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Monthly Archives: September 2009

 

Lonely girl

Lonely girl

I was in the studio with Lindsey today. She’s another terrific and versatile model. While we didn’t work on it during today’s shoot, one of her great strengths is that Lindsey is very comfortable being silly, a rare talent. 

We sometimes joke about models who only have one expression — the “gas face” — as we call it. You know the look, mouth half open, staring intensely into the camera. It’s supposed to be sexy, but usually isn’t. 

Today was kind of a winging it sort of day. We didn’t have any kind of plan in mind at the start of the session, so I ran some ideas by Lindsey. One of these was for a body painting I’d wanted to do earlier in the week with a new model I’d scheduled for Tuesday night. She unfortunately flaked on the shoot, and so I offered the painting to Lindsey who loved the idea. 

Lindsey and I have collaborated on several body paintings before, usually full body paintings, which make some kind of social commentary. This time I was just painting her back and rear end and going for more of an artistic design. Once that painting was done, we cleaned her up and posed several other shots including this one in the stairwell of my studio building. The window light, color and texture of this stairwell corner make for beautiful images. Lighting, just like in the photo of Porsche crying, was just simple window light plus a little bounce off the side wall. The shot was handheld at ISO 400, 1/45th of a second at f4.

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Say hello to an angel

Say hello to an angel

Porsche and I got in the studio yesterday to work on some photos for my Brighthub article on avoiding blurry photos (should be up in the next few days).

After we got those images out of the way, we discussed some ideas for future images. Porsche, who is a delight to photograph, often brings interesting creative insights into the photographic process, so I like to explain my ideas to her and see what she thinks.

Since my studio has some beautiful stained glass windows, I often incorporate them into photos. There’s a shot I’ve been thinking about for a while and Porsche is one of the models I want to use for it, so we set up a practice shoot to help me prepare. (Sorry, the idea will remain secret a while longer.)

One of the keys to making this image is to take advantage of the outside light streaming through the stained glass windows. This provides a beautiful glow to the image, but is also easily washed out if the main light is too bright. You need some kind of main light for the subject otherwise you end up with just a silhouette (which also makes for a nice photo).

Making this image work requires a technique known as “dragging the shutter.” Namely, the photographer sets a shutter speed that’s slow enough to record the light shining through the window and then uses the flash (in this case an Alien Bees 1600 with Photek Softlighter II) to light the model. The photographer then sets the f-stop to control the exposure from the flash. The info on this image is ISO 100, 1/8th of a second exposure and f11, with the Alien Bees strobe dialed down to about 1/4 power.

Porsche’s sporting a new look hairstyle btw, one that highlights her beautiful face.

Letting sleeping cats lie

Letting sleeping cats lie

Sometimes you just have to shoot them. Our youngest cat “Baxter” is extremely hard working. Sometimes he even gets up. Lately he’s been taking to enjoying the comforts of the living room couch and the throw pillow we leave on the center cushion.

I was headed off to school when I gave in to the urge to grab a quick photo or two of him hard at work (his main job is being cute). Canon 40D, Sigma 28-300 lens wide open at f4.5 at 80 mm ISO 400, 580 ex flash bounced off ceiling with built in white card extended.

The light’s decent for a grab shot with flash. Having cathedral ceilings with white walls helped produce a nice, diffuse light and the white card kicked some light forward too. Getting an extra f-stop of light from setting the ISO to 400 extended the reach of the flash too. One of these days I’m going to bring that cat into the studio and pose him with Porsche, my favorite model (she’s the one crying in my first post on this blog). They should make an interesting pair.

My article on the Lens Baby wide angle and telephoto lens kit has been posted at http://www.brighthub.com. Here’s the link: http://www.brighthub.com/multimedia/photography/reviews/49766.aspx

I really liked these lenses and am quite pleased with the images I was able to create with them. Next month I plan on reviewing the company’s extreme wide angle lens, which is also a pretty cool optic.

Elephant at Museum of Natural History entrance

Elephant at Museum of Natural History entrance

This photo of the giant elephant in the main entryway to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History was made with the Lens Baby Composer and the extreme wide angle attachment.

 

We always visit Arlington during our trips to Washington, D.C. Lisa has two relatives buried there, an aunt who was a member of the Army nurse corps and an uncle who survived the Bataan Death march.

We always visit Arlington during our trips to Washington, D.C. Lisa has two relatives buried there, an aunt who was a member of the Army nurse corps and an uncle who survived the Bataan Death march.

Visiting Arlington National Cemetery is always a sobering experience for me and Lisa. She has two relatives buried there, an aunt who was a member of the Army nurse corps and an uncle who survived the Bataan Death march.

 

The cemetery moves me as well. As a veteran, I lost shipmates over the years and can appreciate the sacrifices my fellow service members have made for their country.

 

Chlosyne Janais, a South American species

Chlosyne Janais, a South American species

While at the Museum of Natural History, we couldn’t resist checking out the butterfly exhibition. (http://www.butterflies.si.edu/). It was amazing! Butterflies were all over the place. In fact at times we were having to dodge them as they flew by us. Sometimes we’d even see one or two land on one of the visitors. Needless to say, the opportunity for some interesting photos was pretty good. Lens Baby provided me a set of macro diopters (close-up lenses) I’ll be writing about soon. I used the more powerful 10x with the telephoto add on lens to make this image of a South American butterfly getting ready to feed. Exposure details: ISO 200, 1/125th of a second, f4 aperture ring in the Composer, available light. The image has been cropped heavily (what you see in the final photo represents about 25% of the actual file. This still leaves me with a 6.2 mb file for 5 x 7.5 at 240 ppi, which is certainly capable of good quality prints if I need them.

 

The nation's attic.

The nation's attic.

Headed off to the National Mall and a variety of shooting locations today starting with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (“The Wall”) and then various museums and the National Sculpture Garden. We were so early, nothing was open but the Smithson Castle where we grabbed some coffee and breakfast and then I decided to grab some shots of the display in the main hall.

I’m working mainly with Lens Baby gear today since I’m doing reviews on several of the company’s products and wanted to put them to the test this trip. The shot with this post was done with a Lens Baby Composer and the company’s Super Wide Angle Lens. This lens is a lot of fun to shoot with, but also a bit tricky since you can’t shift the Composer much without getting the edge of lens in the shot. 

Shooting with the Canon 40D I bought last week and getting to test the camera at a higher ISO setting for a change. The image above was shot at 400 ISO at 1/15 of a second with the f4 aperture in the Composer. Handholding a camera at such a slow shutter speed isn’t easy. If you’re not up on the technique, you should check out the article I’m writing for BrightHub on avoiding blurry pictures. It will be out early next month. 

If you want to know more about this optic, check my BrightHub page for my review, which will be out in a month or so. You’re welcome to post any questions you might have.

Dan

Bad day

Bad day

While studio lights and portable strobes give the photographer full control over lighting, sometimes available light does the job just fine. Porsche wanted an image of her crying, and by a curious coincidence, I’d ordered liquid tears makeup because I’d been planning a similar shot with her in mind.

My studio is located in an old church in Southern New Jersey. When you enter the building from the side, there’s a stairway to the second floor which has a small landing and good sized window off to the side. Porsche thought the poor condition of the landing would help make the image even more lonely and sad and she was right.

All the light for this image is coming from the window to Porsche’s right with some light bouncing off the wall beside her to fill in the shadows. No artificial or supplemental lighting was used. It’s a simple but powerful shot thanks to great lighting, a beautiful model and a little makeup.


Lisa and I are in Washington, D.C. this weekend for some sightseeing and photography. I’m also reviewing the Lensbaby Wide Angle and Telephoto Lens Kit, Extreme Wide Angle Lens and macro lens kit for http://www.brighthub.com.

 

Ooh, the colors!

Ooh, the colors!

To all visitors, welcome to my new blog. It’s mainly about my photography and creative process, but I reserve the right to go off on the occasional tangent. Please feel to post comments or questions. I’ll try to respond if I can.

I was in the studio yesterday with one of my favorite models. She’s not comfortable with her photo being on the web, so this is the only image I’m posting from the shoot. I’ve played with the concept of drizzling finger and face paints on the naked body before with excellent results and will be working with this technique again since I’ve had several models ask me to do similar shots for them. 

Lighting consisted of an Alien Bees B1600 fired through a Photek Softlighter II (the big one) plus an Alien Bees B400 and Medialight both bounced off the white ceiling in my studio.