Sunday, February 28, 2010

Car shoot

I don't normally do product shots but when I got a call from Ford to shoot the new Mustang I couldn't say no. And if you believe that I got some swamp land to sell you. Actually as you might have guessed by the photo this was done with a Hotwheels car and four Speedlights.

This is how it came together, light #1 was camera left with a cardboard snoot.

The 2nd light was in a softbox camera right filling in the shadows of the front and the top of the hood.
Then the 3rd light was between the background and the car with a blue gel.

The car itself was on a platform with a piece of black construction paper under a piece of glass which is how I was able to get the reflection.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Had to sit on this one a while.

I did a shoot this fall for Northwoods Woman and it wasn't going to be used till this spring, well the issue is on the stands so I can put the images up on here. This is my second cover for the magazine in about a year so I am feeling pretty good about that.
This is what I turned in, I used an SB-800 with a full cut of CTO gel and set the cameras white balance to tungsten to get that really blue sky. This is kind of my go to technique to get something to look dramatic without needing to put a lot of effort into it.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Starting to daydream about summer

This time of year thoughts start to turn to the warmer days of summer and I happened across this image from a shoot I did two summers ago that I didn't do anything with started me daydreaming about shooting outside with out needing to run for the cover of a warm car every ten minutes. This was done with an SB-800 tethered to the camera via a SC-17 cord and held buy hand out camera left.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Day 56

I was shooting on the Superior hiking trail and I came across what looked like a cool waterfall but it had been kind of a dry summer so the falls were dry. Fast forward a year later I am scouting for locations to shoot and remembered this spot so I took a run down the trail to check it out and found a nice little falls. I had a light on the same side of the falls as the model and was able trigger it from about 50 ft away.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Day 55

This is an image from a story I shot on a new friend of mine that is spending the winter living in a tipi north of Bemidji. Light was really simple I just had one flash in a softbox camera right. Since the walls are pretty much white when I touched off a strobe light went all over but it kind of worked well here.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

It's 5 O'clock on a Saturday......

Todays image was another one that was kind of getting down to the wire and Lance has kind of been my go to guy for last minute images. I went over to his house to watch a movie and showed up with a camera and an idea of shooting him at his piano. We did this in a matter of about five minutes, I clamped an SB-800, zoomed to 35mm, to a chair behind and to the right of Lance without its diffuser. This was the first test image that I did and only shot 12 frames. I shot in RAW for a change which allowed me to use all of the info in the one image for an HDR image. It took longer then bracketing 3-7 frames in JPEG and combining them but since Lance was actually playing I couldn't bracket and get him to line up properly.
The only thing this image needs now is a cigarette smoldering in an ashtray in the lower left part of the shot.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Last night in the John Glas

Saturday was the last night of BSU hockey in the John Glas Fieldhouse in Bemidji and I got asked to help. Hockey isn't something I have shot much of but since I was there to get a different angle I shot from up top with the 200-400mm. After the game was over they had a final ceremony and it struck me as a time to try doing a panoramic. For this image I shot 10 vertical frames and let the automate feature in Photoshop piece it together.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Speed Skating on Lake Bemidji

On Saturday in between assignments I swung by the speed skating event they were having down there. I tried putting some flashes on this scene but there was too much light for my little SB-800's to over power from where I put them, so I moved into a spot with some better light. I used the Nikon 200-400mm lens, which is one of my favorite lenses.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Eelput 2010

The Ealpout Festival in Walker, MN is pretty much just one big ass party out on Leech Lake. People drink, party and if their lucky a few might even find time to catch an eelpout or two. I hadn't been there in over ten years so I thought it was time to check it out again. It had gotten a lot bigger then I remembered and after wandering around for about an hour I came up with some fun images. One thing you might notice though is that they don't really fit into what I've been been posting on here. Instead of doing flash images I thought that the uniqueness of the event would be something people would enjoy.

Not exactly the stripper I wanted to see.
And then they started blaring Prince's "Pussy Control" over the PA and things started to get a little friendlier.

Couldn't find a midget so they started tossing an empty keg.

This group of guys just looked kind of sketchy.

Friday, February 19, 2010

A taste of Ealpout

Just a sample of the craziness that goes on at the Ealpout Festival. More to come.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

From the Files

I don't like pulling from my files to do this project but there are going to be times, especially over the winter months that it just can't be helped. This image is from a shoot I did last summer with Jeremiah who is always fun to shoot with. As far as the lighting goes I had two flashes on Jeremiah camera left and two more behind him. In photoshop I amped up the green on the back wall.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Diggin Deep

Well it took a month and a half but I finally had to step in front of the camera for one of these images. For this shot my original idea was to shoot from the side and have a flash inside the pack, I played around with that idea for a while and didn't really like it. Then I was looking at Michael Clark's book on shooting adventure sports and saw a similar shot and thought I would give it a try. I used my 10.5mm fisheye and put it on top of a sleeping bag I had stuffed on my backpack, I ran a flash cable out the side of the pack to an SB-800 with a dome diffuser camera right on a stand. The camera was set for self-timer so I could get both hands in the shot.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Day 47

This was a very simple shot, all I had going here was a softbox camera left.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Life up north...

This is part of a shoot that I did for a new magazine that I am starting. Its going to be used with a story about a local woman who is spending the winter living in a tipi. Bemidji for the people who don't know, is about an hour and a half from a town that is constantly listed as the coldest place in the lower 48.
For this shot I was shooting handheld and holding an SB-800 camera left.
Camera: D300
Lens: 12-24mm

Sunday, February 14, 2010


For this image I had the softbox camera left with a CTO gel, put a weak flash on the floor in front of her and then a snooted flash camera right and behind her pointing at the wall, both without gels. Then I set the camera to a tungsten white balance so that the flashes without the gels went blue.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Day 44

This one was done by shooting Kristen's reflection in the mirror. The trick to shooting reflections is that you don't light the mirror. I had a softbox camera right and then the lamp in the background added some separation.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Day 43

I don't do a lot of mixed black and white and color shots like this but that was the concept we came up for this before we shot it cause she wanted the orange scarf to really stand out. I liked how the colors of the background kind of matched the scarf. As far as the lighting goes I had a softbox camera right and as close as I could bring it in to try and get as soft of a light as possible and I also had a flash on the background just to bring out a little detail in the rug. In photoshop I copied the original color image and then converted the first layer to B+W, Quad toned it and turned it back to an RGB file then added the copied layer back on. Throw a mask on there and a little selective deleting on the mask and the color starts to shine through.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Day 42

For this image all I used was a softbox in close camera right. Once I got it into photoshop I used the black and white settings to adjust the tonal range, then converted to grayscale and finished it off with some quad toning to add a little depth to the tones.
Camera: D300
Lens: 5omm f/1.4

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Day 41

For this shot of Emily I used a softbox camera right and an SB-800 behind her as a little bit of a hair light. The tricky part was dragging the shutter to get the candles to burn in just right.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Its all done with smoke and mirrors.

I am always amazed how something so simple can spark an idea for a cool photo. This image came about when we decided to take a break and Annalise blow out some candles we were using for a photo. When I saw the smoke I thought we could do something with it if I could light it and I have never tried to light smoke before. I used a snooted SB-800 camera right and behind her pointed at the smoke trying to highlight the smoke. Then camera left I had a softbox with a CTO gel on it. I did the gel because then I could set the white balance to tungsten and get a nice blue out of the flash lighting the smoke. We did three sets in an attempt to get the smoke just right, I would have liked a bit more detail in her, but over all I'm really happy with the way it turned out.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Lots of color!

On Sunday I made the trek down to Minneapolis despite everyone telling me about the possible impending weather to shoot with the band Yasen Marie. The drive down was fine but by the time I left I got to deal with a 5 hour white knuckle drive. Wasn't even because the roads were slick, the further north I went and the less traffic the more snow that stuck to the roads obscuring the lines on the road. But when it was all said and done with I had an amazing time shooting with the band and we got some great images.
For this one of Amera I put a flash under each of the drums firing up with some bright gels on them so it looks like the light is almost coming right out of the drums. Then I had Emily, the bass player, holding a third SB-800 with a cardboard snoot pointed right at Amera's face set a stop brighter then the gelled flashes so the light on her face was daylight balanced.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Day 38

Since I am still up and its going to be busy for me today I am posting this one really early today so I don't have to worry about it. All it too to do this shot was to put a flash inside the pot firing strait up. If I were to do this again I think I would have pointed the flash down so the light would have had to bounce around the pot a bit before coming out.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Day 37

This one still had the softbox in the living room firing back into the kitchen but instead of bouncing light off the wall I had the light pointed at her camera right so it looked like light coming from the stove.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Day 36

The start of this shoot we were going for more of a pin up 1950's type of a thing and as the shoot progressed we ended up with more of a film noir image. The main light is an SB-800 in a softbox out in the living room firing back through the doorway. Then to bring back some detail in Tasha I bounced a second flash off of a white wall camera right to get a little bit of fill. Then a little playing in Photoshop with the levels and some duo toning and we ended up here.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A little bit about gear.

Talking to people lately I have found out that some of the gear info that I have been mentioning in posts has been a little confusing. So today I am going to talk about the gear I use and why.

My lights of choice are the Nikon SB-800's, they are extremely light and put out a hell of a lot of light. Most people would just take this flash and attach it to their camera via the hot shoe but that light tends to be flat and very clinical. By using a remote trigger and the Justin Clamp (pictured) I can get the flash off the camera and turn just about anything into a light stand. I bring at least two on a shoot but more often then not I will have four on hand for shoots.

The cardboard snoot is a very important part to my lighting kit, what it does is narrow the beam of light way down so you can light only what you want because when you touch off a flash it sends that light bouncing around all over the place. It's your job as a photographer to harness that light to make it do what you want. I made this myself out of a Coke twelve pack box and some duct tape, took about 20 mins. If you go to do this yourself you want it to be about 8" long. The one drawback to this light modifier is that it makes the light kind of hard and dramatic.

The softbox has the opposite effect on the light, the larger the light source the softer the light and by using a softbox you are spreading the light from your little flash across a large panel of transparent material which softens the light. This one is only about 18x24" which is kind of small but works perfectly with the small flashes and the closer you can work it to your subject the softer the light is.

The front of the softbox.

Gels are another thing I use pretty regular, putting these pieces of colored plastic in front of a flash will change the color of the light that your flash puts out. I tend to use them more to control the light for the various white balances but I am wanting to use them more and more just to pump up the color in a scene.

Hope this kind of helps people with some of the gear terms I use in the blog and why I use that gear.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Day 34

This is a one light solution, I had a softbox above and in front of Mallory as the main light and a gold reflector just out of the frame on the bottom.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

So many choices.

Today I was working my new friend Mallory in the wardrobe department of the theatre department and during a break I started to look around and I saw this great isle of shoes and had to do a photo in there. As you can see its kind of cramped in there, its maybe 2 feet wide down this isle and if I had been trying to use big lights it would have never worked.
For this shot I have one flash on a Justin Clamp on the shelf camera right with a cardboard snoot. To get the background separation I clamped another SB-800 to the shelf in the background with the dome diffuser. After doing a few tests like that I noticed that her legs kind of disappeared and I employed my new stand by of laying a reflector on the floor and in this case I just set an SB-800 on top of it kicking up some nice fill light.

Monday, February 1, 2010

No flash but still modified the light.

One of the simplest ways to modify the natural light is to use either a reflector or diffusion panel. In these two examples the image on the left was taken with natural light only which creates a lot of deep shadows and a very contrasty image. The image on the right was under pretty hard mid afternoon sun but I had an assistant hold up a one stop Lastolite Tri Grip diffusion panel and that created a light similar to a large softbox.
As far as bang for your buck goes reflectors and diffusion panels are amazing! For almost 1/4 of the price of a TTL flash you can have a lot of control over the light. The only real drawback is it really helps to have an assistant on hand to hold them so if your shooting solo it gets kind of tricky.