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Archive 2012 · Impromptu family portraits

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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Impromptu family portraits

Hi, first time sharing here and really looking for C&C of any kind. During a recent camping trip, a close friend asked me if I would do a family session for them. Since I'm an amateur at best, I was a little hesitant. So, I suggested that we just find a place near the camp site to try a few shots first. I've been lurking here for a while, so I'm thinking something "Lisa Holloway"-like stuff (Lisa, I did give them your website address, in case they're looking for a real pro). So, I scope out a spot and here are the results:


Too bad the little one is slightly out of focus, so I learned to stop down a bit next time.



moved them out of the sun for a shot, just in case the light was too harsh.

If they like these, then most likely we'll schedule something in the future. I'm excited, and yet scared at the same time. I don't have a lot of post-processing skills, mostly just use lightroom to adjust exposure and contrast. Worst case scenario, I guess, is that I'll waste an afternoon of their time.

Sep 26, 2012 at 06:02 AM
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Impromptu family portraits

Well... being this was just something which happened on the spot and you were without any additional gear to help with your lighting... then it is what it is . The last shot is a good start in the direction you want to be. A little more adjusting and it will be a nice shot.

The 1st couple of shots... since they were in direct sunlight... harsh shadows/harsh light... just not appealing.

I would suggest thinking about purchasing a reflector and a diffusion panel. A 5 -n-1 set for under $100 can do a nice job. Or, if the budget allows... there are larger frame kits which provide more diffused light or reflected light.

Even a $5 translucent shower curtain on a pvc frame would have done wonders for the 1st two shots. You would have been able to diffuse the light and really helped the images.

Reflector /Diffusion panel kits

If a kit isn't in the budget.... look for open shade with little to no dappled light to place them under. Overhangs are great as well.. depending on the lighting situation. They can provide nice shade and if there is concrete... it can reflect the light back on them.

Also, think time of day... early morning or late evening for the shoot. Mid day isn't the best... it's possible (I've done it) but not ideal.

This might help as well... diffusion panel over the top. http://www.hatch1921.com/lighting-diagram-seth-outdoors/

Hope this helps, keep shooting.. keep practicing.

Sep 26, 2012 at 09:06 AM
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Impromptu family portraits

Hatch has some great direction for you. It's possible to shoot in direct sunlight, but you have to think of the sun as a light source. It's often best used as a back light. In that case, you turn your subjects away from the sun. Look at her right upper arm in No. 2. Sun on one side, shadow on the other. That means the sun was 90 degrees to your left. Next time get the sun directly behind the subjects and expose for the face. An ND filter would also help with this.

But all of this is why No. 3 is so much better than 1 or 2, as Hatch noted.

Sep 26, 2012 at 01:26 PM

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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Impromptu family portraits

Hatch thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and expertise, with us interested amateurs!

Sep 26, 2012 at 11:43 PM

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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Impromptu family portraits

Thanks! Bought a diffuser/reflector today!

Sep 27, 2012 at 02:26 AM

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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Impromptu family portraits

Very welcome. Glad to help as we all have to start somewhere. I'm still learning and I think it's what keeps me interested in photography. There is always something to learn and grow from.

Be sure to post some more shots with the new gear.


Sep 27, 2012 at 04:08 AM
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Impromptu family portraits

Great input from others. I think your framing of the shots is good. So just work out the lighting (sun to back, golden hour, reflector, etc) and you will be well on your way. I think #3 could be great with a little more lightroom work.

Sep 28, 2012 at 08:02 PM

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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Impromptu family portraits

Hi, happy to report back. I bought a big reflect/diffuser thing.

Just today, my niece wanted me to take some pictures of a dress she made for her college application portfolio. Hey, what a good chance to try out my new toy?! Here are some results from the backyard:

using the diffuser:

white reflector:

more C&C welcomed

Oct 07, 2012 at 09:03 PM
Steady Hand
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Impromptu family portraits


Tell your neice she did a great job on creating that dress.

The use of materials and design look very good along with the pull-tab jewelry. Nice use of the materials...and it looks elegant.

Oct 07, 2012 at 09:11 PM

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