Happy Father’s Day to the best Daddy. The Daddy who will do anything to get a laugh out of his kids. The Daddy who is patient and kind and knows the answers to all of their endless questions. The Daddy who works to hard to provide a great life for us. The Daddy who will always take the back road so we can have crazy adventures. The Daddy who is the best Lego builder and wrestler. The Daddy who is a great teacher. The Daddy who is ours and we love him more than all the starfish in the sky.
Last night my baby graduated from pre kindergarten. I kind of thought the whole thing was a little silly. Until I saw my baby boy walking down the aisle to pomp and circumstance in a cap and gown. And that is when I lost it. He was so confident and excited. He had the biggest smile on his face as he spotted us in the crowd and waved. And I know he was looking to see if I was crying because he’s been telling me that I would need tissue ever since they began graduation practice.
His graduation was in his school’s chapel. There is bad fluorescent lighting and the only natural light comes from a stained glass window. I opted not to bring my flash because it just would have been obnoxious and we were all sitting so close together I didn’t want to blind someone. So yucky fluorescent / stained glass light it was. In situations like that I am so thankful to be able to shoot in RAW.
With your DSLR camera you have the option to shoot in JPEG or RAW (or you can shoot in both with some cameras). A JPEG is an image straight out of camera. You don’t have to do anything further to process it if you don’t want to. A RAW file is not an image… yet. You computer, rather than your camera, will have to process it to become an image. The downside to shooting RAW is that the files are much bigger (on your card and your computer) and that you do actually have to do some sort of processing to it (although the processing can be very minimal). The upside is that you will have SO much more control over how your final image looks. Over and underexposing your images can easily be fixed as well as white balance. Yes, you can do these things with a JPEG, but because RAW files are so much larger there is more data that can be processed and “fixed”.
This is what the image looked like straight out of camera. Yuck. I shot this image with my 5D Mark II and my 70-200 lens from the second row.
F 2.8, 1/125, ISO 1600
I opened the image up in Camera RAW in Photoshop (you can do this in Lightroom too, I just prefer Photoshop). All that I did was change the white balance to “auto” and all of the other settings to “auto” as well.
You can see when I do this it overexposes the image too much. So, I simple moved the exposure slider to the left a bit to bring down the exposure.
Pretty good, right? At least much better than what I started out with.
With another simple color balance adjustment in Photoshop and running one of my own actions to make it pop a bit, here is my final result.
I like enjoying these moments and not worrying about getting the “perfect” shot. I’m glad I have these pictures, but my memory of this day will always be better than these shots. At all of his other graduations I will always think back to this one. His very first graudation. And I will remember the tastle in front of his face that he wouldn’t move because his teachers told the kids not to play with them. I will remember how well he said his bible verse and how excited he was to perform. I will remember the smile on his face when he saw us in the audience. And I will remember how when I tucked him into bed that night he said to me, “Mom, things are going to change. I’m a kindergartner now”.
“If your pictures aren’t good enough, you are not close enough.” Robert Capa
When I first became a photographer, I realized that many of my photographs were wider shots. I liked adding elements of the environment to tell the story, but I was lacking a sense of intimacy in my images. My subjects were getting lost. I then discovered my love for prime lenses. Prime lenses have a fixed focal length and do not zoom in or out. You become the zoom. If you want to get closer to your subjects, you are forced to step closer — and, in turn, interact with them. When you interact with your subjects, you can capture more emotions.
Whenever possible, I always zoom with my feet rather than my lens. My favorite prime lens is the 50mm 1.2. With this lens, I am able to get close to my subjects without getting any distortion from a wider lens, such as the 28mm. Shooting close also eliminates distractions from your image. Sometimes adding in natural elements to the image can be a good thing, but there are times when you want to focus solely on your subject. Filling the frame with your subject lets new details come into play, and it leaves no doubt about the intended subject of the photograph.
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I was browsing through Brayden’s pictures. Looking at pictures from when he was about Kennedy’s age. I see more similarities in their appearance now. I see similar looks and smiles. But, at 20ish months I thought Brayden was so old. He did so much more than Kennedy. He was so much more independent and focused. I let him finger paint. I let him take my point and shoot into the backyard to take pictures. I let him help me bake. These are things that I haven’t even thought to let Kennedy do. Because she’s the BABY. She’s too young to do those things. She’s not old enough.
She is going to be two in just two months. Maybe it’s time to bring the finger paints out. And realize that she’s not such a baby anymore.
Love this shot of Brayden. It reminds me so much of a face Kennedy would make.
Canon 5D, 50 1.2
F 2.0, 1/1250, ISO 125
Brayden attended a birthday party a month ago and received a thank you card with a picture of all the kids that attended the party. He was so excited about that picture. He held onto it so tight and said, “Wow, my very own picture!”. I was so confused. There are pictures of him all over the entire house. Big pictures of him on every wall. When I asked him about it he said he’s never had his own picture before. That made me sad. I have hundreds of pictures, but he never sees them because they are boxed up and out of reach from grabby baby hands.
I made Brayden (and Kennedy too) a keepsake box from Mpix last year. I put ticket stubs, pictures, and little trinkets in it. I pulled it down from Brayden’s shelf so he can now reach it and look at it whenever he wants. It’s his own little treasure box. You can of course use a shoe box as well, but the Mpix boxes are way cuter.
By having his own little box of pictures he feels like the memories are his too. I love that. Because that is why I do what I do. That is why I document their lives. For me and for them.