Life Events

This past weekend I traveled up to Connecticut for my niece’s Bat-Mitzvah.

While I didn’t officially photograph the event (for various reasons I’ll probably write about later),


However, I couldn’t help taking a couple pictures of my crazy nephew





and niece.
 Uh, nieces.

While we traveled up there for one nieces’ life event, we couldn’t ignore that another niece recently had a very different kind of event in her life. So, I grabbed a few shots here too.




A baby.

It’s what I do.


Argonautika – Howard Community College

One of the privileges of my job, such as it is, is to get to see lots of theatre. I have had a love of theatre since I was in elementary school and my mom would take us to shows at Storrowton Theater (a Summer theatre in-the-round under a tent in Springfield, Ma. during the 60s and 70s).

Last night I shot production stills for Argonautika at Howard Community College. This is a student production of Mary Zimmerman’s play depicting the voyages of Jason and The Argonauts (of Greek Mythology fame).

This play is a wonderful adaptation of the story with great comedic elements highlighted with, oh, a bit of anachronism.

A few costumes that one my consider. Ah, silly.

What else does this play have?

Are you kidding?

Fencing, fighting,

torture, revenge,

giants, monsters,

chases, escapes, true love, miracles…

and Goddesses!

The comparison to the Princess Bride is apt (did you get that reference?), this show has it all and it is lovely.

The set works very well and the cast clearly has a great time in the production.

“Argonautika” by Mary Zimmerman

Directed by Jenny Male

November 12 – 21 \ Studio Theatre
The HCC Theatre Program is proud to present Argonautika, written by Tony Award winner Mary Zimmerman. In this powerful story, the goddesses Hera and Athena weave together an epic tale about the adventures of Jason and the Argonauts and the fateful and haunting romance between Medea and Jason. Come see the dazzling sword fights and spectacles on this journey and share in the joys and heartbreaks of these well-loved mythological characters.

Buy Tickets Online


Pendulum – Kinetics Dance Theatre 

Saturday evening, November 7th, 2015, Kinetics Dance Theatre’s professional company had their Fall show at Slayton House in Columbia, Maryland. KDT’s choreography is always inventive and expressive creating many interesting photographic opportunities.

I really love shooting these dance performances. They are some of my most challenging assignments. Why? Really? Fast movement…

Low light…

Changing conditions…

no second chances…

And no idea where to shoot or what is coming next.

All while trying not to ruin the experience for the paying audience. The best of times, the worst of times. I honestly don’t know if I have anything until I  get home. That makes the solid shots so much more gratifying.

Every one of these shots feels like a huge win. Oh, I actually got a few more than these too and I haven’t been through the whole set yet.


There will be blood

Last season, one of the standout shows at Red Branch Theatre Company was “Carrie: The Musical” staged by TYA, their teen professional company. This was the first show since the theatre renovations and the depth of the stage area changed everything for productions at this great little theater in Howard County, Maryland. There was new depth and and it was used to spectacular effect in this show.

Keeping with Red Branch’s mission to be socially conscious in its productions and outreach, the bullying elements of the Carrie story were used as a jumping off point for discussions of how we treat each other both in the meat world and on social media.

Carrie: The Musical at RBTC TYA

Carrie: The Musical at RBTC TYA

Besides being wonderful creatives and great folks, it’s this mission that really excites me about my relationship with them. You’ll read me writing about that often.Carrie: The Musical at RBTC TYA
So, this show was back in January, why am I writing about it now? Well, because I’m trying to blog more and because I was recently asked for images from the show for a review Stephanie Williams was writing for the theatrical blood company that provided the gooey effects for the big scene at the dance.

I’m trying to be better about getting compensation for my work when someone asks for it. In this case, since I was originally compensated by the theatre, I felt it was reasonable to ask for something for them. In this case, the nice people at Gravity Momentum were willing to give Red Branch some free blood (which I understand will be very useful next season!)

So, here is the review and my photos and just in case it disappears
Carrie Review at Gravity Momentum



One Light, One Modifier

I have the same problem most photographers do, Equipment Acquisition Disorder. It’s ugly, painful and the treatment is very expensive. Yet, every once in a while I’m in remission and I’m able to almost be a normal human being. The kind of person who recognizes how much I already have and what I can do with it. So, in between boughts, I managed to have a couple of successful studio sessions with a single light (Einstein e640) and a single modifier (a Buff 30″x60″ modifier). Not only was I able to have some very different lighting on my model’s face, but it didn’t stop me from getting the looks I wanted.


So, I lied a little. There’s an SB-800 with two blue gels throwing a splash on the backdrop. I don’t really count that, but it appears in the next couple of shots. In this shot I was pushing toward short lighting, but I brought the source in nice and close. I used a piece of foamcore (held by an assistant) to make sure her pretty curls weren’t lost on the shadow side.


This shot has the same setup, but with the model turned to take a broad light shot. I’ve been enamoured lately with B&W conversions of my portraits and I think there is enough contrast for it to work here. The light was pulled back just a bit to get a little more definition in the shadows.


Same lighting, with the light pulled back (you have to, since it is such a large source) and my position raised up above the model’s chin level. I really wanted the focus pulled right into her eyes.


One light, no fill, no background light. I was going for an old-hollywood feel with this. In Perfect Photo Suite 7, I added blur in Perfect Focus and used Perfect B&W for the conversion.


Again, going for the glamour. However, this time, it isn’t a soft and I kept most of the color (although the tones aren’t quite as vibrant, except in the lipstick, to add to the period feel).

So, it’s likely I’ll be back in the depths of my illness and dropping coin on something I desperately “need” sometime soon. However, the next time I’m in remission or shamed by my wife, I’ll try to remember how much you can do with just one light, some patience, and that creativity thing.


On the edge



On a senior portrait shoot this past weekend I had a subject that was both beautiful and accommodating  So, we went a little off the beaten path to get some edgier shots.  This was as much fun in post as it was to shoot.

The late afternoon Fall light was kind of going away so I filled with on-camera flash (I was having a little pocket-wizard issue) softened with a large Rogue Flashbender with diffuser and a 1/2 cto gel on the flash.

In post I leveled it out in Lightroom and then brought it into OnOne Software’s Perfect Effects 4 where I applied the Arkham preset a couple times with different masks, some tonal contrast and something else that presently escapes me.

I think the final product has the intrigue I was hoping for without taking away from the lovely features of my subject.


When is it no longer a photograph?


While working on this image, my wife commented that it wasn’t a photograph anymore since it no longer looked just like it came out of the camera. Well, I don’t know about that, but it does fulfill my vision of what this shot was supposed to be.

Yes, I added the clouds to enhance the rather lackluster sky and brought out the colors in my mind. Those of a later day shooting opportunity I didn’t have.

The bracketed shots were merged using the ‘Merge to 32-bit HDR’ plugin from HDRSoft for lightroom. Tonemapping was started in Lightroom and completed in OnOne Software Perfect Effects . There was a little bit of masking in photoshop to replace the sky.