Friday, March 21, 2008

Spring time model mayhem!

Ahhh, the sweet smell of spring has come to the town of Rockford and it's time to get out and shoot!

I've locked myself away in the studio for the last 4 months shooting model photography and learned a lot while having a great time. You've seen my new toys I've built as well as watching my photography skills get honed. I'm not much of an indoor person the outdoors is where I belong so any opportunity I have to shoot outdoors I will take it. With that in mind I've been shooting as much outside as possible and have had some wonderful success from all the things I learned in the studio.

Here are a few examples of that success I was blabbing about:

Thats just a taste of what I've started shooting. I went out yesterday and had the time of my life shooting with my new favorite model Anna Wang. This girl is amazing and such a character... oh gosh. She is definitely the one person I've probably had the most fun shooting and it had nothing to do with the great pictures that came from the shoot, but the fact that she is just so much fun to be with. The poor girl woke up super early to get to Rockford and was still an enjoyable person. I think we honestly shot for 4 hours non-stop and talked the entire time.

A little background on Anna is in order. She is a singer/songwriter from Madison, WI that has the looks and the voice people. When I first found her on a modeling website she had a link to her music and OMG is she good. Just a stunning voice from such a young girl is amazing. I even had my own personal show at my house while we picked out the good images from the shoot together. If you want to hear her music you have to check out her site at because it's totally worth it. From what I hear she is working on a CD and I'll be one of the first people to get one (I better get one right away Anna, or else) and I'll put up a small review when I get the chance to.

I had originally planned to shoot indoors in the studio with Anna, but the weather outside was too perfect to pass up. On such a beautiful day you can't pass up getting out there in the field and snapping off 400 pictures! We traveled to three locations and got pretty dirty in the process, but it was well worth it folks.

I'm already planning on shooting with Anna again real soon because it's so much more worth shooting with someone you can have fun with then someone who is a drip and you get bored in 10 minutes. The next shoot will most likely be along the lines of my more typical style of shooting at night and lighting it up real cool-like, but we will see. Anna seems pretty much down with anything and as long as I find something for her to climb she is happy so I guess it's time to drive around town looking for those special locations.

I'd like to thank Anna for her time and effort as well her her stunning personality. It's tough to find people like Anna and anytime you get to spend with someone so happy and joyful is worth every second. You just feel so much better as a human when the people around you are happy so if you ever get the chance surround yourself with happy people because it's good for your health. I'm so excited for the next shoot that I may actually have things figured out way ahead of time. How crazy is that folks?

Well, back to business, but I'll leave you with a few more pictures to look at from my shoot with Anna and if you want to see more of her modeling work check out her site at Model Mayhem and also on my website at Photography 2.0 .

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Capturing the essense of life!

Hey Everyone!

It's been a while since I've made a video and I had my laptop downstairs in my mock studio and decided to video my technique on water droplets.

I'll go ahead and just show you the video and then I'll put this into words so it gets a little more simplified.

I know the quality sucked, but all I had this time was a 1.3MP webcam that I paid $40 for and it shows. You can make out the important stuff and if you can't here is the essay:

Basic Setup:
-Clear tub filled with cold water (hot water isn't as clear)
-Two strobes (hotshoe flashes would be best)
-Two light stands
-Tripod with a good head (I prefer gripshift, but don't go buying stuff just for this)
-Wireless triggers (Pocket Wizards are what I use, but you can substitute Cactus triggers if that is what's available)
I use three Pocket Wizards for my setup but you can sub one for a cable release
-Coloured gels (pick something fun like blue, red, purple)
-Water dropper... well, anything you can find that drips a constant drop of water will work. I use a medicine bottle with a built in dropper
-A harness for your dropper (I used a wrench held onto a lightstand, but wire or a clamp of some sort would also work)
-Counter top

Ok so for the setup just suspend the main light from a lightstand pointed straight down into the pool of water. I use a Kalt electronic slave trigger to send my PocketWizard trigger to my flash. Mount the PocketWizard using the supplied PC cable (you may sub in the Cactus Ebay receivers here). Move the flash up so it's about 3 feet from the pool of water, turn it on, and set to about 1/8 power.

Get your second light and set it to optical slave and about 1/16 power and attach any coloured gel of your choice to the flash.

Get your camera on a tripod nice and low to get a good even shot on the water that will eventually come down. Don't worry about focusing just yet as we haven't setup the dropper. Attach a PocketWizard to the hotshoe of your camera and attach a camera trigger cable from the PocketWizard to your camera (this will vary from camera to camera).

Place your dropper into your light stand harness contraption and watch the drips fall. Adjust your camera so everything is oriented in a pleasing manor and adjust your focus as best you can.

Grab you third PocketWizard (sub in a cable release here) and begin to time the drops with fake trigger presses. When you're confident about the timing go ahead and start shooting until you fill up your memory card and watch your display to make sure things are focused and the timing is spot on. It will take some time to master but you'll find yourself getting keepers all the time with enough practice.

Here are the results:

Thursday, February 7, 2008

$50 16" Ring Light! Brilliant!

Welcome and good day to you. I've been working at this ring light for about a week and have it all finished and taken some awesome photos with it already. You just have to love that massive circular catchlight it creates and the nice soft even lighting. Strobist has been a big influence on me and when I saw an image from the last Seattle meet up I just had to build this. So thank you Strobist and thank you everyone at ACE Hardware here in town for putting up with me and my crazy ideas.

Here is a shot with 5 minutes of photoshop applied to give it that grunge look from the newly constructed ring light and the background was a Pentax AF540 diffused and gelled for visual pop.

So now that you're drolling you'd probably like to hear how I built this and what supplies you need. It's actually really really really simple so bear with me for a little bit and I'll hopefully entertain you on the way.

Supplies needed from the hardware store:
1 40W 16" Circline Fluorescent bulb $14.99
1 40W Ballast for said light bulb $12.99
2 Twist on wire connectors $.29 each
1 3 Prong Plug $1.99
5 Feet of 16 gauge 3 prong cable (I like black so go with black)$.69 a foot
1 2'X3' Sheet metal $10.99
3 U-bolts (fits around the bulb) $1.99 each
2 Short bolts and nuts to attach ballast $.15 a set

Supplies you hopefully have:
Duct Tape
Wire cutters
Tin Snips
Box Cutter
Power drill with appropriate drill bits (I believe 5/16's is what I used)
Black sharpie

How to assemble all this... well, it's pretty much one way to do this and most of you have already figured it out, but in case you haven't here is the rundown.

Basically you start with making the plug so you can give this baby the juice it needs to power up. You strip both ends of your electric cable and remember Black = hot, White = cold, and Green = ground. So you take apart your 3 prong plug and attach the bare wires to the appropriate node (ground is always the bottom one so start there). We now use the twist on wire connectors to splice the white cable from the ballast to the white wire of your plug and do the same for the black wires. The green wire is ground so you need to mount that to the metal shell of the ballast.

Ok, now onto the sheet metal. I cut the sheet down to a 24" square with said tin snips. I then measured the exact center of the square and drew in a smaller square, using the sharpie, with a length of 8 inches on each side for my lens to shoot through. Whip out your drill and your ballast and bulb. Basically line everything up where you'd like it to be on the sheet metal, I choose ballast on the bottom and bulb directly in the center. I marked the two holes on the ballast with a sharpie, then where I placed the bulb I laid out two U-bolts at the top for stability and marked the points with the sharpie. Now remember to have the bulb placed so the 4 prong wire can attach to it so don't go building this all upside-down and come hunt me down. Drill all your holes and also the four corners of your smaller square that you'll be shooting and also the very center of that square. Now I also drilled 2 holes at the top center for a third U-bolt to mount to a reflector holder, but your option for mounting the ring light will depend on your needs.

Ok, so now we need to do the hard part and also the time consuming part if you want it too look good. Use your tin snips to cut out square and my technique was to cut from the center hole we drilled to each of the corner holes. This way we cut off four small triangles with room for our snips to wiggle through. The Duct tape comes in handy now because these edges will be very sharp and almost dangerous to a point. I folded the duct tape over every exposed edge that way my model, camera and even myself.

So close now and you know it. Basically mount your ballast to the sheet metal, connect it to the bulb, attach your U-bolts to hold the bulb and your done. Now plug this bad boy in and you have an amazing ring light that will give you that grunge look you've been looking for. For added flavor you can use ultra flat spray paint on the back to make it look more professional, but I'd leave the front the way it is cause it helps reflect some of the wasted light.

Other modifications:
Well, the best one is adding a switch on to your cable so you can turn it on and off instead of having to plug it in and out all the time. You can purchase a switch for about $3.99 and they are simple to install, but remember that black = hot.

To make this sturdier purchase a 4' drilled metal strip in the hardware section. You know it's a flat piece of metal with holes every inch. Well cut that in half and use bolts to attach to the very edge of your ring light assembly to beef it up without a significant weight increase.

Anything else is up to your imagination.

I hope you go out and make one cause I'd love to see everyones results!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

How-to: Bar and Nightclub tips and tricks

Well, I spent 5 years of my life shooting in bars and nightclubs and I want to share my tips with you.

I'm diggin this whole online video age so I'll start off with the two part series of video (went over that 10 minute max) and I'll show you some of the results.

Part One:

Part Two:

Some of the results:
16mm; f4.0; 1/40; ISO 200

16mm; f4.0; 1/10; ISO 200

16mm; f4.0; 1/10; ISO 200

16mm; f4.0; 1/8; ISO 200

16mm; f4.0; 1/5; ISO 200

16mm; f4.0; 1/5; ISO 200

16mm; f4.0; 1/6; ISO 200

16mm; f4.0; 1/4; ISO 200

Well I really hope you enjoyed the videos and the list of images. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave them!
I finally got YouTube to work and made an easier to view file for everyone who has firefox. This video is much smaller and won't kill a slower internet connection, plus it's on YouTube!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

K10D: Whats in your Bag? Codiac2600

Hey everyone, hope you enjoyed the instructional video on how to change your focusing screen. I decided to do a more personal video here just on what I generally carry with me on a typical day. The only other things besides whats in the video that I may swap is if it's a portrait shoot with a model(s) I'd take out the Tamron 70-300 and put in my Pentax DA* 50-135mm 2.8 but I like the reach of the 70-300 for nature work. Please comment me and let me know if these videos are of high enough quality and also what else you'd like to see videos on. I'll hopefully have a whole series of these ready for you all shortly so be ready.

On to the video:

K10D: Changing your focusing screen!

Video Coming Soon!