It's Girl's Night - Woo Hoo!

February 18, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

I received a call from the nice folks at Girl's Night Salsa (http://girlsnightsalsa.com/) about doing a shoot featuring their 2014 line up of products.  I jumped at the chance as I have enjoyed their salsa, they support cancer research with their profits, and -most importantly from the point of view of this here blog - it's an exciting photographic challenge to get that great, naturally creamy light on a glass surface instead of a hot spot look that you would normally expect from a strobe.

I decided to use what is called the double-diffusion technique.  The general idea is to take a diffused light, like a softbox, and shine it on a large opaque surface, in this case a scrim, creating a very large and even lighting source.  Here is a shot of my set up in the studio.

My product box photography tent setup

 

It’s a little cluttered looking since I just had one large scrim that didn’t want to cut, so I ran it under the background paper the product is sitting on.  To the left and right you see the softboxes to light either side.  A diffused beauty dish overhead gave it the subjects a little more pop.  This worked great on the jars, but cause a serious hot spot on the bottle, so was not used for those shots.  Once the light levels where set, the only tweaking involved was with the forward or backward position of the lights to adjust the reflection on the subject.   I did have a little trouble with the general orientation of the products.  I was shooting alone and a assistant would have been a great help so I could have kept my eye through the lens.  With all that glorious glow bouncing around, shadows in multiple product images really weren't an issue. 

 

 

I was a little bit taken back when the client wondered if I could get rid of some of the "glare" on the bottles!?!?!?!  Of course I did, as she is the client and this is the representation of her product, but a little bit of my artist's soul died...   

This is a really neat and easy set up.  Give it a try and keep pushing yourself!

  • mike

Capturing the Blinding Light Show

October 28, 2013  •  1 Comment

I really like shooting concerts.  It certainly is technically challenging with the movement, the dynamic lighting, the subs rattling your brains!  This past week, we had the Gulf Coast Seafood and Music Festival for the first time at our new outdoor stage.  I have friends in the concert production business, so managed a photo pass for the weekend.   It gave me a good chance to go over my approach to shooting shows, and reminded me of the pitfalls and challenges you face in doing so.

 

Foreigner-30Foreigner-30

My thoughts on concert photography:

  1. Its all about excitement and energy!  I set the camera to shutter priority and crank the speed up to freeze the action.  This has a few side effects.  On the good side, you most likely will end up with a shallow DOF as your camera tries to get as much light as possible.  This will make give your images depth.  It's hard to separate elements in an image that are in the same, colored lighting, so this helps.  On the bad side, you're most likely going to have to push your ISO as high as it will go to keep the shutter speed up.  Expect a lot of noise in an already noisy environment.  Find yourself some good software to help with this.  I use Nik Define2.  
  2. Location, location, location!  The closer you can get the better.  There is so much in the air, the lights are funky, you just aren't going to get cool shots from distance.  Get in the pit if you can.  Try to get the light rig or stage gear in the background.  "And how do you get a pass" you ask?  The answer is simple.  You have to know somebody!  Introduce yourself to the venue staff or promoter BEFORE the event.  Make it a win-win for them to go to the trouble of giving you special access.  Follow the rules on where you can go and how long you can shoot.  Most bands will only want you to shoot down front for the first two or three songs.  There are several reasons for that.  They get sweaty and nasty after a few tunes, you can be a distraction for the band and the crowd, etc.  Be cool and be ready to share your photos and you will be invited back!  Works for me!
  3. Zoom in tight to get individuals, go way wide to capture the show.  This sounds pretty strait forward, and it is, but so often I catch myself missing out on a really cool picture of a performer by leaving a bunch of dead space, gear, blurry band mates, etc in the background.  Something I would never do in portrait photos.  Crop it down and see what you can get that's unique.  Dedicate some wide shots to capture the lights, staging, and the grandness of the show.  Dedicate some shots to portrait shots and some to stage shots.  They will all come out better.  Good performers will blur the lines for you and create magic moments!
  4. Get Lucky!  I can't image doing this type of work for a living!!!  Unless you travel with the band and learn the show, it's really a crap shoot on the right amount of haze to get light beams, positions, cool little things they do together, etc.  Just start the shutter snapping and be prepared to delete a good 40%+ of your shots as trash!  Yeah digital photography!

Enough of that, here is some shots from the weekend:

Friday night was Collective Soul.

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Saturday was Loverboy and Foreigner.

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Get out there and Rock 'n Roll!

mike

 


Still Trippin' - To the Pumpkin Patch!

October 23, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Fall is in the air and the giggly – ghostly days of Halloween season are upon us.  The family loaded up for a drive up to Dothan, Alabama and Alpin Farms (www.aplinfarms.com) for some old fashion fun in the pumpkin patch!

 

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Final, just to show that Alabama isn’t the only place with interesting appreciation for various forms of wildlife, I give you Wausau, Florida, self-proclaimed Possum Capital of the United States!  (http://realfloridamedia.com/wausauflorida/)  Oh, the excitement than runs through the local young ladies at the thought of being named “Possum Queen” for the year!

 

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Just how many possums can you put in a five gallon bucket?


Road Tripin'!

September 22, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

I had some business in North Alabama to attend to last week, so I did a little roaming off the beaten path to see what kind of interesting things I could dig up.  I stumbled across the little town that time forgot...  Mooresville.  One little roadside restaurant, no stores.  Very cute town.  I get the feeling it's inhabited by well-to-dos out of Huntsville have crave the simple life.  It does boast the oldest Post Office in Alabama. 

Roadside RestrauntRoadside RestrauntMooresville, AL

DropboxDropboxMooresville, AL

 

HengesHengesMooresville, AL

 

Post SignPost SignMooresville, AL

 

Knobs and LocksKnobs and LocksMooresville, AL

 

Ancient HardwareAncient HardwareMooresville, AL

 

WindowsWindowsMooresville, AL

 

No trip through South Alabama is complete without a stop by Enterprise.  Not sure the story behind it, but they do love the Weevils!

All Hail the Weevil!All Hail the Weevil!Enterprise, AL

 

Our Lady of the BugOur Lady of the BugEnterprise, AL

 

Yes.... That woman is holding up a big bug...  It was a simpler time...  

Ramble on and be exceptional!

mike

 


Getting Noticed Hell, Let's Get Published!

August 05, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

There is an old adage in music that if you want to get signed, get in the studio and record all you can.  I've applied this same thought process to my promotional photography.  But who is going to want a photographer with no credentials???  It's the same old problem, if you don't have experience you can't get work, but how are you supposed to get experience without getting some corporate type work?  Get out there and sell yourself and shoot some!

I looked around in the areas that I want to work in and approached the people I saw that were doing something and going somewhere.  Bands recording CDs, new business owners, sports teams getting there marketing together.  Then I started shooting, sometimes for cash, sometimes for trade, usually for  *gasp*  free.  By showing them that I could shoot their live events, shows, etc. well, when it was time to shoot something real, they came back to me.  That's the payoff.  To date, I have images on the covers of three CDs, a bunch of band promo shots, several business marketing packages, and even a semi-pro soccer team.  Today, however, I found out that one of several of my photos have been published in an international magazine!   Whoo-hoo!  How did I manage that you ask???  I did it by working with people that have vision.  I never even knew that an article was being done.  One of the first musicians that I worked with, Todd Sparks, has BLOWN UP in Germany with his beach-cajun-southern rock-country sound, go figure...  He posted his latest CD, Party in Paradise, which we discuss the shoot for in a previous blog entry, on a web based service that provides music to independent radio stations around the world.  They picked it up and spread it around and "BLAMMO!", armed only with a batch of good tunes, some fine pickin', and some rather snazzy promo shots, Todd is being interviewed on Skype!  His work was making enough of a mark to be noticed by the editors of the services magazine, Direct Buzz, and thus, with his interview and included photos, I got published!

 

Direct Buzz article on Todd Sparks

 

The morals of the story:  

1) All work is good work (when you're starting out), but target the areas you want to work in, it's WAY more fun!

2) Find people with vision and see if your vision fits theirs.  If it does, take a chance, invest some time, and run with it.

3) Make sure you thank those people of vision when their hard work turns into your reward - THANKS TODD!

 

Love what you're doing, and be exceptional!

mike

 

 

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