Kelli Shannon Photography: Blog en-us (C) Kelli Shannon Photography (Kelli Shannon Photography) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:37:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:37:00 GMT Kelli Shannon Photography: Blog 120 120 If You Act Like a Kid, You Will Get Fun Kid's Shots 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!

(Kelli Shannon Photography) children creative kids perspectives photography portraits Wed, 26 Mar 2014 23:25:55 GMT
Photographing Silhouettes The word, Silhouette, sounds provocative and mysterious to me and that's why I have explored this method of photography.  The definition according to:

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?

(Kelli Shannon Photography) backlit photography silhouette underexposed Mon, 17 Mar 2014 16:44:35 GMT
Connect with Your World-Contemplative Photography The inspiration for this blog came from,  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!

(Kelli Shannon Photography) creative ducks lilies photography reflections scenic simplicity texture water Mon, 03 Mar 2014 00:18:46 GMT
Catching the Drop - A practice Session 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!

(Kelli Shannon Photography) creative drop food macro photography water Tue, 04 Feb 2014 21:45:32 GMT
"Where Have all the Flowers Gone?" 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.  

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...  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...  I was using my 100 mm, 2.8L, 1:1, macro 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:

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.  



(Kelli Shannon Photography) bee bees creative flowers insects macro photography pollen sunflowers Thu, 30 Jan 2014 02:30:02 GMT
Panning One of my very favorite techniques!

The idea is to move the camera and focus on a moving object leaving everything around it a blur.  It can be a dynamic image simulating motion and action.  This can be done with the camera on a tripod or hand-held, although, if hand-held, tuck elbows close to your body to stabilize the camera as you move with the object.  You can learn more about this in National Geographic's Complete Photography.  

Your shutter speed with be set at 1/15 or 1/30 of a second so unwanted movement will create too much blur.  Seriously, I have practiced this for 3-4 hours at a time and I’m lucky to get one or two shots that work.

Another way to capture motion is to focus on a static object while another object moves in front or behind the focused object, like my school bus photo.  

Let’s talk about some of my panned images. 

Panning of BikerPanning of Biker

Bicycle Rider – I was in Honolulu panning and this rider suddenly appeared.  It was noon and I had my polarizing filter on my 75-300 mm lens.  My shutter speed was 1/15 sec and f-stop was f/10.  I was using a tripod and moved the top half of my body along with the bike passing by quickly.  I think this shot represents a decent pan.


Barrel RiderBarrel Rider

Barrel Rider - The Ft. Worth Rodeo is one of the best and I was so excited to be there.  It was dark in the arena and it’s best to have a lens that opens up more, like a 2.8 f-stop.   My 75-300 zoom was at a focal length of 200mm, a 5.6 f-stop and so I set my shutter at 1/100sec.   That speed stopped the motion somewhat and still allowed the blur.  The dirt is kicked up and the energy of the horse and rider leaves no doubt that she wants to win that trophy!


Bella in Full RunBella in Full Run

Bella Running – Yeah, I do love this shot for some reason.  It shows Bella in a full  run with some of her torso in focus.  I shot this at 1/40 at F/5.6, ISO 400 with my 24-70 MM2.8L lens.  The beautiful vivid colors of the forest create an interesting background making the panned image stand out more. 


Kid on a RideKid on a Ride

Kid on a Ride – I have to admit, I love this shot.  The cute little blue-eyed boy looks mesmerized and is in focus with everything else in mass confusion.  That’s a good thing.  The camera catches those split-second events or expressions that the naked eye is unable to see.  Some feel like the camera is looking into their soul.  Sometimes it truly is!

Mom & Kid ZoomingMom & Kid Zooming

Mom & Son Zooming - What do us parents do at Christmas time?  We share whatever energy we have left with our kids!  Sherry spinning by with Bryson is a great pan shot and there is no question what time of year it is.  Anything goes so get the camera moving.  


Give it a try and let me know how it goes! 

(Kelli Shannon Photography) creative horse panning photography Wed, 29 Jan 2014 02:12:24 GMT
Portraits - Say CHEESE! What kind of portraits do you like?  

I prefer a shot that captures who the person is - a photograph that somehow conveys their real energy.  Maybe they’re a goof ball and need that crazy personality captured or perhaps they have an intensity that represents who they are. 

As a photographer, we often find inspiration from others’ talents or books.  One of my favorite books is, People Pictures, 30 exercises for creating authentic photographs, by Chris Orwig.  It isn’t the standard ‘portrait’ book and offers unique ways for creating meaningful shots.

Take this first photo of little Bryson, he was goofing off and I luckily snapped this one shot.  I was on the gr

ound, at this level, playing with him and waiting (like a cougar stalking her prey) for that rare moment.   I think it’s a fun shot and it certainly represents who he is.

Next comes Lauren.  Shooting in front of studio lights and a white backdrop, we were looking for playful, pretty and somewhat sexy poses.  They all turned out great and she was a very natural subject but I love this shot that wasn’t posed.  It shows her happiness and her ‘let it all go’ type of laugh. 

And last, this is where I got into the grit of the wood shavings to show David Ford working on one of his huge wood sculptures.  He is a true artist and showing him down and dirty, grinding away, shows how he finds his happiness. 

Check out my Portrait gallery-more images will be added soon.

(Kelli Shannon Photography) candid creative photography portrait portraits Fri, 24 Jan 2014 16:40:15 GMT
The Red Galaxy Have you ever noticed how oil and water do not mix?  Pour oil in the rice or spaghetti water and what does it do?  It floats, separates and transforms.  This mesmerizes me so I set up my own experiment outside on a beautiful day.

Circles GaloreCircles Galore

First of all, before I divulge all my secrets, did you wonder about this circle image?  Does it resemble a Venus or Mars type of planet that you would see in a National Geographic magazine?  OK, I know, I’ve totally gotten carried away with myself.  Can you imagine how much trouble I could get into with this type of mindscape? 

I have read many How To photography books and have taken gobs of workshops not only to learn new techniques but also to seek out my own unique ‘look’ and talent.  It’s one thing to pick up the camera and shoot anything – it’s another to develop your own photographic identity.  To do that, the photographer must identify what truly speaks to her/him and stay true to their style.   Each day I get closer to finding my identifiable look.  Macro is my first love, animals and people next, followed by scenic shots.  If you check out my site, you will notice that flowers, food and abstract speak strongly to me. 

This image was taken by placing a colorful scarf under a suspended glass loaf pan, filled with water and placed under a shaded area with dappled light.  My camera was on a tripod with my 100 mm macro, 2.8: Canon lens in place.  The camera was directly over the pan set at 1/60 sec shutter speed, F11 and ISO 100 with the lens only inches above the pan.  I slowly poured oil into the water and watched it separate watching it through the eye of the lens.  The oil oozed through the water, splitting apart and reproducing much like a newly fertilized embryo.  It reminded me of something we would see in a  sci-fi movie.

As the oil mutated, I clicked away capturing some far-out images.  This is one of my favorites mostly because it makes one wonder what it is.  To me, it resembles a new galaxy.  

What do you see when looking at this image?

(Kelli Shannon Photography) abstract photography mindscape oil water photography shutter speed Wed, 22 Jan 2014 16:01:56 GMT
Horse with an Apple He’s posed to catch it…but did he?


If you haven’t already figured it out, Ill do just about anything to capture that perfect shot, including trying to stage the horse catching the apple off the fence post while snapping the picture.   

It wasn’t easy trying to entice only one horse to play my game - there were four others in the field, all craving their afternoon snack.  I started tossing apples in the field to each horse trying to urge the one with a blue and a brown eye over to me.   He would come over and so would the others and the mean one kept trying to kick my buddy away from the fence.  I said to myself,  “there’s no way I’m going to get an interesting shot today”.  My camera was very heavy, it was pretty cold out and my fingers were practically numb, so, I decided to attempt the shot one more time. 

I set the apple on the white post, knelt down on the cold brown winter ground and took one shot, just as the apple started to fall.  The horse grabbed it, had it in his mouth, and somehow lost his grip.  I snapped the one shot just as it was falling and my buddy was trying to catch it.  I got the shot and he finally ate his apple.

The Canon 24-70 mm, 2.8 L lens was set on 1/100 sec shutter speed (fast enough to alleviate blur) and 6.3 f-stop.  It was bright so ISO was set at 100. 

Would love to receive your comments!

(Kelli Shannon Photography) animal apple horse horses mckinney photography Tue, 21 Jan 2014 22:19:48 GMT
Footprints in the sand and no warm bodies WHY ARE THERE FOOTPRINTS AND NO WARM BODIES?

hanauma bay hawaiiHanauma Bay, HawaiiFootprints in the Sand

On this beautiful morning while living in Hawaii, I took off seeking interesting things to shoot.  I headed for Hanauma Bay, a protected reef and popular tourist destination on the small island of Oahu.  Expecting a packed beach with many butts bobbing up and down and divers navigating the reefs with flipper propulsion, I was shocked to find the beach empty with only footprints left behind.

What I found was a pristine beach, an abundance of coral reefs and turquoise waters glistening in the early morning light.   The patterns left in the sand at the water’s edge reminded me of a perfectly orchestrated symphony performing just for me. It was very rhythmic.  The footprints were fleeting and any wave could be the one to erase all evidence of a human’s presence.  I couldn’t wait to take my shots.

I had my 100 mm macro lens on the camera so I decided to use it and then I would switch to my 10-22mm wide angle so that I could capture the whole amazing scene.

The light was good so no need for my tripod.  Using the macro meant I had to change the angle some to include parts of the beach and the corals.   I had studied art at the Honolulu Academy of the Arts and my instructor, Anthony Lee, taught me about the rule of thirds and also that when we look at art our eyes go from left to right.  I took many shots that day changing up composition, settings and I eventually changed to my wide-angle lens.  

When I looked at the finished shot in Lightroom, I realized that I had accomplished both of those rules.  The line separating the water from the beach travels from the left corner, curving up to the right and the beach is about one third of the space with the water being three thirds, just as though I had actually planned it that way…maybe I had sub-consciously.   I think learning the basics of art definitely has enhanced my artistic photographic eye.

With each click I felt the importance of this location and the significance of the reefs.  One of my good friends in Hawaii was the Executive Director for Coral Reefs for NOA covering the South Pacific, Puerto Rico and Florida waters.  Takiora shared her knowledge about the struggles of living corals around the world.  Hanauma Bay is one area that is protected and guarded from the rude and obnoxious tourists who would ruin them in a moment, if allowed.  They stand and walk on the reefs and the guards blow their whistles gesturing for them to get off.  It’s a constant pain in the neck.

So, have you figured out why the footprints are there and there are no people yet?  And, why is the beach closed on a Sunday, one of the busiest days of the week? 

I really lucked out that day. My Hanauma Bay shot has garnered several awards and is published.

Comment below!

(Kelli Shannon Photography) Hawaii bay box hanauma jellyfish landscape macro photography Tue, 14 Jan 2014 14:42:33 GMT
Can you tell what this photo is of? Can you tell what this is?
Tissue Paper
I was living in Hawaii and had become obsessed with photography. For so many years, I had visualized capturing the beauty that my eyes saw through the camera’s eye. I didn’t just go out and start shooting pictures, I hired the most coveted photographer in Honolulu to get me started. I envisioned her sharing all her creative proven experience with me and I would become this skilled photographer overnight. Funny!
Instead of sharing her secrets with me, she asked how I planned to catalog my images. When I said, “I don’t know”, she introduced me to Adobe Lightroom and said, “this is where you start”. It was like learning a foreign language. I paid her big bucks to tutor me on how to file my future images so I would be able to organize and find them.
As my tutoring funds were dwindling, I asked her what lenses I should buy (I still had some dough burning a hole in my pocket for the equipment). She wanted to know what I wanted to shoot and I told her I was fascinated with macro work – getting up close and seeing things we can’t see with the naked eye. She said, “then you must have the 100mm, 2.8, 1-1 fixed to do serious macro photography. 
She let me borrow hers and my next two days were spent shooting beautiful Hawaiian flowers and setting up my own inside studio shooting everything I could find. I was in love! Being able to see the pollen on the legs of insects blew my mind. I was hooked and bought my first lens for my new starter camera, a Canon Rebel. 
Have you guessed what this image is yet?
I took this with my Macro photography lens in my apartment in Hawaii. Setting up my makeshift studio by the window allowed me to use natural light.
I searched around for something of interest to shoot and found a garlic head in my kitchen becoming my subject. I took many shots before I finally figured out the correct light settings.
I like the way this one turned out. It reminds me of tissue paper with hidden treasure below. Like the garlic, we (humans) have many layers to peel before we get to the core or our true essence.
(Kelli Shannon Photography) food photography hawaii nature photography macro photography photoshop tutoring Thu, 09 Jan 2014 20:47:55 GMT
You are what you shoot As a health coach (A Wholesome You), I love to cook colorful dishes and in doing so, I often photograph them!

I think decorating with photographs of healthy food in the kitchen inspires us to continue a healthy path and utilize nutrition more on a daily basis.

(Kelli Shannon Photography) coatch colorful food health photography Tue, 24 Sep 2013 22:20:57 GMT