NOTE: IN ORDER TO BETTER SEE PHOTOS IN THEIR FULL 1600 PX. RESOLUTION, VIEW THEM IN THE ALBUM FORMAT BY CLICKING ON THE LEAD PHOTO OR ANY PHOTO IN THE POST. This is especially true for landscape shots. Thanks to Mark for the idea of adding this alert so the photos can be seen at their best!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Scouting a Portrait Shoot

As  you all know I tend to focus on nature and landscapes with my photography, but every once in a while I get an itch to try aiming my lens at people. A friend asked me to do some family portraits for her next weekend and since I have a new camera and lenses I thought I better take them out for a test run first.

#1 - behind the visitor center, Sweet Joe Pye Weed

My friend lives almost an hour away so I'm going to borrow the neighbors' grandchildren tonight and set them loose at Glacial Park in Ringwood, Illinois, which is only a 15 minute drive away.  Last night I drove over with my new 24-70mm lens on my new Canon 70D to test out the lens and the light.

#2 - Rattlesnake Master , Visitor Center garden

The Canon 70D is the same body that I had before the theft, a little bit of research and a conversation with a salesperson at Camera Casino in OshKosh convinced me it was still the right balance of sharpness and weight for what I want out of my photography.  All of the pictures in the post were taken hand held with the Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM Lens which was pretty pricey at $899 but half the price as the 2.8f version and weighs 1.3 lb versus 2.1 lb for the more expensive lens.  $900 savings and almost a pound lighter, not a hard choice for me to make.

#3 -Compass Plant, behind the Wiedrich barn

While I enjoy shade for flower and insect photography, a little bit of late day light is what I was after for a portrait location so the flower beds up under the oaks wouldn't work.  And while the idea of shooting by the barn and outbuildings seemed like a good one, the light wasn't right in most of the spots there either.  I found myself wishing for a wooden bench to place where I wanted one to be, but who could lug one of those around?

#4 - camelback kame view

Still in search of the perfect spot I headed up through the woods behind the visitor center and then through the shoulder high plants that enveloped the path out onto the camelback kames.  While it was fun the plants were too thick and would likely hide the children, not to mention mess up their hair and clothes!

#5 - Prairie Coneflowers in the sun

I found my sweet spot at the base of the camelback kames.  The light was strong and the area more open with clumps of wildflowers along the mown path.  The Prairie Coneflowers are a bit past their peak, but I loved their bright yellow petals even if they were a bit tattered.

#6 - Cairn on the fencepost

A cairn on a fencepost caught my eye here too, and the other side of the rail looks like a promising spot to set up a posed group shot without the dappled shade.

#7 - Queen Anne's Lace against the sky

Queen Anne's Lace is everywhere these days, but hard to get an interesting shot featuring them.  I liked this one with the angled stem across the blurred out background.

#8 - Compass Plant by the bridge

There is a great bridge over Nippersink Creek here also, but the banks are so filled with plants taller than I am that setting up a shot with the kids on the bridge might be impossible.  I'll bring my new zoom lens and give it a try if we have time.

#9 - Nippersink Creek

I was able to climb down under the bridge and get a nice shot of some trees reflected in the water.

#10 - Backlit prairie grasses

Having scouted most of the property I had a long walk back to my car, but now knew where I wanted to shoot and to park to save time when I returned.  As the sun came close to setting things got even more interesting in the prairie alongside the dirt service road I was walking on.

#11 - backlit Thistle gone to seed

 I was almost to my car when I saw another service road that looked less used jot off to the right.  I am such a sucker for spur trails...

#12 - Oak trunks aglow

It was a lovely spot for catching the sunset light bathing the oaks, and I got to watch some Sandhill Cranes fly over as well.

#13 - Sandhill Cranes at sunset

#14 - Milkweed pods at dusk

I'd like to capture some barns at sunset but never seem to be in the right place at the right time for that.  Maybe someday I'll make the time to scout good locations for that too.

#15 - Pond at dusk

All shots were cropped only and shot hand held with the 24-70mm lens, which was as versatile as I thought it would be and I think will work especially well on the hiking trails and in the woods.  It would also work with my extension tube I used the most which happened to be in a zipper of my other backpack so it might end up working for macro-like photos also.  I bought a 60mm macro lens and took a couple of shots the other day but am not sure I am sold on it yet.  I will wait until we get to Colorado and experiment a bit more before I decide.

Tonight we will see how different things are with live subjects and a tripod! Which shot did you like best?  What location would you choose for outdoor shots of children?


  1. All gorgeous pictures, for sure. If I have to pick, I guess my favorites are the bridge and the last one. .

  2. All gorgeous pictures, for sure. If I have to pick, I guess my favorites are the bridge and the last one. .


  3. Wow that’s some camera set up you have. No wonder that looks like a live Japanese beetle in your picture. My favorites? Boy that’s hard there are some really artistic pictures here. Love the queen anne’s with the faded background. I like the bridge with the plants on the left. The milkweed pod at sunset is lovely.

  4. I never realised you had your camera gear nicked though I know it happens a lot but you surprise me in that you got another 70D, I thought you might have been going full frame. Not sure I'd have gone with the 70D if I had been in your position, I'd have gone with the 80D which is getting some really good reviews. I only have a couple of full frame lenses a 100 macro and a 70 -200 the others are APC. You have lost none of your touch I see.