Dance Season is Upon Us

Seems appropriate that I get off my duff and continue where I left off at the end of last summer when I was trying out some new lighting gear. A blurry few months have shot by and it is a new year now, with dance season bearing down upon us. For the next five months many of my weekends will be spent glued to the viewfinder with hundreds of competition dancers leaping across the plane of my lens. I can only hope the light is good during these events as we are subject to the confines of the stage we are visiting. Ain’t no flash here.

The second go round I had with the Flashpoint Xplor Pro 600 back in the fall was just as awesome as the first. Mary Cate was the subject for this particular evening, and even though we did not get much color in the sky, the fact finding mission was accomplished and we captured some great material in the process.

Mary Cate is a dancer of course, long and lean with some great lines. To refresh, I was checking out the high speed sync capabilities so my shutter speeds were upwards of 4000 with the tele lens at 2.8, and 2000 with the wide at 4.0. Since this time I have become a big fan of this series of light, and at half price or better from the big boys, very well worth it.

I think the biggest challenge when shooting during a setting sun is the large change that happens in natural light in a very quick time span. The constant evaluation of meter readings can be a pain but once you get a base, should not be that bad. Grabbed this on while the sun was still reasonable, but no clouds to play with so a little flare:

Then after a bit it came time for another base exposure

And then the real fun began:

The final series of the night and a look that seems to have become very popular in the dance world. Or maybe it has always been and I just have not seen it much. Either Way…

It was great having some one on one time with the dancers, always a pleasure getting them in this environment. Spring should be right around the corner, though we really have not had much of a winter yet, so as soon as it warms up I will get them back out there. In the meantime to the stage we go!

Thanks for stopping by, Talk to you soon!

Phil

My First Go Round with High Speed Sync

Being someone who likes action oriented photos as much as I like the static ones, I have always wanted to get into high-speed sync. The Canon 430 used on camera does a decent job, if you are close, but I have always wanted something with a bit more juice to it. Not having the budget to purchase a desired Profoto or Broncolor unit, I went all in on the Flashpoint Xplor 600 Pro, half the cost of the others.

There is quite a bit for me to still learn about it, but as soon as I got it I secured my test subjects and went into HSS mode. I will go over more of the features in a future offering, this one was all about fast shutter speeds.

The majority of my outside sessions involve a setting sun, I love the combo of a lit subject and a colorful, scenic background so these images are some of what went down on the first day of tests. This image is one of the last of the evening, and while you do not necessarily need to shoot HSS to achieve it, I did it anyway. f4.5 at 1/1250.

Allie used to be one of my dance girls so I have known her for a number of years, but never had the opportunity to get in a session with her. Allie does not dance competitively anymore, but she does cheer so she still has those pliable abilities and of course we got them out.

f4.5 1/1250

Solid result. Crisp, mid-air edges. I think I was still using a soft box here so we got some pretty good flash coverage area. Funny thing, these images are six weeks old and it is the first time I am noticing that yellow sign.

Since we seem to be going in reverse order here, this next image was shot at f4, 1/2500th of a second. It did not make the final selections – I am all about the face – but I am impressed with the stopping power. The light provided just enough detail in the image and 1/2500th caught Allie with hands just off the ground and the sand in the air.

I originally thought this next image could be obtained just using a reflector. After studying it, I do not think it would be possible. F3.2, 1/4000th of a second. Soft box just above head and pointing down.

One of the first images of the evening while we were getting dialed in with light and position. Another at 3.2 4000.

I was very happy with my first foray into high speed sync and the Flashpoint xplor600 pro. Be back soon with our next adventure with the new gear.

Thanks for stopping by!

Phil

 

No Tolerance for Ignorance

I need to get back and pay attention to this area of my life. Growing up I thought life was supposed to get easier as you got older, it seems to be steamrolling right along, without a chance to step back and relax. I have started to make time for doing nothing, just to try and clear the mind and body. Gym time stays in the loop three or four days a week, but certain things have definitely taken a back seat as of late. When you sit in front of a computer for most of the day, you kinda want to stay away from it at night. It just saps your energy.

I was sitting outside tonight, watching the sun set, it was pure and peaceful. I always want to find somewhere to capture it, but I have shot at most of the good locations around here and have no desire to drive more than needed. [discovered a couple new locations last week!] Plus I have run out of room on the walls and the last thing we need are more digital only images. I like to hold and remember the moment, not just look and move on.

Anyway, what prompted me to get going here is a comment that was thrown at a coworker I recently shot. Melissa has busted her ass for two years, transforming her life and her health during that time to become an award winning body builder. TWO YEARS. In her first competition she did not place, this was around one year after she began her journey. In her second one, another year later, she placed second in two different categories! Busted her ass, full time job, mom, wife, homeowner and she got it done!! If that is not bad ass I do not know what is.

So just a few days ago someone told her she looked like a man. Ummmmm, not. Why, because she is fit?  Just stop. Intimidated perhaps? Should be, I am and I am fairly confident with my appearance. (The over 50 belly and loose neck skin has made its way forward) What is wrong with people these days. I would challenge anyone to put in half the effort that Melissa has put in. So that comment kind of bothered me and was just the spark I needed to get going here.

During the actual competitions, it is all bikinis for these ladies, but for the sessions I like pure fitness. This may be adjusted if we shoot again, just to stick it to a few people. I have never appreciated shooting scantily clad bodies for the simple fact I feel it degrades the person. How is that for old fashioned thinking. Eyes, hair, face and shoulders are all I need.

We tried a couple of different looks during the session, played with some gels a little and even got the atmosphere aerosol out for a long burst. I am still feeling a bit confined in my space, the low ceilings especially weigh on me, but Grids are good and light is just light after all. I just added one to the inventory for my favorite outside shoots. Touch base on that one in the next offering.

Thanks for stopping by, get out and get it done!

Phil

Family Time

The holidays approach, the house is clean, strike up the oven and break out the leaf for the table. Lets all get together, eat, drink, nap, watch movies, play games, then rinse and repeat.  Blood relatives and extended families congregate for their specific cultural reasons and engage in…..

Why do we need an excuse? Call your family now and say hi, have not talked to someone since the last holiday? Call them, visit them, do not wait. Do it. Now. I am guilty of this just as you are. Life is not that simple anymore, but oh I wish it were. Just to be kicking back without having to worry what city will be next up for craziness.

My mom and dad turned 91 this year, our daughter 18, crazy stuff those two ends of the spectrum present us with. My parents have not seen Britt in a couple of years because life has given us a very windy road to maneuver, but this holiday season we are stressing the importance of resolving that fact.  Southbound again. Finally.

I had the pleasure of shooting a large family over the summer as they all congregated for a milestone celebration.  A mid morning session after I worked an overnight shift had my nerves activated but a few cups of coffee got me going and I was able to subtly feed off the love this family had for each other. And this makes it all worth it.

Going into this solo enforced the need I have for my “assistant” (Mee wife) but we were at opposite ends of the state almost. Nat is actually on her way to Maine to see one of her besties right now. Without me. Maine. The things we do for love.

The Primaries

And the kiddos

Combined as a group or separated as a unit, as long as we are together everything will always work out.

And at the end of the day, we can be assured that no matter how many challenges life brings us there is always time for silliness.

Right in the middle of all this I think, the battery pack for my main light decided to take a dump. We were nowhere near electricity. I always carry a couple of speedlites with me just in case of this scenario. I may have lost some power, but I did not lose the fun. Enjoy the approaching holiday season, and be prepared for all the excitement to come!

Thank for stopping by!

Phil

 

Time for Convention Hell!

The annual Halloween bash that is Convention Hell is getting ready to go down at Asbury Park’s Convention Hall. For the past three years Dark City Entertainment has put on what has become, the party of the year. The entire arena is transformed into a gigantic concert hall of spookiness and select local bands grace the stage to cover some of their favorite artists. While song is the highlight of the night, this is the one event where I will bypass the music photos for some step and repeat portrait stylings. Of course with everyone being in costume and when the opportunity presents itself, I just have to play around with the shots.  A little diddy I made up of the hostess and her bill, no this is not the official flyer.

When you have 800 people attend an event, in some amazing costumes, can it get any better for a portrait guy? Me thinks not.  Two of my favorite from last years gala:

I have never been that slick in doing composites, it still takes me forever to cut something out, but the more you try the better you get, I think. One of those things that in person instruction would be a blessing. Online classes don’t cut it for me for this. This next one I think I have used somewhere before, but I really like their look so I popped them on a new background:

These guys are from two years ago and is one of the first composites I did from these shows when I started acquiring backgrounds.

Well, blood and ghoul is part of the mantra of the season…

Turn of the century NY set in London? Little help with this period style please…

Love this dude, The Purge….

That’s all for now. Thanks for stopping by, See you on the 28th!

Phil

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