The Digital Photo Guy

Chandra: A Wonderful Model in Oregon

by on Sep.05, 2016, under Articles, Lightroom, Monday Morning Tips, Photo Editing, Photos

Art Nude Photoshoot in Oregon

I met Chandra in Ashland, OR. She’s a wonderful model with a beautiful facial profile and a wild side that she hides beneath a quiet, demure exterior. I had four objectives for the shoot which was ambitious for four hours but managed to attain three. First, I wanted to add to my Bodyscape Triptychs project. I made some good images but they weren’t my best. The good ones are similar to poses with which I’ve had great results in the past. I was just too rushed to get the best from Chandra. This was entirely my fault.

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Next, I wanted to focus on her face. In the same photo, Chandra can appear to be 18 years old or 28 years old. Her face is very versatile and I wanted to capture as many different angles as possible. I felt I made some great images but forgot a key element, a hair light. As long time readers know, I have an eye and hair fetish. I was so mesmerized by Chandra’s eyes and profile that I forgot to check the hair lighting.

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My 3rd objective was to make photos I could use for my new interest, painting on photos. A friend is going to teach me how to paint on photos. I made a few photos of Chandra in front of a backdrop and plan to paint bathing suits on her. My first project is painting a 2-piece on her using the faint outlines of her tan lines as guidelines. Next, I’ll expand that into a 1-piece suit and, finally, an early 1900s style suit complete with bloomers. I’ll post my progress so you can giggle and laugh at my lack of talent!

The last thing I wanted were some photos of Chandra with my Canon 300/2.8L for advertising purposes. As everyone knows, a pretty girl in a product photo always attracts more eyeballs. By the time we got to the end of the shoot, we were both tired and I was rushing. The photos weren’t very good so I’ll try again later.

Because I was on the road, I didn’t have my full complement of lights and modifiers. The one piece that I really missed was my Impact Luxbanx Duo 12″ x 36″ strip light with a grid. At 36″ it’s small enough to fold into a very manageable kit but large enough to light half to three-quarters of a model’s body. Equipped with a Lumopro Double Flash Bracket Speedring, this small strip box is one of my favorite light modifiers. I won’t leave it behind in the future.

As usual, my “go to” kit was the Canon 5D MkII with the Canon 24-105/4L IS USM. That kit never fails me. All photos were processed in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 6.

If anyone wants to shoot with Chandra, she’ll be in Arizona the first week of November. Contact me for times and rates.


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Extreme Macros with Basic Gear

by on Aug.31, 2016, under Articles, gear, Monday Morning Tips

Wow! My Last Post Was 4 Months Ago

Mary & I spent 3 months on the road in our motorhome with T the Cat. By the end, we were all a bit worn out but we saw some really great places. We spent most of our time in Oregon and NorCal,

In Oregon, we stayed near Grant’s Pass for nearly a month, exploring Ashland and Medford. Because OR state parks only allow 14 days at a time, we went to Florence, OR between stays. I’m not sure I’d want to be in OR during the winter but it was a lot of fun in June & July. If you visit Florence, be sure to check out the Big Yellow Food Truck, aka A Taste of Hawaii. It was some of the best sushi I’ve ever tasted!

Just about every town, city and burg we visited had an artists’ cooperative and/or an arts district. Every one was bustling with activity and most managed to extract a few dollars from us.

So, What’s This Got to Do With Extreme Macros?

While on the road, I had an idea for a new project but needed a super macro setup. For Canon shooters, the 100/2.8 is the macro lens of choice but at 1:1 magnification, it’s hardly super. One to one (1:1) simply means an object will be captured on the sensor at life size. So, on a full frame body with a 24mm x 36mm sensor, a US quarter with a diameter of 24.26mm will overhang the sensor by 0.26mm.

Using extension tubes, a 100/2.8 can magnify better than 1:1. I was going to show all the math but got lazy so I’ll leave it up to you. Hopefully, the attached photos are self-explanatory.

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The 1st photo is the 100/2.8 by itself. Notice there are 22mm visible. Since this is my Canon 7D with a 22.3mm x 14.9mm sensor, at 1:1, a tad over 22mm was captured. The 2nd photo is the 100/2.8 plus all three Kenko extension tubes (36mm+20mm+12mm = 68mm.) This shows about 11mm or a 2:1 magnification. The last image is with the 100/2.8 + 68mm extension tubes + Canon TC 1.4 and TC 2.0. This is just a hair over 5:1 magnification.

Five-to-one is equal to the Canon MP-E 65mm macro, a $1050 lens. However, for most people, this is a better setup because all the components can be used for other purposes while an MP-E 65mm is a single purpose, dedicated lens. For example, the 100/2.8 is my favorite portrait lens while the Canon TC 1.4 and TC 2.0 can be attached to my Canon 300/2.8 to get a 420/4.0 or 600/5.6.

Here’s how the set up appears:

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The 1st photo shows the Canon 7d with the stacked TC 1.4 + TC 2.0 + 68mm extension tubes behind the Canon 100/2.8. The 2nd photo shows the Yongnuo YN14 ring flash. That’s a $99 wonder deserving of its own write-up. The 3rd photo is the YN14 controller. Sorry it’s such a bad photo but I was in a hurry. I’ll make better photos when I write up the YN14 review.

When I post the YN14 review, I’ll post some photos from this set up. Until then TTFN (ta ta for now.)

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Gwen at Kim Weston Nude Workshop

by on Apr.29, 2016, under Articles, Lightroom, Monday Morning Tips, Photo Editing, Photos, Workshops

Gwen, the Consummate Professional Model

The primary reason I decided to attend Kim Weston’s Nude Photography Workshop is because Gwen recommended it. I have high confidence in Gwen and the fact that she would be one of the models at the workshop sealed the deal for me. I’ve worked with Gwen several times and have always come away with great images. Unfortunately, Gwen was only available for one day of the workshop so we didn’t have a lot of time to work together.

I plan to work with Gwen in October at a shoot in Wonder Valley among abandoned homesteads. If you’d like to join us, the shared expenses will be $200 per photographer. I’m only inviting two people because I want to treat these abandoned homesteads with dignity. After all, they represent a stranger’s hopes, dreams and aspirations.

At the workshop, I photographed Gwen in Bodie House, a separate building that was once Edward Weston’s wife’s study. Bodie House is now a guest house that workshop attendees can rent to stay on-site throughout the workshop. Here are my final images from that session. As always, I used my “go-to” kit, a Canon 5D MkII and Canon 24-105/4L IS USM. All post-processing was done in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom v6.

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I tried to incorporate the many ideas and techniques I learned in the workshop. Notice how I left the window panes open to allow the viewer’s eyes to “escape” the frame on one side but kept them on the opposite side to keep the focus on the subject? Also, did you see how I flagrantly violated “rules” such as not cropping arms, legs, hands, feet, fingers and other body parts that are not essential (in my mind) to the story in the photo? I still struggle to cut off/out parts of the body but, bottom line, I am, at least, aware of where and why I crop an image. To quote Kim Weston, “Every element has to be a conscious decision.”

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More From Kim Weston Workshop

by on Apr.23, 2016, under Articles, gear, Lightroom, Monday Morning Tips, Photo Editing, Photos, Workshops

What I Learned & Practiced

Whenever I attend a workshop, I have three goals and objectives in mind:

  1. Learn three things I can immediately apply to a current project
  2. Observe three things I can modify and apply to future projects
  3. Note three things I may never use but should better understand

At Kim Weston’s Nude Photography Workshop I learned the following three things that I immediately applied to my photography.

  1. Expand my horizons beyond the studio and black & white. Until now, with few exceptions, I had done all nude photography in a studio and all my final output was in B&W. At the workshop, I forced myself to make environmental photos in color. It was good to challenge myself.
  2. Further disregard the “rules” of composition, e.g. rule of thirds, cutting off hands/feet/legs/arms/etc. I became acutely aware of using corners to “anchor” an image. Now, I actively seek partial window frames in corners or objets d’art anchoring/balancing the subject.
  3. I am ruthless in applying Kim’s mantra, “Less is more.” I’ve gotten back into the habit of conducting a “border check” around the viewfinder before releasing the shutter. I try to keep windows, doors and walls “open” to allow smooth flow into and out of the image. I try to “guide” the viewers’ eyes.

With those principles in mind, here are some more photos from Kim Weston’s Nude Photography Workshop at Wildcat Hills, Carmel, CA. These are all of Dasha.

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The first photo is a perfect example of “going with your gut” versus blindly following instructions. I had two versions of this image. The first positioned the edge of the plate in an unbroken arc across the right breast and this one where the lip bisected the right nipple. During the critique session, Kim said he preferred a clean arc as opposed to breaking the line. However, when I sent the images to Dasha, the model, she pointed out that, without the nipple, due to the angle, it appears that she doesn’t have a right breast. Below is the original version. As you can see, Dasha is absolutely correct.


For the 2nd image, Dasha again made a suggestion to crop a little tighter which greatly improved the photo. This is the value of working with a professional model who knows what makes her look good and how best to achieve that.

The 3rd and 4th photos are examples of Kim’s advice to use the corners to both anchor the image and, in this case, show where the light is coming from. This has really liberated my thinking as, in the past, I just saw corners as places for vignettes.

The 5th and 6th photos use Dasha’s hair to open up the frame and allow the viewer’s eyes to follow the lines up to her eye. The contrast of her blonde hair against the blonde wood table adds a dimensionality that would have been lost on a different colored table.

The last photo is an example of blatantly breaking the “rules.” I cut off Dasha’s fingers at the knuckles and her knee caps. All I wanted were the lines and angles formed by her arms and legs. I’m not perfectly happy with this photo but it’s close to the image I had in mind.

One thing the workshop has rekindled is an interest in medium format cameras. I’d like to get into MF but the prices are a bit intimidating. I’m trying my usual tact of telling Mary about the new top-of-the-line Hasselblad H6D-100C for $33,000 in hopes she’ll think $10,000 for the older H5D-40 is a bargain but I’m not holding my breath.

The next post will features photos of my favorite model, Gwen. I’ve worked with her several times in the past and she is always the consummate professional who can help a photographer make his/her vision come to life. I also have photos of Sara and Jenn, two other models from the workshop as well as Arya, a new model I recently worked with.

In October, I plan to photograph Gwen in Wonder Valley against the backdrop of abandoned homesteads. If you’d like to join us, the tentative cost for a 4 hour shoot is ~$200 for 1 photographer or $125 for 2. Let me know if you’re interested and I’ll keep you updated.

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Quick Peek at Another New Model

by on Apr.11, 2016, under Articles, Lightroom, Monday Morning Tips, Photo Editing, Photos, Photoshop CS2/4

A Bubbly, Fun Young Model

I recently had the opportunity to work with P (as always, until she’s sure she wants to be identified, I’m using an initial,) a young 22 year old model who is just getting started. She was super fun and very open to lots of ideas, even contributing some of her own concepts. I haven’t yet finished post-processing (PP) the photos but a quick review shows we made some good art. Because she’s new, I went with a different style of poses as well as PP. Please let me know what you think.

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I did more PP than usual simply because I wanted to test some ideas. On the last two photos, I applied an effect to make them appear older. One looks like the 50s while the other has an even older look. I used a skin smoothing technique as well as a spot removal tool to touch up freckles and blemishes.

P was a change from my usual models because, at 5’7″ and 140 lbs, she’s not the typical model but what I call “a real woman with curves.” This was her first nude shoot so she was understandably nervous at first but my female assistant, an experienced model, helped her overcome that. Once she got comfortable, she was bubbly and overflowing with enthusiasm and ideas.

All the photos were made with my “go-to” set-up, a Canon 5D Mk II and Canon 24-105/4L IS USM. The lights were standard studio strobes with a 36″ strip box and a 48″ octagonal umbrella. Both were fitted with grids for better spillage control. All processing was done in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 6. If I have time, I’ll take a few out to Photoshop for final touches.

P is the fourth new, inexperienced person in a row who has turned out to be a good model. This is totally contrary to my experience in the past where newbies have proven to be unreliable flakes. Hopefully, I’m getting better at screening new models. More of P when I get back to her photos next week.

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