Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My first 3-light setup

Finally getting around to experimenting with some lights. Took me long enough, I know.

I have been overdue for a decent self-portrait for a few weeks, so I spent a half hour yesterday making one. I am really pleased with the results, as i learned quite a few things.

First off, the gear.
The classic D300, of course.
50mm f/1.8 lens
My new favorite light: the WorkForce 1.0 million power handheld spotlight

and my two (huge and cumbersome) floodlights.

I originally started with just the WorkForce (WF). I held it at arms length and pointed it at my face. It is a spotlight though, and a very bright one, so once I got my exposure dialed in for what the light gave me, all i had was a circle on my face.
I knew that wouldn't do, so i lugged the floods out of my closet, set them up behind and on either side of me and turned 'em on. Holy cow those things are bright.
Holding the spotlight at arms length again (i need to figure out how to put these lights on stands) I fired a few more shots and called it quits with the camera; I knew I was going to have to do some work in Post.
I pulled up the images in Aperture, did some contrast, saturation and brightness adjustments... and then started fiddling around to see what looked cool. I ended up at the "shadows" slider, pushed it all the way over and nearly fell out of my chair. I have been trying to get this kind of look for months, and only succeeded rarely.
Here is a diagram of my setup (I'm having fun with the Bamboo Fun tablet)

Below are my 2 best shots. Yes, I look a little goofy. I was concentrating on not going blind from the WF spotlight.

Next on my list is to diffuse the WF a bit so the light wraps better. I'm thinking milk carton.

That's all for now!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Holiday revelations

I had a wonderful Christmas! Got some new toys to play with and figured out an issue with an old toy. I wrote a while back that my D300 was having battery issues. I would charge my AA batteries all night and get just a few hundred frames with them before the camera told me the batteries were dead, switching to the internal. Not cool. After analyzing my AA's, I decided that the batteries couldn't be the problem. I did some googling and it turns out that the D300 has issues with batteries making contact with the camera. Both on the internal and the grip. So, I pushed real hard on my battery magazine (for lack of a better word) and voila! I go from a half-dead internal battery to a totally full grip. Cha Ching! Now I just have to figure out how to make it stay like that.

I spent much of this holiday season taking family photos, which has been a rewarding experience. All four of the families I photographed so far turned out fairly well, and I still have a couple shoots to go.

Hope all is well with you, my faithful readers.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


First off, Excuse me while I pat myself on the back; this is my 100th blog post!

Second. I've noticed recently that it takes me a while to get in my groove for photography. Most of the time I start off with a basic idea or concept, I shoot and get nothing good, so I change the idea and get something a little better, I tweak that idea and finally get something that doesn't hurt to look at. This process is annoying, but as long as I realize that it is part of my creative process, I can use it to improve my work for myself and for any clients. I find that it usually takes me 20 or 30 minutes to go from the initial concept and gear setup to the final idea where I am producing images that won't burn my eyes out. They aren't necessarily good, but in comparison they are fantastic. My exercise in boredom last night is an excellent example of this.

Photo 1: Lame.

The idea began as isolation. Just a lonely apple in my ridiculously huge dorm room fridge (supplied by NAU). Of course, this picture is lame. We all take lame pictures and this one sucks. so how can I improve it? I tried a few different angles, first shooting up from below, getting the fridge light in the shot. lame. Then from the top, also lame. I brought out my SB600 and tried lighting the apple from a variety of different angles. I played with WB and zoom. nothing was workin for me. Then I spot my new subject, a Gatorade bottle. It is filled with electric blue liquid, which should be a little more interesting than a plain old apple. It becomes my subject.
Once again I try shooting from various angles, different focal lengths, contrasting WBs. Then I pulled out the SB600 again. I stuck it below the Gatorade bottle, 1/120 power and fired it straight up through the blue liquid. Now I'm getting somewhere. The bottle pops out, but the background is still boring as heck. So, I stop down and push the WB to "cloudy". This makes the background super warm/orange and contrasts heavily with the Gatorade:

But I have a funky shadow from the popup flash on my camera and the background still isn't dark enough. I stop down further and dig out a pop-up flash diffuser that I got as a gift. Cha Ching! Things are looking better. I bring the camera up about 8 inches to get a better angle on the subject and fire again. Not bad. But I feel like the contrast is a little too much. Electric blue and orange are totally opposite colors, so I swap out my Gatorade for water. Curiously, I had to dramatically increase my flash output (to somewhere around 1/40 power) to light the water the way I wanted. After all that (22 minutes and 39 images) I got the photo below.
Photo 2: dynamic, interesting.

That's all for now!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Der Fuehrer und das Nikon D3x

Thanks to David Hobby at Strobist for this one.

I laughed my ass off the entire time.
(Yes, hitler was a very bad man and yes, I still like Nikon)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Finally a little fun

Coming back to my room after visiting a couple friends yesterday, I noticed a huge steam cloud exploding out of the side of my building. For a few seconds I actually thought the place was on fire. My first reaction was "where is my camera?" My second was "where are my hard drives?" Not bad instincts for a photographer to have.

I dropped my stuff off in my room, grabbed a camera, a flash, and a couple models. As we exited the building, the huge steam cloud became a wimpy stream of steam. I was prepared to be disappointed, but I set up my gear anyway and we took a few pictures. maybe 15 shots in, the steam vent starts spewing again and a huge cloud engulfs the three of us in a matter of seconds. I was pleasantly surprised that it was warm. Wearing my kilt, I very much enjoyed the steam for about five seconds. After that five seconds I realized I could not see a damn thing. Not my own nose, let alone my hands in front of my face. I escaped the cloud, dragged my models out behind me, and laughed as we all wiped water off ourselves. My female model was wearing glasses at the time, so she wiped them off and we set up for another go at it. Three or four minutes later the steam erupted again. And so it went, probably for 20 minutes.

The image below is actually three different shots put together.

The models and I all think that the black and white version is best, but here is a color version for fun.

That's all for now! Study time!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Holiday Season

Holiday season means family photo season.

Shot the above image in my living room in Boulder. Available light works best when your window is a humongous softbox.

Sadly, at f/5.6 my depth of field still isn't perfect. That translates to my own face being a tad out of focus. Alas.

More later

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Life and stuff.

My mom got a new dog and boy oh boy is she cute.
You don't have to take my word for it though, see for yourself.

Her name is Mocha (to go along with the ridiculous M-naming scheme my parents have going on) and she is a brown and white border collie.

The picture posted here is my least-favorite of the shots I have, mainly because I am saving the good pictures for something of a surprise. Still, cute picture.

This week is "reading week," at NAU, where students get drunk study like crazy before finals next week. If we experience more Blog Lite here at the Vault Blog, that is why. Of course, I get out of school December 12, so bloggage will likely pick up then.

Monday, December 1, 2008


Hello there.

I went shopping on Black Friday, as promised. I was fairly well rewarded for it too!
My purchase of the day was a WesternDigital 750gb hard drive for a mere $88.88.

I also treated myself to a pair of Sony in-ear buds after reading some good reviews on them. I had tried a pair of SkullCandy in-ears on thanksgiving and was surprised by the isolation and sound quality. The reviews lead me to the conclusion that both offer good sound, but SkullCandy's have durability issues.
I used my new sony buds on my 14.5 hour drive from CO back to school in AZ and they performed admirably, though they are not as nice as BOSE. However, I am not ready to shell out $100 for a tiny pair of earbuds. At $23, sony gets my money.

The photo blog-o-sphere is ablaze with news of Nikon's D3x. A monster 24.5 Megapixel camera, the same ISO performance as the D300 (now horribly obsolete) and lower frame rates than the D700. All that, and Nikon is asking $8,000 for them.
Real photographers are boycotting the camera until Nikon can bring down the price. Ken rockwell is demanding the price come down to $5,500, though I doubt we will get that lucky.
Regardless of how far the price comes down, the D3x is not anywhere near my wish-list.
Spend money on glass, not the camera body.

My gear interest these days is Lensbaby (link). They offer inexpensive variable/adjustable focus lenses that just scream creativity.

My computer interest these days is the Wacom Bamboo tablet. Enough said.

Just in case you are hoping to do some gifting in my general direction sometime soon, my xmas list gets updated about once a week. It can be found at (mattbeaty.net)

That's all for now!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Food + Porsche

After an extremely satisfying thanksgiving lunch, my uncle let my little brother, who just got his driving license, drive his Porsche 944.
I've driven it before. Driving it is an amazing experience, but photographing it was nice too.

The original wasn't great. The garage has seriously mixed lighting. Tungsten bulbs and daylight do not mix well and the car was pushed back far enough to prevent the garage from closing.
But, cutting out the background and doing some hue control did fairly well. Of course the gradient ended up blending in surprisingly well with the original concrete floor.

More importantly, tomorrow is Black Friday! Dun dun dun!
I will likely spend most of the morning shopping, which should be interesting.

More later!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

More BMX

This is the second good BMX shot I got.

Once again, it took a fair amount of photoshop to get it where I like it.

I don't really have much in the way of current projects. I'm concentrating on school and finishing up the semester while experiencing some serious photographer's block; I am simply not inspired! Thus, photography is taking a serious backseat.

More later, I'm sure.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

An oldie, but a goodie.

I re-discovered this shot this week while looking for a subject for an image analysis paper.
Ken Rockwell has been ranting and raving recently about shooting 35mm film. I say, if I always got photos like this, I'd shoot lots more film. Expensive as it is, I like it. Not to mention I just cannot seem to get this kind of image when converting an digital color to black and white.

Next post will likely be another BMX shot.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Picture of the day

Some more experimenting with a softbox and photoshop resulted in this photo:

I like it. Boosted saturation in her eyes and re-dyed her hair... some curves, contrast, and brightness adjustments.... Fun stuff.


Friday, November 14, 2008

Foto des Tages

Today's picture of the day comes from a series I did yesterday, playing around with some of the BMX guys who were outside my dorm.

I have several others from this series that will likely go up as the days go on.

Captured in color, then fairly extensively photoshopped to get it where it actually looked good.

More later!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

Veteran's Day

First, thank you to all the men and women to have and continue to fight and die for this country, it would not be what it is without you.

Second, a poster-ish-thing.

I like it, though my employer is not real big on it.
(bico jewelry is 20% off between now and Christmas, buy from youandidesigns.com or through me.)

That's all for now


This image is from 2007, but last night we got our first snow of the season in Flagstaff.

Watching all the people from CA and southern AZ try and drive in the snow was hilarious. I actually sat in my windowsill overlooking an intersection and watched people experience the snow.

I did get a BICO shoot done, and I will load it whenever I post next.

Finally, I am learning something in my Communication class. We are currently going over visual stuff and a huge amount of it applies to photography. TIGHT!

That's all for now!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Blog Lite, Continued

Here we are, I have made it all the way to Wednesday without even touching this blog.
Oops. :-)
I spent most of Monday working on school stuff, yesterday was mostly election stuff. I haven't picked up my camera and actually shot anything, though the pile of stuff that needs to be shot is ever-growing. So far I have not been treating my BICO shoot as a paid shoot, which has been a big mistake on my part. If I am not making money off it, I have a tendency to put it on the back burners... indefinitely. But I am being paid to shoot for BICO, so I have to get my butt in gear. My goal is to get a shoot done by tonight. Hopefully I can post tomorrow, though it will be later in the day.
My self-portrait series is pretty much finished, though I am not nearly as happy with the third image as I am the first two:

All were shot using Photobooth and my mac's iSight camera. Then pulled into Photoshop, added grain, the background and in 2 cases, some color.
I am not sure if I like them, but they are certainly different, and experimenting is fun :-)

That's all for now!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Worse than a wedding

I woke up at 6, ate breakfast, checked my gear for the gazillionth time and headed out the door.
My back weighed in the vicinity of 40 pounds. I carried a hardcase with an extension cord, powerstrip, misc stuff and a bunch of FOOD.
I biked to the Walkup Skydome on campus. The sun was just rising.

I arrive at 6:40am, say Hi to my boss for the day (Joe Jolesch, a really cool guy), grab my "action pack" and head off to set up my stuff. Once my gear is ready I help Joe and Everett and a guy whose name I never got set up the bleachers for the formal shots. We then spend 10 minutes troubleshooting the strobes.

7:45 rolls around. I am still the only action photographer in the stadium, though there were three of us signed up for the event. Uh oh.
I grab the D300 with freshly charged Energizer 2700mAh batteries, my 80-200mm 1:2.8 and my super-ghetto strap and head to the 30 yard line, praying somebody would show up to cover the other half of the field. I had no such luck.

The minimum number of shots per band was 150. I shot anywhere from 175-240 frames per band. There were 39 bands that performed over the course of the ten hours that I had my camera in-hand. I shot just over 7,000 frames, burning a CD every 4 bands. (to fit 4 bands on a CD, I used Small and Basic JPG file sizing. Jolesch's target file size is "500-900kb" and I fit in wonderfully at about 650kb per shot.)

I had a headache by band number 12. I drank more water, ate some of my food and retained that headache until lunch after band number 18. I ate lunch and sat in the sun outside the stadium for an hour before heading back inside for round 2. None of the bands in round 2 were very good. Round 1 saw songs such as "hey Jude" and "Seasons of Love." Not round 2. I didn't hear a single sing I recognized, but I was so delirious by band 30 that it hardly mattered. I still got the shots, but man I was feeling "the burn."

I finished up the last 9 bands, burned my CDs, burned the other photog's stuff to CDs, got all my gear together and was rewarded by a bike ride up the hill with my 50-some-odd pounds of gear. Ugh. I Entered the stadium at 6:40am and left at 8:45pm. I went through 2 fully charged sets of batteries and then had to jack a set of alkaline to finish off the day. I would have used the internal battery but the framerate slows enough for me to notice, and shooting that much action I needed all the frames I could get. (I shot at ISO 2000, 1/160-1/250 sec [depending on the uniform color] at F2.8 all day.)

Even the weddings I have shot were only 8 or 9 hours in total. 14 hours is freaking nuts!
To be fair, Joe and his assistants had showed up at the stadium at 5:45am and were there when I left, taking down their bleachers. They are paid full time. At the end of it all, I made about $31.24 an hour and my check will be in the mail in 2-3 weeks.

I would post a picture for you, but I was not allowed to keep my copies. Once the pictures went on a CD I was told to delete them, as I have no rights to any of the images I made yesterday.

Today... I will be relaxing and eating and not even thinking about using my camera.
I did update the firmware, because on of the enhancements is single-area focus improvements. I was having some issues yesterday when the camera simply refused to focus correctly, so if the update works I will be much happier :-)

That's all for now!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


My finished leaf picture is below

Still working on several projects, still not making much headway on any of them, though I am up to 3 images in my self-portrait series. It doesn't feel like enough.

Off to breakfast!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Softbox + photoshop

Finally got a couple decent portraits done with my new softbox this weekend.

I have been focusing on eyes a lot recently, I don't know why.
I had better luck using myself a subject, somehow the catchlight (light you see reflected in the eyes) doesn't take away from my eyes as much as it does the picture above.

While shooting these I played around with the "sharpness" setting in the Picture Control settings on the D300. For the picture of me, sharpness was at +9. For Birgit it was +7. I really like what it did what eyebrows and (my) facial hair.

I gave up on the fall series. It turns out I did not take 3 pictures that look enough alike to get a good series out of them. I will post my finished favorite leaf picture tomorrow :-)
The BICO series is still going, I just need to figure a few things out to make it happen the way I would like.
This weekend I have my shoot at the Skydome, shooting the marching bands for 8 or 9 hours. I have to buy another CF card to make that happen. Walmart has a 2gb 266x Kingston card for $35 that I will probably end up with.

That's all for now!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Update and a great DIY project

First, my projects update: I haven't touched my fall series but I really do mean to get around to it this weekend. The self-portrait series is on hold pending inspiration for an image that looks different from the two I already have. My bico shoot did not go anywhere near as well as I had hoped due to several factors. I was off my game, we waited too long and thus had little ambient light, and I didn't quite know how to use my brand new homemade softbox. Despite those, I managed a decent frame of the necklace:

As I was sitting in my room, several hours before the shoot I realized I really wanted to try out some softer light for this series. But how? I've never owned the diffuser that most people put on their flashes and I am far too cheap to spend the money on big lights. I looked up the DIY hot shoe flash softbox on Strobist... but that thing is just so small I can't justify it. Then I noticed a pizza box sitting in the trash. Perfect!
I cut off the top of the box, put a small hole in the back (the sb600 is simply pushed in and held there by the tightness of the hole), grabbed a ream of copy paper and went to work.

Softbox pictured on my desk. left is macbook pro, right is the 22" LG monitor, also my Sony studio headphones and then the softbox, yes it is covered in duct tape.

The inside of the box is lined with copy paper to allow reflectivity. The outside is 4 pieces of paper, with the intersection of all 4 pieces right in the middle in front of the flash head. I put the flash on either 14 or 28mm zoom and let 'er rip!
I don't know the dimensions of the thing, lacking a way to measure it, but I'd guess its about 15" square. Certainly big enough and most definitely soft enough and it cost me next to nothing!
Now my tiny sb600 acts like a much bigger studio light! I've been testing it out after the shoot, learning how to work with light like this. I'll post some pictures later :-)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I am currently working on a few projects. I will try to keep these projects moving forward (I have tendencies to give up on projects halfway through) and update you on them.
1) Series of fall
2) Self-portrait series
3) BICO jewelry

The fall series is not quite finished, but getting there.

Other than the leaves I want something linking the photos together. Right now it is a photoshop filter, I will probably add a border or something and finish them up this weekend.

The self-portrait series is also linked with photoshop techniques, but I only have two images so far.

I am shooting today my first piece of the BICO series. We'll see how that goes.

More later

Have fun!

I spent 20 minutes last night carving an apple into a jack-o-lantern. Then another 5 minutes trying to figure out how to light it and take a picture. The "candle" in this case is one of those super cheap battery powered fake candles, turned upside down.

While I was in Boulder I spent a decent amount of time shooting the fall colors. I was stunned by the beauty of Boulder; Flagstaff is nowhere near as pretty right now. I am working on taking a few of my images and making them presentable. I'll finish those soon and load them here.

Til later!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Blog Lite

As Joe McNally would call it, we have been experiencing some Blog Lite around here.
I had a tough week, several midterms and tests, none of which were particularly easy.
I have finished up a second draft of a slideshow of Bobby. It can be found at my other blog: www.bob-niebauer.blogspot.com

On a totally different note, I had four images published The Lumberjack this last Thursday, including the cover!!! My football shots were pretty good, and so my editor ran me on the cover with sports, and then twice more in the sports section. I also had an image in A&E. Sweet!
Check out www.jackcentral.com for the images, I'm too lazy to load them this morning :-P

That's all for now, hopefully things will pick up soon.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

In a Rut.

I've been stuck recently. After Bobby died (see below post), I decided to try and express what I was feeling in a photograph.
Using my super-wimpy 1.3mp iSight camera on my mac and a little photoshop I produced the image below.

It is really nothing complex, but it does describe very well how I was feeling when I created it.
The blur in the background is there on purpose, as is the grain. I think it makes the image kind of hard to look at... How like life.

I'll get back into shooting something of interest soonish.... but it may be a while before I get anything in color. BW feels very right these days.

That's all for now!

Monday, October 13, 2008

RIP Bobby Niebauer

Saturday October 11, 2008.
My good friend Bobby Niebauer passed away after a long battle with Leukemia.

May he rest in peace.

I am currently working on a slideshow to remember him. It will be posted in several different places when it is done, probably Saturday.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Battery issue.

I always have the MB-D10 vertical battery grip on my Nikon D300.
When I put throw-away, off-brand AA Alkalines in it, I can shoot forever and ever. I have shot more than 1000 frames on one set of 8 throw-aways, plus a lot of screen viewing time. When I use my 2500mAh energizer rechargeable, I get 400 shots max with the same or less screen-viewing (chimping). I always make sure the "MB-D10 battery order" is set correctly in-camera to NiMH when using the rechargeables and Alkaline with the throw aways. When I take out my Energizers and pop them in my monster 2.5 hr charger, they read 3/4 full! Even after a Discharge and Recharge the camera only shoots 3o0-400 frames before it switches to the internal battery.
To anyone who uses the vertical grip on their camera, have you noticed this?
To anyone who knows stuff about batteries, why is this?
Leave a comment at the bottom of the post and let me know!


Thursday, October 9, 2008


A couple friends of mine just acquired 8 week-old Luke. He's a rottweiler and a cute one at that. I spent a few hours in the afternoon sunlight with Luke and below are the results.

UPDATE: It turns out my friends cannot keep Luke. They rescued him from a litter that was going to be put down, but the plan they had for him is not going to work. If anyone is looking to take on a new puppy, contact me and I will put you in touch with Luke's people.

Taken right after he woke up from a nap.

Puppy paws

Content to just hang out in mommy's lap

We couldn't get him to move... If you set him down he would get as close to you as possible and stay there until picked up.

That's all for today folks!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Photographers' adventure

In an effort to bond with the other photographers on staff, my photo editor has decided to do staff picnics/BBQs and staff adventures at least once a week.
This week four of us jumped in Bryan's Jeep and drove to a couple different scenic spots in Flagstaff to see what we could come up with.

First, we busted out some drinks and did a quick tutorial on off-camera flash for someone who had never used it before. The goal was an "environmental portrait" and I think Stas (the half-willing subject) pulls off the "outdoorsman" look quite well.

After leaving the meadow (and total lack of good light), we headed up Snowbowl to see what it could offer us. Shooting into the sunset wasn't working for me so I turned my camera around and shot the aspens. Not a great picture but better than a lot of the junk I shot.

When the sun finally set low enough to give off some glow, I whipped out my Sb600 again and took a couple shots of Bryan's Jeep. Nothing spectacular again, but it was a lot of fun to shoot. If the jeep had been a motorcycle it would have been perfect... But it takes more than one light to illuminate a big blue Jeep.

Check back tomorrow for something out of my usual style.

Monday, October 6, 2008

A Challenge

First off, from my morning blog readings, I give you this link to Joe McNally's "Da Grip" camera holding technique.

After I woke up from my nap Saturday afternoon, I decided to make use of the sunlight that comes shooting into my room from the humongous window on the west wall. It had been a while since I used only available light to do a portrait and I was looking for another challenge (because the Grand Canyon just wasn't enough, I guess).

I asked one of my friend-models to come over and help me out. She is rather famous for her lack of innocence, so to keep her interested I asked her to try to portray innocence.
I don't think we quite got there, but some of the images were close.

In color, I had to push the camera into a much warmer WB than it thought was correct. This was probably the second time I have ever had to correct the D300 on White Balance.

Without all the color, I got something that I would describe more as longing than innocence, but still a decent picture. I think the right side of the image feels a little flat, but other than that I am pleased with it.

Watch tomorrow for another adventure post!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Grand Canyon Adventure

2:40 am Saturday:
I stumble out of bed, cursing myself and the world around me.
Grabbing my flashlight, I use it to navigate my pitch-black room while trying not to disturb my roommate. I grab my batteries out of the charger and load them into the camera. Stuff the D300 and N80 into my backpack, wrestle my tripod out from underneath the bed and throw on a hoodie and some shoes.

We arrived at the Grand Canyon at 5:17am. It was bitterly cold and windy. Gina and Alysia, friends of mine who drove us to the grand canyon, huddled in a sleeping bag to stay warm.

They took a bit of a nap while I waited for the sun to come up.
(shot taken using my 8-LED flashlight instead of a strobe).

When we finally got some dawn glow going on, I realized there was WAY too much cloud cover for a good sunrise. We got good sunrise colors for 15 minutes but they were limited to a very small part of the horizon and the color did not go into the clouds nearly as much as I had hoped.

So, I shot 80 ish pictures by the time the color in the sky disappeared with the beginning of a gloomy overcast day.
I got one decent picture, which I converted to black and white and did some extensive photoshop and Aperture adjustments on:

Overall it was quite an adventure, and one I would happily repeat again, prepared with some food and a sleeping bag of my own.

That's all for now.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Ishmael Beah

Today I shot 2 assignments. The first was another football profile. I got the chance to shoot with my editor, which was really cool. He drove us down to south campus with his Jeep Cherokee (which has dual 12" subs in the back). We walked in and shot our victims and left. Quick and easy.
My second assignment was a last-minute request by my editor to shoot bestselling author Ishmael Beah, who wrote A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. The book was the summer reading assignment for NAU's incoming freshman class and is easily one of the most powerful books I have ever read. Beah spoke about his experiences as a child soldier, his life in the US, his frequent visits back to his homeland of Sierra Leone (country in West-Africa), and many other things. The presentation was fantastic.
My favorite image of him is below:

I'm sitting in the fourth row (I bought my ticket the day after they were available in August), and I felt like he was looking directly at me for the entire presentation. Of course, in this picture he actually is.
Ishmael is truly an amazing person. He smiles all the time, even while talking about losing his entire family along with his childhood at age 12. He is an inspiration to me and to everyone who heard him speak.

That's all for now!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


So. Now I officially have a job. I will be shooting at NAU's skydome on Nov 1st. 9 hours of marching bands = lots of pictures = lots of $$$!

I am psyched.

Also, I spent some time yesterday updating my portfolios on vaultphotos.com
Some of the older (crappier) pictures have been deleted and some new photos have been added.

That's all for now!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

New Job?

I just got a reply to an email I sent to a company advertising on Craigslist.
Jolesch Photography shoots high school marching band competitions nationwide.
I have been invited to shoot the events "in my area." Pay is $10 per band photographed. With big competitions this can be 24-40 bands, which means a decent amount of money.
I will naturally accept the offer, especially if I don't have to find a way down to Phoenix whenever these events come up. Shooting in Flagstaff would be perfect... otherwise I am going to have to find a cheap and easy way to Phoenix.

That's my mini-update for today.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Done Slacking Off

I Finally got off my butt and took some pictures.
Some of them are even decent.
I spent last night with a group of my friends smoking hookah and shooting ISO 6400. Oh so much fun. The hookah was fun but shooting was way more fun. The D300 amazes me every time by doing exactly what I want it to. I had two polar-opposite lights. One was the uber-orange lights that NAU and the city of Flagstaff use for public lighting. The other is a little 8-LED flashlight that I picked up at Checker Auto for $8. Bright blue and hellish orange. The best way I could think to combine the two is to emphasize something that was either orange or blue to begin with. I settled on Liz's bright blue eye. Using my left hand as a snoot for the light, I pushed my 50mm down to f1.8, composed the shot, selected one of my very many focus points and fired off a few frames. The result:

No photoshop, just a little crop in aperture to get rid of some of her forehead.

I'm getting back in my groove!
Also, the Lumberjack has started competitions between photographers. We are now allowed to double-shoot events. Two people shoot an event and the person who gets published (the winner) gets to pick an assignment on the next issue for the loser. I plan on doing a lot of these. Even if I lose I get the opportunity to shoot more and learn!

That's all for now!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Finally published!

Finally! My editor came through for me and published the picture of the football player that I posted so long ago. It printed in black and white, in the middle of the sports section. Not quite optimal, but at least it ran!
I will be doing a shoot for the jewelry company "You and I design" in the near future. It will be a simple 2 model job. My goal is to perk the company's interest and have them hire me to do more.

I've been struggling recently to give myself time to go out and shoot. I don't have an established model-base to draw from and school has been getting steadily crazier of late as mid-terms approach. Excuses excuses. Shame on me, I know. I printed off some flyers that I will post on bulletin boards around campus to try and attract some models. After that all I need to do is find the time.

That's all for now folks,

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The dying breed

Here I am, just getting into photojournalism, as the game is changing rapidly. Nikon and Canon now both have DSLRs that shoot HD video as well as fantastic stills. This is exactly that the newspaper and magazine industries have been praying (and probably paying and pushing) for.
Now when the Nikon D2x's and D2h's wear out, they will be replaced with D90's. The D90 can do just about everything the D300 can do, plus shoot amazing HD video. The downside? Photojournalists are going to have to learn how to be careful with their cameras. Everybody knows photojournalists beat on their equipment. The Nikon D90 and the Canon 5D are both plasticy and less-durable than either company's respective "tank" cameras.
The other downside? Photojournalists are responsible for shooting video.
Of course, still photographers have been responsible for video since newspapers and magazines started doubling their content online.
The upside? Photojournalists are responsible for shooting video, NOT videojournalists.

My biggest fear for this industry has been that these publications would hire videographers to shoot things, and then they would pull stills from the video. This would eliminate the need for still photographers. That would be bad.
Now the videographers are the ones pissed off because the still photogs are shooting video.

Vince Laforet shot a fantastic video on a prototype Canon 5D mk II. This was his first video production ever. Canon liked it and published it on their website (link above).

That's it for now!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

As Promised

As promised, I am in COM 101 and I am posting to my blog.
I do enjoy being a rebel.

In the middle of shooting the beautiful fall colors yesterday, I remembered about Active-D Lighting. Ken Rockwell calls it ADR, or Adaptive Dynamic Range because that is what it is.

The result:


That really makes me want to shoot more film... Which naturally makes me want to buy another film camera... One that is built a little more like the D300 and that has some of the same power. The Nikon F5 is what I settled on... but I won't be buying it anytime soon. Instead, I'm going to buy some film, shoot it on my N80 and get it developed. Maybe if I decide to shoot a lot more film, maybe then I can justify the F5.... but probably not.

More later

Coming soon to a blog near you!

I will get at least one shot published this week. The sports profile I shot forever ago will print, according to my editor. He didn't like my re-shoot of the alcohol story (figures), and the writer for the symphony never wrote the damn thing, so that won't go. Grrrr.

I do have some pictures for you, I went out yesterday and (finally) turned on my Active D-Lighting to mess around with. Holy cow. Some amazing colors. I really ought to use it more often.

I will likely load those pictures today during my COM101 class, because I cannot stand to pay attention. There's always one class....

Joe McNally has a great post up today.

Thats all for now!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Finally, something I like.

Whilst shooting the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra yesterday I made 167 images.
I like maybe 3 of them.
My favorite by far is not even what I would consider a good picture.

These two little girls were absolutely spellbound by the music. I don't think either of them blinked during the entire piece, they just soaked it all in.
A fountain of youth surrounded by a sea of older people. It was very refreshing to see that old people are not the only ones who can appreciate orchestral music.

As to the picture.. It is out of focus and blurry (handheld 1/15 sec at 200mm). I got a bunch of shots of the orchestra, the director and the visiting soloist performing like mad. Those were in focus, sharp and well lit (1/160 sec at 200mm) but this shot captures the mood of the performance and its effect on the audience. That is what is important to me.

Paper came out yesterday. I am still unpublished. It turns out that all the stories I shot that I thought were for the last issue have been moved to this one (we are on issue 5 now). So I could have as many as 3 or 4 shots run this week.

Keep it real!