Commercial Photography…

Have you ever thumbed through a magazine or surfed the web and come across a picture that was so perfectly staged it made you want to buy whatever is in the image? This is commercial photography. A mixture of planning, lighting, staging, and processing. If you’ve got all that down and a great imagination to bring a product to life, you just need to find a company that will give you a chance to show what you can do.

This may be my favorite type of photography. Though I do enjoy spending time outdoors waiting for the sun, clouds and subject to be just in the right spot, there is something I love about thinking of an image and planning to make it  a reality. Now admittedly, I am not some master commercial photographer. Truth is I have made very little in this area due to my own lack of motivation to dedicate enough time to chasing this dream. But, I have fond that with social media being so prevalent these days, it’s very easy to get your images noticed by specific companies.

The first product shots I ever seriously took was for a local bakery in New Braunfels, Texas. This wasn’t something I was hired to do and I didn’t make any money on the images. It was more for the experience and to see what I could do. Honestly, most of the time I just enjoy the process so much I would do it for free anyway. After posting them on the baker’s Facebook page, they reached out to me to see if they could use 2 of them on their website and possibly to print for business. I was pretty flattered and give them the images below as long as they left my watermark.

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After getting a little confidence in what I could do with just photographing an object, I started to experiment with different lighting, doing a little more staging, thinking outside of that I though someone would normally do. Not as easy as I thought at first. It seems all the great photo ideas have been taken so most of my time was spent trying to find something I liked and elevate it. Below is a row of tequila shots that came from something I saw in a magazine. The original image just had 2 shot glasses and a bottle in the background.

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Now you’re going to start to notice a theme here and will probably recommend that I start attending AA meetings. I think a lot of people stick close to what they know and well, I may know a bit about whiskey. My  first attempts at shooting whiskey pictures were pretty boring and normal, but I was happy with them at the time.

I used what I had around the house for these. Whiskey, a mirror, glass, and some speed lights…. Not very interesting as I mentioned but a learning experience all the same. After shooting a bit with actual ice I realized how difficult this was going to be. The ice would melt pretty quickly and I was constantly trying to get the cubes into the right position before they moved. If you ever plan to do anything with ice, I would recommend buying some high quality fake cubes.I picked up a set of 40 1 x 1 cubes for about $20.00 on Amazon.com.

La Vernia Chruch 9.1-1The shot above was done using a StopShot, something I covered in a previous posts about water drop collisions. This just came from an idea and wasn’t done for anyone pacific. Looking back, this could have been much better adding some branding or just better staging.

Leadslingers Whiskey-1The picture above was taken in my spare time for a great veteran owned business here in Texas. They do a lot of outreach for veterans that are coming back from the war and may need some help getting back to normal here in the states. It wasn’t much but I wanted to do something for those that are always doing for others. After sending it to them and reaching out on social media, they let me know they were impressed and would really like to see something a bit different that they could use. I shot the picture below for them, it is still one of my favorites.Whiskey Glock (1 of 1)

Below are a few more of my favorite shots from my “Vices” album. They are geared more toward cigars as you will see, but I didn’t get far from the whiskey. Romeo & Julette Cigar (1 of 1)Davidoff Cigar (1 of 1)

If I could pick just one genre of photography to make a living on, this may just be it. Some of the really great commercial photographers can spent endless hours coming up with and idea, then days innovating and planning to make that idea come to life in a briefer second. I follow several on Facebook, YouTube and email newsletters like Karl Taylor. He’s pretty bad ass and I may have a little man crush on his work. One of my favorite shots he has done involves 2 “ski jump” like ramps used to launch 2 glasses of whiskey (complete coincidence) into each other. I have watching and re-watching videos of his processes, lighting, planning, and attention to detail like I have a final tomorrow.

Someone told me a long time ago, find something you’re passionate about and learn how to make money doing it. Though I agree with that, I think it needs to be expanded on. Find something you’re good at. Passion will get you so far but it is up to you to challenge yourself, expand on you knowledge and constantly improve on your craft. But what do I know, I’m still in the beginning stages.I just keep telling myself it just takes one. One image, song, report or sale. You just need that one thing to make you shine and be noticed by the right person. Maybe that person is you.

Whiskey Fire-1

 

Liquidography…Water Drop Collisions.

For many years I have had an obsession with trying to photographing water drops and water drop collisions. There’s something about seeing liquids collide and the beautiful chaos that ensues.

My first attempt at capturing a collision was a long drawn out process of trial and error, and after several hours and hundreds of shutter releases later, I was left with a nice drop but no collisions at all.

Though at the time I was happy to have caught just one drop, looking back it isn’t very sharp due to a low powered flash set at full power. This was staged with a scrapbooking glitter paper in back of a small bowl of water. 11232963_751372378308386_2976376684498981304_o
For the water drop, I went low budget that filled a plastic bag with water suspended from a tripod. I cut a small hole in one of the corners and gradually increased the size of the hole until the drops were large and frequent enough to get a rhythm. The difficult part for me was releasing the shutter just after the drop hit the surface of the water rather than anticipating the impact and pressing it just before.

After many, many more waisted attempts to catch a collision I broke down and made an investment in a StopShot. This is a great little setup that allows you to time precise drops down to the millisecond. The ability to fine-tune the size of the drops and time in-between shots allows for some stunning images.

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These images are all of 2 water drops released within milliseconds of each other falling into a trey of water. As the first drop impacts the water and rebounds back up, the second drop impacts the rebounding drop causing several different reactions. Some impacts just flatten the water almost like a nail head and others splatter like an explosion. Adding food coloring to the water really brings out some great reactions. The image below as with red water drops falling into a pan of clear water with a little dish soap in it.

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The small bubble in the stem is from the dish soap and you can see the swirl of the red food coloring mixing with the water if you look closely. I really like the “bending” of the water as the second drop falls around the rebounding drop.

The process is really very simple with the StopShot. The control box connects to the drop timer as well as a strobe light source, I used speed lights in most of these. The camera is set to bulb and I release the shutter. At the same time I press the release button on the StopShot that releases the water drops. Once the timing is down, the flash will fire as the drops collide and I close the shutter. This freezes the image as you see below.

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This isn’t a plug in and go system. There is a lot of calibrating and trial to get the timing of the drops just right. But after a lot of attempts and patience, you can really get some great images.

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For more information about the StopShot, click here.

Austin Texas through my lens…

Living in New Braunfels Texas and working in Austin has a few drawbacks. What started as an hour commute and gradually creeped into 3 and a half to 4 hours in my car every day. Gotta say that part sucks.

The Long Center for the Preforming Arts-3The Long Center for the Preforming Arts

It’s not all bad though. If you look past all the traffic of one of the fastest growing cities in the nation, there are some incredible sights to see. From cityscapes and urban grit to parks and nature, Austin has it all. One of my favorite spots in Austin is the Penneybacker Bridge, or the 360 bridge to the locals. Located on the Colorado River and Loop 360 in West Austin, this little cliff offers some amazing views.

360 Bridge Austin TX-3Overlooking the Pennybacker Bridge in Austin Texas

It would be a great setting for bridal or portrait photography, but I recently went for some long exposure shots of the bridge. Below is a 20 second exposure at f/22 using a Lee ND graduated filter.

Pennybacker Bridge in Austin Texas

There is a 2 tier cliff area that you can early walk up to from a parking area just off of Loop 360. It is a big hangout for Austinites looking to catch a nice sunset while they partake in some of the devils parsley, Keep Austin Weird…

Another place I really enjoyed going for a few pictures during lunch was the Texas Capital Building. Very easy to get to and free to get it, finding parking isn’t always easy or free though.

The Texas State Capital Building

Being high noon under clear sky, I decided to shoot in black and white. The building itself really is amazing and all the architectural detail really brought out some contrast from the harsh shadows. To see one of my favorite parts of the capital you have to go inside. The day I went had some pretty high tempters and with all the walking, well I got a little overheated. Just when you go in through the main entrance, past the park rangers and scanners, there is a large picture f Davie Crockett just to you right. If you need to cool off, stand just in front of it. There is a vent that blows some much needed cold air.

Austin Texas-38Texas State Capital Building Rotunda

Above is a shot of the rotunda just inside the Texas Capital Building. I took it from the 3rd floor balcony to get the angle I wanted. If you look to the upper right part of the rotunda you can see the white spiral staircase leading up. There are tours that will take you up through the staircase. I didn’t have time that day but would like to go back to see whats up there. The rotunda is pretty impressive from the ground floor as well. There are a few shots below showing what you would see looking up just as you walk in.

 Texas State Capital Building Rotunda

Just southwest of Austin, in Driftwood, there is a wonderful little swimming hole called Hamilton pool. Locate just just off of 3238 is the Hamilton Pool Reserve. Bring some comfortable shoes though, theres a little hike with some elevation to deal with. But when you get to the pool, its all worth it.

Hamilton Pool Reserve

At the time I only has a 28mm and it really doesn’t do it justice. I really need to go back with a wider angle to get what I wanted. Below are a few other shots I got while there. I would recommend going early if you are going to be taking pictures. This is a popular spot for cooling off during the summer and can draw in the crowds. There are also some great walking trails along Hamilton Creek and the Predernales River.

Hamilton Pool Reserve

As I mentioned, it’s not all bad working in Austin. Great people, food and entertainment all centered around wonderful scenery. There is so much more to see that what I have posted here. The key is getting out to experience it for yourself and see it through your own lens.