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!