Archive for September, 2012

Options as a photographer are almost limitless.  There are nature scenes, urban landscapes, macro, commercial products, weddings, portraits, baby and the newly emerging ‘expecting family’ portraits that have become all the rage.  As an emerging photographer I have to be careful not to get in over my head and be selective about what types of jobs I’m willing to take on.

This weekend I had the privilege of photographing Paul’s senior portraits.  Paul is a musician and wanted to be photographed with his guitar.  With this in mind I wanted to experiment with strobes and gels of different colors to emulate the on-stage look and feel.  After some practice I landed on orange and blue gels for the contrast.  The following image utilized a bounce umbrella strobe and a direct strobe with orange gel.  Notice the effect on Paul’s face as the two lights contrast on each side.

I continued with the on-stage look with a full frame shot, this time the orange strobe set-up behind Paul and the bounce in front.  This little alley in Old Town Conyers made for a unique collection of textures, nature and urban all in one photo.  Note how the splash of orange hits the left side and down to the bricks.

I’m not usually a fan of retro style photos and seldom use the cross-process technique common with Instagram photos.  However, in the scene below, I gave it a shot and it looked right.  It’s funny how in post processing a photographer will look at an image over and over and something will seem missing.  Just one chance click on the mouse and the image jumps to life.  That’s what happened on this one.

Not a traditional portrait, but still one of my favorites.  Here I utilized a stronger direct strobe with the orange gel.  I was going for the gig scene and less a portrait.  Again, the varying textures in the background lend the image to urban or even country and inspire the musician feel to the image.

Paul was kidding in the following shot, only for the benefit of shocking his parents, but I couldn’t resist capturing this playful moment after making him sit on railroad tracks for so long.  The scene felt like it deserved a black and white treatment, added grain for texture and then coloring with platinum to get away from the drabs of greyscale.

This last image was a disaster in color.  The two competing strobes had too much contrast and the colors conflicted instead of complimented.  Most photographers know that when the color isn’t right, maybe there’s a chance in black and white.  Because the strobe utilized a strong orange gel (close to red) and blue, it lended itself well to black and white conversion.  I can remember using red or blue flash bulbs during a black and white photography class to get differing levels of contrast in my images.  This poorly lit mistake turned into a winner when converted to black and white.

Every time I post to this blog about a photo-gig I’ve had, I try to make it both a learning experience for myself and those visiting.  This entry was all about experimentation with color and strobes.  As a photographer I can certainly create good images for good customers and follow safe paths, or I can keep pushing the limits of my own skills and keep trying new things.  I learned a great deal from this effort and look forward to using the creative process again in my next one.


Fall is here and now is a great time to update your family photo, get your Christmas card photos ready or get something more than a studio shot of your graduating senior.  For the month of October we are pleased to offer a 1-hour photo shoot for the insane price of just $50!  That’s a $100 discount for the month of October only.  There’s only one explanation for prices this low, I’ve gone completely insane…

The package includes:

  • Five final processed digital images (includes touch-up and cropping for prints)
  • Unlimited poses as time allows
  • Unlimited license to print your photos wherever and whenever you want
  • License to share your photos online
Contact us to make an appointment, spaces are limited and filling fast.

If you have questions about other options including weddings or corporate events, check out our price list.

Heritage Hills Baptist Church in Conyers, Georgia hosted its second annual Scarecrows and Casseroles Fall Festival on Saturday September 15, 2012.  We were fortunate enough to photograph the event on their behalf.  For this job, knowing that there would be sun and clouds most of the day made for specific lighting challenges.  To overcome the dark shadows that can occur during midday sun, it was necessary to utilize fill-flash (or flash-fill) to compensate.  The following photograph is an illustration of how flash-fill was used on the face of two youngsters to eliminate dark shadows caused by the sun being behind or directly above them.

Using fill-flash requires setting the lighting for the existing light and utilizing just enough flash to fill in the shadows.  For most of the shots during the day I used a flash set on an L bracket with a bounce card, flash set at 60 degrees.  I manually adjusted the flash to take away the potential for the flash to flood the subject.

The above photo was on the same side as the sunlight, but in this case the primary subject (the clown) was standing in shade.  To evenly fill the light so the subject wasn’t too dark compared to the other subjects in the photo, the flash was utilized similar to above, only with a little more power to compensate for the distance.

For this photo the desire was to get the pumpkins in the foreground well-lit without flooding them out, at the same time keeping the subjects in the background evenly lit.  Unlike the first two images, all of the subjects were in the shade.  The first two attempts to get this shot didn’t go well as the flash was too harsh on the pumpkins.  I instead set the lighting for the subjects in the background and then kept reducing the flash power until it was evenly matched.

The above image was a trial in both flash-fill lighting as well as depth-of-field.  The photo was taken with an f-stop of 5 which normally wouldn’t give the distinctive shallow depth-of-field here, but was taken with a macro lens.  Here the primary subject was lit with the fill-flash, focused and the shallow depth-of-field allowed the subjects in the background to blur slightly, still showing the activity in the background behind the inanimate scarecrow.  This shot was taken during a cloudy moment and required also an adjustment to the white balance to warm up the image a bit.

Our final image is of two musicians up on the steps of the church.  It was not convenient to approach and get the image of the musicians without being a disruption to the show.  Instead I used a zoom lens to frame the shot and adjusted the lighting for the two subjects.  In this case the sun was up and to the right of the shot casting a harsh shadow on the image.  To fill in the shot I utilized my flash direct on the subjects and through a few trials was able to get the right lighting to illuminate the musicians and not wash out the tan stucco surrounding the cross.  Again, they were in the shade and I was using a flash so the trials to get the white-balance right was a challenge, but in about three shots I was able to get what looked like a reasonable blend, well lit and framed just the way I wanted it.


Weddings… Everyone with a digital camera thinks they can photograph them, not very many can.  I’ve delayed entry into the wedding photography gig as long as possible, but there is a niche that needs help – second marriages and small intimate first marriages.  Unfortunately these folks either have to buy into the lie that wedding photographers are worth thousands of dollars for their special day or have Uncle Marty take snapshots for free.  Neither really hits what this market needs.  On Saturday September 1, 2012 I was fortunate enough to photograph the Hood / Corley Wedding at Costley Mill Park in Conyers, Georgia.  It was a steamy and hot Georgia day, to-be-sure, and that created unique challenges to get good shots.  Not only was I perspiring through my shirt, but so were the wedding parties, and sweaty looking people are not enjoyable photographs.

We’ll start with my favorite photo of the day.  This photo of the bride was caught as she was arriving at the chapel for the ceremony.  All the planning that went into posed images went out the window as I shot this photo.  The bride and groom had not seen each other prior to this moment and capturing photos in the heat, while at the same time allowing them breaks to cool-off kept creeping into good daylight hours.

Another favorite on the day…

This shot was captured in-between poses.  The groom was being playful and kept sneaking in a kiss here and there as we changed groups around for different shots.  Each time I missed the shot.  Finally, I stepped to the side for a moment and kept the camera focused on the couple, hoping he’d sneak in to steal a quick kiss.  Got it!

Finally, a shot with some creative depth-of-field.  I spent a small fortune this spring on a new Leica lens which gives me exceptional control over depth-of-field.  I was dying to get a shot where the wedding party was staggered near-to-far and fade the party away from the subject, in this case the bride.

This image was the first to be processed after the wedding.  I could not wait to see the results and was very pleased.  The eye is naturally drawn to the subject and allowed a level of creativity in wedding photography not normally afforded in the pose-to-pose wedding faux-tographer industry.

This web-site is dedicated to proving that a lot of money need not be spent to get great photographs.  Photo-snobbery is a staggering reality, especially with wedding faux-tographers, which really doesn’t need to be so.  Let me be clear, some photographers are genuine, real and so talented that they CAN and SHOULD fetch the high dollar rates.  They have distinguished themselves as the best-in-class and deserve to be paid well.  The rest of us, it’s all smoke and mirrors – there isn’t a ton of distinction between a guy with a digital camera and even someone with solid technical training.  Either you have the ‘eye’ or you don’t, no amount of technical training is going to give that.  On the flip side, having an ‘eye’ and not technical ability is almost as bad.

Many thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Corley for letting me photograph their wedding day, and here’s to many more wedding photography gigs in the future with couples as accommodating as the Corleys.