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.