Long-Exposure Photography

So whether you are in a dark, dance-hall or camping under the stars, night-time photography can provide some of the most unique shots where the world is seen in only a way captured by a camera and its photographer.  A nighttime shot done right rarely disappoints those wishing to have their minds captivated visually.  

This shot was taken with a Canon 5D Mark IV and a 15-30 Tamron F2.8 VC lens.  The settings were 100 ISO, 20 Seconds, and F19.  This shot may have been cooler if my wife and I were there 40 minutes earlier to catch the late dark blue sky, but I actually like how the black background contrasts so heavily with the other colors in the scene.  This photo does not lack color by any means!!  The Branson, MO Ferris Wheel has been a great addition to fun activities tourists now enjoy every summer.  My sweet wife was gracious enough to go out with me on a mini-photo-date.  

Taking this type of shot requires a little bit of trial and error.  The timing of the cars is important.  You don't want to go so late where there are no cars.  You probably don't want cars sitting still in HWY 76 traffic either, which is a common occurrence here.  The cars going both directions is important because getting the red tail-lights adds a pop of color while the head-lights add drama and excitement to the photo.  The Ferris wheel is about as predictable as a two-year-old who needs a nap.  The light-show changes all the time and how the camera captures those 10-20 seconds is hard to know.  I like when the lights are not super bright because if the show is going off big-time then you end up with a disc of pure light.  Make sure you have a good tripod and your camera is very secure.  Wind blowing the camera can ruin the sharpness of this photo.  Thankfully, we have a great tripod and there was little wind for this shot, making it razor sharp.  I always use the 2-second delay, which will prevent the shot from having any shake as you push down the shutter button.  The high aperture number is what makes the street lights have that star effect.  I recommend 13-19 as your f-stop if you want to make the lights appear as stars.  A low ISO will also make for a very clean, professional quality photo.  You can bump up the ISO and play with the settings some to get a look you like.  The Canon 5D Mark IV's 30MP sensor will definitely do the job in getting plenty of detail for this shot.  Any modern DSLR will take this shot successfully when done well.  

Besides that, I think you will just need to go out and shoot.  Remember to try and get some foreground subjects in your landscape shots.  A person, a boat, some driftwood, a grand-mother smoking a cuban, or hold up some weeds in front of the lens.  Just do something to make it more interesting.  I chose the car-lights to make this more than an ordinary Ferris Wheel shot.  Let me know what you think.  Contact me if you need a photographer here in Branson or anywhere else in the world if it is worth my travel.  Cheers!!! 


Tips - Engagement ShootS

So, this couple is so sweet, so kind, and so gorgeous.  Marilyn and I loved spending a couple hours with them at the Branson Landing taking some engagement photos.  We were able to get a wide variety of shots and do several different poses, locations, etc.  

Here are a few tips for couples in planning out an engagement shoot:

1. Let it be just like a date - I suggested to Ben that he should take Emma out on a date and there just happened to be a photographer there directing some pictures.  I think this got Ben in a more romantic mood and was really encouraged to be on a photoshoot.  Guys are not always crazy about taking pictures, but guys like Ben are definitely crazy about their ladies. 

2. Plan out your outfits well - This is so very important.  Ladies generally are more with it in this area and as a guy, I can attest that I usually don't care that much about what I am wearing unless it is absolutely necessary to care (I am working on it).  There just isn't space for that sort of thing in the male brain.  Ben was different however.  He and Emma worked together and he put together a great outfit that was dressy enough for Emma's dress; It was void of any distractions like huge logos, crazy colors, or wild patterns.  Emma's dress was stunning as well. 

3. Groom well - Grooming in a photoshoot is more important that grooming for say an event or for a day at the office.  Photos are something people hone in on and stare at sometimes.  You may not want a hairy neck on photo day (guys).  You may want to take an extra twenty minutes in front of the mirror (I am speaking to guys) to tweez, pluck, or shave any area that doesn't look perfect.  Yes, photoshop can take care of a lot, but a hairy neck is next to impossible to photoshop out 50-100 times.  Help the photographer by grooming well. I would also highly recommend just going to a barber and letting him deck you out with a shave to make you look professionally groomed.  That is the best.  

4. Frizzy Hair - Emma had a great hair day even when the wind was blowing.  I am not sure how she did it.  Fly-aways are hard to edit out and if there are too many or if the hair looks too frizzy it can be a big distraction.  I am not a pro at girl-hair, but I know that Argan oil or some leave-in conditioners can prepare you for your looking as smooth as possible.  I would consult a professional because on this subject, I am not.  

5. Pro Make-Up - If you really want some amazing results on your engagement shoot day.  Get a pro to do your hair and make-up or just make-up.  Emma's make-up looked great on this shoot, but maybe something to consider.  

6. Have Fun - Hopefully your photographer can have fun with you guys and you can have a relaxed shoot where you are not in a total rush, spark a little romance, and end up having a bless engagement shoot.  

Stay tuned for more photography tips from SWJones Photo!!

Branson Landing at Night

Marilyn and I took Amanda and her husband Grant downtown to the Branson Landing and we shot some great night shots despite the challenges.  It was windy and cold, but we were determined to get some night portraits done.  The flash needs to be set just right and the backlighting was facilitated by Grant holding the light.  Marilyn and I both took photos throughout the shoot.  I started and after about five minutes a security guard rolled up to remind us that these photos could not show up in a magazine.  I assured the security professional that these were not for a publication.  If you are wanting portraits done in Branson, MO or anywhere in Southwest Missouri or Northwest Arkansas - Give us a call.  

Senior Photos in Branson

Sarah was a terrific model for this photoshoot.  We were down at Big Cedar Lodge in Branson, MO accompanied by my beautiful wife Marilyn and Sarah's friend Collin.  As you can tell these photos turned out fabulous.  When you have a talented and lovely model like Sarah, gorgeous light, and amazing help the possibilities are endless.  We had some incredible keepers and this was by far my most successful photoshoot to date.  I hope to excel as a freelance photographer in the Branson area and all across Missouri.  Sarah will be a model for SWJones Photo again hopefully in the spring for a bridal shoot - So stay tuned!!  SWJones Photo would like to thank Sarah for offering her talent.  She said that she will use these headshots for her application to acting school and that these were the best photos she has ever had taken of her.  She was a natural at modeling and a joy to work with.   I would label this shoot a fashion-headshot-stylized senior photo session if there is such a thing.  We had fun for sure!!

Lake View Real Estate

So this blog will serve to show you what SWJones photography is doing as it relates to Real Estate photos.  I took off from Branson this past Monday to travel down old HWY 86 near my old stomping grounds.  I found Bluff Cove and arrived at my destination.  I immediately went to work because I knew this house was going to be challenging.  It is a little over 4000 sq. ft., but that is not what makes this type of project challenging.  The challenging part was the numerous window shots and getting the right exposure to see the lake view.  The post production is the most challenging part to adjust window brightness, color, and contrast.  I met Rheena and Mike (the owners), which was a pleasure as we waited for the relator to show up.  I had a blast in this house because it was immaculate and I didn't need to move hardly a thing.  After taking my outdoor shots I came in and started in the great room.  We went to the garage, the master suite, the office, the downstairs theater room, the other bedrooms, and captured their wonderful pantry.  The last stop was out the back deck to capture the beautiful lake view.  This is a millions dollar view for only 600K!!  I wish I had the money to purchase a house like this.  

First Dance

Logan and Mary Miller were enjoying a perfect dance on a perfect day.  These images capture just a small snapshot of their wedding.   I love first dance pictures.  The emotions the couple share after all the planning, all the hype, all the anticipation, and even all the chaos of the wedding day.  It is like the eye of a beautiful storm.  They are totally alone together for almost the first time since they have been married and yet they are so totally not alone.  The onlookers are abundant and yet this is the one time in their life that they may feel like a movie-star performing for a crowd.  Though they are not performing and though they are not famous, they look amazing and feel amazing.  This is their special day.  Mary and Logan encapsulate here in these shots some of the best things about being a photographer.  These angles and these moments cannot be relived and yet they are sealed here for as long as the googles and the internets survive.  Their memories will be logged for eternity in their minds and in their hearts.  

Branson House Realty

So this adorable little house was my next real estate photography attempt.  The inside and outside shots turned out fantastic and there were over 500 views within the first day of it being posted.  I can't take all the credit as a photographer because this house is charming from the front all by itself.  This is an affordable home with 3 beds and two baths and priced at 135K it is a bargain.  It is tucked back in a gem of a neighborhood on the outskirts of Rockaway Beach.  what a deal!!

Chef James

So I think I may have found my future niche in photography.....FOOD!! No, probably not, but I loved taking pictures for my friend James who is studying to become a chef.  He bought some food and came over to my place to not only make the biggest mess in the universe, but he made some delicious food for me while he was here.  I was able to set up some lights and my lovely wife helped making the place-setting look beautiful with props.  I really love how these turned out.  I used a macro 100mm lens and a 50mm f1.8.  Both lenses did fairly well and I realized that there are a lot of variables when it comes to an excellent food photo.  The first dish was a pan-fried chicken breast with sweet potatoes and a kale salad.  The second dish was a Salmon Mousseline with a spicy pepper sauce and kale salad.  Both were very delicious and I think my favorite part was not the pictures, but actually the food.    

Pan-Fried Chicken Photo

A Portrait at Hollister Coffee Co.

So, I was working at a coffee shop as I often do and learned that it was this lovely lady's birthday.  I needed to take a short break and decided why not take a portrait for the birthday girl.  Lauren is super sweet and this was one fun way to make a connection and post a cool photo to a local business FB page.  Hollister Coffee Co. is a local gem with great employees and a great owner.  Stoked to carry my camera everywhere I go.  This was taken with a 100mm prime f2.8 macro lens.  

Jasmine K.- a great model!

  So it was on the eve of a horrendous storm called storm Reggie and Jasmine was the only one who made it over to our house that evening.  We named the evening Reggmegedon and while some people were in their basement taking shelter, we were having a photo shoot.  My wife Marilyn, who happens to be a Mary Kay Consultant, spent time getting Jazz all prettied up.  In addition, the crazy thing was that Jazz had brought some cute outfits just in case we were going to have a photo shoot.  She knows me well.  Anyway, we were in the studio for about an hour where things seemed to go pretty much perfect.  

  Jazz was camera shy at first, but Marilyn played some music, we danced, Tozer got recruited as a prop, and life was pretty much great.  I was shooting a 50mm 1.8 prime and my wife was helping hold some directional light.  It was a team effort and thanks to Adobe Lightroom, we were able to touch up some pretty amazing shots.  I hope to recruit more models to just have fun and take more awesome shots like these in the near future.  And we survived Reggmegeddon to tell the tale!!!

February Flowers!!

So I think there were records broken this month for February warmth.  Summer in February is a very good thing when you are in the midwest.  Narcissus are among the first flowers to pop up in spring and this beauty showed up in my front yard about half way through one of our coldest months.  I came home from work at around dusk, got my camera, got down on my belly, and took a few shots once my settings seemed perfect.  I tried to get a clean and blurred out background to save me time in post.  I might invest in a special macro lens as I think about it or borrow one from a close friend to try out getting some of those extremely close up shots.  Anyway, I can't wait for spring- I am so glad that we are getting a sneak preview with lots of budding trees and early flowers.  Winter is gone (almost) and I am planning what types of photography I might like to try as the seasons transition.  This flower reminds me of the verse where Jesus compares how a flower is dressed more beautiful then the splendor of Solomon.  He ties in the beauty of nature to how we ought not to worry about our lives, what we should eat, wear, or drink.  He says that we ought to trust in God to provide for our needs and that today has enough worries of its own.  Jesus is pretty smart.  

Cardinals & Drive-by Photography!

   So I have been waiting all winter for the right setting to take a Cardinal shot.  Yesterday was the day.  I was driving home from a disappointed attempt at finding some cool shots and there happened to be a detour road down a residential street.  Providence would have it that I stumbled across cardinal heaven.  I have never seen so many cardinals that were ready for a photo op.  They were all flirting with one another and the ladies were having a blast eating some sort of berries.  Cardinals seem to be a bit shy most of the time except when they are flirting or have a really great tree full of snacks.  It also was very helpful that I was in my best blind- my truck.  With all that to say, I tested out my Canon 70D's output with some rapid-fire shooting and I was not disappointed- at 7 fps the camera did just what I needed.  I had some very crisp shots and I couldn't believe that this female cardinal did not fly away.  I was very close to her and I was shooting about 300mm and 1/750th of a second.  The morning light was just beautiful.  Rockaway Beach is a little gem of a location for some interested shots. 

Cardinal Picture Branson