Tag Archives: Photography

Using Available Lighting in Photography

Using Available Lighting in PhotographyUsing Available Lighting in Photography

One of the things I think a lot of photographers try to do is bend light to do interesting things with photography. I got lucky enough to work with an amazing model, a dark hallway that was back lit, a couple of candles and a flashlight. It helped that I had a trusty camera assistant to help me out along the way with holding the flashlight, and the model was awesome for putting up with me while we futzed around trying to get everything just right to make this picture work.

Basically this is a standard silhouette shot with a LED flashlight to help offset the back lighting from a set of fluorescent lamps in the background. Ratchet down the F Stops to 3.5, and shot around 1600 ASA to pull this off. It was a truly dark tunnel in the Seattle Underground, the funny part is that they had an IR camera in the hallway to spot ghosts.

This next picture is all natural lighting, there was a single spot out of frame that I had her stand below next to the coffin so that we could try to get some kind of ghost light or god light on the subject, while barely lighting the rest of the room. Same settings on the camera as the spot was a low wattage light like you see in restaurants now. The coffin and other parts of the Victorian set design was provided by teh location, if you want to have an eerie creepy location, then Spooky Seattle is the place to do a photo shoot, there are a lot of places to do interesting things with light in their space.

Using Available Lighting in Photography

Bending light to be interesting is a huge challenge for me, and I like it when I can get something to work just the way I want it to work. If you want to see the rest of the gallery from this model and this shoot you can go here to check it out or check at the bottom of the page for the partial gallery. The shoot was Haunted New Years at Spooky Seattle offices down on Cherry and 1rst Ave, Pioneer Square. Fun place to shoot, but it is available for renting if you want to use the location and some of the underground Seattle areas as well. Seattle has an interesting history with a lot of pockets like this to take pictures in.


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Gas Mask Girl

Gas Mask GirlGas Mask Girl

The Gas Mask fetish is one of the more interesting fetishes out there, part punishment play or breath play, or used in horror movies to make people tons more scared. Some of the vintage Soviet gas masks make for awesome horror movies like the Reeker, a really grade B horror movie. Depending on your take, the isolation of facial features makes the gas mask an essential part of horror and in some cases BDSM. As far as fetishes go, it is something that reaches all the way though BDSM, to Horror, and in some cases even into the Steampunk communities.

It is also good for helping your model remain anonymous depending on what they do for their day job.  The Gas Mask is an element of design that can be interpreted through at least three community lenses that I know of, and there are probably more. If you have a gas mask it is always a good idea to wipe it out with soap and water at the end of the shoot so that it remains clean. If you want to keep it shiny use silicon oil rather than a petroleum product as petroleum will eat through the rubber. They can be pretty expensive depending on what kind of mask you purchase. The cheaper ones are the more common, like the Israeli and Russian common masks. Some of the hardest to find are those like the ShMS Gas mask that has an other worldly alien and quite scary look and feel to it. If you want to do fetish work with a gas mask go with the regular ones you can find in most army navy stores. But if you want something really special like the ShMS Gas mask your best bet is Ebay, and around 100.00 dollars when they are available. If you are short on funds, or just want to try it out, you can generally find gas masks at the army navy surplus store for 20 to 30 dollars.

Below is one of the regular gas mask girl galleries that I have online.  Standard setting of the white background, standard studio lighting, I used CL lighting rather than flash because I really wanted to control the reflections in the eye windows of the gas mask. Usually the flash will flare off the plastic eye covers and I wanted to get what I was seeing. The camera was set for 100 ISO at 1/125th. The floor is painted black but I wanted to use the highlights off the floor as well in composing the image. Overall it was a fun shoot and follow back on the gallery link to check out the other stuff.


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On One Perfect Photo Suite 7.5.1 Review

On One Perfect Photo Suite ReviewOn One Perfect Photo Suite 7.5.1 Review

The only reason why I know about this software is a hat tip from a photographer over on Google Plus, so G+ is an amazingly vibrant photographic community and we share a lot of information about what we use and how we use it. I have been mucking about with the trial demo version of the software now for about 20 days and I have to say that I am going to buy it.

Getting me to buy more software is a pain, I have a work flow that works for me, Camera to Lightroom, to any kind of touchups that I want to do in Photoshop.

On One fit perfectly into this work flow, and it did change to Camera, Lightroom, On One for effects and art work to Photoshop for conversion over to JPG and usually sharpening and embossing.

Usually software is not something I bring right into a work flow to see what happens with it. But as I got more and more comfortable with the artistic and portrait touches I could do with it, for those pictures I want to bring into an art effect with this software made perfect sense. Not all pictures are ever going to end up on the art side of the work flow. Often Lightroom is just enough to work with when cranking out modeling pictures or working with landscapes and then working effects in Photoshop. On One perfect photo suite seriously cut down the amount of time that I am working the same effects in Photoshop, but opened up a whole new avenue of working with photos that I would have originally only have done back in a real dark room with a real wet process.

I was even able to recreate some of the pictures nearly exactly in Perfect Photo Suite that I was able to create in a wet process in a dark room.

Usually this is what I would create in a Dark Room using a wet process
Usually this is what I would create in a Dark Room using a wet process

Would I recommend it, yes, it seems to do a lot of really interesting art and general effects that can enhance a picture for publication. It does not do everything you can do in Photoshop, but it creates some clean edges when masking pictures, creating silver effects in black and white images, some refocusing effects, and then the huge pool of art and other effects that you can use to put a different spin on a picture.

For example in one picture I was able to put a flame effect on the hem of a skirt to bring out the idea of movement on the stage.


Burlesque dancer with flame effect on hem of skirt
Burlesque dancer with flame effect on hem of skirt

Honestly you could and probably will spend 200 to 300 dollars on software that will do less, is harder to use, and does not do what you want it to do right off the bat. There is almost no ramp up speed with the On One Perfect Photo Suite. The software has saved me hours working on some of the art pictures I have been working with. So check out the smaller gallery below. All of these were made with On One. I was not compensated for this – really just a hat tip from a photographer, a quick painless free 30 day trial download, and my 2 cents for what it is worth.


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Grid Girl Frostess

Grid Girl FrostessGrid Girl Frostess

I think I have taken a few thousand pictures of Frostess over the last year, and she is also one of my favorite models out there. I got an opportunity to work with her doing a little bit of cosplay with a screaming hot car to go along with it. She had put on a partial silver spectre cosplay for the grid girl photo shoot and it worked out very well. The black and yellow worked with the vintage car helping set a great mood for the entire set. Frostess is over on Model Mayhem and her number is 2290334. The key to working with Frostess is that you have to work the images softly, her skin is really transparent, and so you really can’t get away with making the images harsh using Clarity (maybe a recommended setting of clarity 2, better at 10 to 20). The color balance with her is also interesting; you want to jack the whites while you are at it to get an awesome image.

These images were taken with a Nikon D5100, 18-105 portrait lens with a 62MM polarizer because of the over cast day. Also had a gold reflector aimed at her because of the overcast and how I wanted the yellows to pop in her cosplay. Overall the effect I was looking for worked here, I wanted something more dark and noir than the standard glamour shot.

And that is where it gets to be interesting, if you are working with a model, it always helps to try to discuss what you want to do at all times. Frostess and myself had talked about doing something cosplay for a while before this photo shoot so everything just clicked nicely when we got to this point in the group shoot with Femme Photo LTD. Otherwise, I hope these are helping you get better options with your photography, drop me a note, let me know what you think.

Grid Girl Frostess


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The Forbidden City at Nighttime Beijing China

The Forbidden City at Nighttime Beijing ChinaThe Forbidden City at Nighttime Beijing China

Sometimes you really just need to stay up late, and as part of taking pictures of the super moon over Behai Park, I was right down by the Forbidden City by the end of that particular shoot with Beijing Photo Walks. The Forbidden City is just one of those places you don’t really care if it got rebuilt after the Cultural Revolution or not, it has a special place in the world as one of the largest imperial family complexes in the world. At night time it is pretty darn safe, without all the people trying to sell you stuff as you walk out of the tour, or even just walk by. The nice part is that there were many photographers out that night trying to get the super moon over the Forbidden City pictures. The number of people out and about on a Sunday night was pretty impressive because you maybe had about 40 minutes from the time the moon rose to the time it was obscured by the smog clouds over the city.

The Forbidden City was closed so you are stuck outside the walls trying to get the good shots on the north side of the complex. The north side is the best for nighttime shoots because of the moat, and the lighting provided by the neon and the spotlights provided by the controllers of the area. The lighting is good enough that you can hand hold the camera unless you are doing long exposure. Most people can hold the camera steady at about 1/30th of a second shutter speed.

I shot these at 3200 ASA, Full Auto, ranging from 1/30th to 1/60th of a second shutter speed, and F Stop ranging from 3.5 to 4.0. The thing that made this the best was all the extra lighting from the neon and from the street lights and beacons in the area. You can see some of the spotlight beacons in some of the pictures from the south side of the Forbidden City in some of the pictures as an added smear of light in the otherwise dark sky.

The good part is that this is a totally easy photo shoot to do, it is safe on the streets, and there are going to be a lot of people around doing the same thing. Taking nighttime pictures of the Forbidden City is something that a lot of people do, and a good way to stretch your skills as you learn more about your camera and how to work it in low light settings. If you are ever in Beijing, take Subway Number 1 to Tiananmen East, get out, head towards the Forbidden City and start taking a walk north. You will see some other awesome sights along the way. If you have time, stop by the night time market and take pictures of the street vendors while you are on the way over if you get off at the Wangfugin Stop on Subway 1, and then walk north and west to get to the Forbidden City.



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Grid Girl Roxy and a Vintage Charger

Grid Girl Roxy and a Vintage ChargerGrid Girl Roxy and a Vintage Charger

This is another grid girl via Femme LTD here in Seattle. This one was done earlier in the morning without using a reflector and just a polarizer on the lens. Processed in Lightroom 4.4 from Adobe with the standard HDR settings (highlights -100, shadows +100, white and black balance according to taste, and clarity +60).

I like the way that these settings helped bring out the reflection in the cars, in some of the pictures I dropped the color channels to highlight the burnt orange color of the car and the highlights in Roxy’s hair which matched out the color of the car fairly well. In others I took them as is right off the camera without any Lightroom trickery. Sometimes you can over do the Lightroom settings by adding too much clarity to the picture. That really depends on your model, what I have learned is that the darker the skin tone the more clarity you can add to a picture if HDR is your thing. For people with really pale skin, like a red head or someone who is very white, you really can’t use a lot of clarity because it brings out interesting bruising colors in their legs or a lot of veins that are time consuming to pull out using the healing brush in Photoshop. Tradeoffs are everywhere, you need to figure out what suits your artistic vision against what the manipulation looks like in Photoshop or Lightroom.

There are always problems with light shooting on an overcast day, so having a reflector is a good idea. I used the white side of the reflector for this one thinking that the gold side would impart too much color to the skin tones all the way through the process. My thinking looks like it was right in this instance with this model and the light conditions for the photo shooting time I had with her. Roxy is a pretty cool person to work with and she is a lot of fun in front of the camera. Overall I am pretty happy with how these all came out so as always looking for your opinion on the matter just to see if I was wrong or right with my assumptions and what I did post photo shoot with the images.

These pictures were shot using a Nikon D5100, a Nikor 18-105 lens with a 64MM Polarizer on the lens. I used a standard 42 inch reflector with the white side reflecting light onto the model. The light room settings were standard HDR settings (see above for the numbers) and pushed out at 300 DPI from the export.



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Grid Girl Rebel

Grid Girl RebelGrid Girl Rebel

Nothing better than a vintage Charger and Rebel. Rebel is almost a Seattle institution in her own way, she runs her own modeling support group called Femme LTD, and she has some of the most fun photo shoots in the Seattle area. You rarely run into a dick photographer, and when you do, you can usually just confront them on the spot and they pretty much so shut up. Rebel is that important to the modeling photography scene, people tend to behave themselves when she is throwing a photo shoot. On average she does this about every 40 days, so if you are in Seattle, make sure to check out the group and see if you can get into the picture taking process.

These pictures were modified in light room 4.4, and used a lot of HDR settings to set these up, that means highlights off, shadows set to 100%, whites down to about 40% and blacks up to about 60% with the clarity setting up all the way to 100% to offset the race track and bring out the shadows in the car. I used a polarizer on the 18-105MM Nikor Lens to also help cut down on the variable lighting. And then finally used a gold reflector in the background to bring out what little sunlight I could bring out on the day. It was really overcast, so anything you could do to bring out a little more natural light was going to be a benefit to the photographer. I shot at 200 ASA, with aperture priority on a D5100. In all the more stuff you can do in the camera the less you have to do in post processing. I seriously thought about bringing in the Vibrancy settings in the camera, but after a couple of test shots the colors were far too overblown to get the mood that I was looking for out of this photo shoot.

All the pictures were taken at Evergreen Speedway.

I really went into this photo shoot looking to do something beyond the hot sexy model and a hot vintage car. I think I captured more of what I was looking for, adding an artistic and harsh flair to the whole process. Most of the modeling photography is so over done in Photoshop that you really don’t know what you are looking at, but you know it is not real. No Photoshop on this set, just the camera, and setting Lightroom to the standard HDR settings that you can use. There is a huge difference between going for glamour, and going for a more harsh realistic part of being a Grid Girl on the circuit. I think I captured what I was looking to do fairly well.

Grid Girl Rebel

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