aperture for shallow depth of field (f/2.8-3.5), and an ISO of 500-800. I found that if I increased the Flash Exposure Compensation, the image often looked too much like a photograph taken with flash. The goal is to have the flash add light, but look natural.


Gosh, it was a tough workout, and Christine did great! It is apparent that if you put in the effort, you will be rewarded. This can be applied to many aspects of life.

Christine, you rock!