Monday, June 29, 2009

Woodland Pixie

I finished another photo shoot in my Fae in All of Us project this past Friday. Once again, I shot the images in the wooded area at Dragonfly Landing, the property that belongs to my good friends, Mark and Gabi.

It was a wonderfully warm and sunny day for the shoot, which lasted about 2 hours. I had the model in makeup and costume by 4:15 and we wrapped up shooting by about 6 pm when the we lost the nice bright patches of sunlight that manage to pierce the thickly canopied wooded area. By the time we were finished shooting, though, the poor model was shivering, despite the warm wraps provided for her between poses.

Amy, the model, was genuinely sorry she was so cold, and kept expressing concern that her shivering would show up in the shots. She wanted to help me get some great images and she gamely pushed through the entire shoot without a single complaint. She was quite fun to work with and came up with some great ideas that contributed to the shoot.

A very slender and young model with golden brown dreadlocks and a natural look, Amy matched my mind's image of a Woodland Pixie, and when I saw her portfolio I felt she would be a great choice for this shoot. Based on a quick scan of the images from the shoot, I feel certain I was right in choosing her for this project.

Next up - Bambi as my Flower Fairy.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Thirty Years

I've been messing around with cameras and making photos for over thirty years now. I purchased my first "professional" camera thirty years ago this month (I just came across the receipt). In the intervening years, I've taken tens of thousands of photos (or more), and lately I've been going back through the older ones, scanning them, and putting them in an archive. I've also been sharing some of them on MySpace and Facebook for smiles and grins. The older images have garnered some responses from some of my old high school friends, as well as some of my relatives and new friends.

In 1981, I moved to Upstate New York on an assignment as an instructor at the Navy Nuclear Power Training Unit in Balston Spa, New York. While I was there, I took a course in photography from the New York Institute of Photography, and then I began working with models and shooting weddings. I was all of 21 years old at the time, and photography was simply a way for me to express myself outside of work.

I think I've become a much better photographer since then, but I did want to share a few images from those first years and that first camera. Remember, these were scanned from prints that were quite old, so don't laugh too hard. :)

Toni was one of my first models. She contacted me through an ad that I placed in a local newspaper. I think I might have paid her something like $5 an hour to pose for me. She was a very sweet girl, but had an abusive boyfriend. She enjoyed modeling and could produce some very sultry expressions. She and her boyfriend lived in and managed a hotel on Saratoga Lake, but by the time I left New York, they were living in a small travel trailer somewhere off the beaten path. When she got pregnant with her first child, she inherited a lot of our baby clothes and toys that we no longer needed. I still wonder what happened to her. I hope she did well in life and went on to have a happy and successful career and family. I'll probably never know though.

Here are a couple more images of Toni which were shot in my attic studio:

Susan was another model of mine, but I only worked with her a couple of times. Not long after we started working together, she moved away to college. She was pretty, funny and smart. I'm sure she's doing well.

As you can see, I was still very much in a learning phase with my photography. While I knew the basics of exposure and composition, I hadn't had a great deal of practice yet.

Sue Gleason was my 3rd model in New York. I worked with her serveral times. We did at least three or four field excursions to shoot, including one up to Lake George where she startled me by stripping down and jumping into a cascading (and freezing) stream.

Sue was a hippie. I don't think I ever saw her in a bra - she preferred body suits and skirts, always kept one strand of her hair braided, and was wont to take off hitchhiking on a whim. I think she was the first model that ever tried to seduce me. No, it didn't work, but it wasn't for lack of her trying. :)

Here is Sue at a place called Rock City Falls, which was one of my favorite places to shoot:

Here is Sue, upstream from the falls posing on the log that you see Susan walking along in teh above photos:

And finally, here's Sue standing in the same stream. I can tell you that this girl loved being in the water....well, except for that one time she got into a pool of water at the base of a cliff, waded out about 20 feet until the water was up to her waist then realized, after the silt settled, that she had gotten into a pond of huge tadpoles. I never believed in "walking on water" until I saw her leave that pond. :)

So, there are a few memories and photos from the past. I'm sure I'll be posting more in due time.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Father's Day Shoot

For Father's Day, instead of relaxing and watching movies, playing games, or just having some downtime, I spent the day prepping and shooting a set of portraits of my grandson (and his dad). First, I had to clean out the garage from all the yard items that were moved there the day before for my granddaughter's 3rd birthday party. Then I had to set up the backdrop, the fog machine and a set of gelled lights (one softbox with a flag, one gelled light on a boom with a 40 degree grid, another gelled light on a floor stand with a 30 degree grid, and the final gelled light on a floor stand with barndoors). Finally, I had to test and adjust the lighting.

The setup had to be right from the start, since I didn't want to unnecessarily subject my grandson to the fog, so I had my wife and daughter help me with the adjustments. Wanda was the stand in model, and my daughter operated the fog machine. I set the main exposure (the softbox) with a Sekonic L-508 light meter, then adjusted the gelled lights (height, direction and intensity) by monitoring the preview image on my digital camera (a Canon 1Ds Mark III with a 24-70 f/2.8L lens). The softbox strobe was an AB 800, the boom light was also and AB800, while the two floor lights wereWL 1600's. The softbox was triggered by a PW transceiver and the other lights triggered off optical slaves from the key light.

Here are the images with that setup:

For the remainder of the images, the gels and fog were removed, the black velvet backdrop was draped on a table, and the fire fighting gear was set up per Ryker's dad's specifications. I then added a large Photoflex reflector on the right side of the image to provide for more even lighting across the portrait. Ryker was getting a bit fussy by this point, but we cajoled him into some nice expressions:

For the final image, I pinned an American Flag to the background and lit it with a non-gelled AB800 with a 40 degree grid.

The lighting in the first two shots will be similar to what I will use for my Fire Fairy shoot.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Oh, come on! Let me catch a break!

I can't seem to catch a break, photographically this week. I had scheduled for two shoots during the week, and both of them got canceled at the last minute.

Today's shoot, was literally at the last minute. I had been scheduled to shoot with Bambi, one of the lovely bartenders down at the local pub, for several weeks now. She was to be a flower fairy and we had picked out a killer costume for her to wear during the project. I had arranged to take the afternoon off from work to prep everything and to get us out to the shoot site while we had good light. Everything was going as planned until the clouds rolled in and the bottom fell out.

Fortunately, I managed to catch her before she got out the door to her place, though I did ask her if she wanted to be a Rain Fairy instead. She decided to reschedule, which I think was a wise idea given the buckets of rain that were dropping out of the sky. Since we were supposed to be shooting in a field of tall grass, it would have been a cold, wet and unpleasant experience even if the rain had stopped (which it didn't).

Of course, it also meant that I had to tell my friend, Mark, that I wouldn't need to shoot on his property after all. At least, I hope he got the message, since he hasn't been on YM all day today.

Earlier in the week, I was scheduled to do a fashion shoot with Gabriell, the lovely young lass in the image to the right. Everthing was on schedule right up until the morning of the day of the shoot when she fell ill. Apparently, she hasn't felt very well since. She was going to drive up to Portland for the shoot, stay here for the night, then drive back down the next day. We have also rescheduled.

I have a couple of shoots planned for next week. I hope the weather and the models' health cooperate. I haven't shot anything significant since the end of July and I'm getting a little anxious to shoot. If I have to keep rescheduling shoots, then they'll all pile up further into the summer and there are only so many days of good weather here in Oregon. It also means, that even if I'm able to get all the shoots in, that I'll have to put off post processing the images until the winter time. Oh well, such is life in the Northwest.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Fairy of Photos?

One of the concepts I forgot to mention in my last post was that of the Photo Fairy. The concept statement for this series of images goes something like this: "The photo fairy is one of the fae muses. She inspires creativity and new perspectives, and oddly enough, she likes to get into lots of contorted positions while using her cameras." Keeping that concept in mind, and knowing the long lives of the fae, I extended to concept to conclude that this fairy would have quite a variety of cameras with which she could shoot. Fortunately, I have quite a number of camera bodies and lenses, some of them quite old, which can be used a props to support that particular theory. Above, you can see a photo of one a Polaroid Land Camera 100 - one of the first cameras with an electronic shutter and the first Polaroid utilizes pack-film. It was produced and sold in the early 1960's.

The camera you see to the right is a folding Medium Format Camera from Kodak. Based on my research, I believe it's a Kodak Vigilant Six-20 made in the years 1939-49. The Vigilant Six-20 has a folding frame finder incorporated into its top housing, and another optical finder near the shutter.

I've had both these cameras for over twenty years, as they were a gift from my mother-in-law. They've been part of the decor in my office for as long as I had an area to call my own. It's nice to be able to put them to use in one of my photographic endeavors. I'll need to clean them up a bit before the shoot, but both of them are in pretty good shape for their age.

Of course, I'll be using some more modern cameras as props in the shoot, but on Tuesday I found a camera that was quite affordable and was perfect for the shoot. It's a Kodak SpeedGraphic 4x5 view camera and it's in working condition. There's a small chip broken off the ground glass focusing plate, but the bellows is tight and the controls work quite well. The shutter works and though it took me a minute to figure out how to set the shutter speed and aperture.I think it's the perfect prop for the shoot.

The model wants the final images to be B&W and infrared, which I think is an excellent idea, though I'm thinking of editing the images to make them appear consistent with the images that would have been taken with the type of camera she would be using for the shoot. So, if we start with the older cameras and move to the more modern ones, the images would be come cleaner, clearer, and the final images would be in color.

The model for this shoot? Well, I think I've talked my lovely wife into participating with this one. She used to be my primary model for all my shoots, but since she's become a grandmother, she's much less inclined to model for me. But, this image was taken just a couple of years ago, and I still think she's good model material. :)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Planning Summer Shoots

I'm currently scheduling my summer photo shoots. The current of shoots include:

1. Woodland Pixie (tentatively scheduled for June 26th with Amy M. of Model Mayhem).
2. Dark Fae (tentatively scheduled for July 11th with Sarah T. of Model Mayhem)
3. The Reaper Fairy, tentatively scheduled for sometime in July with my good friend, Bridgett (note to self - get Bridge on the hook for a specific date - she gets too busy otherwise.)
4. Fire Fairy - I have to get this shot this summer. The model I want to use is currently not available but has told me she'll be able to shoot sometime in June. I have two models I want to use for this, but since it's a very complicated lighting setup, I'll need to schedule the two models on consecutive days.
5. The Forge Fairy (and his assistants) - which will get shot as soon as my friend, Mark, can spare the time.
6. Fashion Shoot - with Gabriell for her portfolio (to be determined).
7. Special Forces Fairy - with camo wings, a carbine, and an attitude!
8. Plus some barefoot glamour, fashion and other shoots as I can fit them in.

It's going to be a busy summer. Here's an image from my 1st shoot last summer.