Monday, June 20, 2011

Boulder Karma and Bokeh at f/5.6

The photo above was taken in Boulder, Colorado back in April. The portrait subject is Amy Tharp -- a Colorado native and author of a children's book that will be published soon. This was no planned portrait -- in fact, far from it. I was out walking along Boulder Creek shooting moving water, pretty much playing around with no real purpose, just killing time before sunset. Amy needed a head shot for the book she's writing, and just happened to be out walking near the same creek in Boulder. She approached me and asked if I'd take her photo. I asked if I could use my camera and did a mental rundown of about 5-6 things I would like to have when shooting a portrait -- fast portrait lens, speedlight with a remote trigger, softbox, some kind of diffusion for the sun, etc. Well, I had none of those things. I had a D7000, a 28-300 lens, and a pop-up flash -- not exactly awe-inspiring portrait gear. But this is when all those afternoons shooting impromptu portraits at Dickens on the Strand and the Renaissance Festival paid off. OK, I thought, let's make a portrait.
I threw everything on the camera into manual, shooting at f/5.6 to try and eek out some kind of out-of-focus background, placed Amy on a rock with the creek in the background with the sun providing some hair light, and used my pop-up flash as fill. Luckily, I found a place with some nice shade on her face, and the specular highlights from the water luckily turned into some nice bokeh at f/5.6. And the portrait was made. The image was double raw converted -- one warm version for Amy and a cool version for the water -- and both layers masked together in Photoshop.
It's funny how things happen when you have a camera in your hands. Sometimes you find yourself in the most unexpected situations -- in the center aisle of a church chapel in London as snow falls outside, on the back of a boat in the Gulf of Mexico hanging on for dear life, and knee deep in a snow bank in the Rocky Mountains. As a photographer, you curse the moments that you miss an opportunity, you become frustrated because all your images seem to look the same, and you take shot after shot knowing that the next one will be "the one." But ultimately photography can be a passport into so many things in life -- and this was truly one of those times that will be long remembered -- Boulder karma as Amy said.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Cathedral Rock

Cathedral Rock from the banks of Oak Creek, Sedona, Arizona. 1/160 sec at f/10, 50mm, polarized.