A New Year’s Resolution – Almost

The idea of ‘Resolutions’ has never really made sense to me – the timing always seemed arbitrary and the goal-setting seemed to lack credibility. So this year I have something like a resolution:

“Take photos that don’t suck, and write about the success and failures. Often.”

I think the goal is pretty attainable (great photos) and the method is straightforward (write about it). Probably the biggest hurdle will be leaving Lightroom and Gimp alone long enough to actually write.

Dec 30, 2007. So to start, some catch-up. At the end of last year I did a shoot at redline studios with Misha. We had a great shoot, and got some great images; but two really stand out to me for similar reasons; they both have non-standard camera positions and viewing angles. Compositionally they are simple, which I think is important, but I think compared to similar shots from the same shoot it’s the camera position that sets them apart.

I’ll edit the pics in tonight.

Jan 13, 2008. Yesterday I did an outdoor shoot with Kaley – and what a terrific experience to be shooting outside the studio. With good, but low winter sun we got 549 shutter clicks, and 529 dead-on exposures in about 3 hours. This is far too many shots to sort normally, but with the ‘stacks’ feature in Adobe Lightroom the job is made a lot easier. Well, sort of. See, Kaley never blinks, never gets distracted, and always has the next pose & expression ready at every shutter release, so there really are 529 choices to make.

Looking at all the shots in grid mode I can see a few patterns – bad patterns – that I didn’t totally avoid:

Stiff shooting: I did the location scouting a couple of days early and found some spots that had some things to stand on, as I was hoping for some interesting angles. The downside: I was still a little stiff with a sore back, and couldn’t move around as much as I might normally. Dang. At least Kaley was very mobile! Still, the shots all looked a little ‘square’ to me. The other thing that contributed was some of the locations had limited background area, so the angles were pretty narrow to begin with.

Harsh Light: As the day got towards solar noon the shadows on Kaley’s eyes got worse and worse. I didn’t zoom the flash enough to her face, so while I got a good all-over fill, there wasn’t enough light on her eyes in some shots. And darn it all if the grid snoot wasn’t 50 feet away in my car. The pattern I have to break here is not saying ‘Hey, hold on a minute while I set up another light.’ – instead I just kept on firing away.

But a few things worked out really well:

Kaley: She has a really interesting look, and knows how to use it.

Ring Flash: At one spot I found an outdoor electrical outlet and got to try my new Alien Bees ring flash. Wow. If you are considering one, know that it’s deep enough that wide angle lenses won’t work; at 16mm I had vingnetting from the ring tunnel. Also, spring for the Vagabond II. It’s next on my list.

Full body composition: One thing I tried to avoid, and was moderately successful with, was shooting too many full length ‘from toes to nose’ shots. Worse, when you try and do this and compose for 8×10 on a camera that shoots 8×12, you loose a fair amount on the long edge…. and to fit a tall, skinny model in the frame means that only about 20% of the pixels are of the model at all! I solved this (partially) by intentionally walking in to get headshots, and shooting the entire time.

I’ll publish some pics tonight…promise…

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