Posts Tagged ‘Maternity Photography’

December 6, 2017

First Time Charm

My best photo shoot is usually my third. Unless it’s something I’m shooting on a regular basis, I usually take a few iterations to figure out the best settings to lessen the chances of unintentional blur (both depth of field related, camera shake and motion). So when I decided to try a modified low key maternity photo in front of the Christmas tree, I was pretty stoked to get this on my first attempt.


ISO 5000
F/36 (to produce the star light effect)
2 Second Shutter Speed

It was a difficult shot. I’m kneeling so my bump is against to the widest part of the tree (you can see the floor in the background to the right.) I had troubles sitting still for so long, and ended up leaning against Alexis’ training potty so I could hold my position better. Even still there’s a bit of noise, but it’s not horrible. Given the difficulty of the shot, I think the end result was rather impressive. I was using normal noise reduction, and could experiment with pushing it to the max. If I used a star filter (something I didn’t yet own) I could create the stars with a wider aperture and not rely on such a high ISO setting or long shutter speed. If this is what I got when I didn’t quite know what I was doing, imagine what I could get with a little work!

All other attempts have been flops.

The stars created with a small aperture are small and dense with 14 rays that don’t stretch very far from the point light. The star filter set I purchased produce a maximum 10 rays. I was hoping there wouldn’t be much of a difference between 10 and 14 rays, but the 10 rays looked mighty thin compared to the 14 rays. Adding insult to injury, the greater the difference in contrast between point light to the rest of the photo, the longer the rays. The end result? Long streaks of light that didn’t really look like stars stretching across most of the photo. The darker the photo, like these low key setups, the worse the filter stars looked.


With star filter

Results with increased noise reduction were ok, but not remarkably better.

Sadly for me and my perfectionist tendencies, the further along I get in this pregnancy the less energy I have to try for better photos. I’m also getting impatient with the still yet untrimmed tree (I worry the ornaments will detract from the photo) so I decided to declare this photo attempt done after five tries. I did take a back up shot with an increased the aperture (bye bye pretty point light stars) which at least doesn’t suffer from noise or blur. I’m convinced that somewhere out there is a program that can add stars to point lights after the fact. If it doesn’t exist now, I’m sure it will at some point.

In the mean time, I ran my best photo (above) through every single photo manipulation app on my phone. Here are my two favorite results.

The first is from an app called Camera+ using the faded filter. I love the nearly black and white look with the stars supplying little bursts of color. The color tone is a nice touch as well.

Next up is Prism with the Curly Hair style. It’s another mostly black and white image, this one looks almost like a drawing.

Tomorrow while the kids are at school I plan to trim the tree while blasting Christmas music. My goal: be done with my to-do list early enough that I can relax the week leading up to Christmas and get plenty of sleep before the chaos that is Christmas morning. I did it before, I can do it again!

November 10, 2017

Low Key Maternity Photography

How can I possibly be 32 weeks already? It suddenly dawned on me that despite approaching the midway point in the third trimester, the only “bump” photos I have are a handful of bathroom selfies at 8 weeks when I couldn’t believe I was already showing. I needed to fix that, and I waned to challenge myself to try at something different.

Low key photos are low light, mostly dark photos that emphasize shadow and shape. I tried to do low-key bump portraits while pregnant with Alexis, but couldn’t master the light. I’ve experimented with dark background, spotlight photos before using a desk/craft light, but the craft light wasn’t strong enough to take photos of a larger subject (like my bump.)

This time around I decided to get a long, skinny adjustable craft light since I can almost always use more high quality desk lamps. I settled on TaoTronics LED Desk Lamp since it allowed me to adjust both brightness & color temperature. As an added bonus, TaoTronics had a newer model so the one I purchased was on the cheaper side. As long as it’s a bright white light and the right narrow shape, any lamp will do. To further control the light I cut up the Amazon box it shipped in and made cardboard flaps. I taped a flap to each side of the lamp, to focus the light so it wouldn’t illuminate the wall behind me.

As a general rule of thumb the darker the photo, the more visible the ISO noise. To make this photo work I had to shot at a very low ISO setting, which means a longer exposure time. Unfortunately, unlike my previous spotlight attempts I needed to shot with the room dark. The larger the subject, the further back the craft light needs to be. The further back the craft light, the less bright the light is when it reaches the subject. I shot the above photo ISO 100, f/5, 1/13 a second. Normally I’m comfortable shooting at ISO 1000, but it was just too much noise.
The above photo is pushing the boundaries of what my 5 year old camera can do.

If you want to attempt a similar photo, here are my tips:
– Where light color, possibly skin toned clothes. I tried this in a dark sweater and everything other than my hands all but disappeared.
– Use a Lower ISO settings to avoid noise. I know I said that before, but this is one instance where a little noise can really ruin your photo.
– Adjust the cardboard flaps (you can use masking tape at the tops and the bottoms) to control how narrow or wide the light beam is.

November 15, 2014

Half Naked Maternity Photos

maternitywatercolor
Showing off the 39 week baby bump. I used the ios app Waterlogue to give it the effect of a water color painting, and to hopefully make the photo less objectionable to anyone out there who may object to half naked photos.

A little over two months ago I managed to take a pants-less maternity photo. It wasn’t intentional. I wanted to avoid the ugly full panel waste line in my photo so I opted to only wear an oversized sweater. I was using a camera tripod at the time, so I couldn’t see how I was framed before the photo, and ended up with a little bare leg. I loved it. There was something about showing a little skin that made me feel beautiful again, the kind of feeling I hadn’t really had since my last pregnancy.

39% of the maternity photos I’ve taken this time around have been sans pants.

I kept wondering what is it about being pantsless that made me feel better about my figure? If I’m pantsless you do get more of a sense of my figure. I’ve recommended form fitting clothes for maternity photography before. A while back I had read that women who gain a little weight tend to want to hide it with baggy clothes. But baggy hides all curves, which can actually give the illusion that you’re bigger than you actually are. I found that if I wore a t-shirt, it would hang off my chest or bump. You couldn’t always tell it was a baby bump under there. Coupled with baggy pants and you had no idea how big my hips and thighs were. Sometimes I just looked large. If I went sans pants in a photo, my legs looked really skinny beneath the giant belly. Or so I think, anyway.

I also found it somewhat empowering to show a little skin. I may be pregnant and have gained a bit of weight this time, but I’m still owning my figure. Confidence tends to photograph well.

The more I think about it the more it makes me a little sad that there’s such a stigma against taking even partially nude photos, even where you cannot see anything. There always seems to be the assumption that the intention is to take them for other people, to show off, or get the ‘wrong’ kind of attention. The photos I took made me feel great about myself at a time when I was otherwise self conscious. I have no intention of sharing any of them, besides the example above that has been significantly altered from it’s original form. I wouldn’t want anyone pressured out of taking a photo like this any more than I would want someone pressured into it. If your comfortable with it, and it will make you happy, go for it!

October 28, 2014

Maternity Silhouettes

In just two days I will be term, which means we’re rapidly coming to an end of the maternity photography window. Lack of free time and energy kept me away from my camera this time around, so I have fewer maternity photos, and definitely less variety. On the other hand, I’ve gotten much better with my camera. It takes me less practice shots to get some nice ones.

I really enjoyed doing silhouettes this time around, which is interesting given I was less pleased with my overall figure.

ziggysilhouette

ziggysilhouette2
Cloned out the blinds in this one.

Paying close attention to posture really helps with these. Slouching, even just a tad, made the photo look frumpy. I even started stretching as much as possible to elongate my torso and smooth out some of the *aheam* less baby related bumps.

ziggysilhouette3
A near duplicate of last week’s photo, but with less of a clubbed hand holding the remote.

The other thing I learned to pay close attention to was my metering. If I did matrix metering the camera would select the most well rounded exposure where the view out the window wasn’t getting blown out. Alas that meant I was very dark, and most of the detail, especially the detail in my face, was lost. Of course the goal is to photograph myself and my baby bump, not the traffic behind me. I started with spot exposure and increased it as necessary. (See, I am learning! Last time I just strived for over exposure, this time I didn’t sacrifice depth of field to do it!)

I wanted to do a photo like this. It strikes me as the photographic equivalent of a bump cast. Alas, I do not have barn doors lighting. I thought I could kludge together a solution using the spotlight trick. My thinking was to create a large differential in light between two rooms, then open the door just a crack to let a sliver of light spill out. So far no luck. Turns out professional photographers tend to buy expensive gear for a reason.

September 20, 2014

Pixel Count Convert

I find myself increasingly a pixel count convert. For years I’ve been on the megapixels-don’t-count bandwagon. My old 10.2 megapixel D60 was capable of producing an image large enough to get a 20 by 30 wall print, if but just barely. More megapixels don’t necessarily translate into a better quality image, but they do add up in terms of file size. I’m already running out of space on my hard drive. Again.

But every once in a while I start wishing I had more mega pixels.

This weekend I wanted to take more maternity photos, this time with my face showing. Nicki, who is quite the little ham these days for the camera, wanted to be a part of it. She kept running in and out of frame. In most of the photos she’s weirdly cropped, or there’s a bit of motion blur. I swear toddlers must be related to the flash. Even at 1/640 seconds, with my 50mm prime she can be a blur on camera. I still love the photos with my little toddler photo bomber (what parent wouldn’t?) but they’re not something I intended to share.

Then I came across this one:

Straight out of the camera
Straight out of the camera

After some cropping.

Cropped to capture a sweet moment
Cropped to capture a sweet moment

I love it! Since it’s a 60% crop I can get a 5 by 7 high res print easily. I can even (probably) do a 8 by 12 with a little tweaking. It’s moments like these that make me grateful my current camera is 16.2 Megapixels, and even makes me wish it was a little higher!

September 7, 2014

Finding My Pretty

I haven’t been feeling as good this pregnancy than last. I’m a bit more tired, and a bit more over worked. I’m also about 5 lbs heavier at this point with Ziggy than I was with Nicki. Intellectually I know those 5 lbs are rather meaningless, especially when pregnant, but I’m rather self conscious about them. For the past few months I’ve been struggling to take maternity photos.

maternityziggy
I really like this photo, despite the lens flair.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I shouldn’t take the same photos I took in my first pregnancy. It’s too tempting to compare them, and then I inevitably find fault in my figure this time around. My belly button is a bit stretched out looking, and I still have the silver lines from past stretch marks. I did attempt more bare belly photos, but I ultimately decided to pass on them (for now at least) to spare my sanity. Besides, challenging myself to come up with something different from what I’ve already done will help me grow as a photographer.

I’m determined to stick with it and keep trying for more photos. Often photos I don’t like will grow on me over time. I did take some at seven weeks with what I felt was the biggest-bump-ever, but couldn’t bring myself to post them feeling I looked too fat and bloated. Now I think they’re kind of cute. Digital memory is cheap. I just don’t want to look back five years from now and regret not having some photos of my pregnancy with Ziggy like I have of my pregnancy with Nicki.


Addendum (9/13): I took some more photos this afternoon, this time with the UV filter off to reduce lens flair. I am supper happy with the way these turned out. I am starting to feel pretty again.

Here’s what helped me get some of my confidence back:

New clothes! I purchased two new (cheap) non-maternity sweater a size up from what I normally wear. There’s something comforting about fitting into a non-maternity clothes, even when your 30 weeks pregnant. The one sweater is so incredibly soft I plan on using it as an around the house sweater post-ziggy. The other one looked a bit nicer in the photos, but ended up being a bit scratchy, so it will probably be donated.

Showing a little skin! didn’t want to get that not so attractive maternity-pants-full-panel-waist-line in the photo, so I ended up doing them sans pants. I didn’t intend to show a little leg, but one of the hazards of using a tripod and not having a real photographer is never knowing exactly how you will be framed. Actually, I think it adds a little something to the photo to see a little bit of leg.

I did originally post a photo from my second session. I figured it wasn’t too risqué. After all you’d see the same amount of skin if I was wearing a swim suit cover. I guess I’m still feeling a bit self conscious because I ultimately decided to take it down. Oh well, it makes me happy to have it and that’s the important thing!

June 25, 2012

Another Chance at Photos

There’s still no sign that Zippy will be making her appearance any time soon, so I took the opportunity to take a photo of Domingo and I together (which I haven’t done since Mother’s day!)

I know, I’m a walking cliché. At least I admit I have a problem… right? Here’s a few more that are less cliché.

I still don’t think I look very pregnant front the front, let alone a couple days shy of my due date! I did finally order a backdrop & backdrop stand, so I’ll be all set for some newborn photography!

I’m not sure how many opportunities I will have to take more maternity photos, since we are now full term! While I plan on continuing to take more maternity photos right up until Zippy’s arrival, I’ve noticed my energy level has dipped significantly in the recent weeks.

I am really happy with how these turned out. I was able to capture the moment, and I’ll always have these for myself. Sure, it would have been nice to also have professional photos taken. You can never have too many photos in my book! But, to be honest, I’m starting to get way more excited for newborn photos than maternity photos.

The nice thing about maternity photos is you have several months to practice. I think I’ve improved a lot over the past five weeks. And I should have. In total, I took close to three thousand photos throughout my pregnancy! Of course, many of them are near duplicates, blurry, or posses that didn’t pan out, but that will just be our little secret. I also retook a few of my favorites as my belly continued to expand.

I’m strongly considering a professional newborn photographer, since there’ll be less time to practice. Part of the reason I took so many photos is because I was using a remote and tripod, and it’s really hard to get everything lined up and framed correctly what you can’t see what you’re doing. I’d take five or six before taking a break to notice my camera was auto focusing on the wrong thing, or I was being cropped in a way I didn’t like! I wouldn’t need so many if I was behind the lens instead of in front of it. I predict Zippy will be less patient with me while I fiddle with the tripod.

Phia (the unicorn) has been with me for over a decade. She pre-dates college, and maybe even high school. My favorite part about this photo? Zippy is giving me a good solid kick (on the left side). She wants to be in the picture too!


Belly!! This is my third post with my bare belly exposed. The funny thing? I don’t think I’ve ever exposed my belly button pre-pregnancy. I’ve never even worn a bikini in public. I did wear a mid drift once in highschool, but my belly was hidden under overalls.

And, of course, the classic bump shot, in front of the window for awesome light.

So new tips after weeks of practice:

– Experiment different levels of zoom with each of your poses. I read somewhere that amateurs (like me) tend to take photos from too far back, where pros will step in for a close crop. I ended up doing a bare belly picture a few inches closer to the tripod than usual, and I really liked that extra closeness, which led to the hands in the shape of a heart photo.

– Don’t be overly worried about being creative. As you can see, I didn’t shy away from clichés like hands in the shape of a heart, colored ribbon on the belly or even the picture frame. True, I wouldn’t expect to see them in a professional portfolio (at least not without a new creative spin), but they give you a good starting place. They also ended up being some of my favorites.

– Definitely take photos whenever you’re feeling up to it. Once I hit 35 weeks my energy level tanked. I kept waiting for good days with good sun, but my energy level and the weather never really cooperated, so I don’t have many outdoor pictures. I should have forced myself to go out more. I also have very few with my husband after 30 weeks, which is my one regret. Thankfully I have some time left to fix that!

(Past DIY maternity photography tips are here and here)

mothersday

Happy Mothers day to all the moms out there – whether you’re babies be in your arms, in your bellies, or in your dreams!

We are still knee deep in an insane to-do list, but I wanted at least one good outdoor family photo. It was my only request for my first mother’s day!

Now that we’re at thirty one weeks (7 months) along I thought I would try some more interesting DIY maternity photography. My bump is pretty pronounced at this point, and while it will get bigger, I don’t (yet) have stretch marks or a popped belly button, so I thought I would take advantage of it! Don’t worry, there’s nothing risqué.

The most important thing I’ve learned so far is to remember where you’re light source is! Light is your friend! If you think of the camera, light source and you forming a triangle, I found it works best if the angle in the corner represented by you is not obtuse (either acute or right angles are fine). Otherwise I’m usually cast in too much shadow. I then face anywhere between the light source and the camera. My preferred light source is a window, but in a pinch a lamp can do.

I also strongly maintain that this is a time to experiment with your camera. You don’t have to share the photos you don’t like, so why not snap away and get as many as possible! I’m much more of a classic bump kind of gal, but it was fun to experiment.

Nothing but Belly!

This is a pretty standard maternity photo for a reason. It’s also super easy! I did this in front our living room window in early morning when the sun was streaming through, illuminating the curtain. If you have a tripod, set the camera height to be at about your navel. I’ve got a three quarters turn to the window (so the light is on the bump) and the camera is facing me.

One of the things that makes this shot so easy is you can easily lean over and see how the photos are turning out, and adjust the camera settings as need be. The sun kept going behind clouds, so I had to keep readjusting my exposure. I really like the overexposure in this setup.

If you don’t know how to do an over exposure, and easy way is to have your camera on ‘auto’. The camera will then select an appropriate f-stop and shutter speed. Next, switch over to manual and reduce shutter speed to have a longer exposure. You can always do several iterations of trial and error until you get the exposure you want.

I also did the overly cliché hands-in-the-shape-of-a-heart shot. You’re taking these shots for you, so who cares if you indulge in some clichés? Do whatever makes you happy!

Tips:

* If you’re going to do this with a bare belly, change out of any full or partial panel maternity pants in advance. That way you won’t get any clothing lines in your photos. I’ve found I often have to change for about a half hour first, just to be on the safe side.
* I sometimes forget I’m holding the camera remote and end up with a clenched fist. I find it works much better if I set the remote down, or hide it in my pocket during the 2 second shutter delay.

Setup

The layout for this picture. The yellow triangle shows the angle the camera sees.

Inverted Perspective

Not going to lie, this one was much harder than I expected. For this shot I’m lying on the bed and the camera is on a tripod. The problem is I’m not as spry as I was thirty weeks ago. It takes a great deal of effort to get up off of the bed, and change the camera settings. I also don’t particularly love this shot, since my bump is much less pronounced.

In order to reduce the number of “bad shots” and thus trips to the camera I recommend using a piece of masking tape to mark the spot for your head. Domingo also helped me by letting me know where the image was being cropped so I could readjust without needing to get up all.the.time.

Tips:

* Try not to tilt your head too far back when looking at the camera. At least for me, tilting my head too far back and an ear to ear grin caused my forehead to wrinkle.

Setup:

The layout for this picture. Again, the yellow triangle shows the angle the camera sees. For the photo where I’m wearing the pink shirt, the camera is about 8 inches to a foot higher than I am, pointing down. It’s about 2 feet higher for the second image. The camera and the window are on the same side of me, so the light from the window will illuminate the bump.

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