Last night, I just needed to create an image. I guess it was a really rough week…
Last weekend, a couple of friends and I made the trip to Boulder Colorado to participate in a workshop led by the incredible Tyler Stableford. To say that I love his work would be a huge understatement. I can’t remember in which magazine I first saw his work, but it was a few years ago, when I was just stumbling into photography. If you haven’t already clicked on the link above, you owe it to yourself to spend some time perusing his site. It is amazing.
What I wanted to get out of this workshop were some tips on working with clients and models, some of his processing secrets, and maybe some great shots. But Tyler was so great about taking time to understand where each of us were as photographers and encouraging us to push that boundary. For me, that meant thinking much more about the story that my image composition tells, how each element in an image either enhances or detracts from that story, and developing a process for arbitrating the two. If you cannot already tell, I loved it. I got so much more out of the weekend than I anticipated. And I’m planning to attend Tyler’s next workshop in Arches National Park!
This weekend I met and photographed New Jersey-based recording artist Ant Grant and his producer, Tomas Ramos. Thanks to Akintayo Adewole, one of my closest friends and Creative Director of Akande Music, for making the introduction. Ant is a phenomenal subject and an even better guy. After the first couple shots, it was obvious he had done it before. In addition to being a recording artist, Ant is an actor, and was immediately comfortable in front of the camera. I could write a lot…a whole lot…about what I learned on this shoot. I experimented with shooting into the sun with high speed sync, was saved a couple of times by my new Lastolite diffusers/reflectors, pushed my flashes to the limit on a rooftop in 90-degree weather, stood on the ledge of a 5-story building to gey an intersection into the background, wished I had brought water (several times), pined for a Hoodman Loupe so that I could see my LCD in the blazing sun, fell even more in love with my 24-foot ETTL cable, and was VERY thankful that I bought the third set of 4 rechargeable AA’s. Actually, there’s a lot more that I learned on the photography side, but the best part of the day was meeting Ant, Thomas, and their manager, Darren. Yesterday was a timely reminder of how good it feels to be surrounded by like-minded Black males who are as passionate about their art as I feel I am about photography. A fantastic day. I’m looking forward to doing it again. And Ant does smile…I have pictures to prove it.
Lighting geekery alert: I don’t typically get much into how I took a certain shot, but the mood struck today. Over the weekend, I received what I think will become one of my favorite accessories: a 24-foot long “off-camera” ETTL cord for Canon flashes. Basically, this means that I can place a flash that is hard wired to my camera over 20 feet away from me when I’m shooting. I didn’t even know they existed until Syl Arena mentioned it at a workshop I recently attended. So, for this image…I shot with a Canon 5D Mark II on a tripod & a Canon 24-105 Lens at 35mm, f/4, 1/200s, ISO 640. The key light, a Canon 580 EX II, was connected to the 5D hotshoe via the new cable and attached to a light stand at camera left, approx 12 feet from the subject. The key light was also gridded, gelled with a 1/2 CTB gel, and half-snooted (to prevent the wall from being illuminated by the key light).. all with Honl flash accessories (also worth their weight in gold). The key light was manually fired at 1/4 power. A second 580 EX II, gelled with a 1/4 CTO gel, was placed low, camera right to create the shadow on the wall and fired manually at 1/132 power. The whole thing took about 15 minutes of shooting and a little tweaking in Lightroom/CS5.