Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Dizzying of Nicole

Three images, one 2ish hour session. Some people may think it's inconceivable to only get three images in 2 hours, and others will think that 2 hours is barely enough time to nail a single concept down let alone three. The truth is I shoot hundreds of images in every session I do. 267 for this session to be exact.

I go through all those images and narrow down my favorites, in this case the field was whittled down to 44 choices - a much more manageable number. I guess I could run those 44 images through color correction, fix a couple blemishes and call it a day, a lot of photographers do just that, but that's not the way I prefer to do things. We didn't start a shoot to get a series of pretty good images, we're after that one great shot. The one that turns heads.

So I go through the smaller list of images and select my favorite favorites, and then it gets tough. When I have multiple candidates for a single concept I put them all on my screen side by side and stare. Sometimes I recruit my wife over to offer her opinion, sometimes I decide I need to combine my favorite part of each image together, and there is the rare occasion that two images from the same concept makes it through the selection process. More often than not a clear winner emerges and that winner is finished in Photoshop. After all, pushing the button on the camera creates only a rough draft of the image at very best, at least that's my opinion.

And in the end, I hope that all the mosquito bites, all of the slivers, all of the back road driving, gray-line trespassing, and making poor Nicole spin until she almost fell over was worth the effort. In some cases hope is not necessary, sometimes the photos turn out beyond even my expectations... this was one of those occasions. You gotta love this stuff!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Last minute shoot.

For this shoot we used a brand new location and shot until we ran out of light. The profile image of Nicole against the white crackling paint was shot in near darkness with mosquitoes completely ignoring the repellent as they bit constantly at any exposed skin they could find. Why mosquitoes even bother with me in the presence of such beautiful women is absolutely beyond me, my only explanation is that mosquitoes simply must know something that other people don't... and that is that I am delicious!

The Un-reality of Shay

The camera (and all the lights and equipment that go along with it) can only create the rough draft of any given image. The finalized version occurs in the darkroom, or in this day and age, the computer. Every image I make is perfected in Photoshop using dozens of different techniques, but usually I try to keep the edits hidden and indistinguishable. That was not the case for this series of shots, but you may be surprised to learn that the image of Shay in the lake required virtually no Photoshop other than some color correction and exposure adjustments. That's because most of the work for this image was done right there on the shore of the lake just after sunset.

It was a team effort. I had my camera on a tripod partially in the pond and set the exposure to a full 30 seconds, immediately after hitting the button Chris, my assistant, manually fired the flash at Shay. Then she got out of the water and Chris flashed the now empty lake. We then painted the shore and water with flashlights giving it that orangish glow. Of course we did this dozens of times and by the end Shay had become fairly adept and getting in and out of the mud fairly fast!

Dirt and Beauty.

Katie and Mindy at the Creepy House. There are so many different things to shoot here and I'm going to be so sad when it gets demolished. The construction of a housing development is literally edging its way within inches of this favorite location of mine.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

The Old Barn

I had two cancellations in a row, one yesterday and one tonight. Last night I took advantage of the free time and saw the "Bourne Ultimatum" with my lovely wife, it was good times. Tonight I felt like shooting, so I posted a bulletin on Myspace at around 4:00 stating that I had an opening and to contact me if you wanted to shoot. Within a half hour I had several options, including one random friend of mine who thinks he's hilarious (I won't mention any names) - I went with Sarah. Sorry Rob, maybe next time...

We went to a new location, an old barn filled with very old things. My kind of place! I took my assistant's advice and climbed the old silo. Sarah had to lay in the dirt with the spiders and other various bugs while I leaned over the ladder as far as I could just to get the shot, we argued for quite awhile over who had the more dangerous assignment and frankly, I don't see how crickets and a smashed spider even compares to climbing an old abandoned silo whilst carrying a camera.

It turns out lighting inside a silo is pretty tricky. We decided to go with a simple Canon 580ex with an attached diffuser held about 6 feet below the camera - in other words, directly under my feet. In fact, we used the same flash for all the other images as well. Not bad for such a little guy, which just goes to show - it's not the size of your flash, it's how you use it. :-)

Monday, August 6, 2007

Vintage Jewelry

It quickly became apparent that Shay and I had a serious energy deficiency when we started the shoot. She had been filming and working all week long with hardly any sleep and I had a record breaking amount of appointments in the previous two weeks leading up to that evening. This was going to be my night off, but Shay wanted to shoot and if someone can let me know how to say no to such a beautiful girl then please let me know.

With zero clouds outside it was ridiculously hot and bright, horrible conditions for shooting whilst sleepy. So Shay pulled out her bag of vintage jewelry and we shot inside. Now that I'm looking at the images I'm pretty certain I don't really need to learn how to tell her no, I think things worked out perfectly!

A Skunk Sighting

I have seen an Alaskan grizzly bear charge into the water less than twenty yards away from me. I've had sharks swim past me while scuba diving. When I was six I was bit by a very mean Doberman Pincer. But by far the scariest animal I've ever encountered is a skunk. There is just something about those stripes that will scare the ever living humanity right out of you.

When we arrived at the location for our shoot I got out of the car first and started exploring, I made it about ten feet away from the car when I saw it coming straight towards me. I spun on my heals and charged back to the car screaming for everyone to get back inside, the panic in my voice was highly disproportionate to the actual dangers we faced out in the middle of nowhere, but as I dove into the car (hitting my arm on the door quite hard) I breathlessly exclaimed, "It's a skunk!" Not more than ten feet away it was way too close for comfort. The skunk ignored my antics and crawled into a small drainage pipe and disappeared from view.

I found out that even when the skunk leaves you completely alone you still lose a tremendous amount of street cred by screaming like a child and running away, it's a good thing I didn't have too much street cred to begin with.

The Old Hammond House

This is what happens to a pool with ten full years of neglect. It's the weirdest thing, a house upwards of 15,000 square feet including a racket ball court, an indoor hot-tub, steam room, dry sauna and more flights of stairs than you can shake a stick at has been abandoned for close to ten years now. The 'No Trespassing' sign is clear as day on the front door so we didn't shoot inside (and I'll never admit to exploring the interior!) but the pool, well there is no fence so it's fair game!

Nicole only brought four things to wear, all of them brown. This made selecting the perfect location a lot more difficult for me than it usually is, brown is a hard color to make exciting! But not surprisingly Nicole absolutely shined in our shoot at the long abandoned pool, and though I wasn't very happy at first, I'm very glad she forced me to use all brown.