Friday, October 28, 2011

greek conference promo material

One of the recent photography projects I have worked on for Intervarsity includes these "Magazine Shoots" for Greek InterVarsity.  The idea being to promote Greek Conference this year with mocked up magazine covers highlighting the topics of this years conference.

The final product is now printed (on real magazine stock!) distributed, and up online to see.

The original, untouched shots. 

Simple white or grey paper backdrop with a Single Strobe as key light (shot through a 3'x3' scrim) and a Studio Strobe as background light above the subject (through an umbrella.)  And yes, we used a fan for the fmale subject to give lift to her hair.  That was Erik's job...and he did all the design and photoshop work too but boy were his fan skills utilized!


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

flying in a small plane

Heath and I bartered for his family portraits...well, our wives did at least.  Sarah had the brilliant idea that for an hour (or so) portrait session, I could go riding in Heath's plane for an hour (or so.)  I think I came out ahead in this one!

I have never flown in a small plane, and yes it was small: a 4 seater Cessna (I don't really want to call that a "back seat area" though, they were smaller the back seat of my old VW Bug from college.)  We were airborne before I really felt like we were at speed and climbing without the normal "slam-you-into-the-back-of-your-seat-acceleration" that is typical to a passenger jet.

I really thought we would be thrown around a lot by turbulence (or the wind for that manner) and except for a few times, it was really smooth.  It was also great to see places around town that I only know from the ground. From the air I felt like I could understand the scene I was looking at better, like I was looking at an object from more than one side at a time.

I did start to feel a bit queezy after about 30 minutes, now this was not all related to the movement of the plane but more so to the fact that I was looking in many directions (like to the side and behind me) through a narrow viewfinder and not looking up enough to get my barrings.  Lets just say that I took a lot less photos the second half of the trip.  But it was still amazing just to look.

I can see why this can be a great passion and addictive for many.  A while ago, Sarah said that I should try and find a new hobby that doesn't have to do with cameras or computers...would this count?

I had a ton of fun, would love to do it again (without the feeling sick part of course) and am thankful to Heath for the great ride!  


Monday, October 24, 2011

portraits - family of 6

Taking portraits of people is a lot of fun, and I will be honest, shows how much control I have over my subjects. I do not mean this too sadistically (mwhaahaahaa) but more that people actually listen to my suggestions and trust that I know what I am going to make them look good.  

This is not meant to make a point about my ego but to set up this portraits session as different: four young boys and a set of parents that know they only have limited control.  I adopted more of a formula that saught to capture candid moments more than pose the family.  To do this we walked around a park and reacted to what heppened.

My main goal when heading out to create portraits for the Johnson's was to try and get them all in one frame; smiling and generally looking like they tolerate each other.  I was able to fake a couple poses but for the most part it was more about jockeying my position to see each face.  It also helps to shoot a ton so that maybe all of their expressions would be on the pleasing side.

Looking back, I realize how much fun we all actually had.  At first they all tried to act like good little boys but soon they reverted to their fun ways of boyhood dominance, revelry, and survival...which is fun once you know you have a couple images in the bag and you can start taking more risks with your photography.

There is something mystical about being let into a family's space to capture their intimate and real lives.  I felt this with the Johnson's.  I guess this is proof that they opened up to me as well.  Thanks guys.


Friday, October 21, 2011

cedar campus promo video

Earlier in the summer, I was able to visit Cedar Campus; one of InterVarsity's Training and Retreat Centers in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  I will not go off on the beauty but let you just see it.  Here is the promo video for the Camp that we made:

This is actually one of the first videos that I have created that successfully used both stills and video as a story telling mechanism (well, other than when I have been forced to by lack of footage.)  Most of the time I am focusing on gathering video and telling the story, so I am not able to create good images, but this trip I also had Mike to capture video (including the cameras mounted to boats!) so I was able to dabble in both.  In this case, I feel the photos captured moments and showed the beauty that is different than video.  But the Video also captures an essence that stills can not...both are complimentary in this sense.

My favorite photos I took can also be seen here


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

you can tell they're sisters

When I was asked to create portraits of two sisters I jumped at the idea.  The day before I panicked.  I grew up with 2 brothers, and I was the middle child.  I have never done this, nor do I know what sisters do together.  So my wife came along to reassure me.

Here is a hint:  let them be themselves.  For this instance, it really helped that Sarah and I are already friends with Helen and Mimi, so they were were more likely to be natural.  Which I was thankful for.

For me, portrait photography is becoming less and less about how to pose people and more and more about how to let people be themselves. And if you think about it, you will never learn that in a photo book or at a photo is just people skills. And that is when they start having fun too.

Yes, knowing how the camera works, how it sees light, how to capture a scene...and yes a little bit of posing helps, but this is only one layer in a photo; the subject needs to reveal something about themselves for a great photo too.


Monday, October 17, 2011

more on story

During another trek to the Apple Orchard, I was presented with three moods of a friends son within a couple seconds.  I like each of the 3 individual photos, but there is something to having them as one...

Part of me wants to talk more about story (that original post here) and yet part of me just wants to enjoy these expressions.  I think there is something more intuitive to photo story telling.  Something to the fact that we are human we can relate to human emotions.  Something simpler (but also more complicated) than what can be explained in a detailed evaluation of the characteristics of each photo.  I wonder if we think about it to much, we would actually cheapen the photo.


Friday, October 14, 2011

camera button friday: how to photograph fall colors

The fall colors are starting to show...lets hope that enough pop at the same time to make it visible and that the winds don't get to excited and scare them all down.

How to shoot fall colors:
All other photographic techniques still apply (composition and exposure) when photographing fall colors, but there are also a couple tips for making the color look good in camera.  It is even more important here to take photos in good light, and to expose correctly for that light; morning are best (evenings are a second best) because the light is coming in at a sharp angle and not making shadows under the leaves that make for very contrasty photos. 

Overcast is great too, but like in all overcast days, don't include the sky.

Backlit leaves look great, but be carefull: a full tree of backlit leaves can sometimes look to dark, so focus on a couple leave at first and then see what more look like in the frame.

Ok, I know I said not to back light an entire tree, and normally it doesn't work, but here it did.  This is not normal for me.

Front lit leaves show the best color, and this is best when you want to show an entire tree or many trees.

Shadow behind leaves makes them pop, if you expose for the highlights and let the shadows go black.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

nature is more fun with others

Yes, fall colors are fun to photograph, but I much prefer the story of people enjoying nature than just nature itself.  For me a great scene is a starting point for the human story.

Hikes with friends, my favorite way to go.

In situations like this, exposing for the highlights is still the way to go...but with people adding to the scene, it is very easy to get frustrated with your exposure because people tend to stay more in the shade.  It is an interesting balance and many times has me frustrated because my subject looks great to my eye but the camera has a hard time with the shadows and the highlights.  I wish I had an overcast day for these times, but the sunlight was very beautiful.  Believe it or not, it is still possible to appreciate scenes that may not photograph well.