Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Stage Performance

This series is from a theatrical production from last spring. There was some miscommunication about what time the rehearsal was beginning so I took the opportunity to grab a few frames of the directors.

Many despise the distortion you can get from angling your camera with a wide angle lens, but as may have realized by many of my photos I choose to embrace it, using it to change the focus of an image or exaggerate certain features.......just don't stick any significant others on the edges.

Friday, December 25, 2009

So many people say to buy an apple...

Debbie and I went down to Charlottesville, VA for our Anniversary last month and it was apple picking season. It was great being able to just use my camera without the over lurking fear of giving a client a screwed up product...of course I'm not sure if that's worse then giving my wife a screwed up product. More in another post about the place we stayed, this one is all about the apples.

I knew I wanted to grab a picture of Debbie, and although it wasn't completely planned to do a multi-framed image, I new that her nack for goofy expressions would come in handy. She has since given up on not getting her picture taken and has learned to just live with it as she knows I'm never going to make her look bad (not that I could if I tried).

I had a manfrotto 682B mono-pod with me that afternoon that I got used off of ebay. It's a little large for my taste, but it has little legs that come out the bottom if unscrewed so it can double as portable light stand when needed, although I wouldn't trust my kit on it without me very close. To this I screwed a justin clamp (the if I can only take one thing with me doo-dad) and put a lumiquest SBIII on the flash head and gelled it with a small amount of CTO, you can see this WB effect based on the blue shadow on her shadow side cheek.

I brought the whole thing in real close just out of the frame to the left. The lighting wasn't incredibly consistent with a few hot spots here and there. My excuses include: the wind blowing, the people we were holding up, and a lot of apples to hold, so I had to work quick. But in reality, I probably only notice them in comparison to each other. You can tell the effect of the flash based on the one in the middle which was shot sans flash continuous shooting to ensure I caught the right amount of apples in the air....again...there's only so many times you can get Debbie to pick up that many apples.

A couple ambient only shots:

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Health Care Forum - Manual Metering

Everyone's getting into the health care debate. Here I was covering a forum mediated by Wolf Blitzer, Including Sen. John Barrasso, M.D, E.J. Dionne Jr., Judy Feder, Charles Krauthammer, and Rep. Stephen Lynch.

In situations like these, when the light will be constant it's ALWAYS best to shoot in manual exposure (some people disagree on this topic - just my opinion).  Set your manual mode for correct exposure of their faces, then no matter how you're zooming around everything will be fixed (assuming you have a constant aperture lens).  Otherwise the size of the bright faces compared to relatively darker backgrounds will change, fooling your camera into thinking the amount of light has changed and therefore varying your exposure.  Here's a good article on the subject.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Water Dog

Besides being famous for living in the White House, Portuguese Water Dogs are also supposedly good in the water because of their webbed feet and ancient training to assist fisherman. Now we humans know all about this, but try telling that to a young pup who hasn't spent much time in the water.

The shoot was for the owner's boat (always need good pictures when selling a house, car, or boat....well if you ask me you need goo pictures for anything) but I'll put those pictures up in a different post. This one is Nimbus the Portuguese Water Dog living in in Mass.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Marine Parade, 8th and I, Barracks Row

I was hired by a military support organization (Spirit of America) That takes requests from American military personnel in Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa for goods that will help local people, improving relations and ultimately making our troops safer. Their founder was being honored at the Marine Barracks in Capitol Hill for one of their Friday night summer parades. It was quite difficult to capture the festivities for the guest of honor when given about a two square foot place to stand where there's a flag right in front of you (see pictures 3 and 5) and you can't move...but you do the best you can, as always. Those Marines put on a great show, and if you ever get a chance to get tickets I whole heartedly suggest you take the opportunity.

All of these were taken using ambient light. Even with ambient light being field lights and spotlights I was still pulling 1/60 at f/2.8 and 1000 ISO. If you're shooting Aperture priority (Av) , anytime dealing with a dark backdrop with the subject spot lit, you have to ride your EV (exposure compensation) usually dialing in anywhere from -1/3 to -1 stops to prevent blowing highlights on faces and over saturated red skin tones.

I'll post more from reception earlier in the the evening on a later post.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Pieces Come Together

It's a rare moment when the pieces come together. I photograph a lot of people talking in drab classrooms, and I try very hard to make some of them interesting. This one involved a rare opportunity combining the speaking sitting on the desk, something written on the blackboard, a relevant poster hanging, and students sitting along the aisle to give a line leading to the speaker. I would have liked to have captured the speaker looking up at the students, but he jumped up right after this...

No flash. Shot at ISO 800, f/2.8, 1/200, at 120mm.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Use of Natural and Continuous Light Sources Back in Prison

Another set from the trip to ESP I spoke of before.  This set features Danielle Guldin who did a great job it putting herself into whatever zone happened to be there.  both of these scenes were taken in the same room which just goes to show what the color and shaping of lights can do.

This first one was all natural light.  Manual exposure; 42mm; ISO 640; f/2.8; 1/250th;
The only trick here is that I had someone hand hold a LumiQuest SoftBox III, not as a softbox, but as a reflector card just bringing the left side of her face out of the darkness.

These next two were done at approx. the same settings. Only here I added a continuous video light light source that was being held off to camera right. Photographing into a mirror is always difficult, but it made it worth having the reflection of the crusty light fixture from the ceiling. Two photos two completely different feels based on the model.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Help the Homeless Walk

Just got back from the Fannie Mae Help the Homeless Walk. The hardest part after photographing an event is trying to pick out 3 or 4 pictures to share and try tell the story. But luckily as I have some editorial control over this, I can share 6 if I want and share some lighting and composition tidbits.

I couldn't believe how long it took me to find a man-hole cover next to the line!

I decided to try and shoot some stuff not on manual, when you're running with your subjects the lighting is constantly changing. So I shot the photo below in aperture priority and shut-down my aperture ) to f/18 until I could get my shutter speed within my sync speed (not messing with high speed sync today). I dialed in -2 stops of exposure compensation on the camera to get the sunny sky somewhat manageable and held the flash with my left hand on TTL connected with a TTL cord and dialed in +3 flash compensation to try and register something over the sun. I kind of wish there was a +5 on the flash for this shot! But I got pretty close.

I could treat this a little differently as the street performers cheering people on weren't exactly moving. Didn't have quite so much sun to deal with as I positioned myself so the sun was coming in from the right (look at the shadows) so I could also get a little more blue out of the sky. Back to manual exposure, and TTL flash (+something). Flash held down towards the ground and fired up.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

CUA - Race Judicata

In September, I photographed the Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law's "Race Judicata," a 5K benefiting St. Ann's Infant Maternity Home.  It was fun getting to ride in the back of the lead truck, but just a word of advice:  make sure the driver knows to start VERY slowly when someone is sitting in the back of the SUV.  I'm sure this is something the secret service knows when they are flying around town with assault rifles hanging out of the back of black Chevy SUV's, but something random security guy doesn't know.  Needless to say, I was startled, but didn't fall out.    Seemed like a nice course around the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Played a little bit with hard light on a stand in the last photo (you can see the shadow of the legs) to try and brighten up what turned into a dismal grey mid-day, and try to get something better than standard posed group shots.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Monday, November 16, 2009

Going to Prison

Back in May I was at Eastern State Penitentiary, where Al Capone was once held, for a shoot. We were able to gain access to a few off-limit areas to get some really interested shots. These two are of Peter in the morning. I'll share a few more on another post.

Both of the images had a gridded speedlight on Peter's face coming from camera left. Gel'd with a full CTO (plus an extra 1/4 I think) and then then programmed for tungsten white balance. The window is acting as a natural rim light.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Student Organization Fair

My task: Capture the rush of student organizations vying for the influx of new blood into their programs.

And this one, was just for me, as I'm a big fan of the grill, especially ones that can feed several hundred people.

Some of the last bit of Color

....not really. As photos last a bit longer than the leaves, we can always remember it. I'll be doing just that over the next several weeks.... as the last of the leaves change and wash away, I'll try to stretch fall out a little longer...don't worry I don't think I have any more leave pictures!

This photo has a small white balance push towards tungsten (not all of the way).  Most SLR's have the ability to finesse white balance manually away from the pre-programmed settings by adjusting degrees of blue/yellow and green/magenta in a grid like pattern.  This one entailed a slight blue/magenta shift to bring out the purple hues in the leaves.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Happy Birthday Sesame Street

Unless you live under a rock you've probably noticed that Sesame Street turned 40 this week.  I figured I would jump on the bandwagon and post something of my own.

This is from Child Fest 2009, hosted by The Children's Cancer Foundation.  They brought down the actual Elmo (Kevin Clash) and Rosita (Carmen Osbahr) from New York to do a performance and pose for pictures to raise money for research. Approx. 85 cents of every dollar contributed to the Foundation goes directly to support cancer research and the building of cancer facilities which is virtually unheard of now a days.

The surreal part of the day was that it was hosted at Reservoir High School in Howard County, MD.  Which is essentially the same design as the my old High School, Long Reach, just accross the wa.  Same Set up, same building, different place, and with several thousand children.
Happy Birthday Sesame Street!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Country Road Church

I alway see churches like this in movies, so when Debbie and I were out for a bike ride just south of Charlottesville, I had to spin off the road to grab a few frames while the sky was cooperating giving me those great white on blue streaks.

Because of the great contrast between the statue and the sky I went out of automatic metering to ensure I underexposed below what the camera would think it should be to get good saturation of blues and greens.

Funny.....here's the same view from google

View Larger Map

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Old Skool Pension Bureau

Looking down the street at the National Building Museum  (used to house the Pension Bureau) it's not hard to imagine horses and carriages on the street circa 1890 instead of the newer fad of "auto"-mobiles now present.  to help the imagination, a few simple steps of significant burning around the edges, half-toning, and bringing up the black point.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Small White Balance Shift

The human eye/brain is pretty amazing at fooling you and telling you lights are the same color when they're actually not. The camera goes through a process to try and figure out what the actual color of white is (or should be) and attempts to make white look like white (or grey look like grey). Outside it's actually blue-ish, your house is more orange, and many fluorescents are actually green. 90% of the time I control my white balance manually allowing more control over what colors are subdued or pop. Try going outside while setting your white balance on tungsten and see what happens, I spoke about this once before.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

High Contrast Scenes

As some of you may have noticed, I've been doing a lot of high contrast scenes the last week and it's kind of been on purpose.  Just trying to push in some interesting directions and make the ordinary a little more interesting.  Here's one I saw after getting out of the car on my street.  With the leaves falling and cars going by it makes a really interesting line going down the street.  Combine that with some extremely narrow depth of field and you've got yourself a picture.

I tried using my car for the picture because my hubcap is cracked so I thought it might be more interesting, but the splash of red from the volvo(?) tail-light won me over on this picture instead.  I like the perspective line of the cars, the line of leaves, the narrow depth of field line leading you to the wheel and the red tail-light leading my eyes up.......maybe I'm just looking at pictures too much.

Saturday, October 31, 2009