Posts tagged “San Diego

After the Storm, Pacific Beach, California

Back to Sunny and Seventy

This was shot the evening after three days of bad weather in the San Diego area. A storm brought cold, wet a dreary climate to the area, and some much-needed rainfall. It was a nice change to our usual “Sunny and Seventy” climate – some say being a Weather Forecaster here is the easiest job in the world! I again had the privilege to shoot this scene with a renowned Photographer, Jerry Denham, how again taught me all sorts of tips and tricks… Thanks Jerry! Here, we mounted a 70-200mm lens on a Nikon D7000 and used an 8 second shutter to smooth out the rough surf – it was windy, rainy and violent this day, but using this technique one can hardly tell.

Pacific Beach was developed during the boom years of 1886-1888 by D.C. Redd A. G. Gassen, Charles W. Pauley, R. A. Thomas, and O. S. Hubbell. It was Hubbell who “cleared away the grain fields, pitched a tent, mapped out the lots, hired an auctioneer and started to work”. To attract people, they built a Race Track and a San Diego College of Letters, neither of which survive today. A railway also connected Pacific Beach with downtown San Diego, and was later extended to La Jolla.

As with many California cities, the history of its development can be traced back to the completion of a cross-country railroad in the late 1880s. Lots in 1902 sold for between $350–700 for ocean-front property and by 1950, the population of Pacific Beach reached 30,000 and the average home sold for $12,000. Today, homes can sell for millions.

The Party is Over, Pacific Beach, California

Farewell, My Valentine

This was shot at Pacific beach, or PB, after Valentine’s Day. I had the opportunity to shoot with a great Photographer and super nice guy, Jerry Denham. He has tought me all sorts of tricks in his execution of his vision. We arrived in pouring rain and sought refuge under Crystal Pier. There we found another treasure trove of Photographic Goodness with the aging wood, sweeping waves, beds of kelp and …no rain. We were also visited by a group of Locals seeking shelter, who asked for a group shot…they also added fragrance to the air with some “medicinal” herbs!

Pacific Beach is a neighborhood of San Diego, bounded by La Jolla to the north, Mission Beach to the south.  While largely populated by young people, surfers, and college students, the population is becoming older, more professional, and more affluent due to rising property and rental costs. “P.B.,” as it is known as by local residents, is home to one of San Diego’s larger nightlife scenes, with dozens of bars, eateries, and clothing stores.

Pacific Beach’s namesake stretches for miles from the Mission Bay jetty to the cliffs of La Jolla. The boardwalk, officially called Ocean Front Walk/Ocean Boulevard, is a pedestrian walkway that runs approximately 3.2 miles along the beach from the end of Law St. in the north down into Mission Beach, ending at the mouth of Mission Bay in the south. There are many local shops, bars, and restaurants along the boardwalk, and it is typically crowded with pedestrians, cyclists, rollerbladers, and shoppers. Also adjacent to the boardwalk is the Crystal Pier, a public pier and hotel at the west end of Garnet Avenue.

Point Loma Rocks!

Rock On!

OK, literally…ROCKS!

We spent the afternoon with a great Photographer, Jerry Denham. He really wanted some beach shots with rocks and this is the first place that struck me. We arrived around 3 PM with harsh light to welcome us. We ventured a bit North of this location and using Neutral Density Filters on our lenses, we were able to reduce the light so much as to allow long shutter speeds….this makes waves start to look like mist! We then ventured back to our Shoot Location. Setting up, Jim goes knee-deep into the surf! Yikes! ( too)

The area officially shuts down at 4:30PM. We stuck around until 5+ PM and when very friendly Park Trooper gave us the “Lets Go”…we departed, and he also had a very fine firearm, not that he would shoot Photographers, but…we then went back up the Hill to catch the sun set at Rosecrans National Cemetary…see previous post.

Tomorrow we will introduce Jerry to the Dark and Deep Secrets of Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach!

Thanks for the kind visit!…….Kathleen and Erik

Rosecrans National Cemetary, California

To all those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our Liberties and Freedoms

We spent last Sunday afternoon with an amazing Photographer, Jerry Denham, exploring the Pt Loma Tide Pools, shooting the rock formations, trading tips and just enjoying the wonderous landscape. The weather in the morning was awful and we feared that we would have to cancel the session. Jerry had come all the way from Tennessee for a shoot (and Business Trip)! At noon things began to clear up and we had some great clouds. Hoping for a spectacular sunset, we stayed on the beach until a friendly Trooper signalled us to leave. We then returned up the hill to the cemetary hoping for that 5:30 sunset which would light up the sky and clouds. Instead it was rather gloomy, hence the tone of this picture. (We took a few liberties with post processing using High Dynamic Range techniques to try to capture both the beauty and tone of this setting and day).

Words do not describe this location, it seemingly goes on forever – this was just a small corner…no words, sorry.

Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery is situated in the city of San Diego, California, on the Fort Rosecrans Military Reservation. The cemetery is located approximately 10 miles west of downtown San Diego, overlooking the bay and the city. Fort Rosecrans is named after William Starke Rosecrans, a Union General in the American Civil War.

Fort Rosecrans became a National Cemetery on October 5, 1934. The decision to make the post cemetery part of the national system came, in part, due to changes in legislation that greatly increased the number of persons eligible for burial in a national cemetery. Grave space in San Francisco National Cemetary then grew increasingly limited. In addition, southern California was experiencing a phenomenal population growth during this period, and there was a definitive need for more burial sites.

The recent addition of concrete walls for cremated remains at Fort Rosecrans in place of old chain-link fencing has allowed thousands of WWII veterans to be interred there who otherwise would not have been able to since the cemetery was closed for new burials. There are many Monuments and Memorials, here are some:

  • The granite and bronze memorial to the USS Wasp commemorates the loss of fellow shipmates when their ship was sunk during the Battle of Guadalcanal on September 15, 1942.
  • The San Diego chapter of the Native Sons and Daughters of the Golden West installed the San Pasqual monument in 1922 to honor those soldiers who lost their lives in the 1846 Battle of San Paqual during the Mexican-American war. The monument is composed of a stone boulder with a bronze plaque mounted on it.
  • The USS Bennington Monument is a tall granite obelisk dedicated to the men who lost their lives on that ship in San Diego Harbor on July 21, 1905. The monument was dedicated on January 7, 1908.
  • The USS Ommaney Bay monument is an etched granite memorial to the men lost in action when the ship was sunk on 4 January 1945.
  • A monument dedicated to the Mormon Battalion was erected in 1998.
  • The Patriots of America memorial was dedicated in 1999 by the to honor all Americans who answered the call to arms.
  • The 3rd Infantry Division monument was dedicated on February 16, 2002. The granite memorial is dedicated to their fallen comrades.

Thanks for visiting and make sure you visit Pt Loma on your next trip to “Sunny San Diego”!

Also have a look at Jerry’s Blog and his vision of this adventure!

Flames – Harley Davidson

A Bike so hot, it's on Fire!

A continuation of our series of shots from Chicano Park in San Diego of this gorgeous Harley. Proud owner, Travis, paid special attention to the finnish of the gas tank, grinding in flames on to the surface before final clear coating and polishing. Here we tried to capture how it appears that there is an actual fire on the tank. Pretty hot I would say! Travis has taken this beauty to an annual event in Sturgis where thousands of motorcycle enthusiast and their fans gather for a week of….well, you can imagine!

Not all was once well with Harley Davidson! The “Sturgis” model, boasting a dual belt-drive, was introduced. By 1990, with the introduction of the “Fat Boy”, Harley once again became the sales leader in the heavyweight (over 750 cc) market. At the time of the Fat Boy model introduction a story rapidly spread that its silver paint job and other features were inspired by the World War II American B-29 bomber; and that the Fat Boy name was a combination of the names of the atomic bombs that were dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima respectively. However, the Urban Legends Reference Pages lists this story as an urban legend.

Details – Harley Davidson

This continues our series from Chicano Park in San Diego. Here, the Bike’s owner, Travis, wanted us to pay attention to the intricate metal work on the gas tank. You can clearly see the grinder work which was meant to resemble flames. What a gorgeous job! The polished chrome and dark shadows under the bridge to Coronado helped to bring this detail to life! We were planning another photo session there, with perhaps some more intricate lighting setups, but decided not to after our encounter with a Local Gang.

Some History:

The area was originally known as the East End, but was renamed Logan Heights in 1905. The first Mexican settlers there arrived in the 1890s, followed soon after by refugees fleeing the violence of the Mexican revolution, which began in 1910. So many Mexican immigrants and Mexican-Americans settled there that the southern portion of Logan Heights eventually became known as Barrio Logan.

The original neighborhood reached all the way to San Diego Bay, with waterfront access for the residents. This access was denied beginning with World War II, when Naval installations blocked local access to the beach. The denial of beachfront access was the initial source of the community’s resentment of the government and its agencies.

This resentment grew in the 1950s, when the area was rezoned as mixed residential and industrial. Junk dealers and repair shops moved into the Barrio, creating air pollution, loud noise, and aesthetic conditions unsuitable for a residential area. Resentment continued to grow as the barrio was cleaved in two by Interstate 5 in 1963 and was further divided in 1969 by the elevated on ramps of the San Diego Coronado Bridge.

Night Rider – Chicano Park, San Diego

Night Rider

We spent some time this weekend shooting a wonderfully polished Harley for a friend of ours, Travis. He suggested this setting after scouting the area. Chicano Park is decorated with tens of brilliantly coloured Murals composed by local Artists. Towards the end of the shoot we started to draw the attention of many of the Locals who came to marvel at Travis’s Bike and look at all the cool camera gear. Towards the end of the Session, a Gang showed up, jumped out of their huge vehicle, began blasting music, cracked open beers and were having fun. Needless to say, we beat a hasty retreat and back to the relative safety of Ramona.

Chicano Park is a 7.9 acre park located beneath the San-Diego-Coronado Bridge in Barrio Logan, a predominantly Mexican American-immigrant community in central San Diego. The park is home to the country’s largest collection of outdoor Murals (67), as well as various sculptures. earthworks, and an architectural piece dedicated to the cultural heritage of the community. For the magnitude and historical significance of the murals, the park was designated an official historic site by the San Diego Historical Site Board in 1980, and its murals were officially recognized as public art by the San Diego Public Advisory Board in 1987.

There is currently a movement to have the park listed on the National Register of Historic Places due to its association with the Chicano civil rights movement. Chicano Park, like Berkeley’s People Park, was the result of a militant (but nonviolent) people’s land takeover. Every year on April 22 (or the nearest Saturday), the community celebrates the anniversary of the park’s takeover with a celebration called Chicano Park Day.

Boudoir Part 8 : Complex Light

This behind the scenes shot demonstrates the gear involved with a shoot. Here we wanted to conserve the Rembrandt Light on our model and get High Key Back Light. The concept was to get a bit Hollywood into the shot – like Runway Photographers. The background flare comes from a bank of portable Speedlights. The main light is from a large soft box. To get the Rembrandt Lighting one only needs to direct the model’s nose position to look to or away from the light. Here is a shot of the setup.

Studio set ups do not need to be expensive or overly complex. One does not need to invest hundreds of dollars for Nikon or Cannon TTL Sppedlights – you can buy older models for a fraction of the price and not have to worry about when you drop them. We have broken several expensive Nikon SB600 Speedlights through incidental damage. An old Vivitar does the job just as well. The only other tools one needs is some light stands, perhaps a few light modifiers like umbrellas and most importantly, radio triggers to control the lights. If you shop around, all of this gear is really not that expensive.

The fun part is learning how all of this works with your camera, lots of trial and error and learning to see the light.

Thanks for the visit to our Blog – we really appreciate it!

Total Transformation- Our own Biggest Loser!

It was October of 2010 when we were asked to take photos of a beautiful family here in San Diego at Sunset Beach.  The beach had a very special meaning for the couple and the photos turned out beautifully.  The couple also renewed their vows a couple of weeks later in a beautiful ceremony and life was happy for the family.

Now because we are very close to the bride, we know that shortly after the renewing of the vows- she decided she needed to make a change in order to be happy with herself and show her son what a healthy lifestyle is all about.  The results were that at the model shoot the first week in November 2011 at our studio- she was not only beaming and still a knock out- but she was also 75 pounds lighter!

This is a challenge to all of us- even to me who after she met her 75 pound goal- decided it was time I took hold of my life & health as well.  It is a very long hard road to lose this amount of weight and this is a tribute to her and all of the hard work she put in to it.  I watched her week in & week out- and I know just how determined & how much will power she had to have.

Congrats my dear friend- you are rocking it- and you are just such a picture of happiness!!


Glamour: A Practice Shoot

We spent the afternoon in San Diego’s Pro-Am Studios practicing High Key Lighting. The idea is to flood a white backdrop with lights and illuminate the Model from left and right 45 degrees. The Camera is then adjusted for a slightly over exposed shot. This gives a washed out look which is, in some well executed images, quite flattering. We found coming into someone else’s Studio and adapting to their concept of lighting to be challenging. We like to be able to control all aspects of light right down to subtle minutia, including props, angles, poses.

We also like to have a High Definition Monitor hooked to the camera so that both the Model and the Photographer can immediately see the image and mutually adjust poses, lighting and camera settings. This makes the shoot a joint effort. It was a bit frustrating to have the Instructor start shooting and directing the Shoot – we paid for it after all (She is a super nice person, BTW). We were spending time to learn about High Key Shooting.

Our expectation was that the session would begin with concept pictures, how lights would be set up to achieve the concepts, followed by some time with our wonderful Model. Then, a review of the results, corrections and critique. After that we could refine our techniques and arrive at the expected results. Being and Engineer (Erik), he is very analytical about all aspects of Light and The Art of Photography. That is why we love and hate these sessions. The Studio Owners set up the Lighting and let folks snap away, however for seasoned Photographers, perhaps this is not really optimal. Our Visions clashed many times. We still did manage to get some great images if Dinah and would love to work with her again in some other setting.

Thanks for the kind visit to our humble blog. Kathleen and Erik

Boudoir Part 4: Implied Nude

We have shot several sessions with Professional Models in a Studio Setting and found that nude is truly challenging. To give credit to the models, they are typically in fine form, but tuning in posed and lighting to get the best representation of their full form takes years of practice. Glamour Photography allows the photographer to use props to enhance the image and bring some mystique into the story. Here, the use of a simple rd towel implies that our model is disrobed – perhaps yes, perhaps no, but this does not matter. This helps both photographer and model to be more comfortable and allows both to concentrate on what is truly important – the character of the shot and the emotion of the model. Now a bit about this Genre and some History!

Glamour photography is a genre of photography whereby the subjects, usually female, are portrayed in a Romantic or sexually alluring way. The subjects may be fully clothed or semi-nude, but Glamour Photography clearly stops short of ‘Playboy-Type” shots.

While there is some overlap in the time periods, the term glamour photography did not begin to be commonly applied to such photography until the 1960s. Before then, the term erotic photography was more commonly used. Early types of this kind of modeling were often associated with “French postcards”, small post card sized images, that were sold by street vendors in France. In the early 1900s the PinUp became popular and depicted scantily dressed women often in a playful pose seemingly surprised or startled by the viewer. The subject would usually have an expression of delight which seemed to invite the viewer to come and play. Betty Grable was one of the most famous pinup models of all time; her PinUp in a bathing suit was extremely popular with World War II  soldiers.

In December 1953,  Marilyn Munroe was featured in the first issue of  Playboy magazine.  Bettie Page was the Playmate of the Month in January 1955. Playboy was the first magazine featuring  nude glamour photography targeted at the mainstream consumer. We will stick to Glamour, much more suggestive and comfortable for all!

Boudoir Part 3

This is continuing our series from a Boudoir Photo Session which was conducted at our Studio in California. Here we set up our model with a fresh white men’s shirt which is set off against a black background. We used a bit of elevation on the composition for some added dimension. The lighting is just a bit less dramatic than Rembrandt (you may recall a previous post). If you look carefully at the model’s eyes you can reverse engineer the lighting setup very quickly. Here you can see a large rectangular soft box at about 45 degrees to the left, and also a smaller and much less bright fill light at about 45 to the right. Sometime edge lights are used to sharpen and highlight the model’s frame. Often a hair light is used to accentuate the hair from behind, but this was not the effect that we were looking for.

Studio lighting tends to use one, two, three or four lights, with reflectors and other light modifiers, and is generally done with studio strobes rather than continuous. For a studio lighting setup, you need the lights, the relevant stands and light modifiers, something to trigger them, reflectors, and a backdrop of some kind.  You will need to set the camera to manual exposure, because all automatic exposure modes will measure the ambient light and not the flash. You should set the shutter speed to your camera’s maximum synch speed. You can then adjust your lighting by their intensity, distance to the model and by your camera’s aperture setting. Having a flash meter is very helpful to dial in a setup.

There are four basic reasons for using lights, and, in order of importance, they are:

  1. To give enough illumination to the subject that you can capture all the details within the dynamic range of your camera, with the depth of field you need.
  2. To give true, high colour rendering
  3. To use shadow to bring out the three-dimensionality of the subject
  4. To freeze motion, so that you can, for example, capture the movement of hair

It is generally best to start with just one light, using reflectors to fill in, as it is easier to achieve natural results this way and easiest to learn. From there, you can progress to two lights, and so on.

Monster Lighting

Monster Lighting

These are two poses from a Studio Session with our wonderful Model, Jovis. We were experimenting with our lighting set up. We had a large soft box at around 45 degrees and really low and had Jovis on a black sheet with a black backdrop. This first shot is what would be described as “Monster Lighting”. It is somewhat uncomplimentary, harsh and unnatural shadows under the eyes, nose and kinda creepy. One can execute this effect by having a strobe very low to the model and the shooting from down below. This can be effective to create high drama, but not for a glamour shot!


This shot we simply reoriented Jovis so that the light flowed over her. All of the harsh shadows disappeared, and this is a killer image. The lighting set up did not change, only the perspective of the photographer!

Veteran’s Day 11/11/2011


Veterans Day, formerly Armistice Day, is an annual United States holiday honoring military veterans. It is a federal holiday that is observed on November 11. It coincides with other holidays such as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day, which are celebrated in other parts of the world and also mark the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War 1. (Major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice.)

The U.S. President Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed an Armistice Day for November 11, 1919. In proclaiming the holiday, he said

“To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.”

The United States Congress passed a concurrent resolution seven years later on June 4, 1926, requesting that the President Calvin Coolidge issue another proclamation to observe November 11 with appropriate ceremonies. An Act  approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday; “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day’.”

This was shot outside of the Mission in Oceanside, California.

Natural Light

Happy Sunday!

This is another shot from just around the corner from our Studio in Ramona, California. Danicka is The Barista on Sundays while the proprietor of the Coffee Stand, Bob tends to chores, Church etc. We experimented with some Off Camera Flash but without having time to tune in the lights (and not disturb their Customers) the images were not all that great. This directed us back to look at the original shots which were executed on a brilliant sunny Sunday morning. Danicka was in the shade of the Shop. The rising sun allowed us to take advantage of Natural Light. There is nothing better than not having to haul lights to location – unless, of course, one has a specific vision in mind. Setting up strobes, light modifiers, dialing in exposures is tricky and sometimes just using Natural Light (or available light) is the best and most effective solution for making a fine Portrait. We think this one is pretty awesome – 10 Minutes of shooting (Hundreds of hours of study and practice). This was shot with a Monopod mounted Nikon  D7000, 70-200mm set at f2.8 to get the nice blurred background. This is our “Go-To” portrait lens. We use this for Beach Family shots, Trash The Dress, Weddings, Boudoir and even Landscape! It rocks! Now a bit about “Portrait Photography”.

There are essentially four approaches that can be taken in photographic portraiture — the constructionist, environmental, candid and creative approaches. Each approach has been used over time for different reasons be they technical, artistic or cultural. The constructionist approach is when the photographer in their portraiture constructs an idea around the portrait — happy family, romantic couple, trustworthy executive. It is the approach used in most studio and social photography. It is also used extensively in advertising and marketing when an idea has to be put across.

The environmental approach depicts the subject in their environment be that a work, leisure, social or family one. They are often shown as doing something, a teacher in a classroom, an artist in a studio, a child in a playground. With the environmental approach more is revealed about the subject. Environmental pictures can have good historical and social significance as primary sources of information.

The candid approach is where people are photographed without their knowledge going about their daily business. Whilst this approach taken by the paparazzi is criticized and frowned upon for obvious reasons, less invasive and exploitative candid photography has given the world superb and important images of people in various situations and places over the last century. The images of Parisians by Doisneau and Cartier-Bresson to name but two, demonstrate this. As with environmental photography, candid photography is important as a historical source of information about people.

The Creative Approach is where digital manipulation (and formerly darkroom manipulation) is brought to bear to produce wonderful pictures of people. It is becoming a major form of portraiture as these techniques become more widely understood and used.

Thanks for the kind visit – we try to update this Photoblog Daily!

Visit our Website for a huge variety of our other Shots and Genres

The Lima Bean Festival

The Great Lima Bean Cook-off

I lived many years in Montreal, Canada and it seemed that every weekend there was some type of “Festival”, or reason to have a Party! Most notable would be The International Jazz Festival and Juste Pour Rire (Just for Laughs) Comedy Festival. I stumbled upon a very unique site in Encinitas, Calfornia in search of a Model Shoot. I found this vintage Lima Bean Harvester and upon further investigation, this is the site of th famous Lima Bean Festival! I guess a Lima Bean is a good excuse for a Party as well!

The City of Encinitas 25th Anniversary Celebration is being held at the San Dieguito Heritage Museum. Event festivities include live performances, exhibits, food, prizes and more. This year’s event theme is in line with the City’s General Plan theme of “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.” The San Dieguito Heritage Museum is providing displays depicting the “yesterday” of Encinitas. Many cultural and community groups are showcasing the best of what Encinitas offers “today,” and an area displaying future City projects.

In conjunction with the City of Encinitas’ 25th Anniversary Party, the San Dieguito Heritage Museum is presenting its 3rd annual Lima Bean Cook-off. The event is free. There is live entertainment noon to 4pm. Both amateur and professional cooks compete to create the tastiest Lima Bean appetizer, soup, salad or main dish, and there is a separate category for ‘anything else’! Lima beans will be provided by the Lima Bean Council of California. There are prizes for all the winning entries.

The San Dieguito Heritage Museum is located at 450 Quail Gardens Drive, Encinitas. For more information call the Heritage Museum at (760) 632-9711 or visit or

Boudoir Part Two

This continues The Boudoir Series from our Studio in Ramona, California. The key to successful Boudoir or Glamour Photography is developing trust between the Photographer and The Client. Many women fear the way they will look in front of a Camera. With exception of High School Senior shots or Weddings, it is unlikely that she has been photographed by a Professional Photographer. Every session should be positive. Here are some helpful Hints:

  • Don’t take any photos that you couldn’t show your best friend.
  • Get inspired before taking your photos by checking out other boudoir portfolios
  • Look for a photographer whose photos you love, and not necessarily a “boudoir” photographer
  • Bring your favorite Music along
  • A good photographer will highlight your best assets so be proud of your body
  • Be comfortable with yourself – the photographer wants to capture the best possible shot and will direct you to achieve this
  • A good boudoir photographer will ask questions like “Is there any particular feature that your fiance loves or that makes you feel especially good about yourself?” or “What body part would you like to me avoid taking pictures of?”
  • Don’t forget to take some smiling. Your Dude probably likes seeing you with a smile on your face as much as he likes seeing you play the role of the seductress.

Boudoir Shoot

We set up our Studio for a Boudoir Session. We used a large Soft Box for Main Light and Umbrella for fill, all lit with Alien Bee Strobes controlled wirelessly. A small Nikon SB600 Sppedlight was also used as a Hair Light (not in this picture). The trick is controlling the light and being able to see The Light.

We like to shoot all Portraits, Boudoir using a HD Monitor which is connected to the Camera. This way we have immediate feedback for both the shooter and The Model about lighting, poses, blinking or other things. This makes the shoot flow quicker and with superb results!

Historically, the boudoir formed part of the private suite of rooms of a lady, for bathing and dressing, adjacent to her bedchamber, being the female equivalent of the male cabinet. In later periods, the boudoir was used as a private draw room.  A boudoir was a lady’s evening sitting room, and was separate from her Morning Room, and her Dressing Room.  As this multiplicity of rooms with overlapping functions suggests, boudoirs were generally only found in grand houses. In the United States, in the same era, boudoir was an alternative term for dressing room, favored by those who felt that French terms conferred more prestige.

A great deal of “boudoir” is now created in the photographer’s studio or in luxury hotel suites, where it has become very fashionable to create a set of sensual images for women in “boudoir style”. This often takes the shape of partly clothed images or images in lingerie, and has become more than just a passing fad for brides to surprise their future husbands. Although in the past there were many negative connotations associated with boudoir photography, in recent years the trend has begun to gain momentum, and the entire look of boudoir photography has begun to change.

Bridal boudoir photography is becoming particularly popular. Brides often have an album of boudoir style photographs made as a present for their soon to be husbands. Other common themes for boudoir photography are anniversaries, birthdays, Valentine’s Day, weight loss, maternity, any form of body change or alteration (breast augmentation or reduction, etc.), and for soldiers overseas.

Father and Son

Just relax, take it easy

This was shot on the beach at Cardiff in Southern California just as the evening family photo shoot was drawing to a close. The father and Son wandered off into the surf to take in the beautiful sky after sunset. We snuck up behind them and used an off camera flash (Vivitar 285HV with a shoot through umbrella) to provide a bit of fill light without destroying the colors in the sky).

You may recall, “Father and Son” is a popular song written and performed by singer-songwriter, Yusuf Islam (then known as Cat Stevens) on his 1970 album Tea for the Tillerman.

The song frames an exchange between a father not understanding a son’s desire to break away and shape a new life, and the son who cannot really explain himself but knows that it is time for him to seek his own destiny. To echo this, Stevens sings in a deeper register for the father’s lines, while using a higher, more emotive one for those of the son. Here is a snippet of the lyrics!

It’s not time to make a change,
Just relax, take it easy.
You’re still young, that’s your fault,
There’s so much you have to know.
Find a girl, settle down,
If you want you can marry.
Look at me, I am old, but I’m happy.

I was once like you are now, and I know that it’s not easy,
To be calm when you’ve found something going on.
But take your time, think a lot,
Why, think of everything you’ve got.
For you will still be here tomorrow, but your dreams may not.

How can I try to explain, when I do he turns away again.
It’s always been the same, same old story.
From the moment I could talk I was ordered to listen.
Now there’s a way and I know that I have to go away.
I know I have to go.

Little Feet

This was taken over the weekend when he had the privilege to shoot a three generational Family on the beach in California, just north of San Diego. The Family arrived at around 5PM and we continued the shoot until close to 6:30PM. The sun set at 6PM, so this allowed us to use some off camera flash techniques to meter the wonderful colors of the sky, then light up the Family with some off camera flash.  It was very dynamic to say the least. We had to continuous adjust positions, lighting, exposure, poses, depending on what was in the background, how the sun was setting and where the clouds were lighting up! It was not stressful, but it challenged us to think out every single shot as it was composed.

We started the session using available light. Using a Nikon D7000 and 70-200mm f2.8, we could shoot at will, as long as we were not shooting into the bright setting sun. The Clients chose a secluded area and close to a stone Getty that provided some shade. This shot was from around 45 degrees South from the sun line and allowed us to composed the image of both proud parents cradling their toddler. The contrast between large and small is wonderful, and the feeling of love and security is what we tried to accomplish. My partner and Wife, Kathleen, is “The Mistress of Posing”! I am just a geek Photographer…seems to work!

Eating Sand


We had the privilege of taking some Family Photos at Solana Beach today. The weather was perfect, skies gorgeous and the Family was very receptive and patient as we scrambled around trying to get the poses right, making adjustments and chasing with the ever-changing light.

Here we have three ages – what makes this one funny is the one on the right kept on eating sand, the one in the middle was encouraging such activity and the one on the left just wanted her Mommy. It is extremely challenging to shoot three children, let alone a whole Family (6 Adults, 3 Children). Everyone had fun, we learned a lot and that is the best reward for a Sunday at the Beach!

Off Camera Flash

This was a series of practice shots to fine tune the technique of Off Camera Flash for on location shoots. I did not have a Model, so I set one up! She was very cooperative and took instructions well. You might recognize the Wedding Dress from our Trash the Dress shoots. It is a bit creepy that she does not have any arms. Perhaps that is why she is so sad. A prelude to Halloween? But this is all about portable Off Camera Flash!

We use studio lighting all the time but it is in a controlled environment. The lights are powerful, heavy and use AC for power. Portable flash may be used as the main light source where ambient light is inadequate, or as a supplementary source in more complex lighting situations. Basic flash lighting produces a hard, frontal light unless modified in some way.   Softboxes and Umbrellas are commonly used for this purpose even with small portable flash units. Their purpose is to make the light source larger, and hence the shadows are less harsh. Think of the sun… a point source of light that casts hard shadows. Fill Flash or “fill-in flash” describes flash used to supplement ambient light in order to illuminate a subject close to the camera that would otherwise be in shade relative to the rest of the scene. The flash unit is set to expose the subject correctly at a given aperture, while shutter speed is calculated to correctly expose for the background or ambient light at that aperture setting.

Bounce Flash is a related technique in which flash is directed onto a reflective surface, for example a white ceiling or a flash umbrella, which then reflects light onto the subject. It can be used as fill-flash or, if used indoors, as ambient lighting for the whole scene. Bouncing creates softer, less artificial-looking illumination than direct flash, often reducing overall contrast and expanding shadow and highlight detail, and typically requires more flash power than direct lighting.

The concept of using off camera flash is two-fold. One, when the flash is at a flattering angle, it produces soft and complementary shadows and depth to the model (instead of a flat light mug shot like on your Driver’s License). Secondly, if the photographer meters the background (for example a sunset) and then uses the flash to illuminate the model, this avoids having a blown out (over exposed) background. This shot was taken westward with a setting sun in the background. Had we used just metered with an on camera unit, all the wonderful background details would have been lost. Off camera flash is used with large and expensive Studio Lighting – we do it all the time in our Studio. But when you want to do this on location (i.e. a beach, backyard, forrest, desert, Wedding) you need something portable like common Speedlights which are battery powered. This take a bit of practice, but with some simple, affordable gear, the results will separate you from the snap shooters.

If you would like to have more technical details, just drop us a note at We love to share! (PS stand by for some stunning beach sunset portraits using Off Camera Flash)

Jumping into Traffic

That was close!

This continues the series regarding light trails and motion blur photography. As noted during a previous post, we stationed ourselves on a small traffic island and set up our gear for the shoot. While this produced some interesting shots, they did not really satisfy. The solution was to get up close and personal with the traffic. After spending some time observing traffic patterns, we found the ideal spot that would get us close to the action but not in danger of being hit by a vehicle. The traffic was not moving faster than 25 mpH, and it is interesting that drivers will notice a Photo Crew and respectfully steer clear. This is probably unique to San Diego. When shooting in New York City, drivers (Cabbies) would run you over, back up to make sure they got you, grab your gear and sell it at B&H the next day!

Once again, a Nikon D90, Sigma 10-20mm wide angle, tripod mounted with a remote shutter release. Not really hard to do but it does take a bit of trial and error to tune the shot. We do not suggest that you jump into traffic to replicate this style. We are always careful and mindful of the general populace. And always watchful for “The No Tripod Police”

Also, see my article on:

In Traffic Again

This was taken in Downtown San Diego in The Gaslamp District. It is the heart of San Diego Nightlife. There are great places to eat, have a libation and meet new people. The area is spitting distance to Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres and is get a few steps north of the Convention Center. We had the privilege to attend a fundraiser featuring the hilarious comedienne, Monique Marvez at The Hard Rock. She calls herself, The Reality Chick…because she tells it like it is! Aside from telling stories that will split your gut, she is a genuinely nice person. We hope to meet her again soon!

Now about this picture – it was shot on a tiny traffic island. Cars were zipping by left and right. We had managed to elude the “No Tripod Police” and discretely set up shot. Nikon D90 with a 10-20mm wide-angle was mounted low on a sturdy tripod. To avoid camera shake, a remote shutter release was used. As you can see by the starring of the oncoming lights, a small aperture was used along with a long shutter speed to get the motion blur. If you would like to learn more about Light Trails and Motion Blur Photography, here are two articles I have written! Enjoy and happy shooting!

PS Click on the image for a sharper view – WordPress makes everything a bit fuzzy!


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