Tenaya – Playing with Light

Written by matt1171 on October 11th, 2010

I had the fun, new opportunity to do a portrait session at night… 10:30 at night actually. A friend of mine at work asked me to take photos of her daughter and her date before they went to the homecoming dance Friday night. I thought this would be a great chance to experiment with using off-camera flashes at night to create some unique lighting. I love shots at night that backlight the subject with a ring of light and I thought I could use that idea in a new way. My buddy and fellow photographer, Todd, joined me in downtown to help me with the lighting. After scoping out the options downtown, we decided to focus out efforts in one of the alleys that had a cool metal staircase.

We decided to go with a simple two light setup because didn’t have want to take too much time with lights so they could get to the dance – one for the backlight and one firing through an umbrella for the front. For the staircase shots, we placed the flash on the ground so it fired up through the stairs creating a cool lighting effect. Here are some of the photos…

 

Little Layton

Written by matt1171 on October 10th, 2010

WOW! I didn’t realize it had been so long since I posted anything here. I’ll try not to let that happen again. I actually have several photo shoots that I need to write about and I’ll do my best to catch up. I did a photo shoot for a friend of mine last weekend. She wanted me to take some photos of her 5 month old nephew, Layton, and surprise her brother and sister-in-law with some family shots too. We decided I would meet Lacey at her house and do the photos there. Layton’s dad is a big hunter and loves the outdoors so we decided to make it more personal for him and use a simple camouflage blanket as the background. We spread the blanket on the bed, and attached the blanket to the headboard to make the background, put a pillow under the blanket to prop Layton up on so he could look up better and just used one simple flash in an umbrella for the light. It was a very easy setup and I think they turned out great. Layton was super easy to work with and was in a great mood.

I took the parents to downtown conway to get some shots of the family. I think they turned out great too. They loved the shots!

 

Daddy-Daughter Adventures

Written by matt1171 on April 11th, 2010

Abby and I had a rare afternoon alone yesterday so we decided to go on a daddy-daughter adventure. Abby looked through my Waterfall Guidebook and chose to go to the Falling Water Creek area and hit a few waterfalls and do some exploring. I have been to this area several times over the last few years and never get tired of going there. I was a little concerned about the water level since that area hasn’t had any rain in a week. I’ve been to Falling Water Creek when the water was very low and I’ve been when the water was really high – too high to cross the creek.

Our first stop was Falling Water Falls. My concerns about the water level was all for nothing. The water level was perfect!! I’ve never seen it better. Not too low, not too high…just right. The only thing that wasn’t perfect was the sunshine – way too much sunshine for really good waterfall photos. Cloudy days are best for shooting waterfalls. However, I had two things working for me – one, photography wasn’t my purpose for the trip. It was to introduce Abby to this spectacular area and just have some fun with her. And two, I had a strong neutral density filter for my camera to get some good photos anyway and my only photography goal I had was take a photo of Abby at each waterfall.

Abby looking out over Falling Water Falls

Abby at Falling Water Falls

Abby enjoying Falling Water Falls

Abby was amazed at Falling Water Falls. The water was so clear and the pool was such a deep emerald color. We both wish we had brought a change of clothes so we could jump in or at least sit down in the rushing water. Our feet and legs would be the only things to enjoy to cool water as we made our way across the creek. Abby was torn between staying here and exploring the creek or moving on downstream in the car to Six Finger Falls. She wanted to see Six Finger Falls so off we went.

Abby at Six Finger Falls

Six Finger Falls is a very unique place. The rocks the water comes over have been eroded away to form what sort of looks like fingers jutting out with the water running down in between each one. It’s a cool place with some huge boulders sitting in the creek and some neat places to explore.

One finger of Six Finger Falls

Six Finger Falls

Six Finger Falls

Just downstream from Six Fingers is a little canyon that is a magical place with another waterfall called Fuzzy Butt Falls. I won’t go into why it’s called that. As soon as you turn into the canyon, the temperature drops about 10 degrees and you can hear the waterfall in there. It’s not a very big waterfall but it’s very pretty with all the green moss and rugged canyon walls. Abby loved it in there  and found a really cool rock that she placed in my backpack to bring home.

Fuzzy Butt Falls

Abby and Me at Fuzzy Butt Falls (no fuzzy butts here)

From there we went back to the car to grab our snacks and drinks and sat out by Six Finger Falls to enjoy the break then spent some time wading in the creek up stream and downstream. Abby wasn’t very happy when it was time to head home and begged me to stay a little longer. There were more waterfalls in the area she wanted to see and more parts of the stream to explore. I told her that just gave us a good reason to come back and more to look forward to.

Downstream from Six Finger Falls

 

The Best Weekend EVER!!!

Written by matt1171 on April 1st, 2010

This past weekend was one of the best weekends ever! It started Saturday morning when my children slept in for a change. Then after lunch we went to Wye Mountain for a beautiful afternoon in the Daffodils. On the way back home, we stopped by the store to pick up some Shrimp which we grilled for dinner.

Keely in the Daffodils

Sophie in the Daffodils

The weekend got even better on Sunday. We decided to go to my in-law’s church Sunday morning in Russellville and then we took off after lunch at Whataburger to Lost Valley with not just our family, but also my in-laws, my sister and brother-in-law and my 3 nephews and my wife’s Aunt and Uncle and their kids and grand kids. It was everyone’s first time to Lost Valley (my third) and it was a magical experience. The drive up there was beautiful. The kids got to see a small herd of Elk in Boxley Valley and the water was running great through Lost Valley. Everyone had a great time!

Eden Falls. Can you find my daughter and nephew?

Eden Falls

Eden Falls

After we left Lost Valley I wanted to make a quick run to Ponca to take a photo of the covered bridge with the waterfall under it.

Covered Bridge in Ponca

 

Longpool and Pam’s Grotto Falls

Written by matt1171 on March 26th, 2010

With all the rains earlier this week and last night, I knew the waterfalls would be running good today. I was able to leave work early today (thanks Boss!) to make a run up to Longpool and then up to Pam’s Grotto. I was a little worried that it might start raining on me but the rains held off, it stayed cloudy and it was absolutely perfect conditions for photographing waterfalls. And bonus – it was cooler today which made the hiking really nice.

I’ve have been to Longpool once before on New Year’s day 2008 and it’s a place I have been wanting to go back to with a little more water flowing over the main waterfall. Today, the water was flowing great.

The hike from the campground to the falls is really easy and short. Its a great place to take a family hike with the kids. When you first hit the stream with the waterfall, you can immediately see a smaller, beautiful double waterfall. I actually think this fall is prettier than the big one.

Lower Longpool Falls

Lower Longpool Falls

Lower Longpool Falls

View downstream from above Lower Longpool Falls

Just upstream and around the corner is the larger waterfall and it’s very impressive when the water is running well. The waterfall is 44′ tall and is quite loud. It’s difficult to get a great shot of this fall with all the trees that surround it and the steep slopes up the sides of the canyon but it’s worth the effort.

Upper Longpool Falls

Upper Longpool Falls

Upper Longpool Falls

After I finished taking my photos at Longpool I headed back to the car and off to Pam’s Grotto. I was actually planning on visiting 3 waterfalls that are real close together at Haw Creek Falls Campground – Haw Creek Falls, Pack-Rat Falls, and Pam’s Grotto. To get to Haw Creek Falls, you have to drive over the creek and today Haw Creek was running way to fast to attempt to cross it in my car, so I was limited to just visiting Pam’s Grotto which turned out to be just fine.

This was my first time to Pam’s Grotto and it was better than I imagined. I’ve heard it’s a great place but I’ve never seen photos of the area leading up to the falls. It was incredible. I was in awe the entire hike to the falls. There is a great trail that leads to the falls but it goes up and around the stream that the waterfall feeds and I prefer hiking the stream bed instead of going on the trails. When you take the trails you miss so much beautiful scenery along the way. However, hiking the stream means increasing your chance of slipping and falling forward and having your tripod strapped to your backpack hitting you in the back of the head…not that it happened to me or anything…but it could…and I think it’s worth it. The waterfall itself is 37′ tall and tucked away in a neat grotto area with huge boulders and large rock overhangs that provide a great place to set up camp judging by the number of campfire marks around the edge of the bluff.

Stream to Pam's Grotto

stream to Pam's Grotto and large boulders. You can see the waterfall in the background.

Pam's Grotto Falls

Pam's Grotto Falls with me in the photo for scale...and fun.

view from behind the falls

Waterfall and Boulder...note how big the boulder is.

Pam's Grotto Falls from back in the bluff

Pam's Grotto Falls

Pam's Grotto Falls

Pam's Grotto Falls

view downstream from the falls.

On my way back out, I decided to follow the trail to see where it led and I wondered if there might be a way to get above the falls and see what what was there. The trail was excellent and followed along the bluffline above the stream. I couldn’t find any way to gain access to the area above the falls. The bluffs were 50′ tall and vertical. There was one spot that I thought I might be able to make it but with the number of photographers that have fallen and been seriously injured or killed lately, I decided to play it safe and not take my chances. The hike back to the car was really nice and easy. This is another great area to take the kids to.

 

My TAZ

Written by matt1171 on January 24th, 2010

Was finally able to take Keely’s 5yr portraits on Saturday. Yes, she turned 5 in October, so it’s a little late…but at least she was still 5 when I took them.  My nickname for her is TAZ because when she was little, everywhere she went, she left a path of destruction. The nickname still fits her today because, as you can see, she is incredibly cute, and can still be major trouble.

It also gave me a chance to play with some new toys. I got a new flash that works off camera and some lighting modifiers that give me a whole arsenal of options for creating great photos.

Keely

Keely

Keely

Keely

Keely

Keely

Keely

Keely

Keely

 

My First Bald Eagle

Written by matt1171 on January 19th, 2010

Made a trip to Holla Bend yesterday to see what I could see. Saw 5 bald eagles, two swans, and 3 armadillos. Tried to take some shots of the eagles but really couldn’t get close enough to get a good one with my Sigma 12-400 OS on my D300. Then I remembered that I had my 2x teleconverter in the bag and that it would work with that lens…in manual focus. I figured I could manual focus on an eagle in a tree so I set off toward a tree with two eagles in it. Still didn’t get as close as I would have liked. The larger eagle started to take off so I did the best I could to capture it with the manual focus and this was the best I got. Even at 800mm (1200mm equivalent?) this is still a 100% crop of the photo. I guess I’m gonna have to get my ground blind out and go hang out for the day.

Yes, I know that if you aren’t into photography all you read was “Bald Eagle…not close enough…blah blah blah.”

Bald Eagle at Holla Bend

 

Chris and Jennifer – engagement photos

Written by matt1171 on January 5th, 2010

Here are some of the photos from my shoot with Chris and Jennifer. I’m very happy with them and can’t wait to shoot the wedding.

Chris and Jennifer - 12.18.2009

Chris and Jennifer - 12.18.2009

Chris and Jennifer - 12.18.2009

Chris and Jennifer - 12.18.2009

Chris and Jennifer - 12.18.2009

Chris and Jennifer - 12.18.2009

Chris and Jennifer - 12.18.2009

Chris and Jennifer - 12.18.2009

Chris and Jennifer - 12.18.2009

Chris and Jennifer - 12.18.2009

Chris and Jennifer - 12.18.2009

Chris and Jennifer - 12.18.2009

Chris and Jennifer - 12.18.2009

 

Cedar Falls on New Year’s Day

Written by matt1171 on January 1st, 2010

I made a quick trip up to Cedar Falls today. I actually wasn’t planning on it but apparently I was not in a good mood and didn’t know it. My loving wife, who knows me better than I know myself, said I needed to get out of the house to find my happy place. So at 3:00 I headed out the door for a quick hike to Cedar Falls. It was a bright sunny day – which is actually terrible for waterfall photos – but I knew the sun would be setting and thought when the sun went down low enough, the light might be just right. I was correct. The light was great, the air was crisp, and water was just right coming over the falls. I came home in a much better mood. Here’s some of the photos…

Cedar Falls and reflection - Petit Jean State Park

Cedar Falls reflection - Petit Jean State Park

Cedar Falls and cascades - Petit Jean State Park

Cedar Falls - Petit Jean State Park

Behind Cedar Falls - Petit Jean State Park

 

Engagement shoot in Downtown LR

Written by matt1171 on December 18th, 2009

I did an engagement shoot at the River Market area in Downtown Little Rock this afternoon. The wonderful couple was an old friend of mine that I graduated from high school with, Chris, and his fiance Jennifer. My friend and fellow photographer Todd joined us to be my assistant. We had such a great time. The light was great, the locations were great and Chris and Jennifer were a lot fun to work with. Plus, Todd and I always have fun shooting together. His being there helping me out really made a difference. While I was worried about shooting angles and exposure and the technical aspects of the shoot, he was holding a reflector for me, making suggestions for poses, and checking to make sure Jennifer’s hair wasn’t blowing crazy. Those stray hairs can really mess up a great photo. It’s great to have a second set of eyes on a shoot like this.

Only two things went wrong with the shoot – there were way too many cool places to shoot near the River Market and not enough time to shoot there, and I now know that I don’t own enough memory cards. I filled up 4 cards on this shoot – two 4gigs, 1 2gig and 1 1gig for a total of 11 gigs worth of photos. Toward the end I was having to go through the photos on my camera to delete bad photos in order to take more photos in new locations we discovered. That’s the first time I’ve ever filled up all my cards on one shoot. But we were having fun and got lots of great photos. So the lesson learned here is…I need more and bigger memory cards for my camera. Good thing its Christmas time!!!

I’ll post some of the photos here as soon as Chris and Jennifer have had a chance to see them – probably after Christmas.