Archive For The “Rants” Category
“Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.”
Once again it has been a while since my last post. I don’t do this for a living, although I have had many requests over the years. I shoot them all down. I don’t know if it’s anxiety over the fear that I would suck or what, but that’s what happens.
So I’ve had a lot going on over the last several months. Our family is expanding, although don’t expect to see maternity and newborn pictures here. We are adopting. I can’t say much until the adoption is finalized, but we have a sweet 2 year old girl who’s been with us the last 6 months. You can be sure once she is fully ours, this site will explode with photos of both the kids, but until then, we are not allowed to share photos publicly.
In any case, my son’s 6th birthday is coming up. Last year’s theme was Star Wars,and this year it’s the Avengers. Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. I always do a custom birthday invitation for him ever year. Now it appears this job is going to be doubled. Expect to see some cutesy, princess-y shoots on this site as well.
My son has a full closet of costumes. We buy them on clearance after Halloween. It’s great getting costumes for $3-4. He can play and pretend in them, and we can use them in photoshoots like this.
I picked Thor as his character. Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk are all great… but all have masks. Thor has a helmet, but in the movies you don’t see him wear it hardly at all. I want to be able to see my son’s face.
Here’s the setup. Once again, confined to small spaces in our little 1,200 sq ft house. Photographers aren’t just photo takers… we are problem solvers as well.
My back was literally to the front door.
For inspiration, I looked at this photo from the first Thor movie.
This is what I ended up with. I processed this photo with muted tones.
But, the Mighty Thor is nothing without his lightning. I took the photo to photoshop, cooled it down, and added some blue lightning.
He was quite happy with the results, and gave his approval for this to be on his birthday invitation.
It’s my Super Son.
It’s been a few months since my last post. I’ve been busy with my real job, which involved some travelling this Summer.
Anyway, we were visiting our friends in North Carolina. They just moved into their new house, as well as having a new child. So of course the wife needed to go see the baby, ooh and aah over the baby…. let the baby unload in her diaper at full force (more powerful than a locomotive) while she was holding her…. You get the idea.
Every time we go to visit, we always end up at this shopping area. It’s a beautiful area, but the one thing that always caught my eye were these old red telephone booths. Every time I’d see them, I’d say to myself “I’m going to get that into a shot.” And every time we would not have time.
This last visit was going to be different. I was bound and determined to get my shot.
We ran out of time. DAMN… it wasn’t any different…
Hell with it…on our way home, I made a slight detour, and headed back to that shopping area.
Normally in my posts, I have a diagram showing where my lights were, my subject placement, etc. I figure I would spice things up a bit, especially since one of my test shots just happens to incorporate everything I would in a diagram. 🙂
So here we go.
Of course when we got there, it was already noon. The sun was blaring overhead with harsh shadows. Luckily the side I was shooting on was getting blocked by the phone booth, so my son was in the shade. My wife was my voice activated light stand.
Crouching down so I was down to my son’s height didn’t quite work for me. It didn’t give off that super hero vibe.
So I got down on the ground. Literally… I was laying on the ground. I got up close and personal with a cigarette butt, some chewed up gum, and ants… Lots of ants…
I think my son is finally getting the hang of when I say “Strike a pose!”
It was a really fast shoot. I think I took maybe 20-25 shots total. In and out. Faster than a speeding bullet you might say…
It seems like life never slows down for the parent of a 4 year old…
Every weekend we have something planned or something going on. A family get-together, playdates, projects, etc. This upcoming Mother’s Day weekend is no different.
However, this is the first Mother’s Day where my family and I won’t actually be at home. We will be going up to Washington D.C. for a 4 day (well, 3.5 since we’re not technically leaving until this afternoon) weekend. My son loves the National Zoo as well as the Museum of Natural History.
I didn’t want to leave the mothers in my life empty-handed this weekend, so last night, after getting home late from running errands, getting my son a haircut, grabbing a bite to eat, and maybe a little shopping… I did a rather quick little photoshoot. I’ve got to give it to my son. He behaved EXTREMELY well, and very cooperative during this process, even though I know he was tired and ready for bed.
My wife had bought me a roll of 53″ thunder grey seamless paper for Father’s Day (a bit early). I figured this was as good a time as any to break it out and give it a try. I also eyeballed a nice wooden crate last time we were at Walmart. She was kind enough to run out after work and pick one up for me. 🙂
The costume I picked up on Amazon. It was the cutest outfit ever. The newspaper I created from a template I found on the internet. If you are able to zoom into the photo, you can actually read the stories I typed up. I didn’t feel right just putting random text on the page.
I think after setting up and after taking pictures, the whole process maybe took 10 minutes altogether. To me, that was extremely quick, especially considering working with a child lol.
Setup was pretty simple. I sat the crate and my child on the seamless. My wife was my voice activated lightstand for the speedlite behind, and to camera left. I had another speedlite in a 28″ softbox slightly to camera right. You can see the diagram for more technical info.
I took maybe 20 photos, and due to it being late already, I only processed a few of them. I wanted the photos to have a vintage feel, kind of like how the colors looked on old LIFE magazines. Processing them with perfectly balanced color just didn’t give them the same feel in my opinion.
Here are a couple of the resulting shots.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of you ladies that put up not only with all of your children’s crap, but your significant other’s as well. 🙂
“All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” —Abraham Lincoln
“I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.” —Abraham Lincoln
“My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.” —George Washington
“A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.” ―Washington Irving
Too bad it’s not me making the trip. (I couldn’t fit in the box).
However, I do have a stand-in. 🙂
I am a member of a great online forum for Fuji camera owners called Fujix-forum. Really friendly bunch. A big Fuji family.
The forum founder, Robert ….(and I don’t know his last name….DOH.), had the idea to take a vintage manual focus lens, and pass it around to various forum members. The idea was to use the lens for a week or so, snap some photos, and then upload them to the forum. It’s a great idea, especially to see how everyone uses the lens similarly, or differently, and the photos taken with the lens.
I have a few vintage Canon FD film lenses laying around, so I offered up my Canon FD 50mm f/1.8 lens to traverse across North America. Depending on how many people on this side of the globe sign up, the lens could be gone for well over a year or more. I thought I would add a little something to make it more interesting…
Danbo, a little figure known to many as Amazon’s little mascot for Japan, is hitching a ride! I’ve asked the forum members who have signed up for this lens “road trip” that, in addition to taking whatever photos they want, to also take a photo of this little guy so I can post it on this blog (with their name and website of course), detailing his adventures (or misadventures) as he tags along with the lens.
I put him in his best Fujifilm “shirt”, and I have since changed his name to Fujibo. 🙂
He is ready to go!
Packing things up.
This was taken with the Canon FD 50mm f/1.8 lens as a matter of fact. @ f/2.8.
As things progress, I will have additional posts, so please stay tuned!
Fujibo and the Canon FD lens is currently making its way down to Cary, N.C. for their first stop in hopefully a long journey across the continent.
St. Valentine’s Day
So one of the best days of the year for people in love, florists, and probably the local dentist offices. But does anyone think of diabetics and those that are lactose intolerant? that’s gotta be a pretty bitter and crappy day for them. 🙂
In the United States, about 190 million Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, not including the hundreds of millions of cards school children exchange. Additionally, in recent decades Valentine’s Day has become increasingly commercialized and a popular gift-giving event, with Valentine’s Day themed advertisements encouraging spending on loved ones. In fact, in the United States alone, the average valentine’s spending has increased every year, from $108 a person in 2010 to $131 in 2013.
My wife doesn’t wear much jewelry at all, which tends to play in my favor monetarily…. Well, not really. The money just ends up getting spent on the child….spoiled brat…
I’ve gotten her all sorts of jewelry over the years…rings, bracelets, necklaces, earrings. She’s just not big on jewelry. Same with flowers. They are fine and dandy, but you can blow a nice chunk of change on a bouquet, and they last maybe a week? My go to holiday gift (that’s not Christmas or birthday) is usually a nice, big box of chocolate covered strawberries, or some other type of edible arrangement. It’s especially devious sending it to her place of work, and hearing about how all of the other women at the office are green with envy lol. What can I say… I’m an awesome husband.
So the other day, I realized Valentine’s Day was a week away. I wanted to do a little themed shoot with Liem since, well, he’s freakin’ adorable, photogenic, and if I can catch him in the right mood, easy to capture his personality in pictures.
So, I took the little man, picked out a nice button up shirt, pair of jeans, and my red tie. My wife prepped him with lipstick kisses all over his face.
I set him up in my home “studio”. If you’ve followed some of my other posts so far, you know I try to utilize small spaces around the house as my studio. This shoot was no different.
This time, instead of a bare wall, I setup right in front of the front door. I have a black piece of fabric I’ve had for, I don’t know… 4 or more years. I think I actually bought it when Liem was born so I could do one of those cheesy, overdone hands holding the baby’s feet shots.
Here is a “behind the scenes” pic of my setup. Please excuse the crappy camera phone pic.
Here is a more technical layout.
I had a bare speedlite up and to camera left behind my son to throw some light on his hair. I used my Streaklight 360 (I love this freakin’ light) in a 28″ umbrella softbox to camera right.
And for all of the 30 minutes I took planning, getting him setup, and shooting a few pictures (I think I only took a total of 12-15 photos), it didn’t turn out too bad.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Blizzard Jonas, like the pop rock group, has come and gone. It’s the first good snowfall we’ve had in more than a decade around here. Sure we’ve been pelted with ice storms that, while left the landscape looking like a beautifully sculpted crystal work of art, played hell with the power lines.
It took a while to dig ourselves out.
There was still time to play too. 😉
And when you are feeling the sting of boredom, break out the Lego sets!
Pew! Pew! Pew! The blizzard did leave the Rebels on the run…
I’m glad we didn’t lose power, although we had plenty of nights with our fireplace going so our heating system didn’t have to work so hard.
Happy New Year and warm wishes to all.
My son can’t quite handle his sparkling apple cider…poor little guy. 😉
One of my favorite photos of my son is the “Sweet Dreams” picture I took of him when he was 14 months old. I thought an “updated” photo using the same chair and lamp was in order as he is growing up. 🙂
I took a different approach than the sweet, innocent, sleeping child. With New Year upon us, I thought a light-hearted photo of him passed out from too much apple juice would do nicely.
The dollar store provided pretty much all I needed for props. the pile of confetti, hat, plastic wine glass, etc. were all $1 each or less.
My son has upped his fees for the new year. I used to be able to get away with gummi snacks to get him to cooperate. This time he asked for Hershey Kisses. I guess cost of living affects everyone. 😉
56mm @ f/8
What’s better than Christmas?
Christmas AND Star Wars!
So unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years, you’ve undoubtedly know Star Wars Episode VII is premiering right on the heels of Christmas. I wouldn’t dare fight the crowds to see it opening night. I also heard some theaters will be having a marathon, showing all 6 films back to back right before debuting Episode 7. I can only imagine…sitting in a crowded theater with hundreds of complete strangers for that long? I hope everyone wears deodorant. 🙂
So, (as of this post) it’s mid-month, and my family still hadn’t sent out Christmas cards. I figured why not combine Star Wars with Christmas, and have a themed card this year?
My son has sat down and watched all 6 films, 6 seasons of The Clone Wars, and is now watching the current series, Star Wars Rebels…because, well, to immerse your child in the Star Wars Universe is just good parenting. 😉 I think his favorite is the Clone Wars, and out of all possible characters, his favorite is Captain Rex (followed by Anakin and Ahsoka). For a cartoon (computer generated) series, it is actually quite good, and if you haven’t seen it yet because it’s a cartoon series, give it a shot. Great storyline and characters. It was a great treat for my wife, my son, and myself to sit down to a few episodes every night.
So back to our Christmas card. I wanted a Star Wars theme…
I had a rough idea of what I wanted to do.
I set a flash in front of the tree, and my wife sat my son in front of the flash with his Jedi robe on. I wanted the flash to sort of give him an outline of light. I also put a flash on a lightstand with a grid, and pointed it down towards him to give some light on his back so it wouldn’t be a silhouette.
Well, in doing so, he was lit, but the tree was nearly black. I added two more speedlites, one on each side to kick a little light on the tree as well. The lighting diagram below details my setup. My camera was the Fuji XT-1 with 56mm lens @ f/5.6, ISO 320, 1/60th shutter speed.
One of these days I really need to sit down and learn Photoshop. For the photos I take, Lightroom is my go to for 99% of my shots. But it seems when it comes to holidays, I always have to use Photoshop for something, and this year’s Christmas card was no exception.
A photo of my son sitting in front of a Christmas tree with his Jedi robe on is cute…but what’s the significance? What’s the point? I needed to add a little oomph…
I did my initial tweaks in Lightroom, which wasn’t much, just a little tweak in exposure and sharpness.
Once I pulled the photo into Photoshop, I got a little carried away. I added floating ornaments, so it would look like my son was using the Force to decorate the tree. I thought the bare wall behind and around the tree was rather dull, so let’s go ahead and throw a field of stars. Wait…the field of stars is fine and dandy, but looks a little…empty. Let’s toss the Millennium Falcon, a Tie Fighter, an X-Wing, a Star Destroyer, and the Death Star into the mix. They can have a space battle! And what’s a Jedi without his trusty lightsaber?
Overall, this was actually a pretty easy little project. The photoshoot was fairly quick, and once I figured out what I wanted to do with the photo afterward came on pretty smoothly. I wish I would have had more time to play with it, but I’m a procrastinator (runs in the family). As my wife tells me, our best work is done at the last minute lol.
It has been a busy year, and I expect next year to be no different. I am thankful for my wife and son. I couldn’t imagine anything more perfect for a Christmas gift this year.
I hope you and yours have a safe and happy holiday season, with warm wishes for a prosperous New Year.
The future has finally arrived.
I grew up watching those movies. the one thing I wanted more than anything was a hoverboard (I mean come on… who doesn’t!?).
So today is officially the day Marty and Doc travelled to the future. Flying cars, Pepsi Perfect, Nike high tops with power laces, and Jaws 19 (in 3D), not to mention the Chicago Cubs win the World Series.
I feel like I’ve been in a rut. I feel like I have no time to relax. No time to get creative. No. Time. Period. I needed to get out and do SOMETHING. Back to the Future Day snuck up on me. I had idea in my head for some time, just never got around to executing it, and the clock was ticking.
I knew that this year marked the 30th anniversary of the Back to the Future movie franchise. For some time now (with the help of my wife), I had been slowly piecing together a Marty McFly outfit for my son. It all started when we were at a Kid Exchange event (yeah no…I wasn’t able to exchange my son…it was only for clothes, toys, etc.). Whilst searching for clothes, I came across a vest.
Of the soccer field
Forgive me as it has been some time since my last post (that statement feels almost like I’m giving confession in church…).
In the time that’s past, there have been numerous playdates (for my son anyway), family outings, vacations, birthdays, etc. There never seems to be much of a dull moment. My son has a busier social schedule than my wife and I together.
Spoiled little brat.
So this past month or so he’s been playing soccer at the local recreation center. It’s called “First Kicks”, and it’s for 4 and 5 year old kids to get the basics of soccer, and just have fun running around a field kicking a soccer ball. There are no goalies, just two goals on opposite ends of a small field.
My wife volunteered to coach, and a good thing she did too. The rec center was sorely limited on the number of volunteers that wanted to teach First Kicks. She was the only volunteer at first. Luckily one other person volunteered so they were able to have two teams.
It’s funny watching them play. Instead of staying within a designated zone and waiting for the ball to come to them, all of them swarm together and run after it. I think the hardest rule they have to learn is to not touch the ball with their hands. For the most part, they all seemed to do well.
I can say, however, unlike some adult sports, there seemed to be no ill will towards each other. No fighting. No sore losers. (Just the occasional accidental boo boo). Nothing but a bunch of kids having a great time, regardless if they score a goal in their own goal, or the other team’s. 😀 Not to mention the added benefit of wearing the kids out so when the game is over, it’s not long after that they are ready to sleep. The con to that is my wife is the same way, so no hope of me trying to score a goal after a game. 😉
And at the end of the season, win or lose (not that anyone was keeping score that I know of), everyone is a smiling, happy champion, with a shiny trophy to display proudly in their room.
My Fuji is not exactly a sports camera, but I made do with what I had. I actually ended up with the majority of the shots I took as keepers. Being that the games are played late in the evenings (6PM EST), it tends to get dark rather quickly, leaving me with either high ISO or slow shutter speeds. In the end, with photos like these, it’s not about trying to nail that perfect portrait. It’s about getting photos you can look back on and recollect, and see the great time you and your child were having. I call that a win.