Saturday, January 26, 2013

Alyssa and the Gold Confetti (or how I spent my Sunday morning)

I had lunch yesterday with friends and we were talking about doing various photo projects. The subject of intentional lens flare came up, and I mentioned I had done something similar recently. Thought I'd post it on the blog. We've tried various backlighting ideas before in the studio with mixed results, honestly some really bad results. So this kind of thing really isn't for the faint of heart. This shot results from pure accident. It started out as an exercise in rear sync flash -- the idea was to drop gold confetti from above my model (here Alyssa), and slow the shutter speed down and rear sync the flash to get some motion blur in the falling confetti. I had envisioned a very subtle backlight, probably in a softbox and probably from one side. I figured the challenge would be the front light. As I was setting up a bare flash I did a test more for position since I was on a tripod, and I liked the effect. Alyssa wasn't even in the frame at this point. So I set up another identical flash on the other side and went to work. Lots of stuff going on here -- backlight, flare, falling confetti. What's interesting is that my assistant here was dropping the confetti between me and Alyssa, so during all 50-60 frames we did here, there wasn't one bit of confetti on Alyssa. I thought there would be more blur in the falling confetti -- something that still puzzles me a bit. Worth trying again though. Finals were 1/5 sec at f/22, SB900 in a large octa from camera right at full power, 2 bare SB800s in the rear at 1/8 power in SU-4 mode. So how did I spend my Sunday morning? Vacuuming up gold confetti.

Monday, January 21, 2013


The photo above was taken in late December. It's my second cousin, Alyssa -- who frequently models for me when I want to try out something new. She's an accomplished singer, so before I ventured off into my own tests, I wanted to do a heavily themed music portrait for her. The first idea was pretty simple: get a bunch of old sheet music and lay it out on the floor creating a background mosaic for her to lay on. To be honest, my idea was to have her laying flat on the sheet music and me shooting from above, but as she was getting into position I kinda liked the pose above where she is leaning to one side. I'm on a ladder about 3 feet above, 1/250 sec at f/7.1 at 32mm, light from a 36" Lastolite octa from camera right boomed above her (almost tabletopped), Lastolite Tri Grip with silver sleeve to the left just off camera to catch a little of the spill and fill the left side of the frame. You can see the light diagram here.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Parasol

Photo above was taken last month at Dickens on the Strand. This is Mary, who was working at one of the booths near the Steampunk Square off Mechanic Street. I believe it was Bob and I who first approached her about taking some photos. Hard to believe but the lush greenery in the background was a couple of palm trees near a parking garage. Mary said, as we were taking these photos, that her parasol was probably one of the few triangular ones she knew of. It made the shot, really -- the angle of the parasol arch with the tilt of her hat ... the greenery surrounding it and the blue goggles in the sea of warm tones. 1/125 at f/5.3, 100mm, light from an SB900 in a Fotoflex softbox from camera right.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Artist at the Renaissance Festival

This photo's been kicking around my computer for a while, couldn't really decide what direction to take it -- color, black and white, texture? I was at a loss. The image was taken at the Texas Renaissance Festival in November. We'd seen this fellow sketching the Gypsy Dancers when we were taking their photos. Later in the day, Doug, Brock and I approached him and asked if he'd pose for a couple of portraits. Really nice guy. He was sketching the dancers for a book he's working on. Found out he was from Seguin, Texas -- where I went to college. I think I may have been the last of our group to take his photo. I think Doug was holding the light, and maybe it's the fact that we've done this a few times, but Doug immediately dropped the light down to get it under the brim of his hat, and I figured I'd frame it tight and hope that the late afternoon light and the separation from the background might give a natural vignette. And it did. Ended up touching up a few light spots in the background, kept it color (I'm still not in love with the green), and added a really slight texture to the edge to make it a bit more organic. Finals were 1/125 sec at f/5.3, 92mm, light from an SB900 in a Photoflex softbox from low camera left.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Back to Flowers

With the awful weather we've had the past few weeks I've been revisiting an old project -- the floral macro series from a few years ago. I take these images indoors using a 50mm lens and an extension tube, which decreases depth of field causing the out of focus shapes and colors. 1/125 sec at f/2 with extension tube, light from two TTL SB800s in umbrellas from either side.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

2012 Portraits #3

Photo above was taken last spring in front of Old Red on the UTMB campus. I use this location a lot for group photos, and many times there are 15-30 people so the steps in front are about the only option for getting that many people into the shot. Another common thing is that to accommodate everyone's schedule, the shot has to take place at noon or some other time when the sun is high and light is really awful in this spot. Just so happened on this shoot, the best time for everyone was 7:30 a.m. So having some nice soft light to work with I moved the group of plastic surgeons about 40-50 feet away of the building and used the facade as more of a backdrop; also added a little fill flash from two SB800s in front (about 1/16 power each). Finals were 26mm, f/6.3, 1/125 sec; flashes triggered with the pop-up.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

2012 Portraits #2

Another portrait in the operating room -- this one a group of vascular surgeons taken in late August. Light from two SB800s in umbrellas from the front, triggered TTL by the camera pop-up flash; two SB800s hidden in the background triggered via SU-4 mode to add a little pop and rim light. ISO 200, 1/60 sec at f/9.5, 34mm.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

2012 Portraits #1

As we start the new year, I've been going through some images from 2012 that I'm thinking of adding to my portfolio. Here's one from June -- Houssam Younes, a UTMB Department of Surgery resident who graduated in July. Portrait taken in the operating room, 1/60 sec at f/8, on-camera SB900 with Rogue Flashbender.