Saturday, February 19, 2011

Buttermilk Falls - Beaver County High School Portraits Cave

Black and white high school portrait
Buttermilk Falls - Beaver County High School Portraits Cave

Continuing with the theme of creating a wide variety of shots from the same location, we will review a few portraits of one of the caves at Buttermilk Falls in Beaver County, PA.

This portrait was done while it was snowing and very windy.  The recent post displaying the winter portrait scenes were taken on the same day but before the snow started to fall.  Not one to miss an opportunity to continue to photograph, I asked Allison to sit inside this little stone overhang/cutout but can be made to look like a cave with ingenuity and creativity. 

Utilizing the natural light coming into the cave, I photographed her with the Nikkor 70-300vr.  I utilized this lens to avoid using a tripod with the longer focal length that I like to use for tight portrait head shots.  This is one of my favorite lenses to use if I plan on shooting around f/4-5.6.  The lens is very light weight and is much easier to use when weight is an issue compared to the 70-200 f/2.8.  The vibration reduction helps reduce/eliminate camera shake.

Although I wore my hiking boots with tremendous traction, I didn't have perfect footing due to the snow falling and slick conditions around the entrance to the 'cave'.  The leaves and underbrush were covered with ice and snow creating a 'challenging' situation and I didn't want to slip and roll into ice cold water. (I am sure that would have made a great photograph.  :-D ) Therefore, I utilized my go to 70-300 vr lens.  

Beaver County Caves
This was taken from the same location but with the 17-50 f/2.8 enabling me to create a much different look and the appearance of a cave.  

Post processing of these images were done in Lightroom 3.x and with Nik Silver Effex pro plugin. (It is my favorite tool to use when processing images for black and white, sepia, and many other non-color finishes.)

Beaver County High School Senior Portraits
Again, I challenge you to find a location near your home and study it in such detail that you can create many different portraits only by changing the poses, lighting, and angle. 

Buttermilk Falls is located in Beaver County along route 18 and near PA turnpike.
Beaver County High School Senior Portraits by dr Frank

Contact dr Frank to photograph your wedding, portraits, or special event.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Buttermilk Falls - Beaver Falls PA Is it took cold for High School Portraits

Buttermilk Falls - Beaver Falls PA High School Portraits
Is it too cold for great portraits?

Water falls frozen over
Continuing with the theme of discussing one of my favorite places to photograph portraits(Buttermilk Falls); I figured we would discuss the topic of outdoor portraits in the winter.

Allison wanted a different look than most other high school seniors.  She wanted a winter look and we waited until we received weeks of very cold weather covered with snow.

The first shot is at the base of the falls after many weeks of sub freezing temps and multiple snow falls.  I wanted a very unique look and used the frozen falls to help frame Allison.  

Buttermilk Falls Winter
In the second picture, Allison is under the falls and normally this is a tough shot to get because the water would be splashing the subject.  However, in this case, since the main part of the falls was frozen, this shot was a 'breeze'.  

In both shots, I utilized an SB800 on a light pole (camera left) with no difuser.

Glowing frozen water falls
In the third shot, the lighting was the same but I utilized a wide angle lens and got very close to the rocks creating an illusion of size.

The light created a beautiful glow on Allison creating one of my favorite 'environmental' shots from the day.

Although I have shot portraits at Buttermilk Falls for many years, I never grow bored of the unique looks possible.  Thus far, I have shown looks up to and around the base of the falls.  There are railroad tracks that run above the actual falls and a beat up utility shed that creates an amazing look.  

There is no doubt in my mind that there are hundreds of other 'hidden' gems within a ten - twenty mile radius of my home.  I constantly look for these gem locations and attempt to learn everything I can about them in an effort to create unique and creative portraits.

Buttermilk Falls is located in Beaver County along route 18 and near PA turnpike.
Beaver County High School Senior Portraits by dr Frank

Contact dr Frank to photograph your wedding, portraits, or special event.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Buttermilk Falls - Beaver Falls PA High School Portrait Photography Part 2

Buttermilk Falls - Tremendous setting for Portrait Photography

In part one I started to outline how I found this beautiful spot for portrait photography. Before I go too far into this post, I want to emphasize that I am positive everyone has a tremendous location near their home.  Although it might not have the same features, it is sure to have great possibilities for fun portrait photography.  

As I climbed the steps to the falls and maneuvered around trees in the path, I noticed many beautiful items along the way.  First, the walls to the right are possible because many workers cut out this hillside years ago.  The stone in the hillside was used in many local and not so local buildings years ago as workers worked hard mining the stone. 

I also noticed how some people did not have a love for the land and littered both the stream and path with garbage.  Remnants of civilization that has little regard for the beauty and sanctity of this setting. I noticed names and initials carved in the trees and in the wooden benches along the path.

When I came upon the falls, the roar was very loud and I could not hear anything except the pounding of my heart.  I was mesmerized by its beauty and quickly decided that this would make a great spot for photography.  All around the pool of water that is at the base of the falls are cut out spaces which make tremendous places for portraits.  One beautiful place takes some climbing to enter and unfortunately is riddled with broken glass and other debris.  

Over the years, I encountered many different people along the path and around the falls.  Some are general tourist who found the falls in a similar manner that I did and others were directed here from a friend or flyer. In the fall, I schedule a portrait session with a high school senior.  We waited months for the leaves to change and the weather to be 'perfect'.  When we arrived to the falls, we noticed it was filled with cars along the road and the typical 'quiet' path was filled with people and loud sounds.  From the right and above us came men in blue and gray. Some were covered in dirt carrying long guns and looking very determined to attack the men in different colored uniforms. Did we trip over a switch and end up many years ago in the midst of a civil war battle?  Was this a movie set?   No, scheduled our portrait session on the same day when a reenactment of times gone by was taking place.  What should we do?  Go home and attempt to schedule a future session?  No, we decided to utilize the tremendous props that were made available for us.  I could not pass up these fun props. 

Stage Coach High School Portrait
This first image is not directly at the base of the falls but above it along side the railroad tracks. 

I couldn't resist the great backdrop and immediately asked the owners if we could take a few photographs in front of the stage coach.

The second shot is from the same setting but I added a strong bare flash from camera left and added some post processing in Lightroom to create a more antique look. 

Antique Stage Coach High School Senior Portraits
Buttermilk Falls Camping Portraits
In the third photo, we borrowed a hat from the owners of the stage coach and lit her with a light on camera left.  I couldn't resist the fun look and figured this would make a tremendous memory for this high school senior. 

I have hundreds of different looks that I have been able to gather from this beautiful setting.  Although there are some that look the same, with a little ingenuity, new looks are created every time.

Look for creative ways to use familiar spots.  In this example, we could have walked away and came back when there was no one around, we decided to stay and have a fun time utilizing the change in scenery to create a very fun look.

High School Senior reading on railroad tracks
 Watch for unique ways to photograph your subject. 

Buttermilk Falls is seconds from the PA turnpike near the route 18 exit and close to Pittsburgh, PA and Youngstown, Ohio.

Contact dr Frank to photograph your wedding, portraits, or special event.