Here are some tips on looking slimmer when you are getting your photo taken, or, if you’re shooting, you can use these to help your subject look slimmer.

  1. Shoot with a telephoto lens. If you have a zoom lens, that would be the larger of the focal length group of numbers on the side of the lens, e.g. 24mm, 70mm, 200mm etc.  Wider angle lenses (50mm and under) if used close to the subject can cause distortion and actually add weight.
  2. Shoot from an angle higher than your subject. That can go for headshots or full length.
  3. Hide part of the larger person behind someone else in the shot if it is a group shot.
  4. Stretch out the neck a bit; this can be helpful in kissing shots
  5. If a couple, have the partner’s hands cover the shoulders some.
  6. If you are using lighting, or the light is coming in from the side, illuminate the far side of the subject and shoot from the shadow side.
  7. Rotate subject at the waist, so legs are shot from the side and upper body is more head on.
  8. Separate arms from the body.
  9. If seated, make sure the legs are perpendicular from the camera angle, (not aiming into the camera).
  10. (Standing) Cross one leg over in front of the other.
  11. Arch back slightly
  12. Never shoot straight on, always on an angle. 
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Dramatic Lighting after Sunset

For Kauai family portraits, most of the time we schedule the shoots to end at sunset, as that is when the light typically fades. This particular family wanted to have some of their photos taken after sunset because they had late afternoon plans. I mentioned that sometimes the lighting does actually get quite dramatic after the sun sets, but not always. Well, as you can see, things turned out just fine.  This shot of just the dad and sons is one of my favorite ways to light men.

I am a “Family Portraits Kauai” expert, and I would love to take some great photos of your family as well. I’m good working with kids, and we always have a good time. This website has a link with all the Kauai family photography locations we typically use.

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New Signature Photo

New Light Signature


The first thing you should know is that this is a single image, not a composite of several images.
Like many things, the technique is fairly simple, but the implementation takes a little practice.
This started with some great “models” (read: friends of mine from church) who were up for a little fun. We had been experimenting with some sparklers and some light writing a few nights earlier, in preparation for a wedding I had coming up where the bride and groom wanted to use sparklers; so they already knew the drill and what the results might look like. (See those practice photos at this link: http://gardenislandphotography.com/scenic-galleries/facebook-photos/) See the wedding photo at the same link.
We also had the good fortune to have a full moon, which helped illuminate the background.
I used four off camera Canon Speedlite flashes to illuminate the subjects; but you can also do this with on camera flash.
I used (all Canon) a 5D MkII camera with a 24-70 f2.8 lens and a 600EX-RT flash to direct the off camera flashes. This can be done with any camera with a “bulb” setting and a flash.
Here is how it was done:
First, I set my camera on a tripod. I wanted to use the “bulb” setting, but I could not stay with the camera to keep the button depressed for the duration of the exposure. I could have used another person to do that, but with a long exposure, there would inevitably be some camera shake with the human touch. So, I used a remote trigger (the cheap kind with a cord) to trigger the camera. This allowed me to get in the picture. (I’m the guy with the camera – shocking, I know.)
The next step was to determine the right amount of light to throw at the subjects. With manual flash, the image is only affected by the f-stop and the ISO; the amount of time the shutter is open only affects the ambient light. So we experimented with flash power ISO and f-stops till we had a nice exposure on the subjects. I had the models practice their poses while we did those shots, so we could fine tune both at once.
At the same time, I played around with how long to keep the shutter open to get the palm trees in the background to show up without being too bright. The full moon helped a lot. (The exposure wound up at ISO 100, f 11 at 84 seconds.)
Once those settings were determined, I started the shots.
I set the camera on the ten second timer shutter release. Using the remote switch, sliding it into the “stay open till I tell you” position, I depressed the shutter button. Then I grabbed my “prop” camera and ran and took my spot with the others who were already in position. At ten seconds, the camera shutter kicked open, the flash went off, and we were all exposed to the sensor. At that point the camera quit “seeing” any of us, because, for all intents and purposes, we had no light on us.
I had them all stay still so that the camera would not record ambient light through them. I had to move, so in post-production, I had to fix the landscape that showed (slightly) through my body with the long exposure.
While the models remained in place, I took my small Maglite and, covering the face of it for the movements I did not want the camera to “see”, I wrote the words Garden Island Photography in the air. After the correct amount of time passed to properly expose the background, I went and closed the shutter. We only did four shots.
Once I determined the best shot, I turned it around, because the writing was backwards to the camera, since I was facing it as I wrote.
I filled in a little density on my body where the background showed through, made a few minor adjustments on the writing itself, and a little dodging and burning to bring some things into balance, and there we have it.

If you want to try this in a very simple manner with your own equipment, here is what I suggest:
Set your camera on a tripod. In manual mode, set your ISO at 100, your aperture at f11 and your shutter speed at “B” or “Bulb”. Let your camera determine the flash exposure.
Get yourself or your subject(s) posed. Have a friend press the shutter button and hold it down. The flash should go off when the shutter button is first pressed. After the flash goes off, grab a flashlight (I used a small Maglight with that f stop) and write whatever you want to see. Have your friend remove their finger from the shutter button. See what you get. If you want more ambient light, have the shutter button held sown longer.

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New Wailua Falls Photo

A landscape photographer from Texas hired me to take him to some good spots for scenic photos.  I got this one on one of our excursions.

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The Portrait Shoot

I mentioned in my Beautiful Hibiscus entry that I was on my way to do a portrait.  There is a prince of a guy who owns a condo in Princeville.  He has commissioned  me to do a portrait of each group of guests that rent his condo, as a gift to them.  (They’re usually couples.)  After this particular couple were viewing their portraits on the computer, the man told me he wasn’t really into the shoot at all, but just didn’t want to be impolite by refusing the gift.  But he said “Now that I see the photos, I’m really into it.”  He just loved them.  Nothing is more gratifying for me than to get a reaction like that.  I guess all this “practice” is paying off.  Here is the shot they liked best.  I like it too. This is before retouching.

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The other Hibiscus shot I like

I didn’t want these two shots on top of each other, so this is the only way I could figure out how to seperate them. (so shoot me, I’m not a computer wiz)

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Beautiful Hibiscus

A couple of evenings ago, I was on my way to do some portraits, when I passed by the most beautiful display of backlit hibiscus flowers.  The low hedge up the middle of the road was just exploding with color.  Luckily,  I was a bit early, so I turned around and took a few shots.  Here are my two favorites.  One here, and one in the next post.

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Fun East Side Shoot

A family that I photographed a couple of years ago contacted me recently to do another photo session.  They have four beautiful daughters, and we all had a lot of fun, as usual.  I got a couple of photos I especially like, that I would like to share with you.   These girls want to be models.  You may be looking at the future here.

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Wowee! What fun! Spinner Dolphins

A couple of days ago, my wife and I went stand-up paddling at our local beach, which is a beautiful bay.  Just a couple of hundred yards off the beach we saw a pod of spinner dolphins going balistic.   We paddled out there and got right in the middle of them.    Wowee! What fun!   They were coming out of the water all around us.  If you come and visit, you may be able to experience the same thing.  As far as we can tell, they can’t differentiate between locals and tourists.  Sorry, no photos of that, but here’s one off the bow of a boat I was on last Summer.  (Tour boat: Captain Sundown)

Spinner Dolphin

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