Jumping clear and sharp at 1/160th of a second

Photographers always want something more, something different. I am no exception. My desires lie with obtaining a system that will afford me high-speed sync capabilities – to shoot with a shutter speed surpassing my current flash sync speed of 1/200. Simply put, if this number is breached, you will get a lovely black strip on the bottom of your frame. While that wish is nowhere near budget allowance, I am now wondering just how much I need them. I know there would be massive benefits for outdoor stuff, but inside? I am thinking probably not. Now me thinks I have known this for a while, but have refused to accept it. All comes down to confidence really.

I recently completed some promos for one of our local dance schools and after we were done with the formals we naturally had to get in some of that stuff that dancers do.  I will frequently shoot dancers in my little home studio, but with seven-foot ceilings we are very limited. This shoot was at the dance school so all cylinders were firing.  Five dancers of varying ages and skill levels and a couple of my trusty Alien Bee 800’s.

Geeky stuff: Cross light, One light had an 8″ reflector with a 30 degree grid, and the other had a white beauty dish with reflector plate.  f5.6, 1/160th, iso 100.  Cyber Sync triggers.

First Light with the grid,  Camera Right:

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And Both Lights:

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There is a slight ghosting of her left foot and shin, she is turning incredibly quick, but the rest of her is great. Maybe HSS could have prevented this, I think it is more because of the light hitting her than anything so it would not matter. I love the fact that her fingers are curled in and she is spotting her landing point.

It still cracks me that they look at themselves in the mirrors. Self critique at its finest. Digging the shadow on the wall.

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Tell ya what, I used to be flexible, but never could I do this. She is not even in maximum gumby mode, I think I was a hair off in my timing.

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So the moral of the story is, and I am sure we have all heard it before, use what is available to you instead of investing in more stuff. You may be surprised. What you have will probably work just fine.

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Yes, I still have desires for a B1. Thanks for stopping by!!

Phil

 

 

Thoughts Going Crazy During Image Review

The review of an image can be a very trying undertaking at times with many signals traveling through the synapses at mach speed. Good, bad, indifferent, should I shouldn’t I. Well, if i shot it this way yes I could, but I did not so no, I can not. Will they like it, will the person it is of like it, OMG what if no one likes it. This is in the way. This looks distracting. The color is off here, that is not in focus,  eyes wrong, mouth wrong, mouth good bad eyes, expression is no good, good expression bad angle… I did like it at first but now I am not sure……

STOP.

A thousand thoughts in a matter of seconds. Actually, I have become incredibly adept at qualifying an image for release. But there are those that I remain on the fence with. I may like it, but I am still aware of the impact it will have upon the subject and will not release it if there is a question in regards to their approval. Usually happens when I know them. Yes, there are times when I feel strongly about an image and it goes out regardless. We are talking mainly about images shot during musical performances here, though all may apply to a static session just as easily.

The following image is one of those on the fence images that would not have seen the light of day if it was not for this blog entry. I think it is an awesome look from the main subject in the image, Renee, from the band Lowlight. It contains emotion, there is movement in her hair, there is a highlight on her hat, and you can see the strings vibrating from the E chord. Good shadows, good highlights.  Awesome image, she is feeling it. But, there are too many distractions for me. A guitar neck, a hand,  half a body and a bit of the keyboard destroys it for me. Poor framing on my part. Or just me having a bad case of OCD.

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Sometimes in these situation you can not avoid the extra items in the frame. That is why we press the button so many times. Always looking for the correct image. Not the perfect image, the correct image. So we remain conflicted.

And while there are fixes available, it is a no-no in my book for these events. Mine is a journalistic approach in this arena. What we see is what we get. We will let the studio sessions be the muse for the creative outlet kind of stuff. Do kinda like it though.

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I did talk to Renee about the image and what I wanted to do. Always communicate. It makes things so much easier. I get the image frustrations off my chest and in this case, we even got it out in the world.

So if someone tells you it could take up to three weeks for your photos, it is ok. Let it. And remember they are probably going nuts trying to get them ready for you. Literally.  Of course when you have a deadline there will be no fussing about.

Thanks for stopping by! Till the next time…..

Phil

 

The Beauty of the Face and its Subtleties

My favorite thing about portrait photography is capturing the subtleties of the face. How micro expressions develop out of the smallest of movements and adjustments.

A little twitch, a minor change in posture, the smallest rise of the eyebrow can bring an image from ok to wow in a fraction of a heartbeat. This is beautiful. What landscape photographers possibly wait an hour or more for, those who capture people can attain in seconds. Now, of course in both instances the subjects have to cooperate and both could strike out and gain not a thing but one has control over their subjects and the other is at the mercy of mother nature.

My last session of 2015 was with a dancer that had a look I noticed down at the school while shooting rehearsals last spring. A look that screamed to be captured. This has happened more than once for various reasons, but this instance spoke volumes, moved me quite a bit. And it was all about the look of the face.

Christmas Holidays gave her mom and I the time needed to schedule the session. Fanfreakintastic is was. Still going through all the images but I came across this series of eight successive images that reveals what drives me in creating portraits. Each frame is different, each look unique. Some work, some do not.

The first two images are the concluding run of some keepers, then I lost her for a minute before getting her back. Processing was just some minor tweaks in Lightroom, none of these have been retouched yet. Kylie_PShepherd-23-2Kylie_PShepherd-24-2

I started losing her here a bit as we transitioned into a different feel. This is where the subtle movement comes in. I always capture the transitions, you never know what will come out of them. The fortunate thing about the digital age. Kylie_PShepherd-25-2Kylie_PShepherd-26-2Kylie_PShepherd-27-2

Those times when you wish you remembered what you said to get this reaction. Probably threw out a Hurleyism. Kylie_PShepherd-28-2Kylie_PShepherd-29-2

Transition complete, we have a winner. A completely different look seven images later and some fun in the process. How beautiful is that!  Kylie_PShepherd-30-2

Looking forward to many great things in 2016. I wish all of you a great transition in to the new year as well.

Thanks for Stopping by, drummers will be coming soon! Till next time…

Phil

Honing In

The past couple of years has been a whirlwind of learning for me while pressing that little button. I think I am close to developing  a consistent style, but am still searching for that consistent look to my images. The last couple of months I have been narrowing down that look a bit trying to hone in to something concrete. I think I do not shoot enough in the studio yet to really dig into something viable, being only part time, but I have created many images I am proud of.

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We are mainly talking about people here. People in my studio. My nature images are beautiful, I think, but not my forte. They come from an allure of being smitten by what mother nature presents to us. Soulful and heartfelt. Though now whenever I feel the follicles raise, I make sure and capture something I can use with my portrait work as well. I suck at making selections, but I love blending textures and overlays. This I am sure will lead to composites sooner than later. Growing in to that one slowly but surely. Love Joel Grimes, and I have been following Renee Robyn lately. She is the definition of cool.

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I love the music images, but we are so dependent of the venue for usable light, I throw away more than I keep. For the record I think flash in rude in this scenario. Yes, sometimes, when allowed, it is necessary. But then you lose what you see. I have not used flash at a gig in forever, but when I did, or when I will, I utilize a rogue grid to maintain as much ambient feel as possible.  Defined direction of light. And while this is for a different post, the majority of the time, gear does matter!

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I love head shots for the purity of the image. There are many definitions about what a head shot is and how it looks and I have seen images that have been called head shots but I call a portrait. It’s all in the application of the image I suppose. I am a disciple of the Peter Hurley style of head shot. Pure, head and shoulders, simple background. All about the expression. And in this age of social imaging, having a good head shot is so important. Yup, I still need one too.

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And usually at the end of a session, before we go, things get a little unpredictable

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The journey will continue. I will continue to grow, everyday is a learning experience which is embraced and cherished. There are a few people who are on my radar, some visions I need to fulfill and I am expanding into a few different arenas. I think 2016 is going to be a fantastic year.

Happy Holidays!

Thanks for stopping by, till next time!

Hanging Out with Lowlight

I have been shooting a lot of music over the past 18 months and have witnessed some incredible musicians in the process. I have been wanting to shoot promos for bands for a bit now, however I had never marketed that side of me to the groups. To most of them I am just a photographer who takes bad ass photos at their shows and posts them on the music blog I shoot for. The portrait side of things have been getting busier for me and this has coincided with landing my first musical client.

Lowlight is self-described as Roadhouse Chic, which in my words means a mixture of folk, NJ country and good old rock n roll. I see vocalist Renee Maskin quite frequently at The Wonder Bar for a weekly series called Happy Mondays. I have also seen them perform numerous times at a few different venues in the area. We got to talking one night and the next thing you know we were looking for dates for all of us to get together.

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The hardest part of course was finding a date that worked for all of us and the selection of a location. We both preferred a woodsy setting but weather and time of day were not going to allow that to happen. We will be hitting up the woods in the spring though to fulfill both of our visions. They are also looking for that elusive and steady fifth member so it will be perfect timing. We settled on a small ranch house that was teaming with antiques, paintings, pictures and some very interesting artifacts.

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This gang is a very chill bunch, laid back and easy-going so the house setting worked perfect. Managing to utilize a few different areas, we achieved our objective of material for them to utilize in their upcoming projects. And even had a few extras to boot. I was working with one light and an umbrella for all the shots for those interested.

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Be sure and have a listen and if you are in NJ go check them out. Make sure you buy them some whiskey too. Really fun times.

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Bands interested in a session give me a shout at – info@pshepherdphoto.com. Love to hook up and get you going.

Thanks for stopping by! till next time…

Phil

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