Friday, December 16, 2011

Anatomy of a Model Photo Shoot

You can flip the pages of any fashion or glamor magazine and see models made to look impeccably dressed and coiffed with unblemished and smooth complexions, what the viewer may or may not know is the amount of time and preparation that is required to get the right shot.  Photographers work at setting up the set taking light readings while the models wrestle with wardrobe, hairdressing and makeup.

No matter how exciting it may appear to be a model there is a certain amount of tedium that works its way in while waiting your turn in makeup, hairdressing or wardrobe.  


The photographer and model collaborate on poses to capture the mood and essence of the scene.  A series of shots are taken from various positions around the set along with the varying facial expressions and poses of the models.  When the photographer feels that they have captured the shots they need the shoot is called a wrap and the models are free to go while the photographers breaks down the set up. 

The photographer’s work is not complete yet, there is post production required to find and manipulate the photo that is desired.  Depending on the shoot the amount of photos may extend into the hundreds.  So, the next time you see a photo in a magazine that appeals to you think of the time and effort that may have gone into it by both the model and photographer.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Infrared Digital Photography

I recently purchased from a fellow photo club member, a Nikon D50 Digital Camera that had been modified to capture Infrared digital photos by Life Pixel, they can be found on the web at I been contemplating taking one of my older point and shoot cameras and having it converted for Infrared digital capture but had not acted on it. Now, I am so glad that my usual procrastinating had finally paid off. I now have a DSLR that fits my Nikon system lenses allowing for a wider creative ability in the Infrared area. I am a total newbie in the IR area far as trying to capture and process digital IR captures but I found the tutorials on the Life Pixel website to be most helpful.

Below are a couple examples of the IR photos I had taken, one where it is pretty much black and white and the other where the sky was left blue. I am going to continue to experiment to see what I can create using IR photos. For those contemplating jumping into the digital IR photo arena I would recommend reading the information and viewing the tutorials that are available on the Life Pixel site.

IR photo converted to Black and White
IR photo where the sky was left to remain blue in color
I will write about my new IR discoveries as I come upon them during my IR adventure

Monday, July 4, 2011

To Honor America

Here I sit the day before Independence Day catching up on miscellaneous tasks that have been too long left undone. However, I stopped in the midst of that activity to write this post. I picked up a framed embroidered piece of linen showing the American Flag and the caption “God Bless America”. Quite fitting considering today's date. Yes, God bless America and all that live within her boundaries. However, those blessings are not hollow and require adherence to the responsibilities that are required for a society to remain blessed and free.
This memento from the past was handed down to me from my wife's uncle John. I think she requested it after he passed away, along with another framed print of the American flag that he had hanging in his room. Both are in my possession now, but I would like to hand them down and have them placed in a place of respect and honor, and not stuffed into a closet or tossed away. John was a very quiet man, lived simply and probably was American as the flag, baseball and apple pie. He was loyal to his mother caring for her as she aged and was unable to care for herself. He himself was legally blind but could see well enough to be able to walk through a doorway without hitting the wall. He was adept at using the touch of his hand to sense things he could not see. He lived with his sister, my wife's mother and earned his keep by helping out where he could with chores that needed to be done about the house which he could accomplish with very little sight. He did these regularly and on a schedule that a train stationmaster would envy. He was also close to a second father to my wife and her siblings and he was well loved by all. However, his world was small and he lived a mostly nondescript life. He had a small room where these symbols of America were hung with pride. I am uncertain if it is true or not, but it is my understanding that the needlepoint of the flag was done by my wife's grandmother, John's mother and possibly an additional reason why it was hung and cared for in the manner it was. He loved his God, country and mother with unwavering loyalty. He attended Mass each Sunday and Holy Day, attending the 7 AM service that only few would attend. Each time he attended Mass, he would put on his suit, shirt and tie, shined shoes and felt hat. In cool weather he would wear a top coat and carried an umbrella if it rained. However, I cannot recall a day he missed until he became ill and was no longer able to attend on his own. I think he preferred that early morning Mass due to his sight issue. He shied away from crowds and possibly it was due to his having an issue maneuvering past many bodies without some sort of a collision happening. John was never one to cause any sort of commotion and preferred the solace of his small modest room. I know he also loved to listen to each and every Boston Red Sox game that was ever played in his lifetime. Being born in 1901, I imagine he experienced the thrill of the 1918 World Series win but it would be the last that he would experience. John passed away in early 1969 from Lung Cancer. He had smoked for a major part of his life and finally kicked the habit two years before being diagnosed. I remember seeing his slender build lose its strength and vitality as he lost his bout with a near unbeatable adversary. However, I prefer to remember John, being animated, loud and excited as he and I groaned as he would listen and I would watch the Boston Red Sox lose the 1967 World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games. They would finally break through in 2004, thirty-five years after John had died, to beat those same Cardinals in a four game sweep. I thought of John and was hoping he was whooping loudly wherever his spirit may be. I am not sure about how John felt about apple pie, but in his simple and quiet way, his love of his God, country, mother and baseball are what I would like to believe are the attributes that all Americans possess.

For many, the Fourth of July holiday is a day for cookouts, ice cream and fireworks and I must say I also partake and enjoy these also. However, I think we should stop for just a moment and renew our pledge in order that we may continue living the American life and freedoms we each enjoy.

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

A happy and safe holiday to all and God bless America..

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Signs of Spring

Maple sugar time

This past Saturday I traveled to Keene New Hampshire for the Maple sap gathering competition at Stonewall farm.

The day was pleasant with mostly blue skies with just a few occasional scattered clouds that dotted the country skyline.


Commercial Maple sap gathering has pretty much gone high tech these days but the competition consists of teams using a horse drawn sled to gather sap.  The team consists of a two horse team pulling the sled with driver and two sap gathers to empty the sap buckets into the vat mounted on the sled. 

Speed is one of the measures of a team but there are points for a number of judged actions that the team must complete while on the sap gathering trail.

The competition started in the morning with a lunch break in the farm’s visitor center.
The building has two levels with restroom facilities on both floors to accommodate guests.  In the morning hot beverages and breakfast pastries were served in the lower dining area and during the noontime break the upper level dining area served food beverages for lunch.

Guests were able to get the chill out their bones by standing near the large stone fireplace in the upstairs dining area.
The upper level of the visitor center also includes a gift shop where Maple Syrup and other locally produced products and crafts may be purchased.
The old time traditional New England process to produce Maple Syrup was by tapping Maple trees with a spout which collected the tree’s sap in a galvanized bucket.
The collected sap was brought to the sugar house where the excess water is evaporated off to get a fine grade of syrup.

The heat for the evaporator is created by burning wood in a firebox directly under the evaporator.

The sugar house is designed to allow moisture boiled out of the sap to rise as steam and vent out through the roof of the building.

It takes many gallons of sap to produce one gallon of fine quality Maple Syrup.  However, there is no substitute for pure Maple Syrup poured over a stack of warm pancakes.

Visitors to the sugar house are treated to a sample of warm, freshly made syrup.  Vanilla ice cream with fresh Maple Syrup poured over it is sold outdoors no matter what the temperature may be.  The ice cream is a substitute for that old time New England treat of having Maple Syrup poured over a cup of fresh snow.

Stonewall Farm is a year round facility with a working dairy farm that provides milk to the local community.  It is also an educational facility that provides many programs for all family members throughout the year.  Information about the farm and the events that are held at the farm can be obtained from the farm’s website at: 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

New Software

A while ago a friend of mine demonstrated a product named Portrait Professional. He was doing a lot of portrait work at the time and was really impressed with its capabilities. He was running his version on his Mac and I am a PC Windows based user. I did eventually download the trial version of Portrait Professional and played with a bit. I was doing some of the things is does in Adobe Photoshop so I placed it on the back burner for a bit.

I eventually got a promotional e-mail offering a discounted price for Portrait Professional 9 with a free upgrade to Portrait Professional 10 when it became available. Portrait Professional 10 is now released and today I finally got around to loading it on my PC. Naturally, one needs to test their newly installed software, so I selected a photo of a model I had photographed more than a year ago to test with.

I think you would agree the photo of her looked pretty good since she is a very lovely young lady. She has makeup on, so any minor imperfections would certainly have been taken care of. Her photo does not need much improvement but perhaps a subtle amount of correction could enhance the image, so I loaded it into Portrait Professional 10 to see what it would render.

Portrait Professional 10 and previous versions I have seen of it give a walking guide of selecting reference points for the eyes, eyebrows, nose, lips, hairline and face contour. The user has the option of fine tuning the contours of the selected items. I found that very slight minor corrections are required after Portrait Professional 10 has completed its selection process. When you are satisfied with the selections, Portrait Professional 10 will render a suggested corrected image.

Since all beauty is in the eye of the beholder, Portrait Professional 10 does allow for correction of any and all photo parameters by the end user. There are sliders for every aspect which allows the used to visually see the effect as the sliders are moved. Using the software is easy and very intuitive in its use. I have used it without reading a manual or help screen. The results are stunning even for a photo requiring a subtle correction.

I admit, I have not used this product extensively to date, but I do anticipate using it much more in the future. So I am very pleased with the purchase and results achieved in using Portrait Professional 10. However, one needs to test for their self use and the best way to do that is first play with the free trial version that is available for either the Windows based PC or the Mac. One caveat to using the trial version is while you can work on any photo you wish it will have a watermark placed on it. So, the trial version is only suitable for product evaluation and not to render adjusted photos without first buying the product.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Think Spring

With this harsh weather we have had this winter in the Northeast has me yearning for spring. Winter has a beauty about it but it takes its toll on many things in life. When winter is long and unrelenting it can weary the strongest of souls. However, in time like these I always hear that tune in my mind and the voice of Bette Midler singing “The Rose”.

“just remember in the winter
far beneath the winter snows
lies the seed that with the sun's love
in the spring becomes the rose”

The song was written by Amanda McBroom and performed in the 1979 movie with the same title, “The Rose”. Although the song has been sung by many there is only the voice of Bette Midler when this tune plays in my mind.

Remember “think spring” and happy Valentine’s Day to all.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Finding Photo Ops

Of course, there are photo ops every where you can cast your eye; however there are those times when one cannot find a willing model. There again, you can hire a model to pose, but the cost can be high, especially for someone that just wants to improve on their photo skills. I have found that there are a number of great Meetup groups that are photography oriented. A few do have photo shoots that use models for their photo subjects. These can be a combination of studio shoots or at times may be a photo shoot at an outdoor venue. The advantage to joining such a group is that a photographer can take advantage of shooting one or more models at a very little expense. The Meetup organizers attempt to price the photo shoots such that there is a nominal charge for each photographer. The one disadvantage is that there are a number of photographers and all need to be patient and fair about taking their allotted time with the model. For the most part I have found that many who do attend these Meetup photo shoots are cordial, helpful and cooperative in self regulating their allotted shoot times.

I attended the Boston Portrait Photographers Meetup group photo shoot this past Saturday. The advantage was not only having models available to photograph but the use of equipment to give it the total studio photo shoot experience (see photo showing one of the studio lighting setups). It is not only fun but educational as to what equipment to use for differing lighting effects. There again, it allows a photographer to experience a model photo shoot, get the touch and feel of using studio lighting equipment at a fraction of the cost it would take an individual photographer to fund such an event on their own. The benefits are greater than the risk and that includes the shaking off of stage fright. There are all levels of photographers that participate in these photo shoots and the more experienced ones are more than willing to help assist and educate those that are less familiar with their photographic equipment and the processes being used.

My recommendation for beginners and the more experienced photographers is to check out the photographic Meetup groups in your area. You will have fun, possibly make some new friends and garner much more experience and knowledge that just going it alone.