Photographing Families and Alleys (follow-up to Photographing a Photographer)

Well, for starters, last weekend went very well.  Yaaay!  The photographer (and his lovely wife) who I was photographing were great to work with, and he gave me pretty free rein in the whole process, which made it a lot easier.  We shot in High Park, which is just fantastic to shoot in; if you’re ever in Toronto, get down there.  Rivers, waterfalls, big, bushy trees, golden willow trees, open fields, flatlands, rolling hills, you name it, they’ve got it!  It’s like Central Park, only without the pretzel vendors.

Since it was intended as a true family portrait shoot (rather than a “model family” portrait), there wasn’t much in the way of full-on posing required.  All they really had to do was wrap their arms around each other and play kissy-face for a few hours, and in all fairness, with a wife as beautiful as she is, he didn’t need any convincing for retakes.  Frankly, I think he was asking for some for just that reason…especially since he hadn’t even seen the shots!

Being as he’s a photographer himself, and he likes to work with JPEG, all I had to do after was get rid of any blurry ones, put the others on a protected spot, and send him the info.  As it wasn’t work for hire, I still have copyright, so I get to put them on my site!  Since he’s got access to the unretouched images (well, as of 30 seconds before I posted this), here’s a shot or two of the happy couple.  The rest that I retouched, are going on my site.


A happy couple, among the autumn trees

A young couple under a willow tree

A young couple nuzzles under a willow tree

See what I mean?  They really do make a cute couple.

In addition to being my first time shooting another shooter, I also tried another new trick: doing a lot of my editing in Camera Raw.  I have this book, “Adobe Photoshop CS6 for Photographers” by Martin Evening.  This is one of those books that your mom threatened to hit you with if you got out of line…and you’d shut right up.  Anyway, it evangelizes doing a lot of the work in Camera Raw, rather than in PS itself.  Until recently, I’ll admit that I was the kind who would bring images into Camera Raw, let the system do the Auto settings, open it into PS, and then tinker with it.

WOW.  I would not have expected that playing for just a little bit in CR would cut my time down in PS that much, but it does.  I still may do localized Brightness, Curves, etc., but suddenly, I don’t need to worry about making a copy background layer to do all my main editing, because that’s all done in a tiny sidecar .xmp file!  I don’t know if it’s psychosomatic or what – I’m going to try it out for a while to see – but it seems to be cutting things down, time-wise, so I’m digging it.

Also, in another “let’s not sleep tonight” bout, I worked around the clock on Tuesday.  Since I had two concurrent jobs running that I knew would take a few hours to complete and wouldn’t require intervention, I grabbed my camera and flash (yes, I thought ahead and brought them), and wandered out to Graffiti Alley.  It probably wasn’t a particularly wise idea to be wandering around in dark, back alleys at 1:00 in the morning, firing off a flash and announcing to anyone who is in there “hi, I’m alone and have an expensive camera around my neck”, but between my size, appearance and personality, I figured I would be safe.  So, I wandered dark, dingy alleys for an hour on a Tuesday night (well, technically, very early Wednesday morning), looking for good graffiti to photograph.

I found some, don’t get me wrong.  There were only two problems I ran into.  The first was that, because of the darkness, focusing was a Hail Mary.  Most came out fine, but there were one or two that I just couldn’t get, no matter how hard I tried.  The second was the flash.  I don’t usually use flash, but at night it’s mandatory, obviously.  However, because of the angles, sometimes I had to shoot close and direct.  Even with the flash dialed down, I was still getting a lot of bounce-back.  I’m sure I could have stayed and kept trying until I got the combination of flash power and shutter speed perfect, but these shots weren’t going to land me the cover of TIME or Rolling Stone, so I wasn’t going to fight that hard for it.  Besides, it was after 1 in the morning, and I’d already been up for 21+ hours, with at least 12 or 13 more to go.

So here are a few of the more interesting ones I found in the Alley:

Graffiti of a young lady, shot behind a frost fence Graffiti of Queen of Hearts in a boarded up window

On that happy note, I’m outta here.  Time to head out with my buddies and see what insanity there is worth photographing in St. Catharines! 🙂

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