Kris Fremo: Blog en-us (C) 2017 Kris A. Fremo [email protected] (Kris Fremo) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:40:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:40:00 GMT Kris Fremo: Blog 120 120 The day of the blood moon Yes...the blood moon.  I missed it.  I was sleeping soundly for the first time in a several nights.  It had been a rough few days. You see, yesterday was my birthday.  I am told that the sunrise was beautiful, but I didn't see it. I didn't leave the house until 11 am.   I went to work late, went to soccer practice and then ate a special birthday meal that I couldn't taste.  My family did their best to help me to feel good about turning another year older.  Yesterday morning, I could barely breathe, let alone go to work and do something productive.  I went to bed early and actually fell asleep. So, when it was time to get up to see the blood moon, I just couldn't get out of bed. 

Fast forward to tonight.  Magically, today was a better day.  My head is almost clear.  I can breathe.  I can almost smell. When we decided to go down into the ravine and have a campfire tonight, I noticed that the very same moon that I missed this morning was back again.  It was big, and beautiful and irresistible.  It was just peeking up over the trees and I thought:  "I need to make a picture of this because who knows when it will happen again."  I raced up the hill to grab my camera and a tripod.  When I got back, the moon was still big, but not as big as before.  It was still beautiful and now it was high enough in the sky to reflect on the water. 

When I made the picture, I had to stand and depress the shutter manually in bulb mode.  I counted to 120- roughly two minutes.  While I was counting, I watched the fireflies sparkle over the lake and listened to the nearby coyotes howl to the moon.   What an amazing place my backyard is. The moon was so bright it seemed like daylight.  After two minutes, my arm was tired from holding so still on the shutter.  But...magic!  The image was bright and clear and wonderful.   I missed the blood moon this morning, but this moon, tonight, was spectacular. 

[email protected] (Kris Fremo) moon night Thu, 09 Oct 2014 03:17:45 GMT
It's Hannah! If we are lucky, as photographers, we get to watch entire families grow up right before our eyes.  It has been awhile since I had a chance to photograph this beautiful girl, but here she is...all grown up!  What a treat!

[email protected] (Kris Fremo) senior summer Sat, 05 Jul 2014 17:16:41 GMT
Today's Finds It has been awhile since I posted something on the blog.  Summer has taken over, and with it, a lot of outdoor work.  I'm sure that this is the case for most people.   I have been enjoying my time in the gardens.  We have many, many gardens.  In fact, we probably have more garden now than we had yard before we moved here.  It is a bit daunting at times, but makes for lots of time to contemplate many things while tending them. 

Making pictures of flowers does not usually appeal to me.  Most of the time, I can't get the picture to match the reality.  The subtle, delicate translucence of flower petals is very challenging to capture. Little critters, though, are always a surprise when they are clinging to life on the leaves of a perennial and sometimes they cause me to run in and get my camera.  That's right folks,  I do not always have my camera with me!  These cute little tree frogs are pretty easy to find around here.  Sometimes I even find them in the spout of my watering can.   In fact, frogs abound and dragonflies bask in the sun by the hundreds, if not thousands.  When I was naming my photography business, the name I really wanted was Dragonfly studio.  I still wish I had it. The problem was, the domain was already taken, and who can run a business these days if they can't get a domain name for a website?  It's really too bad because we are located in dragonfly paradise here.   Even if I can't use them for my business name,  I am thankful for them because they help control the mosquito population out here at camp Sunny Day Pictures!

[email protected] (Kris Fremo) dragonfly frog garden Mon, 16 Jun 2014 19:31:56 GMT
Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood? I must admit, I am a child of the 70's and early 80's.  Mr. Rogers was huge in my world.  Who are the people in your neighborhood?  That song has been embedded in my head since very early in life.  I grew up in a fantastic neighborhood, where the rat race did not exist (at least to my knowledge). I lived in a simple rambler (ranch house for non-Midwesterners).  My parents were friends with the neighbors, and I was friends with their children.  It was an era when people actually knew their neighbors and they looked out for one another.  As a kid, I listened to my friend's parents as if they were my own.  I remember spending entire days outside with the neighborhood gang, doing everything from creating our own roller skating show to building forts, playing kickball and spud, riding bikes and playing "spy games."  I had two best childhood friends, Lisa and Edith.  Lisa was at our house so much that she knew where everything was, including the rubber bands that were in a plastic bag taped to the inside of the coat closet in the hallway.  We used to create elaborate Barbie houses and "sew" Barbie clothes with old scraps of my mom's fabric in our playroom.  My mother still thinks of her as another one of her kids.  If I were to amass the amount of time I spent playing with friends in my childhood it would probably be as shocking as the amount of time children spend today in scheduled activities and staring at screens. 

Yes, we stared at screens when I was little.  I watched Mr. Rogers didn't I?  But the amount of time was negligible in the big scheme of things.  There were no computers, no cell phones (or phones without cords for that matter), no Ipads, no GPS devices.  Our idea of a computer was the "Little Professor," a glorified calculator designed to make math fun.  Who wanted to do that?  I compare this to my own children's childhood and my struggle to help them find joy and develop creativity in their lives without the constant need to plug into technology.  I am trying to teach them that we can have both. 

We moved to our very rural neighborhood two years ago from town.  Now I have nothing against town.  I thought that I wanted to live in a big city once; eschewing the idea of the country even though I had no idea what it was like to live in the country.  While I enjoyed my old neighborhood, it wasn't the neighborhood of my childhood. I lived there for twelve years.  I knew some of the neighbors, and still miss some of those people, but the days of free and unorganized play for my children were few and far between.  Gone are the days when children go outside to play and their parents trust that they are nearby and that they are fine; when you could count on your neighbors looking out for your kids.  My mom used to step out the front door when it was time for me to come in and yell my name at the top of her lungs.  I would hear her, sometimes from a block away, and come running.   I wanted my kids to live in a place where they could go outside and have room to roam; to use their imagination, to learn about, experience and love the natural world.  I wanted them to understand where their food comes from and that you can do things for yourself.  I wanted them to learn to use their imagination, to play with each other and to be able to entertain one another.  You can probably do that in town.  I did.  But for me and for my family, it led us to a different place. 

Do we have neighbors?  Yes.  By city standards, we are far apart since each person in our "neighborhood" has at least five acres of land.  However, we look out for one another and care for one another.  My kids even have friends to play with-though the friendships are not yet as fast as my childhood friendships, they might be, someday.  So if you made it this far, you are thinking:  "What about the picture of the cows?"  That is what I get to see on my walks and drives to and from my home.  The cows are some of my neighbors.  They live on one of the most beautiful and breathtaking plots of land I have ever seen.  Their caretakers sell eggs to my family and when I go there to get them, they invite me in for a chat that can last for at least a half hour.  The cows are teaching my children about life.  They see their babies in the spring.  They watch them wade chest deep in the marsh to keep cool on a hot day.  They see how they chew and scratch on the trees.  They listen to them talk, and Yes, they even understand that they are a source of food and sustenance.  Through it all, I have discovered that I love the country.  I love being a steward of the land and the wildlife that surrounds me and I think that my children love it too.   

[email protected] (Kris Fremo) childhood country living Tue, 13 May 2014 15:26:49 GMT
A New Idea From time to time, as I work on finding new material for the classes that I teach, I stumble upon an idea that I find intriguing.  One of the projects that I give to my first year photo students involves compositing.  We work on composites that are supposed to look real in order to utilize newfound skills in making selections and using layers, and then I sometimes I assign a self-portrait which inevitably ends up as some sort of collage for at least half of the students.  This got me thinking.  In my quest to find some new ways to express ideas, I begin to think about the possibilities of layering images.  It isn't the first time I have thought about it.  I think everyone does it at some point in their career.  However, I started to think about it in a way that went beyond merely making a cool image by layering two together. 

A few nights ago, I decided to do a little experiment with some of the images that I had back logged from the winter.  I wanted to make a composite image of many images that would express the essential qualities of winter.  This was to be the prototype for a new series that I want to do that involves creating a somewhat abstract piece out of many images on a theme that expresses the essence of that object, theme or idea.   I decided to use 20 images and chose them rather indiscriminately from the stockpile of winter images that I have.  I didn't do much post-processing on any of them aside from cropping all of them to a square format (because some were vertical and other horizontal).  I then went and piled all 20 images on top of each other in Photoshop and began at the bottom, reducing the opacity of the second to last image, and then merging it with the one below it.  I did this in pairs and once I had done 10 pairs, I went through and did it again. I continued the process until I had a single layer made up of the 20 images.   The process was methodical and not very creative in and of itself.  I wanted to see what the final outcome would look like.  I had to do several tries because when I first began, I lowered the opacity too much and one time, I didn't work in pairs and I ended up with an image that was almost non-existent (too light to be read or manipulated).  Below is a sample of what I ended up with.   The lighter version is an unadultered version of the "pile" of images and the more robust one is one that I took through post processing.  I have yet to decide what I want the final version to look like...I think the first is a bit flat and the second a bit punchy, but with more exploration I am sure I will find the right look for this idea. 

Because this was a visual investigation, there wasn't much thinking or artistry involved, but I learned a lot about the process.  I can approach it in several different ways: stick with the methodical process and let it be what it becomes, or experiment with manipulating the imagery when combining the images, using different opacities and blend modes and then working with it in post-production to achieve my vision.  I envision these, ultimately, as a series on a relatively large scale, printed on an unique substrate such as acrylic or metal.  If printed on something transparent, the image could be backlit to achieve a similar look to the computer screen, which is a source of light rather than an image that reflects light (like paper or wood or metal).   In any case, I will be working more with this idea in upcoming months.


[email protected] (Kris Fremo) abstract composite winter Fri, 11 Apr 2014 02:45:59 GMT
Water, Water everywhere After enduring 63 days of below zero temperatures this winter, it appears that spring might actually arrive in Minnesota.  This past week, my family and I ventured to Florida to escape winter's death grip for a week.  On our last day, the temperature in Orlando dipped to 56 degrees during the day, and mid-forties at night.  I took this as a sign that we belonged at home.  Today, we hit 40 degrees in Minnesota for the first time in at least 3 1/2 months.  Only a 16 degree difference from Friday in Florida.  However, the snow is still here.  Ironically, the day that I photographed our family pictures for this year's Christmas card was the last day without snow in Minnesota.  It snowed the next day, and we haven't had a single day of melting since. 

I suppose Florida would have offered tremendous vistas for photography, but I opted not to bring the big camera and all the gear with me.  I stuck to the simple (albeit not cheap) Sony point and shoot for our trip.  I did not focus on photography.  However, today, it was impossible to stay inside.  I took a camera with me on today's walk.  I generally do not like to shoot mid-day because the lighting conditions are usually not that optimal for stunning photographs and I don't consider myself a great landscape photographer anyway.  This mid-day walk was a good challenge for me, as I had to really look at my surroundings today to find photo-worthy things.  I couldn't rely on dramatic lighting because it was mostly overcast and the sun was high in the sky. 

The thing that I noticed as I made my way around the loop was that the snow was actually melting!  For the first time since the snow arrived there were puddles and running water!  I could actually see the gravel on the road...and occasionally, the ground was soft enough that my boots left a footprint.   This melting and the consequential reflections in the standing and running water became my photographic theme of the day.  We have a long way to go until we see the green of Florida. Experts are saying that the frost presently extends seven to nine feet underground.  However, this week gives us hope for a warmer future! 

[email protected] (Kris Fremo) spring thaw water Sun, 09 Mar 2014 23:46:51 GMT
The Beauty of Seneca Winter in Minnesota might seem never ending to some.  Its power and might flares up from time to time to remind us that we are not in control.  On this, the fifth snow day of my 17th year of teaching, I am, again reminded that it is possible to stop the self-imposed business and craziness of life.  This is no small accomplishment in a place like Minnesota.  If this were Atlanta, then yes, it would be conceivable that we would come to a standstill this many times in a winter because of ice and snow.  However, Minnesotans are used to this.  We have the capability of clearing the roads, melting the ice and getting ourselves out of the ditch (and most of us know how to stay out of the ditch in this weather in the first place).  For a storm to cause an entire state that is accustomed to winter to stop and respect her, it must be a mighty storm indeed.   Winter storm Seneca came quietly with picturesque fluffy, sticky snow that clung to everything it touched.  The entire landscape was left in a mantle of white that not even the 25 mph winds could knock down.   She warmed us up before plunging us back into the deep freeze...somehow getting our hopes up about spring being on the way.  But we know that spring is a long way off here.  February has always been winter. 

I went out with my camera without much hope of conquering the landscape today.  I wondered to myself "how many pictures of a snowy landscape can you take in this yard?"  I know I could probably take thousands, but today I didn't feel like slogging through two feet of snow in the yard to get to things off the beaten path.  It was cold enough to take my breath away; the wind chill below zero.  The lake was a beautiful mass of untouched white; the wind dancing with the snow, lifting it and swirling it around.  It would have made some wonderful extended shutter photos.  But today, I walked down the driveway because it was plowed.  As I went, I noticed that the subjects of my first Winter Garden installment were completely buried.  The little Brussels sprouts sentinels and dill plants were nowhere to be seen, deep under the blanket of snow.  But as I walked, I noticed that Seneca had left a gift.  She froze that first snow right to the branches of our honeysuckle fence and as the sun sank lower in the sky, they lit up like dazzling crystals.  This was my subject for the day.  Even as I thought there was nothing left for me to photograph but hundreds of snow covered trees and bushes sagging under the weight of the snow, nature had left some jewels for me today. 

[email protected] (Kris Fremo) Seneca ice winter Sat, 22 Feb 2014 01:18:50 GMT
Frosty paradise So here I am again, blogging like I said I would.  This morning was one of those mornings when I feel like kicking myself because it is so gorgeous when I get in the car and the whole time I am thinking, why didn't I bring my camera?  Where I live, it is always a scenic drive to and from wherever I am going, but this morning was extra special.  The Hoar frost was thick and white on the trees creating a frosty wonderland.  In addition, we have finally escaped the grip of the polar vortex that had us locked up inside for nearly a week.

Having missed the opportunity to catch the Hoar frost at its peak, I was determined to try to do something with the last vestiges of it this afternoon in my continuing quest to make images of things not human.  What I discovered was the magic of the falling Hoar frost as it dropped from the trees and settled on the ground.  It is almost like snow, but not quite.  The crystalline quality is far more rare than the look of snow.  So, I grabbed my camera, and away I went.   The sunlight and shadows were exquisite, creating unique textural qualities of white on white.  

What I discovered in post-production is probably something landscape photographers are already aware of.  There is something wonderful about the freedom to express the landscape and the natural world in a way that is different from the world of portraiture.  There is no demand to make someone else comfortable; to schedule around the life of another person and to try to get them to do what you want them to do in front of the camera (or to make them feel comfortable enough to feel natural).  These are all things I like to do; things that I am good at.  However,  there is a freedom that resembles meditation in the process of photographing nature.  

In my short walk around my property,  I was struck by the absolute beauty of where I live. My collection of images is meditative.  My favorite is the image of the road- something I see every day as I come and go, but don't always stop to look at.  You can actually see the mist created by the falling of the Hoar frost and the reflection of the sun.   It is not the first time I have admired its beauty, but the feelings are different with the passing of the seasons.  Winter is clean here.  There is no mud created by the passing of cars and the addition of salt.  There is no hustle and bustle.  There is just the whisper of the wind, the footprints of the squirrel and the deer, the warm glow of the sunshine and the laughter of my children as they go down the hills on their sled and ice skate on the pond on a warm winter day.  

[email protected] (Kris Fremo) frost winter Sun, 12 Jan 2014 03:43:59 GMT
Winter Garden Well, winter is finally upon us.  Or shall I say, it seems already as if it will never end.   Old man winter has come with a vengeance in Minnesota, and we have probably had more days below zero already in December than all of last winter.  While we Minnesotans are a hardy bunch, I have to admit that I have felt the cold more acutely this season than I did when I was younger.  

With the new year already begun, one of my goals this year is to make more pictures.  I know, you are probably thinking that this is a lame goal for a photographer.  My aim, however, is to make more pictures for my own enjoyment.  Though you might not guess from looking and my blog or Facebook page, I did A LOT of image making this year.  With family and teaching, though, I don't get around to blogging or posting everything that I should.  I almost never pick up the camera just to experiment and make pictures for myself.  I decided I need to make more pictures that don't have people in them.  This is a challenge for me.  I LOVE to photograph people.  I am drawn to this like a moth to a flame.  But I think, for my own growth, I need to find beauty in a wider variety of things.

I have been blessed this year.  I did a lot of business, met a lot of people and made a lot of pictures.  I also bought a new camera and few lenses that I have been coveting for a long time.  It is time to put them to good use.  Today, we got a brief respite from the punishing cold before we are plunged back into the record deep freeze. I chose to dig my way into the garden.  Yes, that is right.  I was snowed out of the garden.  Since I was too busy to cut the plants down at the end of the season this year, they are still standing in all their dilapidated glory.  The Brussels sprouts look particularly interesting and proud in the snow, like a little family of people standing guard over the rest in the garden.  

It was a wonderful opportunity to test my camera in the cold and also to try doing some creative things with the images.  I like the result.  I hope that you enjoy.   It is easy to overlook the beauty as we rush in from the cold, but it is there if we stop to look.  

[email protected] (Kris Fremo) garden winter Sun, 05 Jan 2014 01:47:12 GMT
Doll family session baby, toddler portraiture

July 5th is a recovery day for most people.  I was surprised when Jeff and Melissa chose the morning of this date for their session.  With a little boy on the cusp of toddlerhood, they assured me that they weren't about to go out partying the night before.  This is one of my summer imaging program sessions this summer and when Melissa responded to the call for models, I was more than thrilled.  I have been chomping at the bit to photograph their little boy since he was born. 

My work as an instructor and coach and professional photographer has brought me in contact with all sorts of people.  Often, I don't know the people that I am working with all that well, so I have to work to create chemistry and try to figure out how to get each different personality to loosen up.  This session was unique on many levels because I have worked with this couple before.  I had the opportunity to coach Mel in high school as her soccer and softball coach, as well as to have her in my art classroom.  I also had the privilege of photographing their wedding at St. John's, so when it was time to choose a location for this session, the location was a no brainer.  Why not go back to St. John's where it all started?

I can't begin to express how rewarding it is to see your former students grow into adults and to form new, adult relationships with them.  In addition, it is an amazing when you get to make pictures of their milestones along the way.  Little Nolan is just about to turn one.  Following him around with a camera to capture his brief seconds of rest was a good challenge for me.   He is a good natured, talkative and busy little boy.  it was all I could do to not just stop and pick him up.  The love that Jeff and Mel have for him and for one another was palpable during this session.  What a wonderful way to start the second half of the summer!   


family portrait



[email protected] (Kris Fremo) family portraiture Fri, 05 Jul 2013 19:51:15 GMT
Working with light, aperture and flash sunlight, fill flash, aperture These days, most pro photographers are working with some sort of image editing program to speed up their workflow.  Some pro studios job their work out to places like Retouch-up or similar organizations.  Those places get a profile of what the photographer wants their final output to look like and then when the photog sends them the images, they retouch them.  No, it is not free, but for high volume studios, it helps to keep the sanity.  My studio is not a high volume studio.  I like to think of myself as a professional boutique photographer.  Part of what I love about what I do is that each session is unique and I get a chance to be creative from beginning to end.  The opportunity to play is what keeps me in the game. 

This week I used my favorite model to help me get back in touch with sunlight.  When I was in graduate school studying photography, one of the main criticisms that I faced time and again from my professors was that my work was too "pretty."  Well, I guess it was just one professor, but I had her for several portfolio classes, and she had a problem with my love of photographing with beautiful sunlit highlights.  She kept telling me that my work looked too much like portrait photography.  Well, duh, that is what I love and I was doing editorial-type work so it wasn't entirely out of the question.   But like the earnest student I was,  I went away from that for awhile in order to better myself as a photographer.  I learned a lot, actually, and it made me a better photographer.  But not everybody wants to be the next Gregory Crewdson, David LaChapelle or Jenny Holzer, just to name a few. 

So here I am, back at the beginning.  I wanted to take this summer to try out some new things.  I started with revisiting old things in a new way.  In this post, I want to show how an image looks coming straight out of the camera (SOC) in RAW.  I was working on a beautiful sunlit day.  Where I am at, the light can be dazzling or it can be dappled shade depending on where you stand.  Both are hard to work with.  Dazzling light creates hard shadows and dappled shade creates leafy shadows and inconsistent lighting conditions.  That said, the filtered lighting conditions also offer some of the most stunning portraits.  In addition, I chose to go back to using my smc Pentax FA 50mm f1.4 prime lens.  This is a film lens that does not zoom and it has a sweet spot like no other lens I own.  The f1.4 aperture allows the background to be totally blurred out and creates a smooth and beautiful bokeh in the background that reads like little balls of light and color.  The biggest problem that I had doing this shoot is that I wanted to shoot wide open or nearly so, but it was a bright day.  When you shoot wide open, you are letting a lot of light into the camera and you have to compensate by having a faster shutter.  The problem is, that with the strong lighting conditions, there are hard shadows created under the brim of the hat and the eyes.  In order to deal with those, I used a powered down flash on a bracket with a fill card.  Flashes can only sync with a shutter of about 1/125-1/250 of a second unless you are working with high speed sync- not nearly fast enough to balance a big aperture with a lot of light AND even more light added in by the shutter.  The result?  Overexposure in the highlight areas...unless you close the aperture down a little bit and choose your lighting carefully. 

Lately, I have seen a lot of actions made available from companies like Florabella, Paint the Moon and MCP actions.  These are great products, and potentially they can save a lot of time.  They are fun to explore because they offer so many creative choices (though they usually need tweaking).  I think that a lot of amateurs and professionals alike use them.  Knowing what I know, creating actions in Photoshop is really not that hard.  You just have to have a vision.  Florabella and others give all sorts of ideas that most might not think about regularly.  I was tempted to buy them just to play, but instead, I chose to demo a product that I have been interested in for awhile.  In addition to my regular workflow with Lightroom, I chose to try out Nik software, which was recently bought out by Google.  They offer a 14 day trial and I have heard rave reviews about Color Efex Pro and Silver Efex Pro.  The reviews ring true.  The possibilities are endless and the vintage film effects actually look like vintage film.  The other parts of the software package are not as useful to me because I prefer other software that does the same thing.  However, I enjoyed playing with this, and came up with a cooler, faded, hazy look, which was exactly what I wanted.   Just for the record, I did NO retouching on the skin etc.  Some of the shadows were lost with the filter and the image became flatter looking, but I can live with that.  I could have set the color balance in camera, but I knew I was shooting in RAW and that I would be changing it anyway so I didn't bother.  I didn't get as much sun flare as I was hoping for in the original images, so I added it in using a solar flare filter in photoshop.  Not that hard, actually.  Florabella offers this kind of action for a lot of money, but it is really not hard to create on your own, provided you have lighting conditions in the original image that can support it.  

I was originally dismayed at the sun streak in the third image, because I really liked the image.  I don't have a lens hood for the prime and once I realized I was getting streaking, I used my hand to block the light, but alas, my favorite image had a streak already.  I decided to work it into the aesthetic of the image, and it turned out better than I had hoped.  Though I did miss the focus a bit while shooting wide open, I still like the less than perfect image.   

All-in-all, I consider this a great learning session.  I was able to accomplish a lot in a very short time.  7 year olds don't last long.   I also had an opportunity to test some software, which I will probably purchase. 

[email protected] (Kris Fremo) Nik software sun flare wide open aperture Mon, 24 Jun 2013 04:09:46 GMT
Why Hire a Professional? before and after retouching Today I got to thinking about the challenges that professional photographers face every day.  What is so different about what I do from the all of the upstarts out there with a camera?  After all, lots of people can make good pictures, right?  You know, this is true.  There are a lot of people out there making good pictures.  Calling oneself a professional does not always make a professional.  There are professional photographers out there with studios who don't make great images.  There are a lot who don't have studios who are fantastic photographers and are reluctant to call themselves professionals.  The issue is not the studio.  When I moved locations, I gave up my small in-home studio.  The space, was nothing to write home about, but not having it now makes things harder, to be sure.  There is definitely a demand for studio photography, and I know how to do that.  However, the demand right now seems so much higher for quality photography on location.  Not everyone can do that successfully.  How many amateurs go out on location and make images for people?  What differentiates them from a professional who does the same?  There is no simple answer to that question.  The answers range from business practice, to capture to post-production work.  So much goes into making great images for people, but what seems to scream the loudest to me when I look at the images of amateur photographers is a lack of knowlege of how to control light, add light into or overpower the natural light on location.  Coming in second is attention to detail and post-production work.   I have a lot of things to say about all of these, but today, I will focus mostly on retouching. 

Most people, if they take 1000 pictures, are going to come out with a few keepers.  Professional photographers shouldn't need to take 1000 pictures to get a good one.  What 1 year old can make it through that kind of photo shoot without bursting into tears in a fit of exhaustion?  In the days of film, photogs couldn't afford to make a thousand images so they had to learn to do things right in the camera.  If you want to know if the photographer knows what she is doing, ask her a few questions about exposure or lighting while she is working.  She should be able to answer them with more complexity than you can. 

It occurred to me today, as I finished editing a photo of a couple, that one of my jobs is to make people look good and keep them looking like themselves in a natural way.   In addition, I shouldn't have to do extensive retouching and corrections in post-production if I am doing a good job in-camera.   I love it when people look at a retouched image and don't notice that it has been retouched.  They think that is just how they look.  Then, when they look at the original, they can't believe the difference.  In my opinion, that is the hallmark of a professional. 

I have posted an example here of a couple that I recently finished post-production work on.  The image was captured last summer, but they recently asked me to prepare the image for an order.  I had a great time capturing images of this family, as their children are now grown and their youngest child had just graduated. They wanted some family images before everyone went in their own direction.  It seems a lot families reach this point; a sort of end of an era.  Towards the end of the shoot, I asked the couple  if they would like me to make a few images of just the two of them.  Many parents don't think about having an image made of just them.  They are so often thinking about their children.  They seemed a bit surprised and then thought "why not?" 

The image on the left is the RAW, unedited image.  Ask your photographer about RAW images.  If she looks at you like a deer in the headlights, it is a good sign that she is not a professional.  This RAW image is uncompressed.  It has none of the color and tonal enhancements of a JPEG image.  It is just information captured directly in the sensor;  A proof if you will.  It isn't a bad capture.  It was taken at ISO 200 at 50mm with an exposure of f 5.6 @ 1/80th of a second, and lit off-camera with an umbrella.  Yes, an umbrella outside in broad daylight.  The umbrella light provided soft, even lighting and enabled me to shoot in the shadows without the graininess of a low-light exposure. 

The retouched image, at right, has been white balanced and enhancements have been made to the tonal range of the image, its brightness, as well as the color.  Slight changes have been made to skin tone and softening of a few age related skin issues.  A softening of the background leaves was achieved both at capture, as well as in post-production and a subtle dark vignette applied to the outside edges to draw attention in towards the center.  A partial reflection of the umbrella in the glasses has been removed as well.  This is a standard retouch, and while I can do all sorts of trendy things with this image, I would rather it stand the test of time.  The result is an image that presents the couple looking good in a way that looks natural. 

Good retouching is no secret, but it does take sensitivity, practice and moderation.  A professionally retouched image should not scream "I have been retouched!"   



[email protected] (Kris Fremo) retouch Wed, 17 Apr 2013 04:47:51 GMT
Snowstorm in Central Minnesota Aside from being my dad's birthday, today was a snow day in Collegeville. After leaving for work, only to have it cancelled mid-commute and getting stuck in the snow while going up the hill back home, I decided I better capture an image of part of the backyard. This image is just part of the beautiful landscape of Sunny Day Pictures. Last year, exactly two weeks from now, the ice was off the lake. It seems that winter will last much longer this year. No, it is not sunny and we have no photoshoots going on today, but it is beautiful, and we are happy and warmed by a roaring fire this afternoon. 

[email protected] (Kris Fremo) snow Tue, 05 Mar 2013 20:39:30 GMT
Great River Chorale Outreach GRC outreach GRC outreach Today's event was an outreach concert at St. Benedict's Senior Community.  The Great River Chorale, an auditioned community choir, did its first ever outreach concert this weekend at St. Benedict's Center.  The Choir performed a programme of love songs for residents living with memory loss and their families, and a second concert open to all interested residents.  The event, which included sing-along songs such as You Are My Sunshine and You're a Grand Old Flag, was an enjoyable experience for residents and singers alike. 

I am privileged to sing in the choir, but also had a chance to document parts of the sing-along with a camera.  This is a sampling of what I was able to capture in those brief moments.  I found the informal atmosphere to be particularly moving because it reminded me of the central role that music can play in the lives of people of all ages.  One thing in particular that struck me was witnessing residents singing along, not only with the sing-along songs, but also in some of the programme numbers and knowing that I was a part of that.  Music has the power to bring me back to places and experiences that I haven't thought about or remembered for a very long time.  I suppose it has that power for everyone.  Certain musical pieces remind me of certain times in my life.  For instance, I remember buying my first stereo at Best Buy and listening to Venus by Bananarama in junior high.  Listening to Prince reminds me of my high school soccer career and when I hear the song Loveshack, I am strangely brought back into my HS art room. I can still smell the paint and see the faces of my friends in that room.  Listening to Fernando Ortega's song Lord of Eternity will forever remind me of the day that my husband (then fiancee) left for Nashville for his internship in the music industry.  

While I can't say that singing Don't Sit Under The Apple Tree brings back any memories for me, I could certainly see by looking at the faces of some of the audience members, the power of music for every generation.  It's a great tune.  I'm glad I got to share it. 

[email protected] (Kris Fremo) Great River Chorale Outreach St. Benedict's Center Tue, 26 Feb 2013 04:03:54 GMT
Using Mood Boards I've been thinking about doing some interesting personal projects for a long time. Editorial work has always been a passion and I love to bring it on location.   Since I love the challenge of lighting in unorthodox locations, I have been thinking about finding some models who are as willing to experiment as I am.  I found this interesting article on Photo District News about creating mood boards to work out conceptual issues prior to shooting.  It is an interesting concept.  I did this kind of stuff in project proposals for grad school, but haven't thought about doing it for myself since.  At the time it seemed so tedious, but now it looks like fun.  Interesting how those things change.  I used to hate math in school because I had to actually work at it.  Now that the ominous threat of underachievement is gone, I actually like it.  

The images of the sketches look very much like some of the work that I used to do when brainstorming.  Stay tuned.  I just might be posting some sketches and mood boards for some photo shoot concepts in the near future. 



[email protected] (Kris Fremo) board brainstorming mood photo Fri, 08 Feb 2013 16:04:13 GMT