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How to Achieve Natural Lightrays in your Photos

Saturday, February 27, 2021




As photographers, there are dreamy moments that you may attempt to plan on or they sneak up on you as a surprise.  These light rays coming through the trees at Chrissy fields next to Golden Gate Bridge were one of them.  With all the salty humid air hanging about, and some pollution, the rays of light broken up through the trees at just that right angle shone down on my subjects beautifully. 

Similarly, inside, dust, smoke, pollution, and incense are just a few things that might hang in the air similarly and catch that beautiful light.  In the all film era, it was not uncommon for smoke to linger in so many buildings and therefore often make rays of light in the photographs, anyway, just one contributing factor.  Another factor is that film has a wider dynamic range, so it tends to capture present light rays easier, as digital can blow out easier. Interestingly enough, back then it was seen as more of a flaw.  Isn't it interesting how we look at things differently now?

Naturally, there are limitations to many of the settings we work in, but here are some ideas to help catch the rays.


1. Atmosphere Aerosol

As a cleaner option for adding the haze into your setting, these cans spray a light mist that will linger long enough for you to grab a few shots.  For a successful ray effect, you have to have direct morning or afternoon sunlight coming in through the window.

2. Consider the Gaps

As you are setting up your shot, look for are arrange to have the light come through a narrower entrance.  Whether that means adjusting the drapes in a formal setting or moving your couple over to the gaps of wood in the barn where the light is coming in.  Look for the spots on the floor for quick hints.

3. Shoot directly into the Sun

This can create a beautiful image with rays of light coming down on or around your subject.  But be sure to obstruct that direct light, so you do not actually see the sun, such as with your subject, the trees etc.

4. Kick up the dust

Inside, that may just take shaking a few sheets, outside on a country dirt road.  I've run a around behind my clients (I'm sure I look insane) to bring up light, fine, dry dirt into the rays already coming down through the trees.  Or have an assistant of a friend tagging along do it as the dirt will not hang in the air for long.

5.  Clap flour

This one is obviously messier, but a budget-friendly route.  Not recommended to bring flour to a bride's hotel room getting ready.  But perhaps in a home lifestyle setting or an afternoon sitting under the trees, this is best used. 

6. Look for contrast

You can have all the aerosol and other dust in the air you want, but if you do not have the right amount of contrast with the way you angel your photo and expose it, then it will go unnoticed. Look for shadows in the room, or create them with what windows are open and which aren't.  Think of those rays as the spotlight that needs to be noticed.

7. Diffusion Filters

Try out these diffusion filters to help bring out the haze and emphasize those rays' elegance.  Mix with a Black Pro Mist filter 1/8 or 1/4.

8. Dodge and Burn

When you have played with and are not getting enough of the contrast you were hoping for naturally for your sunrays, enhance them in photoshop or the darkroom with the dodge and burn technique.

9. Strobes

Of course, most of us photographers would take natural light over the strobes, but when you want to have control and create "rays" of light coming in naturally, you can combine the aerosol, filters, and strobe light coming in from a window.

10. Harsh Light

While we may avoid this in so many instances allowing that light to come into the background of your photo, but avoiding those overly blown-out areas, it can add a beautiful contrast.

11. Fog Machine/ Haze Machine

If you shoot inside often in settings for portraits, this may very well be an ideal investment.  Maybe turn off those smoke alarms first!  I still recall the fun adventure of a wedding I shot at where they enjoyed blasting the fog machine on the dance floor and the reception was suddenly interrupted with the fire alarms going off.  Guess it added to a memorial moment of their day. I've used Chauvet DJ Haze Fluid. You can do an H2O Haze, water-based mist. Obviously, these are popular for the dance floors and band concerts to really add that atmosphere and give the lights and lasers life. Just make sure you are getting the right fluid for the machine you use.

12. Bend the Light

Similar to breaking up the light, shooting at an angle that will help the light ray bend around something before it reaches you will help create that star effect of light rays that are skinnier, rather than one bulky chunk of light.

13. Close your Aperture

You can accentuate that "particle" effect a bit by closing your aperture.  For example from f1.8 or f2.8 to f4-f5.6.  Simply play with your aperture taking pictures of that same shot to try it out and compare.

14. Angle the Light

If you are shooting indoors and there are blinds, you may be in luck! We already mentioned breaking up and narrowing the light.  Play with the blinds, or take it further and use a slab of cardboard/ tagboard and a box cutter to experiment with shapes and sizes to get the results you want.

15. Calm the air

Having a fan blowing, the AC on, or a window open will certainly disperse whatever atmosphere you attempt to create before you can frame and capture your shot! Use assistance or eliminate those unwanted breezes for the shot.


When you are done, especially inside, always clear the air!




When you are done playing and just haven't achieved the light rays you were hoping for, then it is time to play a bit in photoshop.  We will cover adding digital light rays in another post.

Garden of the Gods Adventure

Thursday, February 25, 2021

  

Recently Matt and I headed down to Colorado Springs for a getaway for my birthday.  We splurged a little and headed to the Broadmore, which has been on my bucket list for a while.  I will share more about our visit there in another post. Anyway, we also planned some fun outdoor time and hit the Garden of God's.  So very cool!  We were here too short of time but enjoyed every second of it.  

As a photographer, I obviously wanted to grab some killer shots while their and we had the perfect moment where the sun was out and wrapping around the rocks just perfectly.  The light reflected off some other white rocks nearby and it was perfect.  Five minutes later and the sun changed up.  Just goes to show to grab the opportunity for something before you miss out!





There is this plaque there.  Apparently, someone used to own all this land with these AMAZING rocks!  And then donated it off.  What a cool thing and too cool not to share with the world. A great gift.











A Winter Wonderland - Our Future Studio Gardens

Monday, February 22, 2021

I would like to give you all a glimpse of this dreamy winterwonderland that is my backyard. We have fun garden plans to really create something beautiful and keep it beautiful for all seasons of sessions. From that snowy winter photoshoot here in Longmont, to the vibrant spring and summer florals. Sunflowers in the later summer and early fall and of course we have the beautiful fall colors. For dreamy winter photoshoots with the frosted trees, it is best to plan a session with me in the morning when a storm is expected as with many of these Colorado snow storms, the branches will melt off by afternoon.

Don't you love fresh powder. When this storm came in naturally we had some excitement at out house as my 6 year old couldn't wait to go skiing with dad.
This is one of the paths we will be lining with flowers including sunflowers in the summer. I can't wait to capture sessions with all the color!

The Northern Colorado Garden Bucket List

Friday, February 19, 2021

 Last year we bought a home in Longmont and have a beautiful large backyard on our property which I now have the opportunity to play with and turn into our studio gardens.  Soon I will be starting my seedlings, most of which are from FloretFlower a family-run flower farm.  This year I will be planting Snap Dragons, Nasturtiums, Celosia's, Clarika's, Larkspur, Clary Sage, Fox Glove, Black-Eyed Susan, Sunflowers, Peppers, Cherry Tomatoes, Peas, Onions, and Beets.

I can't wait to develop a beautiful setting for family and children's portrait sessions right here in Longmont! I have been drawing my inspiration from the beautiful Gamble Gardens of Palo Alto (below) The summer/ early fall colors were so pretty in their variety. 

Frankly, I am pretty new to gardening.  Aside from what experiences I had growing up and helping with the yardwork, learning to deadhead and trim the roses etc, but I have already been learning at lot from Erin on Floret and all about starting flowers from seeds.  For example, their fragile state requires they be watered from below in their seeding trays, instead of from above which can disrupt the soil, and that it is needed to use heating mats to keep a consistent temperature on them as well.

Last July I had the privilege of photographing my nephew and his wife for their formal wedding portraits at the Annual Flower Trial Garden in Fort Collins near the CSU campus.  This is always such a color-packed stop in the late summer for sessions which I of course love.

So this post is my official Colorado garden bucket list!  I want to visit all that beautiful gardens and share them here in time with you. 

Location: Fort Collins

While I do love this location and its educational resources for gardening, I am never thrilled of the eyesore of any garden with all the signs that as a photographer and editor I edit out.  Glad I know-how! Lol. Just, you know, I have a life and would prefer not to!

What is your favorite kind of flower?





Gardens at Spring Creek

Location: Fort Collins

This looks like a fun stop to make with the kids, so it is going on the bucket list.  An 18-Acre network of community and botanical gardens with activities for the kids in all seasons. They have classes for adults in Arts and Crafts, Beekeeping, Cooking, Gardening, Urban Homesteading, Wellness, and more.  Count me in!

I am also interested in going to see the butterflies that they have.

Modern sculptures decorate the gardens throughout giving it a more contemporary vibe.  And of course, this is an outdoor venue option for couples getting married.

Another fun thing they have is the Garden Explorer Club.  This sounds just like something right up my kid's alley.

Perennial Garden at the University Center for the Arts

Location: Fort Collins

This is a smaller local neighborhood garden. As I understand it will soon become the Heritage Garden showcasing Colorado's agricultural legacy.

Garden Sweet

Location: Fort Collins

This would be categorized as a farm, BUT the flowers here are so beautiful!  It is on my bucket list for sure. I love every detail from the quaint white picket fences, the good ol' hometown vibe.  Check out this video of Garden Sweet.

I can't wait to bring family and cousins by in the summertime and enjoy fresh-picked peaches, strawberries, flowers, and more.

Treasure Island Demonstration Garden

Location: Windsor, CO

Website: https://m.facebook.com/Treasure-Island-Demonstration-Garden-253227694875730

This sweet and simple locals garden regularly demonstrates Roses, Dahlia's, an annual garden a vegetable garden, a summer bed of zinnias, Autumn Joy Sedums, and more.

Some fun facts about this garden are many of the plants and seeds are donated. And the veggies harvested from the garden make their way to the Windsor Food Pantry. In 2020 they donated about 4,000 pounds of food!

Longmont Memorial Rose Garden

Location: Longmont

This garden I got to visit briefly at the end of the summer.  Having just had a baby, life is pretty full! So I just grabbed a few cell phone pictures with my daughter for future planning.  I look forward to coming back many times next summer to soak in the peace and serenity at the magic hour and capturing some beautiful brides, couples, senior pictures, and sweet children frolicking about. 


Denver Botanic Gardens

Location: Denver

Even in the middle of winter, these indoor/ outdoor gardens have so much to see.  The is large tropical forest to enjoy.  There are many themed areas and you can easily spend hours wandering the property.  And what a beautiful wedding venue option.

More to come as we explore Colorado!


Denver Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farms

Location: Littleton


The Horticultural Art Society Demonstration Garden

Location: Colorado Springs


Heritage Garden

Location: Colorado Springs



Sparkle and Shine - A sweet 3-Year-Old Birthday Photoshoot - Longmont Photographers

Thursday, February 18, 2021


Sparkle and Shine!
Our little 3-year-old is just that with the sunshine she brings into this world.  So naturally, we had to create a studio session with just that. 

Maribelle loves to frolic around the house singing songs from Frozen and making up her own version that goes something like: "We use to be best bunnies and now we're not, I wish you would tell me whhhyyyy!"  And it is adorable.  I won't bother correcting her, it's too cute.



She kept us constantly on the move for this session, so why not pull out some fun props while we are at it! A hula hoop?  I love this shiny one we got at Target


We attempted to do a few confetti shots but you really have to do those against a solid color backdrop that is simple and have large confetti, which we did to really have enough contrast.  But we still pulled it out for some added fun and sparkle.  Also, three-year-olds can be instructed again and again how to toss the confetti in the air.... and not do it that way.  So we just moved on to other fun things.  She of course couldn't help but play with it again and again. 

This girl cracks me up.  She is always trying to pop the balloons and I don't know if she has even had much success haha. She is just so little.  But I love this picture and all that is shows.  She is fearless and loves fiercely. 





Baby Shark doo doo, do do do do.... I have to admit, it took me a few years to even look into what the baby shark craze was... but really, I already had memories of doing all that fun at girls camp for skit night... so it didn't seem new to me or anything, just revived.  Anyway, of course, we checked it out eventually and it was a huge hit for Maribelle and she wants to watch the videos again and again and again.  So we HAD to jam Baby Shark on the speakers for fun.  Our family even rocked that for Halloween




















I love these little Icecream Parlor chairs.  We have used them for several setups, like tea parties.  Fun fact, these were mine for my little tea party play when I was little.  Ever get asked to play tea party by a 3-year-old?  Say YES!  It is so important to them.  Even for just 5 minutes.  I still remember how loved I felt when someone would take the time to pretend to eat plastic cookies and pour imaginary tea.


Got to play a round of peek-a-boo!  And when those smiles start to go stale and go away, it is time to pull out peek a book, "scare mommy"  and legit act shocked every time.  And she thought that was HILARIOUS. So cute.


Contact Rebecca to setup a custom birthday session today.  We can work with a specific theme, color scheme, and more for your cutie.