Sunday, August 24, 2008

Great Workshop

We just had another very fun day with the "Small Strobes, Big Results" workshop here in Denver. If you are a professional photographer or an amateur looking to lighten your load and improve your photos using small strobes, this workshop is perfect for you. We did multiple set-ups with two different subjects and got some great results using nothing more than small Nikon strobes, a few pocket wizards, and a Q-Flash.

Colin Cheadle- Actor

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

What's Hot

Sometimes a simple object can inspire a shot. As photographers many of us have an object that we have been eyeing, we pass it everyday or we see it sitting on our basement shelf, waiting for the moment when inspiration hits and the idea becomes solid. For me that object at one time was this big piece of coal. 
While on assignment at a large coal mine in Wyoming with David Tejada, we spirited away this big chunk of coal with the idea of doing a still shot for the client. The client ended up with a collection of beautiful photos from our visit to the mine and a  still shot of the coal never came to fruition. 
So the coal sat on a shelf in the studio, big as a football, and it sat. For nearly 2 years I would see it as we loaded gear for location or while shooting product stills for clients. Ideas would briefly bounce around in my head about how to shoot it,  and the more we encountered it in uncontrollable situations, the more I wanted to shoot it in the studio as a "stand alone object", just a piece of coal as a canvas for light.
The growing controversy over this resource makes it a great subject for a marketable power shot... no pun intended, and with it's obvious two sided nature it made sense to show a dark side and a light side. 
The inspiration was made final when I got the idea to shoot it on my old stand-by sheet of brushed steel, using incident light to surround the coal with a glow.

Before I even set the coal on the steel, I set-up my incident light, a medium soft-box with a bunch of CTOs and some Golden Amber gels at the back of the set. Once I had total coverage on the surface from the reflection of the soft-box, I set the coal in and hit it with a single gridded light. My Nikon D70s  with my 35-70/2.8 @ F22 finished the job. The rest is pixels.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Shoot Yourself

Hand-held D70s with 16mm/2.8.

Self-portraits are a great way to "feel the light".

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Today's Pic

D70s- 300mm/2.8 with doubler.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Point and Shoot Backpacking

Just returned home from a backpacking trip in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Colorado. The hike in was only 3.7 miles thanks to a ride from a park ranger we befriended last year, but the elevation gain was nearly 2,300ft. in that short distance. I wanted to pack light so the pro camera gear just wasn't practical, and as I found out, not necessary for nice pics.
At one point I had planned on bringing a monopod with a ball head quarter 20 but in my quest for a lighter pack, decided against it. In the end, I brought a small point and shoot Cannon with 2 spare batteries and a handful of SD cards...... thats it! Lightweight and easy to operate, cheap compared to my pro gear, super reliable and the added bonus of being able to shoot some video.
We set camp at around 10,500 feet next to a lake that will remain unnamed. We spent 3 days catching some of the largest native Greenback Cutthroat trout in Colorado. Our largest fish was 22+ inches, the average was around 18 inches or so. After three full days of fishing, the three of us landed around 50 trout total, all on dry flies and nymphs. Our philosophy here is "catch and release" despite a 2 fish keeper limit. We bring the fish in, admire it's beauty, take a quick picture and then its' back in the water... "catchya next year"!

Having such a small and simple camera was very liberating, I enjoyed walking around taking pictures and shooting video almost as much as the fishing. My "wish I could" moment came at night when the tents were lit up from within and the stars were shining and reflecting in the glass-like lake. I had no tripod and the camera didn't have enough manual controls to make long exposures for light-painting. The disappointment at my lack of capable equipment was such that I will be bringing the extra weight next time.  Our spot on the lake is amazing at night and on our next trip I am going to get a killer night-shot. Maybe I will leave the tent and food at home, sleep in a cave and eat trout sushi... no, I need the tent for the shot,........ darn.

This is a photo I did last year at my campsite on McLure Pass. I used a tripod, 30 second exposure on my D70s, a strobe in the tent, pocket wizards, and a big Maglite to light-paint the trees.