Lovegrove France Workshop - Day One: Beauty on the Stairs

There’s an interesting story behind these stairs. It’s the one thing where Damien actually gave us all an assignment and asked us how to best shoot it. Needless to say, I had no idea, partly because I didn’t know what Riona was going to wear and partly because … well, I just didn’t know.

Thankfully, Damien did.

And after Damien set up the Lupo for lighting, and Riona took position on the stairs, that’s when I started to see the possibilities. I saw angles. I love angles. And so I used them to the best of abilities.

ISO 200 — 56mm f/1.2 lens — f/1.2 — 1/60sec

The above shot is my favorite, with Riona’s lines complementing the stairs and the railing.

I like the next shot too, with the shadow of the railing. Although the image is missing something, and I’m not too sure exactly what. It’s almost perfect. Perhaps it’s the angle of Riona’s body? Perhaps she could have been angle in the other direction, forming an opposing angle to the railing?

ISO 200 — 16mm f/1.4 lens — f/1.4 — 1/125sec

Next are two more photos of that day.

ISO 200 — 16mm f/1.4 lens — f/1.4 — 1/60sec

ISO 200 — 56mm f/1.2 lens — f/1.2 — 1/60sec

And that’s a wrap for day one. And what an amazing day it was! It was cold and rainy outside, so Damien had to improvise our indoor shoots for this day. He came up with so many different looks that it was a fabulous learning experience.

Day Two brought some interesting looks as well since we were able to work outside. We’ll visit those looks soon!

Lovegrove France Workshop - Day One: Boudoir with the Lupo Superpanel Dual

Boudoir is one of those themes that I don’t practice that much. In fact, this is only the second time I’ve shot boudoir, the first being at Damien’s workshop in Tuscany in 2018. This time around, in France, I got to experiment with it again.

For this particular look, Damien set up the Lupo as the primary light source since we were shooting further away from the window and the natural light — which was diffused due to the storm outside — didn’t provide nearly enough light beyond the window itself. Riona sat atop the dresser and this first shot turned out to be my favorite.

ISO 200 — 35mm f/1.4 lens — f/1.4 — 1/125sec

I love the symmetrical angles that she’s making with her body and I tried to frame the shot so that the angles extended to the edge of the frame. Not quite to the corners, but close enough that the angles appear pleasing enough to the eye. It’s amazing how a simple dresser made for a lovely boudoir photo.

Here are some more pictures from the session itself.

ISO 200 — 35mm f/1.4 lens — f/1.4 — 1/125sec

ISO 200 — 35mm f/1.4 lens — f/1.4 — 1/160sec

ISO 200 — 35mm f/1.4 lens — f/1.4 — 1/160sec

Lovegrove France Workshop - Day One: Outdoors with a Speed Light

On our first official workshop day, we were able to sneak out for a few minutes to work outdoors with a speed light. But we didn’t stay long because the winds were picking up and the temps were dropping. Damien didn’t want Riona outside any longer than necessary. Also, with storm clouds starting to brew in the nearby hills, we knew rain was imminent. And there was concern about gear as well, mostly the Good AD200 that Damien brought which was sitting atop and lightstand and boom arm. One strong gust of wind and it would have gone down.

Have a look at the shot below.

ISO 200 — 56mm f/1.2 lens — f/3.6 — 1/8000sec

Other than the shadow in which Riona was standing in, I think it worked out pretty well. Ideally, she would have been entirely in shadow, but we had no control over the clouds.

The AD200 was actually in the shot, but we cloned it out. If you look above Riona’s head, you can actually see the faint halo of it that Lightroom wasn’t able to completely clone out. Okay, it probably wasn’t Lightoom’s fault but mine…

We only had a few short minutes to take a shot before rain drops started to fall. But what we got inside was amazing. More on that next week.

Lovegrove France Workshop - Day One: Day for Night

How do you exchange day for night? I always thought it was neat in the movies when interior scenes were shot during the day, and yet it was made to look like night. Damien did just that, while also using the natural light to his advantage.

The below setup looked absolutely amazing to the naked eye, but how to capture that same look in camera?

ISO 250 — 56mm f/1.2 lens — f/1.2 — 1/1000sec

One of the beauties of the Fuji system is the live view, and we took full advantage of it for this look. Here’s how I remember Damien setting it up:

The window in the background was left open, but to achieve the nighttime effect, we took the temperature down to give the image a slightly colder feel. The blues took the appearance of moonlight. (Although it’s actually true that the moonlight in its raw form seems to come across as bluish - greenish.)

Damien set his Lupo Superpanel Dual (I’m growing quite fond of that lighting kit) and set it to a more purer white, thus it worked well with the cooler temp of the Fuji.

The only thing I added in post processing were two gradient filters at opposite corners. Riona, being as tall as she is (5’10”) found the dress a little too short. She had hoped that it was long enough to flow on the ground. It does — at least for me — distract from the beauty of the image, so I decided to hide it a bit.

Putting it all together … have a look at the following photo to see what the image would have looked like without the temperature change.

ISO 250 — 56mm f/1.2 lens — f/2.2 — 1/1000sec

Definitely much better the way Damien set it up!

Lovegrove France Workshop - Day One: Beauty by the Window

I love natural light. When I first starting working with models and taking pics for people for free, I always told them that I loved working with natural light. But that was because all I had in my photography arsenal were a couple of speed lights. Yes, it was just an excuse I used because I couldn’t afford the gear at the time. But when I first found out about Damien Lovegrove and how he worked with natural light, I came to realize that it’s really important to know how to shape natural light. And once you learn how to do that, then you can start using artificial lighting more effectively.

Damien came up with this very simple look using the exact same room we were in. All it took was for Riona to change outfits. Natural light was streaming through the window and the lamp behind her turned on for just effect, to lift a little bit of the shadows behind her. It was an overcast day outside, so the filtered light was nice and even.

Riona’s pose is absolutely lovely, with the shadows accentuating her figure.

ISO 250 — 35mm f/1.4 lens — f/1.4 — 1/1600sec

That 35mm f/1.4 lens is amazing for intimate shots like this.

For the final two shots, I used the 56mm f/1.2, but you’ll notice that the exposure is overblown just a bit. That was entirely my fault, not trimming the exposure by increasing the shutter speed. It’s a common fault that I do on occasion when switching lenses. I’ll have to be more cognizant of that.

However, despite that, the image came out nicely.

ISO 250 — 56mm f/1.2 lens — f/1.2 — 1/500sec

If I could change one thing about the above image in post-processing, is that I would tone down the colors even more. The colors of the landscape outside the window do actually distract from the overall composition.

In this next image, you can see just how much light the 56mm f/1.2 really pulls in.

ISO 250 — 56mm f/1.2 lens — f/1.2 — 1/500sec

Still way too over-exposed, but a lesson learn. Thankfully the first image turned out perfect!

Lovegrove France Workshop - Day One: Flowers and the Lupo Light

This week we move from light and airy to more dramatic.

ISO 200 — 56mm f/1.2 lens — f/1.2 — 1/500sec

Same location as last week. The only difference is that all Damien did was close all of the curtains in the room and he lit Riona with his Lupo Superpanel Dual.

ISO 200 — 56mm f/1.2 lens — f/1.2 — 1/500sec

So by closing all of the curtains in the room, it took up the contrast and also created a much more dramatic image which was further enhanced by the Lupo since it was a single light source.

ISO 200 — 35mm f/1.4 lens — f/1.4 — 1/500sec

Since Riona also understands photography and lighting, she made our job easier, striking poses that she knew would work with the light.

Next week, more natural light work, but with a slightly different theme!

Summer Memories with Sophie

“Dandelion wine. The words were summer on the tongue.  The wine was summer caught and stoppered.” (Dandelion Wine, by Ray Bradbury)

As summer comes to a close and the colors of autumn ready themselves to be seen, we do what we can to capture those last days of summer in whatever way we can.  For the people in Bradbury’s story, it was wine.  For others, summer memories are captured in books to be read year-round.  Whether uncorked and drank, or opened and read, summer memories often take us back, back to a place we can sometimes call home.

ISO 200 — 56mm f/1.2 lens — f/1.2 — 1/1250sec

ISO 200 — 56mm f/1.2 lens — f/1.2 — 1/1250sec

The above shot was inspired by a photo I took during a Tuscany photo workshop with Damien Lovegrove. I’d been wanting to duplicate the shot for a long while and was looking for a good place to do it. I reached out to Sophie (aka Sperenza on Model Mayhem) and we set out to bring that vision to life!

The shot was taken in the mid-afternoon and I used a Godox AD200 to provide a little more light. The AD200 sat atop an Avenger Alu-Baby nightstand.

Lovegrove France Workshop - Day One: Flowers by the Window

I am always amazed at how Damien can shape any type of light he finds. This was only our third look for the day, and we were already achieving wonderful results!

These shots were created with just simple window light. One of my fellow workshop members — I don’t remember who — placed the flowers in the shot to add a little more interest to it.

For this first shot, I opted for the Fuji ProNeg Standard film simulation. To my eyes, at least, that film simulation mutes the colors just a little bit and for some strange reason I felt like desaturating some of the images taken during this workshop. I love how Riona is looking out the window, as if expecting someone.

ISO 200 — 35mm f/1.4 lens — f/1.4 — 1/600sec

For this next shot, I took the temperature up a little bit in order to bring out some of her skin tones. It was a cloudy day outside, with rain spots of heavy rain predicted. But the sunlight was more than enough for the look Damien was after. I think it was a good choice initially for the temperature to be increased instead of the saturation or vibrancy, because those two options would have made the color of the flower pop out too much and it would have been too distracting.

ISO 200 — 35mm f/1.4 lens — f/1.4 — 1/800sec

For this final shot, I was reminded of a magazine spread. Had it been shot in landscape instead of portrait orientation, it could have been a spread for some type of perfume, maybe. Looking at the image though, i though the shadows could have been taken up a bit in post. Unless it were an actual magazine spread, in which case the item being marketed would be sitting on the table with the flowers.

ISO 200 — 35mm f/1.4 lens — f/1.4 — 1/500sec

Next week we’ll actually look at this exact same look, but with artificial light instead of natural light.

Lovegrove France Workshop - Day One: Telling a Story with Natural Light

Sometimes while shooting a specific look, you get that one shot that just says it all. This was only the second look that we did on day one, but the way Damien set things up and the way Riona chose a specific pose gave me a shot that stuck with me for the rest of the workshop.

There are some images that just beg to be converted to black and white, and the below shot was just screaming for the conversion.

ISO 200 — 35mm f/1.4 — f/1.4 — 1/1500sec

It was done with natural window light streaming in from the right of the frame. The moment I saw this image, I knew it had to be black and white, because it told a story. A story of sadness or grief. Initially, I had the image a lot darker, with more brooding shadows, but I didn’t want it to be gloomy. But I did want a sorrowful emotion involved.

You’ll notice that this is actually the same room as the first look. We just changed our perspective and voila! An entirely different scene.

It wasn’t all sadness though. I’ve included two more images from this look that show just how well the light was playing with us.

ISO 200 — 35mm f/1.4 — f/1.4 — 1/600sec

ISO 200 — 56mm f/1.2 — f/1.2 — 1/1400sec

It’s amazing how the carpet acted like a natural reflector and sent a little bit of light into her. In some instances it gave her a hard look, while in another it gave her a softer look.

Lovegrove France Workshop - Day One: A Little Hollywood Glamour

When went to my first Lovegrove Photography Workshop in Tuscany last year, I took a ton of shots, but — like the typical noob — I had a lot of shots that really just looked alike or didn’t just stand out. At my second Lovegrove Workshop in France this year, I shot about the same amount of photos, but this year was different; I had a lot of useable ones. It took me several weeks to go through the photos and I decided that because Damien and our model, Riona, gave us so many looks, each look deserved a blog entry. I’m guessing that, for me, it means I’m improving. (Hey, I haven’t bought a new camera in a while, though did trade in my old Canon 70D and accompanying gear for a new lens…)

This first blog entry covers a shot Damien set up in our chateau’s living room. It was our very first look on our very first day. Our lighting source was a Lupo Superpanel Dual LED Light. It’s an amazing bit of kit!

ISO 200 — 35mm f/1.4 lens — f/1.4 — 1/500sec

The above shot was actually just Riona waiting as we started to set up. Damien had already gotten the light in place, but I took advantage of these little moments to capture a shot.

I brought a few lenses with me, but didn’t think about bringing my 23mm f/1.4, which on a full frame has a field of view of the traditional 35mm lens. I had left it behind because I thought bringing the 16mm f/1.4 was more important. You’ll see that I’m using the 35mm f/1.4, which on a full frame has a field of view of the 50mm lens.

ISO 200 — 35mm f/1.4 lens — f/1.4 — 1/2200sec

Riona had actually see these images and laughed, saying, “They’re always cutting off my feet.” While it’s not a fatal flaw in the camera, because the composition is decent and her angles are lovely, I’ll have to remember to make the 23mm a priority in the future.

Initially, because I was so close, I tried to use the 16mm f/1.4, but once I saw the composition and the distortion in camera, I decided against it.

ISO 200 — 35mm f/1.4 lens — f/1.4 — 1/2200sec

You’ll also notice that the image is a lot darker than it should be. That’s because I applied a heavy vignette around the image. I like using the vignette; for me it works in most instances. Damien doesn’t like using the vignettes at all. I can see why he wouldn’t, especially when you have magazine prints in mind, unless you have an image that’s really really dramatic. I think the vignette works, but it also doesn’t work, especially since the vignette makes the light fall off even more, especially on her legs.

For the next two shots, Damien turned up the temperature on the Lupo. Yes, you can actually do that! You can make it pure white, like he did above, and you can warm up the image as well.

ISO 200 — 35mm f/1.4 lens — f/1.4 — 1/1500sec

Again, in both images, she has these lovely angles to her arms.

So why not black and white? If you’ve read my blog enough times, you’ll know that I really like the black and white look. Here’s one in black and white, with the contrast taken up.

It does produce an interesting look, but in this case I did prefer the slightly desaturated look of the color images over the black and white look.

ISO 200 — 35mm f/1.4 lens — f/1.4 — 1/1700sec

Next week, we’ll look at a shot in the same room done with natural light.

Gettysburg - Little Round Top

During this trip to Gettysburg, no other place had a bigger impact on me than Little Round Top. It was in this area where in a single day, 10,000 soldiers died … on each side! Can you imagine the loss and the grief? The few cannons that are on display here ominously point out towards the fields where so many men died.

ISO 200 — 16-55mm f/2.8 lens at 55mm — f/2.8 — 1/1000 sec

In your mind’s eye, can you see the flash of the cannon and men in the distance scattering as the cannon ball strikes the ground, ripping up chunks of earth, and taking lives with it?

You can also see the strategic importance of Little Round Top with its high position.

ISO 200 — 16-55mm f/2.8 lens at 33.2mm — f/2.8 — 1/1000 sec

Here’s a statue of General Warren, who is considered the hero of the battle. It’s said to be bad luck to stand up on that rock with his statue!

ISO 200 — 16-55mm f/2.8 lens at 55mm — f/2.8 — 1/4700 sec

I took a bit of an artistic approach to this close-up of Warren’s statue. It adds to the drama.

ISO 200 — 16-55mm f/2.8 lens at 55mm — f/2.8 — 1/7000 sec

That was it for my brief travels to Gettysburg. There’s a lot to see, and if you’re a history buff like me, there’s a lot to learn.

For this entire tour of Gettysburg, all I had was my Fuji XF 16-55mm f/.28 lens. I’m learning more and more that it’s a perfect lens for travel and taking portraiture for travel. This was the first lens I got when I switched over to the Fuji system, and it’s the one lens that consistently gets the most use. It is a bit heavy because of the amount of glass in it, but it’s a workhorse!

Of Things to Come - Abby Div at the Cadillac Hotel

I’ve photographed many a musician at the Cadillac Hotel, but never a model. When I found out that Abigail Div was coming back to San Francisco, it was like everything coming together. So we met on an afternoon at the Cadillac Hotel and set about creating some magic.

No, she’s not in the shot below, but I took it as I was testing both composition and lighting. This was my first time using a Lupo Superpanel Dual 1x1 on my own, after having previously been exposed to it twice at two Damien Lovegrove workshops. The results with Superpanel as the key light were outstanding! In fact, Abby was surprised by the power output of the panel.

I chose the image below though because I liked how she had left her shoes in the right spot on the floor.

The pool of light is actually the radial filter in Lightroom used to create the shape. I wanted to isolate the shoes a little more. The shadow is the real shadow being generated by the light of the Lupo.

Just a teaser for now!

Casulo - A Brazilian Jazz Concert at the Cadillac Hotel

Casulo - what does the word mean? It appears to be a Portuguese word that could translate into “cocoon” or “pod” or “chrysalis”. I like the idea of this band’s music emerging from a cocoon-like pod and bursting forth with colorful beauty, just like a butterfly. And that’s exactly what this concert was like!

I’ve photographed, perhaps, two dozen different musicians at the Cadillac Hotel our the past three years and the caliber of those bands — many of whom are just kind of getting started — is amazing! Casulo was no exception.

First, as always, let’s briefly get a look at the tools of the trade.

ISO 200 — 90mm f/2 — f/2 — 1/18sec

ISO 200 — 90mm f/2 — f/2 — 1/25sec

ISO 200 — 90mm f/2 lens — f/2 — 1/30sec

Next we’ll have a bit of a reveal. I’ve been trying to nail this shot for a while, and the band’s leader, Paolo, was in just the right spot for me to get it.

ISO 200 — 90mm f/2 — f/2 — 1/40sec

And now a view from above.

ISO 200 — 35mm f/1.4 — f/2.8 — 1/12sec

I rarely am able to get the above shot, but this time the musicians were positioned perfectly and filled the space Normally the piano is turned in a different direction, making this shot a bit awkward, but I like how Paolo positioned the piano for this performance.

Dropping back down to ground level, here we see the drummer, in the zone and focused.

ISO 200 — 35mm f/1.4 — f/1.4 — 1/75sec

The next shot was taken with the 56mm f/1.2 which on a full frame has a field of view of an 85mm and roughly the depth of field of an f/ 1.8. I just absolutely love the effect here. The saxophonist, Rueben, pops out of the shot while everything else behind him just melts way. But it wasn’t just the lens that did this, but also the lighting. Both worked together to create this nice, pleasing effect.

ISO 200 — 56mm f/1.2 — f/1.2 — 1/20sec

Normally, I would make the above photo black & white because when shooting in that direction, the colors of the curtains are often a distraction in the image. But not this time around. Somehow the sound and lighting engineer, Max, arranged the lighting differently and the background colors became pleasantly muted.

Next we have our acoustic bass player. Black and white was the best option for this shot because I think it adds to the focused look on his face.

ISO 200 — 90mm f/2 — f/2 — 1/8sec

And finally we have the band leader, Paolo, playing and singing lively ballads for the audience.

ISO 200 — 90mm f/2 — f/2 — 1/8sec

Prior to the start of the concert, I had introduced myself to Paolo and he asked if I could take some group shots of the band, so we spent about five minutes getting some static photos.

ISO 200 — 35mm f/1.4 — f/5 — 1/30sec

ISO 200 — 23mm f/1.4 — f/5.6 — 1/40sec

If you’re interested in booking Casulo for a gig, have a look at their website and send Paolo a message!

Casulo

Of Things to Come — Riona Neve, from a Lovegrove Workshop in Southwest France

This is just a teaser, of course.  When I first saw one of Damien Lovegrove’s videos on YouTube, I was absolutely intrigued.  I was wondering who this guy was and why he knew so much about shaping light around models.  That was back in 2015.  Flash forward to 2019, and as I type this I am actually on my way home from attending my second workshop with Damien.  Twice now, I’ve felt the need to remind him that it’s his fault that I’m a Fuji user.

This workshop was held in the small French town of Le Temple Sur Lot, which is deep in the countryside of southwestern France.  It’s rural, though not as rural as the location of the workshop in Tuscany last year.

Our model was the amazing Riona Neve, from Belgium.  She’s got 15 years as a model under her belt, and it definitely shows!  I’ll have several blogs in the forthcoming weeks.  For now though, here’s a teaser of things to come.

PoppySeed Dancer: Sunset Jump

After we had wrapped up at our previous location, Anna (aka PoppySeed Dancer) said she wanted to try to capture a shot of her with the sunset, and I told her I knew the perfect place! I actually had envisioned a different type of shot at this location with a model, but seeing that I had a ballerina with me, I was immediately inspired!

I set up the Godox AD200 to the left of frame, about 60 degrees to the camera, and placed the 5” reflector and grid on it to isolate the light spill.

ISO 200 - 35mm f/1.4 lens - f/7.7 - 1/500sec

For both of these shots, Anna was wearing the same tutu and leotard from the previous blog entry, except that previous one had black and white photos. Here you can see the actual color of what she’s wearing.

ISO 200 - 35mm f/1.4 lens - f/7.7 - 1/500sec

I took the temperature up in-camera to give the sunset a little bit more of a punch. The above shot is my favorite. Her lines almost line up with the rays of the sun!

The jump shot took quite a few takes to do. It was getting cold and the wind was picking up. Anna wanted to get it just right, and thankfully we did!

Florentine Memories

By the time this blog is published, I’ll be somewhere in the Lot Valley of France, at another Damien Lovegrove photography workshop. But I wanted to share some photos that I took during my brief stay in Florence, Italy. They were taken over a period of about 16 hours, from the evening I arrived to the late morning the following day before I headed out to the ancient medieval city of Volterra. All of the photos were taken with my Fuji X-H1 and my always handy 16-55mm f/2.8 lens. That lens is on my camera 90% of the time.

This first set of shots were taken in the vicinity of Ponte Vecchio, Florence’s most popular bridge.

ISO 200 — 16-55mm f/2.8 lens @ 38.8mm — f/2.8 — 1/500sec

Storm clouds were brewing to the east, but thankfully they didn't head our way. I wasn’t eager to test my X-H1’s weatherproofing in a thunderstorm.

ISO 200 — 16-55mm f/2.8 lens @ 38.8mm — f/2.8 — 1/110sec

ISO 200 — 16-55mm f/2.8 lens @ 55mm — f/2.8 — 1/80sec

ISO 200 — 16-55mm f/2.8 lens @ 55mm — f/2.8 — 1/80sec

ISO 200 — 16-55mm f/2.8 lens @ 40.1mm — f/2.8 — 1/480sec

ISO 200 — 16-55mm f/2.8 lens @ 40.1mm — f/2.8 — 1/480sec

ISO 200 — 16-55mm f/2.8 lens @ 53.3mm — f/2.8 — 1/300sec

Next I worked my way over to where the Cathedral and Duomo were. I was actually looking for dinner at that point, but with so many options, I wasn’t sure what to eat. So while I was trying to figure that out, I decided to try some extended exposure shots.

I didn’t bring my tripod with me, so I mounted my camera on anything I could find, from the tops of trash receptacles to the backs of benches.

ISO 100 — 16-55mm f/2.8 lens @ 16mm — f/11 — 5sec

The tripod / no tripod choice was a bit of a tactical choice on my part because I would be doing a lot of walking and would clearly look like a tourist on the streets. But then again, there were tons of tourists around me as well. I decided that the unencumbered way was best.

ISO 100 — 16-55mm f/2.8 lens @ 18.7mm — f/9 — 7sec

Since I was unencumbered, my compositions were basically dictated by where I could firmly mount my camera. In the case of the Duomo below, I really did put the camera atop a trash receptacle.

ISO 800 — 16-55mm f/2.8 lens @ 16mm — f/2.8 — 1/8sec

The long exposures helped eliminate the moving people in the shots. I hadn’t done a long exposure of street scenes before, so this was an interesting experiment. I was worried that the X-H1’s in-body image stabilization might interfere with the shot, but thankfully it didn’t.

The following morning I headed out to find some souvenirs and brought the camera along with me again.

ISO 200 — 16-55mm f/2.8 lens @ 18.2mm — f/7.1 — 1/1900sec

I love these morning shots because there were less people on the streets and in the water, and I was able to capture some wonderful reflections.

ISO 200 — 16-55mm f/2.8 lens @ 37.6mm — f/6.4 — 1/1000sec

ISO 200 — 16-55mm f/2.8 lens @ 55mm — f/2.8 — 1/3800sec

Florence is a wonderful city. It’s smaller than what I’m normally accustomed to, which is why I think I may have found it to be quite comfortable and pleasant. There’s so much beautiful history and architecture in the area. It’s definitely worth exploring again.

Colonial Williamsburg - Women in Early Music

While at Colonial Williamsburg, the last event I attended was a presentation called, “Women in Early Music”. It was late March and the program was quite appropriate for Women’s History Month.

Photography was not allowed during the performance itself, mostly because the room was really dark and the camera would have been a huge distraction/disruption during the performance. But afterwards I asked two of the ladies if I could take their photos and they excitedly agreed!

To say that the shooting conditions were difficult is an understatement. I was having to push what I thought were the limits of my camera’s ISO!

This first shot is of the flautist. What I found so amazing about her performance was the distinctive very deep breath she would take at the beginning of each song (or movement). You can see from the size of the flute just how robust it is compared to modern day flutes. But the music she drew from that flute was strong and steady, which is a testament to her stamina and skill!

ISO 1600 — 16-55mm f/2.8 lens @ 26.6mm — f/2.8 — 1/30sec

This next shot was the most difficult one of my entire time at Colonial Williamsburg, and also of the two shots taken that night.

Our singer positioned herself in a very dark portion of the room, perhaps too dark in most circumstances.  However, I trust my Fuji, especially the X-H1 with it’s IBIS.  So I did my best at guessing the exposure and trusting the fact that the dynamic range of the Fuji sensor would allow me to bring this image up a whopping 5 stops!  And here’s the final image.

ISO 1600 — 16-55mm f/2.8 lens @ 37.6mm — f/2.8 — 1/30sec

At ISO 1600, the image was grainy, but not so much that i wasn’t able to use the noise reduction in Lightroom to do some decent correction. The sepia conversion was done to primarily help mask the remaining noise, and also to make the image look older. It seems that when we think of sepia, we think of older photos and we think of grains so hopefully worked!

I’m glad I was able to catch this performance because it was actually the final performance, since Women’s History Month and the March of month was coming to a close. If I could go back next year and catch this performance again, the only thing I would change would be to bring a small flash and a flash sync chord!

Gettysburg - Scenes from the Battlefield

I hadn’t intended to discuss Gettysburg on Memorial Day, the day which we honor those who lost their lives defending their nation and their freedom, but this year it seemed appropriate.

I had the opportunity not too long ago to visit the Gettysburg Battlefield. Obviously, being a battlefield, the area is immense, encompassing more than just the city of Gettysburg, but a significant portion of the outskirts as well. As with many of the American Civil War Battlefields, the loss of life was at a tragically large scale. It’s also in this area that President Abraham Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg address.

On the day I visited, it was a rainy day. The skies were dark, and there was a steady light rain falling all over the area. I had no worries because my Fuji X-H1 was weather resistant, as was the 16-55mm f/2.8 that was mounted on it. That lens has the equivalent field of view of a 24-70mm lens on a full frame camera. It was the only lens I brought with me during my visit to the battlefield.

I’ve come to learn through the wise advice of a good friend, who served as a combat photographer with the U.S. military, and also through experimentation, that for just touring around and doing photo walks, the 24-70mm zoom lens is really all you need.

The first shot gives a sense of isolation and solitude. It’s a lone branch and a single water droplet. Behind you see the dark storm clouds covering the land, and the drab colors of the landscape.

ISO 100 — 16-55mm f/2.8 lens at 55mm — f/2.8 — 1/480 sec

Next we have two shots: one a closer-in shot that has the tell-tale look of a part of a cannon, and then a shot from the front of the canon itself.

ISO 100 — 16-55mm f/2.8 lens at 55mm — f/2.8 — 1/180 sec

Standing near the front of one of these, you can just imagine the power of the blast emanating from the barrel, and cannon ball being expelled, destroying everything it touches.

ISO 100 — 16-55mm f/2.8 lens at 48.5mm — f/2.8 — 1/160 sec

Can you imagine having to run up against this barricade, with bullets coming right at you?  It may not look like much, but truly, if you had a rifle and a pistol and extra ammo, and some gear, trying to get over even part of this would be difficult while under fire.

ISO 100 — 16-55mm f/2.8 lens at 55mm — f/2.8 — 1/120 sec

Here’s a stone wall that was probably used as cover for soldiers shooting at their opponents.

ISO 100 — 16-55mm f/2.8 lens at 55mm — f/5.6 — 1/90 sec

One must remember though, that while Gettysburg is a battlefield, but it’s also a memorial that’s littered with cemeteries. And all over its grounds, precious blood was spilled. Looking through the lens of history, we hopefully don’t see the same lines of division that they did.

ISO 100 — 16-55mm f/2.8 lens at 55mm — f/2.8 — 1/400 sec

Hopefully, what one sees at Gettysburg is not only the dangers of a nation divided, but also the memorial that it truly is. Whatever side the American soldier fought on during this war, they were still Americans. And we can only their memories on this Memorial Day by remembering their sacrifice and also doing what we can to prevent an already divided present day nation from spiraling down the path that led our forefathers to war in the first place.

Lest We Forget - A Holocaust Remembrance

May 8, 1945 was the day the Holocaust came to an end, and it’s that period of our modern history that many people often think is just a part of history and that’s it. Something that happened in the past and has already been recorded in the history books. But has to be more than that. If history is just a measure of Time + Events, then we, as a people, are walking down a dangerous cyclical path. If one measures history as Time + Relationships + Experiences, then it means something more. I wasn’t even born when the Holocaust occurred, but photography has taught me that moments are important, especially the experiences of people within that moment.

I just happened to be at San Francisco’s Civic Center Plaza and saw this amazing display, a Holocaust Remembrance created by German-Italian photographer, Luigi Toscano. It’s 68 portraits of living Holocaust survivors. It’s a beautiful testimony to those who survived it, but a mournful, cautionary memory about the dangers of nationalism that lacks restraint.

The photos need no real description. They are as they are. Of note is that I ran across this exhibition on May 8, 2019, exactly 74 years after the Holocaust historically came to an end.

By the time this blog is published, the exhibition will have moved on from San Francisco. I urge you to find out if it’s coming to your area, and to visit it and lose yourself in the history of it. And shed a tear for those who lost their lives during the Holocaust.

Shot with my iPhone SE and edited with the Lightroom App.

Colonial Williamsburg - Surveying His Domain

Sometimes you just get lucky when a shot presents itself. And sometimes if you don’t think fast enough, you’ll lose that shot.

I had just exited the Governor’s Palace and one of the interpreters bid me farewell. Since I was the only one around him — it was near closing time of the palace at 5pm — after he bid me farewell, he turned away from me, presumably to look at something. I didn’t think anything of it until I turned around and took one last look at the Governor’s Palace to try to catch the sun’s setting rays hitting the building. But what I saw instead was the below pose.

ISO 200 — 16-55mm f/2.8 lens @ 37.6mm — f/2.8 — 1/3800sec

I quickly walked back to him and asked if I could take his picture with that same pose and he agreed.

I took the saturation down a bit because I felt that it aged the photo a little, plus I added a vignette. Colonial Williamsburg is full of wonderful colors, especially blues and reds and whites that can dazzle the eye. But in this instance I thought things needed to be a little softer and more mellow.