Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

Umbrella lighting shooting session

June 4, 2008

Everything started back in February when I got an extra canon Speedlight flash. Wireless off-camera lighting seemed fun and my portfolio was glaring with some new great additions. A few months later I got a chance to play with three 580EX flashes and a Gary Fong diffuser. Even without reading about or studying off-camera lighting, the idea of having full control over the lighting of the scene/subject seemed rather fun :).

Last week I ordered two inexpensive light stands and umbrellas. I thought it would be nice to learn some studio lighting techniques and just play around with side-lighting, but at that point I was really underestimating the full power of soft umbrella lighting.

I got my friend Lily to help me plan the photo shooting session. While she was picking the location and outfit for our model (a friend), I was trying to figure out how to provide the power for Lily’s 120v fan. The solution was a portable 12v-to-120v in-car adapter connected to an old 12v battery. It provided enough power for the fan to raise the hair. (Quick tip: fan is a must-have for such sessions ;)).

I quickly ran through Strobist’s off-camera lighting tips. Clear explanations, stunning results. Everything seemed to be easy and complex at the same time ;).

Here comes shooting day. Sunday. I grab around $5000 worth of photography equipment and head to the designated location (abandoned house, dirt all over the place, grunge, basically ruins :)). Setting up umbrellas for the first time with no previous experience in studio lighting actually did not seem that hard. Since it was pretty light outside and there was a good amount of sunlight getting through the broken windows, the camera settings were adjusted to eliminate all the natural light that was getting in – ISO 50, 1/200 shutter speed, f/2.8-4.0. This was an average exposure setting, the shutter speed varied time to time, but the ISO was always set to 50.

It took us about 3 hours to complete the session, but the result was worth the efforts, investments, and time spent figuring out where to place the umbrella :)).

Links:

Advertisements

A bright wedding (day)?

February 25, 2008

Yes, I do love bright weddings, but when it comes to the bright and sunny wedding DAY, the level of excitement of any photographer substantially goes down :). Especially when your built-in camera light meter shows overexposure at 1/4000 shutter speed even when you’re standing and pointing to the shade area. Very exciting, I know, I know… Turns out that’s how bright wedding days are in Los Angeles in February. You guessed it right, this weekend I was shooting a wedding in the heart of Los Angeles, and I was that same “lucky” photographer who experienced a warm, sunny day in late February.

Did the wedding pictures turn out bad? No, they did not. Because we, photographers, are there to fight any atmospheric and weather conditions. The battle was tough with lots surprises in the form of overexposed parts of images coming up here and there, but hey, we shoot digital these days and we can check the image on our cameras’ built-in displays. I feel sorry for those of you still shooting film and having a constant headache up to the time you develop your images ;).

Anyways, the pictures are being edited, but there’s a little teaser for you:

“Yeah, it’s my day!”

Awww, so cute!

Cold February shooting session

February 20, 2008

First of all the word ‘cold’ in the title of this post carries an important message for all of you, my fellow photographers. Never go shooting with a model on cold days! A few days later I found out that my gorgeous friend Victoria almost caught a cold, and it was because of me who arranged a February shooting day (and especially here in Washington) :). Well, let’s just hope that she gets well, and meanwhile check out the pictures yourself…

All images were shot with Canon 5D and a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens. There was a minor color-correction performed in Photoshop on all of the pictures. I dropped a texture on some of them, and it seems they worked pretty well for this session.

Some wedding shots from Fall 2007

January 8, 2008

I put together some edited images from various weddings I shot this fall. The images are hosted on Flickr and most of the still have EXIF data. I was using primarily the Canon 5D. Equipment also included Canon 20D, 24-70mm f/2.8, 50mm f/1.8, 70-200mm f/2.8, 70-200mm f/4. All lenses are Canon lenses, because I’m not used to the cheap stuff from Sigma, Tamron etc. 😉

1111

016

2093

010

012

1077

0979

0884

0800

0673

0315

0379

0199

1006

1062

Got my own 5D!

December 18, 2007

Finally dreams became reality :). Now I got my own 5D, my first full-frame sensor digital camera. The lens that I used on 20D, 24-70 f/2.8, became a much better wide-angle lens thanks to the so much bigger sensor of the Canon 5D.

Months before, when I was working with my friend’s Canon 5D, I’ve noticed that the camera produces a much better color. JPEGs, that came out directly from camera looked as as good as well-tuned RAWs from the 20D.

I plan to do some camera head-to-head comparisons to analyze the real differences between the image quality of the 5D and the 20D.

Meanwhile, check out one of my first field test of the camera (of course, some Photoshop involved here ;))

Trip to California

March 19, 2007

I’m really excited now, cause I’m leaving for California tomorrow morning with my friends for a two-week trip. We’re going to stay in our friends’ house close to Santa Barbara. I’m taking my Canon 20D camera with me and actually my entire photography kit so expect some new pics on my Flickr page (http://flickr.com/photos/freeborn/). Probably gonna visit LA, Hollywood and some other exotic places ;).

I’m looking forward to an interesting and exciting trip.

What else would you need?

Getting ready for the trip

Canon 5D in plans

January 26, 2007

Having played enough with Canon 20D and it’s 1.6 cropping factor I feel the need for the real full-frame camera. One reason is to be able to use the Canon 15mm fisheye lens, which does not suit non-full-frame sensors well, and also the magical 24-70 f/2.8L lens (wide angle is too narrow for cropped sensors). So 5D is definitely the first choice. I have already started saving some money for the downpayment and looking forward to purchase it in a month or two. The release of Canon 6D will also drop the price of 5D. So gonna wait a while …

Capturing life as it is: my new set on Flickr

January 8, 2007

Yesterday I created a new set on Flickr which contains photos of people and some nature. The point was to create a collection of pictures that have “life” in them. Shots are non-posed and show true emotions. Many photos are of kids and I found that I truly love taking pictures of children. Especially if you can get them to tell you stories and be his/her friend. Nothing is better than capturing those bright little personalities with wide open hearts and great amount of emotions :).

Check it out: http://flickr.com/photos/freeborn/sets/72157594466717251/

Another successful shooting day

November 8, 2006

Last Saturday was the rather successful day for me in a wedding photography. I was shooting a really good wedding and in the end I had a bunch of really cute shots of bride and groom. Photos are available on http://flickr.com/photos/freeborn and also on my photography web site at http://alexcommer.com/

What I have learned and what was new to me? Few days before shooting this wedding I did my best to study photos of some famous wedding photographers like Mike Colon. I also read articles about how they shoot and what inspires them. A great discovery to me was to shoot at high ISO speeds with natural light thus without flash light. I managed to use this technique during the first hours of the wedding – bride preparation. I made them to turn off the lights in the room for a couple of minutes and open the window as wide as possible. This was a really important step. Mostly I shot with my 50mm f/1.8 lens which gave me good amount of light at short shutter speeds up to 1/125.

Another great factor was that this time I had twice more storage than usually :). I purchased one more 2GB Compact Flash card. This gave me the possibility of shooting without worrying that I’ll run out of storage in the next 15 minutes. I always bring laptop with me to move the shots from the Compact Flash storage to laptop hard drive. Basically I can shoot up to 15GB of RAW pictures per day. Basically It means that I can shoot up to 1500 photos per wedding day. In some cases when I need more storage I bring my external 250GB hard drive.

Conclusion. Shoot mostly in natural light, use flash rarely. Bring as much Compact Flash cards as possible. For the next wedding I’m planning to get another 2GB card for even more storage.

Photography: Canon EOS 20D DSLR and wedding photography business

October 16, 2006

I enjoy doing photography, though I’m the really amateur photographer. Photography became my little business. Time to time I do wedding photography, children photography and some nature photography. Currently I have Canon EOS 20D digital SLR. I would that this camera is a little more than the amateur photographer would need :). After using a DSLR for some time I got used to it so much, that when the point and shoot camera gets to my hands I immediately start complaining about little picture control :). On a DSLR there are so many things you can control and Canon does a good job on putting all the needed controls throughout the camera body. You can easily and quickly change a certain setting like ISO or shutter speed when you know where those controls are.

Wedding photography. Wedding photography is a good business, though this kind of photography requires much skills and definitely a good imagination :). A good camera and set of lens would be as well useful. Usually I work with Canon EFS 17-85mm, Canon EF 70-200mm f/4.0 and Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 lenses. This set allows to do wide angle pictures as well as close-ups with good depth of filed feeling (especially the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 lens, which is not that expensive). I was encouraged to buy the EF 50mm lens by many pictures I saw on Flickr taken specifically with this lens. Ok, the business itself. The average cost for a wedding shooting is $500-$700. The price includes the 8am-8pm shooting day plus numerous hours of retouching and fixing the pictures. Usually up to 20. Slideshow on a DVD will add another $100 and another couple of work hours. The $700 prices excludes the wedding album, which costs up to $400. Albums are done not quite often, instead the couple prefers to do the album themselves. So generally it is a not bad business for a college student. All you need to do is to earn good reputation on the market and have a couple of clients a month (which does not happen quite often during your first steps).

You can check out my photography work on my Flickr page at http://flickr.com/photos/freeborn