Oct 31, 2010

FBC Fall Festival Quick Pics

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It is Halloween again, and once again it was time to play with some lighting tricks in the photo booth. Events like this, where hundreds of people are filing through, provide great opportunities to try new things with real pressure. ( last year's results)

For 2010 I decided to get a ringlight, which I had not used before. Dallas Camera's Alien Bees AB800 was out of commission so I got upgraded a Profoto Acute 1200 ringlight setup. Very cool, although I really need to spend more time with a ring to play with ratios and such.

First things first.... as you might expect, in a poorly lit room (big pupils) the ringlight is a red-eye monster. I should have expected that. Other than that (and needing more experience with it) it was a lot of fun.

The rim/separation light is two gridded Elinchrom bxri500 monolights.
Here are some pics

One of my favorites... a very sad clown
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Buzz and Woody
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There were lots of witches, but this one had a great expression and eyes for the costume.
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The Profoto ringlight is light and nimble enough to pull it off of the tripod from time to time.. like when kids are crawling around on the ground... fun stuff.
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There is no place like home...
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There were lots of Star Wars folks, but this guy is intense. And he has cool light sabers.
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Have a good week out there,

Don J.

Oct 16, 2010

Cross Country is fun (and exhausting)

I made it over to Samuell Farm in Mesquite for a high school cross country race this morning. While I don't know how this spot rates for runners, it was a lot of fun as a photographer. It was a big meet with lots of schools present, and the weather was perfect.

If anybody wants to know how I approach finding photo spots and the thought process for that, here is a quick run-through of the event.

Initially, I went to the starting line. Cross country starts are boring affairs, and this one had a freeway for a background. A little slow shutter panning made the photos look as jumbled as the real thing... this is 1/25 of a second.
Even with intentionally blurry shots, you need a focal point that is sharp. I was tracking the ladies from Rockwall Heath in the red uniforms.

I was happy to see Marcos Quintana and Andre Leighton shooting the event. They were helpful in showing me around the course a bit, thanks guys.

Closer to the finish, there were a series of loops that went out and came back to the middle of the property, giving opportunities to catch the runners at several spots without too much trouble.

First up, the runners coming into the nice early morning light... but terribly busy background with all of the team tents.

Looking left from there a nice old barn with a Texas flag had possibilities as a nice background, but it put the runners in spotty shade from trees. I like a few of the shots, but the lighting was just too inconsistent.

Shooting from closer to the course, the runners went through a nice bright spot with a shady tree background which I liked too, but it was hit or miss for runners getting into the light and me catching them there...

Just across the course, there was a low area that gave a good visual perspective without laying on the ground. From one angle, it was the runners coming around a corner and into the sunlight

And another angle looked through some trees, again with nice light. Just need to work on timing the runners in a good spot with more sky or something.

The finish was close by, and that is the place to go to get the emotional / drained / exhausted photos. I did not take any of those. Instead, I tried some slow-shutter stuff as the runners sprinted to the end. Next time I may spend time trying to catch the exhaustion in pictures.

The final races had no Terrell runners, so I started to wander around. At the far end of the course was a pond that the runners were going around. Reflections on the pond? Well, not exactly. The runners were on the pond dam about five feet above the water line. I still like the idea, but I could not get it to look like the picture in my head.


Meanwhile, that also placed the runners right above me as they went by (with some strange looks). I wonder if the yellow weed flowers are producing the pollen that is killing my head?

On the way out of there, I saw a red barn that seemed like a good background prop. It probably could have been too, but the runners were facing out of the sun by this point. Also, it was the last race and I was getting tired and hungry, so maybe next time.


OK, so... find good light and nice backgrounds and the photos make themselves (sort of)...

Have a great week everybody,

Don J

Oct 14, 2010



I was honored to be asked to photograph the THS Lady Tiger volleyball teams this year, with only one request from the coach. She wanted something "Different," especially for the varsity squad.

Last year they took pictures with flowers at the Dallas Arboretum, so I went the opposite route, looking for something a little bit rougher around the edges. The school maintenance facility had some nice surfaces for backgrounds including a loading dock, wooden fence and sheet metal siding, so I gave that a shot. The facilities director was super cool about it and even provided us with an extension cord. Thank you!

The varsity shoot was early in the morning to beat the bright sun. That said, by the time we wrapped up around 9:30 I was already using the lights cranked up to full power to compensate.


For the girls who wanted to do individual shots, the sun made a nice rim light as well.


Luckily for me, these girls were willing to put up with acting a little bit goofy for the camera.


Sometimes great things just happen during a shoot. This time, a gentleman parked across the street in a perfectly red classic Mustang. He obliged the ladies and let us include it in their photos, and the coach had the idea to fill the empty grill hole with volleyballs. That really made the shoot a lot more fun.


For the JV and Freshmen teams, it was a rapid-fire shoot in the gym during their athletics time. All told it was two team shots and some 21 individuals in about 45 minutes.

Even though it was in the gym, I still wanted a different look than you typically get from sports photos.

For the teams, I tried using the floor reflection, which turned out (I think) kind of neat.


I took some team photos closer as well to save detail in the players, but I like the reflection.

For the individuals, I used a large "T" that is made into the bleachers as the background. The subjects are lit with a 3x4' softbox pretty close to camera left and a silver reflector on the other side of the net to camera right. A separate light is on the background, which is at least 50' away.



This is in a fully lit gym. To kill the ambient light, I used a low ISO (100) and high-ish shutter speed (1/200). Here is what it looked like without the background light.. if I had flagged off the main light from the background, it would be totally black.


Obviously, too much fun. Thanks to the volleyball ladies for asking me to do this. This is what you will be showing your grandkids in 40 years!

Tech info.. these were lit with Elinchrom bxri500 and bx400 lights fired by skyports.

Don J.