A drizzly day in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood is always a great photo opportunity. While on a photo walk with a fellow photographer, I looked down this gangway and saw this visual feast. I decided to use the 85mm lens wide open because it gave just enough reach without compressing the scene while lending an interesting depth of field--thereby preserving the jumbled feel that caught my eye.
While working today at Flavour Cooking School, I made these photos of Bacon Maple Cookies which Chef Denise Norton will be bringing out to the Thanksgiving Day Parade where she will be doing some on-air segments for WGN Channel 9's parade coverage.
Every time I see "Flavour Recipe Testing" on my calendar, I know it's going to be a great day. I absolutely love shooting for the upcoming cookbook because I get to surround myself with wonderful food and great people who make that food.
From a photography standpoint, I love the fact that I have an opportunity to really stretch my photographic muscles. I pull out a complete battery of gear: lenses, camera bodies, studio lights, speedlights, softboxes, tripods, radio triggers, magic arms...the list goes on. It's fun to put into practice all those techniques with which I'm constantly experimenting.
For today's post I thought I'd just pull a few of my many favorites from the past few sessions. I am so pleased that after every shoot, I come home with gigabytes of images that make me happy. I know that Chef Denise Norton, the owner of Flavur, is going to have quite a time sifting through all the images to pick those that will go into the cook book!
One chilly September morning, I found myself on a beach in Evanston, IL. There was no one around, although the evidence of other beach walkers dotted the sand. The billowy clouds, the churning lake, and the loneliness of the beach were quite appealing and worthy of photographing.
I decided to use the empty lifeguard's chair as a focal point to fill in the gaps of the story. To further enhance the sense of slight disorientation I was feeling, I chose to shoot with my fisheye lens.
While on a photo shoot, I captured a variety of images of the Baha'i Temple in Wilmette, IL. It was a marvelous day with beautiful clouds. The temple is quite photogenic, and one of the challenges of photographing it is finding a perspective that shows off the architecture while simultaneously not losing context. I was pleased when I found this view of the temple against the sky with the reflecting pool in the foreground. One last challenge was to bring it all together. Originally, I was shooting with my 70-200 lens, but I found that to be far too long to make the image I saw in my head. So I switched to my EF8-15mm f/4L fisheye and everything fell into place.
For today, I thought I'd post a couple of black and white images:
Every time we have a cook book recipe testing session at Flavour Cooking School, it's a doubly wonderful day for me. First, I get to make photos of fabulous food. Second, I get to be around the fabulous food as it's being created. As a bonus, I get to hang out with people who love making that fabulous food!
Every session gives me a gallery full of photographs which make me proud. It's so difficult to pick out favorites. But I thought that for today's posting, I go with a theme: Frosting & Cupcake. This is a Flavour favorite, a chocolate cupcake with cream cheese frosting.
Oh, and did I mention that part of every recipe testing includes taste evaluation?
I was on a mini photowalk recently, just carrying around my "traveling light" kit which consists of my Fuji X20. While waiting for a traffic light to change, I noticed this short urban ballet unfolding in front of me. I put camera to eye and snapped a few photographs. While the rest of them just didn't work for me, this particular frame felt genuine and presented more story than the rest...so here it is.
I particularly like this photo because it has an elusive street photography feel to it. I respect street photographers because capturing such moments is never as easy as it looks. It is amazing how many throw-away images go into making a single "keeper" when it comes to they dynamics of everyday life.
While walking on a trail through a forest preserve, I saw this bridge and loved the lines, shapes, and patterns it provided. Although it was visually interesting, the scene needed something else. A few minutes later I saw this gentleman approaching on his bicycle, all decked out in red. I had a feeling this was what I was waiting for. As he passes, I put camera to eye and fired off a few frames. This was the one that I liked the most. This was just one more instance of patience paying off. Had I just packed up and moved along with the initial shots of the bridge, I would have been happy. But having invested a few minutes in waiting, I was rewarded with this entirely different shot which, in my opinion, is much stronger because it adds not only a pop of great color but also a human element.
While on a walk through Chicago's Chinatown, I meandered about with camera in hand looking for interesting scenes to shoot. I happened to see this gentleman and grabbed a shot on the go. I was using my small camera kit comprised of my 7D fitted with Canon's
wonderfully small and high performing 40mm pancake lens. It's an unobtrusive kit that makes for great street photography.
When I captured this image, I was shooting for the visceral moment. It wasn't until I got back to my computer that I saw the second vice--the bottle in his pocket--which ended up transforming this shot from an interesting story into a very interesting story.
I love when everyday scenes present themselves so perfectly...and scream out to be photographed. This photos was one example of this magical moment. I had just parked my car and was about to get out when I noticed this tableaux directly in front of me. It was as if an art director showed up minutes before and staged it for me: the red cart; the red stripe on the stark, white wall; the black of the asphalt accentuated by the shock of yellow from the line; the hint of depth provided by the corner of the wall on the left. It all came together so perfectly and looked so beautiful to me. Naturally, I had my camera with me, so I took it out, made a few shots, and went on with my errands smiling.
When I saw this scene, I knew I wanted to photograph it, but I just wasn't sure where the photo was. I made a few shots at different angles and focal lengths, but I just wasn't excited by any of the results. I stepped back, got relatively wide with my lens, and then the three layers just appeared: layer 1--the shapes at the top as conveyed by the bricks and white cinder blocks; layer 2--the shapes as conveyed by the regimented doors; and layer 3--the shapes as conveyed by the white lines on the blue floor. I snapped and walked away happy to have mined the image.
As you already know, I'm a fool for great, natural light. So when I saw the late afternoon sun flowing all over this pineapple, I just had to grab my camera and make an exposure.
I tried a few different compositions and lenses. However, I decided upon using a macro lens and getting in nice and tight to try and capture the essence of the pineapple. To further push the boundary, I used a wide aperture to create the shallow depth of field.
I had a wonderful time photographing in the industrial space in the building where their company is located. The space was fantastic because of the way the afternoon light streamed in. It was so wonderful, in fact, that I didn't have to use my light kit until much later in the afternoon. For the majority of the day, I simply used the sun light and my reflectors.
Megan and Jen were great to work with, and the models brought all the products alive.
I look forward to working with Jen and all the great people over at Souldier in the future.
This batch of photos comes from the Souldier collection. These are just a few samples to illustrate how well the day went. For these images, I shot primarily with my
EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM on a Canon 5D Mark II body. However, a few of the shots in this gallery were made with an EF 50mm f/1.2L or an EF 35mm f/1.4L USM.
On a photo walk a short time ago, I was meandering around Wicker Park and happened to notice this scene. Happily, I had my 85mm lens firmly affixed to the front of my camera...so I opened it up wide and made the shot. For me, that lens is one of the magical ones: rich and creamy bokeh, sharp focus, and a dreamy look.
I don't do nearly as much street photography as I would like, so the fact this one came to me was quite exciting. I would love to know the story that led these two gentlemen to be sitting at that bench at that time. I'm sure it's an intriguing one.
I am in the process of beefing up my food photography portfolio. One of the easiest ways to do this is to just snap away before we eat.
This morning, I made a tasty breakfast for Karen and me: homemade guacamole and scrambled eggs on a warm whole wheat tortilla with oranges, cantaloupe, and blackberries on the side.
Karen moved the plate into the light streaming in from the window so she could make a quick photo for her friend who loves to trade meal ideas. The light was so beautiful that I had to grab my camera as well...and shot without any artificial light whatsoever.
I was delighted to be able to do a joint photo shoot for Megan Lee Designs and Souldier Handmade. We had the use of an empty industrial space, and the light was gorgeous for our lifestyle shots. When the sun went down, out came the hot lights. At one point, we put up a white background to get some neutral product shots. I popped on the fisheye and grabbed this shot of the scene in action.
I had such a great time and am very excited about the photos we got. I look forward to posting samples in the days to come.
I also wanted to tell you a bit about Megan Lee Designs and Souldier Handmade:
Specializing in handmade goodness, Megan Lee Designs has been rocking the craft scene for almost ten years. Some words that could be used to describe Megan's screenprinted t-shirts, totes, cards, and women's fashion: cute, quirky, whimsical, beautiful, well-made, and unique. To see her work, head on over to www.meganleedesigns.com.
Souldier is an independent design manufacturer, fusing aesthetic textile creation with functionality. Their unique merchandise is inspired by musicians and created for the connoisseur looking to express their inner spirit. They make custom guitar straps, custom bass straps, custom banjo straps, custom mandolin straps, custom ukulele straps, custom camera straps, custom dog collars, custom belts, hootenanny straps, vintage guitar straps, and tons more. Check out Jen's great work over at www.souldier.us.
Karen and I spent a lovely evening at our friends' Erik and Meg's house this past New Year's Eve. There were fun people, tasty noshes, libations, and fun times. At one point during the evening, we played a game involving playing cards with sayings on them to hilarious ends.
I was sitting there, camera in hand of course, and decided I wanted to make a few shots. I had to ditch my cards somewhere and since we weren't sitting at a tabel, I just tucked them in my shoe. After I clicked the shutter a few times, I just pointed the lens toward my foot and snapped. It wasn't until later that I realized the card in my shoe said simply, "A Death Ray." It was just too perfect!
Karen and I spent a marvelous afternoon at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium. While there, we enjoyed meandering and looking at the wide varieties of aquatic life (the various stingrays were of particular interest to us).
In one of the tanks, this fish was just hanging out, seemingly amused with watching all the people stroll by. Unlike most of the other animals, he was easy to photograph because he wasn't in any big hurry to get anywhere.
This particular photo, I'll admit, plays on our tendency to personify other animals but I just couldn't resist. The pose he struck here was just too reminiscent of an old-time comedian working up the crowd and delivering the punchline. And as you'll notice, his show has indeed gone blue.... (Insert "groans" here.)
While spending a lovely autumn afternoon on the grounds of Cantigny, I saw this leaf on the ground and, naturally, having my camera at the ready I made an exposure. I was drawn to the way the purple of the leaf played off of the dark, rich dirt...and the juxtaposition of the life/vibrance in the leaf against the earth.