Category Archives: Portrait

Trainer to the Stars (Equine Stars that is)

L O O K ….. PhyllisBurchettPhoto has a new BLOG Post and it’s all about us and her trip to New York!

In March I had the pleasure of heading to New York to photograph for Cari Swanson at Windrock Farm. My friend Suzanne joined me so we spent a day in the city being tourists before heading to Amenia to visit Cari. The last time I visited New York City was right after 9/11 St. Paul’s Chapel and Trinity Church was still adorned with flowers, cards and momentos to the fallen.

After September 11, 2001, St. Paul’s became the site of an extraordinary, round-the-clock relief ministry to rescue and recovery workers for nine months. Though the World Trade Center buildings collapsed just across the street, there was no damage to St. Paul’s, earning it the nickname “the little chapel that stood.”

After our brief visit to the big city we took the train up to Wassaic, New York where Cari picked us up and took us to her farm. What a beautiful drive, rolling hills and gorgeous countryside. 

Cari and part of her “tribe”. Five Icelandic Sheepdogs Storm, Loki, Röskur, Rune and Freyja

I met Cari years ago when she was working on a movie set that was filming at the Burge Plantation in Mansfield, Georgia.  Thanks to Facebook we’ve stayed in contact and when the opportunity arose I jumped at the chance to head to New York to work with Cari and her horses.  Cari Swanson is the owner of  Swanson Productions. They provide specialty horses for film, television and commercials including carriages and wranglers as well as instruction. Cari is a Horse trainer, Riding Instructor, Producer and Author.
Visit her website at http://cariswanson.com/

I wanted to shoot horses in the snow and boy did I get to! We had some gorgeous models that gladly showed their stuff for us under gorgeous blue skies the first day.

Paint Mares, Lily and Dreamer

Listo and Merlin, Lusitano Stallion and Gelding

                                                                   

The light was stunning, “Novelisto” owned by Ashley Slack Waller.

These two images were taken back to back but with the help of Photoshop we can make them look warm or cool. Which one do you like better?

I took lots and lots of images. Horses rearing and horses being goofy. All total the first day I think I shot over 2500 frames.

Lisa Oberman sent some of her beautiful custom tack for us to use. El Sueño Español check it out on Facebook.

This is the gorgeous Morgan Stallion, Rosevale Leggo owned by A Horse Drawn Affair.

We did portrait work with Blaze and Bond for promotional use too. These guys are veterans in the film business.

We even brought horses in the house!

Always trying to be creative, what can I do different with rearing horses? Cari had this great Carousel horse in her house so why not put it in a composite with Listo!

Cari is amazing with her horses, they respect her and respond to everything she asks willingly. Thank you Cari, we enjoyed our time at Windrock Farm and can’t wait to come back!

The horse knows….
He knows if you know….
He also knows if you don’t know.
~ Ray Hunt

Stay tuned plans are being discussed for a workshop at Cari’s farm for 2018.

On our way back to the city we stopped in Hudson, New York to photograph the Dr. Oliver Bronson House. This hidden gem is a challenge to be able to visit due to limited hours —- but if you love architecture and historic preservation, you won’t want to miss the experience. The house is centered around a grand spiral staircase that winds it’s way through the center of the house.

Well that was our world wind of a weekend of fabulous photographic opportunities, wonderful fellowship, yummy food and meeting new friends.

Thanks to all who made this trip possible!

 

 

 

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Happy New 2015!

 

The soul can not think without a picture.  ~ Aristotle

I think like Aristotle! That is definitely a stretch but I do need something to help me visualize ideas. I guess that’s why I love sites like Pinterest, where you can pin ideas to a board to use later.

You can follow me  at https://www.pinterest.com/skipitidoda/ I’d love to see you there and I will try to follow you back!

BACK BUTTON FOCUS

Occasionally I will let someone borrow my camera to take a quick picture.

When I tell them that I use Back Button Focusing, they want to know more. So I thought I’d do a quick review to answer that question.

What is back button focusing?

It’s a very simple thing that might change the clarity of your images forever.

When you auto-focus with your DSLR default settings, here is how it basically works: you press your shutter half way to auto-focus, and when your focus is OK you press your shutter a second time to take the picture. There is an alternative to this focusing method: you can decide that another button (the famous BBF, or “back button focusing”) will handle your focus.

In short: Rear focus involves focusing by pushing a button on the top right back of the camera (rather than by pushing the shutter button).

Why would you do that?

Simply because it separates your focusing from your shutter. Instead of asking your index finger to deal with two different things one after the other, you give it one single task (pressing the shutter at the perfect moment) while your thumb will deal with focusing.

Making the change from the shutter button to rear focus requires a big commitment and takes lots of getting used to; it takes a bit of retraining of the brain and the thumb to get used to rear focusing.

If you mainly photograph landscape or still life, it’s very likely that BBF won’t change your life. On the other hand, if you are a portrait photographer, and if your model is potentially moving fast BBF is probably going to be your best friend.

This is why BBF is very often used by sports, equine or wildlife photographers. Don’t forget that to get a crisp image with a fast moving subject you also need a high shutter speed in order to freeze motion, at least 1/500s or higher depending on the speed of your subject.

Another interest of BBF is that it locks your focus. If you press your thumb on your back button and release it, your focus won’t change until you press the button again. This will allow you to focus and then recompose a picture.

You need to change a custom function or two to set up rear focus. With most systems you set up rear focus via the camera’s menu, please consult your camera’s user manual or even do a web search on “Back Button Focusing” for your camera model. Depending on your camera, you will use the AF-ON button for Canon users and the AF-L button for Nikon users.

Both these images would have been very difficult to capture sharp focus without Back Button Focusing.

Try it and see if you like BBF but remember that it takes a while to get used to!

We still have two slots left for our Alaska Bear Tour in June….send me a message if you would like more information. http://phyllisburchettphoto.net/alaska-tour-2015/

My 2014 Iceland Equine Tour is full, thank you to everyone who has signed up! We are going to have a fabulous trip! If you are interested in joining me in 2016 send me a message.

My Spring Workshop Date has been announced it is May 23, 2014 in Hampton, Georgia:

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Picture the People in your Life

Framed

It has been my wonderful pleasure to meet and photograph the nicest people over the years. I am always on a quest to learn and grow in my photographic process. It truly is all about the journey and not the destination because you never stop learning in this business. When I approach portraiture I try to create portraits that are creative. I always try to strive for something different, maybe even unique if possible. I try to “previsualize” the end result. It doesn’t always happen but when it does it makes my heart sing!

Ansel Adams defined previsualization as, “The ability to anticipate a finished image before making the exposure.” I call this making an image instead of taking a picture.

We, as photographers, should spend as much time as needed to make our subject comfortable in front of the camera. A portrait should be a collaboration between the photographer and their subject. Connect, engage, relax….

That being said I’d like to share some tips I use for memorable images so that you can make your own. I like what the writer said, “Ideas are just collections of thoughts. Locations are just points on a map. What we do with those ideas when we get to those points on the map is what sets us apart from the rest of the pack.”

Interaction, connection and emotion are all strong elements of design.

Connect….share the love.

A Boy and His Chicken

Use the props and tools around you to make the setting more interesting. Find things to place your subject in, on, under, around, etc.

Concert at the Farm

Colors – use vibrant and contrasting colors to draw attention to parts of your subject.

Sitting Pretty

Rodeo Queen

Get serious…a smile isn’t always best.

Beautiful Ebony

Capture the moment, sometimes the best shots are when your subject isn’t looking. Catch them doing something they love.

Prairie Dance

Christmas Surprise

Motion brings another dimension to your images.

Fall Fun

Get up close and personal!

Capture the environment that is part of the person’s culture.

The Cowboy Way

Back-light, hair lights up like crazy when it’s back-lit, so if hair is a big part of your subject make it stand out by placing your subject between you and a light source.

Sisters

Underexpose, a dominantly dark or low-key image will naturally draw your eyes to the lighter parts.

Wyoming Cowgirl

Overexpose, blowing out the highlights or making a high-key image makes a nice soft portrait with kind of a light airy feeling.

First Love

Use Photoshop or some type of editing software. If you’re good with post-processing and manipulations, use it to your advantage. Get crazy with the adjustments, try some new Photoshop techniques, and maybe even a composite image. The composite technique I used for the next two images is pretty simple:

1. Open your background image.

2. Then go to the image you want to place into the first image and make a selection using the Elliptical Marquee Tool, I usually choose the oval shape.

3. Click on refine edge and change the feather to about 80 or so, click ok.

4. Copy and Paste your selection into the background image, use the move tool to place the selection properly, then add a layer mask and brush around the edges with a lower opacity to blend, then change the opacity of that layer (your selection layer) to your choice. I think it looks best faded. Of course this will work best when the background that you are placing the image into is simple and uncluttered.

Enjoy and let me know how it works for you, I’d love to see what you do!

 

I hope you have enjoyed this post on portraiture and I’d love to hear how your portrait sessions go when you put some of these tips into use!

Stay tuned as I will be teaching two up coming classes at www.learntotakephotos.com. We will be running my “How to make Digital Images with the WOW Factor” again in January and then a Post Production Class will follow in February. Be sure to check out my upcoming events: http://phyllisburchettphoto.net/iceland-tour-2015/ and http://phyllisburchettphoto.net/alaska-tour-2015/.  Hope you have a beautiful Christmas!

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