Category Archives: setup

Dec 2014 – Only the beginning

I apologise for my lack of writing this past year.  I feel like my whole 2014 project was supposed to focus on a more cohesive process of photography and what I found was that most months I do not have time to properly engage every aspect.  Conceive of setting up testing reshooting post processing and publishing take a huge amount of time.  Most months I was luck if I even got one day to shoot post process and publish.  I have learned so much about photography my own process and how hard it is for me to carve out time to pursue this hobby. 

All that being said I feel as though I had arrived and while at the beginning of the year I had hoped I would have a collection of 12 really unique photos that I loved I quickly discovered not every shot or every experiment works.  Walking through that sometimes painful process has brought me here.  I can be much more selective about what I publish and much more excited about my own personal acheivements and not so concerned with reproducing photos I had seen dozens of times before. 

This truly is only the beginning. 

So how did I shoot the last photo of 2014?

I had an off camera light about 280 degrees facing directly across the frame to the subject.  I had the subject facing about 230 degrees.  I placed a lit sparkler about 1/3 into the frame. 

I played around with the fstop and iso and slowed the shutter to lengthen the exposure of the sparkler as well as the background lights. 

I ended up shooting iso 200 f8 and shutter around 1/30. 

This is what I got out of the camera.

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Its not bad.  I did crop the fingers of the sparkler holder out of the frame. 

I then used a technique to create a bit of a magical feel with a duplicate layer that I blurred to about 30 pixels and then blended with the layer option “screen”

You can see this created a very cool effect but softened the edges and overexposed some of the skin.

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Then I applied a layer mask to the skin and sparkler.
Adjusted the contrast and played with the curves and shadows to try and balance the light a bit better. 

I also adjusted the brightness of the eyes and added some highlights.  This is especially dramatic in the full resolution image but the scaled version here still shows some benefit to the process. 
Lastly I did some minor color correction and sharpening. 

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Happy New Year!

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Dec 2014 – all things new

In contemplating this months shot and this years final picture I have been looking back on the past year and forward to the new one.  I have regrets, hurt, losses and failures all piled into the memory of the past year but simultsneously see hope, life, laughter, joy, song, growth, and triumph woven through my memories.   Not all of what happened this past year has been overwhelmingly good.  My classes, my work, my parenting,  my photography, and my spiritual vitality have all been arenas of failure and disappointment.   In spite of that the year has been derinitively positive.  My kids, my pictures, my relationship with my wife and my church have all encouraged and built up my person in the midst of heartache and struggle. 

It is for these reasons that I look forward to a new year with hope and celebration.  I have for no rational reason a firm thought that next year will be better and I welcome the new year with expectancy.   I rejoice in the thought that a new year is opportunity for all things to be new.

Now how do you capture that hope that joy that excitement and celebration in a photo? 

My thought is to shoot a portrait (a photographic weakness of mine) of a child with some backlight and a sparkler creating a picture of joy with a clear party scene.  A little bit of fill light and perhaps a happy new year 2015 hat or banner to round it all out. 
With 2 days left I think I can do it.

In case I don’t have a chance before the clock strikes 12 where you live…Happy New Year!  Keep your chin up. 

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Sept 2014 – mistakes were made!

After a couple of days to process through in my head what happened on shoot day (Saturday)  I have finally come to the point where I can be happy for the oportunity to learn from my mistake.  While still spending countless hours trying to fix images that are unlikely fixable I have processed most of the stages of greif.
1 Denial – everything is fine.  That will work I can fix it in post :p
2 Anger – at circumstance (light weather etc.) At myself.  At my gear.  At the unknown factors of fate that failed to align for that magical moment…
3 Bargaining – maybe I can take it again.  I dont have to publish this month.  If only I had more lights…
4  Depression – which I will call sadness in this case cause really my life is pretty full of rejoicing so having a bad shoot can’t really lead to the deep depression of grief for me.  But still I was feeling pretty upset and insecure.  Full of sadness and regret.
5 Acceptance – here I have arrived to share with all of you. 

I am well aware of a number of things that I will change for the next shoot. 
My lense choice my lighting (more on that later) my itchy trigger finger.  My reluctance to shoot more (yup that is a contradiction).  My setup etc. 

Now that I have put everything into context it would be great to shoot again. 
The overall vision isn’t flawed.  I think it will work with the exception that I completely miscalculated the proportions of the roof to the height of the model. 

Overall the experience was a good one for me and my inexperience shone bright to the point of me missing a critical focus on a shot that I absolutely love otherwise.  I let autofocus refocus behind the subject and lost my favorite fram from the whole day.  Overall I do have some useable pictures not the magic light I was hoping for but at least I can say it wasn’t a waste.  I learned something I improved as  a photographer and I enjoyed my time.  I even got a pretty good shot of my wife with my homemade flash modifier. 

I guess I forgot to post my storyboards earlier.  So here they are now. 

Hope you can make them out. 

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You can see I thought the subject would be 2/3 of the way from the floor to the roof but in reality the roof is 2 or 3 times higher.  I will post some of my shots and hopefully give one of you some better ideas going forward. 

Maybe next year when the autumn light is out I will try again….  but then maybe I’ll have an even better idea.

Sept 2014 – shoot day

Well today is supposed to be shoot day.  Im not sure I have a model confirmed and the weather (thunderstorms in september?) Is not cooperating. 
Assuming as always things find a way of working out I should be taking some pretty cool pcitures today. 
Yesterday I unfolded the cloth that I will be using and the sheer fabric may introduce more miore than I expected…also in certain light it looks purple so some color hrading is going to be essential. 

My batteries are charged my bad is loaded my memory card is clear I’m ready to go. 

I am going to try and make a strip lighy out of two prungles cans.  The idea came from another website (popphoto.com)  and I think it is a great fit for my shoot today. 

Now hopefully I can confirm a time…

Sept 2014 – that one time I remembered all the details…

Doing a photoshoot where other people are involved and create direct dependancies creates layers of complexity.  Just the task of organizing more than one schedule means I can’t simply shoot when I have time or good light or my camera.  It takes coordination, patience and time.  Hats off to the pro photogs that deal with this on a semi weekly basis. 

As I have tried to coordinate multiple photoshoots with a model I continue to run into issues I was not prepared to address.  Wardrobe make up additional lighting modifiers.   All will have significant impacts on the final image and yet I had completely overlooked all of them.  If I wanted to do this well I would have someone for wardrobe and a changing booth l, a stylist and a meeting with the model and test session ahead of schedule (until I was comfortable with the team and the process).  That is a lot to fit into my life right now with school kids and work all competing agressively for my time.  Long story short there is going to end up being a lot more “winging it” than I had anticipated.   I will have to work with the styles and wardrobe chosen and available to the models themselves. 

I am really happy that a few people responded to my ad and desperate plea for help.  I am not even sure how to coordinate multiple models as I would like to try and complete one day of shooting with more than one model just to try and maximize my chances of success. 

The other impact I failed to address is the relational.  Working with another live person requires a certain level of comfort which for me is difficult to establish with a complete stranger.  Couple that with the natural distance created by hiding behind a camera and you get real challenges try to achieve natural and expressive facial expressions.

I guess if the weather holds some of these unknowns will be answered tomorrow.  Looking forward to it….maybe?

Sept 2014 – planning for shoot day

Without a model for this shot the risk of failing to complete it is high.  A subject is an understandably important piece of the photography puzzle.  Regardless I am choosing to be optimistic and planning for success.  I am going to make sure absolutely everything else is in order so I can drag and drop a model into place when the time comes. 

I stopped by the location yesterday.  The light was excellent golden crisp light and I wanted to see how it illuminated the spot I had chosen. 

I am going to have to be much earlier to the venue than I first had thought.  Due to the tree canopy the sun was already below the horizon at 630pm.  That means I am going to have to shoot prior to 530 which means setting up at 430 which means having to call the shot as on before even seeing what the clouds light and sun are doing as sunset approaches. 

This presents a bit of risk but I just cant give up the location.  Here is another view.

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Gorgeous right?

I will get a bit of a wider sweep of the location as well.  As best I can tell my smartphone camera is a 31mm equivalent and I plan to use a 24mm lense or 27mm (18mm in dx mode).

I also think my smartphone pics have a weird aspect ratio.  I will be using editing software to try and crop to a 2:3 rectangle from the raw files anyway so the camera aspect ratio is not an issue.  Just might vary the FOV a bit. 

Its going to be great!

Now to find someone willing to smile for the camera.

Sept 2014 – model search

I took out an ad in the local online classifieds…
No responses so far.

No one wants to be paid in photos of themselves….
#Noonewantstoworkforfree

Please help!

I considered highering a model but the local agency does not appear to have what I am looking for. 

I am currently taking university classes but walking up to a stranger and asking to take their picture is a bit weird.  Admittedly I don’t want to be that creepy old guy on campus. 

Reason 263 why I hate shooting portraits.  Ok enough complaining just needs a new approach.