Oct 31, 2009

Quick Pics - Costumes

My church hosts an annual "Fall Festival" event as a safe, indoor environment with lots of games, candy, food, games, candy, fun, and candy.

Did I mention the candy?

I volunteered to do a photo booth... surprise!

Since I don't get to try new lighting styles often enough, this was the perfect opportunity.

Karl came to assist, which was awesome, because we had a great turnout. With over 130 subjects (590 photos) in two hours, it was a workout.

The lighting idea was an edgy sort of look. The lighting was an Alien Bee B800 in a 48" Octabox above and directly in front of the subjects, and one AB 1600 on each side about 3' behind the subjects with their standard reflectors.

I used black foamcore as flags to keep the light off of the background.

The results... a lot of fun that worked for almost every costume. Not so great for group shots, but the big soft box was very forgiving in the front to make the shots workable, as with the Scooby Doo gang...

The results...

The Spiderman franchise seems to be doing well.. there were several varieties, but you can't go wrong with these sneakers...

Mario was there in search of his princess..

And there were lots of princesses to choose from... Pink hair takes the cake though.

Cute as a bug was never so true... bug babies were everywhere!


There was quite a large contingent of Jedi types... along with a few from the dark side. Inevitably, there was conflict.

Home-made Palace Guard outfit was cool... with the hat he was about 6' tall.

It was definitely a super-hero hot spot...

I'm thinking this wasn't a costume so much as just an excuse to get the skateboard out...

Cheerleading was popular..

Bewitching witches aplenty..

Animals from the wild...

and the not so wild.

Humor may change as we get older, but whoopie cushion humor is funny no matter your age...

Some parents got clever in the costume department.

And one was just fun to watch walk around...

I hope everyone had a fun and safe evening...

Happy shooting everyone.

Don J.

Oct 28, 2009

Marching Band...

I am a bit of a band geek myself (drummer if you must know) so photographing the band is a lot of fun when I'm at football games.

Last Friday found me in Kennedale, TX, and they have good lights in their stadium...

There was a great glow in the sky as the band filled the stands and started to prepare for the game...

While in the stands, I could use lower ISOs (800 and 1000) with IS lenses to get much better sharpness and color than when I shoot at 3200...


Then came UIL marching contest... in the rain.

Maybe I should review the Kata rain cover. It worked great but has a few quirks.

Warming up...

Drip, Drip, Drip

Such a dreary day... so I decided to have some fun in Lightroom. This is a slightly modified version of one of the "300 Look" presets from the Lightroom Killer Tips blog.

Shooting in the rain definitely gives you rare shots.. other than the folks who were making videos of the competition to sell, I did not see any cameras out there.

Don't be afraid of the rain, just be careful.

Happy Shooting,

Don J.

Oct 25, 2009

A Walk Around the Room

It is very easy to get chained to a spot when shooting something. For me, it is hard to set my camera bag somewhere, then take off without it. I usually wish I had a different lens or something, or I'm afraid that something will disappear.

Sooo.. I try very hard to look for different vantage points for any given subject.

In this case, I was shooting in Terrell's Performing Arts Center, which is a really nice venue to shoot in. This is especially the case if you can roam around a little bit to look for better spots to shoot from, which is easy when the event is a talent show try-out. No crowd, no stress, and fun light.

For a few performers, I was sitting out front switching between the 24-70mm for wide shots and the 70-200mm to get up close and personal.

Bored with that, I just left on the 70-200 and went for a walk. The results made me happy, so I thought I would share.

From the back of the stage, I could show the talented young lady at the piano with the empty hall as background, as well as the scattered judges and contestents in the seats.

I liked it, but wanted a closer shot too, and I noticed that I could line the subject up with the aisle for a clean background.... I liked it better than the first attempt.

Walking around, I saw that her face could be framed in the open piano. From here though, the microphone is in the way, the flag is distracting and there is an unfortunate shadow on her face.

Lower, the microphone still intrudes, but I like the overall effect of showing her feet under the piano, and luckily she moved out of the shadow.

Now it was time to go back out front. The tech folks were using a nice textured purple background light, which should not be wasted. What a nice surprise though to see that light was shining into the piano enough to get a really neat reflection in the raised lid, showing the inner workings. With the subject lit nicely against the uncluttered background... and lucky me that her song was long enough for me to make it around the room.
Sooooo... walk around the room, look for possibilities, and take advantage of unique angles.

Happy Shooting out there,

Don J.

Oct 23, 2009

Slideshow - Kaufman vs Crandall

It was a mud-bowl last Friday as Kaufman pulled out a home win against neighbor/rival Crandall.

This is a test of the slideshow capability from my print ordering site.. let me know what you think.

It was a fun game to shoot... tonight is a long drive to Kennedale, TX, but I have high hopes for good light.

Happy shooting everyone,

Don J

Oct 17, 2009

Quick Pics - Fun Subjects

After weeks of rainy dreariness, I was able to get out for some kid and family sessions today... it was great weather, great subjects, and great fun to be a photographer.

Here are some quick pics...

This was really a lighting test because her little sister was the primary subject of the session. However, having big sister around was a godsend as she was a tremendous help in many ways. Testing lights, showing how to be a good model and just having fun. Of course, I got plenty of pics of her as well.

Nothing makes me feel old quite the same way as chasing two year old kids... but when they stop for just a second, it is hard to find cuter subjects.

During the afternoon, my wife and I went out to Frog, Texas to see what was happening at the Frog City Blues October Festival. I think we were there way too early in the day to get a good idea of how the event would really go, but it seemed like people were definitely going to have a good time.

I was happy with this quick grab of a kid looking at the drummer of opening band Stormy Weather.

Shooting at sunset is almost always a good thing. Throw in (literally) happy, smiling kiddos and it becomes harder to take a bad photo than a good one... (although I managed to miss the focus on this one)

Happy Shooting everyone, enjoy the fall weather and take some great pics!

don j.

Oct 8, 2009

A favorite for all the right reasons

Out of 1,987 photos that I brought home from Peru, it is a very unlikely one that has become one of my favorites.

We were in the middle of a tour in Lima when I saw these four musicians walking down the sidewalk. I had a flash of The Beatles crossing Abbey Road in my head and lifted the camera above the window sill of our tour guide's van.


As with much of the trip, I was carrying the 5D, this time with the 24-70mm. It was a complete grab shot, no time to frame it well as we drove by rather quickly.

The bad...
It is way out of focus, exposure was off (hence the color wackiness I created in Lightroom for this version) and the composition could be better.

The good...
Four musicians with an unlikely (at least for N. America) combination of instruments walking in unison down a street in Peru. The building makes a nice and interesting background... a hint of crosswalk stripes (a la Beatles)..

As a personal trip photo, I love it. The fact that I got a frame at all surprised me, and after playing with it, I found a color setting that fits the mood...

Go figure.

So remember, while proper composition, lighting, posing, metering, lens selection etc. etc. etc are great, the real essence of photography is capturing a moment that can be kept, inspected and remembered in detail. Sometimes the beauty is in the imperfections.

And, sometimes it really pays off to have a camera at the ready.

Happy Shooting

don j.

Oct 5, 2009

Peru Trip - Cusco Market

Before our trip to Peru, I promised my lovely wife that it would not become a "photo trip." I would try my best to get good photos without much disruption to tours, plans or society in general. This resulted in a lot of typical snapshots, which is not a bad thing.

How does this work as a photography tip? When you want to carry a camera but not have it become the only reason you are walking around, you have to really sharpen your vision to see photos when the opportunity arises. That also goes regardless of what camera you are carrying. Look for ways to make the most of it instead of reasons that it won't work.

What started as a free day of shopping and touring around the city of Cusco turned into my favorite shooting day.

While my wife shopped around in a big indoor market (I believe the name was San Pedro)...

I trailed along with the 5D and a 50mm f1.4 lens, looking for unique locals and images.

Photographing people in another culture is always a risky proposition, but almost always worth it. As this was an open marketplace, I mostly just shot from the hip or took pictures openly. Only two ladies declined to be photographed, but for the most part, I was just another crazy tourist. I did have one person approach me trying to get money for allowing a photo.

The overall scene was dark, but busy and colorful. This market had far more locals than tourists, which was great.

Backgrounds were busy and sometimes very distracting... but I still love the faces.

The old and the young... and the short depth of field of the 50mm made the busy backgrounds a bit kaleidoscopic.

A lot of the locals were in the market to grab a quick lunch or some fresh produce, meat and foodstuffs. Like cheese...

Some of the light coming from all different angles really brought out textures.. more cheese.

Some meat to go along with the cheese?

One more... the sellers in the booths were also creating new items as we shopped. Most of the booths were very dark, but as always, just look for the light!

OK, thanks for joining me for the journey...now go look for some photos!

Happy Shooting,

don j.