musician photography

musician photography

Studio Photography of a Harp Musician

I enjoy working with creative people. It’s a blast. Creative folks tend to bring an extra little something to the photo session. I was working with Sedona musician Peter Sterling the other day. He had some specific thoughts on the session we were photographing for some headshots and CD cover art.

Once an idea is put forward, then it’s time to tweak the lighting to create the mood and feeling needed. We started with a high key background then went to a low key background with more dramatic lighting.

One of the first images from the session. * setup described below harpist photoHarpist Peter Sterling

Above and below are unretouched photos on a high key background. Peter was an excellent subject as he made excellent eye contact with the camera and was easy to get relaxed. He made my job pretty easy!

peter sterling harp player photoI liked this one as a different look but wasn’t thrilled with the foot pad and stool. I wanted to crop in but it has a very casual feel, and it keeps growing on me.

photo of peter sterling harp music performerMoved to a black background and worked on a more moody look. Peter asked me to retouch this one, and I like it a lot! ** the setup described below

photo of peter sterling harp music performer black and whiteWhen I do final retouching for artists, I always include a black and white version. This is often way better than sending off a color image and letting the newspaper or magazine do the conversion.

* White seamless backdrop with a Fiilex 360ex Variable LED light with 24×36 inch softbox as main light (camera right) Camera left another light with a smaller softbox used as fill.

** Black seamless backdrop and lights as above but adjusted for more drama. A 5-inch Fiilex Fresnel attachment was added to another light for the background

Images were captured with the Panasonic Lumix G9 and the Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f2.8-4.0 lens and processed in Adobe Photoshop

Yours in Creative Photography,     Bob


family portrait

family portrait

World Record Family Portrait


Know thy client.

I was capturing a recurring family portrait of a family that is still growing. Having photographed Josh and his family previously on several occasions I knew that attention spans, especially with the younger children (as almost always with those two and under) would be short. This knowledge led to the decision to do a studio shoot vs. going on location.

josh fmaily portraitHere’s the final family portrait. Framed 20 inches

Basically when photographing families the time you have with them is dependent upon the shortest attention span of a single person. Knowing I’d be working with a ten-month-old and a two-year-old I felt the chances for a long session had short odds. I planned accordingly.

I was correct.

The secret is getting the final image as quickly as possible. One of the advantages of working in our digital world is if you are working on a set with consistent lighting, camera on a tripod and a good memory of who has already given you a good solid expression and body posture you can composite a final image with good emotions and body posture by all.

Josh, his wife and five children had an appointment for ten o’clock on a Saturday morning. The clock struck ten  and they are working thier way into the studio, changing a few clothing choices and brushig hair. The usual final prep before the camera work begins.initial photograph10:08 AM everyone is preened and ready. First exposure made. Family roughed into position.

Family portrait beginning meltdown10:11 AM 10-month-old, and moments later, two-year-old basically melt down. Session over but I know there’s a solid family image to be had with a bit of post-production work.

layers palette from fmaily portraitLayers Palette with a couple of swapped people

Is this an award-winning family portrait. Probably not in a competition setting, but it is a winner in the family memory and documentation.

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob


my muse

my muse

My Muse – Pash Galbavy

I gotta tell ya it is some kind of wonderful to have a creative person who enjoys being in front of the camera! I’ve never had a muse before. For those who might not know the term here’s the Dictionary definition.

Verb (used without object), mused, mus·ing.
  1. to think or meditate in silence, as on some subject.
  2. Archaic. to gaze meditatively or wonderingly.
noun: Muse; plural noun: Muses; noun: muse; plural noun: muses
  1. (in Greek and Roman mythology) each of nine goddesses, the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, who preside over the arts and sciences.
    synonyms: inspiration, creative influence, stimulus;

    “the poet’s muse”
  2. 2.
    a person or personified force who is the source of inspiration for a creative artist.

Having a person who is an artist in their own right is a gift. Pash has ideas, shares them with me and then lets the chips fall where they may. We start to make photographs with her thoughts in mind then we go wherever the first situation takes us. She has an intimate relationship with the environment which is usually the starting point. Then I add a couple of thoughts to refine, and we experiment and play, and this invariably leads me to create new imagery that I find exciting.

I usually end up pushing my personal boundaries as we work together. And then, even more, when I get into post-production.

pash in red oak creekPash in red. Made with Lumix G9

Our latest foray into collaboration led to a photo session on Oak Creek in which she had a thought of ‘creating a mermaid.’ I had the urge to play with infrared and had her do some warm-up posing on the rocks with a dress, flowing cloth and au’ natural.

pash flowing tulle infraredThis Photo has the feeling of a Greek Statue to me. Infrared made with Lumix G6 converted by LifePixel

As the session went on, I added Tiffen neutral density filters to extend the time that the shutter would be open.

slow exposure infrared photoThe neutral density filters extended the time allowing the wind to register in the trees.

nude on rock in oak creekThis image reminds of one of the classic painters.

More from this session to come.

Yours in Creative Photography,       Bob

PS – Learn more about Pash here

extraction tutorial

extraction tutorial

Photoshop Extraction Tutorial – Ray

While out to dinner with my wife I was studying, as I always seem to do, the light as it played across the room. I also watch the shadows on faces as people step into different light situations. Ray, the waiter, was standing with the large light source of the front doors shaping his face. I was taken by the way the light split his face. I asked if he would mind stopping for just a moment so I could get a quick capture. He agreed.

While the light and shadow were looking good on him The area in which he was standing left a little something to be desired. In the quest for the best of both worlds I exracted Ray for the scene, he was in and using textures, layers, blend modes and more shadows I created a bit more artistic space for him. As part of this exercise I also placed Ray into a scene I captured near St. Marks Square in Venice, Italy. See the tutorial for more info.

This video was requested by someone who saw the finished product and wanted to know how to accomplish this in post-production.

The image was captured with a Panasonic Lumix LX100 which I call the professional photographer’s point and shoot. Adobe Photoshop was the obvious choice for the completion of the personal project. I am always assigning myself personal projects to experiment, expand my skillset and keep in practice. If you don’t practice your photography and post-production skills on a regular basis, it always seems to be a strain rather than a pleasure to do post-production. Remember that to keep in top form you need to practice regularly, or the rust starts to form quickly. Think about professional golfers coming in from a hard day out on the course and heading straight the putting green or practice range as soon as their round is finished.

For another tutorial on extraction using some different tools check out this tutorial

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob

PS – See the original post here

looking for shadows

looking for shadows

Looking for Shadows

In photography, you will often hear people exhorting you to ‘Look for the Light’! I don’t know how many times I heard and read that during my learning process over the years. I believe that my photography leaped forward when I first heard ‘Look for the Shadows.’ When I started looking for and shooting into, the shadows I saw a marked difference in the depth and dimension of my photographs.

Look for the shadows has become my watchword. Shadows are what make or break an image. If you are walking along and you see harsh shadows being cast by the trees and shrubs and you decide to put your subject in that same light, you will get harsh shadows. Seeing little pockets of soft shadows and using these areas will make for less contrast in your images. To me, soft shadow edge transitions lend beauty and form to a subject being placed on a two-dimensional surface that you want to read as three dimensions.

That being said I am always watching how the light and shadows interact which brings me to today’s post. We were out to dinner at my wife’s favorite restaurant J Wine Bistro in the VOC Sedona, AZ. I noticed the waiter Ray and saw the split light on his face from the light beside the front door of the restaurant. I asked Ray when he had a moment if he would strike a quick pose for me.

waiter ray at j wine bistroRay with split light.

While I enjoyed the light shaping Ray’s face, I wasn’t thrilled with the background as you might imagine. So let’s play! I extracted Ray from the environment and went to work.

wiater ray on blueAfter extraction and some added texture and background.

Ray on goldA slight change in layer positioning adds a whole new color palette and feel to the image.

ray in ItalyLast I thought I’d see how Ray liked being in Italy.

The original image was captured with what I call the professional photographer’s point and shoot. It’s the Lumix LX100. The LX100 is a nice handy camera that can fit in a large pocket. It has a fixed lens with fast f1.7-2.8 Leica glass and a decent zoom range of 24-72mm.

Yours in Creative Photography,     Bob