The Origins of Halloween, 2016

THE ORIGINS OF HALLOWEEN

A Project 52 Assignment

Just before Halloween (October 31, 2016) the assignment for the Project 52 students was to shoot to layout for this fictitious piece.

The magazine layout is a two page (spread, or “double truck”) and calls for the photographer to be very cognizant about what is on the right side of the image. The right side of the image will have copy set there, and it is important to keep that copy readable. The text is set as reversed (light text on a dark background) and was not to be changed.

This is a deceptively difficult assignment. Making sure the image captivates, fitting it into a layout, helping direct the viewer to the text are all decisions made BEFORE taking the shot. Planning the image is as important as executing the image.

This kind of exercise helps the photographer understand the image making process – whether for practical, commercial applications or simply to make a photograph that is deliberate.

There were many amazing shots. These are my favorite ‘scary thirteen’.

(Cover shot by Anne Stephenson.
Careful blending of a ghostly figure with a shot of an old, abandoned cemetery brings a cinematic feel to the image. Anne also used a color grade technique to look more like moonlight.)

Photographer Dirk Brand used a model with the “day of the dead” makeup to give us a start. A single light source still keeps the tonality of the dark scarf, and the high contrast of the white-face makeup.

Photographer Duck Unitas chose a macabre still life with rich color and the look of candlelight. The old books give an air of mystery, while the lighting keeps us guessing as to its origins.

Photographer Frank Grygier brings his image as a still life of old toys. Well lit, well composed and definitely a bit whimsical, the image leads us to the text perfectly.

Photographer Joe Tharp brings a macabre makeup on a model to invoke the mystery and frightening aspects of Halloween. A single light keeps it simple, and letting the shadow side transition into the dark makes it more mysterious.

Photographer Melissa Wax transports us to a mythical land where druid like dancers seem to be calling forth a spirit. She had wonderful models to shoot on this very cold morning. The backlit fog and flare add to the mysterious mood, and the direction of the dancers lead our eyes to the text.

Photographer Michael Klinepier took a subtle examination of the simple terrors of a nightmare. From makeup to wardrobe, to an eery handful of fire, the image makes us look, and also drives us to the copy by careful placement of the flame.

Photographer Nadine Eversley used light and Photoshop to create this interesting, graphically strong image. An iconic carved pumpkin, and beautiful leading lines take us right to the copy.

Photographer Richard Neuboeck used dramatic light, an iconic carved pumpkin and strong, leading lines for this mysterious image. Photoshop was used to carefully assemble the pieces, and the result is a striking, graphic photograph.

Photographer Neville Palmer presents a workbench from hell. From a potted head to a skull, to a mass of dead leaves, the still life is creepy and made it even more by the excellent use of lighting throughout the image. Note how well the copy reads over the background even though it may seem too busy at first glance.

Photographer Gloria McDonald gives us a ghostly image wrapped in gauze. The location is all the more eery. This is a composite shot, but works very well to bring an otherworldly mood to the image.

Photographer Iryna Ishcenko takes a still life approach with rare glass pumpkin ornaments. While not a traditional approach to ‘scary’ Halloween, it is a wonderful editorial approach to the product, or collectibles. This is the fun of photography – bringing in different approaches for our clients.

Photographer Rick Savage takes a ‘day of the dead’ view, and offers us up a model who seems to be dripping out of the next dimension. Clever use of a mottled, shiny background and one light make the shot work well.


 

bw-portrait-ad-web

For the last time this year, I am running this very popular class on Black and White Portraiture. Lots of information on shooting people and converting the images to monochrome (black and white, sepia, toned etc…).

Please check out the page for a lot more information.

For the last time this year, I am running this very popular class on Black and White Portraiture. Lots of information on shooting people and converting the images to monochrome (black and white, sepia, toned etc…).

Please check out the page for a lot more information.

Photographing Chocolate: A Sweet Challenge

PHOTOGRAPHING CHOCOLATE: A SWEET CHALLENGE

Photographing chocolate is very challenging. For one thing, humidity and temperature can play a big part in what the chocolate looks like. And chocolate is very susceptible to damage from fingerprints, casual bumping against other product, and time.

Working with chocolate to make it look great is what we worked on with this Project 52 assignment. I chose these 11 images to show a cross section of the work the students did on this difficult assignment.

Cover image by Terri Queen.

PHOTOGRAPH BY KHEMAIS HAJRI

Soft ambient from the back with a little kick from the rear-right bring these ridges of chocolate alive. The perfection of the chocolate is revealed by well thought out lighting.

PHOTOGRAPH  BY DAWN GARDNER

Notice the beautiful lighting on the different types of chocolate. Dawn used a large light from above with carefully placed fill cards to keep the dark tones readable.

PHOTOGRAPH BY ALBERT MADRILEJOS

Super soft lighting and wonderful composition show off these rare, exotic chocolates with fruits and nuts. A very large, diffuse light source in close to the subject creates this look.

PHOTOGRAPH  BY RICHARD NEUBOECK

A frame within a frame helps create a bit of mystery for these specialty chocolates. A large light source in close to the subjects presents a wonderfully soft light that helps fill the shadows.

PHOTOGRAPH BY MELISSA WAX

A small drip of chocolate on a white pear is a beautiful treat for the eyes. Melissa used a very soft ambient light to create this image. The liquid like highlight in the chocolate help sell the difference in textures.

PHOTOGRAPH  BY NEVILLE PALMER

A single light helps define the textures of this simple chocolate cupcake. Using a gradient surface allows the highlights atop the chocolate swirls to look even more glorious. A small shiny fill to the front opens up the cake toward camera.

PHOTOGRAPH BY KURT MOORE

Yep, that is chocolate wine. I haven’t tried it yet, but it is on my list. Kurt’s lovely lighting and beautifully shot bottle helps show off the candies all about the surface. The small splash light behind the bottle and glass help keep them front and center.

PHOTOGRAPH  BY TIMOTHY ARCH

Chocolate in a very simple form. Strong backlight, and a specular on the surface of the pan leads our eyes to the chocolate ball. Styling to include the chocolate powder helps keep us focused on the subject.

PHOTOGRAPH BY CARLOS CASHAT

A colorful display of fancy chocolates lit gently from behind with a softbox behind a little kick of light from the front for fun.

PHOTOGRAPH  BY CHARLOTTE LARSSON

Shallow Depth of Field helps to present the textures of these fine chocolates, while giving us a pleasing composition.


 

For the last time this year, I am running this very popular class on Black and White Portraiture. Lots of information on shooting people and converting the images to monochrome (black and white, sepia, toned etc…).

Please check out the page for a lot more information.

If you love still life photography as much as I do, you may want to check out this 8 Week Still Life Class. It is one of the most popular I offer and it will be the last time I do this in 2016. We take a deep dive into the structure, techniques, and styles of still life photography.

Please see this page for more information.

Two Workshops in November: Portrait and Still Life

Two Workshops in November: Portrait and Still Life

For the last time this year, I am running this very popular class on Black and White Portraiture. Lots of information on shooting people and converting the images to monochrome (black and white, sepia, toned etc…).

Please check out the page for a lot more information.

If you love still life photography as much as I do, you may want to check out this 8 Week Still Life Class. It is one of the most popular I offer and it will be the last time I do this in 2016. We take a deep dive into the structure, techniques, and styles of still life photography.

Please see this page for more information.

Back to Work… Again

Back to Work… Again

I was truly disappointed that my Alaska trip was cut so dramatically short. I didn’t expect it, and I was not really ready to give up on that idea. (I will do it next year, or the year after if I have to.)

The back pain forbade me doing any camera work, or walking even, so I had a terribly wasted August/September. I couldn’t even sit at the computer for nearly 6 weeks.

Physical Therapy (yea, Foothills Sports Medicine and Lori, my Physical Therapist) worked me back to a good spot. In fact, I feel better than I have in a long, long time. Sometimes these things can creep up on you and what you think is normal is not.

When I finally got the go-ahead to become physical again, I wanted to shoot more than anything. Once before in my life I had taken a forced hiatus from shooting and a young lady started me back on the shooting path. It was only logical that Briana work with me again to get me motivated to make images.

We spent a morning together driving and shooting and laughing. It was great catching up with her, and it was really fun to shoot again. There was so much I wanted to do – still want to do.

I decided to go old school on this trip, so all I brought was my Nikon Df and an 85MM lens. I also packed a Lumix DMC Z540 for snaps. No lights, stands, reflectors and such. Just natural light, a model, and a camera.

I had a blast, and we made some images I really like.

I hope you do as well.

July Portrait Challenge Entries

The 8 Week Portrait Classes had a July challenge of a “summer portrait”. Winner was decided by photographer Nick Giron, a very good portraitist himself.

Here are the entries:

Off to Alaska

OFF TO ALASKA...

AUGUST, 2016

Daily updates at Phoenix to Fairbanks website.

I decided last August that this year I would do something big, something challenging. When I told my wife I wanted to do something to really get back in touch with my creative side, she said, “well then, what do you want to do?”

“Ride a motorcycle to Alaska”, I blurted out, expecting her to dissuade me.

“You’ll need a motorcycle first”, she said, and the next weekend found us looking at bikes together. She has been so supportive of this trip / adventure that I can only realize further why I married her nearly 40 years ago.

Thanks, Marian.

So today I am off. Bad back, stiff left leg and all.

I will be updating from the road at www.phoenixtofairbanks.com and will be back to this blog when I return the first week of September.

See you all then!