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  • Monthly Archives December 2008

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    In today’s blog, I will be discussing two of my favorite shoots from the past year from start to finish. They showcase my love for fun and unique subjects, working on-location, and using Photoshop to bring elements of a photoshoot together to create a strong final image.

    SWAT TEAM SHOOT:
    In the Spring of 2008, the Howard County (Maryland) Police Department hired me to shoot a variety of promotional and recruiting material. I photographed patrol vehicles, K9 units, bicycle officers, community relations, etc. Although, the SWAT team portion of the job was by far my favorite. Maybe I just watched too many action movies with my big brother growing up.

    We started the day in an abandoned high school near Baltimore, Maryland. They were running training exercises pretending to rescue hostage victims from terrorists. I took a lot of natural light shots with my Canon 1Ds Mk2 body and my trusty Canon 16-35 2.8L lens. Due to the low light scenarios, I shot at 1000iso at f/2.8 and very slow shutter speeds (around 1/10 of a second). I had to use something I learned from living on tour buses and shooting thousands of photos of bands in low-light back rooms and concert venues, control your breathing and use any object (wall, pillar, an assistant’s back) as a makeshift tripod when you can’t bring one with you.

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    Next, we moved outside to do a set-up portrait of SWAT team members in action with their armored assault vehicle and their new Bell 407 pursuit helicopter. Boy were the neighbors concerned to see a police helicopter hovering 20 feet off the ground next to the old high school and 7 SWAT guys with large guns pointed at a guy with a camera.

    The biggest issue we faced with this photo was the wind produced by a low-flying helicopter; thus, using my favorite Photoflex Extra Large LiteDomes were out of the question. In fact it was so windy, I had to have 4 police officers volunteer to hold my lights with only 7′ reflectors attached to make sure they didn’t blow away. Trust me when I tell you that I was eating bits of gravel for a week after that shoot.

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    As you will see in the video, I used 3 White Lightning X1600 strobes (660/165 true Ws, 1600/400 effective Ws) set to 3/4 power with 7′ silver reflectors attached as fill to the left and right of the SWAT team, and a White Lighting X3200 strobe (1320/330 true Ws, 3200/800 effective Ws) with a 7′ silver reflector set to 3/4 power to be used as the main light. I set it a little higher than my subjects and pointed it down to give them a dramatic overhead light. I wanted to shoot with enough light power that I could shoot at 1/160 at f/18 at 100iso, thus, turning a bright sunny day into a moody dusk shot.I used a police radio to have the helicopter position itself in the frame. The shoot itself took only 15 minutes. Any longer and I believe we would have died from rocks to the head from the low-flying Bell 407.As for on-site power, I used 2 Innovatronix Tronix Explorer battery packs (a great value for the dollar) and my SUV, which I converted into a 2000 watt sine wave power inverter, but that’s an entirely different blog for another day.

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    I couldn’t contain my anticipation to sit down the computer and begin editing. Here are the initial steps I made when I did my post-production:

    ... a photographer whose work I pointed out back on November 7th; Douglas Sonders. After I talked about his photography style here on the blog, he sent me a very nice email, and offered to show a step-by-step tutorial about how he lights, and then post-processes his images. I loved the idea, and asked him to be a guest blogger, and tomorrow he's doing just that. I'm really looking forward to seeing him break it all down for us. In the meantime, if you missed the Nov. 7th post, check out his work by clicking here, then check back tomorrow to check out his Guest Blog post. Can't wait! :)

    [Note From the Editor]: Moose and I were both emailing back and forth about the angry comments posted here yesterday by readers concerning Nikon's new D3X product announcement. We were both surprised at all 'the hatin'' goin' on. My (Scott's) take on it was this: "Look, Nikon came out with a new camera. It's $8.000. If you think it's too much, or not for you----don't buy it. That's it. End of story. If Toyota comes out with a $75,000 car tomorrow, with just one big advantage over a Toyota Camry---I don't get mad at Toyota. I don't berate Toyota. I don't go on forums and slam Toyota----they can offer as many Toyotas as they want, at any price they want---I don't have to buy one---I'll just stick with my Camry. That's it." Anyway, after writing back and forth, Moose emailed me a short story/follow-up,…

    I hope you'll be in the crowd this Thursday at the Los Angeles Convention Center as I wrap up my final Lightroom 2 Tour date for the year, on December 4, 2008. As I mentioned earlier on the blog; my buddy Matt Kloskowski will be there helping me field questions during the day, and Mike "Hollywood" Kubeisy will be there assisting me with my live shoots (I left Brad back at the office because he's wanted on a outstanding warrant in LA. Hey, don't laugh---he could have warrants. That's why they call him). Anyway, we're going to have a great day, and if you want to snag one of the remaining seats (we're going to have around 700 photographers there that day), here's the link. Hope I'll be seeing you there!

    Although the word slipped out late last week, now it's official; Nikon has announced its 24.5-megapixel monster (and in mean that in a good way); the Nikon D3X (photo above courtesy of Nikon). For all the details (beyond sheer megapixels), click here.

    I had so many requests last week to show how to create Photo Book layouts (like the one I did for my trip to Turkey, Greece, and Egypt), that I did three short videos for you (below), to show you how, but using different applications. The three videos are: How to create them in Apple's iPhoto How to create them in Lighroom 2 How to create them from scratch in Photoshop CS4 using Smart Objects Click on the videos to watch them. Hope this helps jump start you into making photo books, because once you start, you'll be totally hooked! The iPhoto Video: [kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/2iexUVyMRJ8" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /] The Lightroom 2 Video: [kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/t3EGSLPEYhY" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /] The Photoshop CS4 Video: [kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/PTWnrGBbMM4" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /] NOTE: If you'd like to see a higher quality version of these videos, click on…

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