Saturday, January 08, 2005
Sunday, August 15, 2004
Dimensions of Janet
It was an interesting coincidence that my third photo shoot with Janet on the same day as my blog-a-thon for charity. Because I was moblogging the shoot wirelessly with my Sidekick, I created a real-time activity journal that presumably allowed interested readers to follow along. It was a challenge to remember to post at 30 minute intervals on top of juggling my photo equipment, props and directing Janet. Producing 48 blog posts in 24 hours sapped my interest in posting to the main column here for a couple weeks, but I've still been trickling posts into the sidebar. Below, finally, are some samples from the shoot.
My previous sessions with Janet were out in cold weather and indoors in front of a window. So I was excited to finally go outdoors in warm weather to expand our photographic collaboration. We were working in the yard of a house in Ellicott City that has a panoramic view of the Patapsco River Valley and Old Town.
I had hoped for sunny weather, but no such luck. I took the cloudy skies as a challenge to re-create morning sunlight with my studio flash kit. I ran a long power cord from the house to my power pack and set up two flash heads: a bare bulb on the left, and the other bouncing off an umbrella from the right. It became windy about an hour into the shoot, but I was able to poke the light stands up through a couple heavy wooden lawn chairs for stability. I did have to straighten out the umbrella several times. Here I have Janet seated in front of the river valley. We did a variety of poses seated and standing. In retrospect, I wish I had a third light head to point at the dark silhouettes of the tree trunks.
Then we turned the set-up around 180 degrees and made some portraits against the ivy-covered hill. Janet said that she looked and felt tired from only four hours of sleep the night before, but honestly, I couldn't tellshe looked fantastic as always. I haven't blogged this fact before, and I don't think Janet will mind now, but does this look like a 44-year-old woman to you? I say ROCK ON BABE.
Next, we moved indoors, and set up the backdrop stand by a bed and draped the whole scene with many yards of white cloth for some simple figure studies with flowers as props. I just used window light and a couple silver reflector discs.
The most interesting effect of the indoor series was my first attempt at the old technique of simulating moonlight by shifting the digital camera's color balance from daylight to incandescent. The effect works well, but I'm glad I shot a bunch of alternalte frames in standard daylight mode. Next time I have this image open in Photoshop, I think I will mask off Janet and subtract some of the blue out to make her skin tone more realistic.
Janet attains muse status with this third shoot and many hours in front of the camera. She was even ready to do another session this coming weekend, but I told her to get ready for, and enjoy her upcoming vacation. I'm fortunate to have Janet as a friend, and that she's interested in photography herself.
Friday, July 30, 2004
This afternoon, I spied this butterfly resting on a wild sunflower near Cambridge, Maryland.
Saturday, July 10, 2004
After a few months of juggling schedules, I finally photographed my neighbor, Acupuncturist Ann, this afternoon. Scouting some well-lit locations in and around her house, we noticed a narrow shaft of light from a small skylight centered nicely on the back wall of the stairwell. I had no previsualized image in mind, but I knew the concentrated light from above would look dramatic. We talked about Ann's hands and arms as the real tools of her trade, so she reached up towards the light and spread her fingers. I asked her to back up against the wall until her fingers cast some interesting long shadows. I worked in wide angle first (see right) and closed in for the image above. The finger shadows in the close-on image have a feather-like grace about them, and are suggestive of the gentle touch of Ann's skilled hands.
Downstairs, we made the portrait I had in my mind's eye when I arrived.
Saturday, June 19, 2004
Inspired by the black and white photos I've seen in Victoria's Secret stores over the years, I worked with my friend Dainah today on a similar bold contrasty style. For someone who has never modeled before, Dainah is really developing a comfort and presence in front of my camera. Here she is laying on a long piece of crushed muslin that we suspended in a U-shaped configuration in front of a big sunlit window in her house. The same piece of cloth diffused the window light, served as floor covering, and extended back up behind me to bounce light back into the shadows. My camera was facing the sunlight while Dainah's sister was holding a silver reflector next to me to direct a concentration of light back into Dainah's face. The image is a color image converted to black and white and tinted in Photoshop. I continue to be enchanted with the simplicity of working with natural light, but I am starting to dabble in studio electronic flash again.
Sunday, June 06, 2004
I took a couple days off from family and work at the end of last week to visit my former boss's newly renovated waterfront home on the Eastern Shore that is soon to open as a bed & breakfast. It was a good boost to my spirit to reconnect with him as he's an inspiring leader and very successful businessman. My confidence is recharged again just hearing him talk. He has admired my photographic work, and having recently purchased a Canon 10D digital SLR system, wanted some coaching on technique. We did a couple photo sessions with hired models in various locations around his property working with available light and reflectors. For sustinance, he cooked up crab cakes and softshells (emerging at right) made from critters plucked fresh out of the water. Below are a few of the photos we made. Click on the small images to pop up larger versions.
A couple views of the main house as seen from the boathouse.
Russian-born Lena was a pleasure to photograph.
This butterfly was fluttering inside the main house patio window. These last two images were taken with the Canon.
I made mental note of dozens of photo ideas as we wandered the property on foot and in his Humvee. Hopefully, we'll be able to align our busy schedules a few more times over the summer to do some more shoots. Next time, I'll be bringing the rest of the family.
Sunday, May 09, 2004
Looking at Liz
Today I met up with hired model Liz at a friend's house in Ellicott City for another photo session. I've been thinking about posing Liz with her flaming red hair in the window well of a room in the house where the wallpaper had been stripped to reveal a complimentary turquiose patina. Everything came togetheralong with great weatherjust a week before the walls are to be covered up. The window photo looks like it could be a singer's CD/album cover, and, well, I wouldn't mind being hired to shoot for a CD cover. In the second image (click to pop up a larger version), Liz is posed just at the edge of shadow behind the house with the sun behind her. Nice wholesome light.
In both images, I used a 42" Photoflex silver Litedisc reflector to bounce light into her face. I'm hooked on these collapsible reflectors. They're so simple and effective. And my new-ish Olympus C-5060 is working quite well. I finally found my old Iomega 1 gig microdrive this weekend and pressed it into service.
Redhead Liz rounds out the hair color facet of my portfolio. Now I've got to continue to work on ethnic diversity in my quest to make photographs of female beauty.
Updated 5/13: After reviewing the take from Sunday some more, I replaced the previous feature image with a larger, bolder composition and pose. The color palette of the distressed walls harmonizes with Liz's hair and dress perfectly.
Saturday, May 08, 2004
A rigger works to inflate the balloon sponsored by Constellation Energy for tonight's Preakness Celebration Balloon Glow at the Inner Harbor, which was scheduled for 9pm. I didn't make it back to see the balloons in their full glory as we had a busy day toting the baby around with family for Mother's Day. Baby Cianna was somewhat overstimulated by dinnertime, so we had a quiet evening at home.
Thursday, May 06, 2004
A close-up of trillum erectum taken in my mother-in-law's backyard this past Monday in Greenville, Ohio.
As mentioned previously, look to the right sidebar for a trickle of links, and moblog updates. You'll see we had a nice visit today from Lou and Steve at the office.
OK, I've been trying to kick a mild headcold the past few days, so no more staring at the TypePad interface and early to bed.
Monday, April 26, 2004
18 months of phone cam photos
With the help of a special query to the hiptop Nation database, I was able to back up over 18 months of moblog posts and phone cam photos to my local hard drive by simply loading everything into a single Netscape window and saving the page. I haven't gone back and read all the text yet, but here are some stats and facts on the images:
- Date range: 10/14/02 - 4/25/04
- 557 moblog posts
- 1715 low-resolution JPEG images totaling 21 megabytes
- Currently loads on hiptop Nation as 28 archive pages
- Used two different Danger Hiptop/Sidekick devices and three camera modules
- Posted from the cities of Baltimore, Washington, D.C., New York City, Chicago, Boston, Portland, Austin and more
- Transmitted posts from commuter trains, airplanes, ferry boats, subways, taxis, a moving sidewalk and the gondola of a helium balloon
- 58 photos showing myself (more than I thought)
- 53 photos showing my wife
- 106 photos showing my baby daughter
- 24 photos showing my dog
With all the photos on my local hard drive, I was able to dump them into my iView image catalog utility to create a big thumbnail sheet. You can see the 1200 x 5500 pixel, 1.2 mb image in a pop-up window by clicking on the image above.
Rendered this way, my reaction was that 1715 images didn't look like a lot. Later this year, I'd like to pump another back up of these images into a photomosaic program to generate some Rob Silvers-style artwork.
I think I can sustain a decent rate of 3-4 photo-illustrated moblog posts a week for a long time, and though I'm really interested in the Treo 600 series, I'll likely switch to the next version of the Danger Hiptop when it is released.
I'm going to spend some quality time in the coming days reflecting on this tapestry of moblog posts and images. It was the best 18 months of my life.