As I promised in my last blog post, I’m publishing some of the photos I took of my two nieces and nephew. While my wife and I were in Oregon a few weeks ago at the family lake house, I told the three oldest kids to hop in the car because I was going to take portrait photos of them. Those of you who know me well may find this unusual. While I’m perfectly willing to do people photos for friends and family, I generally don’t seek out opportunities. I’m much more comfortable taking photos of rocks, trees, old buildings, and other inanimate and unopinionated objects.
I have to admit, though, I had a lot of fun with this project. First of all, we got a little adventurous when finding places to take photos. There was a really cool old building (that turned out to be a slaughter house) that was on private land. As we pulled up to the farm, we didn’t see any houses where we could ask permission, so we just hopped the fence (and thus the title of this post). After walking around someone else’s land for a while and taking several photos, we looked up and realized that there was a house just up the hill on the other side of the road that hadn’t been visible to us before. In addition to the house, there was a man who looked less than pleased about our presence (thankfully, he was not accompanied by a shotgun). We took our lashings and apologized profusely before slinking back to the car.
We had gone about as far down this particular dirt road as we wanted, so I tried to turn the car around. I found a nice area of flat ground next to the road and pulled off with gusto only to discover that it was actually a swamp. My car immediately got stuck. After attempting to free ourselves until the tires smoked, I got out to assess the damage. What I found was tadpoles swimming around my tires.
We decided it probably wouldn’t be judicious to ask the angry man on whose land we had just trespassed for help, so I called my brother-in-law who kindly used his new SUV to pull me out. Three weeks later, my car is still caked in mud. It also still has the heart that my nephew drew on the side of it. I’m not particularly thrilled about that.
Anyway, I experimented with a few different things with these photos. For all of them, I used a static 50mm Nikkor lens with manual focus. It’s not a very useful lens in most situations (mostly because of the manual focus part), but it takes beautiful portraits because of its super wide aperture. When taking close-up shots, the depth of field (the area that is in focus) is extremely shallow which creates a beautiful blurred bokeh style. It also has incredible clarity for the small sliver that is in focus. With clarity, however, comes the need for extensive editing to make sure the skin looks really good. I spent about three weeks editing off and on. I started first in Adobe Camera RAW to adjust contrast, sharpness, and color balance before taking them into Photoshop where I edited out all of the little skin issues that become apparent with macro facial close-ups. Once I got all of the skin looking beautiful, I did my normal photos edits. Each photo got three treatments: a soft sunshine overlay, a high-contrast edit with some burning and dodging, and a high key black and white version. I picked my favorites for this post.