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Portrait Practice

You might be tired of my posts about my best friend Krystal and her kids by now, but I’m not. I went down to Hantucky last weekend for a quick two day visit and to shoot some pictures for their family christmas card.  I’ve been needing to practice my portrait skills because I want to be a well rounded photographer and I hadn’t really shot anything in a while so taking their family portraits was a good little leg-stretcher for me. We scoped out a few orchards on our way to get a christmas tree and finally landed on one right in time because the sun was going down, and fast. I immediately regretted not bringing my reflector because of the weird leaf shaped shadows and the fact that we were shooting into the sun at some angles. We made do with what I had and tried to keep all the kids sane and happy. Krystals sister-in-law Vienna was there to help with the kids and kept them pretty entertained. I loved a few of the shots but I realized after developing these how much I still had to learn about shooting not only portraits, but family portraits. Kids are difficult, and getting everyone to smile, without looking constipated or blinking, is a task in itself. Now I fully understand why portrait photographers go digital. It just makes more sense. I loved a few of the pictures that came out even though Krystal probably won’t use them (I can’t blame her), so I decided I’d post them here. The last two were candid shots but ended up being some of my favorites.  Enjoy!

Krys & Emery
Krys & Emery
Victor Thomas & Carlos
Victor Thomas & Carlos
Vic & Carlos
Vic & Carlos
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Vossler Farms Pumpkin Patch

Carlos & Mommy, Vossler Farms 2013
Carlos & Mommy, Vossler Farms 2013

So while I was in Hantucky visiting with Krystal and the kids, we went for a little outing to the nearby pumpkin patch in Visalia, which is about 20 minutes outside of Hanford. Every year Krystal makes it a point to visit a pumpkin patch with Emery and take family pictures in the fields, and this was Carlos’ first visit to a pumpkin patch. I’m so glad I got to be there for his first time. Emery was having a blast playing in the dirt (this kid is hilarious I swear), and I was going to town trying to use up the last of my b&w roll of film I had. Emery, being the little ham she is was taking every opportunity to model for Krystal and I, and Carlos was just taking it all in. We tried to get a good shot of Carlos in this cute little pumpkin outfit in the patch but he just wasn’t really having it, I can’t blame him, I wouldn’t want to sit in dirt and weeds too. It was pretty warm out that day and the we were all getting a little fussy so we decided to take a little breather under the tarps where they ended up having the corn pits. I swear to god those corn pits were totally zen for us and the kids, Emery was making corn angels and me and Krystal were just glad to be out of the sun and sitting down for a minute. After relaxing for a few minutes we decided it was time to go, Carlos was starting to get fussy, we were all hungry, and had to be back in town soon. We ended the trip with a stop at our favorite spot In-n-Out and a relaxing drive back into town. Overall it was a really great day, I loved getting to spend time with my favorite people and doing what I love- taking photos.

How can you not love this wildchild?
How can you not love this wildchild?
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Live&Learn: on shooting roadside memorials

So when I first set out to shoot my first few rolls of these roadside memorials it was more of an experiment for me- a testing of my will to get out of the car and actually do it.  To be quite honest I kept picturing this horribly ironic tragedy where I get smashed by a car while shooting roadside memorials of people who have died in the very same spot I was documentingI know, I’m morbid, we’ve already established this.  Now that I’ve faced my anxiety of actually getting out there and photographing these memorials, I feel like the next time I venture out I’ll be more comfortable to really get in there and get the shots I really want without freaking out about oncoming traffic or bugs. Now I know what works and what doesn’t.

Some Do’s & Dont’s (mostly Do’s) of shooting roadside memorials near the Sacramento River:

  • DO bring mosquito repellant, shooting near sunset near a river is mosquito heaven. Even though mosquitos generally don’t bite me, they were bugging the crap out of me and at any given time I had about 3 harassing me.
  • DO bring a roadside emergency cone so drivers are not scared to see someone on the side of the road & so they SLOW THE EFF DOWN.
  • DON’T wear a low cut shirt, or any cut shirt except maybe a turtleneck. I can’t even count the number of whistles I got and my shirt wasn’t even that low. Ick.
  • DON’T rush it, because I procrastinated my first go around I didn’t have time to dedicate to sitting around and waiting for the perfect light.
  • DO scope out your angle. I could have done more of this had I not done the above.
  • DO bring a blanket or towel so you can lay on the ground to get a good shot. There were worms in the ground, need I say more? \
  • DO bring a friend because there WILL be a dangerous shot you wanna get but shouldn’t be taking alone- like laying in the middle of the road for instance. Its good to have a spotter.
  • DO wear hiking boots, I wore my chucks and I thought they would cut it but I definitely had a moment where it was save dignity or save my camera- camera won and I had to crawl on all fours to get back out of a ditch whilst fighting mosquitos away from my face.

The good thing about seeing my missteps is that the river is right there. Its like a half hour from my apartment, and aside from the one memorial I noticed that was taken down for bridge construction, they will be there for a while and I can keep coming back until I get exactly what I want– thank God because I’m a super perfectionist.

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Happy Accident #1

When film flubs up, you get some fun effects, I’ve decided to start posting mine. Right now they’re pretty rare with me but now that I just started shooting on my Blackbird TLR you’re probably gonna see a lot more light leaks. Hopefully! :)

#1 “That time I had a brain fart and opened my camera back before I had wound my film back into its canister”

100% unedited
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Edit No.1

So today I have my very first round of edits for my portfolio development class. Our professor wanted us to have 40 edited down pictures for him to choose roughly 5 from. I super procrastinated (mostly because I’ve been so exhausted with life all I’ve been doing is sleeping) and only ended up shooting about 70 frames…oops. I’m kind of nervous, but also excited to get some feedback, out of the 10 locations I need to shoot I did test shots for 5 of them. I only call them test shots because I’m not sure which ones I’m going to use and which I’m going to re-shoot or shoot more of depending on the feedback I get today.

I will say that I’m pleasantly surprised. I got a late start on the day so I only had about an hour and a half to shoot and drive along the river, so the sun was great at times and horrible at times. Also these places aren’t that accessible by foot, some of them I was literally sitting on a slope leading into the river with my back inches away from speeding cars – yikes. After my first roll today I stupidly opened the back of my camera, I really don’t know what i was thinking- I wasn’t, and I hadn’t wound my film back into the canister yet. I was convinced i ruined the entire roll but turns out i only ruined 2 frames and got a cool light leak on one!

All in all the first round of shooting went well, I had to make a couple compromises for my portfolio, like I had originally planned to shoot at the time of the accidents BUT 1 its horribly unsafe and 2 the light would suck at night there, so I think I’m going to just stick to late afternoon & evening light for this portfolio.

Anyway I’ll be sure to post some of the final edits once I find out which ones made the cut! Wish me luck!!

Ps. As a hardcore Fuji film girl I was really disappointed my local Ritz didn’t have any in stock, I had to settle for Kodak Gold for one roll and I was disappointed, I love the tones I get from Fuji. I did however receive my shipment of Fuji Superia PRO today from B&H though…. I’m excited to test it out!