Archive for the ‘Picture of the Day’ Category

Picture of the Day: 7/30/10

Studio session with Tina.  Wanted to get an athletic portrait similar to the covers of Shape magazine.  Started with a white background lit with a background reflector and a beauty dish on the subject.  Then added side lights.  Moved onto a white background lit by two reflectors from the side, and a 6ft softbox on the subject.  This setup was my favorite lighting, but unfortunately didn’t produce any great pictures.  Another setup balanced incoming window light as a backlight with a medium softbox front lighting the subject.  In the end, it was a simple small softbox that made the best image.  Simple is often the most effective.

Picture of the Day: 7/24/10

A friend called me up to shoot some headshots for his company.  Headshots aren’t particularly challenging, nor is there much room for creativity.  But after the headshots were finished, we did a nice little group portrait of him with his father.  Their backyard was a great backdrop, I positioned them so the sun provided a little backlight, and lit them from the front with a large softbox.

Picture of the Day: 7/22/10

I bought these costume angel wings a few years ago with the hopes of using them for a photo.  The wings aren’t very big, so they barely showed up in the original photo idea I used them for.  After about 6 years of sitting in my apartment, I decided to finally break them out.  I thought emulating the Raphael cherubs would be inspiring and hopefully not too corny.  I wanted to use a few different lighting setups:  shooting indoors in front of a big window, lighting the subject with either a bounce reflector, a snoot, or a softbox.  And shooting outdoors with and against the sun, using a bounce reflector, snoot, or softbox.

The above picture was shot with my friend’s daughter Riley sitting in front of their front bay window, with a medium softbox lighting her from underneath.  I like how her pupils are wide open because she’s indoors and being shot with strobes.  I also like how her expression is atypical in pictures of girls her age.  Her older sister says “she knows how to put on the angel face, when she’s not acting like a devil.”

Picture of the Day: 7/19/10 Pt.2

Drove up north 2 hours to Lake Elsinore to watch my friend’s daughter’s dress rehearsal.  At about the 1:45 mark, the daughter’s mother calls and says that Sarah is about to go on.  %#(%&$, we drove all that way to miss it???  I step on the gas a bit, and of course miss the exit because two tractor trailers blocked my view of the exit sign.  As we pulled up to the auditorium, I did my best Dukes of Hazzard parking job and exit, grabbed my camera bag and rushed in.  Just as I sit down, and the show on stage finished, the next group up were wearing the costumes that my friend’s daughter was supposed to be wearing.  What timing!  Her performance started, 5 minutes later it was done, and then we piled back into the car for the 2 hour drive back home.  The moral of the story is:  it’s always better to be too early to a shoot than too late.  However, in this particular case, the moral of the story is:  if you cut it as close as possible, you don’t have to sit through a bunch of unnecessary dance shows.

Picture of the Day: 7/19/10

I had another personal project in mind, and asked my friend Karin if she would model for me.  I couldn’t get all of the props I wanted in time, so we just decided to have a fun little beach shoot at Windansea.  The weather was the worst possible, overcast, windy, and cold.  When the sky is grey and gloomy, it’s really hard to make a nice portrait, the backgrounds don’t look good and the ambient lighting can be harder to work with.  I had another photographer helping out today, so knowing that I would have an extra pair of hands, I brought a wide variety of lighting options.   It was a far walk to the spot I wanted to shoot at, so I decided on bringing two remotely triggered Canon 550s and a 4ft reflector. In the picture above, the main light on camera right was a 550 at 1/2 power.  On camera left, behind the subject, was a 550 used as a rim light at 1/4 power.  On camera right to the side of the subject was a 4ft gold reflector.  The rim light didn’t fire because it hadn’t recycled.  I tried to minimize the amount of grey sky in the image.  And if there are ever palm trees nearby, I’ll try to include them in the picture.  Having someone helping out made a huge difference, I may start to incorporate assistant’s fees into my hourly rate.

Picture of the Day: 7/18/10

Today was the finals for the San Diego AVPNext  Tournament.  The venue is really photo friendly, not as much clutter in the backgrounds as a usual tournament.  Its a smaller tournament, so you can shoot from a lot closer to the action.  And because it’s on the bayside, the better light is at the end of the day.  I’ve shot a LOT of beach volleyball…it’s the first sport I started shooting, and I’ve been going to local tournaments ever since.  Things got kind of stale for me a year or two ago.  All of my images started to look the same, the hard shots weren’t so hard to get anymore, I’d come away from a tournament with dozens of good pictures…I was bored.  I decided to really push the envelope this year.  Try for things that were really hard to capture, get myself out of my comfort zone.  So today, I made the effort to capture the players’ celebrations and/or dejections.  I missed a LOT of shots today…I was focused on a player that didn’t celebrate, or if I did focus on the right player, they turned their back to me, or if I did get the right person and they were facing me, their faces got obscured by something.  I came away from the shoot rather frustrated, but that’s better than bored.

The picture above was from the mens final.  A hard fought, emotional back and forth battle between two really good teams.  During the 3rd and deciding game of the match, I decided to use a 24-70, hoping to get a celebration shot with both of the winning players.  During a long rally, the team of Olson and Bruning put away a kill for a crucial point.  Olson faces me as he gives a Hulk Hogan pose and scream.  His partner is in the back with his arms raised in victory, and their opponent is walking across the net with his head hung low.  I got lucky with this shot, but had I not tried for something different, it would have never happened.

Picture of the Day: 7/17/10

Went back to the OTL tournament today determined to get that elusive horizontal dive, or two person collision.  Arrived at 7:30am for the first round of games, and the light was great.  Shot for about two hours, concentrating on teams with the most interesting costumes, but still no luck with catching a dive or collision.  As the day progressed, there were a few variables I had to consider.  They guys teams were more athletic, and were generally laying out for more catches, but there were only a handful of mens teams wearing any costumes.  I decided to concentrate only on the teams with cool outfits.  As the sun got higher up in the sky, the light got pretty nasty on the players faces.  So I tried to find players that were 1) wearing sunglasses, so that the sepulcral shadows weren’t as noticeable, and 2) not wearing hats, which cast a hard shadow on players’ faces.

Another 2 hours passed by, still no dives, still no collisions.  The heat, wind, and dust finally got to me so I decided to pack it in and leave frustrated.  The above picture was the closest I got.  Had the player dove towards me instead of away, I might have considered the day a success rather than a letdown.  I guess there’s always next year.

Picture of the Day July 15, 2010

Went to my friend’s daughter’s dress rehearsal tonight for her dance class.  Had never been to anything like it before.  Called ahead to make sure what their photo policies were.  They said no flash, but other than that, it was free range.  Talked to a friend up in San Fran ( who has shot a ton of these type of events.  He said that during the dress rehearsals, you can get right up to the stage, so he suggested bringing a wide angle and a short telephoto.  But he also said to expect dark lighting, so I brought my 85/1.4 just in case.  The program was scheduled for 2 hours, so I expected to shoot a lot of photos, and have time to work a bunch of different angles.  Unfortunately, I found out that the program is 2 hours, but her section of the program is only about 2 minutes long.  I only brought one body, so I figured I’d go with the old reliable 70-200 and shoot her whole program from front and center.  Checking the exposure, I got 1/320th @ 3200ISO wide open.  Not bad.  However, they did not  front light her performance, so I had to drop my shutter down to about 1/80th.  A lot of the photos had too much motion blur, but one or two turned out nicely.  I should have used the 1.4, but live and learn.  Ironically, I feel like my best shot was a test shot from an earlier performance.  There was a lot of repetition of form during the big group performances, and I like how this shot has the repetition of body language as well as color.  The kicker of course is the boy in front.  The selective focus, ambient light, his outfit and facial expression all combine to make him stand out.  It was a pretty long day of sitting and watching little kids dance.  The main thing I came away with from the experience?  Knowing that I would not be a good father to a daughter.

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Stan Liu Photography

A San Diego portrait and sports photographer