We’re going to be moving in the next two weeks, so posting will be much more sporadic until April.  In the meantime, enjoy this sneak peek of the roof of our new house…


There are two uses for “freelensing“: tilt-shift and macro photography.  I’ll devote a post on another day to my tilt-shift photos.  Today is all about macro.  I wanted to do a series of photos of my baby that focused more on the details.  So I got my old 24mm prime lens out, held it just slightly away from the camera body, and got in close.

Focusing is a little bit tricky.  You just have to play around until you find something good.  I’d love to be able to give more specifics, but this is one of those techniques where you just have to go out and play.

Here are some of the photos and a non-freelensing one of baby knees (you’re welcome):

These were all taken while strolling around Granada, Nicaragua.  This is a fantastic place to take portraits of people in front of really vibrant walls.

I got this idea while stuck inside with the baby one day.  I stuck my camera up on a tripod and, without thinking it out too much, ran around the room posing my baby in various precarious positions.  At the last moment I decided to stick myself in, too.  Then I imported all the photos into Photoshop, erased around the edges of all the babies and their shadows, and came up with this:

When I look at it now, I can’t help thinking “I should have added a baby stuck in the mail slot.”

So once I got my test shot done, I went to work planning the second one (the photo above).  This time I had even more fun making the baby do silly things (like climb the tree).  If you’d like to make a composition of multiples like the ones above, I recommend this advice:

  1. Set your camera on a tripod.
  2. Set your camera to a manual setting and figure out your exposure and focus (you don’t want these things to change as you take all your pictures).
  3. Use a remote to take your pictures.
  4. Take a control picture without anything in the shot to use as your background layer in Photoshop.
  5. Be careful when placing a baby (or animal, or inanimate object, or whatever…) that you don’t cross in front of it in any way.  If you need to prop the baby up, keep your hand entirely behind the baby’s body.
  6. (This one can be tricky) Don’t cast any shadows onto the subject and don’t interfere with the subject’s shadow.
  7. When you are erasing around the subject, be sure to leave in the shadows.  You want the subject to appear like it is actually in the photo, not comped in.

And that’s it!  I also recommend coming up with ways for your subject to interact with itself.  For example, I took a photo of my baby hovering over a spot where I took another photo of my baby and put them together in a way that makes it look like he is riding on his own shoulders.  Sometimes I had to be creative, too.  He didn’t really climb the tree, so I had to take two photos (one of me holding him from the bottom, and one of me holding him from the top) and stitch them together.

If you make a photo like this, please share!

If you look at this photo of my husband and my cat (looking like a badass crime fighting duo), you might think there are multiple sources of light: a rim light, some fill, a key light.  There weren’t; it was all done with ONE flash.  I took this photo as part of the series of tutorials at Strobist.  I set my camera up on a tripod outside in the dark and set my shutter speed to a manual setting.  I used my remote to take the shot and then, while the shutter was still open, ran around flashing things.  The final exposure time ended up being 82.2 seconds!  I was very careful to point the flash away from myself and not block the light, so you never see me in the picture.  It was also really important for my subject to sit very still during this time.  My cat had trouble with this, as evidenced by the ghosting effect around her head.

The best part of this technique is that you can choose what things you want lit in your shot and it ends up looking like you have a bunch of carefully placed spotlights.  I also love the dramatic rim lights you can get on your subject by facing the flash towards the camera behind your subject.  It’s a LOT of fun.  A similar effect can be achieved for people without a detachable flash by using a flashlight and “painting” in the light where you want it.

You can check out some other examples using this technique here.

I can say, without a doubt, that the most beautiful sunsets in the world occur in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua.  I didn’t even have to do any post work on this shot, it was that perfect.  I think it has something to do with the direction the bay faces and the tropical clouds that gather.  I was also lucky that someone came running through the water at just the right moment. It adds a small, human element to the picture.  Just seeing that kid running carefree through that golden light makes me feel very happy.

Here are some more shots of sunsets I took during that same trip:

Sometimes, the only way to get a good shot is to take multiple exposures and stitch them together.  That was the case here, since I wanted to take a picture looking directly into the sun.  I like how it made the picture look moody and desolate.  I thought about bringing up the exposure a bit, but a part of me really enjoys the picture being both sunny and dark.

I took this shot in Nicaragua, during our honeymoon in 2008.  It was a surf spot on the Pacific coast, in the very south of the country.  We were staying at an eco-lodge that had provided us with a driver.  The driver hung out and waited for us the entire time that we spent at the beach.  In Nicaragua, for the cost of a taxi ride in New York, you can have your own personal driver for most of the day.