Shelley Paulson Photography Blog – Minnesota Equine, Wedding and Portrait Photographer
  • August20th

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    Note: I did a winter engagement session for these two in Minnesota, but instead of doing two blog posts, I put some of my favorites from that session at the end of this post. :)

    Spring came late to Kansas City this year, but I didn’t mind when the timing worked out perfectly that the Magnolia trees near where they held their ceremony were perfectly in bloom. It was a beautiful parallel for these two. Sammy and Naomi met when they were still in high school, became friends, and eventually fell in love. Their love now in full bloom, was beautiful to watch as they wed on that lovely spring afternoon.

    My favorite weddings are those that are a celebration, not just of the couple, but of the people who love them and make their lives richer. This was one of those weddings…

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    The ceremony was held at Christ Community in the Brookside neighborhood of Kansas City.

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    Photo by Deborah, my wonderful second photographer for the day.

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    Probably my favorite shoe shot ever. I love the way the light coming through the stained glass added color and dimension.

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    Such a beautiful color palette.

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    Photo by Deborah

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    Photo by Deborah

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    I think her dress was just magnificent!

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    The reception was held at The Stanley, a beautifully restored historic building in downtown Lee’s Summit.

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    When Finney gave Naomi flowers she picked up off the floor, my heart melted…

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    Sammy and Naomi traveled up to Minnesota for engagement photos. Of course it was 12 degrees at the warmest the day we did the session. Thankfully, half of it was inside. They were troopers!

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  • August15th

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    It’s no secret I love silhouettes. My favorites are the ones I can make against the beauty of a colorful sunset! I’ve spent years learning how to use these skies to my advantage, but I thought I would save you the time and just tell you how I do it. :)

    Step one: Know the Sky

    I am a student of light. I never stop studying it for color, direction, quality, quantity, etc. I watch the sky most evenings, even when I don’t have a camera in hand. I make mental notes about when the late day light gets it’s most golden and soft, and also when the skies light up with color and what conditions lead up to a colorful sky. I can usually tell when a good sunset is about to happen because there are usually some kind of cloud arrangement happening that will reflect the color of the sun after it has gone down. Sometimes I’m wrong, because the sky can change so quickly, but the more you observe the sky, the better you will get at anticipating what it might do.

    Step two: Find a hill, or get low

    In order to photograph subjects against the sky, you need to get them so they are visible against the lightest area of the sky. This usually means finding a hill with a clearing behind, or lying on the ground, or both, in the case of this photo. I was in a ditch, and my subjects were on a driveway. Ideally, I would love to see their shapes all the way down to their feet, but this was the best I could do at this location.

    Step three: Place subject in a clear spot

    Related to the last step, I had to find a spot where there was an opening to the sky. If I set them against the trees, I would not be able to see their shapes against a sky. I am very specific about where people stand for silhouettes!

    Step four: Expose for the sky

    This is probably the part I see most people miss when trying to make a silhouette. Point your camera at the sky and adjust your camera settings until the sky is metered correctly. I don’t want any light on my subjects – they should be completely black! I want the sky to be exposed without any overexposed areas. I use the highlight alert on my camera, which makes overexposed areas blink, to make sure I have no “blinkies” and have a correct exposure. As you can see in my settings, my shutter was at 1/3200. I could have lowered my ISO even more, but my camera is very clean a ISO 400, and I had a good exposure, so I worked with this. If anything, I would rather UNDEREXPOSE the sky than overexpose it. Why? Because a correctly exposed or slightly underexposed image will retain MUCH more color than an overexposed one.

    Step five: Set white balance to Shade

    This is my big secret! I set my white balance to shade to make the sky warm and colorful!

    Step six: Pose for shapes

    To me, silhouettes are made interesting by making good shapes. Because I cannot see any detail in my subject’s skin, I cannot see her expression. If Olivia was looking at me, all we would see would be the outline of her head – not very interesting! So for people, I almost always have them in profile to me for a silhouette. For horses, there are more interesting shapes than just profile. I have a lot of profile images in this series, but chose this one because I like that I can see all four legs, both ears forward, tail up, and his right eye.

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    This second image shows how I would process this image to bring out the color. In Lightroom, I balanced the exposure, added some contrast through the Tone Curve, corrected for lens distortion, and added overall vibrance to the image.

    I hope this has been a helpful tip and that you have an epic sunset soon so you can try it out for yourself!

  • July30th

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    I met Jeff and Maite 5 years ago in Mexico, at the wedding of clients-turned-friends, Gerardo and Perla. I remember sitting with them at dinner one of the evenings we all spent together in Mexico, hearing them talk about their lives and their plans, hoping that someday they would marry, and that I would get to be their photographer.

    When I heard they were engaged, my hopes grew! I so hoped they would take me with them to beautiful Cartagena, Colombia to photograph their wedding. Not just because it would be an amazing experience, but also because they are a great couple and so much fun to be around!

    When I didn’t hear from them for a few months, I figured they had found someone else. Thankfully, I was wrong! During a trip to visit Gerardo and Perla in NYC, where they were all now living and working, we made plans to all have dinner together. I vividly remember Maite saying, “We just keep comparing every other photographer to you!” So I said, “Okay, then lets figure out how we can make this work – I WANT TO BE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER!”

    And so it began. We spent a fun weekend together in Jeff’s hometown, making engagement photo magic all over the city. Then we nailed down the details for the big event, and the rest is history!

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    It’s hard to find the words to describe that weekend. It will certainly stand as one of my most favorite life experiences. The vivid color and texture of the old city, the sounds of horses hooves clopping down cobblestone streets, the warm breezes in the middle of one of the worst winters ever, THE COFFEE (oh my word, the coffee! I was highly caffeinated the whole trip!)…it was an experience I will always cherish. I was able to share all of this with my husband, who traveled with me and also got to share in this experience of a lifetime.

    One of the biggest highlights of the trip was sharing a hotel suite with Gerardo and Perla and exploring this amazing city together. We don’t speak much spanish, and of course they are fluent, so they were a great help when ordering at restaurants, catching a cab, etc.. On top of just getting time with these dear friends, Gerardo agreed to be my second photographer! He has been learning photography and I thought it would be fun for him to assist me. He was super nervous but did a FANTASTIC job. I was so proud of him!

    I could write a novel, but I’ll stop there. How about some photos?

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    Maite has a very close knit family. The love they share was palpable…

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    I just loved her dress. A perfect fit and true reflection of her style.

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    Gerardo photographed the guys while I was with the girls. He did such a great job!

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    Great layering Gerardo!

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    Nervous?

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    Sometimes super awesome things happen without any planning at all. :)

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    Gerardo’s image. Isn’t he talented?

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    They were married at the Iglesia San Pedro Claver, an 18th Century church in the heart of the city.

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    After their ceremony, and a few photos with their friends and family, Jeff and Maite took a carriage ride through the city. Definitely my favorite part of the day!

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    Just before we got to the reception, we stopped for ice cream. My second favorite part of the day. ;)

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    Their reception was held on the Baluarte San Ignacio. It was built in the 1630 to protect the city from attack.

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    Their band was pretty much amazing. The music stayed in my head for a long time. :)

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    One can’t go to an amazing destination like this and not do an “Encore Session”!

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    Maite loves to jump!

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    This was taken from the rooftop of our hotel…their silhouette’s against the church where they were married.