Tuesday, October 11, 2016


Whenever I’m outside the studio ( http://www.TheStorytellersUsa.com ) doing portraits on a location with good indoor and outdoor spots for photography two criteria are always the most important to me…

1)  Using Natural Light Everywhere.

2)  Working the location—moving my subject around during the session using as many of the different backgrounds that the location has to offer.

This portrait session was done at the Japanese Hakone Gardens in Saratoga, California during their biggest event of the year—their Matsuri—where I was their official photographer. This actual bride to be was there to demonstrate the look of a traditional Japanese bride. Because of all the other events I had to cover I only had an hour with her and to complicate things there were hundreds of spectators and what felt like hundreds of amateur photographers following us around the gardens getting in my way!  In addition, because there was a pond in the middle of the garden that often separated us I had to communicate with her via had signals (I had NO assistant on this session) to tell her where to stand, which way to face in a pose and where to move to for the next set-up.  Yelling didn’t work due to the constant music and PA announcements during the event.  Fortunately, she took direction well and we got a nice variety of images…

 f4.0 @ 1/800 sec., ISO 400; lens at 200mm
One of my favorite close-ups; I used Silver Efect Pro 2 to Sepia tone and enhance grain in this image.  I had fun working the the “hood” on her white outfit—it could be a scrim as in the last image or a gobo (blocking light) in the following image…

f5.6 @ 1/800 sec., ISO 800; Lens @ 200mm
Sometimes you don’t have to show the whole face in a portrait—I like her little smile and eye lashes! And, to make this image more interesting I zoomed in to 200mm to create some nice Bokeh in the background. 

Note:  I found the bokeh FIRST then I placed her exactly where I wanted her to be to have the bokeh where I wanted it!

We went inside the cultural center because I found a great background with warm incandescent light and placed her near the open door to photograph her by natural light of course!

 f3.5 @ 1/160 sec., ISO 800; Lens @ 80mm
The open door acted like a large window and created a nice contrast to the warm background lights. Because of these mixed color temperatures I did a custom white balance on just the light falling on her.  Natural light is not only the best light it’s easy to control!

I’ll continue with this really fun session in Part 2 next week. ’Til then…

Author:  Jerry W. Venz, PPA Master Photographer, Craftsman, Certified
Training site:  http://www.LightAtTheEdge.com
Client site: http://www.TheStorytellersUsa.com

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