Barnet Workshops » Sharing Experience, Information, Inspiration

Recharge at Rancho 2012 at beautiful Rancho Las Lomas

To register for this year’s Recharge at Rancho workshop on Memorial Day, May 27, 2013, click here:

This was our 3rd Memorial Day Recharge at Rancho Portfolio building workshop at one of our favorite venues, Rancho Las Lomas. First of all, I want to apologize for not doing this post earlier. It’s almost time to start planning “Recharge at Rancho 2013”!!! We can’t thank Rancho Las Lomas enough for helping us with our Recharge workshops. This is not only a beautiful, magical place, but the people there are the best! We are very proud to call them our friends. We had a great group of photographers this year, awesome models, beautiful couture gowns and tuxedos, stunning make up, incredible florals and decor and great food. Our friend Michael Erdkamp, a very accomplished Orange County wedding photographer, helped us by generosely sharing his expertise with our students. Below is a list of the great partners and friends that make “Recharge at Rancho” a success every year. Lastly, a big thank you to Ceremony Magazine for their continued support.  The main reason I’m soooo late with this post is that we’re having our busiest year ever. We are very grateful for that. Our partnership with some of the best wedding planners in Orange County and our pressence in Ceremony Magazine have brought us many new great wedding clients. Referrals from great venues such as Rancho and former clients have also contributed to our success in 2012. We share our business model and much more in our Recharge workshops, so if you haven’t been, registration for Recharge at Rancho 2013 will be open early next year.

We always try to improve our workshops. Imput by our students is vital and very much appreciated. For the last 3 years, we’ve spent the morning talking about marketing, contracts, pricing and selling. Then, after lunch we shoot for at least 3 hours followed by a workflow and album design segment. Next year we’re going to change that. We’ll go over business and workflow first, and then shoot for the rest of the day. That will give us a little more shooting time, and we won’t have to go back to the classroom after a long shoot.

During the classroom portion, our models work with the Design Visage artists on hair and makeup, followed by wardrobe; gowns from Mon Amie and tuxes by Friar Tux. First class all the way…

Here are some of our favorite images from the workshop. We’ve had the opportunity to see some of the other photographer’s work and have been very impressed. It’s our sincere hope that everyone learned new skills and took away great images to enhance their websites and bring in new clients.

Above is Kim, one of our models, friend and accomplished photographer in her own right. The background in this and the next few images was very bright. We go over techiques we use in this kind of challenging environment, including full sun, that allow us to come away with amazing images with our using flash and often without the use of “added” reflectors.

Below are Kristin and Casey in a similar backlight environment with the added challenge of spotty light through the orange trees. Many brides are hesitant to walk in areas like this with their heels and long gowns, but it’s easier to convince them to do it if they’ve seen the results in your website or blog.

It’s easy to see why Rancho Las Lomas is one of our favorite venues, and certainly the most unique. We photograph many weddings there every year, but no two are the same. The light and the mood of every spot changes daily. This is terrific, but it’s also very important to know how to work quickly in different environments, especially if you want to cover several locations in the short time one has during a real wedding.

Mirta photographed the next 3 images in only a few minutes and within a few steps from one another. By changing the background, the focal length and working with the available light we can achieve very different looks that tell a beautiful story of the day in a short time. That’s what wedding photography is all about.

The next 4 images, including the one of me, are in Rick’s Café, a beautiful multilevel structure in the property. This first one is outside the upper level with light from the left and right open areas and a little bounced flash fill from above camera angle.

The 3 images below are inside the mid level. Beautiful door light and great, light backgrounds. It’s a small space, so wide angles are helpful, but you should be aware of lens distortion.

In the photo below, I’m on a window ledge, shooting the next image of Kim and Brandon sitting by the window (it’s the area you see in the background of the full length by the french doors). Using high or low angles help make your images more interesting. This was only available light with lots of exposure compensation to deal with the backlight. We love this area!

The next 3 images were done in less than 1 minute. All with the 70-200 VR 2.8 @ 3.2. For this first one I chose a colorful background and had Kim look off  camera, of course, it’s a good idea to make several exposures changing the look slightly for variety. This one is my favorite.

For this next one I took one or two steps to the left, got a little lower and got Brandon in the background. The nice short / side light makes the gown look great and is not doing Kim any harm…

Then for this 3rd shot below I simply moved closer to Brandon, about 5 steps, and got him to look towards the light (not in those words), I’m sure I said something to crack him up… It’s important to keep it fast, fun and light if you want “crafted” or “directed” images to look natural.

Don’t forget to shoot the groom… The image above and the one of Casey below are good examples of “groom alone” portraits. It’s not just about the bride… These will come in very handy when designing the album, the bride will love them, and you’ll get print sales as well.

This is the “barn wall”, one of our favorite spots at Rancho Las Lomas, no fill light needed here. The light cement floor (paving stones) provide an excellent fill light. Mirta loves to do her magic to images in this area by enhancing the wood grain, burning in the foreground, etc. In this case we made the wall a little wider… Notice the door to the left of Casey in the image above? Mirta cloned it out in the image below. She purposely left a few tell tale signs for you… Can you see them?

Another way we like to shoot at the wall is at an angle. By doing that with a long lens and shallow depth of field you get a completely different look as you can see below. The “angle of attack” (sorry, too much military channel) and the depth of field you choose will dramatically change the look here.

Below you can see some of us shooting the image above. I used the 70-200 at around 3.2. No flash or reflector, just the light bouncing off the ground… And by the way, the camera  bag I use when I’m moving around a lot is standing in the foreground, I say standing because that’s one of the great features of the ONE bag by UNDFIND. It’s slim and looks like a messenger bag, but it stands up and protects your gear very well with dense padding and lots of room.

The image below was done right outside the Grand Salon building, where we have our “classroom”. It’s a fantastic area to have couples walk and interact while they’re being photographed. This is a great way to “direct” your couple but letting them be themselves at the same time.

Now for the details… Every year, thanks to Ceremony Magazine, we’re very fortunate to have a great florist create a beautiful table for us to photograph. This year Jan Wilder of Flower Fusion gave us a fabulous, very high end table for us to work with. Jan also made the boutonnieres and bridal bouquets. It’s always very important to photograph the “details” at a wedding… Shoes, jewelry, invitation (if available), bouquets, centerpieces, place settings, etc. Not only is it important for your couple to have these images, but it will also score you points with the florist, who can be a very important partner.

The image below is one of the last we did this year. It’s similar to the opening photo. This area is not easy to get to, but well worth the time.  It was lit with a self contained (battery) 600 watt Profoto pack and a medium soft box. The idea is to underexpose the sky and properly light your subject for a dramatic look. This can be achieved to some extent with an off camera speed light, but not to this level and it would require much more post production. There’s nothing like a big flash when you need one! If the wind doesn’t cooperate (that’s a good thing with all the dust around), a willing assistant can help with the veil.

And these are all of us happy campers with our models. We all had a great time and learned tons about posing, shooting, lighting post production and the business side of our profession. Registration for Recharge at Rancho 2013 on Memorial Day will open soon. We fill up fast, and next year we’re planning on a smaller group so if you want to join us or want to find out more about this intensive, portfolio building all day workshop give us a call or send us an email.

Please feel free to leave us comment, we love reading them, especially if you have specific questions about any of the images in this post. We’re always happy to share the knowledge that other photographers have generously  shared with us… None of us ever stop learning…

 The Great Recharge at Rancho 2012 Team:

Rancho Las Lomas of course, in Silverado, California, which is in Orange County.

Our great models this year were Kristin Keating and Casey Wilson as bride and groom, Kim Daniels and Brandon Collins, the other bridal couple, and Dan Hauck and  Michelle Rosario as our engaged couple. Dan and Michelle were a real engaged couple and their wedding took place earlier this year.

Hair and makeup was done by Design Visage. They’re in the new SoCo Design Center in Costa Mesa.

The gorgeous couture gowns were provided again this year by our friends at Mon Amie Bridal Salon  in Costa Mesa.

The tuxedos were from the latest collection offered by Friar Tux.

The beautiful outdoor reception table, that will be featured in next year’s Ceremony Magazine, bridal bouquets and boutonnieres were created by Jan Wilder of Flower Fusion. Her shop is in Costa Mesa, next to Mon Amie.

24 Carrots Catering & Events, the official caterer of Rancho Las Lomas provided breakfast, lunch and snacks. No one went hungry!

Recharge at Rancho and all our other workshops would’t be the same without the continued support from our sponsors like Bay Photo, SmugMug Pro, Fundy Software, Kubota Image ToolsUNDFIND bags and others listed to the right who help us provide added value with their great products. The giveaways and discounts are always for products we use ourselves. Feel free to click on their logos for more information on their products and services. Use our “codes” for discounts when applicable.


  • December 11, 2012 - 3:41 pm

    Rick Thompson - What awesome images! Just awesome! You do set a “High” watermark in what you two do

    I continue to be inspired in what I see in your images.

    Joe & Mirta, You’re the best!!

    An avid followerReplyCancel

  • March 21, 2013 - 5:49 pm

    David - I believe you want us to bring a medium zoom (24-70) and long zoom (70-200), but what about also a macro lens for photographing details such as the dinner plate, glasses, utensils, flowers?ReplyCancel

    • March 21, 2013 - 8:01 pm

      admin - Hi David; In my opinion, the best 2 lenses for this environment are the 2 zooms you mentioned. If you like using primes, the 85mm is a good choice too. Personally I prefer to have something longer like the 70-200. A macro lens like the 100 or 50 Canon or the 105 or 60 Nikon are useful, but since the 24-70 focuses very close, it works well for the reception table details. If we were photographing wedding rings and other small jewelry, I would definitely suggest a macro. If you want to bring one, please do. We will be moving around some, so try not to make your bag too heavy. Of course, comfortable clothing and shoes are recommended. You will be receiving an email about a week before the workshop with suggested gear, directions to the workshop, etc. We look forward to seeing you at Rancho Las Lomas on Memorial Day!ReplyCancel

  • March 22, 2013 - 6:58 pm

    David - Is there anything else we should bring, such as an on or off camera flash, grey cards, color cards, HoodLoupe, etc?ReplyCancel

    • April 12, 2013 - 12:23 pm

      admin - Hi David;

      Good questions… You wanted to know what gear would be helpful to bring for Recharge at Rancho… As I mentioned, my 2 favorite lenses, particularly at that location, are the 70-200 and the 24-70. Both 2.8 zooms. A spedlight is always nice to have also. We won’t use one much outdoors, but there are several shady and indoor areas where we’ll use one. Especially bounced off the walls to avoid the “flashed” look. I don’t use a grey card, sometimes we’ll do a custom white balance, but not in this case. If you like to work with a grey card or other color management devices be my guest. Just make sure it doesn’t take too much time away from shooting. I also don’t use a hood loupe. I know it can come in handy, but I never use one. I use the blinking highlights, the zoom and the histogram on my monitor to check things out… BTW, if you’re working in the sun and find it difficult to see the monitor on the back of your camera, a toilet paper roll cardboard core can help, paper towel core too. It’s a great shading devise, you can cut it down to whatever length works best for your eye site, you can keep it flat in your pocket and if you loose it they’re easy to replace… See you at Rancho!!!ReplyCancel

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