Long Lost Cousins Come for a Visit

A while back I briefly mentioned the story of our long lost cousins that we rediscovered through Facebook. (And you thought Facebook was only good for wasting time!)

In short, my mom and aunt hadn’t seen their three first cousins since they were just young girls – 30  years or so, because their father and my mom’s mother (who were brother and sister) had been estranged.  When we found them on Facebook we realized that  cousin Wendy lived only an hour or so’s drive from us so we met her and her husband and beautiful sons Aidan and Noah a few months ago.  But her two sisters Leslie and Jaime live farther away, (Leslie in Florida and Jaime in California) so we had to wait until fourth of July weekend to meet them and Leslie’s daughter Nicole. My Aunt Diane also flew in from Edinburgh Scotland for the reunion!

We had a GORGEOUS day getting to know each other and of course I couldn’t let the occasion go by without documenting it with some photographs.

Here is a shot of all the first cousins:

From Left to Right: Wendy, Leslie, Jaimi, Nicole, my Aunt Diane and my Mother Sally

From Left to Right: Leslie, Wendy, Jaimie, Nicole, my Aunt Diane and my Mother Sally

And because the spot was so beautiful and because I wanted to practice taking photos with backlighting I posed everyone here:

Shot with my Canon digital rebel xsi, Tamron AF 28-75mm f/2.8 Lens at these settings:
f4.0
SS 1/125th
ISO 200

I love the setting and the way the light illuminates their hair, but I clearly was much too focused on getting my exposure correct and not enough on composition : see how I chopped of my Aunt and Wendy’s hands? Bad! I thought children were hard subjects.. groups are even harder. Even if you compose well and expose correctly, most shots are ruined by someone blinking or talking or something else. I think I’ll stick with kids.

Luckily, two of my favorite new subjects  Aidan and Noah came with their mom Wendy – unlike 10 month olds they actually LOOK at you when you ask them to!!

Here are my two best shots of Noah:

Both images shot with my Canon digital rebel xsi, Tamron AF 28-75mm f/2.8 Lens at these settings:
f3.2
SS 1/80th
ISO 400

And you already saw this one of Aidan:

The next day we met up with Jeff’s cousins and their three girls and went to Bowline park which I already blogged about (video and all!) but I just wanted to share this picture of Jenny that I took at the playground:

Shot with my Canon digital rebel xsi, Tamron AF 28-75mm f/2.8 Lens at these settings:
f4.0
SS 1/60th
ISO 100

My reason for sharing this particular photo which also relates to the backlit photo of the cousins above is to talk about backlight and metering modes.

If you shoot in AV (aperture priority) or TV (shutter speed priority) modes, it would be pretty hard to properly expose photos like these.  In the backlit picture your camera will read the overall light in the scene (which is a lot in the back) and think it doesn’t need to let in much more light and the result would be an underexposed picture.   In the cousins image and the image  of Jenny above, there is so much light coming in from behind her that the camera will meter that you have a ton of light – which you do, but not on her face!

So to take pictures like these  you really need to change your DSLR’s metering mode from evaluative metering (meaning it’s taking in the WHOLE scene and basically averaging the light) to spot metering (metering off of a point of your choosing – usually the face).

With spot metering it will take it’s light metering from ONLY the center focus point. It’s really easy to change back and forth between metering modes, on the rebel it’s the top button on the set of four that go around the circle, the one that has a little camera looking icon just above the “Set” button. (The Rebel XSI has spot metering capability, the XTI had partial metering which is better than evaluative, but not as accurate as spot. )

Now if you are shooting in manual mode (which I highly recommend!) you just get your  light reading off the faces and then dial in the shutterspeed and aperture you want making sure the indicator lines up with the center in the viewfinder and then you can back up and recompose the scene and shoot.

If you are shooting in AV (aperture priority) or TV (shutterspeed priority) or even P (which I really don’t recommend!) you would have to meter by getting a reading off the subject’s face(s) and then press the * key to lock in exposure before you back up, recompose etc.

If you have another camera, look in your manual to find out how to change metring modes – it’s a really usefull skill to have, particularly in the summertime.. Do you know that old adage that you should never shoot INTO the sun? Once you master spot metering you can ignore that advice completely and it will open up a whole world of beautiful backlit scenes.

Here’s one more where I exposed for the faces even though there was so much light that could have thrown the metering off completely had I not been using manual mode:

Grandpa and Jasper in the Garden

Grandpa and Jasper in the Garden

Shot with my Canon digital rebel xsi, Tamron AF 28-75mm f/2.8 Lens at these settings:
f4.0
SS 1/85th
ISO 200

Anyway, I hope that bit of information is useful.  Stay tuned for a few shots from my brand new toy!

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Ashley says:

Oh i love it! those are beautiful! I only have partial metering :( but i can’t wait to experiment with the sun flare & backlight!

Meghan says:

The light in the last photo is magical. I love it!

ariana says:

Sarah – what????? That is crazy, what a small world!!!

Sarah says:

sorry for the typo…

Sarah says:

I LOVE the last photo of in the garden — just BEAUTIFUL.
And one more thing: I was surprised to see my coworker Leslie pictured in your group photographs! She and I both teach at a high school down here in South Florida. Funny coincidence.

ariana says:

Kari!!!!! I’m so excited for you!!! yayyyy!!!

I have news too.. we *might* be headed to LA Sept 5-12.. will you be around?

kari says:

these are AWESOME…the one of Jasper and your dad looks like they are in a fairy tale!

i have HUGE news for you… i took advantage of tax-free Oregon shopping and a mfg. rebate from Canon and I FINALLY own a proper camera!!! i got the Canon Rebel xsi!!!!
I’ll post some pics from it soon. This is going to be a fun journey!

ariana says:

Thanks Kate, she really is beautiful and definitely has the best hair which I unfortunately did NOT inherit! I always tell her she looks like Rogue from xmen with the white locks in front :)

Kate says:

Ariana, your mum is gorgeous! I love her hair! Beautiful family.

ariana says:

Thanks JB! No talent really, just super looking kiddos.

Alicia, what makes you think I DIDN’T use the preset on the girls? (the first one anyway :)

Alicia says:

That fantasy preset would be perfect to use on girls! Gives a sort of freshly made-up blush and lipstick look!

jbhat says:

You are so talented! I can’t believe the color of that kiddo’s eyes. He has to be wearing tinted contacts. : )

The cousins story is amazing and the women all seem lovely.

ariana says:

Yep, meant to do it the first time and forgot!

Kimberly says:

Hee, you made it linky! ;)
Such a sweet lens. If I didn’t have FIL’s to borrow, I’d probably eventually cave and get one. It is awesome outdoors… colors are amazing, I agree.

ariana says:

Yes!!! So excited. The bokeh is just amazing. Outdoors it just doesn’t feel too zoomed AT ALL. I probably won’t use it much in the winter, but it’s such a great lens for outdoors. I think the colors and contrast are better than my tamron zoom too.

No, I don’t have the xti, I just thought a lot of people do and would get confused if they couldn’t find spot metering :)

Kimberly says:

You got the 85?!?!?! (Before the photo of Jasper in the flickrstream loaded, the caption “new lens” was there… I had to see! ;) Can’t wait to hear your experiences with it… it’s so awesome. I asked my FIL to bring it when they come, so I will be using it to shoot James’ birthday party, too, along with my 50.

Great post re: metering… nice explanation! (Did you get an XTI too?) Those boys have gorgeous eyes, especially Aidan. And I really love the shot of Jasper and your dad in the garden… beautiful!