Thursday, July 31, 2008

I shot the coolest little boys this weekend, Luke, Ty, and Jack,sitting on a rock in Sand Harbor, Lake Tahoe, at sunset. They were all boy, just scampering around on the rocks. I just loved being a part of it. I never get to shoot boys, so this was a great time for me. Afterward, I stood in the lake and they all jumped in and splashed around. It was so cold! I got the towel shots afterwards when they were all warm and cozy.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The California Earthquake had Nothing on this. Knowing When to Cut Your Losses.

So you're at a shoot, feeling good, and all of a sudden the baby you're shooting freaks out and starts crying in your direction. What do you do? In my experience, a baby can recover twice from crying, but the third time, pack up, it's over. But what if the baby you're shooting doesn't stop crying, and in fact, is crying AT you?

I had the privilege of shooting a four generation picture of a lovely baby this past week,, with her beautiful mother, ridiculously personable, cool grandmother, who definitely doesn't look like a grandmother, and amazing great grandmother, who was a tremendously good sport hanging around outside in 90 degree plus weather, along with adorable big brothers and an aunt who truly doesn't look like she just had a baby two months ago, and the sweetest little girl cousins. All went really great, until the shoot was pretty much over and I was just taking my last few grab shots, which are usually the best shots of the group, because everyone feels like the shoot is over and finally relax. It's usually the best part of the day...I get amazing shots, everyone feels great...but my sweet little baby started screaming and wouldn't stop unless I was out of sight! Golly, I was totally embarrassed. It felt like the house was shaking. I started sweating. I don't sweat. My husband reveres my sweatless self, because I never sweat, never. But Secret, you failed me that day, because I had rivulets of ice cold sweat dripping down my back as I watched that baby scream. Not to say that people don't scream at the sight of me, but usually it's short-lived? Not vehement enough to cause glass to break? I secretly wanted to take the picture, and indeed, I have done it with my own kids, but, not knowing this client, didn't want to offend further. I tried humor,I tried to sing to the baby. I tried the fail proof peek a boo...nothing. Having nothing but time, I started to think about it. I mean, really, a person comes into your home, does a little itsy bitsy spider and a hokey pokey or two and hides their eyes behind a big black thing, and a child is supposed to look at the black thing and smile? Barbaric. Why would a child smile at a big black thing where a face should be? That kind of thing is a social grace, like using the serving spoon to put the potato salad on your own plate instead scooping from the community bowl with fingers of questionable origin. I get it. I wanted to scream myself. The decibel level increased. The baby was screaming on the exhale AND the inhale. I didn't know what to do. I didn't want to ask for my check, but I had to be paid, and who wants to pay a person for making their child cry? So I did the only thing I could do. I looked at my film, and, gratified to see that I had a enough major winners that the mom will love me later, made a lame joke about how horrid it is to pay a person for making their kid cry, grabbed my check, and made my exit. As soon as I left, the baby stopped crying. I stopped sweating. And bless her heart, the mom made the check out for more than my sitting fee. After I made her baby cry! I don't think I would have been that generous. Good golly I love my job.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Portrait of a Diver...or How to Express Joy Without Even Trying...(but with a Lot of Photoshop!)

The original...10 layers in photoshop

...and two views of different little tweaks of the layers...bringing some layers forward and changing opacity on others...I'm not sure which one I like best...what do you think?

I was feeling pretty low today after I heard that the man I photographed had passed away, and I wasn't able to sleep at all, so I wanted to make something really alive of someone filled with joy. My daughter's diving teacher, Jeff Kunselman, has so much joy when he dives that for the past couple of summers I have been photographing him and making him a gift as a thank you for passing that kind of joy to Zoe, and this is what I came up with tonight. A couple of weeks ago, I shot him diving off the high dive, which he does all the time during class, just for the fun of it, (remember, when you shoot action, make sure to put your shutter speed at above 250 or else your picture will be mush) and then tonight I put down layers, ten of them, of him in his various stages of dive. I removed all of the opacity of nine of the layers, then worked on removing the environment around him with the eraser tool and the magnetic lasso tool, which I absolutely makes everything so much easier all the way around...and played with the hue and saturation of each layer. Then I duplicated the shot and made each different shot a different color and duplicated and flattened the whole thing and put those layers on top of the whole thing, and I started playing with moving the layers slightly up , down and to the side, and working with different opacities and moving layers around to see which layers should go closer to the top. I made an additional layer of just him standing on the board and enlarged it with the transform tool, then adjusted hue and saturation of him so that it looked right. You can tell that he just loves to dive, and it made me feel a lot better just working on it. I am really going to work on feeling the joy every day from now on.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Tell Them How Much You Love Them. A Lesson I Learned.

Today was a day like every other day. I catered to my children's whims. They fought anyway. I planted flowers. I did some laundry. And a man that I photographed last month died.

It was a casual thing. I was there, he was there. Someone said something funny. He laughed. I took his picture. I posted it with the rest of the pictures I took that day. No one bought it. No big deal. It wasn't his big day. He just happened to be there with a great big deep laugh coming out of his robust frame, his blue eyes crinkling at the corners; a kindly giant kneeling among a bevy of flitting butterfly princesses. I sent it as a gift anyway. And then he died. I took the last picture that was taken of him. They thanked me. I sobbed. And I hugged my family tight.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Proof that it's Not the Size of the Wand, It's the Magic the Wand Possesses

before painter

after painter

We just got home from our Watercolor junket, and I had to do a quickie painting of the spectacular WaterSound, Florida dunes and St. Helen Park in Inlet Beach, Florida. I need to mention that these shots were taken with a point and shoot camera (!) (because everyone in myu class only had point and shoots, so I wanted to shoot with them to show them how to make the most out of their cameras) which was pretty cool for me...I had never used one before, and I was impressed with the quality of the pictures, as well as the video and underwater features of the Olympus Stylus. Very much fun. I'm shooting in Reno and Lake Tahoe next week, as well as hanging out with our goos friends, the Dennis's and the the Skowroneks. Let me know if you want me to hang out and point and shoot with you. Even if you own a DSLR.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Light, Shadow, and Sand Castles with the Olympus Stylus

Today the beginning photography class I'm teaching in Watercolor, Florida moved east on Highway 30A to Rosemary Beach to shoot light and shadow at a sand castle building class. As I mentioned earlier, no one has SLR's, just point and shoots, so I punted, bought a point and shoot, and am teaching the class with that. Although mine is a cool goes underwater for up to 30 minutes, (and got shrieks and gasps at the pool when my youngest, TT, ran over to my beach bag, grabbed it, and jumped with it onto her little crab float into the pool last night with a giant splash, )everyone knows that if you backlight with a point and shoot, you usually get a perfectly exposed background with totally dark, non-detailed faces. Well, it seems that this bad boy Olympus Stylus has the ability to meter on shadow and then transfer its findings to the big picture, so I, of course, didn't have a care in the world. But what about everyone else in the point and shoot world? The answer, my friends, is fill flash. While using a flash in the day time sounds counter intuitive, fill flash will fill in those harsh shadows like nobody's business, and You will be a photography hero in no time when your family sees their bright, shiny faces in pictures, while while still maintaining a nice shadow balance, which means that while your shot will still allow the highlights and shadow to shine through, it won't look all boring and blown out. Everyone's sand castles looked outstanding from our 9 a.m. till 11 a.m. shoot...I'm proud of my class! I can't wait to upload the pictures to show you! By the way, if you have any photos that look a certain way and you can't understand why, email them to me at with a description of what you did, if possible, and I will try to let you know how to change it out the next time. Remember, taking pictures is supposed to be fun!!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

It's Not the Size of the Wand. It's the Magic the Wand Posesses.

It's not the size of the wand. It's the magic the Wand posesses that counts. Today was the first day of my photography seminar in Watercolor, Florida. It is a beginning photography class, but one thing I didn't think of was to tell everyone to bring SLR type cameras, I just figured that if they were interested in photography, they would own a camera that you can put in manual mode...that means you, dear reader. If you are interested in photography and you aren't putting your new fancy new DSLR camera in manual mode, you might as well have a point and shoot, because the camera will be in charge of you, and not the other way around.

Well, today, every single person brought a point and shoot! I am here to tell you, as a person who has never had close personal contact with a point and shoot before, I pretty much freaked out, because everyone had questions that I wasn't sure I could answer. I went into instant freak out, panic, shove down a dozen donuts and panic some more mode, and then, just as I was set to embark on the next dozen, something inside me snapped and I just let go.

I don't know if it was the rain, the sweet faces of my absolutely cool students, Brian, Margo, Elliot, Jeffrey, Sarah from Alabama, Sarah from Tennessee, Jennifer, Julia, Jason, and Karen, or just a sugar high, but all of a sudden I just started giggling. If you can't beat them, join them, I always say. I called my trusty hubby and he ran out and got me a very cute little pink Olympus Stylus that seems to be can take it underwater to ten feet for a very long time, drop it from ten feet, change the ISO, adjust for macro, super macro, movement, blur, adjust the lighting for daylight, backlight, tungsten, and a couple of different flourescents, shoot in the rule of thirds insteadof those center weighted guys. I was impressed...It pretty much does everything except the laundry for you...gosh darn it...well, I guess that's why I have my hubby, now isn't it? So, in typical Barbara Stitzer fashion, I am learning as I go, and am for the duration of this whole course am going to become one with my mega macho pink camera, (whom I've named Pookie, of course, ) and then I'll show you what I did with it...and I am willing to bet that it's going to be pretty gosh darn cool. I'll be back after I snarf another donut.