Color, Color Everywhere!

 

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I did a Color Block photo shoot with another professional photographer and it was fun, fun, fun! We had two delightful young ladies who modeled for us.  Our concept was to use wildly bright colors using several different backgrounds with various outfits we provided in complimentary colors.

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It took us weeks to pull all of the “stuff” together that we needed.  The backgrounds were the easiest thanks to Groupon.  Trips to several different thrift stores, dollar stores and paint shops got us started with hats, purses, shoes, scarves, makeup, nail polish, eyeliners lipsticks and even wigs.  We didn’t use everything we got in this session.  It took multiple hours to shoot two models with multiple changes each.  We plan a second session sometime later.  Along with some existing clothing and props like umbrellas that we already had, we were ready to start putting everything together for different sets. Once we began putting outfits to background, we started spray painting accessories like hats and shoes to complete our desired looks.  It’s amazing how spray painted straw hats (like the purple one above) come out so well.

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We mixed and matched hats with different dresses.  As we shot different looks and scenes, we each had images created by our own individual styles.  Once we got going, we found ourselves coming up with more ideas than we could possibly shoot in one afternoon.  These concept shoots get so exciting as we expand our original ideas to match our enthusiasm and our models’ personalities.  When I got to post production, I found some of these bright images also looked intriguing in black and white.  On the other hand, you can’t see that turquoise background, orange dress or that orange hat.  I love this moody look, though.

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This is just a taste of how our Color Block concept shoot went.  I’ll write about this again with more details, more pictures and more backgrounds soon.  See you next time.  Happy Saturday!

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Tale of Two Perfumes, Part 1

The assignment was to photograph perfume for a 3 image spring theme magazine spread.

I have been stretched a whole lot in the last two weeks.  Through frustration, re-done image shots and balancing colors, I believe that I’m growing.   All of this bluster is due to my Project 52 Commercial Photography course.  The assignment was to photograph perfume for a 3 image spring theme magazine spread.  Images needed included a vertical, a horizontal and a square.  All images must present the client’s perfume using the Fragrances of Spring theme.

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I was due for new perfume so I headed to Ulta to find a nice new scent that would make me happy and that provide me with a full bottle to photograph for my assignment.  The surprise part of this was that only the bottle was in the store to see.  I didn’t have any idea what the cap looked like until I opened the cellophane wrapped box when I got home. What I found was a lid added to the bottle looked like a Marc Jacob’s purse complete with a shiny chain handle.  I bought that scent after squirting some on my wrist.  The scent seemed nice so I got it.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending upon how you look at it, that perfume choice was the wrong one for me on two counts.  First, I didn’t like the dark bottle for a spring layout but as a commercial photographer, one must work with what the client has provided so I used it anyway.  Second, the perfume proved to be far too strong and something in it caused me to feel icky.   I worked for an entire week shooting, re-shooting, using different props and re-arranging lighting before I finally finished the assignment.  I had no idea how hard it is to shoot an image of a bottle of liquid.  Anything shiny must show as shiny but the reflections aren’t good if they show the photographer reflected like in a mirror. The lighting needs to carefully show the edges of the bottles which many times are faceted.  Most important, the letters on the bottle must be very readable and in sharp focus.  So, a week later, I ended up with this image.

I turned this in for my assignment but was far from happy.  It just didn’t feel right and there were two things that stood out that my instructor analyzed during the class.  The bottle on the upper right shows the lettering very clearly.  However, the letters look black instead of the gold that show on the other two images.  It was the way the light and the reflectors hit the bottle but I should have corrected that in post production.   I was so frustrated that I didn’t even notice the gold missing.  The second issue, I knew was there but could not figure out how to fix it.   In the lower right image, there is a reflection that is very white on the outside edge of the bottle.  It looks like a white vertical stripe on the end of the bottle.  That is caused from the reflection from the backlight to the reflector and on to the bottle.  I now know how to fix when I am shooting.  Fixing it in post I found impossible.  All in all I learned a lot but I didn’t feel good about my final image.  Even though technically it was OK other than those two issues, I just didn’t like it.

My assignment was a free shoot.  This means that we can shoot something that we want to shoot, make up any assignments missed or re-shoot something we want to improve.  I chose #3.  Next week, you will see the perfume assignment with an entirely new interpretation, a new bottle and an image that makes me far happier.  I hope you, too, find it more pleasing for a spring layout.  Hope to see you next week.

 

52 Weeks of Commercial Creativity

Week 1 of my 52 week journey into commercial photography begins now.

It has been almost a year since I added anything to my blog.  My last post was so deeply moving for me that I just haven’t had the heart to write something new.   I wanted that final tribute to my friend to be what everyone saw.

I think it’s time to update my blog and turn the page.  I have been a working professional photographer since 2004.   During this time, I have continued my photographic education. One of the things I love about photography is that you never get to the end and can always seek a higher level of expertise.  I took a black and white class in the spring and in September I began a 52 week Commercial Photography class called Project 52 (P52).  I hope that you decide to come along for the ride.  This course is going to stretch me as I learn the ins and outs of commercial photography to add to my portraiture work.

Our first assignment was to approach a stranger and photograph them.  There are varied backgrounds and varied levels of photographers in P52 so approaching a stranger was more difficult for some than for others.   This was a fun way to start the year since I’m used to approaching strangers for photography.   I made the image pretending that it was a commercial assignment.  Since I am a portrait photographer, I decided on using her as a model selling cosmetics.  I found my stranger at Ulta so, of course, cosmetics was the perfect fit.  Here is the image that I submitted for assignment #1.

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I’ll continue to share my assignments as I have them finished.  The next submission requires me to create my Vision Statement with a picture to illustrate it.  Definitely a challenge!

IT’S A BOY!!!

Ellie has explored every single part of her new son.
Ellie has explored every single part of her new son.

After a long “baby watch”, Ellie finally had her foal sometime yesterday afternoon during a rain storm. Doesn’t that just figure?! I have had the monitor on in the house watching her off and on for 6 weeks and many times got up to check her in the middle of the night. True to the animal world, she had him in her own time and with nobody watching. He is healthy, full of energy and loaded of personality already. I suspect he is going to give his mom some trouble along the way. He was so curious this morning that he left her in his dust and ran full speed over to me this morning. Ellie was none too pleased but decided it was OK as long as I was under her watchful eye.

Ready to take on the world!

It was quite a surprise last night to see four extra legs in Ellie’s paddock as we headed down to feed. At least we didn’t have to worry things wouldn’t go well. It was all over, he was up and running around and she was calmly grazing. It always amazes me how quickly a mom and foal recover from a birth. It does look like it may take Miss Ellis a little while to get back her girlish figure, however.

Ellie is such a good mom. I went down this evening and sat on a bucket in the paddock and just watched as she taught her little one the ropes. She guided him with her nose, nuzzled him when he came close, and pushed him when she didn’t like what he did. He spent all of his time mimicking her. She was grazing so with no teeth he managed to pull up some grass and “chew” it. I actually worried he would choke but he managed. He appears to have a good appetite. I felt sorry for Ellie as he rooted around with absolutely no finesse until he got the milk he wanted.

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Enough for this evening. I will keep you filled in as we watch “junior” grow. Stay tuned. I am going to take a poll for name suggestions.

Ellie’s Previous Foal and “Baby Watch” is closer to the end!

Meet Blackjack!  He was born in April, 2012.
Meet Blackjack! He was born in April, 2012.

Well, I finally have something new to report on our ongoing “baby watch”. For weeks now, Ellie has had an enlarging bag. Over this last week-end it looked larger than it has but still no milk to be expressed. This morning when I checked her, she had a tiny amount of clear fluid that I expressed from each of her two teats. Now that is progress! Since she is apparently the slowest donkey on earth when it comes to actually foaling, I have no illusions about it coming tonight. However, I do believe that this change indicates we won’t be waiting for another month. At least I certainly hope not.

I promised you some more general donkey information in the last post. The following details I found on Wikipedia regarding donkey characteristics: Donkeys have quite a range of size. It depends upon the particular breed as well as their management. They range from 31″ (7.3 hands) at the withers to as much as 63″(15.3 hands) at the withers. Their weight ranges from 180 lbs. to 1,060 lbs. Their life expectancy depends upon their care and their access to quality foods. In very poor countries, they generally live from 12 to 15 years. In more prosperous countries, they have a lifespan of 30 to 50 years. Since our 5 range in age from 2 years to 6 years, our children may inherit them some day. I am guessing this won’t be very exciting news to either of them since both of our sons are city dwellers!

Well, that’s the day’s information. I hope to be writing soon with a photograph of Ellie’s new foal rather than this image of her last one. Thanks for hanging in here with me!

Donkeys, donkeys everywhere!

Dude, soon to be a Daddy!
Dude, soon to be a Daddy!

Did you know that there were about 41 million donkeys reported worldwide clear back in 2006? Back then, China had the most with 11 million followed by Pakistan, Ethiopia and Mexico. By now, I am quite sure that number has gone up. Gosh, the two babies we purchased last year and the one we have due along with the other two Jennies expecting (we think), we are doing our part!

Since we STILL do not have our new foal born yet, I thought a little donkey history might be in order. Much to my amazement and horror………according to Wikipedia, the gestation period can be as much as 14 months although usually about 12. What a range….from 11 to 14 months. If human mom’s had that kind of range, we would all go crazy waiting!

Believe it or not, the Domestic Animal Diversity Information System listed 189 breeds of ass in June, 2011. Ah yes, the other common name for donkey is ass since the wild ancestor of today’s donkey is the African wild ass, E africanus. Donkeys have been used as working animals for at least 5,000 years. They were first domesticated around 3,000 BC, probably in Egypt or Mesopotamia and have spread world wide since then. As time passed, donkey has gradually replaced ass as the choice of terms. From the 18th century on, this happened due to a tendency to avoid pejorative terms in speech.

All of the above information has come from Wikipedia.org. As we all await the arrival of Ellie’s foal, I thought that I might add donkey info for a while. I have plenty to learn about them. I am particularly interested in the commonality with the horse as well as the differences. Watch for more information in the days to come.

Enjoy the rest of your week-end!

Blimp with helicopter ears!

I should have called her copter instead of Ellie!
I should have called her copter instead of Ellie!

I can’t believe that it has been this long and “still no baby”. Apparently, I really jumped the gun when I thought Ellie was due. Since our Jack is with the herd all the time, it is impossible to know when these jennets get pregnant. That and a 12 to 13 month gestation really put me in the dark. She looked so big but in retrospect, she wasn’t nearly as big as she needs to be. I am used to looking at 1,000 lb. pregnant mares not little donkeys so that, too, helped fool me. I do finally see changes in her udder but I don’t think she is quite ready yet. So, hang in there with me and one of these days I will have pictures to post of a new baby donkey. I am trying not to worry that she is having twins or that there will be trouble because the foal is too large. I actually think she is coming along just fine so keep watching. I suspect from the picture above and the image below you will see differences from the first images that I posted so long ago. Cheers and keep your fingers crossed for a healthy, happy little one to arrive sooner rather than any later!

Narrow hips and giant belly.
Narrow hips and giant belly.