Sun, Rain - We Say 'No Problem'

Okay so we get super excited with each new addition to our outdoor portrait garden. It seems like every Summer it just gets better and better. To Kim's delight Francisco has just finished welding two more light filtering structures for photographing outside.

As photographers know when the mid-day sun hits high noon or the drizzle begins (a common occurrence in Oregon) taking pictures of people can begin to get very challenging. For a long time we used white parachute fabric as a kind of overhead curtain to filter the light and provide more flattering lighting on faces. But by the end of the Summer it was always in tatters. The rain would leave it sad and droopy because we'd inevitably forget to take it down before a storm hit. Last Summer Francisco built out two serious structures for just these situations and they've proven to be a hit with families and our photographers. Now we'll be able to offer another 5 backgrounds throughout the Summer and Fall. 

You might ask 'How do you make a structure to filter light for photography?' Well this time round he welded a frame out of steel (don't forget he's a sculptor at heart and loves any excuse to bring out the welder) and the screwed 8mm polycarbonate panels onto the top. On our signature red wall we used acrylic roofing material that is opaque because the sun looked so much better coming in from the Southern exposure side than from the roof.  But in other spots throughout our portrait garden we've chosen to have a semi-opaque roof so that the light will filter down and we can bounce it back onto the smiling faces.

We found extra long white cotton curtains at Ikea that have proven to be quite effective at filtering light as needed too. Plus they add a touch of romance to a garden. Don't you think?

In Oregon we are always looking for a good excuse to be outside. Now here's a good one for your photography studio experience.  Did we mention we even have a portable outdoor heater for chilly days?

Our Top iphone Photo Apps

Ever wonder what outside-the-box tools are in a professional photographer’s kit? For us, an iphone camera comes in handy in a pinch and it’s fun to play with too. Here are some of the top iphone apps for photographers Kim and Francisco.

A few months ago an app was introduced to allow people to easily share photos via instagram. Think image making meets social networking. It’s for folks who prefer to see the world in pictures rather than words. Funky filters elevate shots from ho-hum to yowza and you can follow iphone photographers anywhere in the world. Once installed you can follow Kim Campbell’s eclectic stream of images @elcorazon on your “instagram app.”

Before instagram our go-to app for personal iphone photography was CameraBag. It has all kinds of cool filters to jazz up your iphone pics and the Helga filter is a favorite.

Love the look of an image that has areas in sharp focus and soft focus? You used to require an old-fashioned view camera or expensive tilt shift lens. Now the TiltShiftGenerator app let’s you play with depth of field and focus in on that sweet spot.

QuadCamera takes over your camera and shoots a rapid-fire series of photographs. The outcome is unpredictable and that’s most of the fun. Kim took this series of Tamaio on the merry-go-round at the park and then he shot the same of her. It’s better than the prize in the cracker jack box.

For moody photographs try CinemaFX’s range of cinematic-style filters. This self-portrait of Kim and Tamaio was taken using the Spartan Sepia filter in mid-flight coming home from Mexico last year.

The Hipstamatic app has been a real sweetheart of 2010. It looks like an old school camera that let’s you swap out film, play with toy camera styles and add gel packs to sweeten the deal. Set it on random and you can just let the camera surprise you. Warning – not for the faint hearted. Minneapolis here we come.

Finally, when we need to pass some time or feel a little goofy FacesWild is the app we pull up. Insert a face into a scene or onto a different body – it’s always good for a giggle.

Not an iphone user? Verizon just made it easier to join the club.

Tips for Better Baby Pics!

At Campbell Salgado Studio, we’ve been photographing babies for over a dozen years and thought it would be fun to share our top 10 tips for creating great images at home.

  1. Be prepared. Have your camera ready. Inspiration can happen in a moment’s notice, keep your camera close to where you play with baby and tuck it in the diaper bag when you head out the door. Those precious seconds while you search for your camera may mean your baby has wiped all the spaghetti off her head before you’ve gotten back.
  2. Use natural and indirect lighting. Place your child close to a window and turn off the flash in your camera. If you have an adjustable flash, bounce the light off the ceiling to create a softer light.
  3. Set-up your image. It’s okay to arrange the scene. Move away any distractions, and keep it simple. Tack a sheet or a solid blanket to the wall for an impromptu backdrop.
  4. Keep clothing simple. Solid colors or simple patterns keep the focus of the photo on your baby’s expressions, or better yet, undress them for a few naked baby photos. These are the ones that really make us smile and they’ll love us for them later.
  5. Get close and far away. Try to fill at least one third of the photo with your baby. Too much information in the background can be distracting. When you fill the camera with your baby, you begin eliminating those distractions. If your camera has a macro function select that and go in close for capturing body parts like feet, belly buttons, hands. Use a parents hand to cradle your baby’s foot. It will emphasize their tiny size. If you have an object like a couch or bed to put your baby on and can get far enough away, the smallness of your baby is put into greater perspective as you capture the environment around.
  6. Capture your baby in action. Exploring is what life is all about for a baby. Start them a few feet away and capture them as they crawl back toward you. Take photos as they are giggling and splashing in the bath. Give them interesting and beautiful things to focus on like blocks, flowers or balls if they are too busy crawling.
  7. Try a new perspective. Bring yourself down to your child’s level. You’ll get a better perspective of their features when the camera lens is the same height as baby’s eyes. Try angles above, in front of and below your baby for more artistic photos.
  8. Capture your baby’s emotions. Laughing, crying, and frowning are a few of the feelings that make up your child’s developing personality. So, capture them to remember them.
  9. Get yourself into some photos. Ask someone to take a photo of you cuddling your baby if you find you are not in any pictures. Invite friends, grandparents, siblings to hold the baby and be included in the photograph. They are sure to appreciate these photos just as much, if not more than baby by himself.
  10. Archive. Each time you load a digital media card onto your hard drive burn a second copy of the images onto a high quality CD or DVD. Label with the date and description. There is nothing worse than losing precious images because of a hard drive failure or computer loss. Be proactive!

Tips for Shooting Summer Photos

From time to time, folks will arrive at our studio disappointed that the sun isn’t shining for their outdoor photos. Meanwhile, I’m breathing a sigh of relief because the intense light of sunshine is difficult to work with as it blows out the highlights and creates very intense shadows.

The grey skies we commonly have in Oregon are really ideal for shooting photos. If you are taking your kids outside for some summer pictures choose a day that is overcast. Switch your camera flash off and shoot with the natural light and you will be so pleased with the results.

If you really need to take a photo on a bright day, place your subjects under the shadow of a tree. Compose and crop your image so that bright sunlight is eliminated. This will help your camera’s brain make a better exposure for skin tones.

At the studio we always set our camera on manual and read the light meter for how the light is reflecting off the person’s skin. We get the very best exposures for the subject, regardless of what is happening around them. Hand held meters work best for this.

In our garden space at the studio, we are fortunate to be able to photograph throughout the summertime by building ceiling canopies of billowy, white nylon. This blocks the harsh rays and makes it more comfortable for everyone, including the photographer!

So, get out and enjoy the rare summer sunshine in Portland, but just remember to think twice before snapping a photo in direct sunlight!