woods canyon lake

background // David Lloyd (davidlloydphoto.com) hosted a 'Model in the Woods' workshop, focused on traditional model lighting in an outdoor setting.  

quick take // The instruction on using strobes and modifiers to setup Rembrandt lighting was thorough.  David guided the group through the steps to find background exposure, use a light meter to set flash strength for a balanced image, position the lights to control facial shadows, and coach the model through the (long) process.  Keely did a fantastic job modeling despite contradictory instruction coming from a handful of photographers at the same time.  I still enjoy being more mobile and trying to work creatively with natural light, but this expanded my understanding of how to get great lighting across a face, something that is impotant no matter the light sorce.  The lake and overlook locations were fantastic as well, inspired me to go check out more Arizona parks.

  samples //

a7III - Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 >> 35mm - 1/160 - f/7.1 - ISO 100

a7III - Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 >> 75mm - 1/200 - f/2.8 - ISO 100

a7III - Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 >> 34mm - 1/80 - f/5.6 - ISO 100

a7III - Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 >> 75mm - 1/160 - f/2.8 - ISO 100

a7III - Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 >> 28mm - 1/400 - f/8 - ISO 100

a7III - Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 >> 75mm - 1/3,200 - f/2.8 - ISO 100

blood moon

background // Blood moon of the century is a can't miss photography event, unfortunately the sky was very cloudy over the Phoenix east valley.

quick take // Shooting at night was interesting to play around with shutter speeds and ISO.  This was my first time using the Tamron 28-75 f2.8 (B&H), so I kept it wide open and experimented.  I left the ISO low (100) and mostly played with shutter speed to get the best shot possible knowing that I could probably recover quite a bit of the shadows in post.  For the most part this worked out well while shooting the moon.  When it drifted behind clouds, the focus shifted to some lightning over the suburbs, which I could not get the right settings to capture.  For longer exposure times, using a remote trigger (B&H) worked very well.

samples //

a7III - Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 >> 75mm - 1/5 - f/5 - ISO 100

sunset

background // The sunsets at Bokeh's dog park are the best, so decided to take our the new Sony A7III for a shoot.

quick take // Since I was at the mercy of the sunset, I opted for the kit zoom lens (28-70 f3.5-5.6) instead of my faster (and manual focus) prime lenses.  This also gave me a good feel for the type of shooting I will be able to do when the Tamron 28-70 f2.8 is finally back in stock at B&H.  

The park is very nice has some great padded turf, sections for different age kids, disc golf, and even an archery area.  I typically avoid shooting pictures of kids I'm not related to on the playground, so I made my way to the empty disc golf section first.  The goals (holes?) with waving American flags seemed to be the perfect subject.  First, I moved about to find a good with the flag and sunset.  Then I took several bursts to be able to select the perfect flag waving motion.  The jungle gym shot was a bit tricker to compose, but the tilt down screen really helped.  All the edits were done in Lightroom, although I prefer the interface of Affinity Photo, it is just so much easier to use Lightroom since it manages your photo library as well.

samples //

a7III - Sony 28-70mm f3.5-5.6 >> 54mm - 1/60 - f/5 - ISO 100

a7III - Sony 28-70mm f3.5-5.6 >> 69mm - 1/60 - f/5.6 - ISO 100

a7III - Sony 28-70mm f3.5-5.6 >> 41mm - 1/60 - f/4.5 - ISO 100

masks

background // I went to a photography meetup to explore layers and masks.  The class and examples used Photoshop, but the concepts translated easily to my editor of choice, Affinity Photo.

quick take // When I sit down to edit photos, I tend to go toward the same tools I know to adjust levels and exposure.  These are simple, move sliders around to your liking, similar to adding salt and pepper to food.  In this series of classes I'm being forced to explore different editing tools one at a time.  In doing so it broadens my imagination on what is possible when taking photos.  After seeing the basics of layer masking and transparency effects, I dug into some recent pregnancy photos for inspiration.  Given the July 4th holiday, incorporating the American flag seemed appropriate.   I am encouraged to slowly learn more techniques and try new compositions with the idea of creating a composite in post. 

samples //

flowers

background // Photography meetup at Arizona Botanical Gardens.  Decided to focus on just using the macro lens.

quick take // Manual focus on a 100mm f2.8 lens can be a bear.  In particular, getting the exact focus on small flowers that are blowing in the wind or insects takes some doing.  Shooting multiples helps as did relenting to f4 for some shots while the light was still good out.  The amount of separation in the f2.8 shots really allowed me to remove the background completely in post for some shots.  Overall, spending a long time with just the one lens was a good opportunity to really understand the impact of composition and editing choices, I prefer this 'one bit at a time' approach to expanding my photography skill set.

samples //

  a6000 - Rokinon   100mm f2.8  >> 1/100 - f/4 - ISO 100

a6000 - Rokinon 100mm f2.8 >> 1/100 - f/4 - ISO 100

  a6000 - Rokinon   100mm f2.8  >> 1/500 - f/? - ISO ???

a6000 - Rokinon 100mm f2.8 >> 1/500 - f/? - ISO ???

  a6000 - Rokinon   100mm f2.8  >> 1/??? - f/? - ISO ???

a6000 - Rokinon 100mm f2.8 >> 1/??? - f/? - ISO ???

  a6000 - Rokinon   100mm f2.8  >> 1/??? - f/? - ISO ???

a6000 - Rokinon 100mm f2.8 >> 1/??? - f/? - ISO ???

studio shoot

background // I have mostly shot in my house, family portraiture, or nature.  To try something knew I found a studio offering a lighting class with a professional model to help demonstrate.

quick take // The class was a good overview of the fundamentals on how studio lighting works.  We went of over the types, uses, fall-off, f-stops, etc.  Since there are so many options for configuring the studio lights, the instructor linked to HENSEL, which has PDFs showing dozens of examples.

The second part of the instruction focused on how best to interact with a model to have a successful shoot.  My biggest takeaway here was to not get trapped in your camera and lights, instead just focus on talking to the model as a person and having fun.  To give an idea of common poses, the instructor linked to an article from FStoppers.

The shots I took were entirely due to the instructor's great placement of light an the model's professionalism, I just had to point the camera and click.  However, the class was a great introduction to how a studio works and has put me on the right track to be able to accomplish similar results.

samples //

a6000 - Sony 50mm f1.8 >> 1/200 - f/5.6 - ISO 100

a6000 - Sony 50mm f1.8 >> 1/200 - f/5.6 - ISO 100

a6000 - Sony 50mm f1.8 >> 1/200 - f/4 - ISO 100

a6000 - Sony 50mm f1.8 >> 1/200 - f/5.6 - ISO 100

the small things

background // I bought the Rokinon 100mm f/2.8 (Amazon / B&H) to experiment with macro photography.  This is my third Rokinon lens, it joins the 85mm and 35mm f1.4 lenses already in the bag. 

quick take // This lens is sharp.  Shooting macro is fun.  Trying to use fully manual lenses can be difficult if there is any movement in the frame (wind blowing leaves, bugs/animals that move, etc.), not an issue at all for still objects.

samples //

a6000 - Rokinin 100mm f2.8 >> 1/200 - f/2.8 - ISO 100

a6000 - Rokinin 100mm f2.8 >> no info available

a6000 - Rokinin 100mm f2.8 >> no info available

a6000 - Rokinin 100mm f2.8 >> no info available

a6000 - Rokinin 100mm f2.8 >> no info available

a6000 - Rokinin 100mm f2.8 >> no info available

a wider view

background //  I bought the Sony E 10-18 f4 (Amazon / B&H) primarily to help a friend with interior photos to list their home, I found a few other uses for it as well.

quick take // This lens is fantastic, the build feels solid and photos come out sharp.  In use the 10mm (16mm equiv.) is perfect for capturing expansive landscapes.  I attached a small tripod from Sirui (B&H) and used the lens for selfies and group photos on hiking trips.  At 10mm there is a lot of distortion on the edges of these close photos, extending the tripod allowed me do selfies with 14mm to 18mm focal lengths and eliminate most of this distortion.  For the real estate shots, this lens was perfect.

samples //

a6000 - E 10-18 f4 OSS >> 1/100 - f/7.1 - 10mm - ISO 100

a6000 - E 10-18 f4 OSS >> 1/320 - f/4.0 - 10mm - ISO 100

a6000 - E 10-18 f4 OSS >> 1/40 - f/5.6 - 10mm - ISO 100

a6000 - E 10-18 f4 OSS >> 1/4000 - f/4.0 - 10mm - ISO 800

a6000 - E 10-18 f4 OSS >> 1/4000 - f/4.0 - 17mm - ISO 1000

a6000 - E 10-18 f4 >> 1/320 - f/4.0 - 10mm - ISO 100

a6000 - E 10-18 f4 >> 1/200- f/11 - 11mm - ISO 1600

a6000 - E 10-18 f4 >> 1/60 - f/8.0 - 10mm - ISO 100

a6000 - E 10-18 f4 >> 1/320 - f/8- 10mm - ISO 100

a6000 - E 10-18 f4 >> 1/30 - f/8 - 10mm - ISO 200

that zoom

background // My growing collection of glass is missing a proper long lens.  This is a costly hole to fill, so I took the first step of renting a lens (lensrental.com).  My choice was the Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS lens (Amazon / B&H), which I promptly took on a weekend excursion to the Grand Canyon.

quick take // The lens is not exactly discreet and drew several comments from the other amateur photographers at the overlook.  The lens is heavy but very easy to operate.  I had no problems switching between AF/MF modes, when in AF the focus ring still acted as a manual override.  Trying to nail focus handheld at 200mm f/2.8 is impossible, but with the assistance of a monopod, it was much doable.  The long reach combined with excellent resolution and the 24.3MP sensor of the a6000 allow for significant cropping if the intent is to grab images meant for social media.

samples //

a6000 - FE 70-200 f2.8 GM >> 1/100 - f/2.8 - 70mm - ISO 400

a6000 - FE 70-200 f2.8 GM >> 1/500 - f/2.8 - 200mm - ISO 100

a6000 - FE 70-200 f2.8 GM >> 1/400 - f/2.8 - 70mm - ISO 400