Tuesday, March 30, 2010


I came home one afternoon and decided to spend some time shooting ISO 6400 (the max on my D300).

I didn't get a whole bunch worth looking at, though with my 50mm at f/1.8 I was able to shoot inside at 1/500 sec, which was really fun.

This is Sadie. With the camera on Aperture priority and spot meter she was way too bright, but minus 2/3 stop she came out just right! Both photos are straight out of camera.

Have a lovely Tuesday!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Consistency and professionalism

From this article:
 “Can an amateur take a picture as good as a professional? Sure,”... “Can they do it on demand? Can they do it again? Can they do it over and over? Can they do it when a scene isn’t that interesting?”

I think Katrin Eismann, the chairwoman of the Masters in Digital Photography program at the School of Visual Arts in New York, hits it right on the head. Being a professional isn't about how much you charge. It isn't about what gear you use or how many lenses you have or how well you know photoshop. It is about getting quality results every single time you show up to a paid shoot. 

In the quote above, Eismann is talking specifically about photojournalists, but I see no reason why her argument can't expand to every kind of creative out there. Painters, musicians, writers, photographers, glassblowers, anybody.

Imagine: You woke up on the wrong side of the bed. You didn't have milk for your cereal and your dog pooped on the carpet... again. You have 20 minutes to drive to the other side of town so you can prep for *another* engagement shoot, your third this week. You are a full 24 hours behind on editing photos for paying clients and you don't have a clue when you're going to make up the time.
Can you still show up, engage the client, and make great photographs?  If you want to call yourself a professional photographer, you don't have a choice. You don't have the luxury of having an "off-day," or a day off for that matter. Sure, you might not feel like taking pictures and you might not be really into it, but if you can't produce the great photography that your clients have come to expect... You're done. In that case, someone who can get the shot consistently will usurp you.

Anybody can get lucky once in a while and produce a masterpiece. You don't want to be that person. I know I don't. 

Of course, it happens anyway. I have days where nothing but the shutter clicks. It clicks over and over again and all my photos suck. Lucky for me, those days never happen on days where I have a paying client... at least not yet. The day it does, I'll take "professional" off my business card and replace it with "lucky". (As it turns out, my card just says "Photographer" instead of "professional" or "lucky" or "amateur")

Anyway... that's my rant for the day. Thank you to the NY Times for the fodder.

Color me undead...

Here are the rest of my picks from the shoot with Zombiekiller Girl.

Some I like in color, some in B&W, some in both. I'll leave it to you to figure out which are the repeats from my last post.

I'm psyched to get this project off the ground sometime in the next four or five weeks! All I really need now is a few models who want to rock the zombie look...

Have a fantastic Monday! I know I will.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Zombie Girl!

The shoot I did today with Sarah was pretty much a test of the look, the lighting and the general concept of things. Eventually I'll have a bunch of models lookin' like zombies, and Sarah will have some neat props (guns and knives) to set her up as the zombie killer.

Today we just played with a few poses, the makeup and the wardrobe.
One light setup - AB800 with a monster softbox.

I'll post the color shots at a later date - gotta stretch these things out at the pathetic rate that I've been shooting!

Thursday, March 25, 2010


I still have nothing new - though I'll be shooting a bunch today and tomorrow - you have to wait until tomorrow to get anything fun out of me.

Chase Jarvis, however, has a seriously sick behind the scenes video showcasing how he did a couple of videos using DSLR cameras and the RED One.

Without further Ado, let me point you there!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


I got nothin to say, so I won't say much.

Here are a few old self portraits.

That's it. Hope you had a good laugh!
I know I did.

Finishing up a roll of film today, hopefully in the rain.

Monday, March 22, 2010


I shot most of this roll during my trip down to Glendale. As such the subject matter is mostly Dahlia. I'm sure you all are getting sick of seeing her, but I'm afraid you're going to have to get used to it!

My cheap Tamron 70-300mm f/3.5-5.6 lens is what lives on my film camera. I don't know where its lens cap is so I keep the lens hood on all the time. It is a remarkably sharp lens considering all it as been through. The film was 400 ISO, C-41 process B&W. I got it developed and scanned at 3mb/photo at Sams Club. Took less than an hour and I'm very happy with the results.


Fly - the family dog


Jade - sometime in January

I generally end up doing just as much post production to my film as I do to my digital stuff. Lots of contrast and exposure adjustments just like I would do in the darkroom. 
I say this every time I finish a roll of film, but I'm going to try to shoot more film. I've still got a couple rolls hanging around in my bag, so I'll get to work on that.

Have a lovely Monday! I'm back in school starting today - gotta buckle down to finish this semester off right!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Swimsuit: Rachel!

I managed to get out of Flagstaff for a bit to assist Dahlia on a shoot in Glendale, AZ.

We photographed Rachel, an aspiring model looking to add to her portfolio and to get something to send to a modeling agency.

We used the same Alienbee AB800 two-light setup as earlier this week... and because of this shoot I'm pretty sure I'll be buying the same thing.

Two 320 w/s strobes in large softboxes against the sun. They kept up fantastically well.
The key light at full power was about f/16, which balanced really well with the background at 1/60 sec or so. I think as soon as my birthday money comes I'll be giving Mr. Paul C Buff a call to order this setup.

The setup, Dahlia and Rachel.

As the lowly assistant I didn't get a whole bunch of time with Rachel - I shot for less than 5 minutes.

I plan on helping Rachel to continue building her portfolio by photographing her a bunch more in the coming weeks. With any luck I'll get back into the groove of doing one fashion/modeling shoot every week.

Over the break I also finished off a roll of 400 speed B&W film. I hope to get that developed today. With any luck I got some fun stuff - I love shooting film.

That's it for now! Been playing a fair amount of God of War III on the PS3 - it is still Spring Break after all!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Me me me... and Alienbees

I checked out a lighting kit from NAU on Friday so I could help my lady friend with a modeling shoot down in Glendale over spring break. The kit is two AB800's (320 watt/seconds each) and two softboxes.

To make sure we knew how to set everything up and that everything worked, we decided to do a test shoot. I hadn't had a portrait done in forever, so I stood in as the model.

I can't take much credit for these photos. Once we set up the lights, Dahlia did all the shooting wonderfully. She even managed to direct me as a model! I did do the post production myself - and I hope to never do skin retouching on my own face again. It was an ego-destroying experience, seeing my own skin at 300% on a 22" monitor, though I recommend it as a life experience, especially to those photographers who heavily retouch photos of other people.

Overall I really enjoyed the shoot. I bought the coat at savers ($9!!!) specifically to be photographed in - but it fits better than my "real" sports coat and it looks nicer too. I'll probably buy another one to sacrifice to a photo shoot involving a shower... but that will be later.

I've spent some time looking at my options with Alienbee strobes. Their products are remarkably inexpensive and after using the AB800's yesterday, I see no reason at all to own Profoto or Elinchrome - the light was great, the color and power were consistant, and we had plenty of power to spare. The lights were at 1/2 and 1/4 power, while the camera was 1/125, F11, ISO 100. If I used these suckers on the kinds of portraits that I usually do, with a really shallow depth of field, I could power them down even further and still get phenomenal light. Right now I'm trying to decide between Mr. Buff's unreleased Einstein strobes, or the AB800. Both have their pros and cons, but I figure I'll just call Alienbee and ask them what they suggest for my purposes.

Have a wonderful day! I know it's Monday for those of you in the working world... but I'm on spring break - no work or school for me.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


I put these photos up on Facebook and totally forgot to write about them. Whoops!

This semester I'm taking a Jewelry and Metalsmithing class. Our first real project was a bracelet.
I did two. One for class that I spent about 12 hours on and one that I did start to finish in 1/4 that time.

Copper and brass.

Brass and copper.

Light setup was a piece of cake. My ever-trusty pizza box softbox as my only light source, then a reflector (piece of copy paper) camera left as close to the jewelry as I could get it. My seamless backdrop is just another piece of paper propped against the back of the chair.

I think the photos very accurately represent the jewelry - I just added sharpening for web and a little contrast. I've gotten a lot of great feedback about the jewelry and I am starting another flower piece with Nickel and brass for a paying client! If you're interested in jewelry like this, let me know! My time dedicated to making this stuff is fairly limited right now, but could be increased if there is any interest out there!

I'll be traveling to Glendale this week to assist on a modeling shoot. I'll be sure to shoot a few frames for myself to show you, my loyal readers!

Have a sunny Sunday! The weather is gorgeous in Flagstaff right now, though I hear it may snow later today...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Classroom shoot 2

As promised, here's my first pass edit at the second shoot my digital workflow class did together.

First a look at Jess, our instructor, and the rather limited space we were working with. This is one of the main hallways in the Communications building. Lots of windows. Lots of reflections. The majority of the class is set up behind the 4x6' softbox, waiting their turn with Becca (I think that's her name...), our brave model.

The first thing I did was to shoot against the grain - pretty much everybody in my class photographed Becca from the same angle that Jess did. In this shot I am shooting from the same spot as the first photo, into the large softbox.

But, I had to have more than just that creepy shot. I added this angle at the very end to make sure I had something that looked a little more fashion/pretty instead of creepy/scary.

That's it for today. I have this class again tonight - I'm sure we'll all be going over our photos together. Spring Break starts for me on Thursday night!

Monday, March 8, 2010


Flagstaff has had some fun weather recently. Rain, snow, hail, wind and random combinations of the above.

Here are a couple quick snaps I did the other way as I drove to pick up dinner.

I just finished a first-pass edit of a much more dramatic fashion-ish shoot that my digital workflow class did last week. I'll wait to load those until tomorrow just in case I do any more editing tonight.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Switchfoot Concert

Somehow, somebody at NAU convinced Switchfoot to come play a show on campus.
Miraculously, I convinced The Lumberjack to let me shoot it. I don't usually shoot A&E stuff but I used to be really into Switchfoot, so I took the opportunity to photograph their show.

These are my three top picks:

I shot 865 frames during the concert. The first 500 or so were during the first three songs while I was allowed up front. The rest were from my seat - Sun Entertainment was kind enough to give me a ticket in addition to a photo pass. For the first time I filled all of my memory cards in one night. Just under 16gb between the women's basketball game and the concert.

Tech stuff: I shot ISO 2000 to 3200. Lenses wide open at f/1.8 (50mm) or f/2.8 (28mm). Post processing is very minimal. Add contrast, add sharpening, just a little noise reduction. I've always loved the grainy look, so I kept most of it around.

Opportunities like this are why I still work for The Lumberjack. Though I'm pretty sure I could get in if I shot for Sun Entertainment, it doesn't hurt to have press credentials!

I'm off for a bike ride! Have a relaxing Saturday!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Staying creative

I think one of the toughest parts of being creative for a living is keeping things fresh and new and interesting both for me to do and for my viewers.

Its a daily struggle for all creatives. To come up with something that people aren't sick of looking at, to make art or photography or music that gets away from the usual and grabs people's attention.

In an effort to keep myself creative I've started drawing here and there. I really suck at drawing. I mean it. I can do stick figures and that's about as far as I go - which is precisely why I'm challenging myself to draw more. It keeps me looking at things in new ways.

To facilitate my terrible drawings I've done a few things.
First I went to the craft store and bought a big ol' sketch pad thing. The paper is newsprint so its cheap and durable enough for much erasing.


I work with sharpie and pencil, sometimes a combination, just to mess around and sketch the world around me. No, you don't get to see these sketches. I really do suck.
The sketchpad wasn't enough though. I've always loved drawing on walls and tables and anywhere that I'm not supposed to draw (just ask my parents). Rather than drawing all over my walls though, which would probably piss off my landlord, I bought a 10'x4' sheet of some material from Home Depot. It isn't designed to be a whiteboard, but with some dry-erase markers it does a great job.

I can draw on it, do hw on it, use it as a giant reflector... and then erase everything and start over. Awesome. Cost me all of $12 at my local Home Depot. Getting it home was a pain though; it didn't come even close to fitting in my car.
My third and final drawing outlet is a program for the iPhone/iPod Touch called iDoodle2lite.
It's free and gives you a bunch of options and tools with which to doodle.

Here are some of my recent iPhone sketches...


And of course there's using the camera on the iPhone as the camera that's always with me... though recently I haven't been doing a bunch of that.

Anyway... Tonight I've got class, basketball, then a Switchfoot concert. I'll be up late rocking out and editing photos.

Sure Happy Its Thursday!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Hard drive woes

Just figured I'd take a moment to warn the world away from Western Digital.

Of the two hard drives I've ever had from WD, both have lasted less than 1.5 years.
I've had a 750gb Elements and a 750gb My Book.

The Book was DOA. I had it replaced under warranty, after which point it worked for a few months before dying a terrible and inconvenient death.

The Elements drive served me well for the last year... until recently when I opened it up to do my usual backup and I found this:

I *had* 600gb of photography and music backups on this drive. Now it appears I have nothing.

Luckily for me I am super-paranoid and I keep redundant backups of everything, so I used a few more of my (Maxtor) 250gb drives and I'm all backed up again after 10 hours of backups.

I now keep a set of backups that sits on a shelf and gets updated once a month, a working set that gets updated at the end of every day, and a set off-site that gets updated once every 6 months or so. Plus my Time Machine drive that gets updated twice a day.

Paranoid? Maybe. 
Prepared? You bet.

Keep your stuff safe folks! Stay away from Western Digital and make sure to keep an extra backup regardless of which brand you use - all hard drives crash eventually!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

March / Rant

I admit it - March totally snuck up on me.
I have not updated mattbeaty.net. I do not have a background image for you, though I can point you over to David duChemin's site where he has a lovely image up for March.

In the first two months of 2010, I shot 21 gigabytes of decent personal photos. That does not include all the junk that gets deleted, nor does it include the 15gb I shot for work. In all of 2009, I shot 24gb.
This tells me a few things. It shows I have gotten good at taking a whole bunch of photos and then going through them; my selection process for 300 photos is about 10 minutes. It also shows that I've turned into one of those photographers.


What do I mean when I say one of those photographers?
Well, when I first started shooting I told myself "get it right in camera or don't bother." I would spend time on each photo before I hit the shutter. Then I'd look at the image on the back of my camera and delete it if it wasn't good enough. These days, however, I check my LCD only for my histogram. If I think I screwed the composition or the focus, I'll just shoot a few more frames where I know I'm getting it right. I admit to myself "This doesn't look great now, but with a little contrast, sharpening and maybe vignette, it will."

I now liberally use photoshop, whereas a mere four years ago I despised photographers who retouched their photos in any way. Looking through my archives I can watch myself get more and more comfortable with the digital workflow and the digital darkroom (Photoshop). I understand now that now matter how perfect an image seems, it can always use a little something in post production.

The one exception to this is photojournalism. No retouching. Minimal exposure/contrast adjustments. You gotta get that stuff right in camera because photoshop isn't allowed to do any heavy lifting. Oddly enough, with the PJ work that I do, instead of motor driving everything like I used to, I actually sit and wait for the photo to come to me. It is a very refreshing way to shoot.



Have a lovely Tuesday... I know I will!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Portrait: Kelly

I discovered Kelly in my jewelry and metalsmithing class and asked her to model for me. For some reason she consented. We did a fairly quick shoot. Just over 300 frames in just under 45 minutes. I got my 3-light Profoto setup time down to about 15 minutes so we were in and out as quick as can be.

This is easily my favorite frame from the series. I go back and forth about whether I like the slight graduation of the background, but overall I still like it. This is one of the few times that I made black and white versions of the files and didn't like them. The red really gives this photo its pop.

Lighting setup was fairly simple. Two lights on Kelly (beauty dish above and softbox below) and then one light nuking the background. Either I didn't aim that light correctly or it wasn't powered up enough - thus the imperfect background.

The new border is one pixel wide and a medium grey just to set the photo off from the white background. This officially replaces the black and white double-border in my web prep.

Looks like I'm headed for one personal shoot each week. Just enough to keep me sane (ish) and producing new work, but hopefully not enough to drive me crazy (er).

Have a great Monday!