fiilex led light kit

Had the opportunity to test out the Fiilex LED light kit model FLX302 which includes three P360EX lights, stands and barn doors in a watertight rolling case. I used this kit on a real estate shoot a couple weeks ago You can see some of those results here.

I thought I’d give these bad boys a workout in the studio with a still life project. Again the ability to see the lighting exactly as it will appear in camera allows me to get a bunch of different looks in a very short period of time. Having the ability to change brightness and the white balance of the lights from the golden tungsten color temp of xxx  to the brighter blue of xxxx adds to the creativity.

Here’s a quick animated GIF to show many different looks using just the three lights, a shoot through umbrella and a piece white of foam core as a reflector.

still life photographed with fiilex led lights

Many different lighting versions using the Fiilex LED’s

Once I have the initial image captured in studio it’s time to put Photoshop to work. Using multiple images of tectures, layer masks and blend modes I take the image to my artistic place. Here are a few versions…

studio still life fine art photo

From the initial image captures above it’s time to experiment with various textures and color palettes.

studio still life fine art photograph

I’ve found many people like warm golden tones.

studio still life fine art photo image

As they say variety is the spice of life. So more colors! More texture. Play! Experiment!

Images were photographed with the Lumix GH4 and the 35-100 f2.8 Lumix Vario Lens ISO 200 1/6 sec @ f4.5

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob

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sunday photo/art quote 9/21

Today we reach out to the writing world for today’s theme in the Sunday Photo/Art Quote here on Successful-Photographer. Some of the best work I have created was inspired by or because of taking on personal projects…

I believe that if you don’t explore what your heart tells you is important or a subject that you haven’t tackled before you will take a long time to grow as a photographer.

When pursuing an impressionistic art look for my work I had no idea that it would morph into a paying project creating work for a nightclub. The techniques have become one of my most requested teaching programs called ‘Photo-Sythesis’. I also believe that the artistic techniques I am now using as a result of advancing personal projects to create art images led to my being named a Lumix Luminary by Panasonic. (of course it didn’t hurt that I was already yelling to all my photographer friends how much I liked the new format! But I digress…)

If I see an interesting face with character on the street I will engage that person and then ask if I might make their portrait. Making a total stranger comfortable in front of your camera makes it much easier to pose and photograph people you know or have come to you for a portrait.

That brings us around to today’s quote from Jack London.

jack london quote image

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go meet it.” Jack London
Update… 9/22 I found another version of Jack’s quote, “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” I like it!

Go get it! What are you waiting for?

Yours in Creative Photography,       Bob

PS – I can’t remember the full story of one of the first books that grabbed my attention but I have a memory of being scared reading London’s ‘Call of the Wild’ What’s wild about you? go meet and embrace your inspiration

ppa imaging competition revisit

The wonderfully amazing surprising results from this year’s Professional Photographers of America International imaging Competition caused me to take a peek back at some of my older Loan Collection images. Here is a Loan print from my first print case, one of my first successes in competition.

study in orange and blue photograph

‘Study in Orange and Blue’ Earned PPA’s Loan Collection designation

For those that aren’t familiar with the PPA imaging competition an image will be reviewed by six jurors for the image to be included into PPA’s General Collection and be awarded a Merit. A Merit designation essentially means that the panel of judges felt that the image produced is above average work for a photographer with above average skills.

Once and image is awarded a Merit it is then reviewed by a different and larger panel of judges for inclusion into PPA’s Loan Collection. This is considered the best of the best and the work must be exemplary according to a majority of the panel. Usually less than 10 percent of the images entered into a competition will make it to the Loan Collection. It is an honor and I am proud to say that I now have 17 images in PPA’s Loan Collection.

I would have to say that participation in imaging competition has been one of the driving forces to make me a better photographer. Placing your images in front of your peers for review is nerve wracking indeed. It makes you look at your work critically and go over it with a fine toothed comb. This has been really good for my clients over the years because this attention to detail and pushing the creative envelope has made my client’s images stand out and help their businesses look better than good. My portrait clients have received more flattering portraits as well e cause lighting, posing and finishing of the portraits makes a huge difference in how people are perceived by the camera.

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob

PS – Next years competition cycle is getting ready to begin… Are you going to become a better photographer and participate? Start setting your best work aside in a folder so you don’t have to scramble when it’s time to start prepping your images. You’ll be glad you did. And so will your customers.

wonderful musicians

Man I gotta tell you I had a great night last night. Dinner with my wife Holly at Sound Bites Grill while listening to the music of Eric Miller and Ralf Illenberger. We ended up staying for all three sets because the music was soooo good.

We’ve heard Eric play in many different configurations with all kinds of musicians. I’m beginning to think he’s the ultimate musical chameleon. I’ve seen Eric playing in a rock and roll band, with a symphony, doing stage shows, a bit of opera, flamenco, composing and playing almost all the parts on a CD and much more. He has been collaborating with Ralf on a new album and they were debuting some of the new songs. I can’t wait for it to be released! They both bring lots to the project. Ralf was a pioneer in creating a unique guitar sound to the world back in the 70′s. Kind of a new age, fusion and fingerstyle all wrapped up in one sweet package. Eric brings his guitar skills and a voice that sounds remarkably like Sting – only better. Add the new lyrics and this is going to be a fantastic album. Watch for it!

eric miller with ralf illenberger photographed live in Sedona

Eric and Ralf live on stage at Sound Bites Grill. Both excellent musicians but the sum of the parts is much greater in collaboration!

Image captured with the Panasonic Lumix GH4 with the 35-100 f2.8 Lumix Vario Lens. Table in the foreground adds the reflection.

Yours in Creative Photography,     Bob

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macro macro photography

No I didn’t stutter in naming this photo blog post it just seems that way…

Macro macro was exactly what I was trying to say. I thought I’d take the macro photography to another place and see what happens. I used the Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm f2.8 Aspherical mounted on the Lumix GH4 with a set of Vello Extension tubes (10mm + 16mm stacked) to see what would happen. Since I was trying to keep Weight down on the trail I used a MeFoto Backpaker Travel Tripod.

Some serious detail comes forward with this setup. I photographed this Yellow Desert Flower bud and love the detail I was able to bring to the image. Almost looks hyper-real.

yellow desert flower bud photo

I’d love to be able to tell you the specific name of this desert flower in the photo but there are so many varieties that look similar to each other… Ah what the heck let’s go with Yellow desert daisy bud.

yellow desert flower photo

Here is what our bud will turn into short of being eaten by wildlife or beaten into submission by rainy weather.

On the first image I added some sharpening using NIK Silver FX Pro2 and adding Structure and Fine Structure to the preset #4 High Contrast (smooth). Then I changed the Photoshop Layer Mode to Luminosity. Since I was shooting at a very high ISO 3200 because of the low light the sharpening also sharpened the overall noise in the image so I added a Layer Mask to allow the background to be soft while the flower bud was sharp.

Mix and match your photo tools, add a little post production to see what happens…

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob

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tale of three photos

Choices!

We get to make a bunch of them and I’m still playing with ideas as I explore the photographic world in which I have chosen to immerse myself. How about you?

What kind of decisions can we make to change the look of a single scene? Here’s an example of three images made with a Macro lens of a flower that is about the size of my thumbnail.

white horsenettle flower

First capture of the White Horsenettle. Full sun. Looks a bit harsh. (why do they call it White Horenettle when it’s lavender??)

white horsenettle flower photo

Placed a 20 inch scrim from a Westcott 5 in 1 to increase the size of and soften the light.
This has the effect of softening the shadow edge transitions and, to my eye, renders the flower in a more pleasing fashion.

white horsenettle flower image

Same capture with lighting as above but changing to a wider aperture softening the background allowing the flower to stand out more.

These are very similar images with subtle, and not so subtle, variations. Could there have been more choices made in this capture? You betcha! Could have taken a higher angle and not included the sky area. Could have changed the composition. Changed the lens. Changed the camera distance to subject. Could have added flash. Could have moved the scrim to the shadow side and reflected light into the shadows. You get the idea…

Point is when you have a subject explore the many possibilities and variations because it’s not unusual to improve on your images as you ‘work the scene’.

Capture information – Camera: Lumix GH4 Lens: Leica DG Macro-Elamarit 45mm f2.8 Aspherical Extension tube: Vello 10mm

Explore. Play. Practice.

Yours in Creative Photography,     Bob

sunday photo/art quote 9/14

Before you start to read this post you might want to click on the song below… Go ahead, you can do it!

TIME…

If you think about time is the ultimate currency in our lives. Twenty-four hours in a day. Some of those are, of course, survival type hours eating, sleeping, bathing and generally tending to health in one way or another. When you start to whittle away at you day like that you start to realize that time is as the Steve Miller and song says, ‘Slipping into the future…’

So lets take just a bit of time to think about how we are using it. Roy H. Williams puts it succinctly in today’s Photo Art Quote.

roy williams quote image

“What are you buying with the hours of your life?” Roy H Williams
(Roy is the author of the Monday Morning Memo which is a place I recommend you spend some of your time…)

I believe it’s a good thing to ponder ideas such as this occasionally as we as artists/photographers tend to throw ourselves into our businesses and many times creative work and family lives suffer as a result.

Can you find a way to have someone else do the menial work within your business? Things like editing, or retouching? Is there someone who would be better at selling you than you? Think about ways you can spend more time focused on your art and the creative aspects of your business and on your family and friend relationships. I think when you accomplish that you’ll get a much better return on your ‘investment’. Every time you start a task ask yourself, “Is this going to give me the best return in quality of life?”

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob

Steve Miller Band – Fly Like an Eagle

wildflowers in sedona

What a difference a lens (and some extension tubes) can make!

I went back out to the trial chasing some wildflowers in Sedona, Arizona. But this time I came a bit more prepared for the subject with some extension tubes and a long lens to isolate and magnify the beauty something a wide lens just can’t do. (see images from the day before)

sedona wildflower photo

Having trouble finding the correct names for my desert flowers. This might be a Four O’Clock something or other. Any help from you botanical types??

sedona arizona wildflower photo

Been trying to identify this flower… Has the shape of a type of Morning Glory but the
pistols extending out from the bell I think are telling me it’s something else. Any ideas for me?

OK enough with the flower naming conventions… Here’s the down low on the gear used.

Because I was on the trail I wanted to stay fairly light so I grabbed the MePhoto Backpacker Tripod. Pretty versatile and folds up to around 15 inches with it’s own shoulder case. Nice ball head with firm controls. Wasn’t sure I would like this tripod but it’s been serving me very well.

I wasn’t traveling to far so the Lumix GH4 was the camera of choice with a 35-100 f2.8 Lumix Vario lens. Extra lenses, extension tubes and other photo stuff was in the Think Tank Mirrorless Mover 20. Good build with enough room for a good selection of gear but still is unobtrusive on my belt.

I added some inexpensive extension tubes from Vello. When you shop for extension tubes make sure you get matched to your system so the auto-focus and exposure are automatic. If you only shoot macro images occasionally extension tubes can work great and save you the price of a dedicated macro lens.

To help control the lighting I used a 20 inch 5 in 1 reflector from FJ Westcott. This is small and light yet big enough to cover flowers fro the sun and give a nice glow to the lighting.

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob

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sedona arizona hiking

On the Big Park Loop Trail this morning leaving from Bell Rock Vista Parking lot. Flowers are littering the landscape! Add a bit of rain to the desert and it responds in very short order. Pleasantly surprised as this spring was very dry and the flower show was fairly quiet.

The hiking is prime as temperatures are in the high 50′s to low 60′s around sunrise. Here are a couple of images from the walk but not as wonderful as I’d like as I didn’t come equipped with the correct lenses for getting up close and personnel with the blooms… That will be rectified tomorrow!

desert wildflower photo mojave sonoran chihuahaun

As close as I can tell, because there are so many similar desert blooms in this family, this is a
Great Basin Mojave Sonoran Chihuahaun AKA Yellow Spring Daisy.

jones Penstimon flower photo

A Jones Penstemon flower bloom. I love how nature dropped the bloom to accent and intertwined with the Yucca…

red rock reflection image

Little surprises can pop up if you stay aware. Like this reflection of first light on Courthouse Butte in the puddle left in the wash.

Camera data. Images captured with the Lumix GX7 and Lumix 20mm f1.7. Photos are SOOC. (straight out of camera)

Yours in Creative Photography,     Bob

busy week

Thought I’d share some of my commercial work with you… Been going at it pretty hard this week. Shooting images for the Sky Ranch Lodge (not my images yet on the web site they are still in post production) in Sedona, AZ.

One thing I like about my job is getting to know my community more intimately. I’ve been living in Sedona for over fifteen years and always knew about the Sky Ranch Lodge but never had cause to go there. Very cool property! It has a nostalgic feel, the grounds are gorgeous with multiple water features and the views are indescribable. But that’s where the photos come in handy!

sky ranch lodge cottage photo

This is one of two cottages at Sky Ranch Lodge.

sky ranch lodge double queen room photo

Double queen with a garden view.

The interiors were captured with the Lumix GH4 and 7-14 f4.0 lens. Having the articulating screen is handy when I am trying to squeeze the camera as close to a wall corner as possible.

Added fill light to the rooms with Fiilex LED lights. The 302EX 3 light kit with stands and roller case worked well. This was the first time I used continuous lighting on a hotel job and it sure makes the job easier. The fact that you can dial in color temperature on the lights saves a bunch of time time in post production when you are balancing outdoor light with the incandescent lighting from the fixtures.

I bracketed exposures to balance indoor and outdoor light to be stripped in in post.

I’ll share a trick I use to get a nice glow from the room lighting without blowing out the highlights. Change all the bulbs out to a 15 watt size. Saves a ton of time in post production!

landscape water feature image

Water feature and gardens at the Lodge.

sedona view at sky ranch lodge

Put yourself in this rocker lounge chair. (Think I’d have a glass of wine or a cold brew in my hand too)

Yours in Creative Photography,     Bob