Rain Perspective (And we sat in the car looking at the rain… and then got out and started shooting. )

1/100 sec at f/3.5, ISO 160, 70 mm

Shooting in the rain… Who the hell wants to stand out in the rain with a camera and capture photos? Why would you even want to do that?

Ok, so let me jump right to it and say that I learned a vital lesson several years back. “Photos have to be interesting” and if they are not interesting… well they may just be what is referred to as a “snapshot” and while snapshots may hold a lot of love, memories and meaningfulness to the people who are associated with the snapshot. However if we are trying to create something other than a snapshot, we must do something that will in some way capture the viewer’s attention enough to look at our image. We know photography is subjective, like art, music, dance, food and beauty, it is all subjective. But let’s set aside the fact of Subjectiveness and focus on being interesting.

Some subjects are photographed all the time and not every photo of that subject, whether it be a person, place or thing is interesting. Iconic landmarks are photographed everyday all day long, the Statue of Liberty, Golden Gate Bridge and the Eiffel Tower are just three that come to mind. However many of the photos are nothing more than a snapshot, they all look exactly the same. Even people… let’s take a sports star for example. He/she we see their photographs all the time as they kick a soccer ball, swing a tennis racket or a golf club. Maybe it is a photo of them scoring a winning shot and for today and a few days later the photo is interesting. And next week they score another winning shot and last week’s photo is not all that interesting anymore. But if we take them out of their normal setting and place them in a setting that creates juxtaposition… well, now we have changed it up and maybe create an interesting image of this person.

One day I captured the local steam engine as it chugged down the tracks. I see it coming, I have my camera on the tripod and just as the train gets closer the rain increases from a very lite drizzle to a steady heavy rain. Not quite a downpour, but enough to ruin the series of photos I was about to take. Sure I still clicked the shutter… I don’t know why, but at the time I thought “why not” I’m here, the camera is set up and… Ok, so I pack up and go home and when I look at the photos I see the rain doesn’t look as bad as I thought it would. Also I notice that the rain is creating steam to rise from the boiler of the engine creating a more dramatic scene. So I chose one photo and I edit out the power lines and road signs as I always do and then post it on-line. I should also mention the train had a Christmas wreath on the front because it was the Christmas season.

Original edit for print and Historical Flemington website.

So, later that year I am contacted and asked if the image of the train can be used in a holiday tourism campaign and for a local website. The art director seen many images of that old steam engine, but none that had the look & feel of my image.

Lesson Learned. Changing perspective can make a photo more interesting, this I already knew. So let’s use rain as a change of perspective.

I had an outdoor photo shoot scheduled with a model and of course it turned out to be a rainy day. The model, Tiffany is very determined and is not at all bothered by the rain. Like a true professional she decided to “roll with the flow” and make the best of it. We found some roof overhangs and tried to stay as dry as possible. In the end we had some really nice images. However we both decided to reschedule the shoot for a few weeks later so we could work with some nice weather.

A few weeks later…

The rain was harder than last time. And we sat in the car looking at the rain, made a few comments about the rain and then got out and started shooting. Needless to say I have good gear so I’m not at all worried about the water. So here again we find ourselves in the rain, even harder than last time and no roof overhangs. Just two people in the rain, but two people who could care less because I for one know that “right or wrong” the images we are creating will be… shall we say different. Tiffany on the other hand, is a small little girl with enough determination and enthusiasm that would make anybody happy to be in the rain.

In the end it is about two things: 1. Are you happy about what you have created and 2. Was it interesting?

Instagram is my latest flavor of social media; I can get a “half decent feel” of how interesting photos are by the response I get. It is not so much the amount of “Likes or Hearts” but more so it is about knowing your followers and knowing what compels them to take the time to leave a comment. Also knowing who never really comments on anything, however today they were moved to take the time to leave a heartfelt comment. Or even better, they take the time to send a direct message with a comment.

So yes shooting with Tiffany in the rain generated some interest. Shooting with Tiffany in the rain again two weeks later generated even more interest. I would have thought that it would have not been so interesting because it was so similar. I was wrong… again, but wrong in a good way.

One more thing to mention and truly a key component to any photo shoot… rain or no rain, is have an interesting subject.

 

End Stage Creativity (once back to Lightroom that is where I find it easy and fun to play)

1/125 sec at f/10 ISO 50 50mm

1/125 sec at f/10 ISO 50 50mm

Can Adobe Lightroom be a creative tool? While “hardcore” Photoshop users will beg to differ, I find for me personally Adobe Lightroom can be what I call a great “end stage creative editor.” I say this because I will always start my edit in Lightroom with basic prep adjustments preparing the image for Photoshop. Then after Photoshop the image always comes back to Lightroom and while it may be finished and ready for output with a watermark I will spend time playing around doing some creative editing. It fun and it is easy, and sometimes this is where I will create something I had no idea I would do to that particular image. Best part is that if I find something I really like I can save it as a preset and use it again and again.
This image of LaydeeFly is a perfect example. The image that went to Photoshop had a color cast removed and some hair fixes as well as a few blemishes taken away. These are all standard fixes that would be done to any image I work on. But once back to Lightroom that is where I find it easy and fun to play with what the end view of the image will look like.
With this image of LaydeeFly I ended with a look I rarely ever use, although for this image the intense split toning, curves, HSL and adjustments proved to be amazing.

Shooting Guns with Cameras (have another set of eyes helping direct the shot just makes for a better and quicker way to achieve a great image.)

1/125 sec at f/10 ISO 50 125mm Model LaydeeFly

1/125 sec at f/10 ISO 50 125mm Model LaydeeFly

Happy Valentine’s Day everybody, sorry there are no roses & chocolate today. Not even a glass of champagne.  You see here at Reckless Pixel Images it is all about “photography,” because I love photography. So for this Valentine’s Day I wanted to post this image from a shoot I did in the studio a few days ago. It has to be interesting and what could be interesting than guns & tattoos. I have shot with LaydeeFly Reyes in the past. She is interesting and always great to work with. On this particular evening my friend and fellow photographer was on hand to lend his eyes and experience in directing a few of our shots. This image like most is not just a “point & shoot” kind of thing. Lighting had to be just right as did the placement of the hands and the gun in relationship to the tattoo. I should also mention the lips and hair as well as the “Mom” tattoo.  So as a photographer to have another set of eyes helping direct the shot just makes for a better and quicker way to achieve a great image.

2K17 Goals (I would go “old school” and sit and look at magazines for inspiration,)

Nixlot Dameus 1/125 sec at f/7.1 ISO 50 50mm

Nixlot Dameus
1/125 sec at f/7.1 ISO 50 24mm

So last year I had set a goal to create portfolio quality images with “impact.” Now I felt (at the time) I had some great images in my portfolio, however the goal is always to add more. Now with that said; you cannot just keep adding, if you put something in you have to take something out and my personal preference is to keep the portfolio around 20 images and no more. After looking at ten images, a person is either going to interested or not. If they’re really interested they will look at ten more and that is why I feel the number 20 works. So creating new images that are portfolio quality is a daunting task because I am actually competing against myself. I have to make something good enough to knock something I already love out of the portfolio. This is like killing a child to make way for another. A horrible comparison I know, but I love the images I create and I don’t want to see them leave and go to the “back-shelf” so-to-speak.

I knew going into this that if I could come out with three great images I would consider myself lucky, two great images and I would feel accomplished, and one great image I would be happy.

Well let me tell you “happy” came quickly, Saturday January 16, 2016 to be exact. That is the day that a young lion named Nixlot Dameus walked into the studio. Just a mere 17 years old this amazing young man not only looked amazing he embodies “overcoming the odds.” Soft spoken and serious as a heart attack about what we were there for, Nixlot was focused and serious and that made me feel confident that what I had planned would actually come to be. The image you see posted here is “exactly” what I had envisioned. To have a seventeen year old kid whom I never met before and who is not a model walk into the studio and do exactly what I say is not only amazing, but also very gratifying. This image came at the very end of the shoot as is almost always the case with my shoots. I knew when I left the studio I had a “keeper” and I hadn’t even downloaded the images yet.

LaydeeFly Reyes

LaydeeFly Reyes

Now meanwhile I should say that this goal started on January 1, 2016, yes that’s right on New Year’s Day I was out shooting the cold and windy streets of Bethlehem PA with a local model LaydeeFly. The shoot was fun and it was cold, but the fun outweighed the cold. There were a few amazing images that came from her shoot, the one of her sitting on the street corner was a favorite of mine for sure.

Mina Santiago

Mina Santiago

Then the very next day with teen model Mina I was shooting of a forest in Tinicum Township PA and it was even colder than the day before. I did make one creative edit from that shoot that actually got a lot of attention on social media. Still I was looking for another good image, the year was young, but I wanted something to happen.

 

 

Ice_Princess-4802Instagram

The “Ice Princess” shoot with Kendall seemed promising, however due to time constraints the shoot did not last as long as I would have liked. But there was still a great shoots that came from that shoot. The portrait shots were awesome and I had one creative edit that I really liked and I felt was decent enough to put in the portfolio. So up until now I had the stellar image of Nixlot and then spring gave way to summer and I was getting worried because I had nothing in the works that would seem to yield a great image. Sure I was working doing paid shoots, but they never yield stellar shots.

 

ryan_5_15-6591-edit-2

Model Ryan McNally

Then came Ryan McNally and again I gained a stellar image that got good reception on social media. But… Now my two best images of the year were in the same genre of male fitness and I want diversity, something with a punch. I needed to kick in an afterburner or something, I wanted… I couldn’t think anymore and it was eating at me, day in and day out. I didn’t talk about it much, hell I didn’t even blog about it. It was almost like writer’s block or something. I would go “old school” and sit and look at magazines for inspiration, I looked on Pinterest till my eyes were ready to bleed. Inspiration!  I need you so bad and I cannot find you. Then it happened, just like finding love when you least expect it and in the least likely of places. On

 

 

 

Sinister Clown 1/125 sec at f/7.1 ISO 50 88mm Model Nicole Gallagher, Makeup Artist Jade Alexandra Brown, Photographer Richie Smith Jr

Sinister Clown 1/125 sec at f/7.1 ISO 50 88mm
Model Nicole Gallagher, Makeup Artist Jade Alexandra Brown, Assistant Makeup Jordan Brown, Photographer Richie Smith Jr

Facebook I see a post about entertainment news and I see the image of the “new” Pennywise the clown, the villain from the Stephen King Novel “IT.” THAT’S IT! A clown and I had been thinking about a clown “crawling on a floor” (strange I know) but this would be even better. Now with all this said; I did not want to just create a duplicate of the new Pennywise, but rather I wanted to take that concept of a… I don’t even know what to call it… “Evil clown” no that sounds to generic. “Sinister Clown” sounds more like it. So I wanted to take this so-called sinister clown look to another level, same as they have with Pennywise. They made the new Pennywise look more like a doll with his wardrobe, like and old doll from the renaissance or Victorian era. So hey why not shoot my Sinister Clown in a renaissance context, such as was done with the Super Heroes by French photographer Sacha Goldberge.

And so it was to be, but this look would take a whole lot more than a model and a makeup artist. This would be a lot of work. So how to you climb a mountain? “One step at a time” and that is what we did. The clown images were stellar and I was satisfied. I would now put myself in that extremely “Lucky” category and I can now say I accomplished that goal. That my friend, is a great feeling.

So here we are in 2017 and what are my goals? I have set a goal for just two stellar images this year, concepts are in the works and who knows maybe more than two will come, but I will be satisfied with two. More-so the bigger goal is to get more content on the YouTube channel and to increase subscribers. So in-order to do that I need to improve my vlogging skills and I started working on that at the end of last year. Along with vlogging skills a drone will be needed and it may be time to update the DSLR… we’ll see. Thanks so much for stopping by and reading. Have a great day.

Day 1 with Tiffany (in the cold and the wind is a bit of a stretch for both photographer and model.)

1/125 sec at f/2.8 ISO 100 165mm

1/125 sec at f/2.8 ISO 100 165mm

Happy New Year everybody! I am usually writing a blog post about reminiscing about the year past and which photos were my favorites. But I would like to say I started the first day of 2016 off a little different from what I have in the past. It was cold here in the Northeastern part of the USA and it was windy too. But I had a wonderful time shooting outdoors with a model that I have worked with in the past and it was the perfect day for this project. Tiffany needed fresh shots and I wanted to do something that would tie her into the city in which she lives. Bethlehem Pennsylvania is a beautiful city with some strong culture and history. So local people will recognize the elements in the images as being shot in Bethlehem and others will still see good images none the less.

I really have to hand it to Tiffany (aka LayDeeFly) for braving the cold and even worse the wind and coming out on a day when most people are recuperating from the festivities from the night before. The Steel Stacks as they are known to the locals of Bethlehem are actually a national icon. The Stacks are the remnants of the once world-famous Bethlehem Steel Corporation that turned out tons upon tons of steel that built iconic structures such as the Golden Gate Bridge and so much more. The city is also rich in Moravian history as well. I could go on and on but this post is not a history lesson, but rather a lesson on growing and stretching. Stretching does no one any good unless it hurts a little bit and as the hurt fades away the endorphins kick in and you ride that high till it fades away.

So getting out and shooting on New Year’s day in the cold and the wind is a bit of a stretch for both photographer and model. I think more-so for the model because she was in a body suit. But with use of a blanket and a fury hat and several retreats to the car for a little heater break we did it. Shooting around the Stacks and in some instances just standing in the middle of the street was so easy because of the lack of people, there were very few. We did draw a fair amount of attention when people seen a girl wrapped in a blanket wearing a buffalo hat with horns and knee high socks walking down the street. But that’s the fun of it all; hearing the horns honking from the passing traffic was actually heartwarming.

So as the sun was starting its final decent we made our way to the bridge that overlooks the Steel Stacks and captured some final images, then it was coffee time.

Gonna be  great year!

…And The Watermark Saved The Day (hold your hat folks the rollercoaster is headed down fast)

Laydee'Fly (model)

Laydee’Fly (model)

Ok so I have recently blogged about watermarks and I found it very ironic and interesting that two separate incidents occurred on the same day that involved watermarks and my photography.

The first incident took place when I received a text telling me to call a lady in regards to photos of a model I posted to her Facebook and she wanted them removed. Strange!

The second unrelated incident was later that same day I received an email from a WordPress editor asking if I could offer up some thoughts & comments about watermarking for an article to be posted across WordPress.

So the first story is quite interesting, but my watermark played a key role in helping correct the problem and I’ll explain. See back in the beginning of October 2014 I did a model shoot for Laydee’Fly a model from Bethlehem, PA. The shoot took place at a park that has Moravian ruins, old building that are pretty much falling down and they make for great photos. So while posting the content to my Reckless Pixel Facebook page I decided to tag the location. Now I have shot at this location before and I tagged the photos with no problems at all. Well… this time something went wrong, I thought I was tagging the “Moravian ruins” at the park, but in-fact I tagged a Moravian Village real estate page. So it turns out (follow me now because this gets real stupid) there is a Moravian Village senior community that has a Facebook page, but it was not their page that my photos were tagged to. Now for some reason the real estate page is somewhat of a dead page, maybe someone started the page and then abandon it and for some stupid reason the people looking for the Moravian Senior community go to the Moravian Real Estate page and “Like” the wrong page and post and tag to that page. Talk about confusing… So the lady who I’m in contact with is the “Social Media” director for the Moravian Senior community and she can’t seem to find the owner of the Real Estate page so (hold your hat folks the rollercoaster is headed down fast) she is trying to control the content of the Real Estate page even though she can’t login to it. It is not her page, but it is the page that everybody thinks is hers. Wow! So I know about now your head is spinning, if you’re even still following me.

So of course I told her I would look into the matter of the sexy tattooed model images that always seemed to be in their feed even though they were posted over six months ago lol. The social media director was nice and polite and seemed to be for the most part clueless to how Facebook location tagging worked. But she found my watermark in the photos and then found my website and then found my phone number. My big question is; If you’re a so-called “social media director” how do you not know how Facebook location tagging works? And why are you trying to control an abandon page? In the end I went back and corrected the location tags.

Now to the second incident involving watermarks, I received an email from an editor/blogger/writer at WordPress dot-com that is preparing content about photographers and watermarking.  She was reaching out to a handful of WordPress photographers and asking their thoughts on watermarking. I will admit I felt somewhat flattered and I did reply with my thoughts and comments. I really do feel watermarking is an important topic and often not thought of topic for most hobby photographers. I think most people fail to realize when you snap the shutter you are creating intellectual property. I know to some this sounds corny and over stated, but once they find that someone is making thousands of dollars from their simple click of the shutter… well now it is a different story. Or the photographer finds that someone is using their images in a malicious or hurtful way… well again the whole idea of intellectual property soon becomes a reality and more so if you were educated just a little bit about what to do and not to do, things might never get out of hand.

In closing this post I will emphasize that you (the photographer) do not have to be a professional nor do you have to have a $6000 camera to be concerned about your images being “clipped” and used by people without your permission. I have had crazy things like people clipping one of my Instagram posts of a model I did a shoot with. And then re-editing the photo and posting it back to Instagram with their watermark and tagging me as the photographer… again (head spinning) you never know what people are up too. Basically some people are just idiots and you don’t have to look for them, they’ll find you.

Take care of your photos and thanks for reading.

Laydee'Fly

Laydee’Fly

Laydee'Fly

Laydee'Fly

Laydee’Fly

Behind The Scenes With Singer/songwriter Laydee’Fly

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Laydee’Fly Promo from Richard Smith Jr on Vimeo.