photography 101 – location basics

Another photography post today!

While I’ve done a handful of photo shoots in the past few months, none have been located in Ft. Collins.  After booking a few local sessions this week, I was anxious to drive around and check out a handful of spots around town.

My trusty sidekick came along for the fun and was a huge help.  You may think any park or open space would work, but that’s not always the case.  There are so many things to take into account.

Things I’m very much still learning.

We went out in the morning around 10am.  Not an ideal time of day to do a photo shoot, with the sun being quite harsh.  I was really just checking the actual locations for open fields, what shows up in the backgrounds, does it have a soft enough feel for a maternity shoot, etc.

You can see below, what I mean about harsh light mid-morning.  You can also see objects in the background that are not helping the photo in any way, but distracting you from the subject.  It looks like the foothills are sitting on Kelsey’s head and the small structure to the left is drawing your attention away from the subject.

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We tried a different area of the field, with trees in the background.  Much less distracting and more natural.  Again, I was only scoping out locations at this point, and not worried about the light.  

I have never seen a baby sit so high. 

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Such an unusual cloud pattern, I just had to grab a quick photo.

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After the park, we headed to Horsetooth Reservoir.  This is where we typically go bouldering, and I’ve gotten some great photos here around sunset.  The problem is most of those spots require a bit of steep walking, something I’m not asking a pregnant woman to do. It also looked a bit rough and distracting for a maternity shoot.  I was looking for simple + soft backgrounds.

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Later that evening, around 6pm, we headed to another park.  The sun is not as harsh this time, but is will cause long shadows behind the subject and in front of the photographer!! 

My shadow was about 30’ long and that is not something you want in someone’s photo.  Telephoto lenses are good for this purpose, because you can stand much further away from the subject, keeping your shadow completely out of the way.

You also want to watch for things like tall grass, popping up in odd locations next to the subject’s body.  While the point of standing in tall grass is to look natural, sometimes the grass can be distracting or oddly positioned.  It can be hard to see when you view the photo on the camera, so make sure to really look at the subject and what is directly around their body. 

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I fell in love with this park.  No strange shelters in the background, or odd views of the mountains.  It was very soft and natural, with minimal walking to a few different spots.

My subject was looking quite gorgeous with the evening sun.

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We found a bridge where the light was soft and the images turned out crisp.  The vivid green grass in the background was a nice contrast against the subject.

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Caught her in a flip!

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Next up, we spotted another bridge over the river, but this one is for the train that passes through town.  I loved the rugged look.  It’s a prominent part of the photo, but not overly distracting. 

However, in this location, the light was coming in a bit spotty as it was being filtered through trees.  You can definitely eliminate part of this in post processing, but it’s better to notice it happening while taking the photos.  Paying attention to how the light is hitting the subject’s face is extremely important, and something I’m still learning how to do.

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Sometimes you are going to run into harsh lighting despite your best efforts around it.  Maybe the client can only meet during the middle of the day, or maybe the location is not ideal.  In that case, post processing will be your best friend.  A quick switch to a black + white version of the photo, can make the spotty + uneven lighting less noticeable.  You can also play with exposure/brightness/etc, in specific areas of the photo, using the adjustment brush in Lightroom [a similar process can also be done in Photoshop].

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Kelsey pulled out her best moves!  She also informed me it’s much easier to be a photo-subject at 6pm after a glass of wine, than in the morning, before eating breakfast and brushing one’s teeth.

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I am quite new to shooting people and shooting outside.  It’s definitely a challenge, and I’m so excited to be sharing it with all of you.

Feel free to leave tips + questions in the comments below!