iPhone Photography Tips – Lower Your Camera

iPhone Photography Tips 1

Prairie Smoke at Blue Mounds State Park with a blue sky background

How low can you go?

No, we’re not doing the limbo. We’re working on composition.

One rut that’s easy to get into when taking photos with your iPhone is to always compose at eye level. Sure, it’s easy to just whip out your phone and take a quick snap without thinking but when you slow down and spend some time on composition, you’ll be rewarded with all kinds of surprises.

Slow down for better composition

One way to slow down and look differently at you subject is to lower your camera angle. This technique, sometimes called “shooting up at your subject” makes whatever you’re photographing look larger and more powerful than if viewed from eye-level. It can really add drama to a otherwise plain photo.

Lowering the camera angle is easy to do with an iPhone. In the old days, when you had to look through your camera’s viewfinder to compose an image, you literally had to stand on your head to get this angle. Now that you have a big beautiful screen on which to compose your image, you may need to get close to the ground but you won’t need to do any acrobatics.

iPhone Photography Tips – Prairie Smoke

The first two images of Prairie Smoke were captured at the Blue Mounds State Park in June. The first image of this unusual flower is interesting  but there’s really not much contrast between the pink petals and the green stalks of grass. The colors and tones just sort of blend together.

iPhone Photography Tips 2

Blah! The Prairie Smoke and background blend together.

Lowering the camera angle and positioning the pink flowers against the blue sky completely changes the mood of the image. The light passing through the flowers shows their detail. The low angle gives the small plants a majestic feel and the texture of the clouds adds even more interest.

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Wow! The Prairie Smoke jumps out of the image when the background is blue sky.

 

iPhone Photography Tips – Wedding Couple

The next image is from a wedding at the Historic Palace Theater in downtown Luverne.  The iPhone was positioned right on the sidewalk as the couple walked out of the theater after the wedding. This camera angle isolates the newlyweds away from the other competing subjects. It also shows off the detail of the theater and, just like the flower image, gives the subject a “bigger than life” feel.

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Shooting up at the wedding couple adds drama to this image.

My challenge for you is to slow down and see how low you can go, with your camera. Put that iPhone right on the ground and shoot up at your subject. You will begin to see things in a whole new way.

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Senior Picture Ideas for Guys – Part 1

The best advice in coming up with creative senior picture ideas for guys is simple: be yourself. Show what you’re all about by bringing along your gear. A guy’s gear is his way of illustrating what’s important in his life. So bring along gear that reflects your personality.

I’ve seen lots of interesting gear this senior season, all the way from goalie pads to duck decoys. I thought this would be a good time to go over some of the creative senior picture ideas for guys; specifically offroad vehicles and soccer goals.

Senior Picture Ideas for Guys – Snowmobiles and Trucks

 

Senior Picture Ideas for Guys - Snowmobiles

Summer may seem like an unusual time of year to do senior portraits with snowmobiles but not for Luverne senior Colton Arends. It gave him an excuse to get his sleds fired up and out of the trailer during this long snowless summer that we’re having. Colton and his family are avid snowmobilers and make a trip or two to the Black Hills to ride through the deep powder during the winter. Colton also has a sled tricked out for ice racing and runs it at the Rock Rapids Speedway.

Senior Picture Ideas for Guys - Snowmobiles and four wheeler

Senior pictures are also a great excuse for a guy to get some long overdue work done on his truck. Colton spent most of the day before his session washing and polishing his red Chevy Silverado Duramax pickup to make sure it was perfect for the photo shoot. This image shows off the after market headlights that Colton just finished installing the day before pictures.

Senior Picture Ideas for Guys - Red Chevy Silverado Duramax Pickup

We did all the vehicle images on location at Colton’s farm. The canopy of the mature trees provided the perfect shady spot. Don’t worry if you don’t have a farm available for your vehicle photos. There are lots of great locations nearby that make perfect backgrounds for your car or truck.

Senior Picture Ideas for Guys – Soccer

Soccer is a way of life for Sioux Falls Washington high school senior Trent Hunking. So it was only natural to do a location photo shoot on the soccer fields at the Yankton Trail Park in Sioux Falls. Trent plays soccer virtually year around and is on both the Sioux Falls Washington soccer team and the Dakota Alliance team. We started with some traditional “guy with soccer ball” poses and then some action shots of Trent. This image, titled “Flying Header”, really shows Trent’s athletic ability. It took multiple attempts to get this setup just right and Trent looked like he had been playing soccer all afternoon by the time we got done.

 

Senior Picture Ideas for Guys - Soccer

Flying Header

I hope this has your creativity stimulated to come up with some creative picture ideas for guys of your own. In my next article I’ll be covering why it’s such a good idea to bring your girlfriend along to your senior portrait session.

If you want to see how good you can look in your senior pictures, schedule a consultation or better yet, book a senior portrait session right now.

Location Senior Portraits with a 40th Anniversary Ford Mustang

West Central Senior Brandon brought his 2004 40th anniversary Ford Mustang for his senior pictures. He takes great care of his red pony car and it sounds as good as it looks. Since we had a beautiful June morning for outdoor senior portraits, we started on location with Brandon and his car.

Ideal Location for Car Senior Portraits

40th Anniversary Mustang Senior PortraitsWhen looking for the ideal spot to take car photos, it’s important that there’s no traffic, that the background is well groomed and there are mature trees to shade the car. Then we use off camera lighting to fill in the shadows on our subjects so they look natural.

With the recent flooding in Luverne, my usual location for car photos was underwater. So after a little quick searching we found this wonderful background. The surprising part about this great location is that it’s a cemetery just outside of Luverne. It has a mix of mature trees and new trees. The grass is well kept and the traffic is nonexistent. This image was composed so that the trees didn’t break the lines of the car yet created a natural frame for the subject.

Since Brandon was on the 2013 Class A Champion West Central Trojans football team, his mother wanted his jersey in some of the car photos. The combination of his jersey and his car is going to be a great memory of this time in his life, his senior year at West Central High School.

Natural Looking Location Senior Portraits with Off Camera Flash

I just started using a new light modifier for my outdoor off-camera flash. This Wescott Rapid Box 26″ Octa Softbox is lightweight and well made. It has a bracket that fits on a light stand and holds a standard speedlight flash. It does a great job of softening the light and filling in the shadows so it looks natural without the fake look of an on-camera flash. The wind in the Midwest can quickly turn a softbox into a sail. One gust of wind can send your whole rig crashing to the ground. I’m thankful for my assistant Stephanie who helps with the lights and also makes sure that our senior’s clothing and hair are in place.

Brandon Location Senior Portraits

Behind the Scenes Off Camera Flash Senior Portraits

Stephanie steadies the off camera flash.

I’m thankful that Brandon was able to squeeze me into his busy schedule this summer. He just got back from a week long mission trip to Alabama and has plans to not only attend Camp Judson in the Black Hills but also be a camp councilor. This is his second year as councilor and by the sound of it, his fourth through sixth grade campers are excited to have him back.

Dramatic Chroma Key Senior Portraits of West Lyon Senior Jed

Dramatic Football Senior PortraitWe had a wonderful morning senior portrait session with West Lyon Senior Jed. He was a member of the 2013 West Lyon Wildcats Class A state championship football team. Jed brought along his football jersey, helmet and pads so it was only natural to do a few dramatic images wearing his sports gear. He also brought along his well-worn football adding to the authentic look.
The first image was lit with two strip lights from either side of the subject. This lighting technique coupled with a lower camera angle illustrates the intensity and power Jed brings to the game of football. Adding some post processing effects to increase the contrast and soften the color gives it an even more intense look. Jed’s mother, Lisa, is the one who had the idea to photograph him with hair wet. She said that’s how he looks after practices and games. She seemed to take great joy in dumping water on her son’s head.

Dramatic Chroma Key Senior Portraits

Behind the scenes chroma key senior portrait

Behind the scenes chroma key senior portrait

For the second image, it seemed only fitting to put our subject into an even more dramatic background. Chroma key or sometimes referred to as green screen, was first developed in the 1930s for motion pictures. Television weather forecasters use chroma key to make it look like they are pointing to a map behind them but it’s all done with a green screen. If you’ve ever seen a behind the scenes for any recent action/adventure movie, you’ve probably seen them filming on a set with a green background. The process of removing the subject from the background is called a knock out or an extraction. The chroma key background we have at Myhre Studio is a giant roll of green foam. With the correct lighting it makes knock outs very accurate.

Chroma Key Post Processing

Dramatic Chroma Key Senior Portrait

Dramatic Chroma Key Senior Portrait

After making the extraction in Photoshop, the next step was to find just the right background. I have a large library of dramatic images for sports shots. Choosing the best one is often the hardest part of the process. After some deliberation, this end zone image seemed perfect. Using Nik Color Efex Pro’s Bleach Bypass filter and a texture overlay finished off the artwork on this image.

Jed’s senior portraits a family affair

Behind the Scenes in the Ballroom

Behind the Scenes in the Ballroom

Jed’s sister Lauren came along to help her “little” brother with his senior pictures. Lauren was a Myhre Studio Senior Model in 2010. Along with being a clothing consultant and modeling coach for her brother, Lauren pitched in and held the grey reference card for a test shot in the ballroom. The Ballroom, as we call it, is a big empty room above the studio that has beautiful natural light along with peeling plaster and ancient wall paper. The crappy old couch Jed is sitting on fits the decor of the room perfectly.

Outdoor Senior Portraits With Jed

Outdoor Senior PortraitWe spent some time hiking around the neighborhood on this beautiful June morning. June is the best month to do outdoor senior portraits. The temperature is pleasant, the humidity is low and the grass is green. Within two blocks of Myhre Studio there are lots of outdoor senior portrait backgrounds. This grassy location is just behind the Carnagie Cultural Center, Luverne’s public art gallery.
Thanks to Jed, Lisa and Lauren for a wonderful morning senior shoot! Best wishes on your senior year and a winning football season.

Retro Senior Picture Outfits Include High-Waisted Jeans

 Hannah's senior portrait sessionIt was another beautiful June morning to be creating senior portraits of the beautiful Hannah. I’ve had the privilege of doing senior shoots with Hannah’s older Sister Sarah in 2007 and her brothers Andrew and Aaron in 2009 and 2012. They all have very different personalities but have been some of my favorite sessions over the years and Hannah’s session was no exception. Hannah is a driven young woman who has attended Baltic High School part-time and has taken college classes so she can start SDSU next fall with almost enough credits to be a sophomore. Her sights are set on law school and I have no doubt that she can accomplish whatever she sets her mind to.

High waisted jeans make a comeback for senior picture outfits

Hannah's High Waisted JeansHannah’s senior portrait wardrobe had a variety of looks but the one that really caught my attention was the outfit with high-waisted jeans. It’s a look that was last popular in the 1980s. Since the look is retro, I decided the perfect background would be both our retro apartment with green trim and a rustic set we call the ballroom. The ballroom a big room on the second floor of the studio with windows facing the north and west. The space was used for storage for many years and we finally took the boards off of the windows and hauled out several loads of garbage. When we were done cleaning, we uncovered a real gem of a set for senior pictures. It has authentic peeling plaster, an old steam radiator, and wall paper that has to be over 50 years old.

Extreme back lighting for halo effect

Photographer's assistant, Danielle, holds a plexiglass mirror for Hannah's senior pictures in our retro ballroom set.

Photographer’s assistant, Danielle, holds a plexiglass mirror for Hannah’s senior pictures in our retro ballroom set.

I decided to use the windows as a background and let the bright light from the north create a sort of halo effect that’s really popular lately. I only use natural light in the ballroom so to get enough light on Hannah, I had my assistant Danielle hold a plexiglass mirror and reflect window light back at our subject. The flexible mirror works great in this situation for several reasons.

  • The mirrored surface is more reflective than a traditional reflector. In this situation, we need all the light we can come up with.
  • Because it’s made out of plexiglass, it’s flexible, unbreakable very safe. If you drop this mirror, you won’t have to worry about picking up the pieces. It doesn’t break.
  • Since it’s flexible, it’s actually possible to bend the mirror and focus the light even more to put the reflection right where you want it.
  • It’s just like a fun house mirror and can keep younger children entertained. Depending on how the mirror is bent, it can make you look really tall or really short.

Stop by and see our studio

If you’re thinking about senior pictures you owe it to yourself to stop by the studio for a tour of all the fun areas we have to create unique and original portraits. It’s as simple as filling out the info on our request a consultation page. One of us would be thrilled to show you around and answer all your questions. Schedule a time today!