Honeymoon Island State Park

Maternity Portraits on Honeymoon Island State Park with former photo student Betty

Relaxing on a swing at Honeymoon Island State Park Florida during a maternity photo shoot - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 1/200th ISO 200 - Strobist: SB-800 & SB-600 to frame left & rightA lot can happen in 4 years and so it has for a past DSLR photography student of mine.  I first met Betty in November of 2010 for a couple of 1-on-1 DSLR photography lessons with her Canon T1i.  She contacted me this fall inquiring about maternity portraits and after a bit of schedule gymnastics, we were able to find a date and location that worked out.  It seems that in those 4 years she was busy, not so much with her photography as she informed me sadly, but in her personal life getting married and now expecting a baby.

I added a digital white background to this maternity portrait actually made on a beach at Honeymoon Island State Park Florida - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/9 1/250th ISO 200 - Strobist: SB-800 to frame left & SB-600 to frame rightIt is always nice to see a past photography client again and especially so to photograph a new part of their life.  It was a bit breezy out on the beach at Honeymoon Island State Park, but otherwise the weather cooperated pretty well.  I had a number of different styles of shots I wanted to try, including the tightly composed profile photo above.  I cut out the existing background as it was not very vivid to begin with and replaced it with a pure white digital background.

Willing to get sandy for a maternity photo at Honeymoon Island State Park Florida - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 1/250th ISO 200 - Strobist: SB-800 & SB-600 angled down

For the last shot of the afternoon I asked them how willing they were to get a bit sandy.  They were quite willing so I was able to try out an overhead shot I thought was a bit different than the usual maternity composition angle.  I look forward to photographing Betty and baby in 2015!

Nikon D3200 1-on-1 DSLR Photography Lesson Honeymoon Island State Park Florida with Karin

Karin framing a shot with her Nikon D3200 during our 1-on-1 DSLR photography lesson at Honeymoon Island State ParkI had not been to Honeymoon Island State Park for awhile, but on a Saturday back in November I had first a 1-on-1 DSLR Photo Lesson with Karin and her Nikon D3200, then a maternity shoot with a former photo student.  I met Karin at the park's visitor center which provided a comfortable place to first discuss my 5-step process for getting a well expososed and sharp photo in any given shooting situation.  

After that the grounds around the visitor's center itself provided enough variety to put into practice how I had instructed Karin, step-by-step, to shoot in manual exposure mode.  The variety of shady mangroves and bright sky provided a good contrast for learning how to quickly change between shooting conditions.  About 7 to 10 seconds (or faster) is the time range I set for students to get to for changing all 5 settings as need be between shooting conditions, and then even less than that for adjusting in the same conditions.  Of course I do not expect such quickness during the first lesson!  In time with experience and becoming more familiar with the Nikon camera body, Karin will be able to minimize the time getting settings right allowing her to maximize the time to get a shot in the first place and then compose it as desired.

Honeymoon Island State Park Family Beach Portraits Candid Sunset

Candid Family Beach Portrait at Sunset on Honeymoon Island State Park - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/5.6 ISO 200 1/200th Strobist: SB-800 in front of subjects & SB-600 behind & to the right of subjectsThe streak continues for photographing past clients.  This time it was DSLR Photography Lesson student Angela's family for sunset beach portraits out at Honeymoon Island State Park.  We had to reschedule our candid portrait session three times due to various weather, including tropical storm Debbie.  There was a bit of a time issue as well as one of Angela's daughters was soon off to college!  In the end we had perfect weather for the entire shoot.

Family Beach Portrait on a swinging bench on Honeymoon Island State Park - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/7.1 ISO 200 1/200th Strobist: SB-600 to frame left & SB-800 to frame right

This bench swing was the first and only prop we used during our photo session.  With a little careful arranging the entire family of five were able to (comfortably?) fit on the bench.  To make the image more candid and natural I had them actual swing back and forth, capturing this image as they swung farthest forward.  This also helped solve a problem with shadows coming from the beams holding up the swing.

Trying out new poses during this family beach portrait session - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/9 ISO 200 1/200th Strobist: SB-600 to frame left & SB-800 to frame right

Using a handy new iPhone posing app, I showed the family exactly how I wanted them to arrange themselves for a more together looking portrait than if they were all just sidding side-by-side or even in a standard two-row pose.  This was Angela's favorite photo from the session.  

A 60's sitcom promo inspired shot - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/6.3 ISO 200 1/80th Strobist: SB-800 to frame left & SB-600 to frame right

The above image is also an entirely new shot I never made before.  I asked if everyone was willing to lie down on the sand.  Everyone agreed and we were thus able to make this fun photograph that somehow reminds me of The Monkees or other such 60s era type of promo shot.  Since they were wearing white shirts and the sand was off-white, I decided to convert the image to black & white as there was little color in it.

Sisters having fun on Honeymoon Island State Park - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/5.6 ISO 200 1/200th Strobist: SB-800 next to camera & SB-600 behind to the right

We had a theme going of giving piggy-back rides which the three sisters continued for their siblings only shot.  This is yet another uniquely composed beach portrait staggering height rather than depth, creating a vertical look in a square framing.

Moon rising over Honeymoon Island State Park family beach portrait - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/8 ISO 200 1/80th Strobist: SB-800 to frame left & SB-600 to frame rightAs we were finishing the family beach photo session, I noticed the moon rising and a great purple sky.  Now I have made a shot very similar to this one before a few years back much further south near the Tradwinds Resort.  Surprisingly similar as I myself look at them both side-by-side right now.  I was glad that Honeymoon Island State Park provided such a variety of backgrounds for what I consider one of my very best family beach portrait sessions ever.  I have to give a lot of the credit to Angela and her family for their relationships with each other and how well they all interact and can simply just have fun and be themselves, even though I am surrounding them with speedlights and pointing my lens at them.

Spicified Candid Brothers Portrait at Honeymoon Island State Park

Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/5.6 ISO 200 1/320th Nikon SB-600 Speedlight on light stand above & to the left

Photographing a portrait session on a beach, even at sunset, can lead to quite a few similar looking shots.  How can you add a little spice to some of the shots?  Topaz Adjust 3 makes it quite easy actually, as it has a "spicify" filter right in it.  I used that filter among others to process the above candid portrait of two brothers who added their own kind of spice to every shot I took of them with their great energy and playfulness.  

Steps for making the above shot: 

  • import RAW file into Aperture 3
  • applying sharpening, exposure & shadow adjustments using the simple sliders
  • use the polarizing filter in Nik Color Efex Pro 3
  • send that image to Photoshop CS4 as a 16-bit TIFF
  • apply unsharp mask at 68%
  • apply the spicify filter in Topaz Adjust 3
  • dodge the boys to make them stand out a little (save file)
  • adjust hue and red channel in Aperture 3, export jpg 

Below is the non-spicified version:

only basic adjustments were made to the RAW file in Aperture 3 for this shot taken at Honeymoon Island State Park

So what do you think of the spicify filter in Topaz Adjust 3?  Did it help or hurt the portrait?  Or did it simply offer an alternative version of a shot?  Please let me know what you think and why in the comments below.  

Honeymoon Island Candid Family Beach Portraits

Candid Family Vacation Portrait at sunset on Honeymoon Island State Park in Dunedin FloridaAnother great Florida sunset set the backdrop for a very fun candid family Florida Vacation Portrait session at Honeymoon Island State Park.  Robert and Bonnie, and their two boys Alex and Aiden were visiting Florida from Kentucky, and picked a great time for a vacation here as the colder than normal winter weather just finished, and the full on heat and humidity has not yet arrived.  

The boys had a great time setting each other up with rabbit ears during our candid portrait session

The boys were real characters making my job easy as they loved to play around and were not shy at all.  We found this small hole in the beach and turned it into a prop for this natural light (Nikon D300, Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8D @ f/4 1/1600th) candid portrait.  They were both good sports about everything.

It was peace out for this candid family beach portrait

I really enjoyed all the personality the whole family had and it is a lot of fun to be able to make candid family portraits like the one above.  I just set up my strobe on a light stand to frame left, dialed in the settings on my D300, and shot away as they had fun with the portrait session.  I gave no directions at all.  I did not need to, which is fine by me.  This let's me focus on composition and timing and making the best shots I can.

Trying to touch the sky in this candid father and son beach portraitThe above was another natural light portrait.  Just 30 minutes before sunset on a day like this makes for great light, and the Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8D lens at f/4 produces great results.  The 80-200mm remains a good budget alternative to the Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G VR lens, especially for outdoor portrait work.

Thank you to Robert, Bonnie and the boys for a great candid portrait session.  

Candid Florida Beach Portraits - Mary and Family

Are you Florida family portraits this fun? If not reserve yours today!

Yesterday's Deluxe Candid Portrait session with Mary, her husband Nathan, sons Kyle & Avery, and Emily was a whole lot of fun!  They were such an energetic and loving family that it made my job pretty easy.  They were willing to run, splash and frolic, and even walk through a bit of Florida jungle.

Florida family portrait in a great tree in Belleair Bluffs

This was a two location portrait session with the first at a great little waterfront park in Belleair Bluffs.  Besides the water views there were these low-lying, horizontal tree branches that were good for wrapping up Mary's family in for a Robinson Crusoe-ish treehouse portrait.  The above shot is in sepia, my new favorite processing filter for my photographs these days.

Candid Florida family beach portrait on Honeymoon Island State Park

After Belleair Bluffs we drove to Honeymoon Island State Park from some signature candid beach portraits.  The afternoon sun was still high in the sky and strong, so it was a bit of lighting challenge, but my trusty Nikkor AF ED 80-200mm F2.8D lens with a polarizing filter on it was able to tame the sunlight enough.

Some infrared laughs during our candid Florida beach portrait session

For the first time I included an infrared image (above) in the 40 professionally edits photographs included in the Deluxe Candid Portrait package.  I am increasing the variety of images available to my clients now with infrared, sepia, high structure black & white, enhanced tonal contrast and old plate images just to name some.  Often these types of images are in included in addition to the original color image.

The three hours for this portrait session flew by and I made the drive home from Honeymoon Island State Park very much looking forward to seeing the images on my 24-inch monitor at home.  I was so excited in fact that I finished editing all 40 images by late last night!

Thanks very much again to Mary and her family for a very fun and creative afternoon.

Honeymoon Island State Park Candid Portrait Photography - Linda, Jerry, Zach & Kayden

We had a great candid portrait photography session on a blustery afternoon at Honeymoon Island State Park.

Linda was beginning to think it might be a lost cause, as our first scheduled candid portrait session was called off due to a passing hurricane and this second one was on a day with a 50% chance of showers.  Despite blustery conditions, the weather was very accommodating and we were able to have our portrait session at last.

Soaring through our candid beach photography session was Kayden, a very energetic child.

Besides the weather, the other unpredictable aspect of this session was young Kayden, who did not lack for energy or a desire to run and play in the sea.  In fact, he was so caught up in the beach that he was mostly oblivious to me shooting away.  This is great for my preferred candid style of photography, but also challenging to try and stay enough in front of him to include some of his face in the shots!  He was very quick.

Brothers having fun at the beach during our candid portrait photography session in the relatively warm Florida autumn.

Big brother Zach was great with Kayden, especially as seen above "helping" Kayden cross a large beach puddle.  It is not often I see such affection for a younger brother by an older brother as I did with Zach toward Kayden.  

Nothing like the beach for a natural playing environment for two Florida brothers.

For this shoot I mostly had to concentrate on finding a way to stay in front of the two fast moving brothers and avoid the errant shell throwing of toddler Kayden.  As can be seen above, his brother was not so lucky!

Just a beach portrait of the grandparents enjoying a moment of peace on the seaside.

While the kids attempted to rid their bodies of the sand covering most of their lower halves, I went with grandparents Linda and Jerry to make a portrait of just them amongst the tall beach grass that is so abundant on the beach at Honeymoon Island State Park.

No one was afraid to get a bit sandy in order to make a lasting family portrait that afternoon.

Can you tell who was playing in the sand and who wasn't in the above family portrait?  I had a great time during this candid beach portrait session and actually like very much the dramatic, gray, stormy skies.  Thank you again to Linda and her family for their business.