Archive for the ‘Gear’ Category

Let It Rain

Sunday, June 5th, 2011

It’s always fun to just play. Finding time for shooting things like the above images is important to the growth of any photographer.

I called my friend and fellow wedding photographer, Seth one day and told him about this idea that i had. I wanted to shoot a relatively dark image (unlike most of my other work which is considerably brighter in tone) that featured rain that was back lit to create a stunning display of individual rain drops. I wanted to light the subject simply and dramatically. I originally thought of finding a model to come in and pose while I made the shot, but after talking to Seth about the idea, he suggested using himself as the model. Photographers generally don’t work well in front of the camera, but Seth was good at making the transition. He brought along a fantastic black trench coat and hat that helped transform the look of the shot to something darker and more menacing.

I set up before sunset and waited until the sky went dark to capture this series of images. The main light was an Elinchrom Quadra Ranger to my left, shot through a grid spot towards Seth’s face to control the light falloff. The back light was a Canon 580exii to illuminate the rain. I varied the composition in some frames to allow the flash to be seen in the background, and in others I obscured it with Seth’s body. The “rain” wasn’t rain at all. It was a run of the mill garden hose, clamped to a step ladder, and pointed upward. The falling water created the rain effect.

I thought about how bummed a couple can get if the weather doesn’t cooperate on their wedding day. So I tried to think about how I could incorporate this technique into a rainy wedding day. I think it’d be a pretty smooth transition, actually. I’d have the bride and groom hold the umbrella and set up the lights similarly, and you’ve got yourself a very dramatic image that will likely be a pretty fantastic shot for an otherwise gray, rainy day.

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Before & After

Friday, May 20th, 2011

Here’s another look at a before and after image. This image was taken the other day at Ashley and Kyle’s Engagement Session. I started by changing the perspective a little bit. I suppose I didn’t notice it as I took the picture, otherwise I would have fixed it before pressing the shutter. If you look at the panels on the garage door, they’re not square within the frame. It’s maybe a little ‘thing’ I have about lines being straight, but I really feel like either they’re straight or they’re not, and when it’s this close, I feel as though I have to fix it to make it work.

I brought the image into Photoshop and removed the scratch on the door that ran into Ashley’s face because I thought it was a tad distracting. Then I tweaked the color of the garage door a bit to be a little more blue, and a little more dramatic than the actual color. To finish the image, I applied a vignette to draw the eye towards Ashley and Kyle. The final image (in my eyes) is far more dramatic than the original.

What do you think?

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iPhone Photography Tips

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

If you know me, you know that it’s no secret that I’m a big proponent of all things Apple. Their products just work. Apple products run my business day to day and I use my iPhone when I’m not in my office for taking calls, emails, checking and making appointments, etc. It’s a fantastic tool for running a small business. The iPhone is also a fantastic way to carry a camera with you at all times. Having a camera with you means you can capture spontaneous moments or fun scenes where ever your travels may take you.

If you don’t buy into the Apple fanfare, that’s alright – many phones on the market today come equipped with cameras that are perfectly capable of taking and making decent images as well. It’s all about the camera that you have with you. For the sake of this post, however, I’m going to talk about the iPhone. In 2010, I documented each day with an image, and the majority of the images taken were taken with the iPhone. You can see the project HERE.

Some tips to get the best images out of your iPhone

Hold it steady
The iPhone (and other camera phones) often use a pretty slow shutter speed. If your intention is to have sharp images, then you’re going to want to hold it as steady as possible. Hold it steady with two hands on either side of the phone, and slowly press the shutter button to take the picture. You don’t want to jar the phone just as you press the shutter – it could result in a blurry image. Also, take more than one image if time allows. I’ll generally take a series of images of whatever I’m photographing, that way if the phone exposes weirdly or if the image is blurry, the odds are better that you’ll get a passable image.

Focus on simple compositions
Camera phones are not on par technologically with the digital SLR’s that we’re all familiar with these days. They’re fairly low-fi in comparison, and shouldn’t be expected to be able to capture the fine details that DSLR’s can. That being said, the iPhone is fantastic at capturing simple compositions. Look for lines, shapes, shadows and highlights in your images and focus on creating a strong composition from those simple elements.

Edit each image
Like any camera, the images as they are shot don’t always have that ‘pop’ that you expect to see in a good image. To counteract this, download a couple of photo apps to help you get the image looking a little more lively. I posted a blog post about some of my favorite iPhone apps last year, you can check it out HERE. At very least, you’ll want to tweak the color and contrast a little bit, maybe add a vignette or convert the image to black and white for maximum effect. Play a bit, don’t get caught up in making a technically perfect image, just make an image that looks good to you.

Use it’s size to your advantage
Because the iPhone doesn’t have the physical size that a digital SLR has, you can put it many places that a digital SLR cannot go. Play with angles, reach over your head to capture a different perspective, or place the phone on the ground to get an ants’ eye view of the world. It’s all about seeing things differently.

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New Products for 2011

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

It’s so important to print the pictures you love.

We seem to be stuck in this sad rut this day in age where we generate tons of images with our digital cameras, but we never seem to print many of those images. I’m as guilty as any, although I’m trying to be better about printing the pictures I love.

It is so important to print the pictures that are made during your wedding day, engagement session, or family session. It all goes back to the basic reason why you hire a professional photographer in the first place – to preserve memories for years to come. If in years to come, you aren’t able to open a CD on your computer (remember 5 1/4″ floppies?) then what value do those images have? The point is, you’ve got to print your pictures to fully enjoy them. Make large prints, put them on your walls and display them proudly! It’s a peek into a moment in your life the way it is right now.

I’m excited to share a few new printed products that I’m offering in 2011 with you.

The first isn’t a new product at all, but one I’ve never shown on the blog. The canvas gallery wraps are a wonderful way to display your images. It’s an art piece out of the box, and looks great on the wall framed or unframed. I prefer them unframed – they just pop off the walls. The canvas gallery wraps are made up of beautiful high quality printing directly onto canvas then stretched around a 1.5” wooden frame. It rivals the best art. They come ready to hang.

These bamboo mounted prints are the newest addition to our line of mounting materials. They are made from carbonized vertical grain bamboo, bamboo panels are a sustainable, FSC certified material. With a pre-drilled keyhole on the back, Bamboo panels are ready to hang as soon as you receive them. Bamboo Panels are 3/4” thick. Ask to see a sample, they are stunning!

High quality printing directly onto sheet metal! These are cutting edge and will make your images pop off the wall like nothing else will! The images are stunning and really shine with engagement session images as well as senior portraits. Ask to see a sample.

If you’ve already done a session with me and haven’t ordered prints yet, now is the time! There are some really fantastic ways to print your art, there really is no better time. If you haven’t yet done a session with me, what are you waiting for? Email me today at info@smithbrad.com to set up an appointment!

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Playing w/ A Studio Setup

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

Studio setups isn’t something that I come across every day, but it’s something I’d been meaning to revisit in the off season. Just about all of my work is done on location, whether it be weddings, portraits, or senior sessions. But in an effort to never stop learning and developing my craft, I took some time to play with a studio setup for a bit last week.

I photographed alongside my friend, Robyn, as we lit our model, Monica and tested various setups from dramatic and hard, to soft and forgiving. These are just a few of the ones I liked from the session.

I’m not going to give up looking for unique locations for most of my shoots, but it’s something I felt like I needed to be familiar with as a photographer. I would love to hear your thoughts – do you prefer on-location or studio backdrops? How would you want to be photographed?

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Before & After

Friday, December 31st, 2010

Here’s a quick glimpse into an image of mine before editing and then again after being edited. I thought it could be interesting for others to see how the process works. Maybe not. Let me know either way.

First, I import all the images from the day into Lightroom, then I typically tag all the images that I think are usable, and start to lightly edit them. After the first sweep, I go back through to refine them a bit each time to ensure continuity between all the images from each portion of the wedding day. Once I’ve narrowed the image set down to a manageable amount, I’ll look at each image a little closer and spend some time making it as refined as possible.

This image is from Finnuala and Scott’s wedding back in October. I liked the image initially, but I was bothered by the slivers of sky to the left and right of the bell tower they were standing on. I felt the image would have been stronger were the sky not in it. I liked the look that they were giving each other, and the wind blowing her hair and dress really added a bit of motion to the image that I liked. I first cropped the image to remove the slivers of sky, then straightened the lines using Photoshop. I added a touch of vintage processing, which I only apply in a very small percentage of my images. I really try to let the image stand on it’s own, but I thought this particular one benefited from the vintage processing. And finally, I introduced a bit of blur on the top and the bottom of the frame to draw the eye to the center where the bridge and groom are standing. The whole image is stronger now, in my opinion.

Should I do more posts like this in the future? Let me know in the comments below.

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My Favorite iPhone Photography Apps

Friday, February 26th, 2010

I’ve owned an iPhone now for about 6 months, and I love it. It’s a tool that helps me to run my business more effectively by allowing me to schedule appointments, answer emails, and take note of various important things every day. As a photographer, I think the first apps that I sought out were ones related to photography and tweaking the images I made right on my iPhone. I wrote a post a while back about how the best camera is the one that’s with you. Chase Jarvis coined the phrase, but it’s a good thing to remember when you’re out and about with nothing more than your camera-phone. Taking pictures of interesting things has never been easier. The images come out fairly low-fi, but with a few simple tweaks, you can transform your iPhone images into something worth looking at again. I get asked quite often about what apps I use to tweak some of the images on my photo-a-day blog, so I thought I’d put together a list of some of the common apps I use.

Chase Jarvis Best Cam ($2.99)
This app was released right around the time that I bought my iPhone. I’ve been a follower of Chase for a long time, and it was natural to pick up this app. It’s got 13 different effects, all stack-able, and all able to be placed above or below others. You see the change in real time. This app does a great job on the back end, and it’s here that I think it really shines. I can choose to send the completed image to Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, an email address, save it to my iPhone, or upload to the Best Cam website.

Tilt Shift Gen ($0.99)
This app is the starting point for most of the images taken on my iPhone, simply because it’s got a great contrast, brightness, and saturation sliders that help the image get where I want it before applying deeper effects. It also allows for some selective focusing, which I like to use to draw the eye towards a particular part of the image.

CameraBag ($1.99)
This app is made up of 12 different effects, ranging from a Holga effect to instant film to a cross-process film look. Its settings aren’t customizable, which is a bit of a downside to me, as I like to treat each image a little differently, and this app doesn’t allow that. It does, however, do some cool effects.

Polarize (Free)
This app does one thing, and does it pretty well. It gives the image a distinct Polaroid look. The images come out looking greenish and weirdly exposed. The app also gives you the option of adding text in the lower white area of the frame.

PS Mobile (Free)
This is the Photoshop app from Adobe Systems. It can’t be equated to Photoshop in any way, because there’s far too much to be able to cram into a tiny app, but it does offer some tools worth keeping in your pocket. The crop tool allows me to crop manually, in a way that no other app will let me. There are adjustments for brightness and contrast which I like.

Hipstamatic ($1.99)
This is one of my newer apps, so I haven’t gotten to play with it all that much. It emulates the old, plastic toy-like cameras of the past. Harsh vignettes, funky color washes, and blurred images take your images and make them appear vintage with a single swipe.

ShakeIt ($.99)
Another Polaroid-like app, you shake the iPhone as if you were developing old Polaroid film. It’s the whole sensory experience.

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