If You Act Like a Kid, You Will Get Fun Kid's Shots

March 26, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

I know, what a long title for a blog.  I wanted to get your attention!  Now that I have it, let's talk about getting that cute shot of your child, grandchild or any kid doing what they do….being kids.  So, doesn't it make sense that to capture their little baby faces, we would need to get down to their level?  They are little people and standing above them is only going to diminish their size and show they are little.  How about kneeling down on a knee or getting on your belly and taking a shot when they are bewildered with what you're doing.  The little rascals move so quickly that unless you want blur, you'll need to set your shutter speed fast enough - say at least  1/125 to alleviate too much movement.  Here are two examples, one I shot at his level and the other below, making the kids look larger and more important, in my humble opinion…..


What is Bryson thinking?  This is up close and personal and helps the viewer relate to your subject more easily.  Kids love to play with the hose so try following a little tyke around with your camera and experiment shooting at various perspectives…..lots of fun!  The shot below has the two kids sitting on a wall and by aiming high, a different connection with the subject is created…..

I told them to act like they were on a train so they were pretending to drive the train with their choo-choo gestures and sounds.  Isn't that better than sitting them down and saying, "smile and say cheese"?  This next picture is one of my all time favorites and has won awards.  It was a lucky shot at twilight and I truly had about one minute to capture this little guy before the sun was down.  I remember feeling enthusiastic because of the light - it was perfect!  Then it was gone!  I am standing right above him snapping away while the sun is quickly sinking and disappearing.  


The soft lines of the baby and with converting the shot to sepia in Adobe Lightroom, the image takes on a totally different and more emotional feeling.  Note the shadow on his shoulder, his beautiful lips, and the length of his lashes.  The lighting on his face, half light and half dark, create a chiaroscuro effect.  Let's look at another…..


Poor little fellow!  He has a boo-boo and I'm the big bad photographer capturing his distress on film (so to speak).  It was an important and uncomfortable moment for him and in a second, he was fine.  I love to catch them being kids and all the ups and downs they experience.  Mom is there and one can feel the sweet love and nurturing she is displaying.  Here are a few photographs from a perspective as an adult above the scene…..


Doesn't he appear to feel vulnerable?


Trying to lick daddy's eyes made for a fun and energetic image!


Eyes closed waiting to be dunked….the thrill of the unknown makes for exciting images.

Above the wet rocks shooting down I caught him unexpectedly so he's surprised - Experiment with your kids and act like one to get THE shot!

Photographing Silhouettes

March 17, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

The word, Silhouette, sounds provocative and mysterious to me and that's why I have explored this method of photography.  The definition according to:  http://www.amazon.com/Exposure-Digital-Field-Guide-Alan/dp/0470534907

The silhouette is a style of photography that purposely underexposes your subject so it is nearly black or is full black against a brightly lit background.  The basic idea is to place a recognizable shape against a bright background and expose the image for the background, which turns the subject black.

Picking your subject is most important as it will be dark without color so the shape needs to tell the story.  Let's check out some of the silhouette shots from my library…..


I took this from below stage level at my great-niece's recital.  She isn't totally dark but it does have a mysterious feel and falls into the silhouette genre, I think.  Loved shooting all the young dancers with the back-lit stage….good drama!  I had to pump up my ISO to 1600 and using my go to lens, the 24mm-70mm, I had a 1/100 shutter speed and 2.8 f-stop.  This next one is a bit racy…..

The shape tells the story yet leaves much to the imagination!  The background has to be lighter and brighter than the subject.  Let's take another one taken at a park during twilight…...


Just enough back light to silhouette this duck and her ducklings.  So, obviously, we're breaking the "don't shoot into the light" rule when we create these shots.  It's easy to find these opportunities.  The shapes of the fishermen in the shot below stood out from the beautiful fountain and well lit background…..


Their gestures and body language tell us they are trying to figure out where those elusive fish are hiding!  The trees are also subjects in this shot.  Let's look at one more …...


I think this one falls into the silhouette category because of the immediate reflective light around the geese and ducks.  What do you think?

Connect with Your World-Contemplative Photography

March 02, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

The inspiration for this blog came from, http://www.shambhala.com/the-practice-of-contemplative-photography.html.  This is not your normal photography book offering tips about aperture and shutter speed settings - the authors' approach is more Zen like, suggesting ways to Synchronize Eye and Mind, to mention one of the creative chapters.  They share many of their own images as well as others' helping the reader understand their unique method for looking and feeling before taking the shot.  Each chapter ends with an assignment so I took off for a beautiful park on Lakeside Drive in Dallas to try and get into this Zen space.  The images to follow are some from my contemplative morning at the park.  With the first one below, I was observing life in and around the pond, noticing all the nuances of various textures when I saw this mirrored lily pad folded in half, looking somewhat like a tongue.  It kind of has a dirty mouth and reminded me of my dirty mouth awhile ago after I lost everything I had written and had to start over!  



Let's talk about texture... notice the smoothness of the water and the blurred effect of most everything except for a few lily pads/leaves.  I was in a Zen space thinking of nothing else but what I was seeing and feeling.  I noticed how my mood changed once I got into this space and my earlier frustrations of the morning had now vanished.  I love capturing reflections - this type of shot puts me into a  reflective state of mind.  Let's look at another shot in this same theme…..

One with Nature20140228-IMG_1707  I like the way this image makes me feel…a slight soft movement of the water with the brown female duck reflecting and blending into her environment.  Then the leaves curl and twist in and out of the water creating a lovely multi-dimensional texture.  Notice the reflection of the trees also blending in.  Photography is very subjective and I know some viewing my images may wonder what in the world I was thinking…that's okay.  I follow my own gut when it comes to finding inspiration for my next shot.  I love most of my work because I remember how I felt when I shot it and how I feel when I look at it afterwards.  It's kind of like a good golfer. They remember what they shot and which club they used on almost every hole - going back many years.  That's crazy, right?  I used to think so until now.  

20140228-IMG_171020140228-IMG_1710 Here we get a sense of a family enjoying an early spring day out with their dogs, probably wishing for green grass and summer to get here.  We're starting to bring in some pattern….see the stone wall.   Let's look at a few shots I took on the bridge.


Check out the morning light creating the shadows of the old bridge.  It looks somewhat like an old train trestle supporting a railroad track.  Perhaps this once was a railroad track instead of just a bridge….it's fun to dream.     We can sometimes just look at the shadows of something and the story is told.  We know the light is still low and what the bridge looks like.  Try just shooting patterns one day - you won't believe how many different looks you will find.  Here's another element from the bridge…...

20140228-IMG_166820140228-IMG_1668 The bridge railing is iron, strong, and has interesting round bolt covers making it almost an architectual art piece.  Here's one more shot supporting the pattern theme.  It's important to have one element in focus when using the larger aperture settings, as in the center.  On the railing below, notice the many layers of paint on the center piece which gives it more texture and personality.  The pattern repeats all the way down the bridge.

20140228-IMG_166720140228-IMG_1667 Here's a shot of the walking bridge from a distance so you can see the whole scene….


Personally, I think the individual elements of the bridge are more interesting than the whole.  The other side dropped off into a waterfall and more of the beautiful park area.  Each of the chapters included photo examples and assignments which could keep a photographer busy for a year!  The Simplicity chapter stresses the importance of "doing one thing at a time" - very Zen.  This chapter helps bring it in, so to speak…focus on one thought or thing and set your intention for the shot.  It's all about form and space and creating contrasts - "where the experience of the form is heightened because of the space around it.  Here are a couple more examples from my outing…..


I think this single lily pad represents simplicity along with form and space, don't you?  Below is a tennis ball that was lying in the brown grass, just waiting for a dog to come along and retrieve it...


Another simple shot (on my belly) and sure enough, right after I shot it a dog came along and grabbed it.  All of these exercises help an artist to develop their craft.  For me, it's hard not to notice interesting angles, objects and the way light showcases these things.   Try it sometime if you haven't already.  Just look, observe and let the next shot come to you.  Practice shooting into the light as well as with the light behind you…I know, you're breaking one of the rules!  That's ok, once we know the rules, we are supposed to break them.  Have fun!

Catching the Drop - A practice Session

February 04, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

A rainy day, a camera, a pitcher, a glass and some almond milk...perfect recipe for playing, "catch the falling liquid".  This is more fun than any one person should have and catching the milk in mid-pour is both challenging and difficult.  Ideally,  all light in the room would have been eliminated so the glass glare wouldn't show, yet, if it had been too dark, there would be no subject to focus and meter from.  Practicing shots of this kind uses one's engineering as well as creative abilities.  

Oh sure, I should be able to use my Lightroom brush tool and slowly burn (darken) the light area; but, my brush tool stopped working for some reason.  I will export the below image into Adobe Elements and see what I can do to erase the glare as I think it detracts from the falling drop.  I took about 25 shots with my fiancé pouring the milk at "go" and ended up with only 3 showing any promise.  For me, it takes a number of shots to get warmed up for this type of session and it truly could take most of an afternoon, mostly, because it's so much damn fun!  So here are two shots that may have some potential.


See what I mean about the glare being distracting?  I think the shot is pretty cool but there's too much going on in the shot.  Imagine just the milk drops showing....wouldn't that look better?

Same with this one.  Glare isn't quite so obvious but it is there.  Guess it's time to attempt the Adobe Elements repair work.  Did I forget to mention that I'm not the most skilled with this software?  It's like learning a foreign language and it takes many hours sitting at the computer to master even one tool.  Ok, here I go!

Suspended in Air

Better?  What a task...not so much the editing part, that was easier than I expected.  It was trying to export the image from Photoshop Elements back into the plug-in I use in my Lightroom.  The other image is lost somewhere so we'll stick with just this one for now.  Let me know what you think!

"Where Have all the Flowers Gone?"

January 29, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Pete Seeger was a singer, folk-song collector and songwriter who died on Monday.  He was 94.  The NY Times wrote about his life -  


He wrote, Where have all the Flowers Gone?  (first two verses) - an anti-war song and many other well-known folk songs mentoring a whole generation of folk singers like, Bob Dylan, Don McLean and the Byrds to name a few.  

I think of this song when I look at my many flowers I've photographed over the years.  Many have bees aboard and I can't help but wonder, will we need a song that says, Where have all the Bees Gone?  You'll be happy to know I'm not getting deep into the plight of the bees in this blog - I would like for others to be aware of the challenges the bees are facing to survive.  Check out this site if you would like to know more about this subject.  http://www.animalplanet.com/endangered-species/diminishing-bee-populations.htm.  

Photographing flowers is one of my favorite subjects - the closer the better!  It's great getting right on top of the flower and discovering that a bee is chowing down on pollen.  They get their whole hairy bodies covered with yellow pollen storing more in their pollen sacks on their legs and bee's knees...sorry, had to use that phrase!  But what is happening to them?  There are several theories if you would like to study more about them...

http://www.arkive.org/honey-bee/apis-mellifera/image-A10950.html.  I am perplexed about the red sacks attached to their legs or bodies.  I believe they are parasites and different than the yellow pollen sacks.  I'll try and show them in these images.  Look for both!

Onion Flower & Bee #5Onion Flower

I shot this onion flower in a massive and very prolific garden in Missoula, Montana.  The sun was just coming up, which woke up the many bees and wasps that were sleeping on various flowers around the garden.  There is a whole series of the flower which makes a triptych of images on a wall.  My opening website page will show this as one of the three images on a wall, in a setting... www.kellishannon.com.  I was using my 100 mm, 2.8L, 1:1, macro lens....my fav.  BTW, this also was a McKinney Magazine cover shot

Bluebonnet #1Bluebonnet #1

The Texas Bluebonnet with a beautiful bee.  Those glorious fields of Bluebonnets bloom for such a brief period of time.  There are fields of this great Texas State Flower all over Texas and most likely you will see photographers, families, and couples shooting in the blue and white fields.  I was on my belly for this one with my 100 mm, macro lens again.  I believe this is one from the gardens of Penny's on Legacy in Plano, TX.   They come early in the spring so get ready, this is almost February and we aren't far away.  Many more are on my site:  www.kellishannon.com.

Here we go....there is the red thing attached to the bee's leg.  I believe it is a parasite but I'm not 100% sure.  I've tried to research it and my opinion is not conclusive.  Would love to feedback from an expert.  This shot was taken in Montana in the late spring when plant and flower color was short lived.  

Montana Sunflower20110912untitled23

This bee had been asleep on this sunflower and I set up my tripod, waited, and then snapped away as soon as the soon warmed his little body.  I never thought about where bees go at night, yet, seeing them all curled around the flowers in this garden really surprised me.  They slowly stirred with the first light and started flying as soon as their wings were warmed by the sun.  Very cool to see.  

To me, nature is miraculous in so many ways.  



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