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When a subject’s spirit shines through the portrait.

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Sitar John Protopapas – Portraits are often challenging because people living in the mundane world wear so many layers of costume and mythology that enable them to operate in their day-to-day reality.

One must present one face to their employer, another to their spouse, another to their kids and their kids’ school, …you get the idea.  But not so much for Sitar John Protopapas, a music professor at York College in York, PA.  John is as authentic a person as I have met in a long time, and a lot of that authenticity comes from the fact that he does not compromise much of himself in his daily living.  He does what he loves, be it teaching sitar and Indian instruments, teaching Yoga, being a father, or fixing up his home. John is what you see and what you see is a spiritual and kind man. So making this photo required little effort.  The challenge was the lighting, and a flared reflector was all that was needed.  The venue was the disco room a the Alois Hotel, attached to the historic Bube’s Brewery in Mt. Joy, PA.

And while I was busy photographing ghosts and beautiful young women during this shoot, the serendipity of photographing a beautiful soul came through and made the day.

Techie/Geeky Photo Stuff:  I used two Alien Bee’s B800’s to balance this shot, both were reflected through similar light mods.  The Paul C. Buff PLM was the primary light and a no-name mod was used for fill.  The softness came from some extreme flaring.  I hope you enjoy viewing this image as much as I enjoyed making it.

Nikon D800, 85.0 mm f/1.8, ƒ/13.0, 85.0 mm, 1/200, ISO 320, Flash (on, fired), Yongnuo Wireless Triggers to Alien Bees AB800 monolights

Model Link: Sitar John Protopapas

Location Link: Alois Hotel at Bube’s Brewery.

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Always Explore Your Natural Light

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Musicians are some of the most photographed people out there and it’s tough to come up with an original shoot concept so, like it or not, every shot is going to be derivative of something that’s already been done. The best that you can do is ad original elements of lighting, color or texture.  This shot I did of Faerie singer/songwriter Jessica Star is an example.  The pose is reminiscent of early Bruce Springsteen, the color, background and texture screams modern digital.  The contrast might suggest film.  The subject is a classic beauty, and that never hurts.

Techie Photo Stuff:

This shot was taken after a longish studio session. The studio lighting was adequate, but none of the shots spoke to me.  After the formal shoot, we walked around the house and explored the gorgeous, diffuse mid-winter light that was pouring though the windows.  Serendipity!

  • Nikon D800
  • ƒ/1.8
  • 85.0 mm
  • 1/200
  • 200
  • Flash (off, did not fire

Snuzzles

Snuzzles

Snuzzles

I have amazing friends.  The one on the right is Ruby Chiex who you will see in a lot of my photos.  Brilliant and beautiful, she has been one of my photo muses for a few years running.

This photo shows why it pays to get the big lights and demonstrates the serendipity available in every photo shoot.  The modeling light of the my AB800 with PLM modifier (aggressively flared) from above produced such a lovely light that I dropped my Nikon D800 and snapped a quick shot with my Fuji Point-and-shoot.

Camera: Fuji X100s
ISO: 2000
Lens: 23mm fixed
1/100 sec at f/2.0

Brother Band at the King of Prussia Scottish/Irish Festival

This modern world is a mix of synergies and fusion. A blending of old and new traditions and, here in the USA more than anywhere else, mixes of cultural influences the create new complexity and beauty every day.  Nowhere is this more present than in the music of the band Brother, (Angus, Didgeridrew and their drummer, whose identity currently has me quite confused…) which blends didgeridoo, bagpipes, tribal drums and more traditional rock instruments to create and unique and compelling sound.

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King of Prussia Mid Winter Scottish/Irish Festival Link:

http://www.eohebrides.com/events/index.cfm%3FEventID=536.html

It never ends well for the Wicked Witches

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I mean really, when are they ever going to get a clue that the seemingly innocent child that they are about to devour is actually a bone-breaking ninja prodigy?

This was a tough shot due to the variable light.  by metering on the dark area and allowing the bright area to camera right to be somewhat overblown, you can get a serviceable photo, but really, why not just center it on the background and be done with the back-lighting altogether?

Probably because if they noticed me, I’d have been turned into a newt, but more like I was just walking by as these awesome actors were playing this out and captured what I could – there were hundreds of people around and this was the only vantage point.  Capture what you can. Fix it later if you must.  A fair photo of a good subject is better than no photo at all.

Honey, there’s something strange happening in the park.

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Every year around this time Krampuslauf Philadelphia freaks out the neighbors. And that is very, very good, because freaking out the neighbors is one of my favorite things to do.  Here in Philly, Amber Dorko-Stopper, AKA Frau Perchta on Facebook, begs, pleads and cajoles scores of brilliant artists, neighbors and fellow citizens into performing one of the most wonderful and eclectic neighborhood events you’ve never seen.  There are costumes, food, camp fires, kids, adults, hot cider, incredible fire dancing, and everything Alpine-mythic for all that care to attend.  The costumes are to die for.

For an event like this, you should bring the fastest and widest lens that you have.  Available light is the best, but if you bring your own, use something off-camera and well diffused.

http://krampuslaufphiladelphia.com/

Old Style, New Edge

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I love the juxtaposition of new into old.  Old movie star portraits with new style body mods and tattoos shock they eye and turn the studio censors of the 1950’s in their graves.  Art is defiance of the standard and the norm.

The subject of this Strobist-style portrait is Ruby von Vanity. She’s an impressive dancer and model who knows her genre.  I used an old Nikon D90 with a Nikon SB-600 on an extendable wand. The flash was triggered by Nikon CLS, an inexpensive, but sometimes unreliable solution.

https://www.facebook.com/RubyVonVanity