a light study

50mm | f1.8 | 1/250 | iso100

It is the last week of school in our neighborhood (YAY!!!!!!!!!!!) and this beautiful friend of mine is graduating from high school. I felt lucky to be able to create these images with her. I have known her since her preschool days I think! I love seeing the amazing person she is and how she has found so many things she is passionate about. She has a beautiful future ahead of her.

I photographed her at Tunnel Springs because I love it there and it is really close to where we both live. These were shot in the evening. (See the warm glow of the sunset behind her!?) The sun is setting behind her left shoulder. These are backlit with the tree as a sort of buffer so that the back light doesn’t overtake the background. She stays in the same general spot in all of the images I will share with you. I am using the 50mm 1.2L prime lens. It is without zoom capabilities. When you see the photo brought in…it is from me moving physically closer…and also to her right side to change the way the light effects the image.

50mm | f1.8 | 1/250 | iso100

I have moved directly in front of her and closer in this image. Shooting at f1.8 will create a soft back drop. The softening will increase as you move closer. Remember the sun is over her left shoulder (right of the photograph).

50mm | f1.2 | 1/640 | iso100
50mm | f1.2 | 1/640 | iso100

The subject is backlit here but I am slightly above her so that the light is not hitting the lens…there is no flare. I try to remember to bring a step stool to every photo session. The sun is still behind that left shoulder but I have moved and Gabby has turned her head to face me.

50mm | f1.2 | 1/400 | iso100

I have positioned myself, still above but facing the light more straight on. Notice how the warmth increases with these small adjustments.

50mm | f1.2 | 1/400 |iso100

I positioned myself at that spot (more straight on as said above…) and a bit lower to add more light around the subject. If you like a stronger backlight fill- position yourself so that you are facing the light. Your subject will be between you (your camera) and the sun. Move your camera up|down and side to side to make little adjustments that will add more or less light in the image.

lower…and more light…and more warmth

50mm | f1.2 | 1/400 | iso100
35mm | f1.8 | 1/200 | iso100

In this image I have moved back to where I started, directly facing Gabby…moved back and did trade lenses to the 35mm 1.4L . I think it is fascinating how the light, it’s color and intensity, changes just by small adjustments.

Do you like shooting with backlight? Do you ever “buffer” it’s intensity with something- like this tree?

overcast light

35mm | f2.8 | 1/8000 | iso800
location: Dana Point, CA

My favorite part of any time I have near the ocean, other than the smell & sound of ocean waves, are the overcast mornings with gorgeous-even light for hours! Utah has been “spoiling” us with amazing OVERCAST light lately! I feel like it has been raining for two weeks straight…or is it more? Anyway, we have a few more overcast days in the forecast! Let’s take advantage of the gorgeous light and get our cameras out!


Teaching beginner photography is something I would do every day. I love it that much! Saturday my attendees showed up with cameras in hand so anxious to learn. They all brought their enlarged photo, their first homework assignment, to share with the class. That is how I have started every workshop I have taught over the last almost ten years. I am always impressed with how far every student has come in their photo journey before they sit in my seat.

Do you have a camera and equipment you want to learn how to use? Do you want to document your life as you see time moving so quickly? Come join me!

My next class is:

MAY 11, 2019 from 12-4 pm

You will also have 4 weeks of additional follow-up and assignments

What you will learn:


You will receive 4 hours of personal instruction from me, working as a group of no more than 10 individuals. A book for reference filled with images from my personal life and projects and the details of how they were created. It also includes the equipment I use. Then 4 weeks of additional instruction, assignments and access to ask all the questions you might run into as you go. The tuition is $300.

To hold your spot: send your tuition via Venmo @Carin-Davis and an email of your contact information to stillphotographyworkshop@gmail.com

AND if you have attended any of my past workshops and would like to come again you have a discounted tuition ($100 savings) for $200.

IF couples want to come together it is $500 for the couple. I hope I see you on May 11th!

#1 trait in a great photo-artist

It was 15 minutes before my workshop attendees would be arriving. The doorbell rang and a flat package from @blurbbooks was sitting on the doormat. I hadn’t expected it until Wednesday. It arrived several days early and right in time to share with my friends how much printing your work means to me. That was the first homework assignment I gave them, enlarge one of your images to 16×20 or larger. I have given that assignment for every workshop I have taught over the many years I have taught it. The last slide of my workshop that day said: “The #1 trait in a great ‘photo-artist’ is that they value their work.” If there is anything that I want my students to really learn and know-IT’S THAT! Printing the images you take, whether for yourself or a gift, for a book or for a wall-takes you in a giant leap to realizing it’s value” 

Now, I obviously need some training is self portraiture! 🙋🏼‍♀️ The cover photo of my book was taken by @heycnyn – thanks Canyon! It’s one of my all time favorites! 

phone editing apps

It’s been too long.

I haven’t been focused and haven’t made time to write here. I am sitting in the car waiting for Sophie to get out of her tumbling class. Rain is falling so when the thought “take photos of SOMETHING” popped in my head I immediately dismissed it, to protect my blow dried hair. 🙂 I recognized the excuse and played with my phone camera from the drivers seat of my car.

Here are three images SOOC:

Then I edited them with two different phone apps.

VSCO: AU1 + sharpening


I used DUSK filter plus a bit of curve adjustments.

What phone editing apps do you use? Sometimes I honestly like my phone edits better than my desktop!

a new partnership

K97A5675.jpg50mm | f1.2 | 1/4000 | iso250

October 25, 2014: It was the first day I had strapped a 50mm 1.2L Canon lens on.  I rented it for a photoshoot I had that day.  While still in my possession, I decided to try it out on my family members.  We went up the street and found a quiet spot…with autumn dressed trees all around us.  I loved that impromptu photo session…but this image motivated me to find a way to make sure that lens was in my own camera bag.  It is still one of my very favorites.

a few more from that day SOOC (straight out of camera) with the exception of a bit of cropping…

K97A5677K97A575650mm | f2.8 | 1/640 | iso250

K97A568250 mm | f1.2 | 1/4000 | iso250

K97A569250mm | f1/2 | 1/4000 | iso250

I loved the above image of Ellie…the hair is so soft…and the depth of field so shallow…the brim of the hat soft.  I loved her expression.  The drawback of shooting that shallow is that her nose is in perfect focus…but her eyes aren’t.  Generally, if your subject is looking at the camera…it is best to have their eyes in focus.  (oops!)

But…once I moved back a bit (moved myself back because it is a prime lens) we nailed the focus on quite a few.  The details above were the same (f1.2 | 1/4000, etc…) for the next image, but moving back changed the depth of field significantly.


K97A576650mm | f2.8 | 1/640 | iso250

This one will always be a favorite for me…it captured each of their personalities pretty perfectly. 🙂 🙂 🙂

Remember…those are all SOOC (with the exception of that first one…I am not sure about that).  I wanted to show what the lens actually does…without any Photoshop or Lightroom treatment on them.

prime lenses

MO copy

I was asked a question today about lenses.  “Which lens should I buy?” is the question that I am asked very most. Prime lenses are my VERY FAVORITE.  They don’t zoom in and out.  They focus on the range that they are best at and generally do a fantastic job.  If you want to change your view, you move your body instead of the lens.  The prime lenses that I currently shoot with are:

I shot all of these sets at aperture 2.0 (because that is as open as the 135mm shoots).  I stood or sat in the same spot for each capture within the set.  I kept the exposure and edit the same. They were also all shot with mid-day/overcast light in auto white balance.

blue copygrapes copyrose copyseedum copy2


35mm– sharp as a tack (even at f2.0), fits a lot in one frame…even when you are close.  I love that it shoots as wide open as 1.4 (great indoors and in low light situations).

50mm– great focusing, fits plenty into a frame (obviously less than the 35mm).  It shoots as wide open as 1.2 (which is even better than the 35mm for indoors and low light).  The bokeh (blurry area) is starting to really shine.

85mm– it is SO AFFORDABLE! It focuses well…but has a beautiful bokeh.  It retails for $370…and I have had mine for almost 10 years!

135mm– THE BOKEH! The “out-of-focus” portion of the images I shoot with this lens absolutely melt away.  The in-focus portions are well focused.


35mm-cost (I like everything else about it)

50mm-cost (I like everything else about it)

85mm-I can’t think of a CON

135mm– the softness can be too soft.  When I shoot faces close up with this lens…sometimes just their lashes are in focus…and not their eyes or nose.  I have to close the aperture a bit to have enough depth of field.  As long as you remember that, it is one of my very favorite lenses.

truly SEE


top & bottom left: 35mm, f2.2, 1/400, ISO 2000

bottom right: 135mm, f3.5, 1/100, ISO 2000 | San Francisco, CA

From one of my favorite photography books, TAO OF PHOTOGRAPHY by Philippe L. Gross & S.I. Shapiro-

“SEEING, in the finest and broadest sense, means using your senses, your intellect, and your emotions.  It means encountering your subject matter with your whole being. It means looking beyond the labels of things and discovering the remarkable world around you.” -Freeman Patterson

A PRACTICE OF SEEING-striving behind a camera lens to see beyond what is just in front of me; to engage all of my senses and truly SEE.