new associate photographer!

Because we've had such a great response to our associate photographer program, I have asked a fourth photographer to come on board!

Meet Tina! She is adorable, spunky and full of personality -- just read her bio and you'll see what I mean! I've known Tina for years and have worked with her in various capacities. Not only is she a talented photographer but she is a hairstylist and make-up artist as well! This girl just oozes talent.

Click here to get to know Tina a bit and view a sample of her work.

And if you're a bride who loves the quality, service and unique style of Melissa Jill Photography, but can't justify spending $6,500+ on your wedding photography the great news is you can still receive many of the benefits that come with the Melissa Jill brand. Click on the "associates" button under the "about us" tab in the above navigation to find out more about how our associate program works. Then use the contact form to communicate about your wedding and we will match you up with the photographer who is available on your wedding date and fits your budget needs!

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For Photographers

Flash series pt 8: Off-camera flash angles

Today I'm going to continue my series on using flash. If you're just tuning in, you may want to start from the beginning and get caught up on the the series to this point. Here are the first seven parts:

Part 1: The Basics
Part 2: Flash Compensation
Part 3: Dragging your Shutter
Part 4: Using Existing Light Sources
Part 5: Eliminating Grain
Part 6: Off-camera Flash Exposure
Part 7: Off-camera Flash Set-up

Today I'm going to talk about the effects you can produce by positioning yourself at different angles in relation to your off-camera flash (OCF). For a number of images I share in this post I will also be sharing my settings.

It's fun to experiment by moving around the subject and seeing what kind of images you can come up with when shooting with OCF. My typical set-up that I talked about in the last post includes two speedlites - one on-camera and one on a lightstand. So in 99% of my images both are firing. Later in the series I'm going to talk more about getting creative using OCF and the top image is a preview of that. It was shot with just an OCF - no on-camera flash for fill. As you can tell, the light stand was about 100 degrees clockwise from me. This angle offers a very dramatic, high-contrast effect. It can be tricky to capture images like this because the subjects are moving and you need to get them on the rotation when the light will hit their faces. But it's fabulous when it works out!

Awhile back I did a behind the image post on the above image, so click here to find out everything there is to know about it!

This next image is one where the OCF was at a similar angle to the top image - maybe more like 70 degrees clockwise from me. But in this instance the on-camera flash fired as well. I love the way the flash is lighting up Bethy's face and how three-dimensional the resulting image is. I also love that the guests in the background are highlighted as well.

And one more example where the light stand was about 100 degrees clockwise from me. Such beautiful three-dimensionality:

Typically I find that the best place for me to be when shooting with OCF is within the 180 degree rotation where I am facing the OCF and no closer than 90 degrees from it either way. So rarely do I shoot with the OCF behind me. The reasons for this are two-fold. First, I shoot with the OCF bare-bulb, so it can be harsh light. Second, with it being bare-bulb, the light is also very directional and it often ends up casting shadows on the subject from something in its path. This next image is an example of what I'm talking about. It was shot with a Canon 70-200 2.8 lens at a focal length of 153, ISO 800, f2.8, 1/100 sec. The light stand is about 70 degrees counter clockwise from me. You can see that the groom's hand is casting a shadow on the bride's shoulder.

Thankfully the groom wasn't leaning forward otherwise the bride's face, which is a focal point of the image, would be in shadow. In this case, I was lucky and the little shadow doesn't bother me enough to make me not absolutely love this image. Still, I rarely ever shoot from this angle and I think I only did so in this instance because I couldn't go physically move the light stand at the time.

The most common angle that I use when shooting with OCF, places me from about 120 - 240 degrees from the light stand. I love to incorporate the bare bulb of the OCF in the composition because it adds a little fun and flare to the festivities :).

For this next image my settings were ISO 400, f5.0 1/80 sec. The OCF flash power was probably set at 1/32 power since the flash was a ways off the dance floor. I'm guessing my on-camera flash compensation was set to +2/3 power to compensate for the ambient lights in the background. When moving around the subject, I don't find that I ever need to change my settings. Once I figure out the combination that works, I am pretty much able to stick with it throughout the reception until something like the room lights or the location of the action changes.

Just like when you're shooting into the sun, you can get some flare at different angles when the OCF fires into your lens. My settings for this next image were ISO 640, f4.0, 1/60 sec. The OCF was much closer to the dance floor, so I'm guessing it was set at 1/64 or 1/128 power.

Here's another example of flare even though the OCF is slightly outside the composition to the right. Settings: ISO 320, f2.8, 1/100 sec.

Another thing I like to do is to block the OCF with the subject to achieve this type of glow (Settings: ISO 400, f2.2, 1/50 sec):

Here are a few more examples of this fun technique:

My settings for this next image were: ISO 400, f2.8, 1/50 sec.

In the bottom image of this next set, you can see the OCF peeking out from behind the bride's head:

See how much fun it can be to experiment with off-camera flash!? I love the effects and different types of images you are able to accomplish with it.

Stay tuned! Next week I will be sharing a brilliant tip to help you with focusing in low-light situations!

Click here to read part 9 of the series: Low Light Focus Trick

To find more info & reviews on my gear and other resources I offer photographers, click here!


Equipment used for above photos:
Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 50mm 1.2 lens
Canon 16-35mm 2.8 lens
Canon 70-200 2.8 lens
2 Canon Speedlite 580 EXs
Gary Fong Lightsphere
2 Lumedyne HV Tinycycler Battery Packs
2 Pocketwizards
Light Stand with umbrella bracket and cold shoe

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Personal, 101 in 1001

Girls' weekend out

This weekend I completed goal #19 on my 101 in 1001 list: Stay at a luxury resort and go to the spa. I know -- what an ambitious goal to strive for, right? :)

When attempting to complete 101 goals in 1001 days, I think it's important to include some goals that force you to relax and have fun. Goal-setting shouldn't always be about work. It should be about pushing yourself to do things you might not do if you didn't write down the goal. And I'm the type of person who just might not take time to relax unless I'm intentional about doing so :).

This weekend I met up with some of my industry girlfriends -- Heather Crabtree of Outstanding Occasions, Emily Edwards of Your Heart's Desire Wedding Planning and Monica McQueen of Tres Chic at the Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale. A huge thanks goes to Dawn Peterson - the catering manager at the Valley Ho for getting us set-up with an amazing suite!

On Saturday we spent the entire day at the pool. I was accompanied by the epitome of relaxation - the pina colada.

This was the view from the balcony of our suite:

Monica had to leave on Saturday and unfortunately I was having too much fun relaxing to take out my camera before she left, but here's Heather and Emily being totally cute and working the camera:

On Sunday morning the three of us spent the morning at the spa. I had a massage, facial and pedicure. Total bliss. I felt so spoiled!!

We did NOT look cute after spending the morning at the spa but figured we needed a group photo nonetheless:

Such a fun weekend! I felt so refreshed and rejuvenated and excited to get back to work on Monday! Can't wait to do it again next summer!

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Robert & Brittany's engagement shoot

On Friday I met up with Brittany and Robert for their engagement shoot in Old Town Scottsdale. It was 106 degrees outside but these two totally braved the heat and were so sweet together! These are a few of my favorites from their shoot!

It was so great to get to know you guys a little bit! I can't wait for your wedding!

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MJ's Camera Bag


MJ 2 Day Boulder Mock Shoot

Yesterday I shared some photos from my workshop earlier this week in Boulder. What a beautiful location!! I took the group out to do a mock engagement shoot on Monday night in the surrounding country. I had a plan to show the attendees some of the lighting situations I love to shoot in. But alas, pretty much like it did every evening, a super-thick blue cloud cover descended over the sun. So much so that our light source ended up being the other end of the sky (the East) because there was no cloud cover there and it acted as a reflector of sorts. Very weird. Even though I wasn't able to demonstrate how to shoot in a variety of lighting situations, I was able to show attendees how to shoot in that specific challenging situation.

Our two models were Tina & Cody who have been married for a few years. I hadn't met them before the shoot but they were AMAZING! They were so cute together and total troopers in front of 16 cameras. We had to hike across a field to get to this location but it was well worth it!

The dark blue clouds made for a gorgeous backdrop and contrast to the golden brown hay. If you can believe it, the sun is behind those clouds. But the light was coming from behind me as it reflected off the clear part of the sky in the East.

Sara captured a few shots of us in action:

Love these:

We headed down the road to another location that was equally amazing. Again - loving the deep blue clouds.

Here I am shooting the above images:

These are two of my faves:

Usually it is tough to get blue skies like this in photos. But not that day! The only challenge was that the images turned out super-blue and cold in temperature. I had to pump up the temperature while color correcting more than I ever have. But the end result was amazing!

Shooting the above photo:

After shooting that last photo, we passed Tina and Cody and hiked over the top of the hill then shot them from the other side to get this:

More cuteness:

One last favorite:

When you go out for a shoot you never know what kind of light you're going to have to work with! The key is to make the most of the situation you're given and as Tim Gunn would say, "MAKE IT WORK!" hehe :).

Day two was spent digging into business-related topics that are in many ways MORE vital to running a successful photo business these days than is mastering photography. We talked about the state of the market, workflow, album design & sales, blogging & social media, website & branding, pricing, vendor relations & networking, initial client meetings and getting published. I was able to spend 15 minutes one-on-one with each attendee to answer all their questions and clarify with them what their next steps are. It is SO exciting to be a part of other photographers' journeys and I can't wait to see where they go from here!

The attendees also received some fun surprises at the workshop and absolutely loved them! We couldn't have done that without our sponsors! A very special thanks to: Pictage, Jared Platt Workshops, Queensberry and Two Bright Lights. Thank you so much for your support!

Photographers - if you're interested in attending an upcoming workshop, click here to go to the workshop website for all the details!

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