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Engagement Session @ the Griffith Observatory

Early morning engagement session with Andrian and Shawntelle at the Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory

 Photography has blessed me with the opportunity to meet and work with some pretty awesome people. Getting to know their story and have a fun time while out capturing the love these two share in a photo.

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory

We met up early on a Saturday morning at the Griffith Observatory. This would be the first time I would be working at this location taking photos. Shawntelle and I had communicated via email about the types of poses she would like to have captured and even provided me with a link to her pinterest. All of this made my job a whole lot easier. However there was still the fact that I had never photographed at this location before. I'm not one for running and gunning when I have an opportunity to prepare. So on the day of our shoot I headed over a half hour early to take a look around the observatory myself and plan out some of the areas that might work best with the sample ideas I was provided.

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory

The weather is something I always have on my mind as the day draws closer to a photo shoot. This photo session was scheduled for 9:30am, and after checking my iPhone for the weather it was going to be an overcast morning. If given the choice of photographing during a clear sunny day or an overcast one I'll take the fog every time. The light is easy to work with and doesn't cast any harsh shadows.

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory

Once the happy couple was ready to begin I dialed in my cameras settings and set up my exposure for the couple.  This resulted in photos with a blown out background giving some of the images a feeling of solitariness in a busy city like Los Angeles. When I look at other inspiring engagement photos I feel like just the couple is captured. Some photos convey a feeling of togetherness, or strong emotions of being in love, and alone in a place that is just their own. It was a feeling I tried capturing with these images. I hope you enjoyed viewing them as much as I did capturing them and thank you for reading.

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory

So what do you think? Has the weather ever been an obstacle in your photo sessions or have you found ways to use it creatively?  Let me know in the comment section below. If you are new to the blog, welcome! Be sure to head over to Facebook and add my photography page. Also follow me on Instagram as well links located above. Thank you and please remember to like this post if you liked it, and hit that share button.

Photo of the Day 007

"Fire in the Sky" Capturing a burning sunrise in Valencia CA

The mornings in southern California are lit with amazing sunrises that set the sky ablaze during the months leading up to the fall and winter.  On August 6, 2015 at 5:57am as I got closer to work I was welcomed with this.  A sunrise off in the horizon behind some of the towering power lines that can be found in the city of Valencia.  The suns light reached across the morning sky and cast a warm tone to the lingering clouds.

When shooting sunsets I usually set up my tripod and compose my shot well ahead of time.  Sunrises however are completely different.  Working early mornings has me arriving at work around the time the sun is rising.  This leaves little to no time to set up a tripod or even compose a shot.  For this photo I had left my camera attached to my tripod because of the previous mornings sunrises.  Once I pulled over and made my way to this location I dropped the legs and used my 18-55mm kit lens.  Composing the power lines off to the lower right I took a few bracketed images so that I could merge them into HDR photos later.  Once I felt confident that I captured the scene I took a couple more with my 35mm and 50mm prime lenses.

With the month of July rapidly coming to an end I am anticipating this years sunrises and look forward to capturing some more great mornings in Valencia.

How about you. Do you enjoy any sunrises or sunsets? Also if you are a local to the Valencia or Santa Clarita area what is your favorite place to watch a sunset or sunrise? Let me know in the comment section below If you are new to the blog, welcome! Be sure to head over to Facebook and add my photography page. Also you can follow me on Instagram links located above.

Lets Edit 001

In todays video watch while I run through my work flow in this Lets Edit Lightroom edition.

Not being one to miss out on a prime shot this photo was taken while on the road home from a trip to Bakersfield CA.  More often than not landscape photos are taken with a tripod and carefully set up.  However the cloudscape over the open flat land was an amazing site and we were dead set on getting home so I used what I had and took the shot.  As we came closer to the grade heading south the sun began to breakthrough and display some amazing rays of light.  There are many ways to add god rays to a landscape using photoshop.  However I was fortunate enough to capture them as it happened.  While going through my editing process I focused on bringing more definition to the light rays, and correct the photo to display the original colors of the scene.  Due to the car windows tint there was a slight cast of green in the original image. I shot this photo with my 50mm prime at ISO 100, f/4.0, and because the car was moving I had my shutter set to 1/2500sec to prevent any motion blur.

What photo editing software do you use in your photography? Since most landscape photos are taken using a tripod have you ever taken a landscape photo from a moving car?  Let me know in the comment section below Also If you are new to the blog, welcome! Be sure to head over to Facebook and add my photography page. Also you can follow me on Instagram links located above.

Joe, Breanda, and Their Maternity Session

With their babies arrival quickly approaching Joe and Breanda took a little time to have the story of their happy pregnancy captured with photos.

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When Breanda asked me to shoot her maternity photos I was super excited.  Capturing important moments in peoples lives is one of the greatest perks of being a photographer, and I am always humbled when asked.  We went over a few of the things she wanted for their maternity session and set a date to meet  The location however was something to be determined.  I have lived here in Southern California for going on two years, and I am still exploring my surroundings.  With little knowledge of the Santa Clarita area I turned to the Internet to research possible places for the couples maternity session. I narrowed my search down to three. The William S. Hart Ranch and Museum, Valencia Glen Park, and finally an area near Bridgeport Park.  Breanda liked the idea of having their photos taken at the William S. Hart Museum. She was more than familiar with the area having just had her baby shower there the previous weekend. After settling in on the location I headed over to the park to scope out the area and find some places to pose the happy couple.  The area we would be photographing at required some lite hiking but Joe and Breanda were up for the chalange.

On the day of the shoot we met up early at 8am. It was an overcast day and it remained that way throughout the shoot. I welcomed the natural soft box that the clouds provided because it eliminated any harsh light that would otherwise be cast onto the couple.  At the base of the hike I snapped a few test shots to get my settings and from there we headed to our first shoot location. Having checked out the area earlier in the week I broke the hike up into four rest/photo spots. This would ensure my couple didn't look as if they had run a marathon in their photos.

On a side note: photographing a couple who is willing to put in the leg work and hike is awesome for getting a great scene to pose at. I recommend packing some water for your clients. A little extra service can go a long way. 

 At our first spot I had the couple pose next to an old tree. I had them run through a few simple poses to get comfortable with the camera. I find having a couple start out sitting or leaning on something helps take their mind off of what their feet are doing and can allow them to focus more on engaging each other in a more relaxed way.

After this location I had the couple move ahead toward a landing on top of some stairs in the trail.  Having them standing at a higher vantage point than myself felt like it represented  the path they were on as parents, and that even with help from loved ones it is ultimately a path they will navigate together. Due to the overcast morning the sky was a flat gray. To compensate for the lacking background I framed this shot so that I would have a few for ground elements around the edges.  This provided texture and naturally brings you into the photo so that your focuse is on Joe and Breanda. The wood fence also provided a nice leading line toward the couple.

From there we moved up towards the third location. It was a clearing over looking Santa Clarita and the park down below. A single bench provided a comfortable view and served as the perfect spot for images to be shot at a wider focal length.  For these shots I used the 50mm prime to drink in a little more of the surroundings. 

Our final location on the trail was at a small building with wooden railing and some old bars covering the windows.  This building overlooked trail we had hiked and was a place I made sure to save for the end of our session.  Whenever Im out scouting locations I keep a mental note of my favorite spots and try to save those for the end of the shoots.  It has been my experience that near the end of a photo session everyone is a little more at ease than they were in the beginning.  Having a comfortable couple with a great location makes for some awesome pictures.  Breanda had also packed a few sentimental items to use as props. So it was here were we got creative.

I took most of these shots on the balcony with my 85mm prime.  I love the quality of the images I get with it.  We took a few photos with the props, and some solo shots of them on their own before calling it a wrap.  As we made our decent back down the path we came across a really cool looking log cabin.  Since it was on the way we all thought it would be great grab some last minute photos before we called it a day.  We went for a shot of them standing at opposite sides of the stairs landing, and then finished with a fun photo of them belly to baby belly.

I definitely had a blast working with these two.  They are a fun couple and are well on their way to being awesome parents.

Have you had maternity photos require a little exercise to get to the locations? Let me know in the comment section. If you are new to the blog, welcome! Be sure to head over to Facebook and add my photography page. Also you can follow me on Instagram links located above.   

Photo Of The Day 004

Some of the steps I take when editing my sunset photos.

Ignited with the final light of the setting sun. The sky was set ablaze with color.  For the past week the sky has been alive with color.  While busy with work and errands I make time at the end of the day to stop whatever it is I am doing to watch the setting sun.  Each one is different from the last.

When I shoot a sunset I lean more toward editing with the foreground in shadow rather than going with the HDR look.  I feel It helps draw the attention toward the main focus of the image.  Also I will add a subtle vignette to the edges and finish with a graduated filter in Lightroom at the top to give the sky a cooler feeling as your view draws further from the setting sun.

I took this photo with my 85mm prime as ISO 400, f/4.0, and 1/250sec.

How do you edit your sunset photos? Do you prefer the HDR look or having the foreground in shadow?. Let me know in the comment section below. Also If you are new to the blog, welcome! Be sure to head over to Facebook and add my photography page. Also you can follow me on Instagram links located above.

Photo Of The Day 002

Exploring new vantage points while photographing in Woodland Hills

It was a hot day without a single cloud in the sky while out in Woodland Hills. We were out getting some weekend errands taken care of. After we had some lunch I took a little time to explore some parking structures surrounding the Warner Center buildings.  I ended up finding a great view from on top of the Westfield Mall parking lot.  Normally when I set up to shoot a landscape or architecture photo I get my tripod out, and take my time framing my image.  However it has been my experience when photographing in public parking lots that security isn't far from coming in and telling me to leave.  For this picture I shot five exposures handheld so that I could get a higher dynamic range when editing in Lightroom.  The sun was extremely bright on the windows so I knew I would need that range to preserve some detail in my shot. For most of my landscape and architecture photos I use an aperture around f8 to f16.  For this I shoot I changed things up and shot a little wider placing my focus point on the buildings.  Another thing I took into consideration while shooting without a tripod was to use a fast shutter speed so the photos would merge nicely when editing.  I took this photo using my 85mm prime at ISO 100, f4, and 1/1600s.

Have you ever explored new angles at places you photograph often? How did those photos come out? Let me know in the comment section what you thought of that beach. If you are new to the blog, welcome! Be sure to head over to Facebook and add my photography page. Also you can follow me on Instagram links located above.

A Bakersfield Engagement Session

Making a day trip to Bakersfield for some Engagement photos

A few weeks before deciding on plans for the memorial weekend my fiancé was contacted by an old co-worker who had recently tied the knot.  She had gone through the process of planning her own wedding and didn't book any engagement photos or wedding photographer.  Her Husband owned the tux worn on the wedding day and her dress was still in immaculate condition. Instead of trying to re-create the day we decided on taking very formal (dressed up) engagement photos.

One of the things I enjoy about photography is the ability to tell the story you want. The audience viewing your photos doesn't know if you took the photos before or after your wedding making an engagement session something that can happen at any time.

Before meeting up at The Park at Riverwalk in Bakersfield CA we made the day into a family road trip.  With the car loaded, and all batteries charged we set out from Van Nuys on a short one hour drive north.  Being the lightweight that I am when it comes to driving our first stop was McDonalds for some iced coffees.  Now were off and cooking.  With caffeine in my system I was charged and ready for the rest of the day.  Traffic on the road was really light given that it was a Holliday weekend. Once we hit Bakersfield we took some time to stretch our legs and give our son a break from his car seat.  The outlets at Tejon served that purpose for us.

After a brief break from the drive we were back in the car and off to meet our couple for their photo session.  The park was packed with lots of locals all with the same idea to cool off and enjoy some BBQ and ice-cream.  Taking a short time to survey the area I knew I would need to focus as much on my couple as I would on what or who is behind them.  Any random person, cooler, or BBQ pit could easily take away from the focus of the photos. 

To start out I had them standing in front of a stone pillar.  It adds some texture to the background and we started our shoot a little early so we had a little time before the sun would be offering premium lighting conditions.  This pillar was located at the front of the park and offered time for all of us to get comfortable with taking photos around such a large crowd. 

From there we moved to the water.  Kids were swimming in the background so again I adapted to the surroundings and positioned my couple accordingly so as to not have anyone interfering in the background.  By now we were all settling in and becoming comfortable.  This is the time where I break out the posing ideas.  My fiancé carried her phone with a few photo poses but I find its one thing to tell people how to stand or position themselves and its another to make them look natural or comfortable.  Here is where I provide the internal monologue for them as they pose.  I suggest what they might be thinking or what they might be looking at off in the distance.  Anything that breaks their concentration and gets a laugh or moment of relaxation.

By the end of the shoot the sun was offering some amazing light.  I shot this entire session with my 85mm prime lens and got some interesting lens flare with it.

Have you ever had your engagement photos taken after your wedding? Let me know in the comment section. If you are new to the blog, welcome! Be sure to head over to Facebook and add my photography page. Also you can follow me on Instagram links located above.

Fitness Shoot with @miss_suarezz

Crystal Suarez certified personal trainer, sponsored athlete, and in full prep mode for her upcoming competition. 

While most people are still asleep Crystal was starting the morning with her first workout of the day. She started with a few warm up movements to get the blood flowing while I dialed in the settings on my camera. With an empty gym we had uninterrupted access to all the equipment. Crystals workout was focused on accessory work. This included biceps, abs, squats with varied foot positions, and triceps.

focused on the movment

The gyms lighting was perfect, shooting conditions were great. I prefer to shoot under natural lighting conditions. Especially in a public place like a gym. I used my 35mm prime lens for this workout with my ISO set to 800, shutter speed 1/100s at f/2.5. Before I work with any athlete I tell them that this will be a real workout. I don't ask for poses, and I try not to interrupt the workout.  I like to let each person do what they do best while I capture the shots.  I take a very candid approach to my fitness photography.

We ended the fitness shoot with a pose routine. After a workout is the best time to flex.  The muscles are pumped, and look a lot fuller For this part of the photoshoot I used my 85mm prime lens.  I like this lens for portraits, and posing photos when I have the room to stand at a distance.  If the area is too small I use my nifty 50. These last photos were shot at ISO 800, 1/125s, f/2.5. 

Front Double Bicep

The compression, and bokeh this lens delivers is amazing.  We photographed in the yoga room where they had mirrors mounted to the walls on either side of the room.  One thing I don't like doing is going into photoshop to edit myself out whenever there are mirrors.  Hiding behind the model, equipment, or out of the frame is just another thing I add to the checklist when looking through the lens.

How about you? Heve you taken any gym photos? When did you take yours, and were you the model or the photographer? Let me know in the comment section. If you are new to the blog, welcome! Be sure to head over to Facebook and add my photography page. Also you can follow me on Instagram links located above.