Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Long time no write..

Hey there! I know I havent written in a while, so I will just write about some past shoots.

The Bar Mitzvah Shoot
Family E. came over to take some shots before the Bar Mitzvah of their eldest son.. This shoot was a great experience due to the nature of the event. It was in studio - so the hardships of an on-location shoot were not there. Composition is key at an event like this. It is very important to show the components of becoming Bar Mitzvah. I got some great shots, however the family does not allow me to post it on the internet.. so I have to respect their wishes. MMmm... without pictures, the entire paragraph seems pointless, but its not. I now have Bar Mitzvah experience!

The Bro
I had my bro and his fam come over for some pics. Y. is such a fun personality, and loved to pose people (How's this for a photography business: Pose yourself - light yourself - bring your own props - :) ) C. is ridiculously photogenic. She can stand there and stick her tongue out and she'll still look good. M&S - the twins in the fam- I got some great shots of M. but I dont see much of S. at all.. Oh, well - they are identical (ok ok.. not a good excuse..) Well, they have free membership for life, so they can come back any time.. Yeah, the family picture is off the wall.. but its fun! This was mostly Y.'s doing - after 2 hours, I lost control. She started distributing props and it just came out very Osbourne Family-like.. I love it!

Da Gees
Great bunch o' kids. We got some fun shots, some serious shots... I hope to work with them again soon when the big boy S. becomes Bar Mitzvah at the end of May.

Coming up Next: More shoots - My own little Chickadees, RF's little 'nickel, 3 Adorable Lil boys I shot on Sunday, and last but not least - shots from the B&H Event at Central Park with Rick Sammon and James Williamson.

Friday, September 25, 2009

On-location shoot: A self assessment

I know I have not blogged in a while.. but I'm about to renew my blogging efforts, starting 1-2-3- NOW!

Now that my first on-location shoot is in the past, I can sit back and evaluate all the things that were fine, and the things that went wrong.. It was a great learning experience.

1. You may surprise yourself! The thing I was most nervous about was the social aspect. I am not a social person at all. I couldnt imagine standing there telling a group of people where to stand, and telling them to move back or forth, switch places. etc. That was the least of my problems, which is a good thing and a bad thing.. The good thing about it is that I learned when you're put in a social situation where you think you might want to run away and get under your covers, if you know that youre here to do a job, and push yourself, you can do it! The bad part is, that there were mistakes made at all. One thing that I wasnt focusing on, was who was who.. I shot pictures of the people that came.. and its really weird... when going through and editing these pictures.. I'm thinking "OMG... this is the grandmother" and I didn't give the moment the attention it deserved.. I can't really stress about that, since I didnt really get the time in advance to make a list of people I need to shoot etc.

2. Use the Equipment you know: So, I thought I was a big hotshot with access to an upgraded camera that just got out in the market and lenses I didnt own, and I took advantage of that. Big mistake. Despite of the fact that the Nikon D300s is an upgraded version of the Nikon D200, which i use.. there were still changes that I need to know about before using the camera. Besides. even if the features are exactly the same as the one you use, the smallest change can throw you off. Another 1/4 pound of weight, an 1/8th of an inch bigger on the camera body, can throw you off.. It just is not comfortable to you YET. Going into my first on-location job with a camera that wasn't yet "a part of me" was the biggest blunder yet. More about that on #3

3. Never use/buy a DSLR camera that just got out on the market. If you are like me, you'll always want the new stuff. This is a big mistake. First of all, despite great expectations the D300s was a big disappointment. Raising the ISO brought in noise, which i thought it was going to improve on. Reviews havent been made. Not enough, anyway. Second of all, and this I did not expect, and did not even think of.. It takes time for Adobe to come out with the updated camera profiles. That really threw me for a loop and created a whole lot of aggravation. I couldn't open the files. Even the nikon software I had a problem with upgrading for the D300s. This added another 2 weeks to my processing workflow which is not good.

So, Now that I've learned these lessons who wants to hire me for shoot #2, so I can learn some more.. :)?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Got a cute prop today..

I guess it'll be seen on the next baby or little girl picture.. :).

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Beauty and the Beast Tour: My thoughts

Thursday I spend all day at the "Beauty and the Beast Tour". Now one can speculate why is it called Beauty and the Beast, and I think I know.. I hope that isn't the reason. Ok, I'll explain it a bit.

So, not to take away from the fact that I really did enjoy it and learned alot, it was kind of "interesting" to say the list. Two photographers were giving the classes, Hanson Fong and John Woodward. While I am a member of NAPP, read ton of blogs, books, magazines etc. it was actually the first time I heard of those two. I had looked them up when I heard about this event, though. Hanson Fong, an asian guy who is a master at posing large groups tends to speak about himself in third person. That was easy to get used to. I realize thats a cultural thing. So, he was talking about posing - about "labeling" the people A and B. (obviously as a photographer, you do this in your heard, and don't verbalize it). A is the slim one, and B is the heavier one. An A can be a B next to a skinnier person, and a B can be an A, next to a heavier person. Get my drift? While I'm not so oversensitive to think it was rude to say out loud, ok, you're a B.. these "models" are adults, but he kept on picking on the other guy, John Woodward.. "hey, we need someone with a huge belly in here" or the like (can't remember the exact words).. While this may be the banter they're used to, I think it was a bit overdone. Once, twice, fine. But every single time.. and of course the opposite.. to crack a little joke, he asked "now, whats wrong with this picture?" The audience is quiet, and the picture seems fine to everyone. He says "John, get out, and insert a good-looking Asian guy".. Ok thats funny, but again at the the other guys expense.. lots of those jokes. oh, well. I guess it works for them.

So I'm thinking that he named it Beauty and the Beast - Beauty for himself and John Woodward is the beast - not nice, not nice...

The big difference I found between this event and events from NAPP is also there is clearly stuff being sold. I learned to keep my radar on, and not bite at every "recommendation" that is made. They definitely make a commission and they are definitely there to sell their stuff. It is up to me, the participant to weed out the stuff that I don't need and do my own research to what stuff I do need. You can take the lessons, and ignore the sale pitches. Works for me.

John Woodward had a lesson about Self assessment, which was interesting, and I'm not sure who spoke about the curves of the mouth, and what side to light the face. Mmm.. Is that true, that everybody's mouth has a bigger down curve on one side? Oh, well.. I will definitely be more conscious of that if a person has a mouth thats slanty.. (yeah, and they openly look for someone with a distorted mouth, how nice...)

Overall, the event was great. Hanson's personality gave the audience a laugh, and poor poor John.. he's the underdog.. :). The top picture was a quote he put on the screen. I guess its something like "If you don't take Nissen, you don't know what you're missin''" haha..

P.S. I played around with blue gel today, and this is what I got.. What I did was, I put these glasses on a black poser thingy, in front of my reflector, put the speedlight with blue gel facing the reflector and tada! This is what you do when the kids don't want to cooperate.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Heshy is 8 months old today

And I just reminded myself of that now, about 11 minutes to August 13..  and at the same exact point that he woke up from his sleep.. I took a picture of him today.. Will add it to the post manyana. Gotta run  make a bottle for the kid. Good night.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Finally, pictures of someone other than my kids...

and here they are.. My sister, and her two youngest. Baily sees a camera and yells noo... oh boy.. but we got some good shots anyway especially after she settled down with an ices. Come again with the full brood, sis! (and my other sibs as well.. I'm waiting for you). Of course, paying clients are EVEN MORE welcome.. ha :). Hopefully I'll have some practice shoots for the rest of the month and then start charging a small fee..

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Today was a great day, and I didn't even leave my house!

Y'all know how I've been kvetching about my space, or lack thereof, for the studio. You've heard my complainin' about all this stuff that I don't know what to do with, or where to move them. Thing is this. While I'm a technical person, when it comes to light stands, and those little "hardware" pieces, clamps, etc. I'm lost. Its like taking me down the plumbing aisle at Home Depot. I have no idea what to do with that stuff.

So, today I had my photo lesson in my studio and we solved a lot of that. J.C. (his name is Joseph Carey, by the way) showed me how to maneuver some of these equipment and hopefully it'll make me less frustrated with my studio.

One advantage of doing it at my house was the cutest subject in the world, of course. I got some great shots. I gotta admit that using the light stand for him to hold on to was JC's idea, but when it (and Hershy) fell down, I decided it looked so cute and we left it that way for a bit. I think part of my problem with composition is that I over think it. I stress out about it and the simple things right in front of you work out so well.

I also learned a bit about Adobe Lightroom, (yeah, I got lightroom finally.. Woohoohoo!!) so I'll play around with that. Going to the Lightroom event seems to have been a waste of time mostly, since I didnt have the program yet, a lot of the information went right over my head. Oh, well, I'll use a book or something.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

There's something about me, you might already know...

I'm a gadget junkie (besides being a caffeine junkie, and a makeup junkie, and a - ok.. I'm going off topic here.. Focus!). So, lets start again. I'm a gadget junkie. Most of the time, I am surrounded by my little electronic friends here: iPod, iPhone, laptop, camera, lenses, flashes, etc. With that said, especially when you're in the creative field - there is no limit to how much stuff you want. There is always some new gadget out there that claims to make graphic design or photography much easier, and they all swear you just can't live without it, or your life will change dramatically if you have it.  With photography especially, these things are darn expensive. Good glass can run you $800+ bucks. Since I am always reading graphic design and photography magazines, blogs, etc., listen to podcasts, I hear about all those new gadgets and get excited for them. What I'm trying to say, is that my wish list is so huge that I must win the lottery. Ok, I don't know where that came from. Thats what happens when you just write without any prior planning.. Whatever, I'm silly sometimes.

So, heres my new addition to my photo stuff. The Lastolite Kickerlite. I heard about it on PhotoshopUserTv, I think. It was definitely Scott Kelby that was showing it, so it could have been his blog or PhotoshopUserTV.  I bought it at B&H. Duh! (The hubs works there, for those invisible people who may or may not be reading this blog, and may not know who I am in real life). I hope to give it a whirl soon.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Ha, Ha, Ha: I've been moving the clarity slider the wrong way... and I must get Lightroom!

Rewind to the days past, where I didn't know how to take a clear picture. Back when, I was taking every shot at 18mm with my zoom lens and didnt know how to focus... (In reality, not too long ago, but with my photography progress, feels like eons). I would take some mediocre pic and pump it up a bit in Camera Raw, draggin' that clarity slider up to the wazzoo and hoping that nobody will notice that it was blurry...

I just realized while processing some pictures, that in order for the face to look more smooth, you have to move the clarity slider the other way.... It may not be noticeable to the untrained eye that that's what I've been doing, and maybe since a baby's face is naturally smooth, it wasn't that obvious.

That brings me to Lightroom. I need a copy desperately. That would allow me to smooth out the face while upping the clarity on the rest of the photo without going into major photoshop work. Oh, well.. I'm workin' on that.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Nikon Wireless Flash Hands-on Workshop with Shooting Stations at B&H

One of the great advantages of using a Nikon SLR is its wireless flash system.  So, thats what I've been using for lighting - no strobes etc.  When I saw that B&H is having a workshop I registered right away. Lucky for me, they had 2 that day and since one is always 3-5 p.m. - really bad timing for me, the second one had to be earlier (yay!). 

That was yesterday. There were 4 shooting stations. The most interesting one was a fish tank of water with a white paper backing it. Then they had a flash in the back of it with blue gel, and a guy standing there and dunking strawberries at the count of 3 (of course when the person was ready) So what you get is blue water, and you see the bubbles the strawberry creates.  (I really do need to clean the photo up in photoshop.. Since many people were shooting the same thing, there are full of tiny bubbles in the tank). I gotta try this on my own. Who is volunteering to be the object dunker?

Since this was a fish tank which was quite big, the effect isn't as good as it could be in a bowl. With this technique you can really create a great splash effect. It is interesting to note that a year or so ago, I did a splash effect in photoshop.. So, while you can create an effect like that in photoshop, it was interesting to do almost the same thing in real life. 

The other stations were a spilled jar of bubble gum, crayons with a lego robot or somethin', and flowers. Obviously this setup was done with Nikon wireless flashes (duh!), so the participants cameras were all able to be synced with the flashes in the room. Cool stuff. 

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Friday, July 17, 2009

I'm a mean mama with no style ;)

No picture update today. Although, I do have one shot that was taken the day I shot the pics in the wooden salad bowl.  A photo with Hershy in the bowl again, on the kitchen counter, so my multi-color glass wall tiles made for an interesting background.  (I'm at a different computer, and maybe I'll add it to this post tomorrow night or something).

Anywho. So, we buy this pool for the kids at Target, and we put it on the porch.  To get to the porch you have to pass the "studio room" and fine, we do that.. We just pick up the background and go through. But now with the pool. I had to move it out of the way to pass. Then my mind starts rolling about all the neighborhood boys coming to the pool and I'll have to move everything away every day. My boys are bored in the pool by themselves, so for them alone, its not worth the hassle (been there, done that).

So, I decided to return the pool. First of all, its not as big as we thought it was, and the kids are disappointed anyway. Besides, there is a neighbor with a big pool. So, mean mama says no pool! Hopefully next year I'll have my garage fixed up for a studio (and clients daily. ;) ) and they can have their pool.

Another thing. A note for all those that are "concerned" that the baby in bowl pose is not their style and maybe I wont be able to meet their satisfaction with their type of portraits. 

1. First of all, I really don't have any props right now, so I'm making do with what I've got in the house.
2. I don't have a "style" yet per se. I have yet to develop a style. It is too soon to write me off as "not your style".
3. In the case, where in fact my style photos are not your style, I am here/will be here (same thing) to give you what you want. So if a client wants the regular poses - then of course!
4. I am aware of the more typical style in our community. I will be equipped with that wicker chair, the violin, the piano, the flowers, etc. In due time, in due time.. Meanwhile I'm working on creating images with good lighting and good composition. 

Have a nice weekend!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Bumps in the Road...

Here are a few things that drive me absolutely batty

1. Letting my flash battery run out, by forgetting to shut it after I snap some photos.. (oy, let me go check if I closed it last time... whew! Ok, I did)
2. On the same note, when moving my pics to bridge, I forget to disconnect the camera from the computer... so I have battery drainage up the wazoo in here!
3. As many times as people tell you that its not easy to take pictures of babies, you shake it off.. Oh, please.. you think someone else can do it better than me, I'm great with babies.. but today before I can snap a single picture of bebe here, he spit up about 5 times.. Ok, maybe thats just him, he's a huge spitter, and crawled away at lightning speed. Oh, well..
4. This background stands just doesn't do it for me.. Its a simple one with clasps on top.. but you have to have a 6-pack to actually get it to open enough to put it on.. Yowza!
5. I need a better stand for this small softbox.. something that can go down low and up high, without me pilin' up books or putting it down sideways.. maybe a big softbox.. when I have space for it.

Ok, I'll leave it at 5. Enough complaining for now.. Yeah, I'm a kvetch, but I'm gonna get it together. You'll see, you'll see...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Peti is 7 months old!

Had to take a few shots of the little one on his 7 months birthday.. Now if only he'd sit, the suspenders would look real cute. He crawls, he stands, but sitting - what's that?

(Peti is what my 4 year old calls him.. just evolved from Hershy -> Heshy Peshy -> Peshy Peti> Pet.. weird but true)

Backgrounds got folds.. Yeah, I know...

Oh, well, I didnt change the studio setup around... I need help from the studio hand.. ;).. But, I took advantage of Dovid's day off from school, and convinced him to try a few shots. First of all, I guess I have to iron my backgrounds, because they have folds in them.. (Hello, I don't even have patience to iron shirts... ) Um... will they get burned that way?

The pics that came out without the folds visible, it was because I shot those with a wide aperture and it kind of diffused it a bit... Don't have much room to move the softbox around, so I put it as low as possible, as close to the subject as possible.

Friday, July 10, 2009


...Let's start at the very beginning
A very good place to start....

Well, this is the start of my photography career.. I am hopeful and excited, and driven to succeed. That is, I am hoping that someday soon the decision of where to set my aperture, shutter speed and ISO comes naturally and flawlessly. I am hopeful that one day, composition will come effortlessly... but until then, I have to practice, practice, practice....

The part that is driving me crazy now, is lighting.. I'm using wireless flash from Nikon, which is amazing... which was proven when I am being taught. I get the rules, when I think what I want to do, I know which way to turn the dial, but the problem is when you have a kid sitting there, and I'm rushing to get the picture instead of thinking how I want my picture to look. I played around a bit today.. I'm not entirely happy with the results. Although, I probably have to replace my SB-600 flash batteries, it seemed to be weaker than it was on Wednesday at my lesson with JC (I guess I should really stock up on batteries... which that is the con of using the wireless flash..) , and I have to change my setup.. I didnt have enough place to shoot.. I was squeezing myself to the wall, and still couldnt get the entire picture.. ridiculous, huh?

My two big boys are sick and tired of having their own personal papparazzi, and the little bebe is getting quite active. I hope to change the "studio" setup tomorrow night, so I can really practice some more.