Sunday, January 24, 2010

52 Variations - Variation Four


It was a tough one this week. I had a very elaborate shot planned which involved all kinds of photographic magic and skill. No I wasn't going to bring in a guess shooter. Well, not as far as you know. :-) However, my son had to work on a school project which consumed his entire weekend.

Trying to get time to do the planned shoot proved impossible so I had to go with Plan B. Almost sounds like a had a Plan B doesn't it. Plan B ended up being my taking advantage of the research session he was doing with my wife, doing a "no involvement needed" shoot. The idea was to get them by the glow of the laptop. Below is my feeble attempt at "no involvement needed".

52 Variations - Research

I would have preferred to set a flash on the keyboard (so the light looked to be coming from the laptop) but couldn't as they were using it for their research so I settled for propping a 580 EXII gridded and gelled with a 1/2 CTO on the table by them setting it to 1/128th power. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. At least that is the story I'm sticking with.

I'm sorry to say that I don't have a setup shot. Right after I took the above the research session broke up and both my wife and son were gone. Opportunity missed.

Honestly, I'm a bit disappointed with the photo as I know I am capable of much better, but am proud I kept to my shooting schedule, finding opportunity where ever I could. Don't worry folks, I'll be back strong next week. See you then.


As always go to the Flickr set for all project pictures by Clicking Here. You can also find a full explanation of the project along with an index of the shot by Clicking Here.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Photography Bucket List

Darren Rowse over at the Digital Photography school recently posted his Photography "Bucket List". I love this idea, listing things I would love to shoot but have not had the chance to do so yet.

As a result, I have decided to steal, ehem, borrow, Darren's idea and create a Photography "Bucket List" of my own. This list will be updated as I can, marking off the items I've completed and adding new ones as they come to me. So be sure to come back often to see how I'm doing.

Now for the list.
  • A Beautiful Sunset: You know one of those classic ones over an ocean or mountain range. Problem it is requires my getting out of the city. Now that is a novel concept.
  • Sparkling Child Eyes: Those eyes that are so bright, so colorful and so sharp they seem to draw you in.
  • A Compelling Pano: Not sure of what yet, but something breathtaking in its scope. Perhaps a skyline shot of Chicago, but there are so many of those.
  • A Wedding: I would like to be the primary on a wedding. This is a long way off for me skill and courage wise, but I would love the challenge of capturing the emotion of one of the most emotional days a couple can have.
  • A 365 Project: I would love to have the time to devote to such an endeavor. Perhaps when I retire. :-)
  • The Homeless Project: Here is in Chicago there are so many homeless that they go largely unnoticed for those of use going about our lives. A while ago I began documenting an idea for highlighting their unknown presence among us. This is something close to my heart as a former Social Worker and is something I feel compelled to do.
Thats it for now, check back for updates. Now you just have to share what is on your Photography "Bucket List".

Thank you for the great idea Darren.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

52 Variations - Variation Three

Snap Shot

Week three is here and I'm ready to post a day early...yet again. What momentum, what dedication, how exciting! Okay, posting a day early is not really exciting but I'll take what I can get, no matter how small and insignificant.

This weeks photograph was inspired by my son himself. Not in the way the entire project was, this time he told me what he wanted the picture to be. I love that he is taking an active role in the 52 Variations Project. Digressing for just a moment, he does love taking pictures and has a wonderful eye. I wish I could master the rule of thirds the way he does. Not bad for a 9 year-old.

So here was the idea, that I should take a picture of him taking a picture of me. How simple how beautiful. I'm ashamed I didn't think of it. My planned picture for the week was much more complex, and much more mundane. The brilliance of a 9 year-old, how I wish I were 9 again. So here it is, my son's brilliance at work.

52 Variations - Snap Shot

Here's the how we did it. I gave my son my 40D, yes without the grip, (he is only 9 after all) and my Nifty Fifty (50 f 1.8). The trick was deciding how to trigger it. Expecting us both to push the button at the same time was too optimistic, so I called my buddy at FlashZebra (Lon) and ordered a cable so I could trigger the 40D with my CyberSyncs. It was a thing of beauty as I was able to trigger the 40D and 580 EXII (upper camera right at 1/4 power) at the same time. It was sweet, if I do say so myself.

The last two weeks I found I fell in a rut or was about to as I used a 1/8 grid and 1/2 CTO on my 580 EXII. This week I wanted the light source larger but yet soft, so I used my 43" Wescott collapsable umbrella in a shoot through manner. Worked like a charm, at least I think so. Let me know if you think I'm smoking crack on this one. Below is a quick shot of the setup. As always, please ignore my messy basement. (Note that the CyberSync triggering the camera is on the floor as the cable was nice and long.)

Variation Three - Setup

There are things I would do differently next time. For example my depth of field is too shallow and the Canon and 40D stamps on the camera are not sharp. Also, I had to crop out his right hand as his index finger was not on the shutter button. Kind of ruins the illusion of him taking the picture. However, in the end I'm happy with the outcome as long as I did justice to my son's idea while getting a bit creative by capturing him while firing his flash while softly applying lighting to his face and the camera.

So what does everyone think? I look forward to hearing your thoughts and input.


As always go to the Flickr set for all project pictures by Clicking Here. You can also find a full explanation of the project along with an index of the shot by Clicking Here.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

52 Variations - Variation Two

Piano Hands

Ok, week 2 is done and even a day early. I was motivated as I will be traveling on business as of tomorrow and if I did not get it done today it would not be done. I'm proud of myself as I do not want to miss my goal for the year.

This week the picture is of my son practicing the piano. I wanted to focus only on the hands and ended up achieving this with a similar lighting setup as last week with my 580 EXII above him to left on a light stand at 1/128th power while being gelled with a 1/2 CTO and using a 1/8 grid.

In the end the picture took very little post processing, just adding some edge darkening and some sharpening for the web. Other than that it is out of the camera. So here it is, Piano Hands...

52 Variations - Variation Two

On the whole I am pleased with the shot but there are of course some things I would change. For example, I would have pulled back the sleeve on the sweatshirt he was wearing as it invades his left hand. Attention to detail is something I need to continue to work on. Oh well, what is life without constant advancement. :-) But as I said, on the whole I am pleased with the outcome and my wife is already asking for a print. That is a very good sign!

And for those of you that like setup shots...

52_Variations - Variation Two

Feel free to leave some comments and let me know what you think.


As always go to the Flickr set for all project pictures by Clicking Here. You can also find a full explanation of the project along with an index of the shot by Clicking Here.

Monday, January 4, 2010

52 Variations - Variation One


Here we go sports fans. The first of my weekly project for 2010. I'll do my best to keep these posts short, so lets get going.

My son like millions of other children loves video games, in particular, his Wii. Watching him play this evening I decided to get him playing to the glow of the TV. Below is my attempt at that.


The setup was simple. My son was sitting on the sofa, actually playing his Wii by the way, with my 580 EXII about 3 feet in front of him on a light stand at 1/128th power. The 580 was gelled with a 1/2 CTO and had a 1/8 grid on it to focus and soften the light. I didn't want the light to spread too broadly while not wanting harsh shadows, hence why I did not use a snoot.

By the way, did I note that my son does not love having his picture taken? Well, he doesn't as he has been my photography test subject for years. If you don't believe me take a look at the below from this week's shoot. It shows that he tolerates my obsession. Thank you Gustavo for putting up with me.


Well, what does everyone think? Do you like the lighting, do you get the feeling he is illuminated by a video game screen?

Oh and for those of you that like setup shots here you go. Just please ignore my messy basement.

Variation One - Setup


As always go to the Flickr set for all project pictures by Clicking Here. You can also find a full explanation of the project along with an index of the shot by Clicking Here.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

52 Variations

aJust like millions of photographers out there I made a new years resolution to shoot more. My first instinct was to do a 365, or shot a day project. However, I know myself and I know my workload from my paying job. Anyone who reads this blog knows I can go some time without making a post due to my job. So I need to temper my project with the reality of my job.

Reality, how boring, how do I do a project with the reality of my work...hmmm....let me think...

The idea of a shot every week is very doable. My first stab at that with the Shot a Week project last year showed that. I had a goal of 10 weeks and made my goal. So I decided to extend my goal, or stretch it a bit. So here we go...

The idea is a shot a week. No excitement or challenge in that, but each shot is to be of my son and there must be one for each week of the year and must be planned, not candids, and involve some sort of staging even if it is simple. Hence the name 52 Variations. I want to force myself to plan and execute, not just take advantage of what is in front of me. I've determined that is the area I need to grow in, planning and execution.

My objective is to plan the shot during the week, executing it over the weekend and post it on either Sunday or Monday of the following week. This is realistic and very possible, even with my workload.

So keep you eyes open on Sundays or Mondays for a new shot of my son. He is an unwilling subject so this should be fun.

Click here for the Flickr Pool for the project.

Project Index:
- Variation One: Focus
- Variation Two: Piano Hands
- Variation Three: Snap Shot
- Variation Four: Research
- Variation Five: Nerf Warrior
- Variation Six: Jedi
- Variation Seven: At Play
- Variation Eight: Light Art
- Variation Nine: Sweet Dreams
- Variation Ten: Grandparents
- Variation Eleven: Puppy Play
- Variation Twelve: Burbuja
- Variation Thirteen: Razor
- Variation Fourteen: Spring
- Variation Fifteen: Aquaman
- Variation Sixteen: Tender Moment
- Variation Seventeen: Speed
- Variation Eighteen: Joyful
- Variation Nineteen: Jammin
- Variation Twenty: Pull...Pull
- Variation Twenty-One: Futbol
- Variation Twenty-Two: Fore
- Variation Twenty-Three: Bummer
- Variation Twenty-Four: Chef
- Variation Twenty-Five: Pool Play
- Variation Twenty-Six: Sprinkler Play
- Variation Twenty-Seven: Aim...Fire!!!
- Variation Twenty-Eight: Hug
- Variation Twenty-Nince: Little Sister
- Variation Thirty: Duck!
- Variation Thirty-One: Hide & Seek
- Variation Thirty-Two: Making the Shot

Friday, January 1, 2010

Starting off the year right


How long as it been, too long I know. While we were in a recession in 2009 and I was fortunate to be employed work was a killer. The scramble for business and the the nature of my full time work consumed all of me in the second half of 2009. So of course keeping up my blog was the last thing on my mind. It shouldn't of been, but it was. I needed it but it just wasn't possible with everything else going on.

Of course I have a resolution for a new project and have a new system to ensure I follow through with it better than I did with the Picture a Week Project, so keep an eye open for a description of what will be going on with that.

For now I leave you with the above water drop shot I did the day after Christmas with my son. The purpose of the shoot was to educate him on some basics physics, but it was also fun for me as water drop shots were something I had been wanting to do for a while. Feel free to take a look at the full set of shots at Flickr if you want to.

Talk to you soon.