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The Indefinite Article.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Adolfo by killy
Adolfo, a photo by killy on Flickr.

I kinda forced it this evening. I really didn't have time to do this, but i'm glad i did. I had been wanting to set up the beauty dishes and get to know them.

I was supposed to have a friend over today to play around in the garage, but the day got away from me. Had to complete a project that took me longer than i expected; then, i had to head to the other side of town to do yardwork at my aunt's house (again).

We didn't make it back home till nearly 7:00 or so and everyone was just tired. Luckily for me, exhaustion makes for good drama.

Took this in the garage with small beauty dish with Vivitar 285HV, camera right as my key light. I had it set up with the diffuser on it and no grid, which i REALLY wish i had. I always spill onto my background. I had the large beauty dish with my sb-600 behind me and up high as a fill light, bare. I had a Vivitar 285HV with my DIY black straw grid behind behind him and pointed at the wall. Oh, and one other small detail: Had a +2 close up filter on my Sigma 24-70.

Post-processing was as follows: RAW file brought into ACR where i set Recovery to about 50 to get just a bit of my highlights back and set the saturation down to about -30. Not much else. Once open in Photoshop i added a black and white layer and set that to hard mix and dropped the opacity to 50%. then, i added a curves layer and very gently pulled down the highlights and dropped only the deepest blacks.

Lesson learned: I need a flag to stop spilling light everywhere. I'm a mess.

Weekend Fun

Good Morning, Paola by killy
Good Morning, Paola, a photo by killy on Flickr.

At eight years and three grades into school, Adolfo now truly understands the significance of the weekend. Each Thursday evening he asks me, "Tomorrow is Friday, right?" and at the end of the school day on Friday you can see the relief on his face.

For this reason, Saturdays are especially comfortable. Everyone has a real appreciation for the empty, free-form schedule we keep on that day.

Took this shot while lazing about on the floor with my camera and a reflector. The sun was just rising over the back fence and cutting its way through our back windows. I need to use the sun more often. Unfortunately for the grass, it seems that is all we're gonna get for the foreseeable future.

Friday, April 15, 2011


We have a new dog. Gypsy. Bodie 2.0. More Feminine, Less Bitting.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Photograph Number One

This is the beginning of what i hope will become a regular project for me: photographing the happenings and interesting folks of my neighborhood for the civic club. Photos and their accompanying stories will be placed on our neighborhood's website. What is in it for me? Practice, portfolio building and a lot of local marketing for myself as photographer.

Photo number one is of the founding members of the Mangum Manor Parent's Group, Krista Ledman and Carolina Chavez.

I think what makes me happiest about this portrait is that it doesn't look excessively lit when in fact, this is a three light shot: the first is a 9x12 DIY softbox camera right, up high; the second is a DIY ring light on camera axis for fill; and the third is just behind the tree shooting into Krista's back providing just a bit of rim light on her hair.

Having spent most of the day staring at the portfolio of Dan Winters, I initially went into this thinking of something far more dramatic, but changed my mind once i started setting up in Krista's backyard. I tried to keep in mind that these were the founding members of a mother's group, not a girl punk band called "Mother's Group".

Lessons learned?

1. SANDBAGS. I had a stand with my Vivitar 285 and my DIY softbox fall over twice. Luckily, no serious damage, but yeah, SANDBAGS.

2. Having the lighting flexible enough for your subjects to move around is a big plus when you have an already uncomfortable model. More dramatic lighting would have forced Krista to stand in a certain way/place and i would have lost her much faster than i eventually did.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


I managed to accomplish the things i had planned in my head despite a number of roadblocks that popped up.

The family and I made it to Hermann Park for the Japanese Festival. From Cosplayers to Steampunk kids to Lolitas to traditional Japanse garb, there was something for everyone!

There was so much camera firepower out there, it was incredible.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

The Family and the Bluebonnets - Paola and Carol

No photo tonight, but ...

... this past weekend, the family and I braved the steep bayou (note the leaning horizon) along 34th and TC Jester and took some photos among the blooming bluebonnets.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Garage Studio

A quick shot of my two newest acquisitions - beauty dishes. How fun!

Daily Practice

Daily Practice - Paola by killy
Daily Practice - Paola, a photo by killy on Flickr.

Had a nice talk with Taggart yesterday evening about 'monetizing' my photography; assigning a value to the work that i do. This is not something that I know how to do, so i've got to start working at it.

How one goes about this, i simply do not know. I spend the waking hours of my life trying to hone my technical skills so that when the time comes i can make beautiful pictures easily; so that it's easier for my mind to create something. The purchases i have made recently are all targeted at giving me the ability to achieve a certain 'look'. Being able to achieve a look or to come away with a really beautiful, striking image has always been my goal.

The act of getting paid for that, however, is not something i have ever practiced for. It is nothing i have ever trained for. Quite honestly, the money/photo relationship has always made me pretty queasy. It sets up expectations, delivery of a product, etc ...

Taggart's rather extreme relationship with his camera is one that i'm not sure i want to have. He doesn't use his camera unless someone pays him to use it. Lucky for him, lots of people want him to use it.

I'm sure a balance can be found. Gotta start looking.

Today's picture is taken with a new beauty dish that came in the mail yesterday. I got home late (around 8:30) so it was another one-light shot. Beauty dish with sb-600 @ 1/64th power against a white background.

Monday, April 04, 2011


Carolina by killy
Carolina, a photo by killy on Flickr.

Been trying to come to terms with grids. I would love to expound on this, but don't have the mental energy today. Perhaps tomorrow. For now, here's a fairly dramatic portrait of Carolina using my DIY black straw grid and a reflective umbrella as a very dim fill.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

lstanbul >> Athens >> Berlin

Howdy folks! I just got back from a swell trip across the pond that featured much wondering and wandering in Istanbul, Athens and Berlin where I conquered many doner kebabs, looted many cafes, and e-plundered many museums.

Istanbul was a dream and remains a dream. For a lover of arches and domes there is no more better place to wander. I think the prayer hall of the Blue Mosque is the most perfect expression of quiet light and space I have ever known. In contrast, walking around the bazaars gave me an incredible lust for gold and a desire to sack cities.

Athens was warm and bright and blue. Colin and Killy will remember how delightful the orange-tree lined streets of the city felt those 15 years ago and they remain as lovely today. It was great fun to see some of the same places we visited on that long-ago trip.

Berlin is fantastic. I can’t wait to go back. I spent nearly a week there and did not get enough. I struggle to characterize what made the city feel so good, so energetic and so positive. It is a big city with lots going on but it does not feel hectic. It is packed with and burdened by history but it does not feel tied to the past, rather it feels like its time is now. While I was there I met up with my brother who is on a european tour with his band. I caught a couple of his shows and it was simply wonderful to hang out.

There is much more to tell but mostly it was just a great and much needed holiday.

Saturday, April 02, 2011


Ben Ledman by killy
Ben Ledman, a photo by killy on Flickr.

Spent the majority of friday night making a DIY softbox. It turns out that Carol is a much better engineer than i am.

Built from foam core, black gaffer tape, foil and the wrapping that comes around mac towers (used as the diffusion material), the softbox works extremely well. It's double diffused and the light comes out evenly.

It was designed with a Vivitar 285HV in mind in that it allows the flash to zoom in and out. For this particular photo, the flash was zoomed out with makes the light dropoff noticeably shallow.

The inside of the softbox is lined with foil paper which, i think, gives the light a harsher quality than if i had lined the inside with simple white paper. I'll probably spend a portion of my Sunday creating a white version and posting a comparison picture.

In other news, I am now the proud owner of a (used E+ condition) Nikon ED 80-200 2.8 zoom lens. Sharp as a tack and built like a tank - I am looking forward to posting some portraits from this one soon.

Friday, April 01, 2011

ACL - finally

So, I finally went under the "knife" this past Thursday morning.
Always gain a high level of respect for doctors and nurses and PAs when I have to go through this sort of shit.
Now - the slow road to recovery.
I will post a cool photo when the bandage comes off.