Archive | Lighting RSS feed for this section

Tristan Turns 9!

Seems surreal to me that my oldest son turns 9 tomorrow. When I think of it… I sorta wanna peak at my 401K and make sure I’m planning my retirement correctly 🙂 I know, I know, many of my friends have older kids, but this is me… and thinking he’s 9, just blows my mind. Ton of clichés run through my mind, “in the blink of an eye”, “time sure flies” and all that stuff, which happen to LL be true (hence they became clichés).

So to celebrate we had Tristan and about 30 of his friends and family head out to Atlantis, the aquarium in Riverhead, NY. Turned out to be a great party! Informational, and fun, and even got to bake in the sun while watching the sea lion show (it reaallly got hot out there!, but it was well worth it). I took a ton of snaps (as usual) and wanted to post a few that I liked. More to come I am sure. Been pushing myself to start exploring off-camera flash as well as outdoor hi-speed synch flash (shutter about 1/4000 of a second, bright sun, f2.8 or so… Joe McNally stuff!). So a few of these shots are exactly that, me playing around, and learning what works, and what doesn’t (sigh, always seems more of the latter than former!) so I can continue to build out my mental checklist of “how to make cool pictures…”


Russell Brown, WineMaster

Had the distinct pleasure of meeting Russell Brown during the DLWS Napa adventure. For those of you not familiar with Russell, he’s the Senior Creative Director at Adobe Systems and is heavily involved in the graphic design and development arena. He is also a total blast to photograph. Russell came prepared to get into “character.” He asked a couple of us to shoot him in the vineyard we were visiting… So I broke out a flash and a Lumiquest LTP softbox (a McNally favorite) and went to TTL town.

Russell is just plan awesome to have in front of the lens. He lends drama where there is none, and very quickly transforms himself from “mad” scientist to elder winemaster with ease. For this portrait I wanted to bring out the drama in the clouds building behind him, as well as include enough of the vineyard “environment” to show where he was and paint a “story” around the image.

I call this the “Wine Spectator” cover shot. 🙂 Enjoy.

Fun with Flash II

Saw a portrait awhile ago of a baseball player done by Dustin Snipes… Always liked his work..

So I set up 3 flashes and let Tristan don his Three Village Patriots uniform.  Asked him to pretend he was pitching and shot away.

1) First flash was snooted and aimed at his cap to highlight the Patriots icon

2) Second Flash behind him with a blue gel to light the white seamless a different “punchy” color

3) Third Flash was a Honl grid aimed directly at his eyes… wanted that swath of light to capture his eyes and really highlight them. There was a bit of spill here, if he and I had the patience I would reshoot and try to remove the highlight on his cheek, so the line from the hat would meet the mitt.

Pretty quick setup, which was good… Both kids patience ran out real quick as the Lego table called… 🙂


Fun with Flash…

Took alot of pictures the last few days- with Easter, and sports, and visiting family… the camera was clicking away.

Been thinking quite a bit after seeing Hobby and McNally on the Flash Bus Tour about taking my flash work to the next level and really starting to get serious about understand the language of light as it pertains to small and big strobes. I’ve dabbled and played, and the results have been ok to pretty good… but its time to bare down (as they say) and start understanding the details…

With that in mind, my poor, unfortunate boys begin easy targets. And since baseball season is in full swing, I figured some quick portraits against my white seamless would do. Couple things I’ve wanted to try.

1) Rim lighting the face and arms using two strobes off to the left and right behind the subject

2) Grid spot on their face to highlight this area, and give it a bit more punch

3) Adding a splash of color with another flash low to the ground pointing straight up at the seamless (zoomed out to 24mm to proved a wide swath of colored light)

Again, with that all in mind I asked Aidan to pose first. A shot a series of images using TTL (McNally-esque) and wasn’t real happy with the results. Had three separate groups set up – Group A were the rim lights, Group B was the gridded flash in front, and C was the flash in back. Honestly struggled a bit with the rims… didn’t seem to give me the definition I really wanted… I think Aidan was just moving around too much, so I stopped fiddling with em’, left em where they were, and just shot away.

Ended up with a few keepers, with just a few tweaks in post… Have some of Tristan for later this week!

P.S. Love the hat bending his right ear in this one

Brothers at Christmas

This is the  “inside” of this years Christmas Card. As usual, wasn’t as easy as it looks… I get a string of “Are we done yets’?” ‘Dad, you’re killing me if I have to take another picture…” and so on and so on. The value of saying “This will mean something when you are older…” doesn’t seem to be working so much…

Anyway, love these brother pictures and looking back at them over the last few years. They truly are growing up so fast and this annual tradition of the photo in front of the tree just seems to be an exclamation point to time’s onward progression. Amazing how a still photograph really captures their personalities… tristan is a bit more of a clown (as witnessed in the facebook video post… him screaming “They are TORTURING us!… that’s Tristan to a “T”).. and aidan, my sweetness, just wears that heart-melting smile. That’s also him to a “T’.

Merry Christmas everyone…


Nikon D3, with Sb-900 through Lastolite Ezybox, finshined in Lightroom 3, Photoshop CS3 (various Nik filters)

The Spirit of Christmas

Wanted to take a different tack this year with the annual Christmas Card photo. Thought of this the night we were going to shoot- an HDR shot of the boys seated in front of the Christmas Tree all aglow…

I think it captures the fun, and the wonder of the Christmas spirit… the glow of the lights really comes though and rim lights their caps. I think of all the images I’ve taken of them, this one is really special. Wish I could keep them this age forever.


Shot taken with a Nikon D3, 24-70 mm lens. 3 bracketed images, finished with Photomatix, and Photoshop CS3

The Christmas Photo

Every year we settle down in front of the tree and have the boys strike a kind, brotherly pose for the Christmas Card. I personally love Christmas cards, especially those with the kids. They record their timely progression from infants to adults, and I’m always amazed when we receive them from friends and family… I find myself saying “MY Lord, How Big {insert name} has gotten! Can you BELIEVE it!” Open the next card and repeat the saying…

So with that spirit in mind we always set out to take a picture that will have that kind of an impression. Something that captures their personalities and will make people who know them chuckle. We took a bunch, and while this one DID NOT make the final card selection round, I liked it a lot.


Image Notes: Shot with a Nikon D3, with an SB-900 shot through a Lasotlite Ezybox. Controlled the flash with an SU-800 commander unit. Finished the image using Lightroom 3, and CS3.

Aidan turns 5!

Can’t believe my baby boy turns five years old tomorrow. I could go on and on with the “…it just seems like yesterday when…” but I’ve come to realize that time marches on and the young ones get older in a hurry. He promises me to still give me his crushing hug when he is 30, and to always blow me kisses, and say “Dad!” followed by a wink of an eye. I could go on and on with the little things that melt me like his unexpected pats on my back, or his one-liners that sound like he’s turning 85 instead of 5. He simply makes my days always better.

Took this shot and a bunch of others earlier today. Simple set up against our backyard fence. One D3, one SB-900 on a Lastolite Ezybox, one SU-800, and one extremely handsome, funny kid.

Happy Birthday my handsome, handsome!

Delicate Arch

There is a lesson in this photo.

Delicate Arch is roughly a 60 feet arch located at the top of a mesa in Utah. Takes about an hour to hike in, and the vertical part of the climb is pretty steep, not to mention a bit scary (especially for those that tend to get vertigo, like I do).  The last 100 feet or so is a 3 foot ledge… no fence, with a drop a few hundred feet down.

The reward was worth the scare though, that much I can promise you.

When we arrived we had these great clouds overtop, great light all around and the promise of a “magical event.” As the sun dove to the horizon a cloud bank had appeared, and the magic light that we had waited over an hour for simply disappeared. Not that what was left was horrible, it wasn’t, but it wasn’t ‘magical’. Kept wishing for those clouds to part for the last few minutes and through them some warm, brilliant light rays would head our way… but on this endeavor, it wasn’t meant to be.

Word of advice, if you are shooting Delicate Arch, which you should if you are even close to the place, be there early. It was very crowded around the top, and tourists clamored to shoot themselves beneath the Arch itself. Me? I was too chicken-poop to even get over the ledge. Kept seeing myself tumbling down the mesa… not a pleasant sight to behold. Also… bring H20, I didn’t and by the time I got to the top (in about 40 minutes, I was trucking…) I was soaked through and through (remember, it’s about 40 lbs of stuff on my back plus the tripod, and you need a tripod up there when the light gets low).

Even without the magic light I had hoped for, I must say seeing the Arch in real life is one of those things that I’ll add to my “Thats just AMAZING list…” Almost seems surreal in a sense to see it so well preserved out there in the middle of nowhere, as I am sure it will be for the next few million years (I hope!)


When in Moab…

Moab, utah is the mountain-biking Mecca of the world. Riders from all over the place come to ride the world famous SlickRock trail.

So it would have been a crime to shoot in Moab and NOT include something related to its rich mountain-biking heritage. Having once been a mountain biker myself (not a very good one, I might add, but I thoroughly enjoyed riding Mt. Snow and Killington in Vermont) I looked forward to working with Tyson, our MB model. He is orn and raised in the area and was obviously a talented rider.

Scott Kelby arranged all of this and as soon as we hit the trail we had an off-camera flash with umbrella set up only inches away from Tyson’s face. Scott provided a PocketWizard for all of us shooters to use (“Hey! Can you please pass the PocketWizard down the line…)” and we snapped away with wild abandon. It was high noon as you can see from the shot- so flash was set to full power to try and provide enough light into the shadows on Tyson’s face.

In post used a little tonal contrast (thank you NIK Color Effects Pro) to enhance the image and make Tyson pop a bit more. Backed off the filter on the sky to keep it more natural, and not to HDR-ish looking.