Archive for 'Portraits'
Allison and Nick drove down from Edwards, Colorado to Estes Park yesterday for a camping inspired engagement session in Estes Park, Colorado. Both 6th grade teachers, Allison and Nick exude a joy for life and the outdoors that is contagious beyond belief. The mountain weather decided to be extra volatile for us and give us a mixture of sunshine, clouds, hail, downpours, snow, lightning, and sunshine again all within an hour and a half. Allison and Nick, thank you so much for the amazing experience of being your photographer. I cannot WAIT to photograph your wedding in Vail this summer.
Oh what a joy it was to have Amber in front of the camera today. Not only is she a beautiful young woman on the outside, but her inner beauty exudes confidence and gentleness. Amber is a nurse, worship leader, and soon to be missionary in Thailand. We got a call from her last week looking to update some of her photos for support letters so that she can be a nurse to those who truly need medicine, a helping hand, and an encouraging word. I cannot wait for your journey to begin in Thailand!
Yesterday I had the chance to attend a photography workshop taught by Steve Stanton, someone whose work and passion for creating art I profoundly respect. I brought my Hasselblad 500 along to take a few frames of film, and I cannot wait to share those once they are developed and scanned. Towards the end of the workshop, we all went out to an old tree farm where we had some fantastic models and stylists for the classic feeling scene.
We take a break from some of our wedding work to feature a different type of photography we do…editorial work. We love the fine art wedding photography we offer in Northern Colorado and all over the country. But sometimes I love to make a few edgy, crisp portraits for our editorial and advertising work.
Brett is an amazing Counselor and track coach at a local high school. He just got accepted to be an instructor at the Nike Running Camp in Boulder, Colorado. So, we went out to the school’s track today and did some editorial photography work for his bio page for the program.
Since all my weddings are officially over, I”ve been taking the chance to get into doing some personal work, try a few different techniques or ways of lighting, and just have fun with cool people.
Keith is an incredible musician and composer who is studying at Oral Roberts University in Oklahoma. I’ve known him for a few years and had the chance to play in our church’s worship band with him. Truly a talented individual. So after I found out he would be back in Northern Colorado, we set up a photo shoot. There was snow all over the ground, but we managed to find a place that worked beautifully for a fall color cast.
I absolutely love getting a chance to try out new ways of lighting and photographing people. In fact, I think it’s incredibly important to push yourself as an artist on a regular basis to keep yourself moving forward. So when a good friend of Alyssa and mine volunteered to do some modeling to test out a few lighting concepts we wanted to use for our Colorado Commercial Photography, we were down.
For photographers, these were all shot within the last 3 hours. Get it right in camera, and the editing is quick and easy.
I love the use of off camera lighting in my portrait work because I don’t have to compete with the sun, I can have greater control of my lighting, and above all else, I believe it allows me to offer something unique and different to my clients. Plus, I enjoy it. In a growing market of photographers with a low barrier to entry, I see a lot of work being produced with the same back lighting and the same click of a purchased photoshop action. In short, it allows me to differentiate. I’ve been utilizing off camera flash in my work for the last 18 months, and it’s been a wild ride that has changed stylistically over that time frame. In my work as a denver commercial photographer as well as my personal work, I tend inject more contrast and an “edgy” feel when compared to my bridal work. Lately, I’ve been addicted to using my Paul C Buff beauty dish to get that “punchy” feel. But as I peruse through a portrait session I did a while ago using a Paul C Buff Octabank, I realize what a truly beautiful and versatile light source it really is. There are a myriad of different ways I have used this light modifier for photography portraits. It’s allowed me to get some truly soft, painterly looking transitions in my shadows to a more edgy, contrasty look. For me, it’s the swiss army knife of my lighting bag.
With this colorado senior photography session sprinkled with hints of semi-post-apocolyptic flavoring, I wanted to demonstrate how I used this Octabank in an almost completely feathered nature. By feathering, I mean pointing the light modifier almost completely away from the subject, so only the softest light hits the subject. You see, at the center of each light modifier, you have a hot spot. If you point it directly at your subject, the hot spot will appear as just that…a hotter, more contrasty light source. You can fix this by purchasing a double baffled modifier (one that has two diffusion sources spread out inside the box), but I’m cheap. By feathering your light so only the rim of light falls on your subject, you get the smoother light source you intended to purchase as well as some great control of shadows.
Technical Notes for this shoot.
Camera stuff - 5Dmk2 | Lens 24-70L (version 1, since switched to 24 1.4LII |
Wireless Trigger: Promaster *Note* I’ve wanted to switch to Pocket Wizards for a long time, because, well, they are the industry standard and can fire from insane distances away. But to be honest, they are over $400 to get started for a set. These cheap Promasters are about $50-$100 and over 2 years, I have never had a misfire. I’ve even left them in a park overnight, had a downpour, went back and found them soaked, and they worked just fine the next day. I don’t need the High Speed Sync for my Alien Bees, and never shoot from over 50 feet away. One day I’ll definitely upgrade to some Pocket Wizards, but for now, that $350 is 7 months of diapers for my kid. Priorities… even if it makes me appear less “professional.”
Let’s take a look at the first set up. Right or wrong, this is my thought process. I took the talent to an area that had the environment I wanted that happened to be in complete shade. But since I was going to light it with off camera flash, that didn’t matter. I metered the scene and underexposed it by about a stop to a stop and a half to bring about that moody feel I was going for and to separate the subject out from the background that much more. Once the talent was in place, I started to slowly introduce my light. I know a light meter would be quicker, but once again, those are 10 months of diapers. (I find as a new parent, I convert all currency to the monetary value of diapers. For non parents, that’s about $300-500 bucks. Inevitably, this leads me to wonder how many diapers I’d charge for a sitting fee…I’m sick.). With my lights to 1/8 power, I set up my light camera right and slightly above my subject angled slightly down to help create slightly more dramatic shadows.
ISO 100,F8, 1/200
Here’s the lighting diagram, courtesy of Strobox. Notice how only the edges of the light modifier are actually hitting the subject.
To help the session move quickly, I usually do two or three shots with the same lighting set up. Here is another variation with the same lighting. I turned him a little more towards the light source, which resulted in less of his face falling on shadows.
EXIF: ISO 100, F8, 1/200
Set Up 2
The next series is all done within about 5 minutes of each other. We had waited about 20 minutes at this location (an old 1800′s sugar beat mill) for the setting sun to cast light through the windows on the lookout tower above right. We didn’t have much time to waste, so we set up our lights and the talent did a great job with everything I had asked of him.
About the light set up: I kept the light as close to the subject as possible while keeping it just out of frame. In general, the closer your light source is to your subject, the softer the light source appears. The further away your light source (i.e., the sun), the more contrasty and harsher the transition of shadows becomes. The light was coming from camera left. Normally, I would have the light coming from a more natural direction (in this case, camera right to match the direction of the sun), but I wanted a more surrealistic scene with competing light sources, so I opted to place the box against the direction of the sun, and use the sun as a filler. The same feathering technique was used.
Exif Data again ISO 100, F8, 1/200. We shot everything within 5 minutes, so there wasn’t too much of a change.
A few more subtle variations with this lighting set up. The only changes were the position of the model, and the height of the modifier.
If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll answer them within a day or so. Thanks for reading, be blessed!
With my last California Wine Country wedding wrapped up just a few weeks ago, I find myself starting to look at what an incredible journey this year has been. Alyssa and I moved closer to Denver and Fort Collins, a long time goal of ours. We decided to intentionally slow down and just take on a few weddings this year because of the biggest news we have had yet…the arrival of Carter Thomas Stebner this summer. So with our abbreviated year in the books, we are now able to take a look back at what an amazing year it has been and look forward to what is already shaping up to be an incredible 2013 wedding with shoots lined up from California to North Carolina, and everywhere in-between. We cannot wait for another year filled with wedding art.
Art is truly the expression of one’s soul. In a photographer’s case, it’s the heart breaking free with something to say in the opening and closing of a shutter in thousands of a second. I’ve not only seen how my art has grown this year, but also how I have grown. It gives me a glimpse into where I’m going and who I want to become. With a new family, I’ve been desperately trying to remove distractions in life and just focus on the simplicity that drives my soul. That is, to remove anything that’s not from God..anything that takes away from my family and His will. This is true in my art, and no doubt why you see more black and white images focusing on the relationships between light and shadow, emotion and the moment. As I have been desperately seeking to remove clutter from my life and heart, I find myself seeking minimalism that much more. Minimalism and simplicity isn’t boring and it sure isn’t easy. Simplicity is timeless. Simplicity is beautiful. After all, love is simple. It’s the unwavering, all-giving expression that comes from the depth of who you are. We know when we are in love…there’s no wavering or second guessing. It’s simple nature resonates with us and changes the course of our lives. I think that is what is going to drive me towards simplicity that much more. I will still be using my off camera lighting techniques, I’ll never give that up, so don’t worry But above all else, this is just a confession to everyone that I am just yearning for the simple life…my heart desires only what matters and nothing else. I want my wedding art to focus only on what matters: the story, the love, the beauty, the emotion…the people.
These are a few favorites. These are not a “best of”. These images are simply ones that made me smile a little more at night and when I woke up in the morning.
Thank you to all of our brides who trusted us with your most important and beautiful day. We were so blessed by our experiences at each one of your weddings. Words cannot express how thankful we are for your trust and inspiration.
Scott & Alyssa
Thank you Steve Stanton and Amanda Forbes for letting me second shoot for you this year. Image #5 and #13 were while photographing with Steve Stanton. Image #10, #11, and#17 were while second shooting for Amanda Forbes.