Posts By Brad Moore

Hey there! Tracy Sweeney here, owner/photographer of Elan Studio in the lovely seaside town of Bristol, Rhode Island. I’m delighted to accept the invitation to guest blog this week!

I’m a newborn, child and family photographer and get asked all the time about my lens choices for my consistent imagery. I’m a Canon girl and shoot mostly prime. I love shooting at wide apertures, which can be challenging, especially when capturing fast toddlers and exciting family interaction and movements. I want the little ones to be the primary focus in my work without competition from the setting. And while landscape is important for coloring and texture, I want my subjects to emerge from the composition, allowing my viewers to feel something; to actually hear the laughter I’m capturing and to feel the joy. And in this way, my setting is secondary.

I’m a toggler. I selectively focus each shot, moving around the points on my Canon 5D MK IV. This allows me to separate my focus and control my exposure. It takes a little practice to get used to this technique, but it is now second nature for me, and I am constantly moving my dial throughout a session. I am always focusing on the child in the photo (preferably the eyes). In sibling and family images, my focus is on the subject closest to me. Since I am shooting wide open, that focus becomes the story of my image. If I’m photographing children running toward me, away from their parents, that becomes the moment I’m capturing, and the parents, falling out of focus, add to that narrative.

I set my camera first according to the aperture at which I want to shoot, and adjust my ISO and exposure accordingly. I use spot metering and typically, when shooting outdoors, underexpose the entire image a tad so as not to blowout skies. I always shoot handheld, and often have moving subjects, and thus need fast shutter speeds which my wide apertures buttress.

I change a bit with each lens choice as I’ve discovered some of their sweet spots. But generally, I shoot between f/1.8 to f/2.8, except for when shooting with my fisheye, which I fix at f/4. I use these apertures even when shooting multiple subjects, attempting to pose and direct my subjects within the same plane. But my hope is always authenticity and organic connection, which I cultivate and support through instruction and articulated expectation to my clients, and so, as I am shooting, and the stories develop, and the subjects move, I make specific focus choices.

TOP 5 FAVORITE LENSES FOR CHILD PHOTOGRAPHY
And so, here are my top five lenses for child photography that allow me to accomplish the aforementioned. I shoot with only one body and change lenses throughout the session, again, making choices in consideration of the final image I want to achieve. In no specific order, here are my all time favorites.

Canon EF 200mm f/2L
This super hi-end telephoto lens allows me to capture amazing high quality, sharp images wide open of fast moving subjects. The bokeh is unbelievably dreamy. I get lots of looks when I’m shooting with this lens in the field because of its sheer size. The already super long lens is exacerbated additionally by its hood. And to boot, it’s super duper heavy, but I still handhold it, often laying on the ground or shooting from a low perspective complementary to the small stature of my primary subjects (little ones).

You can see me photographing behind the scenes with this lens in my Family Photography: The Art of Storytelling course on KelbyOne. One of the true benefits of this lens is that I can photograph as an observer, shooting from a distance and capturing children interacting within the setting in an organic state, without being right in front of their face with the expectation that they perform or react within my proximity. With this insanely high quality lens I can create magical, compelling imagery. This is the newest lens in my repertoire, and one I invested in after years of building my child photography business.

When shooting backlit images with this lens, I get very low to the ground positioning myself so that the subject is blocking the light. Harnessing the light in this way allows me to emphasize the childhood moment and connection.

Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II
I recently upgraded to the version II of this lens, and it is fast becoming a go to during all of my sessions (both in studio, outdoor, and underwater). The wide angle allows me to include more detail in my images, especially when I don’t have the real estate in which to back up, and or/to elevate any higher when shooting from above. I can capture a larger scene without significantly distorting my subjects.

The close perspective allows me to interact with children while shooting, engaging in conversation, making jokes, asking questions, etc. to capture natural expressions. It creates a more intimate shooting space for me, as I am obviously closer to my subjects, and in this way, is the antithesis to the time I spend behind my 200.

Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L
When I mentor photographers who want to invest in a quality lens to achieve the “dreamy look” for which my work is known, this is the number one lens I recommend they have in their arsenal for shooting children outdoors. This is the first “serious” lens in which I invested. The focal length is manageable for directing families while allowing enough space for natural interaction. The depth of field is crazy amazing at 1.2 which makes it a fabulous portrait lens. It’s super sharp and mostly fast, though not as fast as some of my other lenses. When I first began shooting with this lens, I rarely switched out, often shooting an entire session from start to finish with this 85.

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L
This lens is essential for my newborn work, so that I can capture the tiny details: eyelashes, lips, nose, toes, and fingers. It allows me to craft images from a detailed perspective creating an image gallery for my clients that is varied, but doesn’t create additional set planning. I am able to craft a beautiful stylized newborn image and photograph it with a wider lens such as my 35, and then switch to the 100 mm macro lens and focus on specific elements, ultimately, creating multiple images in the same set. You can watch me employ this technique in my upcoming newborn course on KelbyOne.com. However, not only is this lens a fantastic macro lens, it’s gorgeous for portrait work too!

Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L
This fisheye lens is such a fun creative lens that I whip out at the end of nearly every beach sunset session. It functions unbelievably in low light, allowing me to maintain sky texture while correctly exposing my subjects, or intentionally silhouetting. This is presently the only lens I shoot with that is not a prime lens, and I typically extend it to 15mm to reduce the already significant distortion. With this lens a quick tilt up or down will change the entire image. To avoid the bending in the horizon line created from he fisheye perspective, I shoot, again, very low to the ground, and often am submerged in water to get close to the action, taking in my entire setting.

Thank you so much for having me! I hope you enjoyed learning a little more about what’s in my bag and how I use these lenses to achieve light filled joyful images of little ones.

You can see more of Tracy’s work at Elan-Studio.com. For additional conversation and musings, join her Facebook group “All Things Child Portraiture,” and follow her on Facebook and Instagram!

Mastering Layers: Beginner Techniques with Dave Cross
Join Dave Cross to learn how to become successful using Photoshop’s layers. Aimed at beginners, this class is designed to help you understand what a layer is, discover what types of layers exist and the ways they can be used, navigate the Layers panel, learn how to manage your layers, and much more. Understanding layers is the key to unlocking Photoshop’s tremendous capabilities for all manner of creative pursuits. By the end of this class you’ll have the confidence to take on more challenging projects.

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Learn how the top commercial advertising pros create stunning composite portraits, with Joel Grimes and Matt Kloskowski. In this part one of a two-part series, Joel takes you behind the scenes and walks you through every aspect of his creative process. By the end of the class you’ll know exactly how the pros do it, and learn to shoot your portraits with more creativity and confidence than ever before!

Badlands National Park

Imaginary Landscapes: Building Fantasy from Reality
Hello everyone, my name is Nick Pedersen and I am a photographer and digital artist currently based in the Philadelphia area. My work specializes in an intricate use of HDR imaging, photo compositing, and special effects using my own photographs. For this article I would like to talk a bit about my history as an artist, and how I got to where I am today.

“Sanctuary” (diptych) 2016

I started out in photojournalism, traveling a lot and doing more documentary style photography. Currently I work for a few photo agencies, Getty and Cavan Images, and I also take on freelance assignments, which is great to supplement my income and collect photos for my digital imaging work along the way. First and foremost, I would say my favorite part about the work I do is traveling around the US and other countries to capture the best images to use in my projects.

Early on, I learned some photo editing skills in Photoshop and experimented a bit with combining images. This series, “Migration,” was the first larger body of work I created using the style of photomontage that I use today. In my artistic work I have always been very influenced by nature and environmentalism. Conceptually this project was created in response to issues like urban sprawl and deforestation, showing wild animals wandering through the city in search of their natural habitats.

“Coyotes” Migration series, 2008

I got really into photo compositing and this whole idea that you could create something new rather than just capturing it. So, I decided to get my Master’s degree in Digital Arts from Pratt Institute in New York. I spent three years studying there. Here are some examples from my MFA thesis, “Sumeru.” This project uses the same techniques, but much more extensively, to create an entire constructed landscape in each image. The narrative was inspired by Zen Buddhism and eastern philosophy, and uses images of nature to symbolically represent various states of consciousness and perceptions. Basically, it is about an exploration of the mind. The whole series was exhibited and published in my first artist book, Sumeru.

“Mountains and Waters” Sumeru series, 2011
“Sumeru” (MFA Exhibition) 2011
“Sumeru” (narrative storyboard) 2011

Shortly after graduating, I began working on the first part on my next major series, “Ultima.” It envisions a hypothetical future world where nature has reclaimed modern civilization. I started by taking images of cities on the east coast like New York, Brooklyn, and Philadelphia. These were perfect for collecting photos of urban decay, like buildings overgrown with vines, burned down structures, and industrial ruins. The images of animals came from the wild, zoos, taxidermy shops, and museums of natural history. Finally, the characters were photographed in the studio with lighting to match each scene. It’s a much different way to think about photography, because I am capturing different elements and creating a database of photos to use for compositing.

“Remnants of Time” Ultima series, 2013

To create my images I use a complex process of digital imaging in Photoshop. Every image is actually made up of about 50 or more photographs meticulously pieced together, with each taking around 100 hours of work. So I spend a great amount of time building up an image, figuring out the lighting, shadows, color, and other effects to make it look realistic and seamless. Each image is planned out and created as an intricately layered construction, and I think that is what gives it such a hyper-real, illustrative quality.

“Remnants of Time” (digital process) 2013

Over the next year I continued working on this project and was accepted for a few artist residencies to help get the images I needed for my ideas. The first one was at the Banff Center in Alberta, Canada, where I photographed the impressive mountains and snow-covered landscapes surrounding Banff National Park. I was also lucky enough to set up an amazing photo shoot with wolves. My next artist residency was at the Gullkistan Center in Iceland, where I spent the winter traveling around the entire country photographing the incredible glaciers, icebergs, and the northern lights to complete the second part of the series.

“The Great Divide” Ultima series, 2014
“Place of Power” Ultima series, 2014

For the final desert part of the project, I took road trips all over the four corners of the American southwest. Some of the biggest highlights were the Great Sand Dunes in Colorado, the slot canyons in southern Utah, and Organ Pipe National Monument on the border of Mexico.

This entire 36-image project took me about 3 years to complete, but hopefully it shows what you can pull off with a lot of patience and dedication. After finishing the work I make large-scale fine art prints for gallery exhibitions, and the whole 3-part series was collected in my newest artist book, Ultima.

“The Dream Time” Ultima series, 2015
“Ultima” (artist book edition) 2015

I have also done quite a bit of commercial work, like this piece “Green City,” in collaboration with the Nature Conservancy. Most of the time I have received commissions after clients have viewed my personal work like Sumeru, Ultima, and other projects, especially through social networking sites like Behance and Instagram. So, in my experience, having a portfolio of interesting personal work has really helped me to stand out, and has led to offers for the kinds of projects I want to work on. I am very interested in creating images with purpose that have a strong message, such as this piece “Water Protector,” to benefit Stand With Standing Rock.

“Green City” (Nature Conservancy commission) 2015
“Water Protector” (benefit for Standing Rock) 2016

Finally, all of this has led to my newest series “Floating World,” which is an ongoing project created in response to the issues of climate change and sea level rise in coastal cities around the world. I started this body of work with New York City, and I’m currently working on images of New Orleans and Miami. Eventually I’m planning to include more images of other cities most threatened by flooding in the future. With all these environmental projects, my main goal is to raise important questions about the time we live in, and give viewers a space to think about the future of our planet.

“Flatiron” Floating World Series (photographs) 2016
“Wall Street” Floating World series, 2016

To conclude I would like to leave you with these ideas I have picked up that have been key to creativity in my artistic life, and I think would benefit anyone getting into photography and digital imaging.

1. Know your conceptual, aesthetic, and technical influences.
2. Experiment through trial and error to find what works.
3. Know your technique intuitively, like second nature.
4. Develop your own unique style to stand out.
5. Create something original and authentic.
6. Constantly reinvent yourself and your work.
7. Be exposed to new places, people, and ideas.
8. Be ambitious and take steps to meet your goals.
9. Follow your own path with perseverance.

“Slash+Burn” 2017
“Floating World” (New Orleans project) 2017

You can see more of Nick’s work at Nick-Pedersen.com and follow him on Instagram, Facebook, and Behance.

Lightroom Mobile From Start to Finish with Scott Kelby
Expand the power of Lightroom desktop to your mobile devices! Join Scott Kelby for an in-depth look at the latest round of updates for Lightroom Mobile. In this class Scott will help you get set up on the right foot, show you how to view your photos on mobile, how to add new photos from your camera roll, how to edit with the updated editing interface, how to share photos on the web, and so much more! This update has created the most desktop-like experience on mobile so far, and Scott gets you up to speed on all the new features and interface changes. All along the way Scott shares tips and tricks to help you get the most out of the experience. By the end of this class you’ll be able to use Lightroom anywhere you are, and on any device.

Upgrade Your Creative Workflow with the Adobe Mobile Apps with Bryan O’Neil Hughes
Get up to speed with the latest in Adobe’s fast growing suite of creative apps for your mobile devices! Join Bryan O’Neil Hughes as he demonstrates how these apps work, how they communicate with each other, and how they stay synchronized through the cloud. Starting on an iPhone, moving to a tablet, and then showing how your work can automatically be synced back to your desktop you’ll see how these apps give you the power to create new content, edit that content, access your existing content across your devices, and publish it to the world. Bryan wraps up the class with a sneak peek at what’s coming next. This class was released in March 2016, but much of it still applies to how you can get the most out of Adobe’s mobile apps!

Hello my name is Austin Burke and I am a food photographer in Orlando, Florida. I want to thank Scott and Brad for having me as a guest on the blog and to have the opportunity to share a bit of light on something that I think gets passed over.

Everyone loves to talk about fancy camera gear that we use on a shoot, but what about the other random tools that we use on set? I shoot a lot of food photography and while I always prefer to have a dedicated stylist on set, sometimes those responsibilities fall on me.

So when that happens I make sure to bring my tool box full of random tools that make styling projects manageable.

What’s in the box?
I bring this black toolbox with me on every set in addition to all my other gear. Inside, it contains a variety of easy to find items that I have found helpful when I am photographing food. This box covers most of the items I will need on my shoots, though sometimes I find myself in the garage building custom rigs as well.

Brushes
I keep a large variety of paintbrushes in my kit, all in different sizes, shapes, and texture. I use them for all sorts of things, from adding water or oils to food to make them shine, to brushing on sauces on meats or plates.

Tweezers & Chopsticks
It can be a challenge to style food, specially when some ingredients are the size of small seeds or crumbs. This is where tweezers and chopsticks come into play, being able to grab things with precision that would otherwise be a pain to pick up with your fingers. As an added bonus, wooden chopsticks can be used to stir a beer and make its frothy head reform, helpful when trying to get the perfect shot.

Butane Torch
Need to melt some cheese or toast some edges? That’s where the butane torch comes in handy, and you can find small ones that will easily fit in your kit. You can also break it out to make some creme brulee as well! Alternatively you can use a heat gun when styling food. Both give you a lot of control when working with food to make sure you don’t overcook anything.

Level & Measuring Tape
I always bring a level and measuring tape on every shoot to make sure I can keep track of the placement of where my camera and lights are. I then write all this information down and save it with the image files. The reason for this is if a client ever comes back wanting to shoot another project in the same style as something I have shot for them in the past, or they want the look similar to an image in my portfolio, I can easily recall the setup for that shot. It saves me a ton of time when a client comes back 3 years later wanting the exact same look and makes them happy when I can pull it off.

ToothPicks & Brass Wire
Sometimes food doesn’t want to cooperate, and that’s where these guys come in. Toothpicks are great for getting things to stand up and easy to hide in a scene. I find myself using them all the time when working with sandwiches as there are so many ingredients that need to stay still. The brass wire is great for hanging and rigging things up as it’s firm enough to hold things up in the air, but not too firm that you can’t mold into any shape you need. I recommend going for a neutral color wire so it doesn’t cast colors on set and is easy to clone stamp out.

Beverages
A cold drink goes well with a nice dish, which means I shoot a lot of beverages as well. And just like food, beverages need some help to look their best. The problem with making a drink look cold and refreshing is it doesn’t stay in that perfect state for very long and the ice will begin to melt. That’s where fake ice cubes and ice powder come in handy. And when it comes to fake ice cubes, it’s worth investing in good ones. I use a mixture of hand made acrylic and glass cubes so no one cube has the same look as another.

Ice isn’t the only way to make beverages look cold. You can also add some condensation to the glass. For this I find using a 1-part water and 1-part glycerin mixture perfect for condensation on a glass. I apply it using either a paintbrush or a small spray bottle. Lastly when it comes to beverages, I find using some food dye or kitchen bouquet great for getting the perfect color of a liquid, specially when you are shooting splash images.

Lastly we have cotton gloves, one of the most important items in the box. These gloves will help make sure you don’t leave finger prints on plates or glasses that would show up in your image. We wouldn’t want that now!

So I hope this list of items I use on almost every food shoot was helpful. With these tools you can make every dish look as delicious as it really is, which at the end of the day is my job as a food photographer.

What random tools have you ever found yourself using to make a delicious looking photo?

You can see more of Austin’s work at AustinBurke.photography, and follow him on Instagram and Vimeo.

Retouching Essentials for Wedding Photographers with Kristina Sherk
Join Kristina Sherk to learn the essentials of retouching wedding photos. This class is for any photographer shooting weddings and wanting to learn practical retouching skills from real world examples. From the basic to the advanced, Kristi shares tips and techniques focused on the unique situations wedding photographer’s face. From evening out skin tones under dappled light to removing tan lines, or swapping faces in group photos to dealing with motion blur, by the end of the class you’ll have increased confidence in the types of jobs you can handle on your own, saving you time and money.

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