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.

Happy Birthday Nicole ( it was fun, it was challenging and I felt in the end we came away with some nice images.)

Nicole Gallagher - Hair & Makeup by Megan Motter

Nicole Gallagher – Hair & Makeup by Megan Motter

I like to wish Nicole a big happy birthday. We had so much fun earlier this year with the “butterfly” shoot as I called it. Nicole’s idea of recreating photographer Sam Jones’ album cover of Emmy Rossum’s “Sentimental Journey” was an outstanding idea for a studio project shoot. Hairstylist and makeup artist Megan Motter joined us and brought her amazing talent to the project. So why do something like this? Hey… I say why not, it was fun, it was challenging and I felt in the end we came away with some nice images. I think for me the biggest challenge was deciding on the final Hue for the image. Having never actually seen the real image of Sam Jones, I was just going off of images we had found online and given the variations of color from website to website and depending on whether it was being viewed on a monitor or a tablet or phone the color was always different. So what you see here is my final choice.

No we all know bigger is better… when it comes to prints and because the final crop was square to emulate an album cover I ordered a 20×20 for myself. I loved it so much that I thought it would be nice to send one to Nicole for her birthday, and she too was so happy to see it arrive as a surprise gift.

Once again “Happy Birthday Nicole.”

Photo of The Day (like all my black & white images I first start with a fully edited color version)

1/100 sec at f/2.8 ISO 100 115mm

1/100 sec at f/2.8 ISO 100 115mm

To days edit actually comes from a shoot we did last September with model Nicole Gallagher. The was shot in a ‘Butterfly Park” in Smithville, NJ.

The photo had previously been edited in color and today I used Nik Silver Efex Pro 2.0 for the black & white conversion. I love my Sepia and Coffee tones for a more ” monochrome feel. But like all my black & white images I first start with a fully edited color version before moving to a non-color conversion. I learned this method from the ever so amazing Vincent Versace.

Photo of The Day (… there is no winning with heat & humidity after a hot summer shower.

1/100 sec at f/3.5 ISO 50 35mm

1/100 sec at f/3.5 ISO 50 35mm

Photo of the day is a fresh edit from my recent shoot at Eastern Sates Penitentiary with Nicole Gallagher. This image was captured at the main gate leading from the central guard tower out to the sports field. I captured a really nice image in this location last year. Although last year’s image used two models, one on each side of the gates, I like this image as well. Before moving to this location we had been inside and when the hard rain ended we decided to take the shoot outdoors and it was perfect… Well kind of perfect. Although the rain had past the air was hot, heavy and very humid, so hair style is gone and makeup is not optimum anymore. I did not request Jasmine (MUA) to try to fix the makeup, because it would more than likely not be of any benefit without redoing the whole look. Nicole’s feet had had enough of the 5 inch pumps and she tossed them aside and that was actually a good thing. I think the “walking barefoot after the fresh rain” just added to the look. After all her look was starting to loosen due to the heat & humidity so why fight it. You really have to choose your battles sometimes and there is no winning with heat & humidity after a hot summer shower. It is kind of like when you’re walking or riding a bike outdoors in the summertime and you get caught in the rain… what do you do? There is no shelter and no matter how hard you try you are certain to get wet… really wet, so why fight it and you just end up playing in the warm rain. And in my life that has actually created some really fond memories. So here we’re not caught in the rain, but we are in the grips of heat & humidity, so let’s just go with it.

The model kicks her shoes off by her own choice and walks outdoors. Not to mention Nicole is an avid outdoor person and she is very comfortable with walking barefoot. I feel this location (like most at ESP) has a lot of natural character with the coarseness of the stones and the old windows in the background. The gate is more-or-less a prop and in the end we have a good image.

The technical info; Ok so I shot the images handheld with a Canon 6D using a 24-70 f/2.8 lens. Camera is in manual at 1/100 sec at f/3.5 ISO 50 35mm. My assistant was holding a Westcott 26” Rapid Box beauty dish with diffusion on. The light was a Canon EX-600RT Speedlite set ETTL mode. All editing was done in Lightroom CC then Photoshop CC at some point the Emily Soto fashion action “Diana” was used and then back to Lightroom CC for final cropping and watermark.

Thanks so much for reading.

Photo of The Day (Brown & White Edit)

Cynthia Ann wandering the mountain walkway.

Cynthia Ann wandering the mountain walkway.

Today’s image is a brown & white edit of the wonderful Cynthia Ann as she wanders the seemingly endless walkway leading to a mountaintop temple. The brown & white conversion was accomplished in Photoshop CC 2014 using Nik Silver Efex Pro 2. I love the control that SEP has and the near endless options to achieve a film era quality to the images. Most of all I have found for myself personally I am able to control and tone the most images to the proper zone settings for skin.

Old Stone And A Window at ESP (Some shots have Nicole with a vintage “Pillbox” hat and she looks so cute.)

1/125 sec at f/2.8 ISO 100 70mm Nicole Gallagher, makeup by Jasmine Benton

1/125 sec at f/2.8 ISO 100 70mm
Nicole Gallagher, makeup by Jasmine Benton. Wardrobe is a Florencia Fiume Corset Cream Lace Dress (circa early 80’s)

I really love this image because I feel it really sums up the outside look and feel of the Eastern States Penitentiary location. As I stated in my last post I am more drawn towards the old windows, doorways, stone walls and walkways then I am the prison cells. This image has the stones and the decaying window with remnants of chipping paint. Of course it also has Nicole in a nice pose showing off the Florencia Fiume Corset Cream Lace Dress (circa early 80’s) and we can see her full face with some depth behind her. Nicole is standing in the short corridor that leads from the central hallway to the entrance of the medical ward and I am positioned outside in a small court-yard like area that leads to the main gates that the prisoners would use to enter the sports fields.

As for all the photographers who want to know the technical info; I was using a Canon 6D (full size sensor) with a 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens. On camera I have a ST-E3-RT radio Speedlite controller that is firing a Canon 600EX-RT radio flash on the inside of the hallway and it is located just to Nicole’s left side. The 600EX-RT is mounted in a Wescott 26 inch Rapid Box beauty dish that is mounted to an Impact brand Quick Stick that was being held by the lighting assistant. The use of the light gave separation to the model and added depth to the hallway behind her.

My camera settings are 1/125 sec at f/2.8 ISO 100 70mm. 70mm I thought was perfect for the half body shot and at the shallow depth of field setting of f/2.8 and putting the focus point on her closest eye let the window frame fall out of focus just a bit.

Now for the edit; all I can say is it started in Lightroom CC then over to Photoshop CC and back to Lightroom CC. I do keep notes on my edits (see screenshots) when they are strong like this one, just in case I need to return to the file and re-edit. I write my notes on top of the image and I make maps of what was fixed and how. For some this might seem crazy, but for me it is how I work in Photoshop… it is how I create.

For an image like this the workflow starts at the location with a shot of the Passport Color Checker (by X-Rite) so I can create a camera color profile specific to the actual scene. Then in Photoshop color cast is removed and I will add my own white balance. I’m not concerned with proper whit balance because I am doing what I call a creative edit. Then it is on to the normal stuff like blemish removal and that was easy because my model already looks great. Trimming a few distracting fly away hairs and then on to the real creative work using Nik Color Efex Pro 4, Camera RAW filter and output sharpeners. Then Emily Soto custom Photoshop Actions and I believe I used the “Lydia” action and made several personal adjustments to my own taste. And… then back to Lightroom for some “split toning” and cropping and then done.

Going back to the topic of white balance for a minute, I would like to say that I actually am very concerned about white balance at the time of shooting because if I want to do a standard edit I need proper white balance and the Color Checker will provide that. But when I do my color cast removal process in Photoshop it brings me back to a clear kind of “cool” white balance and I will start my edit from that point.

There will be more images to come from this shoot but this was one of my favorites… not “the” favorite, but one of them. Some shots have Nicole with a vintage “Pillbox” hat and she looks so cute.


Thanks for reading.


Screenshot 2015-06-19 20.54.58 Screenshot 2015-06-19 20.55.11

ESP Photo Shoot 6/16/15 ( If I had only one word to describe ESP it would be “patina”. )

1/80 sec at f/2.8 ISO 100 70mm

1/80 sec at f/2.8 ISO 100 70mm with side lighting.

I share with you the first edit from our photo shoot at Eastern Sates Penitentiary (ESP) on Tuesday June 16th.  If I had only one word to describe ESP it would be “patina”. The whole structure is in a state of decay, some parts are so bad they are blocked from the public and other parts are in a rather suspended state of decay. While the site remains open to the public for daily tours there are only three evenings a year that the old structure is open to photographers. On these nights photographers are allowed to bring in props, lighting, models ect…

For this shoot I wanted to go with a rather vintage/ghostly look and feel. I was not trying to recreate a specific era, but just a look from days gone by, so-to-speak. In my planning I knew we would be under the grips of the hot, humid and sticky weather that June in Eastern Pennsylvania usually offers up. And I was 100% dead on with my prediction. So makeup and wardrobe has to be kept simple and to the point, unless I want a melted model 10 minutes in to the shoot. I chose a vintage late 60’s early 70’s lace dress and we built the look around that.

Our model was the lovely Nicole Gallagher and being a fitness guru she held up extremely well in the heat without one complaint. Yay Nicole! Our makeup artist Jasmine Benton from Philly gave us a great look that was perfect and was not over-done for the humid weather. We also had photographer & friend Mark on hand as a lighting assistant and he too did an awesome job positioning the softbox while I controlled the Canon 600EX-RT’s from camera. We traveled lite and worked as a team, as it should be. Everyone gave some input to the shots at some point and I really do welcome others input. Nicole and I have built a great relationship as model/photographer and I will always welcome her input. She did have a great idea for scene showing just her legs and a bare foot that I thought was worth pursuing. (Photos to come soon)

So as I stated before “patina” truly describes ESP and I felt that Nicole’s look fit most of the scenes I put her in. Although there are all these decrepit prison cells I am more drawn to the overall character of the location. The stones walls, windows, doors, gates and most of all the chipped paint. The place truly is a photographer’s dream come true, although navigating and shooting in ESP on photographer’s night is not as easy as one would imagine. There are many teams and photographers so finding a location is not always that easy, however most people I have encountered are always courteous and pleasant and will move along after they work a location for a few minutes. Our team would do the same; we work a location for 10-15 minutes and then move on. This I find to be fun and challenging because you kind of set a limitation on yourself and must get your shots quickly.

So in the coming days I will have some edits to post from the shoot and I’ll also be planning next month’s shoot.

Thanks for reading.