Monday, January 24, 2011

1-24-11 A Portrait of Michael

By request of Michael, a portrait of what he is thinks about.  At least one of the things he thinks about A LOT.  His GUITAR. 

1-23-11 The Best!

Nuf Said!  Love the Bou! 

1-22-11 I Wasted a Good Beer.

Tim loved this beer!  He was very excited about the color, the taste - all the different elements that go into a good beer.  he was so excited that I thought why not take a picture of it.  So I did with the intention of drinking it afterwards.   I did not like it.  Not my thing.  But I do like the picture.   :)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

1-21-11 Time Stands Still?

This guy was standing across an alley from a group of us who were working on a senior portrait session for Minneapolis After Dark last Spring.  His posturing and surroundings intrigued me and I could not resist taking his picture.  I am not usually so bold as to take pictures of strangers but one of my goals in the next 2 years is to go to Italy and photograph it.  In doing so I am trying to not be afraid to click away and look for a story to tell.  To me this portrait could go back in time with the exception of his cell phone he is looking at.  I do not know if anyone else will see what I see in this but THAT is the beauty of art.  We all see something different. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

1-20-11 I Need More Color In My Day!

Today is VERY cold with the lows getting close to -20 in the next 24 hours.  Tomorrow when my daughter journeys down to the bus stop the temps will be at least -15.  That is just insane!  This gray and white colorless landscape that surrounds me this time of year is not helping my motivation.  In order to help with my colorless day and lack of motivation I have decided to put up an image that represents life waiting to emerge when Spring finally arrives in the great state of Minnesota.   As the ice thickens and the snow falls, keep warm everyone. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

1-19-11 Celebrate Coffee

In honor of my Keurig Coffee maker actually working today and providing me with some sanity and coffee this morning, my image today is dedicated to that moment in which my cup was full of dark, rich coffee.  Here's to the coffee drinker whose knows that feeling when you discover you are out of coffee or your coffee maker says NO, I will not provide you with your fix today.   You all know who you are.  Some of you out there know what my day was yesterday and how stressed I was feeling and it all started with a coffee maker that said NO.  Today - it provided and all is well,  is there a connection, probably not but who knows.  I did notice at the end of yesterday that the moon was full, could be something to that as well.  May have to photograph that next.  Enjoy you day and sit and enjoy a good cup of java.  This was taken this morning with natural southern exposure light in my dining room.  Shot is Aperture priority mode using my 50 mm lens at f/1.8....for the few of you that e mail me and ask for the technical stuff.  :)

1-18-11 Turks and Caicos

If you want a quiet island to to visit I would recommend Turks and Caicos.  It is just north of Haiti and east of Cuba.  My husband Tim and I took a trip to Turks for our 20th wedding anniversary and to celebrate both turning 40, we called it our 100 year celebration.  It is not a party island but you will find one of the top 10 beaches in the world, great food and nice people.   As the temps plummet below zero here in Minnesota most of us are thinking where to go to escape.  I do not see a trip anytime soon in my future but I do love reflecting back on a great trip.  My image is of the outdoor dining area at our hotel that we had breakfast every morning before we hit our lounge chairs on the beach for the day.

Monday, January 17, 2011

1-17-11 Happy Birthday Sarah!!!!!

In honor of my sister in law, Sarah, and her birthday - my images today are of her!  I am not sure if she will like me for this or not but I love these pics.  While spending time with her and my niece and nephew in Florida this past summer we had a little fun with the camera on the beach.  What I learned about taking pictures in Florida in the heat of the summer and humidity is camera fog.  As soon as I took the camera out of the bag my lens was so fogged up that you could not see through it.  In order to get these shots and a few more I had to keep wiping down the lens and shoot before it fogged up again.  I have since been clued in on to solve this problem but have not tried it again.   Thank goodness for some very good computer programs that helped me to salvage the images.

Sarah,  Happy Birthday!  I do remember when you were just 14 and running all over the place as a young teenager and very boy crazy.  I really got to know you well that Christmas in England when you were 15 and I was 19,  here's to many more adventures with you!!!!!  Love you!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

1-16-11 Good help is hard to find.

Every time I do a portrait session in my studio all the settings on my lights need to be tested.  In my preparation of a session I will make notes on my ideas for the session and set my lights up.  To test my lights I need something or someone to sit for me while I click away and tweek what I need to tweek.  More often then not there is no one around and so I bought a friend/employee.  :)  Pictured below is my friend Bridget.  She is always on time, she never complains and is very cheap labor.  She always listens to MY music and will let me talk on and on and never interrupts.  You got to like that in a friend/employee.   In this portrait there are three shots of her all with slightly different lighting.  You will see her again as I practice different lighting techniques for my CPP exams.  Hope today treated you well. 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

1-15-11 My Little World

Today, after yet another snow fall yesterday and before the next one to hit Monday, I thought I would share one of my favorite things about my house.....this view out my kitchen window.  The bedroom just above the kitchen has THE BEST VIEW but this is the one I look at most often.  In the Summer months it is full of green foliage and lots of birds.  In the Spring you can hear the creek at the bottom of the ravine as new life starts to emerge. In the Fall it is so full of beautiful golds and vivid reds you can not help but stop, stare and inhale it in.  This view makes me happy.  Enjoy and have a wonderful Saturday!

1-14-11 Busted!

I have been busted for NOT posted a picture taken each day of the blog.  I am learning that as a mom of 4 and a person working on a business on my own some days are hard to get the camera out and take a picture.  I will do my best but will have days where is it not going to happen.  Yesterday was one of those days.  I got up, made lunches, got kids and husband out door for school and work, worked out, and then spent the rest of day day cleaning my own bedroom.  Moved bed, vacuumed under it and behind it.  Flipped the mattress (not trivial doing that alone with a king size mattress)  I took down the curtains and ran them through the dryer to get the dust out.  DUSTED EVERYTHING!!!! Cleaned out the bookcases and the list goes on.  I still have the closet to clean out but that is saved for another day.  There is something about cleaning out your bedroom that just makes you feel good!   Now, if we can just keep kids out and keep it clean.  After my great clean, I had to get in the car in the latest snow storm and get the boys from school in Eden Prairie, feed Michael and drop him off at Hyland to snowboard for the evening and then come all the way back to Chaska in VERY bad traffic.   We finally made it home in time to get Andrew ready for a youth group lock in with his friends from school at Grace Church.  While getting him ready to go I had to get ready to go out for the evening on a date with Tim at Wildfire.  What a day.  My evening with Tim at Wildfire was great!  While waiting for a table (45 min wait but well worth it) we ended up sharing a table in the bar with several other couples.  We love meeting new people and find we do every time we go there.  Well, how is that for an excuse as to why I never got around to taking a picture yesterday and why I am using another image from pictures past?  :)  

Today's image is a rather unique one.  At the Landscape Arboretum in Chanhassen every year they have a theme that lasts the entire season.  I believe the theme for the year of the image was Mazes.  If you live around here and go to the Arboretum and remember it being a different theme please post what it actually was.  There are different interpretations by various artists as to the theme.  The artist for this area of the Arboretum has silver balls that filled shaded area under a very large tree.  It was very cool as it sparkled in the sunlight.   When I took this picture there was some sparkle (known by photographers as specular light) that came off the balls but not a lot at the time of day I was there.  I had a star lens filter in my bag of goodies and placed that over my lens and got great light reflecting off the silver balls.   Love out this image came out and hope you enjoy it.   

Thursday, January 13, 2011

1-13-11 My Passion!

Today I am highlighting what I LOVE to do,  the babies.   They are probably one of most time consuming little clients because they are newborns just learning how to eat and sleep and do what they do but they are truly the sweetest thing to photograph.  I have been blessed with great client/friends who have let me practice on their precious brand new babies.  You have to start somewhere.  Here is one of those sweet little guys.  He is a super sweetie.  As the snow flies today I will be down working in the studio getting it nice and comfy for the babies and their mommies and daddies.  Have a wonderful day. 

1-12-11 Snow Again!

Well, I am getting a little bored with the snow pictures.  The snow just keeps falling and falling and falling.  I actually love the snow but getting bored with my surroundings as far as photographing all the white.  I would like to come up with a new twist on it.  I will keep thinking on this.   Until then, enjoy my winter scene.  This is Hazeltine Golf Course, where great magic happens in the summer months. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

1-11-11 Need Color in My Life!

Busy day today including getting ready to meet up with a wedding client from this past Fall.  It is time to put together the wedding album.  Today I thought it would be fun to highlight a portrait from that wedding.  I love the color in this portrait and today with all the white and gray outside we all need a bit of color!  Hope everyone is having a great day! 

Monday, January 10, 2011

1-10-11 Simplicity

Back in the studio today briefly.  This afternoon is the first TCPPA meeting of 2011.  I am anxious to get to the 6 hour meeting and learn something new, get inspired and fellowship with fellow professional photographers.  This is a great group of people and I am honored to get to learn from them and exchange ideas with them.  

As this new year gets going one of my goals for my family is to simplify our lives.  Get rid of stuff we do not need and focus on relationships that are healthy.  This image to me represents that simplicity.  It is just a few simple flowers with nothing competing with them.  The lighting is soft and bright and the focus is just on the flower heads and not the stems.  In shooting this I used only one studio light and one reflector.  I even used my most basic lens, a 50mm prime.  Thanks for stopping by the blog today!  Enjoy your day and stay warm. 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

1-9-11 Breaking the Rules!

I am loving my 365 project!!!  BUT tonight I am breaking my own rules of a new picture taken every day.  This image was taken several years ago. I love to get it out when I want to experiment with new art techniques.  In the image shown I worked it into an oil painting.  I have discovered that when I am stressed out digital painting is a great way to get myself back together, in a way it is "Mommy's Time Out."  I have several programs I use when turning a portrait into a painting.  This image was done in Photoshop CS5.  Another program I use is Corel Painter.  In order to fully get the various paint strokes and brush type correct I will study various artists and their work.  I can spend a lot of time in an art book, looking up artist online and of course the most fun way is to wander through an art museum.  You may see this one again after I have reworked it into something else.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

1-8-11 Man Cave on Ice!

For those of you living in the northern United States you know exactly what this is all about.  For the rest of you this is the Minnesota Man Cave on Ice.....sometimes called ice fishing.  Inside these little "tents" you can often find a mini fridge full of beer, a mini tv and a chair or two.  Some of these little ice shacks will contain room for several guy pals and even a cot or two for napping.  OH....there may even be a hole in the ice for fishing.   I am going to try and get some pictures of some of the more elaborate shacks.   Yes, you do see a truck parked out in the middle of the lake as well.  The only time I have driven across a lake was with a rental car.  I do not think I have the guts to drive my Suburban across a frozen body of water.  Tonight the actual temps here will be -23 or lower,  keep warm my friends!

Friday, January 7, 2011

1-7-11 Friday Night Snowboarders

It is Friday night and for a lot of kids here in the Twin Cities that means time to SNOWBOARD!  My image of the day is my son Michael and his buddy since the age of 4, Andrew with their prized boards getting ready to hit the slopes in just a bit.  It will be a cold and windy evening tonight but try telling these guys that.  They will board with temps below 0 and wind chills way below that.   Have fun guys.  I will be sipping hot chocolate somewhere warm. 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

1-6-11 What get's You Steamed Up?

Today I really wanted to sit and enjoy a hot steamy cappuccino.  In fact I am enjoying it right now in one of my favorite winter mugs.  Before I could enjoy, I felt the need to photograph it.  I want to learn how to capture steam or smoke with the camera and not cheat.  Well, It did not go as planned.   This is something I am going to work on.  The first shot is straight out of the camera without any editing and no steam.

This next shot is the same image but in order to find the steam I had to do some adjustments in my Adobe Lightroom.  My goal is to capture steam, proper exposure and lighting AND have real steam.  

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

1-5-11 What's Your Mood Today

This past Fall my son asked for some clay to play with.  He loves to create things so I bought him some.  He sat in his room and started creating these little heads with the cutest expressions.  Several had a happy expression on one side and a sad or angry expression on the other.  I loved them so much that I told him they would make great Christmas gifts.  Hint-hint!  Well he got the hint and wrapped under the Christmas tree for me was one of these little heads.  I have had it either next to my computer or on my kitchen window sill.  It makes me happy to look at it.  To me it is very worthy of a blog post.  :)   I love how my kids are starting to understand that a true gift is an expression of ones self.  I can not wait to highlight more art created by my children. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

1-4-11 Eyes Make a Portrait

Today I want to highlight the importance of catchlight.  Catchlight is the reflection of light you see in the eyes.  In a portrait it makes the eyes stand out.  A portrait without catchlight will seem dull and lifeless.  My model today to illustrate the difference catchlight makes is my sweet pooch, Maya.  Yes, I am using the dog because after all, my goal is to be different and creative this year.   In the first image Maya is lit by window light on her left side.  Her left eye has catchlight but the right eye is dull.  Still a cute picture but it can be better if her right side had a little lighting. 

In the next image I got out my Larson 42"x72" retractable super silver reflector and set it on Maya's right side.  Now there is catchlight in both eyes and her fur is more evenly lit.  The left eye is lit by the window light and the right eye has the window light reflected back into the eye with the reflector.   Much better image.  

The last image is the second image with a few enhancements just for fun.  

This will not be Maya's last time on the blog but the first of many as she is aways with me and loves to greet clients when they come to the studio.   In fact some of my clients who come to the studio every year often will ask to see her BEFORE we can start a session.  Cheers for now, time to feed the dog.

Monday, January 3, 2011

1-3-11 Time to Say Goodbye

There is such a wonderful build up to Christmas from the day after Halloween to Christmas day.  I am one of those people who loves every bit of it.  Not the commercial side of it but the visual side of it.  I love the colors, glitter, textures, decorations and the lights.  I am a visual person and the season to me is stimulating.  This year we went to pick out our Christmas tree the weekend of Thanksgiving.  We do it that weekend so our college age daughter can join in on the decorating of the tree while she is home for the Thanksgiving holiday.  This year when we arrived at the tree lot  the trees were frozen so we were unable to look over the shape of the trees.  My husband went over to a random tree, stood it up to check the height and that it was straight.  That was it, that was the tree.  We paid for it and took it home to thaw and decorate.   Out of the many trees over the years this was by far the best and most beautiful tree we have ever had.  We loved this Christmas tree.  Today, by myself, I had to take down the tree.  My image today is a little bit of our tree as it stands in a mound of snow right outside my back door where it received a little blanket of snow this afternoon. 

Technically, this picture is kinda cool because I just took this image a short bit ago in the dark.  I have been experimenting with long exposure night shots so I set the camera on the tripod and set the shutter for 5 seconds to get a nice exposure. 

Sunday, January 2, 2011

1-2-11 The Gang is all here!

The last day of Christmas vacation winded down today and there was so much to get done. All day I was thinking about what my day 2 image would be. Before I knew it the day had gotten away from me and it was time to go to church in the evening.  I thought maybe I would get a nice shot on the way.   As we were driving to the evening service I remembered that I forgot to bring my camera.  In the rush to get out of the door, my little Canon G10 was left behind.  So in honor of my friends left behind in the camera bag, where they get nothing done, I did a portrait of them when I returned.  Featured in this picture is my Mamiya67 with its Polaroid back, Nikon N80 (film), Canon G10 (my favorite digital point and shoot because it also shoots in manual and RAW), Nikon FM film camera (works great with infra-red film), Canon 40D (what I use for most of my work) and last my Canon 10D (my first digital DSLR that now is a great camera to teach with).  My goal in the next year is to get the Canon MarkD ii 5D to use as my pro camera.   Enjoy your day tomorrow!  Vicky

Saturday, January 1, 2011

1-1-11 The Beginning of a Journey

Wow, today is New Years Day 2011.  I had made a commitment to myself several weeks ago that I was going to get my camera out every day of 2011.  The reason for this is that as a professional photographer I want to do whatever it takes to BE the best photographer I can be.  That sounds sort of lame but it is very easy to get into a rut and do the same thing over and over again.  Not just in photography but in life.  My hope is that I will learn to see the things around me in a different light.  As a photographer that alone has many meanings.  

Today I set out in my car and with camera in hand to "find" the first picture of the year.  Living in the frozen tundra of Minnesota and with the temperature all of 5 degrees out and a steady wind to boot it was not the easy task I had envisioned.  I saw many things that called out to me but because of deep snow and horrible driving conditions getting out of my warm car was not going to happen.  I did find what I was looking for but the realization of the challenge ahead of me over the next year grew very clear.   I am very excited about what lies ahead in this journey and hope you will come along for the ride.  

Over the next year my goal is to photograph something everyday.  The subject matter will be various things from client work to whatever motivates me on a particular day.  I plan to share something about the photograph taken each day.  It may be a special story about the subject or the technical details behind the image.   I see this blog and its format as a work in progress that will change and grow as I do over the next year.  

Thank you for stopping by and enjoy!  

Vicky Johnson

Finding the "RIGHT" first image was much harder then I thought it would be.  This is a spot along side a road I travel almost every day.  In the Spring we watch the ducks gather and sit on their eggs.  We as a community watch with great anticipation as the little ducklings are hatched.  Throughout the summer we watch the journey they make from duckling to independence.  I love this little spot in our little world of Chaska. As I journey this next year with this project this will be a spot I come back to.