These photographs were taken at the 2009 Texas Photo Festival that took place a little more than a year ago in the small town of Smithville, Texas — about an hour south-east of Austin. 2009 was the inaugural year and I’m happy to say the event is on again in 2010, this coming Sunday on October 10th. Here is the website to this year’s photo festival. I had a wonderful time last year and I am also planning to go again this year. The Texas Photo Festival is organized by Doug Box and Randy Kerr, Austin area photographers specializing mainly in portraits. For this reason, the event has ample opportunity to take many portraits of different people in various settings. Last year, the event had various “sets” created outside for environmental portraits as well as an interior studio with lights and a backdrop. The sets included a marching band, cheerleaders, high school seniors, fire/rescue people, basically a mixture of everyday folk in a small town. From the website description, this year’s event also looks similar though some of the sets are different from last year.
If you are not interest in portraits, there are opportunities for other types of photography. At the event last year, I took many portraits but I also took HDR photographs of this neat old Texas town. Smithville is a place that is trying very hard to market its small town charms to artists, photographers and movie producers. A couple of movies have been film there and events including this Photo Festival are used to draw artists to the town. There are many old-style brick buildings with a lot of character — perfect material for HDR landscapes and architecture. I’m saving some of these architecture images for a future blog post but if you glance at my Flickr stream back in October 2009, you will see some of these images.
So if you are in the area and would like a fun afternoon of photography, you may want to head over to Smithville this Sunday. I’ll be there taking portraits and HDRs — a strange but satisfying combination.
My Thought Process
For these portraits, I used one of my favorite portrait lenses — the 85mm f1.8. I like the image quality of the lens and the large aperture allows me to blur out the background to reduce distractions.
Image 1: With the cheerleader, I didn’t shoot the image wide open (with the largest aperture) since I wanted to show the marching band in the background. I have enough blur to soften the background but still give enough context to the image.
Image 2: Hillary, the young woman in the purple top was shot with a larger aperture. Not completely wide open again, since I wanted her entire body to be in focus. At this distance, if I used f1.8, the maximum aperture, only part of her face will be in focus which is not the effect I was going for. This image was shot by a doorway, under a covered porch. The natural light worked well and in fact looked better than the studio lighting setup that they had in this building.
Image 3: Mr Davis is a long time resident of Smithville and was a wonderful person to photograph. You can tell that he has great character and facial features. I shot this with pretty much the same goal as my portrait of Hillary. Have a large enough aperture to blur the background but keep the entire person in focus.
NOTE: You can click on the photographs to see a larger version.
The images were taken with a Canon 20D with the Canon 85 mm F1.8 lens. All 3 images were taken as 8MP JPEGs.
All of the images were sharpened a bit, added a slight vignette, slightly increased color saturation and brightened the mid-tones some using levels. I used Aperture 3 software to make these adjustments.
Image 1: f4.5, 1/500 sec, no exposure compensation, ISO 100 at 85mm
Image 2 (L): f2.8, 1/320 sec , +1/3 exposure compensation, ISO 800 at 85mm
Image 3 (R): f3.5, 1/1000 sec , +1/3 exposure compensation, ISO 200 at 85mm