Archive for February, 2011


Slinkies! (part two)

I wrote a blog post recently with some pictures of slinkies. If you missed it, you can catch it here. The weather is still pretty drab and I needed a fix of bold colors, so it was back to the slinkies. This was not all just for fun, but also for lighting practice and experimentation. But the fun was the main thing!

The slinkies are indeed fun to shoot. I’m remembering playing with them as a child, trying to get them to walk all the way down a flight of stairs. (I never quite made it – did you?) The colors are fun. And playing around to get some interesting shapes and compositions was a terrific creative exercise.

In the first two images, I used a fairly soft lighting setup. In the one above, I went for a harsh light, to bring out the shadows on the “floor.”  This harsher light also accentuates the three dimensionality of the slinkies. With the slinkies hanging in mid-air, I had to wait a long time for them to stop bouncing.

The one above was also shot with a fairly hard light. As I look at it, there is almost a theatrical lighting feel to the picture. 

How do you respond to these photographs?  (Notice I didn’t ask if you liked them.) I’m fascinated by how each of us responds to visual images.  You may have a positive or negative reaction to each of the colors, based on your own experience and memories. The shapes may conjure up other subjects, consciously or subconsciously.  A psychiatrist could flash these in front of us like a Rorschach test and have a field day! The more abstract a photograph is, the more liberty we give our imaginations to take over.

Which image did you respond to most strongly? What did you feel? What experiences from your life came to mind?  I’d love to hear from you!

And – just as a preview of possible coming attractions….Legos!


High Key fashion lighting

A popular style of lighting in fashion magazines the last few years has been to use a very bright, harsh light, for a dramatic effect.  I’ve been experimenting with this style.  Amanda is the model for these images. There are headshots of her, with more traditional lighting styles, here.

In these images I used just one light, in a small reflector, with a silk cover to diffuse the light slightly.  The light had to be carefully aimed in each shot, and it was important for Amanda to keep her face turned slightly towards the light, so as not to have her face in a dark shadow. Overall, there’s not much room for error when shooting with this setup. And shooting a white dress on a white background presented its own challenges.

Many of the images converted nicely to black and white. In a black and white image, you usually want to punch up the contrast when converting from a color picture, but we had plenty of contrast in these to begin with.  The shadows add interest and echo to some degree the film noir style of the 1940’s and 1950’s.

Do these images appeal to you? I’d love to hear what you think!


beauty lighting and drama lighting


Recently I had the pleasure of doing a shoot with Amanda, a very experienced model who has worked in New York, Milan and Paris for some big name fashion companies. She is a real pro and a lovely woman. We shot a variety of different looks, but today’s post will just cover some of the headshots. My friend Maria Dominici did the makeup.  Her work, as always, is outstanding.

Faithful followers of this blog will recall other posts about beauty lighting,  sometimes called Oil of Olay lighting.  The image above was set up with a softbox just behind Amanda, with her head actually resting on the light cover.  Above the camera, aimed down at Amanda at a 45 degree angle, was a light in a “beauty dish,”  a parabolic reflector that is often used in fashion shots.  Finally, we had a white reflector just under her chin, to bounce some light back into her face.  Notice how the light behind her wraps around her cheeks and neck. This is a very flattering look overall.

Here’s the black and white version:

We also shot a very different lighting setup, aiming for a much more dramatic feel. In this image, we had one light in a softbox to camera right, almost at a 90 degree angle. The idea is to show a progression of light, from the brightest tones  on one side of the face to the darkest on the other side.  We also had a small light on the left side, aimed toward the background, to light it up a bit. This put a hint of light on the edge of her cheek on the dark side, a nice touch which also provides some separation of the face from the background.

And, finally, here’s the black and white version of this image. As always, I’d welcome any comments or questions, either posted on the blog or by email. Thanks for being here!


photographing artwork – part two

I’ve been shooting a fair amount of artwork recently.  As discussed in this recent post, I photographed  a very small painting – less than six inches across. This painting above is much larger, over 5 feet across.

My friends, Bill and Debbie Nightingale,  own the painting. The artist is Ben Jones.  The painting will be the featured piece in an exhibit of Jones’ work this Spring,  at the Washington County Museum of  Fine Arts, in Hagerstown, Maryland.  The photograph will be used in the catalog for the exhibit.

There were some interesting challenges in shooting this painting. It hangs in the Nightingale dining room and was too large to move. To get back far enough to shoot it properly, we noticed the chandelier was in the way. Bill and I wired the chandelier up close to the ceiling, just making room for a clear view from the camera.  I used two lights, trying to light the canvas evenly, but still provide some highlights and interest to the frame.

Apparently the artist has tried to buy the piece back several times. I’m not surprised – it’s an extraordinary work of art.



It’s been a horrible winter in New England.  Everyone (especially me) is getting cranky. I needed to have some fun.  In a photography magazine, I’d seen some neat images of slinkies, so off to the toy store I went.

In this shoot, I really was just having fun.  The colors and shapes took over. Childhood memories came back. The colorful new plastic slinkies may be even better than the old metal ones I grew up with – who knows? 

There’s more snow, sleet, ran and cold today and tomorrow. But these images brought me a bit of joy and the faith that Spring will eventually come. And I hope they’ll bring you the same joy and faith as well!