New Toys Seem to Be Arriving Weekly.

Samsung 30mm f2 for NX. Nice.

I got a lens in the Fed Ex delivery today. It kinda makes up for having to miss my first big photography junket. A bit. The folks at Samsung invited me to San Francisco for the roll out of the new super wi-fi camera in July. Four days of fun and rubbing shoulders with photographers from all over the world, and all expenses paid, but I had to decline. My kid is getting his wisdom teeth out right in the middle of the event dates and I promised I'd be here to help out. You can never make promises to your kid(s) and not honor them when absolutely possible. It's a firm rule in our house.


The whole month of July is a scheduling nightmare anyway since I'll need to be in Denver, CO. from the 10th through the 15th to do a video taping for a series of courses I'm presenting. I'm always nervous being away from the studio for too long because I want to be accessible to clients but I should get over that and realize that with a smartphone and a laptop I can be accessible anywhere these days.

At any rate getting a cool, little lens feels great on a hot, sleepy day. The lens they sent along is a 30mm f2 lens for the Samsung NX camera. I pulled it out of the box and took it with me when I went to photograph a radiologist on location this afternoon. I used a Sony a57 to photograph him, along with several flashes and a big, old Balcar Zebra umbrella but on the way home I dropped by Barton Springs Pool to take a few snaps with the little combo. I haven't pulled them out of the camera and put them on the computer yet but just to prove I could do so I figured out how to transfer files from the camera to my iPhone. Not sure it's something I need but I felt good getting it figured out.

It's up in the hundreds here now and the heat feels like it's sinking into everything. Hope you are staying cool wherever you are. One note, don't complain to me again about there being too many posts. That's just B.S. and I don't want to read it. If you read slowly or only have extremely limited access to the web you might want to marshall your resources and spend your time somewhere else. You should know the ground rules by now. I write what I want to write and I post it when I want to post it. It's up to you to keep up or ignore it.

The process of selecting and working with portrait subjects.

I think everyone who takes portraits as part of their art has strong feelings about the look and energy of the people they want to photograph. In my commercial work I have to be open to all types and temperaments. When I make portraits to please myself I'm looking for not just a catalog of physical attributes but also an aura of good energy and a unique personality in the sitter.

I first met Dani a couple of years ago at Caffe Medici on Congress Ave. I was playing around with an Olympus Pen digital camera and an Olympus original Pen lens and I asked her if I could take a few quick snaps. I posted them on the blog and talked about the lens. Dani and I got each other's Facebook info and stayed in touch. Recently I've been asked to be part of an online education project that will require me to go to Denver for a week and deliver a learning seminar in a video production studio. My first glancing attempt at being on the other side of the camera. The producers want to have a healthy selection of my work to show as examples during my programming so I decided to update some of the materials and I started thinking about what I wanted to show and who I wanted to use as an example.

Dani immediately came to mind. Why? I guess it's a combination of her fabulous eyes and that indefinable thing we call energy. Instead of being a passive participant she seems hard-wired to become a collaborator. She has strong opinions (which I like) and she's also a devoted, film-based, art photographer so she gets the idea that I'm not always trying to make portraits that fulfill the requirements of a consumer driven check list. I like that she's fit and lean and angular. That fitness allows the light to play across her face and create a wonderful impression of three dimensions.

Yesterday was our first session together and we spent most of it talking and getting to know each other. I started out shooting with an electronic flash firing into an 84 inch, white umbrella counterbalanced by a grid spot on the seamless paper background. I ended up bouncing a big fluorescent lighting instrument into the same umbrella and using a Fiilex P360 LED light on the background. The image above was shot with the flashes. The image on the previous blog post (which is the most satisfying image I've taken this year) was done with the combination of fluorescent and LED. In a sense the lights are all interchangeable as are the cameras.

We spent our time going back and forth between talking and shooting. I would see an expression or a gesture that I'd like during conversation and I'd ask her to go back and do the same thing again. Sometimes I'd see a combination of hand gestures and excitement in her face and I'd shoot "blind"; not looking at the screen, just taking for granted that my composition hadn't changed. I'd suggest a pose and we'd explore it with a dozen or so frames. I'd give little suggestions and ask for small movements. I don't like poses to change with each press of the shutter, my method is to work slowly and build into visual situations, changing only one small parameter at a time.

When the shooting cycle started to repeat I knew we were done and we moved on to our exterior locations. The things that tie a style together are a clear intention, the selection of subject and an idea for the design and application of the light. Everything else is really extraneous.

Technical Stuff: Elinchrom Monolight used at 1/3 power into a white, 84 inch umbrella with black backing to control spill. Elinchrom Monolight used at minimum power with a 30 degree grid for a light on a Thunder Gray background. Two 4x6 foot black Lightforms panels on the opposite side of the main light and about six feet away from Dani to control spill light. Samsung NX 300 with 18-55mm kit lens used at 55mm, wide open aperture (f5.6). ISO 160. Shot in Jpeg Fine mode. Color temperature set at daylight.