Saturday, November 13, 2010

Update 11/13/10

Hello my darling readers.

I know, I have been gone a LONG time...a long ass time, even.

Life has been busy, what with the proper day job and all.

Despite that, I have still done 2 shoots. Both with potential for publishing.

Shoot the first: for Vanity Magazine, a webzine based in the UK. Normally I would look people in the eye (as much as one can on the internet), and say "Oh Heeeeeeeeell Nah" if they asked me to do a calendar for free (well...for TF, technically)...but as fate had it, I was already planning to work with the model who was in contact with the magizine editor. So we shot. It was an alright shoot...we managed to get some good images out of it...which will appear here sometime soonish...and I'll scan and publish the tear, whenever I get the promised copy of the calendar.

Shoot the second: for (possibly) 944 magazine. This was with Matt, who I've worked with'll remember him s the impossibly thin model with the feathers on his neck, and the multicolor circles around the eyes, makeup artist extraordinaire Ellen Wilkins (who, as I say every time I mention her, I adore) was back on board, and also joining us was a wardrobe stylist who runs a vintage clothing shop here in town. We had AMAZING wardrobe, ideas galore, and everything went exceptionally smoothly. I think this is some of my best work to date, and I can't wait to put it up here. As soon as I know if it's going to run in 944 or not, I'll figure out when it can go up (if it's not gonna run: soon; if it is gonna run: at some point after it hits shelves...and i'll probably scan and upload the tears as well)

So, there you have it. Updates.

Sometime, hopefully soon, we'll get back to less talk and more rock.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Melissa Meets Hard Light or Testing the Retro Reflector and Poor Man's Hardbox

Today we have photos again, I know it's been a while. June was a busy month shoot-wise. Four shoots plus a wedding, has left me swamped enough until right now, that I didn't realize until the other day that I didn't shoot anything in the period spanning June 19th until whenever my next shoot ends up being. Scary.

Anywho. This shoot was a test for a future project, seeing how we worked together, etc, and also trying out some new stuff. First up was the Paul C. Buff Retro Laser Reflector, followed by an attempt to mimic the outrageously expensive Profoto Hardbox, which involved wrapping the light with cinefoil (essentially matte black aluminum foil specifically created for this purpose so it doesn't catch fire and such).

The retro-reflector is something of a long-distance use item (it concentrates and sends light over long distance in a narrow beam), but I wanted to see what I could do with it up close. As it turns out, it's pretty close to a gridded beauty dish, but I think there's a certain specularity and contrast that differentiates it. Shadows are a little deeper, and highlights a little shinier.

The "poor man's hardbox" with the cinefoil seeks to emulate what is essentially a $900 black box that fits on your lights. Not even a terribly sophisticated black box...but apparently sophisticated enough to warrant people buying them.  The aim is to mimic the sharp-edged shadows cast by the sun.  Using cinefoil to cover the light and make the source as small as possible, this got pretty close on this attempt, and I think with some monkeying around, I can get things pretty much indistinguishable.

Anyway, without much further ado, photos. As always, click for a bigger view. First is a set with the retro reflector, with a bit of a faded look is a melange of other row is retro reflector, the crazy colored one is with a beauty dish, the one above that is ambient light, and the series of four left of those are with the "hardbox".

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Zay of Arabia, in Technicolor

This is the completed series of model Zay Vassar, who was traveling through Vegas on vacation.

You will recall this was the shoot where I threw out my back the first time.

To recap, theme for this was somewhere between Lawrence of Arabia and Bear Grylls...i.e., surviving in the middle of nowhere in a crazy Technicolor experiment.

Setup was super simple, and basically involved an AB1600 + Beauty Dish plugged into the ol' Vagabond II. Full power, ~12-14ft, f/13, 1/250. Gave a nice balance between the bright sky and background of midday Vegas in summer...a little dodge and burn completed the key shift.

Apart from the near death of my spine, and walking farther than I thought up hill with tons of gear, the shoot went well, and he was a hoot.

Without further ado, les pictures (as always, click for a larger view):

Thursday, July 15, 2010


This shoot is filed under "well shit, *insert creative team member* didn't show up...let's shoot anyway?".

There was supposed to be a makeup artist...something went awry...and then there wasn't a makeup artist.  So we made the best of what we had to work with, and I think we did a damn fine job.

Poor, poor, poor Kyle has the *cough* misfortune of looking pretty similar to a certain very famous obviously we stayed far far away from that realm of concepts. Kept things pretty simple, tried out some new stuff on the hardware and software fronts.

Everything except the white jacket shots were done with a beauty dish...those were with a ring flash...the ring flash was used for fill on some of the shots, but at this point, nigh on 2am, I don't remember which, or if any of those are presented here in the final set of images.

Anyway, in the spirit of "less talk, more rock", images (as always, click for a larger view)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Walk On The Wild Side

Today's model is Stefania, makeup artist Leila, and our concept is "zebra". Good times. Gonna go short on the verbiage for this post. It was lovely working with Stefania for the first time, girl knows how to pose it up. And it was a lovely reunion with Leila after approximately 1,000,000 years since we last worked together.

Without further ado, pictures (as always, click for a larger view):

Friday, June 11, 2010

Monique - Who Needs Color?

You'll recognize Monque from a little while back from the post "An Experiment".  The experiment is still in the works, and will be re-posted soonish, with a few tweaks and such. And I'll go through what the experiment was, my processes, results, and other sundry thoughts.

For now, we have the rest of the set. You shoot a peacock in color, right? Meh. I say MEH to you! As we were shooting, something (probably the hard light source) told me this would end up black and white. And as I imported to the computer, my suspicions were confirmed. Fiddling with black and white conversion, it eventually clicked in a way that color just wouldn't with this set.

We did a second concept, but since it was quite silly, I've given Monqiue the option to approve the images for public consumption. Hopefully they'll show up on the blog some time next week.

Without further ado, Monique, the monochrome for a larger view, as always:

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Model, A Desert, and a Very Small Mountain or AY MY BACK!

I had one of those "for the sake of the art" moments today.  While shooting out in the desert, in the heat, with a tolerant and amusing model, I bent over to pick something up...a sync cord...or a water bottle...something...and my back went crunch. And then we shot for another 25 minutes or so.

It was a good time. Concept was somewhere in the land of Bear Grylls meets Lawrence of Arabia meets normal guy.

In my crippled and invalid state this afternoon, I decided to fiddle around with an image from the shoot...shits and giggles, as it were.

It's a little bit technicolor, a little fashion editorial, a little blah blah blah.

Without further ado, the usual, click for a larger view.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Editorial Series no. 1?

Editorial is such a fluid term. In the vaguest explanation I can possibly think of, it means there's a story of some sort going on in a series of images.

I've been working on technique and concept, but not as much editorial, even though editorial is really where I want to end up.

This series is what I would consider an editorial, a simple one, given it's a studio series involving a model and shoes.  But there is progression, there are inferences to be made, yada yada yada.

I won't talk too much, let I lapse into "art student" territory. Which nobody wants, except for professors and art folks. But this isn't an art blog.  This is a photo blog.

I've also chosen to go with a sort of "glazed" look for this series. Why? It felt right.

As always, click for a larger view.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Confessions of a Dirtbag Retoucher Redux - Brandon 2b

More from the same shoot...the two other sets...close-ups of makeup, and a preview of a more editorial set.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Confessions of a Dirtbag Retoucher Redux - Brandon II

In yet another stunning act of procrastination, I'm just now getting to images from a month ago. Shot the same day as the Twiggy series, this is another shoot with Brandon, from the shadowy wall series a bit ago, when everything went to shit, but the two of us decided to go ahead and shoot anyway. This time makeup was go, and a better studio space was go. I have a bunch more to retouch...two more sets...but this is the first set, figured I'd post as I go...which has the benefit of making me look productive.

This shoot was fun...we had some good wardrobe, and it gets better from here.

I've also been working on retouching as well, and I find that this lighting, as well as the beauty dish used on the Matthew-Jonathan shoot, make for a nice file to work with. Enough skin texture to work with, not too much effort going in and destroying excess texture due to overly hard light, but can still be made punchy. Refining that, as always...a balance of hard and soft has to be out there someplace.

As always, click the image for a larger view (in this case, a bit bigger than usual for a collage):

Sunday, May 16, 2010

An Experiment

Not sure if this image will even be a select from this set...but somehow I got sucked into retouching it anyway.  Trying new things and such.

This is Monique, she was in town and got in contact with me for a shoot. We had a lovely time, and sometime this year I'll put up a collage of what we accomplished...look for it mid-June.

The experiment (click for a larger view):

I'll elaborate on the experiment involved at a later date, assuming it's successful.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

More Twiggy

More photos of Twiggy...a collage representative of the set.  As always, clicky for a larger view.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Twiggy, no, not THAT Twiggy

Here, for your consideration, is a headshot from the most recent edition of the Sunday photoshoots I've been having. I think, just in time to return them to their owner, I tamed the small softboxes I was using.  Hopefully my pre-order number for a nice pretty new Paul C. Buff Einstein 640ws studio light will be called, and I can at long last have a truly fantastic portable lighting setup and the beauty dish I've been coveting for years. Until then, we make do.

This week on the blog we have model Twiggy Bladez, with makeup provided by Trinity.  I'll keep this short and sweet by saying that I really enjoy working with people who do their job artists who make skin just shiny enough to look natural, and models who move well.  It's a good thing, to quote St. Martha of the Home.

There will be more from this shoot as it comes to exist, in the next few weeks I imagine. As always, clicky clicky for a larger view.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Confessions of a Dirtbag Retoucher - Matthew-Jonathan Collage

Excuses, excuses, excuses. I've had 'em all the last couple weeks. But I've finally finished retouching images for awesome model Matthew-Jonathan.  Variety is the theme with this set.  We start at fairly classic fashion, clean backdrop, full length, some crazy accessory, one big light, and posing or jumping in the air.  Next we get a little closer, and a little weirder, attempting to at least a teensy bit channel Vogue Italia...I played with the color a little.  And finally, the primal and feathery artsy beauty sort of shot.  All makeup and feather-crafting by the lovely and amazing Ellen Wilkins.

Without further ado, here is the collage of images from this always, click for a bigger image:

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Here are the final images from Charlie's set.  I decided to play with replacing the sky on one of them. I think it works well on that one, but didn't work as well on others. But that's what this is all about, experimenting, seeing what works, and figuring out how to go forward.

And I hafta say it one more time, it was awesome working with Charlie...great model, great guy. Photographers should be so lucky.

Without further ado, the usual collage (click to enlarge):

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Charlie, and Matt + Ellen

My shoots seem to bunch up, rather than spreading themselves out.  It's odd like that. A horrifying thought: if things had worked out on every front, I could've ended up with 4 or 5 shoots this week.  Two was enough, I think...especially since as soon as I deliver these sets to the models and makeup artist involved, a new project starts up with a buddy, trying to discover the new "it" lighting.  WAY too many models lined up for that, which is awesome...if any flake, we're covered, if none do, all the better.

The first model is Charlie Quiles. He was in Vegas for a while with some friends, so we set up a shoot via Model Mayhem. We ended up with a desert nomad fashion sort of concept. The location is desert on the way out to Lake Mead, from the north side of town. We made our way down into this great canyon/cravasse/ditch sort of area, and made it out alive, bonus.  Charlie was totally awesome, providing kick-ass props, personality, talent, and a damn good attitude (how many models would've bitched about schlepping through soft clay on location?) and sense of adventure.

Second model, Matthew-Jonathan, the first model I've worked with whom I've met via myspace.  Also working on this shoot was the lovely and delighful makeup artist Ellen Wilkins. We shot at Lillie K's XQuizit PiX studio; she and the studio were awesome in every conceivable way, and I'll definitely be using the studio again and recommending it to anyone who will listen. The makeup and talent were fantastic on this shoot...ideas flowed, and we were all on the same wavelength. Again, torturing a willing model, this time by gluing feathers on him.

Until I finish the sets of Charlie, and Matt + Ellen, here are a few tasters of what we were up to. As usual, I'll do collages when the jobs are all done.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Brandon pt.2

Not a whole lot to say about this set, except that it was amazingly easy to edit. Retouching pretty much consisted of removing a handful of blemishes, sharpening, and dodging & burning. No smoothing, no blending, no texturing, nothing fancy shmancy,

i L-O-V-E easy shoots.

as always, click on the image for a larger view.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


I'm a total junkie.

I just can't survive for very long without a photoshoot. I finished December's retouching what...last week? And already I found myself jonesing for a new shoot.

We were all set up to shoot today, bust out some black latex goo, paste on some feathers, etc, etc...but the MUA had a crisis of some sort...which happens. The two of us remaining decided to carry on with the shoot and see what we could pull out of the proverbial hat.  The shoot went well, and I think there will be some really great stuff to come out of it.  I have nothing but positive things to say...the entire process of working with Brandon was one of the most professional experiences I've had...excellent communication, resources, spirit of adventure, took direction well, totally on top of it, genuinely good kudos to him.

Here's a quick edit from the set...I used it sort of as a test just to see what everything looked like coming out of Lightroom, and how it would retouch. It also just happened to be one of the better shots from that set. Courtesy of really good skin, and my not fucking things up, I don't even need to do much more retouching, if any, unless I decide to make an enormous print. (I'm also amused that it's image number 2345...or...if we're counting from the beginning without 4-digit rollover after's image 12345 on the camera. Yes, I'm nerdy like that.)

Here's the result:

Sunday, February 14, 2010


This is the final set of images from December.

It has been tremendous experience shooting like I did in December, but I think until I have a team of people to help me do what I do, I'm going to try to limit my output to a few shoots a month, as opposed to 6 models doing 2 sets apiece, a catalog, and boxing.

Anywho...this is Dilenia, who like Ashley in the previous post, could do no wrong. She really found the light beautifully, and every pose and move seemed to work.

First set is makeup/beauty, crazy eyelashes, and a stencil done on the face down to the shoulder. Second set is a little bit noir, but a much softer and brighter noir, really, the only thing noir-ish is the somewhat contrasty masculine lighting, the hat, and the trench. So, it's a nice twist on the classic loo

Friday, January 22, 2010

Ashley 2 Ways

Not to knock any of the models I've worked with lately, but Ashley, and the next model coming up, Dilenia, were absolutely extraordinary to work with. Every angle was amazing, they knew exactly how to hit the light, had a real knowledge of how to move and pose, took direction easily, and even though I took fewer photos than usual because almost every shot was good, and you just don't need to shoot a lot when that happens...editing their sets was pretty tough (editing, as in choosing the selects/keepers). It's always nice to work with people when everything lines up without much effort. Not that I mind effort, otherwise I wouldn't do this, but you know what I mean.

This set is in two parts. First part, crazy feather set. Part the second, more everyday, catalog, portrait, GAP ad type stuff. One black and white, done with Silver Efex Pro, which I adore, and one shot, props courtesy of a very necessary lunch run to McDonald's.

Without further ado:

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Neverending Cavalcade of Retouching Photos, Pt 2

This is model Majesta. Concept for this shoot was a demon doll, voodoo doll, primal, mouth staked shut, insane and escaping through the forest, terrified and terrorized, but kinda liking it. Second look, obviously just a nice little portrait.

The Neverending Cavalcade of Retouching Photos, Pt 1

This is actually more from the shoot with Kai, who graces the blog a few posts ago.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Life As I Know It Resumes - Retouching Continues

Next set of retouched images. This is Jaclyn. For a larger view, click the image, for an even larger and considerably better view than that, click this link...please click the link, blogger resizes to max 1600px and it fucks images up:

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Just Photos Today - Retouching Consumes My Life

At long last, I finished retouching the photoshoots with Kai and Nateasha...only 4 more models to go from december.

I just happened to throw this collage together today, so, here it is, for your consumption.