Getting shoots in can be hard. It’s especially hard when you have a particularly hectic life. Delina is pretty easy to relate to when it comes to that little reality. I’m sure if we had a little competition of who could keep themselves more busy. She’d probably win but I’d give her a run for her money.
Us being busy all the time makes it a real treat when we actually get to work together. Delina approached this shoot with an youthful energy that some times get lost on many who are in their adult age. She ran around, jumped kick and got really into the idea of being a power ranger. Something that you don’t normally get out of models on a shoot but treating work as a play is a great way to make sure the shoot comes out great.
One thing that was not particularly fun on this shoot was lighting. When shooting with natural light you only have some much control over what you can and cannot do. With the sun going down earlier and earlier and being more expedited with daylight savings ended hitting that golden hour requires some good timing on your part. At one point during the shoot we nailed the golden hour timing and were able to get great work but some of the earlier shots were plauged by harsh shadows and trying to get back lighting caused flair and ghosting. Nothing I couldn’t handel in post of course. Just not the ideal situation.
After a quick costume change and some time passing we get exactly what I wanted. That warm and even late afternoon sun that just gives images that majestic and even glow while the final costume change as recognizable as the previous one I kinda love the mishmash that we got. With storm trooper costume bought from a store and a couple of other pieces added from Delina’s fashionable wardrobe we got this 1980’s cyber-biker punk vibe that could only come from the randomness of our minds.
looking at the images in post and putting them together I noticed this level of intensity in Delina that you might not have picked up on in the was she behaved on the shoot but the images show a level of determination and focus that it really hard to match. the look and feel of the images don’t really work without this intensity and while it was a fun goofy shoot that we did it’s hard to see that images that we took which I think is why I love shooting with Delina so much. It doesn’t feel like a boring dry shoot while we’re in the process but the results come out looking so serious and grounded that the audience is fooled into thinking we have some level of professionalism.
As time goes on I’m starting to find new things that I know that I need to work on as a photographer. Particularly when it comes to supplemental lighting. I think the problem is that I lack a large level of creative vision to come out with these high concept shoots and I often find myself just going into every shoot with just a blank canvas and a set of skill and tools I use to make the images without having some kinda of end goal. That’s something that I need to work on myself but as far as Delina goes she just needs to keep doing what she’s doing.
It doesn’t get much better than golden hour on a slightly cloudy day, and that’s exactly what I got when I had the chance to work with Joy again. This time she dressed up as Daenerys Targaryen from the incredibly popular show Game of Thrones to shoot out in the Albuquerque Bosque.
The lighting that we got on that day couldn’t have gotten any closer than perfect even if it wanted to. Slightly cloudy, about an hour before sunset it gave me the ability to essentially shoot any way that I wanted and so I decided to try something different than I normally do. Most of the time I’m shooting at apretures between f2.8 and f4 but I wanted to play with shooting more wide open. So much of the shoot was done between f1.8 to f2.5 on my 85mm 1.8g lens.
I shot at the larger apertures specifically to get the shallow depth of fields that created a very dream like quality to the images. I’m normally very apprehensive about shooting wide open because while the effect is beautiful it becomes very difficult to nail sharp focus. That being said it’s not impossible; while at f2.8 and f3.5 my 85mm is tack sharp I was still really impressed with the sharpness I was getting at f1.8 and f2 and I still got to keep the dream like bokeh.
When it comes to shoots, locations always have to make sense. Lucky enough for me Albuquerque has an endless supply of locations. The easiest choice for the character Joy chose was the Albuquerque Bosque. It looks fairly remote and lush and allowed for a very clear backdrop.
The thing that I consistently need to work on is directing my subjects. Directing is one of those skills that really take time to get good at and almost every situation is different. Joy is one of those wonderful to work with in that regard. She comes from a performance background so she’s uses to making small adjustments even when they seem insignificant and she has an understanding of the big difference those small adjustments can make.
One thing I want to improve in my portraits is making them more dynamic. Doing things compositionally to create a higher level of visual interest. Part of that is thinking differently about how I shoot and also about how I post process. I like to think of myself as a purist, with my shooting doing the bulk of the work in camera and doing basic and minor adjustments in Lightroom afterwards. While I still believe getting things right in camera is critical I’m trying to spend more time in post making images the best they possibly can be.
I have this love hate relationship when it comes to shooting in a studio environment. On one hand you have nothing but control when it comes to every aspect of the photos, the downside is that it really does limit your creativity when it comes to composition.
The entire shoot was done against a black backdrop using 2 1K Flouresent lights with softboxes with a 200 watt clamp light as a back light. Being from a video background I end up using continuous lighting over strobes just so I don’t have more gear than I need. While strobes do have some benefits over continuous lighting, for what I do this setup works perfectly.
Black backdrops have a great effect of creating a void that eliminates any kind of distractions allowing you just to focus on the subject. As a drawback, however, any kind black article of clothing that the subject might be wearing will be lost without a few tricks in post.
In order to make studio photography work you need to know how to light your subject. There really are about a million and one ways to light your subject. Going back to my video background, I go for a 3 point lighting approach. A “key” light as the main light, a fill light to lift any harsh shadows and a back light to create separation from the background. You can add and take away lights as you see fit but since I’m still learning studio I kept it very basic.
I think for future studio ventures I’ll try playing with different set ups to see what kind of looks I can create with different lighting . The next couple of shoots that I have in the pipeline are on location and not studio which is more my element but it’s a nice skill to have when it comes to photography.
In previsous photography misadventure I talked about my tendency to edit in black and white in certain situations. The main factor in deciding between black and white and color is what is working better for the individual photo.
Not too long after shooting our cafe shoot Sam Arellano hit me up for an impromptu shoot that we did after I got out of my political science class at the University of New Mexico.
I love shooting on the fly because it allows me to just play around with different ideas in terms of what I want to do at a photoshoot. In the case of this shoot I wanted to see what I can find around the campus.
Now what made the photos so good for color. Well the main thing was the light. It was a late afternoon with slight overcast providing us with nice soft lighting that also came out incredibly warm.
With having everything shot in broad daylight all the images were shot between 100-400 ISO providing optimal color detail so making it a lot easier to work with on post.
Now I did edit some black and whites from this shoot but those cam down to that feel that I previously mentioned. The place I normally look at to see if a color process is working or not is in the skin tones. If skin tones aren’t behaving in the way I want a switch to black and white ends up solving the issue.
Photography continues to come down to preferences and styles. What works for me doesn’t always work for everyone and some times I can be indecisive. But my main goal when editing images is to make them look the way I want them to.
I don’t always edit my images in black and white… but some times I just can’t help myself. I never go into a shoot automatically knowing what I’m going to do in post processing. But once I’m sitting down playing around in Lightroom, the decision comes down to feel. This is most defiantly the case of my most recent Cafe shoot with Samantha Arellano.
When I make the decision to edit the images in black and white itnormally comes down to one question: is it working better than the color version? I have a particular style that involves having very detailed images with high levels of contrast. Some times this will results in vibrant colors but often they can also become very muddy. If I don’t feel like the image has good color I’ll switch it to black and white and a lot of the problems I was having will go away.
Another reason I will switch to black and white is if I had to shoot at a high ISO. This wan’t so much the case in this photo shoot but often when I have to shoot in conditions where I need to be at something like 3200-6400 I’ll opt into black and white 99.99% percent of the time. This is mostly because when you shoot at the higher ISOs you start to introduce noise and the color detail begins to fall apart. When you’re in black and white that color detail is irrelevant and the noise begins to look more like film grain than it does digital artifacts.
Another thing going to black and white helps with is removing distractions from the background. With on location shoots gaining control over a background is practically impossible. Busy color schemes, bright highlights and distracting elements all become less of an issue with black and white images, so it’s not hard for me to opt into a black and white photo.
Now black and white is clearly a style that is as old as photography itself and clearly can’t be considered original. A common thing I’ll hear from models after handing in images is that they’ll say “I love this photo, can get it in color.” It’s taken a while for me not to get offended by those kinds of statements but It’s a common thing for artist to hear people to ask for changes especially when they don’t understand reasoning behind your decisions.
Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to have both a color and black and white version everyone is allowed to have different taste when it comes to photos. If the job requires me to stay in color and forsake black and white images I will do so, and make the color work as best I can. However, if I get the option I’m going to go with the one I think works best. Black and white just worked better on this rounds of photos.
When you spend some time specializing in a certain field of photography people start to come to you specifically for certain types of images. In this case Joy approached me about doing a photoshoot involving her new Spider Gwen suit.
When it comes to shooting any costume based set the first thing I always think of is “what location does this costume work in”. In the case of an urban super hero I wanted to keep it as urban as possible. Downtown Albuquerque provided plenty for the aesthetic that I was looking for. We shot at and around the civic plaza and found plenty of things to work with and even found a few hidden gems in the process.
The best part of shooting with Joy was how much of a trooper she was. I asked her to climb up to different ledges and railings while balance herself without any compliant and it added so much more to the shots.
The big thing I’m trying to be better at as a photographer is collaboration. Receiving input and ideas from different sources and putting it into use. In this case my part time assistant and full time girlfriend Emilie was much more involved in location scouting and posing and I gave her free reign to give suggestions to try out. This system works especially well because even if an idea doesn’t work you can easily say hey we tried and move on. But all of Emilie’s ideas worked perfectly so there was no need to worry.
During post processing the main challenge I faced was balancing out exposure and color. The white portions of the suit caused some major highlights and when getting them balanced out brought in a blue coloring which could be changed in white balance. Post is always a game of feeling out the image and experimenting with what works and what doesn’t.
The images came out extremely well and we got some very unique looks throughout the shoot. It’s always great to get to work with new talent . Joy lives up to her name by being a fun new model to shoot with and I look forward to more work in the future.
If I recall correctly I believe I was alive at the tail end of the arcade generation. A time where you would exchange all of your allowance into quarters and play games while your parent were out doing whatever at the mall. I remember dumping a lot of those quarters into the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game and Time Crisis when I was a kid. While today arcades have become very obsolete with modern gaming platforms being the way they are there’s still something satisfying about setting up at a cabinet dumping all your quarters into it. That’s what made Get Your Geekon such a great event and you didn’t have to get a role of quarters.
Geekon, the company hosting the event at Sister Bar in Down Town Albuquerque, specializes in restoring, repairing and selling these old arcade cabinets and pinball machines. The endevor started as a simple pet project of restoring an old Ms. Pacman machine and it turned into a business that they are able to operate from their own home. It could almost be described as inspiring.
The event it’s self was put on to benefit Project Pinball which is a Charity group that raises money to put pinball machines in children’s hospitals. Proceeds from the event’s pinball and street fighter tournament went to Project Pinball as well as vendors that were selling prints and raffling off prizes.
The best thing about Get you Geekon without a doubt was the people. Not just the patrons who came out for a drink and a round of pinball but everyone who came out to contribute; Jon Sakura of Gamers Anonymous came out with his usual classic and fun loving flair and the Girls of Geek also came to sell prints and mingle with the crowd. It was easy to feel in place when you have people who you’ve gotten to know over the years be present at these sorts of events and want to just help out with a good cause and friends.