Sunday, May 29, 2011

Lucky Number 777.7 at 7 m.p.h.

Not the best photo from my iphone, but this is proof of my good fortune.

It must be my lucky day. This morning driving I noticed that my trip counter and speedo read all 7's. If I was a gambling man, I might be inclined to buy a lotto ticket. What the heck, the payout right now is twelve million...$12,000,000, but the odds are also a 1,000,000 to 1. Do I tempt fate?

Or maybe this is a sign of some other kind of luck like a nice pleasant Sunday spent at home with my wife and dogs with NO work on Monday. That sounds good to me too.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

My First Trip to Las Vegas

You know the advertising slogan... "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas". I wish I had such juicy secrets to hide, but honestly, I don't. I took my first Vegas trip with a bunch of guys that had been going for years.

Sin City? I guess we went to the wrong places because only scantily clad women that we saw were at the hotel's lame burlesque show which was so "unshocking" that one comrade fell asleep. It was a drag queen show but with actual women. I kept looking for adam's apples on the dancers just to be sure they were not playing a practical joke on us. It was "over-the-top" campy, lip-synched to bad music with terrible lyrics and probably had not been updated since 1955? We eventually walked out early while a comedian host made his bad jokes.

We spent plenty of hours walking the Vegas streets taking in the sights sounds. The sidewalks are jam-packed with gawkers and interesting people alike. The fellow on the right below looked familiar, but I could not place where I had seen him before. ha ha

The streets really get interesting at nigh when the casinos use millions of bulbs 
and miles of neon to mesmerize patrons... the same way that bug zappers attract moths.

I kinda liked seeing this Disneyland for adults, and I could definitely go back. 
I had better start saving now since everything I wanted to do is so expensive...

Despite the crowds of people walking around, I thought Vegas could feel lonely. One could definitely disappear into a crowd and be lost in the noise and hustle. I witnessed many grizzled gamblers blowing wads of cash at the slots and tables... $100 a pop in some cases. I hope it made them happy.

The original and biggest neon light shined from above.
I wonder if you can see Las Vegas from the Moon?

After seeing the amount of cash that visitors were going through, I have a new slogan for Vegas. 
"What money you have in your pocket, stays in Vegas".

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Kid's Studio Portraits While it Rains Outside

Sometimes the volatile Atlanta weather does not cooperate with a scheduled portrait session. Instead of scrapping the time slot, we decided to have some fun in the studio taking photos of young Danielle and Joshua. It is fair to say that I am not an expert kid photographer... that is I do not have a set of poses that I will run a child through. Instead, I will play with the kids and see what happens.

I like to include objects in the photo that show the size of the child like this tiny suitcase. 
I am not above using children as graphic elements like the striped photo below.

If the child has a favorite toy, it often makes it into the photo... like the bunny ears and Mr. Wabbit.

Both Mom and Dad are read heads so it is no surprise that Danielle has a gorgeous head of fiery locks.

This kid was working the set and liked to "Strike a Pose!"

Once little brother woke up from his nap, we grabbed a few candids.

We eventually ended up on the floor when Danielle's steam started to run out.

Mom got into the final frames to corral the kids.

Safety Poster Campaign for a Corporate Client

For this year's corporate safety campaign, I was asked to photograph groups of workers in factory settings wearing safety gear. Kimberly-Clark considers safety a top priority and their "Who's Counting on You" awareness program is designed to remind workers that they should be safe for their own good, the health of their coworkers and for their families who depend on them.

Due to time and budget constraints, the previously planned on-location factory photos turned into in-studio portraits. It was not feasible to shut down part of a busy factory for up to 4 hours at a time. Time is money and that would have cost the company too much.

Plan B involved taking several photos of different poses and expressions in-studio and them compositing them into existing factory environments. The final composites would be used on large posters that will be displayed in multiple languages in factories around the world.

The workers in this photo were photographed individually and composited into the background.
This was done to give the client multiple options. The reflection on the woman's glasses was purposely
 included in since it did not obscure her eye.
Technically, these seemingly simple photos had some challenges in the studio. The workers were wearing wrap-around safety glasses that reflected light from every angle. I had the models adjust the angle of their faces in small degrees to remove the harsh reflections. Half a degree could make all the difference.

The photo of the 2 men was taken as one exposure and composited into the background
The group photos had to have a great depth of field so that all parts of the models were in sharp focus. This involved working with very powerful flashes on almost full power in our small studio. The final tricky part was that the orange safety vests were made of a semi-reflective material that shifted hue with even the smallest difference in flash power. The vests produce a strong local color reflection on the skin of the models which we decided to keep for realism.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Brian Collins Photos with Megan Case

My photographer friend, Megan Case, got a gig to make promotional portraits of Brian Collins of the Brian Collins Band. He is a talented singer-songerwriter on the verge of hitting it big. I had been dying to try out my new Einstein flash equipment in the field and this seemed like a perfect chance to test the gear so I volunteered as her assistant.

The Einstein studio flash system can become a versatile portable light source when paired with a small lithium-ion battery pack good for 300 full power pops. The advantage is that a photographer can put way more light onto a subject in an outside environment compared to using hot shoe flashes.

We used the Einstein system outside in several locations and then headed to a local bar that Brian had secured for us. As an assistant, I do not usually shoot, but I had an idea that Megan liked and she said to try it.

I set Brian at the bar and put one flash with a large umbrella on him. The concept was to blend the flash with the ambient lights in the room which were very dull. The exposure was about 1.5 seconds so he had to remain still. I had his band mates walk backwards in some of the frames to create a cool motion blur affect seen in the photo above.

A different photo that I helped to finish was what I call "the floating musician". Real magic was used to make Brian levitate several feet off the ground.

Photo by Megan Case. Retouching by Andrew Hughes.
I love working with Megan because she has a fantastic eye for composition and is one of the nicest photographers you will ever meet. We make a good team because we can bounce ideas off of each other without egos. Our top priority is to get good photos... period. Check out her blog and prepared to be wowed.

Ice 'N Heat Ice Bag Package Design and Product Photos

We have all seen the traditional ice bag and probably used them for aches and pains. This updated version by BeWell uses modern technology to improve on an old design. This bag can handle warm or cold water and it has special temperature indicators on the bottom of the bag to let the user know when it is time to change the warm water or ice in the bag. The snowflake symbol appears when the bag is icy cold or the sun symbol appears when it is time to add more warm water. Pretty guessing involved.

For this project, I took photos of the ice bag in several different angles, using a soft light side light to accentuate the folds of the bag. I was careful to control the highlight to shadow ratio so that the photo would have detail in the shadows on the future packaging.

I designed a medium and large box for the bags based on BeWell's retail packaging style. Look for them in store near you.

My Video Is Shown on the Jay Leno Show

Some things have a life of their own... like a video I shot of my trusty motorcycle being loading into a pickup truck when I sold it. It was a sad day for me since I had put over 30,000 miles on the odometer and the 1998 Honda VFR Intercepter looked practically new. I made the video for myself as a memento and at the request of my friend, Justinas, who picked up the bike. He works a large used motorcycle shop and this is one of his many duties. He is uniquely qualified for this job because it requires that the operator must drive the bike up a ramp into the bed of the truck in one smooth motion. When I say "drive" I mean that he walks beside the bike while rolling on the throttle to make the bike drive up the ramp. The operator then makes one giant step into the bed of the truck before securing the vehicle. Justinas is 6'5" so he has an advantage over short people trying to do this job.

Anyway, the video has received several thousand YouTube hits and eventually ended up on the Jay Leno Show in a segment called Internet Success & Failure. You can imagine finding videos showing the right way to do something and the wrong way. My video starts 2:28 into the segment and literally lasts 7 seconds, but you got to start some where. Thanks Jay!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Package Design and Product Photography for BeWell Products

BeWell is a company that makes many of the healthcare-related products that one may find in drug stores. Some of those products include moist heat bags that are warmed in a microwave before applying to one's body. The old packaging was a cylinder of of plastic with a paper label insert. This took up too much shelf space and was too expensive.

A more efficient, compact and cheaper packaging solution was needed.  Pennies saved per package can add up over a year's time and make a huge difference in the profit margin. The cyclider design was transferred to small boxes.

I hand built sample boxes for an investor meeting and took photos for future promotional materials. I tend to shoot products like this one box at a time and then assemble them into groups as needed. This gives me the same perspective on each product photo and they look better in catalogs and web sites at a consistent angle. I can also change the backgrounds easily depending on what is needed.