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!