Monday, April 30, 2012

World War 1 Air Show in Pungo

Almost 100 years ago, the first aerial battles were fought during World War I. It was a different era where new fangled flying machines represented the state-of-the-art in speed and technology. Horse calvary was still relevant and tanks were just appearing in the muddy trenches.

Last year I attended avery unique air show in Pungo, Virginia at the Military Aviation Museum. The featured planes were all World War I vintage, more than likely scaled replicas.

Seeing these wood and cloth planes is kind of like looking a kite with a machine gun attached. 

Today we have stealth bombers, remote controlled drones and satellites, but all our current technology owes a great deal to these earlier pioneers and soldiers of the air.

In the photo below, the World War 2 era P-51 snuck into the background and illustrates the difference that 30 years can make on the battlefield, even ones in the air.

Instead of sitting in a dusty museum, bi-planes and tri-planes zoomed past the crowds in glorious flight.

The first airplanes had less horsepower than most cars on the road today. They employed different shapes and multiple wings for improved lift... two or three wings were better than one, right?

These types of events attract enthusiasts and enactors who are interested in the time period.

Evidently long sleeves were the norm back then, even when it was hot.

I met one gentleman who had an authentic Harley Davidson motorcycle that had seen actual war duty over in France where he found it. It was a joy to see and hear the old hog run. It was a noisy clattertrap.

There were a lot of Germans in uniform.

WW1 machines are not often seen at air shows. In fact, I would say that this was a very rare showing.

The planes had markings that identified the pilot or the air group (or what ever they were called back then).

As the sun went down, hot air balloons were launched over the field.

The fellow below had a solo hot air balloon just like the urban legend about the guy that tied a bunch of helium balloons to his lawn chair.

This show gets top rank, and should not be missed if you are in the Virginia Beach area.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

My YouTube Videos in Japan

The web is a strange place. Somehow some old videos I posted on YouTube ended up on a Japanese video site.  I got a kick out of it. Konechewa Japan...

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Atlanta Skyline at Sunset

After a photography gig in a downtown Atlanta hotel, I was able to capture a few frames of an amazing sunset. The photo does not do justice to what my own eyes saw.  I do not think I have the skill to reproduce the amazing colors and the small moving parts that quickly changed before my eyes. Within a minute or two, the magic was gone and so was I.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Product Photography & Head Shot Portraits for Georgia Expo

It was time to update the company directory for Georgia Expo, an Atlanta manufacturing company who I had previous worked for. This time around, I made 10 head shots portraits. It was a simple lighting setup. Nothing elaborate going on here.

The tricky part was timing the portraits with the ear splitting industrial noise in the warehouse where we were shooting. No office space was available so we set up a portable studio in the only place left in one of the cavernous warehouse rooms. Every 10 minutes or so the world's largest air compressor would crank up reproducing the sound of 50 blacksmiths hammering horseshoes, machine gun fire and a pipeless Harley Davidson sounding off at the same time.

The portraits were just part of a 3 day product shoot for their web site and catalog. We took product photos of items ranging in size from 20 foot trade show booths to small hand sized parts and pieces. If you have ever been to a trade show or convention center, you have seen Georgia Expo's products without knowing it. They make curtain and drape barriers that make up the different booths at events. They make huge divider curtain walls, stanchions, tables and so on. Here is a sampling...

Here are the carts for the moving all the trade show parts. Some weigh several hundred pounds.

Some candid environment photos were taken too. All those curtains are sewn by hand by fast seamstresses.

The storage area is huge and contains lots of already manufactured parts.

These tough guys only smiled after I promised lunch... just kidding. I had to pay them money.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Model Room Photos for Melia Atlanta Hotel

I was hired by the Melia Hotel in Atlanta to photograph their new model room, a designer's mockup of what the remodeling will look eventually for other rooms. Photographing architectural interiors can be challenging for many reasons.... finding the right angle, different light sources, cramped spaces, and materials.

The shiny wood paneling reflected everything. This looks great in person, but can be difficult to accurately photograph.

The materials in the room ranged from dark glossy wood paneling and tile to flat white linen and shiny chrome vases. I knew that I would not be able to capture the extreme latitude of the room with a single exposure, so I planned to find the best angle and then lock the scene down on my tripod.

To complicate things, there were at least five different light sources with their own color temperature.... blue daylight, green fluorescents, yellow tungstens, white LEDs and my flashes. Each light source was affecting colors and creating pools of localized color zones.

There were large areas of white in this room which were easily affected by colors of the different light sources.

Since I could not simply gel my flash to match all the light temperatures, I ended up shooting each part of the scene separately and composting them later. This allowed me to expose for highlights, midtones and shadows to create a high-dynamic range photo while controlling the color casts. This also allowed me to combine the bright scene outside the window with the relatively dark interior... impossible to do in one shot.

When lighting rooms with flash, try not to overpower ambient light sources that give the room its character. In the photo above, I shot a flash through the frosted glass shower wall which is a key feature of the room's swanky design. You can see they spent a lot of money on custom glass walls in the restroom.

I also took photos of the room next door which was more of a standard hotel room. It's pretty interesting to see the difference between the two. This room had the gauze-like sheer curtain that would have helped tame the other room's extreme lighting conditions. Oh well.

The last shot looks easy, but it was difficult to hide the flashes while lighting both rooms. Again, the shiny materials revealed all light sources so I had to be sneaky where I put my lighting.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

OCI Corporate Headshots & Group Photos

I was recently asked to make headshot portraits for OCI, a chemical company located in Atlanta. Due to hectic client schedules, I took two portraits in our studio and 2 in their offices. They had to match existing photo styles so I took great care in replicating the light and keeping it consistant across two locations. I do this by making anal-retentive measurements of every piece of equipment. I can make the same photo years  later if more shots are needed.

While in their office I also took photos of their new conference room which looks like it would be a great place to get business done or maybe challenge your friends to XBOX 360 on their big display screen.

As a surprise, our client also asked us to also make photos of 5 groups of workers in different departments. This had not been discussed previously, but it provides a great lesson in being prepared. Like many photographers, I tend to load up my car with backup cameras, extra lights and gear for such events. It is better to have too much and be ready than tell a client that I can't do what they ask.

Instead of picking 7 locations and 7 different setups, we chose 1 location near the front entrance that had metallic mirror tile, mixed color lighting and a brushed aluminum logo. This presented a lighting challenge since any lights that I used would bounce back into to the lens revealing themselves as annoying hotspots. Even my largest umbrella diffusers did not tame the reflections. I decided to bounce the flashes off of the hallways walls to give a soft light. Think of this as the photographic equivalent of a bank shot.

For the top brass, we went very informal which was a refreshing change from stuffy CEO power portraits.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Fall Portraits of Children with a Scarecrow

My friends Josh and Michelle have one of those beautiful yards that we all wish we had. It is well manicured and during holidays, seasonal decorations come out. I have been taking photos of their children for many years now, and we had been talking about incorporating the Fall scarecrows. Look at the size of this display compared to Little Josh. He could almost get lost in it...

Josh Jr. might have thought the pumpkins were toys... he kept tossing them.

Did I mention that the family is made of 4 redheads? The perfect hair color for fall photos.

Josh would walk through fire for his wife and kids... This tough guys is a softy around the little ones.

Mom got into the act too. Josh is 1 year old here.

I know some people hate when kids make funny faces, but I like those the best.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Birthday Prank for Justinas

I could not resist teasing my friend, Justinas, who just turned the ripe old age of.... 32. For those of us past that point, the young 30's seems like an enviable place to be. The retouched photos below are supposed to show what he looks like now and then one year from now. It's all downhill from here brother. Happy Birthday!

Left: Age 32.  —  Right: Age 33

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Headshot Portrait For an Atlanta Business Man

One of my favorite kinds of photography is the corporate headshot. There are many bad mugshots used on company web sites and literature, that I am happy to try to replace them. In today's global market, there may be work associates and clients that never meet face to face. The headshot is often the only impression that each person has of the other.

I was contacted by Daraka who had just moved to Atlanta and needed a headshot for his company's web site. He agreed to come to the studio and we proceeded to make several styles of headshot. I like to give clients a variety of lighting styles and or clothing options.

I can use very traditional backgrounds and lighting techniques for a conservative, timeless look. Or I can use edgy lighting and compositions to give the portrait a modern look... in this case my subject preferred no smiling.

Many times, a client will use one style for business and the other for social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter,, Linked-In or their email avatar.

Oakland Cemetery Tour in the Rain

Last year's Oakland Cemetery Tour was a almost bust as far as photography goes. I took this photo of Jenny while there was a tiny bit of daylight left.

There was no moon at all and it it was pouring rain. I did get to test my camera condom which protected my gear from getting soaked. The gloomy photo below accurately shows the weather.

Since there was barely any light, I tried long exposures and and high ISO settings.

There was one moment of the tour that moved me. There is a statue of a great lion near the unknown Confederate dead from the Civil War. The lion watches over them like a tireless guard. It was powerful.

Not every year can be a winner. By comparison, I captured a photo of what might have been a ghost the previous year... judge for yourself by looking at the last photo here.