Gettin’ the Adventure Spirit

Gettin’ the Adventure Spirit

Perhaps it is because it is the Saturday after Thanksgiving, or maybe the wanderlust of the highway calling to me, but today’s update is a bunch of cool stuff about adventure photography that makes me want to get out the door, fire up Sarek and “head out on the highway, lookin’ for adventure”.

I have said it many times; if I was starting this road of commercial photography again, it would be adventure photography I would be chasing. Perhaps it will be, and perhaps I shall at some point. (Do you get the feeling that there is something in the air saying “reset”… a big change comin’ and perhaps it is indeed a time for a reset.) Who knows… hell, certainly not me.

I am just a writer/photographer who is wanting to have some fun on these final laps. Get the fuel ready, boys, I want another race.

Michael Clark puts out a quarterly newsletter that is well designed and full of great information for a start up photographer or a seasoned pro. Check his downloadable newsletter out here, and see his work here. Damn.

Paolo Marchesi is a fine adventure shooter as well. This blog post about shooting surfing on Todos Santos, and island off the coast of Mexico is really a great read. Wonderful photos as well. You can see his work here.

Go vertical with Matt and Agnes Hage while they shoot for Outdoor Research. This post talks about their recent shoot on the rock faces of Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah. See their amazing work here.

Chris Burkard knows photography… and social media. With over a million Instagram followers, there is a sense that a lot of people like adventure photography. Listen to this interview with him on how he does what he does and check out his work here. Tumblr too…

From extreme adventure sports to sublime landscapes, Alex Buisse delivers every time. Check out this blog post on shooting for Red Bull. Then check out his work here.

See ya next time…


One Umbrella on Location



I am a Photoshop guy who is finding a lot of love in Lightroom. I would say that about 80% of my work goes from LR (or CR) into Photoshop for finishing. But the other 20% is done totally in Lightroom.

Briana and I did this shoot last year for some new portfolio pieces. She had this cool, crazy outfit and I wanted an urban setting for the shot.

I used a single softlighter at 1.5 stops brighter than ambient for a pool of light effect.


I chose three that I liked:


I chose the middle one to do the Lightroom work on. I may come back and do the third one in black and white at some point.

Below is the Lightroom work I did. Simple and easy, and somewhat subtle… but then subtle may be all you need.


Fitness Model on Location with Hiram Chee


I was aiming for a clean catalog feel.

We shot this image at high noon in a football field. I used an Einstein F13 in a Softlighter without the sock for fill. I also used a -3f stop ND filter on my 85mm F1.8 to get the blue sky and blurred background.

I was shooting at F5.6. 1/125, ISO 100.

For post processing, I processed the RAW file in Capture One to dial in color balance, contrast, exposure, clarity, structure and sharpness. I then uploaded the image to CS6, denoised with Nik Dfine, softened the skin in Imagenomic Portraiture, balanced contrast in Nik Color Fx Pro Contrast and pre-sharpened in Nik software.

Lately I have been importing my edited psd files into LR5 and exporting JPGs at the appropriate size.



Jamie at the Window

Jamie at the Window

Jaimie at the Window: Fredericksburg, Virginia.

I really loved the feeling of light coming in the window but the shot was very blah without the addition of a light source inside.

Using a speedlight with a modifier of cards around it to give direction, I lit Jaimie from camera left. The cards were being held by a VAL (Michele) and they were a little tricky to keep in place. We were running and gunning at this point, so setting up a stand would have lost some time with the light and I just wanted a quick shot.

The cards were being used to keep the light off the wall closest to them, and for the first couple of shots they did, but when I asked Michele to move a little away from the wall, the cards started letting light hit the wall and that was a problem when I looked at them later on the screen.

Exposure: I let the light in the window totally blow out, and based my exposure on that setting. Adding the strobe was easy as it was distance and power. I got my setting from the ambient light shot I did to blow out the window, so the exposure was set. I knew how far away the strobe had to be and at what power to match my settings on the camera.

The final shot that I chose had some issues, but we did some work in Photoshop to bring the wall into compliance, and open up the shadows in the darker part of the image.

Simple Photoshop moves, but ones you may like. I am a fan of the NIK software, so I used the new Analog Pro to finish off the image.

Image before Photoshop. Note the terrible rendering of the wall here. I knew I needed to smooth that out, and adding some vignette would help give it some dimension.


Here is the Photoshop work.

Here is the completed image.




Lighting for texture is a very important part of what we do.

Double Portraits: David Price

Double Portraits: David Price

Bay area photographer David Price was assigned to do a double portrait. He chose some co-workers who were happy to work with him to make the shots. It is always wonderful to have people want to work with you to make images, and David took his time to make the images in the style he is working on.

You can see the delicate back light that falls from top left to bottom right on the curtains behind the subjects. This soft approach to a ‘spray light’ adds warmth and depth to the image.


As you can see in the setup below, David has used a small shoot thru umbrella to do double duty… the background light, and the fill light on the camera left of her hair. As the light falls down the curtains, it is brighter at the top and gently gets less powerful the farther away from the source. This additional gradient also helps the image keep dimension.


David also changed the direction of the light while working with the subjects. For the close shot above, he turned the umbrella to light the wall on camera right and just out of the picture. This provided a big, soft source for the face. In the second shot above, he moved the umbrella back to light the subject with it instead of the wall.

The same scheme was used in the portrait below.




A light can be used to make another light as David has done above, using the umbrella to light the white wall for an even larger source.


Make a shot with one light source… without moving the subject, modify that source to come from both directions – again without moving the light. Aim the light toward the subject, then aim the light toward something else that can be used to light the subject. Find an area that allows you to do this without having to move the subject.

Sources can include large white walls, shower curtain reflectors, fomecore boards or V-flats or reflectors.