Saturday, June 25, 2011

Bright white sunlight

One of the techniques I wanted to try with Pam was that strongly backlit, sunny lens-flare look. However, the weather just didn't cooperate with us! It was late in the day and the sun was low in the sky, but it was hidden behind a thick white cloudy mist. You know what I'm talking about-the kind of day that is biting cold, damp, windy...the type of cold weather that cuts right through your clothes and gets into your bones, but weirdly enough it was still bright as anything!

Anyway, I need to stop rambling about the weather. I'm losing your interest fast...let's move on to photo stuff.

So I shot these pics with the 50 mm f/1.4 lens. I chose this lens because I wanted to shoot at really wide apertures--like around f/2-ish to get that dreamy blur effect going on. However, trying to focus on a person using a fast lens in a strongly backlit situation is pretty much setting your auto-focus system up for failure...which is exactly what my AF system did. It just doesn't work well in backlit scenes. I already knew this, since I've tried to shoot in this kind of light before and failed to get even half the shots in focus using AF.

Now I am no stranger to manual was the only kind of focusing available for the old film camera that I first started messing around with in high school. That camera had a really nice big bright focusing screen inside, so that when you looked through the eyepiece you could actually turn the focus ring on the lens and see what was in focus! Amazing concept right? It just worked--so that when something was in-focus, it jumped out at you; and when something was out-of-focus, it looked could just tell. Not so with most DSLRs now, where the difference between "almost-in-focus" and "in-focus" are very subtle and almost impossible to appreciate if not in an ideal lighting situation.

So I went and bought a new focusing screen. It's the little piece of polished glass that your camera's mirror reflects what you point the lens at (the image), and is actually what you're looking at when you stick your eye in the viewfinder of your SLR. The one I got is called the "precision" focusing screen because it allegedly allows you to better appreciate the subtle differences between perfectly in-focus and not so perfectly in-focus (aka out-of-focus). It's a 2-second procedure to swap out the screens, and pretty easy to do.

And it works! I shot all of these using manual focus, and although there were still a bunch of blurry ones, I still got more than 50% of the shots in-focus, and this is as difficult of a focusing situation as there's like trying to read the writing on a 200-Watt light bulb that is turned on! If I'd used the AF, I bet about 10% would be in focus, but even more annoying is that the camera won't let me press the shutter without the AF locking on something...which sometimes never happens when shooting into the sun. So in conclusion, the precision focusing screen is a winner!

In the end, I will have to try another day for the sun drenched look I originally was going for. But I am pretty happy with the look of these too...I like the contrast of the almost all-white background with the bright red and blue colors of the model and the dreamy look of the fast primes...the poses are pretty neat too! By the way, Andy was holding a silver reflector off to camera right if you were wondering.

Thanks to:
Model/MUA: Miss Pam
Assistants: Tom C and Andy B

Hey you! Don't be a stranger! If you're reading, don't be afraid to leave me a comment below once and a while! It makes me smile :)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Take me home

take me home

We were literally packing it up for the day, everyone was cold from being outside; Alissa was freezing and put on her coat and wrapped her head in that shawl thingy for warmth. There was this subway station in the sunlight that I thought looked like a cool place to shoot, so I threw on the ol'85 mm and asked for five more minutes. Well it turned into about 15 minutes of shooting, with Alissa changing poses without any direction from me at all (always a plus!) and Frank holding a reflector off to camera right to fill in some shadows. We were in a high-traffic place and the hardest thing was timing the shots to avoid all the people using the subway!

I guess what I am trying to say is that when you have a great team and the shoot is going well, look for those little opportunities before you put your camera away for good...sure, it's an extra few minutes invested, but I just love the picture all the way up top with the taxi in the background. It's so NYC:) Totally worth it!

Thanks again to:
Model: Alissa Laderer
MUA: Danielle Klatsky
Assistant: Franklin Abreu

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Nowhere to hide...

when you're dancing in the late-afternoon sunlight.

Model/MUA: Miss Pam
Assistants: Tom C and Andy B

Friday, June 10, 2011

Winter Nights

Winter Nights

From a recent shoot with the NYC metal band Winter Nights. They were a cool bunch of guys and fun to shoot with!

Winter Nights

Winter Nights

Winter Nights
alternate version of the first shot...which one is better?

Winter Nights is the band's site.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Black and White

The last few pictures with Sheri...another great outfit change later and we found this little pedestrian bridge thingy and it looked like a good place to shoot. Had to work hard to frame the shots to keep distracting background elements and people out of the frame. Didn't get a set-up shot, but Olga was just behind Sheri (off to the left of the frame) and holding the reflector up overhead to block hard sunlight from hitting her hair and face. Over-exposing a stop or so gets the face just right, at the risk of blowing out the highlights in other places...such is life!

When working in tight spaces, small changes in the photographer's angles can make totally different pictures...move around your subject a little and see what you can do!

Model, wardrobe, hair: Sheri Mallin
Make-up artist, assistant: Olga Albova

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Miss Pam!

Miss Pam

A shoot with my friend Miss Pam. We've kinda known each other for a long time: we went to high school together! We reconnected on facebook a while back when I saw she did make-up, and she did the make-up for this shoot. Anyway, one thing led to another, and we planned a shoot in NYC. She's a dancer, dance instructor, make-up artist, model, and all around talent!

Shot the whole thing with a 50 mm and 85 mm prime, which isn't totally unusual for me. However, what was unusual is that I left my trusty 24-105 mm zoom at home on purpose. I know that lens rocks and wanted to work without having it available to rely on. Almost everything was natural light with one reflector hand-held by my awesome assistants Tom and Andy, who volunteered their time to help out (much appreciated guys!) Used a strobe in an umbrella for the shots with the green background that look "lit" just to mix it up.

More to come from this shoot soon...

Model/MUA: Miss Pam
Assistants: Tom C and Andy B
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