Sunday, May 22, 2011

Out and About

The past two Saturdays were spent shooting challenges.  Last Saturday I spent a few hours at an Air Show, trying to shoot Motion and also Transportation.  Nothing special, just brought my ND4 (Neutral Density) filter and Circular Polarizer.  One thing I do know is the horrible air quality in Kern County makes for some very uninteresting skies.  Anyway, here are some of my images from the Air Show.




Yesterday, Brian and I challenged ourselves to shoot at the Midday sun.  Many photographers recommend avoiding the time between 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM due to the high contrast (8 stop difference between light and shadows.)  However, I had a conversation with my Dad and he said they used to go out and shoot portraits during that time period.  He and his cohorts were armed with flashes, reflectors and  a "good eye"; that was all that was needed.  By the time we reached our destination, it was already 2:00 PM, but the sun was still very high and harsh.  Anyway, here is what I ended up with, "fail".  Looks like I'll need to give it another go.




Did I learn anything from both shoots? Yeah, I enjoy taking pictures of people more than inanimate objects.  I would like to stop by all the little towns in the Central Valley and attempt to capture their charm, or drama.  Hmmm...sounds like a fun project.  That's a Wrap!!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Third Time is a Charm

So I had my final Maternity shoot this past Sunday, yes; FINAL.  Earlier this year, I promised two Model Mayhem models (Sara and Nikki) that I would shoot their Maternity pictures and I made good on my word.  Nikki and I postponed our shoot from last weekend due to it being Mother's Day and in hopes of better weather.  On the day of the shoot the forecast was 20% chance of rain and we must've hit the 20%.   It was also cold and windy, which translates to a cold model.  At least Nikki was a real good sport and wasn't even cranky.

Simple lighting set-up for the outdoor shots.  Nikon SB-900 Speedlight and a 22" Beauty Dish as key and cloudy sky as fill.  For this shoot, the Beauty Dish worked much better than my umbrella.  We didn't have any mishaps with the blowing and gusty wind.  I used my 70mm - 200mm lens with a ND4 filter to stop down to f/2.8 so I could blur out the homes in the background.

After 15 minutes outside, it started drizzling, so we moved indoors and used available light.  I switched to my 85mm lens for a majority of the indoor pictures and occasionally used my speedlight as fill.  We shot for about an hour and a half and then moved back outside to get a couple more images.

Overall a fun shoot and not much learned except that I'm not a Maternity photographer.  Just not my favorite type of photography.

Here are a couple other pictures from my previous Maternity shoots.  Enjoy because most likely this will be all the Maternity pictures I shoot, unless one of my future daughter-in-laws is pregnant. LOL



Good luck Nikki on a speedy delivery, which should be this Thursday, and "That's A Wrap!!!"

Friday, May 6, 2011

What's New Pussycat

Purrrr....
It's hard to believe that it's been a year since Sarah and I have worked together.  She moved away from Bakersfield and happened to be in town this week.  This was such as last minute shoot that I didn't know if we were going to be able to pull it off.

We met at 7:30 PM as the sun was setting, so we really didn't have a lot of time to plan out the shoot. I brought my speed lights, a SABER STRIP and my brolly.  Originally Robert, Brian and I were going to shoot some more film with our Medium Format cameras, but once Sarah agreed to shoot, we switched to our dSLRS, well except Rob, he brought both.

Meow SK8R

With the sun quickly setting, I decided to use my 85mm f/1.4G lens.  I wanted to play around with Spot Metering for most of the Natural Light images.

Torn

After the sun went down, we switched to our speedlights and had Sarah change her wardrobe.

Brian decided to use my Saber Strip and Pocket Wizards, while I used my brolly and Nikon CLS. WE started shooting, but I kept having issues with focusing in the darkness.  I noticed that my AF-Assist wasn't working on my camera, but I kept shooting and using Manual Focus.  It wasn't until later that I found out that the AF-Assist light only illuminates when the Single-Point Focus rectangle is set to the middle point of the Focus grid.  Live and Learn.

Camo Kitty

We shot for about another 20 minutes and then wrapped at 8:30 PM.  We accomplished what we wanted, which was a spontaneous shoot at twilight.  It was also fun to work with Sarah and the guys.


It's interesting to compare our shooting styles and processing styles.  If you didn't click on Rob and Brian's link above, I suggest you do so and see their work.

What did I learn?
  • The main problem I ran into was the AF-Assist light not illuminating.  I realized I really stink at Manual Focus in the dark.  The fix, I had a spare light stand a clamp that will hold a flashlight to aim at the model.  So next night shoot, I'll have that ready to go.
I have a couple shoots this weekend, one Senior Portrait session and one Maternity session.

Sarah Outtake - SOOC

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog.  If you have any questions, please fell free to e-mail me at alan@illusivephotography.com and I'll share what little I know.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

A City that Doesn't Sleep

At the end of April I had to travel to New York for my company.  This was my first trip to the Big Apple and I only had one evening to squeeze in some exploration time.  I dislike traveling to the East Coast on business during the Spring due to unpredictable weather conditions and its impact on airplane travel.  I packed my PEN Camera and two lenses, the 20mm f/1.7 and the 14mm - 42mm kit lens, for the trip.

After our meetings on
Wednesday, my co-worker and I ventured into "The City", from Garden City, Long Island.  Fortunately there is a train station directly across from our Hotel.

After spending a few minutes trying to figure out which tickets we needed to purchase, we met a gentleman who I'll refer to as Joey V.  Joey V. is a retied NYPD Officer from Brooklyn, and what an accent.  Of course, he knew we were from California based on our accents, too.  He was very hospitable and gave us insights on where to go and how to travel around on the trains/subways.  We basically followed his lead when our train arrived.

Within 40 minutes we arrived at Penn Station, Downtown New York.  We made our way through the crowd and then up and out onto the streets.  I know understand why people from New York like San Francisco, they both have a similar atmosphere.  It was slightly breezy, a little humid and sunny.

On our way to the Empire State Building, I noticed a row of planters with Tulips bordering 34th street.  With all the asphalt and concrete, the planters were a nice contrast.  We reached our destination, the Empire State Building and decided to pay $56 to access the Observation Deck and take a "virtual" tour of New York by Helicopter, known as "The SKYRIDE".  If you plan to go to the Empire State Building, I'd pass on the SKYRIDE and get up to the 86th floor.

It was really windy at the Observation Deck and the rain clouds were moving in quickly, but I managed to get some pictures of the city.

Afterwards we headed to Times Square to see all the lights.  It definitely was worth seeing, but then again so are the lights on the Vegas Strip.


After walking around for about four hours, we headed back to Penn Station to catch the train back to the hotel.  We managed to eat some New York Pizza and stop at some of the Tourist Trap stores for goodies.

The next day we went to the airport to head back home, but found out all flights out of JFK were canceled due to the bad weather.  We ended up spending the night at a Days Inn near the airport.

So I'll leave you with my view from the room.  If you want to see more pictures from my New York trip, click here.


Thanks for reading, and That's A Wrap!!!