Family Portrait

July 8, 2010

I tackled one of those small challenges in life the other day, which I will discuss in this post. the challenge of course, was: “How to take a family portrait in glaring sun and 102 degree heat, in which I would be able to be the photographer and also appear in the photo, while keeping many young children looking at the camera and sitting still.”

the Photoshopped Family Portrait, July 6th, 2010

The final version appears here. It has a few imperfections that perhaps some of you will notice, but overall we were pretty happy with it. The final image is a composite of four separate, nearly identical images.

We managed to find a spot that shielded out the worst of the sun’s glare.  I used two photo monolights inside a 6′ softbox to the right of my camera (facing the group) for lighting. A six-foot softbox is really too small for this group and the softbox was far enough away that the lighting, from a photographic perspective was, what we call hard lighting. Nevertheless, it did do a reasonable job of illuminating everyone’s faces and taking out the worst of the shadows.

I set up my camera to take multiple photos and gave myself some time to run from the camera into the picture. In each photo, approximately 70% of the people were smiling and facing the camera with their eyes open. Unfortunately, in each photo the 70% was acheived with different people. This is where Photoshop CS5 came to the rescue. I created multiple layers of a single photo, with different photos in different layers. I allowed different people to shine through from the layer (photo)  in which they looked their best. The result is a combination of four photos where everyone looks pretty good. The photo needs a little cropping and I will probably blur the background a bit, and then we should be ready to hang it on the wall.

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