Friday, December 30, 2011

Behind the scenes of the Christmas card


Wanted to show a little of what went into making the Christmas card this year. I started by setting the camera on a tripod and getting the angle first. Then I arranged the village in a way that looked good from the camera perspective, with a foreground, middle, and background area. I used a black king-sized bed sheet as the background.


Then I put up a softbox with a CTO-gel as the main light, and a bare speedlight in the back for the "moonlight." By gelling the main light warm, and shooting in tungsten white balance, the back light goes blue and looks like moonlight.


I kept the light in the back bare (no grid) because I wanted to get that glowing flare effect in the camera.


Here is the scene straight out of the camera...I also used a little flashlight for some minor light painting to brighten up the people in the front and the sleds. The exposure was f/16, 3.2 seconds, ISO 100. Why 3.2 seconds you might ask? Well that is precisely the amount of time for the lights inside the little shops to have a proper exposure at f/16. And f/16 was chosen for depth-of-field. I was lighting everything else with flash, but those 2 parameters were dictated by the incandescent bulbs in the village buildings and the need for a large DOF.


The lamps are lit, but I needed to drag the shutter (4 minute exposure) to get the tiny LED lights to register. I messed up here and should have also fired the flashes as it would have made the compositing easier later...lesson learned!

Lights on

Next, I shot the star ornament which would later be put in where the flash is in the back of the scene. In photoshop I fixed the top of the star where the string was to make it look symmetrical.


Then I shot some regular old Christmas lights against the black sheet at f/22, 70 seconds to get them to look like stars. Later I cloned them and moved them all over the place to make the starry background of the card. Keeping the background pure black made this part easy.

Xmas lights

After all of this, I was pretty done and wanted to pack it in. However, the Missus convinced me that Santa was definitely a necessary part of the card, so I set up the same lighting as I used for the village scene and shot Santa and all his reindeer!



That was enough for one day, so I packed it in. A week later we rearranged some furniture to shoot ourselves...


I used a 60" umbrella with a CTO gel on camera left, and the same bare flash up behind the black sheet background, so that the light would be similar to that used to light the village scene. This helps bring things together and keep the consistency in the final composite. We also used the same cotton fake snow stuff on the ground to make blending us in to the scene easier later...


Above is the final shot we chose. I added the "GWC" writing on the bag and then slapped it all together in photoshop. I did some minor dodge and burn, and made fake shadows at our feet, trying to simulate the same angle as the shadows of the figures to the left of the frame. Here is the final version:

Christmas Card 2011

The second error I made with the card is one of focal point...when I originally pictured the scene I wanted to place us further into the scene, about half way between the benches and the guys with the gifts. So that's where I set the focus. However, once everything was shot I thought we were just too small back there and decided to move us to the front of the scene. Of course, now we are in focus, where the rest of the scene was out of focus. Well there was no way I was re-shooting the scene again, so I made us a little blurry in photoshop and that was good enough for me. I mean, let's not get crazy here :)

Hope you enjoyed the card, and all the madness that went into making it!

Have a great new year!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Card 2011

Walking in a winter wonderland!

Here is the Christmas card for this year! I can't take credit for the idea...Mrs. GWC thought that it would be cool if we could shrink down and go for a walk in her Christmas village. The rest was easy...just 10 hours of shooting every single object in the scene separately and another few hours mashing it all together in Photoshop! :)

Hope everyone has a great holiday, and a Happy New Year! I hear 2012 will be great, so GET EXCITED!

In case you wanted to see the old ones...
2009 card
2010 card

Saturday, December 10, 2011

These tank tops are NOT for sale!

*agency represented

Seriously, you can't buy them! It's a long story...

I originally started out with a different company for the T-shirts, but things didn't work out, as they seemed to consistently mess up the shirts. Usually the graphics were printed about 4 inches away from where they were supposed to be, or they were printed crooked, stuff like that. So I eventually got fed up with the nonsense and dumped them for spreadshirt! And they have been just great!

However, they require that I design a special type of file for certain apparel, like these tank tops. This special something is called a vector design, and I don't have the time or energy or the right program at this point to make a vector easily! So I had this tank top from the old company, and figured I should at least shoot it. Eventually I will figure out vectors and try to make some tanks available for the summer-time!

*agency represented

Alissa is wearing an *agency represented tank top in size small. Hopefully one day you can buy one too!

GWC T-shirt store

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Don't let them get you too.

Never let them see how deep the fire inside of you burns. Their weak culture and shallow minds will destroy everything that you give them. Offer them nothing as you push their bloated bodies out of your way. They could never understand you anyway.

Model: Ashley Laderer

Sunday, November 27, 2011



If you really want to show your guy with camera pride, this is the shirt for you! Don't leave any room for interpretation...let people know exactly where you go to get your photo nerd on! It comes in both Men's and Women's styles and in a few different colors!




Added bonus: the chocolate brown color pictured here looks great with your aviators! My lovely model is wearing the fitted Bella T-shirt in size medium. It runs a size small, so make sure you order a size UP from what you normally wear if you don't want a skin-tight fit! It also comes in a standard-cut regular tee if that's what you're into! Visit the shop to check them out: GWC T-shirt Store!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Headshots with Alissa and the new 135L!


Some new headshots with my new lens! It's the Canon 135 mm f/2L lens and I absolutely love it! People have already been asking "Why would you get a 135 mm prime lens? What does it do?" Well, the reasons I have been eying this amazing hunk of glass for the last year-plus are as follows:

1) I prefer shooting most things with prime lenses. Don't get me wrong, I still use my trusty zoom for lots of things, but when it comes to shooting in a controlled environment (portraits, etc) I reach for the prime lens most of the time. I like that I have to frame the shot by moving my feet and changing my angle, not just by zooming the ring on the lens. I find that I always have better composition with my prime lenses...with the added bonus that if I pick up a prime and really get into the shoot, I know that when I am looking over my shots later I won't find that I took a bunch of portraits at 30 mm because I got sloppy with the zoom lens. Using a prime locks in your focal length and gives you that perspective every time.

2) I knew I needed a lens with a longer focal length than what I already had. Before the 135, I had a 35, 50, 85, and 24-105. The 85 was my go-to lens for most serious work, but I remember back to the days of shooting with my old Rebel (crop-sensor) and I liked my 85 mm lens even better on that camera. Why was that? Because with the 1.6 crop factor it acted just like a 135 mm prime (85 x 1.6=136)...I just really like that length!

3) I was between the 70-200 zoom and the 135 prime. Since I planned on using the lens for a fair amount of low light work and wanted to really emphasize the creamy bokeh of a fast telephoto lens, I'd need the 70-200 in the f/2.8 model. Well, that's a >$2,000 lens, so that was definitely part of my decision. I also knew that I'd end up shooting most things between 100 and 150 mm anyway, so it was kind of overkill, and it's huge and white and weighs a ton! If I shot weddings for a living it would be a must-have because of the zoom and length, but for me these things were not needed. Especially after reading reviews for the 135 mm f/2L. People tend to describe this lens with terms usually reserved for a romantic partner, like "amazing, fallen in love, mind-blowing, best choice I ever made" you get the point!

Well, after using the lens for a few shoots, I can agree with the terms of endearment used above. I love this lens, and I'm so happy I just went for it! The focal length is my favorite. The colors and contrast just pop off the screen. It's razor-sharp wide open at f/2, which is simply amazing at that focal length. It focuses insanely fast and is built like a tank. It RULES!

Model: Alissa Laderer

Sunday, November 20, 2011

INKED: Shani

Shani, 22, professional baller

At what age did you get your first tattoo? Have you gotten your last one yet?

I got my first tattoo at the tender age of 16. Hope to never get my last one!

What’s the significance of your largest tattoo?

The term "largest" is actually pretty debatable, but I'm gonna say the pieces on the backs of my thighs. They say "Fiat Lux", which means "Let there be light" in Latin. Hopefully I'll at least have the light inside me whenever all others go out. Sounds cheesy, but really. And God know.

What does your ink say about you?

It says that I am a huge nerd, basically. And I mean "nerd" in the coolest sense. :)

Do people see you differently now? How?

I think people think I'm "tough" or "cool" or something...go figure.

What do you want to say to the world?

Don't cry over spilled milk. There are people dying of thirst in Africa. Save your tears, and make a sculpture out of the milk-dampened earth. Then sell that shit on Ebay. PROFIT!

You can (and should) find Shani on facebook here: Shani Whitfield

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

*Agency Represented T-shirt

*agency represented
Why is there always an asterisk in *agency represented?

*agency represented

*agency represented
Ashley is wearing the *agency represented tee in size small. It also comes in black btw...

If you're agency represented, you need one of these to show the world...otherwise NO ONE will know that you're, you know, *agency represented! The T-shirt is American Apparel, so it has to be cool, and it also comes in a men's version. Check them out in the GWC T-shirt store.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Neon City

Available light from some blue neons reflecting off a dark metal garage door in crowded Times Square. 5DII, f/2.5, 1/100th sec, ISO 1000, 85 mm lens.

Model: Usherka
MUA: Airah Morena
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