Friday, November 28, 2008

A Successful Thanksgiving

How do you know when you have a successful Thanksgiving Day dinner? The picture nearby shows the evidence. I went to my brother John's house for dinner yesterday and had a terrific time and meal. It was a lot of fun to see the family and joke around.

I was even able to get in a few other shots of friends and family. We rarely have clouds here in the desert and with such a good storm coming through we were able to use the sky as a terrific backdrop.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The best laid plans...

So my friend Crystal asked me if I could take a few photos of her son and their two dogs for a Christmas card this year. I was happy to do it and suggested that we scout out a location at Phoenix South Mountain Park as a great location to shoot.

The conversation went something like this:

"You do realize that I'm pregnant, my son is only a year and a half old and we own bit bulls, right? Oh, and my dogs pant when they are outside in the sun" Crystal said as I related my plans on how I envisioned the shoot going.

"What's panting? Never mind. It will be great, I have the ideal location, we will just hop out of our cars set up and take a few quick photos. We will be done in a half hour." I said confidently as if I knew what I was talking about.

"Ok...but wouldn't it be simpler in your backyard, we would have more control" said Crystal

"No, no this is going to be great, the best Christmas card you ever had!" I said as I hung up the phone.

Let's just say Crystal was right and I was wrong. Trying to control two bit bulls while balancing lighting equipment on the rocks in the middle of a dessert park ain't so easy. And although, Caden, her son, was a trooper, but he wasn't so keen on being left in a toy fire truck under a huge strobe while I confronted him with a menacing camera lens.

Nearby you'll see some out takes from the shoot. Click on them to see larger versions. Crystal's husband Joe, a real firefighter and the reason for the toy truck, tried his best to get things in order but to no avail. Oh, and you'll notice from one of the shots that Crystal's dogs pant when there outside in the sun.

Let's just say we rescheduled the shoot for later in their backyard.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


My friend Nicole asked me to take some promotional photos of her boyfriend Daniel, who is an up and coming hip-hop star. Daniel goes by the stage name Serious. I'm not a huge fan of hip-hop but I have to say I'm really enjoying the CD that he gave me after the shoot. We shot at a warehouse downtown that has several areas where graffiti covers the wall, which we thought would make a nice backdrop for the photos and give it an edger, urban feel. I have been experimenting with a three light set up recently. This type of arrangement, with two lights at 45 degrees behind the subject and a beauty dish as the key light in front, is very popular right now. Not only does it provide nice lighting coverage and separation from the background, but it supports an edger, more contrast type of post processing in Photoshop. We had a lot of fun at the shoot, we had two other photograhers, Jim V and Megan, along with Lorri helping with make up. Serious also had his entourage which included Adrian, who helped by holding some lights during the shoot.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Antelope Canyon meet HDR

I have never been a big fan of a digital process called HDR (high dynamic range) imagery because it sometimes renders photos that look fake. But I have been working with a software called Photomatrix which is working much better than I had expected. I used it on some bracketed exposures that I took at Antelope Canyon and was pleased with the results. The difference beteween the highlights and the shadow/dark areas was pretty extreme within the canyons, but the software was able to merge several of these exposures together to come up with a very balanced shot. I plan on experiementing with this HDR software some more and perhaps work it into some composite photos that I have been learning about.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Coming back from Page and my visit to Antelope Canyon, my friend Mia and I drove through Sedona. I have an off roading book called Backcountry Adventures Arizona that I bought a few years ago. One of the trips in the book is the Schnebly Hill Road, which is a easy trail that runs from Arizona 179 right off the Oak Creek bridge and winds through the mountains east of Sedona. The trail ends at exit 320 on I-17.

The trip takes about an hour and is a little bumpy at first but the views are great and it is not crowed when compared to Arizona Route 89A, the paved alternative. We shot a few photos along the way including one of Mia standing on Schnebly Hill Vista, which I have posted nearby. You can click on the photos to see larger version.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Antelope Canyon

I got the chance to visit Antelope Canyon on Thursday with my friend Mia. Mia lives in Seattle and for a long time has wanted to photograph these unique canyons in Northern Arizona. We booked a tour with Carol Bigthumb, a Navajo tour guide from the local area. Carol was a big help with transportation and she knew quite a bit about photography. Many times Carol got us in the right location for the best shot. We hired her for the entire day and went to a total of five of the canyons. She was called away for an emergency meeting with the tribal counsel so her son Lane took over during the afternoon. He was also an excellent guide and was an interesting person as well.

Because it is November the sun is much lower in the sky and therefore the "shaft of light" phenomenon does not occur as much as it does in the summer when the sun is higher and comes down through slots in the upper part of the canyon formation.

Taking these photos is much harder than I had thought. Because the way the light enters the area, there can be large differences in the light levels causing difficult blowout of either very bright areas of the photo or very dark areas. In the digital age this situation is called "clipping", I struggled with it all day.

Like many people, I tend to get compliacent about the place I live and don't explore enough. I had heard about the "slot canyons" many times but never made the effort to go see them. I was very happy that my friend motivated me to go see them.

Monday, November 3, 2008

My new website in development

Nearby is a mock up of the "About" page for a website that my friend Alex is putting together for me. I'm very excited to have a stand alone website that I can use as a central location to direct people to find me on the web. This blog will continue and will be part of several other locations on the web where I can be found that will be linked on the website, including Flickr, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. I hope to have an expanded portfolio on the website along with video of many of the projects that I have been working on. The website should be up and running in the next few weeks once Alex and I have had time to sit down and sort out the final pieces to have it go live. I will, obviously, make an announcement here once it is up and running.