Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Messing around...

Taking pictures of photographers is hard.
We're attuned to the sound of a shutter, always alert when a lens is pointed our direction... unless its 8am in my Intermediate Photography class, at which point nobody has a clue and I am free to photograph whoever I choose.

While the rest of the class was shooting this (commercial demo):
I was shooting this:

to keep my eyes open, and because I honestly don't find coffee that interesting. Though perhaps some coffee would have woken me up.
A fair amount of tweaking went into this image... mainly because I am bored with the same-old same-old feel that most of my photography has taken on recently. Getting something new and good seems to become more and more difficult as time goes on.
Something in my life has to change... and I'm guessing the culprit is my ego. I take myself too seriously as a student and as a photographer... and basically in general. I'm going to work on switching things up, being a little more goofy, perhaps a bit less responsible... I think that when I've achieved that my photography will improve, mainly because I'll be having more fun!

That's settled then. I'm going to have more fun.
Likely easier said than done, but I'm going to give it my best effort :-)
Why don't you give it a try as well? You know you take yourself too seriously sometimes, so give your ego a rest and try something new, something silly, something that boring-old-you wouldn't usually try. The more fun you have, the more you win (unfortunately, lacking sponsorship from anything or anyone, I am unable to give out physical prizes of any kind).

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Dive in!

Today's image is one of those that is good mainly because few people ever get the opportunity to see it. It isn't particularly sharp, but the color along with the unique POV make it.

I've been waiting to shoot this photo since I learned there was a submerged viewing deck in the diving end of NAU's pool. Located between the 1 and 3 meter boards about 6' from the surface, it is an ideal place from which to watch the divers. My buddy Scott showed me how to get to it, and I spent 30 minutes shooting divers. Along with this shot, I got many more (much more abstract) shots. I haven't done the necessary editing on those yet, but I will the next time I get bored.

Tech stuff: shooting at ISO 1600, about 1/100 second wide open at f/2.8 on my prime 28mm lens. I would LOVE to put a couple strobes down there, but I'm pretty sure that's way beyond the NAU Athletics budget for photography. As it is, I might be able to borrow some SCUBA gear and a housing so as to shoot the swimmers and divers from below. I think it would be a great opportunity, so all I have to do now is convince the Swim and Dive coaches to let me in on a practice.

I'll write more on that project as it comes along...
Have a fantastic day!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Today's real post...

After spending 30 min reading the e-book presented in the post below, I picked one of the many "Creative Exercises" and decided to give it a try. Actually, I picked a few pieces from a few of the exercises and played a mix-and-match sort of game.

First off, Set the camera to manual: from the exercise on the "Shoot On Manual" tip. pg 21.
Then, set the camera to monochrome: from the exercise on "Shoot Monochrome" tip. pg 29-30
Then, do the opposite of all the voices in my head saying "That won't work" from the "Play. Risk. Fail" tip pages 14-15.
Finally, play around in Aperture with the sliders and settings I've never used before from the "Learn the Digital Darkroom" tip. pg 4.

All of these things combined to give you the images below!

These first two are multiple exposures. 2 shots for each, one with everything out of focus, one with a sharp focus on something. I think the result is rather dreamy.

Tech stuff:
Camera was in full manual mode. ISO 400, F/stop either 3.5 or 13 (the only 2 I used). Manual focus. I kept my 18-55mm lens at 18mm. I shot these in JPG so as to have the ability to shoot monochrome.

It was a fun experiment. Hopefully the wonderful David duChemin will find time to put up some of these creative exercises on his blog (kind of like how David Hobby does on with bootcamp) so as to give his readership a chance to compete/shoot with the same goal in mind.

That's all for now!

Plug: reading

I don't usually advertize stuff I haven't looked at yet, but with anything by David duChemin, its a safe bet.

He released today a photography e-book called 10 MORE, the followup to 10.

It is available for $5 on lulu HERE.

I'm going to give it a good read through in the next couple of days, but I am confident it will be great!

I haven't been shooting much interesting recently... hopefully I'll get something worth looking at soon!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Yet Another Motorcycle

Today's bike: Scott Davis' brand new 2009 Honda Rebel.

Shot these last night in NAU's commercial studio last night. 4 continuous light setup, all diffused except for the light blasting the background. Overall, I'm happy with them. It would have been nice to get a uniform background (read: seamless white to put the bike on), but no such luck. As per my usual, I prefer the black and white shots over the color ones. The bike is black, and though Scott's jacket is blue, it isn't blue enough to keep the images in color. Black and white just looks better.

Of course, when doing a setup like this, I just have to give it a try myself. :-)
It's a little small for me... but it still feels cool

That's what I got for now!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


As promised, here are my picks from the shoot I did with Sarah Dresser yesterday.

My favorite shots out of these are the first two. I got those on the last lighting setup (of many) that we tried. I am not a huge fan of working in studios, but shooting in a crowded studio with 3 or 4 shoots running at the same time is definitely LOW on my list. Really low. Sarah and I were having trouble communicating because of all the noise the other photogs/models were making. It was very frustrating.

Tech stuff: Finally getting into the habit of shooting my personal stuff in RAW. Looks like it might become a full-time gig. Of course, I'm going to leave my sports photos in jpg, simply because Lexar hasn't offered me any more free cards or a sponsorship (which I would happily accept...)
Used a 50mm 1:1.8 for all the photos you see here. Started with an 80-200, but that just wasn't workin out so I switched to the 50mm. Kept it around F4 for my desired depth of field, shutter speed between 1/40 and 1/100 depending on the light setup. ISO 200.
Because I shot in RAW, post processing was again fairly quick and painless. Aperture 2 works flawlessly with my .NEF files, and pushing or pulling light looks much more natural (because it is). The only problem is that my file size has doubled from JPG to RAW, so I'll be filling up my hard drives a little quicker than I like unless I start getting really picky about which files I keep.

Next up on my personal plate: another fashion shoot (this time natural light) w/ tattooed musician Andrew. I'll be showcasing his real tattoos in the same manner that I did Sarah's fake ones (Henna work courtesy of Josh, who is a tattoo artist at Tat Fu in Flagstaff)

See ya later!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Monday : RAW Music

It's Monday... which means I'm supposed to be blogging again.

For your viewing pleasure today: a couple frames from a shoot I did with Flagstaff band, The Contrast Medium.

These guys were a blast to shoot with. A real fun bunch of goofy musicians.

This was the first all-RAW shoot I've ever done... and I like the way it came out. I understand why people are so RAW-crazy: the postproduction was an absolute breeze. I could push or pull three full stops of light without any worry at all. If I picked up two 8gb 300x CF cards, I could shoot RAW all the time... but even on sale (through B&H) at $45 each, I can't bring myself to do it.

I shot a women's golf tournament this morning. Had a blast doing it. Went with Bryan Kinkade, my photo editor at The Lumberjack, and we hauled a$$ all over the course in our very own golf cart, making pictures. I got a few decent frames, but from what I saw on his LCD, his stuff is better. That's why he's the editor and I'm the low-life grunt-work photographer: as he said "even hungover, dehydrated, and running on 2 hours sleep, I get the shot."

I'll be running out shortly to do another shoot with the fantabulous Sarah Dresser. Will post photos tomorrow!

Friday, September 18, 2009


First off, let me link you to a gallery on the NY Times photography blog: LENS. This series of photographs (and the accompanying article) is very well done, I promise, if you like any of my work, you'll like this too.

Now, on to some of my stuff.

Yesterday morning Professor Balzer (who we met in this post) gave my class a demonstration on how to shoot fashion photography. He had instructed the class to dress up for class so he could use one of us as a model... but somehow nobody in class felt like dressing up, so he modeled for us.
I did most of the light set up because everyone was far too sleepy to be running around settings up lights and reflectors. After we got all the lights up, a flurry of shutter clicking ensued. The one day I didn't bring my camera to class, we actually had something worth shooting. That didn't stop me though. I whipped out my blackberry, fired up the 2MP camera and starting shooting. I knew that the images would take some serious photoshopping, so with that in mind I laughed at myself along with my classmates.

I spent my "Into to Digital Workflow" class in photoshop again (I'm afraid this may become a routine) instead of paying attention. Here are my results:

After Balzer was finished modeling, he dragged one of the students into the lights and had us shoot her instead. I'm not nearly as happy with how this one came out... but considering how the original looks, it's definitely an improvement. I probably could have fixed it up a little more, but the filters that save me from the terrible quality of these images also blurred or distorted the painting on her jacket, which defeated the purpose entirely.

I'm shooting soccer tonight, then a marketing gig for the sports department. If I get anything worth looking at, I'll post it... but don't hold your breath ;-)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thursday Linkage

My stuff in The Lumberjack this week is pretty wimpy. I've been taking the stories nobody else wants to shoot (speakers) so there isn't a whole bunch to show...

One-armed chick giving a motivational speech
Boring dude giving a boring speech on green energy

Fun stuff to come in the next couple days... I hope...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Quick couple of photos

These are a couple images I shot for my "Intro to Digital Workflow" class. The assignment was just to get pictures such that we could learn to import them into Bridge. Booooring. So instead of listening to the instructor, I PS'd a couple of the files just for fun (because listening to a review lecture is not fun and the subject, Kristen, was sitting behind me and could watch me edit her!)

For the record, yes, I usually hate selective color... but I was bored, it was a quick edit, and her eyes are a great color.That's all for now. I have shoots every evening from Friday through Tuesday or Wednesday, so it may become blog-lite around here for a bit.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Slimy, yet satisfying...

Ok, so there's really nothing slimy about this post...
What the title really should be is "Ridiculous, yet useful," but that doesn't have anywhere near the same ring.

What's ridiculous you ask? My photo instructor: Professor Eugene Balzer. He is shown below shooting a demo portrait with a Canon 5d Mk II...

Rather than using a Hoodman Loupe (like the fancy pants photographers) or shading his screen with his hand like the rest of us, he pulls out a monster sheet of fabric leftover from his old view cameras and goes to town on his 3" LCD.

I admit it, I laughed at him along with the rest of the class... but thinking about it, it probably works really well.

The class I'm in is PHO285: intermediate photography. In the average 75 minute class, I learn maybe one useful thing about photography. I don't meant to sound all high and mighty, I've just taught myself a lot of this stuff already. That's the beauty of the Internet; becoming a self taught photographer, at least as far as the basics, doesn't take too long if you're determined to learn.

I'll admit, the one thing I learn each day is usually something I wouldn't get from any other photographer, which is why I'm taking these classes in a university to begin with.

That's what I got for now. I'm working on making a couple shoots happen, but if they don't happen in the next couple days they will probably have to go on the back burner for a while, as I'll be shooting lots of sports from the 17th-22nd. If I get anything really fun from sports, I'll be sure to post here for the world to see. :-)

Monday, September 14, 2009

A real environmental portrait

The idea for this shoot popped into my head yesterday. I have a couple buddies who are interested in joining the armed forces in some manner. Mick here, is a would-be Marine.
I dropped him a quick message saying something like "How would you feel about donning full camo, painting your face, and laying on the ground with a knife in your teeth?" His response was "Yes please!"
So we headed once again to Michaels, this time to grab some face paint. Then we hiked into the forest above my casa to make some photos.

The setup is fairly simple: Sunlight + gobo'd SB600 is all the lighting. I dropped the ambient by 2/3 stop ish to get the greens a little darker. Lens is my cheap Tamron 70-300mm, which I used because it has a lens hood and my 80-200mm does not! I managed to avoid using photoshop for these, which is always a plus for me :-)

As is often the case, I'm not quite sure if I prefer them in color or in black and white. I'm very happy with the black and white results though; usually getting decent conversions is a pain with digital, but the "monochrome mixer" option in Aperture2 gives me great results with the ability to tweak things without opening photoshop.

That's all for now, folks!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Quick Followup

I just checked the stat counter again for this blog.

Turns out that on Saturday, with a post title of "Blood sells," I got 27 hits.
Thank you world, for proving my point!

And thanks to those who responded with their views regarding the questions I asked in that post. One of the best things about the collaberation of the internet is we can all voice our opinions, which makes for fantastic conversations.

I got a good shoot in today, so I'll post the images tomorrow and discuss what went into making them.

Thank you, my loyal readers, for tuning in!
If you have any input as to what you'd like to see more (or less) of from me, please drop me a comment below and tell me!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Blood sells

People always wonder why the news is filled with negative imagery. You never see anything like "Litter of puppies is born on 4th street, mom and pups doing great!" Instead you see shootings, stabbings, news of people losing their homes, being robbed and raped.
Why would the Media as a whole run these sorts of stories? Because they get far more viewers.

On this blog, Wednesday 9/9/09, I posted on "The Ongoing Project."
That post (if you haven't seen it already) contains several graphic images designed to depict a teenage suicide.

This morning I checked my stat counter for the previous week. Here's a graph counting the hits I get on a daily basis.
(Green is page-loads, Blue is unique visitors, Orange is returning visitors)
On Wednesday, I got about triple the average number of hits. In addition to the few who follow this blog via RSS feed or make sure to check it every day, the blog is posted on Facebook. All of my 300-some friends can see whenever I write a blog post. Only when the forefront image is a girl who has apparently bled to death do I get a large number of hits...

If I wanted to gain more viewers, get more hits, and thus be able to advertise on this blog, the easiest way to do that would be post gory images all the time.
Now, I'm not going to do that. Partly because shooting stuff like that really takes it out of you, and partly because that isn't who I am as a person or as a photographer.

Think about how much blood/death sell. It isn't the fault of the Media at large; all they're trying to do is make money. It is our fault as the consumers. If we responded the same way to positive news as we do to bombings (by watching/reading a lot of news), the Media would happily focus on the positive rather than the negative...
... Right?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Double shoot day

I had a pretty good day yesterday, did two shoots and both of them turned out pretty well.
The class I shot them for requires assignments to be turned in as prints, so I signed up for Walgreens online photo service. I sent uploaded them and paid for them. 8x10 glossy prints run $3 each and they are gorgeous. Traditionally I haven't been a big fan of glossy prints, but I really like the way these came out. Plus, the matte prints are another 12 cents/each and have to be shipped (for some odd reason).

Andrew, the gentleman here, has consented to model for me in the future, so I look forward to doing some more interesting photos with him. His band is also in need of a photographer, so I'll be shooting them as well.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Fishy fishy fishy...

I don't have much for you today, just Nileppez Del Fish, our new goldfish/bathroom buddy.

Lit with an SB600 speedlight on the counter next to the tank at camera left. I dig the dramatic lighting. Makes a goldfish appear a little more interesting.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The ongoing project...

I started an ongoing project with the ever-fantastic model Sarah Dresser sometime last year. We've done all sorts of photos together, but the series we keep adding to is a very dark, gloomy, and fairly morbid series. Usually, with a photo series, the images all get a similar look and the same general post processing. This series however, is a series only in the sense that the model is the same, and the general feel/mood of the pictures are the same.

For our most recent set I decided to go a little nuts. I headed down to Michael's and purchased $6 of fake blood. I wasn't really optimistic about it, but I sprayed some to see how it looked and was instantly very pleased. If you want fake blood, get the stuff at Michael's (about $6, aerosol can to get good splatter/spray).

Anyway, let's take a look at the pictures, and then I'll go over what I did to them and how I took them.

This is the first look that we did. Originally I wanted to only have her (bloody, dripping) wrist in the frame... but even with a big padded blanket underneath her, that pose wasn't comfortable enough or natural-looking enough to work. Instead she came up with this pose, which looks dead enough to me. Before each pose we shot a test image to make sure it would work, and then we sprayed the blood as necessary. I found that getting the blood to drip (as opposed to spray) was both more desirable and much more difficult. The challenge made it even more fun :-)

This is more like what I originally wanted to do... I like the simplicity, but we can't see her face, so we moved to the next idea.

This is a great compromise between my original idea and a pose that the model could (somewhat) comfortably hold.

The final pose was Sarah's idea. She wanted to show a bit more blood and make it seem a little more realistic, so we took away the big comfy blanket from underneath her and sprayed some more blood around each wrist. I toyed with the idea of doing her throat as well, perhaps spraying down the whole shower in blood... but 1) I didn't want to clean the whole shower and 2) she didn't want to get blood all over her neck, as the blood is NOT meant for use on skin and leaves a bright orange/red stain for a few days. (whoops...)

Now some technical how-to stuff.
I knew going into the shoot that I wanted to have as little color as possible, and I wanted fairly uniform light. In order to get that uniform light I needed to turn the ceiling into a light source, so I bounced my SB600 speedlight off the ceiling and opposing wall. Quick easy light. BUT, since we're in my bathroom, the only other light source I have is the tungsten bulb in the ceiling. I didn't want that to conflict with my strobe, so I had to turn the light on, focus the camera, turn the light off, sit on the floor to be out of the way of the strobe, then fire the camera. It got fairly comical.

Once we were done with the shoot, I found the images I wanted to keep, pulled them into Photoshop CS4 and did some fairly basic edits:
1) desaturate so Sarah has less color and appears more dead.
2) bring back in the red of the blood to make it pop a bit (done using a layer mask)
3) play around with Curves to get a good contrast
4) boost exposure to make the whites a bit brighter and more uniform

Overall, I'm very happy with the pictures! The series will probably continue to evolve over the course of this year and when it does, I'll post the images here :-)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Why yes, I am obsessed with Photoshop

More and more these days I find myself in Adobe's fantastic Photoshop CS4. Often, I just pull in an image and start messing around, with no idea as to what I want the final image to look like. I play with filters and noise and curves and all sorts of things until I find something that strikes my fancy.

I spent the last 15 minutes taking an image from this:which I shot at the most recent NAU Women's Soccer game.

To this:I knew when I took the first picture that it would need some work... but I didn't have a clue as to what kind of work it would need. I have a file of photos that need work but I don't really have a vision for them. I usually pull one up when I'm bored (sitting in the office, avoiding homework, etc) and mess around.

That's what I got for today!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Random Photo

It has been raining a lot in Flagstaff, AZ the last week and it looks like we're finally going to get a bit of a break.
So, on a bright sunshine-y day, I give you this photo:
I shot this after the conclusion of a cross country meet on Saturday. I showed up 20 minutes late due to my fantastic sense of direction the ease with which I found the location. >_<
Eventually though, I did find the park and I was in place with plenty of time to shoot the men's 8k race. They ran it in about 25 minutes, the last 15 of which they were soaked. It was not some wussy pitter-patter rain. It was a good sized thunderstorm.
Here's a link to my shot and the story on the NAU Athletics website

Aaaaaanyway, after the last guys from NAU crossed the finish line, I looked around for something interesting to shoot, mostly to keep my mind off how cold I was and how wet my gear was. I surreptitiously kept my lens on this little girl for 10 minutes or so while waiting to hear if we'd be doing trophy presentations or not. We were huddled under a decent-sized roof with 30 other people seeking shelter from the rain, so her parents weren't too concerned with her wandering off and she meandered around the structure, splashing in puddles and eventually standing just in front of her mom all cute-like. That's when I snapped this frame.
I spent some serious time in PS to get a decent texture and some believable contrast. The water totally skewed my exposure meter and as such I was shooting about 1.5 stops over.

Overall, the image looks a little more processed than I usually like... but for some reason I like it this way.

That's it for now! Enjoy your Monday!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Contracts Revised!

I had a quick discussion today with both my boss, and the photographer who had my position last year. They both confirmed that it was the original intent of the university to be able to publish my images as they saw fit, so it appears the mistake was mine in not understanding that!

In the end, I get to use my images for whatever purposes I like, and NAU can do the same. This works out just fine for me, as long as I get a photo credit when I'm run anywhere special (like the AZ Daily Sun).

I spent some time today up in the catwalks in the Walkup Skydome, playing with the Alienbees and Pocketwizards that will allow me to take pictures at something around 400 ISO, rather than the 2500 that I need when shooting available light.
Other than the fact that I have to go up into the catwalks before every game, and that the strobes are currently set up for basketball and setting them up for football will take me 2 or 3 hours... I'm quite happy with everything :-).

I'll get to put the strobes to the test for the first time tomorrow with a team shot of the entire football team. I'll be using 2 of the 4 alienbees from across the dome. Should be interesting to see what I can get. After that shoot I'll likely spend some time moving the all the strobes to the appropriate places.

That's all for now! My Aperture 2 upgrade should arrive tomorrow, at which point I can edit the VERY morbid/awesome shot I did tonight. I'm psyched!


Part of my job is doing team photos and head shots during the beginning of each sport's season.

Today I did the NAU Women's Golf team. They were a pleasure to photograph, and the location was wonderful as well!

The shot I like best came courtesy of one of the golfers, who decided it would be fun to have all of them grab their bags and walk down the hill (and then back up).

All of the work I do for NAU (sports department and the newspaper) I use Adobe Bridge to edit. As I learn the ins and outs of it, I'm beginning to like it more and more. It is also really helpful to have one program for personal stuff (my Aperture 2 upgrade shipped today!) and one program for work stuff. One of my side projects for the near future will include tagging my images with keywords. I have about 45k photos in my Aperture library, so that will probably be a looooong and ongoing project

I'm currently planning some personal work and figuring out how to use it in the assignments for my (supremely boring) photo classes. The difficult part is that my personal stuff ends up being really different and often very dark, so using it for something like an environmental portrait (my first assignment) tends to be difficult. Good thing I like a challenge :-)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Thursday news links

Hello and welcome to another Thursday and another issue of The Lumberjack Student Newspaper.
For those of your unfamiliar with the routine, I post the photos that I took that ran in any of the local newspapers. In the past this has only been The Lumberjack, though it appears I will be also frequently be published in the AZ Daily Sun.

First off: Diversity and dancing LINK

Then: Restaurant review on Pita Jungle LINK

Those are the 2 shots that I had in the paper this week.
Here's an honorable mention to Jake Peterson for his girls soccer photo (shot on the Canon 5d MkII at 5000 ISO) LINK

I also ran a photo from that same soccer game in the AZ Daily Sun, a newspaper that serves Flagstaff and the Northern Arizona area. LINK

That's all for now! I'm running Mac OSX Snow Leopard on my Macbook Pro now, so as I experiment with it I'll post here and on Twitter the differences that I find, and what I think about them.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


So. I take pictures for Northern Arizona University's (NAU) sports department. I'm the official photographer of every team, every sport. I take a lot of pictures and they end up a lot of places around campus. I knew from the beginning that they would end up on the sports website ( and on posters and calendars... pretty much whatever my boss could think to put them on. When I was hired there was no clause in my contract (in fact, I'm not even sure I signed a contract) that stated who retains copyrights to the images I shoot while working for them. What is assumed, is that I retain full privileges to use the images as I see fit, and the university has those same rights.

Here's the tricky bit. A local newspaper that covers the Northern Arizona area has apparently made a bit of an agreement with the university sports department. Whenever the paper doesn't want to send a photographer to a sports event, the university sports department (me) will provide them with a photo from the event. In return, I will receive a photo credit and can have the pride of having my images published in a real newspaper.

On one hand, I'm glad the images are getting seen by a bunch of people and I'm glad I can say I was published in the AZ Daily Sun.

On the other hand, I'm kind of peeved that I'm not getting any real compensation for having my images double-published. The deal with the university is that they pay my tuition straight up (somewhere on the order of $8,500/year), and I take pictures all year for them. The deal they have worked out with the paper is such that whenever the paper doesn't want to (or can't) send a photographer, they get an image for free from NAU (me).

My question is: Do I need a real contract drawn up that explicitly states what the university and I are allowed to do with my photos? It seems to me like the newspaper is getting for free what they traditionally pay decent money for. It has 2 photographers on staff and they don't work for free.... so why should I (or the university) be giving them my work for free?

Drop me a comment below, or find me on Twitter @mattbeaty to let me know what you think!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

September Background

Well, it looks like all the cool kids (David duChemin and Matt Brandon) are putting up their September desktop wallpapers.

Here's my contribution to making your desktop look gorgeous.
This is a 5-exposure image. While I was relaxing during my vacation in Indiana, I used the multiple exposure option in my D300 to take 5 frames of the tree above me at different focal lengths and angles and combine them all into one picture. Also in play is a color monochrome (in-camera as well) to make things seem a little more balanced.

What do you think?