Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas at Riverwest

In my last post I shared about Imago Dei Church and how they served the poor in downtown Peoria.

While part of the church was serving the the dinner downtown, another part of the church was having a Christmas gathering at Riverwest, an apartment complex devoted to income restricted families. A step up from the poor, per say.

When I woke up Sunday morning, (after sleeping 16 hours!) I had the opportunity to help load the baskets to move them to the Riverwest area. (I didn't shoot images until 3pm that afternoon when the gathering took place.) I thought about how much work it would be to put these baskets together. Someone had to decide what to get, where to get it, how much to get, where to get that much of it and fill them all. Makes my help of loading the baskets rather petty, but my hand was apart of something bigger. And, that is what the church is much about. Working together to make a difference in the community around.

There was also a bag made for each child filled with gifts. I'm not sure what was inside, I didn't get one. I'm only the photographer. ;D
Each bag had the child's name on it. The excitement of them coming up to a bag as big as them was an amazing thing to watch and be apart of.

Smiles, hopping, dancing, spinning...it all happened when the kids name were called, one by one, to come up and snag their gift. Some were big enough to carry them, others were not. A few allowed mom to take their bag while others literately dragged them back to their chairs to open them.

It was adorable to watch as 3 little brothers (pun not intended) came up together. I could tell by how they walked together that they had a brotherly love for each other. They stuck by each others side, so close their shoulders were almost always touching. It's feels good to see unity in young siblings.

Well, maybe they were only terrified. *shrugs*

Some ignored me because they had gifts coming while others didn't want to leave without a picture. It's these smiles that drive people to serve. It's a reward in itself. A reward that isn't money, it isn't fame, it's not even a pat on the back.

It's a lot of work that's done knowing that what is being done goes beyond the physical action and into the heart and mind of those being served.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Serving the Poor

Imago Dei Church located downtown Peoria, IL prepared an extravagant dinner and invited many special guest to fill the seats, the poor.

I'm much impressed with the work the people at Imago Dei have done and are doing. I attend there on occasion and there is always a positive impact made on me when leaving. There are many upright people there. Real people doing real things.

Yes, that's me...the white guy.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Prayer Wall

A giant print of the Last Supper took up the entire stage of the church behind the pastor. His words were spoken effectively and with precision.

The ears of 1,000+ people were listening.

This resulted in hundreds writing their prayers on a (provided) post-it note and placed it onto the giant print.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Photography Workshop - Peoria, Illinois 2010

I'm much excited to kick off 2010 with the Peoria Supershoots event. This has been one of those pillar events that I can't imagine missing. The amount of information that is shared within one studio over two days is practically endless. It would be rather difficult to walk away without learning and improving your skills.

The environment is relaxed with music and drinks and many people with different backgrounds in photography. There are 6+ studio setups where you may work in and alter. If you don't know how, there will be several mentors there to help you along in setting up and metering many different lighting setups.

I happen to be a mentor at this event, so if you would want to work together, come, and make it happen.

This is Lauren being professional, rocking the camera, and looking amazing as she always does. Thanks girl!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

This ain't yur typical mid-west type of fotograph!

I retouched for six hours today and felt that I would share my efforts with you. Hope you don't mind. ;p

***click image for full size***

Actually, this image wasn't included in the six hours of retouching. This was my fun work after the other work.

I opened this image and stared at it for a minute or three and then said "DONE!" Easiest retouch ever. I enjoy retouching my own work because it helps me to pay attention to capturing better images for I don't have to retouch them that much.

Someone asked me the other day if I was a professional photographer. I was confused by the word 'professional' and replied "I'm a photographer." They understood something. Either that I didn't consider myself professional (hope not) or that I didn't care much for the use of extra titles. 'Professional' would indicate popularity and/or getting paid really well, I think. I don't really know. Anyhow, next time I will say "YES, I AM!" We are what people believe we are.

The St. Pete/Tampa Supershoots event was a blast. Great people there and lots of opportunity to capture images that have nothing to do with the mid-west...like shooting on a beach!

A big thanks to Tiffney for being a bright spirit during our shooting time. You rocked it!!

There is a Supershoots event coming up in January 9-10 (2010), here in Peoria, IL. I will be there for the two days mentoring and also instructing a 2 hour course on digital retouching and post production techniques. If you are interested, please write me at joshua.berardi@gmail.com

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Band Photography on Location

Last weekend I had the honor of shooting with a local Chicago band, "Lady Parasyte." (Shot in Chicago)

We called ahead several locations before coming to a two sided bar, one side that was open all day, and the other side didn't open until later at night. So, we asked to shoot for a few hours and they said yes. Totally awesome location and very generous of the owner to allow us to shoot for several hours at their place of business.

This was the first shot out of post. Here is a rundown of my thought process and the setup...

1: F-STOP Decision
I started by wanting to shoot at 2.8 for I could keep the subject and the background separated as much as possible. I found my exposure to be f/2.8 @ 1/50 ISO400. (17mm...with my 20D that is about 35mm) But, of course the lighting on the subjects wasn't that great. It was all from above them. So, I needed to use a strobe to throw light onto their faces.

2: Strobe Light
I placed a strobe on a stand way up high to the right of me and pointed it down towards the subjects. I put it high for the subjects shadows would be on the ground and not behind them. I metered it a bit higher that f/2.8 (f/3.5?) for it would show up in the image. It looked okay, but the light could be more focused.

3: Light Modification
I added a 20 degree grid to the strobe for it would focus tighter on the subjects and not spill too much around them. Perfect! It looked much better. *TEST SHOT* Okay, it's all looking good except that the bottom part of the image had lots of dark areas in it. I was loosing detail.

4: Fill Light
I added another strobe with a silver umbrella about 8 feet behind me for a fill light. This alleviated the shadows getting plugged up, but also made the entire image brighter. Since I was basing my exposure slightly to the left, that was okay by me. *CLICK* There's it is.

5: Post Production
I desaturated all colors except for red and strengthened the vignette my grid strobe was already making.

I'll be shooting in St. Pete, Florida for the weekend.
Happy Shooting!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

HdR Photography with Effects

(click image for larger view)

I was in Knoxville, TN last weekend soaking up lumen into my color filter array by way of bracketing on a tripod resulting in high dynamic range imagery which processed with computer code that combined the data from multiple captured photodiodes.

The word "com-put-er" above totally lost its futuristic linguistic implication in the past ten years. I can't say computer and feel awesome anymore. What's a new word that is cool now? OH OH!! iPhone. No, that's not even cool anymore. Hooooow abooout ANDRIOD! It's making a comeback in the cell phone/operating system word. Make's me think of DANGER, WIL ROBINSON!

OH CRAP. This is my photography blog. I probably should say something about photography.

Ok. So, this image I shot above was 3 total images shot using a tripod. I set my camera on burst mode and set bracketing to +/-2 stops. I then put on the camera's self timer.

Depress the shutter and ten seconds later the camera will automatically shoot three images, all with different shutter speeds. That's it. Well, for the field anyway.

Once in post I used the popular HdR software Photomatix (which I always mess up saying it as PhotoMATRIX..hey, I liked that movie!) From the HdR software I export as a 16-BIT TIFF and then open the TIFF in Photoshop. If you haven't heard of Photoshop...you may be a total idiot. Seriously, my first word as a child was "fothostot." I know, I was SO close even then!

ANYWAY, moving on...

In Photoshop I used two different soft-light layers of images of metal I found laying around. Then, I added an intense frame I had in a frame library. (not sure the name of it, sorry) You almost can't go wrong with insane borders; it really gets the attention off any mistakes made in the photography. ;D

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Wedding Photography - Outdoor Strobe Flash

I'm home and tiiiiired! I shot a wedding most of the day with Dave assisting me. We got home and went through all of the shots and there were so many awesome ones! We were excited about the images and also about some new lighting setups that we created along the way. (Thanks for the help Dave!)

I often get looked down upon by other wedding photographers due to the equipment I bring along. I apparently bring too much, but I can carry it all by myself at once, so I don't believe it's too much. And, when a shot (posted here) can be created with equipment that I can carry myself, I have a hard time seeing how it's not worth it.

I used one strobe with a grid to get the vignetting. I used portable power to power the strobe. I metered to capture the clouds how they were.

I often get asked by photographers "how do you have enough time to set this stuff up?!" Simple, first I plan ahead, weeks before the wedding, a time to focus on such shots. Second, I learned how to meter quickly. Third, I work better under pressure. Fourth, I keep my clients informed during the shoot precisely what I am doing and how long it will take. (That makes the pressure of time much less for me and them.)

This took about 8 minutes to hook up the light, meter, pose, and shoot. There were many other shots, this was only my favorite out of the bunch.

Post Production
I used raw tools to saturate the color and change the greenery to a more rust-like color. (clients request) I also pushed the vignetting a little further (on the bridge wood) than my strobe/grid had done. It did a fine job on her dress though.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Wedding photography can be difficult, but only at first.


I have been writing lengthy replies about wedding photography over on Supershoots.net today. I figured I would share a few ideas about shooting weddings that may (or may not) help you get over common issues that arise. At the end of this post I would love to hear common issues you may be having at your weddings and maybe myself or someone else can chime in with some positive thoughts on how to overcome the issue. Here we go:

1. What do I charge for my wedding photography?
This really depends on what sort of weddings you want to be shooting. If you are just starting out (first 5-8 weddings) then you will want to keep your prices fairly low. This has little to do with what your images (prints) are worth or the quality of your images, it's only a simple fact that if you say you charge $500 then you will get to shoot low-grade weddings that will only pay such a price. You are in control of the weddings you are shooting based on the prices that you charge. If you charge $5,000 then I'm betting that the wedding will be in a really nice church. with nice decorations, and an expensive wedding dress. If you do not feel ready to shoot something so extravagant, don't charge that price yet.

2. I was shooting a wedding and several other people had cameras next to me shooting. It's in the contract that this isn't supposed to happen. What do I do?
Yell at everyone and tell them to put their stupid toy cameras away for you can do your job. (Don't forget to mean mug them too!) Of course this isn't what to do. It may feel okay to ask those people to put their cameras down. But, they don't know you and will feel like you are "telling them what to do." People don't enjoy feeling this way. So, what does one do?

Well, we do know that if the bride or groom says something that they will immediately put their toy cameras down. So, take the opportunity to put into the mind of the bride and groom what is happening for they will take care of this issue for you. Chances are they want them to put their cameras down as well because they paid you to shoot the images and they have no idea where to look and when. But, how do we tell them this without bringing up "it's in the contract" as if you are now a lawyer instead of a photographer or sounding like you are demanding them to take care of something that they think you should be taking care of?

Simple. Use proper wording to allow them to understand what is going on and to make it sound as if you are not being demanding even though you are. You don't have to sound or look demanding to get your way.

So, what can be said? A few things have worked for me. One is "when other peoples flashes go off, my flash also goes off which mean I will get a dark picture every time." The first time I used this I was only being honest, but they jumped quickly and everyone else's cameras were now in their pockets.

Another thing that may be said is "I shot this group shot 7 times and in each image different people are looking in different directions because of so many cameras in the room..." Then shut your mouth. Silence is incredibly effective in allowing the other party to respond. You shouldn't need to say anything more.

3. Children are running all around and distracting me from taking images. The run into my frame!
I don't know what to tell you, that totally sucks. I'm kidding of course. Kid's are like creatures from another planet. They see the world from only a few feet off the ground and contract agreements don't mean anything to them. But, what does matter to a kid? Toys. Imagination. Having fun, and being disruptive.

If someone else isn't controlling the kids, you may in a gentle manner. I never think about a parent being angry for me doing this because I treat the kids with the utmost respect. If they run into my frame, I use that opportunity to allow the kid (this works with DOGS as well!) to do something totally stupid while in my frame and snap a shot while everyone is looking at the kid and laughing. It usually turns out to be a great conversation starter in a person wedding album. "Remember when little Adam hid behind everyone then stuck his head between uncle James legs! Look, here is a picture of it!" Little Adam will never forget THAT image!

See, that is the photographers job at the wedding; it's to CAPTURE the happenings of that special day. This is why weddings are considered Event Photography. It's an event, and it's our job to capture it not only as-it-is, but even better that it actually is.

Back to the annoying kid in our frames. After you shoot the silly image, say something like "OH WOW now THAT was funny! What a fun kid! Okay, let's get back to this group shot..." Since everyone is in a good mood and you just alerted to everyone that you are cool with what is happening and are having a good time at the wedding, SOMEONE will take care of the kid for you. This all can take place in 30 seconds. Compared the story I just painted to being upset and telling someone to remove the child and making yourself look like you are not enjoying your job at their wedding, which I'm sure would take longer than 30 seconds and would kill moral. Plus, the kid probably won't be screaming and kicking for the next half hour because they were forced to do something.

So, if you don't know what to do, remember to not FORCE kids to do things. It simply doesn't work.

Okay, so those were 3 question with 3 long winded answers. What things do you run into at your weddings?

I shot the above image last Saturday in downtown Chicago.
Canon 40D - Canon 24-70 f/2.8 (shot at 26mm)
HDR + Post Processing
Base Exposure: 1/6th - f/7.1 - ISO200

Friday, October 2, 2009

Getting Paid For Your Photography

JimmyD recently posted over in the Supershoots forum a video of Harlan Ellison talking about getting paid as a writer as apposed to getting exposure or publicity.

You can watch this short (3:24) video of Ellison talking about a situation where this arose and his thoughts on it.

Watch it a second time and replace the word "writers" with "photographers."

I think of it this way, my mortgage company doesn't accept publicity or exposure for payment, and neither does McDonalds. So, why should I?

This image is of Roberta looking amazing as usual! Thanks Roberta!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Oops!! Missing Links!

I was reorganizing my images online the other day and created a few missing links on this blog. I went back and fixed all but one which I deleted and will have to re-upload once I'm back at the home base.

I hope no one got hurt and that everyone is OK!


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I've seen this picture before!

I was reading a photography post where there was an awesome image posted. It only took a few replies before someone pointed out "hey, isn't that idea getting old?"

Well, isn't the ideas of most photographers getting old? I mean, seriously, the image I posted on this post is pretty cool. (Well, I thought so or I wouldn't have posted it.) I'm definitely not breaking any barriers here. But, I wasn't trying to either. If photographers had to shoot something totally unique, there would be a lot less photographers in the world today. But, that is okay. Sometimes people put down another photographers work because it looks like some other photographers work they have seen before, but don't speak too soon, I'm sure your work looks just like someone else's. Maybe you only have not run into them yet. I'll assume I don't do anything special or different until it's widely accepted that it is. But, since I'm not going for that I'm guessing I'll never hear such a thing.

When I'm shooting I have a fairly clean slate in my mind. I know what the model looks like, and maybe saw some clothes she has, and know the relative location where we will be shooting, but beyond that I don't think too much about what I'm exactly going to be shooting. This works for me. It may not work for you.

I could image what a headache it would be for another photographer to be in my shoes. But, I couldn't really do that well in the shoes of a photographer who plans out too many specific details. Saying that I guess I'm sort of a go-with-the-flow sort of shooter. I'm a go-with-the-flow type of guy in general. So, I think that's probably a good thing that my personality and my shooting style match up. At least I'm not trying to be something I'm not. Wow, did I just blog a post of therapy for myself? Probably sounds like it, but what's more important is for you, the reader, to clear your mind and shoot with purpose and accuracy. If you want to claim the title of photographer, be the best photographer that you can be and nothing less!

The above is Dalida. She rocked this image a few weekends ago for me. Thanks Dalida!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

It's like sooo 1985!

Tonight I went to see my cousin play high school football. Everywhere I looked kids were wearing 80's clothing. It totally freaking ROCKED! Girls wearing tight pink jeans with multi colored flourescent high tops and sweet haircuts! I was excited because this is the era I grew up in and I actually thought it was pretty sweet. ;D

I was in Atlanta last weekend and had to shoot the make up artist. She was a sheer bubble gum 80's rocker chic in this outfit...doesn't get much better that that!

I hope everyone is having a great week. Keep shooting!

Friday, September 4, 2009

New childrens book on digital retouching!

I have been extremely busy retouching and thought "isn't there a machine that could do this work for me?!" Then, I thought of Paul Bunyon. Then, I thought "maybe I could write and sell a childrens book! Here is the idea:

Animated adaptations about two legendary folk heroes. "The Legend of Joshua Bunyon" relates the adventures of the mighty retoucher, a man who, as legend has it, could stand in Illinois and cast a shadow all the way across Missouri to Kansas. "The Legend of John Henry" is the story of the greatest computer-programmer of all time. Joshua takes the challenge of retouching faster and cleaner than computer retouching software can, in an test of man against code.
[original here]

The lady posted today is Angel. She left me quite a positive comment on a photography website the other day and I wanted to share.

""Josh is a AMAZiNG PHOTOGRAPHER 2 Work with! One of my favorites!!!!
Just thought I would let everyone know that! And, once again thanks 4 the new images!!!
YOU FREAkiN ROCK!!!!****
Can't wait to work together again=)

...amazing AND freaking rock. Sweet!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Learning Photography Lighting

A person wrote me the other day asking for advice about learning lighting for photography. They said something to the effect of 'i'm looking into getting strobes and a softbox...' and I immediately thought 'Whoa! Slow down!'

When it comes to lighting it seems to makes sence to start with something simple and then work into more complex situations. So, what lighting is simple?

Well, lighting in general is fairly simple once you understand how it works. For this post I'm not going to go into any math or ratios, but I am going to go through a few steps in learning lighting.

First of all it's probably a good idea to start with natural light.  This is a great intro into seeing natural light the way god intended it. Go out and shoot natural light. Shoot in direct sunlight, shade, side lighting, back lighting, butterfly, etc...shoot until you get great dynamic images that get attention. Once you do, you have just mastered one light!

Now, pull out your reflectors and start bouncing the light around. Figure how to shoot great images with your reflector and natural light. Once you get the feel of controlling the given light, you will be ready to have a light source of your own!

Now, get one strobe and learn what heigth, angle and intensity you need to make good images indoors. Use the knowledge you learned in dealing with natural light and a reflector to your strobe. You will quickly learn how to use your one strobe.

Next, get a second strobe. This is the point where you will need to start measuring the light intensity with a light meter.

In my next post I will go over some basic ideas on using one strobe outdoors and two strobes indoors and outdoors. 

Until then, happy shooting! 

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Photography with Fire!

If you like fire, hand drums, hippie'ish style dancing and the smell of marijuana in the air, then this is a place for you! This is the first time for me to hang out at a Pyrotechniq event. It was fairly entertaining. I mean, people are freaking EATING FIRE! How is that not fun to watch!?

This event was held August 5th of this year (2009) in Chicago. There are going to be 3 more held this year. Check out the link above for dates and times.

People ate fire, spit fire, hula hooped with fire, had sword fights with fire, bo staffs, chains, whips, and just about any sort of weapon with fire on the end of it was spinning around.

Many photographers were there with tripods, flashes and all sorts of other cool toys. I shot hand held with no flash because I was late testing my ability to shoot hand held at slow shutter speeds. Most were shot between 1/30th - 1/80th at ISO 1600.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Photography Inspiration

Today I was thinking "what inspires people to shoot certain things?" Sometimes photographers will copy something they have already seen. Or, capture it in a slightly different way. Some simply guess and hope for the best. Others draw up every detail and create what was in their mind.

Although I have a folder on my computer that is also on synced to my PMP of images of other photographers that I really like, I have not once went to shoot and looked at them. I have ideas in my mind, but they are always foggy at best. Usually a generalization of an idea. I like this and it works for me. I believe it's because I have a small foundation for what I want to shoot, but I don't tie myself down with too many details for during the shoot things can move more naturally.

Just about every shoot I have done in the past few years feels very winged. I try and make the best with whatever situation, equipment, clothing, and weather was available at that time.

I'm slowly getting better at looking around and seeing what would and wouldn't look great in an image. I'd imagine most things could look great in an image if it were captured in some interesting eye-catching way.

I think it would be fun to get a few photographers together and all shoot the same scene, like this old loading dock in the image above, and see how each person interprets it. Of course the other photographers couldn't watch what the others are doing because that would alter the natural creativity of each person during their time to shoot.

In the end everyone could compare and discuss their ideas during their shoot and what it looks like in the end. I believe this could quickly open doors for everyone into thinking about capturing/creating images in a different way.

Then, everyone go re-shoot the same scene together and see what comes of it. I don't have time for any of this, but it seemed like a great idea. If you do it, e-mail me results and I will blog it! :D

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Why focusing and recomposing is a not-so-great habit in photography.

(Any image in this post that is hard to see...click on it. It will load a full resolution version that you can see much better.)

I see this done often and I still do it myself from time to time. When one tilts their camera upwards to focus on the eyes of the model then tilts the camera back down to compose the image. Seems harmless, and it may be harmless if you are shooting at f/8'ish to f/16 or more.

(remember shooting at apertures of around f/8 - f/16 and more results in a wide depth of field whereas shooting from f/5.6 - f/1.8 results in a shallow depth of field...click here for a visual example)

Now let's take a look at what happens if we are shooting between f/1.8 to f/5.6'ish.

Imagine holding the camera in this diagram that I spent 20 minutes drew up real quick for reference. We point the camera up to the eyes of our subject, which are 6 feet away. Perfect, the eyes are in focus. Since we are shooting in open apertures, lets say for this example, f/2.8, we have the eyes in focus and about 2 or 3 inches on each side of the orange line going through our subject is in focus. Beyond those few inches things are out of focus. Now, let's keep that focus point and tilt our camera down for our three quarter shot.

Now that we have tilted our camera, notice where the orange line of focus on our subject has moved to. It's not focused on the eyes anymore. Now our focus has moved several inches behind the eyes. Remember those few inches we had? Now the eyes are out of focus.

In the image of Tiffany above I did this very thing. Here is a close up of the focusing for you can see this error in action. CLICK on this image to load a bigger/clearer version!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The collective ideas of several are better than yours alone...sometimes.

I have talked with Tiffany for several months now and we finally got to meet up and shoot. Just like any first shoot things start off with typical cookie cutter type of shooting and then eases into an artistic blend of every one's ideas and expressions. This first shot I took about 15 shots and never felt like I totally got the pose right. I showed Tiffany the shot and she said "oh yes! it would look better if I moved this leg here." See, Tiffany saw what I was trying to do with this shot, picked up my slack saw my vision, and then added her valuable input to make it better than if I had done it solely on my own. Good work Tif!

In post I did some special steps for the feel of this image would be custom. I shot this using 4 stop bracketing and a tripod. Next I made two different HDR's and mixed the properties of those two HDR images. I then painted back in some parts from one of the original images. Last I did the typical retouching that most images receive. A lot of work, but not so bad with a new computer. I simply wanted to try something new.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

It's not personal, but I rather it be.

Last night I was talking with a photographer friend of mine who encountered a new photo hobbyist. This person was talking about quitting their job as they purchased thousands of dollars in photographic equipment.

During this transaction this new hobbyist said they already got a corporate job in shooting some "whatever" for "whomever." My friend asked what did they charge for such a shoot? They replied with such a degrading low ball amount that my friend became annoyed and said "it's because of what you are doing which makes it hard for me and other professionals to live off their photography work!"

They replied "It's not like I'm doing this personally to you."
(As if that is okay!!!)
(It's certainly not.)

I instantly thought, "wow, I RATHER this person be my local photography arch nemesis for I can at least 1 up them and win!" But, with things not being personal, and not being able to compete in the market due to low ball offers it hurts those of us trying to live off our passion for photography.

I'm not complaining that work is being stole from me. I don't want those clients anyhow. But, I am annoyed that I hear what people pay for wedding photography or their corporate work and then telling me how much it sucked and they didn't like the photographer.
(I hear it much too often!)

The above is the band Haste the Day back in 2004(ish) in Appelton, Wisconsin. Shot with a Canon 10D and my trusty Vivitar 285HV bounced off the white ceiling. I was standing in the pit.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Everyone is going to be a photographer!

I don't know how it is where you are at, but since the economy hasn't been looking good (I mean in the past year) I have heard more people say they want to be a photographer.

I'm not sure what pulls people into photography. Is it because they see pictures and have a desire to make them their selves? Maybe a self expression sort of thing? If they want to make money doing it they will not express too much into their work. And, if they fully express themselves chances are they will not make much money doing it. And, then probably stop. Or...OR OR OR ooooooOORR, they will become totally insane (like the rest of us shooters) and continue shooting in the industry without much pay BUT with a big smile on their heart and face!

Something I noticed about people who love to take pictures, they are slightly crazy. Including myself. Hell, I'm probably totally insane at this point and don't even know it! ;D

But, I love photography. Come to think of it. Photography is similar to a religious cult due to it's ability to create a social group of slightly off kilter people that drive great distances to hang out and take more pictures. We shall name our god Canon! This is allllll a bad idea. But it's true. Photography changes how we see the world and it changes our lifestyle. If it doesn't for you then you are probably already totally insane with photography and forgot what non-photography life is like!!! Sooooo, come, lets hang out! :D

The above is the lovely Miss Ashley. She was doing make up for a shoot and decided to jump on stage for a few minutes. I think she did really rowr.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Fire Spinning

I was shooting an event downtown on the Peoria Riverfront a few weeks back and became fairly excited when the fire spinners came out. They came out when the sky was dark and the fire lit up the face of the person spinning. This little guy came out and was like a miniature crazy ninja on steroids with spinning chains of fire. It was totally awesome!!!

In a few months I will hopefully still have the honor of shooting the promo images for this group who spins fire. I'm definitely looking forward to shooting it! And, I already have a plan for it will not be the usual shutter-drag-fire-drawing-in-the-sky type of thing. Look for this later this year, September'ish.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

On the beach, 50's style!

I had the honor of working with Zairia from the St. Louis area recently on a pin up shoot. It was a really great time shooting. The models had the looks and great attitudes! All of them did a great job! The image posted here is of Sandra. It took her and I about 5 seconds before realizing that we worked together perfectly as photographer and model. Everything came easy. That doesn't happen all the time or even often.

I used one strobe with a 48 inch umbrella to camera left, up near the height of the models forehead, and slightly pointed down. I used warming filters/gels on the strobe to enable me to get a warm skin tone and pull the kelvin down on the camera to achieve the blue water. I spent only a few minutes in post. Wallah!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Live Music

One of my most loved subjects to shoot is live music. I definitely don't shoot it enough. In fact, I shoot any and everything else more than live music. Why you ask? Because, I'm an idiot. Actually, I only haven't found a way to make it as profitable as I would want it to be, so I stick with other genera of photography that allows me to put gas in my car and eat. I have been getting little sleep, shooting a bunch, and retouching even more. Stick around, I have many images to post! :D

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Saint Louis Graffiti Wall

I remember a long time ago I got to go up into the Saint Louis arch. That was a neat experience. What I didn't know then is that there is a huge wall, more than a mile, right below the arch that separates the water and land/railroad.

Graffiti artists from all around makes stops at the wall and 'battle' other artists work. Not sure how this all exactly works, but sounds like a fun thing to be aware of. I'm curious to what artists do this sort of thing and what other cities have such places to graffiti.

This image was shot with two strobes. The backlight had several 1/4 Cinegel (#3409) to give the wall a warmer feel. I wanted to use red or blue lights for the background, but I didn't have anything but the Cinegel's with me. The main light was a 42 inch silver umbrella. A flashlight was used for focusing since it was totally dark while shooting.

The model is Elise. She did a fantastic job of taking direction while also having fun! Props to Miss Ashley for doing the make up and hair with a half dead flashlight!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Peoria, Illinois Riverfront

(click to view larger)
Things have been crazy busy, so I half way apologize for not updating sooner. ;D

Today was a crunch day for getting some pano's of the Peoria skyline. It's primary use will be for a mural inside a large room. I set up a laptop and projector today to shine the images on the wall for the artist can use it as a painting/drawing template.

This brings up something I never blogged about before. Sometimes one artists work can help out another artists work. Work with artists around you to accomplish things bigger than what you could only do by yourself.

I will take images of the final art work and post it when it is finished.

Image created with 7 raw shots stitched together in Adobe Photoshop CS4.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Outdoor Wedding Photography

Since I shoot weddings solo it was a ton of work shooting two in one week. So many files and post production to work on!

It wasn't too difficult to shoot the first wedding when the two getting married both model and are friends of yours. Makes things a tad bit easier! Kris and Ty (in the image posted) chose this area to shoot in which I have never been to before. I brought with me portable power and two strobes.

I needed both strobes on almost full power to balance out the sunlight in the background. It was really REALLY bright out that day! I used my camera and light meter to get exposures correct buuuut my light meters battery is dying and it's readings are not accurate. So, I had to squint to see my histogram and used my instincts.

To my surprise the exposures came out excellent! All I needed to do was bump the color warmer and clean up some junk on the ground.

Congratulation Kris & Ty on your marriage! You two totally rock!

Canon 20D
1/125 @ f/10

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Photography Everywhere

I have been traveling for the past week and a half with my camera and it has been a blast. I'm learning more everyday how much I really do enjoy photography.

I decided to take on a couple of shoots, two weddings, and a whole lot of traveling over 15 days. It doesn't seem like that much work until those 1,000+ images are filling up the hard drive and 1:1 previews are rendering on my 6 year old computer.

It seems like it will take 15 days to get the images prepared! It most likely will! I only have to slow down on traveling and taking on too much work until I get caught up in post. But, it happens. I'm keeping this ball rolling at least for awhile. It really comes down to updating and tightening my work flow and thing should become less backed up.

Before I owned a camera or knew how one even worked, I was a full time digital retoucher for several years. The only reason I purchased a camera is because I was sick of fixing so many 'common' photography errors. I was set on getting things right in the camera. Well, the tables have turned a bit. Now I'm almost shooting more then I can get done in post. I'm actually quite excited about this for it's sort of allowing me to feel like a photographer. Maybe someday I can get those silly "say cheese" lines down and be a pro! That's what pros do...right?


The above is Pieya from 2007.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Photography Workshop - Hit The Lodge

The most profitable photography workshop I have attended is one that doesn't have rows of tables trying to sell me items. It isn't held in a huge hotel conference room with hundreds of people where you feel alone in a crowd. It doesn't even require you to have a fancy wrist band to get around the area. If you have not heard of such a workshop it's named "Hit The Lodge" and is only one amazing workshop out of many put on each year by Supershoots.

Here are some things you will be able to learn about at the Hit The Lodge event this year!

  • Learn techniques in Fashion, Glamour, Commercial, Beauty,
    Photojournalism, Portraits, Fine Art Figure, and Swimwear.
  • Outstanding instructors and mentors who are there to help you.
  • Learn different lighting styles in Studio and on Natural Light
  • Photograph beautiful models prepped with professional make up artistry!
  • Enhance your portfolio, galleries, window display and self promotion pieces
  • NEW for 2009 - Fine art figure seminars with dK
  • Light Room, Adobe Photoshop, and Retouching Seminars taught by...ME!
Yes, come see me teach on post production retouching techniques using Lightroom and Photoshop. It will be a great time to ask anything you are curious about with this software!

The duration of this event is 5 days. Plenty of time to fill the brain with all of the information you are looking for! The dates of the event is
June 11-15 and is located in Pike County, Illinois.

If you can not make this event there are plenty of other events this year. Come to Supershoots.net (instead of .com) to be apart of the Supershoots community. Post images to your portfolio, post to the forum, write other users, take a walk on the runway. Come see what the hype is about! And, if you create an account, don't forget to add me and say hello! My portfolio is here!

Read a post I made about last years Hit The Lodge event here.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

You can create great images with...

...whatever gear you currently have. If you are like me you have that small voice, usually around tax refund time, that says "If I get [new photography toy] I will have better images!"

I'm a firm believer that if one can not attain images they feel are great now, with their current equipment, purchasing more equipment will not solve that issue.

I believe the most powerful tool a photographer can have is the ability to create a great image with whatever is available.

I want to get your feet wet in how you can find out for yourself if you have this powerful tool.

Imagine you have a well paid shoot. You are using three strobe/flashes. A main, a fill, and a hair light. So, you know what the lighting at this shoot is going to look like. You setup your lights and find out that one of your three lights is not functioning.

It's at this point where we can cross that line of amateur to professional. If you have fear and can't think what else to do, then you are lacking in your ability to create great images. But, if you let go of the idea of that third light and shift into two-light-mode, then you are on your way of becoming more successful [and useful] than the photographers around you.

It's tough to deal with these situations because we had an expectation of what our three light setup was going to look like. But, if we have used two or one light to create great images before, loosing this third light will only be an inconvenience rather then a disaster.


that's what makes a professional.

One who can make the best out of a given situation. These are the people who get hired, who get noticed, who make a name for themselves.

I encourage you to learn how to use one, two, and three lights incredibly well. And of course so many other things could go wrong. Syncs, remotes, camera breaks, power cable wasn't packed, lens isn't working, etc...

Try not to rely on expectations. They will only let you down if not met. Go with the flow and make the best out of what you have. As you become flawless with little you will be able to become flawless with much.

The above image is Becky looking amazing!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Stimulating Creativity

I was recently reading a models portfolio (I enjoy the articles too.) on a web site and came across this...

"I don't want to take photos that excite people sexually, but stimulate them creatively."

I realized that this is the same thought I have when creating my images.

It's difficult to determine what sexually excites from one person to another. So, there is leeway in what is and is not sexual.

Each photographer has their own way of expressing what makes them feel excited. (Same with models.) Whether it's a sexual excitement or not. Some like faces and shoot amazing head shots, some like full bodies and shoot Playboy-like, some like props, others leather, some rope, some clothing and others makeup. It can also be of technical things like lighting, color tone, or composition. Different things excite different people.

When shooting I'm always looking some something that displays the model as epic. Even if there are two amazing females in an image (like above) I'm looking not for a sexual reaction, but the reaction of a not so sexual "wow!" due to the style, lighting, posing, scenery and processing.

The above is Kaila and Kris in Las Vegas. Shoot in 2007.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

More retouching in the news!

Adding to the previous post of retouching being in the public eye.

In this debate photo journalist Klavs Bo Christensen had some amazing images that he shot in Haiti. He submitted these images for a "photo of the year" contest. (What I like to call a POTY contest.) All was well until the judges suspected that Klavs used "too much" photoshop retouching.

Defining "too much retouching" is going to be difficult. I can see it now, images submitted into photo contests end up in court with the argument of determining if "too much" retouching took place. There are some interesting parts in the article about differences in RAW data and how it appears.

Anyhow, after the judges chatted about moving his images into another category or giving them a 'special' (made up) prize for awesome retouching, they decided to pull Klavs
images out of the contest.

Pictured above is the lovely Marjorie. Shot in 2009.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Image Manipulation and its Effects

In the past few years there has been much hype in the subject of images being manipulated to show something that is not. From false global perceptions on war to personal self image. Image manipulation causes a false ripple in the minds of all who see.

Here are a few examples of exposed image retouching in the mass media.

This subject hit pretty hard in 2006 when Dove released their video showing a model from a just-waking-up-look to the final image used in an advertisement. This video can been seen here.

It's bad enough that images are manipulated so poorly, but adding cloned smoke clouds over a city to make it appear in worse condition that it really was. Wow, really? As if blowing up a city isn't bad enough we have to manipulate it to look even worse.

An article was ran around the world displaying an image of four SAM's being shot into the air. The image was release first by Sepah News, the media arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. Here is a clear cut manipulation of the image used. And, it's not the only thing they manipulated poorly.

Sometimes manipulations attack a certain person(s) or business. In this case Fox and Friends news program decided to post some 'doctored' images of a few New York Times reporters for an article they wrote that wasn't in favor of Fox and Friends...well, friends. This manipulation game went back and forth. Childish, but still manipulated.

Ad's in a Berlin subway get ad busted with Adobe Photoshop palette stickers. This is most interesting for printing all of these large stickers cost money. These are some fairly serious ad busters here!

• On a lighter note, to see the most in the world of image manipulation head on over to www.worth1000.com and flip though some of the contests like levitations or hair do nots. (where you can see Obama with a Mr. T hair do!)

Photoshop Disasters Blog is also a great place to see current manipulated chop.

The above is Terrace.
Shot in a Nevada dry lake bed in 2008.
Don't be
manipulated by the things in this image! ;D

Monday, April 6, 2009

Camera Firmware

I'm working on a children's book. This is the opening line...

"Once upon a time, camera's didn't have computer chips inside..."

*the kiddies eyes get really BIG*


Okay, I'm not really working on a children's book. But, our cameras are now small computers with a shutter and lens. No longer just a regular dumb old donkey camera.

Our camera's are controlled by its Firmware. This is the code inside the camera that sets the rules of what the camera can do and how to do it.

After some time a new camera is released, a firmware upgrade will pop up. Sometimes the upgrade will fix color issues on the screen or maybe when you purchased your camera it didn't support high-capacity CF cards. That doesn't mean it CAN'T. It only means the firmware is not written to support such a card.

(For instance, with the Canon 5d you can upgrade the firmware to allow it to use high-capacity CF cards when it originally did not.)

Here are links to upgrade your firmware. Each camera model firmware corrects and/or changes different functions of that camera. It may be that some firmware updates are updates which are totally useless to you. Others may be very useful.


The above image is Maria looking awesome as usual! But, this time in front of an awesome car, which makes this image double awesome! Shot with one unmodified strobe to camera right.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Mmmm, RED!

Guess where this backdrop is located?!

I'm not telling, but it does involve a hotel and a wall. (again)

Okay, it's apparent I don't mind hotel walls on occasion. But this is only because I'm not paying much attention to the background. Or am I? Yes, of course I am.

I figured I would share my thoughts during the creation of this shot, and also after wards in post production/retouching.

Candee walked into the room with this killer red dress on that was totally awesome. It's perfect because she has green eyes which compliments the red dress. Our backdrop was an off white, eggshell as 'they' call it, color with a bit of a plaster/stucko embossing. This backdrop is totally uninteresting, especially since we are working with a strong red reflective material.

The first thing I need to think about is where I need my single soft box strobe to be for the wall doesn't look flat and/or blown out. But, it also has to light up Candee in a way that matches her beautiful bold look.

Light Placement
I placed my soft box directly behind me which will light up Candee well. I put it up high and point the center of the light to Candee's chest. My head will be infront of the soft box's hottest spot, (sometimes they can have a hot spot) so it won't make her chest brighter than her face.
Also, and more importantly, with the soft box up a ways it will create a shadow underneath Candee's chin. The same effect is shared by the dress folds, and chest. This setup works also because I need the light to skip over the embossing of the wall a bit to show it's detail.

Post Production
In post I added texture to the wall to intensify its effect and also added red to the off-white color. Did I know I was going to make the wall red while I was shooting the image? Nope. But, I did know I was going to change it in some way to fit the clothing we were using.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Double Mega Pixels!

Reading this post title like a computer generated Nintendo voice after I made my ninja character throw out a hard core double combo on 'The Boss" ...made me laugh a bit. Anyway...

Canon released their 5D back in 2005. At that time I was packing my 9d 10d. I remember having a conversation with a friend about the 5d and its superior 12MP+full frame sensor. I remember making the point that I can't imagine needing more than a 12MP+full frame sensor in a camera. Anything more would be overkill and only help out hard drive manufacturers, because I would have to store these monster files somewhere.

My friend replied "oh, but that is what everyone thinks until the new technology comes out...then you find that you want and need what's coming out next."

At that time, I disagreed.

But today, I came to the realization, that I still pretty much disagree. *shrugs* Yep.

I still shoot with a 10d. But, I do want to upgrade to a 5d (mark II) at some point. The only reasons are full frame sensor and the ability to shoot at least 12MP. Two things that will directly improve the quality of my images. I really have no need to shoot larger than 12MP images. I don't care to copy them over and back them up either. Only takes longer. So, unless I'm labeled as a super awesome pro magazine cover shooter who gets paid millions of dollars for every image produced, I'll stick with my mass'ish consumer camera.

"But, Joshua! What if you 'came into' money, then what would you buy?!!"

Two 5d's?! *raises eyebrow* Always nice to have a backup!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Labels/Categories Update to this Blog

I have updated the Labels/Categories on this blog to include:

0 lights - Natural Light
1 light
2 lights
4 lights
soft box
update (posts like this one)
Vivitar 285HV (flash)

Now, if you have an interest in seeing posts that include, for example, an image using or text pertaining to a soft box, click the "soft box" Label/Category and there you have it. This, of course, only works if you come to the actual blog. I don't believe you can use Labels/Categories in Google Reader or any other agitator software. (If so, please let me know and I'll update this information!)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Magazine Covers

Most magazine covers have the same general lighting setup. There are several variations, but for the most part it's all the same. Put the model in front of the camera, set up 1 to 5 (or more) lights, or however many you feel like metering, up all around you and your camera lens and shoot. Fairly simple process.

If you would like to understand this lighting better, go to any magazine rack and look at the catch lights in the models eyes. You will see 1-4 little white circles in most cases. Compare one magazine cover with 1 or 2 lights to another cover with 3 or 4 and look at the overall difference in how the shadows are laying on the model. It will start to sink in better the most you do this. (Yes, I do this and have for years!) Chances are a few covers won't make much since due to all of the retouching going on. Dang those retouchers! :D

Where are these magazine cover type of shots taken anyway? Well, I don't know. But, I'd imagine some big awesome studio with lots of rad toys that I would waste too much time playing with!

As in my last post this image was also shot on a hotel wall, with a single strobe, and a soft box. Obviously the light positioning and posing was much different due to different models, different clothing, and my ability to become bored quickly and change things up!

This image is of Summer Taylor. She has fantastic features and amazing curves! When she came out in her dress it screamed magazine cover to me!

Friday, March 20, 2009


Ever get stuck on where to do your next shoot? It's easy to get lost thinking about all of the cool alley ways and old junk cars setting about. We can easily have big ideas for great shoots, but sometimes they involve too many lights, portable power, assistants, and time ...all of which we may not have much of.

Me and Jessica Vaugn finally got in some shooting time after meeting and working on other shoots and workshops for over a year! Here was the setup... one strobe, a soft box, and a hotel conference room wall.


The PERFECT setting for finally getting to shoot a model you have wanted to shoot for a long time, right? I'm pretty sure you can feel the sarcasm in my typing!

I had all of these ideas and cool lighting setups, make up, hair, and, and, and....none of my thoughts mattered at that point. If I would have continued to think about the things I wanted to setup, I would not of been able to focus properly on what was in front of me.

What I also found out is that even though I have big ideas in my head, it's not the way I actually shoot. I'm usually simplistic and make the best of what I have at the shoot. Learning to accept how I naturally photograph models helps me shoot even better in these situations.

I was very much pleased with the results. Our shoot went smooth and it was a whole lot of fun! I was so excited about how this shot came out due to all of the laughing we were doing! Like I always say, you only need to capture 1/125th of a second to create the image you want!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Updating and upgrading your photographic knowledge for 2009

If you are like me there is a list in your mind of things you want to learn or try with photography. Doesn't it seem as if there is always something that gets in the way of learning those new things?

Well, it's a new year and it's time to move forward in our photography thinking!

For some it might be as easy as finding the information that you need to execute a new photographic tool. For others there may not even be a list yet for you don't know what to learn. There certainly seems to be a whole lot to learn! Don't allow that thought/feeling to overwhelm you. Start small!

If you don't know what to learn I would suggest learning everything about your camera first. It's the central device that will be apart of every photo shoot you will ever do. You could learn about external flashes, but you don't always need those for a shoot, but you will always need your camera.

Read the manual, find something you don't know about and make use of it. I still read my manual for my camera and flash from time to time to refresh and apply tools that I haven't used before. Take it with you when you do laundry or to the DMV, it's usually a gurantee you will be waiting there for awhile!

The image above is of Ty. Since there was one prop nearby and I didn't want to use it as it's typically used I had Ty hold it to the side. He rocked this shot in only four frames!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Shooting with Vision

While having a conversation with friend and studio owner Jeremy Sparling from imagei we came to the same conclusion of how we create our favorite images.

Our conclusion was that there has to be something to inspire us. Something to create a vision in our minds before we can fully jump into a shoot and create what we want. It's hard to shoot when you can' t feel what you are shooting. You have to have a vision that will drive how you will shoot that next image. Without vision you get that feeling...

You know, that feeling you get when behind your camera and you have no idea what to do. You start to look around for no reason and play with camera buttons and say things like "uuuuuuhhhhhh" ...and nothing else.

VISION is the key to warding off that above awkwardness! How do you obtain vision? PRACTICE!

The image above is Laura. It was shot during this years Peoria Supershoots event. There were 4 big studio setups next to each other. I was two sets away when I looked over and instantly had a vision. Even though the lights were white and the background was brown, I saw BLUE all the way!