Snow comes to Chicago (Finally!)

It took all the way until February to actually get some measurable snow herein the normally cold and snowy Windy City! As is my custom, I went straight out into the snow to grab some shots during and after we were blanketed with snow

There is a real peace about shooting in a snow storm, it's  usually really quiet and the images are just materializing right in  front of you as the snow accumulates on everything...



Then when things settle down, people venture back out to enjoy nature in its new winter attire!


Soaring and fishing

A friend and I recently made the trip west to the Mississippi to photograph the bald eagles.  It was a beautiful day for people, but a slow day for eagles. We learned that with no snow cover, many eagles will stay inland and hunt in the fields instead of making the flight to the open water of the river. It was still a joy to see these once endangered beauties soar and fish right in front of us!  


We also got to see a juvenile fishing very close to our location:




I am planning on another trip this winter so hopefully you will see some more from this great location! 


An afternoon with a 360 Modena

I got the opportunity to shoot a Ferrari 360 Modena recently and wanted to share some of theimages.  First, let me preface this by mentioning a few things, I had to shoot this in the owners garage.  I didn't know they built garages this small!! 18' wide and about 22' deep! I couldn't even get light down the side of the car because I couldn't get the flash positioned far enough away! I ama detail guy, I think the parts can really bring out the beauty and design of these beautiful machines.



I had envisioned and thought a lot about this shot before I got to the location.  I wanted to create this mood of uncovering hidden beauty,  but I wanted it to be more of a  darker atmosphere.  I knew I needed to light this whole front corner, but also that I wanted the light to falloff really quick, so I went with a 60" umbrella that was just out the frame on the right.  After the first good shot, I realized that the front wheel was dark, so I added a second softbox on the floor to camera right to light up the wheel.  In the end I wish I had brought some black foam core to cover the floor, maybe next time!  

Here are some more of my faves:


Let's go racing!! 

Before I found photography I was really into car racing. I followed all sorts of series including NASCAR Formula 1, IndyCar, and Sprint cars.  For some reason it has taken me several years to get back to a track with my camera, but this summer i made it up to Elkhart Lake, WI. to one of my favorites tracks, Road America.  

Yes, it was a blazing hot day for the Brian Redmon Classic weekend, but I didn't even notice! Once I was near the sound and the smells of the cars with my camera it was like nirvana! It was such a joy to have two passions in my life collided like this, but man what a challenge!! 


I have looked at a lot of car photos and I have a pet peeve about motion, if they are on a road or track, they need to look like they are moving!! So,  there needs to be some sort of background blur  or wheels spin.  This as you may know is done by using a slow shutter speed and panning with the car while taking the picture.  It is a challenge for every single frame to match the speed of the car use a slow enough shutter to blur, but to also generally get the car in focus. One problem you face is how to get that slow shutter speed on a bright sunny day.  Well I did not have a ND filter to help cut some light, so I had to stop down my aperture and shoot at F/22 all day.  Which costs you some sharpness but also lets you see if your sensor is clean!! As we see below,mine was not! (Note to self-Clean sensor before next event!)


 I also tried to convey a sense of speedby trying to zoom while exposing as well. It is even  harder than panning considering the subjects were moving, so I tried to prefocus on a spot and then have them hitting the spot as the exposure ended.  Lots of files in the trash,but a few nice ones and some others  that turned out to have a kind of abstract feel to them.



As you can see, the track at Road America is mostly in the woods, and when you walk around there is this bizarre moment where you feel like your in a national park forest and all of the sudden to hear the roar of a 600hp engine and you  catch a glimpse of bright colors flying by you on the path ahead!  I wanted to try and capture this feeling as  well as pay homage to my favorite racing photographer Darren Heath.  

I  tried several different locations earlier in the day, but it took until this last session of the day to get this shot, which is also my favorite for the whole day:



Nate 2.0

When I did Nate's Senior pictures, we talked about doing something out of the box, that no other senior would have, and Nate being an artist himself, was all for it! In the beginning of 2012 I had given myself several personal challenges, one of which was to create a composite.  I have followed and loved the work  of sports portrait artist, Joel Grimes for several years and his work was the inspiration to even attempt this! 

I had Nate come over and we set up the shoot in my garage with a roll of seamless, and a simple two light setup.  I used two sidelights, a softbox on the left and a umbrella on the right, both with SB-600 speedlights fired by pocketwizards.



Then a few weeks later when I saw some cool looking clouds in the sky, I went to a local basketball court and grabbed this:

I did a 3  shot bracket with +2, 0, -2 and made a gritty HDR out of it:


Then I brought both images into Photoshop, added some"grit" to Nate's "garage" picture, cut out the white background and combined them to create this:

I made some mistakes, but I sure learned a LOT and he LOVED it! It was fun to give it to him at his grad party and have him be able to show all his friends!