Published: November 15, 2020

Fall is flowing into winter and before we know it the holidays will be here. That means all the fun festivities, including family photo sessions for those cards and greetings.

Rather than wait until the last minute to take a frenetic photo with your phone, why not consider a photoshoot while it is still beautiful outside? While you really can’t go wrong with taking photos here in colorful Colorado, Centerra offers endless options for a stunning backdrop.

Picking to the pros’ brains

The best way to learn about photography is to talk to someone who has done it for years. While it just takes a smartphone to take a photo, it can take a lifetime to master the art of photography.

We decided to chat with a couple of local pros who have experience shooting landscape and portrait photography. Danny Dodge and Garland Green are two Loveland photographers who enjoy taking photos throughout Loveland and Centerra.

Danny appreciates shooting landscapes and long-distance hiking or backpacking to get that perfect shot. Garland specializes in portrait photography and has been photographing everyone from high school seniors to families since 1992.

Both Danny and Garland have offered to give us some “behind the lens” insight and expertise so even the novice can feel a bit more prepared heading out this season with the camera. Let’s hear from them!

Dig in with Danny Dodge

After college, Danny was having a hard time finding a job in video production and a friend remembered he had taken black and white photos for the college newspaper and told him he should contact one of the local graphic designers who paid people to take pictures so he could draw from them. Next thing, the designer started using Danny regularly.

Danny really enjoys landscape photography. Landscapes are simply a canvas waiting to be painted. There are endless ways one can capture them, with endless moods of lighting that happen throughout the day and night. And half the fun of photographing them is to experiment with all the possible combinations of light, composition time-lapses and post-processing to explore all the possible outcomes.

Danny’s go-to camera is the DSLRs, drones and cinema cameras to capture images.  He loves traveling and photographing overseas, because of the cultural differences. But locally, he enjoys photographing in the foothills near rock outcroppings and water. Not many people realize it, but a wide-angle lens can be a wonderful experience when you get up close. It allows you to capture fine details of tiny micro-scapes while revealing the larger world around it. Angles, perspectives and the use of selective focus can have a profound effect on these types of images, and I use just the right combinations to tell my story.

Danny’s favorite season to shoot is the fall. For a brief moment, we get to see nature at its best. These types of photographs lend themselves to some of the most powerful post-processing options of any other time of the year. The colors, the contrast, the detail… it’s never-ending. And Danny is no stranger to shooting photos in Centerra, he loves the variety of trails, ponds, art pieces and wildlife that are so fulfilling to capture. Even when he doesn’t have his camera with him on a walk through the park, he captures memories the same way he would a photograph. Seeing detail, looking closer and wondering what it would look like in a frame is something he thoroughly enjoys.

Some of the best places Danny likes to take landscape photos in Centerra are around the ponds. The grasses that grow along the pond’s edge and the reflections in the water from the trees and the Loveland Winter Wonderlights can produce amazing images when you change the focus, vary the time of the exposer or combine that with the changing light through the day. When combining the Christmas lights, his favorite time of day is twilight. The half-hour that comes just after sunset. His second favorite time is an hour that occurs beginning at sunrise. The detail and contrast of colors during this hour are absolutely impactful.

Get to know more with Garland Green

Local photographer Garland was always interested in photography, at least since jr. high school. His first camera was a Kodak brownie and shortly after that, he received a small range finder camera for Christmas while in the sixth grade. He later studied art in college along with photography and has been capturing images ever since.

Garland was attracted to portraits because the only image they have of their grandmother was a candid he had taken shortly after he got his camera for Christmas. It wasn’t even a portrait, just a snapshot. When she passed away, he realized the importance of this one image when we couldn’t find any others.

He loves and prefers portraits because he is able to work with people. When he’s doing portraits, it is usually an important milestone being celebrated or one of those few times when everyone is together and having fun. He realizes the importance of his clients’ images well before and how the client will start understanding how priceless their portraits will become over time.

When it comes to camera gear, Garland has used Mamiya, Canon, Nikon and now depends on Sony’s professional line of cameras to meet clients’ needs. He also believes in knowing how to properly use OCF (off-camera flash).

Their clients usually prefer the outdoors, especially here in Colorado and Chapungu Sculpture Park is a great central location to meet. They feel blessed to have a beautiful studio in Loveland that can accommodate large groups. It works great for bad weather, infants, when clients are looking for a more formal look and for high school seniors that want stylized sport and hobby portraits.

Centerra’s Chapungu Sculpture Park is a great location for portraits. There is a variety to fit most clients’ requests, from a well-groomed area with water to a more natural look along certain paths. It is also convenient because of its central location and the opportunities for our clients to shop or have dinner at the local restaurants or even go to the movies after their session.

The best locations at Chapungu depend on the time of day and the time of year. Some of the areas for great portrait lighting are right along the parking area where the trees line the road. The east side is great for the afternoon sessions with the sun behind the subject and the natural grasses create a nice vignette to frame the subject. Garland offers a free Beginners Photography Class PDF on his website that he uses in presentations.

Have your own photoshoot

Now that you are armed with this pro knowledge, we encourage you to get out there and take a moment to stop by Centerra to take a photo or two for yourself! Or, if the idea of taking photos yourself still seems too daunting, consider just contacting one of our local pros!