Saturday, November 28, 2009

Too Much Time On My Hands

So here it is...a nice long weekend...and I am basically caught up on all of my work. So it was time to play a little. Once again, Ali and I broke out the gels and had some fun with remote flash units. I set up the camera and asked Ali's friend, Danielle to fire the shutter on command. (She made a great voice activated shutter release!)

We were taking different shots with me showing different emotions (just messing around) and then, as we were reviewing the pictures on the camera, it occurred to me that this would make a cool image by combining many of them together. I call it "Jeff's Mac Attitudes". You can click on the image above to see it larger (33 percent of the original size).

Just to review how I shot these:

1. I set up the Canon 5D Mark II (and PocketWizard Mini TT1) on a Gitzo Tripod
2. I connected a Canon 580EX II flash to the new Flex TT5 PocketWizard and gelled it blue
3. I taped a piece of white paper onto the screen of the Mac (to reflect the flash)
4. I put the flash on the Mac and pointed it towards the white paper
5. I pre-focused the camera and set it to manual
6. I sat down at the computer and asked Danielle to fire on command.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Different View of the Golden Gate Bridge - Rolling the Zoom

So many people wrote to me and told how much they liked the picture of the Golden Gate Bridge that I posted last week, that I thought I would share another one with you all. This image was taken minutes after the other image, but I added a cool effect by rolling the zoom half way through the 15 second exposure. Many people see these types of images and think that the lighting effect is done in PhotoShop. Nope! This is all done in the camera. Fun huh?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Bar Mitzvah With A Lot Of Laughs

Yesterday I had the good fortune to shoot images at Jordan's Bar Mitzvah. Not only were they good looking subjects but they had a TON of personality. There is nothing better than capturing that in camera!
Mom, dad and Jordan all gave amazing speeches and they were filled with some great moments of laughs. This image was captured right after David (Jordan's father) finished the punch line of his opening joke (stating how Jewish husbands don't get much time to talk), and I grabbed a whole sequence of them cracking up. It is these types of images that show the personality of the family and I LOVE taking these.

Early in the service, the sun came through the high windows and created this swath of light across the bema. I had two choices; shoot wide to average the light (which I did as well) or keep it in tight at 285mm and play off of the light. This image really worked for me because I love the boy's expressions and I like the mood of the lighting.

I shot this image from the back of the Temple. I think that this is the first Bar Mitzvah that I have photographed where they had two-toned yamakas (or as the dad said, BMW logos on everyone's heads). :)

And this last shot made me laugh. This is an image of all the men huddled into the bar area to watch the last 5 minutes of the Stanford vs. Berkeley football game. I waited for an image to come on the TV screen that would tell the story and then grabbed this one.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Golden Gate Bridge At Dusk (On A Clear Evening!)

There is nothing prettier than the Golden Gate Bridge in the deep blue light of dusk. I was up in San Francisco for a training seminar and brought my camera and tripod hoping for a clear evening to get this shot. The gods of light were good to me! This evening was very clear and not too windy. I shot numerous pictures from this vantage point but liked this one the best. I was looking for a little more light on the foreground rock. I saw a guy (with camera) pulling out of his parking space and politely asked him if he could turn his car so that it faced the rock. All I needed was his headlights for about 20 seconds and shazam, I got the shot.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Family That Flies Together...Stays Together

Today is one of those days in which my photography was able to bring fun and excitement to the whole family. For those of you who read my blog regularly (all 2 of you I am sure), you will remember that I photographed some of the vintage airplanes in Sonoma many months ago. Well...the Vintage Aircraft Company asked me to come back during the fall colors to take more aerial photos...and invited the family to come join me for the rides.

This is one of the shots from the plane to plane segment. Yep, that is Annette and Connor cruising at 1500 feet.

This is a shot of the vineyards below. If you look closely, you can see some of the colors in the vines.

Ali went up with me on the second flight of the afternoon and said that it was "Awesome!". I like this shot of her with the late afternoon sun on her face.

To get this shot, I asked the pilot to make two low passes over the vineyards so that I could take a wide shot of the vines and their fall colors.

And here are some random shots from the afternoon that I really like.

And if you thought that the landscape was nice from the air, you should see the Napa Valley from the ground! (And for those that might ask...I did not increase the saturation in this image, it was really this colorful.)

The whole family loved this experience so much that we may make another trip up to Sonoma in March to catch the landscape with all of the mustard flowers in bloom. Look for more aerial shots then (I hope).

Note: For those photo enthusiasts who want to get the "technical scoop", here are the details of the shoot. I took two Canon 5D Mark II cameras up with me, one with a 28-300 lens and one with a Fish Eye lens. Both cameras were set to Aperture priority and I was constantly changing the aperture to isolate the other plane from the background or to have both foreground and background in focus. One of the bigger challenges in this situation is to have a shutter speed that is fast enough to get a shot with perfect focus, BUT, with a slow enough shutter speed as not to freeze the propeller (which would look bad in the final images). I looped both cameras into the seat belt harness to make sure that the cameras stayed in the plane. I shot on 4 Lexar CF cards, two of the new 16GB 600x cards and 2 of the 16GB 300x cards. On the first flight (which was the longer of the two), I ended up switching out all memory cards mid-flight. That was challenging!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Another Great Bar Mitzvah (In A Very Cool Temple)

This is the first time that I have photographed at Congregation Beth Am in Los Altos Hills, CA. The Temple is surrounded by windows which lets in a fair bit of ambient light, but what really makes this place special is the colors behind the bihma.

They have many Torahs and each is covered in beautiful tapestry pieces with colors that just pop in camera.
As a photographer, there is nothing better than photographing a really nice kid (and J.B. was awesome) in this type of setting.

I was able to capture images from the service from the back of the Temple using a Canon 100-400mm L Series lens. The Canon 5D Mark II can grab these frames at ISO 2500 with almost no digital noise. I love that!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Tis The Season...For Family Pictures

Last year I took most of my family portraits at the park near my home, but decided that this year I would switch locations and use the winery up in the hills. It have proven to be a great place to capture photos. This is an image I captured last weekend of my friend Ken and his family.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

My Friend The Peacock

I was killing some time up at my favorite nearby winery, waiting for some friends to arrive for their family pictures, and I came across one of the peacocks that lives in the area. Since I had my camera gear and some time to spare, I shot some images of my friend.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Engagement Pictures For My Niece

What do you say when your own relatives ask you if you can shoot their engagement pictures? I say, heck yeah! So Caitlin and Adam drove down from Sacramento and we took a couple of hours to shoot some images for them.

I had just returned from the Photo Plus show in New York and acquired the LensBaby. For those of you who are not familiar with this little contraption, it is a plastic lens that lets you selectively pick your focal point and then create directional blur in the remainder of the image. I felt that this would be a perfect time to try it out, and I really like the effect that it provided.

I also shot a lot of the images with standard lenses to give them the traditional photos to use in their invitations. Ahhhh...the innocence of young kids in love. :)