Summer- Turning Day to Night- Katy Area Professional Photographers Blog Circle

Hi friends,

Every once in a while I like to throw something different out here, so I’m really excited about today’s project.

The Katy area is chock-full of photographers who can photograph you and your family — and some of those people are downright FABULOUS.  I’m delighted to be friends with some of the best locals around.  While I love to work with your teens who really would prefer to be hanging with their friends than taking ‘FAMILY’ photos to make mom happy,  than sugar-crazed toddlers, I have the resources to take care of  TODAY.  See, these collleagues of mine happen to be particularly WONDERFUL Childrens’ photographers.  That’s right.  If you call me for a photography job that I think is more suited to someone else, I will do my darndest to get you together.  After all….. You have a choice,  and a four-year-old is WAY DIFFERENT from a High School Senior.

SOOOOOO….. If your kids are beyond the new walker stage and younger than 10, SPCcreative MAY NOT be the best studio for you.  HOWEVER….. I have connections…. YES!!!!! RIGHT HERE IN KATY!!!!!!

Just for grins, my close-circle of local professional photographers has started a blog circle.  You can read through a selection of  our blog posts and then follow a link to  yet another one of our colleagues.  Be to follow the circle all the way around until you get back to where you started.

UMMMMMM…… That would be ME!!!! HELLLOOOOOO!

Our blog circle this month centers around the theme of SUMMER.

So, even though you already know that I specialize in portraits — and there’s NOTHING I love more than high school seniors and teenagers, this is where I”m letting my LEFT BRAIN …. or maybe it’s the RIGHT take over.  Whatever it is, OTHER LOGICAL SIDE — SHUT UP and let me play!

 Come join me as we PLAY in the backyard garden.


All of these images were created in broad daylight, but I used my flash to darken the background and eliminate distractions.

What’s that? you say… Use a flash to make it dark?

YEP!  .  You’d never know that just a few feet behind this lovely Picasso’s Fantasy Petunia hanging basket there’s a white garage, would you.

Wanna know how it’s done?


First, you do need a camera that allows you to use the manual settings, and you’ll  to know some basics about how your camera works.

You also need a flash unit that allows you to control the strength of the flash, and it’s WAY COOL if you can trigger that flash from off the camera.

Okay — if you need help,  go get your manual.  It’s okay.  I’ll wait.

This will be a little bit technical but I am SOoooooooo not a techie person that I HOPE I can explain the steps in a way that makes sense to you and me both.

If you don’t know how to adjust a few settings on your camera, take a moment to read up on them.  They  include turning OFF all automatic settings and putting your camera in MANUAL mode, then adjusting your

 ISO, Shutter Speed, and Aperture.


  There’s NOTHING automatic about this little exercise, so the very first thing you want to do is shift your camera over to the MANUAL mode.

Thats the M on the dial that probably also has a little green square. Maybe there are some  pictures like a flower, a runnnnnning guy, and a mountain.  You might  also have other letters like B, A, T, & P — but we want the M as in Monkey or Moon or . . .  Magic.

 Got it?  Now you’re TOTALLY in charge of your camra.    Feel empowered?  Let’s go on.

Next, lets set your camera so that it reads very little of that bright summer outdoor  light.  So find your ISO setting.

ISO stands for International Standards Organization, but that doesn’t matter.  It simply affects how fast your sensor collects the light once it’s let in.   The controller is probably on the right side of your camera near the shutter button, but use your manual if you need help finding it.

Choose the lowest number available.

I don’t speak Nikon, but most Canon cameras typically go down to 100.


Next you want to set your shutter speed so that it is as fast as possible without outpacing your flash. Some systems can go as fast as  1/250 of a second before  you have to make a battery-draining high speed sync adjustment to your flash.  On other models you may only go up to 1/200 before  high-speed sync becomes necessary. We don’t want to fool with the high sync thing, but if you shoot faster than your flash will allow, you’ll only get about half a picture.  Nobody wants THAT!

Still with me?  Great!   Go ahead and set your shutter speed at 200.


Next you want to adjust your aperture (that means the size of the hole that opens up in your lens to let light in) as small as possible so that it doesn’t let in much light at all.

Here’s where things get wonky.  The higher the aperture numbers go, the SMALLER your aperture really is.  So….. if your aperture is set on 2.8 or 5.4, the hole is really big, and lots of light gets in.  That’s great for if you want to freeze action, but that light just comes into the camera  and goes EVERYWHERE – and for THIS project we want to block out most of our surrounding light so that we only see the light that our flash puts on the subject.

NOW… with your shutter speed set fast, start adjusting your aperture to the bigger and bigger numbers  – smaller and smaller hole — until you can take a picture and the result is totally (or nearly all) black.  20 or 22 is usually pretty good.  Once you get a black image, stop.  Keep those settings where they are.


NOW — we’re going to bring in the flash.

Be sure it  is set on its manual setting too, not automatic or ETTL,  or it will try to do the thinking for you and you’ll just get whatever exposure the camera thinks is normal.

Start with the flash at about 1/8 power and hold it about  3 or 4 feet away from the  subject …. we’ll just say it’s a flower since it’s summer and things are blooming like crazy.

Be sure the flash is pointing DIRECTLY at the flower.

Take a picture.

What did you get?  Is it all still black or too dark?  If so, there are two things you can do.  Either move the flash closer to your flower, or turn the  power up a stop to 1/4 power — but not both!

Is your subject over-exposed?  Then what do you think we’re going to do?

BINGO!  Turn the flash power DOWN or move it away from your subject.  How cool is that?

This is where it’s super fun to have a flash that you can fire from off your camera. Once you find the exposure and flash distance that works for you, you can move that light around and experiment.  Try placing  the flash above your flower pointing straight down …. now try one with the flash off to the side or even behind or underneath the flower….. Pretty cool to see the light falling on just one part of your flower, isn’t it?


The light came from behind this little baby dragonfly.  That’s why his legs have that pretty rim-lighted effect.

Can you guess where my light was for the mushrooms?  That’s right, it was at about 10 o clock to the subject and was laying on the ground.

Now, the plumeria picture is a cheat.  The sun was actually shining right through the petals so I made some quick adjustments and took that picture without any flash at all, but I still used the same principles, making the swimming pool background a deep dark teal instead of black.


Think you want to give this a try?  I believe you can do it too.  I’d love to see the images that you can come up with.

Go play and let me hear and see how it goes!

NOW — so the SUMMER-THEME circle remains unbroken, click THIS LINK to get to know my fellow photography buddy, Desi and what she and her ADORABLE kiddos have been up to this summer.

  And when I say KIDS, you really will see GOATS!  How cool is that on a hot summer day?

When you get to the bottom of her blog, keep on linking until you get back to where you started. !

Flash Turns Day into Night for a Volunteer Squash – Something Different for Backyard Photography

Every once in a blue moon I allow myself a little time to just play.

It’s fun.

I don’t do it often, but I should.

Every time I do, I learn something new or at least put into practice something that I already  know but need to play with so that it comes more naturally.  Occasionally I think it’s just  so cool that  want to  share it.


In honor of the first day of summer, I’d like to introduce you to a cheery little  friend of mine.


This volunteer is a squash plant named Shipley.

How did he get a name like Shipley?

 Easy, I was looking for”S” names (since he was a squash) and there it was.  Shipley … from the Sheep Meadow.  That was the best fit I could find for a volunteer that got his start in the compost pile.

Compost . . . Sheep manure… In the long run, it’s all the same S_ _ _ _  STUFF!  Count the blanks.  STUFF

Shipley doesn’t live in the compost pile anymore.  He must’ve been no more than a sprout when he hitched a ride with Arvin the Avocado earlier in the spring.  They room together in a big pot on the patio where Arvin is growing tall and straight while Shipley just drinks up Arvin’s water while he  wanders around dropping blossoms on the ground.

Anyway, the play portion of my day involved making daytime look like night.  Can you believe it?  If you want me to, I’ll teach you how to do it too.

It was hotter ‘n blazes and full sun out when I shot these images , so I didn’t last too long — besides I had other work to do.     I’ve toyed with the idea of adding some how-to lessons to my blog, and this might be a good place to start.  If  there are a few people who would like  a step by step tutorial on how to do this, I want to hear it.  ASK and you SHALL RECEIVE in a future blog post.

Let me hear from  you.


Dancing in the Trees – Houston Katy Child/Teen Photographer

A Beautiful Young Dancer, Golden Sunshine, Hills, Water, Trees, and my Camera –  Pure Heaven.

Hoo -Ray!

It’s SOoooo much fun to conduct a photography session for people who are enthusiastic about doing something  just a bit  out of the norm.

My favorite young dancer, who just happens to be my niece, was beyond excited about our scheduled portrait session at the spectacular  Inn of the Lost Pines near Bastrop during a family stay not too long ago.

Dance-Studio shots are nice, but when we can put on bold colorful costumes and get out into God’s creation, something very very special happens.

Call me sappy, but Lee Ann Womack’s song always brings tears to my eyes.

“I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Livin’ might mean takin’ chances, but they’re worth takin’
Lovin’ might be a mistake, but it’s worth makin’
Don’t let some Hellbent heart leave you bitter
When you come close to sellin’ out, reconsider
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance

I hope you dance”

“To dance is to be out of yourself. Larger, more beautiful, more powerful. This is power, it is glory on earth and it is yours for the taking. ” — Agnes de Mille

Sparky the Back Yard Turtle

We had a little surprise visitor this morning.  Isn’t he handsome?

When I first saw that little reptilian head and the back of his shell poking up in the grass, I was afraid we were getting ready to have to confront a big honkin’ snake, so my “Mama Instincts” kicked in  and I hustled both dogs back into the house.

THEN, I went back out to investigate, camera in hand.

SOOOOOOO HAPPY that it was NOT a snake because we had ourselves very a nice little visit.

Our guest told me that he had smelled water, and decided he should check it out.  Said the places he and his kinfolk  usually count on for a little refreshment had  purt’ near dried up, and that things weren’t looking too good for the days ahead.  In fact, he doesn’t think it’s ever going to rain again in Texas — or even in the whole world.  Turtles are known for being a bit pessimistic.

Naturally I told him  he was welcome to stay as long as he wanted and to partake of all the bugs he could find.  Even turned the sprinkler on him for a little bit, and he was most appreciative.

I asked if he’d mind posing for a few natural-light outdoor portraits, and he perked right up. Did you know that turtles have egos?  Oooohhh.  This guy is quite proud of himself.  When I told him that I thought he looked particularly intelligent, he said that I was darn right.  After all, wasn’t he the one that found the green place with the rain maker thing in it?

When I asked his name,  though, he just looked at me.  Told me I wouldn’t understand Turtlel-ese, and that I should just pick something that I’d remember because names mean more to humans than they do to turtles.

Have you ever tried to name a turtle? It’s harder than it seems.

When I was about eight years old, I had  a little green turtle from Woolworth’s.  Pokey lived for a short time  in our bathroom  in one of those spiral dishes with a stiff plastic palm tree growing up in the middle of it.  He was a happy and friendly little guy, until the night he took a bubble bath with my younger brothers.  Jim,  A desert tortoise,  came to our back yard in Midland for several years in a row.  Everyone  knew his name was Jim because someone had painted J-I-M on his back  in big red letters with fingernail polish.  We figured it was probably the kid named Jim who lived in the Floyd’s rent house down the block for about a year . . . but wild turtles are not to be owned.  That’s why he came to stay at our house.

This guy, however,  was DEFINITELY not a Pokey or a Jim but he still needed a name.

He thinks he’s a Gulf Coast Box Turtle.  At least no one has told him otherwise, so we nearly decided on Karumbe-Boaska, because it means Turtle-Box in Gujarati and it sounds super cool. We had to look up the word for Box on Google Translator.    Don’t ask how we knew the Karumbe part.

In the end we decided to keep things simple and go with Sparky in honor of  his intelligence and  as a nod to Fourth of July Fireworks –  of which there will be none in our neighborhood this year thanks to the drought.

Sparky was less than thrilled to make acquaintance with Lucy, so he announced that  he’d be moving along.  He is DEFINITELY a Sparky, not a Pokey.  Maybe he’ll come back to visit, but he’s not making any promises.     But thank you for turning on the rain maker for a bit.

New Kids Coming to the Block

Just a few days ago, while cleaning up my outdoor studio, I met a brand new neighbor.

Actually I didn’t meet her that day, but I liked the way she was decorating her new home, so I decided to come back later to visit.

She must have run to the store for just a minute, because she left one of her kids to answer the door.  I said I’d come back later.

Yesterday, I finally got to meet my neighbor.

She’s a pretty little red sparrow . . . the kind with a mask across her eyes.

Appropriately enough, since we met on Mardi Gras  and she was wearing a mask and feathers, I named her Mardi.

Mardi now has four eggs in the 7-UP crate that sits on the Front Porch of my studio neighborhood.

We’re not going to disturb her, but will work carefully around her and hopefully we’ll be able to watch for the babies in the days ahead.

I’m so excited!

Although Mardi is terribly camera-shy, I believe the kiddos will be extremely photogenic.

Little Things

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.” –  Albert Einstein

An albino praying mantis paid us a visit today.  He made me smile, so I had to stop and share this friendly little fellow with you as well.   I was on the phone with a colleague when my son came home after his classes and told me to go outside and look.   To me, that was worth checking out.  We enjoyed watching him for a while . . . and then he was gone.

Visit Us On TwitterVisit Us On Facebook