real estate team photo session

It was a blast creating images for the Greenfield/Weems real estate team photo session. While they need to project professionalism they want to add personality to their ad campaigns. Here’s an image that is just a bit different going all out for the personality!

greenfield/weems real estate photo sessionJolynn, Robin and Jackie from Greenfield/Weems Real Estate office.

 I work in a fairly small (16′x16′) shooting studio so I take advantage of that and use my walls as lighting modifiers. In this shoot there’s one Paul C Buff light with a 7 inch reflector just to camera right pointing to the corner and ceiling of the room. This is metered to be about 2/3rds of a stop less than the main light. Another PCB light is forward of camera left just in front of the clients and pointing straight toward the wall. The reflecting light from these surfaces gives solid modeling and very soft shadow edge transitions. If I was photographing males or wanted a more dramatic lighting pattern I could lower the power on the fill light or increase the power on the main light or both. Since these images are going to be cut out I used a Super White background paper from Savage. Camera was the Lumix GH4 with a 12mm-35mm f2.8 Lumix Vario Lens. (24mm-70mm 35mm equivalent)

The clients were stripped out from the background and a soft drop shadow added.

Yours in Photography,       Bob

photo shoot for hilton phoenix airport hotel

The Hilton Phoenix Airport Hotel is going through an eight million dollar renovation. New colors. New decor. Some new layouts. Very bright, modern and soothing which will be a totally different look from the southwest theme that’s been there for years. I think you’ll like it!

hilton phoenix airport hotel photoPool area at the Phoenix Airport Hilton Hotel.

P1010690_1000_pixNew room decor with all new colors and furnishings. My wife walked in to the office while I was working on these photos and said, “I like that!” She stays there a lot when we travel for pleasure too.

These images are a bridge for the web site use while they continue the renovation. After the renovation is complete there will be a complete advertising and marketing image shoot to show you the entire new look. In the meantime this is a sneak peek into the all new color scheme at the Hilton Phoenix Airport.

This was photographed with the Lumix GH4. Easy to make multiple exposures for blending the various lighting situations throughout the room. There’s light from the exterior which skews toward the blue spectrum. Light from the lamps were florescent which skews toward yellow/green. Using multiple exposures and blending the color from the different exposures helps make the room look like it does to the eye. One exposure would never allow you to see the detail in the shadows and the highlights. There is an extra stop of light with the GH4 which also helps in this situation.

I stay at this property all the time. I call it my home away from home. Living in Sedona I usually need to be in Phoenix the night before a flight so I don’t get caught in any traffic problems. Staff here is extremely friendly and helpful and always greet guests with a smile… Check it out next time you are in the Valley of the Sun in Arizona.

sunday photo/art quote 7/27

I’ve decided to keep things light and airy this morning.

Found this anonymous quote about photography that I wouldn’t be surprised if it came from Steven Wright (who is freakin’ hilarious by the way)

photography quote“He had a photographic memory which was never developed.” Anonymous

Have a great Sunday!

Yours in Photography,       Bob

ppa international photographic competition

It’s right around the corner…PPA’s International Photographic Competition (IPC) August 4 – 7, 2014
at Gwinnett Technical College 5150 Sugarloaf Pkwy Lawrenceville, GA 30043. This is just outside Atlanta and if you are in the area you can attend as a PPA member. It’s an incredible education on imaging.

PPA photographic competitionPPA Photographic Competition.

If you are not in Atlanta PPA will be Live Streaming the event… Here’s what will be happening.

Gotta tell ya I’m excited about the fact that the IPC is going to be web-casting this year’s Imaging Competition. And you should be too. This is a wonderful opportunity to see behind the scenes on how images get to Merit and Loan status.

I would like to share some information to help you understand some of the things you will see during the event.

First, I think that it’s important to know how the jurors came to be in front of your images. The process is very involved and those that have gotten to that level have worked extremely hard and put in lots of time and effort to be able to volunteer their time in service to the system. How do I know? I worked my way through the system and am an International PPA Juror.

First step is to be involved as a participant in the process by putting images in front of others for the feedback of imaging competition and showing some success. After earning at least ten merits potential jurors take time away from their business to attend the three day judging school to learn and practice. In addition, they have paid for airfare and lodging along with the fee to attend judging school.

After successful completion of judging school it’s time to put in more time judging at state competitions. Consider this the farm system where you go to get seasoned and experience. Potential judges work with International Judges during these competitions and are given feedback on how to better learn the skill. This feedback is also passed on to to IPC in the form of evaluations for review. A minimum number of states need to be judged and satisfactory evaluations received before a judge is approved as an International Juror. Again this involves more time away from the business and often added expense in travel.

Why do I share the information above? It’s because I would like you to understand the dedication jurors need to have. They truly care about imaging competition and are dedicated to doing a good job for you.

Let’s get to the process.

Six jurors and and a jury chair are assembled in place to view your image according to a certain lighting standard. The standards are set so you know how to view your image under the same conditions as the jurors before submission.

In the print room a curtain with a turntable is placed 6 feet in front of the jurors. Lighting is from prescribed angles and measures f16 100 ISO at one second in a room with subdued lighting.

In the digital judging room your image is shown on three monitors with two jurors in front of each monitor. Monitors are calibrated to 120 CDM2, D65 and color spaces recognized are SRGB and Adobe 1998.

The jurors have a scoring device in their hands and after seeing the image can make the choice of Merit or Non-Merit image. If there is a majority of four or more jurors who agree it is a Merit the image is considered a Merit for the moment. If four or more Non-Merits are indicated then the image is not considered a Merit for the moment. If there is a tie there is an automatic challenge called by the jury chair. One person will speak for the image and each juror will speak in turn giving their ideas on why they have made the decision they did. The the original person speaking for the image will be given the opportunity for rebuttal of all arguments given and the jurors will again put in their Merit or Non-Meirit to determine if the image will receive a merit.

If you remember I said a Merit was ‘for the moment’. After the result has been announced any juror or even the jury chair may challenge the result. That juror then speaks for or against the result and each juror in turn gives their feedback. The challenger is allowed a rebuttal and the scoring is recalculated. Although not often it is possible this could be challenged by another juror and the process is repeated.

Now here’s the part where you might feel things are moving fast… I remember seeing my first imaging competition and thought, “How can a decision be made so quickly???” Remember all that training? One decision has to be made using the twelve criteria. In the jurors mind is this image merit worthy or not? You have seven sets of eyes looking at the image including the jury chair. All votes are in.  A decision is announced. Here’s the important part – any one of those seven trained people may challenge the result and the challenge process outlined above is done. In addition, at any time before each session is closed out a juror may ask to have an image brought back for review to challenge a result. No juror wishes to be haunted by an image that they felt should be a Merit and they didn’t fight for it.

There are over 5000 images to be viewed with the additional view of any image that made it to a Merit that is then judged for the Loan Collection. The process is similar but now their are even more eyes making the decision. As you can see with that many images it would be impossible to talk over every single image presented which is why it’s a great idea to order up the print critiques to get feedback on your individual images.

There is quite a bit more to this but I wanted to give you an overview and show you that there are mechanisms in place for the best review of images to detemine your Merits.

Enjoy the competition with yourself and even if you don’t have images in this year look around the various rooms there’s a lot of imaging education to be found there.

Yours in Photography,     Bob Coates M.Photog.,CR.,CPP International Juror

PS – I’ll be watching too! I have a case in the Open category and the Master Artist Category. I will be judging images in Chattanooga, Tennessee on August 2nd but won’t be judging at National this year…

thanks to emotion media

Earlier this month I mentioned a great way to give back to your community is to photograph NILMDTS sessions in a post you can see here.

emotion media logoI want to give a salute to NILMDTS partner Emotion Media. As a help to the photographers in preserving memories and helping grieving families they offer a free service to NILMDTS photographers making giving a slideshow of images with music to the families at no charge really easy.

All you have to do is log in to the Emotion Media web site. Select from the templates created specifically for NILMDTS slide shows. Choose your show. Choose your music. Upload your images. Title the show. And ask for a preview. In a little while you receive a link to watch the show. All OK? Approve it and the Show is processed and sent to you along with artwork for the label. Burn it to DVD and you are done. Takes very little time yet has an incredible impact for the family.

Won’t you give being a NILMDTS photographer a try?

Yours in Photography,         Bob


photographers health exercise

High Intensity Interval Training…

That sounds pretty intense. “No way I want to do something like that!” I know that’s what I was thinking when looking for a workout program that would fit my schedule yet still be helpful in getting me fit.

ALERT ALERT! *Lawyers type notice. I am not a health expert. I didn’t even think about staying in a Holiday Inn Express last night either. I recommend you see a doctor before adding any type of exercise to your daily activities. Also when you first start any new exercise routine you should either get together with an athletic trainer or physical therapist to ensure you are doing any exercises with the proper form. It doesn’t do any good to do the exercises wrong and hurt yourself. Understood?

OK, that’s out of the way I’ll tell you how I’m putting my workouts together.

After poking around the World Wide Web for ideas one kept popping up that seemed like it might be very doable. The Seven Minute Workout. You’ll find lots of variations out there but the APP The Official 7 Minute Workout from Johnson & Johnson is the one I choose.

j&j 7 minute worloutScreen grab from the 7 Minute workout page.
This what your workout instructor looks like on the screen of your device.

Cool part of this system is you don’t need any fancy equipment or go to a gym. You need your body. A room. A chair. Smart phone or Ipad. A clear wall. And, maybe an exercise mat if you have a hard floor. As you exercise with the program it tells you the moves you’ll be making. Times you through 30 seconds of the movements then gives you 10 seconds of rest and moving into position for the next exercise and starts you with a new 30 second clock and repeats until you’ve done the full set of 12 exercises.

7 minutes? OK that sounds a little too good to be true… It is. In order to really benefit from the program you should do the cycle three times in a row. And it will walk you through all of that. It will also track your progress with feedback from you and as this set of exercises becomes too easy it will set you up with more advanced exercises and sequences.

Here’s a link to a New York Times article about the program.

I highly recommend trying this out! (after you have seen your doctor!)

It’s easy. It eases you to deeper levels of workout. It’s super portable and there’s no investment except for the time you put in. I recommend you make it part of your daily routine and pretty soon when you miss doing your morning exercise for some reason, you’ll really miss it. Here’s to your health!

Yours in Photography,      Bob


neon photo heritage boot store austin TX

The salesman for neon signs in Austin, Texas could sell ice to Eskimos in their Igloos!

At the very least he or she is very good at what they do. The neon in and around Austin’s downtown area is very creative and plentiful. When I came to town to meet with fellow Panasonic Lumix Luminaries for a brainstorming session after dark I hit the streets to see what I might capture.

heritage boot neon sign austin texasHere’s the Heritage Boot sign just down the street from my motel.

This was created using three separate exposures and layering them together in Photoshop using masks and blend modes. I really like the feel of this… bright and warm yet it has an old time feel at the same time.

If you are ever in need of some beautiful boots this is the place! They are stunning.

Tripod is from the MAC Group MeFoto backpacker model. Easy to pack and surprisingly stiff with a nice ball head. Goes for around $150 bucks. Folded it’s about 12 and a half inches. (OK 12.6 inches) and will expand to 51.2 inches. Camera Lumix GH4 with 35-100 f2.8 with three different exposures and some zooming for extra interest.

Yours in Photography,       Bob

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black and white image conversion

I was asked the question how do you a black and  white image conversion. To steal a quote from Willy Shakespeare, “Let me count the ways…”

That’s kind of like asking ‘What film do you use?’ Or, ‘What are the settings on your camera?’ I use multiple methods depending upon the image and ultimate use of the image. Is it for a fine art landscape? Portrait of a person? Architecture? What are the different colors within the image? Is it being printed on canvas, photo paper, in a magazine or newspaper” All have a different feel and needs… We can now touch every single pixel in an image and control it’s tone Ansel Adams would have been in heaven!

I have an action that incorporates using the LAB mode. Covert to LAB throw away the A and B Channels. (that’s color info) convert to Greyscale. Convert back to RGB. Add a curves bump to taste.

Black and white converter in Photoshop.

Channel mixer.

Hue saturation.

NIK Silver FX Pro 2. Wonderful software!

Combinations of some of the above methods mixed together for different areas of the image.

Now my Lumix mirrorless cameras have presets that give me results that are repeatable and quite interesting. I shoot RAW plus jpeg to have the information that was presented to the camera and sometimes I will take the camera BW jpeg and also process the RAW and mix them together to get the look I want.

BBQ black and white photoIn Austin Texas with the Luminary team. Went to a BBQ place last night. Illustrative Art setting
pushed to black and white on the Lumix GH4

Don’t forget there are more tweaks that can be made to specific areas of an image by dodging and burning. (avoid using the dodge/burn tool in Photoshop! It mashes up pixels. Instead create a soft light layer and paint with black at a low percentage to burn. Another layer paint with white to dodge)

Their could be a whole field of study here just on this subject. I have a two hour program talking about this and could probably do a two day class on this subject called ‘Inspired by Ansel’

Here is a link to some blog posts on black and white shooting.

sunday photo/art quote 7/19

Is your photography unique?

Do you fully bring your inner self when you create images? If not, then there’s a distinct possibility you are not creating art. You are just making pictures.

oscar wilde photoToday I dug up a quote from poet, playwright Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde Photo by Napoleon Sarony

oscar wilde quote image“A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperment.”  Oscar Wilde

I’ve found my strongest images come forward when I am totally in the moment working on creating an image I really want to see made. Not necessarily because I am getting paid to make the image. But experience that I’ve acquired over the years allows me to bring creative things forward when on paid shoots even though

That’s why personal projects are so important to your growth as a photographer. You get the opportunity to explore, experiment and experience so much more as you create. You then are able to carry those forward into all your photography. I’ve also experienced the cross-pollinating of different genres of photography helping me create better photography. My wedding work helped in the fashion. My commercial work helped inform my wedding images. Playing while creating art images has worked it’s way back into my advertising photography.

So I ask again, “Are you bringing you to your photo shoots?

Yours in Photography,         Bob

estaban & teresa Joy photo shoot

Sound Bites Grill is the new home for Estaban… Turning Sedona into home base is now a reality for guitarist Estaban and his violinist daughter Teresa Joy. They are joined on stage by Percussionist Emilio Santiago. (this guy has the fastest drumming hands I’ve ever seen!)

And they asked me to start documenting and creating images for marketing and promotion. We started out in the Village of Oak Creek about five miles south of Sedona where the red rocks begin. The weather cooperated better than I could have hoped for during our rainy monsoon season. Clouds protected the talent (and me!) from getting overheated, but allowed the sun to keep peaking through to light up the red rocks nicely.


Estaban in front of Courthouse Butte in the Village of Oak Creek Sedona, Arizonaestaban & teresa joy photo shoot sedona, az

Guitar great Estaban & his daughter, violinist Teresa Joy in front of Castle Rock.P1010230_esteban_sed_sign_600_pixGateway to Sedona with Estaban and Teresa Joy showing off the sign to their new home base.P1000828_estaban_band_stage_600_pixThe Estaban show live on stage at Sound Bites Grill with Emilio Santiago on Percussion.

I choose to use the Lumix GH4 for this shoot because I would be working on a tripod. The lens which seemed to work for the entire shoot was the Lumix Vario 35-100mm f2.8 at ISO 200. Aperture for the outdoor images was at f11 because the story we are telling is of Estaban making Sedona his home. If I was trying for more ‘artsy’ images I would have chosen a wider aperture. A lot of noise has been made about the GH4 and the fact that it does 4K video. Well I gotta tell ya it’s a hell of a still camera too. I love the touch screen focus. The screen is bright enough to see in almost any light but it also has a live view eyepiece. It’s picked up and extra stop of density and can shoot RAW files at 12 fps (not that I needed that with this shoot!).

Lighting was supplemented with an Ultra Zap 1600 Paul C Buff flash powered with a Vagabond Mini-Lithium battery. It’s great to have studio powered flash in the field! I added a shoot through umbrella and kept it just out of frame. The shoot-through allows to ht the light source closer to the subject which gives softer shadow edge transitions. Here I was trying to make sure the light on the performers was really clean yet natural.

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Yours in Photography,         Bob