Thursday, December 27, 2012

The following pictures were taken using two Alien Bees B800 flash units. One on either side of the subject. The gradient in the background is caused by the light falloff from the flash units. Photoshop was applied to change the color and contrast of the images. Since I was curious about ways to add my logo ,they were superimposed on the images. The main purpose of this shoot was to experiment with different ways to light an image for dramatic effect. I hope anyone who views these images can appreciate the initial attempt. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

This picture includes some clothing accessories. The image represents style, class and distinction. One Alien Bees B800 at 1/16  power was used to light the images. It was shot with a Canon T2i using the 40mm pancake lens.F-stop was between 2.8 and 5.0. The shutter speed was about 1/80.

It has been a while since I made a post. This is mainly due to various shoots that I felt where not inspired. However, that is no excuse. There is no success without failure.

Anyway, since I have a few days of free time, I decided to spent as much time as possible shooting. Today, was a good day for indoor shooting. I decided to revisit high speed photography. This time a different  background was used. These shots were taken between f9 and f11. ISO 100 at around 1/250. Also, the Canon pancake lens was used for these shots. I've only had the pancake lens for a week. So, I am still getting use the the lens and identifying its strength and weaknesses. So far I am happy with its performance. It is compact, sharp, and lightweight. It tends to hunt for focus a little more than my  L series lenses. but, only a bit.       

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

I have always been fascinated by the potential of HDR. For those who are not familiar with HDR, HDR stands for high dynamic range. In short, when you take a picture the amount of information that can be captured in the image is limited by the sensor and its ability to capture the detail in the highlights and the shadow areas. The purpose of HDR is to get that information back.  Usually a photographer learns the limitation of his or her equipment and shoots within the limitations of the medium. Personally, I have used 8:1 and 4:1 contrast ratios for artistic effect. I blow out the highlights on purpose or use extreme contrast in post. When shooting portraits I prefer strobes to natural light because of the control I gain. Regardless to your method of shooting, the only way to get  for detail and color information is to use HDR.

Before I say anything else about HDR, let's make on thing clear. HDR is a tool. It will not make a crappy picture good. Only practice, study and dedication will help you take great pictures. Matter of fact, if you use HDR with no ideal on what your doing, you can make a good picture look like crap. So since this is my first attempt at it, I an being a bit conservative. I am sure I can bring out every single detail, but that is not my goal. My goal is to give my still life and architectural shots a little pop. As I get more comfortable I may push the images a little further. For now, I'm gonna take it slow.

HDR is usually accomplished by taking several shots of the exact same scene at different exposures. Essentially this is called bracketing. Cameras like the Canon 7D and Canon 5D Mark III have this function. Unfortunately, the Canon T2i doesn't. Fortunately if you run Magic Lantern software on your media you can gain this feature. I don't recommend bracketing manually, unless you are extremely steady and know that you can change the exposure (+/- EV) without moving the camera. Back to business. You should take one image overexposed about two stops, one underexposed about two stops and one shot properly exposed. You can use as many images as you like to create a HDR image. But, I think three shots are plenty. The rest is done in post. This can be done with programs like Photoshop and Photomatix. Just Google HDR processing and find what works for you. There are lots of tutorials and recommendations from the pros.    

The images I took where composed of three shots (2 stops apart). I used a Canon T2i, a 12-24mm Tokina lens and a tripod. I triggered the flash using the 2 sec timer on the camera. The camera was in AV mode with a neutral picture style. I'm sure that my images will improve as my skill increases. However, I think it is important to share now. The way a novice becomes an expert is by not being afraid to take criticism and not being afraid to try new things. So please share your opinion and your wisdom.

Here are my first two true high dynamic range  (HDR) shots.....   

Sunday, October 7, 2012

This is a continuation of the last blog entry. I combined one of the smoke images from earlier with two images of a gas mask purchased for a photo shoot. I thought the image came out looking like an obscure heavy metal album cover. So, I am posting it on my blog. I hope you like it as much as I do.

At the start of the day I expected to shoot some glamour shots for a model. However, after receiving a last minute cancellation, a change of plans was in order. Since my equipment was already set up, I decided to revisit smoke and water (splash/ stop motion) photography.

The first attempt at smoke photography was a good. However, I continually had to bump up the exposure in post just to get a decent image. Also, the levels has to be adjusted to keep the background black. So this time the strobe was increased to 1/8th power and the background was moved back 3 feet. By doing this, a cleaner image was  obtained. The next thing to do is to become more creative in post and use the smoke in creative portraits.

Here are the new attempts:

The first attempt at water photographer included using vegetables, a fish tank and a lot of water. This attempt involved less water, one strobe and a reflective surface. The purpose of the first attempt was to capture the motion of the water as the vegetable broke the surface. This time the goal was to capture the motion of the water as a single drop breaks the surface of the pool. As always, critical focus was difficult to obtain. However, I am certain that with practice the images will improve in sharpness and clarity.

(Note: Be careful what you use to bounce the light. It will show up in the surface of the water.)

Here are new attempts:

The same settings I used in the first attempts with smoke and water photography were used this time, except were indicated. The important thing to remember is that f-stops between 8 and 13 make critical focus easier. Also, manual focus should be used when ever possible (Being able to make fine adjustments to your focus can make a world of difference).

Sunday, September 16, 2012

For those who do not know, Peter Hurley is a phenomenal head shot photographer. Here he is given, what I think is, the greatest tip I've ever heard for shooting a great head-shot.  Now that I have seen this, I have no excuse for taking head-shots or doing portraits that make the subject look corpulent. 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Well I'm suppose to do a couple photo shoots in the upcoming weeks. So I wanted to play with my light kit and think out my lighting scenarios. Since I didn't have a subject, I just took my own picture. These were shot with a Canon t2i and a 24 to 105mm L lens (45mm) at F9.0 (ISO100).  I used 2 Alien Bees B800's at 1/4 power with soft-boxes to defuse the light.  

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

After watching a tutorial by PhotoExtremist  Evan Sharboneau, I decided to try High Speed Photography. I must admit, this type of photography requires careful planning. Not only do you have to make sure that your camera is properly setup, you have to spend a good amount of time setting up the shot. Now, I have done shoots that require some set up time. So, I was fine with the process. However, if you are the kind of person who prefers to do point and shoot photography, this may not be for you.

I used a similar setup to the one used by Evan Sharboneau in his youtube tutorial. I just used my kitchen instead of a garage and a bowl to get the water in a the fish tank instead of a hose. Overall, I am pleased with my first experience and will definitely work on refining my technique. A few of the shoots I took are listed in this post.  They were shot with a Canon T2i and a Canon 50mm f1.8 lens at f14. I used two AlienBees B800 flash units at 1/32 power. ISO at 100. 

If you want to see the  tutorial I followed, just go click the following link: High Speed Photography Tutorial

Saturday, August 4, 2012

 Today I tried a few of new things.

1) I decided to let it fly. I usual need to compose every shot. Because of this, I often miss shots. This is something that is tolerable when I have time to compose a shot. For instance, when I'm shooting a model or I will be able to visit a location several times.I can redirect a model or visit the location until everything falls in place. However,it is not good to miss shots when its a once in a life time shot.  So, I am trying to become more instinctive. See the shot and take it, particularly when I'm taking doing street photography, shooting at a remote location or I have a paid shoot with strict time restrictions. 

2) I don't usually shoot random things. I look for art, not simple beauty. Yet when I get home and see these type of shoots, I am often drawn to them. I admire the photographers ability to find the beauty in what is often considered mundane. So I am coming down off my high horse and opening my eyes. My theory is that if I look at everything I will increase the chance of capturing those once in a lifetime gems. 

3) Becoming more open minded about the color, texture and style of my photographs. I tend to gravitate toward certain looks. This may seem fine. But by doing this I run the risk of making all my pictures look the same. So, I will try at least 8 new looks. Today I focused on a muted look. Although the images I took are not going to win me any awards, they are the forerunner to more expression and creativity. 

4) Last but not least. I will work on getting out of my own head. Our greatest detractor is our-self. So I will stop worrying about other peoples opinions of my work. I can and will accept constructive criticism, as I always have. But, I will not let it stop me from taking risks. There is no growth without risk. 

Anyway here are a few shots. Just the city in action. Shot in daylight with a Canon T2i and a Canon 24-105mm f4 L lens (around 200 to 400 ISO). Looks were applied on a iMac using aperture. No special plugins.   


Sunday, July 29, 2012

OK. This was a weekend of experimentation. I have always been interested in smoke photography. But, I have never had the patience to attempt it. Well, that changed this weekend. I used a basic setup. Black foam core background, a light source to give me something to focus on and an alien bee 800 watt strobe set a its lowest power setting (1/32). I then lit a few incense sticks and began shooting. I was using a Canon 24-105mm /4 lens on a T2i with the ISO at 100 and the f-stop at around f10. I learned quickly that the magic happens in post. My first attempt was merely a collage of color (created by creating multiple layers in Photoshop and changing the hue).

Here is my first attempt:

After I saw how it was done and realized that extreme manipulation is expected when doing this type of photography, I decided to use my imagination. My second attempt is a bit more elaborate.

Here is my second attempt:

Overall I like my initial results. Each image has its own charm.

The most important thing to come from this foray into smoke photography is that I gained another weapon. I will definitely use smoke photography to augment other times of photography I am interested in. I will also use it to expand my creativity and broaden my imagination. If you haven't tried it, I recommend it.

Monday, July 9, 2012

I thought this was a interesting image. I did quite a bit of color processing to give it a hard yet detailed look. This was shot with my 12-24mm Tokina lens at F4, ISO 200.   

Saturday, July 7, 2012

I think this is the most important information I have learned about my rights as a photographer EVER.
I thank Mr. Speier ,as well as B&H, for providing this amazing insight. I hope you learn as much as I have. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

This is my first time shooting "night time" photography. So I have a vast amount of room for growth. However, I thought that I would share my first fruits. These pictures were taken on Broad street in Philadelphia with a 12-24 mm Tokina Lens at F11, ISO 100 , shutter a 10 seconds.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


A favorite pastime of mine is cruising. It is relaxing, peaceful and an opportunity to commune with my creator. It also presents a opportunity to shoot a few pictures. I wish I could tell you the camera settings; but, it was vacation and things like conscious thought are not allowed on vacation.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Here are a couple more shots. One from Philadelphia  near 30th street station (shot with a 28mm sigma prime). 
The other shot at King's Wharf, Bermuda with my 12mm to 24 mm Tokina lens.  

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Spring is in full effect. The fountains are being turned on. The birds and bees are being "birds and bees".Time to break out the 28mm to 200mm and shoot at f9. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

While moving around some files,I found a picture of a friend that I lost last year. I thought it was only right to add him to the blog. Rest In Peace Tony.You are Missed.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Went to the Flower Show to get a couple shots. The theme was Hawaii. I must admit. I liked Paris better. But, I digress. I thought I would share. I had to shoot at a ISO of 800 just to get a usable image. These were shot at around 4.0f using a 70-200mm lens.I recommend going. Every photographer should learn to shoot in high pressure situations why being mauled by a group of people taking pictures with their cell phones.