Portraits and My Garage Studio

I’ve been reading up on how to take better portraits. One of the books I read recently mentioned that a garage is often a great place to find “open shade.” As I understand it “open shade” means the subject is in the shade and is looking out toward light. So I decided to experiment in my garage.

I threw a quilt over the back of my car in the garage. I had been looking for a colorful quilt to use in pictures but everything I found was pretty expensive and I didn’t want to use a family heirloom to throw on the ground for photo shoots. I found just what I was looking for while perusing an antique store one day. It’s the top layer of a quilt that hasn’t been sewn onto the bottom. They had it marked down to $10. I couldn’t buy the material to make this for that much! It does have one spot on it but I should usually be able to hide that.

So anyway, I tucked the quilt into the windshield wiper blade on the back of my car (so professional) to make a background for the pictures. Then, I opened the garage door and set up my camera on a tripod. The Sony NEX that I have has a great feature that I’m sure I would miss if/when I ever change cameras. It’s called Smile Shutter and it allows you to set the camera to take a picture whenever it sees a smile, even a small smile. I’ve found that when it’s set to detect even the faintest smile, it often takes a picture even if there’s not really a smile but the subject’s eyes are clearly in focus. I love this feature! I was able to practice on myself using the Smile Shutter. Without it I would have had to set the self-timer and then run into place for each picture. Way too difficult considering the number of pictures I took. So here are a few of the pictures I came up with.

After seeing the great light in these photos, I decided to try it again with different subjects. My parents needed pictures taken and asked me if I would take them. I was more than happy to have someone else to practice on! Here are a few from their garage photo shoot. We used a blue sheet for their background instead of the quilt.

Later, I took some in the same spot behind my car of my husband and me.

The main problem with this setup was that I couldn’t change the angle of the camera much without bringing some of the garage or the side of the car into the frame. Notice how you can see the folds in the sheet on the right side of that last picture. Well, that and the fact that there was a big, gross spider in a web on the wheelbarrow just a few feet to our left. Maybe down the road I’ll get a stand that can hold the blanket up so I can use it as a background anywhere. For now, if anybody else wants pictures in my garage studio, I’ll just have to clean up the garage and sweep away all the disgusting bugs in there first.

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