Allie's new Headshots [Portrait]

After being such a great sport for me at the Sackville Photo Club meeting where I made a half-hour portrait, I finally got a chance to sit down with Allie and do some new head shots for her.  This not only gave me an opportunity to work on my lighting, but also to make use of my new home studio set up!

Allie was looking for simple head shots without a lot of styling and clean, simple light.  I really like the black and white look, it just seems to keep things clean somehow.

When we had finished with the simple head shot portraits, we moved on to shooting some more styled portraits.  I also switched the lighting from a single big source to a clam shell beauty setup. 

Finally, we added one more element: Wind!  I put a fan on to get a little more motion out of Allie's hair.  We had lots of fun, and for a short home-studio session I'm very pleased with the results.  Both of the black and white photos were edited with Nik Software's Silver Efex Pro, and the pair of colour photos were processed with Nik's Analog Efex Pro.

As a small point of interest, I had one of these photos (and several others) reviewed on the KelbyTV show "The Grid".  I think I need to work on hands!  Check out the episode over at, it's #125 - Blind Critiques with Lindsay Adler.

Cheers, and more to come later this week!

Rosy [Portrait]

I nearly ran out of time to get this shot.  Standing in front of about 80 Sackville Photo Club members, camera in hand, and doing my best to make an image was difficult, but very fun.

The setup is pretty simple: Softbox camera left and in front of Allie, feathered out to provide some nice, soft lighting, while the rear light is a bare flash camera right.  The simple setup is only half the story, because getting there was not without incident. 

I had 30 minutes to get this shot, and explain myself while I got there. While I shot, I had the photos coming up on the large projector behind me so that the  club could observe the changes in my setup as I went along. We explored an ambient solution (which was quickly ruled out), an on camera flash solution (the best option was bouncing the light off of a reflector above the camera, in my opinion), and finally an off-camera flash solution.

I deliberately made some mistakes along the way to help show the club what goes into the process of making one of these projects come together.  Allie was a superstar, she barely batted an eye when she saw how many people there were and performed expertly.  

I was using two flashes, and the softbox mounted flash was working great the entire time. No issues.  The rear light was intended to be a beauty dish for that nice wrapping quality of light, but the dish seemed to be blocking the light from ever reaching the sensor on the flash.  My radio trigger seemed to give up halfway through so I swapped it out.  Eventually, I just took the dish off, lowered the flash power and carried on.  

Given a little more time, we could probably have pushed the image further, with more rose petals, more roses or a different and more dynamic pose.  I also could have fine tuned the light a bit more, but for now I am pretty pleased with what we got under these conditions.  

Edit: Thank you Angie Burgess for sending along some action photos! I'm not sure how you timed it so that the light was going off, but well done!

Daily Photo: 14/11/2013 - Grace [Portrait]

I'm struggling a bit with the new project. It's tough, and since I'm keeping it under wraps, I will only allude to what it is that I'm going through.  

I feel like a scrawny guy who decided on a whim to become a bodybuilder.  I just got myself a kickass gym bag, some new workout clothes, I have my routine planned out and gym membership paid for.  I get to the gym, and all I can bench is 20lbs.  I want to be able to bench 200, but I can only do 20.  I'm feeling pretty self conscious and I'm sure everyone is looking at me thinking "What the hell is that guy doing?".  

Today I (metaphorically) lifted 25lbs. I actually made some headway and I feel a lot better about the project.  The weather is also clearing up, and I am getting more opportunities to push on and be creative.  At any rate, here is today's Daily Photo, taken during a Big Shoot back in September:

Technical Information:
Camera: Canon 5D Mark II
Lens: Canon 50mm f/1.8 II
ISO400, f/1.8 1/80s
Location: Halifax
Process: Apple Aperture for RAW processing and Nik Color Efex Pro 4 for toning

Daily Photo: 02/10/13 - Alysha [Fashion]

Technical Information:
Camera: Canon 5D Mark II
Lens: Canon 85mm f/1.8 
ISO640, f/1.8, 1/80s
Location: Downtown, Halifax, NS
Process: Apple Aperture for RAW processing, Color Efex Pro 4 for toning and film grain
Model: Alysha Bouchard

This was taken on a test shoot session with Alysha a few months back.  Though the shot looks very bright, it was taken in fairly dark conditions as the camera settings will indicate.  When I was doing the edit to get to this photo, I noticed a lot of the images in the set were just ever so slightly blurry. It would have been worthwhile to push up the ISO a little further for the shutter speed.

Daily Photo: 01/10/13 - Ashley at the Dingle Tower [Portrait]

I'm very happy with this small two-light setup.  I used a 45" octagonal softbox on the right and feathered it out until it looked as natural as possible, then popped a beauty dish onto the background, which also meant it could do double duty as a rim light as well.  The effect is quite subtle.  The final piece of the puzzle is the reflector, held by Jacob and just off camera left.  This was a tight crop shot so he was able to get in nice and close.  

The way I've been lighting lately is a new thing for me.  Instead of just firing the light at the subject, I'm really spending time working on the way it hits them, and building a believable set up.  I've got a long way to go but I think every shoot gets easier and easier! 

Technical Information:
Camera: Canon 5D Mark II
Lens: Canon 85mm f/1.8 
ISO400, f/4.5, 1/100s
Location: Dingle Tower, Halifax, NS
Process: Apple Aperture for RAW processing, Color Efex Pro 4 for toning and film grain
Model: Ginger Snapzz (Ashley)
Assisted by Jacob Connell