Disney World Memories (part 1)

My 2012 Disney World vacation is just a few days away now. By this time Saturday I’ll be on a plane with my wonderful girlfriend, Deb, and Orlando will be our destination. For seven days I’ll be seeing as much as possible and doing my best to relax at the happiest place on Earth.

This will be my fourth year visiting Disney World and it never seems to get old for me. Every year I bring home pictures and after years of photographing the big iconic touristy stuff I’m planning to capture more of the smaller details this year. But before I leave I thought I’d take a few minutes to share some pictures from last years trip. Looking at these pictures always brings a smile to my face.

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Different ways I use flash gels

People that have known me for a while know how much I enjoy using shoe mount flashes to get different looks for my photography. While I often share my wilder shots I’m happy to report that I can take shots without flashes, light modifiers and colored gels. In fact, when I’m shooting for clients I start with simple shots and when I’m certain that I have shots that they’re happy with I’ll see if there’s some interest in pushing things into more creative places. Most of the time my photo subjects have grown comfortable enough with me near the end of a shoot that they’re willing to try some different lighting setups to see where the shoot goes.

To get different looks I’m big on using flash modifiers like grids, barn doors, softboxes and colored gels. I use velcro straps from Honl Photo and LumiQuest and I use gels from Flash Zebra, GAM and Honl Photo. I take a ton of gels with me on a shoot and to keep things organized I’m using Case Logic CD cases (I picked mine up for about $5 each at my local Best Buy). For this blog entry I want to talk about colored gels and some of the different ways that I like to use them on a shoot.

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My photo shoot with Jordan

Recently I was asked to photograph a good friends dog, Jordan, who is getting older and having some health problems.

Shoots like this are crazy important to me and before the shoot I’m spending a lot of time thinking about how I’m going to get the best shot possible. No tool or technique is off limits for shoots like this.

When the time came to have the shoot we chose an outdoor farm location to give us plenty of options. While I definitely wanted to get some outdoor shots I also knew that I’d need some studio style shots to get the images I had in mind. So I packed up my gear and arrived on location to set up a mobile studio in one of the buildings on the farm.

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Background Holder on a Budget

I love using seamless paper for a background. I have lots of different ways that I use seamless paper and I always keep plenty of different lengths and colors on hand. Over the years I found that the papers I use the most are my 53″ white, 53″ black and 53″ grey seamless papers. They are perfect for product shoots and they make a great background on portrait shoots. The 53″ length is a great size for a single person or a couple (even though you may need to fix the edges in Photoshop) and you can easily set it up by yourself. 107″ wide paper rolls are the ultimate, especially for large groups, but they can be a bit difficult to take out to locations. I use 107″ rolls of paper but I usually shoot individuals and couples so 53″ wide has always worked fine for my location work.

My favorite thing about 53″ rolls of seamless paper (besides it’s portability) is that they’re crazy cheap. 12 yards of white seamless paper runs about $25 from B&H photo and I use white paper a lot. With a roll of white paper you can create a white, grey, black or colored background (depending on how you light it) so it’s super versatile.

But just having rolls of paper won’t do you much good if you don’t have a way to put it up.

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