Thursday, December 30, 2010

From Start to Finish...

A few posts ago I mentioned that I had done the final Critique of the Advanced Lighting Class at Ivy Tech here in Indianapolis.  Great group, but one thing that I found myself saying again and again is that sometimes the shot doesn't come easy.  I was reminded of that recently when I did a shoot at Ichiban Sushi restaurant on the South Side of Indianapolis about two weeks ago, where I just couldn't get the shots that I wanted.  It was taking work.

Canon 5D Mark II, 250ISO, Canon EF100mmF2.8Macro, 1/50th@F9.  Single 580EX Set to 1/8th power through a 16" Fotorosa Softbox from above right the plate, with a single 580EX Speedlight set to 1/64th zoomed to 105mm hard light from the left side of the frame.  Both lights fired by Pocket Wizard Plus II's. 
Speaking of taking work, a lot of talk has been going on about New Years Resolutions lately.  Definitely something worth working on, but only if they are in the right mindset.  By that I mean, the resolution shouldn't be to buy a new car, or to improve yourself with purchases.  I take new years resolutions as a statement to truly improve yourself with actions.  With that being said, I'm planning on improving myself a few different ways this upcoming year.  Last year, my goal was to work on my photography business outside of the Indianapolis Star Newspaper group.  While that is a continuing goal, I was pleased with my progress.  This year, my goal is to A, become a weekly blogger again, and B, to work on more personal work.

Personal Work? Fwaa?!?!?!?  Yup, personal work.  Photos that I go to take or make just for myself.  Without someone telling me or paying me to do it their way.  That may not seem important, but it's much more important than photographers may realize.  I have gotten more clients based on personal work that I have done, than any commercial job that I've worked.  People want to see what you do for youself, and what you put the most passion into, and that's what I want to focus on.  Putting the passion back into making the pictures that I want to make.

It's not to say that I am not passionate about what I do, as the video I'm posting on this blog will show.  As I said in the beginning, sometimes you have to work at getting the shots you want.  Very rarely do the shots come immediately, or easily.  The video below is every single shot from the shoot that I did with Ichiban.  Nothing has been edited, or left out.  You'll see me play with white balance, lights, composition....all of it.  Just goes to show, that sometimes you've got to mess things up, just to get them right. More Soon.

(Don't mind the crappy music, Royalty Free is what it is...)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Just one....

During this time of the year when things start to wind down, while taxes are being evaluated, while Christmas gifts are bought, while trying to put things on the calendar for next year; you always need to take a moment to see the actual holiday around you. Take a minute to Breathe.

I did the final critique of the Advanced Lighting class at Ivy Tech earlier this week, and after talk about Strip lights, and Gobo's, beauty dishes, and softboxes; I always go back to a quote by the Great Frank Espich.  "God started out with one light, the Sun.  Why not try starting from there?".  Although I heard this quote only recently I know exactly what he means, and even though I am no longer in front of that Advanced Lighting class looking at their portfolios (which were excellent for the record); I would still like to pass on the point that Frank once again reiterated to me.  Don't make things more complicated than you have to.  Sometimes one light is more than enough.  Don't overthink it, you might get stressed out.  The holiday's have enough stress not photography related, so take it easy.  Take a break.  Try it with just one light.
(Canon 5D Mark II, 160ISO, Canon EF100F2.8Macro, 1/160th@F13.  Single 580EX Speedlight set to 1/8th power shot through a 32" translucent umbrella from almost directly above the flower.  Light triggered by Pocketwizard Plus II Transciever)

On a side note I'm very disappointed and borderline stressed out at how unsharp that image actually is on blogger.  It's only about 70% as sharp as on my computer.  Fixed this, apparently I was uploading a file that was too high res.... Either way I'm  very much looking forward to the New Blog, and Website within the week..... More Soon.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Season of Excitment...

The end of the year can be an exciting time for everyone.  Holidays are approaching, some people like snow (seriously, they are out there), looking forward to families, looking forward to taxes, maybe a little time off........any number of wonderful possibilities.  I'm dreading the fact that I'm considering making my blog part of a new years resolution as I've sort of fallen off the blogging train the last few months.  I've said before that I've just been busy, and I have been busy; but that like so many other things is an excuse I suppose.
(Canon EOS5D Mark II, 400ISO, Canon EF70-200F2.8L@120mm, 1/80th@F9.  Single 580EX SPeedlight zoomed in to 105mm set to 1/16th power hard light from the left of the frame aimed at where Dr. Evans hands touch the patient. Fired by Pocket Wizards. I chose the dark moody lighting to simulate a private room in the Office, which we clearly weren't in as I was shooting at 120mm.)

Shot some stuff for Pro Chiropractic clinic in Fishers recently.  Was a nice place- good people.  This is Dr. David Evans, who from what I am told has magic fingers.  Can't say I've ever been to a chiropractor or had a massage.  I even know a Masseuse who does a lot of work for the Indiana Fever, but have never taken the plunge.  Not sure if I'm missing anything or not, but one day when carrying all my gear comes back to haunt me, I know of at least a few people that can take care of me. 

In terms of everything, including the gear that'll break my back; this has been a rather exciting year for me over all.  I've grown personally, and photographically more than I ever thought I would.  I've bought and sold equipment, I've learned new types of photography including the use of a Tilt Shift, or Perspective Correcting Lens.  I've also received phone calls from people and picked up clients that I'd never considered possible this year.  All thanks to a little help from friends, and most certainly a lot of luck.

(Nikon D3s, 200ISO, Nikon 24mmF3.5PCE 1/200th@F16.  Single Dynalight 400 Uni inside of a 24"x24" Softbox to camera right, white paper surrounding the guitar to camera left acting as fill cards to about 4' tall.  The image to the left is shot at -6 degrees Tilt, and the image to the right is shot square away like a normal camera lens combo would capture it)

That photo above is two consecutive frames from a recent shoot; straight out of camera.  Didn't expect the shoot to require a PC lens, but I have a 24mm one that I purchased for some commercial real estate a few months ago.  I knew absolutely nothing about PC lenses before this year, and had no reason to, but since I bought the lens I've found myself using it in all sorts of strange ways. The nice part about tilt shift is that the image on the left that has been corrected is not only much more flat as if I was directly head on with the guitar; but the the guitar is 100% in focus of depth of field at F16.  This lens is capable of 36" of depth of field from front to back from 7" away from an object when tilt shifted correctly.  Absolutely phenomenal for shooting product, real estate as you can flatten out things that you can't physically center  yourself on.  That's not generally what a Tilt shift, or PCE lens is known for, but it's what it's original design was intended for.  All the way back to the bellows on a view camera. It's not for everything, in fact I kind of wish I'd bought the 45mm instead of the 24mm, but oh well.  Maybe next time. 

Bought myself an iPad too, which after a week I have decided is going to be an invaluable tool in my business.  After forgetting my card reader for the laptop on a shoot I had to proof a few of the pictures on the iPad.  Turns out it can read D3s .NEF files.......Can we say,  blown away?
(Photo by Joe Lee)

Not only is the iPad awesome for carrying my portfolio around (you never know when you'll be talking to your next employer), but at the same time it definitely made an impression on the client at this photoshoot.  It wasn't tethered, but to pull a few images and be able to show them large on a screen I could literally hand them made a big impression. 

So yea, kind of a lot has been going on.  Strangely enough some of these things I've been working on I  can't even talk about yet, which is kinda cool and yet nail biting at the same time.  I can assure you though that there will be some very cool blogs coming up soon, and a new website/blog to boot.  Some of which including the Guitars I showed above, Help-Portrait Indy is coming up very soon on December 18th (email me here if you're interested in helping out somehow), as well as I've got one or two more wild projects that I think might make good blog material.  More Soon. 

Friday, November 26, 2010

That time of year...

Year after year the people of our planet continue to celebrate the passage of time in several ways.  Thanksgiving is the start of this passage of time, as it's a holiday seemingly independent from religion.   Everyone gets together with families and talks about what they are thankful for, to which there should be a great list of such things if you're normal.  Some people are down on their luck, and really I start to wonder if the keeping of this tradition near the end of the year is on purpose, as it helps prepare you for what you want to do better the following year.  Keeping in with these traditions there are things like Black Friday and Christmas that get tossed into the mix as well.  Christmas isn't something as universally accepted as Thanksgiving, yet here in Indianapolis around a hundred thousand people pack the downtown for the festival of lighting the Monument in the center of downtown as a tree. 
(Canon EOS5D Mark II, 2500ISO, Canon EF16-35F2.8L@16mm, 1/15th@F6.3)

Personally one of the things I'm most thankful for is being able to continue to do what I love, which is taking pictures.  Definitely a dream job for myself, that I hope I'll be able to do for quite some time to come.  I've been honored over the last few years to be on staff at the Indianapolis star with the likes of Michelle Pemberton, Matt Detrich, Matt Kryger, Sam Riche, Bob Scheer and many more.  All are award winning photographers and rightfully so.  All friends of mine now, which I can only count my blessings as there are many days I wonder what sort of song and dance I had to do to actually get this job in the first place. 
(Canon EOS5D Mark II, 5000ISO, Canon EF300mmF2.8, 1/1600th@F2.8)
Those are the shoes of the tapdancers going on stage in the first photo.  I decided recently that one aspect of my photography that is lacking is some detail work at events, for which my thoughts were to go big or go home for this event.  With that thought I shot most of the event using a 300mmF2.8 lens, and rotated back and forth between using it with and without a 1.4x multiplier.  I probably should have thought about what I was doing as Matt Detrich shot this event as well for the news side of the paper.  I'm fully prepared to find his image on page A1 tomorrow, and he deserves it.  Outstandingly great shooter.  You can check out his coverage of the event here.  He beat me to santa on that first image.  I wasn't happy, but I guess that's the way things go, and I guess that's why he is who he is.  Always knows what he's looking for.  Photojournalism is something that I lack at as it's not something I have to do on a regular basis.  I'd love to do more of it, but in terms of what I do normally it's most likely not in the cards unless it comes from outside Indystar.  
(CanonEOS5d Mark II, 2500ISO, Canon EF300mmF2.8, 1/200th@F3.2)
Being this my 5th year covering this event, I wont even lie; I 'm running out of ways to shoot it.  I may have said something similar last year when I shot the event too, but I'm not going to go back and read about it. I suppose that another thing I'm thankful for is that my images don't get put side by side with Matt's, who I'm fairly confident only actually took 16 photos tonight; each of which were perfect and posted them up online. (Maybe not, but he is aweseome) I figure maybe they will discover the number of bad photos I take in a days time or something, cause me to need to clean the bathrooms, or something equally cruel and unusual.  I kid, I kid, they would just look at me funny; not make me clean the bathrooms....
(Canon EOS5D Mark II, 2500ISO, Canon EF300mmF2.8 with a 1.4x Teleconverter bringing my total to 420mm.  1/200th@F4)
One thing I am also thankful for this year is that I personally own Nikon Equipment.  I apologize for throwing this in here, but since I'm confident that nobody important reads this anyway I'll go ahead and say that I am absolutely disappointed with the 5D Mark II that is provided for me to use through the Indianapolis Star.  I have never used a camera with such abysmal autofocus whether in low light conditions or not.  I find myself firing three times as many frames as I do with my Nikon equipment because I need to make sure that I have a photo that is in focus to turn into our clients.  Not that I don't like the fact that I'm provided equipment, I just wish I could rely on it to produce sharp results, which I can't.  I'd prever my Nikon D700 or D3s ANY DAY, even at half the resolution.  

I feel like this blog post has been more of a rant than anything else, and that's not what I'm going for here I assure you.  I am very thankful for quite a few facets of my life.  Especially thankful that I've got Monday and Tuesday off this week.  Have a trip to St. Louis planned with the Girlfriend which should be nice.  The normal Photo of the day posting may take a hit unless I can figure out how to do it from the iPad, which I firmly believe is possible but potentially beyond the realm of my figuring out. 
(Canon EOS5D Mark II, 2500ISO, Canon EF300mmF2.8, 1/160th@F4)
I think everybody knows who that is.  If not than I cant help you.  He is a staple at this event and normally spends a lot of time with the coloring contest winner for the state (whose prize for winning the contest is turning the key to light the tree).  Really as a kid, that's a pretty solid prize.  Heck, if I won a contest and they told me I got to do that I'd be excited too.   

Really though I think I'm excited to have a few days off.  This weekend I need to finish the proof of Justin and Lori's wedding DVD and start going through the pictures again, as well as work on another few shoots I had last weekend.   But Monday and Tuesday are totally work free.  Unless I can do it on the iPad which I mostly can't.  (I can edit HD Video on the iPad?  Awww crap...).  Either way, I hope that everyone else can find things that they are thankful for.  Work related, family related, life related or just in luck.  I know I've found a few new ones lately, what about you?  More Soon. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Static Shocked....

Two weeks ago I got a very strange call from my boss at the newspaper.  That call was about an assignment that was very much unlike a normal assignment for me, in being that it wasn't a controlled environment, and a controlled subject.  This assignment was an event at the Vogue here in Indianapolis called Static Shock hosted as a fundraiser by Static Salon in Broad Ripple here in Indianapolis. 
(Nikon D700, 2000ISO, Nikon 14-24F2.8Nano@22mm 1/60th@F2.8)

Anybody that has read this blog knows that most of my newspaper and non newspaper assignments include things like business portraits or product photos for glossy publication.  A fewer amount of people are going to notice that while normally I shoot Canon for the newspaper (as that's what they provide me), This event I decided to break out my own Nikon equipment as it provides me cleaner and sharper images in this kind of an environment. 
(Nikon D700, 280ISO, Nikon 14-24F2.8Nano@21mm, 1/40th@F2.8)

Honestly I was very saddened by the number of photographers that I saw at the Vogue that night that were shooting just to get their names out there.  Don't get me wrong, I can definitely understand the need to get your name out there, but in order to even think about doing that you need to have some idea as to what you are doing.  There were several 'photographers' that night that had cameras that were most certainly set to program that had flashes on camera set to EPIC blasting the most amount of light as possible towards their subjects.  In some cases missing the most beautiful of light in the darkest of places...
(Nikon D3s, 450ISO, Nikon 50mmF1.4G, 1/80th@F2)

That was shot in completely ambient light that night in the Vogue.  Not but moments later I saw another of many photographer blasting Mr. Stuart Sayger with their direct on camera flash.  Not saying that using flash is always bad, and that you need to ramp to High ISO every chance that you get either because getting away with using High ISO all the time can make you lazy.  It's like when I was younger and because I survived the dentist I told my mom and dad that I deserved some candy because I had no cavities.  A month after I'd be using that same excuse for candy knowing full well that the reward time had long since past.  If you get away with using it once or twice you can easily start to always think it's feeseable.  Even thought my D3s is capable of very useable images at 12,800ISO doesn't mean I always if ever actually go there.

(Nikon D3s, 2000ISO, Nikon 70-200VR2N@116mm, 1/250th@F4.  Single Canon 580EX Speedlight set to 1/32nd Power zoomed to 105mm superclamped to the upper level of the Vogue pointed down at the runway fired by Pocket Wizard.)

That's one of the lovely ladies from the Fashion part of the show at the Vogue, after all; that was my assignment.  I can't honestly complain about having to take photos of so many lovely ladies either.  Honestly the only thing better than doing that is the fact that my girlfriend Shannon accepts the fact that I do what I do, knowing that these girls are doing their job while I'm doing mine.  Speaking of doing my job I had the fortunate ability to run an experiment at the vogue while I was there...
(Nikon D700, 2500ISO, Nikon 14-24mmF2.8Nano@17mm, 1/60th@F4.  Canon 580EX Speedlight set to 1/32nd power zoomed to 105mm superclamped to the upper level of the Vogue fired by Pocket Wizard)

Shooting Sports gave me sort of a crazy idea that I put into practice that night as you can see above.  That blueish light in the photo isn't actually as much a blueish light as it is a Speedlight superclamped to the upper level of the Venue.  Having shot enough sports using speedlights set to low power I decided to see what that could do for me in terms of sharpness at a venue with uncontrollable dynamic lighting.  Honestly, it was the best thing that I ever did as it allowed me to bring my ISO down to between 1600 and 2500 for the evening, and made my images more consistantly sharper than they would have been otherwise; just like when shooting sports this way.  
(Nikon D3s, 2500ISO, Nikon 70-200VR2N@70mm, 1/200th@F2.8.  Single Canon 580EX Speedlight set to 1/32nd Power zoomed to 105mm superclamped to the upper level of the Vogue pointed down at the runway fired by Pocket Wizard.)

All in all the evening was a heck of an event.  It had a great turn out, and was beautifully scripted to which the naked eye could tell no deviation, and I met at least one other photographer that I felt as though I could learn from.  Great job to the ladies out at Static Salon for the event that they put on.  I greatly hope that they decide to host such an event next year whether or not  I'm fortunate enough to cover it or not.  More Soon. 

Friday, October 29, 2010

Just one Light...

A lot of people ask me about my lighting techniques, and how I come up with some of the things that I do in order to light things effectively.  The last blog post was definitely one with a complicated light setup in it too.  This one is a little differently.  I believe it was Zack Arias that recommended originally that anyone learning to light should learn to do so with a Single 60" umbrella and that's it.  Mainly  because that's all you really need.  Not that hair lights, and fill lights, and background lights aren't necessary in some cases, but in most cases they totally aren't...
(CANON 5D Mark II, 250ISO, Canon 70-200F2.8IS@200mm, 1/40th@F10.  Single Canon 580EX Speedlight to below camera left at 1/4th power zoomed to 70mm shot through a 32" Translucent Umbrella fired by Pocket Wizard)

Nicole here is the Neice of the owner of Ceez Genesis Salon here in Indy.  Had two lights set up to start and totally according to plan one didn't fire giving me this.  The other one with both lights looks pretty solid too, but I love the way the light defines her face in this; and so does she.  Only one light thought, and it most definitely works.  It wasn't even a 60" Umbrella like I was pushing above the pic! 

The one light isn't just a fill light from on camera though and unless you have a ring-light, direct on camera flash as your only light source should be last resort.  Ring-light is a very style specific piece of equipment that can be used for either that style, or at a very low power as a fill light.  Personally I'm not much a fan of the ring-light, but that's another story for another day; back to the Umbrella.  Say you don't have an  umbrealla and can't afford one?  There are lots of things you can do with a single solitary light without an umbrella....
(Nikon D3s, 1600iso, Nikon 18-23F3.5-4.5@22mm.  1/40th@F5.6.  Single SB-900 Speedlight zoomed to 200mm on a light stand set to 1/16th power aimed directly down on the bride and groom fired by Pocket Wizard)

My Pal Scott at Roberts Distributors reminded me the other day that a little bit of hard light can go a long way sometimes.  The above photo was made using ambient light as a very little bit of fill light, with a single bare bulb strobe behind the Bride and Groom.  Yes it took several shots to get this one, in fact I'm pretty sure I have about 50 shots of the light blasting me in the eyes......but in the end this shot was worth the effort, and the bride and groom have something very unique to remember the moment with.  

Doesn't take much light sometimes.  Earlier this week I shot a semi commercial job using a single hard light actually.  It was kind of a last second job with no staff or budget, but we made it work.  Vincents Furs wanted some photos of their jackets, and the ads are going to look like a night out on the town.  Due to lack of any other preparation we went with the Single Speedlight approach.  Seemed to work ok.....

(Canon 5D Mark II, 320ISO, Canon 16-35F2.8L@18mm.  1/100th@F5.6.  Single Canon 580EX Speedlight set to 1/8th Zoomed out to 24mm held directly over the table from camera right attached to the end of a Home Depot Paint pole fired by pocket wizard held by one of the Male models waiting for their turn to be shot.)

That's an outtake from the shoot.  Not sure if its what they are looking for or not, but we'll find out.  Probably would have been nice to have had drinks or something on the table, but with a lack of budget we weren't going to buy 12 beers for the cast and crew and then either finish the shoot a little beer'd up or leave them there....  

Sometimes though, you just need to go all out, or maybe just observe things are they are.........behold the beauty of photography.  Had a lot of different experiences the last two weeks since I've blogged.  Roller Derby Nationals is coming up in Chicago next weekend.  I won't be attending as I've got a few gigs here in Indy that I booked prior, but I will be represented by photography up there in programs and as some trading cards.  Derby season has started up again too.........but this is all too much to go into now....More Soon.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The WOW factor...

A few weeks ago I was approached by a company here in Indianapolis named Beckman and Coulter contacted me about taking some photos of a very crazy looking room inside their facility known as their Command Center.  My first question was whether or not this command center was really a basement or not, and if we would be able to hook an Xbox up to the Big Screen.... Which, oh yea!  This Command Center?  it had the Second largest LCD Panel in the World in it.
Cool huh?  Ok not really, but that was the problem.  This company had the issue of the Wow Factor working against them.  The Photo above shows the room as it was, and as our eyes saw it.  The first word I said when I walked into that room was, WOW... But that's not what the photo above does for anyone.  The photo above just is of this large room, but doesn't give you the sense of being there, and how cool that room really is.  

It was a monumental challenge of a concept to me, as of course any photographer would/should be worried that they couldn't pull off this WOW factor.  I was most certainly worried about it.  I had a few ideas though, thanks to inspiration from people like Dave Black, and Joe McNally; whom I read and research frequently in times when I need inspiration.  This is what I came up with...
(Nikon D3s, 800ISO, Nikon 14-24mmF2.8N, 1/20th@F8.  Nikon SB-900 Speedlight with 1/2cut CTB to camera left set to 1/4 power zoomed to 85mm on a stand fired by Pocket Wizard. Nikon SB-900 Speedlight with Full Cut CTB to camera right set to 1/4th zoomed to 105mm,  fired by Pocket Wizard.  Single Dynalight Uni400 head on each side of the Mamoth LCD Screen set to full power, each with a full CTO over the reflector.  both fired by Pocket Wizards)

The room was plenty dark though too, and I needed to expose my shot for the screen.  The D3s can handle 800 or 1,000ISO like it's its job giving me absolutely minimal grain in the worst of conditions so I felt no hesitation in pushing the camera up that high to get a decent depth of field for the shots.  (Something I'd never have done with my old D2x, not even when shot correctly).  I probably wouldn't have gone much higher than 1000 though, even though the powers that be say the camera can take it, I still prefer the cleanest image possible and I probably would have attempted to find a lower ISO possibility.  The coolest thing about this space is definitely the screen, but I felt as though the screen (despite being large and bright) was sort of lost into the black abyss of Sound Proof tiles behind it.  The orange lights to separate it from the wall were a MUST in my mind.  The lights didn't need to be orange, no; but I felt as though the warm colors really added a lot of contrast between the Blue GPS screen and the background as well as the desks in front.  I did add some blue lights on the desks, but those are a lot more evident in the shots with staff involved.
(Nikon D3s, 1000ISO, Nikon 18-35mmF3.5-4.5@26mm, 1/40th@F9.  Nikon SB-900 Speedlight with 1/2cut CTB to camera left set to 1/4th zoomed to 70mm on a stand fired by Pocket Wizard, Nikon SB-900 Speedlight with Full Cut CTB to camera right on a stand about 50' away zoomed to 200mm at 1/2 power fired by Pocket Wizard.  Single Dynalight Uni400 head on each side of the Mamoth LCD Screen set to full power, each with a full CTO over the reflector.  Both Dynalights fired by Pocket Wizards)

Sometimes people aren't as cooperative in groups, especially when it's around their lunchtime.  In this case my assistant, Mike Guio, is sitting at the desk in the yellow shirt, to fill in for whomever had to get off the clock.  Nothing wrong with it, and it does incorporate their logo into the shot, even though its very small...But it is a little bit of an easter egg for anybody who knows him.  The client didn't seem to mind, and Jeff the Liaison from their IT department was off doing his IT'ly duties and we wanted to keep shooting.  Sometimes, you've just got to keep shooting.  
(Nikon D3s, 640ISO, Nikon 14-24F2.8N@14mm.  1/30th@F7.1.  Single SB-800 Speedlight zoomed tro 105mm Fired by Pocket wizard through camera right, shot through a Queen Size bed sheet hanging over the windows to the conference room.  Single Dynalight Uni400 head on each side of the Mamoth LCD Screen set to full power, each with a full CTO over the reflector.  Both Dynalights fired by Pocket Wizards)

One of the neater elements of this place is that they had a VIP Conference room overlooking the Command Center.  It was neat because they had a small cross section of the screen for the VIPs, or meeting attendees to utilize for their presentations.  I was still jonesing to put an Xbox or death Race up on one of the big screens, but alas I was still denied.  I did however ask what the coolest thing they had ever put up on the screen was though, and that was the World Cup.  Not gunna lie, I think thats pretty cool.  

Also pretty cool was a message I received from the Director of the Command Center.  They were thrilled with the turnout of the photos in achieving the 'Wow' Factor.  he even joked about not being able to use the photos because they made the room look cooler than it actually was.  It was an awesome compliment, and I thanked him quite a bit.  I came a far way through this project, considering I wasn't sure I would be able to deliver when offered the Job.  It just goes to show you that if you work towards a vision, anything is possible.  With a little perseverance, creativity, and with a good vision, you can accomplish anything.  Maybe a little (or a lot of) luck doesn't hurt either... More Soon.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

5 minute portraits...

So many times, people have said they wished they had all the time in the world when it comes to taking photos of people while shooting a portrait.  Family photographers sometimes feel that an hour or an hour and a half isn't enough time.  Ironically though, in a lot of cases I wish I had 15 minutes, much less an hour.

(Nikon D3s, 320ISO, Nikon 85mmF1.4D, 1/60th@F1.6.  Single SB-900 Speedlight inside of a 16" FotoRosa Softbox to camera right with a Half CTO on it.  Speedlight was set to iTTL-0.3 and was fired by an SU-800 Speedlight Commander on the camera)

That's Thijs.  Cool Cat. Loves to argue though, and Boy have we argued.  Not like, intense upset at each other argue, but more along the lines of debate.  One of his favorite past times is picking a topic and debating it.  Don't get me wrong I'm all for a good debate, but dang he loves it.  Took this for him and his Company Ultrasun USA (and Ultrasun International) last week.  He doesn't come to the States very often, but when he does he has things to do.  After I got there he had about 5 minutes for us to shoot photos, which is what we did.  I've done work for their company for some time now, and we get along.  He is comfortable with me, and I with him and that comfort level is something I wish I had with a lot of people that I've shot photos of because interaction and comfort level is important to snapping a good frame.  

Believe it or not though, this is relatively normal when it comes to someone that is anybody.  Not that families aren't anybody; hear me out.  I spend several days a month shooting in active retired communities, and holy cow these people are active.  In fact, in the last string of days I spent out at one of these places, I didn't even get the peoples names.  The PR person wanted to handle all of it, and Hey... Who am I to argue with easier for me?

(Canon 5D Mark II, 500ISO, Canon 16-35mmF2.8L@19mm.  1/30th@F7.1.  Canon 580EX SPeedlight set to 1/16th inside of a 16" FotoRosa Softbox to above camera left fired by Pocket wizard.  Single 580EX Speedlight set to 1/32nd power zoomed to 70mm sitting on the kitchen floor aimed at the ceiling for a little bit of illumination. Also fired by Pocket Wizard)

That's Linda Wirth, a resident at Del Webb Active living community on the north side.  I probably could have taken longer with her than I did (after all I was in, set up, and out in 15 minutes...), but it was a straight forward assignment.  I needed to illustrate her in the house that she fell in love with .  This isn't the photo that ran, but this was my favorite out of the group.  Lots of shoots that I've done shooting or Del Webb have only lasted 15 minutes or less.  It can be crazy stressful, yet gratifying when done correctly.

(Canon 5D Mark II, 125ISO, Canon 16-35mmF2.8L@26mm.  1/160th@F11.  Single Canon 580EX Speedlight on a Stand to camera right zoomed to 105mm at 1/2 power aimed right at his face fired by pocket wizard. )
That's John Ditslear, the Mayor of Noblesville Indiana.  This isn't the final photo for this shoot, but I liked this one best.  Part of my assignment was to shoot the Mayor in front of City Hall, which could have been a nightmare since the sun was coming up over the building that morning.  If I had my Nikon gear I'd not have thought twice about it with the TTL, but Manual Flash out of  my Canon Speedlights saved the day.  Just in case though, I also shot him in his office. In Total his would have been a 15 minute or less shoot except that the Mayor popped a button off of his jacket and his assistant had to fix it real quick.  It gave us a few minutes to chat, and tell a few jokes (no no, not the Laffy Taffy jokes.....ok well maybe).  He was very personable and we got along which as I said; is important.  Being comfortable with your subject makes for great photos.  In fact at the end of the shoot he confessed that there is no such thing as the key to the city, but he gave me the closest thing to it; which was a Noblesville medallion with his name on it.  More Soon.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Feeding the Frenzy...

A couple of times a year I'm significantly busier than the rest of the year. September is one of those times normally. Don't get me wrong, the summertime is usually busier than the wintertime, but in the case of September; I've been out of town almost every weekend. That includes this upcoming weekend when I go to Pennsylvania to visit some of my most dear friends. Where have I been until now though? Simply everywhere...

(Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 320ISO, Canon 70-200F2.8IS@70mm, Single 580EX Speedlight fired by Pocket wizard inside of a FotoRosa 20" softbox to above camera right set to 1/4th power.  Single 580EX Speedlight zoomed to 70mm on 1/16th power fired by pocket wizard sitting on the desk to specifically light up the logo on the wall.)

 Thats Steve Jebonowski from Harrison college.  Quick portrait session.  So quick in fact, that it actually took me longer to get into the building than it did to do the setup and the shooting.  Steve was astounded that we were done in sub 15 minutes, and frankly, so was I.  Not that I don't think I'm capable, but sometimes things just work out the way they are suposed to, like in the case of that shot.  It's 95% straight out of the camera: The way I like it.

(Nikon D700, 2500ISO, Sigma 12-24mm@12mm, 1/80th@F4.5)

That shot is from the North Central Regional Roller Derby tournament.  The lovely ladies over at the Naptown Roller Girls extended an invitation to photograph them during the tournament, and who am I to decline an opportunity like that?  Despite the fact that I almost wet myself getting that shot, It's one of my favorites from the tournament.  You can check out the rest of the pics here.  It was a solid weekend as the girls went in as 9th seed, and came out in 6th.  No lack of things being interesting that weekend that's for sure.

Speaking of interesting, as I previously mentioned; this weekend I'm taking my girlfriend Shannon to Pittsburgh to see some very old and dear friends of mine.  I'm taking the weekend to do a few things I've missed, like hangin out, xbox, eating, drinking, and laughing.  In fact, we even introduced Catherine to her Destiny....

 (Nikon D3s, 400ISO, Nikon 60mm F.2.8N Macro, 1/100th@F8.  Nikon SB900 Speedlight to camera right shot into a bedsheet hung over a living room chair set to +-0 iTTL.  Nikon SB900 speedlight behind Catherine and xbox Controller set to iTTL +1EV fired into a white fireplace frame.  Both Speedlights fired by SU-800 Speedlight Commander from on camera.)

Very beautiful baby for a very beautiful family.  That pic above actually made it as photo of the day for me too.  And yea, you all know that I couldn't not take pics of little Catherine.  Even though I'm here to get away from some things,  and catch up on Sanity there are still things that I want to take pictures of.  Nuts huh?  This is the first baby I've ever really spent lots of time taking pictures of.  I guess if you consider about 45 minutes lots of time that is...  Either way, Catherine seemed to enjoy it and I know her parents will enjoy the photos as well.  I can't wait to see how little Catherine grows up, and what kind of woman she will become.  I look forward to seeing where the next 20 years takes all of us.  What projects we may work on, and what kinds of people we may all be then.  More soon.

(Nikon D3s, 400ISO, Nikon 60mmF2.8N Macro.  1/40th@F4.  Nikon SB900 fired into the TV stand in the front of the room to image left, set to iTTL +.3EV, fired by SU-800 Nikon Speedlight Commander from on Camera)

Friday, September 3, 2010

In Knots...

Here I sit at almost 2AM on a Friday morning knowing that I've got about a hundred things to do before I go to sleep, and yet I decide to write myself a blog. I'm thinking about my girlfriend, the computer sitting on the floor next to me, some paperwork I need to fill out and send back out, photos that need to be taken, eggs that need to be eaten, my cat running wind sprints up and down the flights of stairs in my house, my parents 30th wedding anniversary this weekend, and lots of other stuff too. There comes a time in any photographers career when things are just overwhelming. Some of them find it at a shoot, some of them find it between shoots, some of them find it while editing. Honestly, I find editing one of the hardest things to do as a photographer.

(Nikon D3s, 200ISO, Nikkor AF-D 85mm F1.4. 1/2500th@F1.4)

Last weekend I was asked to be the second shooter at a wedding by my buddy Matt Stoltz. That's him arranging the bride and groom for some posed photos for the album. Great group of people, the bride was an absolute hoot. She was such a ham that even during the ceremony she caught me taking a photo of her...

(Nikon D3s, 1000ISO, Nikon 70-200F2.8VR2 with TC20eIII@370mm, 1/500th@F5.6)

My assignment for Matt was mostly the details even though he encouraged me to shoot it as I normally would have shot it. Honestly shooting a wedding with 2 people is about a thousand times easier than shooting it with 1 person. The shot above was from about 30 feet above, and the time it took me to get up there was enough that I'd have missed some important shots during the ceremony. Even though Matt told me to get mostly details, I still ended up shooting a few things just for the ambiance of the day.

(Nikon D700, 200ISO, Nikon 18-35F3.5-4.5@18mm, 1/250th@F5.6)

Despite my inevitable disregard for instruction; either because of ADD, or just my quest to take a memorable frame, I did end up taking quite a few detail photos that I liked.

(Nikon D3s, 2200ISO, Nikon 60mmNano Macro, 1/80th@F3)

(Nikon D3s, 200ISO, Nikon 60mmNano Macro, 1/80th@F10. Single SB900 Speedlight shot hard light over the straw hat and rings towards the camera set to iTTL +1, fired by SU-800 Speedlight commander attached to the camera)

(Nikon D700, 1400ISO, Nikon AF-S 50mmF1.4. 1/80th@F1.4)

These photos are all unedited. That's what I was asked for, and honestly I wouldn't feel right editing them just for the blog. Is this how the bride and groom will get them? I don't know, that's up to Matt. Either way, I was pleased with my shooting of the day.

(Nikon D700, 640ISO, Nikon 18-35mmF3.5-4.5. 1/6th@F6.3. Single SB-900 Speedlight with a full CTO held by my left hand to camera right set to iTTL -1.7 zoomed to 105mm fired by SU-800 Speedlight commander attached to the top of the camera)

It was a great warmup for Justin and Lori's wedding in a few weeks. Greatly looking forward to their wedding, some old friends of mine. I'm very happy for them finding each other. Really until then I'm going to be super busy too. Until then though, I'm going to go back to watching my cat run wind sprints up and down the stairs, and thinking about how lucky my mom and dad were to have found each other, for what now seems like will be forever. 30 years this weekend. Epic in today's society. More Soon.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


It's been quite a while since I've blogged, and if anybody still stumbles upon my blog, whether it be by accident or low percent chance of someone hoping to read more of my Epic Tales Ramblings; I'd just like to say that my hiatus from blogging was necessary as I was starting to burn myself out on all the little things. People really need to be careful when they get burnt out though, and I suppose without thinking about it I heeded that exact advice. The advice whom as even a kid I'd have given to the ultimate impression on me...

(Photo by Michael Guio)

I had a conversation with a good friend of mine yesterday about the process of learning photography and how appreciative he has been over the last few years of my allowing him to ask me questions, and I've always never had a problem with it because I feel as though he keeps me on my toes with my profession. I also told him that I'm honored he looks at me with photography because I look at photography that I want to emulate for instruction. The above photo Mike took at the very beginning of his photographic career, and it's one of my favorites of his. Really it goes to show that you never know where your inspiration will come from, or where it will take you.

When I was just starting out as a photographer (learning with the goal of being a professional), I only knew two photographers at the time personally, and they were both very inspirational to me. The first was my grandfather who was a recreational photographer and an Electrical Engineer for Inland Steel. He never thought he could make a living out of photography, and so he did a job that is a lot more complex than photography could ever be. The other ironically knew my grandfather in the steel mill. The only difference is that he was the Staff Photographer for the Mill.

(Photo courtesy of Chelsea Leininger)
I wish I had a photo of him, or a photo that he took, but I don't. That's him on the left at my friend Chelsea's senior review. Chelsea is also one of the fortunate souls to have studied under him, and is also incredibly grateful for it. It's unfortunate because he was killed in a head on collision with a Semi Tuesday morning of August 24th. He was the one that gave me my ridiculous quest of sharpness, color correctness, and doing it right the first time.

That photo was taken as part of my senior project while at Purdue under the supervision of Tim Fuller. I shot one of the first two senior projects to have ever been shot digitally. Really the first two projects shot digitally were shot that way without permission. We did it because professionals around the globe were adopting digital, and yet our professor Tim was adamant that film would prevail and would always be better. In the end, he was almost right according to this article.

He is most likely the reason I just short of idolize the work of people like Dave Black, and Joe McNally. The people that strive to make images of moments in real life, look like something you can only imagine.

He was a stick in the mud, hard headed, completely uncompromising when it came to his students quality of work, and I couldn't be where I am today without his inspiration. If I had a nickel for every time he told me to re-shoot something, or that something wasn't sharp enough; I'd easily have a thousand dollars. When I look at works that I don't like, I remember his criticisms towards me, and know that I need to be honest towards any works as that they may reap the benefits of said criticisms as well. Maybe I'm not always as brutally honest as he was, but more people should be. He believed that nothing was an accident, any light in any shot, of any video or still image were all planned. Because of him, I see light the way that I do and I aim for nothing but to shoot things accurately when I shoot them; like Joe McNally, or Dave Black. I am by far eternity not a perfect photographer, or even more so not a perfect person. In the end you never know who will influence you the most or where those influences will come from. Maybe someday I'll be able to influence someone the way that both my grandfather, and Tim influenced me. Someday maybe Michael will be able to influence someone, the way that he has thanked me for influencing him. I hope that there is a lot of photography left in this world even though photography is becoming much more point and shoot for the entire population no matter who you are. Maybe the world will recognize the skills that are actually involved in this profession and despite the increasing number of people that attempt to make a living at it. Even though everyone deserves a chance to live their dreams, and I welcome people to pursue the dream of being a professional Photographer as that is my dream. Zack Arias, whom I don't know personally but greatly respect said it best in his article here.

Inspiration can come from anywhere. It's the greatest honor of my life that I have been called inspirational by at least even 1 person. Tim Fuller was inspiration to hundreds. He was a Professor, a mentor, a teacher, and a friend. He will be sorely missed by more than a handful of people. May he rest in peace. More Soon.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Racing to shoot...

So last year I was offered an opportunity. I was offered an opportunity to shoot a Nascar event known as the Kroger 200. I only bring this up because I didn't do it as I was already slated to shoot a wedding that weekend. The big thing with me is that I don't like to say no to too many projects that I want, as I know that the more I say no the less people will ask. Not that I'll take on any project that comes my way (as no photographer should), I just don't like turning people away when it's something that I especially want to do. Luckily though, Kroger came back to me this year and asked me to shoot their Race the night before the Brickyard 400: The Kroger 200 at O'Reilley Raceway Park.

(Nikon D3s, 1250ISO, Nikon 18-35mmF3.5-4.5@18mm. 1/250th@F3.5)

The regular star coverage can be found here. I'd never been to a NASCAR Race, much less gotten an opportunity for an ALL ACCESS PASS to shoot one. You may say that I know nothing about Shooting a race, and I'd almost agree with you. Not almost agree because I've shot an Indy 500, or a MotoGP. Not because of the Purdue Grand Prix either. I'd only almost agree because my assignment meant that I was only required to take one shot. That's all. Just one. That meant that the other quite a few hours that I was out at the race? I was there getting paid, just for me.

(Nikon D3s, 1000ISO, Nikon 70-200VR2@82mm, 1/200@F2.8)

My assignment was to take a photo of the winner. Until I knew who that was, I had free reign of the entire racetrack. The guy above was one of the pitt crew for Car #98, Paul Menard. He was watching the race from on top of the travel trailer. Honestly I'd have love to have climbed up there and seen the race from there even, but honestly short of levitating I'm not sure how he got up there. Didn't need the shot, but just like a lot of photographers; you don't just take what you need.

(Nikon D700, 1250ISO, Sigma 15mm Fisheye, 1/800th@F5.6)

There are certain things you will do though while there. As an example, I am sending Kroger the photos that I did take, that I like but didn't use. Everything above is an example of that. There are lots of uninteresting photos of random racecars, strange people with mullets, or weird fisheye angles that didn't quite work out, but I'm only sending them as an extra for having me out. After all, they didn't have to right? Not only that, but from what I understand they were very pleased with the shot I took of the winner. It ran full page on the back of the Racing Special Section last Monday. Full page isn't a good enough description though I suppose. It ran larger than the front page photo by Sam Riche (an awesome photographer/good friend), which was almost full page. There were no extra ads on this photo, it was just the photo. Second largest thing I've ever had run in the newspaper. Just like the largest thing I've ever had run though, this one had no photo credit....More Soon.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Rundown...

So it's been a lot longer than my normal hiatus of blogging, and I can't even say that I'm sorry I've been busy. I'm sorry I haven't blogged, but not that I've been busy. Over the last week I've covered more than my fair share of variety.

Shot that for Prudential Corporate to go with their online and print marketing for all of Indianapolis.

That's a White gold pendant that I shot for Midwest Coin and Jewelry in Nora Indiana, to go into full page newspaper ads.

That was shot to go with a Transportation story about becoming a trucker in a Careerbuilder Special section.

That's a new promo shot for Adrianne from Metromix Indianapolis. Some people may remember the last set of promo's here.

This was an article about cleaning Dust out of ductwork to keep your heating and cooling bills down. This was for an article in Green Indy.

Last but not least, that's a photo from the the NRG Third Alarms vs the Rockford Rage. Made a special trip back up to where I grew up to see some friends just to be able to shoot this bout.

So there you have it, kind of a rundown as to some of the things I've been doing over the last week. Not a lot of technical shooting info this week, as much of it is just an update that I am still alive, and cranking. Have a bunch of phone calls I need to return, and if you're one of them I promise that you aren't forgotten. I'll get back to you as I can. Am working on some potential food clients, couple of weddings coming up, have a behind the scenes video for the ninja's over at that I'm putting together, and already have a few of the NRG 2011 Calendar shoots written out. Things are about to get very exciting, very quickly. More soon.