Thursday, September 23, 2010

Terms of engagement


I had the chance to shoot an engagement session recently in the historic town square of Woodstock, Illinois. The one that was used in the movie Groundhog Day to recreate Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.

It was an intimate session. Just Katie, her fiance Brent, my wife as an assistant and 200 partygoers crammed into the square for a late summer festival of some sort. The soiree was not listed on the square's upcoming events on the town web site. Ah, well. So much for recreating Bill Murray/Andie MacDowell dancing in the gazebo.

We made do. We hung around the outskirts of the square and I used clever angles and the occasional Photoshop clone tool to hide anyone who wandered into the background.

I love shooting late day portraits. I love shooting early morning, too, but haven't been able to interest too many clients in getting up before sunrise to get to a location. The low sun in the sky offers a whole lot of lighting possibilities that don't exist midday.

The picture above was lit with a single speedlight with a shoot-through umbrella to compensate for having the sun behind the subjects.

More pictures from this session can be found on my Facebook photography page.

Photograph © 2010 James Jordan.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010



Amy Rose discovered my photographs on this blog awhile back. She started following my work here and on Flickr. When it came time to select a photographer for her wedding, she had a short list. Last May, we got together in a Starbucks and talked about what she was looking for in her wedding pictures. "We love your landscapes. If you could shoot our wedding the same way, we'd be thrilled."

She even chose a wedding venue that would be condusive to landscape photography -- the Wedding Canyon in White Pines State Park near Oregon, Illinois. Walls of exposed rock layers rise up to twenty feet above a beautifully landscaped floor of grass, trees, ponds and rocks.


I shoot landscapes with an eye for the light. Where is it coming from? What is it doing? Can I add some light of my own and have it make sense? I look for shapes and colors that I can work into interesting compositions. Then I go for contrast and colors in the exposures. Which is exactly what I did on Amy Rose and James' wedding day.


And had a blast doing it.

Photographs © 2010 James Jordan.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Storm is over

Storm is over

Drove through a very heavy thunderstorm on the way home from Wisconsin on Labor Day. Torrential rain, lots of lightning. As my wife and I approached Port Washington, the rains lightened as the tempest headed out over Lake Michigan. We drove to the Port Washington harbor to see what we could see.

What we saw, just for a few moments, was the sun breaking through the clouds and casting rays over the harbor. Some large drops of rain were still falling as I fired off a half dozen shots. The tricky thing about this kind of shot is to make sure you've exposed properly, otherwise, you get blown out areas of pure white, and nothing in post processing can adequately fix those. I'd fire a shot, take a peek at the image's histogram and note with dismay the large areas of pure white, make an adjustment, meter on a bright but not too bright area of the scene and fire again, all the while hoping the magical view stuck around until I got it right.

Number six was the charm. And then the scene disappeared.

In post processing, where I only adjusted levels, I noticed that the dark areas of the image were riddled with small white spots. I thought to myself that I must have done something to mess up the camera's sensor while changing lenses in the rain. Great. I checked other images taken after this scene, and strangely enough, the spots weren't there. What was up?

It was only after I had meticulouly removed each and every white spot that I concluded that the spots were backlit drops of rain. Oh.

Maybe I should have left them in.

Photograph © 2010 James Jordan.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Back again for now

Sheboygan Falls

Some people are beginning to wonder where I went off to. The posting here has been slow to say the least. I've been right here where I've always been, but growing increasingly busy -- when you're trying to make a living as a freelance photographer, busy is a good thing. The only problem is that when you're busy, you wind up making nearly all of your pictures for someone else. Since I haven't had much of a chance to make pictures for myself, the frequency of new images appearing here has suffered.

I had a chance to get out and make some pictures for myself over the Labor Day weekend, so at least for a couple of weeks there will be fresh stuff to see here. It will definitely be a hodgepodge of stuff -- nature, people, landscapes.

Today's picture is a quickie. For years I've driven up to Door County, Wisconsin and back and each way, I'd pass a sign for Sheboygan Falls. And I'd always wonder if Sheboygan Falls had a waterfall. It does. Quite a few, in fact. The photo above is of the top of a series of cascades that cut through the town.

I was passing through the town on the way to somewhere else and stopped by the falls. I wanted to use a slow shutter speed to blur the water, but didn't have a tripod with me. So I jammed the camera against a railing and experimented with shutter speeds. One-quarter seemed to do the trick. I would have preferred one-half second or longer, but I couldn't get that long of an exposure without showing some camera shake.

Just a hint of fall color in the trees. We've made the turn into September and the turn of autumn is not far off.

By the way, if I'm not here, you might be able to see some of my most recent work appear on Flickr and my Facebook photography page.

Photograph © 2010 James Jordan.