Archive for August, 2011

Behind The Scenes

August 29, 2011

Usually when I attend photography workshops, I regress back to my days as a competitive professional athlete. My adrenaline is pumping with excitement and nervous energy. My vision is tunnel and I’m in the total zone as I listen with intent and ride the highs and lows that go along with learning any new skill set. Sometimes you nail it, and other times, you bomb, bad. This pervious workshop as we moved in rotation, taking turns to pose our models, set up the various lighting equipment and capture our shots, I got the opportunity to step back and get some behind-the-scenes images. Obviously I wasn’t able to shoot images of myself in action, but each time I’d completed my own pose and capture challenge, I took a minute to snag a few behind-the-scenes shots of the other photographers working their lighting magic. Its kinda cool, for me at least, and it gives you a little sneak peak into the goings on from our side of the camera.

Here we have the wonderful Brett Jarnagin (right) giving some guidance and advice to my new friend and fellow photographer, Bradley (left).

On the left is fellow workshop attendee and also new friend, Enrique and to be honest, I actually snapped this photo by accident. I was testing the equipment and my camera settings right before I set about capturing the image below.

This is what the above set up lead me to capture.

Again Bradley is working his mad skills on our model Billy and this will give up an idea of what went into my capturing……..

……..this image.

Change of location, change of model and a look at what went into my nailing……..

………this image.

Same model, different location and an unflattering shot of Craig getting down and dirty to get his shot. I fortunately did not have to spread eagle in my efforts to capture……….

………this image.

Brett teaches us how to incorporate a glowing night sky, which led to me being able to snap……..

……..this image.

And that’s it. A little tour of the photographic antics and behind-the-scenes action of the Brett Jarnagin workshop.

Flash Lights

August 27, 2011

Over the past 2 years I’ve worked hard on finding and honing my style of shooting. Its an ongoing process, but I constantly seek to challenge, push and improve myself as a photographer. I love to shoot natural light. In my opinion its the prettiest most flattering way to capture your subject. And while it definitely took me a lot of time, a lot of practice and a barrage of mistakes, when I finally built up my knowledge and confidence, when I was able to get it right and use it to my advantage, it had the effect of illuminating a subject in a way that is warm and soft, or if you prefer, added a little pop of drama. However, having said all that, there are definitely times when it is not possible to work with natural light. Day has a habit of turning into night and not all rooms can be radiated by a wall of windows. So in situations like that, its best to bust out your flash.

Now here is where it got tricky, at least for me. The principles of flash and all things flash and light related, just felt so complex and intimidating. It was partly the math. Yes, working with flash requires a math brain, I on the other hand, do not have a math brain, hence my feelings of complexity and intimidation. But I eventually got tired of the intimidation and the discomfort. I got tired of the average photos I captured when I needed to bust out my flash. So I decided it was high time I man’ed up and learned to better use my flash. As luck would have it, this week the wonderful Brett Jarnagin, a master of all things flash, was holding a workshop here in Atlanta and with absolutely no hesitation, I signed up. I was so excited. I felt like I was going to a place where I’d be handed the answers to life’s deepest questions. Goodbye flash complexity and intimidation. But it wasn’t easy. My head was definitely spinning as Brett talked distance, degrees of placement and fractions of light power, but once we got out onto the Atlanta streets to shoot, things started to slowly make sense.

We took turns shooting. And each time it was your turn, you had to come up with not just the pose for your model, but the flash set up and creative ways to illuminate the model based on everything we’d just been taught. It was a total pressure cooker situation that elicited my inner fight or flight response. Mentally I was choosing flight. Get your purse Shinks, and get the hell out of here, but I stayed, pushing through the fear and discomfort. And I learned. Some of my images were awful, like straight up AW-FUL, but as the day progressed and things started to click, my images got better. Here I’m choosing to share just the better. Cos trust me, you don’t want to see alternative. In my next post I’m going to be sharing some behind-the scenes images, that way you’ll get to see the struggle and various flash set-ups that went into capturing the images your about to see.

This is the wonderful Casey, Brett’s wife who doubled as our model and assisted with any and all of our questions and queries. This was one of the first shots I took. Not bad.

Here I got a little braver and set up multiple flashes to capture this image.

This is little Billy and she was such a trooper. She stayed with us all day and well into the evening, rocking a full-length wedding dress in almost 100 degree heat. She worked it like a pro and held pose as I moved flash stands and adjusted light levels to capture this image.

Later in the day the fabulous Tina arrived and at this point I was getting a little more comfortable with the equipment.

I think this is my favorite shot from the day. Now I just need to remember how I set it up.

Bringing in some night sky.

This was shot under a highway over-pass next to a very busy road. Scary, but I like how the image turned out.

The Wet Look

August 23, 2011

The heavens opened up with absolutely no warning. In a matter of seconds we went from rock splitting sun and heat, to rain’s of a monsoon and biblical proportions. Thinking we were the smart ones, “it’ll all blow over soon”, we took shelter under the town centre band-stand and watched with amusement as stampede’s of people squeaked and sprinted past trying to make it to their cars or nearby coffee shops. But we remained where we were, confident that we had all the coverage and protection we needed right there under the our band-stand. And we would have, had the rain decided to fall straight down like any civilized monsoon should, but instead what we got was a rebel rain that bombarded us from all angles, mocking and spitting in our faces and we constantly tried to pivot and position ourselves away from its gale and force. But it was pointless and eventually my friend Gianne and I adopted the “ah feck it” attitude by letting go, whipping out the cameras and just enjoying the whole miserable experience.

A group of kids from the local dance studio decide to make a run for it.

Our new friends who shared the shelter of the band-stand.

Soaked to the skin and at their wet tolerance limit, our new friends gather up their doggies and prepare to make a break for it.

I snapped these photos of Gianne rocking her best wet look minutes after surviving the storm.

And she was sweet enough to return the favor by capturing me in all my soaking glory.

Scary Old Things

August 21, 2011

The Husband loves old things. Furniture, trucks, barns, even garden tools. The older and more decrepit, the better. I mean, why spend a few hours cutting 12 acres of 5ft tall grass with a state of the art mower, engineered and built by the same great minds responsible for the construction of NASA space shuttles? When you can spend several months hacking at said 5ft grass with a sickle? And why drive a fuel efficient vehicle with luxuries such as seats, power steering, electric windows and air-conditioning? When you can get yourself a 1960’s dump-truck with almost all it’s seats, windows that don’t roll down either manually or electronically, an exhaust that pumps toxic fumes into the vehicle instead of out and a floor that gets suspiciously hot under your feet as you try driving it anywhere? I can tell you, as a women who embraces all things modern, designed to make life simple, more efficient and comfortable. Who prefers to decorate in a style of clean lines, fresh colors and open spaces, The Husband’s junkyard chic aesthetic, can be very frustrating. But as long as I don’t have to sickle up and hack the grass short, or drive the asphyxiating dump-truck, then our marriage will remain imperfectly in tact. Having said that, a women does have her limits and there comes a point where real lines must be drawn and for me, that line appeared yesterday in the shape of a monkey.

The Husband and I were enjoying a slow paced afternoon filled with long lunches (well, just the one lunch really) and antiquing, and every store we went into, I did a great job policing the amount of additional old stuff he wanted to purchase and add to our already extensive collection of old stuff. Until he clapped eyes on a nasty little bronzed monkey. A monkey he said he just had to have. A monkey that looked intimidating and scary, maybe even possessed. It made me feel uneasy in a Chucky doll kinda way. I told The Husband “no“. “But look“, he said, “its also a business card holder. How cool is that?”Not cool. Not cool at all. That thing is creepy. I don’t want it”. But he wasn’t listening. He was already picturing a spot for it in our home. A place where it could sit in full view to serve as a point of interest and conversation starter for everyone who came to the house. I knew I was fighting a losing battle. This thing had a perceived level of coolness far beyond any fears I may have for my own safely. So no matter what angle I argued, how many boundaries I tried to establish or lines I tried to draw, the evil Chucky Monkey was getting purchased and as a result I’m being forced to tap into my creativity and orchestrate a scenario where poor evil Chucky Monkey accidentally disappears. POOF, gone.

Am keeping a low profile today. The mood is not good and I find myself getting easily irritated. Best to stay out of peoples way. I’ve diagnosed myself as Sleep Deprived, due to, well, a serious lack of sleep and a noted number of incidences that if referenced in a medical journal, would all fall under the diagnosis of “Sleep Deprivation” . For example:

* Symptoms: Concealing the bejeezuz out of your under-eye bags and dark circles no longer works and now, depending on the light, people are confusing you for a washed up old drag queen or Snooki from Jersey Shore. Diagnosis: Sleep Deprivation.

* Symptoms: Your brain begins sending mixed messages to your taste-buds. Your drinking coffee. You never drink coffee. You just had breakfast but now your craving chocolate fondue with chicken nuggets for dipping. You go on a manhunt for peanut butter to spread on your bagel. But wait, your Irish. Irish people hate peanut butter. Diagnosis: Sleep Deprivation, or after all these years, possible Americanization.

* Symptoms: Leaving your dirty dishes in the sink, when you never leave your dirty dishes in the sink. In fact, its a huge pet peeve and you get irrationally irritated by those who do. But somehow the extra steps of open, load and close the dishwasher are too much to bear and secretly you pray the dishes will 1. wash themselves or 2. sprout the tiny legs necessary to walk themselves to the dishwasher. Diagnosis: Sleep Deprivation.

* Symptoms: The Husband is talking. You have no idea what he’s saying, all you know is his words sound heavy, enough to make your eyelids want to close and you can’t stop wondering if the t-shirt he’s wearing is so old that time wore away at the printed image? Or, was it deliberately designed to look vintage/shabby chic? Diagnosis: Sleep Deprivation, or possible ADD.

* Symptoms: Exhaustion gives you the giggles. Your laughing hysterically at your own off-the-wall statements and randomly poking people in the ribs, cos who among us doesn’t love that? WARNING: this type of situation ALWAYS ends in tears, yours, and can result in actual pain and/or injury. Diagnosis: Sleep Deprivation.

* Symptoms: You fall on your knees wailing, arms stretched upward, like the poster to 1980’s Vietnam movie, Platoon, shaking your head from side to side in slow motion as you mouth the words “whhhhhhhy”, all because The Husband ate the last of your Special K and didn’t recycle the box. Diagnosis: Sleep Deprivation or possible Girl Interrupted.

* Symptoms: the weight of your own head, arms and legs, the physical act of chewing your own food make you want to quit the day and take a good long nap. Diagnosis: Sleep Deprivation and/or severe vitamin steroid deficiency.

In an effort to brighten up my day and help celebrate the almost start of Football season here in the US, I thought it would be a fun and cute idea to dress the boys up in their New England Patriots (The Husband’s team) football jersey’s. But alas my little boys are little no more. They were all but busting out of their wee jersey’s and struggled to move. As a result my photos are neither fun nor cute and make my boys look like they belong on a Humane Society commercial, music score by Sarah McLachlan.

Not since his time at the shelter has Crookie looked this miserable.