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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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Alois Hotel Haunting

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This is a photo of a near fully-formed ectoplasmic entity encountered on 18 February, 2015.  It is part of my ‘Ghosts Imagined’ series.

Last year, I had the great fortune to do a ghost hunt and photo shoot at Bube’s Brewery in Mt. Joy, PA.  This week I returned and tried to capture some entity images at the Alios Hotel, which is restaurant and hotel that is attached to Bube’s Brewery.  The place is a maze of catacombs and connections, color and history and a great place to capture ghost images.

The complex is  huge.  It was built in the 19th century and was a used a brewery throughout most of its very powerful history. It was part of the underground railroad before the Civil War.  Employees now report the place to be haunted with a number of entities. According to the employees these are benevolent entities, but sometimes bit mischievous. It was reported to me that they seem to care about the well-being of the business and it’s current owner Samuel Allen.

More Location Stuff: Alois Hotel  at Bube’s Brewery, Mt. Joy, PA – a haunted 19th century restaurant, bar with attached catacombs tunnels, and a maze of amazing photo ops around every corner.

Geeky Photo Stuff: This was a long exposure made in order to leverage the color vibrance of the upstairs hallway.  The camera was set on a tripod to avoid blur and shake. The ghost was most gracious to appear for the photo. He, along with the other shoot participants and I, all shared food and drink during the shoot.  Ghosts models know how to party I recommend putting out a food tray to attract them during any photo shoot.

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