Beyond The Campfire was created to encourage readers to explore the great outdoors and to look at it more closely. Get out and take a hike, go fishing or canoeing, or simply stretch out on a blanket under a summer sky...and take your camera along. We'll talk about combining outdoor activities with photography. We'll look at everything from improving your understanding of the basics to more advanced techniques including things like how to see photographically and capturing the light. We'll explore the night sky, location shoots, using off camera speedlights along with nature and landscape. Grab your camera...strap on your hiking boots...and join me. I think you will enjoy the adventure.

The Pilot

The Pilot
The Pilot

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Sometimes...You Just Get it Right!

I'm not a perfectionist, on the contrary I tend to believe tiny imperfections found in any form of art is what makes that art...well, perfect. Even so,  I sometimes find myself fretting over a photograph I've taken saying to myself, "Aaahh...I should have done this or that" or "If only I had tried something else." A few months later I will return to that same photo and for some unexplainable reason, it seems to have improved a great deal from when I first took it.

Then there are those times when you simply guess right, and an image just falls into place almost by itself. The expression is right, the exposure is off just enough to make it interesting, the angle guides the view, and the light creates the perfect moment. A couple years ago, I had one such moment when one such photograph came out of an imperfect moment. I still believe it to be one of the best portraits I've ever taken.


She, along with her parents, were my subjects for an outdoor photo shoot that day. She was maybe five years old at the time, very bright, amazingly alert to what was going on, and quick to see through the corny jokes I used to entice her to laugh. She informed me that dog's do not go 'meow' and cats do not bark. After two or three such feeble attempts at my humor she looked at her dad and said, "Dad...make him stop." After I stopped laughing and regained my composure from being put in my place by a five year old, I quit with the jokes.

Her mom was a few weeks away from giving birth to her brother-to-be. Most of the shoot went pretty much the way most standard shoots go, pretty good for the most part, with some good keepers and a few culls. Even though I struggled at times to come up with a combination of moment and light, there was one instant of inspiration that created the shot of the day.

Mom was wearing a floppy, white button up shirt and the young girl was also wearing a simple, white top.  I positioned a single light and softbox to within a few feet of mom lowering it so it projected its light almost straight into her from the side. Then the moment of inspiration occurred. I asked the five year old to place her ear on mommies tummy. She gently cradled her head against the top of the tummy and her eyes gained a far away look as if she was listening for something. Not sure if she felt her soon-to-be born brother move, or maybe she heard the heart beating, but something caused her expression to shift from 'when are we going to be done?' to one of amazement. At that moment when her eyes lit up and a special smile filled her expression, I fired the shot.

Whether accidentally or on purpose, the image was slightly overexposed, but it created a wonderfully soft high-key look that absolutely was perfect for the moment. With a little help in post processing, it became one of my all time favorite portraits. Sometimes, you just get it right.

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