New Photography Website


I miss all of you who have kindly followed my photography blog, and I would love it if you would navigate over to my new, professional photography webite and follow me there.

I will be posting all new blog and portfolio updates there, because, yes, I have quit my Financial Management position and taken the leap into full-time, professional photography!

I would greatly appreciate hearimg from you again, as I always enjoyed your comments and compliments on this blog (who wouldn’t?) and I can use all the encouragement I can get right now 🙂

Yours creatively
Cathy Wagner
Cathy Wagner Photography


Studio Portraits

I was very excited last weekend – I finally bought my first studio lighting kit. Two 300 watt lights with stands, a soft-box, some reflective umbrellas and a backdrop kit.

All pretty basic. I didn’t want to spend too much because I haven’t built my studio yet and I don’t have anywhere to KEEP all this stuff! (We have a pretty big house, considering there’s just two of us living here, yet there never seems to be enough space.)

Angela & Mike and their baby were visiting so I asked if they would sit for me so I could try out the set-up. Well, we were really just messing around – 90% of the photos are not for public consumption! – but the other 10% came out pretty well, I think 🙂

The soft-box, set at a 45-degree angle to the model, and slightly higher than their head, plus a black backdrop – and there you have it. Beautifully modeled shots, so different to the effect you get with available light.

Angela for Web

Mike for Web

Daddy's Little Boy copy for Web

Angie & Carl for Web

I even managed to get Hubby to pose with Mike, wrapped in a bright pink feather boa 🙂

Glenn & Mike for Web

I have a feeling studio photography is going to be FUN!!

Photographing older couples


I enjoy photographing older people because their faces are not perfect – the lines of smiles and frowns are permanently engraved on their faces and, far from being ugly, those lines give them character.

Older couples are often not that comfortable in front of a camera (especially older men!) so you have to work at helping them to be less self-conscious, to just be themselves.

That’s where the wife comes in…. I find it easier to get the wife to do something specific – like kiss Hubby gently on the cheek – and wait for Hubby to melt a little.

THAT’s when the delightful expression comes out 🙂

Some ladies are so beautiful and full of love for their husbands – even when they’ve been married for a lifetime – they make the photographer’s life so much easier!


(A little tip – ask the lady to just touch her lips to her husband’s cheek, she should not purse her lips.)

Brothers in Arms……

I took this photo of Owen and his baby brother, Carl, yesterday before Owen’s Primary School Mini-Cricket tournament.

Carl was sleepy, but Owen just HAD to show his baby brother to his friends and their Mums 🙂

The original shot had a very boring background of dark cement stairs, so I altered it in Photoshop CS6.

I selected the boys, inverted the selection, then applied a radial blur to the entire background, I played with the settings until I found the right effect.

Canon EOS 60D – f/11 – 1/200 second – ISO 400 – 180mm focal length

Photography: Army-themed Birthday Party

Owen turned 7 two weeks ago, and his Dad decided to throw him an Army-themed Party.

All the children were asked to wear the appropriate clothing (camouflage prints). a 12-meter long army-style jumping castle was hired for the occasion, and a “challenging” obstacle course was laid out. The idea was to have the Drill Seargents (the Dads) drill the kids, get them to march up and down, and then let them do the obstacle course. The “reward” was to have army stripes painted on their cheeks afterwards, and receive a pair of toy binoculars and a badge.

The party was such a success, the Birthday Boy forgot to open his gifts! He was having way too much fun!

Canon EOS 60D – f/9 – 1/200 second

It was a very hot and bright, sunny day with not a cloud in the sky (we’re lucky like that here in South Africa!), and I was struggling to get the exposure correct. Many of my shots were over-exposed, but a few minutes work in Lightroom 4 sorted them out nicely.

Here is Owen, demonstrating the correct technique for the tyre obstacle course:

Canon EOS 60D – f/11 – 1/640 second

The children, saluting the Drill Sargents at the start of their drill….

Canon EOS 60D – f/7.1 – 1/640 second

….and marching up and down the driveway. (I think someone needs a lesson in gun-safety!)

Canon EOS 60D – f/7.1 – 1/640 second

After completing the course, they received their stripes. (Aren’t these two just so STUNNINGLY beautiful?)

Canon EOS 60D – f/5.6 – 1/640 second

Canon EOS 60D – f/7.1 – 1/640 second

And then it was time to play….

Canon EOS 60D – f/4.5 – 1/500 second

Canon EOS 60D – f/7.1 – 1/400 sec

So, if you’re looking for a fun theme for your child’s birthday party, I can recommend this one. We also had:

  • Black, grey and green balloons (army camouflage colours)
  • An army cake ( camouflage coloured and patterned icing, with toy soldiers, tanks, helicopters and crashed jets for decoration!)
  • The obstacle course consisted of the 12-meter long jumping castle with climbing rope (picture 1), and other “difficulties” for the kids to jump from or climb through, the tyre obstacles, and a belly crawl under ropes tied between poles. They ended the course with climbing a rope swing to touch a balloon tied just out of reach.
  • The “training” consisted of being (gently) yelled at by the Drill Seargents (” get back in line, Soldier!!), saluting, jumping jacks, and marching in “formation” up and down the driveway.

The children ranged in ages from 3 to 7. Some of the littlest ones needed a bit of help sometimes,so it’s handy to have some teenagers around as well.

I really don’t know how we’re going to top this party next year!!!

Photography: Family Portraits

This morning, I took the latest addition to our family to meet my Mom-in-law.

Carl is two months old today, and Granny – well, let’s just say she’s a little older – but just as beautiful as ever.

I was very lucky to get these lovely photos of their first meeting. I used my Canon 60D with my 50mm f/1.4 prime lens, hand-held and only natural indoor lighting.

Post-processing was in Lightroom 4 – I adjusted the exposure slightly and applied a sepia-toned filter but left in a bit of de-saturated colour. I think this effect really brings out the beautiful skin tones of both Gran and Baby.

Can there be anything more wonderful than holding a bonny baby boy in your arms for the first time 🙂


Tips for photographing babies:

  • Pick a time when his tummy is full, his face is clean and he’s happy
  • If he’s VERY wriggly, use a faster shutter-speed – about 1/125th second, and a wider aperture setting
  • Try to capture his expressions, and those of the person holding him. You can see the tenderness in a mother’s/gran’s eyes – catch those moments if you can
  • Use natural light – a flash is likely to make the baby jumpy
  • Babies look good in pale colours – it brings out their delicate skin-tones
  • It looks great when both the adult and the baby are wearing similar toned clothing.