Sunday, September 26, 2010

Baby Ian

Congratulations to Katherine and Neeraj on the birth of their son Ian!  After getting to photograph their beautiful wedding just over a year ago, they invited me back to photograph their first child.

These shoots are always a little difficult because the grown ups never ask the babies about their schedule.  Ian did quite well as long as he was being held, so we worked with it!

Their home had a good amount of light coming through the windows which worked well with the shades down as nice diffuse key light. I added one off camera light on the opposite side of the subjects to help serve as a key when shooting towards the windows, or to help shape out the 3D space from the back of the subjects when shooting sway from the windows.

In the next picture you can see my off camera light bounced into the ceiling (away from Ian) serving as the key light on the right side of Ian's face (camera left), where the window light is lighting the left side of his forehead.

All of that yawning was a good sign we could start to let him calm down and attempt some solo missions. We got him down on his back on the play mat (probably called something else, fisher-price don't be offended) and grabbed some good shots using the great color in all of these children's toys.

Although we could never get him alone in the bed, we were able to seize it as a perfect opportunity to grab some other shots. I used two very good parent models I just happen to have lying around that house that day and we got some great shots of Ian sleeping.

And not to ruin the tranquility of this last shot, but the rings were definitely thrown across the room once or twice. The kid's got an arm!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A performer in the making

Just a quick grab that was happening in the moment. This group was playing an impromptu concert outside a market/eatery in BaƱos, Ecuador and a small girl approached to drop some centavos in a guitar case at camera left.

No mater the culture, the similarities in young children are astounding. Here you can see a small amount of  the embarrassment felt by the young girl as she approached the group, but still her joy out of being a little in the spotlight just like the musicians.

Shot on aperture priority mode -1/3 EV with a 24-70mm

Monday, August 30, 2010

Working at the market in Otavalo, Ecuador

A very busy end of the summer causing a small hiatus from my posts...probably to your benefit! But alas, I've returned with much catching up to do.

I spent much of August (and a little more than anticipated on account of my wife's stolen passport) in Ecuador. It's always a pain lugging a camera around with me for my trips, but I wouldn't be happy with myself if I didn't, and I think it's well worth it. I made a few sacrifices in flexibility here and there to gain the benefit of weight, portability, and security, but I'll save that for the posts about the jungle involving water. For now, I just wanted to share one of my favorite images from the trip. It's in the top 5, but don't make choose between those.

Several reasons this image almost didn't happen, but the main one is because a Gringo from the US taking pictures of locales is cliche. Sure, the photos we see of locals in Nat Geo along with other travel magazines are amazing, they give us a glimpse into worlds we can only dream of. But usually those photographers get a chance to live and exist with the people, and most importantly gain some of their respect in the process.

My wife and I had been exploring the Otavalo market for a bit and because my wife is so fascinated by all things South American she stopped to not only shop and our subject's booth, but also to strike up a conversation with her about the materials and methods used to make her fabrics and jewelry (in Spanish of course because she's that good). My wife even received an explanation about the traditional clothing and necklaces she wore. I'd share that with you now, but once our merchant saw how genuinely interested my wife was in her art, my eyes honed in on the spark in our merchant's eyes and my ears shut off to start seeing photos available (I'm not sure if both eyes and ears not working at the same time is a condition of a photographer or just of my sex).

Regardless, I could tell at this point it wouldn't be inappropriate to ask if I could take her photograph. I asked graciously though my wife, and she accepted. One frame, aperture priority exposed at -2/3. It's a difficult balance between taking photos and experiencing your trip, but sometimes they can be one in the same. Luckily my wife probably listens better, so I can share the photo with her, and she can share the story with me.

The people of Otavalo were gracious and willing to share their story, so if you ever go, I encourage you to ask.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Baby Mara

Terrific time with Baby Mara a few weeks ago where she was kind enough to share her parents with with me and teach me a little bit about "tummy-time"

We started off in the family room on the first floor.

You can see from the diagram below I was dealing with two windows. I had one window with a good amount of light coming in behind them, and one on the other side of the room that wasn't helping much. One of the strategies I always work when dealing with this type of shoot, is set up more then you need for one particular picture, that way when you transition there will be another light ready for something you didn't think of. Because I'm using radiopopper JRXs, I can adjust the lights if need be throughout the shoot without ever stopping the action.

As you can see below, I went with one light up into the ceiling by one window, and a second light in the dining room creating a chunk of lighting (can lighting chunk?) coming in through the door-way. That way when we were on the floor the first light would be my main light, and the second would be fill/separation, and while we were on the couch the second light would be main and the first would be separation.  Don't forget that back-light window is still a light source!

You can see the dining room light in this "tummy-time" photo

Next up was a great room upstairs that was in a wonderful blue color and had this great trunk that added some good elements in the photo. Here's a rough diagram (note there's a curtain in there). Again I use the two windows plus one light to reduce the contrast just enough to ensure they're all not backlit:

Once we got everyone on the floor, everything was great! Mara went for noses, she went for glasses, and had a great time.

This one's my favorite!

One of the criteria for the shoot was to work in two hand-made blankets that were made for Mara as gifts. We grabbed a few of the family (just enough blanket in this one, but I happen to like it)

I decided to get her laying on the second one to work in the radiator in the back for an interesting element. I like how all of the colors of the blanket and the wall really pop.  The non-curtained window is coming in from camera left rimming out Mara, while the flash is providing the catch light in her eye.  In the above photo you can see both the window and the flash in her right eye (camera left).

Last but not least we spent some time in the backyard on the swing and in the grass (but in the shade the entire time because it was 95F that day. I won't post any more, but here's one family shot that I enjoyed using their fence and backdrop.

Monday, July 5, 2010

One Camera, One Lens - gone "fishin'"

Last time, I shared my first few pictures from my canon 15mm f/2.8 fisheye. Well, I new the best way to take it for a full spin was to use it and ONLY it for an entire weekend getaway to Annapolis with a group of good friends. Here are a few of my favorites from the weekend.

Not much to talk about technically, one camera, one lens, although I did do some pt-lens fish-eye correction on the sunset landscape just so you could see some results.

Overall I think it's an incredibly fun lens that's great for informal settings. I wouldn't rely on this solely for an event, but certainly wouldn't hesitate to push its limits a little bit and of course use them for the over-all shots we're all used to.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Canon 15mm Fisheye - First Hours

I added two relatively small items to my gear bag recently. One of which is a Canon 15mm. I'm not a super gear head reviewer, I don't take 100% crops and compare chromatic aberration, edge sharpness or vignetting, but I do love this lens. Many photographers dislike wide angles and especially dislike specialty lenses like this because they don't have a lot of versatility....I disagree.

This lens does not have ultrasonic focusing like my other lenses, so it's a little hard to get used and at first you think that the lens is broken, but this is normal. Because of the 15mm focal length this lens has extreme depth of field, and the hyperfocal distance is incredibly short, so even if your focus is a bit slow, you'll probably capture what you need to.

Washington, DC Event and wedding photographer

These are the first few sample shots I took after having the lens for about 3 hours while my Wife and Father-in-law went out for a quick dinner in the beautiful whether Thursday evening.

This first image above shows us the extremely close focal distance. Note: I usually don't whip out the camera at the dinner table, but as our trainee waitress' trainer failed to show up we were stuck with the trainee which drew out every aspect of our meal by three fold. We didn't mind so much because of the perfect evening.

This next image is an image you traditionally notice with fisheyes, any verticles are extremely distorted, but still interesting. (BTW the new self-checkouts at the Eastern Market CVS have greatly improved the lines)
Washington, DC Event and wedding photographer
The lens is also great for scenics....of course be careful when snapping pictures from the crosswalk. Washington, DC Event and wedding photographer
I've decided this will be my wide angle lens on an upcoming trip out of the country (along with my 24-70mm) and I'll leave my 16-35mm at home. Using inexpensive software you can easily "de-fish images."

I used PT-Lens, an easy to use software with sliders for various lens corrections and automatic correction for most major lenses (just not fisheyes). This was my first try with PT-Lens and I need to figure out the best way to use it as my setting aren't quite right yet, but you can see the ability to take a fisheye and transform it into a great wide angle shot.

I've rented this lens for weddings before so already knew what I could get with it, but can't wait to spend some quality time with it.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Baby Abigail

Thank you to Abigail for giving up her parents and part of a lazy weekend amidst all of the eating and sleeping to pose for me for an afternoon. And although baby pictures can never be completely planned, she did great...and her parents held up quite well too :)

Most of these are a mix of natural window light and flash. The flash was on a stand and usually pointed up into the ceiling to provide a large fill source.

(Part of her name has been blurred for privacy)

We had to lure the dog in with some treats...but he was quite protective of her, and wouldn't eat anything close to baby....I guess that's a good thing!