Back in Business

Hello, World…again. I am back to my international photography blog after a year’s leave of absence due to illness. Feeling well now, I will be posting my photographs again on a weekly basis, at least. During the past year, I have ventured out to Bermuda, Cape Cod, Portsmouth NH and Kittery ME — all beautiful locations lit with full sunshine last August and September. I will post photos of 1) a lighthouse on the rocky coast of southern Maine and 2) the bay side beach of Eastham, Massachusetts. Both locations are buried in two feet of snow today!

Plans are in place for a fabulous new photo safari in July 2013, 10 days on the Big Island of Hawaii. I am looking forward to photographing the active volcano there from helicopter and boat if possible. I am sure we will also walk the desolate lava fields and snorkel off the West Coast.  I have snorkeled in Jamaica, Mexico, St. Lucia and Australia and was slow to get comfortable with it, but (as you can tell I kept trying) and I had a great snorkeling coach in the Great Barrier Reef where the rewards were amazing. I saw a terrific variety of coral and was _most_ excited to see the giant clams. It was fun to take some underwater photos. I had to have the underwater camera cleaned to remove the salt water damage to the lens motion, but now it is ready to go again.

My photo archives from around the world are extensive, and in the meantime I will re-explore many of the exciting locations I have visited in the past — so that I can post and share them with you. I have admired and studied the photography of Trey Ratcliff, author of the great travel blog, “Stuck in Customs.”  Trey has relocated to Queenstown, New Zealand, one of my favorite locations (so jealous!), and he keeps shooting and posting and blogging.  He is my inspiration. I recently joined his Paris Webinar and studied his processing techniques in Photomatix and Lightroom. There is always so much more to learn.

I hope you will follow my blog, now that I am back in business, and visit the locations page of my website:  I am working on an even better website, which should launch in March. Keep in touch.

copyright Cathy Kelly

Flashes of Hope

It is too bad for me that this is not a paying job, because this photo shoot is my calling.  Last week’s portrait photo shoot at Children’s Hospital was the fifth time I have volunteered.  It is a long and demanding day – capturing a variety of portraits of about 12 children who are fighting cancer or another life threatening illness. I need to arrive at the hospital by 9 am with my car packed with my mobile studio: backdrop and stand, strobe lights and stand, light diffusers, digital camera, sync devices and computer.  Each child and I only have 15 to 20 minutes together, and I try to get to know each little person/young adult. Once the child gets comfortable with me, we play around with a variety of poses, and the photo shoot becomes fun. Some children are more shy than others; some aren’t feeling well; others appear perfectly healthy. The ages have ranged from infant to 26.  It seems like most of the children I have met are between age 2 and 15. I just love getting to know each personality, and it is fun to see beautiful smiles emerge and love for siblings and parents expressed with hugs and kisses.

The computer processing work takes many hours: first I edit all the images. I may have shot from 25 to 60 photos of each child depending on how energetic the subject is. Then I work on the best 10-12 images (yes, this adds up to about 144 total images). I will crop and then convert to black and white, correct the curves so the flesh tones look good, retouch the face if necessary, retouch anything else and add a vignette.

Every month a different photographer (from ASMP, American Society of Media Photographers) volunteers, and it is interesting that each photographer has a different style. The Pittsburgh organizer for Flashes of Hope says that the families have been pleased with the results of every different shooting style.

When all the images are prepared, within two weeks of the shoot, I mail a CD to Flashes of Hope central office, and then they go to White House Custom Color, where a proof folder is made for each family. About two months after the shoot, each family receives a folder that typically holds 10 4×6” prints, 2 8×10” prints and a CD of all the best images, so the family can make reprints.

As the photographer, we never hear any follow up on the children (privacy rights prohibit this), but this work is rewarding.  I have been pleased with my results, and I know the families are grateful for this unique gift. So, I’m ready to do it again!

You can see samples of these portraits on my website under PORTFOLIOS/ Flashes of Hope.