Friday, October 29, 2010

Follow Focus DIY dry-erase marker loop

This is a short little tutorial on a solution I came up with for a convenient and inexpensive way to mark focusing points on cinematic-type projects. The basic premise for the focusing came from a posting by Andrew Wilson at . I've added to that by adding a dry-erase method for placing focus points.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Third Ave Bridge

This is a video postcard of scenes around the Third Ave. Bridge near downtown Minneapolis.

Equipment used include a Canon T2i, Canon 100mm f/2.0, Canon 50mm f/1.4 and Tamron 17-35 SP f/2.8-4.0.

Music is from Kevin MacLeod at Kevin provides a wonderful service of providing royalty-free music. You'll see a lot of his stuff on the net.

I had a little bit of fun in post production adding graduated tints to enrich the skies in a couple of takes. Amazing how the little tweaks can add so much polish to a project.

This was shot with a standard camera tripod, making smooth pans pretty difficult. I've just added a wonderful new Chinese-made Weifeng tripod and fluid head to my arsenal. It's really a beautiful piece of equipment. I can't wait to show everyone how it works in an upcoming project.

Monday, October 11, 2010

36 Views of the IDS Center

A monumental project--capturing 36 unique views of the IDS Center in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota. Inspired by Hokusai's classic woodcut series, "36 Views of Mount Fuji," this series will likely extend beyond 36 images, just as was the case with Hokusai's work.

Since this project was completed there are several new architectural showpieces in the Twin Cities that I'd love to include int the series. This includes the beautiful new Target Field and TCF Stadium at the U of M.

A version of this series was posted on Youtube several years ago, but that was before HD resolutions were available. The set has been re-edited and compiled for a higher quality viewing experience.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Beautiful Portraits with One Flash

This portrait of my son was taken a few years ago. The first image is okay. It's from a single flash bounced from the ceiling.

The second image has a lot more sizzle but still uses only one flash.

The difference? Foamcore.

I had Adam hold a piece of white Foamcore under his chin just out of view of the camera. The light from the flash was diffused twice—once when hitting the ceiling and again when bouncing up from the Foamcore. This fills in a lot of shadows under the nose, chin and around the eyes. It gives the whole image more of a bright glow. By comparison, the shot without the fill looks downright gloomy.

Could it be even better? Yes. A second light to produce a catchlight in his eye would have added just a little more life to his face. In post production, a subtle vignette could be added to draw more attention to his face. We're not really interested in his orange shirt.

Timing is Everything

I love architectural photography. Buildings never blink or have bad hair.

Anyone who's ever shot a building knows that the best images are usually found during early morning or just as the sun is setting. With the sun below the horizon, the sky acts as a giant reflector, giving you smooth tones without harsh shadows.

You also get a number of other benefits from shooting at this time. While there's still some light (and color) in the sky, building and street lights are on, too.

This image is from the series "36 Views of the IDS Center" and features Peavey Plaza in the foreground. These locations are in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota. The long exposure made necessary by the time of day also provides for some really nice imagery of the water flowing from the fountain.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Making the Most of Natural Light

Portraits can be tricky. Too sunny and you'll have harsh shadows and lots of squinting. Too cloudy and the image can be a bit gray--but your expressions will look natural and terrific.

There are two good ways to add a little "pop" to an outdoor portrait. First, you can use a flash for fill. Second you can use reflectors.

For this sunny-day portrait, we avoided squinting by positioning our subjects so the sun was behind them. This allowed the sun to work as a rim light, adding highlights to the hair and shoulders. This also separated the subject from the background. However, without a reflector, the faces would be too dark--almost silhouettes. Add the reflector and you get beautiful lighting, making the sun do double-duty. We used a gold foil for our reflector to add warmth to the skin tones.

By using a telephoto lens and a special filter ("neutral density" for you technical types) to limit the amount of light that reaches the camera sensor, we're able to create a creamy-smooth out-of-focus background, drawing more attention to the subject.