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.

Subjectivity (…like walking in the dark with a dim flashlight. .)

By The Sea

By The Sea

 

Art is subjective and photography is art. I once had to sit through a three hour meeting about sexual harassment. I was working at a company and all the employees were corralled into a general assembly and given bagels, sugary pastries and coffee. Then the meeting started as a well versed speaker took the stage and proceeded to tell us all the evils of sexually harassing a fellow coworker. I felt as though I was missing something… as if something was going over my head. I certainly know the difference between right and wrong and as a man I certainly know how to not be disrespectful to a fellow employee be it male or female. But where’s the line? Where is the definitive line? Certainly the behavior the speaker was describing and some of the scenarios were explicit descriptions of things I had seen people (both men & women) do many times in the workplace and no one ever got in any trouble at all. But I sat silent trying desperately to grasp something I had missed. Maybe it was the sugar high from the bagels… I must have missed something. So at the end the speaker asked if anyone had questions and I certainly did. I asked back (in a perplexed way); “While I understand most all of what you spoke of here today, I still do not understand when a person has actually been harassed? Where is that definitive line? The speaker quickly came back with the answer “there is no definitive answer, it is subjective.” Some people may like the behavior and others may find it harassing.” I said nothing, but I wanted to kill someone. You mean I had to sit here for three hours to learn that sexual harassment is subjective. Oh well the bagels were free.

So as a photographer and creative person who loves to produce images that fall somewhere between real and not real this topic of “subjectivity” for me is like walking in the dark with a dim flashlight. Like most all people I know I want to create images that are pleasing to others… but how? How and the hell do you accomplish this task if everything you do is “subjective?” So my answer is “I gave up trying a long time ago” and now I just have fun with it. I rely on composition skills such as rule of thirds, leading lines, rule of odds and so on. The rest is “whatever mood I’m in at the moment and what I have to work with as far as elements. As for; “does anyone else like it?” If someone is holding a print in their hand and they proclaim they like it, sure I take them seriously. If someone is paying me money to create something for them, then I truly believe they like my work… or they’re blind lol. If someone follows me on social media, keeps following me and comments in a heartfelt way, then again “yes” I feel they like what I do. But for all the followers who just push the red heart or hit the like button… that doesn’t mean dittly squat to me. And for sure, to the Time for Print models that come strolling along and fawn all over my work… just save your time and breath with all the honey tongue comments about how much you like my work. Just get to the point and ask if you can have free photography. I know that all sounds a little harsh, but I’m just laying out the facts and these words come without anger, but they do come with reality. Remember it is all subjective and money is what pays the bills, not hearts & likes and sweet comments.

However I am very happy with these two images and I would like to unveil them here on my blog for the first time. Thanks for reading and have a great day everybody.

Stadium Game Face

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.

The Sinister Clown At ESP (I want him to scare the bejesus out of you, but do it without holding a half-eaten arm in his mouth.)

Sinister Clown 1/125 sec at f/14 ISO 50 123mm Model Nicole Gallagher, SFX Makeup by Jade Alexandra Brown

Sinister Clown 1/125 sec at f/14 ISO 50 123mm
Model Nicole Gallagher, SFX Makeup by Jade Alexandra Brown

It’s autumn, the smell of fallen leaves fill the cool morning air, pumpkins & corn stalks decorate doorways and porches… apple pie and ginger snap cookies all add up to Halloween is coming soon.

So as Halloween draws near, so does my self-imposed deadline for having completed the edits for the “Sinister Clown” project shoot. Here we see a third edit that I have just completed and I’m very happy with it. This particular image also has a sub-edit where I have cropped in extremely close. If you have followed my blog over the years you know I have a passion for close up “in your face” edits. However usually they are images of a beautiful female face and sometimes a male too, even dogs. But today’s image is that of “Sinister Clown.” And speaking of “Sinister Clown” I wish I had a name for him… yes the clown is a male character although there is a beautiful female playing the role behind all that amazing makeup. If anyone has an idea for a name please contact me.

So for this edit; the cropped version came about because I wanted to showcase Jade’s talent up close and “in your face” and the second reason (as previously mentioned) I love tight cropped face shots. However the full size version of this edit I wanted to put my clown in a decrepit, disgusting, smelly setting. Now of course you can’t “smell” an image on a screen, but I wanted that feel to come through in the edit. So I literally spent hours and days sifting through stock images that could be used for a background. All the while I am going from photo to photo I keep telling myself “you have the image you’re looking for” but I just did not know what. Let me clarify; while I am looking through stock images with my eyes and mind focused on a computer screen, another part of my mind is working diligently sifting through places I have been over the last few years, then of course there is that third part of my mind that thinks of over-throwing the world, sexy women, money and so-on. Funny how much can get done with only two brain cells, but the inside of my mind can be almost as scary as this clown lol.

After days of this… it hits me. Cell block 5 (1829 Creator: John Haviland, Eastern State Penitentiary.) Yes Cell Block 5 is a disgusting mess. Visitors to Eastern States Penitentiary are not allowed to enter into cell block 5. When you stand at the locked gate and look down the cell block, you get a true feeling of the horror that once was ESP in its hay-day. The place looks frozen in time, like an old closet that hasn’t been opened in 200 years, it smells like a grave. The smell is because (no joke) the place has been untouched for decades and has a smell of dirt, cob webs, mold and rotting wood.

While doing a photo shoot there in June of 2015 with Nicole I had stuck my camera inside the gate and captured some really decent images. I have edited one as a cover photo for the Reckless Pixel Facebook page (but is no longer in use). So this was the background that would work perfect for this edit. Not to mention the irony that Nicole is the clown and the background image comes from another shoot she did with me over a year ago.

Now I feel I need to explain that in the beginning I had envisioned this clown being scary, but in an organic sort of way and not in a generic “blood & gore” kind of way. In the first making of the movie “IT” which was actually a TV mini-series the clown Pennywise was never really seen devouring the little children of Derry. It was implied that the clown ate the arms of children… after all it was a movie made for TV. So I wanted my clown to have that same vibe. I want him to scare the bejesus out of you, but do it without holding a half-eaten arm in his mouth. So instead of putting gore props in the images with the clown I would rather put the clown in an evil setting. Now with all that said the average viewer of the image is never gonna know the significance of the background and I’m ok with that. Most of all I’m happy that the background is one of my own images and not a stock image.

I will have more edits of the Sinister Clown up in a day or so and there will be a video blog post too. Thanks for reading and have a great day.

Sinister Clown 1/125 sec at f/14 ISO 50 123mm Model Nicole Gallagher, SFX Makeup by Jade Alexandra Brown

Sinister Clown 1/125 sec at f/14 ISO 50 123mm
Model Nicole Gallagher, SFX Makeup by Jade Alexandra Brown

Autumn Fun (…the leaves were not at their peak color yet, there was still a great vibe in the air…)

Ryan McNally 1/125 sec at f/3.5 ISO 50 70mm

Ryan McNally 1/125 sec at f/3.5 ISO 50 70mm

Ryan is new, but a fast learner. We had a great outdoor shoot in Stockton, NJ along the Delaware River. It was a beautiful autumn day and while the leaves were not at their peak color yet, there was still a great vibe in the air that added to our mood. The Prallsville Mill adds such a great backdrop to any photo shoot, be it wedding, engagement or model. On a weekday there is always a few people walking or riding bikes and of course they will stop and look and that just adds to the fun. We’ll see more edits from this shoot in the coming days.

Sinister Clown in Renaissance Context (…To be able to work with such a person is a true pleasure.)

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, Photographer Richie Smith Jr

Sinister clown shoot is done! Yay team! Yes it was a team effort as it should be and it was a lot of fun. Our model Nicole Gallagher sat through an intense and extensive 3 hour makeup process. Our makeup artist Jade Alexandra Brown and her assistant Jordan applied a stellar HD look that was nothing short of amazing. The look was exactly what I wanted.

So the look was inspired by the images of the new “Pennywise the dancing clown” that will appear in the remake of the Stephen King novel titled “IT” that will be released in 2017. However in my conversations with Jade I stated that I wanted to make it our own look and not an exact replica. Jade did exactly that and I was awe-struck.

The wardrobe was a renaissance period piece that was rented from OSF Costume Rentals out of Talent, OR. Bruce hooked me up and the personal service was nothing short of amazing. He helped me with shirt choice and shoes. Although I ended up pulling boots from my own model wardrobe stash. The inspiration behind the renaissance  look came from Sacha Goldberger a photographer who had shot all the superheroes and villains in period renaissance attire. I thought it would be nice to bring that little piece of inspiration to this project as well.

The shoot started with portrait lighting and meandered through different creative lighting styles, some as simple as one speedlight placed on the floor. Other styles were more complex using strobes & colored gels, softboxes with grids and more. There was a short outdoor portion that used available light and some fill flash using a hand-held speedlight.

But once back in the studio things kicked into high gear and the really creative shots started to come together. Side lighting achieved with strip boxes & grids and was the most awesome shots of the whole session.

The shoot was not without incident; Jade’s airbrush crapped out half way through her application, although she worked her magic and recovered quite well. I on the other hand dropped a Paul C Buff Einstein 640 strobe while I was removing it from a softbox. I could not catch it, although I did slow the fall enough to dampen the blow. However it loosened the Pyrex dome that covers the flash tube and then the dome fell and shattered. $10 for the dome is not too bad vs $500+ for the strobe. The strobe worked fine just a little brighter lol.

In the end we were all ready to call it a day and we did. Kudos to Nicole for sitting all that time without as much as a whimper and huge props to Jade & Jordan. Jade is a true creative and a talent. To be able to work with such a person is a true pleasure. Thank you Jade and Nicole. Also many big thanks to “Tiny” my assistant who is like having not one, but two right arms. Tiny would always be there when you need him, the perfect assistant.

Please enjoy the image and there will be more and hopefully an image that will have some “pink” for breast cancer awareness. Thanks so much for reading.

I Love My Blog (When I first started up with my blog it seemed almost pointless, but as time passed…)

Model Whan Nasert-Corrente 1/125 sec at f/8.0 ISO 50 105mm

Model Whan Nasert-Corrente 1/125 sec at f/8.0 ISO 50 105mm

I miss writing blog posts. Although I did not write them every day I still miss doing it. I have spent so much time the past few weeks working on the new YouTube channel and trying to populate it with content. Trying to get the channel up and moving so to speak so it won’t be so pathetic and boring. However in the past 3 to 4 years that I have been writing periodic blog post I feel I have improved my writing skills somewhat and I have learned to keyword and hashtag and all that other fun stuff that sometime feels like you’re doing nothing. But when I Google a model’s name and my images appear at the top of the list or at least in the ten results I guess whatever I’m doing is working.

When I first started up with my blog it seemed almost pointless, but as time passed I found that writing blog posts did more than promote my images, it helped me think more about my photography and what I wanted to accomplish. It gave me a “focus” (pardon the pun) of sorts. It also gave a platform for people to rip-off my images and “yes” that has happened too, but I think that happens to almost every photographer today who has somewhat interesting images posted to the internet.

So while video is the thing of the future I will still continue to write posts and attach images to them. I like writing because it is a time when I sit down and relax, collect my thoughts and focus on an image. Vlogging is very different because I have to edit the content and render the video and then upload to YouTube or wherever. Either way vlogging is very different. I thought it would be easier because I would not have to type… I type slowly and I am constantly checking my grammar and spelling, however once the post is written and completed and ready for upload all I have to do is proof read and hit “publish.” As opposed to the editing and rendering of video that takes time. So I know my written blog will never go away and meanwhile the YouTube and Vimeo channels will continue as well.

Thanks so much for stopping by and reading.

Good But Not What I Wanted (realizing you have written nothing but drivel and ripping the half written page from the typewriter)

Nicole Smoke Dress Final

I would like to talk a little about this image that I recently created… well maybe talk a lot about it and what it really is. Ok so the truth be told it is not at all what I wanted to create. What you see here is the “second draft” so-to-speak, but there were four of five more versions and I tossed them all out of frustration. It was like back in the day when a writer would sit at a typewriter trying to make something happen and half way through the page realizing you have written nothing but drivel and ripping the half written page from the typewriter, crushing and crumpling and tossing it into garbage can in the corner. The garbage can that is overflowing with dozens of other half written pages. I saw something that inspired me and it gave be a vision and an idea for a really cool image… well at least I thought it would be cool. So I headed into my stockpile of images and I knew exactly where to look. But when I found the images I was thinking of, the wardrobe was all wrong. I wanted to create an image of a model with a rather “moonscape” like background, but I wanted her dress to be blowing away in the wind and turning to smoke. Similar to the piece I did back in 2013 called “Shattered” where the motocross racer’s helmet was shattering and blowing away.

I just could not get it to happen and keep it looking like a dress. Why? Because in this particular image the model is not actually wearing a dress, she is wearing a shirt and a skirt. So now after two nights of working I end up going back to the second version that I created in about 30 minutes and I said “done.” Done, but not at all satisfied. While many people love this image and I received good feedback across all platforms of social media, I myself am not satisfied. Not satisfied because I wanted something very different. With all that said… this is a good image. Model Nicole Gallagher is striking a stellar pose as she can so easily do and I have blogged in the past about her eyes and her talent of “posing with her eyes.’ This is a perfect example, I mean all we see here of the model is her arms and her face and her eyes. And for me the eyes say it all in this pose. So to recap, there is nothing wrong with the model or the pose, but the wardrobe is not right to complete my vision. So we know what that means… “project shoot!” If I am going to complete this vision I have in my mind I need to shoot the model correctly with the correct wardrobe. Thanks so much for stopping by and reading.

From Blogging to Vlogging ( But… yes there is a big but…)

Model Bree Arkham. A two image composite from the Eastern STates Penitentiary shoot.

Model Bree Arkham. A two image composite from the Eastern STates Penitentiary shoot.

There will be a little less blogging and more vlogging for me here in the future. Although vlogging is easier in the fact that I don’t have to type as much, it does require video editing. However… that is a good thing because it will help hone my skills with video editing and working with different software interfaces. But… yes there is a big but (so to speak) and that is having my face & voice on video. I’m neither the best looking spokesman nor am I the best speaker. However with that said I have been following other blogger/vloggers and it reminds me of an old article I read where Jimi Hendrix (talking about being a singer) was quoted as saying something to the effect of “if Bob Dylan can do it then I should be ok.”

My vlogging will be in the vain of my written blog focusing mostly on photography and my thoughts and opinions as well as real world experiences with products and techniques. I have had a dormant Youtube channel for some time now and recently I decided to start populating the channel with content. Some will be the behind the scenes content that has appeared on my Instagram and Facebook. There will also be actual vlog posts where I will give thoughts and comments on gear, techniques and projects. It will not be a teaching site, but more of what a blog really should be “information based upon my experiences with photography or photography related topics.” So the Youtube channel is up and running check it out. http://www.youtube.com/c/RecklessPixelPhotographyLambertville

Quarry Office Shoot with Kendall (Lots of windows and wood.)

Kendall at the Quarry House 1/125 sec at f/3.2 ISO 50 105mm

Kendall at the Quarry House 1/125 sec at f/3.2 ISO 50 105mm

Been awhile since I shot with Kendall, but this shoot wasn’t really planned until the last-minute. I had planned to shoot another model at this location, the shots were all planned out with a mood board, it was to be a “catalog” style shoot with bright high energy shots. At the last-minute the model fell sick (as they always do) and I was left with an empty time slot. So a quick text to Kendall and it was a done deal.

Kendall is amazing and always has been from the day we first met and worked together on that hot summer day in Bethlehem Pa. Everybody sees the images we create, but what you do not see is how professional she is. If I say “two looks” she bring three or four, she is always on time and well prepared. I give her an address and she is there… easy to do when you’re a young teen and you’re being chauffeured by mom and dad, but now Kendall is an adult ad drives herself to the shoots.

When it is a public location as this shoot was I like to arrive early and scout the premises for anything that will be a problem. The location was the Prallsville Mill property although we were shooting in part of the old Quarry Office/House. Lots of windows and wood. So I arrive early, but no chance to scout because Kendall arrives early too and we get right to it. It was hot inside the building, I opened windows, turned on the ceiling fan, but still it was a sweat fest.

The technical: Shooting was done the whole day in manual mode except for a few shots that were natural light. Manual mode because I was using flash. All my indoor shots were made at either 50 or 100 ISO, so I used a manual radio Speedlight to light the room. Most times I bounced the flash off the opposite wall from where the model was located. Or I bounced the light off of the ceiling. At one point I found some brochures that were all white on the back, propped them against a window and placed the Speedlight aiming at them and bounced the light to Kendall. This allowed me to give fairly even light and not reflect off of the glass windows.  In-fact I wanted to see out the windows… it worked.

As for lenses; I used the 70-200mm f/2.8L and a 50mm f/1.4 prime.

The second portion of the shoot was a fitness look and those shots were all done outdoors. For those shots I used a Paul C Buff 640 watt light and a white beauty dish powered by a Vagabond battery. I’ll put a post up from that part of the shoot another time.

So needless to say we had a lot of fun… as we always do.

Thanks for reading.