Shoot It Right The First Time

Oh boy.  Talk about learning this lesson the hard way.  How many times will I do this before it finally sinks in?  OK here’s what happened:

I’m on a shoot with my friend Heather Gill (Check out her stuff, it’s amazing at http://heathergillphotography.com/) and we are shooting one of our favorite models, Halley, in a 50’s diner in Missoula, MT.  We have the natural light, the giant reflector, the model looks just right, the clothes work, the setting is perfect.  I snap the shot.  I think, “Man, that’s it!!”  Here’s what I shot:

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Love it! So I march away thinking, “Rock on!  Awesome!”  As I download the pictures and start reviewing them, one of my photography Jedi Masters, Ben Reed (http://www.benreedphoto.com/, seriously amazing stuff) points out this one small detail…

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Are you serious???!!!  I left my PHOTO BAG IN THE BACKGROUND?????  This is beyond a rookie mistake.  I just got so caught up in the shoot that I forgot about it.  …Now what?

Two hours later I have managed to photoshop it out, for the most part. Don’t get me started on matching tones with the green leather on the seats or the weird wall colors…

Here’s the final version:

Halley's Diner72ppiwatermarked

Is it perfect?  No.  Would you notice if you didn’t know?  Maybe.

What’s the lesson?  Look at the details and make sure that it’s right!  Don’t take a hit because you had one guy’s head behind somebody else in a group shot or (in my case) you left all of your luggage in the background.  When your assistant says, “Why should I move that power cord?  You can just photoshop it out,”  tell that person that they can spend four hours photoshopping it out themselves, or that they can just move the #$%^&*@ power cord now….

Check the details and shoot it right the first time.

See you out there…

James

www.jcharlessmithphoto.com

Shooting Think 13

Sometimes the stars just line up.  Literally.  I had the distinct pleasure of shooting the Think 13 conference in Chicago last week.  Think of it as a TED Talks for the credit union industry. The conference is a melting pot of ideas to push forward creative thinking in life and business.  This year’s theme “Disrupt Business as Usual” pushed the idea that to move forward you need to think and act creatively, not to just keep doing things the way you always have.  The power and impact of social media was also a big topic of discussion.

As the official shooter, I was able to sit in the front row and do my best to capture the energy of the moment.  Cory Booker, mayor of Newark, NJ (and possibly future President of the United States) was one of my favorites:

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He’s got my vote.

This was a seriously inspirational story about a man with small beginnings, who became a highly influential person through his creatively thinking outside of the box and his deep caring for the people of his city.

Daymond John, Founder of FUBU and star of “Shark Tank” was another speaker who gave us his story (which was amazing), and his five tips on how to be a shark…not sharing those :)…

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Daria Musk, a global music superstar who built her worldwide audience on Google+, told her story through music…

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Now for the truly amazing part:  Think 13 raised $115,oo for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.  They raised that money in one week.  Wow.

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For more information on Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, check out http://childrensmiraclenetworkhospitals.org/

Follow Cory Booker on Twitter:  https://twitter.com/CoryBooker

They published my pics on Credit Union Times, which was super cool!   http://www.cutimes.com/2013/05/01/think-13-on-wednesday-slide-show

For more images, check out this link http://jcharlessmithphoto.photoshelter.com/gallery/Think-13/G0000PHrw5zKgENw

Stage shots were created with a Canon 5D Mark II and a 70-200mm f2.8 shot at 1/320 at f3.2 ISO 1000 for the most part.

See you out there…

James

http://www.jcharlessmithphoto.com/

Shooting in Old San Juan

Hey there!

I had the great fortune of shooting in San Juan, Puerto Rico, this week.  One of the big bonuses was being able to finally shoot images of my longtime friend Ivan Melendez in the historical site of Castillo San Felipe Del Morro, in Old San Juan.  It’s always a bonus to be able to shoot pictures in an old historical fort.  “El Morro” took 250 years and 10 generations to complete.  The cracked walls and faded rocks add an element to the pictures that give it a gravitas that you rarely find in a world of 7-11’s and Dollar Stores…

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Add to that the blessing of having a very photogenic model who knows how to dress well…

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After leaving the fort, there were plenty of opportunities for “documentary style” street shooting, including this young boy who decided to feed the pigeons, and got a little more than he bargained for!

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What street walk would be complete without the local musicians, who make up lyrics as they go along addressing the people passing by?  In this case, they sang a song about Ivan and our fellow travelers Sandra and Diane.  They were all wearing orange, so the the musicians sang “Orange, you are so orange” to the sounds of a pair of acoustic guitars.  They also sang “Yes, you can take a picture”…

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Life is fun.  Especially when shared with friends…

To see more images from the photoshoot, go to:

http://jcharlessmithphoto.photoshelter.com/gallery/Ivan-in-Old-San-Juan/G0000bR1slSNvkWc

For more information on the  ‘El Morro’ fort, check out the link below.  It’s part of the U.S. National Park Service:

http://www.nps.gov/saju/index.htm

See you out there…

James

http://www.jcharlessmithphoto.com/

New Album “Selfish” by Jelloyd

Hey there!

Atlanta based artist Jelloyd released his new EP “Selfish” last week!  You can listen and download to PC for free here at http://www.datpiff.com/JeLloyd-Selfish-The-Ep-mixtape.469490.html

It’s a great album and I urge you to check it out!

I had the pleasure of shooting Jelloyd’s EP cover last year.  Just to be clear, I shot images of Jelloyd and a digital artist dropped in the background and graphics.  Here’s what I shot:

JeLloyd Project no reflect local high contrast

The trick to this was shooting Jelloyd on a simple, solid background.  This way, anything that he wanted could be dropped into the background.  Normally, blue or green (think “green screen” from the movies) would be ideal, but I had white so that’s what I used.  The light setup was relatively simple:  Two strobes lighting the background and two strobes with umbrellas for light diffusion in front of Jelloyd.  Here’s the setup:

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(setups PSD courtesy http://www.kevinkurtz.com)

After a little photoshop work, (removing reflections in the sunglasses, taking out lint, etc), the image was ready to go.  Here’s the final version after Jelloyd’s cover team got finished:

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Jelloyd is a supremely talented artist, and it was a pleasure to spend an afternoon on a  photoshoot with him.  For more images from the shoot, check out the link below.

Jelloyd BW

http://jcharlessmithphoto.photoshelter.com/gallery/Selfish/G0000rUh9GDTe3PI

Check out Jelloyd’s YouTube channel here:  http://www.youtube.com/user/JeLloydJMJ

Until next time, see you out there…

James

Fill Flash!

Hey there!

After working out how to do this whole blogging thing, I’m starting my new blog, which will share photography images and also include a few travel tips from various adventures.  I’ll be sharing links and information on places to go and what to see, along with tips on how to capture some of these images yourself.  Hope all is well and I will see you out there!

This week I’m sharing how to get environmental portraits in low light:

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The picture above was shot at 6:30 AM on the Tybee Island Pier just outside of Savannah, GA. The rising sun was behind my subject in the east.

If you have a good DSLR digital camera, with an off-camera flash, this is a relatively easy shot.  In this picture of Scott Mitchell (Scooter) Nelson at the Pier, I shot manually, metering off the available light in the background.  With my off-camera flash set on manual, I added just enough light to brighten up Scooter’s face without it being overpowering.  Often when your light source is behind your subject (which it was here), your subject will appear dark, which is why that fill light is so important.

If you don’t use fill flash, your subject is dark and you end up with something like the picture below.  He’s dark and the picture kind of sucks.  I don’t know why I copyrighted that shot, nobody will ever use it…

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A good fill flash picture doesn’t require super expensive equipment.  You can achieve similar results using an on-camera flash as well, as long as you meter your exposure off the available background light.  I shot the picture below in the Galapagos Islands with a Canon Rebel XT using the built-in camera flash:

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Don’t be afraid to use flash!  If you have a beautiful background that’s low-lit, set your camera for a little longer exposure to capture that ambient light, so that you don’t just have really bright subjects with a black background.  It’s also a good idea to have your brother holding the beer bottle with the label away from the camera, so that you don’t get slapped with a lawsuit!

See you out there!

For information on the Tybee Island Pier, check out this link: http://tybeeisland.com/place/tybee-pier-pavilion/

James

www.jcharlessmithphoto.com

Shooting in Savannah, GA

Shooting in Savannah, GA is an absolute blast.  Many people have differing opinions on which city is more beautiful, Charleston, SC or Savannah.  I’m not 100% decided on that question, but I can tell you that the history and layout of Savannah makes it a great city to walk around and explore with a camera.  During Sherman’s March at the peak of the Civil War, the General refused to burn Savannah down.  As a result, many of it’s original buildings are still intact.

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Savannah is the only city in the South that was planned, so it’s central, oldest area is on a grid, with squares and fountains galore. A trolly runs along the riverfront, which is crowded with eclectic shops, restaurants and bars.  The mixture of old architecture, Spanish moss (more on that later) and quirky characters makes Savannah totally unique.

trolley final

http://jcharlessmithphoto.photoshelter.com/image/I0000aOoD7MkSan0

I have found that the best time to go to Savannah is in the Spring or Fall.  The summers can be sweltering.  You should consider, however, going on Saint Patrick’s Day weekend of you’re looking for a good party and a huge parade!

Here are some helpful links to plan your next trip to Savannah:

For information on the Spanish Moss, which is neither Spanish nor Moss:

http://savannah.for91days.com/2011/01/24/spanish-moss-neither-spanish-nor-moss/

And the local visitor’s guide:

http://www.officialsavannahguide.com/

Happy Travels!