Afternoon in the Park (client session)

When you have a pretty dress you wore to a wedding, why not get the most use out of it? That’s just what the mother of this little girl did, by scheduling a portrait session with me. That flower-girl dress can finally be the center of attention…and so can the flower girl! To accessorize for this, I arranged for a simple and beautiful bouquet of sunflowers from Shell’s Petals in Ventura, created by Michelle “Shell” Hirrel.

We decided on Foster Park for our portrait session, because mom wanted something green and woodsy, rather than the beach. I knew that this park had some very high hills to the west, so I went out a few days before to determine the right time in the afternoon for our shoot. Too early, and the sun would be harsh. Too late, and the sun would dip behind the hills and we’d be in complete shade. Using a couple of very cool apps on my iPhone, I was able to determine the time the sun would dip below the hilltop, and scheduled us for an hour beforehand. Ah, modern technology!

And at the end of this post, you can read about the not-so-modern technology I used to capture these images.

The girl’s mom wanted a ‘formal portrait’ of sorts, but something that also acknowledged her daughter’s free-spirited ways. So the first image you see here was made using my Mamiya RB67 6×7 medium format camera, with a 90mm f/3.5 lens. I had a Metz Mecablitz 60 flash to camera left as the main light, which was bounced into a 43″ umbrella (held up by grandma, as it was windy!). I also had an SB-28 in a LumiQuest SoftBox III as a fill light, just to one side of the camera lens. Both strobes were triggered using Paul Buff CyberSync radio triggers.

I metered the ambient, using a spot meter, so that the shadow side of the tree would be 2 stops down from nominal. Then I dialed in the main light at nominal and the fill light 1 stop down. I’ve done some work on the first image, to bring down the background a little more and give the little girl some ‘pop’. All color film throughout was Kodak Portra 400.

The remaining color images were shot on my Mamiya 645AF and an 80mm f/2.8 lens, using available light. The black and white images were shot on my Nikon F5, using a 50mm f/1.4 lens and Fuji Acros ISO 100 film.



10 thoughts on “Afternoon in the Park (client session)

  1. Okay, I’m partial because I know the subject very well (she’s my niece) but I think you did an excellent job of capturing her spirit! These shots have whimsy – a formal portrait session in an informal setting. I can’t wait to look at the rest of your work.

  2. Well, I’m partial too because I know the family and have seen this little one grow up – AND she’s beautiful all on her own. But the camera play with light, “filters” and shadows make her gorgeous! I think these might be better than my wedding pics! Great job!

  3. I recently found your blog, I love checking back to see if you’ve posted something new. I am a film lover myself but haven’t made the leap to shooting all my client sessions with it. I love that you post some of the technical info, it takes some of the fear away for me. Thanks!

  4. Lovely photos! I’m an aspiring wedding photographer and I found your photos to be very inspiring. I wish I could capture wedding moments like that. Thanks!

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