The Non-Awkward Family Photo

•December 20, 2012 • 1 Comment

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Taking a photo a single person is more or less a piece of cake. Especially in this day and age where the only drawback of shooting a thousand photos is navigating through themess in your computer. I think that most modern photographers have adopted the idea of snapping 10 or 20 photos just for one decent shot. With my own kids, there is no other way of capturing their photo. 

As the number of individuals in a portrait increase, the odds of nailing that perfect photo fade. It’s tough, neh, near impossible to have every single person looking their best especially when adding the dynamic of hyper children. With all this in mind, I decided to attempt a near perfect family photo…and here’s how I did it.

The idea was simple, photograph each member of my family individually and use the best of each of them to “build” a single family photo on our red couch. Pretty straightforward, but even simple ideas have their share of hurdles. How was I to control the light and keep it consistent, What will I use as a back drop, what should we be doing? Two of these problems were pretty simple. If I draw all the shades in the house and use a big softbox at the same output for each of the photos, the light should remain consistent, and if I use a simple white backdrop, all I have to worry about is keeping it white. Simple enough. With a few test shots, we were in business.

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I started out just shooting the standard “stare at the camera and smile…” But we can do better than that. So instead why not pose with something that symbolized what we’ve been us to this past year…then we don’t have to write a Christmas letter…win/win.

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In the computer, the photos went together very easily, sure I had to tweek the leather on the couch here and there, but I used some photoshop to smudge and blur it in places, and when it is all said and done, it looks pretty good. The carpet on the other hand was a headache that I just decided to leave as is… we’ll pretend it’s “modern.” I had to cut out parts of each of the photo so we all appear fit on the couch giving it a more realistic feel. Finally the look of the photo needed some pop. A subtle HDR filter was perfect because it brightened up the colors and gave the photo a Norman Rockwell quality that works well in this particular case. 

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Well there you have it. Merry Christmas =)    

 

Through the looking glass…

•September 3, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I’ve been a victim of camera envy as I’m sure most photographers have at one point or another. In Middle School and High School the Nikon F4 and F5s were the most wonderful pieces of  imaging technology that I believed existed. I thought that it put my poor Canon T70 to shame. As digital SLR cameras made their debut, Nikon’s 5 megapixel D1x became my dream camera. Then it was the D2x, Then the D3…ect. After years of growing my equipment and upgrading my cameras I’ve discovered something huge: “Your camera doesn’t matter…at least…not as much as you’d think.”

Some die-hard film photographers were wise to this discovery. Film and lenses gave you images…the camera that you were using was of little importance. As I worked in a camera shop I often heard older film photographers try to apply that same concept to the digital photography world, and while I believe they were on the right track, they were leaving out a huge factor: “There is no film in digital cameras, so the digital camera has to somewhat matter.”

And it does. Digital cameras use various imaging sensors and imaging results vary greatly…however, camera companies do “share” their sensors not only within the company but between other companies as well. This is pretty shocking if it’s something that you’ve never heard of before, and I assure you that the big camera companies don’t like consumers knowing this information. And why would they, they want you to rush out and buy the latest greatest that they have to offer.  Let me give you an example of how broad this concept is:

The Nikon D300s (retail -$1600) shares the same sensor as the: Nikon D90, Nikon D5000, Sony A500, Pentax Kr, and the Pentax Kx.

All these cameras use a Sony made 12.3-4 MP sensor. This brings me back to my main point. The camera doesn’t matter…that much. It does matter that the Sony 12.3-4MP CMOS sensor (found in these cameras) is a better sensor than, say, the Sony 10.2MP CCD sensor that you’d find in a Nikon D3000 (or Nikon D60, or Nikon D40X). However, when a $500 Sony A500 camera can pretty much give you the same imaging results as a $1600 Nikon D300s, that frees up $1200 that can be better invested in gear that holds it’s value alot longer.

Lenses are in my opinion the very best place to put your money. Look online, lenses that were make 10 years ago still sell for close to what they debuted at. The technology doesn’t change much either, so there are still lenses on the market that were designed 10, 20, even 30 years ago that are still in production today…you can’t say that about very many cameras that I know of.

My best advice that I give regarding a camera purchase is this: “realistically figure out what you need the camera to do, find the best deal on the camera that will meet those needs, and use the rest of your budget on good glass.”

I personally have about $8000 invested in lenses…only $1200 in my cameras and I couldn’t be happier =)

The newest member of our family.

•June 10, 2011 • 1 Comment

Teagan Porter Rauch was born on friday June 8th at 7:30pm. We are so happy to finally be able to hold him. Mom and the baby are both very healthy and very happy. We are very excited! This pregnancy seemed very long in a very short amount of time…In otherwords, we are happy to finally have our baby, but man did it go by quickly!

Torin got to meet his little brother yesterday and is already taking on his “big brother role.” He was alittle nervous at first, but after awhile he was showing his new little brother all of his toys and even sat down and held him.

In other “startling” news, we are moving to Yakima after all =) A spot opened up in the x-ray program, so (hard as it may be) we will be moving in the next couple weeks. It’s bittersweet. I’m really excited to be accepted into my program (which is extremely competitive), but leaving family and friends on such a short notice is difficult. So…deep breath.

New Samples

•May 17, 2011 • 2 Comments

It turns out that I won’t be going to Yakima this year. I didn’t make the cut. Maybe next year. I am alittle relieved, I mean we are having a baby in a couple weeks…so…maybe next year. =)

With my new-found free-time, I have gotten a chance to play with my new camera, so that’s a good thing. Actually a very good thing. I’m very happy with my new Sony toys.

Starting from scratch!

•May 2, 2011 • 2 Comments

Goodbye =(

Well, what began as a joke, turned into hours of research, followed by hours of crunching numbers, followed by even more hours of research proving to myself that I’m not insane. After all that, I made the decision to drop my beloved Nikon gear…and switch to Sony’s Alpha system.

Shocking, I know! I mean I’ve had Nikon gear for 10+ years, so this is a pretty drastic change for me. The decision started as a financial frustration. Nikon has gotten more expensive. Top-Shelf Sony gear retails (on average) for about 25% less than Nikon gear, and that got me thinking…”maybe I should switch to Sony.”

I don’t make huge decisions like this without thinking it through, researching, and hearing other opinions. I searched the internet for days reading about people both happy and unhappy with their Sony gear, and to my surprise most people were pretty pleased by the Alpha system. The majority of the negative information came from the uneducated Canon and Nikon shooters that believe Sony is only stealing a piece of the pie, and that Sony isn’t an innovative camera company like Nikon or Canon. That got me thinking…”What has Nikon or Canon come out with in the last five years that was innovative?” I can’t really think of anything…but I can name some impressive Sony stuff.

I ran the numbers and  came to the conclusion that selling off all my Nikon gear will leave me with enough money to replace it all with top-shelf Sony cameras and lenses. Having a month free from photography assignments, It was now or never.

Hello =)!

You know what I haven’t updated in awhile???

•April 24, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Wow it’s been awhile. Preparing for school has taken the majority of my time these last several months. Finally I’m at the point where I can apply for programs at various schools. I turned in my application to Yakima Valley Community College and have an interview with them next month (fingers crossed). =). If all goes well I’ll be studying medical imaging in the town they refer to as “The Palm Springs of Washington.”

Yakima is only a few hours away, so if I’m accepted, I still plan on making frequent trips back and forth to visit family and friends and shoot the occasional misc photo assignments that I pick up. I’m really excited and hope I have a new area to explore. It’s nothing against Portland…I’m just anxious for a little change =).

I had the privilege of shooting Jeff and Amber’s wedding a couple months ago. It was fantastic! I love weddings in the pearl. The weather these last couple months has been painfully grey, but we lucked out big time and had enough of a break in the rain to shoot some photos outside in the city.

You can never predict the weather around here, so our plan for shooting the portraits was to take them indoors. Not an easy task in downtown Portland, but some phone calls to the hotels gave us some great indoor spots.

The ceremony took place at Urban Studio in the Pearl. Lots of windows which can be challenging to shoot, but they came out so well in the photos.

I’m really proud of this shot above. The father/daughter dance was quick. She was a little shy and didn’t dance with him too much, so he quickly grabbed her by the hand, twirled her, and dipped her. The look on both of their faces is so natural, it makes me smile every time I see it.

Yep, she got him with the cake. Her smirk is so great. =)

This was such a fun wedding to shoot. I’m super happy that I got to be a part of their wedding. So much fun, and such a great looking wedding. Well done Amber =)

Happy Easter everyone. I have big news regarding my camera gear that I’ll blog about next time. So stay tuned =)

-Jeff

Senior: Lindsay

•November 13, 2010 • 2 Comments

Saturday is a pretty good day to shoot senior photos. The majority of people in the city have Saturdays off, which means that if I want to use a building (or loading dock to be more specific) to aid in the creation on my senior photos, chances are pretty good that I’m not going to be in too many worker’s way…The workers whose I way that I do manage to block, are generally grumpy and unpleasant to talk to…probably because they have to work on Saturdays…hmm…Sundays are probably pretty good days to shoot senior photos.

Growing tired of the few (good) spots that Vancouver has to offer, I figured that perhaps a change of location might be refreshing for Lindsay’s shoot. She agreed. So downtown we went. Saturday was pretty quite as far as people being on the streets, which really make my job a lot easier. There’s always the occasional few people that do a double take and stare as if investigating possible shenanigans that are taking place while we are shooting. I understand shooting pictures of someone in the middle of the street could be seen as something slightly out of the ordinary…so I can’t really complain too much.

 

Lindsay really made my photos look amazing. This was one of my favorite shoots that I’ve ever done, and probably one of the easiest, so thank you Lindsay, you rock.

-Jeff

 
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