Nikon

The Esquire Maternity Shoot! (sort of!) by Christian Webb

So...here they are,  our maternity images! Literally 2 days to go before the arrival of our boy Leandro! So what's the deal with these images and why so last minute?

For a few months now, the requisite maternity shoot has been on my mind and of course, Patsi has been eagerly wanting to get it done. I've put it off and put it off and put it off. So, when the final month or so came around, I had to get serious. So what to do? Well, I knew what I didn't want to do: A typical maternity shoot with the mom to be standing in beautiful light holding her belly and looking down. Or..any variance of said pose and set up.. (most definitely not a shot with me standing behind her, arms cusped around the bump.  I simply didn't want a plain ol' portrait of any type.  I needed something a bit more funky and fun. Convincing Patsi to NOT do the typical pregnancy type of shoot was another challenge but....she trusted me and we prepared for the day.

NOTE: There's nothing wrong with the aforementioned type of maternity shoots.  I see incredibly beautiful work out there all the time and it's super DOPE! 

"I got this!"   

So what to do?  About a month ago, I came across the famous, somewhat controversial Esquire Magazine shot of Bill Clinton shot by Platon.   In the image, Bill sits tall, proud and confident,  legs wide open, crotch straight to the camera.  For obvious reasons, the image implied a certain...arrogance and pride in a sexual sense.  So I thought, well, what's more powerful and sexy than a woman with child?  There's pure strength there unlike any man can know.   And that's just sexy.  This was the start.   Turns out, that about 8 years after the Clinton shoot, Esquire and photographer Cliff Watts decided to recreate the cover using that year's Sexiest Woman Alive winner, Halle Berry.  Again,  power, sexiness and confidence but this time, a woman instead of a man.  Was time to recreate it...and take the power theme and sexiness to the next level! 

Esquire article on the Halle shoot:  

My Nikon D800 fitted with the Nikon 15mm f/3.5 AI-s Fisheye.  (forgive the random iPhone photo here. ) 

My Nikon D800 fitted with the Nikon 15mm f/3.5 AI-s Fisheye.  (forgive the random iPhone photo here. ) 

Examining the inspiration for my shoot,  it was obvious the the original was shot with a fisheye lens. At least, that's what I researched and found out.  Since I don't own a fisheye, I had to pick one up from my go to rental source in NY, Fotocare.   Wasn't too used to using this type of lens and knew it required some skill to get the right angles and effects.  

The start.  Test shots to see what that lens would get me. 

The start.  Test shots to see what that lens would get me. 

You literally have to be very close to the subject to get the best results.

You literally have to be very close to the subject to get the best results.

Once I was all set with the lighting and getting familiar with the lens, was time to get Patsi in place and start shooting.  Keeping with my desire to not have a typical maternity shoot,  I wanted to make sure the wardrobe wasn't something that took too much attention.  To me, it's unrealistic anyway.  Those long, lovely, flowing dresses and wraps work well for those type of shoots sure, but how many women 8-9 months into their pregnancy are running around wearing all that? I wanted Patsi to be 100% at home, relaxed and just...pregnant! Comfortable as she could be.  So that meant barefoot in a tank and some leggings! Simple.  We also wanted the expressions and the poses to be much more lively and fun so dresses and such wouldn't have worked. 

"No, not yet!" 

So, we got into the flow of it all and within an hour about, we were wrapped.

We had a great time getting this all done and I had a lot of fun in post recreating the Esquire cover.   Was such a pleasure as always working with my lovely wife.  Working with her and my soon expected child in her belly was even better!  Now I just have to come up with something funky for the newborn shots!! Hmmmm.....                                    ~ Christian

"Okay, this is it!" 

Mastering The Headshot - Teaching a Workshop by Christian Webb

   Setting up for the day.

   Setting up for the day.

When Chris Smith of Global Photo Adventures sent me an email asking if I'd like to host a workshop on Mastering The Headshot,  I thought "Me? You sure you've got the right guy?"  While I'm pretty confident in my work, I never thought to put on a workshop of my own and never suspected anyone would actually invite me to do so.  It seems that everyone with a camera these days is hosting a workshop.  I really didn't want to be in that crowd as again, I figured "who am I?" and just figured I was happy doing what I was doing.   Chris assured me that I was the right guy.  He had been following my work and belongs to some of the same photography groups I belong to and apparently,  noticed people following and liking my work as well.  So,  all of that out of the way and with Chris taking the helm as far as setting it all up,  I whole heartedly agreed and when the time came,  I found myself in Atlanta all set to teach people what I do when it comes to headshots. 

After arriving in ATL and dropping off most of my gear at the hotel,  Chris and I headed over to the location where the workshop would take place,  Photoplex Studios.  There we me the studio owner Mike Noa who gave us a tour and spent some time discussing the studio and some of his experiences in business as well as photography related matters in Atlanta.  Photoplex is an amazing and pretty large space with multiple studios for shooting and every amenity imaginable.  While we loved the studio,  much of what I would be teaching would be location shooting.  So, Chris and I headed outside and scouted a few locations that would serve as great backgrounds. (this in itself was one of the main lessons to be taught in the days to come.)  

DAY 1:

12047178_10153664900449631_2108446206938556204_n.jpg

Finally got to meet the folks who actually signed up and committed to spending 3 days with me.   All incredibly cool, gifted and really passionate people which made my job that much easier.  We started with basic introductions and I bored them with my brief bio and a random Power Point slideshow I had put together. ( just figured, hey, I need something like that for a workshop yeah?).  Before long we got down to business and we all headed outside where everyone worked on finding their backgrounds and setting up gear.  We were fortunate to have an actress, Nicolette Goetz,  sent over from local talent agency, Aligned Stars. After some instruction on gear set up and getting things dialed in with set ups,  I spent time coaching a bit more on technical adjustments and then, most important....working with the talent and coaching.  Within a short amount of time and after discussing some random tricks here and there,  everyone seemed to be well on their way and it ended up being a great first day.

DAY 2:

   A student working my camera for a few shots. (Gotta choke up on that lens!) 

   A student working my camera for a few shots. (Gotta choke up on that lens!) 

We spent some time discussing some business aspects of headshot photography and were even joined by Aligned Stars agents Patrick and Andrea who discussed headshots from an agency perspective.  Again, we were fortunate to have two of their actors join us as models for the day - Brandon Tewalt and Cashmere Bonton.  Both were great to work with and had natural presence in front of the camera.  After shooting both in studio and outdoors,  we spent some time going over some of the headshots the students shot.  After some critique and a feedback session,  I did a live edit for everyone to go over the retouching work I do for headshots.   The rest of the day was spent shooting and by this time,  everyone was truly on their game. 

  John working with Brandon in studio. 

  John working with Brandon in studio. 

                                            Brent working with Brandon on location. 

                                            Brent working with Brandon on location. 

  Studio set up. 

  Studio set up. 

DAY 3:

   Pointing out something there on the tethered capture. 

   Pointing out something there on the tethered capture. 

   Cashmere working the smiles and expressions. 

   Cashmere working the smiles and expressions. 

Our final day together started out going over the students "homework" assignment which was having them retouch/ edit their own shots.   After, I spent some time discussing some more business related aspects and marketing approaches.   Finally, we finished out the workshop with everyone shooting and having fun.  Again, we were provided with some great actors from Aligned Stars - Marcus and Erin. 

                                            

                                            

All in all, after my initial bit of anxiety on how this workshop would play out,  I left feeling incredibly good about the three days and extremely satisfied to know that I was able to help in bringing my students, fellow photographers and new friends to a new point with their work and helped to up their game.  It was an honor and a privilege for me to be there in the first place and I'm truly grateful for the trust given to me to pull this off.  

   With Nicolette. 

   With Nicolette. 

Thanks again to Chris Smith of Global Photo Adventures for making all of this happen.  Many thanks to Mike Noa, Photoplex Studios,  Aligned Stars Talent and their actors as well as special shout out and thanks to  the incredible make up artist we had on hand for the three days Samantha Gunn.  A true talent and simply badazz cool!  

And of course,  a really special shout out and "THANK YOU" to the photographers who gave me the opportunity to work with them:

Shooting Actor Headshots - Some questions by Christian Webb

Christian Webb Photo, Headshots, Actor Headshots, NYC I've been receiving a lot of wonderful feedback as of late from various enthusiasts and professionals within the photography communities I'm a part of.   First,  I'll say it's an awesome feeling to receive the amount of positive energy and love from so many people I don't even know!  Even more awesome is that many are professionals that I admire greatly!  With all of that said,  I've also received a lot of inquires relating to my work and how some of the photos are shot.  Questions ranging from my set up,  how I work during a shoot and what my post processing involves.  So,  I've decided to take a few of those question and answer them here on my blog.  Now, my blog receives very little traffic! lol.  I've yet to figure out how to make this work and I spend little time focused on it.  However, it's easier to  write such long winded posts here and then, share via my other social media outlets.  (all of which I'm no where near mastering either!)

Okay, so today's question(s) comes from a photographer in London named Nina.  It's regarding the shot posted above.  Here's her original question(s) as it appeared on my FB:

Nina-Question

 

1.) How much instruction to the clients when it comes to posing, expression and such?  

A LOT!  I  can't stress that enough!   Many people, including actors are not comfortable sitting down for a headshot.  As a result, they tend to stiffen up and also, have little idea of what to do    with themselves.  Most haven't studied posing and photography either and are not                       conscious of the fact that slight movements of their head, their body angle can change an           entire shot.  After make-up / hair is done and they first get in front of the camera,  I spend a         good five minutes or so just discussing the nuance of movement and different angles.  I talk       about what I'll be telling them throughout the shoot and help them to understand why I'm           coaching them as I am.  One quick example -  I tell the client to sit as they'd like, natural but         as they normally would to have their photo taken.  Just about EVERYONE sits upright and             lift their heads, chins and lean back and away from the camera.  I take a quick shot.  Then, I         instruct them to drop their head, drop their chin some and lean in slightly toward me.   I take that shot and show then show them both pics.  They're AMAZED at the difference and it helps for the rest of the shoot.  With regard to expression,  it's probably THE single most important thing during the shoot.   It takes A LOT of work, A LOT of coaching and A LOT of communication to get what you need, what they need.  Sometimes,  you get people who just....get it....and they're great with bringing a range of emotions and different looks.  They're fun, dynamic with their looks and extremely versatile and know how to work the camera.  Sometimes though, a lot of times, you get people who have one maybe two looks in their arsenal and THAT'S IT! You have to spend time getting them to open up and to feel comfortable enough to go through ranges of emotions.  For the most part,  it's all fun!  It's just knowing how to talk, have fun and relate to the clients.  Often times, you have to go above and beyond to get them going but hey, that's all part of the magic!  

Christian Webb Photo, BTS

2. )  Camera alignment:

I try to stay pretty level with the client.  There are times when I do get slight angles from above based on how much I have the client leaning in toward me.  I usually make adjustments in my stance and such to accommodate the movements though.  I spend a good amount of time dancing around and shuffling my feet/stance!  I don't like extreme angles from above and definitely not from below!

Christian Webb Photo actors headshots NYC

3.)  The variance in blur between background & subject - is it achieved or modified in post:

I shoot at an aperture of 3.2 with a 70-200mm lens zoomed all the way out to 200mm so everything blurs.  This plus the fact that my clients are not sitting against any particular backgrounds outside is how the look is achieved.  I do absolutely nothing in the post processing regarding the backgrounds.  If anything,  I will occasionally need to clone stamp, crop out or blur random blurred items or distracting elements but other than that,  the shots are as is when they come from the camera.

Christian Webb Photo, actors headshots NYC

So, hope I've shed some light on things and answered the questions thoroughly.  "Thank You" to Nina for the question and hopefully others will find this post informative.

~ Christian

 

 

Kids Photography! The hardest subjects to photograph? by Christian Webb

"Want go 1 on 1 real quick?" Prior to focusing 100% of my business on headshots, I photographed a lot of children.  It just made sense as my two sons are in the business and I work with the children's divisions of a couple of agencies.   Children make awesome subjects and provide a lot of fun while shooting them.  However,  the challenges getting good shots can be tricky!

A photographer friend emailed me recently about some project he's involved in photographing children.   The photos he sent me were supposed to be "candid" photos of the kids.   The photos were fine but he was upset as they weren't technically good and didn't look as if a professional photographer shot them.   Well, they're "candids" yeah? So it doesn't matter right? Wrong!  Candid photography doesn't mean bad photography.  Especially if the person shooting is an actual "photographer."   There are tons of candid moments caught by photographers that are great shots.   If we're talking about the casual user, a parent, non-photographer snapping a few iPhone pics of their kids, then it's not that serious.  But, if like my friend, you're a photographer and have an actual assignment (paid or not) that requires you capturing some great images of children,  then read on.  Here are some tips for shooting the always active, always adorable little people of the world we call,  kids!

"Just as happy as can be!"

To start out with,  if you've taken the time to be a photographer and sell yourself as such,  you most certainly should KNOW your camera!  Know it's settings and know how to use them in various situations.  Whether you're shooting kids, animals, a landscape or whatever,  you should be well versed in the basics and have a good grasp on your camera's capabilities.   If you're a casual shooter who may want to step up your shots some and have invested in a dslr,  the following should be a good starting point for you.   With that said, let's move into some basics that specifically relate to shooting kids.

 

Leaf us be!

1)  SPEED-  Speed is everything when shooting fast moving kids!  If you're shooting with a dslr, you'll want to put your camera into  SHUTTER PRIORITY mode. (check your brand of camera for selecting this mode.)  What this essentially does is allow you to set a shutter speed you need and the camera will set the correct aperture for a correct exposure.   If you've got kids running around, playing, doing sports, you'll want a pretty high shutter speed to capture them in motion and get clean, crisp shots. Experiment a bit until you get a speed that suits what you're doing.

Brother & Sister love

2.)  LIGHTING -  That should pretty much go without saying for any photographer as lighting, is everything!  With your camera in Shutter Priority,  your exposure will take care of itself. However, you still need to be mindful of the ambient lighting.  If you're outdoors on a nice sunny day,  you'll be fine.  Even on an overcast day (great days to shoot!) you'll pretty much have no issues. Look for evenly shaded areas and avoid "speckled shade"....like shade coming unevenly through the leaves on trees.  You'll end up with spots of highlights and uneven lighting on your subjects.   However, if you're shooting indoors in low light, things can get tricky.   Depending on how fast your lens is and how well your camera's ISO performance is, you'll need to really pay attention and make some tweaks.  Assuming you're using no flash and just keeping things, casual and....candid......You'll want to look for the light!  Windows, skylights, doorways, overhead lighting etc.  When you do find natural light, like sun coming through a window, be sure to stay mindful of HOW that light is coming in and how it's spreading.  You don't want to get a kid running in front of a window but a huge highlight of sun washes him out and blows highlights.  Look for sources of diffusion as well.  A window with harsh sun beaming through it may be great but if there are some sheer curtains hanging, try closing them to get a nice, soft, even light.

Overcast at the beach!

3.) WHITE BALANCE -  The color temperature of a photo can make or break it.  Different lighting has different temperatures.  Make sure you're mindful of your camera's white balance setting.  Most dslr's have preset white balance settings that you can choose depending on your environment.  Daylight or Cloudy/Shade setting for outdoors and  Incandescent or Fluorescent for indoor lighting. You can also just leave the setting on AUTO WB.  It's a good idea though to get used to knowing the different types of lighting, their respective temperatures and how they'll effect your images.

Strike a pose!

4.) FOCUS - There's probably waaaaay too much to get into here regarding focusing.  It can get pretty complex.  Safe to say that you'll most likely want to be in auto focus mode AF.  Depending on your camera, there are several AF modes and configurations to consider.  Nikon has three auto focus modes:  AF-A (auto), AF-C (continuous)  and AF-S (single).  AF-S is for a subject that is stationary while AF-C is for moving subjects.  For children running here and there and constantly moving,  you'll want to shoot in AF-C, Continuous Mode.  In this mode, the camera will recognize that you're shooting a moving subject and it will hold focus on that subject as it moves.  (while your shutter button is half pressed.) (check your camera manufacturer for details on it's auto focus mode settings and how they work.)  Nikon's AF-A mode will automatically switch between AF-S and AF-C depending on what the subject is doing.  How you select these modes and how they're activated can be a matter of preference.  You should most certainly study your camera, become familiar with the modes and get used to how they work.

At the end of the day,  in both cases above, these are supposed to be "candid" shots yes? Not photoshoots.  That said, I'm not implying that you "set up" your environments and shots.  It's about just being mindful and prepared in your environments and knowing your subjects. In this case,  energy filled, never at rest kids.  Preparation, even in spontaneity is everything. Sounds odd yeah?  But as a photographer,  preparation is everything.  Having the correct camera settings ready to go and understanding how to use them will ultimately help you to capture those spontaneous, precious and candid moments that would otherwise be missed or captured poorly.  Without question though and above all,  let kids be kids and have fun capturing the joy!

 

Mark of a professional by Christian Webb

Christian Webb Photo NYC, Headshots
Christian Webb Photo NYC, Headshots

Andrew has been in the business for 30 years.  It was no surprise then that when he got in front of my camera for his new headshots,  he was dead on with his posing and quite comfortable.  A few pre shoot directions and some coaching regarding my emphasis on head / chin positioning was all that was needed and he got it right away!  When he showed up,  he looked as if he just finished running a marathon.   He was scruffy, hair a mess and even had nicked himself shaving and was bleeding a bit here and there.   Now, all of that sounds like a mess yeah? However,  Andrew's look, his casting range tends to be the rough, older, everyday type of guy.  He brought along a few t-shirts, a jacket and it all worked.  I think if I had shot him with a fresh haircut and shave, it would have been great but with less character.   This is what it's all about - Knowing your client.  Knowing their type and how to best represent that in their photos.  Had a great time and because of Andrew's comfort level and experience in front of the camera,  it was a breeze of a shoot.

NYC NIGHTS - Street portraits by Christian Webb

Took lil' bro' out last night to work on his photography. Teaching him about the constantly changing lighting conditions at night...and finding/using available light when shooting street portraits. Here are a few I managed to snag myself, including one of my apprentice! lol!  He got a bunch of great shots as well and had a BLAST meeting and hanging with people downtown. (stay tuned for his blog to see some of his work! ) #NYC #NIKONNIGHTS Christian Webb Photo-Ariana!Christian Webb Photo-BlondeChristian Webb Photo-BeardDudeChristian Webb Photo-Miriam&MaxChristian Webb Photo-Apprentice

 

Sunflowers & The Man by Christian Webb

Christian-Webb-Photo-Flowers-&-DirtOn my walk in Washington Heights this past weekend,  I came across a small bodega with a rather large assortment and display of flowers up front.  The sunflowers trumped all others and were truly a beautiful sign of Spring and great days to come. The man attending to the flowers was deep in his work when I took the time to ask his permission for a photo.  "Si" he said and continued with his work as if I wasn't there.  But then, out of nowhere,  knowing I was there,  camera pointed,  he suddenly put a flower up to his face, playfully hiding behind it and giving me a grin.   I laughed of course and thanked him for letting me bother him.  Wasn't until I uploaded the image later that evening that I appreciated his sense of humor.   Below is another crop.  (Nikon d800, 50mm) Christian-Webb-Photo-Dirty-Flowers

 

Photography Gear - How much do you need? by Christian Webb

Airport-Security-V-20-Rolling-Camera-Bag-6-Christian Webb Photo

There have been tons of debate regarding real photographers vs “fauxtographers.”  The iphone and assorted other camera phone using people usually getting lumped into the latter category.   I’m not going to get into that debate.  All I’ll say is this:  I think an image is an image, regardless of how it’s made.  You either like it or you don’t.  An image either provokes an emotion and has an effect on you or, it doesn’t. i dont' necessarily think that what type of camera or what brand or how expensive it is matters.    Period.  With that out of the way,  I want to get into a gear discussion here.  A quick blog regarding what it is you’re using and how much importance is placed on that gear.

John Lennon said “Give me a tuba and get ya’ something out of it!” ( Not sure about the accuracy of that quote, but Jack Nicholson in the Departed quoted it and I figure hey,  it’ll work here too.)  Point being that you don’t need a $3,000 camera body with a $3,000 piece of glass attached to it to make great images.   A simple point and shoot will do the trick if you’ve got the desire to take pictures of any kind.    That said though,  if your goal is to be a photographer, a serious photographer and you take the craft series,  there comes a point where you need to invest in that craft and purchase the right gear.   What is “the right” gear?   It’s really relative yeah?  What’s right for one may not be right for someone else.   In essence,  you want the gear that’s going to serve YOUR purposes as a photographer and your needs.   Example:  If you’re setting out to do wedding photography, you may want a macro lens to get really close shots of the rings.    You might also need a super-fast lens to use in low light situations such as  inside the church where most often,  flash is not allowed.   Add to that,  if you plan to do a lot of low light photography in general,  you may want to invest in a camera body that’s capable of producing usable images at high isos. (Nikon d800, Canon 5dMkIII etc.)

Regarding lighting,  maybe you want to shoot mostly in studio.  Some strobes and a variety of light modifiers would be part of your set up.  You could start with just one lighting set up but, over time,  perhaps you’ll want to expand your creativity and allow for more options by having a 2, 3, 4 light setup and a good amount of modifiers.  Speaking of which,  how do you plan to trigger those strobes?  Going to need a set of Pocket Wizards or other system for triggering flash.  What about location stuff?  Going to need a decent speedlight to start using flash off camera and a bit more creatively.    Do you want to shoot landscape?  A good wide lens might help.  Some ND filters maybe.  How about a really solid tripod?

I can go on and on here but I think you get the gist.    It’s not about thinking that having some piece of gear or expensive equipment is going to make you a better photographer.  It’s about recognizing the limitations of not having the right gear for what YOU want to do.  Overall,   I think if any photographer wants to take themselves serious, be it for pleasure or profit,  they’ve got to invest in themselves and their gear over time.   Funny thing is,  most photographers with passion find themselves spending all their dough on gear anyway.  It’s like crack!  Taking yourself serious and wanting to get better at what you do sort of naturally leads you to wanting more gear anyway.  There's nothing wrong with that and it's part of the process.   If you're not investing in yourself, your equipment and business,  then you're truly not looking to be serious.

So long as you’re buying gear for the right reasons, it’s all good.  Just never feel the need to buy the latest, greatest new gadget, light, lens or camera simply because you think you have to have it to improve your photography.   Understand your work, your goals and evaluate what you have and what you need, then, invest accordingly and make your gear count!

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On Location - Chasing the sun by Christian Webb

Janine LeishearHad a blast shooting at one of my favorite outdoor locations in the city.   We were down on the cobblestone streets of the meat packing district -Gansevoort St.  Great time, great people and an awesome crew.   Call time for the shoot was 11am for the first model and then the rest were arriving at 3pm!  Yikes!  I was trying to get everyone on location by 7am!  Got ruled out.   So of course, I had that brutal bright sun high in the sky to deal with.   Fortunately,  most of the day was spent in the shaded section of the street.  We were finishing up a few shots of Janine and I realized it was getting late and the sun was now at that lovely point in the sky,  setting in the west, casting a beautiful glow as it made it's way out.  Looking west down Gansevoort St,  the light was shooting right up the block and looked awesome.   I wanted to get Janine over there asap and do some shots.   My photo assistant Dave Mack began to break down gear and Janine went to change outfits.   We headed down street which quickly narrowed and was flanked by construction of all kinds on either side.  Watching the light, I yelled out for Janine to quickly get in the middle of street.  I did a quick test shot exposing for the ambient light and then had Dave get ready with a Nikon SB-800 to light Janine from front.  The first test shot (above) had me amped!  It was EXACTLY what I wanted- That gorgeous, golden rim light with her blonde hair.  As we're just about ready to get into it an fire off with the flash,  a car comes down the street and we all move out of the way.  We get ready to shoot again and another car comes.  Then another.  Within seconds it seems,  I lose the sun!  Huge clouds completely take away my light.   Bummer.   We waited a bit, thinking the sun would return but no such luck.  Lost it.  If only we had moved west sooner.  All good!  I loved this shot immediately,  even without Janine being lit from the front.   Below, is a shot when we lost the sun/rim light and just have the flash.  Not bad, but really wish we didn't lose that sun!    We've got a another shoot with Janine soon on the beach.   Will have plenty of use of that setting sun and golden hour of light. Janine Leishear-Christian Webb

Model: Janine Leishear

Self Portrait Photography -Using Strip Boxes and rim light by Christian Webb

Christian Webb Photo-Under Armour I have a few clients looking to do some sports/fitness type of shoots pretty soon.   So, last night, unable to sleep anyway, I was up in studio messing around with lights and figured I'd pull a self portrait / lighting test party.  (Just me by myself!)   I haven't settled on the exact set up for the up coming shoots, but I do know that for the in studio stuff,  I'm looking to use at least 2 strip boxes in various positions for some nice side lighting and highlights.  Most likely to highlight arms, shoulders and such.  Well,  I haven't got any strip boxes!! UGGH!  (how is that possible?)  I know they're not absolutely necessary depending on how much of the person I want to light and how much I want to control the spill, but they do serve a purpose.  Anyway, without the strip boxes, I just focused on getting some highlights on shoulders and back/side of my head.   The two back lights are strobes with silver reflectors and the main light is just an Einstein w/ 40 degree grid on a boom directly over me and in front of camera.  I think it worked out  well.  Now, to get the nerve to take off my shirt and try and light.....muscle! Wait, first gotta get some muscles!  lol.  (Shot at f.14, ISO 125, Shutter 1/125)

 

Concert Photography- STS (Sugar Tongue Slim) at the Blockley, Philadelphia. by Christian Webb

STS-The Blockley Philadelphia-Christian Webb Photo

 

So I'm not big on doing concerts/live performances.  I've shot maybe 3-4, but nothing too serious.  One of the few I shot was Atlanta/Philly rapper Sugar Tongue Slim aka STS.  It was a performance a couple years back at S.O.B's NY.  I wasn't prepared when I shot that night.  Had my Nikon D90 back then and ended up having only one lens on me - A 50mm 1.8.  This made for a limited amount of close shots I could get from a distance.    I got the chance to shoot one of Slim's performances again last night at a trendy spot in Philly called the Blockley.   This time,  I had my d800 and my 70-200mm 2.8.  (the 50mm and a 24-70 were in the bag along with the d90 as well.)  The 70-200 stayed on all night and pretty much gave me what I needed- A great, sharp, fast lens with enough focal range to get in for some decent close shots of the performance.   In these low light situations, shooting wide open is obviously mandatory along with jacking iso up to pretty high levels.   I shot all night at the same settings for the most part: Between 100th & 160th shutter speed,  f2.8 and iso 6400.   Even though the d800 is capable of producing pretty good, usable images at such high iso's,  I still figured I'd be forced to do some noise reduction in post.   To my surprise though, I didn't have to do anything.   Whatever noise shows up works well for the whole concert / live performance thing anyway.   I made a few exposure tweaks and some curves adjustments but that was it. All in all, definitely a better outing than my first.

STS-The Blockley Philadelphia-Christian Webb Photo

 

STS-The Blockley Philadelphia-Christian Webb Photo

This shot above  is probably my favorite shot of the night.   I cheated a bit with the final image.  Originally, there were  people in the crowd there bottom right. One of them was doing video and had an LED panel of light attached to the camera.  There was also half of someone bottom left right down below Slim.  When I saw the shot, I loved everything, but that bright, square light pretty much ruined the focus of the shot for me. So, I went in and just took the light...and of course the crowd members  in front and 1 in back out of the image altogether.  Worked pretty well I think.   I thought for a moment that removing the crowd would essentially affect the image seeing as how an artist on stage with crowd below usually adds the flavor of the scene.  Sometimes, gotta make decisions.  Below, is the original shot.  What are your thoughts?

 

STS-The Blockley Philadelphia-Christian Webb Photo

 

 

STS-The Blockley Philadelphia-Christian Webb Photo

Other than being an incredible wordsmith and master poet,  much of Slim's appeal comes from his stage presence and personality.   Definitely wanted to make sure I captured that in a few shots.

STS-The Blockley Philadelphia-Christian Webb Photo

 

STS-The Blockley Philadelphia-Christian Webb PhotoThis last pic is actually one of the flyers promoting the event at the Blockley.   The shot is from the first studio photo shoot I did with Slim.  Also happens to be the same image that NPR used on their web-site when Slim's Illustrious album was named one of the top 50 albums of 2011.

 

Photography Gear / Studio Equipment by Christian Webb

About a day after receiving some new gear from Paul Buff,  I had a shoot.  I mentioned posting up my review(s) on some of the new gear once I've had a chance to use it. Truth be told,  I'm not a huge...review type of person.  I'll render my opinion on what I think of the gear and how it's beneficial to me or not, but, to "review" per se' sort of makes me seem like one of those gear experts with an opinion that may make a difference to some.  In reality, I'm just a photographer and I love messing with gear and using whatever tools help me to achieve my goals.  Oh, and one more thing....I'm pretty damn lazy lately with the blogging thing so, don't have too much time to get into it all! Also,  I haven't yet figured out how to post a new post to a particular page. (Like this should be on my GEAR page.) Anyway, I'll figure it out eventually.  While on the gear thing though,  the image below is an "after hours" shot of some equipment in my studio.  Figured I'd share/list some of the collection of toys I've amassed thus far because I know some people like to know what other photographers are using.   It's always a work in progress yes?  

Studio gear-Christian Webb Photo

 

1.  Paul Buff Einstein 640 strobe with 22" white beauty dish.  2.  Bowen's large soft box  3. Studio tripod (Calumet)  4. 22" beauty dish grid and silver beauty dish (Calumet)  5. Silver/White reflector  6. Profoto Acute2 ring flash and Profoto Acute 2r 1200 power pack  7.  Sekonic L-358 light meter.  8. Paul Buff Vagabond Mini power pack.   9. Set of 4 Paul Buff honeycomb grids.  10. Paul Buff 7" silver reflector.  11.  Set of Bowen's Gemini GM 500r strobes.  12.  Set of 2 Pocket Wizard Plus II's (laying somewhere in there.)  13. Arri 300w Fresnel, Arri 650w Fresnel (on loan).  15.  Assorted umbrellas - Calumet 46"Silver , Wescott 7' Parabolic Silver,  Set of Bowen's 36" Silver/white umbrellas.  16. Lenses:  Nikon 70-200mm VR II, Nikon 50mm 1.8G, Nikon 85mm 1.4D,  Nikon 105mm 2.8 macro. Nikon 24-70mm 2.8G (not shown...because it's on camera!)   17. Camera(s)-  Nikon d800, Nikon d90.  18. 2 Nikon SB-800 speedlights.   19.  An assortment of C-stands, light stands, A clamps, gaffer tape, duct tape, miscellaneous cables, cords and wires.  20.  Background - Manfrotto Autopole set up and seamless.

There are some random things missing here, but, that's the basics really.   I use an assortment of memory cards and for batteries, I'm pretty partial these days to Eneloops.

 

Gear2

Couple of other pics of gear- That one above there an iphone pic.

 

Paul C. Buff - Einstein-Christian Webb PhotoBuff Einstein 640 with grid.

 

Paul C. Buff Eintstein-Beauty Dish-Christian Webb Photo

Einstein with 22" beauty dish.