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Monday, October 17, 2011

Monthly Monday Mommy Playdates: One Lesson Leads To Another

Yesterday I enjoyed another great morning sharing photography tips and letting my little guy explore a new playground. This month's Monthly Monday Mommy Playdate took us to Anderson Park in Collegeville. The little guy and I had never been there before, but we were not disappointed! Not only was there a wonderful play area for him to run around, climb, slide, and explore, but there was great opportunity for a wonderful lesson in open shade.
I had planned to talk to the moms about perspective and how to get at our kids from all angles. But before we went on our assignment to "think perspective" one mom asked a great question about light and how to escape those harsh contrasting highlights and shadows on her daughter's face. We talked a little about open shade, and then went off in search of fun perspectives.

I began climbing along side my little guy shooting him from crazy angles.

But I began to notice those harsh highlights and shadows. The light on the playground was just too bright.

There was no open shade near the playground, he was either in direct sunlight or running across crazy shadows. So even the fun perspectives I tried were overshadowed (pun intended) by the harsh light. Something had to give.

Then I noticed that Sedona had crawled underneath into some open shade. I shot, exposing for her face, and blew out the entire play apparatus. But it showed us something. Even at mid day hours, with harsh direct sunlight, if we can find open shade, like under a play set, we will get great exposures, and great images!

Here's the original shot, uncropped to show how harsh the light was from above compared with the nice even light in the shade.

And here it is cropped. Great image in that same harsh setting. Ah, the joy of open shade!

So I decided to go exploring and invited the others to join me. We found a wooded path with great open shade and we plopped our kids down on the path and saw the light!

After enjoying the lesson and the great images, we turned to head back to the playground. I snapped this shot just before we hit the harsh sun again. You can see where the shade drops off and the harsh light begins. Where would you want to be shooting?

Back to the playground we went and back to the harsh conditions. No matter where I took this little guy I could not find good light. It was hard enough to find the shade on this playground with no trees, but to keep a 2 year old seated in tiny pockets of shade for more than 5 seconds? Well, that's just downright impossible!

I tried and tried, but hated every shot on this playground. So I gave up on this spot, and let my little guy explore again, gently guiding him to another area with open shade, the west side of a great building, shown to the right of this image.

And there we found the light! It was gorgeous directional light, falling beautifully and evenly on us with no harsh spots. And there my little guy was able to plop down with his snacks and his choo choos and play in the grass for a while.

And there I was able to have fun with my perspective, getting down low with him, and enjoying his world for a little while.

I learned a few lessons during this hour. First, it truly is all about the light. You can work on perspective, or fun angles, or compositions all day long, but if you're not in the right light, you're just not going to get the shots you want. Second, I learned that sometimes the locations dictate the lessons learned on our mommy dates, and that is so fun for me! And that every location offers new places and pockets of light to explore if we just look around a bit. And finally I learned that sometimes, just sometimes, it doesn't matter if the light's great or not, that sometimes it's about the kids having a blast and a snapshot will do JUST FINE!

I can't wait for our next Monthly Monday Mommy Playdate! Not quite sure where it will be next, or even if it will be on a Monday (I've had some requests to mix it up a bit), but I'll let you know! And until then...
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SalonMommy said...

I have had beautiful shots of my kids with really bad back a light post at their head, light streaming through half their body. I will be more careful and look for open shade! Thank you...make such good sense!

Two Times Blessed said...

Jen - thanks for all the photography wisdom! Now that my batteries are both fully charged - I can not wait to get out there and practice all you have shared. Thanks for keeping us Mommies connected not only to each other thru these gatherings but also to our kids - even if just for an hour! Thanks for all you do and for sharing it with us!

Two Times Blessed said...

Twotimesblessed - it's Justine !! Love ya - Jen!!

Jen Lebo said...

All fabulous lessons! Keep the distractions out of the background and keep the batteries charged! All mistakes I too have made! That's the fun of photography- you never get there, you just enjoy the learning process! Thanks for sharing! And Justine, I'll remind you days before to charge the batteries next time!



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