Thursday, January 31, 2013



COMP is an acronym for Collaborative Organization of Model Photography, which was started back in 2010 by fellow photographer Tim, a.k.a. PhotoCPA.  Tim is based in Fresno and has been shooting for several years.  I met Tim via Model Mayhem back in 2009 after photographing a couple models from Fresno Area, Anahy and Emily, at my first group shoot.  I attended his first "group" shoot titled Thriller back in October of 2009 and had a really good time and really enjoyed working all the photogs, models, MUAs and Hair Stylists.


This past December, Tim asked if I would be interested in participating in another COMP shoot, so the wheels were set into motion and next thing you know, we have a Meet-N-Shoot set for Sunday, Jan. 20 up in Fresno.


Brian and I left about 8:20 AM, we were supposed to leave at 8:00, but Brian rarely is on time.  We arrived at 10:30, said "Hello" to all the other COMPers who I haven't seen since June of 2011. Brian and I looked around the facility to stake out an area to shoot.


I decided to bring my speedlights and HONL modifiers, which really worked well in the cramped spaces. I tried several images with flash and a few without using available light.  I think I just wasn't in the mood to shoot even though there were Stylists, MUAs, HS and assorted other people.  The original goal was to create "Fashion" images, but after seeing the locale, and wardrobe it just didn't work.  I'm at a point were Glamour photography is very contrived and flat out boring.

After shooting a couple models and then standing around for an hour, four of us took a lunch break.  When we returned, we got chastised for being gone for half an hour.  Hmmmm...  I'm at the point where group shoots are fun, but I like shooting in more intimate settings and the "churn and burn" set-ups just don't spark any creativity.

I guess it's okay to have a crappy shoot after having several good shoots in January.  Let me be more specific, the models, locale, wardrobe, and Tim did excellent, I just wasn't feeling it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Out with the Old, In with the Not Too Old

No Picture Preview? (Explored)

Back in 1984, when I was in College, I owned a Nikon FE2 and used it occasionally for several years.  However, the usual early 20's financial issues forced me to sell it, but I promised myself that one day I would replace it. Then in 2009, I found an FE2 with some lenses on eBay for $90, a little beat up, but still functional and very similar to mine, even with the bent rewind knob.


I brought the FE2 along with me on several shoots just to make me slow down and think more about lighting, composition, and color tones. I also wanted to sharpen my Manual Focus skills and try my hand at developing some Black and White film, as I did back in High School and College.

Rylee 35mm

Recently, Ive been having mechanical issues with the FE2 and decided it was time for an upgrade to another Film camera. My buddy Brian, not Robert, purchased a Nikon F100 and although it was newer, I wanted something a little beefier.

After some quick research and reviews on photo blogs, I found a used Nikon F5 in Excellent condition on  Without hesitation, I purchased it and eagerly awaited it's arrival.

I picked up some rolls of Portra 400, Portra 800, Tri-X 400, and Ilford XP2.  I also ran 4 rolls of expired 400 MAX film.  Below are the images taken so far with the F5.  Although not a great developer, I took the film to a local Walgreens and paid $8 per roll to have the images developed and scanned to CD.

I've tried all my Nikkor "G" lenses on this camera and they work great, and my next goal is to use it with my PocketWizards.  So hopefully in the next month, I'll be creating images with the F5 using my speedlights and Paul C. Buff strobes.

Hines asleep

Meg Marie

Obligatory Bathroom Mirror shot - Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Tattwo'ed Sheets

Tattwo Clothing White Tank

It seems that I mention my buddy Rob frequently in my blog, so why should this post be any different? Rob invited me to a shoot he had with a local business owner of an apparel company, Tattwo Clothing, about three weeks ago, and during the shoot I spoke with the owner and let him know that I have two tattooed models I work with on a frequent basis.  I asked Chris, Tattwo owner, if he could spare a couple tops from his clothing line and that I would have my models wear them for at least one shot in each session.  In exchange, Chris could post the images on his web-site.

Tattwo Clothing Grey Tank

About a week ago, Chris asked if I would help him out since Rob had already done a couple shoots for Tattwo Clothing.  Chris sent me a pic of the model, which turned out that this model and I have mutual friends.  I recall messaging her a couple years back to see if she was interested in participating in my "Tatt'ed Sheets" sessions, but never heard back.


Pretty straight-forward shoot, high-key lighting.  Brittney is a Hair Stylist and also does her own make-up, so when she arrived we began shooting.  Chris brought several pieces of clothing and once we finished, we switched to a few Tatt'ed Sheets set-ups.

What Did I Learn?
  • High-Key Glamour Poses - My biggest block was posing.  When I shoot high-key, I find it hard creating dramatic images.  My mindset is that the white backdrop and sheets help draw attention to the model.  So attempting to evoke a vulnerable atmosphere with minimal shadows, seems contradictory.  This gives me something new to learn. The pose below was Chris' idea.
Brittney Sheets

Overall the shoot was a success, and although it was freezing in my garage, Brittney did an excellent job not looking cold.  I did stray from my two goals, 1) Shoot an Available Light image and 2) Create a Dramatic Image.

I have a C.O.M.P. group shoot on Jan. 20 up in Fresno, which means a variety of models and more mistakes.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Model Weekend

This year has been pretty busy already, in addition to my full-time job, I've had three shoots in six days.  I rarely shoot back-to-back on the weekends, but there was no reason to turn down the opportunity to shoot with two stellar models.


SATURDAY: Back in October during my Lighten Up and Shoot Seminar Mayte was kind enough to be our model for one of the two days.  After the class, Mayte said she would drive out to Bakersfield if I would help update her portfolio.  She also asked if my buddies Rob and Brian would be in attendance.  I have worked twice before with Mayte, once at Venice Beach and the other at Union Station.  Both Rob and Brian were also in attendance on those shoots.


Mayte asked if we could shoot the first week of January and before I realized the time had arrived.  Mayte lives east of Los Angeles and when she arrived at my house, her first comment was "I had to take FIVE freeways to get here."


One of my prerequisites is that the models I work with be able to do their own hair and make-up, it's more of a preference than a rule. So Mayte arrived ready to shoot.  The weather forecast was dry and partly cloudy. We headed out to a local park along the Kern River suggested by Rob. After a couple hours we headed back to my studio for additional portfolio development images. By the time we finished, it was 8:30 PM and Mayte arrived home close to Midnight.


SUNDAY: The following day was my shoot with LUSH Model Search Winner Joy.  We arranged to pick-up some outfits and accessories from LUSH HOME and Boutique, and asked Clara Torres to collaborate with us.  Both agreed, thankfully.  I persuaded my son Drew to assist me on the shoot, which he reluctantly obliged ;)


As opposed to Saturday, the weather prediction for Sunday was 70% chance of rain with highs in the High-40's.  We headed out at 1:00 PM to a local park with hopes that the trees still had some leaves.  As we pulled up a light drizzle started and although the original intent was to shoot with Joy in the Jeans and Skull and Crossbones Tank, I liked the Flannel Shirt she was wearing, so we kept it on for that series.


We then moved to another area of the park while Joy changed into a sweater and brown boots.  As we shot, the wind picked up and the clouds got darker.  Easy fix, change the White Balance to Cloudy and maintain a "warm" feel.  As we were leaving, Drew noticed a tree and Joy quickly climbed.

We then packed up, stopped by Starbucks to "warm up" and then head Downtown for another wardrobe and locale change.  This time Joy would be wearing a dress and some heels.  Joy is a statuesque 5' 10" and in heels...  Well, I needed a step ladder.  The wind continued to blow and the sky was darkening even more.  I decided to use my Apollo Orb to help add some direction to the light and with the SB-900 gelled with a 1/4 CTO gel, add some warmth to the light.


Finally we stopped at Dagny's for our last wardrobe and another brief "warm-up"/bathroom break.  We headed down to a frequently used alley locale, and after spending 10 minutes setting up and taking about a dozen images, the rain started.


We packed up and headed to the AMTRAK Train Station, but the Depot was too crowded, so we shot at Mill Creek.  The rain continued and I could tell Joy was freezing and after 30 minutes we wrapped and headed off for Sushi.


The park images were all Natural Light with the sun peeking out at times, but mostly hazy and diffused.  There was no need for reflectors, or scrims.  The images at the Nile and Mill Creek were shot using an SB-900 and Apollo Orb for key, and SB-600 "bare" for either background or rim.

ColdQuick tangent, there's a photographer I've followed on FLICKR, named Jordan Voth, for the past four years.  I really like his style, which is very similar to the Banana Republic ads and the earlier American Apparel ads. So my personal goal for both shoots was to create similar image with models.

What Did I Learn?
  • Bring Warm Clothes - It was REALLY Cold and although Joy did really well, I still felt bad for her.  I should have brought my trench coat.
  • Be little more specific with Wardrobe - One of the outfits, at the store display, had a scarf that matched the dress.  I was "hoping" they included it.
  • Work on recomposing - At times the focus points don't line up and so I slightly tilt the camera.  Not a good idea since the focus softens.  Instead focus and the move the camera in a linear plane to the subject.  I know this, but forgot to do it. 
Big thanks to my models, Mayte and Joy, Make-up Artist Clara,  and LUSH Home and Boutique.  

Now for a few outtakes :) 

Work It - Outtake

Warm Up - Outtake

Model Review

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Ano de Los Muertos

Red In my 2012 year-end post, I outlined my goals for 2013, so after talking with Jenna we set-up a shoot for January 1 and I would at least knock out some dramatic lighting and a themed shoot all in one.

Jenna has been wanting to do a Dia de Los Muertos shoot and I finally agreed.  I asked one of my favorite Make-up Artists, Clara to participate, and although it was New Year's Day, she was more than willing to do the laborious make-up and hair for our shoot.


Back in December I was photographing the guests at my Company's Holiday Dinner and broke an Einstein Flash tube, so for this shoot I had to use three different lights, which means three different color temps.  Einstein for key, Alien Bee 1600 for Rim and SB-900 for background and fill depending on set-up.  Then while getting my gear set-up, I couldn;t find my Flex TT1 transmitter, so I had to use a Flex TT5 to trigger the Einstein and set both the Alien Bee and SB-900 as Optical slaves.


For modifiers, I used a Beauty Dish with a Diffusion Sock and a grid, sometimes.  For the Rim, I used a gridded strip box with no diffusion and on the SB-900 I used HONL Gels (Red and Pink), or bare and bounced off the garage door.  I used my Storm Gray Seamless paper, which works great for shooting gel'ed flashes at since the color has nice falloff.


What Did I Learn?

Well the shoot went really well, all the lights and modifiers worked as expected.  No malfunctions during the shoot.  Hopefully this shoot will be indicative of a majority of my shoots, however; I wouldn't learn anything if everything went as planned every time.  I already have two shoots lined up for the first weekend of January.  YIKES!!!

Snapseed for iPad

Thanks Clara and Jenna for taking time on your New Year's day to create some really cool images!!!