The Digital Photo Guy

Last Post of 2014

by on Dec.24, 2014, under Lightroom, Monday Morning Tips, Photo Editing

No Birds but Lots of Chicks

I was hoping to post a few sandhill crane photos from Whitewater Draw but it was a total bust. As I explained in a previous post, the conditions at WD were absolutely perfect but someone forgot to invite the cranes. There should have been 15,000 to 20,000 cranes there but I didn’t see more than 5000. Every crane was on the west side of the impoundment pond, at least 1/4 mile away from the observation decks. The rookery on the east side had fewer than 200 birds and the background was really ugly. Bottom line, I decided not to post any ugly photos. I’m hoping I might have another chance at WD in Feb if more cranes show up.

The only other unprocessed files I had left at this time were from the Arizona Shootout in November. After thinking about it, I decided nude photos were a bit much for this site so I cropped tight and demonstrated how Portrait Professional can make even young, attractive models look better. All the following photos were made with a Canon 5D MkII with a 24-105/4L USM and processed in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 and Portrait Professional. BTW, PortraitPro is running a 10% discount on upgrades right now. At least, that’s what shows up on my screen when I go to the PP Upgrade page.

Brianna    Brianna

Elizabeth & Amelia    Elizabeth & Amelia

Mia    Mia

Jenny Marie    Jenny Marie

The order is mixed up so Before & After aren’t always in the same order. However, you should be able to easily see the difference after I ran each photo through Portrait Professional. If you can’t, you’re looking at the wrong parts!

BTW, registration is open for the April Arizona Shootout. If it’s anything like the one I attended in Nov, it should be a fun shoot with lots of glamour models including Playboy and Penthouse centerfolds. If you can’t find their site, drop me a line.

This is my last post for 2014. I wish all my readers a Merry, Merry and a Happy, Happy! I’ll see you on the flip side with more photos and more photographic tips & techniques.

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More From Date Creek Ranch

by on Dec.14, 2014, under Articles, Composition, Lightroom, Meetup, Monday Morning Tips, Photo Editing

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.

ADITL_2-101   ADITL_2-102   ADITL_2-103   ADITL_2-104   ADITL_2-105

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.

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Alyssa at the Junkyard

by on Dec.14, 2014, under Articles, Composition, Lightroom, Monday Morning Tips, Photo Editing

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.

Alyssa-103   Alyssa-110   Alyssa-101   Alyssa-102   Alyssa-104   Alyssa-105   Alyssa-106   Alyssa-107   Alyssa-108   Alyssa-109

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.

 

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A Day in the Life of Wickenburg

by on Nov.23, 2014, under Lightroom, Monday Morning Tips, Photo Editing, Topaz Labs

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.

ADITL-101   ADITL-102   ADITL-107   ADITL-108   ADITL-109   ADITL-103   ADITL-104   ADITL-105   ADITL-106

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.

ADITL-203   ADITL-201   ADITL-204

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.

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Lights, Lighting and the Never-Ending Quest

by on Nov.19, 2014, under Articles, gear, Monday Morning Tips

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.

Alyssa_lighting-102   Alyssa_lighting-103   Alyssa_lighting-104

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.

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