Friday, December 31, 2010

Practice Photo Shoot. Oh yes.

Well, I suppose for you who actually know me a little, you know I've been working up to this moment. All these funny exercises, all these pics of my little one, it's all been for this one turning point where I'm now considering myself a decent (digital) photographer. Yes, there is a distinction. With film, there's not nearly as much post processing to be done as with digital, and I find film to be easier to expose correctly for some odd reason. More on that in March when my Hasselblad 500c/m arrives.

So anyway, here we go. I had the pleasure of working with a very cooperative model. I think you will enjoy viewing these as much as I did capturing it.

In no particular order, except for the one I numbered the images in:
Nancy 1
Nancy 2
Nancy 3
Nancy 4
Nancy 5
Nancy 6
Nancy 7
Nancy 8
Nancy 9
Nancy 10
Nancy 11
Nancy 12
Nancy 13
Nancy 14
Nancy 15
Nancy 16
Nancy 17
Nancy 18
Nancy 19
Nancy 20
Nancy 21
Nancy 22
Nancy 23
Nancy 24
Nancy 25
Nancy 26
I would say this isn't bad for a first practice shoot. I will say this: for you guys from ILP, I will never put these up for CC. The stuff images are hacked and slashed for on there is just ridiculous unless you're one of the "liked ones", then all of a sudden the white balance issues and weird crops are okay. I know the minor issues these images have, and I'm okay with that. I enjoyed this session way too much to end up feeling bad about them.

Having said that, I am using some of this session for a future portfolio, and more shoots are coming soon. I figure if I'm planning on being in business some day, and living in New York, I have to put up with the cold and snow. Winter is just another season, and it can be a beautiful one, photographically.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Natural Light. On Steroids.

I was watching a video located here the other night; and for those not wanting to check it out, it's about an excellent headshot photographer who goes into what he does and why he does it. Long story short, I picked up a few tips on how to light using natural light from a large window behind the photographer. I was very surprised at the results.

The color version:
Alexis Window Light 1

And here is the B&W I made from this:
Alexis Window Light 1 B&W
50mm, ƒ/2.0, 1/160sec and ISO 400 (1/3 stop underexposed by accident, but pulled back in PP).

Another one, just for fun:
Alexis Window Light 2

This was a no-effort exercise. The big window behind me produced the main light, a window 45° camera right added bright side light, and a window 45° camera left added fill. Zero PP done, apart from the B&W conversion, and I didn't even use a Raw file for this. The in-camera JPEG was plenty "high-quality".

As a foot note, I do have to say I shot Raw+JPEG, because I'm a chicken and wouldn't dare using JPEG only. I still don't feel I nail exposure perfectly on a consistent basis, or at least not enough to stick with JPEG only.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I'm a photographer. A studio photographer, apparently.

So I went for some more inspiration searching today, and ended up plopping a teddybear on a tripod, chucking an umbrella light in front of it and snapping away. The experiment ended with a thought. It's much easier to play with light in a controlled environment. Even if this environment was built with a speedlight, an umbrella and two pieces of white poster board as reflectors. I think the next item on my wish list is a set of real lights.

Here's the shot, pretty much SOOC:
Slightly Side

And here's the pullback:
Pull Back

It was almost too easy to get nice light this way. I can totally see why people do studio over natural light, because there's no time of the day you couldn't shoot, and you don't have to drag your gear all over.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Inspiration. Maybe?

So it's that time of the year again. Halloween. What did I wait with photos through the most beautiful season of the year for, you ask? Well, that's what happens when you get into an inspirational funk. No photos, at all. Now, however, I found myself with this burst of energy and creativity. And a daughter who, dare I say it, wanted her photo taken. This is an opportunity I couldn't pass up.

Alexis Halloween 3 BW

Now that I have your attention, let's proceed with the rest of these.

Alexis Halloween 4
Up to no good, I tell ya.

Alexis Halloween
Hm, cute, but that face doesn't fool anyone, yanno.

Alexis Halloween 2
Ah yes. More distractions.

Alexis and Erika Halloween
Mama wanted some attention too.

Alexis Halloween 3
The color version of the first pic. Notice how her cheeks are oh-so-close to being blown. Lucky, because pics like this don't get a reshoot. I didn't intend to take this, as she was too close to the umbrella, but it was too cute to pass up. Lucky lucky.

Alexis Hat
One more for the road. Natural light this time. Yum! And all this recent talk about medium format B&W film has made me want to beg my mom for her Yashicamat, that she has never used. It's new, not like-new, and all I need to do is load film and call it a day! I wish.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


I've been doing a lot of reflecting lately. Knowing the buttons, knowing the numbers and knowing the techniques doesn't make the images interesting. I'm finding myself looking for creative outlets rather than technical correctness. And so I arrived here:

Olympus E-3, OM Zuiko 50mm f/1.8 @ f/1.8, 1/50sec and ISO 1250. Converted to B&W, with no other post processing apart from "sharpening for web".

Playing with tilt/shift photography. Freelens style. Do not try this at home unless your camera has a good self-cleaning system, as dust is inevitably going to enter the camera this way.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010


As part of the 365, I took the following photo. I consider the theme to be a real challenge, seeing as I have never in my life shot a successful backlit photo. I just simply never considered playing with fire, really.

Guess what? If you have a decent reflector (such as the front wall of my house), backlight isn't all that hard! In fact, some of the most beautiful portraits are backlit. Well, here it is.

Alexis Backlight

This photo also made me realize, again, that I'm very spoiled by my 50mm ƒ/2.0. That lens is so sharp, it makes most other optics look soft. I shot the above photo with my 14-54mm zoom, and it's really just not that sharp. It's not a focus issue, it just can't compete with what was not too long ago considered the sharpest lens for DSLR cameras ever produced. It's really a non-issue though, you can't see the differences in print, and it doesn't bother me. Plus, because the 50mm is a macro lens, it's really slow at focusing.

This 365 week should be interesting, I hope it stays sunny!

Monday, August 30, 2010


I gave going into business another thought today. Some of you will undoubtedly know that this is something I wish to do someday, but I also know I need more practice. Practice, because I want to actually be competitive in the only area that matters in professional portrait photography: quality. Price is the worst possible area to be competitive in, it actually reduces the average creative quality among all photographers, probably because a lot of businesses (not just photography related, but all) feel the pressure from the slumping economy right now.

Trust me when I say that being more skilled and having a better creative eye counts for more than having the lowest price! When all this recession stuff is just an afterthought, a story to your kids, only the strongest will survive to have a business. Ultimately it's about that canvas you sold to that client, who bought it to hang on a wall for many years. I feel that if you sell a canvas like that, your very best, and only your very best effort should be in the image that created that canvas. I wouldn't want a half-job on my wall, so why should anyone else? Someday, the image you created using a camera and some software is the only form of memory your client will have left of the moment. I'd like to think they would want to have that preserved perfectly.

Just a few thoughts.

Friday, August 27, 2010

A shot of a day at the lake.

I wanted more, but I'll take anything I can get, it was a day out with the family after all!

Alexis and Erika Faces

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Today I received the Spyder3Express display calibrator. So I grabbed the umbrella and shot this:

Erika Faces

Now with real colors and everything! I'm excited. All this time I knew I was missing out on being able to see hidden color detail and proper white balance, but now it's actually clear I had no idea what I was even looking at. The road to consistent colors is almost over!


Monday, August 23, 2010


Random photo moment, which I thought was definitely capture worthy.

Out There...

There's no real story behind this photo, but there could be, which you as the viewer can fill in. That's what photography is really about!

Friday, August 20, 2010

I want Ice!!!

A little bit less "photo-shoot-y" perhaps, but fun all the same. The kid was throwing a tantrum because...

"I want ice in my water!!!"

She knows better than that, she knows I have a camera within reach at all times.

Alexis wants Ice

Thursday, August 19, 2010

First real practice session. Good Bye, 365!

As I say goodbye to documenting the 365 Project on this blog (I still actively participate, but on ILP only), I say hello to what may very well be my future! Time will tell.

Below you'll find the very first beginnings of what could be my future photography business. I went and took what I learned over the past year or so and put it to practice. My wife and daughter have been tormented with shutter clicks and light flashes for what seems like an eternity to them, and I decided to show them what all that practice can produce. I personally say it's a very successful first session, but as always, you be the judge!

Erika on Bridge
Erika and Alexis in Park
Erika in grass
Alexis in grass
Erika and Tree
Erika in Rose Garden
Alexis Playing With Grass

And because my wife loves this image, even though I failed at adhering to some basic photography rules, here is this:
Erika and Alexis on Bridge

I'm not saying they're perfect pro material, but I am saying I like where this is heading.