If this past Saturday in DC was gloomy, chilly and damp, sunrise on Sunday brought the opposite: blue skies, sunshine and (nearly) seasonal temperatures. Our plan had been to roll out of town in the morning, but we couldn’t resist the opportunity to check out the Cherry Blossom Festival on what was likely to be the absolute peak day. So, once again, we put on our walkin’ shoes and climbed aboard the Metro.

Like the day before, I found myself focused on people watching, but it was even better. So many cameras! So many selfies! So many smiles and poses and serious photographers!

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My wife and I spent the past weekend in Washington DC, enjoying the sights with our son and his girlfriend. I hesitated bringing a camera because of the added responsibility it requires and the prospect, as we are running from museum to museum, of merely capturing what has been captured countless times already. Plus the weather was not looking to be very cooperative. But at the last minute I decided to grab my 5D MKII, sans bag, with just a single prime lens (Canon L Series 100mm Macro– love it!). I figured I’d stuff it in my jacket if the weather turned wet.

Our itinerary for Saturday included the National Portrait Gallery, where I expected to take somewhere around zero photos. However, as we walked the gallery my attention was drawn toward not just the artwork, but the interaction between the gallery-goers and the artwork. It was, at times, intimate, as if I were invading a private conversation between a former president and an art lover. Other times, it called to mind the cult of personality, and the attendees were merely subjects of the larger than life representations. From Washington‘s grandeur to Lincoln‘s indifference at having his photo taken; from James Buchanan‘s stern admonition to John Adams‘ secret; From Chester A. Arthur‘s attentive listening skills to Obama‘s calm in the space between the adoring crowd and his life’s foliage, it was an interesting and challenging approach to recording my time there.

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In the beginning of 2016, I self-assigned a project of photographing food in various ways. At times, I did them in a straightforward fashion, sometimes with a unique perspective, and occasionally just weird. Once, I just did it so that I could buy a sixer of beer on a Friday (ok, it was a Thursday).

I stayed with it for about 5 months and it helped me to push myself, to try different techniques and approaches to what has become a relatively common occurrence at the studio. Certainly aided in my growth as a photographer.

Whether directly related or not, we ended the year with a series of jobs for clients in which we had a chance to create some fun food photography of which I am proud. Each of these jobs was different from the others, from a controlled studio environment with multiple days of planning to a day in a busy restaurant shooting and changing setups as fast as the chef could plate his beautiful food to a an editorial pictorial in which we tried multiple things as quickly as we could think of them (and which featured my debut as the next great hand model).

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Beautifully plated app, entree and dessert shot on location at LaGrotta in Richmond.

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We had a chance to work once again with CF Sauer on some images for the Duke’s Mayonnaise website…

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And, with Richmond Magazine, we made some fun photos with pizzas from various restaurants around town and their unique toppings. If only I could control myself from grabbing a slice before the photo is finished…

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And so, 2016 comes to a close. Now excuse me, I’m hungry.

I’ve tinkered with high speed flash photos of splashing liquids here before, and recently we were provided an opportunity to use the equipment and techniques for a client. It proved to be a fun and exciting process, if a little wet. Fortunately, the studio floor can handle it.

We started by arranging our hero fruit, kiwis and strawberries, into a shape that fit the layout. I had thought we would need to set this up in multiple arrangements and bring them together digitally, but I found a way to defy gravity in a way that would keep them stable enough to stand up to the drenching they were about to receive. The set, fruit arranged in front of a textured stainless steel sheet, was lit with Einstein E640 heads that were rented for the job. These are nifty monolights that can generate flash durations as short as 1/13,500 sec. I found that a power setting yielding about 1/4,000 sec provided us with sufficient stop motion, yet enough light for adequate depth of field.

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The base image was shot, and then the water began flying. This was the fun part. I found pouring the water into a large spoon at the edge of the frame provided a nice splash that had a bit of an upward motion to it, and spread out nicely. Timing the exposure was done manually, and their was some hit-or-miss, but, happily, more hits than not.

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Selected portions of the splash images were placed onto the base image, and unwanted areas were masked off in Photoshop. Subtle movements occurred with the impact of the water, but fortunately, nothing too large or disastrous.

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The final resulting image required about 40 captures, about a quarter of which were used as elements.

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A second image was created for the upper corner of the layout in a similar fashion, with just a single piece of kiwi and strawberry…

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The two final photos were blended together after having rotated the second 180 degrees, and dropped into the layout comp (along with a third photo of fruit for the lower corner), which looked like this…

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After much fine tuning of images, composition and masking, the final files were delivered to a happy client .

 

I mentioned that we had been rather busy of late, and one of the more interesting projects we had an opportunity to work on was a series of photos for the University of Richmond Magazine.

Reverend Wyatt T. Walker, born in Massachusetts, was educated in Richmond, Virginia and became pastor of the Gillfield Baptist Church in Petersburg. Soon thereafter, he became active in the growing civil rights movement and ultimately became the Chief of Staff for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Alongside of King he became an important figure in the movement; his legacy and collections are integral to a crucial time in our history.

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Recently, Rev. Walker donated portions of his collection to the University of Richmond, and I was asked to photograph some of the items to accompany an article about them. It was an honor to be given this opportunity and to be in the presence of key symbols of an era we should all be aware of. We must continue to be mindful of its lessons and gains in an increasingly turbulent atmosphere.

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At the time of my last post here, things were dreadfully slow at the studio. I had a wonderful summer, riding my bike with great friends and spending time with my son home from college. But the downtime can become unnerving. After twenty-plus years in the biz, I understand the peaks and valleys are a natural component of operating a commercial photography studio; however, you never quite get used to it.

Fortunately, things got quite busy in the fall, and I had an opportunity to work on some fun projects with some fun people, many of whom I worked with for the first time. I will try to share some of it here in the coming weeks.

When slow, I try to push myself in new directions and get some of my more creative work out where folks can see it. A few months back, I made a submission to an online competition and was recently informed three of my images, below, were nominated for inclusion into the winners gallery, two in the pro category of “people” and one in the pro category of “fine art.” There is some pretty interesting work there– check it out!

Shadowplay; Richmond Street Photography