Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Back to basics: The Portrait Session

I had the chance to shoot portraits for a wonderful client this weekend, Helen, who simply wanted professional-grade photos of herself. In a real no-frills way, I think the session was highly successful. This shoot reaffirmed that I love even the most basic forms of photography: the black and white portrait.

Helen indicated that she liked black and white shots, which often do not make up the bulk of my work, as much as I like them. I think one of my old photography professors often referred to them as a crutch for those who couldn't shoot in color well. As much as I don't agree with that, I think it still resonates from time to time.

I tried to keep the B&W mindset during the session, and played off the surroundings of her home as well as my available lighting to ensure some of those shots would come out well.

100% non-pro-tip: An $8 halogen work-light at 250 watts does wonders as a fill-light when using a 1 flash setup. I diffused and bounced the flash as necessary, and put the halogen through an umbrella when needed. $8 well spent.

Helen and I worked through the concept of each pose on the fly, and while insisting she never modeled before, managed to preemptively correct for almost every suggestion I was going to bring up with her own simple and natural adjustments. This made my life that much easier, and I could focus on the mechanics.

Hopefully now with the weather turning more towards the favorable kind in terms of outdoor shooting, I'll be out and about snapping more portraits within the spring scenery. Fingers crossed that's sooner rather than later.

Friday, March 18, 2011

A clear night

I've been waiting for the skies to clear so I could play around with the length of the 70-200mm lens on the moon. I wasn't expecting crystal clear detail, but I hoped for some kind of shot of earth's celestial partner that looked like more than a glowing golfball in space.

The moon also happens to be just about full if not actually 100% out tonight. Which is why I was especially disappointed that i forgot to take my shots when there were no clouds in the sky. After dinner and a movie, I glanced out the window to see the familiar glow of light pollution against the clouds. I saw the moon peeking through and decided to give thing a try anyhow.

Turns out, the clouds add a lot to a shot that I was pleasantly surprised with.

I still need to discover all the ins and outs of this lens before really putting it to the test in Africa. So far though, I am very pleased using it for purposes it wasn't even truly intended.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Forced Inspiration

Every now and again I enter the Boston.com "RAW" competition. It is a monthly themed contest where different guest judges view the entries submitted and award modest prizes for the winners. Whenever I enter, I always make the 1st large cut, but then fall short of placing in the top 10. My entry is usually accompanied by my fellow aspiring shooting buddy Pravin.

The contest both fun and frustrating at the same time. I often enjoy the themes they come up with for us to shoot (anything from weather, to abstract, to portraiture and landscapes), and will often try new ideas to come up with a shot to enter. However, judging photography is so subjective, I'm often left wondering how my shot, or other shots I feel are much stronger are left out of the winner's circle. Obviously I'm bias, but it just opens the window to try, try again.

This month's theme is "The human form". We often don't get much of a description beyond that, as what's the point of rigid entry guidelines when you're talking about art?

I tried looking through my archives, as when this contest was announced, I was not yet in the best shape to produce anything due to my health. I found nothing worth even submitting for a "phoned-in" entry. Looking back, I don't know why I even bothered doing that, since I'm always much happier producing something new, and honing skills etc, etc.

Luckily, my wife/muse is always the willing model, so after some trial and error, I conceptualized a new shot, and just executed it to the point of my liking this morning. Here are the results of this new effort:

See if you can spot the little "hint of Dan" in the photo. It shouldn't be too difficult.

I'm fairly pleased with the outcome. We'll see if this ends up being the contest submission for this month, or if some other idea takes hold...

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

and here I told him "You can't just run away from your problems".

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Life gets in the way of updating again. But oh my, have things been happening...

Namely things like a major client contract. Who isn't not these guys:


Oh and for good measure, lets add one of these to my bag of tricks:

Going to be really active again soon. Feeling good about it.