Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Start of something new.

I have been inspired recently to start several photo projects. Some I am going to keep under wraps for the moment but the big one is that starting the first of the year I am going to try to post a new blog entry with photo every day for the whole year. All of the images from this point on will be brand new I might revisit a few ideas that I have had in the past to correct the things that I wasn't happy with but everything else is going to be new. So keep checking back and enjoy.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The cold weather has been shutting me down.

Since I haven't been able to get out and shoot people images in the cold I have been sorting through old images on the laptop trying to make room for new images and every now and then I find a few gems.
This is probably my very first successful product shot that I put together on my own. Digital made a huge difference with this image just due to the instant feedback. I had tried shooting stuff like this with 35mm gear but without polaroid it was kind of hit or miss. The lighting for this image consisted of a medium soft box camera left and a strobe with just a standard reflector and a red gel for the background. If I did it over again I would have gobo'd the reflection of the soft box on the glass. Taken with a Nikon D100

The last time I was attempting to go back to school I got a job working for photo services and some of the assignments I took a little creative license like this one during a rehearsal of Macbeth. Not only was the use of a slow shutter speed unusual (high ISO's with digital sucked at this point) I also hauled the Nikon 200-400mm f/4 out to shoot with. the slow shutter technique for stuff like this doesn't seem to get used as much anymore since it is so simple to crank up the ISO and freeze the action. But I think if I would have done that here this image would have lost the emotion it has.
This was the first time I had ever dragged big studio lights outside for a shoot. Very strait forward shot, a 60" umbrella camera right and a one stop under exposure for the background. I shot with my old Mamiya RZ67 Pro II with the 110mm. I was pretty lucky to have gotten this image when I did cause two hours later it started to snow and it stayed till spring.

This was another shot from a photo services assignment. I was covering the annual Night We Light festivities and after it was all done and I was on my way back to the car I saw these four people who had been in the parade heading back to their cars. I just thought it was funny since the parade had been over for a good 20 min at that point and they were still in costume. Shot with natural light and a Nikon D100.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Another older image, but a very popular one.

This is probably my most popular image from the last two years. I shot this in late March of 2008 and it really doesn't get much simpler then this. It was about 40 degrees out but the sun made it feel warmer, at least till the wind picked up. Kimberly was a trooper though and really got into it. I shot with my 70-200mm racked out to 200mm and natural light. This has been the only time that I put in 8 hours of driving for a 45 min shoot but it was so worth it.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Some classic black and whites and the stories behind them.

I feel like telling some stories today so I thought I would break out some older black and white images and tell the stories behind them. These were all shot on film.
Lance is a good friend of mine and its not uncommon to get invited on road trips with him when he has a gig out of town and even though the camera tends to stay in the bag more and more on these trips I still throw it in cause you never know when a shot like this will present itself. We were on our way to Duluth, MN for a show Lance was doing and kind of running a little behind when we crested a hill to see the moonrise just below the thick bank of clouds. First chance we got to pull over we did, I had an old Nikon FE2 (manual) with a 50mm lens loaded with a roll of Kodak C-41 process black and white film. I snapped about 4 images and we jumped back on the road to the gig. The funny part about this is the person who booked the show told Lance the wrong time and when we showed up thinking there was about an hour before Lance had to go on we find out he was up next so we just made it.
The way this image came about was kind of interesting. I was out one night around the 4th of July watching some friends play a gig at a local bar and I saw Rachael here at the show and talking to the band between sets. She looked really familiar but I couldn't place her. A few days later I was on that bands Myspace page and saw Rachael on their friends list, when I went to check out her page one of the first things that hit me was one of my images from a few years earlier with the band and she was one of the extras. One email later I found out she lives out in Cali but was coming back to Bemidji for a wedding in a month. With all the planning that went into lining up a shoot everything kind of fell apart at the last minute and we only got to shoot for about 45mins but I was able to get one of my favorite shots. It was the first time I got the white background to go nice and white without casting major shadows. This time around I was shooting with a Nikon F100 w/ a 50mm 1.4 lens (for years I would go on shoots with a 50mm and a 20mm, sometimes I would only take one of them) The lighting on this if I remember right was two med soft boxes on her, one on each side then two bare bulb lights on the background, one on each side.
The last time I tried going back to school I was taking a photojournalism class and we were told about this cemetery walk that was going on that night. I just happen to have my ultra light kit with me that day so I decided to hang around and see what I got. I wasn't seeing much with the main group that wasn't being covered by the half dozen other people from the class so I started to wander the cemetery. This guy was waiting to act out his scene as a Civil War soldier that is buried there. I got a couple quick images with a Nikon FE2 and a 85mm 1.8 on Ilford HP5 (this was one of my favorite films)
This is probably my favorite image I have done over the years but thats mostly because its my Grandpa that lived next door to me my whole life and he passed away in 2008. Every single piece of wood in the shot he cut and hauled, all winter long he would go out and cut a small load of wood and haul it back to the house, he did this till he was 87. Everything was pretty strait forward, natural light coming in camera left and a silver reflector camera right. This was like the second shoot I did with my, then new Mamiya RZ67 with a 110mm (normal) lens. The film was Kodak Plus-X.
Back in the summer of 1999 and 2000 I was asked to shoot images for a local radio station at Moon Dance Jam, a big classic rock festival in nearby Walker, MN and out of the two years I shot it this is by far my best image. Taken during Eddie Money's show with a Nikon N70 and a 85mm 1.8 on Kodak Tri-X (my other favorite film)
The first time I tried going back to college I got on the school paper, even made photo editor. It was homecoming and all of my photographers were going out of town so I was stuck shooting everything. This shot was from the Johnny Holmes concert they have every year. I was inside the at the show when I saw the security people trying to roust this drunk guy up off the floor. It was too dark in there to get a shot so I made the choice to go out to the lobby hoping they brought him out that way and not out the back. Sure enough they brought him right past me and since I was shooting with a Nikon FE2 I was only able to get the one shot off before they were gone. 50mm 1.8 with Tri-X.
I met Jin online and found out that she was an artist living in Minneapolis. After a few weeks of chatting we set up a shoot as part of a road trip I was taking to see a friend in Wisconsin. On my way home I came through Minneapolis and essentially we just hung out all day while we wandered around the city. This was taken at a little coffee shop that from the outside just looked like a cool old house. Its been like 8 years since I shot this and when ever I think about how I miss the simple days of shooting film this is the one shoot that tends to come to mind most often. Nikon FE2 with a 20mm and loaded with HP5
There really isn't much of a story to go with this one, it was a spur of the moment shot from the same day as the image below. Mamiya RZ67 w/110mm and Tri-X.
This is the image we had set out to shoot, it was inspired by a painting that I had remembered seeing in an art class and as soon as I met Alina I knew she was the perfect person for the image. Natural light and same tech stuff as above.
Back in 2005 I went to the Winnipeg Folk Fest and figured as long as I was going up I would try and do some photos. I went up two days early and ended up shooting with Caitlin here and one other model but Caitlin was by far the better of the two to work with. This was done with my FE2 and a 50mm loaded with Ilford FP4+.

Shoot with a body builder.

About a year ago I had gotten in contact with a local woman who competes in body building competitions and talked about doing some images. Nothing really came of it at the time and then I went off on my adventure sports kick and we lost touch. This fall though Neeli got ahold of me and told me she was getting ready for a competition and thought I might like to shoot some photos. During the course of going over ideas I found out she had access to a big garage and heavy machines so it was decided that we would make it more of an industrial shoot. The only real issue we had was it was a bit of a cold day (mid October in northern MN).
The main light for this was a snooted SB-800 with a CTO gel camera right and then there was a second SB-800 zoomed to about 70mm to control the spill clamped to the same stand as the main light, this was to bring out some details in the legs. The background light was supplied by a large garage door that was open behind her. Tungsten white balance and a 17-55mm 2.8
This was strait forward natural light shot with a 70-200mm 2.8 racked out to 200.
For the image with the tires I had two SB-800's camera right on one stand and a third one clamped to a stack of pallets pointing at the background. I triggered all of them with the built in flash of the D300.
For this one and the next one I tried something a little different. Most of the time when I am shooting with the SB-800's off camera I use the manual power setting but I thought I would give the TTL setting a try. Both images were done with two SB-800's fired through a tri grip diffuser. For both I used the 17-55 2.8

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Another recent image.

This is another new image from a recent shoot. This was done with an AB-800 in a soft box camera right. No gels on this, I just dragged the shutter a bit to let the tungsten lights warm the shot and I left the camera on daylight white balance.

Its been a while.

Its been a while since I used this blog but I am going to be coming back to it after a run at trying to get into adventure sports photography. I found that for as much as I love participating in things like rock climbing and cycling I don't have the opportunities or the skills to really get out and concentrate on those types of images. But what I do have is 15+ years of shooting photos of people so I am going back to my roots. The bonus is that it is so much easier to incorporate my sense of humor into my images. Expect more bight colors and twisted ideas to come.
The above image was shot with a Nikon D300 w/17-55 f2.8 and three SB-800s. One SB-800 with a cardboard snoot and CTO gel camera left, a second one camera right with a fuscia gel and a third one inside the engine area. Then the whole thing was shot on tungsten white balance.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

A photo I have been sitting on.

June 1st I did a shoot with the Shifting Gears motorcycle club in Bemidji out of which I got one shot that I have been wanting to share with everyone. There isn't a lot to this image other then how it was rigged. I used a Bogen Magic Arm for the first time here, clamped it to the front part of Michelee's bike and set up my D300 to fire on its own with a 10.5mm fisheye, then just turned the three riders loose for about 10 minutes. I was really excited about this image but it wasn't selected to run with the story about the club.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Adventure Bum rides again

After having pretty much written this project off for another year I found a printer that is willing to work with me on my calendar. I am hoping to have this done and ready for people to order by the first part of August.

For those people who are not familiar with my Adventure Bum calendar project it was an idea I had a few years ago but started to seriously work on it last year. The idea is to put people in adventure scenes with all the gear and looking like they know that their doing but when you look closer you realize that they aren't wearing any pants. It is not meant to be sexual and most people when they see it just start to giggle, which was exactly what I was going for. Here are a few samples from the series.

This was the last image done for the project. I shot this near Lake Mead in Nevada. Once again natural light. This was just a few hours before I was supposed to jump on a plane to come home. I went from 70 degrees in Las Vegas to -14 in Fargo in about 4 hours.
This was the very first image for the project and I think it set the tone for the whole series. I had a silver Tri-grip camera right to help fill in the shadows other then that it was a very simple image to create. 

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Been on a spree!

I have been shooting non-stop for the last three weeks. Everything from rock climbing to fashion to dance. A lot of the stuff has been just shoots to keep busy but every now and then I come across a subject or have an idea that jumps out at me. And these are some of the images that have stood out.

For this shot I was going pretty light. I had two SB-800s camera left, triggered with the SU-800. The lens choice again was on the light side but very sharp, I left my 70-200 2.8 at home in favor of the Nikon 70-300 racked out to 300mm.
This was a test shot I was doing with my new 35mm 1.8 Nikon, a great little lens. I had 2 SB-800s camera left, one kicking off of a silver Tri-grip on the ground in front of her and another back in the tunnel and triggered everything with a fourth SB-800.
This one was really simple, natural light and a little bit of post work with the levels.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Some new photos

Just thought I would share some new photos from a shoot that I did for a friends fundraiser.

This one has a V.A.L. with a light behind the book and a second flash camera right clamped to a bookcase. 
This one was a softboxed SB-800 camera right and a second in the back camera left to bring out some detail in the background.

both of the fire shots were done with a SB-800 in a soft box camera right and then a second SB-800 clamped to a chalkboard back and camera left.

Friday, May 1, 2009

And now it begins!

After 16 years of work I feel it is time to take a serious stab at shooting photos full time. I quit my job on wednesday. After three years of working there I got really tired of dealing with the general public and being treated like an idiot.
Tuesday I leave for two weeks of shooting climbers at the New River Gorge. I am getting pretty excited about this new direction that I am going in. The next few months I am going to be shooting for a month off and on along the north shore of Lake Superior, hiking in the Boundary Waters and a couple climbing trips to Wyoming. Wish me luck and keep checking back for new posts.
The image above was one of the first things I shot when I figured out how to use my SB-800's wirelessly with my D300. The main light is camera left, an SB-800 in a softbox, the red light is from another SB-800 on the floor firing up with a red gel and the exposure was about 30 seconds to get the LCD light to burn in nicely.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

One of my favorite places

The whole point of this blog is to share my stories and photos from my travels so I figure it probably wouldn't hurt to tell a few stories from over the years and not just concentrate on the new stuff. A theme you will start to pick up on in my tales is that the conditions are never optimal, I am of the firm opinion that the more miserable the conditions the better the story is.
One such trip was my first trip to the Black Hills in South Dakota for three days of bouldering with three buddies. We decided to leave about 5 pm on friday and drive through the night since there were four of us to handle the driving. At about 3 am I am driving through Rapid City, SD  Jake is navigating and keeping me awake. All of the stop lights are flashing yellow so I am just taking it slow. Out of no where Jake tells me to turn left so I make the turn from the left lane instead of the turning lane since no one was around or so I thought. As soon as I made the turn lights went on behind us, I had failed to see the two different cop cars that were laying in wait. Come to find out that even though the lights were flashing yellow I missed that the turn light was red. Leigh who was in the back seat had woken up by this point which is good since I was driving his car. We told the cops where we came from, where we were going and that we were looking for a place to get off the road and get some food. Luckily the only thing the cop gave me was directions to an all night truck stop. After breakfast we hit the road again an hour later we had made it to Hill City, SD and to Sylvan Lake State Park just in time to scramble to the top of a cliff to catch the sunrise. We climbed till around 2 pm and headed off to set up camp. Once the tents were up it started to rain, hiding out in the tent it wasn't long before the night of no sleep caught up to me, I was out. The next two days were a blur of cold October days and nights but the sending was perfect, I even managed my first 5.10 lead, course none of us knew what the grades were guesses were as close as we had. The last night there we decided to get a room which proved to be a smart idea. It got so cold that night that the LCD screen in my DVD player I brought with froze, now it only plays in black and white. 
Two years later I made it back with my friend Aaron. I had planned a big project for that trip, I had about eight people lined up to go but about a week before everyone bailed out except for Aaron so we went anyway. This time around was in May so the weather was great but Aaron ended up coming down with the stomach bug his kids had when we left. But even that didn't stop him from sending V7s with ease. In all the years I have been climbing Aaron is probably the most talented climber I have ever seen, great blend of movement and power. The best part of the 2006 trip was meeting a climber by the name of Peter Lev. He used to guide for Exum and was now retired. He did a slideshow the night we met him, all of the images and stories were about his exploits in the Himalayas and other far flung destinations on government sponsored trips in the 60's and 70's. Back when we had to beat the Russians when ever we could. He told Aaron and me about a climb he did in Minnesota where they used a the steering column of his VW bus as an anchor to repel to the bottom of the cliff.

This guys name is Luke, met him on the 2006 trip with Aaron.
                                                                     Aaron 2006

Aaron in 2006

                                                                    Aaron 2004

                                                     Jake on a possible first ascent 2004

                                                             Bouldering right in camp.


                                                      Leigh warming up before a climb.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I just find this funny

Last year when I was in Joe's Valley the group I was with did all of our food shopping at the Food Ranch in Orangeville which also serves as the towns sporting goods store. Being a gear junky I had to check to see if they had any climbing stuff and I found this little gem. I love to see small towns like this do stuff to help out the climbers when there are plenty of other places that look down on us. I just find it funny that they chose to package the chalk they sell.

Photos on a beautiful spring day.

I am finally able to get out and shoot outdoors without me or my models freezing to death so I thought I should take adventage of it. I talked my friend Jenna into coming out and shooting with me yesterday and these are a couple of the shots that stood out right away. We didn't have any solid ideas before going out but I am happy with what we got. Everything was shot with a Nikon D300 and a 17-55mm f/2.8
This one was completely natural light. I prefocused and metered in manual mode then put the camera down to floor level to shoot.
I used a one stop Lastolite Tri-grip to difuse this shot. I held the tri-grip camera left and shot with my free hand.

Here I used one SB-800 on a Justin clamp in the rafters right in front of Jenna just out of the frame. Had it dialed down to -1.7 EV.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

And now for something completely different!

This post is going to step away from the photography aspect of this blog and get into some of the gear testing. My favorite piece of outdoor gear is the stove and over the years I have acquired five of them and even made one. The two that I have found that have been working great for me are the MSR Pocket Rocket (top) and the White Box alcohol stove (bottom). Both have their pros and cons so lets start with the MSR.
-No preheating, once on the canister you just light it and its good to go.
-Will boil 2 cups of water in my Titan Kettle in less then 4 minutes.
-Has flame control, it doesn't have to run at full blast all the time.
-Flame is more concentrated so you don't heat up the wire handles of the Titan Kettle.
-Weighs in at 3 ounces for just the stove itself.

-Takes the canisters that you can't just pick up at any hardware store or gas station. Also you can't tell how much fuel you have left.
-When the canister is empty you still have to carry it with you and you have to make sure to puncture it before you can recycle it.

The White Box alcohol stove
-The stove is made from recycled aluminum bottles.
-Stove, windscreen and base weigh less then 3 ounces.
-Can boil 2 cups of water in the Titan in about 5 minutes with only 1 ounce of fuel.
-Whisper quiet (which is also kind of a con if your trying to use it in bright light since you can't see the flame).
-Uses denatured alcohol or even HEET (yellow bottle) which can be found at any hardware store or gas station.
-Can store the fuel in something as simple as a pop bottle so you can see how much fuel you have left and when empty it doesn't weight hardly anything.

-No simmer control, its pretty much full blast.
-With the original size stove the flames come out around the edge of the Titan which makes the wire handles get too hot to handle. They have since came out with a smaller solo model that is designed to work with the smaller pots.
-Even though the stove is very stable you have to make sure you don't tip it over since the fuel isn't really contained.

On a side note, it doesn't do much good to have a stove without a pot to put on it and I have as many cook-sets as I do stoves. My go to set-up for the last two years has been an MSR Blacklite which I can't even find on MSRs website anymore. They probably discontinued it since they had always had a problem with the nonstick coating flaking off. I never had a problem with it since I never use metal utensils when I am camping. This system came with two pots that nest together, a lid, pot lifter and a wash cloth sized camp towel. Making it the choice when I go out with a group. When I am going solo you'll find the MSR (titanium) Titan Kettle. Works great as a pot, mug or bowl. The biggest complaint I have heard about this pot (aside from price, titanium isn't cheap) is that the lid fits too tight. It does fit tight, to the point where it is best to just set the lid on top when cooking, otherwise you have to grab hold of the pot itself to get the lid off.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Moab images

Finally getting around to posting images from the Moab trip that I went on with the Bemidji State OPC. Over all it was a decent trip, kind of hard not to have fun in a place like Moab. Climbing within minutes of town,  the entrance to Arches National Park is in town, world class mountain biking is all over the place, there were cave drawings in our campsite and I got to shoot photos of it.
I did have a couple of rough night though, on the first night camping I got a leak in my sleeping pad but it didn't really get bad till the second night. Which has to be the single worst night I have ever spent in a tent. The pad was flat in about 45 minutes and I don't have any insulation in the bottom of my bag so it got damn cold. But the pictures made it all worth wild!

This is somewhere in Colorado when we stopped for gas.

Cave drawings in the parking lot of our campground. 

Moonrise from camp.
Dave trying to tame the stove to make dinner.

Casey playing guitar in camp.

Another moon shot from camp. This one though I broke out the 10.5mm fisheye to get the shot.

Of course I had to break out the strobes to play around a little bit. I had one camera left zoomed to 105mm and pointed at the bike, then there was a second SB-800 sitting in the mouth of the tent to light me and the inside of the tent.
Rachel and Adam during the day of mountain biking. For this one I used my 12-24 mm Nikon at 12 mm.

This is one of my favorite shots from the trip, its the Morning Glory Arch. I used the fisheye again and took two different exposures, one for the highlight and the other for the shadow and then combined them in photoshop. I am really getting to like this whole HDR thing. I was thinking about HDR (high dynamic range) yesterday, about how this is nothing new. HDR is basically the same thing as Ansel Adams' Zone System only much easier. Don't get me wrong you still have to pre-visualize what you want. But instead of having to precisely meter, then process the film to either tame or punch up the contrast and then spent hours in the darkroom dodging and burning to get the final result, now you just bracket, slap everything together in Photoshop and  your done. There is a little more to it then that but now is not the time to get into it.