Feb 27, 2013

To the moon ...

Cold clear nights make rather detailed moon shots possible, even without a telescope.  A long telephoto and decent resolution camera can show you the craters and such.  Definitely use a tripod, manual exposure (or spot metering on the moon would work) and have fun.  It won't look like a telescope view, but fun anyway.

The moon is a lot brighter than you would think, so it is hard to find something to put in the frame unless you are in a city or etc. etc...   here are some great tips...

Feb 25, 2013

Monday Photo Roundup - Feb. 25

Feb 12-4966

Almost two months into 2013 ... I hope that is going well for you!  Are any of you ambitious enough to do a "365" or photo-a-day project?  If so, I would be interested in talking to you for a blog feature.

With Valentine's Day just behind us, love is still in the air, and brides are (hopefully) getting plans together for the big May-July wedding season.  Photogs, it is worth the 5 minutes to read, then re-read this nice article on what brides really want out of us personally, not just the images. (via @fstoppers)

While you are there.. a nice set of looks for bridal portraits using a minimal setup.

I saw very little of the Oscars last night, but it would be fun to make movie posters.  Chase Jarvis put up a nice collection from this year's nominees. 
My thoughts..  The bottom two Django Unchained posters my faves, followed closely by Beasts of the Southern Wild.  Lincoln and Les Mis are nice photographically, but just OK as posters.  Amour is a nice set of posters as well, but you almost have to have them together, or know the premise of them movie for them to click.  Silver Linings Playbook and Argo posters look like typical DVD cover material.  The life of Pi posters are ruined by seeing them both together.  Did they only have one picture of the actor and the tiger to work with for both posters?  Also, have you ever seen the ocean so smooth?

Wednesday night will be another Circle Meetups event at Weld, this time with Dave Onkels ... "Double your Price."

Finally!  How to be a happy photographer.

If you must shoot silhouettes, make them good.

Geek-a-riffic... Slow-mo video of how your camera shutter works.  It really is kind of violent.

Feb 22, 2013

Valentine's Day photobooth Setup

It really is true that after an event, wedding or otherwise, the only thing you really keep are the memories.  And the memories you keep best are the ones you have pictures of.  If it is done right, a fun photo booth can make an event memorable and add to the enjoyment of attendees.

While this photo booth setup is fairly simple, you do need a lot of lights for the look.  I used four strobes, all in various forms of softboxes with a Thunder Grey Seamless background.

Space was a bit limited, with an 8' ceiling and only about 12' wide area.  With that, I was still creating a bottleneck for traffic through an entrance.

At the back, I used Elinchrom 500ws Strobes in 2x2' softboxes at minimum power to create the rim and hair light that separates the subjects from the background paper.  Adjusting the angle of the softboxes also changed how much light was hitting the backdrop, giving it a nice gradient without a separate light.

In front, an Alien Bees ABR800 with the 56" "Moon Unit" octabox was the key light high and camera left. It was at 1/2 power.  On the right, as a strong fill light is an Alien Bees Einstein strobe in a3'x4' softbox.

Simple setup, but it is a lot of softboxes in a small space.
Photo booth setup

When shooting more than two people in the booth, getting a strobe in the shot was inevitable...

But with one or two, I like the results.

Remember, it isn't about perfection for each image.  There isn't time to customize the lighting for each subject.  Instead, a good general setup that will give good results and keep people moving through is the objective.

A couple of notes... Props make a photo booth more fun.  Giving people something to interact and be creative with helps them be more comfortable than just standing in front of a camera.  And if you make the props, make them matte finish or watch the reflections.

Another  consideration is how you trigger the flashes.  Most monolights have built-in slave triggers so that you would only need a radio trigger on one of them (or even us an on-camera flash as a trigger).  However, at some photo booths, people will use their own cameras to get a shot at the same time.  I have found it beneficial to go ahead and put radio triggers on all of the flashes to avoid having someone with a point-and-shoot popping the flashes.

I took the photos here, but another option is to set up a photo area and allow guests to take their own photos...

Be forewarned.  If there is a photobooth, someone will want to do a jumping photo :)

Feb 18, 2013

Monday Photo Roundup - Feb. 18


Having great subjects makes a  photo booth setup a lot of fun.  Especially if they are willing to play a bit.  It helps to have fun props to interact with as well.


Here is a great project ... Photos from Civil War reenactments done with large format pinhole cameras.  Makes for amazing and intriguing images.

Seems simple but ... Five things to make sure you have covered before a portrait session...

What makes 'professional' lenses superior?  It's all in the details.

Bad photography habits to break...  Guilty.

Lots of lists today ... Things to learn while shooting with your phone.

Photo inspiration for the week ... 2013 World Press Photo contest winners.

Strobist goes back-to-the-basics on balancing flash in a photo.

InFocus blog goes back 50 years.

And, photo fun in the car ... go out when it rains and focus on the rain drops on your windows.
Feb 12-4824

Feb 11, 2013

Monday Photo Roundup Feb. 11

The next edition of Kaufman County Life should be  popping up soon.  I will blog about making the cover image soon.  It was a fun one, playing with toys.

If you wonder about the power of good still photography to drive web traffic observe things like The Weather Channel's use of "30 Outdoor Photos you Won't Forget." Is it weather? Sort of.

Having a memory card fail would be a nightmare... here are some "health" tips for keeping cards in good shape.

I like this ... a Tumblr site calling out photogs who steal images for their websites.  Bottom line, if you didn't shoot it, don't try to make people think you did, or that you can. (via Photoshelter)

Winners from December in the SportsShooter monthly clips contest.  No I didn't win any, but it was the first time I got any votes (one second place and two third place).  In that company, it is a positive step!

Also on Sportshooter you will find several good "remembering 2012" posts.  I thought Gary Miller's take on some lessons from the year were very good.  Notably, the need for horizontal images for a web-based world.  Even in typically vertical shooting situations like basketball, horizontal images rule the web.

Have a great week!

Feb 4, 2013

Monday Photo Roundup - Feb. 4


A lot of Dallas press showed up for a U.S. Honor Flag ceremony honoring Kaufman County Assistant D.A. Mark Hasse, which presents a whole set of other photos to take, of local officials being interviewed.  I am glad to see that the story has received a lot of attention.  I also wonder how much of that comes from the current gun law debate.

Overheard ... "They can catch these guys and string them up right there on the flag pole."
Overheard dumb question from a reporter to the district attorney ... "Are you still actively looking for suspects in the case?"

Here are some tips on getting the most from older images (digital, film or print).

Do you have any subjects that you want to document for decades to come?  How about more than 30 years covering prisoner work details?

If you are trying to grow a photography business, this would be the contest to win.

Plot your spot to shoot the next full moon... it will be hard to top this.  Oh, and you will need some serious lens.

Also good... some tips for making your landscape images better...

Favorite SuperBowl commercial?  Mine was the Dodge Ram Paul Harvey 'Farmers' spot for a few reasons.  I am a sucker for sentimental sappy patriotic stuff anyway, but I was also a Paul Harvey fan.  The man simply knew how to tell a story, and he was an authentic and overwhelmingly decent guy.  Throw that together with some very nice still photos and it is golden.  Of course we find out that the concept was taken from a Farms.com YouTube video (obviously with a lower budget) post by ... I hope that the person who put together the first one is getting proper credit for it.  Here is the rest of the story about the ad.

And a few more from today...  I shot the event for the Kaufman Herald and assume they will put up a slide show of images at some point.

Translation - No one attacks me without being punished.


Have a great week.

Feb 1, 2013

Friday Featured Photographer - Sean Patty

I'll go a little different direction for this week's featured photographer... as in, way out west.  I happened upon West Texas Photo a few weeks ago and invited photographer Sean Patty to be seen on this side of the Lone Star State...

A quick browse through the galleries is all it takes to see that Sean likes beautiful western landscapes.  No surprise then that a love of the outdoors has inspired Sean's photography obsession.
"I have always enjoyed hiking and backpacking into the great outdoors," he said. "I wanted to begin capturing some of the beauty in the wilderness. I love landscapes and I love being on location, generally alone, and capturing a moment in time to share with others."

You can also see that Sean spends time processing some of his images for a stylized, almost HDR look.  He said that there isn't one particular look he goes for, but rather a look that he thinks suits each image.
"I’m not sure what my “’style” really is," he said. "For landscapes and some of my energy shots, I try to get a feel for that particular scene and then process accordingly. For some shots I go for a more surreal look while other shots will contain the perfect elements with only minor tonal adjustments. Maybe one day I’ll find a “style” to be known for. I use Adobe Bridge and CS5 software."

Sean's images of the Alamo raised my curiosity ... clearly this is not in San Antonio.  It is a good example of making the most of your photographic opportunities when you can.
"A few summers ago, I took my boys camping at Kickapoo Cavern State Park. Near this remote park were the remnants of the old John Wayne movie set for The Alamo," he said. "It was a wonderful opportunity to shoot the Alamo in an authentic setting. My understanding is the set is now closed to the public so I’m grateful to have gotten the shot."

While Sean's inspiration may come from the likes of Ansel Adams and other nature photography greats, he also ventures in to many other areas of photography. Here are a few other clips from his site that caught my eye.  I particularly like the Air Power gallery.

Sean also works for commercial clients around his home base in the Midland area.

Last thing... Sean is a Canon shooter, and he carries a versatile set of lenses for treks into the backcountry...

"I bought my first Canon Rebel over 5 years ago. Then I migrated to the Canon 60D and 2 years ago I purchased the full frame Canon 5D Mark II," he said.  "In my bag is my 5D Mark II, Canon 17-40mm, Canon 24-105mm and a Canon 70-200mm Zoom. I also carry a remote flash, ND & Polarizer filter along with a sturdy Manfrotto tripod."

Thanks Sean!