Autumn Family Photo Session

Friend and photographer from Shutter Speed Photography, James Jackson, approached me for photos that would be part of a very special first Christmas as a growing family. Of course, I was honoured with the opportunity.

fall child family portrait

JacksonFamily_Nov2015_7Capturing Vibrant Autumn Colours

Timing is the biggest challenge when it comes to scheduling photoshoots. Too soon, and the autumn colours aren’t as vibrant. Wait too long and you could miss them entirely. One strong rain or frost usually ends the autumn photography season. To accommodate this reality, we had a flexible window around the end of October and early November and we ended-up shooting on the first weekend in November.

Golden Hour Makes Autumn Colours POP

The next challenge is time of day. As any photographer knows, Golden Hour is the hour before sunset when the harsh direct sunlight of the day turns into softer, more golden light that is perfect for photographs. Most photographers strive to only shoot at this time of day, and the most difficult part is that it fades fast. Take a look at the three photos below for an example of the quickly changing quality of light across that hour.

This photo was shot at the beginning of Golden Hour and is somewhat harsh.

This photo was shot at the beginning of Golden Hour and is somewhat harsh.

fall family portrait

In this photo the family is sitting in indirect light, softening the harsh sun.

In this photo, we were losing light fast and you can see Golden Hour turning into Blue Hour

In this photo, we were losing light fast and you can see Golden Hour turning into Blue Hour

Off-Camera Flash for Fill Light

Since this day was very bright despite it being golden hour, I opted to use my SB-800 flash to fill shadows on the family’s faces. Wanting to keep the light natural, I was hesitant to throw any direct flash their direction so I aimed the flash straight up and attached the bounce card. The result was a subtle fill light and catch light in their eyes without overwhelming the beautiful golden light.

Subject Expression and Opportunities

Finally, autumn is such a fun time of year. It’s a time of reflection on warmer weather and preparation for the drab, colourless, cold winter ahead. In any photos that I create, I hope to capture the true spirit of my subjects. Since these were my friends and my son is the same age as their daughter, it was fun and easy to get them to let loose and create some great photos.

Fallen leaves make for great dynamic photos.

Fallen leaves make for great dynamic photos.

An off camera and goofy dad gets the credit for this expression.

An off camera and goofy dad gets the credit for this expression.

Gear

For these photos, I used my Nikon D700 and 85mm 1.8G with the Nikon SB-800 flash attached to the camera. I’m very happy with the result of the addition of the flash and I will certainly do it again. I’ve seen photographers using reflectors, flash stands and step ladders to capture (what I assume to be) unique and beautiful photos. I’ll increment my way there…