Studio Lighting Outdoors ( I fired 174 shots and it worked flawlessly. )

1/100 sec at f/7.1 ISO 160 70mm with flash from PCB Einstein.

1/100 sec at f/7.1 ISO 160 70mm with flash from PCB Einstein.

I just wrapped up an outdoor shoot with male model and motocross racer Greg Sampson. I really had a chance to put the Paul C Buff Einstein strobes and the Vagabond Lithium Extreme battery pack through some testing. Although I used one of the PCB’s yesterday for an outdoor shoot, it was very minimal. But today I fired 174 shots and it worked flawlessly. I didn’t even once think about recharge time. I am not a fast shooter any way so it was not a problem at all. I used one Einstein strobe in a 7 foot Westcott umbrella with no diffusion. The shoot started very late in the day and light was fading as cloud cover came in. I started with some available light shots and they looked good, but I wanted to stay “clean” with the ISO so I brought out the newly acquired PCB system. Because it was late in the day there was no wind at all, zero. So I was able to use a 7 foot umbrella and that too was amazing. Most times it would be virtually impossible to use a large umbrella outside. In fact, I don’t think I have ever used a large umbrella anywhere but in the studio.

I really can’t say enough at this point about the PCB system. I really need to use the lights more before I could give a full review. However I can tell you the one thing I have noticed is that I had no white balance issues. I use an X-Rite Passport color checker for all my shoots, because I make a camera profile/s for each location and I use the X-Rite for setting white balance. Moving up & down through the power range of the PCB I still had very close white balance readings.

The Vagabond Lithium Extreme battery is amazingly light in weight and so easy to work with. Just clamp to a light stand, plug in and turn it on, that’s it.

Mostly I have used Speedlites when shooting on location and I loved my Speedlites, but to be able to take studio lighting on location… It was incredible!

Greg was amazing; he is a great model and so easy to work with. He takes direction so well. Today was a relaxed shoot and we were going for a rather natural look. I wanted to capture Greg in normal clothing as if he were just hanging out with friends. In fact to make the shoot very relaxed Greg chose a location that was very peaceful and it is a place he is very comfortable with. It was the location where he very first learned to ride a dirt bike as a young boy, so not only was it peaceful the location had meaning and a sense of value. In the past I have found that when capturing a person as they truly are, doing it in a place they love really makes it easier.

Motocross is just one side of Greg’s life so we have a shoot planned that will expose another side of Greg. You’ll have to wait and see.

 

Photo of The Day (Greg Sampson)

New Jersey Motocross Racer Greg Sampson

New Jersey Motocross Racer Greg Sampson

The studio shoot with great was awesome… Why? Because the studio was his garage and we had a blast that day.

Photo of The Day (Game Face of Greg Sampson)

Game Face

Motocross Race Greg Sampson

Here we see New Jersey motocross racer Greg Sampson in a dramatic “game face” portrait.

Finding Common Ground (And “no” I never raced a bobsled, so it should be interesting to see how I approach this situation.)

Motocross Racer Greg Sampson

Motocross Racer Greg Sampson

While I love shooting a fashion/beauty look any day, I really have thrown my heart & soul into shooting a more edgy style lately. I will admit to influences from famed photographer Joel Grimes, but at the same time I give a big hand out to Woody Walters for his extreme talent that he shares with the world. Aside from creating interesting images I get to work with really interesting models. And sometimes the models are not really working models in the sense that it could very well be their first time doing a full blown photo shoot. It is a little weird if you have never done a professional shoot before. I think just about everybody has been in the situation of getting a school photo taken or may have had to get a headshot for a passport and then there are many who have been in a studio for family portraits. However the average person doesn’t know what a softbox is or what a “T” mark is for. Then add in creative lighting and posing and for somebody who has never done it… well they could be overwhelmed to say the least.

So this is where “people skills” (as I like to call it) come into play. Nothing to do at all about camera setting here, it is all about interacting.

I’ll run you through my last personal photography project with a motocross racer whom had never done a photo shoot before.

I had briefly met this young man two years earlier at a motocross track while shooting day long coverage. When I say “briefly” I mean as in just maybe two minutes at the very most. But I did start to follow him on social media (Instagram) because he was local to my state of New Jersey. So when I knew I needed a motocross racer he (Greg) was my “go to” man. I contacted him in a private message and clearly stated who I was and what I would like to do. And he gladly accepted the offer and thought it would be a lot of fun. I will tell you that the answer “yes” can be hard to come by sometimes. After all I could be some creep, but that is where I rely on my body of work (portfolio, website, social media) to back up who I am and what I do and the quality of what I do. Most of all I need to build some kind of relationship with this guy and this can be the hard part. This really is the key to a smooth photo shoot, to have something in common, something that you can talk about in a genuine way, some sort of common ground. This common ground will bring comfort and a little relaxation to the overall feel the model is going to have towards me. Lucky for me I had done a lot of dirt bike riding back in the day and had even ran a few motocross races myself at one time. So in planning out this project we were almost a month away from the shooting date and I spent about an hour talking on the phone one evening. During this conversation we both got to know each other a little better and in concluding that conversation I felt very confident that Greg & I were going to have a great time together. So because I was somewhat familiar with motocross I think made a huge difference in the success of the photoshoot. But it is not always that easy. I have a two part shoot in the coming weeks with a bobsled racer. We are going to do a fashion/beauty look and then change up to a hard edge sports warrior look. And “no” I never raced a bobsled, so it should be interesting to see how I approach this situation. One thing I know for sure is that I will find a common ground.

So while shooting Greg the motocross racer, I can tell you we had a great time and fun was plenty. I had the benefit of shooting Greg at his home, meeting his family and seeing their workshop and all the motocross machines. So upon arrival I did not rush things. I arrived on time, but then I just hung out and talked for a few minutes. We talked about his bikes and then I said “give me a half hour to set up and you go get changed.” Certainly easier than doing a fashion shoot, but nonetheless I have to keep the model at ease and the best way is to show your confidence in the fact you know what you’re doing. I finished my set up and Greg was dressed in race gear and we were ready to shoot. We do some test shots and then move to headshots. I like to do some headshots first because basic headshots are easy, I get the bugs worked out of my lighting, it breaks the ice with the model and everybody can use a fresh headshot. Then I give the model my tablet and let them review the shots. I shoot enough headshots that it will keep them busy reviewing just long enough for me to reposition my lights for the creative lighting and then we move into that part of the shoot. I like to shoot a few shots and review, I keep doing this and then I’ll stop and let the model review. I just like to show them how they are doing and if there is a pose or something they don’t understand I can point it out during this time. All the while we are shooting we are having fun, the mood is happy and flowing. If at any time I have a gear problem that is when I start talking about something that would interest them, all the while I’m working out my technical difficulty, whatever it may be. I find that talking or getting the model to talk keeps the “air” alive and there is no dreaded “dead silence.”

So in conclusion the shoot went fine and the edits are coming, I like to take my time with the edits because just as the lighting is creative so are the editing processes. This project went very well and really the “common ground” was rather easy… this time. Now to find common ground with a female bobsled racer might not be so easy. However I know I will do it.

Thanks everybody for reading and have a great day.

 

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The Smallest Thing Can Mean The Most (you don’t fight with your friends, if you’re fighting with your friends… )

Greg & Scott Sampson

Greg & Scott Sampson

My most recent photo shoot with a motocross racer was a success. I was a little nervous going into this project for the simple fact that the racer had never really done a studio style shoot. And given the fact that I was not going to be just doing the standard portrait style of “say cheese and click we’re done.” While I was surely going to do those standard headshots as I always do, after all everybody can use a fresh headshot. This is also a way to break the ice and let the new model get a feel for the whole environment of the all the crazy flashing and softboxes ect. But soon I would move on to the creative lighting that I so crave and must create and get it done in a timely fashion. I don’t want to burn the model out, new or experienced it doesn’t matter; I want the person to go away feeling that working with me was a good experience and a fun time. This then lets me leave the shoot feeling very confident that if I need to reshoot or just work together again in the future that getting a “yes” will be almost a given.

So the little bit of nervousness that I was feeling was that I had high hopes this young man could take direction well. While most people can do what you ask of them, they do feel a little strange when I get into the creative mode and start asking them to do things that don’t really make sense at a standard photo shoot. Or at least it doesn’t really seem to match up with what they envisioned a shoot should be. Example; I ask the model to turn their back towards me and look over their shoulder. See, you must know that part of my creative technique is not really going into detail about what I’m doing. Not because it is a secret, but rather if I sit and try to explain what and why I’m doing something I am wasting both our time. They may not know an f/stop from a focus ring, so why bother. Most times they have seen my work and know it is not run of the mill and therefore I just say “it is creative so it may seem a little weird” and most times they’ll just roll with whatever I tell them to do.

But Greg was an ace, not only did he do as I asked, he pretty much nailed it. I only had to shoot each pose three clicks of the shutter. I always do three clicks because of eye blinks and the like. I got the feeling that he picked up on the vibe of what I was doing because the shoot flowed along rather well. I would shoot a few poses and we would review them together on my tablet and quickly move on to the next set of poses.

Now for the rest of the story… So this shoot was taking place in a garage bay next to the area where the motorcycles are worked on. When we started we were alone, but Scott who is Greg’s father soon arrived and wanted to see what we were doing. Now I have to tell you Scott has a look and presence that would make most nightclub bouncers cringe. He is an amazing guy I could tell, why just in the short time I was there I heard him speaking to other friends and family members and his words of wisdom were being felt and absorbed by everyone whether they knew it or not. I quote “you don’t fight with your friends, if you’re fighting with your friends… well then they are not your friends.” Hey the guy is dead on right as far as I’m concerned. Don’t let the ink fool you, I could damn well tell this man is a good leader, father and most likely that friend that would always be there for you. But with all that said, what are the chances of just getting him to step in front of the camera with his son? I want to do it and really I have to do it. Because I know truly how photography works. This photo is going to mean a lot to somebody. I know it, I feel it and… ah what the heck. So I say “hey Scott what da ya say… I want you to step in here and let me just get one shot with you and Greg and this awesome bike you built.” I had to ask twice and I could tell her really wanted to do it although he played it cool and seemed a little reluctant.

So like I said; the photo is going to mean a lot to somebody, but whom? Will mom like it? It is a nice father & son shot and the bike is a work of art as far as motocross bikes go. Or will it be a shot that will take on meaning as years go by and they look back at the “good ole days? Well the answer came a lot sooner than I had thought. I had sent Greg a few quick edits that were cropped for Instagram as he had requested. The photos made their rounds and then I see this on IG and I knew that this photo was really worth the world to somebody. It made me very happy to know that the photo touched them.

 

 

Sometimes the simplest photo means the world to someone.

Sometimes the simplest photo means the world to someone.

Work In Progress

Work In Progress

Busy Equals Fun For Me (creative project shoots are what I love)

Jersey Motocross Racer Greg Sampson

Jersey Motocross Racer Greg Sampson

I had a great, crazy, busy and rewarding weekend. Saturday started off with a very last-minute photo shoot with a teen dancer, Morgan that needed headshots and dance poses and then rush back to edit and deliver final edits in less than twenty-four hours because she needed them for an audition Sunday afternoon. Meanwhile Saturday night it was off to the Lehigh Valley to work on a music video project with LaydeeFly (rapper/model) who is working on the video for her latest song. Arriving home at 3:30am Sunday and back at the final edits for the dancer Morgan by 7:00am and by finished by 9:30am. …And then at 11:00am it was off to Berkley Heights for a creative shoot with Jersey motocross racer Greg Sampson. Greg really was a lot of fun and was a great player for the project. I can’t wait to work those composites up in Photoshop. Lots of dramatic lighting mixed with the bright colors of motocross attire. I got to meet Greg’s father Scott who is amazing and really has his heart dedicated motocross racing. Just to walk into the workshop and see all the hot looking machines… wow! Really is nice to see a father & son that have so much in common. Greg was amazing and so calm to work with. I told him going into this project that “we always have fun at a shoot” and we lived up to that rule today. Lots of laughs and joking from his friends as we worked our way through the poses. But it’s all good

Most of all I am looking forward to getting back in the studio with three of my favorite models Kendall, Nicole & Ambré. That will be a lot of fun and great things to come.