In the Kitchen

Wedding season is relatively slow in the summer yet I still can't seem to find any free time (OK, so I did go fishing on Sunday). I finally found a few minutes for a quick product shoot though. David over at strobist has begun his "Lighting 102" series that is basically an online course/lecture/experiment/workshop/group learning kind of thing for photographers. The first "assignment" was to shoot kitchen utensils. I busted out some measuring cups and the wooden cutting board and got started.

This is the final product and the image I liked the best. The following images will give a brief overview of how I arrived here.

I chose the measuring cups because in a normal situation I would avoid shooting something so reflective and curvy. This subject posed a few problems, but that was the point; to learn and improve.

So we start simple. I placed an umbrella close to and slightly behind the subject. This angle was chosen because it give the best highlights on the rims of the cups. Unfortunately that is about the only cool thing of this photo (and that shadow in front of the cup is pretty distracting).
I turn off the umbrella light (for now) and experiment with a second light. My main problem with the shot above was the dark shadows inside the cups. So I bounced a light into my ceiling, knowing that I would be able to see the reflection of my ceiling inside the measuring cup. Bonus: this second light gets rid of that nasty shadow from the previous image. Also, both of these shots look underexposed because they are each one flash; the final image is a sum of the two.
Now we have the final lighting scheme. Well exposed, nice highlights, nice shadows, and enough light inside that small cup to help draw your eye to the center of the concentric pattern created by the cups. Once the lighting was figured out I played with a few different compositions.

Here is a setup shot of the final lighting scheme. The pillow is propped up to act as a GOBO (go between). This prevents the cups from reflecting the actual flash. Just as you can see the flash in this picture, you could see that same reflection on the cups. This simple step eliminates those specular highlights while allowing the cups to "see" that bright ceiling.

And now just a few bonus images for a different prespective. As I made the images, I grew more interested in the artistic/abstract patterns than the cups as a product.

A different view. One thing I did here that helps the image is rotating the cutting board so the grain is going diagonally. The cups are arranged in such a linear and uniform composition that I felt the image needed that small touch for the added design element.

OK, back to the normal stuff soon. Hopefully I will have some images of baby Grant this week!

Where's the Journalism?

I am not sure if the wedding photojournalism craze is starting to die off, but I was very surprised at this past weekend's Perfect Wedding Guide bridal show. There were LOTS of photographers and the quality was......diverse. Some nice images to be sure, but nothing that jumped out at me with emotion or a unique sense of the moment. I, and the other Tampa Photo shooters, will certainly pose you on your wedding day. Those shots are very special and they give us the opportunity to portray you and your day in a very beautiful and flattering manner. But your day is going to be filled with many special moments that could never be staged, directed or recreated. My passion is capturing those special moments exactly as they happen. I can pose you very elegantly and in the nicest light around; and people who see those images will say "You look beautiful!" That is a great response, but I also want to hear "That picture is SO you, Jen!" or "Oh, that is classic Stacy!" Capturing a moment without manipulating the subjects or the environment is difficult. It requires composition, lighting and subject matter to all meet at the same point in time. It is my belief that when such a moment comes together AND is captured by my camera I am providing my client with a special keepsake that will forever remind them of their special day.

Sorry for the drawn-out post, but I was so surprised at the lack of photojournalism at the bridal show! It has inspired me to go back and pull a few quick images from past weddings to give you a glimpse into some stories behind the moments!

The bridal party was getting ready and one of the flower girls was just getting up from her nap. It would have been great to get a picture of her in her dress, smiling in front of some nice background, but that is not how things were. She was tired and shy, and not letting go of that bankie! The light was cooperating so I shot this using available light.
This was a scary situation (for me). I was told I had 15 minutes to shoot the B&G after the ceremony before they were to be announced since everything was running late. That is not enough time. But I can do it. But then....bustling the dress took 12 minutes! I made images of all the bridesmaids and mothers working like crazy to get it bustled and I managed to keep my panic on the inside! I set up a light near the adjacent wall and waited a few moments. The bride finally gave up stressing and trying to help and she just relaxed! It resulted in this wonderful pose (it looks natural because it is!) and an image that shows how pretty and elegant she looked, while also capturing the scene of her worker-bees trying to get that dress bustled!
This is from Lange Farm. A really cool venue where the bride usually arrives at the ceremony by horse-drawn carriage. I always see the typical shot of the bride, or the bride and groom, sitting in the carriage smiling. I shoot that picture also because it is good to have. But it doesn't capture a true feeling of the special day. For this shot, the bride had just arrived at the ceremony and the reality was starting to hit her. The bride typically gets out on the far side of the carriage so she is hidden; the carriage rides away to unveil the lovely bride. But as she met up with her brother to be escorted down the aisle she needed a minute to compose herself. The carriage stayed put as the second carriage attendant (pictured) held the horses in place. Seeing this shot years from now, the bride will be reminded of the setting, the horse and carriage, in addition to the strong emotions that she was feeling at that very special moment, shared with her brother.
This was during the blessing before dinner, so I was being as stealth as possible. The shot was great because the mom and daughter were together and the father and son were kind of praying together. Cute enough. But then the son gave a quick glance up at dad and it took this image to a whole different level.

This bride was getting ready in her hotel room and was almost ready for us to start taking pictures of her. I ran into the bathroom in search of some cool details. She was still modeling for her mom and checking herself in the mirror. While in the bathroom I saw this image come together. I had to wait a minute or so until she naturally looked over at her mother, allowing me to capture her profile. She was comfortable and relaxed because she didn't think she had to be "on" yet.

The bridesmaids were all lined up waiting for the bride to get positioned. The bride arrived at the church entry and that was all these girls needed to start the water works! Apparently, fanning your face somehow stops the tears! The girl on the left is looking at the bride, the girl on the right is looking down the aisle, and the girl in the middle is looking up to try and prevent the tears from ruining her mascara. I love this image because it is a great balance of emotion, humor and motion.

I hope you enjoyed some of my journalistic-style images. If you like this style, check out my whole gallery dedicated to "PJ" at my web site.

New web site!

Drum roll please........introducing the new This site is mainly geared toward my wedding photography with Tampa Photo, although there will be some additional non-wedding galleries in the future. I still plan on keeping to showcase my nature/landscape photos and other personal projects.

As long as people can spell it, we are in business. But all you have to do is click on the link (no spelling required!). Check it out and let me know what you think. It has just launched and I am still tweaking it. I am looking forward to adding more images to the galleries and a few example slideshows. That means you will have to check back regularly!

Omar - Senior Portrait

I was just recently thinking about developing my senior picture portfolio because I really want to shoot more of them. Out of the blue I get an email from the family of one of my previous brides saying they have a son who is in town from out of state and would like to get some senior pictures done on the beach. Perfect! Omar said he wanted something different. Even better. I already knew Omar was into soccer, but early in the shoot I tried to learn a little more about him. What I learned is that he is soccer, soccer and more soccer. Being a soccer player myself, I had a great time setting up some of those shots. We got LOTS of great images and it was real hard to pick just a few to post here. We didn't have a giant "08" statue, but I think me made due just fine (can you feel the sarcasm?).

Congratulations on your senior year Omar and thanks for being a great sport during the shoot!

This is just a nice portrait of Omar. Nothing too crazy. But the added reflector held by my lovely assistant and wife Karen makes the lighting perfect.
OK, let's get right down to the soccer shots! This is a great shot to start with. I think it looks like a cool poster or magazine ad!
This is a great action shot. The placement of the light adds depth to the shot without overpowering it. I love the sand being kicked up.
I really love this shot. Omar was knocking out some headers with the sweet sunset in the background. A big problem with this shot was that the white ball is so much brighter than Omar's face and body. I could either make him look good or the ball look good, but not both. So, we got a little creative. My assistant is holding the flash just out of the frame with it zoomed in and aimed right at Omar's face. Just enough light spilled on to the ball to illuminate it without overexposing it.
Omar juggling in front of the setting sun. I got several shots with good body/foot/ball position, but the gull adds a nice touch to this one and helps set the beach location.
With a minimal amount of gear and a good understanding of light, it is possible to make nice studio-quality portraits right on the beach!
I really like this shot more and more each time I look at it. I am usually a big fan of underexposing the background and using the flash to make the subject "pop" (like the header shot above). But I have been experimenting more with using the flash as an accent that is barely noticeable. The flash makes a HUGE difference in this image, but you can't even tell I used one.
And a final shot that used the post-sunset sky for a moody portrait of Omar. Yeah, these last three images are all "serious" ones, but for each pose, I did get one of him smiling.

Not bad for a one hour shoot! We even got in a family portrait and a few with his brothers. Seniors, I hope you are inspired by this! Give me one hour and I'll deliver some unique images that fit your personality. And we will have some fun too!

Congratulations Omar and the best of luck as you begin the next chapter in your life.

4th of July Fireworks

Happy 4th of July everyone! Hopefully the rain didn't interfere with any of your celebrations. In St. Pete we got plenty of rain, but it cleared up in time to head downtown for the fireworks display at the Pier. We watched them from Vinoy Park and I did a lousy job predicting where there were going to be shot off. I thought we were going to see the show out over the water, but oh well. It was a very good display and a nice breeze from the water made the heat/humidity bearable. Enjoy! I uploaded fairly large versions of these images, so feel free to click on them for a better view.

I had to sneak in at least one shot of me watching the show. There were lots of people behind us and they all (including my wife and our friend) thought I was a total goof for running in front of my camera with the timer on, but I think a human element is a great addition to the photo. I didn't take too many of these, because the flash was probably pretty annoying to everyone else.

Dana and Carlos, Palma Ceia Club Wedding

Congratulations Dana and Carlos! Yesterday, they tied the knot at the lovely Palma Ceia Golf and Country Club. It was nice having the ceremony and reception at the same location (especially such a beautiful one), allowing the guests to focus on having fun! Al was on hand to help out as a second shooter. Thanks Al! Here are a few quick teaser pics for the happy couple! Thanks you two for being so easy-going and fun; it shows through in your pictures!

Carlos out on the back porch near the golf course. We stopped for a few quick shots on our way back in to the reception because the light was really nice there.

Dana posed on the couch in the lobby waiting for her new hubby to join her for pictures after the ceremony.

You can see some of the storm clouds that were gathering. They were just enough to add an intersting background without bothering us with any rain.

Dana really liked the landscaping around the golf course and suggested using these flowers as a backdrop. I was kind of hesitant since the flowers were so close to the ground. Dana and Carlos said "We don't care! We'll get on the ground!" That is what I like to hear. And it resulted in some great images.

Here they are really enjoying their first dance. The huge windows at the club allowed me to squeeze in a few "available light" images in addition to the shots lit by my flash.
I stole their rings during dinner to get some nice detail shots. I took a bunch of pictures of them on top of the ring bearer's pillow, but I think using the piano added an elegant touch.
These two girls were GREAT! They were lined up in front of the stage, imitating the band's dancers move-for-move, but then moved on to the dance floor for a little freestyle of their own.

The stage lights make this image really stand out. The background light was actually green. By adjusting a custom white balance, I accomplished two things: fixing the skin tone of the singer (he is lit by VERY red stage lights), and cooling the green lights to this nice blue color.

And a final parting shot of the club at dusk.

I hope you enjoyed a small sample of images from Dana and Carlos' wedding. Congratulations you two and the best of luck from all of us at Tampa Photo!