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How it was shot: Forever My Muse

One of my favorite things to do is get out and test new locations with my little man. This was a spot along a walking path that we use to walk often when we were living in Australia. I can not tell you how many times I walked by it and thought: 'Wow, that is pretty'. Then one day I decided to bring my camera, and I am so glad, as I ended up with a small series of wonderful shots of my son. I never did get an opportunity to bring a client to this spot, which is too bad, it was a gem.


Ocean Grove Australia, just before the parking lot to the Barwon River Beach Area by the bridge


Mid March (late summer/autumn in Australia), 1.5 hours before sunset. It was outside of the golden hour but with the hill behind him blocking so much of the sun, I was worried if I waited until the golden hour it would be too dark.

Subject Placement:

I positioned him so that he was in the shade with the sun to his back and left.

Shooting Position:

I too was in the shade to prevent sun flare from hitting my lens. Even though I shoot with a lens hood back light can be hard to deal with, and I find physically being in the shade helps a lot. Also, I chose a shooting location where the sky behind me was open (all blue sky) so that he would have catch lights in his eyes even though the sun is behind him.

Camera Settings:

Aperture: f/1.8

I wanted maximum background blur for this shot, and this photo was for myself, so I shot wide open, even though at f/1/8 I was risking him not being fully sharp due to a shallow depth of field (with clients, I usually do shoot at 2.5 or 2.8 to ensure a sharp image). However, with this shot my risk taking paid off! Also, I have noticed that my 50mm 1.8 lens gives me the best background blur and sharpness when I shoot subjects from the waist up.

Shutter Speed: 1/400

When I shoot children, I try to shoot as close to 1/500 as possible to ensure they are sharp. He was interested enough in that stick that he was not moving a lot and so I was comfortable stopping down in order to keep my ISO at 100

ISO: 100

I always try to keep my ISO as low as possible to prevent noise.

**If anything in this section is confusing, reading Understanding Exposure will help a lot. Bryan Peterson does an amazing job breaking down Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO and their relationship to help photographers quickly and easily learn to take beautiful, creative photos.


For portraits, I always have my camera set to spot metering and I use my subject's skin for metering.

My equipment:

This photo was taken with my Canon T3i, which is discontinued and has been replaced by the Canon T5i - this is a wonderful camera for beginners.

I used my Canon 50mm 1.8 STM - this is a must have lens for beginners. The f/1.8 is a nice wide aperture to allow you to begin playing with a shallow depth of field and it is cheap! When used on a crop sensor frame body like the T3i or T5i, it acts more like an 85mm, so you do have to get use to stepping back to get everything in the frame.

I also use a lens hood to reduce sun flare.


I used this photo to test out the free Greater Than Gatsby Actions. From memory (sorry this is an old image and I no longer have my PSD file) I used Clean Slate Foundation (100%) and then just a bit of Your New Aesthetic, Joplin and Sparrow (all brushed off subject). Then once I bought a couple collections I added just a tad (15-20%) of one of their gradients Soft Golden Light maybe? Lots of people use gradients to add light to a photo. While I like artistic photos, I also like somewhat of a clean edit (realistic). So when I use gradients, I try to only use them to bring out and enhance natural light already in the photo, so I use really low percentages of these actions and I put it over already existing light. When I shared this photo on a few photography pages, one question that kept coming up was is the light real - photographers loved the light, and wanted to know if they too could get that look in editing, but my enhancements were so lightly done they could not tell I did anything, which is what I go for!

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