#Portrait

Vive la Muerte

Vive la Muerte - Ghosty Series 2015

Vive la Muerte – Ghosty Series 2015

Some sorrows never die. They leave their echo for all who are sensitive enough to hear them.

At the Alois Hotel, a beautiful, historic and haunted building located in Mt. Joy, PA, the employees and frequent guests swear that there are several kindly, resident ghosts that watch over the property.  One is a woman in white.

This image was taken on the upstairs landing by the Mardi Gras room where I slept after photographing a CD release party last year.  Just last week I returned and this image is the result.  And while I did some cropping and pushed the colors and lighting a bit with my Lightroom software, this photo is basically unaltered from how I shot it.

Vive la Muerte.

Geeky Photo Stuff: Camera: Nikon D800, Lens: Nikon 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0, ƒ/16.0, 22.0 mm, 160 ISO, zero flash.

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.

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.

Back to the scene of the crime.

In our return to Bube’s Brewery tomorrow we will definitely be looking for more ghosts.

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Last year was an amazing experience as I worked with artists, models and hair/makeup people to document the surreal experience of Bube’s Brewery, a haunted, Underground Railroad building in Mt. Joy Pennsylvania. Now the home of haunted dinner theaters, live music, a wonderfully quirky hotel and an excellent restaurant, this location is a must for anyone who wants to photograph ghosts, real or imagined.  I took this photo last year during a ghost hunt by myself, Sirena Domino Hildebrand and Greg Ferreira prior to a great photoshoot with one of my favorite bands, Sofeya and the Puffins.  Ghost photos are very much a tripod affair.  I’m looking forward to what the event will bring this year.

Lost boys

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Every summer, in the small town of Harpursville, New York, magical forces and mythical beings converge to create the New York Faerie Festival.  There, the barriers between human and animal, magic and muggle, dissolve.  There, these lost boys wander the woods in search of handouts – or a hand – to devour.  This is a wonderful, lush streamside family event with plenty of adult entertainment and brilliant photo opportunities around every corner.  Plan to camp out for the best experience.

Link; The New York Faerie Festival, June 26 to 28, 2015.

Geeky Photo Stuff: I went wide for this shot because I love how it distorts the subject.  I would have been happier if I had a wider lens on the camera at the time, but 28mm was wide enough for this one.
Nikon D800, Tokina ATX Pro 28-70mm f/2.8 Lens at f/2.8  and 28mm. 1/500 sec. Converted to Black and White in Photoshop Lightroom.

Ink is Defiance

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Anyone who knows my work, knows that I love tattoos. So many of my models sport incredible ink, but the average tattoo shot is like looking at a slab of meat.  The technique and style leaves a lot to be desired. My photos are more about subtlety and suggestion than that. This weekend, thanks to the powers that be at the PHILADELPHIA TATTOO ARTS CONVENTION – Which will be held February 13th-15th 2015, I will have the opportunity to tweak the boundaries once again with photo subjects that are as defiant about their body art as I am about my photography.  I think it will be a good mix. 

Link: PHILADELPHIA TATTOO ARTS CONVENTION

Techy Photo Stuff:

Model:  Ruby Chiex, Nikon D800, Nikon 60mm f/2.8, 1/250, Nikon SB-800 fired remote using Nikon CLS, ISO 160

This was a strobist-style shot using a hand held speedlight.

Other Tattooed Eye Candy below:

Beleive

Snuzzles

Snuzzles

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

Urban Faerie

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Urban Faeries – Some Fae folk that have adapted to deforestation and acclimated to humans. You’ll find them living in cities and towns, taking advantage of deserted buildings and alley ways.  Sometimes they’ll live in attics and cellars of occupied buildings – usually unnoticed. Never to be bothered – at your own peril.

Models: Alex and Julie Abene – The Twin Bees

Designer: Kristin Costa Designs – https://kristincosta.wordpress.com/

Techie Photo Stuff:

This photo was made with the awesome Tokina 11.0-16.0 mm f/2.8 for Nikon – a DX format lens that is worth it’s weight in awesome.  I call it my Tim Burton lens and it is my go to for so many shots because it is small, compact, inexpensive and light for a solid f/2.8 lens. The light was thrown using Nikons onboard wireless controller – CLS – to a Nikon SB-600 speedlight held above the subject in Vogue ‘high key’ position.  Kudos to Bill Gekas and Johannes Vermeer.
  • Nikon D90
  • ƒ/4.0
  • 12.0 mm
  • 1/60 sec
  • 200 iso
  • Flash (on, fired) (Wireless remote)

What haunts you?

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Personal Ghost
“An idea, like a ghost, must be spoken to a little before it will explain itself.” –
Charles Dickens

Photo Techie Stuff (or how to shoot a ghost):

1. Wait until there is a ghost.

2. Grab camera and shoot.

3. Run like hell.

Sometimes Twins Don’t Look Alike

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Sometimes two people meet one another and you know they are twins. They might not have the same look or the same last name, they might not even look like each other or be close in age,  but you know, spiritually, they are twins.  Sometimes it’s better to keep them separated, for they trouble they might get into.  This is the case here, and it is another reason whey you never mess with Faeries.