Aug 232013
Dog Day in August

Josie, our Wirehaired Pointing Griffon is totally ball crazy and on very hot days she’s smart enough to prefer I throw it into the pool for her. It is a ritual that she can repeat a thousand times and never tire, throw, bring it back, throw, bring it back, and so on. I believe she thinks of me more as her ball thrower than anything else.

Like most dogs, Josie shakes off the excess water when she gets out of the pool, but I noticed that because of the late day light and against a shadowed background, it looked like an explosion of crystal droplets. To freeze such an ideal moment, it actually takes quite a high shutter speed, in this case about 1/2000th of a second.

And by the way, I also learned that the term “Dog Days of Summer” comes from the Romans associating the hot weather with the star Sirius of the constellation Canis Major, meaning Large Dog, which in the summer rises at times with the sun. It is also the brightest star in the night sky.

Now back to Josie, she’s waiting outside patiently for her ball thrower.

 August 23, 2013  Editorial, Photography Tagged with:  6 Responses »
May 232013
Wait... Wait... Click!

Much of photography often involves timing, luck, being at the right place at the right time, and at times patience is what’s needed most. When things are happening quickly, we rely on our instincts and experience, but when there’s time to get into the “zone”, we search and hope for whatever could make that particular scene better.

Having all the elements align to make a better photo is a rare event. The light is never right, there’s either a lack, too much, or not the right human element or it is missing whatever that one thing that elevates a picture above average. With people, more than the technical aspects of lighting and setting, it’s often that certain gesture or expression that define the image. In landscape photography, sometimes that wonderful play of light across the land can turn it into a truly magical event.

The above image taken in Portugal is an example of how sometimes good things happen to those who wait. After a thunderstorm had gone through, I could see the clouds breaking up and rays of sun dancing across the hillsides. Going to a favorite spot, I selected my angle and waited in the drizzle for a half hour and then for a few magical seconds this happened and I was ready.

Whether chasing sunbeams or exploring foreign alleyways, the same intuitive approach is used. Unless we are prepared to stage something, you never know what may happen so it is just a matter of searching, waiting, having an open mind and being ready when it happens. Like the alley in Naxos, Greece, the image came together when the cats wandered into the shot.  In another alley in Lake Cuomo, Italy, the colors and textures caught my eye immediately but otherwise felt empty. After a few minutes this elderly lady slowly made her way up and I knew I had my shot.

That’s why photography is often a personal vision quest. Clients often wonder why we keep shooting when we should’ve gotten the shot by now. It’s because we never know if the next shot is going to be the better one. Good things do come to those who wait – but as someone else added, better things come to those who are patient.

Alley cats, Naxos, GreeceStairs, Mennaggio, Italy

 May 23, 2013  Landscapes, Photography, Travel Tagged with: , ,  6 Responses »
Apr 162013

There are good and bad points about location photography. The good is that no two locations are the same, and the bad is that no two locations are the same. When I leave the comfort of the studio, the primary mission is to work with whatever conditions and settings I encounter.

Scouting locations for environmental portraits becomes a matter of trying to visualize and balance many different factors including ultimately how the camera will see the scene based upon variables of different lenses and lighting. It’s often a luxury to have someone stand-in for the subject (assistants are the primary recruits), but there are still always last minute adjustments when the actual person arrives.

Two assignments recently demonstrated opposite extremes in working with available spaces, one in the humongous lobby of the Connecticut Convention Center and the other a tight stairwell between floors at Cigna.

business portrait

For the above business portrait of Mike Freitmuth, Executive Director of the Capital Region Development Authority which oversees the Convention Center, I wanted to place Mr. Freimuth within the context of the building, the lobby being the main feature. But because of the architectural shapes and lines, it was matter of figuring the right perspective which would help emphasize the person. I liked the setting but it all seemed kinda busy, so he was photographed with a longer lens and shallow depth of field to soften the background and make him stand out. Due to being on the edge of a landing, he was lit with a single light on the right while the unpredictable sun coming in and out of clouds filled in the rest.

The second portrait below is of Nicole Jones, Executive VP and General Counsel for Cigna. Whenever possible I try to get away from behind the desk or office and find an interesting setting. I liked the angles and dynamics of a stairwell on the Customer Center, but it proved to be quite a different challenge due to the narrow stairway not allowing much room to place the lighting. There was only couple feet of space on the right and a low ceiling to work with. A second strobe was placed at top of the stairs working as a hair light and adding to the background. Luckily, the light walls offered a nice fill for the shadows.

editorial business portrait

One of the main lessons I learned as a photographer is to be flexible, adaptable and have an open mind since we never know what the situations will be like. I always remember what Bruce Lee once said: “Be water, my friend.”, just go with the flow.

 April 16, 2013  Editorial, People Tagged with: ,  Comments Off on Working with Spaces
Mar 132013
A Mountain of Blue

It seemed easy enough. The client, a vitamin manufacturer, wanted a picture of one of their organic compounds, a bright blue powder. I thought making a small pile was going to be easy, but it turned out to be more challenging because it was extremely fine and also clumped and splattered easily when it rolled down the sides. So I had to invent some miniature spoon like tools and brushes to very carefully create and shape the mound. And if it splattered, I had to start anew because there was no way to clean the fine powder.

After a few attempts, holding my breath at times and an hour or two later, I had my miniature mountain but it was less than an inch high. This created other challenges like lighting to show the texture and to have the whole image in sharp focus.

A narrow grid spot light was moved around on top and to the back until I had good texture and shadow, and a second light was used as a general fill. The focus was another issue since even with the lens stepped down, only a small area was in focus. The solution was to shoot several images, each one focused on a different progressive spot covering the whole area from front to back. This final product is actually a composite of nine separate images assembled in Photoshop with a technique called photo stacking.

View or bellows cameras always had the ability to tilt the lens to an extent enabling better depth of field on a single shot. Since Photoshop has made it possible to achieve similar capabilities with standard digital cameras and lenses, I often use it as needed with better control and best of all – infinite focus depth.

 March 13, 2013  Product Tagged with:  3 Responses »
Jan 312013

It’s always a nice collaboration to work with performers who know their way in front of a camera and to have the opportunity to shoot with different styles and techniques. A talented actor and singer, Nicole needed some new headshots for a CD cover and other promo uses.  Nicole was looking for a straight forward dark style, so only a couple lights were used, one main light and a rear side fill, with additional color and tone manipulation done in post processing.


 January 31, 2013  Editorial, People Tagged with:  2 Responses »