Finally Caught Up Processing Photos
Here are the last few from the Date Creek Ranch when I organized a shoot for A Day In the Life of Wickenburg. These didn’t make the cut for submission for the exhibit at Desert Caballeros Western Museum but I thought they were interesting. Five members of the Prescott Photography Meetup Group joined me at Date Creek Ranch at Oh-Dark-Hundred to make some great photos.
The first is the always faithful ranch dog. This one was accustomed to riding around on the back of an ATV. The 2nd photo is titled, “Behind the Green (Cattle) Door.” The cattle know no one ever comes back from behind that door! The heavily modified Jeep is the first I’ve ever seen with duallies. This is a serious Jeep. Tools of the Trade shows a bunch of tools I’ve never seen before and remind me of medieval torture instruments. The last is definitely a weird tool. Can anyone tell me what those plates are? If so, you’re a true farmer/rancher!
All were made with a Canon 5DMkII and 24-105/4L. Can you tell this is my favorite, go-to rig these days. Next time, I’ll post a few from Whitewater Draw made with my Canon 7D and 300/2.8 with a 1.4TC. That’s still my favorite bird/critters and action rig.
All images were processed in Lightroom 4.0 and the Green Door was run through Topaz Adjust for that ominous look.
Arizona Surfer Chick
Ever since I did a shoot at a junkyard in Wittmann, I’ve had an image in mind for a bikini-clad surfer chick against a wall of Arizona “surfboards” (truck tailgates.) I’ve been looking for the right model for 2 1/2 years and finally found her in Alyssa Caitlain. I organized a shoot for 4 photographers and hired Alyssa to pose for us in 3 different themes: Swimsuit, High Fashion and Pin-Up. Alyssa, being the consummate professional, went above and beyond with four wardrobe changes and several accessories changes.
I believe the “Arizona Surfer Chick” concept turned out well, if I say so myself. The only “boo-boo” was the faded orange paint that rubbed off on Alyssa when she leaned against it. Her Mom was there to fix problems like that but we still managed to miss a few strategic spots. The only other error was a failure to try different lighting angles with the soft gold reflector.
All the photos were made with a Canon 5DMkII and 24-105/4L and processed in Lightroom 4. I also experimented with Portrait Professional but, for full body shots, it was easier to just use the tools in LR.
The Wickenburg Art Club voted to allow use of the art center for photography workshops. I plan to hire Alyssa to pose for bodyscapes, figure studies and portrait sessions. If you’re interested, stay tuned. I also want to hire other models for B&W fine art nudes.
Whitewater Draw a Bust
I was at Whitewater Draw in McNeal, AZ for my annual sandhill crane shoot. Given the brutal cold in the midwest and the high water levels at Whitewater Draw, I had hoped record numbers of sandhills would be crowding the main impoundment at WD. Alas, there were less than half the usual number of cranes and every single one was on the west bank, about 1/4 mile from the observation decks. A few hundred were in the roosting area but the closest I could get was 100 yards, still too far for any meaningful photos. I’ll post a few as I process them.
Photographs from Around Town
The Wickenburg Photography Group promoted an event to create photographs showing life in and around Wickenburg. For my part, I made arrangements to photograph at Date Creek Ranch, a working ranch where Mary & I get our beef and pork. Four intrepid photographers from Prescott, Sun City West and Goodyear joined me at Oh-Dark-Thirty. Fortunately, there was a cloud cover so the morning temps were around 45F instead of the 32F it had been the day before. Here are a few of my favorites from the shoot.
Chaparral Moves Into New Location
Chaparral Homemade Ice Cream, a real Wickenburg success story, has moved out of it’s historic but crumbling building to a spiffy new location right off the busy highway leading into town from the south. Doubly cool, it’s now located in the same plaza as the Arizona MVD so people renewing drivers’ licenses or registrations can calm their nerves afterwards with a sweet treat at Chaparral. Tony & Pam Rovida are among the hardest working people I’ve ever met and I wish them huge success in this new store.
The shelves are still a bit sparse since they’re not yet officially open but they were kind enough to stock the display case and soda barrel for my photos of A Day in the Life of Wickenburg. Marah is the cute cashier who was one of my first models in Wickenburg.
All the photos on this post were made with a Canon 5D MkII and Canon 24-105/4L IS. Although I carry the Canon EOS-M mirrorless 98% of the time, I still find myself grabbing the 5D MkII when heading out to a shoot. It never fails me except when I screw up which is often. All photos were processed in Adobe Lightroom 4. I have a few more that I’ll post after PP in Topaz Labs Adjust.
Alyssa Caitlain, Round 3!
Last night, I sat in on a studio lighting workshop at Tempe Studios in Tempe, AZ. It’s 70 miles from home and I wasn’t sure I wanted to make the drive but it was well worth it. First off, unknown to me, the model for the workshop was Alyssa Caitlain. Until two months ago, I had never met Alyssa. Now, suddenly, I’ve photographed her three times and I’ll work with her again on November 29. She is the sweetest, nicest natural talent I’ve met in ages.
As much as I enjoyed making great photos of Alyssa, what I learned (actually relearned) was amazing. Learning is a bit like building a house. Sometimes, the roofing materials arrive before the walls are up so it sits there unused until the walls are in place. In learning, sometimes, we learn something that can’t be used because the underlying foundation isn’t yet in place.
I’ve taken enough workshops, read enough books and watched enough videos to know most of the moving pieces in flash photography. I’ve made enough flash photos to know how the parts fit together. Yet, in the workshop, I was flummoxed by some nasty problems that I had read about but never experienced. Here’s an extreme example.
Notice the dark bar along the right side of the frame? That’s the bottom of the frame because I’m holding the camera in portrait mode. The dark bar is caused by the flash not keeping up with the shutter speed. In other words, the shutter curtain was already closing by the time the flash fired. When the shutter speed is too fast, the top and bottom are moving at the same time, causing the edge to be covered when the flash fires.
As soon as I noticed this, I assumed the 1/200 max flash sync on my Canon 5D MkII was not as fast as the specs called for so I dialed it back to 1/160, a 1/3 stop reduction. That created the 2nd image. Close but no cigar. There was still a noticeable dark band along the bottom. After scratching my head, I decided to ignore it for the moment since I was there for lighting techniques and camera problems were low on the list of priorities.
After thinking about it, I suddenly realized the big, honkin’ studio strobe was taking too long to reach peak power. That along with the wireless trigger induced delay was what caused the dark stripe. Sure enough, I went to The Strobist my “go to” site for all things flash and found an article that exactly explained my problem.
You may never run into this problem but, if you do, I hope you’ll have this article lying about among all your building blocks of photographic knowledge. Better still, try some tests with your Speedlite (SpeedLight to you Nikonians) and see if the spec sync speed is real on your dSLR.
The last photo is simply to show you that I did manage to make some good photos of Alyssa. As one of the guys said, “We need to photograph ugly models to see if we’re really any good.” It’s impossible to make a bad photo of Alyssa.
Wickenburg Fly-In Photos
Last month there was a fly-in at the Wickenburg Municipal Airport (Betcha didn’t know podunk USA had its own airport!) I don’t know the final numbers but there were approximately 40 aircraft and 70 classic cars at the airport. The weather was a bit hazy but, overall, I was impressed that so much was on display. I wish I had thought to take a photo of all the planes on the tarmac.
I was told (unconfirmed) the old WWII fighter (Avenger?) costs ~$400 just fire up and prep for flight. Then it cost another ~$400 per hour to fly. I thought photography was expensive! All the photos were made with either a Canon 5D MkII or the EOS-M Mirrorless and processed in Lightroom 4. Editing was limited to crop, levels, WB and sharpen. Sorry for the sorry composition but I know next to nothing about airplanes so I grabbed what I saw without much regard to making it “pretty.”