Recent shoots

A few weeks ago I was approached to shoot a few photos that would be featured in a calendar for my friend.  I shot the photos that would appear in three of the months.  Here is a behind the scenes look at two of those photographs.

The first photograph was meant to be a film-noir style.  The recipient of the calendar is a big comic book fan.  So we wanted to turn our friend into a villain.  


We shot a few different looks before settling on this.  My original plan was to use two accent lights to create the look of police lights reflecting off the background.  It wasn’t working too well, so I blended the two together to make the purple splash.  The key light on the subject was a Canon 430 EXII with two CTO warming gels.  This was placed on a stand, down low.  This also threw the shadow on the wall, which I think really added to the mood of the photo.  I had to drag the shutter (1/10th) to get the light from the lighter.

The second shot was for the recipient’s brother.  He’s a pretty big Notre Dame football fan, so we wanted to incorporate that.  I wanted to make it look like he was on the field, coaching, so I used two lights up high, pointing right at that camera.  I stopped down to f/22 to give the lights a “starburst” effect.  The key light was my 430 EXII through a white umbrella, just outside of the frame.


New Project: Game Face

This is my first ongoing project, and to keep it simple, it will be a family project of sorts.

My brother is a HUGE BMX fan.  I mean he goes to work, comes home, rides his bike.  And he’s pretty good.  I figured getting some good shots would help us both.  I could add to my portfolio/experience and he would get some pictures to use for promotions etc…  It’s also a good way for me to combine two of my favorite things in photography: action and off camera lighting.

Here’s the setup for the first few pictures.  Canon 430EXII, half power through the umbrella.  Exposure was 1/250s, f/4.0, ISO 200.  You can see my custom battery pack for the speedlight dangling off the umbrella.Image:

That yielded this:

Next I moved the light to camera left and extended the light stand to its full 7 feet.  Here’s my favorite from that sequence.

You can find more pics from this first shoot here:

Game Face: A BMX Project

I’ll be adding more pictures as the project progresses.  The park has a few ramps, so we’ll be able to get some more dramatic aerial shots.

Just a quick update

Since school is over, I haven’t been shooting for the newspaper.  I’m just shooting for my own enjoyment now.

From Ringing Rocks County Park in Upper Bucks County

My dad got tickets to see the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins vs St Johns Ice Caps playoff game on Tuesday.  My press pass got me in with my 17-70 f/2.8-4.0 lens.

And finally, a few picks from Lenape Park here in town.

I thought the swing/slide picture was kinda creepy.  It was set off to the corner of the park and wasn’t easy to get to.



Night Time Flashing

With my 430EXII of course.  I tried to find a place far enough away from civilization so as not to bother anyone with a full power flash going off near their house.  That said, there were some houses across the street, hope they didn’t care.

I wanted to try some back lighting tonight, which is a look I’ve never used before.  So I drove around my hometown today, found a big tree in a field, and set up.

The almanac said to expect sunset around 7:50PM, so I got there a little early.  I ended up with the flash on a light stand, just behind the tree.  The stand was raised so the flash was pointed into the middle of the leaves, shooting through an orange gel at about 1/2 power.  I shot wide open at f/2.8 to give the flash a little easier job of lighting the tree.  Then I picked a shutter speed to give me the exposure in the sky I wanted.  The result is:


Before I left, I noticed this field roller.  I wanted a wide, close in shot with a warm main light.  The flash was shot through an umbrella and a green gel, 1/4 power about 10 feet to my left.  A 15 second exposure got me the ambient sky I wanted.  I kept the white balance on the warm side on purpose.


Playing with Light

I guess it’s about time I started using this again.  Since my last post (which was a long time ago!), I’ve returned to school.  Since January, I’ve been taking classes at Penn State Harrisburg.  I joined up with the newspaper there, so now I have a nice shiny press pass.  I’ve shot various campus events including sports.  Well yesterday I photographed the SGA Club Awards Banquet.  This was my first opportunity to use off camera flash, as inspired by Strobist.

First, the gear:
Canon Rebel XS
Sigma 17-70 f/2.8-4.0 OS HSM Macro
Canon 430EXII speedlight
Promaster triggers

The event was held in a banquet room in the Capital Union Building.

I’d say probably about 30 yards from the back of the room to the podium.  The exposure for this picture was 1/40 f/6.3 at ISO 800. It’s still pretty dark.  Sure I could have opened the lens up, but I wanted plenty of DOF for the group shots.  Enter the flash.

Pardon the white balance.  I had the WB set for when the flash would be firing.  I’m just trying to illustrate the setup for now.  Moving on, the flash was set to full power, 70mm zoom and bounced into the ceiling.  This gave good even coverage and helped keep shadows down behind the podium. If I didn’t bounce the light, the shadows were horrible.

Final exposures needed a bump to ISO 1600 as the flash batteries started to die.  A little NR and they look pretty good.  I may build an external battery pack using R/C car batteries (oh the life of an electrical engineer).

So what could I have done differently?  I would have liked to try clamping the speedlight to the ceiling, but I don’t have any clamps made up yet.  That would have saved me some power and I could have brought the ISO down even further.

After the banquet, I did some group shots off to the side.

R.I.P. Steve Jobs

There are no photos with this post, only a “tribute” to a true visionary.  Steve Jobs’ vision and talent has changed the world in ways that many people fail to see.  As an engineer and a user of many Apple products, the news of his passing has hit me harder than I thought.  I hope to some day work for a person that shares his passion for revolutionizing the way we go about our lives.  His ability as an artist and an engineer have led to great things.  Surprisingly, President Obama summed up Steve’s legacy very well, and I’ll leave you with that quote.  RIP Mr. Jobs.

“The world has lost a visionary. And there may be no greater tribute to Steve’s success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented.” – President Barack Obama.

It’s another left turn!

Yes, I love NASCAR.  Yesterday (well, actually two days ago now!) was the AAA 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Race at Dover International Speedway.  Now this is far from my first live NASCAR event, but it was my first at a small track such as Dover which is only a mile long.  I’m used to the 2.5 mile super speedway that is Pocono Raceway.  Although I love Pocono, Dover has it beat by a mile (pun intended).

The weather was rather overcast which presented a bit of a challenge considering my zoom lens is rather slow.  Luckily the skies brightened up and I was able to shoot with my 18-55mm lens for most of the day.  I did end up switching to the 50mm since I found myself using the long end of the lens anyway.  Plus since it’s smaller, it worked better in the crowded grandstands.  As always, here’s a few of my favorite pictures from the day.  And you can always find the entire gallery at my SmugMug!