Check your B-roll!

I can’t believe I missed this picture at Circus Maximus when I was going through my rejects.  But I was going through something else and this image popped up clear as day.  A nice portrait of two performers.

2 Check your B roll!

This reminds me to remember to always revisit the images that I thought were no good or my B-roll.  There may be some gems in there, or I may have just missed some.  Here are some others that I missed last week.

3 Check your B roll!

1 Check your B roll!

6 Check your B roll!

See the rest here.

Raleigh Wide Open

RWO1 Raleigh Wide OpenRaleigh Wide Open was a blast.  I picked up my niece in Lumberton and brought her up to the capital to hang out.  It turns out, we were having a big festival.  I told her that this is just how we roll on Saturdays.  She didn’t seem impressed.

RWO21 Raleigh Wide OpenShe was, however, impressed with the fake princesses.  We also saw BMX stunt people, skateboard tricksters, Roller Derby girls and break dancers.  Exciting!

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Flying over Raleigh

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Dreams of Heather Graham

We returned that night to see the circus performaers.  After the first set, Mia and I took some quick portraits of the performers.

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An Aerialist, she swings in the air on ribbons

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Hula Hoops . . . on Fire

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Just awesome. She twrils her friend around on her feet

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The second show was all fire.

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And for the grand finale, fireworks while everyone was hurling fire and flipping and dancing.  We were in the front row.  While all this was going on, what was my niece doing?

. . .

That’s right, texting.  Nothing can get her off of that.  Not even real life.

RWO13 Raleigh Wide Open

Great Job guys!  Special thanks to Mia for holding the off camera flash during the whole performance.

See more at

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You might remember that one of my first blog posts was about Jennifer.  Well I took some headshots of Jeff (Jennifer’s boyfriend) a few weeks ago.  Here are some of the best shots from the shoot.  I used a large softbox here for the first time.  I also didn’t have my trusty assistant, (Erin, I need you!) so I used a Non-Voice activated regular light stand.

Jeff2 Jeff

sJeff3 Jeff

The line that I use with younger women would not work here.  The line is “look at me like I am a boy you like.”  Instead I said, “OK, I know this is awkward, but let’s try a sexy look.”

jeff1 Jeff

Rawr!  You are a bobcat.  Good looking guy.  Reminds me of a young Eric Estrada.  CHiPs not Univision.

Now that we are past that awkward bit , for you technical people, this was a standard headshot shoot for me.  I used my trusty 70-200 lens and stood about 6-10 feet away (like I mentioned in this post) and shot away.  ISO 200, some reasonable shutter speed for the hair light and TTL.  I used a 24″x30″ softbox, my camera and the sun. Thanks to Jeff and the sun!  No thanks to the light stand – it got in my way.

Filed under Family, Uncategorized, Weddings

Photobooth Time! Ronni and David

933592711 UuE82 L Photobooth Time! Ronni and David

I had the pleasure of setting up the famous photobooth at my little Brother’s wedding.  Congratulations Ronni and David! How much fun was that? That’s me on the ground in the front in my sexiest pose.  Imagine how bad I look normally.

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One light.  Camera left in an umbrella.  Pretty simple lighting, but the real effect is the set that my mother and brother built modeled after the original one that we made last year.  I didn’t think they could pull it off. They did.

Congratulations Ronni and David!

933671777 U23cr L Photobooth Time! Ronni and David

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Yvette had a beautiful wedding outside of Greensboro. Here are some photos from the day.

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Filed under Cosplay, Portrait, Uncategorized

Animazement / Cosplay

Erin and I decided to go down to the anime convention and see what we could see. And there was much to see from Navi to Chun Li to Final Fantasy. (Did you see how I rhymed that last bit?) Here are my favorite costumes that we shot.

883281634 3bEmM M Animazement / Cosplay

Little Sister From Bioshock - Great Job

Bio shock was pretty creepy. Especially because you killed these little girls dressed like the girl above. She looks sweet doesn’t she? Think again Rapture inhabitant.

883285750 3NaQB M Animazement / Cosplay

He loves the camera. And his staff.

He said he left his high heels at home. Seriously. I think he is the king of hearts. Or the mad hatter, or something that ate Gandalf.

883287484 xr6sc M Animazement / Cosplay

I know I played this game once. Like 13 years ago.

This might be one of my favorite shots of the day. These guys look tough. This guy worked his one arm out so that this pose would look authentic. The other person has no face. Sad.

883288014 6sChg M Animazement / Cosplay

I have no idea what she is, but her costume is awesome!

This girl had an awesome costume. I think she is the sundial queen that kills you if you are around at 4:20. Or she might be from Final Fantasy 22. More likely a Final Fantasy thing.

883289845 YvugE M Animazement / Cosplay

What you talkin' about guile? RIP Gary Coleman. 2010

I love, love, love street fighter. It turns out I love people dressed up like street fighter. She makes costumes for these events. He teaches Korean martial arts. Together they rock my world. I love how she fights with huge, what I am assuming are, goth jogging weights from the eighties. Ahh Chun Li, you make great video game character, not so great movie. Cool costumes.

883290793 QP8kv M Animazement / Cosplay

Get out of my Laboratory!

Say with Russian accent: Dexter ees best cartoon and also best TV show. One is child in basement, one is serial killer in basement. Just like aunt’s house in mother Russia. *Back to American* That’s his real beard y’all!

883299444 tnZka M Animazement / Cosplay

This is how she dresses everyday.

“What are you?” I ask.

“I am just me. This is how I am.”

“. . . OK. Can I take your picture?”

“Yes. How do you want me to pose? I am not sure what to do.” The above photo is what I got when she randomly selected a pose. Seems like she knows what she is doing. I wonder how long it takes her to put on her belly makeup everyday. Looks good to me.

883299906 TL2CX M Animazement / Cosplay

This girl, cute as a little doll, hated every picture I showed her. Then I realized she didn’t like the way she looked in the picture. With such an awesome outfit, flaunt it girl. I think you look great!

883302393 ChRbE M Animazement / Cosplay

Hellsing - Something vampire something

Love this costume, love this shot, and love this model. Vampire hunter, not Nazi.

883308353 U5yxE M Animazement / Cosplay

I'm not bad, I'm just drawn that way.

Oh Jessica, it’s you again. No . . . Wait this is not my recurring Roger Rabbit dream. It’s real. . . . *Kevin voice* Awesome.

883309570 Xg5Jp M Animazement / Cosplay

They are invading Raleigh. Who knew?

Kratos and the girl from Heavenly Sword. Really cool. What’s next??

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How did this get in here?

883293518 xurcr M Animazement / Cosplay

So you do what with that tail? Oh OK. With each other? That’s cool, you know different species have their own way . . . aaand you do that with your horse too? Of course, you do it with the birds as well. Makes perfect sense.

883295518 w4G3K M Animazement / Cosplay

That's a wrap.

Actually, that’s a roll. See more costumes. Leave your loving comments below.

Shooting in the dark

Someone recently asked me how to take photos in the dark. I like the challenge of taking a picture in a dark room. It’s difficult, takes practice, and requires that you think and change your settings constantly. I believe that when you are picking a photographer to take photos in a dark setting, you should ask him or her to see examples of photos in a dark setting. This sets the good technical photographers apart from the people who have a good eye, but no technique. Well it’s hard, but here is how you do it. High ISO, Camera on manual, flash lens with a wide aperture, and gelled bounce flash. That’s it.

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1/60, f2, ISO 800 50mm D300 1/2cts gel- Lucky look from the bride.

. . . Actually, that’s not really all of it. It is also tricky, if not impossible, to do after one beer.

High ISO

ISO is the sensitivity of your camera to light. The higher the number, the greater the sensitivity. Nowadays, most modern DSLRs can shoot pretty well up to about 800 ISO. Some can easily go up to 6400. Why not take all your pictures at these high ISOs, you ask? Digital cameras produce noise. On some cameras, the noise makes the image unusable. The trick to get the least noise out of your camera is to always expose to the right. That means you make sure your histogram peak is to the right, not to the left, of center. You are using your histogram, right? Use your histogram to check your exposure.

Do a search on Google, there are a million articles on how to read your histogram. Ignore most of those and just make sure your histogram doesn’t butt up against either the left or right side. If you take a picture that is mostly white, the histogram peak should be to the right. If it is mostly black, then the peak should be to the left. If your picture is mixed, peak in the center. In the dark, always try to get the peak to the right of center. That’s harder than it should be because, wait for it, . . . it’s dark.

823428750 BeX6o M 2 Shooting in the dark
1/100, f2, ISO 1250, D300, 1/2 CTS gel, 50mm Dark, Dark room


I like to shoot in manual when I am using flash in the dark. Find the correct setting for the ambient light in the room to register and set your camera there. Maybe underexpose the room by a little bit. That means histogram to the left of where it should be. Then use the flash to get the subject up to the correct exposure. Remember, histogram to the right of center if possible for noise purposes when you add the flash. Bonus: if the flash is the only thing lighting up the subject, your shutter speed can be pretty low. Like 60 or 30. I know you don’t believe me, but it is true. The flash stops the movement of the subject if she is in the dark in relation to the ambient light. Now your backgrounds will be consistent as long as you are in the same area. There is so much more to this, but you will discover it as you play around with your camera.


You need a lens with a big opening. That means a small number on the aperture. Erin’s point and shoot has a 2.0. On a DSLR, get the $100 50 mm if your camera supports it. Get the $500 50 mm if your camera does not. Practice focusing precisely because very little is in focus at a large aperture. Use the largest aperture that can get everything you want in focus. That means down to 1.4 if your subject is one person, 4.0 or greater if you are taking a picture of a group. Simple.

Bounce and gel your flash

People look pretty terrible when you point a flash directly at them. But don’t bounce your flash straight above the head of the subject. Nothing looks great lit that way, and the flash is uneven. Find some wall or a door or someone’s shirt, or something to bounce your flash off of so that you get directional light on the subject. Try to think of the bounce surface as your light source. Just try it. You will like it.

Gel your flash to match the ambient light. They sell gels in large sheets for cheap from photography shops. Ask for CTO (color temperature orange) or CTS (color temperature straw). Tape it to your flash.

Booyah!* That’s it. Taking pictures in the dark. Of course the are are little details that I left out, but you can discover those as you go along.

542627207 nVdzN M 2 Shooting in the dark
1/50, ISO 1250, f2.8, 70-200 VR lens, D300, 1/2 CTO gel

*Does anyone say Booyah! anymore? My life is like an episode of “A Different World.” It really is different than where you come from. Peace.

Filed under Portrait, Uncategorized, Weddings

Photo Booth Time!

Wow!  What a great time with the photo booth this weekend.  Meghan and Brad threw a great event.  We enjoyed the gardens and Putt Putt golf.  I ended up 16 over.  Not too bad considering the tricky corner shot on 10.

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The happy couple

I wanted to do something special for Meghan’s portraits here.  I originally thought that I would rent a ring light and try to do some fashion-type shots, but the ring lights that I found for rental were too underpowered and would not have worked well in groups.  Instead, I set up the lighting to give a standard portrait if you stood a certain distance from the camera.  If you leaned in, you got beauty or clamshell lighting and a slight overexposure which gets you here:

833235549 GZm74 M Photo Booth Time!

Having fun with the bride

A little more glamorous, I think.  As you can see, Erin was in the wedding this time, so I didn’t have her much needed help.  To set up the shot, I set a 45″ umbrella right above the camera and a large foam core board on a high angled table directly below the camera.  The lens is set to 26mm.  When a guest leaned in, not only did they get the clamshell lighting, but the slight wide angle distorted their faces just enough to make it interesting.  We had a good time with it.  More shots below.

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You can see the whiteboard in his sunglasses here.

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Annie and Brad

Oh what fun it is to be a guest at a wedding instead of working.  I still had an opportunity to take some shots of Annie and Brad.  It was good to see old friends.  Annie and Brad had a wonderful wedding in Charlotte, NC, where I lived a large part of my adult life.  They had a beautiful ceremony and reception.

823141685 YDLxH M Annie and Brad

823143335 5VrgF M Annie and Brad

I have to compliment Annie and Brad on the high quality of the bubbles that they had at the event.  These were industrial strength bubbles and worthy of being handed out by my friend Gina.  Gina only accepts the best in bubbles.

823155573 p5o7Q M Annie and Brad

Gina and Annie - That's what they looked like when I met them. They stare at each other.

823146933 MZ7J8 M Annie and Brad

We danced to the DJ and then everyone rode out in the stretch Hummer – the ultimate in classy, all terrain, combat vehicles – to the Evening Muse to see Sam Thacker.  Sam sang a surprise song at the wedding and stayed for the reception.  I had a good time showing him my iPhone chromatic tuner and other interesting apps.  I’m not sure what kind of time he had talking to me.

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Brad getting down with his bad self - and a dude I didn't get to properly meet.

We had a great time Annie.

823428612 ZsKSU M Annie and Brad


797111057 UuF78 M JenniferJennifer is a friend that Erin and I know from school. She modeled for us on a freezing cold Sunday here in Raleigh.

We wanted to practice using manual flash. This is the quantum t5d-r through a small softbox inside, balanced with the ambient light in the room. The quantum is a pretty strong flash and I think next time I will use a larger softbox and position it a so that more of her face is illuminated. I still like this shot because it captures Jenn’s personality better than some of the other shots.

The quantum is warmed up using a Color Temperature Straw (CTS) gel. I use the gel to balance the color of the quantum with the lights inside the store where we were shooting. The quantum is too strong in this situation, so I dropped the power to about 1/16.

Getting her relaxed was the hardest part of this shoot. When I showed her the first pose, she said “that’s easy I sit like that all the time.” I should have asked her how she sat around the house instead of finding poses for her because that was her best shot of the day.

I hope to shoot her again. This time with warmer weather.

867783048 HoCcs M Jennifer

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