Monday, November 15, 2010

How is it lit? Free print to the best guess...

How is it lit?
In a selfish effort to completely whore myself and my blog, I am giving away a free print (up to 12x18) to the person who diagrams most accurately the setup from the photograph above. It is the most intricate lighting setup of all the portraits featured in this layout, and I wanna see who guesses it... and it ain't all that hard. Please include, if you've got the voodoo, the under/over readings for each light as well!

Please submit your conjectures in the comments field... email an actual diagram if you so dare! I'll send a 100% coupon to whomever is closest... you can choose any picture you want off my site.

And since I've been neglecting this blog for so damn long now, I bet that I get very few responses, so your odds are quite good!

You've got all this week... pass it around.

BTW, that photograph is of stage producer, new cafe/bar/performance-house owner, and all-around neat fellow Chall Gray. Go and see him, have a beer or coffee, and enjoy show at The Magnetic Field in the River Arts District of Asheville, NC.

producer diagram

Thank you all for playing!

Hmmmmm.... who is closest...???

Camera setting: ISO 400 1/60 @ f4.

Lamp is ambient as-is (but it is not lighting the room.) What everyone missed is a speedlight @ -2 popped into the ceiling to light the room. If I had used the lamp to light the room it would have blown out and created a very warm-tomed room.

Key is a squished up silver umbrella to direct the light at subjects upper body / to keep it from spilling into the whole scene.

Subject fill is a RING LIGHT @ -2

Outside light is an Alien Bee with reflector and lots of blue gel. @ +-0

And so, EVERYONE WINS! Email me with your image choice (anything from my website) and I will send you a 100% coupon with a link. Sorry, but you will still have to pay shipping... there is no way around that.

We will do this again someday soon... I'll try and find a harder one.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Don't Use Crappy Photographs!!! Generic Photos Ignored Online

I saw this first on the NYTimes Blog, then on A Photo Editor, both referencing this study by web consultant guru Jacob Nielson (considered "the world's leading expert on Web Usability" by U.S. New and World Report)... now I am jumping on the bandwagon and presenting this very important information to you, my prospective clients.

The lesson: Bad photos don't work... Generic stock photos don't work... People ignore them.

We are assaulted by bad photos every day... everywhere you look your eyes are pelted with crappy stock photography and low-quality original trash. So guess what happens...? you begin to ignore them... they become part of the muddled cyber landscape of which you pay no attention.

Look at Jacob Nielson's eye-tracking study below. That is a Yale webpage with a terribly generic and rather poor (sorry shooter) image of students and laptops... now look at the blue dots that represent what the viewer payed attention too. See any blue dots on the photo? Nope!


I wish that Jacob had done the same study of the same page but inserted a high-quality, stylized portrait of a real student on the real Yale campus... I'd bet my supper that you'd see blue dots all over it.

Moral of this story? From Jacob Nielson himself, "Invest in good photo shoots: a great photographer can add a fortune to your website's value."

Solution: Hire me!!! I am a professional commercial, editorial, portrait and documentary photographer; I'm based in Asheville, North Carolina, but I've got a truck and I love to travel!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Greatest Puzzle...

I never really post just the spreads, but I think I will this time around, because this is one of my all-time favorites. The super talented folks at WNC Magazine whipped this one up. Huge props to Denise Szakaly who just got promoted to Art Director... Yay Denise! As a photographer I've seen my images butchered in a bad spread, and I've seen them flourish in a good one... here you see them thrive.

I was hired to shoot 8 remarkably stylish folks from their fields... theatre, art, architecture, interior design, personal fashion... and I had a lot of fun doing it. I think this is my favorite type of project right now, the location portrait. Sometimes I get to scout, sometimes not, but I always have to show up and figure it all out. It's the greatest form of a puzzle... all the pieces laid out before me, and I get to choose how they go together.

Style Page 1
Style Page 2
Style Page 3
Style Page 4

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

My Second TV Commercial...

Another exciting week for me, as my 2nd TV commercial is airing! I am shooting a short series (3?) of :30 spots to promote ASAP - the Appalachian Sustainable Agricultural Project and MTMA - the Mountain Tailgate Market Association. We are highlighting different farms in the area, folks who sell their food at the tailgate markets.

The second farm highlighted here is East Fork Farm. These are some folks whom I admire a great deal. As a family they have been building their farm for over a decade... chickens, sheep, rabbits, turkeys... chores to be done every day... it is quite an operation.

I had difficulty wrapping my head around how to advertise a meat producing farm without actually showing the meat. There were lots of pretty pictures to be made, including on the days the days chickens were harvested, but I couldn't really include that footage in the :30 spot. I really want to come up with the funds to produce little documentaries of some of these farms. East Fork would be perfect. Our State TV would be a great regional venue... anyone paying attention out there?

By the way... if you are looking for a quiet place to stay 20 minutes outside of Asheville, the Robertsons have a cottage they build on up the hill from their farm, Meadow Branch Cottage... Complete with a wooden non-chlorinated hot tub for two, I highly recommend it.

And don't forget to check out the Galen Kipar Project... Galen is the masterful musician behind the tunes.

Friday, October 08, 2010

My First TV Commercial...

This is a pretty exciting week for me... my very first produced-all-by-myself TV commercial is airing! I am shooting a short series (3?) of :30 spots to promote ASAP - the Appalachian Sustainable Agricultural Project and MTMA - the Mountain Tailgate Market Association. We are highlighting different farms in the area, folks who sell their food at the tailgate markets. The first farmers profiled are the good folks at Flying Cloud Farm. Annie and her kiddo's were fantastic and Isaiah was the force unseen. Galen Kipar of Asheville, a musician who's played many a tailgate market, supplied the awesome tunes.

Shot on a 5D with a crew of me I learned one thing well, the sucker is not easy to use. One day soon Canon will shove their APS-C sized CMOS sensor into an actual video housing, and that day will be a good day.

Please leave feedback... there is nothing better than good old-fashioned constructive criticism.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Our State Magazine - Cherokee NC Cover

Patrick Cavan Brown Our State Cover Cherokee

Greetings to all! Yes, I know that it has once again been forever and ever since I've posted on this thing called the blog... sometimes I just want to take pictures and forget everything else... I'll try to get better at that.

This is October's issue of Our State Magazine. My first cover for them. Mike Crowe Jr is the Cherokee on the front... an awesome guy, Mike portrays legendary Cherokee warrior Junaluska at Unto These Hills, a spectacular nightly historical performance in Cherokee that I can't recommend highly enough. They allowed me total behind-the-scenes access to the show and I was blown away by the amount of production that goes into it... it was incredible.

Shooting this story for Our State was a somewhat humbling and awakening experience... I'll write more about it, and include some awesome outtakes, in the coming days. In the mean time, I'd say go and see Unto These Hills, but the show ended last month... set aside a few days for 2011 to visit Cherokee, it's worth it.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Meet Wesley Corn...


Meet Wesley Corn... a fellow photographer. I've never photographed a photographer AS a photographer... I've used photographer friends for models, photographer friends for stand-ins, etc... but I've never been asked to shoot a portrait of a photographer and represent his or her craft. I'm not sure if I was nervous or excited about this shoot, maybe both. Thank heavens Wes is a cool dude... relaxed, patient and just into it. I must say, shooting artists is usually quite pleasurable. They know the deal... they know what goes into creating something... they know not to expect something totally rushed, totally smooth, or totally without trial and error.... and for that, I thank them all.

I showed up at Wes's place, his grandfather's old farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, not knowing what the hell I was going to do. Wes was selected for the On The Verge show based on images he had created of himself in front of an American flag, so without completely ripping him off, I wanted to incorporate that somehow... for the simply reason that I wanted the portrait to look good, and not out-of-place, when published alongside Wes's work in the magazine spread. Other than that, I was completely winging it.

I toured his place, brainstorming ideas... I eventually settled on the inside of his grandfather's workshop... it was dusty, filled with wood scraps, wasps and saw blades, and had an awesome set of windows. The plan was to use the indirect light streaming in from outside to backlight the flag hanging in the window... throw a couple of kickers, a beauty-dish and a ring-flash on Wes, and presto! Well we hung the flag and went outside to gather more equipment and (this is what makes the fluid creative environment fun) after taking one look at the flag hanging in the window from the outside, I knew that we had stumbled across something even better!

I still wanted the flag illuminated from behind, so I set up a 1200 ws Whitelightning inside the shed aimed at the flag. I took the other lights outside, substituted an umbrella with a speedlite for the beauty-dish, and started loving what I saw. Now the question... what the hell to do with Wes? How do I show him as a photographer? There was no way in hell I was going to have him hold a camera... there is nothing a hate more than the awful portraits of photographers holding cameras. How many of those have you seen on photographer's "about me" web pages or in the contributors sections of magazine? Maybe you are one of them? Shame on you!!! Well, I started out trying an equally lame idea: I had him hold up an empty frame in front of his head. Ouch! And then we dug up an old self-portrait headshot that he'd taken... There was one Wes uses for online dating that he wouldn't even let me see, and then there was this awesome goofy one. Just so happens that the color of shirt in the headshot very closely matched the one he was wearing, so I was happy and knew it would work. I had him hold it in a few different ways, yada yada yada, and there you have it. Oh... and that is a remote trigger in his hand controlling an off-set camera that was recording stills of the whole thing... no, not as lame as holding an actual camera. (you'll see a few of those pics at the end of the behind-the-camera video... my G9 battery died before I wrapped up the shoot, so Wes sent me a gif animation... thanks Wes!)

BTW... rather than speed up the whole shoot to 1 minute in length like I do the rest, I left this one long (2 minutes) because I like the song so much. It's The D Bag Rag by The Avett Brothers.

MGMT: Time to Pretend... the karaoke version.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Meet Dustin Spagnola...

Meet Dustin Spagnola... the second artist I shot for WNC Magazine's On The Verge contest. Dustin uses images of famous folks he finds via Google, blows them up really really big, and incorporates them into his oversized, super fantastic paintings. As a photographer that idea bothered me: using someone else's images without credit or compensation... so I knew going in that I would ask Dustin about it (though I have used uncredited music in some of my behind-the-camera timelapses). I wasn't there two minutes when Dustin preempted my protest and, unlike millionare "appropriation artists" Shepard Fairey and Richard Prince, offered unsolicited admission to stealing the pics from Google. I applauded him for that, the admission, but I am still a bit apprehensive about the execution. True, images are forever being borrowed by "Art," reworked and repurposed, but where would the newfound masterpieces be without the original masterpieces themselves? I guess I wonder what's wrong with a little credit where due... For much more brilliant conversations on appropriation art, click here and here... google more and inform yourself... come to your own conclusion.

Dustin's portrait and video are among my favorites of the whole series. Just like the rest of these portraits and videos, it was a one-man, one-camera production. We shot at two locations... his old studio for the portrait, and his new one a few weeks later for the video.

Sometimes, when I walk into a location for the first time, I don't have to do much studying to find what I like... other times I do. After seeing the plastic Dustin had hung in his tiny studio to trap in the warmth during wintertime, I could think of nothing else for the backdrop. To simplify the background I'd drop the plastic as low as I could get it. The window would make a nice frame for his head. The rest of the space would be filled with Dustin's work. I gave him the task of setting up the scene as I set up the lights. Dustin's got a great smirk... just add a cigarette and a rim light and the picture takes itself.

I aimed to create a mini narrative with each video... two hours of shooting, 30 minutes of recorded conversation, then a night or so worth of editing. It was all on the fly, and all a ton of fun. I asked each artist to come up with the soundtrack themselves... I wanted to incorporate what they listen to while they work, and since I didn't want anything with lyrics I had to dig up a few karaoke versions... for Dustin I used a Fugazi song that he loves.

Music: Murder for Money, Morphine
Sweet and Low, Fucoustic plays Fugazi


Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Meet Severn Eaton...

Meet Severn Eaton.... He's a cool cat: a father, a husband, a ginger-ale brewmaster, and an artist. Severn's paintings are right up my alley: they have meaning. In one of my favorites black helicopters emerge from a wasps nest... and in another a soldier walks among a field of poppies.

I shot Severn as the first in a series of western North Carolina's top emerging artists for WNC Magazine. I gave myself a challenge: all images were to be taken in the studio of the artist, wether that be a basement, a bedroom, or a warehouse... nowhere else... no scouting, no building sets, no assistants... just show up alone and keep it real. The plan was to spend about an afternoon with each artist shooting a lit portrait and a bonus: SLR video footage that I'd edit down into a 2 minute mini-documentary.

I've attached the behind-the-camera-timelapse of the lit-portait, but this one is a bit vague... see if you can figure it all out... feel free to comment.

And here is the 2 minute doc... It's been years and years since I've shot any video... as I post these in the coming days and weeks you may notice that the videos get better as time and practice assert their valuable toll.

PS... didn't mean to be absent from the blog for so long... this was a big project and a lot of things fell by the wayside... on that note, I'm sorry, Katie, mi amor.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Meet Wayne Dickert...

70mm :: 1/2 sec @ f8, ISO 50

Meet Wayne "Wayner" Dickert... Olympic paddler and all around awesome fellow. I shot Wayne over the winter for the Canoe & Kayak Beginners Guide magazine (on newsstands now). We had one of the toughest winters on record out here in North Carolina, and when C&K asked me to shoot Wayne I don't think they had snow and ice in mind... but snow and ice is what they got. I figured, if you got it, flaunt it... so I showed up early and scouted the most brutal location I could find.

Wayne is the head instructor at the Nantahala Outdoor Center... which according to National Geographic Adventure is "one of the best outfitters on the earth." Though they paddle many rivers in the south-east, the NOC is built upon the Nantahala River, so I limited my scouting there. There is a section called The Cascades, class V paddling with awesome waterfalls... that was my initial idea, but the access was way too treacherous due to ice ice everywhere... I'd hate to kill my subject (almost happened once... more on that another day). I tooled around in my truck with my dog looking for the perfect spot, and then I found it, down a long snow-covered dirt road. Tucked back in a little cove with decent access was this cascade... the mist coming off the waterfall affected by weeks of freezing temperature had created a frozen white winter wonderland... everything was covered in snow and ice.

I went and picked up Wayne and we bushwhacked our way through the forest. I selected the exact spot, tied a few branches back out of the way, and set up one light. Using just one light is not typical for me (unlike the immensely talented Zack Arias), but I didn't have much of a choice this time around. Despite my sometimes ridiculous devotion to building the perfect shot, I wasn't about to ford an icy river all by myself to set up kickers on the opposite shore... I was just going to make it work. I used a beauty dish on a White Lightning connected to my own battery powered rig (12 volt lawnmower battery and an inverter - cheaper and with more power than a Vagabond). I underexposed the ambient by about 1 stop, dragging the shutter to blur the water, and popped a bit of light onto Wayne with a 1/2 sun gel to even further cool the background color temperature and allow Wayne's warm flesh tone to stand out against the blue environment. A few minutes and a few frozen fingers later... (sorry, no behind-the-camera timelapse on this one... but I've got a ton of good ones coming up in the future)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Meet Russell Stall...

35mm :: 1/200 @f/4.5, ISO 100

One of the things I love about this job, location portraiture, is the challenge... seems cliche, I know, but that's one of those things about cliches: they are often true. I get to shoot a lot of "everyday people"... not rockstars or movie actresses, but folks like Russell Stall who run Greenville Forward... Folks with an office, a cluttered desk, an assistant, and something a little different about what they do so as to warrant their portrait being made.

The challenge for me is showing up and making something out of nothing. In essence, I don't have an empty canvas, I've got one already cluttered... In the case of Russell, one filled with filing cabinets, computer printers, papers, desks, books, and a pretty nifty poster of Einstein on the wall. I enjoy the fact that I've got to take all these elements, sculpt them into something framable, then add light and paint something intriguing. It ain't always easy, but it is usually fun.

I chose an exposure dark enough to overpower the ambient light: 1/200 @ f/4.5, ISO 100. I used a white reflective umbrella as key and placed two Speedstrips as kickers (yes, build demo coming soon... probably the next post). I started with a ringlight as my fill, but I had to give it up because I needed to use that Speedlite with a snoot to illuminate the painting, so I used specular reflective fill under the camera instead.

(I start the timelapse after I've already cleaned up the place).

I'm currently working on a series of portraits (still and motion) of emerging artists... They won't be published for another month or so, but they are going to make for a neat set of posts... lots of behind-the-camera-timelapses and some portfolio worthy shots. Fun stuff.... stay tuned... and check back for the Speedstrip build demo coming soon.

Patrick Cavan Brown :: Editorial and Commercial Photographer :: Asheville, North Carolina

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Meet Kym Petrie...

59mm :: 1/125 @f/2.8, ISO 50

Meet Kym Petrie...

Kym is the Executive Vice President of the Downtown Greenville Development Initiative, Their basic goal is to lure businesses into the downtown area... They've got a neat website, check it out.

One of the frustrating things about shooting for regional magazines is the lack of budget. If I need an assistant I've got to call in a favor or borrow a summer intern, so I am almost always by myself. Usually that works out fine... I shlep all my own gear, stand in for my own setups, brainstorm everything myself... it can be very satisfying... though to be sure, sometimes very frustrating. An example is the video below... you'll see me running around like a crazy-man, moving lights here and there during the shoot, when I could have just said "please" and "thankyou" to some poor unpaid intern. But all is good... I love it. I only have to buy lunch for myself.

BUT, one of the most wonderful things about shooting for regional magazines is the fantastic folks who hire you... you get to know them as friends, rather then just as voices on the other end of the phone or computer... you share a beer, a dinner, a birthday party... you hike in the woods, paddle on the rivers, play with their dogs... I'll take that over an assistant any day of the week.

Kym needed to be shot downtown, as that's her gig. It was another cold winter day, breezy but no rain or snow. I'd picked out a nice spot in front of the newspaper next to a hotdog stand... I thought that would work well to show "downtown", but the hotdog man got bored and left before our scheduled shoot time. My backup plan was the clock, so backup it was.

I underexposed the background by about a stop and used an umbrella with a Speedlite as my key: ETTL +1 stop to compensate for the white coat (your camera's meter will see that coat and try to underexpose it, seeking middle-grey). For some minor edge definition I set up two Speedlites as kickers, low power. Mother Nature handled the wind-machine and styled her hair with flare. I sat in the street and got low with the camera to emphasize Kym's "power" and to deemphasize the street. I took my shots between passing cars and pedestrians and dodged a few cars myself. If I hadn't been using my tripod as a sand-bag, and if I'd had enough ND to slow the shutter without losing my shallow depth of field, I may have gone for blurry pedestrians and cars instead of empty streets. I could have composited a scene in PS, but I wanted everything in-camera. The shoot lasted about 4 minutes (I had another shoot scheduled for a short time later), and Kym was a natural... never take for granted the fortune of having someone who knows what they are doing.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Meet Peter Waskiewicz...

55mm :: 1/160 @ f/5.0, ISO 100

Meet Peter Waskiewicz of Sow True Seed. A couple of years ago he starting a small seed company in Asheville that is now exploding... they specialize in open-polinated, heirloom, and organic seeds. We dug tilled the garden this weekend (my back hurts) and plan on filling it with Sow True's seeds very soon... I'll include pics when I update this post, so check back if you are interested.

I was tasked with shooting Peter, the founder, on a rainy and blisteringly cold January day. I tracked down one of his vendors, Reems Creek Nursery, because I needed to hide the winter and highlight "growth," what Peter and Sow True is all about. The nurseries weren't quite in full swing yet, too early in the year, but I the good folks at Reems Creek had one table of young plants that I could utilize. I got low with my camera, right over the plants, to emphasize them in the foreground. I cleaned up the background by moving all the other plants to the floor. I used a couple of bare Speedlights as kickers, and one with an umbrella as key. I underexposed the ambient by about a stop, to both help the subject "pop" and to reduce the influence of the strange color created by the natural light filtering through the plastic ceiling. We tried a few different poses and positions, and I liked the one with Peter holding a flat of new plants the best.

Is there any other information that you would like to see covered in these posts? Leave a comment and let me know...

Monday, March 01, 2010

Xaden... Firestarter!

Meet Xaden, the Firestarter. This is one in a series of many (planned) portraits highlighting ordinary (heroes) pictured in creative situations around the United States... I'm calling the series Has Anyone Seen America Lately? The title came off a used t-shirt I bought from a little old lady in a dung hut with a tin roof in Nowhere, Kenya. It was blue shirt, very thin cotton, and had on it an iron-on bald eagle's head with a tear in his eye... and that question: Has anyone seen America lately? I wore the shirt for years, and then it disappeared, never to be seen again. I am hoping to one day uncover it hidden in a cardboard box somewhere in storage at my folks house... please cross your fingers.

Anyway, back to Xaden. Xaden is the son of a friend of mine. I'd had this image in my head for quite some time... red-headed troublemaker starting fires in the backyard. Xaden couldn't have been more perfect. His mom woke him up early in the AM to drive him to the location in time for sunrise. My buddy Jesse James helped with the fire (all FX were done IN CAMERA, except for the tiny flame coming from the lighter Xaden is holding). The panorama consists of four separate vertical frames to maximize image resolution, and the grill was shot when Xaden was gone to keep him safe. We ran a propane line up through the bottom of the grill, but don't do this at home! Jesse is a trained professional. Everything was then stitched in photoshop, but like I said, FX were done in camera.

Only Canon Speedlights were used (we've been calling it the Canon Challenge... to see how far we could push the abilities of small lights). I used a similar setup during the Martindale police portraits, 4 strobes of varying power situated around the subject to mimic the sunlight. My biggest obstacle was deciding which of Xaden's facial expressions to use in the final project... he was awesome! See below. Let me know if you like one of the other selects better.

I wish I had a time-lapse of this one, but I don't. Boo. I am, however, using this image as the cover to my photo book (actually, my portfolio): I Shoot People... check it out!

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Land of Popular Photography...

I was recently approached by Popular Photography Magazine and asked to contribute to a "How To" lighting column. They specifically asked to use a shot I produced for a personal project in which I photographed a group of small town police officers... Pop Photo wanted to use this particular shot to highlight solutions to obstacles presented when shooting into the sun. I said "yes" immediately, and for one simple reason: years ago when I was the photographer for my high school yearbook and had just begun to realize my passion for this light sensitive craft, Popular Photography was the very first magazine I subscribed to... nostalgia. Pop Photo's editor, Peter Kolonia, was gracious and awesome as we put together the column... visit your newsstand or subscribe today!

The overall project is entitled "Has Anyone Seen America Lately?" My idea is to travel this great land of ours and use this lighted pano technique to capture all the everyday unique and fantastic folks I can get my hands on... folks like the Martindale, Texas Police Department (see above), World Champion Gun Twirler Pistol Packin' Paula, and Xaden the red-headed firestarter. I'll write more about this project in the coming weeks... I need to muster up some funding first... wanna help?

In the mean time, check out the article in Popular Photography, and watch this Behind-The-Camera-Timelapse below.
I underexposed the ambient light in the scene by two stops. I used four Canon Speedlites to mimic the sun by wrapping light around the subject. Each strobe was equidistance from the subject and each reduced by 1/2 power in relation to the one before it. The strobe furthest from the camera (and closest to the sun) was at full power, and the one closest to the camera was at 1/8 power. This allowed the light intensity on the subject to fall off gradually as it wrapped towards the front of the face. They were triggered using the ST-E2. Each subject was captured separately on my 5D and later compiled in Photoshop. I don't want to give away all the details... need to save a few for the Pop Photo article. Fun stuff!!!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Life @ The Top...

Mount Mitchell circa 1920
Heading up to Mount Mitchell, NC for a few days... shooting a picture story on the lives of the Park Rangers who live on the highest peak east of the Mississippi during the winter.... over 4 feet of fresh snow... should be fun!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

My Dead Mac...

My Dead Mac...

Yup, it died... what to do with a dead iMac? It's a few years old, white and plastic, but with a big beautiful 24" screen (not glossy!!!) and a giant hard drive. I took it to my local repair shop, Charlotte Street Computers (no Apple Store in my town, but they are Apple Certified), after a $60 diagnosis they came back saying it's a "board problem", and boards aren't fixed, they are replaced. It's going to be $700 all said and done, at least as expensive as buying the same working machine off of ebay... what to do. I wouldn't mind a new 27", but can't quite afford the bucks at this point. Perhaps a $100 Print Sale Fund Raiser? Gonna sleep on it... and borrow machines in the mean time. ug.

UPDATE: Fixed... waiting to purchase the new "anti-glare" model iMac... will I wait forever?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Meet Dr. David Shi...

Meet Dr. David Shi... President of Furman University and co-author of the popular textbook America: A Narrative History. Dr. Shi is retiring this summer after 16 years as President, and plans to write another book that he began taking notes on more than 2 decades ago about loneliness in modern American culture... There are days we could all offer him some notes...

It was a very cold and blistery afternoon, the day I was scheduled to shoot Dr. Shi. I had envisioned something outside on the campus, as it is beautiful, but elected for the boardroom next to his office instead. He was a very generous fellow, however I didn't want to consume much of his time. I planned on two similar setups, one with a long lens down the length of the table, and one with a short lens over the width of the table. Dr. Shi was to stop by twice, for just 2+ minutes each.

I used 3 Canon Speedlites and the ST-E2 wireless adapter: two kickers attached to stripboxes, and one with a reflective white umbrella as the key. I generally never have great luck with the ETTL, so I manually set each strobe. As promised, it only took a couple of minutes, though Dr. Shi was nice enough that I think he would have stuck around all day.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Portraits of Hope - Haiti

If there is one set of memories that I would take to the desert island, it would be from my time spent in Haiti. It was a few years back, and one of the most impactful experiences of my life. This country deserves to be saved... who will do it?

Just encouraging you to help with the post-earthquake operations in Haiti. Here are two worthy North Carolina organizations directly involved in Haiti: Samaritan's Purse and Mission Manna.

See more of my pics from Haiti, visit the Haiti Gallery and Portraits of Hope.

Please visit the House Of Hope blog, and support them also.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Meet Trey Pennington...

Guess which city has the second largest social media club in the world? If I told you it was Grenville, SC, would you believe me? Well, that's the truth! And Greenville has Trey Pennington to thank for it, social media instigator, entrepreneur, writer, father of 6, and a really nice fellow.

I arrived at his office building, very modern - filled with concrete and plexiglass - and began searching for a location. I wandered down to the bottom-most floor which was still under construction, and I immediately saw what I wanted: a mix of old and new... established and soon to be... the cold concrete world juxtaposed with a warm, smiling, "social" face.

One light is all it took... I wanted to match the sunlight coming through the windows, without actually using the sunlight coming through the windows... Control, as they say, is the key... and only God controls the sun. One Canon Speedlite 580, one shoot-thru umbrella, one fancy office chair, one cool dude, and a bunch of chit-chatting...

You can find Trey at, or be one of his 62,000+ tweeters at Good luck with his facebook account, he's already maxed out his allowed number of friends!
See the G Magazine article here.