Tuesday, November 26, 2019


As a professional photographer, one of the ways we practice is to photograph things we own. So, wether it’s a car or motorcycle, of which I’ve had many over the past 50 years, I’ve usually preferred to do them by Natural Light.  Since I want dramatic lighting the two basic times of day to use are in the evening or in the morning.  I usually go for evening “Magic Hour” as it’s easy to work with and I can consistently achieve great results.  However, for a portrait of our latest Jeep I wanted backlit fall colors behind my Jeep and in my location of choice that was happening in the morning at the River’s Edge in Eagle, Idaho. What was interesting at this spot was the unusual lighting.

It’s Mixed Morning Light….
f6.3 @ 1/250 sec., ISO 800; Lens @ 142mm
What I mean by mixed morning light is that we have different color temperatures of light on the car. On the left we have warm direct sunlight (low angle sun at 10:30am) and on the right we have cool, blue, sky light. In post I brought the highlights and whites down a lot and you can see that those highlights on the right hand side of the car are not clipping. Then I warmed the image to 5450°K to a more pleasing tone for those fall colors.  The car photography specialists would probably not like using mixed color temperature lighting, but I like this image—it’s different.

Then there’s the Magic Hour at Sunset…
f5.0 @ 1/320 se.c, ISO 400; Lens @ 200mm
It’s hard to beat this kind of outdoor Natural Light on anything!  It’s warm, directional, smooth and a single color temperature. This was done out in my son’s “backyard” in Lancaster, California about 10 minutes before sunset.

I really like both images for different reasons. What’s your preference?

’Til next week…

Author: Jerry W. Venz, PPA Master Photographer, Craftsman

Tuesday, November 19, 2019


On Monday November 11th we celebrated Veteran’s Day doing portraits of our veterans! This great event all came about when we donated one of our charitable gift certificates for a family portrait to the Edgewood Spring Creek Eagle Island fund raiser in their silent auction.  We donate these gift certificates to about 25 different charities every year.  Soon after they contacted us with their idea of a Veterans’ Day portrait event to be held at their facility.  The event called, “Honor, Salute, THANK” would include portraits of veterans living at their facility (they have an independent, assisted living and memory care facility) and other facilities in the area. Edgewood would cover the cost of a 5x7” color print & folder to be given to each veteran and we would donate all of our labor. With military on both sides of our family—my father-in-law; Navy, WWII; my father, USAF, Korea; and my brother; Army, Military police—we didn’t hesitate to go all-in for this event.

Some were formal-in dress uniforms.

When the other veterans saw this gentleman walk in one quipped, “Even if I could find my old uniform I could never fit into it today!”  After each veteran had his portrait done they tended to hang around to raz each other and talk shop about their tours of duty in various wars. They all had a good time and really appreciated what we were doing.

Most were casual with their special hats.

I liked this one because he brought some memorabilia and when I saw the 8x10 print of his official Army portrait I had him pose with it to ad to his story.

Kathi and I had so much fun doing their portraits! We want to thank all of our vets for spending time with us and also want to thank everybody at Edgewood Spring Creek Eagle Island that assisted us in making this event a success; and a special shout-out to Cindy Barsness—Sales & Public Relations Director—who put this great event together!

Author:  Jerry W. Venz, PPA Master Photographer, Craftsman

Tuesday, November 12, 2019


We are fortunate here in our part of Idaho (Meridian, Boise, Eagle) to have many pet friendly parks with great trees and features where we can pose family groups, and then it just gets better when fall arrives!  Unfortunately, every other photographer in the valley knows this and if our clients insist on a weekend session our parks can become so crowded that it can spoil the experience for all of us.  However, since I’m so picky about when and where I do our outdoor portraits our only real problem at say Kathryn Albertson Park on a Saturday is finding a place to park.  So, to reduce these problems I try to book most outdoor sessions during the work week, avoiding the weekend, at about two hours before sunset.  

The first part of this planning is obvious, avoid the crowds, but the second part, two hours before sunset, is tactical and technical. Most outdoor photographers think that they must be out there at the so called Magic Hour and so they go out later than I do—which is fine by me—because then I’m leaving the park when they’re arriving! That’s the tactical part, but the important technical part is that the sun in Idaho never gets very high in the sky and at two-hours before sunset it’s plenty low enough to get me the backlight I want to create a fall like look even in the summer. I’ve found that if I’m out there during the last hour of light I can get sun flare in my lens while trying to get backlight behind my subjects. Unlike some trendy photographers I hate flare in my images; lens flare equals soft, fuzzy, portraits and a loss of color density—my clients want great fall colors!

Here’s what I’m talking about….
f6.3 @ 1/200 sec., ISO 800; Lens @ 105mm
Because I have my lighting taken care of and know how it will look at all my favorite spots, for any time of the year, in my favorite parks (this is Kathryn Albertson Park in Boise, Idaho) all I have to concentrate on are my clients, and in this case, their dogs as well.

Once we do a family pose and the kids we ask about special poses.  They requested individuals of the kids with their favorite dog. So, we used the log to the left of the tree…

f6.3 @ 1/160 sec., Iso 800; Lens @ 200mm
We like to use a seated pose of individuals with their pets to get their heads closer together in the portrait.  Then, in this case, I’m on my knees to bring her head in alignment with that nice glow in the background. In addition, I zoom in to 200mm to knock the background out-of-focus.

f6.3 @ 1/60 sec., ISO 800; Lens @ 135mm
Using the same basic set-up with the boy we managed to get their big black lab on the log next to the boy. It took several attempts, but with my wife’s use of our squeaker toy, we managed to get the dog’s curious attention!

Moving to a different spot to give the clients at least one other family portrait look…

 f5.6 @ 1/160 sec., ISO 800; Lens @ 135mm
This spot peaked in its fall look in the mid-week sessions we did here; by the following weekend it was all on the ground.

Even at 1 1/2 to 2 hours before sunset I still had to bump my ISO up to 800 in order to get the f-stop for adequate depth-of-fleld. If I tried to use the last hour of light my ISO would have to be pushed to at least 1600—not my favorite thing to do with family portraits!

’Til next week…

Author: Jerry W. Venz, PPA Master Photographer, Craftsman

Tuesday, November 5, 2019


In part one I mentioned that I don’t do Autumn photography like most photographers. I find the big fall colors landscapes of a forrest of color worth little more than a passing glance. Personally I marvel at the details in nature, so even if I capture a whole tree or two I usually chop-up the scene in post creating interesting compositional crops. The preferred method is to start with a smaller scene and then zoom-in to create several different sub-compositions to show more detail.

One of my favorite settings to capture these artistic compositions is on the edges of tree lined ponds of which there are several here in Eagle, Idaho.

I’m looking for the reflections of autumn colors…
f14.0 @ 1/125th sec., ISO 400; Lens @ 60mm
I usually start in the morning because I’m also looking for backlight in the trees. On this morning we had a breeze and even some gusts of wind that made some ripples in the water. Those ripples created these nice abstract reflections of the tree’s fall colors around this pond. Without the leaves in the water this would be a total abstract. The leaves ground this image in reality and provide more interest and an extra center of interest.

Not content to leave it alone…
f14.0 @ 1/125th sec., ISO 400; Lens @ 60mm
I like this piece of the original, so I cropped in post, to simplify the composition. Now it’s getting somewhat surreal!  I like it.  

Then, towards sunset, at a bigger pond in Eagle…
f11.0 @ 1/400 sec., ISO 800; Lens @ 280mm
As usual, I was walking around with my lens @ 200mm to narrow my view. I had even added my 1.4x extender on it to bring it to 280mm. So, even though the view here appears large, it’s only a piece of the scene. What the lens adds is its compression effect to the scene bringing the foreground tree and ducks closer to the background. 

At still another pond in the afternoon…
f9.0 @ 1/200 sec., ISO 400; Lens @ 200mm
Looking for backlit leaves I found this little tree that had sprouted up in the shadow of a row of big evergreen trees. The backlight made its colors stunning. I really like that I had to frame this up to include the out of focus limbs of the evergreen trees. It really shows how these huge evergreens are dominating this little tree’s environment.

Time will tell it can flourish in that environment….’Til next week…

Author: Jerry W. Venz, PPA Master Photographer, Craftsman