Friday, December 31, 2010

Illusive Photography 2010 - Year in Review

First of all, let me start off by wishing everyone a Happy New Year!!! Similar to last year, I will choose my favorite images and the reason why they are my favorite.  I'll also share some blog stats and top-rated images from FLICKR

January: started out busy with the arrival of some new toys, specifically my Alien Bee Ring Flash that was a present from my Dad.  Along with the Ring Flash, I ordered a 30" Moon Unit which enables you to shoot-thru a 30" octagonal softbox that comes with cut-outs to create some interesting catchlights.  This image of Drew shows the sunrise cut-out and was my first time shooting with an Alien Bee Ring Flash.

Okay, I'll add one more photo from the month of January that I also enjoyed.  It was my third shoot with Jenna.  This photo session marked the start of my Tatt'ed Sheets High Key Phase. Pretty simple lighting using my backlit muslin technique.

February: was a very busy month with three Tatt'ed Sheets shoots and six Hooters' girl Calendar shoots.  My schedule was packed every weekend and even during the week.  This image was definitely an easy one to light.  Just an SB-900 with a 15" softbox and a 1/4 CTG gel to mimic the Fluorescent ambient light.  The flash was held up high and camera left, with some natural light spilling in on their legs.  I stood up on a ladder to shoot down at the two models.  In post, I flipped the image vertically to give it a different perspective.

March: I was reviewing my buddy Rob's FLICKR photostream and saw an On Location Band shoot at a junk yard in the city of Shafter, CA.  I asked if we could use the location and asked Model Nikki if she wanted to be my Junkyard Jane.  Nikki agreed, Rob secured the location and we got this simple image.  I say simple since I used one speedlight and ambient light to create the gritty feel.  The key light came from an SB-900 with a 1/4 CTO gel, and a HONL 1/4" grid spot and HONL Speed Strap, handheld by Rob.  I just dragged the shutter and the rest is, well, history.  In post, I used a semi-HDR filter to bump the contrast and add a little more grit to the image.

April: was a relatively light month because I was shooting way too much and not spending any time with my family.  So this month I helped coordinate a group shoot for the photography club I joined back in 2009. I spent most of the shoot helping out other photographers and occasionally shooting.  I did manage to get my son, Drew, to pose for some photos with Katheryn.  This shot was actually set-up by my friend Teresa.  I used two SB-600s with HONL 1/4 CTO Gels held on to each flash with a HONL Speed Strap and secured to a lightstand with a shoot-through 64" PLM.

May: was a nice slow month, not really much going and needed some time to relax with my family.  A former co-worker opened a Deli in Petaluma and asked if I would come up and shoot some product shots.  This image was done with a Nikon SB-900 in an RPS Studio 15" softbox camera left, angled downward and a silver reflector, camera right next to the wine bottles.  It was shot at 1/250, f/5.6, ISO 200 and at Focal length 36mm.  Why the fast shutter speed?  I wanted to minimize the ambient light and evoke a feeling of dinner time. In post, I added her logo and some additional information.

June: in Bakersfield is tough for outdoor shoots.  The weather gets pretty warm, but this month a co-worker gave birth to her first child.  I wanted to try my hand at photographing newborns, so she came over about eight days after her son was born.  We kept the garage really warm and used one light, an Alien Bee 1600 with a Paul C. Buff Giant Softbox with a grid.  My buddy Brian came over to help with the shoot since he has more experience photographing newborns.  He also brought along some textured materials to swaddle the baby and a bean bag chair to keep the baby in position.  It wasn't a long shoot, but long enough for the baby to evacuate himself twice.  I can honestly say I gained a new respect for Newborn photographers.  This was shot a f/2.8, 1/60th shutter and 130mm Focal length.

July:  Tired of the heat and wanting to do some Natural Light photography, I dragged my boys and Father to Downtown, Los Angeles.  Part of my self-imposed challenge was to limit myself to a 50mm prime lens and only available light.  My goal was to shoot at Union Station because I heard about the wonderful light and the Deco style architecture.  However, while I was shooting lines and patterns, a woman with a camera and her model came walking by.  I asked if I could borrow the model to mimic a photograph I saw on the Nikon web-site.  This was shot with a mix of Available light.  The key light was from a huge window, camera left and the fill light was a mix of natural light and fluorescent light. My camera settings were: Aperture: f/2.8, Shutter 1/100 and ISO 800.  I shot about five images, thanked them both and gave them my business card in case they wanted copies of the images, but I never heard from them again.

August: afforded me the opportunity to shoot with Model Mayhem Newbie Kirsti.  She was willing to shoot anytime when I had the desire to try something new.  The locale was scouted out by my friend Robert and Joseph.  Robert was doing a Death Metal Chick shoot and I just wanted to get away from my Studio and find a rustic setting.  We arrived at 5:30 and the temperature was near 100 degrees. Oh Joy!!!  We managed to shoot throughout the dilapidated, bird feces and bee infested warehouse until the sun went down.  In keeping with my single strobe challenge, this image was shot with an SB-900 with a 1/4 CTO Gel and a 33" Brolly.  I used the setting sun as a rim light.

September: started out with an awesome collaboration with Australian Model Darnah.  She contacted me back in July asking if we could work together when she arrived in the States. We shot for about five hours and I actually went through one 8GB Memory card and a battery. A majority of the images were done with a single SB-900 and a 33" brolly.  These two images are my faves from our shoot.  One outdoor and one indoor with available light.  I have to admit that after shooting with Darnah, she really raised the bar on Model shoots.

October: I had four shoots lined up and really wasn't inspired as I thought I would be.  I worked with three new models and a co-worker.  I picked up some new light modifiers called SABERSTRIP lights, which are portable and durable strip lights that use flashes for easy On Location lighting.  They give off a really nice quality and controllable quality of light.  This image used all three lights, which required me to use my two SB600s and my SB-900.  They were triggered via Pocket Wizards.

November: was really a tough month for me to shoot.  Work and family was the priority, but I committed to a COMP shoot and I needed to make good.  I decided I would use the SABERSTRIP lights for this shoot, too. My theme was to keep it simple, gray seamless paper background, gray trench coat, Russian Winter hat and a black chair.  The key light was my trusty 33" brolly with the SB-900 and two SABERSTRIP lights with SB-600s as accent/rim lights. As you can see, the rim light was nice and soft and Timilia was a fun model to photograph.  I did have to contend with bright fluorescent lights and the A/C that kept blowing against my background.

December: was filled with a lot of work commitments and Holiday gatherings. So I'll wrap up with the most important thing to me and that is my boys.  They wanted to give their Mom pictures as Christmas presents.  these were shot with a new background I purchased from Serendipity Backgrounds.  The background is made from matte paper and fairly durable.  These images were shot with my Alien Bee 1600 and bounced off my 64" PLM with the front Diffusion screen as the key and the Alien Bee Ring Flash bounced off the garage door as a fill light.  I love my Boys!!!

Here are some FLICKR All-time Stats

Blog Stats from May 2010 - Dec 2010:

and stats about my Audience, which I find interesting

Well that's 2010 in a nutshell.  I hope you enjoyed some of my images throughout the year and if you have a favorite, please let me know and I'll post your feedback.

Once again, thanks for following my blog, Happy New Year, God Bless You, and That's a Wrap!!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tis' the Season to Glimmer

Winter is always a challenging time to shoot, cold weather, early sunsets and too many holiday commitments at work.  To help set a more festive tone with my images, I purchased a background from Serendipity Backgrounds in late November for a work-related photoshoot with our health care providers.  Serendipity Backgrounds stock a lot of backgrounds that are printed on matte' paper.  I was reluctant to purchase a background since they are pricey and the thought of a paper backdrop made me nervous.

However, I do like the ability to quickly hang it with minimal swearing and wrinkling.  The background I purchased is called Glimmer, and it is about 5' x 7'.  It does require two people to hang, but once raised, you only need to attach a couple clips on each corner to make it hang straight.

Simple lighting in the shot of the boys.  I used an Alien Bee 1600 with a 64" PLM and a white diffusion front panel as my key light, and the ABR800 bounced off my garage door for fill.

If I recall the key was metered at f/4 and the fill at f/2.8.  I feathered the PLM to light up the backdrop to help minimize shadows from my boys.  The whole session took 60 minutes to set-up, shoot and breakdown.  The following images at the Provider Party was done with only the key set-up.

I wish all my family, friends, and blog followers a very Joyous and Safe Holiday Season.  See you in 2011 and "That's A Wrap!!!"