Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Share (pronounced "Shari" or "Cheri") is another model I contacted via OneModelPlace. She joined OMP recently and has been extremely busy, including appearing in the new Taylor Lautner film Abduction which has been filming in Pittsburgh. Because Share has been so busy lately, it took us several weeks before we were finally able to get together for a session. Unfortunately, the weather was a solid overcast, which meant the lighting was extremely dull. So out came the flashes to add some spark to the photos. We started the session at the Allegheny County Airport, and from there moved to nearly McBride Park. Unfortunately the pavilion at the park is in a state of disrepair and is covered with graffiti. We were able to actually get more of an urban look (as shown at left), even though we were in a park. Unfortunately Share's stomach started to bother her, so we had to cut the session short after one clothing change.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Shooting a Self-Portrait

I decided it was time to create a new photo of myself for use as an avatar on various photo forums and for social networking sites. But too many photographers use a standard studio portrait of themselves, or a photo of them holding a camera. I wanted something different.

The concept for this photo got its start with an old manual typewriter sitting in my basement. I wanted to use it as a prop for some vintage photos. Since I'm an "old school" (or is it "old skool"?) photographer, I decided to have some fun with that theme and go with the idea of an old-time (1940's or 1950's) news photographer.

Unfortunately I no longer have my cameras that would be appropriate for that era (a 4x5 view camera or a twin-lens roll film camera), so the best I could come up with was my first Nikon film SLR. It is a 1983 motordrive-equipped Nikon FM2. I guess it says something about the current camera state-of-the-art that a manual-focus film camera is "vintage".

I decided to try shooting this in my garage, just to see how well that would work. Unfortunately we have a detached garage and it isn't air conditioned! I used the blue side of my collapsible chromakey backdrop, which I prefer to the green side. The table is a plain plastic folding table (I didn't feel like trying to lug a vintage desk into my garage!).

I wanted strong dramatic lighting, so my main light was my SB-600 flash clamped to one of the ceiling rafters. My SB-800 was bounced off a silver umbrella to the right of the camera. This was at a fairly low angle, so there would be enough light under the brim of the hat.

Originally this was going to be a true self-portrait, and I was going to use an infrared remote to trigger the camera. Since it was summer and he is off school, I decided to let my Junior Assistant-in-Training trigger the camera. Unfortunately his attention span is only slightly longer than a full-power flash, so we only worked with the one setup.

Since this is supposed to be a vintage shot, a B&W conversion was the obvious choice. I went with a more contrasty conversion to get the effect I wanted. I'm pleased with the end result, but I may revisit the concept to try some alternate angles.