Tag Archives: technical

Ballet Magic

St Louis Photography

Shari Photography

Shari Photography Ballet.

Beyond the fact that Michelle is an amazing dancer, this is a studio portrait using seamless white photography.  I love this style because it bring the focus on  the subject as the background is blown out to pure white.

To make the effect work you need white background. But that is not enough.  A pure white background can be made grey or black just by moving the lights away from the background.  Move the light away from a white surface and it will turn grey and eventually black.

To blow out the white, you need 2 strobes firing at the backdrop while a third light is on the subject from the front.  The front is usually a softbox.

The subject needs to be placed enough distance from the backdrop or the light bouncing from the backdrop with spill on her and over expose her.  This is the most challenging part of the shoot-  keeping the backlight off her.

I try to meter the back drop for f11 and the subject for f8.  That 2:1 ratio works pretty well.

You can tell Michele is exposed correctly because her skin tones are warm.  If you want to see what happens if you let the background light spill on her look at the arm behind her.  You can see it is overexposed.

As I add a photo booth to our wedding packages, seamless white is the option I think will work best for our clients.


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Shoes are Important

Shoes Wedding St Louis Photography

Shari Photography

Shoes Wedding

Wedding photographers St Louis

Detail Photography and Shoes.

The Shoes are important.  They are an essential part of the planning and preparation for many brides as they develop  their day.

After the Dress, shoes are the 2nd most thought over item for the bride.  The items become an extension of their personality and link to their dress.

As a result, you need to photograph them.  Like so much of the detail shots, they can be pictured in so many different ways.

My favorite, as you will know if you skim the  blog, is to photograph them in a clean and simple way.  I’ll use a shallow depth of field –  say f2-f4 and create a lovely blurr.

The above images were layered in photoshop by Randy Kriewall-  an amazing photographer in St Louis.

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Simple is Beautiful

Simple Flowers Wedding Photography

St louis Wedding Photography

Simple is almost always better.

Simple means creating an image that has a single focus and  not cluttered. It has a much more appealing look than an image that has too much activity through the boundaries.  Keeping it simple is actually …simple.

Single focus does not mean 1 solitary item.  A large group portrait is a single item. The rings are a single item.  In many cases, a photograph will have more purpose when it has an obvious simple focus.

Related to this is the “stuff” in the picture.  A photograph will almost always look better when it is not busy.  I always try to clear the edges and background of the image of clutter.  This means physically moving items if possible, or cropping in tight with the camera.

Word to the wise-  always crop in camera and not in Lightroom whenever possible.  It will save you hours.

For background, the easiest way to reduce the clutter is to shoot at F4 or higher like f2.8.  Doing so will blur the background.  How much blurriness will depend on the much you open the lens.

Simple and clutter free is a great strategy.





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What’s in My Camera Bag?

canon-eos-5d-mark-iii-jjc-1I have received a few requests to describe what I have in my camera bag.

So much of it depends on what I will photograph that day-  Seniors, Weddings, Family Portraits,  etc…

One area I will not waver on is the  use of the best camera and  lenses.  The Canon  L lens series do make a huge difference to image quality.  There is no substitution.  For example, there is about $1200 difference between the 50mm 1.2 and 1.8.  While the extra light I can get from the 1.2 is amazing, it is the the sharpness, contrast, and saturation qualities the 1.2 delivers that is spectacular and noticeable.

How much do they each cost?  An average L lens is $1500 in cost.

This is my gear for a Wedding:

Camera Bodies-

Canon 5D Mark 3

Canon 5D Mark 2

Lenses-                                      Fashes-

50mm 1.2 L                                  600 Speedlight

85mm 1.4 L                                  2 580 speedlights

17-24 2.8 L                                   Triggers-

24-70 2.8 L                                  Pocketwizard Mini and Flex. I can fit it all into 1 bag!

70-200 2.8 mk2 L

100mm 2.8 L

My backups include the Canon 1D Mk4 and Canon 5D with Alien Bee strobes.


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Let’s Flash!

Couple Photography

St Louis Photographer

Flash Photography in Weddings.

Using an off camera flash with a receiver and transmitter is a great way to take pictures that pop off the page.  Otherwise flat images suddenly have density to them and there is a sparkle in the eyes because of the catch lights created by the flash.

I use a Canon 600 Speedlite and PocketWizard Mini TT1 and the Flex TT5 to trigger the flashes remotely.  Both units are very easy to use.  I usually carry a light weight light stand and have the flash and TT5 already mounted.  That way I can move the flash to where I want it.

My three favorite spots are-  rim or hair light on the bride by placing the flash to the side, backlight with the flash behind the couple, and finally flash in front and to the side for catch lights.

It takes a little practice and knowledge of how aperture and ISO affect the exposure.  But the results are well worth it.

In this example, the flash is behind the couple, mostly on the brides head.  If you angle the light correctly, then the light will catch the veil.

A common error is to dump too much light on the initial flash.  Don’t panic-  think about how to reduce the amount of light.

The easiest way is to allow les light into the camera- so close down the aperture.  If you are at f.4 and you have too much light-  go to f8 or 11.

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Details Details Details


St louis Photography

Ring retail

Missouri Photography


Saint Louis Photography

Detail shots at weddings are a great way to express the creative side of a photographer.  Some of these were taken by my good friend Randy Kriewall of Kriewall Photography in  St Louis. Together we photograph weddings and have a great time doing them.  We push each other to be creative and sensible!

A typical lens for the details is the 100mm f2.8 L Macro.  It has the ability to focus on an edge for an extreme close shot.  The possibilities for being creative is immense.  We can focus and fill the frame on 1 stone of a ring.

Even more fun is because o the shallow depth of field of a 100 mm 2.8, we can create all sorts of yummy distortions with the background.

With rings and flowers I try to isolate a feature of the object instead of trying to grab the whole object.  I also try to either backlight the object or in most cases use an off camera flash to fill from the front.  It creates a lovely glow.


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Engagement Kiss that Never Happens


St Louis Photgrapher

Engagement Photography St Louis.

What type  of couples pictures do I like to do during engagement sets? What vision do I bring?

I really never know until I start working with the couple.  It usually takes me 10-15 mins of chatting, photographing, and just getting to know the clients a little before I can decide on a creative direction.  But one shot I always try to work in is the kiss that never happens.

If I think the couple is up for it and we are at a point in the session where we are all in the groove, I start posing tight shots.  These are real physical type poses with hands gently placed around  the face, neck, or back and bodies pressing into each other.  I want the couple to make a lot of eye contact with each other and hardly ever look at the camera.  With their lips being so close together, they have a tendency to want to kiss and giggle.

Well I don’t let them.

With lips inches from each other, and eyes looking deep into each others,  we can create  wonderful tension in these images.  You can actually feel electricity between them.  This is why they fell in  love in the first place-  real passion  and excitement about the man or woman in your arms.

As a photographer you really need a level of confidence to not only read the couple but pose them in tight shots.  If they feel comfortable with you, and trust you then incredible photographs are possible.


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Power of a 1.2L Headshot

Power Headshot

Shari Photography St louis

Power of a 1.2L Headshot

The awesome 85mm 1.2 L by Canon can makes you do crazy things!

What does a 1.2 do…  I can focus on an eye lash and make the rest of the face gently blur away.  The key word here is gently.  It’s like a buttery dissolving drift.  You cannot do this with a f1.8 and forget about the 2.8.  The more wide you can go with the aperture the more intense the blur-  embrace the blur.

And what happens to eye lash?  It is sharp.

The lens is heavy and costs a fortune but it is the classic portrait focal length.  The 100mm is also pretty perfect for the focal length, but I prefer the 85.

In a wedding, it is worth it.  I use it as the bride is getting ready.  It has a long enough focal range so as to not get freaked with a lens in her face like the 50mm.

A truly lovely lens.  It is very expensive, bu the image quality makes up for it!

Canon 5D MK2

85mm 1.2 L

1.4 1/125 ISO 800


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Dead Space is Good Space


St Louis Wedding Photography

When an artist leaves a large section of the canvas open or clear it is classed dead space.  Not an very attractive term but the effect it creates is fantastic- if done correctly.

It adds tension and an imbalance to the image which is attractive to look at.

The space created needs to be about 1/3 of the canvas or image space.  It can be filled with a minimal amount of objects- in this case a tree or sky.

The key is to place the focus of the image on a third line-  or where the lines of an intersecting thirds meet.  If you don’t do this the image looses all purpose because the viewer  has no idea where to look.

In this case the focus is on the couple.  They bare positioned lower left third.  This is where the eyes begin looking and they move to the open bright space in the upper corner.

Using dead  adds a lovely fine art feel to an image.

Canon 5 D Mk 3

50 mm 1.2 L

f 4.5 1/800  ISO 400

exp com + 1/3


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Face it – or not-



Do you need to see a face in every shot? Photographing anything but the face


In fact there can be more drama when the faces are not shown at all.  It creates a story in the mind of the viewer-  what is going on?  what are they looking at?

Some art critics call it “tension in the field” when the viewer is forced to face an unknown moment in the image.

Part of the allure of not seeing a pair of eyes, is he idea you cannot understand the emotions being expressed.  So as a viewer you look to the body language clues to put the pieces together.  We are such a social species we just gotta know what they are thinking.

In this image- it’s the gentle way the smaller child has her hand on her cousins back.  This is what makes it so special.  It’s also the way her head is slightly tilted.  The whole image conveys a lovely relationship –  and all without a pair of beaning eyes.

Each wedding or portrait shot I am a part of includes me looking for those candid back shots.  They can be amazing when you get it just right.

Canon 5D Mk3

50mm 1.4 L

f 4 1/500 ISO 400


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