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.