I’ve managed to keep fairly busy this first week. I had three photo shoots. I also shot a short video for practice, of course. The video is too long, but the point was to practice video editing alongside royalty free music. We shot more footage today and will edit it to post on Madeline Owen’s Instagram.

Salty Dog Studios, Ballard, Seattle; Shot with a Canon R6 and RF 15-35mm f/2.8 (freehand, no gimbal, no post-processing image stabilization) Please forgive the rights free music.

Every morning when I wake up, I try to keep in mind that beginnings are important because they set the pace and mood for the rest of the day. I started my mornings with coffee. Then I wrote in my journal. Then I hit the gym, showered, ate breakfast, and read Accounting for Dummies.

Now, I need to learn to end the day on good terms. I still can’t break the habit of desperately clinging to the day, trying to squeeze out a few more productive minutes of extra moments of leisure.

The First Shoot

On Day Negative-One I made a post in a Seattle-area Photography Facebook Group called Seattle Open Shoots. It’s a place where models and photographers can arrange to swap Time for Photos—free photos for models, and free models for photographers. The community was really supportive.

A screen shot of a facebook post that says the following: 

Here's the short story: I just quit my job to do photography full time, and I'm going to spend the next month or two practicing as much as I can before I begin to take a profit from my work.
I want to focus on outdoor portraits for individuals, couples, and families. However, I will shoot anything you put in front of me: real estate, art, food, drinks, pets, children, the miscellaneous things scattered around your house (narrative clutter).
You want a picture of something? I'll take it as long as I can shoot it with an 85, 50, or 15-35mm.
I'm here to learn from you, even if you've shot less than I have. We all have something to learn and teach.
Also, if you're a photographer, I can take your portrait, and I would appreciate it if you took mine. I need pictures of me with my camera in hand. (Photographer's Curse: not enough pictures of the photographer, but too many of their subjects.)
Here's a random selection of work just so you can see the level I'm operating on.
Camera: Canon R6
Lens: 50, 85, 15-35mm
Screen shot of the post.

The first photoshoot was at Carkeek Park, a nice spot with lots of trees, some trails, and a beach with a view of the Olympic Mountains, which are a little boring right now because they’re still missing their snowcaps this time of year.

We started at 10:00am. The light was harsh. But I was able to work with the shade under the trees.

This is P. She is a writer. She also owns a shipping and logistics company. But she’s switching to become a full time student because she’s serious about writing.

For this shot I had her friend hold up a golden reflector to light up her face.

I used two types of vignetting: (1) using the slider in Capture One that makes an ellipse, and (2) using layers and brush to dodge and burn. (Good tutorial here that goes into really deep detail.) I feel like the vignette brings her into focus better. And if you didn’t notice there was a vignette, then that means I did it right!

I also saturated the oranges on the ground and on the tree, and I warmed up the picture because it was too blue.

This picture has a dirty secret: The golden reflector worked especially well with her skin tones. But the problem is that the hand that she is writing with is bluer and cooler than her other hand and her face.

My last worry is that there isn’t enough room below her foot in the frame.

This next photo was fairly straight forward.

I didn’t make too many alterations here. I played with temperature and saturation and added a vignette. I think it would be nicer with a different crop. I would now switch the ratio to be more square and take in from the left and the bottom. The cedar tree on the right really adds to the picture.

If I wanted to go a little above and beyond, I would do some color grading and make the highlights more golden/orange, but I would leave the shadows where they are. I could also increase the saturation on her scarf and pants. But her legs shouldn’t really be there during a tighter crop

This one here is my favorite of the week.

When I saw this tree and K nearby holding her Banjo, this picture is close to what I envisioned. I told K to relax her face and think moody thoughts. I feel like she read my mind; I think that happens best when you have a clear vision.

I wanted something a little darker and moodier without taking away any saturation. I played with the saturation of her hair, shirt, and pants, to make them punchier. I think I could have gotten away with darker, more desaturated moss in the background and more color-punch in the pants and shirt. I’m happy with the hair.

Pics (1) and (2) in the slideshow were taken in the same spot. Pic (1) is golden because of my color grading: I turned the highlights to orange; and I used the color slider to make greens, yellow and yellow’s orange. I was going to delete number (3) because it’s sort of random and not totally in focus, but I liked the composition and energy of the picture.

P is squinting because the golden reflector is lighting up her face and blinding her just a bit. Her nose is casting a shadow that I wish I had noticed while I was shooting.

And I finished the session with some classic headshots.

I made only minimal changes to these portraits. K and P did a great job during the portraits. Number three is my favorite. We were exhausted because the session lasted over an hour.

I should have cropped these in a bit and changed the image ratio from 3:2 to something more square.

This was a fun and charming shoot because the subject was really friendly.

But I made a rookie mistake. The light is a bit too dark because we were shooting in a heavily wooded area during a cloud day. So, her eyes and face are not lit up well enough in a lot of the shots, which is referred to as “racoon eyes”. This wasn’t a problem when I was shooting the day prior with P and K because there was more light bouncing around.

I haven’t sent these out. They’re sitting, waiting while I emotionally process everything. Next time I edit, I’m going to look at them once more and see if I can brighten her face up more. If not, I’ll send her these and thank her for her time, with the offer to do another shoot. We can do better.

I have some more shoots over the coming days. And hopefully I’ll be getting my picture taken soon too.