Family Portrait at Carpinteria Bluffs

A couple of weeks ago I made some portraits for this family at the Bluffs in Carpinteria, California. This is a local park and beach area that has beautiful views, gorgeous wildflowers, and a really rocky cliff-lined beach. I’ve taken images of my own family there before, just on outings to see the seal sanctuary (more on that below). But I’ve never had the opportunity to take some other family’s portraits there. So this was an exciting first!

Unfortunately, one of my client’s sons couldn’t make it that day for the portrait session. But as you can see, we’ve included him in the session anyway (first image below).

We wandered around the meadow atop the bluffs for awhile, mixing it up with intentional posing as well as candids. Then as the sun started heading toward the horizon, we headed down toward the beach. We had great light, a wonderful sunset, and a lot of fun too! Can’t beat that!

The seal sanctuary I mentioned above is an area of this beach that the seals come back to every year, to birth their pups. The area is closed during that time, but fortunately we were headed in the other direction. If you ever get to Carpinteria during seal-baby season, it’s definitely worth a look! You can stand at the top of the cliff and see all the seals lying on the beach, with their babies.

Technical stuff: This session was shot entirely on the new Kodak Portra 160 film, in both medium and 35mm formats. I used my Bronica ETR-s with 75mm f/2.8 lens, and my Nikon F5 with a 50mm f/1.4 lens. I really enjoy the cool lens flares that result from the Bronica when shooting into the sun!

For the image of the three on the rock in front of the ocean, I used strobes to give the image a little punch. Since it was windy, I didn’t bother using any umbrellas. Instead, I took an incident-meter reading at their position, aiming back toward the camera. I set my exposure to that, and then set my main strobe (camera right) to that aperture as well. I had a fill strobe at camera position, one stop down from the main light. With the ambient so high, the strobe light is pretty subtle and doesn’t look so “flashed”. Even though I was using two ‘hard’ strobes with no modifiers.



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