How To: Christmas family photo where everyone will look great – Even pets!

Christmas Family Photo [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm ƒ/4, ISO 400, ƒ/8, 1/200 – (2) Godox V860IIN + Godox X1NT with MAGMOD MagSphere]

This is a family photo we did this year of our family with my wife’s family. One of our son’s couldn’t be there and had to work with a new job.

To get this final photo required me to be behind the camera saying “Do you want a treat?” to get the three dogs in the middle to look at the camera.

Photo without me

So this is actually the photo I took with me behind the camera.

Photo with me but the dogs not paying attention

Here are the steps to then add me into the photo with dogs looking the best.

Open photo with me in photo shop. Open the second photo in photo shop with dogs looking best. Select all and copy the photo of dogs best.

Go to the photo with me in it and paste the other photo on top of it.

You will now have two layers. the top will be the one with dogs looking best and I am not in the photo. See the copy of PhotoShop screen grab.

Now we need to create a mask. Down below the layers click on the mask.

It will now look like what I have screen grabbed here for you. Be sure the brackets are around the mask (white box) and that it is the top photo, which is the one without me. We are going to use the eraser and now erase the empty chair and reveal me.

You just need to brush me in. See the photo of the tools here. Pick the eraser. It has box around it.

Next be sure the foreground color is black and on top. This will let you erase me.

Now if you make a mistake you can then click so that the white is on top and use the same brush and brush back the photo on top.

 As you brush you can see in the mask that what you brush over becomes black.

Now when we I finished and showed the photo they wanted the small dog on the far left to look at the camera as well. So I looked for a photo of the small dog looking great.

So I found this photo and then using the same technique brushed in the dog.

Here the tips you need to follow to make this work.

First put the camera on a sturdy tripod. You want to lock down the composition so that nothing changes.

Second do not change the zoom if you are using one.

Third if you are in the photo use the timer or use a remote to fire the camera. I had left my remote so I set the camera timer to 10 seconds.

Fourth, be sure you have good lighting on everyone. For this photo I used two Godox V860IIN + Godox X1NT with MAGMOD MagSphere. Here is what the setup looked like:

Breaking Tradition to experience Christmas in Sparta, New Jersey

Christmas in Sparta, New Jersey. [Fujifilm X-E3, 18-55mm, ISO 12800, ƒ/4, 1/60]

We are celebrating Christmas in Sparta, New Jersey, this year. This is my wife’s hometown.

She hasn’t been home to celebrate Christmas since 1985. We have spent many years together with my family in North Carolina.

A family photo with Santa is my sister-in-law’s family tradition. [Fujifilm X-E3, 18-55mm, ISO 1250, ƒ/3.6, 1/100]

Joey is my brother-in-law, and while eating dinner, he realized my family’s traditions might be different, and he asked me what we did for family traditions at Christmas.

What I am really excited about is that our family is willing to do something different to be part of our family we haven’t had as much time with this year.

Santa is watching me at breakfast and holding his naughty or nice list. [Fujifilm X-E3, 18-55mm, ISO 51200, ƒ/4, 1/4000]

Just seeing the decorations around the house reminds me that these are new traditions for us to be exposed to.

Dorie and I went to see The Man Who Invented Christmas earlier this year. The movie is the journey that led to Charles Dickens’ creation of “A Christmas Carol,” a timeless tale that would redefine the holiday.

While you may have some excellent traditions for your family at Christmas, ask others about their habits and why they do them. Maybe you will also learn to redefine the holiday for your family this year.

Maybe the process will bring you closer to Christ, whom this holiday is about.

Only the humble believe him and rejoice that God is so free and so marvelous that he does wonders where people despair, that he takes what is little and lowly and makes it marvelous. And that is the wonder of all wonders, that God loves the lowly…. God is not ashamed of the lowliness of human beings. God marches right in. He chooses people as his instruments and performs his wonders where one would least expect them. God is near to lowliness; he loves the lost, the neglected, the unseemly, the excluded, the weak and broken.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas

Over the digital learning curve and on a plateau

First Snow for Winter 2017 in Roswell, Georgia. Christmas Tree with our Magnolia tree in the backyard. [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm ƒ/4, ISO 400, ƒ/14, 1/40 – Godox V860IIN with MAGMOD MagSphere]

One of the biggest things to ever hit photography was the move to digital.

No matter how experienced you were in photography if you were a film shooter and went to digital, you went through the digital learning curve.

In the 1980s, I went to learn about computers. I remember learning Quicken to track my checkbook and credit cards. I used a dial-up modem to connect to the internet and go to the NPPA forums, similar to the message board; here was my first time connecting to photographers worldwide.

In the early 1990s, I experienced the learning curve for scanning film and learning PhotoShop. I kept waiting for the digital camera to surpass the film so I could jump to digital capture.

In 2002 I bought my first digital Nikon D100 camera. Just one year earlier, a similar 6-megapixel camera cost $25,000, and then I was able to buy the Nikon D100 for $1,999.

Jimmy Carter peanut Christmas Tree Ornament [Fujifilm X-E3, 18-55mm, ISO 200, ƒ/11, 6 sec]

All my colleagues and newbies to photography were all part of the digital learning curve.

I remember being told to shoot Adobe RGB, yet when I took the pictures to the local pro lab, they came out all screwed up. This is when I started learning about color space and realized the printers could read sRGB at the time, not Adobe RGB.

This was when photography workshops exploded. We all needed help to learn PhotoShop and then later Lightroom.

Other advances were also happening. Most in the industry with the film were using the hot shoe Vivitar 283, an automatic flash where you dialed the output by picking yellow or red, and if you bought the adapter, you could control it by power.

Hummel design Christmas Tree Ornament [Fujifilm X-E3, 18-55mm, ISO 200, ƒ/11, 6.5 sec]

Nikon introduced a pretty complex TTL hot shoe system that changed lighting. Again we needed workshops to learn to use them.

The web evolved from forums to delivering videos. Now you can Google almost anything on YouTube and find a video showing you how to do just about anything, including everything around photography.

This meant workshops started dropping off in attendance.

Camera stores started building online stores, which also changed the industry.

We no longer have the entire industry on the same learning curve at the same time as we did with the change from film to digital capture.

Now we are back to where we were just before the digital revolution hit. We are talking about the subject.

Wreaths Across America Day at Roswell Presbyterian Church Cemetery. [Fujifilm X-E3, 18-55mm, ISO 200, ƒ/7.1, 1/105]

Workshops are now coming full circle. We are now talking about how to make a living in this industry again, concentrating on capturing subjects and telling stories.

We are also talking about the business side—excellent customer service and how to protect yourself when working with clients.

Who do we seek out now to listen to? I am now having a more challenging time finding those “trending.” There are just so many mediums in specialties that you may not even know about some incredible photographers because we no longer have just a few publications as in the past.

We are looking for those people producing great images and want to learn from them.

What I think we want more than anything in the future is a way to find great work produced worldwide.

The problem is that most pros are scared to promote other work for fear of losing jobs. Therefore how do you find great work? I think whoever creates the new place to point us to great work is what will be the next big thing in photography.

What is an “Image Library” photo shoot?

Do you have an “image library” for your organization? What is an “image library”? It is a pool of pictures that you commission that will be used in many different ways for mainly internal and external communications. Sometimes, but rarely are they used for advertising.

Today many of those with “image libraries” are hosting these online through intranet or Internet for different departments and even the organization’s agencies to use.

Lisbon Mission Storytelling Abroad Workshop. [Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 400, ƒ/3.6, 1/800]

Previously, non-profits and educational institutions commissioned this work due to budget constraints. Still, the need to feed social media with ongoing content is becoming popular for corporations.

[Nikon D3S, 85mm ƒ/1.4, ISO 640, ƒ/1.4, 1/640]

When I shoot for an “Image Library” production, the coverage is quite broad—often looking for diversity and showing some of the operations that go on daily. We tend to have alerted departments we are coming at a particular time, and then we capture their people working. We may move them around and even have them change outfits, like asking them to put on a lab coat.

I have recommended that companies subscribe to online services like Libris by PhotoShelter. []

You can give access based on passwords or by email/password that gives you protection for your images.

Strong visuals can connect with an audience faster and more emotionally than words alone. Storytelling remains at the heart of good communication. The power of images in modern touch is irrefutable.

The approaches for doing an “Image Library” production vary widely. You can do high-production shoots back to back, where lighting and styling give you high-quality images. This tends to be where the photographer creates images rather than capturing them.

Mark Prausnitz, a chemical engineering professor from the Georgia Institute of Technology, shows the size of the experimental microneedle with 400 tiny spikes.

You can go to the other extreme, where the photographer uses little or no lighting and captures mainly what already exists in situations. You are paying for the years of experience of the photographer to capture images within a case.

Sometimes there is a mixture of high production and existing light depending on your organization’s needs.

Doing bi-annual or annual “Image Library” shoots gives your communications team images to help with the messaging you need to be doing to engage your audience.

The First Snow of Winter 2017 in Roswell, Georgia

Roswell Fire Department is monitoring a tree whose branches are in the transformer, causing some arcing from power lines. [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm ƒ/9, ISO 81275, ƒ/4, 1/100]

Just two days ago, the local television stations were predicting 1″ to 2″ of snow possible in metro Atlanta. As you see in the first photo, we had the fire department monitoring arcing of a transformer since the snow had weighted down the branches of a pine tree into it.

The First Snow of Winter 2017 in Roswell, Georgia. We have six inches in our backyard at 8 am on Saturday, December 9, 2016. [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-205mm ƒ/4, ISO 360, ƒ/4, 1/100]

This morning I woke up to 6″ on our back porch with the snow still falling.

Our Neighbor’s house was all decorated last night. [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm ƒ/9, ISO 20000, ƒ/4, 1/100]

We enjoyed looking out our back windows to see the snow. Staying warm and seeing the snow is a great way to appreciate the beauty of snow.

First Snow for Winter 2017 in Roswell, Georgia. Rhododendron in our backyard. [Nikon D5, Nikon 60mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 8000, ƒ/36, 1/50 – Godox V860IIN + Godox X1NT with MAGMOD MagSphere]00, ƒ/36, 1/25 – Godox V860IIN + Godox X1NT with MAGMOD MagSphere]

Here I was able to capture our Christmas tree, all decorated with the snow falling outside the window.

First Snow for Winter 2017 in Roswell, Georgia. [Nikon D5, Nikon 60mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 140, ƒ/4, 1/100 – Godox V860IIN + Godox X1NT with MAGMOD MagSphere]

When the snow started to fall, I went out to get some photos figuring that we were getting that 1″ they had predicted.

First Snow for Winter 2017 in Roswell, Georgia. [Nikon D5, Nikon 60mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 140, ƒ/4, 1/100 – Godox V860IIN + Godox X1NT with MAGMOD MagSphere]

I used my Godox V860IIN with the Godox X1NT to trigger the flash-off camera. On the flash, I was using the MagMod MagSphere to modify the light. This let me get a great color temperature on the leaves and flowers as I got in close.

First Snow for Winter 2017 in Roswell, Georgia. [Nikon D5, Nikon 60mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 1250, ƒ/6.3, 1/100 – Godox V860IIN + Godox X1NT with MAGMOD MagSphere]

I found it cool to see still evidence of Fall with the snow. We are still a few weeks from Winter.

First Snow for Winter 2017 in Roswell, Georgia. Magnolia tree in our backyard. [Nikon D5, Nikon 60mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 2500, ƒ/8, 1/60 – Godox V860IIN + Godox X1NT with MAGMOD MagSphere]

We are staying warm this Saturday morning and watching the snow still fall.

First Snow for Winter 2017 in Roswell, Georgia. This is one of our squirrel proof bird feeders. [Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4, ISO 125, ƒ/1.4, 1/100]

This morning I had to clear the snow off the top of the bird feeder. The snow had weighted down the top, making our squirrel-proof bird feeder now birdproof.

Our Bird Feeder during the First Snow of Winter 2017 in Roswell, Georgia. [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm ƒ/4, TC-2001, ISO 220, ƒ/4, 1/100]

This morning the snow has whited out our backyard.

Our Bird Feeder with a tufted titmouse during the First Snow of Winter 2017 in Roswell, Georgia. [Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8, TC-2001, ISO 720, ƒ/5.6, 1/500]

We are having all kinds of birds visit us.

Our Bird Feeder with a cardinal  during the First Snow of Winter 2017 in Roswell, Georgia. [Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8, TC-2001, ISO 4000, ƒ/5.6, 1/500]

Enjoying my time today with nature.

Sports Action That “POP!”

Action shot of soccer player in Oxnard, California. [Nikon D4, Nikon 14-24mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 50, ƒ/11, 1/200 – (2) Godox V860IIN + Godox X1NT]

I had a lot of fun this weekend shooting some soccer shots. This is one of my favorite images from the day.

I am lying on the ground shooting with my 14-24mm Nikon lens at 14mm. The guy landed on me once; it might have been with this photo. As Robert Capa said, “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough.” I was trying to get close to creating more impact with the photos.

[Nikon D4, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4, ISO 50, ƒ/8, 1/200 – (2) Godox V860IIN + Godox X1NT]

The first photo I took was this typical team photo. I picked a location where I had the sun directly behind them and then used two Godox V860IIN and triggered them with the Godox X1NT.

This kept them from squinting.

[Nikon D4, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4, ISO 50, ƒ/8, 1/200 – (2) Godox V860IIN + Godox X1NT]

Then I moved the players around for different poses.

Then I just got lower to make them look more like heroes.

Then I tried another pose.

When you are shooting for the art director they need choices.

I also shot some verticals as well as some action during the scrimmage.

[Nikon D5, 28-300mm, ISO 800, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000]

So everything I shot, I tried to get both verticals and horizontal shots for options.

[Nikon D5, 28-300mm, ISO 640, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000]

The problem with actual action shots during a game is the light isn’t quite as lovely as when you set something up to get that “poster” shot.

While I could have shot the photos with the two strobes on TTL, I used the manual to get consistent output. When you move to a low angle with more sky, the camera meter will want to change the flash output and the camera exposure. I tried to control it, so it was consistent.

I recommend not always shooting with TTL for your flash. It will get you in the ballpark quickly, but the beat consistency as things move isn’t as good as shooting in manual mode.