photoshoots

2016

It’s currently 1:42am on Saturday, December 31st, 2016. 

When I was little, the countdown to Christmas went by in the time it took you to blink. Then before you knew it you were counting down the days until New Year, and until you had to go back to school, and that seemed to go even faster.

But I’m grown now, and the end of 2016 feels like these last few months have staggered and almost crawled to the end.

2016 will probably not be looked on fondly when people look back years from now. I can practically feel the echoing wave of collective sighs of relief when the clock ticks over around the world into the near year. To a lot of people, 2016 has felt like one long drawn out ending. We’re all holding our breath.

Good things happened; of course they always do. It can take longer to look for them sometimes. I feel like this year my photography finally took a step forward – it’s closer to where I want it to look, feel. I’m still not there (I’ll never feel quite “there”, I don’t even know where “there” is) but it definitely took a leap over the seemingly immovable static I had been feeling.

 

Osric Chau, Captain America, Vegas Cosplay Portrait, 2016

Osric Chau, Captain America, Vegas Cosplay Portrait, 2016

 

Rob Benedict, Viper Room LA, June 2016

Rob Benedict, Viper Room LA, June 2016

 

Billy Moran, Viper Room June 2016

Billy Moran, Viper Room June 2016

 

Matt Cohen, Phoenix 2016

Matt Cohen, Phoenix 2016

 

I was privileged to get to work with incredible people, to be supported by incredible people. I was able to push myself way out of my comfort zone and found I liked it; no, I loved it. Even when I hated it, even when I was scared of it, I loved it.

 

Briana Buckmaster, Seattle 2016

Briana Buckmaster, Seattle 2016

 

Matt Cohen and Osric Chau, Phoenix 2016

Matt Cohen and Osric Chau, Phoenix 2016

 

Makayla, September 2016

Makayla, September 2016

 

Rob Benedict and Richard Speight Jr, Seattle 2016

Rob Benedict and Richard Speight Jr, Seattle 2016

 

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Osric, Vancouver 2016

 

Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, Sunday, VanCon 2016

Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, Sunday, VanCon 2016

 

Kim Rhodes and Rob Benedict, PhxCon 2016

Kim Rhodes and Rob Benedict, PhxCon 2016

 

Angie and Brooke, October 2016

Angie and Brooke, October 2016

 

Osric Chau, Phoenix 2016

Osric Chau, Phoenix 2016

 

Jared Padalecki, Misha Collins, Jensen Ackles PhxCon 2016

Jared Padalecki, Misha Collins, Jensen Ackles PhxCon 2016

 

Ruth Connell, SFCon 2016

Ruth Connell, SFCon 2016

 

Danielle, October 2016

Danielle, October 2016

 

2016 firmly cemented in my mind that portraiture is where my heart and soul is; it’s where I feel strongest, where I feel the most afraid, where I feel the most exhilarated. I was so, so fortunate I had such a wealth of amazing people that helped cement that for me.

 

Misha Collins, Vancouver 2016

Misha Collins, Vancouver 2016

 

Kat, LA 2016 Makeup by Vic Righthand

Kat, LA 2016
Makeup by Vic Righthand

 

Kim Rhodes, LA 2016 Makeup by Vic Righthand

Kim Rhodes, LA 2016
Makeup by Vic Righthand

 

Timothy Omundson, LA 2016

Timothy Omundson, LA 2016

 

Rob Benedict, LA 2016

Rob Benedict, LA 2016

 

But 2016 was an ending for me too. I don’t know what the future will bring, and it was an ending for me thinking that if I just sit back and be patient enough things will happen. I have to stop thinking that way. I need to become proactive and make things happen. Patience is a virtue, but so is passion and movement and action. If I really want this as much as I claim I do, I need to go out and get it.

I don’t know how.

I’m scared.

I will still tell myself I’m not good enough.

But I won’t listen anymore.

It’s now 2:22am, Saturday December 31, 2016. I’ll go to bed, wake up, and it will be the last day of this crazy, unrepeatable year.

Goodbye, 2016.

Hello, 2017. 

Angie and Brooke and Benson // DragonBallZ Cosplay

On the weekend, I was lucky enough to get to do a cosplay shoot with Angie, Brooke and their good friend Benson at the Australian Movie & Comic Expo in Melbourne. They were cosplaying Bulma, Chi-Chi, and the Ox-King respectively, all characters from DragonBallZ. This was challenging, because I don’t know anything about these characters! But it actually turned into something of a blessing, because while they could take control of the posing and the way they wanted the shoot to look, I took care of the technical side.

The day before in Melbourne had been bright and sunny, but overnight it had gotten overcast. This was actually better photography-wise, because it meant a softer, diffused light with less harsh shadowing. Except it was windy. Exceptionally windy. If it was possible to physically harm the wind, I think by the end of us shooting outside Brooke would have tried. I tried to reason that the wind would make it look more realistic with the movement of material and hair, but I don’t know if she believed me.

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Too windy for Brooke!

We did the bulk of the shoot outside after finding a grassed area surrounded by tall shrubs. It had the advantage of both looking good in the photos and hiding the surrounding cars, trucks, buildings of the Melbourne Showgrounds.

Brooke, Angie and Benson started bouncing ideas around and started posing. The settings were relatively straightforward and I actually shot everything about 1/2 – 1 stop under so I could work with boosting in post. I also tried using the “shady” white balance setting this time around, whereas I usually keep the white balance on auto and fix it later.

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There were certain poses that were “must haves” for them; ones inspired by things on the show they’d seen. But other than that it was just them bouncing ideas around. When we couldn’t take the wind anymore, we all went inside to see what we could get inside the pavilion under lights.

Naturally, the change in environment meant changing the exposure settings. I put the white balance back on auto, slowed the shutter speed slightly, widened the aperture slightly and boosted the ISO. The main thing I wanted was a wider aperture to get a shallow depth of field because I didn’t want too much of the background to be in focus (eg. all the people milling around), but not too shallow to make focus difficult.

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I actually really liked the effect if I crouched low and shot up, as it caught the lighting and lines running along the ceiling and I thought it was a cool effect.

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Editing was another challenge for me, because I knew that since these were anime characters it would lend itself to a more vibrant, saturated colour edit but I still wanted to avoid blowing out the highlights. Shooting slightly underexposed helped with that. In Lightroom I boosted the saturation slightly, then after importing into Photoshop I played with the curves and levels to boost the light. I made sure to keep the light on their face, and tried to slightly burn the backgrounds. I also used the lasso tool to select certain specific colour aspects of the photo; Angie’s hair and Brooke’s dress. Then I would use a selective colour mask and boost the cyan / magenta levels respectively. This helped make those two areas stand out brightly without sacrificing the rest of the photos (eg. especially skin tone).

I was so proud of how these turned out but the thing that really stood out to me was how much fun it was – and how they looked like they were having fun. I truly believe that if you’re subjects are relaxed and having fun and you are, it will come out in the photos and I think this is a good example of that.

I’m so lucky to have such talented people who want me to photograph them.

Osric Chau // Vancouver 2016 Photoshoot

The photoshoot I did with Osric Chau in Vancouver was the 8th photoshoot that we’ve done, and true to form I had no idea it was going to happen until about an hour before it did.

Osric had been really, really busy over the Summer and had even missed a couple of conventions due to filming. When I went over for VanCon I didn’t even know if we were going to be doing a shoot; and even when I got there I was told he would be doing a shoot with Chris Schmelke.

On the Saturday (Osric’s last day at the con before he flew out of the country), Chris messaged me to tell me to meet him, and told me that I was doing the shoot. Osric had driven home to get a suit, and by the time he got back we had about half an hour until he had to eat and do sound check for the Louden Swain Saturday Night Special.

(This is all to illustrate how incredibly rushed things like this are; there’s barely any time to think or plan, but likewise there’s no time to overthink and worry.)

It was about 7PM, but as it was still Summer in Vancouver the light was only just starting to leave. It wasn’t quite golden hour, but close to it.

 

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Because Osric was dressed in a suit, and because of the location where we took the photos, they ended up having a completely different feel to any of the other shoots we’ve done. They looked a lot more mature, and I think it was a combination of things that framed the shoot that way.

It wasn’t cosplay, so it wasn’t necessarily a character. It came from a more personal place, and that felt a bit more grounded. To a certain degree it was still acting, but there was more of an emphasis on trying to capture something rooted in reality as opposed to a concept.

 

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It became more about me trying to find a way to show “him”, but it was a “him” that he was letting me see. I’m still learning direction, and being more proactive about what I want in shoots. I was so grateful my friend Kat was there to help, because she’s excellent at direction and knows Osric well.

 

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It’s probably the shoot I’m most proud of and was most surprised at how it turned out. Because I went into it not really knowing what we were going to do, we ended up just using the location as a guide and going from there. Ideas were bounced around, we tried different things and if something didn’t work we scrapped it and moved on. It was a lot of fun, and I was so happy with how it turned out.

I think it shows a lot how much we’ve both maybe grown, in front of and behind the camera?

Elinchrom Studio Lighting Test 4

Today I worked with my (very patient) sister again doing some more lighting work. This time I went back to one strobe, and tried to add a white reflector.

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I tried to concentrate on achieving Rembrandt Lighting with mixed results! The above photo was probably the closest to Rembrandt lighting that I got.

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This was probably my favourite shot out of them all, and even though it isn’t Rembrandt, it still felt like “the one” that most spoke to me.

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Today’s lessons?

a) I need to learn how to be better at posing people. If that means having a rough storyboard idea before hand, then do whatever works

b) I need a reflector stand and

c) The MacGyver backdrop does not work well on a windy day

Elinchrom Studio Lighting Test 3 // Two Lights

Today was the first day I tried adding a second light to my set up and I immediately felt like I forgot everything I read.

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I just had a basic setup with two strobes in softboxes, one acting as a key light and one slightly angled to create fill and hopefully bring them out from the background.

It was hard balancing the ambient light in the kitchen with the two lights, but I had them on the lowest settings possible.

 

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As you can see, the glamour of having her portrait taken has well and truly gone for Charlie.

 

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My post processing has made them look a lot darker than they did SOOC (straight out of camera), so I think I was a bit heavy-handed in that respect? Something I need to watch out for.

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Straight Out Of Camera (SOOC)

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Edited

 

It’s a very steep learning curve, but I think I just have to keep trying to experiment!