Thursday, August 18, 2011

Snake Suspenderz

Earlier this week Kim and I had a small house/garden concert for our neighbors. We invited a local band called Snake Suspenderz who were absolutely perfect for the concert.

This whole concert thing started last winter when Kim decided to build a little deck in our back yard. She and a friend, Brian, worked on it and when it was done Brian stepped back and said, "you didn't build a deck, you built a stage." That got the gears spinning in Kim's head and she had been talking about having an outdoor concert series ever since. Unfortunately, summer arrived very late in Seattle this year, and the series dwindled down to this one performance.

Snake Suspenderz has been around for a while in various incarnations. I knew two of the players, Thadeus Spae (from the Oregon Country Fair and the Moisture Festival) and salamandir (who I used to play with in the Fremont Philharmonic back in my musical days). New to me were Sketch and Howlin' Hobbit. As Thadeus said that night, you know the band has to be special when the guy named Thadeus has the most normal name in the group.

They played a great mix of danceable jazz tunes on tuba, ukulele, trombone, guitar, and drums. I even sat in on one number, All Of Me, on Melodica. A recording of that event may surface some day. In addition to playing, taking photos, and hosting, I also was dragged onto the dance "floor" (actually the grassy lawn) by my 91-yr-old mom for a dance. I still can't keep up with her.

Here are some photos of the band, followed by some photos of folks in the crowd. And ending up with a video of the Snake Suspenderz rendition of Mack the Knife from the Three Penny Opera.

Howlin' Hobbit
Some of our guests...
Mam Rose, exasperated that I'm
trying to take yet ANOTHER photo of her
And part of Mack The Knife (captured via iPhone 4)...

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Habit Return to Seattle

A couple of months ago I got hired to take some publicity photos for a Seattle-based comedy group named The Habit. It seems they had been on hiatus for a number of years and were planning a big comeback show for September.

I knew one of the members, Mark Siano, through Larae Lobdel who some of you may know as PhotoSister and others may know as the social media and marketing person at Black Rapid. I had also photographed him last year when he starred in the 2010 production of Cafe Nordo Sauced. Through Mark we set up a photo session at his place for a Sunday afternoon. Luckily his place has a large garage that we were able to use as a studio. We weren't quite sure what the weather was going to be that day.

On my first meeting with Mark he started talking about the concept. The five members of the group tromping through a city, wrecking havoc. I just had to supply the photo of the group and they would add the city and effects in Adobe Photoshop. "Why go through all that trouble?" I asked Mark, "I just happen to have a set of sky scrapers and other city buildings in my basement. Compliments of Tasty in Greenwood who used them in a window display about a year ago."

Being there were going to be 5 people, I opted for some large lights. A couple of Speedotron heads, one in a 60" Photek Softlighter II for the main light on camera left and the other in a Westcott 7-foot white umbrella for fill light next to the camera. We did some individual photos and some group photos for use on the web site and on the poster.

This afternoon the final poster and show dates were released and here are some of the photos from the session. Unfortunately, I didn't get any behind-the-scenes images this time. Too busy wrangling 5 comedians!!

Luke Thayer
Luke Thayer
Ryan Dobosh
John Osebold
David Swidler
Mark Siano
Jeff Schell
Mark Siano

Out takes from the group photo

Thanks to Jeff Schell for taking my photo on white seamless and turning it into the grand poster for the show.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Lighting Rosemary

My previous entry I showed the photos I made today with model Rosemary Timmons and makeup artist Kerrin Birchenough. In this post I'm going to talk about the lighting set ups for the session.

Above you can see some of the basic setup. There is a 7-foot Westcott Parabolic Umbrella with black cover overhead (you can see the end of the umbrella shaft and the handle from the strobe head at the top of the picture). There is also a Westcott strip bank overhead behind the model. She is sitting on an apple box and there is an oval shiny reflector in front of her to bounce back some light from the umbrella to open any shadows on the model's face. A Blow It Fan sits to camera right to provide some motion to some of the photos. On each side of the model were black Westcott reflectors to kill any bounce from the sides.

Here is a view that shows the head in the
umbrella and the strip box in the back
Some of the images added a
ring Light in front
This is the model's view
(sans photographer).
The ring light is not in position here, but
you can see the Westcott 7-foot umbrella

Another view from behind the camera. This one is
a little deceptive because it makes it look like
I actually use my tripod. You can see the gray
seamless background and the black velvet ready
to be hung in the background. The hand painted
gray muslin is on the right
The main light for the day was a Speedotron strobe set powering the heads in the umbrella and strip light. At some points during the session I unplugged the umbrella head and replaced it with another head with either a 10-degree grid or a snoot, as in the next four images.

Snoot with black reflector
Snoot, as above
snoot, as above
10-degree grid
For other images I turned off the head in the umbrella and used a ring light. For yet others, I mixed the ring light and the umbrella.

Looking through the ring light
The backgrounds for these images consisted of gray seamless paper, black velvet cloth, some remnants from the fabric store, and a hand-painted gray muslin (courtesy of my recent class with Rosanne Olson at Photographic Center Northwest).

None of today's work would have been possible with Rosemary and Kerrin. Here are some iPhone photos of the prep work...

Getting started with hair
Initial makeup application
Finalizing hair for the last images
One last iPhone photo of the set at the end of the day...

Please feel free to post questions or comments.


Rosemary out of the water

Last week I posted some underwater photos of a new model I met named Rosemary Timmons. In that post I said I hoped to be able to do some studio work with her. Later in the week I had the great fortune to meet a makeup artist named Kerrin Birchenough. And I was somehow miraculously able to schedule a photo session with both Rosemary and Kerrin for this afternoon. Some weeks the stars all come together. Or maybe it was the full moon...

This is going to be a 2-part blog. Here I will first show the images from the session and then I'll post another entry showing behind the scenes and talking about the lighting setups.

As I mentioned last week, Rosemary is signed up with Heffner Management here in Seattle. Kerrin is working on getting a website up and running, contact me directly if you want contact information for Kerrin. I'm going to start off the images with a couple of "before" photos taken when Rosemary initially arrived at the studio.

 I handed things over to Kerrin to get started on hair and makeup while I made some changes to my initial lighting plan. I'll cover more in the followup, but the basic setup here is a Westcott 7-foot white parabolic umbrella overhead and slightly in front of the model and a small Westcott strip light overhead behind the model, facing directly forward (not angled down). The two before photos above have the strip box to the camera right. That's what I changed while makeup was being applied. I also used an Alien Bees ringlight for some and a flash head with a 10-degree grid or a narrow snoot for a couple.

Ring light added with black background
Modeling lamps only with a 90mm
Tilt/Shift lens to throw the mouth
out of focus
The overhead umbrella, reflector, and
strip light from behind
Same lighting as above
Same as above
Ring light in addition to the above
This one uses the ring light, but
instead of shooting through it,
I moved it off to the side (camera
left) to give some directionality
to the light.
Back to shooting through the ring light

Saturday, August 13, 2011

La Figa Project at the Greenwood Block Party

I attended the Greenwood Block Party last night to photograph my friends at Versatile Arts, but ran into a number of other friends and had a quite diverse evening. This post is about chef Tiberio Simone and photographer Matt Freedman's La Figa Project which Tiberio demonstrated at my friend Sheri's shop Tasty on Greenwood Ave between 75th and 76th in Seattle.

This demonstration in the store's front window seemed to be one of the big attractions of the Block Party. It was quite wonderful to see families taking in the art project together. Seattle is a pretty amazing place. Here are a few more photos from the event. More photos can be found on the web at

Tiberio sighing off at the
end of the evening