Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Holiday Baby!

I couldn't resist quickly posting my favorite shot of a little guy I met this past weekend. I made the hike to Reading where my friend Stacey dwells whereupon I was introduced to the following character:



His name is Mason. He's about afraid of me and my camera as dogs are of bones, and is quite possibly the cutest little ham I've photographed ever...Well besides my newphews. Ok I am bias, sue me. :)

The couple who's responsible for my new main man Mason, was super nice and I was pleased as Stace reported they were happy with the body of shots I sent their way.

That's all for now. Possible interesting stuff coming up, I've got some ideas over my little Christmas vacation...Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

2010 Alaska Photo Contest Finalist

Today I learned that I was a finalist in a large photo competition that Alaska's tourism site holds. I knew that the competition was being judged around now, so I took a look to see what what up.

I don't enter many competitions, so this is encouraging. Better luck next time though :)

Here's the photo that placed:


Here is the winner and finalists:
http://www.alaskatravel.com/photo-contest/

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Introductions are in order.

The holidays are usually a very busy time of year for me and, well, probably most everyone. This business can adversely effect my photography, and thus the ol' photoblog.

Fear not readers, I have decided that I needed a co-host to this blog in order to keep up with regular postings. Without further adieu, I give you the new contributor/photographer to Hypengyophobia: "Ace"



Since Ace is too small to use a keyboard without treating it like a game of hopscotch, I will be taking most of the responsibilities for the text-related portions of his content. Ace was kind enough to get himself from the airport (above) over to my house where he will be staying/vacationing and seeing the sights and wonders Massachusetts and beyond has to offer.

He got off to quick start once he arrived. Whipping out his Canon .005D camera and hitting all the local tourist traps:



Ace took a keen interest in the local wildlife. I cautioned him about the inherent dangers of this, but he insisted on sneaking up to snap a few pics:



I quickly found that my small and plastic friend had a knack for getting himself into trouble:



Things got a bit heated between us after this incident. I am going to have to set some ground rules about where his is allowed to venture during his stay:



Anyways. That's all for now. I will still be attempting to progress through my normal experiments and traditional photography, but be on the lookout for further updates from Ace, as he continues to explore and discover.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Stacking Photos: You're doing it wrong.

So...North Conway was great. I went up for a weekend getaway with Andrea and the pup. (The hotel we stayed at was wacky, awesome, and allowed pets. Good times.)

I also was hoping to utilize northern NH's darker skies to try more star-trail type shots in a more astronomically-brilliant kind of setting.
That didn't work out so much...But I continued to screw around with new methods. Mostly to no avail. I did come up with the below shot. Which, in all of it's unrealistic glory, still looks kind of neat.

More experimenting soon. I will get this right, I swear. :)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Time lapse and stacking

Night Photography Attempt #2 - Quickie Post

Tried the stacking technique on a night exposure. about 150 frames over 20 minutes, stacked. Time-lapse of the frames is linked below the pic.

I need more practice, but this is my 2nd attempt at this kind of night exposure, and 1st attempt stacking. Bear with me :)



Recommended viewing of photo:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/34578262@N05/5202556717/

Time Lapse: (try Flickr link for better viewing)

video

flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/34578262@N05/5202553485/

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Night Creature

I've always been completely fascinated by what some photographers can capture at night, especially with no artificial lighting whatsoever. Quite frankly a lot of the photos I see make me very jealous of what they are able to do.

So, if you can't beat them, join them!

My wife made me aware of an upcoming meteor shower that was to take place that night, and should be visible if the skies were clear. I live in an area with substantial light pollution, so only on the clearest of nights can you see the stars well. As the meteors would be best visible and active in the dead of night (around 3-4:00am)I checked the weather, and conditions looked promising. Making all the necessary preparations, I set myself up to wake up at 4:00, take an hour long exposure, while I slept, and wake up again at 5:00 to stop it before the 90min before sunrise mark (which is enough light to completely wash out the stars).
When I woke up, everything went according to plan, the sky was crystal clear and there was very little wind. I set up, and ran back to bed for another hour...or so I thought.
My alarm, for reasons not clear to my brain at the time, went off at 6:00 and I could see it was already getting much brighter out. I scrambled downstairs to see if the exposure was ruined. Yes. The whole thing was completely pink, with no stars, and definitely no meteors.*
I was not happy....and there may have been a few choice words uttered on my way back up to bed.

I kind of stewed about it throughout the day, and told myself I'd make it up by taking some good photos on my upcoming trip to the white mountains. However, Andrea convinced me to give it a go again, on the off chance the meteors were still around, and probably just to make myself feel better about executing a shot that I wanted to get.

Well, there were no meteors to be found, but the shot still came out interesting. This was later in the morning, so the creeping light added an interesting effect. i can do much better, I know it...but that will come with practice, and patience.



*(For those who don't know, leaving your camera's shutter open for a long time is kind of like making it a sponge for light. Every bit of light it sees it soaks in, so if it sees too much, that light will basically override the much fainter light of things like the stars, etc).

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Monday, November 1, 2010

In Memoriam

"Look at these towers, passerby, and try to imagine what they really mean - what they symbolize - what they evoke. They evoke an era of incommensurate darkness, an era in history when civilization lost its humanity and humanity its soul . . ."


"We must look at these towers of memory and say to ourselves, No one should ever deprive a human being of his or her right to dignity. No one should ever deprive anyone of his or her right to be a sovereign human being. No one should ever speak again about racial superiority... We cannot give evil another chance."

- Elie Wiesel



I don't go downtown much. When I do, I usually find something I've never seen before in the city. Walking around the city at night with Andrea on my birthday, killing time before seeing an improv show, we came upon this memorial. I didn't know Boston had this monument, and didn't realize what I was looking at, save for my wife enlightening me.

Not only is it quite unique and somber in it's design, depending how you choose to view the steam-vents under each tower, the memorial is something you can easily pass by and not give a second thought. I almost did just that. I am glad I didn't. I am glad I took a few minutes to capture just a fraction of the six million bar code numbers that seem to go on endlessly.



"The design utilizes uniquely powerful symbols of the Holocaust. The Memorial features six luminous glass towers, each 54 feet high. The towers are lit internally to gleam at night. They are set on a black granite path, each one over a dark chamber which carries the name of one of the principal Nazi death camps. Smoke rises from charred embers at the bottom of these chambers. Six million numbers are etched in glass in an orderly pattern, suggesting the infamous tattooed numbers and ghostly ledgers of the Nazi bureaucracy. Evocative and rich in metaphor, the six towers recall the six main death camps, the six million Jews who died, or a menorah of memorial candles." - http://www.nehm.org/intro.html

I am glad we lingered. Such things should not be forgotten.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fall Landscapes

I missed the chance to really get any good foliage shots last year, so I wanted to try to get some this time around.

Here are some shots from northern Vermont where I attended a bachelor party this weekend, and still found a few minutes to wander and capture some of the surroundings:


I took this on a very chilly morning the 2nd day there. I had driven 200 miles and was operating on about 3 hours of sleep, but I saw that red tree and it just kind of lured me in...The morning light was really spectacular, giving the fields a very golden look.



We had a cabin off of this road, down and camera left. There was a nice wooded area by a pond..."Ticklemenaked" pond to be precise.



I went back up the hill and crossed the road away from the intersection where I stood above, and headed towards the field on the other side of the my favorite little set of red trees. From there i was able to get a decent view of the surrounding area and tried a few panoramics again:




Satisfied for the moment, and not about to miss out on the breakfast I could smell wafting up the hill, I started to pack it in, and nabbed one quick shot before I left to resume celebrating what limited single-life my friend had left.



All in all, the foliage wan't absolutely perfect, but the general surroundings were so nice I decided to at least see what I would get from it. I'm pretty pleased with the results...plus I'm just a sucker for landscapes.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

P.S.

One of my best friends of roughly 20 years or so got married on 9/24. Congrats Dan and Julie!

Oh yeah, and we got down with our bad selves too:

Friday, October 1, 2010

Accomplishing a mission

So, of you photographers out there, who ever gets a great idea for a shoot or subject matter, and when you go to shoot it, things never seem to measure up?

-That's my case far too often.

Anyhow, here's a quick story about how one such mission of mine actually came out really close to what I had hoped for, and finding out about a good cause at the same time:

I wanted a picture like this:



I had this idea from seeing part of a European bike race in which whatever network it was on had a camera van riding parallel to the peloton (say that 10 times fast) as the 70 or so riders moved by a field of sunflowers which must have been easily 5 square miles, as you could see it span into the hills.

My wife and I started a very sporadic search for anything even remotely close to this in New England. After learning (about a month later) that sunflowers have a very short lifespan for their blossoms, we re-focused our search during July, when we were expecting the flowers to actually be in season. We eventually stumbled upon "Buttonwood Farm" in CT, which ran the annual Sunflowers for Wishes program. A private farm in which the owners plant massive, several-acre fields of sunflowers to attract visitors and tourists to their already well-trafficked dairy farm (ice cream!) operation. The proceeds from tours, sunflower sales etc, are donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which I am sure you're all aware of.

We were in luck. The peak (just one) week for the flowers was ending that very weekend. We immediately planned to head down on what was to be the very hot/humid Saturday morning.

The drive was about 2 hours in 100% blue skies and increasingly warm sunshine. We arrived about 11:00 am or so, and I knew the trip was worth it. I was about 1/4 of a mile from where I took the above photo, when I first insisted we pull over after about 10 seconds of driving by one of their largest blooming fields.

The majority of the day was spent exploring the various fields, shooting different angles, and just strolling with my wife as we joked about how much I would start sweating when I tried to hold still for a photo (it was that hot).

You may have noted by now "Dan, you said you drove down in blue skies, your picture has a lot of clouds in it."

Yes. Yes well, I'm getting to that.

After cooling off not nearly to a satisfactory level from the unfortunately-messy ice cream break, we began to make our way back down the road towards the car to call it a wrap. I noticed a woman who was perched on the small bluff of grass next to the stone wall separating the field from the road. She was painting the view in front of her in acrylics, it looked great. After much debate about possibly disturbing her I eventually worked up the courage....to ask my wife to ask her if I could take a photo of her painting the field...
(Flex)
She immediately told (Andrea) that it would be no problem, and I happily started snapping away.

That's when we heard the 1st heard the thunder.

If you look just above the tree-line, and below the clouds you can actually see the rain coming down in that photo. It reminded me a bit of watching distance rainstorms when you've summited any reasonably sized mountain.

After informing the very disappointed artist "But I was just about to start painting the actual petals!", of the impending storm (she didn't hear the thunder) , I quickly walked along the stone fence and took several frames of the scene you see before you now. With the clear blue skies, the sun washed everything out. Now, with the diffusion of partly cloudy skies, the field was perfectly lit for what I needed.

Overall it was very satisfying to take in the views and actually get some nice photos out of it. I'm very glad we made the journey. Plus we made a bit of a donation by purchasing a bunch of cut sunflowers. (They lasted about a day. :|

Oh, and I took this during our ice cream pit stop; it makes me feel far away...something about it.



See you next time.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Oberly Wedding Teaser

Here's a quick tale and one of my favorite "wedding-environment" shots from this past weekend's wedding in Western MA. (full wedding post to follow in time)
---


"What is that?" You ask. Well, we'll get to that in a bit. For now, just keep that image in the back of your mind as you read on:

Directions and navigation have never been my strong suit, to say the least. However, I've always managed to get by and find my way after a few twists and turns. My wonderful parents, perhaps sensing my lack of an inner-compass, gave me a GPS system last Christmas, and I've never looked back.

GPS, however, are not always privy to local *ahem* "construction", or in this case, lack thereof.

Upon arriving in Montague MA, a small town I'd never heard of prior to booking this wedding, I immediately made the turn on to Greenfield Rd, where the wedding was to be held in its entirety at the Montague Book Mill. After driving about halfway down the road, (about 2 miles or so), my TomTom GPS unit cheerfully informs me that I have "reached my destination".
Slowing my car a moment, I came to the reasonably quick realization that, no, the wedding wasn't being held at the "Montague Town Water-Treatment Facility".

After more driving, and more equally unfitting locations to exchange vows, (A dairy farm, A flea market, and residential housing) I called my brother, who just happened to be also attending this wedding as a guest.
My call to him initially only resulted in more confusion. As I was on Greenfield road, the road I was on ended in a dead end with forest and jersey barriers, and on the other end, just led out to where I came from. Brian, however, was "there" at the Mill, also on Greenfield Rd. Everything I described to him as I drove past he had never seen, and everything he told me to look for, I never saw.

Frustration was mounting, and the wedding bells were going to be sounding sooner rather than later at this point.

Then, while looking at his own GPS to help solve this mystery, my brother determined the problem...

...So "What's that picture above?" Oh just an aerial view of the 1,000 foot gap in the road where a bridge used to be that they never rebuilt.

I didn't really have time to rattle off the laundry list of problems I had with splitting a road in half and providing no sign-age whatsoever. So, biting my tongue, I managed to plot out my detour and arrive in just enough time to snap some bridal prep shots before things got underway.

So how do wedding photos turn out when this is your location?:


Stay tuned to find out :)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Gagnon Wedding

A quick note about my blog: It's back! Workload, some sickness, and an epic trip to Alaska later, this blog will continue to be updated with all wedding, event, portrait, and personal work that I shoot. I hope you enjoy :) - Dan
____________________________________________________________________________________

The Gagnon wedding in August with Tiffany and John was a great experience for me. I worked extensively with Tiffany to make sure that I captured the artsy and classic themes they wanted for their Rock and Roll themed wedding. Both bride and groom (and their wedding parties) were excellent sports in receiving direction from me, as well as helping to add their own twist to shot ideas and execution. What a great couple!

I will admit, I got lucky at the unfortunate fact that there was miscommunication between the wedding and the limo driver, so I was awarded about 20 crucial minutes beyond what I would have had with the couple for cocktail hour shooting. This extra time actually led to one of my favorite shots with Tiffany (1st photo below) as John worked out the details for transportation.

Here are a few shots from our shoot after the ceremony, and a few details shots from the bridal prep, and reception:









Sunday, May 23, 2010

Can't miss

Sometimes you've got a work a little harder depending on the subject matter you're shooting. I know, I'm bias, but with my little nephews...you just don't even need to try :).
I'm going to miss their official 1 year birthday party while I'm away, so I stopped by my brother's place to take some unofficial shots of them at juuust about 1 year old.

Quislai, one of my brother's two cats, removes herself from the fray after a few infant left hooks to her face. She preferred to observe from afar then be on the front lines.

















Lost in the sea of toys and playpadding.















Gimmicks be damned, I love a good selective desaturation now and again. Also, I am really pleased with the 24-70 so far, this was one of the best test conditions I've used it under in terms of portraits, and ...well just look!







Friday, May 21, 2010

Screwing around

In preparation for my trip to Seattle and Alaska next week, I'm trying to learn a few techniques to maximize my time away, and best be able to process shots when I get home.

Since landscape photography opportunities will be everywhere, I wanted to try some panoramas so I know what I'm doing before out there potentially wasting time and frames.



What did I do wrong here? Well, it was too close to what I was photographing. Panning from image left to right left the semi-circle voids at the bottom (and the top), so if and when I wanted to crop this evenly, the bottom of the image, the track, would be largely lost. Seems like I'll have to compose what's visible, and them sort of re-compose in my mind what will make the final crop.



So here I backed up a bit but I'm still far too close. (Won't be a problem in Alaska) You can see the bowing in the middle where the lens was the closest to the subject while panning. Here I was experimenting with how many frames I need to take to cover the area I want with the correct amount of overlap. Basically the margin for error here is large, since I probably ranged from 10-30% overlap, and no reference point really suffered through the stitching process that I can tell.

So, second task was this kind of inverted/desaturated layer overlay method in Photoshop that Prav told me about. It's kind of a way to bring out the same sort of contrast and tonal ranges that an HDR's Tone Compressor would emulate. It doesn't seem to replace a detail enhanced HDR, but that depends on the photo you're talking about, if you'd want to use that method or not if you're even going for an HDR in the first place. Any way you can bring out the best in the photo and only use the original shot is ok by me, so naturally I had to try it out.

Here are my results:





This certainly made the colors pop out of their shells, and without a "false" look to them. It's like a brightness and vibrance enhancement without any of the additional noise added if I turned it up that much in LightRoom. I'm interested in trying this technique on different kinds of shots. These example I took tonight served both the purpose of using the new 24-70mm during golden hour, and checking out how much color/tone was effected by this photoshop thing, which was my main interest.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Lagging behind

I've been sick for, basically the month of April. So I haven't had much drive to update much here lately, but that's not to say I haven't been busy.

Over the past few weeks I've done two wildly different shoots. One, a portrait session for an local Hip-Hop artist in Boston, hoping to use the materials for future promotion. Two, being an event hosted by and for M.I.T. at the Prudential Center allowing teams of graduate students to present their competing ideas for a real estate project in downtown Boston.




First up for this post:,Terence, aka "Blaq Legend", a super nice guy who not only wanted my input on how to get the best shot, but had a great idea and vision of what he wanted as well. A fairly rare combination in subjects I've found.
Prior to the shoot, Terence scouted locations and we decided on a meeting spot at Boston Symphony Hall. We concentrated on several areas that focused on his past, places that he spent time in his youth living in the city.
It was a very mobile shoot, capturing everything from a local pizza joint, to the subway system and Boston Landmarks like the Prudential Center etc. Aside from some local *ahem* over-served individuals, it was very easily managed session as Terrence and his Cousin, who accompanied us, were very easy going.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Catching up

A few weekends ago I accepted a last minute gig to cover an engagement party that my wife's co-worker was having. Having little or no expectations in terms of what the client wanted, or what i was truly working with in this situation, I boldly thrust forward....into near panic.

Let me try to explain to you the difficulties of this shoot

1) The reception area where the happy couple greeted guests was a bottleneck.. It was dark where they were standing, I had almost no choice of angle, distance from subject. Solution: Photograph what *is* working at that moment, even if you didn't plan on it. In this case, kids being ridiculously cute worked better than horribly crowded and poorly framed shots of the couple in bad lighting. However, it wasn't soon after this small triumph when I realized...


2) Everything was reflective. Stainless steel doors, plexiglass display cases, even the wooden walls had a sheen to them, I constantly had to deal with shooting a flash, and having the environment flash back at me. Solution: Angles are your friend. If you're you're in a room where practically everything is acting like a mirror and you have no choice but to use flash, minimize the damage. Avoiding, as much as possible, being perpendicular from the wall while maintaining proper composure seemed to work best for me.


3) The lighting that was available was very yellowing. Combined with the hue of the walls, choice of clothing, and natural skin tones, people were looking a bit jaundiced. Of course when I say "a bit", I mean "oompa loompa". Solution: Go with the flow, because there's almost you can do short of on-the-fly white balancing etc, so I let LightRoom take care of this one after I was done.

4) No working space, and competing photographers. I was the only hired photographer there, but when people lined up and posed for me, enthusiastic family members would quickly fill any spot that was left empty around the seemingly shrinking room. I also had trouble navigating from one end of the room to the other once all the seats were filled. Solution: If your environment is hindering you, think of ways you can use it to your own advantage. In this case since i often couldn't move to get where I may have wanted, I was forced to take the time to see what was immediately around me that I could make the best of. This led to a bunch of the party's detail shots that may have otherwise not been captured (which my client ended up loving)

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

New ventures


I guess you'd call my lasted gig "product" photography. Advertising, maybe. Either way it was something I've never quite done before.
I was hired to showcase an artisan's wooden chest and interior decorating skills for an upcoming issue of Boston Design Guide. The June 2010 issue I believe.
The shoot only took about 20 minutes. Lighting wasn't too much of an issue as ambient light from the windows were enough to act as a decent "fill" for what the lamps lacked. The temp/tint/hue issue foreseen from the very yellow lamps was minor, and what I couldn't adjust for on-scene, I could easily manage at home in LightRoom.

The real challenge for this was the fact that the wall this piece was up against was literally almost the same width of the piece itself. My client made it clear she did not want any kind of background of her house in the image. Also, there was a slightly blown out (in comparison), and distracting light that leaked in from the front door which nestled itself into the bottom right of the frame.

So, not only did I have to crop out as much as possible, I had to engineer more background than actually existed for her wishes to be fulfilled. Covering up the light switch and some railings on either side was a snap...but creating a whole, textured, differently lit background for the last 1/8 of each side of the frame? With no discernible artifacts?

Yeah. That took some work. I should probably post a "before" photo too, but I don't have one handy with me right now.

Anyways, the client LOVED it, so I'm very pleased that I pulled it off. Now to look for my next challenge.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Interesting developments

In the last week I've been in the process of booking for a product shoot that will end up in Boston Design Guide magazine, and agreeing to a last minute request for a large engagement party shoot on Sunday.

The product shoot is for an interior designer, and I'm still waiting on the details regard when it will take place etc. I'm all for shooting anything that will end up published, as the exposure can't hurt.

The engagement party is for Andrea's friend at work. It's taking place at a museum that also hosts events, so the bride-to-be has hinted at some potentially fun pics with the artifacts. I love it when the subjects are really into the shoot, and suggest ideas to make it that much more lively and enjoyable.

I'm looking forward to both of these sessions, since they'll both be outside of the realm I usually practice in. Shots of the party up soon, the product shoot, TBD.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Gold Star BLVD


This past weekend I did some shooting during a recording session for a friends' band called Gold Star BLVD. Later on, I may be doing some live-show photography for Zach, who is in G.S.B. and another band, gigging in Boston and Worcester in May. I'm excited about the prospect of that, but the recording session was interesting in its' own right.



During the first session Darter the guitarist, decided at the last minute to tell me he doesn't play in under the lights in the studio...he plays and jams under candle light....great..and just 10 minutes earlier I had realized my Vivitar off-camera setup was out of batteries. So, no fill light for me in this very dark studio.

I had to get creative, so I ended up using a mix of slow sync flash, "puffer'd" flash, and standard long exposures.

Zach, who I thought was the bassist, also laid down a different guitar track next. Luckily, he plays with the lights on. Unluckily, the studio is pretty boring in terms of photographic potential. I tried a mix of angles, crops, and overenthusiastic use of bokeh to liven the shots up.



After Zach's session, I did a few shots of Victor on the drums, and then listened to their almost completely finished track back in the "booth" part of the studio. I had to say, I was really quite impressed. I'm too lazy to Post Victor's drum shots. But I'll have to link to the whole shoot.