Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Business Portrait

One of the essential tools in the photographer's kit is the Business Head & Shoulders portrait. The business portrait can lead to further opportunities to photograph the client's family.

Begin with a clothing consult. Advise the client to wear simple, professional clothing to the sitting.

For men, that means a light blue or off white shirt and a solid color, middle to dark tone suit jacket and a conservative neck-tie. If a man has a heavy 5 o'clock shadow, he should shave again.

Women should wear a middle to dark tone pants-suit with a light color top underneath. Makeup should not be overdone.


This blog came from an assignment for my multimedia class. 

Other assignments have concentrated on learning to create multimedia content for photographers. This is my first multimedia slideshow produced on assignment.

It uses Flash for those who are phobic about that sort of thing. Don't know if we'll get to the level of HTML to produce this without Flash this semester, but I expect I'll eventually have to learn that.

I don't really want to be a web designer or programmer.  I just want to make consistently beautiful photographs that people want to buy, so I can support myself and make more beautiful photographs.  

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Studio of My Own

I've been accumulating photographic tools for a while with an eye to setting up a studio. Mostly I keep an eye out for things on sale at bargin prices.  One of my local independent dealers had Matthews stands on sale for $30, so I bought two of them. Another time they had the Matthews backdrop stand kit on sale for $80, so I bought it. Ten by twenty painted backdrop 50% off of $100.

I buy used whenever I can find good equipment that's been well taken care of at bargain prices. A pair of Bowen 400B Monolights in a case with stands, cords, sync cables (including a spare PC to Household) and 3 umbrellas ... $200. A pair of Paul C. Buff White Lightning 10000s with Bogen stands for $50 each.

Used Vivitar 285HV strobes and Quantum Battery 1s.
There's not much more than $500 in the whole setup.I put together a small, portable setup in my apartment.

Backdrop stands bracket my work table. Backdrop conceals the work table when I'm shooting.
Main light Paul C. Buff White Lightning 10000 @ 2/3 power shooting through a 30 inch umbrella.
Fill light is one of the Bowen 400B Monolights @ half power bounced off the other end of the room.
Hair light is a boom mounted Vivitar 285HV on a Wein optical hot shoe slave.
Background light is a Pentax AF 500FTZ (built in slave) sitting on the floor.

I've got a friend who patiently stands there while I pull focus & get the lights balanced.

... and the finished product.
I can see there are some things still to work out.

These lights are powerful for this size room. Even with them dialed down, I'm using a fairly high aperture, which increases depth of field. Throwing the background out of focus is going to take some work.

For those who care about the technical details: Pentax K10D, smc PENTAX-DA 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 AL II @ 55mm, ISO 100, 1/180 @ f/11

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Air Show

Winston-Salem's Smith Reynolds Airport hosted its 2010 Airshow September 11-12. Saturday turned rainy and many of the scheduled performers were no shows.

Looking at the news, more of the acts were there on Sunday.

I enjoyed the show, but didn't get to photograph the one act I really wanted to see - the Tora Tora Tora bomb squad. I saw them at Seymore Johnson AFB's Wings over Wayne in 2009 and hoped to photograph them at Winston-Salem to try out some techniques I'd learned since.

Photographing old war birds can be difficult. If you get the shutter speed too high so that the aircraft is tack sharp, you freeze the propeller and it just doesn't look right. You need about a 1/125 sec exposure to get just enough blur in the propeller.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Handy Tool for Photographers

If you're going to display your work, it looks better matted.

If you hope to sell your work it HAS to be matted.

Doing that well requires tools. In addition to a good mat cutter, I found a software tool to make planning the cuts much simpler.

It's a free-ware program called MatWorks written by photographer Giorgio Trucco.

MatWorks has a simple graphical interface. You enter values (in inches) for the Mat size and choose from Portrait, Landscape and Square layouts. Enter values for Print Size and layout and Image Size and layout. Choose your matting style from Centered, Bottom Weighted or Double Bottom Weighted - single or double mats - and enter the dimension (decimal fractions of an inch) that you want the mat to overlap the image and the top mat to reveal the bottom mat.

Click the button to calculate and it shows an image of what the finished mat will look like along with detailed cutting measurements for the back of the mat.

Simple to use, precise and best of all FREE!
While you're at it take a look at some beautiful landscape and nature photography on Giorgio Trucco's web site:

Shelley Lake

Shelley Lake is a popular north Raleigh recreation area. The attraction is the green-way around the lake. It's a two mile asphalt path, part of Raleigh's green-way system.

Officially Crabtree Watershed Dam #13, Shelley Lake is part of a massive flood control system in the Crabtree Creek watershed. The lake acts as a hydraulic shock absorber whenever there is more than usual rain. The outlet structure automatically limits the rate at which water can flow downstream from Lead Mine Creek.

When the rate of inflow from Lead Mine Creek exceeds the maximum out-flow the lake level rises to temporarily retard the flow and reduce downstream flooding.

Raleigh's green-way system follows the right-of-way easement for the sanitary sewer system. The bridge shown here uses the pylons that support an 18 inch sanitary drain where it crosses one the tributaries of Lead Mine Creek.

The adjacent Shelley Lake Park is actually the secondary spillway for the dam. Should the water level rise too high, it begins to spread out over the playing fields, eventually bypassing the dam as a wide, thin, slow moving sheet of water. It's a quite neat bit of engineering with no moving parts ... other than the flowing water.

For the photographer, it's a miniature nature preserve in the heart of the city. Good site for photographing ducks, geese, turtles, herons and egrets. I've seen the occasional swan, and spent several weeks in 2009 photographing a Great Horned Owl's nest that was easily visible from the green-way.

Over the Labor Day weekend, I spotted a pair of Osprey's fishing the lake, although I have no idea yet if they're setting up residency or just passing through.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

What's the product?

North Carolina has one of the best Community College systems in the nation. No matter where you live in North Carolina there's low cost post secondary education available if you want it. Some counties combine with their neighbors to host the schools, but there's a campus in every one of North Carolinas' 100 counties.

All of them offer college transfer courses for students who wish to go on to graduate from a four year college, but the focus is mainly on real world job skills ... they train nurses, machinists, automotive mechanics.

They offer adult high school, GED & ESL along with focused training programs to fit the needs of local employers and a New and Expanded Industry Training program to prepare students to find work in emerging industries - particularly computer & "green" technologies.

They also offer offer degrees in commercial & artistic production fields, which is where I come in.

I'm a photography student at Randolph Community College.

Just down the road a piece in Pinehurst, NC is Sandhills Community College where they have a number of agriculture programs supporting the local "industry" - world famous golf resorts. As part of their Landscape Gardening program the college hosts a botanical garden and demonstration landscape gardens, including this xericulture garden.

I had a requirement for a "product" shot using available light and I remembered this little garden. I shot it lit by the sky with just a hint of the sun peeking over the garden wall.

A couple of plates, a couple of wine glasses ... a wine bottle re-filled with cranberry juice since alcohol is not allowed on campus without a special permit ... and it became an inviting alfresco dining experience inviting the viewer into the frame.