The newest member of our team is a recent transplant from Amsterdam.
The venue had this great wooden wall already in place, the TDPP team provided the plants/balloons, and we set up our gear for shooting and live-posting.
Dana Marie Roquemore, the owner and operator of TDPP, asked us if we could use some sparklers in our photos. This adds a whole lot of fun for the party-goers, and also a whole lot of complexity for the photographers.
So of course we said yes, and that we'd make it work.
All that natural light in the venue presented a problem, so we waited until after the sun set to break out the sparklers. Then we got to control all the variables, which studio photographers love. The trick is to keep the ambient light to an absolute minimum, so motion-blur isn't too much of a problem.
The strobe fires, freezing the faces and background, then the shutter stays open (in the dark) for as long as needed to capture the fire-trails. A tripod keeps everything still during the long exposure.
Once we got the camera settings dialed in (see bottom of post for tech details), it was a matter of giving each group a quick how-to lesson on sparkler photography, which we did with mixed results, as you will see.
The ground rules we explained to each group were as follows:
- Hold all your sparklers together, touching at the tip, so we can get them all lighted at the same time (these were the small ones that only burn for about 30 seconds, or long enough for about 2 photos).
- Once your sparklers are lit, get into position, and I'll give you a countdown to the start of the shot. The strobe will fire, and that's how you will look for the photo (so smile at the beginning).
After the strobe fires, you'll have 5 seconds to draw in the air, which we will count down. At this point, you don't have to keep smiling, as only the sparkler is registering on the sensor.
- Don't put the sparkler between your face and the camera, or you will be blocked by a shower of sparks.
- Keep the sparkler moving, or you'll get a white-hot dot
- If you want to write words in the air, remember that you have to write in reverse, so think about how the letters would look in a mirror.
Let us know how you think we — and our subjects — did, and if we can help you with your holiday party shenanigans.
Learn more about our bookable hand-painted and live-posted photo booths here: macbethstudio.com/book-a-booth
TECH DETAILS: Canon 5DIII, Canon 24-105 f/4, 50mm, 5 seconds at f/16, ISO 400, strobe fires on first shutter curtain open.
Jim and Tommy the Dog took to the park to participate in the 6th Annual Paws for Peace Walk, put together by Harbor House of Central Florida.
Harbor House is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to prevent and eliminate domestic abuse in Central Florida by providing critical life-saving services to survivors, implementing and advancing best practices, and educating and engaging the community in a united front. domestic violence in Central Florida. They help to empower women and children in these situations by creating safety, security, and shelter. 87% of Harbor House fundraising goes directly to the victims of domestic abuse.
The Paws for Peace walk is an important fundraising event for Harbor House as well as the community because of its stride to raise awareness about domestic abuse and its effects on pets and their owners. 48% of survivors don’t leave their abusive situations because they are fearful that harm will be brought to their pet. The Paws for Peace event donates 100% of its proceeds to the survivors and their pets staying at the Harbor House.
If you would like to learn more about Harbor House of Central Florida, or just want to know how to get involved with them, you can find all of their information at www.harborhousefl.com.
In the meantime, check out this dogumentary shot by Tommy. Jim strapped a camera (the Tommy Cam™) to him to capture this adorable video.
Architectural photography is a peculiar specialty niche.
The gear is different, the subjects are different, the lighting is different from most other kinds of photography. We recently purchased a new piece of kit for our architectural photography: a Tilt-Shift lens.This is a magical tool that does not one, but two different tricks (tilting and shifting) that the average lens can't. The shift trick is what I'm going to talk about today (I'll get into the tilting component another time). 'Shifting' refers to the lens moving up/down or left/right, while remaining in the same plane as the sensor.
The origin of this strange behavior goes back to the early days of photography, when the lens was attached to the film holder (and light kept out) by a "bellows" -- kind of an accordian-shaped black flexible connector. This allowed the front lens to move independently from the film-holder (but critically, in the same plane as the film).
The advantage of this shifting action becomes clear when you want to photograph a tall building from ground level. As anyone who's wandered the streets of Manhattan knows, the only way to see (or shoot) the top of a tall building is to tilt your head (and your camera) back and look up. This perspective immediately creates the familiar converging-lines, making a tall, rectangular building look more like a pyramid.
However, a shift lens allows you to slide the lens upward, parallel to the plane of the sensor, meaning that the camera is looking up without tilting up -- a little bit like how a periscope works. This means that the vertical lines remain truly vertical and parallel, and don't converge. You may recognize this iconic photo of the Flatiron Building (almost certainly shot with a bellows camera), which is an excellent example of this phenomenon.
We've only had our tilt-shift lens for a few weeks, and we haven't had many assignments yet that can take advantage of this powerful tool. However, when I went to New York a couple of weeks ago, I had a couple of hours to play. I was visiting a friend's office in midtown, so I shot a photo of her company's new building, which is across the street from the New York Public Library.
I also had time to walk a few blocks to the iconic St. Patrick's Cathedral. The scaffolding had recently come down after a multi-year, $175-million renovation project, so this was a good time to capture it. I was all the way back against the buildings on the other side of the street to get this shot, and needed every bit of the 17mm wide-angle to get the tops of the spires in the shot. But you can see -- even though the spires come to a point -- how everything remains vertical and non-converging.
Learning how to go from club member to volunteer one event at a time.
Do good day happened for me twice this month with Boys and Girls Club of Central Florida. The first opportunity was my photography class at the Taft Branch. I think the word that sums it up the best is "nervous." I was nervous, my teens were nervous, we were all nervous. I have five teens participating in this class, most of whom I have known for many years. They were trying to be respectful but still learning how to see me as a volunteer, and I was trying to lead them while still trying to figure out how to take on this new role. We ended up going out on a 10 minute “field trip” photographing around the club, inside and out. Sitting in a room is not the way to learn about taking pictures, it's about experience. Giving the teens this opportunity seemed to loosen everyone up, and when we came back, I was able to understand what they wanted learn more about. I used the time to learn a little bit about Osmo and learn how to take selfies with him like this one.
I’m really happy about how the class went. It is honestly just really cool to give these teens who have an interest in digital art a place to talk and ask questions about it. I wish I would have had this as a club member, but during my time at the club there wasn’t a lot of interest in this area yet. Now times are changing and there is interest, I am glad I can help facilitate it.
The second event I volunteered at was their annual Celebrate the Children Fundraising Event. Celebrate is the one time a year everyone gets together, and I mean everyone. You have about 1,000 club kids dressing up and engaging with donors. You have donors, old and new, coming back to this event or coming for the first time. There is a silent auction before the dinner event and entertainment put on by the club members, and the keynote speaker is the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Florida Youth of the Year. The event is to celebrate the members of this organization and all that they can and will do today and into the future. This was my first year volunteering instead of attending as a club member. My job was to help Ms. Martha, a staff at the Tupperware Branch (who, fun fact, used to be a staff member at my branch when I was six years old) with the green screen Photo Booth-something most of the Macbethians are familiar with, I’m sure. It was a fun time to take what I had learned from Macbeth Studio and apply it to an event I have been familiar with.
I’m really thankful to have these opportunities to come back to Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Florida. And I can’t wait to do more. Tah tah for now. Next time I'll be discussing class number two with my teens.