Shooting Holly


I recently purchased the Fuji Instax 210 Instant Film Camera and decided to give it a go on a test shoot. The camera fires the on-camera flash on every shot, and there is no PC port to connect an off camera trigger or strobe. So basically you just need to flag off the camera’s light so it doesn’t hit your subject, and at the same time direct that same camera flash to a strobe in slave mode. It is a little tricky and limiting but you do essencially get a single off camera light source for your picture. You see how I accomplished the triggering in one of the behind the scene setup shot. In my right hand is a white envelop that blocks the light hitting the model and at the same time reflects the light to the slaved Bowens strobe just to camera right. I kept the Bowens strobe about 4-5 feet away from my subject at the lowest power setting, this gave me generally what I needed all afternoon.

Thanks for the behind the scenes photos.

Shooting Aveda Institute Seniors


I had another great opportunity to shoot for Aveda Institute Portland. This shoot was for the graduating seniors and their senior day projects. Each student had to create and execute a concept then I got to photograph them. It was a long hard day working with several seniors and their models, they were all great to work with. I used my DIY modified 3 foot octabox for the key light front and center, and a 3 foot strip box below as shown in the setup shot above.

Shooting Popina Swimwear and Aveda Institute Dosha Salon

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I had the opportunity to be the photographer at Popina Swimwear Grand Opening eastside store. Aveda Institute Portland/ Dosha Salon provided the styling and models. Boy was it a big party bash with a photo shoot, live surf band, food and drinks, and of course the largest swimwear store in Portland. As you can see I setup a white seamless background and blew it out with two Bowens heads. My key light was a single Bowens head with my modified 3 foot octabank placed front and center of the model. For more on the light modifier look at my Modify the Modifier blog post. I’m really digging this modifier because of the nice versatile coverage and the quality of light. The light is somewhat soft but has a kick to it since I removed all the panel diffusion in the softbox. I metered the background light at around f13 and my key light was around f8-f9. I had the model stand close enough to the background so there was spill to wrap around the model’s body for rim light.

The hardest part of the shoot was directing the models while the band was playing, it was pretty loud. I instructed the model’s before they stepped onto the set so they knew what I and Aveda Institutes’s Creative Director wanted. The rest was sign language and a lot of guessing. Lucky for me the models were experienced and could guess my crazy hand signals. Oh and not to mention the hundreds of patrons shopping, eating, drinking, and getting in the way of the photo shoot. It was insane. Above are some setup shots and a few final edits.

Shooting Kelvin

I was in the moody mood today, that is to shoot a moody scene. I seldom use very large soft light, my lighting setups are usually more restrictive or contrasty. But today I wanted to break out of the norm and try using a very large light source. My good photographer buddy Ben Mund has a crazy big softbox that is something like 4 feet by 6 feet or maybe even larger. I set the softbox up high overhead above the model. Then I added a second light with a 12 inch reflector that had a diffuser and tight grid on it. See the setup shots below for a better idea. The overhead softbox provided a nice fill light on the cap, ear, and neck area while I was still able to get my usual edgier light on the face. With the two lights combined I was able to create a moody scene with a huge soft light and my usual contrasty light source. My model is my good friend Kelvin who was just in the neigbourhood and volunteered to be my test subject.


Cleveland Photographic Society-Creative Portrait ShutterCraze Style!

Being put on the spot and thinking outside the box. That’s what exactly happen on my return trip to the Cleveland Photographic Society January 2013. I returned to CPS as a guest speaker and educator, lecturing on my creative workflow and how I come up with personal work that I do. The premise was to “stump” the photographer and throw me all kinds of unknowns but for me to produce something that was creative and unique.

So the class provided me with a unique location, a model that I’ve never worked with before, wardrobe that I didn’t get to see or plan for, lighting equipment that I’ve never worked with before, grip equipment that I never worked with before, two back drops with seamless paper to work with, and so on. The idea was given what I was provided to me I had to go make something creative quickly right in front of the class. In a nutshell I had my concept of what I wanted to shoot in 5 minutes and then all my lighting gear dialed in and ready to shoot in another 10 minutes.

I choose to shoot a projection against the projection screen that I used for my lecture presentation on the overhead. I have never done this type of shot/concept before but I just had to try it. I brought up my portfolio in a slideshow with images changing every four seconds. I posed the model in front of the projection screen (about 6-8 feet) away in from the projection screen. I used a one Key light setup, beauty dish with grid and gelled. I dragged my exposure time so that I could get the projection screen exposed somewhat and then metered my model’s key light around f8. The class was interested with what I could pull off before I started, in the end they were shocked with what kind of imagery I pulled off with my limited amount of time and unfamiliarity with all the gear. I think I proved to the class that imagery was not about gear obsession but rather obsession to creative the unordinary.

Below are some setup shots and a few resulting shots from the shoot. Although these are not my best work from that 15 minutes of chaos, I will revisit this concept and I’m sure I can dail it in to create something awesome.



Shooting Morgan


Lately I’ve been creating artificial window light in tight quarters. I really like how whimsical you can make these scenes with just two lights (the window light and the key light). I stuck a Bowens monolight with a 3 foot octabox right up against the window glass on the outside of the house. My key light was another Bowens monolight mounted with a reflector, grid, and barn door, with these light modifiers I was able to control the light in the small room for my moody mood. I decided to shoot this with my new Olympus OMD E-M5 camera. Yes the Olympus sensor gives a different flavor than my Canon stuff, not better not worse just different.

Shooting Lauren in the sewer

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I had the opportunity to shoot Lauren in the bowels of a sewer. Well not a real sewer but rather in a halloween haunted house. The problem of shooting in these haunts are the VERY tight spaces and the lack of ambient light. I wanted to pack light not my usual armada of strobes. I brought just one Bowens moonlight on a C-stand and a couple speed lights. But really my method to the madness was using grids and a barn door to control the scene. From the setup shots above the light on Lauren is a single moonlight with a grid and barn door. The monolight with grid was already tight but adding the barn door gives the flexibility to further dial it in on either or all sides. The background was lit by gelling two speed lights and raking the back wall to my liking. Oh the light on the C-stand is a flashlight for auto focus assist, a must especially in a haunted house.

Thanks Ben Z Mund for your assistance.

Modify the Modifier


My favorite two light modifiers are the 1’x 3’ softbox and the beauty dish. I wanted to combine my favorite attributes of each of those modifiers into a single modifier. The result is a softbox with a built-in reflector and no internal baffle and no front diffusion on the face of the softbox. I liked the coverage of the new modifier and the punchy-ness/contrast caused by the silver reflective material inside the bare softbox. The softbox has a recessed front so I can install a softgrid to limit the spread of light if I choose. Overall I’m happy with the quality of the light output and the control it gives me, I shall be experimenting with this puppy in my portraits in the near future.

Shooting in the Scamp

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Photographers know what happens when you get a subject close to a lot of light shining from behind the subject. Things can get unpredictable though when you add other elements, in this case cellophane and glass AND get into close quarters. Friends and I got together again this weekend for a BBQ and phoot shoot, two of my favorite summer events all in one. Ben M. has a Scamp trailer thingy and people were shooting from inside the Scamp but I wanted to do something different. I decided to shoot the model from outside-looking-in perspective and decided to try to blow out the interior of the Scamp. The setup shots above tell the story of my build up before putting the model into place. I really didn’t expect the cool textures on the model’s skin from the Scamp’s glass window. Who knows if the cellophane made any effect with that much light bouncing around in a tight place. In the end I liked the look I saw in-camera and shot a few poses I directed through the glass window.

Thanks Jesse B. and Ben M. for the styling, Thanks Randy K. for the use of your speedlight.


Heather's basement shoot


I got to shoot in a friend’s home basement studio recently and man I wish I had a room to convert into a shooting space. The walls were painted a dark grey and I really didn’t have any issues with controlling light for what I was doing. I was surprised how easy it was to gel the wall with color, more so than paper. My favorite part was having furniture to lay and sit in for both the model and myself, it made for a laid back shoot. I tested my new light modifier, a 22 inch silver reflective beauty dish mounted on a Bowens 500ws monolight. My other beauty dish I use is a Bowens dish and is much smaller at 15 inches. I found the extra coverage helped lighting hair a bit better (comparing the two modifiers but I’ll need to test that observation again). Thanks Heather for modeling and Amber for great styling and makeup.

TwitPhoto Guest Quest Finalist!

I search out inspiring creativity on the internet and have discovered that I really enjoy reading photographer’s blogs. One of my favorite photographer’s blog is from Catherine Hall ( Catherine is also a co-host on her tuesday show on ( I’ve found inspiration and direction from Catherine and her many photographer guests who have been interviewed over the past year. Over the last year I have been working on my portfolio, trying to add something great and removing the crap. A great opportunity came up for emerging professional photographers to enter’s Photo Guest Quest portfolio contest. I was excited to submit my work because the judges were artists I respect in the field of photography, they included Zack Arias, Colby Brown, Frank Doorhof, Tamara Lackey, and Art Wolfe. Out of hundreds of entries only one was going to win the whole tamale. I didn’t win the contest but I did place as a finalist. You can read more about it here:

I encourage photographers to have their own work critiqued by artists higher up on the food chain and enter contests to see if you are on track with your vision.

Shooting Kennewick orchard.

I had a great opprotunity to photograph Marilyn in a Kennewick Washington orchard. We originally had the idea of putting the chair in a field using the golden rolling hills of Kennewick as a backdrop. So we drove around the area looking for a hill and came upon an old man’s orchard. We asked permission to shoot in the orchard and after 10 minutes of coaxing the old fella we got our thumbs up. I stuck the chair in the orchard and viewed scene through my viewfinder and found this more interesting than our original plan. I liked how the trees led the background away from the subject up front. I went with my beauty dish front and center, with stripbox on the ground for fill light. The tricky part of this shot was to get the ratios between the two lights just right so it looked more like natural light. A slight gust of wind blew Marilyn’s hair just enough to give the photo some feel of motion. Thanks to Danny for driving this crazy chair around town for us.

Shooting Ree

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Less is more... that was my initial thought when I first met Ree and her unique style. I pictured in my head a simple shot with a clean background, simple but elegant wardrobe to show off her physique, and muted tones for post processing. These images are a result of the pictures I had envisioned in my head. One thing for sure is that very short hair makes shooting in the wind a breeze. I found a cliff on Diamond Head that gave me a clean background of sky as well as the Pacific Ocean. I find that hair can be used to give shape to a face and an added dimension. So what do you do when you have no hair? My initial shots seemed empty around Ree’s head, then quickly learned that I had to create poses and framing in-camera to get interesting compositions. I found a scarf at a Portland women’s boutique store that worked for a revealing top. One tip that I learned from the shoot is when you do location shoots bring something the model can rest her knees on. Ree was kneeling on a concrete wall for nearly two hours, luckly we were in Hawaii and I had my flip-flops she could put under her knees.

Sofia's studio shoot

Give a Model a roll of gaffer tape and you never know what could happen... It was an awesome night collaborating with some photographer buddies of mine and two models this evening in the studio. The goal of the night was to experiment with different lighting schemes and the shot above was my favorite of the night. I had never used my Bowens monolights without any modifier on it, in other words bare bulb not even the standard reflector. That was the idea Metakephoto (photographer buddy) suggested to try with my monolights that I had already setup pointing to the white seamless. This effect threw light both on the background and provided a nice rim light on the Model. The front of the Model was a little dark so Pipography (another photographer buddy) and I boomed a Bowens monolight with a 2’x3’ softbox front and center of the Model. The black Westcott muslin backdrops on the ground was intentionally laid there to make sure no light from the floor bounce back up from the floor onto the Model. Metering the scene was tricky because light of coming from everywhere. I got f9 from the key light up front, and the shoulders metered about f8 with the Sekonic L358. The subtle blur was done in post.

Shooting Alexis - Bend, Oregon

I had the wonderful opprotunity to work with Model Mayhem model Alexis and makeup artist/hairstylist Annie Simmons owner of Oasis Day Spa. Annie had done an awesome job with styling Alexis with Jane Iredale’s makeup line. Then we were off to shoot on a wall that is a front wall of Sparrow Bakery. Both Alexis and Annie are very professional and great at what they do, I recommend you looking up next time you are in Bend Oregon. My favorite beauty lighting scheme these days is my Bowens clamshell setup shown above. One lesson learned is to always have some kind of portable non-reflective gobo/cutter to block wind.

Shooting chickens

My best friends Kelvin and Carey are having a baby any minute now. Carey knows that I don’t normally shoot maternity type shots so we decided it would be best to leave that up to a REAL professional. However at the very last minute I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do a creative portrait of Carey while she has little Evie in the womb. So I packed up the lights and headed for their house. I purchased an outfit for Carey that would be very inappropriate for a pregnant woman to wear, and we settled on hair rollers with big makeup. Everything came together once we had the idea of shooting in their backyard near the chicken coop. The shot above really describes my friend Carey to the “T”, wacky, fun, loving, and smart. As I was testing my lights around 6:00pm or so I saw sunbeams in my viewfinder. I knew just then that I had only a few minutes to capture the sunbeams in a shot. I positioned Carey against the sun for rim lighting her and getting the sunbeams in the frame. I positioned one monolight camera right with a deep reflector for the key light. I then positioned another monolight with a 1’x3’ softbox behind and to Carey’s right for fill. The last part was to figure out how to light the chickens on the ground. My attempt to light the chickens was to use their water feeder as a light source by sticking a bare Speedlight in the feeder, it kinda worked. Total shoot time 15 minutes.

Allan Mandell's zen bootcamp

Yup, this is not a portrait of some beautiful model. For the last few years I’ve been shooting exclusively people portraits. A photographer who I look up to Zach Arias says when you’re in a funk go study some other type of photography you normally don’t shoot. So I signed up for Allan Mandell’s Zen Bootcamp at Sharon O’keefe’s Northwest Center for Photography. Allan’s approach to composition is extraordinary complex but simple in design is the best I can describe it. The whole workshop is about composition, and the most profound insight that I came away with from the weekend was “simplicity of line”. The two above photos are images I captured to exhibit my understanding of Allan’s teachings during the workshop. The image on top was a wall from a fruit distributor I believe. The wall is yellow in real life with a tungsten bulb in the lamp holder. I adjusted my white balance in-camera and the wall shifted to purple. The second picture was captured in color but I found the simplicity of the scene looked more dramatic in black and white. After Allan’s workshop it got my juices flowing again, I hope you enjoy these images.


I like playing with fireworks, what man doesn’t, it’s in our blood. I wanted to figure out how to surround my model with fireworks without getting sued. I came up with the idea of wrapping my golf umbrella with black aluminum foil and taping Morning Glory fireworks to the umbrella. Those fireworks were a pain in the arse to light up but once it got going they done their job. I had the opportunity to photograph the lead guitar artist from the Portland band Toxic Zombie. The first shot above shows the covered umbrella and taped on fireworks, the second image is version of a final edit. I poped a studio strobe on Sam’s face from camera right, then left the shutter open for about four seconds to capture the firework’s affect. Thanks Sam for braving the fire!

Stephanie's studio shoot


Military surplus stores are the bomb. I went browsing through Andy and Bax in Portland to find an interesting prop. I walked out with an interesting Russian officer cap and a Swedish officer coat, or at least that’s what the salesman told me. I put the two together, and I’m sure I’ll hear an earful that that is a no-no but oh well it makes for a cool looking outfit. What’s funny about this shot is that you can’t see the 10 or so clamps on Stephanie’s back because the coat was so big we had to tailor it in. The behind the scene shot shows a deep reflector above and to the left of Stephanie, and also a softbox at her feet pointing up for fill light.

Shooting Kelly as the cavewoman


No matter how much you prepare for shooting in the snow something will surprise you. One tip I learned from the trip to SkiBowl is to save the bacon grease from breakfast because it makes the best Caveman/Cavewoman torch fuel. That sucker burned bright for at least 20 minutes and minus a smelly gas odor. The concept was a Cavewoman and to make it complete my photography buddies and I spent an hour digging a snow cave.

Now how to light it. Although it was still daylight outside in my head I wanted a night looking scene. I setup my Bowens monolight camera left with a tight grid and barn doors to control the light on the snow bank. The Bowens monolight was about 15 feet away from the model. The second light as you can see is a gelled speedlight probably at 1/4 power or so illuminating the snow cave interior. That was it. And the nice surprise was it started snowing again when I capture the series.

Shooting Steampunk


I had the opportunity to shoot at a truck museum in Keizer Oregon. I found this interesting huge hunk of metal in the middle of the museum grounds. I think it is an old aperture for a power generator of some sort. I try to find interesting backgrounds and this machinery worked perfect since the concept was a Steampunk type genre.

I started to work the lighting on the machine first by lighting the front with one gelled speed light, then another gelled speed light behind the machine. I ended up using a second gelled speedlight behind the machine to get more coverage between the cracks of the aperture. I used a total of three speedlights on the background alone. Probably the hardest part of making this image was getting the speedlights positioned just right to give it an interesting look and good coverage. The setup pictures show the building of the background without light on the model. The light on the model was made by crossing two moonlights with straight reflectors, one light camera right and one light camera left but behind the model. The other effect I wanted to try was to add motion by dragging the shutter and zooming the lens during the 1/25th exposure. Oh and it started pouring rain when the series of exposures started and that was again a nice added effect.

Shooting Brittanee

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Sometimes you just get lucky, real lucky. I found a private residence in Jacksonville Oregon with a cool looking bus in the driveway. I poked my head into the huge garage and began chatting with the owner, who by chance loves to restore cars and collects antiques. I told him I’m a photographer just passing by, and he offer me to shoot around his residence. I jumped all over that offer. Brittanee and I found four locations around the residence and the final shots are in the Urban Odyssey gallery of this website. The bus shot is my favorite because of the difficult lighting scheme it took to pull it off. I had one speedlight gelled yellow and sat it on the bus floor pointing up. I ended up using a straight reflector on a studio head pointed tight on Brittanee’s face. The gas pump shot was fun too. I used a softbox just to the left of the camera frame, and a speedlight behind Brittanee to give her a rim light on her arm and hair. Thanks to Chris and Steffanie for letting me invade your home.

Blue Monk shoot

Shooting in bars can be very challenging but so worth the effort when you come away with an image you are proud of. This shot is one of my favorite images in my portfolio. Taken at a PDX Strobist meetup in December 2009, the group had permission to shoot at a cool restaurant/bar called the Blue Monk in the Belmont district in Portland. I can’t think of any other session that I had spent so much time experimenting with the lighting scheme to get it right before putting the model into the shot. I think I got like eight shots total with the model before he had to go some where else. There was an old piano downstairs in the jazz bar sitting in the corner next to the stage. When I saw the piano I just felt something interesting can be lit with a model playing the piano. Everyone has shot that image of a musician playing on stage but I wanted to light it like no other. I decided instead of lighting the whole dang scene why not constrict the light and make it moody. I started first with the Canon Speedlight gelled with 1/4 CTO inside the piano to light the inside of the piano. What I didn’t expect was that this same light inside the piano put light on the front side of the model and also splashed a little light onto the keyboard. The second Canon Speedlight was setup to the model’s right about four feet away from his face for that soft rim light on the face and hat. The third light was another Canon speedlight boomed above the model’s head and shoulder to light the model. This shoot has reinforced to always bring grids, a boom, gaff tape, flash light, and whiskey to all indoor shoots.

Juls afloat Willamette River

My friend Juls is an aspiring fitness model and she was willing to work with me to add to her portfolio. I wanted to do something really dramatic outdoors but also to show off her powerful physique. I had attended a PDX Strobist meetup and invited Juls to join me on the Willamette River. I came up with the idea of having Juls float on water but didn’t know how I could get that illusion easily. I ended up bringing two old dinner tray tables, the kind that grandma had serve on when I was a little boy. I sunk the two tables side by side and just below the water line. BINGO, SHAZAM! The water was extremely cold and Juls went purple after 15 minutes when we called it quits. The behind the scene shot shows me on my belly in the sand, and two assistants holding softboxes to the left and right of Juls. Thanks Juls for braving the cold, thanks Luke Olsen for the behind the scene shot.

Snobist 2010

I really don't know why I always make goofy expressions when the camera is pointed at me. It just happens naturally what can I say. A few photographers, models, and a makeup artist rented a house in Government Camp Oregon for a weekend in late April. We were planning to shoot in the snow but it was too late in the snow season there was hardly any snow on the ground. Instead we got rained on and soaked. We made the best of it though and it was one of the most memorable weekends of shooting. We used our cars to scout out for shoot locations off of Hwy 26 and Hwy 35. We found that Hwy 35 has tunnels that run under the highway to provide a path for snow melt water to get across the highway. John and I found this tunnel which I think is the White River, a tributary of the Deschutes River. John and Ben had some great ideas of how to light this scene and I threw in my 2 cents. The three of us shot this scene and came out with some awesome captures. We went back to the same location the next morning with more photographers and a different model. The cool thing about the next morning was the makeup artist Jesse and some photographers made the model's dress from a plastic garment bag and trash bag.