Amy’s Sunset

With a rainy mid-day, we were all a bit nervous about Amy’s session being a washout. But the afternoon dried, and we were treated to a great summer evening with light breeze and some really nice clouds. After touring some great photo spots, we landed at waterworks beach for some bayside and beachside photos. This was taken about 10 minutes before sunset. Just after this, the sun hid behind a cloudbank, never to return. The actual sunset was a fade to grey, but this shot was wonderful – the reflection on the water, the depth of the clouds, and Amy’s smile! Thanks Amy for a great session. Many more images to come soon!

Megan’s Window

Here’s a shot from Megan’s senior session. We had perfect July weather; not too hot, slightly breezy and somewhat sunny. We tried a few new areas with Megan’s session and found a great industrial look and a nice brook and bridge. Megan, thanks for the opportunity. You took a lot of great images!

9 Ideas for Great Summer Photos

Everybody has a camera these days. Why not take yours outside for a little photo safari? Here are 9 ideas to stimulate your imagination and get you out there, shooting!

IDEA 1: Sunrise. Early morning light has very different qualities from other times. It comes from a different angle. Often weather is also calmer at daybreak. And, you often have dewdrops and spiders and other morning beasies to shoot. This is a good time to get down low and up close. You may want to choose macro mode (often a flower icon) to get close focus.

IDEA 2: Sunset. Late evening also has interesting light. Often with a nice sunset or late light, you can capture some really neat silhouettes. Just expose for the sky and often the foreground image will be darkened. Tip: move your camera to open sky, half-press the shutter and then move back to frame your subject. Or choose the Sunset mode and disable your flash.

IDEA 3: Pick a theme and take a series of photos. These would be great “B-roll” shots for scrapbooking or gifts. Lemonade, ice cream, produce, beach, there are many themes that would represent summer. My sample photo here is from my mini-garden. mmm, tomatoes….

IDEA 4: Tour the neighborhood. Someone has a neat garden. There’s a creek or pond nearby. Take a new angle on the architecture of that crazy house nearby. Do a photoessay on summer flowers. Throw that camera in your pocket when you walk the dog, and stop every 20 paces and shoot something from where you stand. At least the memories of the walk will keep you warm in February!

IDEA 5: Blue Skies. Fall skies in Erie are strange, with grey clouds. But summer skies are often very blue. Try getting low and shooting upward at your subjects, to get some blue sky in the frame. If you have a camera that can accept filters, try out a polarizing filter to deepen that blue. You can also push saturation and contrast in your photo editor to emphasize sky colors.

IDEA 6: A week of new settings. Get out that camera manual or just wing it. For each day of the next 7, keep your camera on a setting you have never used, and try to take photos using that setting. Sports is for moving things, but what will it do to a bowl of fruit? Macro is a blast. How about landscape? The modes or settings are shortcuts for a few basic parameters – flash, f-stop, shutter, sensitivity and white balance. Figuring out what mode works for your subjects will help you make better images.

IDEA 7: Get out of the Sun! Bright sun shots often cause squinty subjects, blown out highlights and dark darks. Basically the contrast levels are extreme in bright sun. Try walking into the shade and taking some portraits. Kirk Voclain has a great technique for finding great shade light: Hold up your index finger and turn in a circle until you can see directional light/shadow. It looks silly but it works! If you must shoot in the sun, often forcing the flash to be on will lower the contrast and eliminate the extreme shadows on faces.

IDEA 8: Tourist at Home. Take an afternoon or evening and hit some of your area’s best known tourist or photo spots. Capture some images, and you can use them in scrapbooking, and better yet, you can make up note cards on your printer from these and send them to out of town friends and relatives. People love shots from the hometown, especially if they have moved away.

IDEA 9: Sign up for a photo sharing site. Now that you have all of these great (and some maybe not) shots, share them! Sites like Winkflash, Flickr and many others will let you upload for free, get inexpensive prints, and share with others. Let’s see those shots!

So get out there and have some fun!

Top 10 Senior Photography Do’s and Don’ts


1. DO get your senior photos taken! You’ll regret not capturing your memories.
DON’T wait too long to reserve your session. Many photographers’ schedules fill up quickly.

2. DO ask your friends about their photography experiences. Note the good and the bad stuff.
DON’T be forced into the “official school photographer” routine. It’s not what goes into the yearbook that matters, it’s how your images are captured and how you feel about the experience. Do you really want your senior photos taken by the people who did your 7th grade pictures?

3. DO your homework. Know which photographers offer the kinds of sessions and experiences that meet your needs. Do they travel with you? Will they take pictures of you with your dog? Boyfriend?
DON’T be impulsive and grab that old card that showed up in the mail sometime this spring. Think about it…probably 2000 other people got that same card.

4. DO shop on the web. Try searches like “Senior Photographer Erie” to see who specializes in senior photography.
DON’T get suckered into “Ambassador Plans”. Do you really want to be representing those studios?

5. DO Look into the photographers’ portfolios. Many have online galleries and/or slide shows. How similar are the shots? Do they have enough outdoor or location images for your taste?
DON’T be fooled by studio size. Large may mean a quick, impersonal session where you are limited by changes, locations and poses. Your poses and images may look like many other students’.

6. DO ask about locations, changes, friends, pets, retouches, time limits and proofing.
DON’T be shy about expressing your needs and wants. It’s YOUR session!

7. DO discuss with your family. Sure, you are your own person, but the folks and relatives might really love a traditional shot thrown in among your creative stuff.
DON’T Try a new hairstyle or try to get that perfect tan the day before your shoot!

8. DO Plan for your shoot. Set aside clothes, uniforms, props, pets, accessories and shoes.
DON’T worry about cosmetic/skin issues. Any photographer worth the money will take care of that!

9. DO let your personality shine through. Relax and the real you will emerge!
DON’T scan or copy or post any of the proof images without photographer’s OK. It’s illegal and tacky to steal!

10. DO have a wonderful, unique time with your senior session!
DON’T forget to order enough wallets for your friends and relatives!

Jacob’s Bayfront

Wednesday started sunny, but as the day matured, we had a weather system literally circling our city. Rain cells to the southwest, wind from the east, patches of blue sky mixed with lightning. Jacob and his family were great sports. We worked through clouds, drizzle, wind and finally the system matured into a full blown downpour. Fortunately we had the great shots already taken. Here’s a great shot of Jacob taken down by Dobbins Landing. The rusty poles are great visuals, and the threatening clouds are a reminder of the interesting weather we enjoyed tonight. Jacob, thanks for the opportunity to take your senior images!

Kaleigh’s Alley

Tuesday evening, we spent some time with Kaleigh and her Mom, all around the town. Kaleigh is a wonderful dancer, and she was brave to go with my idea to have some ballet photos in public places. Here’s a beautiful alleyway right in the center of town. The light was great, and we spent some time here taking some wonderful images here and all across our fair city. This one was finished with a brush stroke effect. Kaleigh, hope you enjoy this image. Many more on the way!

Peaceful Garden

Here’s a peaceful garden. This is part of my mother’s cottage garden in Maine. Just off the Marlboro coast, she has a great garden of flowers, bushes, ivy and bridges and other decorative items. It’s very peaceful to sit outside, with the ocean breeze cooling you.

That’s in the summer of course. In the winter, parts of you fall off from the cold, and in the spring, the black flies eat the parts that are left.

But summer’s perfect in Maine!

Half Marathon

I had a choice this morning – sleep in or get up at 5:30 and run the Presque Isle Half Marathon, put on by the Erie Runners Club. I did the right thing, but it was tough waking up!

The half is my favorite race distance. 13.1 miles is long enough to be a test, but not so painful as the marathon.

Following a very rainy overnight, the dawn broke with overcast skies, low 70s and a nice breeze. There appeared to be several hundred runners out to complete the 13.1 mile loop around the park. The official results page indicated 566 runners – very impressive! As usual there was great support on the course with at least 8 water stops. I saw a number of my co-workers from GE and many other familiar faces. Here’s a shot from the starting line just moments before the race began. I had to sprint back to my car to dump my camera and just made it back in time for the start. I finished in my usual 2hrs+ time, this year around 2:07:40 or 9:40 per mile. I’ll take that. The winner had a time almost twice as fast as mine, something around 1:07 and change.

Thanks to the ERC for another great race!

Ryan’s Wheels

Ryan’s a skateboard guy. We hit the “great mural wall” and some other areas in Erie for some great skating action shots. This is an indoor shot taken before we hit the road. Ryan, hope you like the shot. Thanks for letting me get creative downtown.