Monday, April 19, 2010

365/107 Their first dance

365/107 Their first dance

Saturday, our good friends Sam and James got married. It was a beautiful wedding, held down in San Antonio at one of the local historic missions. There was much merriment to be had. James had one of the biggest grins on the entire time. I don't think I've ever seen him so happy. Sam was just stunning. They make a lovely couple.

A few more photos of the first dance.

First dance II

First dance III

365/106 Timeline

365/106 Timeline

I love old, decaying buildings. They have character. The wood is faded with the ever-beating shine of sun. The paint, possibly lead-filled, is slowly peeling off in sheets, revealing grain that hasn't seen the light of day in years. Boards cover the windows like eyelids. Or maybe sun-glasses ("The future's so bright, you gotta wear shades ..."). Cracks appear between the walls as the saddened weight of decades of use slowly push the building into the mud.

This particular building used to be a dance hall. The roof is held up by 12-inch thick posts, whitewashed to match the paint on the walls. There's a low, dropped tile ceiling that shows the stains of storms that have passed over time. For awhile, the building was an auction house. I'm told it was filled to the brim. The backyard ... or what might be considered the backyard ... was filled chest-deep with trash. Boxes of crap, things that didn't sell, overgrown with weeds and mesquite. They blazed through it with some bulldozers recently, clearing it out so the place could transition to new occupancy.

It's now the location of my dad's furniture restoration shop. Smaller by a short degree than his previous place, this one feels more open and useable. It's far enough out that he can do the work he needs at whatever time he needs without risking annoying the neighbors.

I took a few other photos while inside: the one that caught my eye was the two-foot tall doll with the faded blue dress. Left over in a pile of things that were still to be removed from the auction house. Creepy reminders of what this place was I guess.

We visited with my dad for about half an hour before heading back out. We were on the edge of a storm and still had a ways to drive before getting home.

I'm definitely going back to take more photos of the place. This place has a lifeline that needs to be documented.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

365/105 The horror of realization

365/105 The horror of realization

"Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty."

H.P. Lovecraft

Yeah, it's another hand shot. I wasn't sure what else to do this evening. I've been waiting until the whee hours of the evening to do my photo for the last few days and it's coming back to bite me. The last few weeks have found me lazy when it comes to carrying my camera around, so I've just been snapping things with the iPhone. Quick, easy, and oh-so-horrifically vapid.

I'll have to work on something better once the garage is cleaned up. It sorely needs it. I can't do any setups in there while it's in this bad of a shape.

For now, it's just cheesy hand shots for you!

365/104 Expiration dates? Who needs those?!

365/104 expiration dates?  Who needs those?!

So it appears that my flickr account has expired. Back to the upload limits of the unwashed masses. Le sigh. It's going to stay that way for a few weeks, unfortunately. We have to replace our roof, which has suffered some reasonably extensive wind damage (according to the insurance adjuster) due to some storms earlier in the year. I figure it's slightly more important to come up with the cash for the deductible than it is to be a pro Flickr user. Who knew?

Anyway, I'm still going to be uploading stuff to flickr with the caveat that you probably won't see any of my older stuff for the next few weeks. Such is life.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

365/103 Vampire laundry day.

365/103 vampire laundry day

Last post for tonight.

This is my new favorite shirt. My wife poached it for me a few weeks back and we've finally gotten around to washing it. The laundry pile was on the verge of attacking us, but it was soundly beaten back and mauled by the washer. The dryer, of course, just sat there and yammered, full of hot air. "No, no, you're doing it wrong ... it's lather THEN rinse ..."

Everyone's a damn expert these days.


365/102 Mr. McNally in the Library with a C-stand

365/102 Mr. McNally in the library with a C-stand

I was sitting in front of a portion of my library this particular evening and thinking about my habit for book buying. You see, I'm a recovering bookaholic. We're a big book family, so there are shelves and shelves of books throughout the house. I recently went through and tried to organize things a bit and gather all my photo books in one place. It's almost a full shelf now. I don't know what that says about me (too few? too many?)

And while thinking about this, I was again reminded that I've wanted to do a few book reviews of the ones that have really helped me out in the past. I've done a few before, early on in the life of this blog. You can see them if you click on the book label. Four so far. Stuff I was using when I started out with my D40 for the most part.

But, as you can see here, I have my collection. This isn't all of them. The shelf extends another foot or so beyond the left edge of this photo. Some Annie L, some random crap photo books ... VisionMonger still sits on my nightstand waiting completion. I'm such a slacker. But, I promise, I will begin writing reviews anew. At some point, I need to find something new to write about other than this pesky 365-a-day thing. Right?


365/101 Bring out your dead!

365/101 Bring out your dead!

"I knew a man who once said, "death smiles at us all; all a man can do is smile back."


On day 101, I shot for the third time in the new studio. It is becoming familiar again. Slowly, I'm learning how to best use everything that the place has to offer me. Including the automatically locking door. A curious statement if you will. You see, all along I knew it would lock on it's own and, therefore, require that I always carry the key. I was the KeyMaster, the door was the GateKeeper and Zuul ... Zuul was now locked somewhere inside the studio. With my key.

Good way to start a new relationship with a model and makeup artist, eh?

"Uh, yeah. So, nice to meet you. We'll begin shooting in a bit, as soon as one of my studio partners comes and unlocks the door! Ha ha ... so, how about that weather?"

In all seriousness, it wasn't that bad. They were very gracious about it and we only had to stand outside for about 15 minutes. We chatted a bit about the project and some of the other work they were doing. The model is a local burlesque dancer and her friend a costumer and MUA. Seemed like the perfect combination for the evening.

The idea behind the shoot was Día de los Muertos. Day of the dead. I'd been wanting to shoot something like this for awhile and when she brought the idea up, I jumped at the chance. I've always liked the idea of the painted skulls.

I had an idea of how I wanted to light this. The face would be the focal point of most of the photos. I wanted the light to be up high and moderately directional, falling off slightly as it got farther and farther from the makeup. Went with a 22" beauty dish for the main light, boomed up above her head. Had a sock over it, so it acted more like a softbox at that point, but still had that nice beauty dish light quality to it.

A second light was set on the far side of her, opposite the key; it had a gridded stripbox on it, helping to provide a nice bit of separation from the rest of the scene. Carving her out of it, almost. In later photos, we took a third light, gelled with a nice red, and splashed that up against the black muslin background, providing a bit more separation of her hair from the blackness. It was a good choice and helped to create one of the best photos of the entire set (shown below).

Dia de los Muertos II

I think, if I had to do this one over, the only thing I would change is the use of the black muslin background. I think a charcoal gray or black seamless would have worked much better here; the wrinkles in the muslin are somewhat distracting and divergent. Just a bit too much chaos. But then, I'm probably being picky. Yeah. Probably.

We had a few other ideas we wanted to try out, but didn't have much time to fully develop them because of how late we started. She's very into corsets and had brought one along, but we'd only gotten a dozen photos out of it before we realized what time it was (and it takes a fair amount of time to get a corset on and cinched up properly, let me tell you). We were going to shoot a few pinup-styled poses with a chromed stool. Next time, though. Definitely next time.

Dia de los Muertos III

The model is Haazard. She's on Model Mayhem. Definitely fun to work with and definitely plan to work with her again. The makeup was courtesy of her friend Morgan.

And finally, I leave you with one last photo from the set.

Dia de los Muertos I

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

365/100 Bite into an apple

365/100 Bite into an Apple

Holy shit! It's day 100 and I'm still on track. Mostly. We've been trying to eat healthier lately. More fruits, more vegetables, more grains in the diet. It's not so much that we're dieting. I wouldn't call it that. I'd call it more of a lifestyle change to try and get our bodies back on track with a sane reality of food. As such, we've been keeping food around that's got interesting textures and feels.

Like this pineapple.

It has contours and points and pricks and patterns and an aged patina. I played with it for about twenty minutes trying to find different points and angles to shoot it from. This is one of the hardest parts of photographing something: trying to find the "right" framing of it. Sometimes you have to take lots of photos to figure it out because you can't see it when it's staring back at you.

There were two views of this pineapple that I liked the most: this one and a view from the top, staring down into the leaves. I preferred the second in black and white because of the detail in the veins of the leaves. I tried this one out in black and white, but there was entirely too much contrast. It looks much better in full and vivid color. Much easier to see the white, chalky oxidation on the leaves.

Simple light setup going on here. Single SB-900 shooting through a 15" Lastolite Ezybox Hotshoe to camera left.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

365/99 Steamy coffee ... or is it?

365/99 Steamy coffee ... or is it?

Woot! I think I'm nearing the end of my first real hump in this photo project. It's day 99, right around the point that I expected a slump to occur.

I've been looking at food photography techniques and smoke photography techniques lately, trying to better understand them. Figured I'd try to use one with the other to mimic steam coming off the hot surface of a cup of coffee. I think it may have been a bit too much smoke in this particular case. But, what the hell, learning experience right?

The cup is empty, save for a slowly burning cone of incense. Single light, an SB-900 through a Lastolite Ezybox Hotshoe, to camera left and slightly behind the cup. There's a second hilight showing up inside the rim on the far side of the mug that I can't figure out what's actually causing it: it's either the bounce back from the on-camera flash (which I had covered up with my hand to gobo it from the mug) or it's the TV that was right behind me while I was shooting.

And, as a bonus, here's a few smoke-only photos that have been color-enhanced in Photoshop. Figured it was a shame to waste this opportunity to capture some smoke after I was done with the coffee mug photos.


365/something ... I need to catch up.

Ok. I've been a complete slacker when it comes to posting my 365 photos. I've been taking them, I just haven't been able to really bring myself to do a lot of commentary on them like I normally do. I think I've crept back into that low spot where writer's block has kicked in and I'm struggling to put prose to photo.

So, without further ado ... I present 9 days worth of photos in one fell swoop.

365/90 WOW ... only you can prevent the addiction.

365/90 WOW ... only you can prevent the addiction

My wife is a WOW addict. I'm somewhat entertained by it. She always has to have the latest WOW-enhancing gear. For example, the Glowing Keyboard of Critical Hits +5, seen here. Ok, not really. It's still a stupidly expensive keyboard that glows in the dark.

Lit with one SB-900 shooting through a Lastolite Ezybox Hotshoe softbox on the far side of the desk and two feet above. I liked the shadow and moodiness this created. I let the shutter drag in order to pull in the blue LEDs on the keyboard. A nice touch, I think.

365/91 Grabbing a bit of hell

365/91 Grabbing a bit of hell

One of the local fire spinners, practicing one of his moves where he produces a small fireball before launching it towards the ... just kidding. He likes to catch the flaming poi in his hand for a second or two before dropping it because of the intense heat. I've wanted a photo of this from the first time I saw him do it. Took me a few attempts to get it.

365/92 Taste the Rainbow

365/92 Taste the Rainbow

Everyone loves a box of crayons. Me? I wanted to photograph them. There's order and texture to the colors and rough paper wrappers. It's also a bit of a pain to photograph them because they don't like to hold themselves steady in their box, no matter how much you crush and crumple it into the right shape. In the end, I stuffed some paper into the box and forced the crayons into the right shape and form: stair stepped and at attention, like waxed soldiers waiting for orders.

Shot with a single SB-900 through a Lastolite Ezybox Hotshoe to camera left and a white card to camera right to provide a bit of bounce fill.

365/93 Last Call

365/93 Last Call

The cosmetics my wife used the other evening when getting ready for us to go out for the evening. Something quick to shoot.

365/94 Egg Hunt

365/94 Egg Hunt

On the hunt for the elusive hard-boiled droppings of a pink bunny hippity-hopping through the neighborhood.

365/95 Ghost in the Shell

365/95 Ghost in the Shell

We've been watching ghost hunting shows lately. I'm a card-carrying skeptic, so I have a hard time watching these shows and do anything but laugh at them. With all the EVPs and infra-red cameras, heat guns and listening devices you'd think they actually catch something credible by now. So, since they haven't, I decided to catch my own ghost. We call him Bob. He walks up and down our neighborhood streets yelling at the dogs and striking poses before tired photographers.

365/96 Balloons

365/96 Balloons

Taken with my iPhone. Some balloons hanging out in the breeze on my way home from work.

365/97 Shadows

365/97 Shadows

Taken with my iPhone. The sun was setting and I was at the right place to catch the silhouette of my body cast out before me.

365/98 Carved in Stone

365/98 Carved in Stone

Taken with my iPhone. Over the years, people have carved their names, initials, loves, losses, chants, rants, symbols, diagrams, and histories in the soft rock. Amazing way to time travel, honestly. A living time machine that both grows with it's graffiti and erodes it's life away with every drop of water that splashes upon it.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

365/89 Behind Blue Eyes

365/89 Behind Blue Eyes

The only calm and slightly not insane four-legged animal that prowls around our home. I cornered him one evening in our bedroom and started flashing him with a speedlight. I don't know if he remained calm because he's used to this or because he was constantly being stunned by the flash-bang grenades that are my speedlights.

Took it in stride, though. Of course, he probably stomped all over my head when I went to sleep that night.

365/88 Two of Hearts

365/88 Two of Hearts

Something to go with this photo.

365/87 Chili Oil

365/87 Chili Oil

"Americans can eat garbage, provided you sprinkle it liberally with ketchup, mustard, chili sauce, Tabasco sauce, cayenne pepper, or any other condiment which destroys the original flavor of the dish."

Henry Miller

We made stir fry the evening this was shot. General Tso's Chicken as I recall. It was frighteningly delicious. Only, I didn't want mine spicy. I'm pretty particular about what foods I'll eat if they're filled with chili powder or anything that remotely gets the endorphins kicking. Kind of funny when you consider I grew up in a city full of mexican culinary delights, almost all of which are laced with some deliciously spicy detail.

This was the bottle of chili oil that everyone else used to sprinkle liquid heat on their food. They enjoyed it. Sweated a bit, but they enjoyed it.

Monday, March 29, 2010

365/86 Floating banana

365/86 Floating banana

Ok, this was a make-up photo. I got so wrapped up over the weekend, that I forgot to take a photo for day 86. So I did it last night.

Recently, I had seen a blog posting on how to "Create Wonderful Sliced Fruit Images" from DIYphotography. The idea was pretty captivating and made a mental note to try it out at some point.

That point was last night when I stared at the bundle of bananas on the dining room table while trying to come up with an idea to photograph. By this point, I remembered the blog post, but couldn't remember where I had actually seen it. No matter, I vaguely recalled what I needed to do: slice up the banana and artfully drop it from an appropriate height, while managing to hand-hold the camera and trigger it at the right moment. Skilled hands, rocket-like reactions ... all in the grip, baby, all in the grip.

Ok, not really. The article calls for slicing up the fruit and holding it together with toothpicks. Once the shooting is complete, all it takes is some photoshopping to get rid of the toothpicks. Doesn't take much. The photoshopping took more time than the photo did, actually.

The lighting setup on this was pretty simple. One SB-900 shooting through a Lastolite Ezybox Hotshoe to camera left about a foot away.

I showed the results to a few folks shortly after posting the photo. I think my favorite was "Whoooooa. How ... whoooooah!"

I like those reactions. I might have to do a few more fruit photos in the near future.

365/85 Smile!

365/85 Smile!

Some days, you just need a monkey smiling up at you to make it a good ending to an exhausting week. I mean, how often does something insidiously happy like that creep you out at 3am when you're bleary-eyed and ready for a deep sleep?

Not often.


365/84 Burnt out.

365/84 burnt out.

Staring up at the ceiling fan the other night, I realized how exhausted I still was from the music awards. And the two subsequent photo shoots done at the studio this week.

I crawled into bed, snapped the photo, and went to bed.

If sleep was for the wicked, then wicked I may be.

I like how the iphone shutter was slowed enough to blur out the blades of the fan, but fast enough to capture the lights in perfection.

And, of course: the one burnt out light.

I should change that.

365/83 Testing, testing, testing 1, 2, 3, testing

365/83 Testing, testing, testing 1, 2, 3, testing

Second shoot in the studio. Can't show any of the photos from it yet; they're embargoed for a bit until the group I was shooting with gets their flyers and such created. We made some really great images. Enjoyed shooting with them.

This photo was a test for one of the lighting setups we were working with. It's a two light setup, lights on opposite corners. The light on camera left was a strip box, held up about 6 feet off the ground on a boom. The rear light on camera right was a 2'x3' softbox at chest-level.

Loved how this turned out in black and white, even if it was a test.

365/82 Police Lineup

365/82 Police Lineup

Oy, I'm so backed up on posting these things!

Did my first night in the studio last Tuesday, photographing a friend for some pinup work she wanted done. It was entirely too much fun. I love shooting in this studio. The green walls, on their own, are excellent backdrops for a lot of the shooting I intend to do.

There's a red velvet couch in the studio, as well. A deep, gorgeous red. With a broken leg. It adds character, you see. I'll be posting more photos with that couch once I get them more fully processed.

It felt good to be back in the studio after such a long time away. With the closing of the last studio (Thank you, Fire Marshall Bill for condemning that building!), I've been in sort of a rut photographically. The 365 project that I'm slowly working through has been a great help for this. Definitely a good creative outlet.

Anyway, the studio. I love it. Big, spacious, clean. And a big plus: it doesn't feel like you're walking onto the set of Hostel, moving towards your death.

No, instead, it's clean and modern. Accessible. Dare I say, "nice". Yeah. nice.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

365/81 Only Madagascar's Finest

365/81 Only Madagascar's Finest

Yes, another product-type shot.

I picked up this bottle of vanilla the other day at the suggestion of random vanilla connoisseur who worked at the store. Originally, I'd wanted some of the cheap stuff for the bread pudding I'd recently made, but looking over the prices, I found that this ended up being cheaper (in quantity) than the stuff I normally get. In total: $10 for four ounces.

This stuff is the bomb.

Worked great for the bread pudding. I will be hoarding it henceforth.

Anyway, figured that I'd use it for a photo since I enjoyed it so much.

Today, I tried something different for my product shoot. I wanted a pure white field for the background. Normally, I'd do this by throwing light on some white seamless until it was blown out enough for my needs. This time, since I was photographing something suitably small, I stuck the Lastolite Ezybox Hotshoe in as the background and propped it against the table I was shooting upon. This gave me a fairly nice reflection thrown across the wood finish. You vaguely see some woodgrain in the forefront of the photo.

This gave me an excellent base to work from.

Next, I needed to throw a key light in there. For this, I went with my tried and true bare SB-900 shooting through two sheets of paper. Why two? I figured this out previously: the second sheet helps to diffuse a bright hotspot that comes from the flash and shows up as an unsightly flare on any reflective surface.

This gave me a pretty good fill from the left, but I still had too much shadow on the right side of the bottle.

Foamcore to the rescue! A sheet of it was placed on the right of the bottle, giving me a white reflector that further filled in using any of the excess light coming in from the left.

The biggest annoyance of this entire setup was that I couldn't get the bottle top in focus enough with the rest of the bottle. I felt I'd stopped it down more than enough. I think I was just too close when photographing it. A 135mm lens would have probably gotten me far enough away, but still provide enough close in detail and framing to have made this work better.

I made do with what I had.

Overall, I think this worked out pretty well. A bit of extra fill in Lightroom during post and I think I nailed it. Well, nailed it enough. Still unhappy about the top. You probably wouldn't notice it unless you were viewing this full size, though.

Ah well.

Here's a setup shot of the entire work space. Enjoy!

Setup, Vanilla bottle

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

365/80 Popcorn, jiffy style

365/80 popcorn, jiffy style

"The laziest man I ever met put popcorn in his pancakes so they would turn over by themselves."

W.C. Fields

Every once in a while, I get a craving for popcorn. Not just any popcorn. I'm talking about old school Jiffy Pop. You know, the kind you sear over an open flame, holding the flimsy wire handle so tightly that it cauterizes the skin on your palms. You can hear the sizzling of the oil on the bottom of the aluminum pan. Pretty soon, you shake it all, breaking loose the hundreds of kernels congealed together in the now boiling grease. Shake shake. Shake. Shake shake shake.

And then, the first pop. Then another. And another. And another. Soon, the foil puffs up like a big down pillow on the king-size bed of a 4-star hotel. One moment it's flat, the next it's damn near bursting at the seams as it turns into a little steam engine, puffing out little tufts of white smoke as water from the dried kernels of corn super heat and create little explosions of starch.


Pop pop. Pop.


Shake pop.

And when it stops, you're left with a surprise: either you've gotten a silver-wrapped gift basket of popcorn or you've gotten a burnt casket of corn and crap.

Bon appétit!

365/79 Beware the kilted man

365/79 Beware the Kilted Man

How often do you see a man in full kilted regalia, sporran included, giving you the two-fingered salute while sticking his tongue out at you? Couple times a year, actually. Well, sporran optional.

This is my good friend Lanny. We've known each other for a few years now and have developed one of those friendships that can go for weeks and months at a time where we don't get to see each other. But, the moment we do, the friendly ribbing takes up right where it left off.

This is one of my outtakes from the Austin Music Awards (of which, I'm still wading through all the photos from Saturday; more to come on that front). Lanny does volunteer work for the award show and has been doing it for quite some time. He's one of the people that make it a success every year.

We were hanging out in the volunteer check-in area this year, between sound check and the show, ribbing each other like usual. I forget what I said that prompted this, but I happened to have my camera up and ready while taking other photos. Grabbed a quick snap just as he started to walk away.

Sort of a priceless, unprompted moment. We both had a good laugh over this. A quick, but needed respite from a long, busy day.

Just remember: beware the kilted man. He may salute you in the most unexpected of ways.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

365/78 We all wear masks

365/78 We all wear masks

Fezzik: Why do you wear a mask? Were you burned by acid, or something like that?

Man in Black: Oh no, it's just that they're terribly comfortable. I think everyone will be wearing them in the future.

The Princess Bride

You know, I had this whole idea of masks laid out in my head this evening. A topic to write about with a pointed photo to assist it. A discussion of the power of masks and their effect on us emotionally when saddled within a photograph.

I tried. I really tried.

I just couldn't get into it.

I keep staring at this mask my kids got from the Denver Zoo. It's a tiger mask, I guess. Flimsy and flexible and feigning a beastly growl. It barely fit upon my face when I thought up this crackpot idea. What this mask really turned out to be was creepy, with sunken, cut-out eyes that reminded me of Michael Myers in Halloween or Jason Voorhees in Friday the 13th. Sinister and psychotic it was, staring straight into the camera while the flash clicked and whined.

I mean, look at it. How would you feel being approached by a man in that mask, bearded and disheveled, long, ratty hair, saying nothing to you, nothing to anyone. Just a heavy, heated breath wheezing out from beneath the mask.

Creepy I say. Creepy.

Masks can be used to invoke a directed emotion, both from the mask wearer and the unlucky viewer of the disguise. Masks can be used to shield us from the hazards of the emotion that lies beneath. Masks segregate and accentuate all at once. No special skills required.

I've been thinking about masks lately and how I can use them in my photography. Originally, it began with wanting to only hide emotion, restrict it from view and accentuate the one narrowed feeling that I wanted the viewer to see. I'd done this before with my photos involving plastic wrap, invoking a sense of entrapment and suffocation. I want to do it with other images now. Other feelings.

For now, I'll just start with this: a simple, plastic mask meant for kids, staring you down and sizing you up. Maybe you're a next meal, maybe you're just a toy. Maybe you're nothing worth tangling with, nothing worth worrying about.

Guess it all depends on how you look upon the mask.

In the end, we wear them, however uncomfortable, to affect a mood, a moment. In the end, we will continue to use them however we need to get the job done.

Friday, March 19, 2010

365/77 Nostalgia

365/77 Nostalgia

This is an HP48GX. It was my first graphing calculator. I got it back in high school when I first took up calculus. It's tagged alongside me for years. Up until I quit college, that is. After that, it went into a box of junk, moved through three homes, and finally ended up in my hands again last year. I don't recall why I dug it out.

I started playing with it again this evening, trying to pull from the back of my cobweb-filled head the instructions on how to plot something with it. Took a bit of googling and some playing around before I struck upon the magic RPN incantations to graph cos(x^2) and x^2.

It's strange playing with a tool that I've had longer than any other computing device. 16 years I believe. It's outlasted at least 5 computers, 4 monitors, and several modems and cable modems. And not only that, it's still functional and useful. Can't say that about a lot of technology these days.

This was a single light setup. One SB-900 shooting through a Lastolite Ezybox Hotshoe to the right of the camera about a foot away from the calculator. See the setup shot for a better look.

Setup, Nostalgia

365/76 Attack Lounger

365/76 Attack lounger

Doh. Forgot to take a picture last night, so I did a make-up photo today. Ferocious isn't he?

365/75 A truck full of wool

365/75 A truck full of wool

"Geographically, Ireland is a medium-sized rural island that is slowly but steadily being consumed by sheep."

Dave Barry

Sheep. More specifically, sheep butts. This was wonderful view upon which I gazed after having trekked into town, twice, to go to the store. Why twice? The second time was with my wallet so I could pay for my hard-chosen delicacies.

Anyway, sheep. These guys were crammed into a mud-caked trailer, running along the highway near the house. You never realize how dirty and dusty sheep wool is until you're within spitting distance of them. Boy, were these guys disgusting. Like shaggy dogs that had been rolling around in the sand during a bad dust storm.

And what's more, the weather was wet. Drizzling, then storming, then drizzling, then storming. What a miserable day for those sheep. Probably being carted off to slaughter. And me? Headed home with a bag full of goodies and a photo.

365/74 Flame on!

365/74 Flame on!

Who doesn't like playing with butane and strikers at the butt-crack of dark? Realized I was only moments from bed and had forgotten that I needed a photo for the moment. Grabbed the nearest thing in the kitchen: a butane torch. Strike-strike, and instant blue flame.

Yeah. I'm a pyro. What of it?

Monday, March 15, 2010

365/73 Water Droplets

365/73 Water Droplets

Another night, another drink photo. This time, I wanted to experiment with a glass bottle that had the effect of condensation on it. I used the same lighting setup as my coke can shot the other evening. Simple and easy, now that I knew just what I needed to soften the light and kill the hotspots.

No, tonight's attempt was to practice with the water droplets. The effect would have been better if the glass was further misted over to appear to be cold. I know what I need to do to achieve this, I just didn't have the supplies tonight to take the effect to it's full conclusion.

Ordinarily, water doesn't want to stay on the bottle if the droplets become too large. The trick I learned recently was to mix some liquid glycerin in with your water and use a spray bottle to apply. The suggestion I found was to use a 30%/70% glycerin/water mix. I tried using less glycerin, but it leaves the water too ... well, wet. It starts to get sticky enough as it approaches the 30/70 mix, allowing for larger droplets of water to form.

Next time I try this, I need to apply the missing step, which I'll blog about at some point in the future. It involves misting spray glue over the glass to make it more opaque, much like the sheen you would find on a cold glass that begins to frost over with fine condensation.

Here's the setup shot for tonight.

Setup, Water Droplets

365/72 Lighting a Coke and a Smile

365/72 Lighting a Coke and a Smile

Playing with some quick food photography tonight, building up a few techniques for a shot I have in mind. Tonight, I set up a coke can with a simple one light configuration, trying to get a reasonably soft light that was easily controlled.

Started out with a single sheet of notebook paper acting as the diffuser in front of the speedlight. Everyone has paper laying around, so it's a quick setup for this. Unfortunately, for what I wanted, it left a very obvious hotspot on the can that was pinpointed right in the direction of the light. Nothing like the strip of light that I wanted and expected. So, shove a second sheet of paper infront to diffuse it even more. This got rid of the hotspot at the expense of having to bump the power a bit more to make up for the loss of light.

Next thing to take care of was the excess amount of light spilling on the can from behind that was spilling out from the reflections against the wall. Easy fix: placed a blackwrap gobo between the light and the wall and that cut down all the excess light that was flooding in.

Here's a setup shot if you can't picture what I'm talking about.

Setup, Lighting a Coke and a Smile

Sunday, March 14, 2010

365/71 The way out is through

365/71 The way out is through

Tried a new place for lunch on Friday: Frank Restaurant. More than a pushcart hotdog stand, Frank served quite the array of form-fitted meats in a spongy-dough bun. I went the simple route and chose a Chicago Dog with onions, relish, mustard, and what looked like a pickle. I was tempted to throw some ketchup into play, but figured I would start a revolution. No sir, no pitchfork and torch wielding mobs for me. (Tho, if I'm up in Chicago again, I might try that just to see what happens.)

The place was fairly packed thanks to SXSW Interactive. I don't know how many young hipsters I saw. I stopped counting after a few dozen. I'll spare you the food photos this time, mostly because I was famished and tore into my hot dog before I remembered to steal its soul with the camera.

Instead, I did a few slow exposures of people by the bar. I've been fascinated by photos exhibiting movement and blur, so this was a great time to try it out. Didn't take many. This was the only one that came out. Liked it even better when I cropped it square and framed him center-wise.

Have to say, this was the best $30 hotdog I've ever had ... $10 for the meal and $20 for the !@#$% parking ticket. Apparently I can't read and placed the parking sticker on the wrong side of my car. Sigh. Expensive lesson.

At least the hot dog was good.

365/70 It's a party in your mouth

365/70 It's a party in your mouth.

Look! It's another appetizing food post! These things are addictive. I ate far too many the evening I took this photo. Utterly bloated and cracked out on sugar, I decided that these would be a good way to end the evening, photo-wise. I think it worked out well. The biggest problem I had was with the highlights coming off the plastic bag. It took several attempts at fluffing the plastic up and poking it back down in order to get a nice wash of light reflection from the wall.

I admit to eating a few of my subjects ... the ones that weren't appropriate for film, you know.

So, simple one light setup. One SB-900 bounced off the kitchen wall. No other modifiers for this. Here's a setup shot. The small alcove where this was done is great for work like this. I can get in tight, keep the power low, and have an easy time cleaning up afterwards. The cabinet above helps contain the light, too.

Setup, Starburst bag