Moving Again

•June 26, 2009 • 2 Comments

I hate to do it but I am moving back to my blogspot blog.  Thankfully I didn’t delete it.  The main reason is that wordpress blocks all the html/java widgets that I would like to use.  Also you can’t do custom templates on the free site.  I really liked the look and user interface here at wordpress but the limitations are too great for me.  I wanted to use a PayPal button and that was blocked.  I couldn’t make a flickr cloud widget.  And the list goes on.

So anyway please follow me back to (all both of you :)).  I found a lot of cool blogger templates and so have customized things over there as well.  See you there.


Thinking Inside The Box

•June 23, 2009 • 3 Comments
Thinking Inside The Box by you.

It’s been a while but here is something new.  Gretchen needed a shot of Booma for her blog (  You should go and find out what Booma is!  I mean really.  DO IT NOW!  Just kidding.  She desperately wanted to post the above pic on her blog but allowed me the privilege of putting it on mine. 

So I got inspired by the large box that has been decorated as a spaceship.  Thanks to our neighbors for buy a new set of porch furniture.  So this one above just has the ambient light through the portholes and a shoot-thru with the 285HV @ 1/4 power at the front door of the box. That’s my boy.  Very proud Daddy.  I added the Aged Photo preset from LR2.

In this one below, I added a second light.  A 540EZ with a red gel.  It was at 1/128th power I think.  It was really blasting the inside of that box.  It is overprocessed with the Direct Positive preset.  Cool look I think.  Not for all the time but it fits this fellow’s personality.  Notice the almost devoured sugar cone in his hand.  Yummm.

Thinking Inside The Box by you.

Please Be Still

•June 13, 2009 • 2 Comments
Please Be Still

Man it is difficult trying to take some photos in the house with 3 kiddos running around.  Chaotic is a good description.  We had boys putting on clothes that we didn’t want them to put.  A girl who didn’t want to sit in the chair.  There was tripping over tripods and light stands.  So I’m not sure there is anything to learn from this post.  Just an example of the hectic life of parents.

I am still borrowing the gear from my friend Mark so I wanted to set up at least once in the house before I return it.  I set up 2 monolights with softboxes and the backdrop holder.  He lent me lots of different backdrops but I can’t get away from the black.  So thankfully we have a “great room”.  It is big.  Probably a quarter of the square footage of the house.  But still it is a lot of gear for this room.  The top shot has the soft box for key and a 540EZ for hair light at a 45 to the subject.  I like that the lighting is not flat and the shadow works well at this angle.

This is just plain cute in my opinion.  The lighting ratio is closer here.  I brought in my silver wal-mart autoshade to fill in that shadow.  And the hair light looks great to me.

Please Be Still

I think if I purchase monolights I would like more adjustment.  These go 1/1, 1/2, and 1/4.  They are very powerful.  The modeling lights are nice.  I would dig to drag these outside and balance them with the sunlight.

Be blessed.

Daddy Daughter Candids

•June 10, 2009 • 2 Comments
Go Matt, It's Your Birthday!

So after the formal portraits, I went into the dance hall to grab some candids.  I shot the portraits with my 50mm 1.8 so I was already set for low light.  I just opened it up to f1.8 and selected ISO1600 to give me the fastest shutter speed I could get in hopes of getting some sharp photos in this really low light.

What? What?

The lights set up for the dance floor make great compositional elements as well as giving an infinite number of color for key lights, rim lights etc.  I shot about 150 shots in about 15 minutes and found 26 to be useable. 

Everybody Jump

This last shot is one that I think captures a nice moment but the colors were too off.  I just couldn’t correct them to something that I liked so I went monochrome.  I really like this one.

I Love My Daddy


•June 7, 2009 • 2 Comments
Daddy Daughter Dance

Seems like this whole gig is a balancing act.  I suppose everything in life is about trade-offs.  So there are 300 people in line to get a photo.  I want to take the best possible photo of each family.  But to say that time is limited is an understatement.  I figured if I could keep each family to an average of only 1 minute, I could finish before the event was over.  In practice, I think the average was less than that.  All in all, I am happy with the photos.  That is not to say they are all perfect in my opinion.

So many families walked in, we got them posed, they smiled, one shot, they’re out.  We had some blinkers of course.  My trick to reduce this is to pick random times in the 1,2,3 to shoot.  Sometimes 1 . . click, sometimes 1 . . 2 . . click (I am remembering Lethal Weapon for some reason).

The balancing act happened a few times when I took the photo, was not really happy with the pose/expression/framing, but looked back to see people lined up as far as I could see and did not take another shot.  I am not posting any of the ones that I didn’t like because the families may not see a problem with them so I won’t ruin that for them (wow there’s a big assumption that someone may actually see this blog).

Vertical – Horizontal
I posted the above shot as an example of going with the flow.  When I envisioned the lighting scheme my mind was completely in vertical mode.  Daddy Daughter right.  But oh yeah, many families are Daddy Daughter Daughter Daughter (we actually have friends that were there that night with 7 daughters).  So vertical is out and I switch to horizontal and were good.  The trade-off is that you don’t get to see all the girls’ dresses but there they are with Daddy.

Hindsight Hairlights
Of course, after the fact, I see that I could have added one more light to this scheme.  The two photos below are two more favorites of mine.  Daddy has a dark coat on.  My one hairlight outlines his left shoulder well but right shoulder has disappeared.  One more hairlight at camera left would have defined that for the dark clothes.

Hindsight Posing
There was a photo (not included here) that I missed the problem completely.  Didn’t notice until I got home that Daddy’s head was floating.  We got him and his two daughter posed with the girls in front of him on either side and Daddy, with his arms around them behind.  The problem was that the whole group was facing the camera directly.  My lights were angle 45 degrees from the left and right so Daddy was in the shadows of both girls.  Arghh.  It is still a nice shot but I could have done better.

Other posing issues were that, well, I have no idea what I’m doing.  That’s an issue right.  Never done this so I was just winging it.  Didn’t know what to do with hands.  I researched a little about posing but not enough.  I found that relaxed hands worked well.  Sometimes just letting them interact without direction was great.  Like above where Daughter has Daddy’s fingers.

So I learned a lot and had fun.  Any input is welcome.  Be blessed.

Daddy Daughter Dance

•June 6, 2009 • 2 Comments
Daddy Daughter Dance

Well.  It was the biggest event that I have ever photographed.  Somewhere around 300 people.  I ended up taking about 180 portraits and culled them down to about 136 for prints. 

There is a lot to say about the experience.  The most fun is to talk about the lighting setup.  I am very happy with the portraits.  Using the black background makes all the dresses pop.  I like the simplicity.  It doesn’t distract from the subjects.  My wife and I were looking at some portraits of us taken in the past.  Very prom-like with balloons and such.  Nothing wrong with them.  I am just a minimalist kind of guy.  I always prefer a simpler photo.

So the lighting was a monolight from camera left through a shoot-thru umbrella for the key.  It was lit to f5.6 (thanks again to my friend Mark who let me borrow his monolights and gear).  The fill from camera right is another monolight through a gridded softbox lit to f4.0 I think.  Maybe a little less.  I like the ratio we achieved.  The shadows are there but not pronounced.  Then the hair light is my 540EZ on 1/32 power behind and to camera right.

I triggered one monolight and the 540EZ with the Cactus triggers.  The second monolight was triggering optically.  For the record, I didn’t have even one misfire with the Cactus V2s.  So all the gear was very dependable and I was able to concentrate on getting the shot that I wanted.

All in all it was tiring but rewarding.  I was happy to find that the knowledge that I’ve gained shooting with the strobist (minimalist) style lighting gear carried over to using the larger monolights.  I would not have wanted (all though I was prepared) to shoot a big event like this with battery powered strobes.  With a line of people, battery changing would have been hectic.

I am going to do another post next to speak a little about the whole posing thing and generally getting a lot of people through in a short period of time.  Remember, I am a hack.  Not a professional so all of this is new to me.

Be blessed.

Daddy Daughter Dance by you.

Changed Again.

•June 5, 2009 • 3 Comments

Ok I give.  I agree that there need to be photos on the front of a photoblog.  Arggh.  I would really like thumbnails in the excerpt on the other theme but does not allow plugins.  And I do not want to pay for hosting a blog.  So I’ll just continue switching themes from time to time I suppose.

Oh yeah.  Got set up last night for the Daddy Daughter Dance tonight.  My friend Mark (check his work at helped me greatly during setup.  Brought his monolights and softboxes.  A lightmeter (something I’ve never used).  All set to shoot tonight.  More details to come.