More Reagan, Julie and Me

We shot these back on Mother’s Day!
Reagan was oblivious, of course, but daddy took very good care of mommy.
What mom wouldn’t love a gift card for a day at the spa?

I really wanted to shoot some dramatic shots of my two girls. I’m designing a photo book of Reagan’s first few weeks for my Mom’s birthday and these were the last shots I needed to complete the series. This is the same type of book I create for my portrait clients but it’s even more fun when it’s your own!
I decided to keep it simple and just use my 2 Nikon flash units; one through a white diffusion umbrella and the other with a mini-softbox as an accent light. We were amazed at the results; I converted them to b/w using Adobe Lightroom.

Here is Julie and Reagan on the couch lit only by the umbrella from the right and slightly behind. I thought about setting up a reflector to bounce light back from the front but we usually have a very small window of cooperation from the little princess.

Here are two that I really love! This one is the dramatic look I was going for; umbrella about 24 inches away on the left and the other light above and behind on the right. I love the dramatic shadows and you can still see the detail in them.

Right after that shot Reagan got fussy again; we’ve learned to bounce her up and down for about 30 seconds then we have about 10 seconds to get the shot. Julie is sitting on a chair in our dining rooom and I’m shooting from the kitchen; I took this shot when she brought Reagan over for more bouncy-bouncy from daddy (yes, I said bouncy-bouncy.) Julie calls me the “baby whisperer” because, apparently, Reagan likes my bouncing better because she almost always calms down; I never would have envisioned that two years ago! Anyway, the lights were in the same spot and we loved that bright, blown-out background effect; she’s also lit from the front by the kithcen light.

Ten little piggies! I can’t believe I’m actually talking like this; somebody shoot me! 🙂

Finally it’s my turn to be in some shots. Julie is a natural with the camera; she doesn’t quite know how the equipment works yet but she’s got an eye for design and fashion. One day I’ll give her some basic lessons and she’ll probably surpass my skills in a hurry.

These are my favorite shots to date. In fact, the flash units were off and we’re lit only by the dining room lights; I added a little b/w effect in Photoshop and I think we have a winner!



Back to the lighting as before; Julie chose a great moment to capture this one.

Daddy’s little angel!

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4th of July party in Oak Creek Canyon

On Saturday Julie, Reagan and I drove up to the canyon to join my guitar player, Al, for a two-band jam in a neighborhood near the top of the canyon. His brother has a cabin in Pine Flats and the neighbors throw a huge party every year. Al’s brother has a band called Young Country and we didn’t really have a name so we went with The Dagwoods. We figured out our set list on the fly and did some classic rock and r&b tunes while they did country and some rock, too. It was the most fun I’ve ever had on a 4th of July. I decided to leave the camera in the car but one of Al’s friends had just bought a Nikon D300 just like mine and didn’t know how to use it. I couldn’t resist and showed her a few cool features like how it shoots so well without flash; I took these just using stage lights. Sure was a lot of blue!




After that I showed her how to “drag the shutter.” It’s a cool trick using the flash with a camera setting called “rear curtain sync.” I set the camera to manual on a 1 full second shutter speed which will make a really blurry image. Then the flash fires just before the shutter closes which lights the subject and “freezes” them so they are sharper among these blurry lines. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t; takes some practice to get the technique right. I forgot to show her double exposures but I’ll show some in the next blog from my Las Vegas job I’m on.




Heaven on Earth!

Once I was done shooting for the PTA convention it was vacation time! We hung around San Diego’s Gaslamp District for most of Tuesday. The next day we drove north to Temecula and wine country; it was awesome! We visited more wineries than we can remember and brought home 7 bottles of reds and whites; I think I’m turning into a wine snob! That wouldn’t be a stretch because I’m already beer snob 🙂

First stop was Hart Winery; their Sauvignon Blanc was fantastic so we brought home a bottle. This is Bandit, their mascot.

I’ve never seen the bottling process before, either.



After visiting a few others we stopped at South Coast Winery and Spa and found they had one room left so we took it. Turned out they upgraded us to a suite but at the discounted rate. Our patio was surrounded by grape vines; it was the most amazing place we’ve ever stayed in.

We brought home 3 bottles of their wine; the Zinfandel was the best I’ve ever had.



Flowers were everywhere and their vineyard was huge. I would give anything to shoot a wedding here.