Portrait: On the bluff overlooking Calafia beach

Digging for pebbles


Bailey is a lovely girl and full of passion. She laughs more than anyone else in our household. She also berates, hollars and stomps more than anyone else. Her emotions are right on the surface and usually amplified. She keeps our house so lively. She can be seen dancing to her songs with her ipod as often as brooding or angonizing.

She is a beautiful young girl and we love her dearly.

Calafia beach in San Clemente had these bluffs/cliffs right next to the train tracks. Most of the time when we went to the beach I’d ask one of the kids to go and climb on them with me. Bailey went along this time. 

I positioned Bailey on this rise and set up my view camera. I avoid photographs of my children looking into the camera whenever possible. It still happens a lot but if I can get a natural look without them looking at the lens I jump at the chance. In this case I knew that Bailey would become very bored easily during the 5 seconds it would take to focus the camera. I just let her do what came naturally. She is working at prying a little stone loose. Also I recal a train rumbling by at the time of this photograph. She couldn’t hear any direction I could offer and was waiting for the actual portrait to happen. She was a little surprised when I told her that I got what I wanted.

Her limbs are lanky. I’ve posted about them previously here.


Technical and philisophical information: Photo tips

Shot with a crown graphic 5×7 camera. Schnider 305mm g-claron lens. Delta 100 Black and white film. Contact printed. 1/60th at f 16.5

This is a fantastic demonstration of three photographic principles:

  1. The sunny 16 rule. I could easily and quickly determine the exposure. The film speed that I was using was 100 so at 1/100 the f/stop would be f16. That shutter speed wasn’t available on my lens so 1/60 is roughly 1/2 slower than 1/100. That means that I need 1/2 less light with the f-stop. That tranlates to 16.5.
  2. The Butterfly lighting pattern. The light is coming in directly over her nose and making shadows on the jawline and under the nose. The ground also help fill in the shadows.This all helps in emphasizing the front of her face. I positioned her to get that effect. That shadow on her cheek really gives her dimension.
  3. Isolating the point of most interest against a “clean” surface”. In this case it was her head against the sky. If that cliff behind her head had been higher on the scene the overall impact of her expression would be severely compromised.

– Jon Ball is a portrait photographer living in Boise, Idaho. His work can be found at www.studiojonball.com and on this blog. Thanks for reading photo tips.

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